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.
(Link): What Christians Really Think About the Church’s Relationship Advice by Anna Broadway
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): Christians Advise Singles To Follow Certain Dating Advice But Then Shame, Criticize, or Punish Singles When That Advice Does Not Work
(Link): How the Dating Scene Became Stacked Against Women– via CT, by Gina Dalfonzo
(Link): Dear Abby – She Wants A Divorce From the Husband Who Hid His Vulnerable Narcissism (Emotional Abuse, Extreme Pessimism, Victim Mentality, etc) While They Were Dating
(Link): Number of ‘Lonely, Single’ Men is on the Rise as Women with Higher Dating Standards Look for Partners Who are ‘Emotionally Available, Good Communicators, and Share Similar Values’, Says Psychologist
(Link): Christians Who Marry Non-Believers Must Be Ex-Communicated, Says John Piper
(Link): Celebrating Milestones in the Lives of Single Adults – by Anna Broadway
(Link): All Dating Advice is as Terrible As the People Who Give It by Oliver Burkeman
(Link): Myths About Never Married Adults Over Age 40
(Link): Another Example of Why the Equally Yoked Teaching is A Joke for Single Christian Women : Baptist Preacher Arrested for Allegedly Fire Bombing Ex Girlfriend’s House While She Was In It
(Link): How the Dating Scene Became Stacked Against Women
(Link): It’s Not Your Imagination, Single Women: There Literally Aren’t Enough Men Out There – Re: Man Shortage – Follow Up Interview
(Link): Depressing Testimony: “I Was A Stripper but Jesus Sent Me A Great Christian Husband”
(Link): How One Man Has Broken Up 4,000 Relationships and Caused 17 Divorces In Just 10 Days
(Link): Single People Aren’t Problems to Be Fixed or Threats to Be Neutralized By Ella Hickey
(Link): The One Thing Evangelical Leaders Don’t Want Christians to Know about Mixed-Faith Marriages (two links). by C. Cassidy
(Link): Pat Robertson’s Incredibly Insensitive Advice to Gail the Unmarried Woman
(Link): Typical Conservative Assumption: If you want marriage bad enough (or at all), Mr. Right will magically appear
(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)
(Link): Christian Teachings on Relationships: One Reasons Singles Are Remaining Single (even if they want to get married)
(Link): Christian Double Standard – Pray Earnestly For Anything & Everything – Except Marriage?
(Link): James the Single 40-Something Guy Asks 700 Club’s Pat Robertson Why Churches Don’t Help Singles
(Link): Cathy The Single Woman Asks Pat Robertson Why God Has Not Replied to Her Prayers for Years to Send Her a Spouse
(Link): Never-Married Adult Man Named Stephen Asks Christian Host Why God Has Not Answered His 3-Decades Long Prayers To Send Him A Wife
(Link): Joanne The Widow Lady Wants to Know Why God Didn’t Answer Her Prayer to Keep her Husband With Her
(Link): Research: Being Single [or Fear of Being Single] is a Meaningful Predictor of Settling for Less in Relationships
(Link): Consider The Source: Christians Who Give Singles Dating Advice Also Regularly Coach Wives to Stay in Abusive Marriages
(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): “God’s gifting of singleness is rare”
(Link): 2014 Statistics Show Single Adults Now Outnumber Married Adults in the United States
(Link): A Critique of – 10 Men Christian Women Should Never Marry by J. Lee Grady / And on Christians Marrying Non Christians -and- Unrealistic, Too Rigid Spouse Selection Lists by Christians
(Link): Unmarried and Childless Women Are the Happiest, Happiness Expert Claims (2019 Study)
(Link): Gender Complementarian Advice to Single Women Who Desire Marriage Will Keep Them Single Forever / Re: Choosing A Spiritual Leader
(Link): Pat Robertson Says 44 Year old Never Married Woman Who Wants Marriage is “Desperate”
(Link): Pat Robertson Feigns Ignorance At Allegations He’s Been Insensitive Towards Older Single Christian Women Who Cannot Find Marriage Partners
(Link): Stop Telling Your Single Friends to Try Dating Sites – Please.
(Link): Married Female Christian Blogger Whose Mate Hunting Criteria is Guaranteed to Keep Marriage Minded Single Christian Men Single Perpetually
One thought on “What Christians Really Think About the Church’s Relationship Advice by Anna Broadway”
I think the church’s teaching on being single ranges from non-existent to appalling. This is the most important decision you will every make with another person in your life and it’s just left for you to work it out on your own. And the vacuum that the church leaves ends up being filled by modern culture aka Hollywood romantic comedies.
As a single man I went to church for many years but hardly dated anyone, although I certainly asked girls out. Christians are taught that God has a ‘perfect’ plan for your life and that He will ‘give you the desires of your heart’. So people end up with a tick list a mile long that you have to pass before they’ll even go out for a drink with you. As one friend of mine said, “They’re looking for Jesus in human form!”
In the end I decided that I had a choice: stay in church and be single or go and find someone to marry outside church. I chose the latter. I no longer attend church, I am married to a lovely lady and we have two fantastic kids. I am a thousand times happier than I ever was in church. All the talk of “you’re better off single” might suit a few people but for most people it’s complete garbage. Most people are better off in a committed relationship. A lot of the girls I asked out are now 45+ and still waiting for God to land Mr. Perfect into their laps. Good luck to them!
I think the church has a major problem with singleness and it needs to acknowledge that and do something about it. It needs to start teaching people about relationships in a grown up and practical way. I won’t hold my breath.