‘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:
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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.
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[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”

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)”

How Christians and Churches Can Be of Help to Older Singles (copy)

One caveat about this post below (originally by a New Zealand author) that I am copying: the author seems to suggest if you are still single past a certain age, it’s because you are ugly. I disagree. I am attractive. I have had males (including Non Christian men who did not know I am a Christian) see my photo at a friend’s house and a sister’s house and request to be set up on dates with me.

I’ve been “hit on” by Non Christian men. So my looks are not the problem – sometimes a person can be very attractive but yet not meet the right mate. Being pretty is not a guarantee of getting a man or of keeping one. Look at movie stars such as Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe: beautiful women and considered sexy by most, but they each kept getting divorced.

I also disagree with this author’s assertion that loss over being an infertile married couple who wants kids is tougher than suffering from loss over never being married but wanting marriage – sometimes I’m okay with being single, but sometimes my grief over missing it far, far out weighs the pain of any infertile woman who misses having a child. That woman at least has a spouse. I have nobody.

TALK DOWN – Preparing for singleness when you’d much rather be preparing for marriage

by By Ross Clark

Source:

singleness.org/talkdown.shtml

… Go to any Christian bookshop and you will find a mass of books on the big issue, the life-changing decision of getting married, and how you should prepare for it. But books on the single life are much harder to come by.

For many, the process of coming to terms with being single is ferociously difficult, yet there is little help to be found in the Church. Pastors spend much time helping faltering marriages. Helping a faltering single is a lesser priority. Why? Shouldn’t we be thinking of how we prepare some people for the single life, specially when their own natural inclinations lie in other directions?

Not every Christian single makes it—too many of the older singles drop out of our churches, and/or marry unbelievers. We need to ask what the churches can do to help Christian singles, because the problem of unreasonable and unrealised expectations which many singles struggle with has its roots in the churches’ own Teaching.

The Glittering Prize

What messages are we giving our teenagers and singles?

Gather a group of fourteen year-olds from any church scene and make them our reference group. Put them in one place, and the conversation will eventually turn to relationships and romance. Given the age, immaturity, and emotional state of the people concerned, that is hardly surprising. But what’s a youth leader to do?

The Biblical standard—no sex outside of marriage — is absolutely clear, and youth leaders work hard to teach it. Generally, they will say something like, “trust God, and he will have his best for you. Save yourself for marriage, it’s your loss if you don’t. God blesses those who trust him.” Or, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”. Somewhat out of context, Jer 29:11 will get a look-in.

Dating, at any age, is often described as “not really God’s will. Instead, trust him to bring you his choice for you.” Or — and without any Biblical justification — “God already has someone for you, if you just trust in him”. A variant on this is, “Yield your rights and God will have just the right person for you”.

When the issue of sexuality is confronted, dire warnings are given to anyone who would threaten to cross the line, generally raising the obvious threats of STDs and pregnancy. Later on, the concern shifts to Christians who ‘live in sin’, and all sorts of horror stories will be trotted out about what happens to the Christians who do so.

And so a very powerful expectation is created concerning marriage: it is made to appear the ‘glittering prize’, God’s blessing for doing the right thing, particularly in facing off sexual temptation. The teaching that obedience will inevitably be accompanied by the appropriate blessing — generally, a good marriage, family and status amongst the people of God — further cements this judgment. That this becomes part of the “success fantasy” foisted on people (the term is Tony Campolo’s) is not even realised.
Continue reading “How Christians and Churches Can Be of Help to Older Singles (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”

Celebrities who waited until marriage to have sex (list 2)

Remember my last post on this topic:

Celebrities who waited until marriage to have sex

Because the church does a hideous job of providing encouragement, support, and examples of celibacy and virginity to Christians over 25/ 30 years old, here’s another list of secular examples you may find encouraging (though a few on this list might be Christians):

Celebrity Virgins: Stars Who Spoke Publicly About Being A Virgin

(source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/04/celebrity-virgins-stars-who-spoke-about-being-virgin_n_2239884.html)

If you want to read the whole list please visit the URL above. Here’s just one example:

Adriana Lima
Victoria Secret model Adriana Lima was often dubbed the “world’s sexiest virgin.” She had no problem strutting her stuff in bikinis and lingerie, but decided she wasn’t having sex until after she was married.

