Being Single During Christmas (by J. Acuff)

Being Single During Christmas (by J. Acuff)

(Link): Being Single During Christmas (by J. Acuff)

(The follow up post:
(Link): The 39 worst things folks said to people who are single during the holidays.)

Excerpts:

    … So instead of simply remixing an old post, I decided to create a holiday-focused scorecard. Think of it like a seasonal ale they put nutmeg in during January. It only comes around this time of year. Without further ado, I give you:

    Being single during Christmas at church:

    5. You good friends hold secret “couples holiday dinners” they don’t invite you to because they don’t want you to feel awkward. = + 3 points

    Wreath
    Wreath

    6. They wince when the world’s worst commercials, Jared’s jewelry, come on TV and some horrible actress gets engaged right in front of you. = +4 points

    8. They try desperately to find the silver lining and say things like, “It must be nice not to have to shop for anyone. My husband is so hard to get gifts for!” = +2 points

    10. They feel slightly guilty for watching romantic Christmas movies in your presence, like “Love Actually.” = +3 points

    11. Someone tells you, “Being single doesn’t have to mean being alone.” = +2 points

    12. Your friends have stopped saying “When you get married” because they’re not sure you’ve got it in you. = +1 point

    21. People spend an exorbitant amount of time telling you marriage success stories, e.g. “The instant my friend Jill stopped looking for a boyfriend this incredible guy came along and swept her off her feet.” = + 1 point

    22. You’re divorced and someone gives you the incredibly encouraging advice, “God will bring you someone who will overlook your past.” = + 2 points

    24. Someone makes a horrible joke about how this Christmas, you got the “gift of celibacy.” = +10 points

    25. Married friends feel compelled to over tell you how difficult marriage is so that you don’t feel like it’s a winter wonderland of constant awesomeness. = +3 points

    32. People try to romanticize the tremendous amounts of free time you must have during the holidays without a family to bother you. = +3 points

Some select reader comments:

    Sydney says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 3:46 PM

    As the oldest grandchild and neice on both sides of my family I have recently been given the guilt trip from my grandparents: “We might not have many more Cristmases left, we need some grandchildren!”

    Selina says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 4:12 PM

    Yup, I started to hear similar comments in the last couple years (and I’m only 24!). Like from my grandfather “Do you have a boyfriend yet? You need to get married before I die.” As if boyfriends magically appear out of force of sheer will.

    Katie says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 3:48 PM

    “It’s so courageous of you to decorate your apartment for the holidays and send out Christmas cards, as if you had a family”.

    Yep. From a family member.

    I don’t know how many ‘points’ is equal to spending Christmas afternoon in my bedroom crying. Alone, of course. Maybe +20?

    Carly says
    DECEMBER 15, 2013 AT 10:17 AM

    So true! My grandfather gives all my (married) siblings/cousins money (triple digits) for Christmas. Being single, I get $0. Its not so much about the money, but not being considered as “equally deserving of a gift.”

    Sara says
    DECEMBER 15, 2013 AT 1:01 PM

    Me too, Carly! Me too! The exact same thing happens to me.

    Sandy says
    DECEMBER 15, 2013 AT 3:43 PM

    Same here!! I always think, I have bills too and nobody to help me pay them! Am I not worthy of a check at Christmas just because I didn’t provide a son-in-law and grandchildren??

    Claire says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 4:28 PM

    [In response to someone who says she hates #21 on the list, 21 reads,

    21. People spend an exorbitant amount of time telling you marriage success stories, e.g. “The instant my friend Jill stopped looking for a boyfriend this incredible guy came along and swept her off her feet.” = + 1 point]

    As if God is dangling a gift in front of you and will only give it to you when you stop reaching for it or wanting it! So screwy, but I can’t tell you how many people have thrown this at me in my 35 years of singleness.

    Kelsey says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 4:53 PM

    I cannot stand #21 or any spin-offs that deal with, “Well, when you focus fully on God, he’ll be right beside you!”

    It implies that all married people are somehow on a separate spiritual playing field than singles. Like they are the first-string players that know how to focus on Jesus better or something—AND FOR THAT, THEY GET A REWARD!

    But not you single people. Go read your ESV study bible and pray a little more. Better luck next season!

    jill says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 5:20 PM

    I’m sick of people saying I should get more involved in church and that I will meet him there. I already go to church and have been for a looong time. No dice. Sitting between my parents each Sunday doesn’t really help either, huh?

    Krista says
    DECEMBER 15, 2013 AT 12:15 AM

    I attend a church and live in a town that has very few single Christian men. My church has none. And I am one of two single ladies myself. Getting more involved will not do anything.

    Selina says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 5:22 PM

    That is fantastic, haha! Yeah, it’s a very good point. A lot of people make comments that imply you’re single because you somehow aren’t putting God first in your life, no matter what you’re actually doing.

    DM says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 4:10 PM

    ST.WIPS: Stupid Things Well-Intentioned People Say.

    “It’ll happen when…” (and then fill in the blank with any sort of random statement like “when you’re least expecting it…” blah blah blah)
    “God is your husband!”
    “Maybe you should…” (and then fill in the blank with any sort of random advice that is usually a little bit mean. I usually want to respond, “Maybe you should kiss my grits.”
    “Have you prayed about it?” Oh! Now there’s a brilliant idea that I’ve never considered!

    Jon–How many points does one get for being single, alone, and OVERSEAS at Christmas? About 100?

    Monahmartha says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 9:51 PM

    Blechk! Im 35, and married now but wow, did i hate that “youre not putting urself in the right situations…” Its bs im sorry. I was told for many years my husband would come to my church one day. And the non-church people i knew were telling me i needed to go to club to find a man. Otherwise i was dooomed.

    Well every1 was wrong. I just kept living my life and future hubby came to my WORK PLACE. LOL so there!

    And i vowed when i got married i will not become “one of them”. And im didnt. Godmhelp me if i ever do…

    Holly says
    DECEMBER 16, 2013 AT 12:58 PM

    I tell the Church ladies that there is no one single my age at church, so I’m gonna start going to the bars to find a husband.

    That shuts them up quick.

    Amy says
    DECEMBER 16, 2013 AT 3:20 PM

    I once told a girl at my Bible study that I’d been keeping my hair long because a) I’ve been enjoying doing fun updos with it and b) I read that guys prefer longer hair (which is true) . . . but I’d also considered doing a cute pixie cut. I’m just afraid that if I did everyone would think I was a butch lesbian, so if I get to 35 and I’m still not married I might go ahead and give the pixie a shot, since by then I expect most people will think I’m a butch lesbian anyway . . . LOL. (It’s been thought before, even when I’ve had long hair . . . I’m sorry to say).

    Selina says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 4:17 PM

    Yup, some of these are accurate already. Like the lady at church who always asks me if I have a boyfriend yet because she has to know as soon as it happens. I have a few friends who like to tell me how lucky I am to be single and how guys are so much more trouble than they’re worth. Yeah, so nice to be told that from the person who has been married or in a relationship for years to the girl who has never had a bf. They all mean well, but there comes a point when every single piece of “advice” or “encouragement” someone gives you about your love life becomes kind of insulting and aggravating. I despise those cliched comments from people.

    [In reply to a married about what marrieds can say to singles]
    Andrea says
    DECEMBER 16, 2013 AT 12:52 AM

    Everything else about my life? Because part of what makes it so frustrating/hurtful, is those questions are essentially implying, “it doesn’t really matter what you’ve done or accomplished. Your life isn’t truly valid until you’re in a relationship/married/have kids. Didn’t you know you are defined by your marital status?”

    I have a job I’ve worked hard for and really enjoy (and I work with some really fascinating stuff, which I might tell you about if you showed interest in knowing something beyond my 30-second job summary).
    I have a master’s degree.
    I’ve traveled all over the world.
    I have friends and family all over the country/world.
    I’ve been remodeling my house over the last 3 years.
    I’m in a book club and love to read.
    I enjoy working in my yard/garden.
    I love to bake and cook.
    I love going to the theater and trying new restaurants.
    And yes, I have two cats. And they entertain me to no end.

    But yet somehow, there are people who can’t think of anything to ask me about or comment on except my relationship status?!

    So, what would encourage me and make me feel appreciated? Showing interest in what my life IS (everything listed above), rather than what it might be lacking (a significant other). Celebrating/congratulating me on what I’ve accomplished (job, education, house reno, etc.), rather than focusing on what I haven’t (a husband). Recognizing that I and my life are legitimate and acceptable right now and as is – just as acceptable and legitimate as they would be with a spouse, not just as “it’s nice to see you’re using your time well until you meet someone.”.

    Hope that helps!

    Becky says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 5:28 PM

    Yes! I also stopped telling stories to my parents that involves and single guy within 20 years of me. They completely tone-out what I’m saying and become fixed on that guy. “So you just said Jake, who is Jake, how old is he? Are you interested, is he cute?” And they remember him and check-in on how “jake and I ” are doing for months.

    Selina says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 4:25 PM

    Ooo, wait, can we add watching all the Christmas engagement posts starting to pop up on facebook with the nauseatingly sappy captions??? Seriously.

    Sharon says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 4:25 PM

    Being a widow, I get a lot of “at least…” statements, such as “at least you had the time together that you did. “.
    True, but it doesn’t make it any less lonely. These are often preceded by “Wow, the holidays much be so hard for you, being by yourself and all.”
    Thanks for pointing that out, I hadn’t noticed.
    Which is immediately followed by the suggestion that I sign up to volunteer at all 11 services over four days.
    Just because I’m single doesn’t mean I don’t have a life.

    Kaitlyn says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 4:25 PM

    This cracked me up, especially after the question I got yesterday: “Have you tried Christian Mingle yet?”

    Rachel says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 6:40 PM

    Ah yes. My old friend. I saw an advert for said company online the other day (thanks, targeted FB advertising) with the terrible, theologically worrying and mildly threatening slogan “Worried about going to heaven alone? Maybe not.” As Charlie Brown says, good grief.

    Should definitely be added to the points system.

    Peggy says
    DECEMBER 14, 2013 AT 4:29 PM

    I’m divorced and in my thirties. At this point, I hear comments about how God will “restore the years the locusts have eaten.”

