Christian Teachings on Relationships: One Reason Singles Are Remaining Single (even if they want to get married)

Christian Teachings on Relationships: One Reasons Singles Are Remaining Single (even if they want to get married)

I’ve discussed this before, but it’s worth mentioning in its own post:

Many Christians say they are concerned that more and more Christians are not marrying at all, or not marrying until later in life. They don’t understand why.

One of several reasons single Christians are remaining single is due to typical teaching about dating and marriage from most conservative Christian preachers, bloggers, and authors.

Because many Christians remain terrified of other Christians possibly getting involved in fornication, most of their relationship advice, even to unmarried Christians over the age of 35, comes down to: stay away from the opposite sex.

Telling females to stay away from males and vice versa, will only result in keeping Christian singles single.

Other approaches, such as “courting” and telling Christians to “date in groups” doesn’t work, either.

I can understand the group dating approach for teens or maybe blind dates, but for adults over the age of 25?

Evangelicals and Baptists guarantee prolonged or life long singleness by making the dating process convoluted and making singles paranoid of the opposite sex, or acting as though each and every meeting between the genders can and will end in sex.

If Christians want Christians to marry, and they keep saying they do, they need to stop advising Christian singles to stay away from singles of the opposite gender.

That should be obvious, but in many areas of American Christianity, it’s not.

–Some Christian Women Shy Away From Marriage Due to “Biblical Gender Complementarian” Teachings–

On another note, I’ve seen several younger Christian ladies say on other blogs that one reason they stay single is that they are afraid to get married.

They are afraid to get married because many churches teach ‘biblical gender complementarian’ garbage.

Continue reading “Christian Teachings on Relationships: One Reason Singles Are Remaining Single (even if they want to get married)”

Have we made an idol of families? (copy)

Have we made an idol of families?, by Andy Stirrup [Book Reviews] | published June 6, 2011

Source:

growingfaith.com.au/entertainment/have-we-made-an-idol-of-families

    by Andy Stirrup
    Published: June 6, 2011

    ‘How can we idealise marriage and the nuclear family while clinging to a saviour who was unmarried and without issue?’

    In Sex and the Single Savior, Dale Martin asks an important question: have we made an idol of families? Our knee-jerk reaction is to say, ‘‘Of course not’. But Martin reminds us that sometimes we cling to theologically-phrased excuses for what we do, rather than examine what the Bible actually says. When it comes to the importance we attribute to the family (in conversation at least, even though our practice may undermine our ‘theology’), Martin asks how can we idealise marriage and the nuclear family while clinging to a saviour who was unmarried and without issue?

    The book brings together a number of Martin’s previously published articles to get to grips with a number of issues that have to do with gender and sexuality. He examines what classical and early Christian writers would have understood by the Galatians passage which referes to there being no male and female in Christ. He discusses how odd Jesus’ celibacy would have appeared to his contemporaries. But the most provocative chapter, as far as the family is concerned, is the eighth chapter, ‘Familiar Idolatry and the Christian Case against Marriage’.

    Martin begins the chapter with a bold announcement that mainstream Western Christianity (Catholic and Protestant, liberal and conservative) has made an idol of marriage and the family. It is a strong claim but we would have to agree with him that those who do not fit the nuclear family ‘ideal’ usually find themselves on the fringes of church life. Martin supports his claim by turning both to the New Testament and to the writings of the early Church. He suggests that the early Church was culturally much closer to the New Testament period and so they are better placed to understand the intention of the Biblical texts than modern theologians.

    Continue reading “Have we made an idol of families? (copy)”

What Christians Can Learn from The Walking Dead Re: Family, Singleness, and Marriage

When secular sources get it right – The Walking Dead

(I can see disgruntled “Caryl” fans wanting to leave me argumentative comments about this post. If so, please see the “Policy on Dissent on this blog” before being tempted to leave me a nasty gram. Thank you.)

On the cable channel AMC’s hit show about the zombie apocalypse, The Walking Dead, the topic of ‘what is family’ is explored every so often, as it was most recently in last night’s episode, “The Suicide King.” The show centers on sheriff Rick Grimes, who leads a group of survivors, some related by flesh and blood (or marriage), but most not.

The character Rick Grimes has a wife named Lori and son named Carl, and a newborn daughter named Judith (the wife, Lori, got killed a few episode ago).

Other characters under Rick’s charge include (but are not limited to) Hershel Greene, who has two daughters, Maggie and Beth. All the other members of Rick’s group are unrelated through birth or marriage (some previous members were killed in older episodes). They have banded together to survive.

