What Christians Really Think About the Church’s Relationship Advice by Anna Broadway
The following article (book review) from Christianity Today covers several topics about singleness and the church I’ve been pointing out on this blog for literally years now.
One big point it brings up that I have: there are more single Christian women in the church than there are single Christian men. This means if a Christian single female insists upon following the “equally yoked” rule (that states a Christian may only marry another Christian), she will remain single.
If you are a single Christian woman who desires marriage, it is imperative you ditch the ‘equally yoked’ rule. You must learn to judge men based on their character, not what their stated religious beliefs are.
New survey research sheds light on how believers navigate the stickier matters of dating and marriage.
July 10, 2019
Over the years, Christians have produced and read far more books on how relationships and singleness should work than on how these things actuallydo pan out. Vicky Walker’s new book Relatable: Exploring God, Love, & Connection in the Age of Choice, based on a survey of more than 1,400 people, aims to change that.
Walker writes from a more-or-less Protestant British perspective, but American Christians will find much they recognize.
Over the course of 12 chapters and several appendices, Relatable covers everything from the history of marriage to typical teachings on gender roles to, of course, sex. But she also gets into stickier matters like the role of technology and the church’s significant sex-ratio gap—the latter a topic that raises questions of dating outside the faith.
…In that, she’s made an important contribution to our understanding of how Christians frame sex and relationships. Based on the information she provides, much of that teaching needs to change.
Central among the themes Walker reports is a tendency to view marriage as the natural and ideal outcome of (almost) every Christian life. Some even view it as a nobler, holier way to live than the single life.
Yet, as she convincingly shows, this teaching ignores not just the Bible’s own teaching and stories of several significant singles but also the church’s very daunting sex-ratio problem. And it’s not just a numbers issue.
First, women outnumber men in the church. According to numbers Walker cites, women in the British church may outnumber men by as much as two-to-one.
Further, a 2016 Pew report found that Christian women also tend to be more devout than men, in measures like prayer and church attendance.
Even more difficult, Walker also reports a significant gap in insistence on a Christian spouse. While almost two-thirds of her female respondents would only marry a Christian, only half of the men felt the same way. As she puts it:
[W]hat arises swiftly and awkwardly is a maths problem: if only half of Christian men insist on a partner of the same faith, that means only one-sixth (16-and-two-thirds %) of Christian men in total share the same conviction as almost half ([or] 45%) of Christian women. Yes, for every hundred Christians, 16-and-a-bit men and 45 women have “same faith” as a nonnegotiable.
And that’s assuming all these hundred Christians are single! As any regular church attendee could attest (aside from a few Hillsong churches, perhaps), that’s not the case.
Churches rarely—if ever—acknowledge this reality. Walker’s book doesn’t offer a solution to the problem, but it does provide an opportunity for churches to start acknowledging it.
Short of massive revivals among men (an aim that even efforts like Promise Keepers and Mark Driscoll’s work never achieved), the church must change how it talks about singleness and marriage.
If many of us won’t ever marry, the church needs to reframe how we connect the life of faith to the life of marriage.
(Link): How the Dating Scene Became Stacked Against Women – via CT, by Gina Dalfonzo
(Link): What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis (from TIME) (ie, Why Are Conservative Religious Women Not Marrying Even Though They Want to Be Married. Hint: It’s a Demographics Issue)