    Little do they know that I’m on a wild adventure and I see no locusts in my history.

    I was just starting to write a blog post about Christmas as a single woman! I will have to link to this post.

    Continue reading “Being Single During Christmas (by J. Acuff)”

Widows and Childless and Childfree Have Better Well Being Than Married Couples and Parents says new study

Widows Have Better Well Being Than Married Couples says new study

(Link): Wellbeing higher for widows than couples, National Australia Bank Wellbeing Index finds

    DECEMBER 23, 2013 11:08PM

    WIDOWED people are reporting higher levels of wellbeing than married couples, while women aged 18 to 29 are the unhappiest age group, a survey shows.

    National wellbeing deteriorated to 63.5 points in the last three months of the year, down from 64.4 points in the previous quarter, according to the National Australia Bank Wellbeing Index.

    When it comes to marital status, widows and widowers had the highest levels of wellbeing while singles had the lowest, the survey of 2,100 Australians showed.
    “In particular, mental wellbeing, feeling part of the community and physical health are significantly stronger contributors to the wellbeing of widows when compared to married couples,” NAB economists said.

    Those with no children reported higher levels of wellbeing than those with children, while the highest earners – those on $100,000-plus – were happier than those on lower incomes.

    Overall, wellbeing was highest in South Australia and the Northern Territory and lowest in Tasmania, due to a sharp increase in anxiety over the quarter.

    Those in regional cities reported the highest levels of wellbeing, compared with people in capital cities and rural areas.

    When it comes to age, women aged 18 to 29 reported the lowest levels of wellbeing while women aged 50-plus reported the highest levels.

    “The most important influences on positive wellbeing include personal relationships, your home and personal safety,” NAB economists said.

—————-
Related posts:

(Link): Widower to Advice Columnist Talks about Being Stereotyped by Married Couples or Ignored by Other Marrieds Since His Wife has Died

(Link): Married People Who Find Themselves Single Again – Spouses With Dementia / Married People Who Are Lonely

(Link): Study: People today living alone more than ever before

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

Ministering to the Unmarried by Noel Cameron

Ministering to the Unmarried by Noel Cameron

I post this with a misgiving or two. At one point the author actually describes singleness as being a problem:

    God has a solution for the problem of singleness.

As the kids say today,
*FACEPALM*

To characterize singleness as being a “problem” is, in a way, insulting to singles.

Now, I am a single who desires marriage, and I tire of the simplistic “rah rah, singleness is a gift” rhetoric which cheapens what I go through at times, but, I do want to be respected as I am, which is SINGLE.

I do not like being referred to as “a problem” because I am single. I would advise Christian authors to be careful in how they phrase articles for adult singles.

(Link): Ministering to the Unmarried

    by Noel Cameron

    Effective ministry to single adults—widowed, divorced, or never married—is one of the most difficult challenges facing the church today.

    Although church-related activities absorb youth, children, families, young couples, and other special-interest groups, single persons usually find themselves on the periphery of church life.

    Many beautiful lives go unnurtured, and the body of Christ is seriously crippled.

    If the minister is to meet the needs of the unmarried, he must under stand what those needs are. He must understand the pressures the single adult confronts. And he must grasp the Biblical perspective of singleness.

    Consider the dilemma of the single adult. He or she feels isolated and often neglected by the church for several reasons.

    First, the very fact of his singleness often creates insecurity that makes it difficult for him to point out the deep and varied needs of single people.

    Moreover, the single person is keenly aware of an apparent church perspective that implies that success and fulfillment and even normalcy as a person are to be found only in marriage.

    Christianity is often seen as a family affair. Thus, the single person has difficulty identifying fully with the life of the church.

    Second, the church is oriented toward couples and families, especially in its social fellowship.

    How often have churches innocently planned dinners, weekend activities, or socials for couples and families, without a thought for single members, who circulated on the fringes of the activity or avoided it entirely, their hearts lonely and heavy, be cause they did not really fit?

    Unknowingly the church has many times shaped its life to inhibit the singles’ involvement, thus neglecting vitally important needs.

    [comments by Christian Pundit:
    snip author’s critique of singles ministries as being “dating services.”
    I for one would LOVE to attend a thriving “dating service” type church event or class if there are tons of good looking single men to flirt with, choose from, and pursue, thank you very much. It’s either look for a man at a church, or try “eHarmony” dating site, or the corner bar.]

Third, the church pastor usually finds ministry to the single adult very difficult. Since ministry to singles almost always focuses on social relationships and needs, the pastor feels a desire to protect himself from real or potential dangers to his ministry and reputation, and thus shies away from an involvement in personal ministry with single adults.

In public ministry, church activities tend to center around youth and families or around singles as an isolated group. Both situations substantially sever the single person from the heart of the church.

Continue reading “Ministering to the Unmarried by Noel Cameron”

Good Posts on Singleness from ‘Crumbs From the Communion Table’ Blog

Good Posts on Singleness from Crumbs From the Communion Table Blog

I’m not sure, but I think the guy who owns this blog is either a Christian homosexual, (or is hetero but supports homosexuality? – okay, yes, he says on his “about” page, ‘I run The Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit organization’), but he makes some very good points about how churches treat all singles, whether of the hetero or homo variety.

If he is a supporter of homosexuality in some fashion or another, do not let that dissuade you from reading his blog pages, because there’s a lot on there that a conservative, hetero Christian can agree with. Some of what he writes mirrors things I’ve been saying on my blog the last couple of years.

He also illustrates many of his posts with some happening animated GIFs. It’s worth a visit just to see the GIFs he chose for some of these blog posts 😆

(Link): Nine Ways Your Church Can Support Singles, by Justin Lee

(Link): Singles: Why Are Churches So Bad At Dealing With Them?, by Justin Lee

(Link): What Every Woman Wants. Or Not.

I believe both single MEN and women can relate to that blog post, “What Every Woman Wants. Or Not.”

I for one am sick and tired of the assumptions made by biblical gender role complementarians about womanhood (and manhood), one reason being such rigid gender role teachings actually are contributing to the rash of unwanted, protracted singleness among Christian adults.

Not only should you read “What Every Woman Wants. Or Not,” you should also take a look at the comments on the page, because you will see a few single women discussing what it’s like to be a single Christian. Even if you are a single male, you might relate to an extent to some of the things the women wrote in the comments.

……………..EXCERPTS……….

(Link): Nine Ways Your Church Can Support Singles, by Justin Lee

    The challenges we singles face go beyond financial considerations and how to abstain from sex. In a church culture that emphasizes the family unit above almost all else, where is our identity? How do we spend our time as we age and so many of our peers are busy with their families? And what do we make of the fact that even our Christian communities sometimes treat us with condescension or suspicion for being single?

    These are much bigger questions than we can address in one blog post, but for now, here are 9 ways your church can begin ministering better to single people.

    1. Include singles in your church leadership.

    2. Talk openly about singles—in sermons, in staff meetings, in church literature, everywhere you do ministry. When you do, think about how what you say and do affects different groups of singles, from the celibate gay man to the widow. Don’t let “singles” be code for “young people.”

    5. Give singles the opportunity to lead the singles ministry.
    Many pastors think they’re avoiding potential problems by having married folks lead the singles ministry, but honestly, that feels so condescending. It also gives the distinct impression that we’re all just supposed to be on a journey toward marriage, at which point we’ll be taken more seriously.

    7. Be particularly cognizant of the times many people gather with their families—holidays, important life moments, illness, etc.
    Create opportunities for your church to be their family in those times. You know all that love, support, companionship, and stability you get from having a spouse and children? We need those things, too. Think about how your church can fill those gaps.

(Link): Singles: Why Are Churches So Bad At Dealing With Them?

Excerpts:

    by Justin Lee

    … See, American Protestant churches are great at supporting families. If you want to know how to be a better, more godly husband, wife, parent, or child, we’ve got you covered. We’ve got books. We’ve got classes. We’ve got sermons. We’ve got small groups. Here, have a special edition Bible.

    But too often, we don’t seem to know what to do with single people other than somehow shove them into that frame.

    It’s not that churches don’t know they have single people. The trouble is, many churches think about singleness only as a young person’s issue. And what do single teenagers need? Lots of advice on controlling their sex drives until marriage, apparently. But single adults need a lot more than that.

———————
Related posts this blog:

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

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

(Link): Why Even Middle Aged Married with Children Christians Are Leaving Church – Not Just Unmarried Singles | 40 Somethings Gen X Quitting Leaving Church

(Link): Why Churches Don’t Have Singles Ministries (article)

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

(Link): How Christians Keep Christians Single (part 3) – Restrictive Gender Roles Taught as Biblical

(Link): Christian Gender and Sex Stereotypes Act as Obstacles to Christian Singles Who Want to Get Married (Not All Men Are Obsessed with Sex)

The Cloying Annoying Nauseating G-Rated Wholesome Saccharin Sweet Tone of Articles by Christians For Christian Singles – Christian Material For Singles is LAME

The Cloying Annoying Nauseating G-Rated Wholesome Saccharin Sweet Tone of Articles by Christians For Christian Singles

(Edit months after the fact: this blog post may contain adult language, as in cuss words. Or not. I don’t remember. But it’s a possibility.)
————————-
I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to post about this before.

If you are looking for a positive, happy-happy blog to cheer you up about being single, this is not the blog for you.

I don’t aim to give people the warm and fuzzies about being single. I’m not trying to make you feel rotten about being single, either, though.

I am trying to Keep It Real.

I just told a blog visitor in a comment (in the blog post about the 34 year old single woman who is tired of being asked when she will marry), who seems to find this blog depressing, or too negative for her tastes, or something, because I am seldom upbeat and happy:

    …I actually had a visitor here about a week ago who says she really likes this blog because it is “raw.”

I know what she means.

Personally, I tired of the saccharin sweet tone of Christian blogs for singles, and there are many of them out there, if you are looking for upbeat and encouraging conversations about being a Christian single when you feel down about it.

I got turned off by those sites after having looked at them over a period of years.

Sites such as “Christianity Today,” “Boundless,” and “Her.meneutics” (and other Christian sites/ blogs) strive to be G-rated and clean at all times. They are usually afraid to be blunt and real about life, about marriage, about singlehood.

