Jesus’ Family Values by Deirdre Good challenges conservative Christan emphasis on “family” (copy)

As a never-married adult Christian, I am disturbed by the undue emphasis American Christian culture places on “the family,” by which they mean the 1950s standard of man married to woman with one or more children.

Maybe conservative Christian groups are correct and secular culture is hostile towards the nuclear family, but the obsession they have with defending it means these Christians frequently ignore or exclude anyone who does not fall into the nuclear family demographic (married couples with children).

(I discussed this issue in previous posts on this blog, such as: Conservative Christianity Stuck in 1950s Leave it To Beaver-ville)

I came across this book review which also discusses the topic (copy of a post at goddiscussion.com; source: (www)goddiscussion.com/85000/jesus-family-values-by-deirdre-good/:):

Jesus’ Family Values by Deirdre Good offers challenge to conservative Christian views

[The book review opens by describing how some American Christian groups claim that the nuclear family is under attack, as do some European groups, such as the British “Christian Action Research and Education, or CARE for short”].

…. [I]t is quickly apparent that the family is viewed in exclusive terms as being two parents (of different sexes) and children. But the grandaddy of all advocates of the ‘Christian family’ is without doubt the the behemoth that is Focus on the Family a multimillion dollar ministry formerly headed by James Dobson whose aim is to “help families thrive.”

Anyone would think that the testimony of the Bible was unequivocal given the unanimity with which Christian marriages laud their particular vision of family as the very bedrock of civilization.

But, even excluding the First Testament with its references to polygamy and like exercised by God’s righteous the Second Testament is far from clear. To cite one primary example Jesus in Matthew 10: 35-37 makes the startling comment that his mission is not so much to establish Christian families that will form the basis of a Christian civilization but is rather to “set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (English Standard Version).

Deirdre Good in her book Jesus’ Family Values offers a succinct but powerful challenge to this conservative hijacking of ‘the family’ as being a mainstay of Christian civilization.
Continue reading “Jesus’ Family Values by Deirdre Good challenges conservative Christan emphasis on “family” (copy)”

The Church Needs A Different View of Sex and Singleness (copy)

THE CHURCH NEEDS A DIFFERENT VIEW OF SEX & SINGLENESS

Originally posted to:

goodwomenproject.com/sex/the-church-needs-a-different-view-of-sex-singleness#idc-cover

Excerpts (by Leigh Kramer, from 2010):

….You see, I am a rare breed. Some might even say an endangered species. I’m a 31-year-old virgin. Rest easy. I’m not dating anyone right now, nor am I going to bed with the next guy I encounter. I’m committed to seeing my virginity through to marriage or death. Whichever comes first.

…I’m not ashamed of my virgin status, but I don’t broadcast either. Most people assume that I have had sex because that is true of most women in their 30′s. Abstinence, chastity, whatever you want to call it, is no longer the norm.

I honestly never thought I’d still be single at this point in my life. I can’t help but wonder if I would have made the same choices had I known what lay ahead.

Does that shock you? It shocks me a little. We live in an age where premarital sex is accepted and often expected. It’s difficult to be countercultural when it comes to sex. There are even churches that don’t take a hard line on the matter.

Grace and forgiveness are extended to those who had premarital sex – and rightly so. Secondary virginity is an option. On the other hand, I’ve had friends that purposely had sex knowing they’d ask for forgiveness later.

Then there’s me. I love finding other ‘older’ virgins. Solidarity and all that. But also because I want to know why they waited and continue to wait. What do they do on the hard days?

Because hard days, or weeks, happen. Sex is best reserved for marriage but it’s hard being the odd woman out. I fervently hope I’ll be able to experience sex in the context of marriage someday. Now is the time to do the work of being faithful so that when I am in a relationship, regardless of my boyfriend’s sexual history, I will not falter.

I’m not alone in this. The church must start having a different conversation about sex and singleness. Here are a few suggestions of what I’d like to see.

1. Explore the framework of chastity.

Telling people to save sex for marriage is not enough when marriage isn’t a guarantee. Chastity is a way of life, looking at our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It’s not solely focused on the physical act of sex. We need to get away from “how far is too far” and move toward respecting ourselves (and our partners) as men and women made in the image of Christ.