“Sex is for after marriage. [Men] have to respect that this is my choice. If there’s no respect, that means they don’t want me. When we’re traveling together for the first time, we sleep in different rooms. That’s the number one thing,” she told GQ in 2008.

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.
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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.
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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

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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”

The Contemporary Church Undervalues Celibacy / Virginity

The Contemporary Church Undervalues Celibacy / Virginity

I am put off and annoyed by common comments and advice I see by Christians regarding sexual sin.

First, it is assumed by most Christians, including preachers, that other Christians over the age of 25 are having sex, and having lots of it, possibly with many different partners.

This assumption annoys me. I’m in my early 40s, and my virginity is still intact. The fact that someone can remain a virgin past 25 years old seems inconceivable to most Christians. I expect that shoddy, short-sighted attitude from secular culture, but other Christians? What a let down.

Secondly, for all conservative Christianity’s supposed upholding of sexual purity and virginity, I see the opposite in practice and in living these teachings out in real life.

As I addressed in my previous post, many American Christians pay mere lip service to sexual abstinence for all unmarried people, and lay it on extra thick for teens and those up to age 25.

But past age 25, especially past the age of 30, Christians who have still refrained from sex are either ignored (we get no material or sermons encouraging us, no practical help or tips on how to stave off loneliness and so forth, or no ‘patting us on the back’ for a job well done), or we get subjected to odd looks, insults, or put downs from the Christian culture. (One reason for this is that it is assumed we failed because we did not marry and have kids.)

In light of all that, it cannot be said that American Christians are truly committed to virginity or sexual purity. They claim they are, but in practicality, where the rubber meets the road, they are not.

If you cannot support those Christians who are over 35 years old who are celibate, you are not genuinely in favor of the belief that ‘sex is only for marriage,’ because if you were, you’d put your money, time, and effort where your mouth was.

One of my biggest pet peeves revolves around how Christians, especially pastors, address sexual sin. (Click the “more” link to read the rest of this post.)
Continue reading “The Contemporary Church Undervalues Celibacy / Virginity”

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”

Single Christian Women Have No Protection according to some preachers

Single Christian Women Have No Protection according to some preachers

I’m watching pastor Jeff Schreve on his weekly series, “From His Heart Ministries” giving a sermon on marriage today. Schreve seems like a sincere pastor and an all around nice guy, but he seems to believe in male headship, and as (Link): I am a biblical egalitarian, I don’t share his view on that matter.

However, another thing Schreve is talking about that I find disturbing: he said in part of this sermon that a woman is under the protection of her mom and dad until she marries, then she is “under the protection of her husband” when she marries. The Bible does not teach this concept, not in the New Testament.

((edit): This teaching also sounds eerily like Reconstructionist / Quiverfull teachings, see: (Link): Christian Patriarchy Group: God Demands You Marry and Have Babies to Defeat Paganism and Satan. Singles and the Childless Worthless (in this worldview))

Problem: I am in my early 40s, pastor Schreve, and never married. I am single, a Christian woman. So who is my “protection,” pastor Schreve?

I am not the only one, there are many, many Christian women my age and older who have never married, and a lot of them live alone, work jobs, and pay rent alone.

Who is our “protector”? If you say God, Holy Spirit, or Christ, I don’t get it – would that same answer also not be true for married women? Why would a woman’s “protector” go from Father, Spirit and Son to husband just because she marries??

(Edit.) I watched the following Sunday’s sermon, where this same pastor did a topic about the role of women. I don’t recall everything he talked about, but I do remember he once again neglected to mention women over the age of 35 who have never married or had kids.