One of Rick’s group includes the redneck survivalist character, Daryl Dixon. Daryl has become the show’s most popular character.

Daryl and his older, racist, sexist, violent brother Merle get separated early on in the show. Daryl grew up in his abusive older brother’s shadow. When Daryl was not being ignored as a child, he was being physically and verbally abused by his brother and possibly by his father, when they bothered to pay any attention to him.

In the episode ‘The Suicide King’ (first aired February 10, 2013), Merle re-enters Daryl’s life. Daryl decides to leave Rick’s group to go off alone with his brother again, because Rick refuses to allow Merle to join the group.

Rick tries to talk Daryl into staying (without his brother Merle), but Daryl is still stuck in the idea that flesh and blood ties is what constitutes “family,” or that flesh- and- blood ties should take priority to other sorts of bonds.

The character Glenn, who doesn’t want Daryl to leave the group, tells Daryl that Merle may be “your blood, but not mine.” Glenn explains that the group of survivors, headed by Rick, is his family now, even though Glenn is not related to any of these people through blood ties – and Rick tells Daryl, “you are part of this family.” Daryl still decides to leave with his brother Merle, however.

You can view a video clip of a few moments of that scene, and the actors from the show discussing the concept of “family” in this video clip:

(Link:) (SPOILERS) Inside Episode 309 The Walking Dead: The Suicide King (Video on You Tube)

Rick’s group of survivors have been more of a family to and for Daryl than Daryl’s own flesh and blood relations – despite a few arguments with one or two other group members (such as the late Shane Walsh), the group has treated Daryl with kindness and respect, and they have come to rely on him for protection and defense.

In one of the last few episodes, when Rick falls apart after his wife Lori dies from childbirth, Daryl willingly risks his life to go out in search of baby formula for the newborn.

In yet earlier episodes, Daryl took it upon himself, and puts himself in danger, to go searching alone in a zombie-infested forest for the twelve- year- old daughter of Carol, Sophia, who went missing at one point.

Daryl, despite his racist family of origins, freely and glady, with no prompting from any one, gives up some of his big brother’s antibiotic and painkiller medication to a black group member, “T-Dog,” who was gravely injured.

Remember, none of these people – Carol, the new born child, T-Dog, Rick, Sophia – are Daryl’s flesh and blood family, but he still acts on their behalf anyway.

In another episode, Rick, Glenn, Oscar and Maggie – all of no relation to Daryl – go to the town of Woodbury to rescue Daryl from one of the show’s bad guys, the Governor.