3. Don’t teach that sex is a reward.

First, it’s not the best way to motivate someone toward obedience. This might also explain why many Christians marry young, only to divorce later. Marriage is about more than sex. Second, what message does that send to those who are obedient but don’t receive the ‘reward’? Have I somehow been a bad virgin? I don’t worship a God who would punish people in this way.

4. Don’t elevate marriage over singleness (or vice-versa).

The amount of people who are single, divorced, or widowed is roughly equal to those who are married in most congregations. Yet sermons tend to be directed toward those who are married and parenting. This leaves a good portion of the congregation feeling left out – and these are the unattached who continue to go to church. Many simply choose not to go anymore. We all have much to learn from each other, no matter what our stage of life.

[5. Include the unmarried]

Married folks, please support the single people in your life. Let them be a part of your family gatherings but also schedule one-on-one time as well. Single folks, identify the people in the trenches with you and continue to build those relationships. Having support in place now means you’re more likely to be ready when temptation hits.

American Churches Need to Address Growing Numbers of Unmarried / Single People

Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles?

Source:
(WWW.)christianpost.com/news/pew-for-one-how-is-the-church-responding-to-growing-number-of-singles-70586/

Before I paste in excerpts from most of the article, I wanted to comment on this part of it first:

“Some churches are certainly aware of this demographic, but other churches are almost impervious to it,” says Danylak. “The church focuses on marriage and family, with the expectation that by focusing on family, you’re encouraging singles to get married.”

I addressed that very point in a previous post (-HERE-). Focusing on marriage constantly does NOT encourage singles to want marriage more.

The problem is most unmarried American Christian adults already want to be married, but they cannot find suitable people to date! And while they remain unmarried, they are having struggles and issues that married people do not always face, such as a more intense struggle with loneliness, along with other issues.

For a pastor to keep harping on marriage week in and week out, as most do in their services or literature and blogs, only alienates unmarried adults further, and it’s also painful for some, for it’s like eating a bag of potato chips and chocolate cake in front of a friend who you know likes junk food but who is on a diet.

It’s very cruel to constantly throw something in someone’s face that they want but cannot have, obtain, or achieve – yet most Southern Baptists, conservative churches, and evangelicals continue to do this very thing in regards to marriage vs. singlehood to the long term unmarried and celibate.

Here’s more from the article:

Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles?

By Sarah Hamaker , Christian Post Contributor
February 29, 2012

One can be the loneliest number, especially in the church. Today, there are more singles in the United States than at any other time in history – 43.6 percent of the U.S. adult population are unmarried, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

“The number of single adults in the United States has been rapidly approaching the number of married adults, and this is an unprecedented culture shift that is dramatic,” says Barry Danylak, author of Redeeming Singleness. “This is not an American phenomena – it is seen in nearly all of the modernized and industrialized nations.”

The church, long welcoming to married with children congregants, has been slower to adjust to this demographic shift. “At least 80 percent of every denomination do not have a targeted ministry to single adults,” says Dennis Franck, national director for Single Adult/Young Adult Ministries for the Assemblies of God denomination, headquartered in Springfield, Mo. “However, the majority of churches are not trying to exclude singles, but they are more marriage and family focused, which means singles are not acknowledged very often.

The Rev. Alan Fretto, a single senior in Danbury, Conn., points out, “The church is geared toward children, women and couples. There is very little in most churches for singles, and yet singles dominate the church population. Singles need to be encouraged and included in the process of the church, and should be considered a valuable asset to the church.”

Readjusting Focus

Many churches have yet to formally acknowledge singles in their midst, either with targeted ministries or inclusion in preaching or teaching illustrations and examples. “Some churches are certainly aware of this demographic, but other churches are almost impervious to it,” says Danylak. “The church focuses on marriage and family, with the expectation that by focusing on family, you’re encouraging singles to get married.”
Continue reading “American Churches Need to Address Growing Numbers of Unmarried / Single People”

If your sermon or program supposedly benefits everyone… (post about Christian singlehood)

I was looking for more material about Christian singleness when I found this video:

“How Does Our Church Host a 607 Experience Without alienating Singles, Grandparents, or those without Children?”
(The URL is: http://d6family.com/607/experience/howdoiuseit#howdo )

Edit. Aug 2014. That URL no longer works, they removed the video. You can still view it here: Video Link, Vimeo

I have no idea what the “607 Experience” is, as I did not watch every single video on the page, but from the one I watched, I gather it is yet some other family-centric event for churches to host for nuclear families (nuclear family = typical 1950s American family consisting of husband, wife, one or two kids).