Schreve again mentioned how there is no higher calling for a woman than to raise children (although, again, the Bible does not teach either concept, but actually holds (Link): singleness and being childfree in higher esteem and no, the Bible does not teach that God “calls” some to singleness, either, so a preacher cannot brush this off by saying, “It’s okay for YOU to be single if God called you to be” – I have addressed these unbiblical views in other posts, so I shall not get into them here – see some of the links at the bottom of this post for more).

See also, on this blog:

(Link): Are Marriage and Family A Woman’s Highest Calling? by Marcia Wolf – and other links that address the Christian fallacy that a woman’s most godly or only proper role is as wife and mother

Some married women are infertile and unable to have a baby: how do you suppose it makes THEM feel to hear that their only God-approved role in life is to crank out a kid, if they want one, and are unable to have one? And neither should women who choose NOT to reproduce, though they are capable, be made to feel ashamed of this, or judged, or condemned.

Schreve basically said that it’s “best” for a woman to stay at home and raise her kids while the husband works outside of the home. That is his opinion, and he is welcome to it, but please, point me to the Bible verses that teach this view (the Bible is silent on the matter).

I could just as easily argue that it’s best for a child for the father to be a stay- at -home dad and raise the kids, while mom goes off to work.

I’m astounded that this pastor, like so many other Christians, continue to assume that everyone over the age of 25 is married and/or a parent these days.

Census data continue to show that more and more Christians over 20 are not marrying at all, or not marrying until much later in life (current percentage of adults over 18 who are single is now 44%).

I sent his (Schreve’s) ministry an e-mail mentioning all this but all I got was a reply saying they would forward my e-mail to the pastor. (edit, Feb 2014. I never got a reply to that e-mail, nor was the topic addressed and corrected in future sermons.)

I wish pastors would wake up and realize this is 2012 and we are no longer living in 1955 America where everyone is married by 20 years of age with three kids.

By hyper-focusing on marriage and parenting, and telling never married, childless or childfree women over the age of 40 that their greatest, or only, calling in life is to be a wife and mother, you are needlessly marginalizing and insulting never- married adults, widows, the divorced, and the childless and the childfree.

If you are a preacher who holds such views about marriage, gender roles, parenting and/or you are neglecting the never-married adults (as well as other singles, such as the widows) in your audience, you are also neglecting, or violating, biblical passages such as (Link): Matthew 10:34-37 and (Link): Matthew 12:46-50 . You need to repent of your nuclear family, strict gender role views, and marriage idolatry.


(This post has been edited to add new links)



Related posts, this blog:

(Link): If the Family Is Central, Christ Isn’t

(Link): Parenthood Does Not Make People More Loving Mature Godly Ethical Caring or Responsible (One Stop Thread)

(Link): Lies The Church Tells Single Women (by Sue Bohlin)

(Link): Ever Notice That Christians Don’t Care About or Value Singleness, Unless Jesus Christ’s Singleness and Celibacy is Doubted or Called Into Question by Scholars?

(Link): Marriage Does Not Make People More Loving Mature Godly Ethical Caring or Responsible (One Stop Thread)

(Link): According to Pastor ( Jimmy Evans ) It Takes One Man and Woman Married To Equal A Whole – so where does that leave adult Christian singles ?

Driscoll also has incorrect, unbiblical views about adult celibacy:
(Link): Preacher Mark Driscoll Basically Says No, Single Christian Males Cannot or Should Not Serve as Preachers / in Leadership Positions – Attempts to Justify Unbiblical, Anti Singleness Christian Bias

(Link): There is No Such Thing as a Gift of Singleness or Gift of Celibacy or A Calling To Either One

(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): God’s gifting of singleness is rare – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage and God gifts only the rare with the gift of Marriage

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

(Link): Preacher Whose 90% of Sermons are About How to Have a Great Marriage Warns Audience Not to Make Marriage an Idol – Kerry Shook Update and Irony Alert