Throughout the series, Daryl has shown himself not to be a racist, sexist jerk like his older brother Merle. He has a difficult time emotionally connecting with other people, but he is, at his core, a decent guy who tries to help other people.

~~~~~~ ASIDE ~~~~~~~~

Before I return to the main theme of this post (which is, ‘who is family’), I wanted to address another issue about this show:

It may resonate with this blog’s particular audience to know that the actor who plays Daryl has said in interviews that in his mind, the character Daryl, who is also in his 40s, is a virgin. The show’s writers have, so far, never given Daryl a love interest or a sex scene – and remember, Daryl is hugely, hugely popular with the show’s viewers.

(Please click on the “read more” link below to read the rest of this post. Thank you.)
Continue reading “What Christians Can Learn from The Walking Dead Re: Family, Singleness, and Marriage”

Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians Re: Marriage

Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians | Re: Marriage Not Happening for Hetero-sexual Christians Over the Age of 30

While conservative Christians keep on despairing that today’s American culture no longer resembles 1950s “Leave It To Beaver” families, the majority of them keep right on ignoring one significant group: unmarried Christians over the age of 30 who want to get married but who cannot find a Christian partner.

About the only Christians who have taken note of this plight are those who are in the group themselves, such as myself.

There are many Christians over the age of 30 who want to get married, but they cannot find a suitable partner at church, through friends, or on dating sites. And their petitions to God on this matter are not working. God remains silent and does not move.

Meanwhile, we unmarried Christians [* please see March 2016 update at the bottom of this post], who want marriage but for whom it remains out of reach…

Stand by and see the never-ending avalanche of blog pages, magazine articles, and booklets printed, or radio shows broadcast, by mainstream evangelical groups bemoaning the fact that 20-somethings are putting off marriage until their late 20s…

Or that they are dropping out of church altogether, with a smaller amount of attention paid to topics such as divorce and how to keep a marriage together.

But there is nothing from the Christian community, no attention, prayers, concern, or material, for those who cannot even get to the altar to begin with (with the exception of a small amount of Christian material which insults us and puts us down).

I was reminded of all this again when skimming over parts of a book online. The book is “Church in an Age of Crisis,” by James Emery White.

In a chapter about marriage (I don’t see any chapters on prolonged singleness among Christians – which is typical), he writes in a sidebar:

— Begin Quote from Book —
The Crumbling State of Marriage

-[1] For the first time since the US began tallying marriages, more Americans of prime marrying age have stayed single rather than tied the knot

-[2] Proportion of married adults of all ages was 52 percent in 2009, down from 72.2 percent in 1960 – the lowest percentage since the US began tracking in 1880

-[3] Cohabitation in the US has nearly doubled since 1990
— End Quote from Book —

As for point 1, (“more Americans of prime marrying age have stayed single rather than tied the knot”), how many of those singles want to stay single? How many of them have intentionally chosen to stay single into their 30s and older? Why is this distinction almost never made?

How many of those singles are like me, who always desired and expected to marry, but it just never happened?

Why do these worried and pearl-clutching conservative Christians always seem to assume that those of us Christians who have remained single past the age of 30 or 40 have deliberately chosen to remain so?

Continue reading “Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians Re: Marriage”

‘Contemporary Christian Virtue’ -Another Blog That Discusses Older Unmarried Christians

Another blog that talks about singleness and older Christians:

Contemporary Christian Virtue, by Shannon Mulvari

One of my favorite posts was this one – which unfortunately only shows up in google cache (she discusses how singles are stereotyped in the church, among other topics, such as how Christian culture exploits celebrity Christian virgins, how celibacy is usually ignored, etc):

Christian Single Adults Not Welcome in American Churches, by Shannon Mulvari (was first posted December 12, 2012)

I don’t know why its author edited or deleted that blog page – it’s an excellent page, and I wish she would re post it.

Here are just a few excerpts:
———————————
Don’t have a wedding band? Don’t have a marriage license? Don’t have children in tow? Played by all the rules and never found that special someone? Looking for encouragement and affirmation? I would not recommend churches today – unless you want to be treated like a leper. They do not welcome single adults, especially those who are older and never married. I’m not sure of all the reasons for this phenomenon. But I can tell you it’s a fact. And it works in both directions. Singles don’t feel needed or included in church activities. And churches don’t include them in leadership roles or welcome them in their congregations or social circles.

… This brings me to [another] reason singles have been excluded — Marriage and the nuclear family have been elevated to the point of representing the highest form of Christian standards. Church members with the gift of singleness who are concerned about the Lord’s affairs as Apostle Paul explains in 1 Cor 7 have been placed in fantasy land. They are theorized as an anomaly so rare, it doesn’t warrant a second thought. They can’t see beyond “the whole world is going to hell.” Instead, churches are hunkering down in fear of the gay lifestyle and circling their wagons tight around their nuclear families – at the expense of every other Christian virtue. I don’t support same sex marriage or the gay lifestyle either. But I don’t let that control my every thought and behavior.

… The fact is, we are no longer living in Mayberry [fictional American town, in a 1960s American television show, where most everyone had Judeo-Christian values] where innocence was taken for granted. There are no rewards for the virtuous Christian single today.
————————————-
[Read the rest of her post]

Ageism in the Church – The Insufferable, Obnoxious Fixation on the Under-25s Demographic

One of the themes of this blog is exploring how and why so many American churches and denominations and the Christian community in general either ignore never-married Christians over the age of 30, or treat them like garbage.

On a similar note, I’ve noticed that a lot of American Christians are guilty of ignoring or not caring about the needs or spiritual growth of anyone over 25 years of age.