The male host of the video says he recognizes that some Christians may be worried that his “607 Experience” may make singles or MWKS (married couples without kids / children) feel alienated…

But, he feels this program will still be beneficial to singles and MWKS, since it covers topics like how to pray effectively, or some such.

He’s not the first Christian I’ve seen use this tactic. I’ve seen other Christians or pastors say, “Well, my sermon series on marriage may make the never-married and divorced feel alienated, but you should not feel that way you unmarried people, because you can still find information in this series for use in your life!”

Is that so? Well then, what is the point in billing such series or sermons as “for the family,” or putting “marriage” or “parenting” in the titles of these events? If the material can be applicable to all (such as offering suggestions on how to pray better or some other generic, Christian topic) why not title the event, “How to have a better prayer life”?

My second question and concern is, what does this church or Christian group do for singles specifically? In other words, is there a “608 Experience” that is geared only towards the NMNKs (never- married with no kids), where this same man from the “607” video would tell married with kid couples, “But please, don’t feel alienated you married people! Even though you are married with kids, our service for singles can still be of benefit to you!” If this church (or group) is not devoting equal time to singles, then their “607 Experience” is wrong, wrong, wrong, and yes, it will alienate the unmarried and other individuals who don’t meet the “married with kids” demographic.

Forget married couples with kids – the real danger today is for the unmarried Christian. Screw the Christian married couples; it’s singles who need the church’s help and attention. Even secular society discriminates or ignores singles.

The male host of the video said he simply suggests pastors who host a 607 to “just put the elephant in the room right out there.” Just be up front and tell your never-married and divorced or Married- with- no- kids couples that the service will be devoted to marrieds with kids, he advises.

Wouldn’t that be a little like a white Christian host saying on a video for pastors,
“Our series will only focus on how great white people are, and teach people more about white people,” and then telling the pastor,
“But see, that’s okay, because you’re being up-front with, and transparent about, your prejudice.

Therefore, I’m sure any Black, Hispanic, and Asian Christians in your church will be fine and dandy with being so blatantly excluded YET AGAIN. I mean, surely they must agree that white Christian people are under attack by secular society, so I’m sure they’ll be okay and so very understanding with the needs and problems of Asian, Black, and Hispanic Christians being shoved aside, YET AGAIN.”

I swear to goodness the American church is almost completely oblivious to how badly they are excluding people (specifically, never- married people over 35 years old, the divorced, people with no kids, and the elderly) and giving Christianity a black eye to so many people, with the continual insistence upon the self-serving fixation on “marriage and parenting, marriage and parenting, marriage and parenting” mantra.
———————
Related posts this blog:

(Link): The Obligatory, “Oh, but if you’re single you can still benefit from my marriage sermon” line

Pastor Kerry Shook’s Marriage-centric Sermons

Pastor Kerry Shook is pastor of a church in The Woodlands, Texas, and he has a weekly television series. He seems like a genuinely nice guy.

I have watched most of Shook’s television shows over the last few years. It seems that about 90% of his sermons pertain to marriage and how to have a better marriage.

In tonight’s episode, the topic is once again about relationships. Shook used the word “relationship” in the sermon a lot, and the sermon stops to show a segment where a middle aged man is interviewed about his relationship with his elderly father.

However, the rest of the show, the word “marriage” is specifically used several times.

Again, Shook seems like a genuinely nice guy, but many of his sermons revolve around marriage, such as sermons about how to be a better spouse, or how to understand your spouse better.

I have yet to hear Shook give a sermon to the people in his audience who are 40 years old or older and who have never married. Heck, I have not even so far heard the guy give a sermon devoted entirely to singleness for any age group, for those over or under 40 years of age.