(Link): Never Married Christians Over Age 35 who are childless Are More Ignored Than Divorced or Infertile People or Single Parents

(Link): Douglas Wilson and Christian Response FAIL to Sexual Sin – No Body Can Resist Sex – supposedly – Re Celibacy

(Link): A Grown-Up, Not Sexed-Up, View of Womanhood (article) – how Christian teachings on gender and singlehood contribute to raunch culture and fornication etc

(Link): ‘God’s Purpose for Women,’ by Matthew Hagee – Hagee Teaches that Single Unmarried Women Do Not Have a Purpose in Life God has no purpose for singles

(Link): The Irrelevancy To Single or Childless or Childfree Christian Women of Biblical Gender Complementarian Roles / Biblical Womanhood Teachings

(Link): To Get Any Attention or Support from a Church These Days you Have To Be A Stripper, Prostitute, or Orphan

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

(Link): Do You Rate Your Family Too High? (Christians Who Idolize the Family) (article)

(Link): Family as “The” Backbone of Society? – It’s Not In The Bible

(Link): Why Unmarried – Single Christians Should Be Concerned about the Gender Role Controversy (some preachers are teaching that unmarried adults are not 100% human, not 100% in the “image of God,” that they must marry first)

(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

(Link): Christian TV Personality and Preacher ( Jimmy Evans ) Says You Cannot Meet God’s Destiny For Your Life Without A Spouse = Anti Singleness Singlehood Singles Bias Prejudice Making Idol out of Marriage

(Link): Single Adults – Why They Stay and Why They Stray From Church – Book Excerpts

(Link): Christian Stereotypes About Female Sexuality : All Unmarried Women Are Supposedly Hyper Sexed Harlots – But All Married Ones are Supposedly Frigid or Totally Uninterested in Sex
———————-

Mark Driscoll pastor of Mars Hill – views on singleness

Driscoll wrote(source: “Single Like Jesus”),

So this is a growing number, because people are waiting longer to marry. In 1960 the average man was 23, the average woman was 20, upon marriage; today the average man is 27, the average woman is 23. And so people are waiting longer to marry – but is that because they love Jesus and are maintaining their purity and using all of their time to memorize verses? No. Because they’re all having sex – a new F-word is fornicating, for some of you, and that is sex before marriage. We dealt with that last week. And what singles tend to do is wait longer to get married but have sex until they get married, to the degree that 41 percent of all women will have cohabitated – shacked up, lived with a boyfriend – before marriage at some point in their life; 4 out of 10 women.

Notice he wrote “they’re all having sex.” Driscoll is rude and presumptive.

I am a Christian woman, early 40s, never been married, never had sex, and have never co-habitated. The same is true for roughly one third of Christians over 30 who have never married (see the book “Quitting Church” by author Julia Duin for citations and stats on that). Get your facts straight

Driscoll He opens that same page by saying,

This section of Scripture remains wildly misunderstood. Singleness is not ideal, marriage should be honored by all. Practically, however, there are seasons and reasons that provide exceptions to the rule of marriage for some people.

No Christian disputes that “marriage should be honored by all” but then, so too should singleness. (The Bible in fact says that both singleness and marriage are ideal. Paul goes so far to say that the single have more undivided attention to spend on the Gospel where as the married are more consumed with pleasing their spouse.)

The married in the Christian community are supposed to honor the singles, too, not just vice versa as Driscoll states; this is not a one-way street.

One reason so many older singles stay away from American churches is that there is far too much emphasis on and “honoring” of the married already going on in churches.

Singles are ignored. The only time pastors or the rest of the church pay attention to singles is when they expect the singles to cater to the married couples but the married couples are never expected to meet the needs of the singles.

Driscoll, like many other Christians, mistakenly think it’s oh- so- simple and easy for any Christian to get a mate: why, if you just get rid of your “baggage,” fix your flaws, lose ten pounds, or overcome your “issues,” you can instantly merit a spouse.