Many Christian sites and blogs (even the ones run by lay persons) are deathly afraid of using rough language, being negative, everything always has to be sunny- sunny, sweet, upbeat, and paint a rosy picture of being a Christian single. In my opinion, that is not real. That is not reality, not to me.

I never got anything out of the sweet, G-rated, prim and proper, super nice blogs for Christians that tell singles to “serve Jesus,” “find contentment in Jesus,” and so forth. These little platitudes don’t convey the deep loneliness and pain some singles who desire marriage contend with.

And that is all very true.

I like that I can come to my little blog here and cuss and rant and be negative (you too can start your own blog. These Word Pres blogs are free).

Continue reading “The Cloying Annoying Nauseating G-Rated Wholesome Saccharin Sweet Tone of Articles by Christians For Christian Singles – Christian Material For Singles is LAME”

A Preacher Who Actually Reminds His Congregation that “Family” in the New Testament is Not Referring to Nuclear Family, Encourages Them to Include Non Relatives

A Preacher Who Actually Reminds His Congregation that “Family” in the New Testament is Not Referring to Nuclear Family, Encourages Them to Include Non Relatives

(Link): Christmas Vacation: Searching for a Family – sermon by Dan Hamel, on the Southland Church web site

This is one of the few times I have heard a preacher remind his church members that Jesus Christ put Himself above nuclear family, and spiritual family (other believers in Christ) before flesh and blood relations.

I only listened to this sermon one time, last night, and on Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting For the Faith show, so my memory may not be the greatest, but if I remember correctly, preacher Hamel quotes Christ’s words of (Link): Matthew 12:46-50.

Hamel reminded his congregants to include people in their families who may be lonely, who may be widowed, or so forth. In other words, Hamel was asking them to do what God asks of them in the Bible.

I am surprised that Chris Rosebrough ripped this Hamel guy to shreds over it.

You can listen to Rosebrough pulverize Hamel here (after the commentary about Furtick, Rick Warren, and so on):

(Link): Fighting for the Faith podcast, DECEMBER 16, 2013, Chris Rosebrough, host

    Sermon Review: Netflixmas — Christmas Vacation by Dan Hamel of Southland Christian Church

I like Rosebrough on a personal level. He seems to be a nice guy, and while I do agree with him that a lot of seeker friendly sermons tend to be fluff and light on substance, I do not share his conviction that unless a sermon explicitly mentions the death and resurrection of Jesus and repentance that it is an un-biblical, stupid one worthy of ridicule or condemnation.

Not even Jesus Christ sermonized on repentance every single time he opened his mouth – please see the Gospels for examples.

Sometimes Jesus spoke about people’s earthly concerns, such as divorce, religious hypocrisy, anger, politics, hatred, sexual sin, physical sickness, worry, financial matters, and so forth.

If Rosebrough were to be consistent, he would need to get into a time machine, go back to tell Jesus after hearing Jesus deliver, say, for example, (Link): Matthew 6:33-34,

    “Jesus! Shame on you! You need to repent!
    You did not mention yourself ONCE in that discussion! You did not talk about repentance, salvation, propitiation, or hell!

    All you talked about was God meeting people’s needs! Repent, Jesus! Talk more about yourself next time!

    More soteriology, less pragmatic, earthly concerns discussions! You’re being too seeker-friendly, Jesus, repent!”

If it’s peachy fine acceptable for Jesus to occasionally veer off the ol’ “repent and be saved” sermonizing path, why is it suddenly wrong for a preacher today to do so?

And I can tell you that the church needs MORE of these Hamel-type sermons where they are reminded to stop worshipping their relatives. There are a lot of Christians who are widowed, divorced, never married, who are childless, and their relatives are dead or estranged, and such people should be invited over by the married couples of the churches for dinner, for fellowship.

I have tweeted Rosebrough before about how a lot of churches today have turned marriage (and having children) into an idol.

Some churches teach that marriage is another sort of “gospel,” while some Christian preachers teach that unmarried Christians are not fully in God’s image, while some surveys revealed that a large chunk of Christian women consider their family more important than the Gospel.

There are many un-bibical, weird, awful things Christians are teaching about marriage and singleness out there. I would hope at some point Rosebrough starts to discuss this on his show and/or blog once in a while.

Here are some links from previous blog entries I’ve made (I have many more blog posts about it, these are only a few):

(Link): Creepy: ‘Barna: [Christian] Women Value Family Over Faith’

(Link): Focus on Family spokesperson, Stanton, actually says reason people should marry is for ‘church growth’

(Link): Conservative Christian Think Tank Says: “Preach the Gospel of Marriage”

If Rosebrough is upset over Drisocll’s plagairism (and he was, and he called Driscoll to repent over it), I would think he would also be upset, and want to devote some time, to discussing the new trend in Christianity: attacking virginity / celibacy/ singleness, such as (and again these are just a few posts, I have many others on this blog):

(Link): Christians Who Attack Virginity Celibacy and Sexual Purity – and specifically Russell D. Moore and James M. Kushiner

(Link): The Bible Does Not Teach Christians to “Focus On The Family” – The Idolization of Family by American Christians (article)

(Link): More Anti Singleness Bias From Southern Baptist Al Mohler – Despite the Bible Says It Is Better Not To Marry

(Link): Anti Virginity Editorial by Christian Blogger Tim Challies – Do Hurt / Shame Feelings or Sexual Abuse Mean Christians Should Cease Supporting Virginity or Teaching About Sexual Purity

All those people need to be told to repent of their nuclear family, pro-creation, and marriage idolatry. They need to be told to repent of marginalizing singleness and of putting nuclear family ahead of the Gospel and ahead of helping non-relatives.

So, please, give that Hamel guy a break.
Hamel was reminding Christians to follow Christ’s words of (I mean, dude, a butt load of Christians today are regularly in GROSS VIOLATION of these teachings of Christ, it is NOT legalism to remind them of this),

    (Matthew 10:37) [Jesus speaking],
    He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

and

    (Matthew 12:46-50)
    He [Jesus] replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
    49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.
    50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus said,

    Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6.46)

And (this is Jesus speaking),

    “If you love me, obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)

If you are an unmarried person reading this, you might find Hamel’s sermon a refreshing change of pace from the usual “marriage is so teriffic, you’re less than whole if you are a single!” sermons we hear all the time, so consider giving it a listen.

(Link): Christmas Vacation: Searching for a Family – sermon by Dan Hamel, on the Southland Church web site

Do Married Couples Slight Their Family Members as Well as Their Friends? / “Greedy Marriages”

Do Married Couples Slight Their Family Members as Well as Their Friends? / “Greedy Marriages”

Yeah, you will remember that Jesus says that the spiritual family of God – other people who believe in Jesus – are to take precedence over your own spouse or children.

Does the American evangelical church live this teaching of Jesus’ out? Nope – they worship the nuclear family and put non-relatives at the bottom of the list of priorities.

(Link): Do Married Couples Slight Their Family Members as Well as Their Friends?

    Intensive coupling is a cultural phenomenon

Published on April 21, 2011 by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D. in Living Single

… What interests me about this is how individual experiences map onto what could be a bigger cultural phenomenon. The author believes that when two people marry, their social circles should increase, as they welcome one another’s family and friends into their expanded social network. Instead, her son withdrew into an insular twosome with his wife.

Those who espouse the supposedly transformative powers of marriage often make a similar argument: When people marry, their social horizons broaden. The problem is that the data are not always so cooperative. I’ve written before about the national surveys showing that adults who have always been single are more likely to visit, call, or write their siblings and parents, and to socialize with friends or neighbors, than are adults who are currently married. (The previously married are in between.) Always-single adults are also more likely than married adults to provide emotional or practical support to parents, siblings, friends, and neighbors.

In previous posts here and at All Things Single, I’ve focused on the slighting of single friends by people who become seriously coupled. The mad mom’s tale reminds me that it may not be just friends who are nudged to the side. And, my reaction to that essay – hey, it is not (just) personal that your son seems to be shunning you, it’s cultural – reminds me that the same may be true when couples ignore the people they once regarded as good friends. Maybe it is not (just) personal, it’s cultural.

I think the phenomenon (sometimes called “greedy marriage,” because couples want all of the time and attention and affection for themselves) is probably especially difficult for those who straddle different cultural eras. The “intensive coupling” that is commonplace today (though hardly characteristic of all couples) is a relatively recent practice. If you can remember a time when married couples were more expansive, and you expected your kids or friends to be that way, too, then their retreat to we-are-onedom must be particularly painful.

(Link): The greedy marriage – The New York Times

By Chris Berdik

Published: Sunday, September 16, 2007

More precisely, marriage can be greedy, according to Naomi Gerstel of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Natalia Sarkisian of Boston College, who have written a paper called “Marriage: the Good, the Bad, and the Greedy.” Analyzing two nationwide social surveys, they found that married couples spend less time than singles calling, writing, and visiting with their friends, neighbors, and extended family. According to their research, married people are also less likely to give friends and neighbors emotional support and practical help, such as with household chores.

Gerstel and Sarkisian’s research flies in the face of recent academic studies and political speeches arguing that marriage is the endangered cornerstone of a healthy society, benefiting the mental, physical, and financial well-being of children and adults, and, ultimately, their fellow citizens. They argue that marriage may actually, albeit unwittingly, have just the opposite effect – sapping the strength of American communities and diminishing our ability to think and act for the common good.

“Many, bemoaning the retreat from marriage, also mourn the loss of community,” they wrote in the Fall 2006 issue of Contexts, a journal of the American Sociological Association. “What these nostalgic discussions do not recognize, ironically, is that marriage and community are often at odds with one another.”

…Over the last century, Americans have become more romantic about marriage, and that’s not always a good thing, according to some scholars.

Continue reading “Do Married Couples Slight Their Family Members as Well as Their Friends? / “Greedy Marriages””

Widower to Advice Columnist Talks about Being Stereotyped by Married Couples or Ignored by Other Marrieds Since His Wife has Died

Widower to Advice Columnist Talks about Being Stereotyped by Married Couples or Ignored by Other Marrieds Since His Wife has Died

This guy, whose letter I am copying below, was married for twenty years, and his wife died. He wrote a letter to advice columnist “Ask Amy” describing how horribly he was treated after his wife died.