I don’t think these pastors, and lay persons in churches, realize just how much they ostracize never-married Christians and make them feel excluded. The non-stop emphasis on marriage (and parenting) is totally alienating and off-putting to never-married people who don’t have kids.
————————–
Related posts this blog:

(Link): The World Does Not Need More Marriage Sermons – They Don’t Stop Divorce or Get People Married

(Link): The Obligatory, “Oh, but if you’re single you can still benefit from my marriage sermon” line

(Link): Kerry Shook Devotes Yet *Another* Show / Sermon to Marriage

(Link): Kerry Shook Sermonizes on Marriage AGAIN (don’t let your flame die down sermon)

(Link): Kerry Shook ‘Shark Weakness’ – yet another marriage sermon

Conservative Christianity Stuck in 1950s Leave it To Beaver-ville

Please click the “more” link to read the rest of this post

———————

I am not a liberal or a Democrat, and I am not against “traditional,” “family,” or “biblical” values nor the “nuclear family,” nor am I against “traditional marriage,” but I do think the American Christian church of today places far, far too much emphasis on these issues, to the point they make people who are not married at age 25 with three kids feel unwelcome.

I am in my early forties, and I am a Christian female, as well as a conservative Republican, and despite the fact I wanted to be married, it never happened.

Do churches care about me, or people in my stage of life? Nope. They offer no services or sermons for the older single who has no kids, childless or childfree. We are ignored, or else treated like trash by the Southern Baptist denomination and by evangelical churches.

So I agree with some of the content in this web page I have quoted below, and I can see its implications for contemporary American Christianity, not just Republicans.

What I am afraid of is that Christian leadership from various churches and denominations will see political stories such as this one about Obama winning the 2012 election and think the only corrective is to go even more into hyper-drive regarding the pushing of “family values,” or cries of “save the nuclear family.”

Why do I find this a concern? Because the conservative American church has already been obsessive about protecting the nuclear family (and marriage) for decades now, which has led to the dating drought in the church, prolonged singleness among Christians, and ostracizing older singles or married couples with no children, because they do nothing to help older singles actually get married, or make marrieds with no kids feel welcome.

Most American church groups fixate desperately on getting singles of teen-aged years and people in their twenties in the church door, so as not to “lose the younger generation,” but as personal experience and Julia Duin’s “Qutting Church” book demonstrate, this unfortunate, nauseating, and age- based discriminatory fixation has led to singles over the age of 30 leaving the church in droves because THEIR needs are not being met – older Christians are being ignored in favor of luring in the kids.

As a result with their disappointment over the Republican 2012 Presidential defeat (I’m not happy with Obama winning a second term, either), I can just see some pastors and conservative Christian groups buckling down even harder on defending heterosexual marriage, sexual purity (which is a bit of a joke; many conservative Christians groups claim they support virginity, celibacy, and sexual purity but do not), and so on, which will only hurt older Christian singles more, or at least not do anything to improve their plight.

The American church, Southern Baptists included, refuse to be dragged into the 21st century. I do not agree with liberalism, homosexuality, abortion, or any of that, and I don’t know what the solution is to the erosion of “biblical” values, but I know what it is not, and what has not worked: continued obsession with 1950s American culture – of pretending like we are all still living in 1955 America, or that we should return to that era.

I’m tired of being ignored or being under-utilized when I attend a new church because I’m not a wife or a mommy or because I do not have a penis. I am not June Cleaver, the perfect 1950s fictional housewife with husband and two kids who wears pearls while she vacuums. I want a church that deals with my existence and acknowledges it – I’m over 40, a woman, I’ve never married or had a kid, and I do NOT like children. I have NO interest in working in the church nursery or the kitchen.

How TV Killed the Republican Party’s Family Values

(thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/15/
how-tv-killed-the-republican-party-s-family-values.html)

by Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, Nov 15, 2012 4:45 AM EST
Republicans are searching for an explanation as to why voters rejected their vision of America. The answer may be on their television screens, where an ever-expanding, bluer definition of family values makes their nostalgic idea of family values feel like a foreign world.

