Part 1. The World Does Not Need More Marriage Sermons – They Don’t Stop Divorce or Get People Married

I watched the first three or four minutes of the Bayless Conley “Answers” show today (Feb 24, 2013). He’s kind of right up there with Kerry Shook – it seems like every other program is about marriage.

He’s doing another marriage sermons series (or possibly, this is a repeat of the one he did last year), and he’s letting his wife on stage to deliver the sermon to married men, letting them know what their wives want or need.

The world does not need another marriage series or marriage sermon. Really, we do not.

When about 50% of the population and 50% of Christians over the age of 20 are un-married (this includes never-married, divorced, widowed), marriage sermons are not applicable or of any use to a large portion of your church members and television audience.

The divorce rate among Christians is just about as high as it is for Non Christians (which some Christian sources have disputed). But it does seem to me that even if one wishes to dispute the exact percentage of divorces among Christians, it has to be pretty high if even secular (or Christian sources such as Barna) have taken notice.

As I’ve said before, I don’t have all of life’s answers. I don’t have a solution for how to stop divorces, or put a stop to unwanted prolonged singleness among Christian women, but I do know that another sermon series on marriage is not the answer, because it has not worked to this point. Pastors need to stop giving these “how to have a great marriage” sermons all the time.

Family- and marriage- centric conservative Christian, evangelical, and Baptist churches have been braying about marriage, family values, parenting, the value of children, for three or four decades now, and the never-ending pulpit-pounding and river of books and pamphlets and blogs about those issues by Christians has not helped most people, nor has it stopped sexual sin, divorce, or un-wanted prolonged singlehood.

It’s more than time that pastors, Christian organizations, and churches began paying attention to meeting the needs of un-married people over the age of 30 (especially the ones who have remained sexually pure). Simply acknowledging that they even exist would be a huge step in the process.

While the conservative Christians remain fixated on giving yet more marriage sermons, and bemoaning the liberal attacks on “traditional families” and “traditional marriage” they continue to ignore the needs and problems and mere existence of people over the age of 30 who are not married or who have never been married.
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(end of Part 1. Please see Part 2, The Parable of the Neglected Unmarried Christian. (Link): Click here to read Part 2.)
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Related posts this blog:

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

(Link): Kerry Shook ‘Shark Weakness’ – yet another marriage sermon | Marriage centric sermons

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

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

(Link):  Why Do Churches Treat Singleness Like a Problem? via Relevant Magazine

(Link): Study: Conservative Protestants’ divorce rates spread to their red state neighbors

(Link): According to Pastor – Jimmy Evans – It Takes One Man and Woman Married To Equal A Whole – so where does that leave Christian singles ? / Too Much Sex Talk | Making Marriage into an Idol Marriage Idolatry Anti Singles Singlehood Singleness Unmarried Bias Prejudice

Valentine’s Day – this is for all the Unmarried People / Never Married / Singles

❤ ❤ ❤ Happy Valentine’s Day to all the Unmarried People out there! ❤ ❤ ❤

Happy Valentine's Day from Forever Alone Meme Guy!
Happy Valentine’s Day from Forever Alone Meme Guy!

Valentine’s Day

(Link): Valentine’s Day / Singles Appreciation Day For Never Married People and Other Singles -2014-

I used to dread Valentine’s Day, as it was a reminder that I was still unmarried. As the years go by, the holiday doesn’t bother me as much. At times, I find it amusing.

Here are some links or funny photos to cheer you up if you’re down about being alone on Valentine’s Day…

(Link): Eleven of the Worst Valentine Day’s Ads

(Link): 30 Valentine’s Day Gift Fails

(Link): The Top 100 Most Strange, Odd, Perplexing and Unintentionally Funny Vintage Valentine Cards EVER!

Single and Free
Single and Free
"My life is like a romantic comedy except..."
“My life is like a romantic comedy except…”
Forever Alone With 72 Cats
Forever Alone With 72 Cats
Grumpy Cat says Bah Hum Bug to Valentine's Day! / Grumpy Cat Valentine's Day cookies
Grumpy Cat says Bah Hum Bug to Valentine’s Day! / Grumpy Cat Valentine’s Day cookies

If you are feeling bad today because you are single and it’s Valentine’s Day, well don’t! You’re fine the way you are!

❤ ❤ ❤ Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤ ❤ ❤
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Related links on this blog:

(Link):  A Valentine for the Single Christian by K L Bishop

❤ (Link): Valentine’s Day: The Unromantic Origins of the Holiday by S. Barr

(Link):  Meet the Most Vitriolic Valentine’s Day Haters Around the World

(Link): Some Lady Tells Singles Not To Feel Sad on Valentine’s Day

(Link): Insensitive Valentine Meme – you can’t feel sad about being single if your parents are still living

(Link): Chinese Singles Buy Movie Tickets So Couples Can’t Sit Together on Valentine’s Day

Topics: Friendship is Possible / Sexualization By Culture Of All Relationships

Every so often, the “Ask Amy” advice column can be instructive, or it reflects themes I’ve mentioned on this blog before.