My mother used to take me to church weekly when I was a child. We moved often, so the older I got, we did not attend churches as often.

I definitely remember feeling welcomed at church at ages 3 to 10. I did not feel like an outsider at a young age. There were Bible stories for us read out of kiddie Bibles, and punch and cookies.

I went to different churches here and there, off and on, in my 20s, but not often enough to pick up a feel of how Christians treated 20 somethings.

I began going to church regularly again when I was in my mid 30s. It was then, walking in to a church alone at 35 or 36, that I felt out of place and peculiar. It was then I began to notice how I was one of the few people sitting alone in the pews. Everyone else was part of a couple.

I further began noticing how most of the sermons or activities were for married couples or pertained to parenting.

I had wondered if I was alone in noticing or feeling these things until a few years ago, I began reading the occasional book about singlehood in Christianity.

The authors of these books confirmed it was not in my imagination, and that a lot of other unmarried Christians past the age of 30 noticed the same things I was.

One of the books I read, Quitting Church, by author Julia Duin, mentioned how churches are alienating not just unmarried people in general, but anyone over the age of 25, and I agree. (Please click the “more” link to read the rest of the post)
Continue reading “Ageism in the Church – The Insufferable, Obnoxious Fixation on the Under-25s Demographic”

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”

Same Old Tired Advice to Christian Singles

Related: 

Alpha Females (book by Suzanne Venker) Part 1 – Nothing New Under the Sun. Conservative Women Keep Issuing Same Sexist, Unhelpful Dating And Marital Advice to Women


I left a comment on a blog page (What’s a [Christian] Single Girl To Do?) about singles, whose author was trying to give advice to Christian singles. I don’t know if my comment will be published there or not so here is a copy. (click on the “more” link to read the rest of the post)

This is a copy of my reply on a blog page, “What’s a Single Girl to Do”

I’m a never-married Christian female, over 40, and while this editorial started out well enough, it’s filled with the usual unhelpful, vaguely insulting, or hurtful tripe we singles get subjected to on a regular basis by Christians who, I assume, sincerely feel they are being helpful. However, basically in this editorial, we are being given the old, worn out adage, “don’t look for ‘The One,’ be ‘The One’.”

We are also essentially being treated to the same adage one often sees in these articles about Christian singles who are desiring marriage, ones about ‘putting Jesus first,’ and other performance- based and religious- sounding attitudes.

Sorry, but being a good Christian girl over the years, living a pure life, praying and trusting God for a spouse, trying to “be the one and not look for the one,” and seeking God first in life and serving Him, etc etc and all the usual advice and admonishments one hears from preachers and Christian bloggers, did not garner me a spouse.

Further, that assumption in and of itself is not entirely biblical or compassionate – for the most part in the Bible, God does not place parameters on His grace, that if only you shape yourself up, work hard enough (or pray hard enough) or meet some other criteria, then and only then will He bestow a gift to you (such as marriage).

The author seems to be hinting that if we are not “submitted enough” to Jesus or to the Father now, the Father will not grant us or bless us with a spouse. I’m sorry, but no, that is not so. The Bible does not teach that.
Continue reading “Same Old Tired Advice to Christian Singles”

Standing Alone – single or never married Christians over 35 years old

This material is from Standing Alone by Cristina Foor

There are more singles in the United States than the entire populations of France and The Netherlands combined. But the church, for the most part, ignores their needs.
A large segment of our culture walks past the doors of our churches every Sunday, almost entirely unnoticed. Many of these passers-by will, at one point, find their way into our sanctuaries. But all too often they will end up feeling as if they are still invisible.

Why? Because the church typically ignores this particular group of men and women–singles.

Some 98 million Americans today are single, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (Current Population Survey, March 2000). That’s close to half of our population age 15 and older. That’s more than the entire populations of France and The Netherlands combined. And this trend toward singleness in our society seems to be on the rise.

Whether it is by choice, by the death of a spouse or by the unforeseen end of a marriage, the fact remains that more and more men and women are becoming single. Mirroring society at large, it is estimated that more than one-half of the church population is now single, too. Ministry to this group has become imperative.

A strong singles ministry can strengthen a church’s overall ministry effectiveness. That being the case, the lack of ministry to single adults must simply constitute denial of this large and growing population.

If churches want to remain relevant and meet the needs of people in our present culture, it is essential for them to develop an effective singles ministry. The issues and challenges peculiar to singles must be acknowledged and addressed.

In order to reach this harvest field, however, the church needs to understand this group and its many dynamics. Singles should never be viewed as people to be pitied or prayed for, as if their singleness were a weakness to be overcome.

As Carolyn A. Koons and Michael J. Anthony stated in Single Adult Passages: Uncharted Territory, the mind-set in many churches today must be altered if a successful ministry for singles is to take place.

Much of the time singles live on the fringes of church life because they feel the church doesn’t understand or care about their particular needs. Singles’ needs differ greatly from the needs of those who are married. With the demise of the traditional family unit in our country, and in an attempt to re-establish lost family values, many churches have focused their attention on those areas while ignoring those who are not currently in families.

The church must shed its indifference toward singles and realize that couples are not better than singles, only different. In many churches, there seems to be little, if any, recognition that singleness inherently presents unique challenges and issues that need to be addressed. In addition, there has been very little real movement toward specific training for this ministry area.
Continue reading “Standing Alone – single or never married Christians over 35 years old”