The biggest loser of last week’s elections may have been the Republican Party’s image of the American family. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, blamed the Republican loss on a dramatic change in our country’s “moral landscape.” He’s right, but this isn’t new: the GOP vision of America, which includes patriarchal churchgoing families with sexually abstinent teenagers who have no use for birth control hasn’t been a reality since the 1950s

So what happened? As it turns out, one of the most influential forces in changing Americans’ definition of family can be found in the homes of liberals and conservatives alike: their televisions. Slowly over time, the family sitcoms that Americans have been watching for decades effectively transformed what was once the culturally reinforced American ideal family into a relic of the not-so-distant past.
Continue reading “Conservative Christianity Stuck in 1950s Leave it To Beaver-ville”

Those Times When You’re Glad to be a Celibate, Single Christian – 1 Corinthians 7:28

1 Corinthians 7:28:

But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

Skimming over a list of recent secular advice columnist Carolyn Hax columns recently, I feel happy with never having been married, and that I am a life long celibate.

Sometimes, I feel upset at having arrived in my 40s without ever married, but then I see things online or on the TV that makes me feel glad I am still single and not having sex.

Here’s a selection of just a few of Hax’s recent column headlines:

  • Carolyn Hax: History of bad partners; adulterer in their midst – OCT 17
  • Carolyn Hax: When to disclose you have herpes – OCT 16
  • Carolyn Hax: Boyfriend has anger issues, but he won’t go to therapy on his own – OCT 15

“When to disclose you have herpes.” –When to disclose your herpes?! Good grief. I have never been in that situation and likely never will be.

It’s hard being a celibate Christian over the age of 40.

We’re mostly invisible to the American Christian church at large, and get no encouragement or support to remain celibate.

I’m constantly inundated with pro-sex (and pro-marriage) messages and images every time I turn on the television, go to a movie, look at a magazine – and that’s just from “Christian culture,” not counting the mountain of sex messages and imagery I get from secular culture, not just in regards to sex, but the secular culture keeps up this facade that a person cannot be validated unless one is in a romantic relationship.

Regarding my point that the current American Christian culture is just as obsessed with sex as is the secular culture, here are a few examples: everything from pastor Mark Driscoll’s frequent kinky, perverted, sex-filled sermons (he even sexualizes non-sexual content, such as the book of Esther), and pastor Ed Young’s stupid, immature, weird, tacky “Sexperiment.”

You can read more about those topics here (I am not necessarily in full agreement with all views on all topics on blogs and sites I link to):

Ed Young’s Sexperiment, from Church Marketing Sucks

The Trouble with Ed Young’s Rooftop Sexperiment

Esther, Mark Driscoll, and using rape to control women

Profane Preachers Contribute to Killing the Conscience

This discusses how Driscoll and other pastors are obsessed with sex:

The Church of Sex

Older celibates get treated like weirdos or failures in and out of the church, by Christians and by secular people.

The hypocrisy from Christians is amazing on this point. They frequently lecture teen aged Christians, and the 20-something Christians, to refrain from sex outside of marriage, but when these Christians actually succeed in doing this, and remain unmarried and virgins into their 40s and beyond (such as yours truly), we get treated like second class citizens and freaks by the church. (click “more” to read the rest of the post)
Continue reading “Those Times When You’re Glad to be a Celibate, Single Christian – 1 Corinthians 7:28”

Married Pervy 50+ Year Old Pastor Diddles 16 Year Old Kid

Married Pervy 50+ Year Old Pastor (Jack Schaap ) Diddles 16 Year Old Kid – Married Christians Not More Mature or Sexually Pure than Un-Married Christians

 Below is a link to a story about a 50-something preacher, Jack Schaap, who was carrying on a sexual affair with a teen aged girl from his congregation.

A lot of Christians like to tell un-married Christians that un-married Christians are not as mature or responsible as married people are.

Even if you are age 40 or older, a lot of married Christians assume you, a Christian single, have the maturity or life experience of a typical 15 year old kid. 

 A lot of preachers assume that un married Christians have raging hormones and have a different sex partner every night of the month. They never seem to figure out that marriage does not make people immune from engaging in sexual sin.