A letter I saw today was one of those times; this is a letter from a married person to “Amy,” who answers letters mailed to the “Ask Amy” column:

DEAR AMY:

  • “Worried Husband” asked if it was OK to have a “secret friendship” with another woman.
  • Friendships help us get through life. One problem with our understanding of marriage is that it should be the “be-all and end-all” relationship. That is simply impossible. It’s this wrong-headed belief that drives us to feel as if we must have “secret” relationships.
  • If we can learn to develop honest and mature relationships with our spouses (and our friends), we avoid the destructive baggage that comes with keeping secrets. Your spouse doesn’t need to know every single thing that you do or say or feel, but she/he does have the right to not be lied to.
  • Secrets, in the sense of this situation, are lies. — Sally

DEAR SALLY:

  • I agree. Thank you.

I happen to agree with the letter writer too.

There is a web site which is about friendship, and if I could recall its URL, I’d give the link, but I don’t recall it at the moment. At any rate, one of the site’s guest writers, or maybe the guy who runs the site, laments how everything in our culture, and all relationships are sexualized to the point people just assume that males and females cannot be, or remain, platonic friends.

If and when every encounter or relationship is assumed to have romantic or sexual undertones, or that it will result in that, it makes many people hesitant to reach out to other people. It makes females hesitant to befriend males, males females, and marrieds reluctant to befriend unmarried people.

I’m not saying this is not a possibility, by the way. Many, many times over the years, I’ve had men mistake my platonic conversations with them as flirting. A lot of men assume if you are talking to them, even about mundane topics such as the weather, they assume you are hot for them and want to sleep with them or at least date them, when those are nowhere near your mind at all.

But then, I take it that this is due to the fact that males have been conditioned by churches and secular culture to view all women as temptresses who want them sexually. (I discuss this farther below.)

The church is not immune from this sort of thinking, either. Even Christians assume a man and a woman cannot be friends, or cannot remain friends for long, without the relationship turning sexual and/or romantic.

What this does is isolate unmarried people even further than they already are. (I’m not the first to pick up on this, of course. If you’ve read other blogs or books by and for unmarried Christian adults, you will see they’ve noticed this as well.)

It’s often assumed by Christian and secular culture that all men are wolves with huge libidos who will prey on a woman sexually if given even the smallest of opportunities. That may be true of some men, or even 80 – 90% of them, but not all.

And I have to wonder, even if the figure is as high as say, 90%, how much is that due to the male gender’s intrinsic biological make-up, or how much of that is due to the fall (sin entering the world via Adam and Eve) and/or how much is due to socialization.

I have to wonder, if you keep repeatedly telling a young male from the time he’s age ten or 12 or 15 on up, that he’s an absolute horn dog who cannot resist sex, and he’s supposed to want sex all the time, if he will then begin to think and feel that way precisely because he’s being conditioned to believe it by his teachers, blogs, parents, churches, etc., and how much is truly innate?

And there again, the disturbing, sick, troubling, ironic thing (in my view) is it is not just secular culture via movies, TV shows, movies, and rap and rock songs telling young males they’re horn dogs who have an insatiable thirst for sex, it’s also the typical preacher, Christian dating advice blogs, and Christian relationship books that do so as well.

So maybe it’s more of a self-fulling prophecy. Maybe a lot of young guys with otherwise average- to- low- sex drives would not have sex outside of marriage, or at least not before a certain age, if they were not hearing the implication all the time from pastors, Christian dating blogs, secular sources, etc, that there is something wrong or weird about them for either not acting on the urges they have, or for not having a huge sex drive to start with.

Anyway, the socialization aspect especially intrigues me because I was just listening to an online interview a while ago by a Christian guy who visits high schools to talk about sexuality with students, and he said there are teen males who don’t want to have sex yet, who don’t feel ready to have sex, who approach him in private after his lectures, to say they feel tremendous pressure to start having sex, but they’d rather not. They are looking to him to give them responses they can give to people to get them to back off with the pressure.

These teen males say to this Christian guest speaker that males in particular are ridiculed or harassed for remaining virgins past a certain age – which I do not doubt.

(By the way, if I were them – it’s nobody’s business as to your sexual status. If you are a 15 year old guy and your friends ask you if you’re still a virgin, and you would rather not answer for whatever reason, then tell them, “that is private and none of your business.” You’re under no obligation to tell people about your sex life, or lack of one.)

As a female, I can say this pressure and ridicule is also true for females, and it has been true over the last 20 or 30 years. Maybe it used to be true up until the 1950s or mid 1960s, that remaining a virgin until marriage was a huge virtue for females, or that it was more expected of females than males, but about the time I was a teen (in the 1980s) that was no longer true.