Note that he mentions that married couples viewed him in his new single-again status as “a threat.”

This seems to happen to single women more often, however, as though all unmarried women skulk about, waiting to attack married men and get them into bed.

A lot of Christian material on dating and marriage advises married men to stay away from un-married women (when married women frequently have affairs with married men, yet the church never issues warnings about a married woman being left alone with married men, and sometimes, it is the married man who is the instigator of affairs with both singles and marrieds).

Like the man who wrote this letter to Ask Amy, after my own family member died, I experienced a lack of concern and care from other people, even from other Christians, and even though I pointedly asked for help and support.

Rather than hold my hand as I wept, I was subjected to unsolicited advice, judgment, and criticism! Everyone else avoided me.

Nobody – not even self professing Christians who I knew attended church weekly, including some extended family of mine – wanted to take phone calls and let me discus my emotional pain over the loss.

The others tried to get me off the phone as fast as possible, or dish out critical comments, chiding me for feeling sad over the loss.

Christians should step up to the plate and comfort the one who is grieving, but they DO NOT.

Christians are lazy and selfish. They’d rather dole out quick platitudes than sit and do the actual hard work of helping someone who is in grief, which involves listening to the mourner weep about the loss for two, or more, hours a month.

I related to this guy’s letter on more than one front.

Letter from man who is now single after his wife of 20 years died:

Dear Amy:

    Over two years ago my wife of 20 years (and my companion of thirty) died of ALS, one of the worst ways to go. Death is not a Hollywood movie, and people are not at their best, but I was there for my wife all the way to the end. She died in my arms. But it was what came after that shocked me.

My immediate, misguided reaction was to ask to be left alone to grieve. That was a big mistake, which I corrected as I found an empty house, and world, overwhelming. What surprised me was who stepped up and who didn’t. Many of our friends just disappeared — some despite pleasant words at the memorial service or promises on sympathy cards.

Now, having connected with my veterans — those who have lost spouses — I think that I may know some of the reasons why. I hope you will share this with your readers.

It boils down to more than busy lives, because those who reached out to me were often the busiest.

A widower or widow represents to another couple the absolute certainty that they or their spouse will be in the same boat one day. You are an unwelcome reminder — a mortician at a birthday party. Also, couples are sometimes threatened by a person who is suddenly single. This is so insulting.

Some people just don’t know what to do. And for them, I have some advice: Life for the surviving spouse is a matter of getting through first the minutes, then the hours, then the days, then the weeks, the months and finally the years.

We don’t necessarily need deep talk. We need an empathetic offer of company, a meal, film, a walk. A diversion from grief is what we need, quite literally, to make it to another day. Just offer a respite, a diversion from pain, even for a little while. That’s all you need to do — and that’s plenty.

And if you really offer it and follow through, you will never be forgotten.

— Widowed in Bethesda

Yep. People are lazy, selfish jackholes.

I also experienced the situation of people making promises to help, only later to blow me off when I phoned them up for help/ comfort. I learned the hard way that you cannot count on people, not even at your lowest point. And I did not feel God during any of that. I got through it all ALONE.

Dec 30, 2013

DEAR AMY:

    I would like to thank “Widowed in Bethesda” for his honest and heartbreaking account of what it is really like when a spouse or partner dies. People who have been in your life for a very long time have a way of disappearing. In my experience, the busiest people were the ones who also made time for me.

Like Widowed, initially I wanted to be alone. I wasn’t able to tell people what I needed. The most comfort I received was from people who worked to maintain the friendship, even though my life had changed dramatically.

— Been There

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Related posts this blog

(Link): When You’re Married and Lonely by J. Slattery

(Link):  A social psychologist reveals why so many marriages are falling apart and how to fix it (and a history of American marriage)

(Link): Grieving for My Sex Life After My Husband Died by A. Radosh

(Link): Why I, Christian Pundit, Post Anonymously (why I don’t post under my real name)

(Link): You Will Be Ignored After Your Spouse Dies (advice columnist)

(Link): Married People Who Find Themselves Single Again – Spouses With Dementia / Married People Who Are Lonely

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

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

(Link): Focus on the Family advice columnist perpetuates stereotypes about single women

(Link): Study: People today living alone more than ever before

Study: People today living alone more than ever before

People today living alone more than ever before

(Link): Living Alone on the Rise

    Newswise — BOWLING GREEN, O.—More people than ever are living alone. That’s according to a new family profile from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR) at Bowling Green State University. Researchers found the percentage of households with just one person has more the doubled since 1960 from 13 to 27 percent.

    One-person households are currently the second most common type after married-couple households, with the majority of solo dwellers living in large metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., Dallas, San Francisco and New York.

    “Living solo is often ignored as an option in our studies of family life,” said Dr. Wendy Manning, co-director of the NCFMR. “There is variability in the experiences of living alone. We expect some folks prefer this living arrangement while others view it as a short-time living situation.”

    Many factors are contributing to this trend, including people choosing to wait longer to get married and have children, longer life expectancies, better financial security in older adults and the increase in divorce rates among middle-aged to older adults.

    “As the baby boomers age we expect to see a continual rise in living solo as older Americans experience widowhood and divorce,” Manning said.

    Researchers found the majority of adults living alone are women, are over age 55, and were previously married.

From a UK paper:
(Link): Why more and more young women are choosing to live alone

(Link): People today living alone more than ever before

    Washington, Dec 7 (ANI): Researchers have found that there are more people than ever before who are living alone.

    According to a new family profile from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR) at Bowling Green State University, the percentage of households with just one person has more than doubled since 1960 from 13 percent to 27 percent.

    One-person households are currently the second most common type after married couple households, with the majority living in large metropolitan areas.

    Many factors contribute to this trend, including people waiting longer to get married and have children, longer life expectancies, better financial security in older adults and the increase in divorce rates among middle-aged to older adults.

    Dr. Wendy Manning, co-director of the NCFMR said that as the baby boomers age, they expect to see a continual rise in living solo as older Americans experience widowhood and divorce

    Researchers found the majority of adults living alone are women, who are over age 55 and have been previously married.

    The data was used from the 2011 US Census Bureau, American Community Survey. (ANI)

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Related posts this blog

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

(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

‘Strip Church Network’ Focuses on Stripper Outreach Outside of Las Vegas Sex Industry

‘Strip Church Network’ Focuses on Stripper Outreach Outside of Las Vegas Sex Industry

I am considering becoming a stripper. Why? So Christians will do outreach and ministry to me. God knows they ignore me as a childless, never married, adult virgin.

(Link): ‘Strip Church Network’ Focuses on Stripper Outreach Outside of Las Vegas Sex Industry

    BY JESSICA MARTINEZ, CP REPORTER
    December 4, 2013|5:19 pm
    Strip Church Network, an organization that first aimed at reaching out to women primarily working in Las Vegas strip clubs for the last five years, has taken their ministry efforts nationwide, spreading hope to strippers in other cities where the sex industry also exists, say its leaders.

    The organization is a network of ministries that are led by women around the country who are trained and equipped with resources that become useful when they make late-night visits to strip clubs with the intention to show the women that they are loved and valued by them and by God.

    “In 2011, we realized that we needed this type of ministry all across the nation, not just in Vegas,” said Tara Ulrich, the Strip Church Coordinator, to the Christian Post. “We knew our team couldn’t just travel around the country visiting strip clubs, so we decided to train and equip other women to do this in their own cities.”

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

61 Year Old Woman Chose To Remain Single Over Life and Wonders Why Churches Treat Singles Like Dirt and Favor Married Couples

61 Year Old Woman Chose To Remain Single Wonders Why Churches Treat Singles Like Dirt

This woman says she is 61 years old and chose to remain single. She wonders why churches make a big deal out of marriage and married couples and ignore singles. You might want to visit her blog page below and leave a comment.

(Link): so few churches acknowledge singles in light of 1 Corinthians 7: 6-9 is this an oversight?

    In the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc.,) we really don’t see Matthew & Rose, Mark & Betty, Luke & Beatrice, John & Sally, etc.

    Why do churches put so much emphasis on couples, inferring that singles who have chosen celibacy really don’t have a place (of course unless they are teen or twenties)?

    I gave my life to Jesus at 16, and now am 61, and chose a path of singleness, according to the ability God gave me. I am confused because there seems to be such heavy emphasis on couples (nothing wrong with couples; I had extra-terrific parents for example). However, it is hurtful to feel like singles are the “low end of the totem pole” in Christian service and responsibility.

    My parents had two girls (one married, and one single…me).

    Do pastors cater to couple images because they presume tithing is higher? Is there cultural etiquette persuading the church more than templates of the New Testament church?

Singled Out: How Churches Can Embrace Unmarried Adults by Christena Cleveland

Singled Out: How Churches Can Embrace Unmarried Adults by Christena Cleveland

This is a rather long blog post. I do not want to reproduce the entire thing, so please visit the blog and read the entire thing.

I would also encourage you to read the visitor comments at the other blog. Those are quite informative too.

She raises points in her blog post about Christians and singleness and marriage that I have been discussing at my blog here for over a year to two years now, including the concept of “married people privilege,” which I blogged about months ago here on my blog: (Link): Christian ‘Married People’ Privilege – Marrieds Think Single Life = Easy / Marrieds and Parents Turn All Topics Into Them And Their Needs / Problems

Here is the link to the other blog entry about singleness:

(Link): Singled Out: How Churches Can Embrace Unmarried Adults by Christena Cleveland

    By christena on December 2, 2013

    … After doing extensive interdenominational research, Dennis Franck,the national director of single adult ministries for the Assemblies of God denomination, concluded:

    “The vast majority of evangelical and Pentecostal churches of any denomination are ‘marriage and family focused.’ That in itself is not a bad posture. Most Christian leaders understand the importance of marriage and the church’s role in strengthening the family unit. The unfortunate reality, however, is that our marriage and family emphasis many times does not include single adults. This is not necessarily by design but is often by ignorance and neglect.”