Sorry, Driscoll, but no, it does not work that way.

God does not reward or grant spouses based upon how “perfect” or “responsible” or how “together” one is.

If God expected perfection (or near perfection) before allowing Christians to marry (which is what Driscoll is advocating in essence), then absolutely nobody would be married.
Continue reading “Mark Driscoll pastor of Mars Hill – views on singleness”

Being Single, by Keri Smith

Being Single, by Keri Smith
(Source: http://theraphaelproject.com/blog/being-single-guest-blogger-keri-smith/ )

Excerpts:

…We’ve all been there, like we’ve all been learner drivers, we have all been single. So when did the “them” and “us” suddenly happen? Yes I put my hand up, I am single. But does something happen? Do you forget you were ever single when you meet someone? Forgive me, it has been awhile.

It’s crazy, I have not been invited to dinner parties because I am single, and it’s not just happened to me, so it has nothing to do with my conversation. Do people think that I or any of my other single friends, are going to not find their conversation interesting, or hold court with all the men there because we are single? Please don’t tell me it is because I would be the odd one out, or the numbers would be odd?

…But my favourite by far, is people telling you why you are still single. I have been told, I am too fussy, I don’t give anyone a chance, you might not fancy them, but you might grow to like them. I don’t talk to anyone, I make every guy my friend, I never meet anyone new people, and loads more besides.

The Singles Challenge ( Single Christian over 35 years old never married )

From christianity.com
(originally from The Singles Challenge
By Margaret Feinberg
Copyright Christianity Today International):


Theresa became a Christian when she was 18. She says she assumed that God would present her with a fine Christian man, complete with a shiny red bow, and that meeting him would be just around the corner.

“I’m 33 years old now, and no such man has shown up on my doorstep,” says the San Francisco Bay Area resident.

Most of the men that ask Theresa out are not Christians, which makes it easy for her to say no. When she finds herself attracted to a non-Christian, they have to pass a test she calls “dropping the Jesus-bomb.”

She used to let non-Christian guys take her to dinner and then halfway through the meal tell them that she was a Christian. “They’d still seem hopeful until I bluntly told them what that means in their language: ‘I am not going to sleep with you,'” she says. “Most non-Christian men respond to this by saying ‘check please!’ I got tired of the dinner ritual and have sped up the process. Now I simply drop the Jesus-bomb right away.”

She says dates were easier to come by in her early twenties, when most people that age are still single. “But my twenties came and went and now most of my peers are married and having babies,” she explains. “I rarely see a man my age who is single. And the few I have seen, I have no interest in, not that they are asking me out in the first place.”

Theresa is far from alone in her situation. Being single today -especially a single Christian- isn’t easy. A variety of issues assault today’s Christian singles, including pressure to marry from family, friends, and well-intentioned church members; a lack of dating options; and, of course, sexual temptation. In addition, women face the constant ticking of their biological clocks.

And it’s not just twenty- and thirtysomething men and women who are facing these challenges. Today there’s a growing demographic of older singles, 40 and up.

“In singles’ groups with people age 30 and above, a significant portion of the singles are single again,” says Chip Ingram, president of Walk Thru the Bible Ministries and author of Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships. “Thus, the pain of the failed relationship and often being a single parent multiplies the stress in an older single’s world as well as making it difficult for the never-have-been-married singles to discern what their role is in developing relationships where they would be inheriting a family or dealing with baggage from their partner’s past.”

A lot of older single Christians, who didn’t expect to be single at this point, admit to feeling lost. “They thought they would be married by now, or if they’re divorced, they never expected that to happen to them,” says 33-year-old Lori Smith, author of The Single Truth: Challenging the Misconceptions of Singleness with God’s Consuming Truth.