Girls get picked on and thought of as “nerdy,” unhip, weird, or a loser if they’re still a virgin at age 18, 20, etc. Girls get bombarded constantly with these idiotic messages from secular feminists that having casual sex and viewing porn is “empowering” for them, so they feel expected to have sex.)

The teen males aren’t alone in being made to feel like freaks or kill joys if they’re not sexually active – teen girls and women in their 20s and beyond also get subjected to this pressure, ridicule, disbelief, etc.

These male teens I was discussing a moment ago would prefer to remain virgins, at least for awhile longer, but they don’t know how to fight the taunts and pressure from their peers to cave in and have sex.

From a female vantage point, I get sick and tired of married women, or chicks with BFs (boyfriends), assuming I want to steal their man. I’ve been a “goody two shoes” my whole life – I’d never break apart another couple. I’m actually the last woman you have to worry about trying to steal your sweetie. For a woman to behave as though I’m a potential “home wrekcer” has always been deeply insulting to me. (I probably have better morals than they do – which I say not to brag, but only to point out how hypocritical some people can be.)

Secondly, on the part of the man or the woman (for I’ve had married men assume I can’t wait to bed them, so they must keep their distance from me), I almost never find these men attractive….
(please click the “read more” link to read the rest of this post, thanks.)

Continue reading “Topics: Friendship is Possible / Sexualization By Culture Of All Relationships”

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

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

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

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

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

by By Ross Clark

Source:

singleness.org/talkdown.shtml

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

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

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

The Glittering Prize

What messages are we giving our teenagers and singles?

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE CHURCH NEEDS A DIFFERENT VIEW OF SEX & SINGLENESS

Originally posted to:

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

Excerpts (by Leigh Kramer, from 2010):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Explore the framework of chastity.

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

3. Don’t teach that sex is a reward.

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

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

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

[5. Include the unmarried]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s more from the article:

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

By Sarah Hamaker , Christian Post Contributor
February 29, 2012

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

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

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

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

Readjusting Focus

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

Blaming the Christian for His or Her Own Problem or Unanswered Prayer / Christian Codependency

I don’t have any answers for these topics I’m raising; I’m only ranting about a couple of topics that have been annoying me the last few years.

I was watching Hal Lindsey’s Bible prophecy show this evening. I usually like this guy’s teachings (or used to; over the years, I’ve lost some interest in Bible prophecy. One can only stand hearing oh- so- many “the world is ending soon!” type lectures and attempts to figure out who the Anti Christ is before it all gets a little old).

Lindsey was explaining today why sometimes a Christian’s prayers may go unanswered – and I’ve also seen pastor Charles Stanley, other Christian television personalities, and Christians online say the same thing – that is, if your prayers are going unanswered, it could be because you have “unconfessed sin” in your life (they also dole out other possible reasons).

This is a variation of a troubling, annoying, infuriating theme I see among Christians from time to time, from preachers and from Christian family, friends, and acquaintances.

Blame The Victim

Any time one approaches these people with any of life’s disappointments, let downs, struggles, regrets, heart aches, and questions of, “Why doesn’t God do “X” for me, I’ve been praying about it for years?,” these sorts of Christians begin reeling off a list of reasons, such as, “You must have unconfessed sin in your life!,” “You must not have enough faith,” or some such rationale.
Continue reading “Blaming the Christian for His or Her Own Problem or Unanswered Prayer / Christian Codependency”

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

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

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

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

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

The Rhetoric of Singleness (from Slate)

The Rhetoric of Singleness – from Slate
by Michael Cobb
Being single and being lonely are not the same thing—but our culture insists on conflating them.

(I am not in agreement with all the author’s views)

Excerpts:

The following article is adapted from Michael Cobb’s Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled, out now from New York University Press.

….Yet the loneliness of being alone is so often framed by the intense, lyrical loss of a loved one—if not theloved one, a spouse.

Singleness marks being alone in a nearly paralyzingly profound manner—so much so that indi­vidualism, the value of aloneness, can barely be thought unless we strip away the pathologizing dynamics of coupledom that at­tach to the individual a bitter affect we might call loneliness. But what I’ve come to understand is crucial: Loneliness will not brand the single as much as aloneness does. The contemporary individual is not lonely, just single—but this is not culturally recognized.

I have serious misgiv­ings about the miscasting of singleness as a terrible condition worth our pity and obfuscation. As anyone who has thought seriously about single life already knows, the problem of the single is not the actual, lived experience of people who find themselves alone as much as the feelings that deliberately foreclose our understanding of single­ness because singles are thought to be lonely—and loneliness, as we’re frequently reminded, has terrible consequences. To be blunt: I’m sick and tired of the single person being the avatar of the lonely crowd.

(remainder of article on Slate)