    … Meanwhile, single people are relegated to the margins.[ii] Whether this is intentional or not, this “married people monopoly” results in a Christian world in which single people are often misunderstood, ignored, overlooked for leadership positions, caricatured, equated with immaturity, and little more than a punchline or an afterthought. To me, it makes sense that churches and Christian organizations have a poor track record when it comes to honoring single people.

    … [A]fter interacting with the church, many singles start to wonder:
    Is there something wrong with me? Is God working in my life? Am I as valuable (to God, to the church) as married people? Does God love me as much as he loves married people? Does God have good things in store for me as a single person?

    … In a Church that was founded by a single guy, singles are terribly marginalized. There’s something wrong with this picture.

    So without further ado, here are my tips on how church people (pastors, leaders and other influencers) can turn this barge around and begin to create communities that honor the image of God in single adults.

    6 TIPS ON HOW MARRIED CHRISTIANS CAN EMBRACE SINGLE ADULTS

    1. Admit that singleness is complex and that you know little to nothing about it.

    A lot of people seem to think that singleness is to marriage as junior varsity is to varsity.

    As a result, married people sometimes mistakenly believe that they know something about singleness when in fact they don’t. Singleness isn’t a junior varsity version of marriage.

    It’s an entirely different sport – and if you haven’t played it, you haven’t mastered it.

    The average marrying age is 29.8 years for men and 26.9 for women. If you got married before these ages, then it makes sense to acknowledge that your experience as a single adult is below average. In other words, you don’t know a lot about singleness. This calls for humility.

    2. Recognize that as a married person, you are privileged.

    Married people run the Christian world.

    For example,

    – Since many pastors, board members, and organizational leaders are married, the married perspective is well-represented in the Church in ways that the single perspective is not.

    – Married people are much more likely to get hired as pastors.

    – A quick search at Amazon.com reveals that for every 1 Christian book on singleness, there are 298 Christian books on marriage.

    – Just for getting married, friends and family members buy married people expensive gifts like Kitchen Aid mixers (a mark of privilege if there ever was one).

    – Marriage is the norm, the gold standard.

    If you don’t adhere to it, people ask questions.

    Case in point: I’m out-and-about in the Christian world a lot these days. As a result, I meet new people all of the time. The fact that we’ve just met doesn’t stop Christians from asking me why I’m not married.

    Out of the blue, and with a quizzical look, they’re like, “How come you’re not married?” It’s my most frequently asked question. Seriously.

Please visit her blog page to read the rest. Thank you.
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Related posts, this blog:

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

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

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

(Link): The Myth of the Gift – Regarding Christian Teachings on Gift of Singleness and Gift of Celibacy

(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): No Christians and Churches Do Not Idolize Virginity and Sexual Purity [they ATTACK both concepts]

(Link): How the Sexual Revolution Ruined Friendship – Also: If Christians Truly Believed in Celibacy and Virginity, they would stop adhering to certain sexual and gender stereotypes that work against both

(Link): Part 2, The Parable of the Neglected Unmarried – Single – Christian

(Link): Married People Who Find Themselves Single Again – Spouses With Dementia / Married People Who Are Lonely

(Link): Singleness Is Not A Gift

(Link): Astonishing: Evangelical Baptist Marriage Idolater David E. Prince Wants to Know Why Evangelical Baptists Are Not Worshipping Marriage More

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

(Link): False Christian Hype About Waiting Until Marriage For Sex – We’ve Gone From “It’s Mindblowing” to Now: “It’s Magical” Re: Timothy Keller / Tim Keller Virginity Celibacy Singles PreMarital Sex

(Link): Christian TV Show Host Pat Robertson Disrespects Virginity – Says Pre-Marital Sex Is “Not A Bad Thing”

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

(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): Why So Much Fornication (sex outside of marriage) – Because Christians Have No Expectation of Sexual Purity

(Link): Tim Challies Christian Blogger Who Proclaimed That All Fornicators Are Virgins Is Now Telling People Not to Look In Lust – WTF?

Asking Too Much of Marriage (Marrieds Just as Lonely as Singles)- Editorial at Christianity Today

Asking Too Much of Marriage (Marrieds Just as Lonely as Singles)- Editorial at Christianity Today

I have not read this whole thing, only a part of it.

It says that surveys show that married people are just as lonely as single people. It says that one should not expect a marital partner to meet all of one’s needs. To that, I say “Yeah, no kidding. Tell me something I don’t already know.”

(Link): Asking Too Much of Marriage from Christianity Today (excerpts below on this blog page)

I was in a long term, serious relationship, so I’m already aware of that a relationship can not bring full happiness and all that.

I could sit in a room with my ex sweetie pie and still feel alone, in part because the idiot was selfish and only cared about himself.

My needs went unmet. I tried meeting his, but he did not even try to meet mine. So yes, one can be in a romantic relationship and still feel all alone, which is, IMO, a worse feeling that being lonely from being alone / unmarried.

One thing I’d like to point out is it that some single adults ARE LONELY. I know that some unmarried people have an extensive network of buddies, pals, and friends, but some of us (like me) do not.

I sometimes see “Myths of singles” lists put together by well-meaning Christians who, while trying to abolish stereotypes about unmarried people never the less create one when they write, “Don’t assume all singles are lonely! Most have lots and lots of buddies.”

There may be some unmarried people who have tons of friends to turn to, but some unmarried adults do not.

I think it would be better worded on such lists to say, to make it clear, that while some singles are NOT lonely due to having a large volume of friends, that some singles are in fact lonely or isolated, or would at least crave more social activity, and so married couples in churches should make it a point to include them at holiday dinners and the like.

Or, at the very least, a church should provide social bonding activities for singles to meet with other adult singles. I wish the people who put together the “misconceptions about singles” lists would stop saying all adult singles have thriving social lives, because some singles do not.

The thing is, this Christianity Today article is a lone voice in the wilderness. Or a rare one, anyhow.

I watch a lot of Christian television programming and have done so for close to ten years now. I’ve also read books and blogs by Christians about dating, gender, marriage, etc.

During all that time, I will occasionally hear a preacher tell the audience that one should not look to a spouse to meet all one’s needs and so forth.

However, quite often, the usual habit is that most Christians -on the blogs, the online professional Christian magazines, sermons, books and radio programs- all imply that the marital state is to be vastly preferred to being unmarried.

They further imply that being married will be great, and of course, there’s the common idiotic refrain from evangelicals and Baptists of, “wait until you get married to have sex, the sex will be regular and mind blowing!” (no, (Link): no it won’t be. (Link): It really won’t.)

Christians often over-sell marriage and romanticize it.

    • (Please understand I am

not

    opposed to any unmarried person wanting to get married. I think wanting to get married and pursuing that as a goal is fine. I’m just talking about keeping marriage in proper perspective, not making it out more than what it is.

Christians generally shame or scold singles who say they want to get married and are looking for a spouse.

Wanting to get married is fine, but making marriage into an idol, not so much.)

That every once in a blue moon a Christian author has to publish an editorial in a Christian magazine or that a preacher has to occasionally to remind people that marriage is not the end-all, be-all solution in life for people and that it does not always bring lasting happiness, is an inadvertent clue that the rest of the time, other Christians are over-hyping marriage precisely as being a solution in life.

Here are excerpts. (Someone needs to share this with “Focus on the Family” and all the other traditional-family-unit worshipping groups and Christian talking heads out there.)

Because this following editorial, and/or some of the pages it links to, sort of scolds singles and feeds them the standard Christian “oh now, don’t be so upset being single, you should be content in your singleness,” chastisement, I have tagged this post with the phrase “making an idol out of marriage and then criticizing Christian singles for trying to obtain it for themselves.”

It drives me batty how Christians hype, hype, hype marriage (or parenting) but then scold singles for wanting marriage or trying to get married, or for scolding infertile people for getting fertility treatments.

(Link): Asking Too Much of Marriage from Christianity Today

    We can’t expect our spouses to solve all our problems.

by Sharon Hodde Miller and Laura Turner

We’re often quick to associate loneliness and unhappiness with singleness, particularly in Christian circles. We expect marriage to overcome those feelings.

We overlook not only the joy in that can be found in singleness, but also the sense of longing that persists in marriage.

Two of our Her.meneutics regulars came together to share stories of their marriages, to underscore the point that no one person, not even our spouse, can meet all our needs and solve all our problems.

Married People Get Lonely, Too
by Sharon Hodde Miller

“I’m sorry I can’t be a group of girls.” With those strange but sympathetic words, my husband tried to comfort me while I sat on the couch and sobbed.

We had moved to the Chicago area less than a year prior, and I missed my friends. Although I had relocated from North Carolina with him by my side—a wonderful partner and my very best friend—my heart ached for female companionship as well. Yes, I had a husband to keep me company. Yes, I was married. And yet my marital status had little to no bearing on my loneliness.

That was a couple years ago, and not much changed in the following years. I continually struggle to find a group of women with whom to share my life, and despite the health of my marriage, that hole in my social life became a deeply rooted ache in my heart.

Ironically, I am not alone in my loneliness. Research shows that loneliness is epidemic in our nation. In (Link): two recent surveys [off site, from Slate], 40 percent of adults reported feeling lonely, two times as many as in the ’80s. Among adults over 45, one in three report feeling chronically lonely.

(Link): Among the elderly [off site, Campaign to end loneliness], half (about 5 million) say the television is their main company.

Finally, loneliness afflicts singles and married alike, some couples reporting feelings of isolation from their very own spouses [off site, FamilyLife.com]

As these statistics show, loneliness takes many different forms and can affect us at any stage of life. For me, it was the absence of intimate, female friends following a family move. For some, it is singleness; for others, the isolation of raising small children or watching grown children grow distant. Still others feel alienated from their very own spouses, and some from their very own families.

I have discovered that marriage provides no sure protection. Many married people struggle with paralyzing loneliness, and not because their marriages are unhealthy or their spouses are absent. Like anyone else who struggles with loneliness, their souls are giving voice to a basic human thirst that marriage cannot always quench: the need for community.

Marriage Doesn’t Change Everything
by Laura Turner

There are enough blog posts about marriage that I’m reticent to write another.