Married people are not always immune from immature behavior or selfishness, either. 

This originally comes from 

http://www.singlemind.net/?p=7281

Preacher Jack Schaap–pastor of FBC Hammond Admits To Having Sex with Teen Girl Repeatedly

Jack Schaap–pastor of FBC Hammond, IN–was fired after admitting to an affair with a 16-year-old girl.

Being a megachurch pastor, he probably qualifies as an Alpha, and power does tend to be the ultimate aphrodisiac.

But still…he is married, and has almost 40 years on the girl with whom he was fornicating. 

Oh, and he has written books on dating

This entry was posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 

This same pervy pastor also made this disgusting video, where he simulated masturbation from the pulpit, in front of people, including kids: 

(Link): Jack Schaap demonstrates how to polish a shaft 

Marriage does NOT make a person more mature or sexually pure than an un-married person, as that video and news story demonstrate. 

Never Married 38 Year Old Christian Guy Wants to Know Why Churches Treat Him Like a Freak

Click the “more” link below to read the rest of the post

I totally related to this guy’s question. A guy calling himself “John” wrote in to the Christian television show “The 700 Club” and asked the hosts a question about why, as a 38- year- old, never- married man, so many churches have rejected him (or left him feeling rejected).

I’m just a few years older than John is, though I am a woman. I have never been married, but I wanted to be. I don’t know why I’m not married.

I have to disagree with host Pat Robertson’s reply – Robertson tells the guy, John, that the rejection is all in his head and that churches do not “reject” older singles. WRONG!

The letter writer, John, may not be “rejected” per se by churches, but most churches, and many Christians, do treat single or never- married Christians over the age of 35 and 40 differently – and that in a negative fashion.

We older, never married (single) Christians are either ignored by churches, or most Christians and churches assume that everyone over 25 years old is married with kids, or, they assume if you’re 40, you have been divorced at some stage – (wrong again, I’ve never been married).

Some Christians (the married ones) let loose with the gossip and slander against the older singles…. they assume if you’re over 35 and never married, you are some how “flawed,” a weirdo, or homosexual (none of that is true, either).

Here is a partial transcript from today’s show:
Continue reading “Never Married 38 Year Old Christian Guy Wants to Know Why Churches Treat Him Like a Freak”

Article: 30 And Single? It’s Your Own Fault

Please click the “more” link farther below to read the entire post.

I disagree with some of the positions of the “marriage mandate” crowd, including those of Debbie Maken, who wrote a book about the issue.
I intend on posting more content about the ‘marriage mandate’ perspective in the future but thought I’d start with excerpts from a good review of Maken’s book and view.
(Link): 30 and Single? It’s Your Own Fault [ by Camerin Courtney]
  • There are more unmarried people in our congregations than ever, and some say that’s just sinful.
From Ms. Courtney’s article:
  • By that October, they were engaged.
  • Following the path afforded by her ethnicity (she’s Indian), she [Debbie Maken] signed up with an Indian Christian Web agency to find a suitable suitor and, aided by her parents’ watchful care, started e-mailing a man in July 2001.
  • Now happily married and the mother of two young girls, Maken drew a map—in the form of her book, Getting Serious About Getting Married—to the Land of Marital Bliss. She hopes to prevent her daughters and countless single women across the country from having to experience any more “unnecessary protracted singleness.”
  • ….In later chapters, she addresses the well-meaning advice handed to singles in Christian circles—such as “just wait on the Lord to bring a mate to you” or “Jesus is all you need”—and deftly explains some of the erroneous thinking and theology surrounding each.
  • At her best, in passages such as these, Maken gives platitude-battered single women needed permission to admit, “I’d like to get married, and that’s okay.”
  • Unfortunately, these bits of trend-spotting and balanced synthesis are drowning in a sea of shame and blame.
  • Maken seems to think a vast majority of singles view their solo status as a special gift from God (a stance I’ve seen in only a fraction of the thousands of e-mails I’ve received as a columnist for ChristianSinglesToday.com, a CT sister publication), a notion the very subtitle of the book urges them to reconsider.

Continue reading “Article: 30 And Single? It’s Your Own Fault”