“They often feel less Christian because the church emphasizes family so much that singles are left with the impression that good Christians get married and have kids. They wonder if God has forgotten them. Many are depressed about being single and don’t know how to change the way they feel.”
Continue reading “The Singles Challenge ( Single Christian over 35 years old never married )”

Live alone? You’re not alone (from CBS news)

Live alone? You’re not alone, from CBS News

“Women do a much better job when they’re living alone,” said Klinenberg. “They tend to make and maintain relationships much better than men throughout the life course, whereas for men it’s much more likely that they will wind up feeling lonely or unhappy or isolated.”

Case in point: Forty-year-old New Yorker Jeff Ragsdale. He describes waking up alone as “hell.”

“It’s very sad,” he told Spencer. “Or going to bed, you know, alone constantly by yourself, eating alone. And also there’s nothing worse than being sick by yourself. You’re lying in bed watching the world go by and wondering, ‘How did I get so alone?'”
Continue reading “Live alone? You’re not alone (from CBS news)”

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”

Childfree Christians / Childfree childless

(click “more” to read the entire post)

I’ve visited a few blogs and discussion boards for people who are “childfree.”

Most childfree people bristle at being referred to as “childless,” since most of them never wanted to have kids and intentionally took steps to avoid having any, such as undergoing sterilization procedures.

The term “childless” signifies to them that they wanted kids but could not have them, as well as other unwanted connotations, so they dislike the term.

Before I discuss my views on these childfree sites, here is my background and views as they pertain to kids and other topics I see regularly brought up on childfree forums and blogs:

I do not have any children. I have never had children. I have never married. I wanted to be married and would still like to be married.

I’ve never felt totally comfortable with the idea of becoming pregnant and having a baby, but I was never totally opposed to having one of my own.

I do not hate children, but I don’t like most of them. Most children are irritating and too loud. Most teens are obnoxious and idiotic. I don’t think 99% of infants are cute.

I am pro-life; I do not support abortion, nor do I support homosexuality or the legalization of homosexual marriage.

I am a social conservative and a Republican.

Here are my experiences of visiting childfree blogs and forums…

While I can relate to many of the problems and situations described at some of these sites, such as The Childfree Life discussion board or Bratfree Forum, I am dismayed or put off by some of the comments and attitudes I see by some members.

There is quite a bit of profanity on those particular boards and on others like them;  there are jokes about killing or maiming kids/babies (implied); rude or cruel comments about people who did nothing to deserve it; many generalizations or gross misrepresentations or misunderstandings of conservative Christians.

Continue reading “Childfree Christians / Childfree childless”

Article by J. Watts: The Scandal of Singleness – singles never married christian

Excellent piece by Jackson Watts (I omitted the footnotes; you can visit the link “The Scandal of Singleness” to view them); click the “more” link to read the rest:

(Link): The Scandal of Singleness

Sometimes others know us better than we know ourselves. Though the world sees through a darkened lens, occasionally it observes something in Christians worth considering. Recently, a New York Times has done just that in exploring the bias in evangelicalism against hiring unmarried pastors [1].

Erik Eckholm recounts the case of one experienced pastor unable to find work after searching since 2009. According to Eckholm, most evangelical churches will never seriously consider a single pastor for fear that (a) he cannot relate well to married couples, or (b) his sexual orientation is in question. While it would be easy to target search committees for their myopia, the data shows that this bias extends throughout many evangelical denominations.

This trend represents the concerns of Christians about the state of marriage in America. Many publications have noted the fact that unmarried adults are now the largest demographic in America. According to the last census, nearly 50% of American adults are unmarried—the most in history. It is in this vein that evangelical theologian Al Mohler responds to Eckholm’s findings: “Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society,” he said, justify “the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married” [2].

So, is this bias against singles, especially in ministry, justified? Is the privileged status of marriage over singleness Scriptural? Is singleness as scandalous as some imply? I contend that the church’s witness is hindered insomuch as it ignores or belittles faithful expressions of singleness in the church.

Continue reading “Article by J. Watts: The Scandal of Singleness – singles never married christian”