But so much of the discussion around marriage gathers around the extremes: marriage is wonderful, a fairy-tale, the ultimate expression of romance that mirrors Christ and the church, or marriage is difficult, strained, full of conflict and compromise and tiptoeing around the other person.

There is a thread of truth in both camps, but more in what remains unsaid.

Singleness is the same way— there are joys and there are pitfalls, peaks and valleys, desires fulfilled and unmet.

… Ruthie Dean, author of Real Men Don’t Text with her husband Michael, recently wrote about the (Link): feared call of singleness, advising “if you are married, it’s never a good idea to tell someone single that they might never meet someone.”

[By the way, as I, Christian Pundit, have blogged about before, there is no such thing as God calling anyone to marriage, singleness, or celibacy.]

…In the post, Dean likens singleness to cancer and says that telling someone they may never marry is akin to telling an expectant mother her child may die before kindergarten.

While I understand what she is saying about the pain associated with unwanted singleness, I disagree with her premise, which implicitly sees marriage as the fulfillment of hope and a promise of happiness.

So often we forget that Paul had harsh words for those who married and a less-than-wholehearted endorsement (1 Cor. 7:9). Biblically speaking, marriage isn’t anything to strive for—if we take Paul at his word, it is actually something to avoid.

Singleness and marriage, especially in the Christian world, aren’t easy to talk about well. We get tempted to ignore one and concentrate on the other, to extol the virtues of marriage and family while not quite sure what to say about being single. But, they are not so different from one another, being married and being single.

If you were impatient and funny and pale before you got married, you’ll be impatient and funny and pale after you say, “I do.” You’ll just have someone else around most of the time to be the target of your impatience, to laugh at your jokes, to hug you, or hear you complain about the seven hundredth sunburn you’ve gotten. Marriage calls for new habits or routines, but actual inner change has always been work between a person and God.

Please (Link): click here to read the rest of the editorial.
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Related posts this blog:

(Link): Salvation By Marriage Alone – The Over Emphasis Upon Marriage by Conservative Christians Evangelicals Southern Baptists

(Link): Woman Says She is Lonely in Marriage to Husband Who Ignores Her in Favor of His Job, Watching TV, etc.

(Link): Love Couldn’t Save Me From Loneliness By M. Puniewska

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

(Link): Dutch Apathetic About Marriage – and what Marriage Obsessed and Marriage Idolizing Americans Can Learn From Them (article)

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

(Link): You Will Be Ignored After Your Spouse Dies (advice columnist)

Singles in the Church by Dave Faulkner / Also: Isolated: single Christians feel unsupported by family-focused churches (article / survey)

Singles in the Church by Dave Faulkner / Also: Isolated: single Christians feel unsupported by family-focused churches (article / survey)

He (Faulkner) says on his blog page about singleness that he did not marry until he was 41 years old, so he definitely lived through and noticed the incredible bias that conservatives and Christians harbor against the unmarried.

Note that “bias against the unmarried” I mention does not always fall under the rubric of Christians walking up to an unmarried and proclaiming, “You are a loser for being single at your age!,” but quite often in what Christians omit to do, such as neglecting to include the unmarried in leadership positions in churches, paying for full time adult singles preachers or ministries, etc, etc, etc.

But most churches are utterly devoted to marriage and children. 🙄

(Link): Singles in the Church

Excerpts:

    A survey of single Christians in church does not surprise me at all. Single Christians often feel ‘isolated , alone and lonely’ in church. Single women feel they are seen as threats to married couples.

    Why does this not surprise me? Because I was 41 before I married, and I experienced some of this. I was told that marriage was ‘the norm’, which made me feel abnormal. There were questions raised behind my back about my sexuality.

Here’s the survey he mentioned:
(Link): Isolated: single Christians feel unsupported by family-focused churches

Excerpts:

    Women not in steady relationship ‘treated as threats to couples’
    JONATHAN BROWN Author Biography WEDNESDAY 24 APRIL 2013

    Single Christians feel “isolated, alone and lonely” within their churches, according to new research. More than a third of worshippers who were not married or in a relationship said they did not feel treated the same as those that were part of conventional families.

    Nearly four out of ten single churchgoers said they often felt “inadequate or ignored” whilst 42.8 per cent said their church did not know what to do with them. A total of 37 per cent said they “did not feel treated as family members”

    The findings were based on the responses of 2,754 people who used the Christian dating site Christian Connection and suggest there is a significant minority of worshippers who feel alienated by the prevailing attitudes within protestant denominations in Britain including the Church of England.

    The survey found that older people were more keenly aware of their single status and that women not in a steady relationship were treated as “threats to couples”. Singles said they often felt more valued outside rather than inside their church.

    Independent researcher and writer David Pullinger who analysed the data, which included single parents, said churches needed to respond to changing times.

    … Among the comments made by respondents were that they felt the “pain” of being single in a predominantly family setting and that there were few activities aimed at those aged between 30 and 60 for those without a partner.

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Related posts, this blog:

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

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

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

(Link): Preachers and Christian Media Personalities: Re: Marriage – You’re missing the point stop trying to argue or shame singles into getting married

(Link): Why Even Middle Aged Married with Children Christians Are Leaving Church – Not Just Unmarried Singles | 40 Somethings Gen X Quitting Leaving Church

Why Churches Don’t Have Singles Ministries (article)

Why Churches Don’t Have Singles Ministries (article)

I see a lot of arguing about this online, mostly by the unmarried.

Some adult singles want singles ministries/classes, some do not.

I think it depends on how the church in question runs the ministry.

Unfortunately, too many churches spend no money on the adult singles class; they treat the singles ministry (SM) like a “ghetto.” They drop you off there then forget about you and get back to the business of catering to the marrieds.

I have a hunch if more churches actually integrated the SMs into the rest of the church, you would not see adult singles saying, “Oh no, I’d rather NOT have a SM and just attend classes with the married people.”

Excerpts from first part of the page (please click link to read rest):

(Link): Why My Church Doesn’t Have a Singles Ministry

    BY KRIS SWIATOCHOIN
    [Kris Swiatocho is the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries and FromHisHands.com Ministries.]
    LEADERSHIP · MARRIAGE & FAMILY
    31 JUL, 2012

    I have been single my entire adult life. Because I am single, I have had a front row experience of how churches are reaching and growing singles adults.

    As a result, I have found that most churches simply did not know much about us nor how to reach us. After several years of serving on various single’s ministry leadership teams as well as starting my own, God called me to help others do the same.

    Specifically to help reach the church, the pastors and staff; to educate and provide resources so that ALL churches would know how to reach singles.

    While there are several large churches that have a singles pastor or director and are doing a great job in reaching and growing single adults, most churches do not. Most churches give various excuses such as:

    [Church Excuse 1] We don’t have any single adults.
    Well this is because you either are not defining singles correctly or simply have not looked at your membership demographics (or the demographics of your area).

    In most large cities in the US, single adults are out numbering the married’s. I know this might be a shock to you considering the churches numbers do not reflect this. This is because we are not doing what is needed to reach them.

    Single adults range from the 18 year old that still lives at home to the 29 year old single parent who has never been married to the divorced dad with grown kids to the 58 never married now taking care of their mom to the 68 widower who lives alone.

    It’s not that you don’t have single adults in your church or community; it’s how to reach them.

    So where do you start? How do you find them? 1) Look at your existing membership/attendance rolls and see who is not married. Categorize by age, past marital status, if they have kids that live at home or grown, etc. 2) Contact your town/city and find out the demographics of those living within a 5 mile radius. Once you find out this information, it will help you in the direction of how to reach them.

    You may find out you have a lot of single mom’s or widows. Depending on what you have the most of could determine whom you try and reach and how to minister to them.

    Please know I believe singles ministry is simply one way to bring singles into your church. The goal with all ministry is reach people for Christ, help grow them so they will in turn reach and grow others (single or married).

    [Church Excuse 2] If we start one, I hear it will end up being a meat market.
    I love to always answer this question and say, “Yes, it sure will, they can meet Jesus.” Churches have a huge fear that their singles ministry will end up being focused only on finding a mate.

    My first thought is… “and where would you like us to find a mate… in a bar?”

    My second thought is… “who is leading your singles ministry?”

    Church as a whole can easily be a place to only be fed and healed from a physical standpoint. But didn’t Jesus use these ways to minister so he could get to the person’s heart? He would feed and heal the body so that he could later feed and heal the soul?

    So if your singles ministry is thriving and growing and people come to meet the opposite sex, then who cares? It’s up to you as a church, as a pastor to get them connected to the whole body of Christ.

    Continue reading “Why Churches Don’t Have Singles Ministries (article)”

Are There Any Protestant or Baptist Singles – Friendly Churches or Denominations ? / Singles Single Adult Childfree Childless Age 30 40 50 Christian

Are There Any Protestant or Baptist Singles Friendly Churches or Denominations?

Note: For Singles Over the Age of 29 – who are 30 and older

It’s quite obvious to me, coming from an evangelical, or Southern Baptist history, and being familiar with Fundamentalists, that most evangelical, Southern Baptist, and Fundamentalist Christianity treats unmarried adults horribly. Like dog crap, as a matter of fact.

Does anyone know of any churches or denominations (Protestant or Baptist groups) that treat singles with respect, that actually minister to singles and do not idolize marriage and making babies?

Do you know of a church or denomination that takes PRACTICAL STEPS to fix singles up with each other for the purpose of marriage (e.g., arranges and hosts many singles mixers), or at least prays that their singles get married?

If so, please leave comments in the comments below this post. Please identify the church and explain how they are good to and for singles.

I seriously doubt there are any such churches or denominations, but I present this post as an opportunity to be shown otherwise.

In all my extensive web searching for articles and blogs about Christianity and singleness (and believe you me, I’ve done a ton of googling on this stuff), I have yet to find even a single blog post or article, by an un-married Christian, claiming that “XYZ Church” or “XYZ Denomination” is gosh golly gee whiz great, tom T teriffic, “I advise all single adults to join XYZ and find fulfilment as I and all my single pals did!” I have yet to find such testimonies. And I’ve been internet searching this stuff for a few years now.

(Usually, if I do find a glowing “my church is awesome for singles!,” review, the two or three such posts I’ve seen, were written by 22 year old kids. I already concede churches are good at ass-kissing 20 year old singles, but they ignore every one over 25 – 30 who is still single.)

I have seen Roman Catholic and Mormon singles bitch and moan on their forums and blogs abut how their respective denominations treat the unmarried over the age of 25 / 30 like trash.

I’m mentioning this topic because I have come across one or two people on other sites, who, upon reading my rants on these topics, insist that THEIR church/denomination is great for singles!

If memory serves, these are people from Lutheran or Presbyterian churches.

….AMUSING AND SAD SIDE STORY (Example of Christian Married People Prejudice Against, and Hatred of, Christian Adult Singles)….

One of the women telling me that her denomination is just wonderful with adult singles is a married woman, who is, I believe, in her 50s or 60s, who displays the most loathesome, horrible, condescending attitudes towards single women.

This married Christian woman does not think her husband (or any woman’s husband, even if a Christian) should ever have to provide any sort of practical assistance, or emotional support, to any single woman who approaches him for help, and she is quite snotty in how she discusses this, as though she thinks all single women are dog crap, and are trolling to steal her hubby.

And this is on a “Christian” blog by a woman who claims to be Christian who says her church is sweet and loving to adult singles.

I think, if I remember right, she was suggesting I attend her denomination because as a never married woman, I would be welcome there, unlike Baptist or evangelical churches.

Yes, let that sink in:

This rude, condescending woman hates adult single women, thinks Christian married couples should not have to help any un-married woman (note: this totally contradicts Christ’s teachings about the body of believers supporting each other), nor should singles ask married people for help (she thinks that is rude and suspicious of them), yet she claims her church is so awesome at being sweet, kind, and loving to adult singles.

I told her if her sh-tty, rude, insulting, paranoid attitudes towards adult single (Christian) women in the comments on the blog was indicative of her denomination’s attitude overall towards the un-married, that I seriously doubt they are as loving, kind, and eager to help adult singles as she was claiming.

… Where is the Online Evidence?…

If Lutherans and Presbyterians (or some other denominations – I think I’ve seen some claim Methodists are great with adult singles) are so totally awesome, dan- dandy, superb at unmarried adult inclusion, and meeting the needs of singles, and not making an idol of marriage…. why then am I not finding evidence of this online?

Would I not have come across handfulls of posts by unmarried adults that say,

    “Hello, I’m Susie Christian. I attend ECLA (Evangelical Lutheran Church), and I find they are great towards unmarried adults. They allow us to teach and lead.

    They don’t give preferential treatment to married couples with children. They don’t make every sermon about marriage!

    The married women don’t treat us like harlots who want to steal their men! Singleness is not treated like a disease at ECLA!

    My church/ denomination is NOT baby- or kid- centric! Womanhood is not confined to only motherhood or marriage.”

I have yet to come across even a single blog post like that, or a single article.

Even if I did, that would be one too few. I’d have to see a pattern of them, like blog posts spaced out over the past decade, written by different people, on different blogs.

I am just really, really skeptical that there is an old mainline Protestant group, or non denomination mega (or small) church, that treats singles or singleness with respect, but if you feel you know of any, please feel free to tell me about them in a post below. Thank you.
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Related posts this blog:

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

(Link): Salvation By Marriage Alone – The Over Emphasis Upon Marriage by Conservative Christians Evangelicals Southern Baptists

(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

Gift of Singleness Gift of Celibacy Unbiblical – Those Terms and Teachings Contribute to Fornication / Editorial About Sex Surrogates /

Gift of Singleness Gift of Celibacy Unbiblical – Those Terms and Teachings Contribute to Fornication / Editorial About Sex Surrogates

Much farther below is a link to an editorial by a writer at Christianity Today about sex surrogates – there are people, such as paralyzed people in wheelchairs, who hire people to have sex with them.

“Sex surrogacy” apparently happens frequently in Europe and has begun making inroads in the USA.

I can’t speak for Europe, as I’m not as familiar with their evangelical culture, as I am with the American.

If the Christian evangelical, fundamentalist, and Baptist church in America presented virginity and celibacy as a viable, real alternative to pre- marital / extra marital sex, as a standard anyone can achieve, instead of, as they do, erroneously painting virginity and celibacy as though only a few very holy, few chosen have the G.O.C. (“gift of celibacy”) or G.O.S. (“gift of singleness”), perhaps there would not be as much fornication as there is, and no need for “sex surrogates.”

By the way, NEITHER CONCEPT, GOC or GOS, IS TAUGHT IN THE BIBLE.

God does not “gift” any one with singleness, or with celibacy.

God does not determine in eternity past that some Christians will be elected unto celibacy and singlehood; marriage and singlehood are personal choices God leaves up to YOU-

-if celibacy were taught in this way, as something that is open and possible for everyone, then most would feel they had a shot at resisting sex before marriage (or outside of it).

Part of what is feeding the fornication among Christians is this false teaching of GOS and GOC: Christians mistakenly think only a few chosen few have “the gift of celibacy,” including famous Christian personalities, such as this guy:

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

Marriage is pushed so hard by evangelicals and other branches of American Christendom because most Christians assume nobody but nobody can practice sexual self control, that lifelong sexual control is possible only by the tiny minority God ‘gifts’ it to.

It is therefore further reasoned that marriage is the ONLY answer to avoiding fornication for the large part, as in 99%, of humanity, that has not been “gifted with celibacy.”

Christians think of celibates as being “specially gifted” by God, unlike the ordinary believer in the pew, and celibates are thought of as being so very rare.

The Bible does not teach that celibacy or singlehood are gifts God gives to people. Singleness and celibacy are presented in the Bible as options open to any and all believers in Christ.

Marriage is explained in the Bible as being a good gift of God, and it seems to imply this is also true of singleness, but God leaves it up to each person which route they will go. Neither is a status God “calls” one to, “bestows,” or “predestines” one to.

In other words,

God does not pick the name “Jane Smith” out of a hat and then say,

    “I shall grant a Gift of Singleness and Celibacy to Jane. I shall never send Jane Smith a husband, and I shall remove all longing for sex and marriage from Jane, unlike 99% of other Christian women, who I will permit to have these things and desires”

-but this is often exactly how GOS/GOC is taught, caricaturized, and understood among Christians, even among Christian adult celibates and never married themselves, unfortunately.

Anyone can be content in singleness or live without sex.

Christians misunderstand GOS/GOC to mean that God must supernaturally lower the libido in celibates, that God removes all hankering for sex and marriage from them, but this is not so.

The thing is, even celibates have and experience sexual desire: but we maintain the self control not to act upon it.

There is no special God- given super power or “grace,” that makes celibates immune from having sexual feelings (again, this is how most people understand the GOS and GOC talk, and the Bible no where teaches either concept).

All adults and teens are quite capable of exercising control and not having sex. It is up to your personal decision, not to any special “giftings of God” that only a few have been granted by God.

Continue reading “Gift of Singleness Gift of Celibacy Unbiblical – Those Terms and Teachings Contribute to Fornication / Editorial About Sex Surrogates /”

The Single Journey [Guest Post by Rebecca at another blog]

The Single Journey [Guest Post by Rebecca] from Blogs by Christian Women

(Link): The Single Journey, by Rbececca

Excerpts below. Please use the link above to visit the page to read the whole thing. She discusses, with a few examples from her own life, some of the shame, stigma, and scorn that gets placed upon women over 25 – 30 merely for being unmarried.

    Rebecca from Caravan Sonnet is a 30-something, PhD student who has some thoughtful words on being a single Christian women.

    April 2013

    … But as I started blogging I realized that there were many people who like myself, were single and while longed to be married were enjoying life but that “got it” with how difficult the single journey life can be.

    …Despite being a woman who is madly in love with her Savior I have found that the American church often does not know how to handle the singles who are in their churches that are over the age of twenty-five. In my experience it is the rare church that knows how to lovingly involve singles into the community. To address the need that while we long to be married and would love to meet a spouse we also want to feel completely apart of a church even if they don’t offer a singles group.

    [Discussing her experience of asking a male co worker about attending a church and how to get involved at their church – his wife was involved in a ministry there]

    He looked at me and I will never forget what he said: “This is a family church. I just don’t think this is the church for you. You need to find a church that has more people like you.” I remember being mortified and making some excuse of why I needed to leave the room and made my way to a restroom where I promptly burst into tears. The thing that I felt in that moment was what a lot of singles experience: feeling completely alone and not whole because we are an “I” instead of an “us”.

At another point, at a job where parents were visiting, Rebecca, the author of that guest post, over-heard one woman tell her little girl that she didn’t want to become an “old maid” like her (Rebecca, the author).

Drop by that page and read the comments while you are there.

Yes indeed, at times secular culture treats never married women like losers and freaks, and much to its shame -because it should be different from culture and Jesus taught his followers to be inclusive- so does the church. Christians are just as unloving and discriminatory against older singles as secular society is.

Although, oddly enough, sometimes segments of secular society are more accepting of singleness. There are pockets of secular society, or the occasional Non Christians, who ‘get it’ and who won’t judge you for being single and childless, who will accept you as you are, unlike many Christians who believe marriage and having kids is the norm.
——————
Related posts, this blog:

(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): Part 1: The World Does Not Need Another Marriage Sermon

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

(Link): If the Family Is Central, Christ Isn’t (re: how Christians exclude singles the unmarried the childless and worship marriage kids parenting children nuclear family)

(Link): Do You Rate Your Family Too High (how Christians have made an idol out of nuclear family and marriage)

(Link): Part 2, The Parable of the Neglected Unmarried – Single – Christian

(Link): The Deification of Family and Marriage (re: Kyle Idleman book)

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

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

(Link): Anti Virginity Editorial by Christian Blogger Tim Challies – Do Hurt / Shame Feelings or Sexual Abuse Mean Christians Should Cease Supporting Virginity or Teaching About Sexual Purity

The Way We Never Were (book – Family Idol)

The Way We Never Were: American Families And The Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz (Author)

Someone on the Jesus Creed blog mentioned the book “The Way We Never Were.”

(Link): BOOK REVIEW : Skewering Myths About the Family : THE WAY WE NEVER WERE: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz

Review is from 1992, by CONSTANCE CASEY. Excerpts:

    American families have changed in the last 20 years–nearly half of all families with children have both parents working–and our anxiety about change is no delusion.

    There has certainly been some decay in values recently. As Coontz tartly observes, “Twenty-five percent of the people polled in a recent national inquiry into American morality said that for $10 million they would abandon their entire family; a large number of people are evidently willing to do the same thing for free.”

    Coontz believes that what we’re experiencing now, however, is not so much the family’s dissolution as “an erosion of commitment to social obligations in general, and to children in particular.” Furthermore, things weren’t all that great before.

    Chapter by chapter, Coontz takes on the myths. Divorce may end many marriages now, but largely because of high mortality rates, the average length of marriage in Colonial times was less than 12 years.

    The “Life With Father” Victorian family–in which men were the breadwinners and women the domestic angels–owed its existence to the fact that other families were poor. Middle-class women had time to spend with their children because they employed laundresses and maids and cooks. Often these German or Welsh or Irish immigrant servant “girls” really were girls, as young as 11.

    While 20% of American children today are poor, she writes, “At the turn of the century the same proportion lived in orphanages, not because they actually lacked both parents, but because one or both parents simply could not afford their keep.”

    Coontz’s take on the Golden Age of the family–Ward and June, Ozzie and Harriet–is not brand new, but worth restating. “The apparently stable families of the 1950s were the result of an economic boom–the gross national product grew by nearly 250% and per capita income by 35%.” Most important, there was steady employment for the Ward Cleavers of America.

    Ozzie never came home with a pink slip and never applied for welfare. But the Nelsons and the Cleavers were generously underwritten by the federal government. Because of the extraordinary boom, the feds could afford to be generous with everything from education money to housing loans and highway construction.

    Part of the mythology of the Golden Age was that only morally deficient families required government help. As refutation, Coontz provides a wonderfully specific example–Phil Gramm, senator from Texas and staunch opponent of government handouts: “Born in Georgia in 1942, to a father who was living on a federal veterans disability pension, Gramm attended a publicly funded university on a grant paid for by the federal War Orphans Act. His graduate work was financed by a National Defense Education Act fellowship, and his first job was at Texas A & M University, a federal land-grant institution.”

    Coontz makes it hard for us to blame the usual suspects for family decay–those negligent working mothers and those immoral teen-age girls. She demonstrates that most of the family problems associated with working women rise from “the inadequate and incomplete integration of women into productive work.” And she charges that, “The image of teen-age girls having babies to receive welfare checks is an emotion-laden but fraudulent cliche.” If welfare benefits cause teen pregnancy, “why is it that other industrial countries, with far more generous support policies for women and children, have far lower rates of teen pregnancy?” (Incidentally, the highest rate of teen-age childbearing in 20th-Century America was in 1957.)

    “Children do best,” Coontz concludes, “in societies where child-rearing is considered too important to be left entirely to parents.” In order to be elected these days, candidates have to demonstrate that they care deeply about their own children. We should demand that they also care about other people’s children.

Info on the book:

    The Way We Never Were examines two centuries of American family life and shatters a series of myths and half-truths that burden modern families. Placing current family dilemmas in the context of far-reaching economic, political, and demographic changes, Coontz sheds new light on such contemporary concerns as parenting, privacy, love, the division of labor along gender lines, the black family, feminism, and sexual practice.

And:

    Did you ever wonder about the historical accuracy of those “traditional family values” touted in the heated arguments that insist our cultural ills can be remedied by their return?

    Of course, myth is rooted in fact, and certain phenomena of the 1950s generated the Ozzie and Harriet icon. The decade proved profamily–the birthrate rose dramatically; social problems that nag–gangs, drugs, violence–weren’t even on the horizon.

    Affluence had become almost a right; the middle class was growing. “In fact,” writes Coontz, “the ‘traditional’ family of the 1950s was a qualitatively new phenomenon. At the end of the 1940s, all the trends characterizing the rest of the twentieth century suddenly reversed themselves.”

    This clear-eyed, bracing, and exhaustively researched study of American families and the nostalgia trap proves–beyond the shadow of a doubt–that Leave It to Beaver was not a documentary.

    Gender, too, is always on Coontz’s mind. In the third chapter (“My Mother Was a Saint”), she offers an analysis of the contradictions and chasms inherent in the “traditional” division of labor.

    She reveals, next, how rarely the family exhibited economic and emotional self-reliance, suggesting that the shift from community to nuclear family was not healthy.

    Coontz combines a clear prose style with bold assertions, backed up by an astonishing fleet of researched, myth-skewing facts.

    The 88 pages of endnotes dramatize both her commitment to and deep knowledge of the subject. Brilliant, beautifully organized, iconoclastic, and (relentlessly) informative The Way We Never Were breathes fresh air into a too often suffocatingly “hot” and agenda-sullied subject.

    In the penultimate chapter, for example, a crisp reframing of the myth of black-family collapse leads to a reinterpretation of the “family crisis” in general, putting it in the larger context of social, economic, and political ills.

    The book began in response to the urgent questions about the family crisis posed her by nonacademic audiences. Attempting neither to defend “tradition” in the era of family collapse, nor to liberate society from its constraints, Coontz instead cuts through the kind of sentimental, ahistorical thinking that has created unrealistic expectations of the ideal family.

    “I show how these myths distort the diverse experiences of other groups in America,” Coontz writes, “and argue that they don’t even describe most white, middle-class families accurately.” The bold truth of history after all is that “there is no one family form that has ever protected people from poverty or social disruption, and no traditional arrangement that provides a workable model for how we might organize family relations in the modern world.”

    Some of America’s most precious myths are not only precarious, but down right perverted, and we would be fools to ignore Stephanie Coontz’s clarion call. –Hollis Giammatteo

    From Publishers Weekly

    The golden age of the American family never existed, asserts Coontz ( The Social Origns of Private Life ) in a wonderfully perceptive, myth-debunking report. The “Leave It to Beaver” ideal of breadwinner father, full-time homemaker mother and dependent children was a fiction of the 1950s, she shows.

    Real families of that period were rife with conflict, repression and anxiety, frequently poor and much less idyllic than many assume; teen pregnancy rates in the ’50s were higher than today.

    Further, Coontz contends, the nuclear family was elevated to a central source of personal satisfaction only in the late 19th century, thereby weakening people’s community ties and sense of civic obligation.

    Coontz disputes the idea that children can be raised properly only in traditional families. Viewing modern domestic problems as symptoms of a much larger socioeconomic crisis, she demonstrates that no single type of household has ever protected Americans from social disruption or poverty.

    An important contribution to the current debate on family values.

Christian Post interview with T D Jakes: Family, Family, Family

Christian Post interview with T D Jakes: Family, Family, Family

They even managed to work the word “family” into the heading:

(Link): Interview: T.D. Jakes on Faith, Family and the Scripture He Turns to in Difficult Times

A few quotes from the article (with emphasis added by me in bold) -notice how often motherhood, fatherhood, and “family” is mentioned, but when mentioned, they are not referring to “family of God,” but to the “traditional family,” comprised of flesh and blood relatives:

    BY MELISSA BARNHART, CP REPORTER

    DALLAS, Texas— Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House and CEO of MegaFest 2013 spoke with The Christian Post at the kickoff of the three-day inspirational festival about the importance of having a personal relationship with God. Jakes also explained why adults need to step up and set the example of making their Christian faith the foundation for the family to depend on through all of life’s tragedies and disagreements.

    [Interviewer Question]
    … Why is it important to have a Christ-centered family? With the millions of children who are being raised in fatherless homes, why is it important for an adult in the family to step up and teach the younger generations how to establish a strong faith in Jesus Christ?

    Jakes:
    I think that Christianity for the Christian family becomes the ideal to which we aspire. And we grumble with the realities of being human, and having human children, and human relatives and human friends. And those are realities that we can’t totally divorce ourselves from, but if we don’t have a common ideal, then there’s no cohesiveness to which we can galvanize a family and build your life around.

So, once more, the picture I get from reading what Christians have to say about Christianity may lead one to think one has to be married and have children – be in a “family” (ie, nuclear family) – to be a real Christian or to experience Christianity. If so, that would mean that myself and a hella lot of other people do not qualify.

Knock it off with the all the family talk, preachers and Christians. There are never married, childless adults in America too, as well as widowers and divorced people. The reason a big chunk of Christians are no longer attending churches anymore is because they are single and/or childless and cannot cope with yet another sermon on marriage or kids. You want your church membership rolls to increase? Start paying attention to adult singles and their needs.
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Related posts, this blog

(Link): Cultural Discrimination Against Childless and Childfree Women – and link to an editorial by a Childless Woman

(Link): Mormons and Christians Make Family, Marriage, Having Children Into Idols

(Link): American Christians Idolize Motherhood – Mommy Rhapsody

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

(Link): The Bible Does Not Teach Christians to “Focus On The Family” – The Idolization of Family by American Christians (article)

(Link): Un Happy Mother’s Day – universal church continues to worship parenthood, family

(Link): Focusing on the Family Causes Church Decline

(Link): Being Single In The Church (article)

(Link): The Decline in Male Fertility (article)

(Link): The Deification of Family and Marriage (re: Kyle Idleman book)

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

(Link): Salvation By Marriage Alone – The Over Emphasis Upon Marriage by Conservative Christians Evangelicals Southern Baptists

(Link): Childfree Christians / Childfree childless

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

(Link): Fatherhood Not Quite the Producer of Manly, Mature, Godly Men Some Conservative Christians Make It Out To Be

(Link): Cultural Discrimination Against Childless and Childfree Women – and link to an editorial by a Childless Woman

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

(Link): Southern Baptists – Still Majoring in the Minors and ignoring the never married (singles) – Why Church Membership is Down

(Link): Christians and Churches Discriminate Against Unmarried People / Singles

(Link): Conservative Christianity Stuck in 1950s Leave it To Beaver-ville

(Link): A Critique of the Family-Integrated Church Movement by Brian Borgman – Christians turning the family into an idol

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

(Link): Refreshing: Christian Researcher Disputes that Youths Are Leaving Churches in Droves, Disagrees that Churches Should Be Family Focused