First Time Marriage for Man and Woman Both Over Age 40

First Time Marriage for Man and Woman Both Over Age 40

That’s right. Not everyone will get married, and some, when they do, may not get married for the first time until their late 30s, their 40s, 50s, or older.

This was on Ask Amy:

DEAR AMY:

    Is it appropriate to give my son’s fiancee a (relatively) expensive ring? I’m thinking of giving her a ring I had made for myself more than 40 years ago. It has great sentimental value, but I don’t wear it anymore. It has been rolling around in a safe-deposit box for the last 30 years.

My intention was to present it to her as a gift from the heart welcoming her into the family.

My son’s fiancee is not from this country, and both of her parents died a little over a year ago. She is a delightful, upbeat, loving and unselfish person.

My son is 41, and his girlfriend is 40; neither one has ever been married before. We are delighted for both of them.

If you think it is okay, could you please suggest some appropriate wording? — Lost for Words in Seattle


Related:

(Link):  The Reason Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others by D. Brennan

The Trend of Older People Becoming First Time Parents

The Trend of Older People Becoming First Time Parents

The person who wrote this page doesn’t seem too keen on the idea that people are becoming parents later in life:

(Link): How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society The scary consequences of the grayest generation. by Judith Shulevitz

Two reasons I am linking to that page (which is very, very long), is…

1. It points out that older males produce deformed kids. Often, there is sexism involved, where people assume only older motherhood is dangerous, but older males produce defective sperm.

In that way, Shulevitz’s article is similar to this one:
(Link): The Ticking Male Biological Clock – WSJ.com

2. The mere fact the page is discussing the situation at all shows it’s becoming more and more common in American society.

Typical of Christians and conservatives (and I am a conservative myself, but one who disagrees with other conservatives in how they handle or behave about some cultural issues), but in this otherwise left-leaning publication, the author (who I would assume is liberal) chooses to bitch and gripe about the situation, rather than just acknowledge that things change in culture. She sounds like a typical conservative.

Here are excerpts from the very long article:

    by Shulevitz

    Over the past half century, parenthood has undergone a change so simple yet so profound we are only beginning to grasp the enormity of its implications. It is that we have our children much later than we used to.

    This has come to seem perfectly unremarkable; indeed, we take note of it only when celebrities push it to extremes— when Tony Randall has his first child at 77; Larry King, his fifth child by his seventh wife at 66; Elizabeth Edwards, her last child at 50.

    This new gerontological voyeurism— I think of it as doddering-parent porn— was at its maximally gratifying in 2008, when, in almost simultaneous and near-Biblical acts of belated fertility, two 70-year-old women in India gave birth, thanks to donor eggs and disturbingly enthusiastic doctors. One woman’s husband was 72; the other’s was 77.

    These, though, are the headlines. The real story is less titillating, but it tells us a great deal more about how we’ll be living in the coming years: what our families and our workforce will look like, how healthy we’ll be, and also—not to be too eugenicist about it—the future well-being of the human race.

    That women become mothers later than they used to will surprise no one. All you have to do is study the faces of the women pushing baby strollers, especially on the streets of coastal cities or their suburban counterparts.

    American first-time mothers have aged about four years since 1970—as of 2010, they were 25.4 as opposed to 21.5. That average, of course, obscures a lot of regional, ethnic, and educational variation.

    The average new mother from Massachusetts, for instance, was 28; the Mississippian was 22.9. The Asian American first-time mother was 29.1; the African American 23.1. A college-educated woman had a better than one-in-three chance of having her first child at 30 or older; the odds that a woman with less education would wait that long were no better than one in ten.

    It badly misstates the phenomenon to associate it only with women: Fathers have been getting older at the same rate as mothers. First-time fathers have been about three years older than first-time mothers for several decades, and they still are.

    The average American man is between 27 and 28 when he becomes a father. Meanwhile, as the U.S. birth rate slumps due to the recession, only men and women over 40 have kept having more babies than they did in the past.

    In short, the growth spurt in American parenthood is not among rich septuagenarians or famous political wives approaching or past menopause, but among roughly middle-aged couples with moderate age gaps between them, like my husband and me.

    OK, I’ll admit it. We’re on the outer edge of the demographic bulge. My husband was in his mid-forties and I was 37—two years past the age when doctors start scribbling AMA, Advanced Maternal Age, on the charts of mothers-to-be—before we called a fertility doctor.

    … Soon, I learned that medical researchers, sociologists, and demographers were more worried about the proliferation of older parents than my friends and I were.

    They talked to me at length about a vicious cycle of declining fertility, especially in the industrialized world, and also about the damage caused by assisted-reproductive technologies (ART) that are commonly used on people past their peak childbearing years.

    This past May, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 8.3 percent of children born with the help of ART had defects, whereas, of those born without it, only 5.8 percent had defects.

    … What science tells us about the aging parental body should alarm us more than it does. Age diminishes a woman’s fertility; every woman knows that, although several surveys have shown that women—and men—consistently underestimate how sharp the drop-off can be for women after age 35.

    The effects of maternal age on children aren’t as well-understood. As that age creeps upward, so do the chances that children will carry a chromosomal abnormality, such as a trisomy.

    In a trisomy, a third chromosome inserts itself into one of the 23 pairs that most of us carry, so that a child’s cells carry 47 instead of 46 chromosomes. The most notorious trisomy is Down syndrome.

    We have been conditioned to think of reproductive age as a female-only concern, but it isn’t. For decades, neonatologists have known about birth defects linked to older fathers: dwarfism, Apert syndrome (a bone disorder that may result in an elongated head), Marfan syndrome (a disorder of the connective tissue that results in weirdly tall, skinny bodies), and cleft palates.

    Continue reading “The Trend of Older People Becoming First Time Parents”

Single Adults – Why They Stay and Why They Stray From Church – Book Excerpts

Single Adults Why They Stay and Why They Stray (from church) Book Excerpts

Note: several questionable people have roles in this book, in the form of editing, or as contributors, such as…

    – a gender complementarian, Wayne Grudem; gender complementarianism (Link):

is not biblical

    ;
    -neither is “biblical counseling,” yet Edward T. Welch, who is a “biblical counselor” also had some kind of role in this book,
    – C. J. Mahaney – accused of being involved in a ten year cover up of child sexual abuse at his churches,

so I offer this link with a caveat.

The author of the particular chapter I am quoting seems okay, and I don’t see too much that I disagree with in his chapter.

What is really funny is that this book (I’m not sure when it was published, I am just now finding it today), echoes many of the things I’ve said on this blog before.

Edit: this book was published in 2003, but this is the first I am seeing it, or reading excerpts from it. It is incredible how the author noticed most of the same disturbing anti-singles views and trends that I have in this blog the last three years.

As I am a NEVER MARRIED woman, I am not going to present the full section under “divorce” in the chapter. You can visit the link to read it if you want.

The following is available for free on Google Books (this particular book is entitled “Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood”) :
(Link): Single Adults in Your Ministry: Why They Stay and Why They Stray
by Dick Purnell

    … Do you know how many single adults sit in your congregation each Sunday? Recently I was speaking in a church to three thousand people. I asked for all the people who were unmarried and twenty-two years old or older to stand up. Over a thousand people stood up! The audience was surprised and gasped at the large number…

Do you realize that the number of single adults in America exceeds the total national population of all but eleven of the world’s 192 nations? How shocked would you be to discover that the number of single parents is greater than the entire population of Colorado and Tennesse combined?

According to the 2000 U.S. census 40 percent of all adults eighteen and older (forty-eight million) are single. We are seeing a tremendous shift in American social values.

The median age of a first-time marriage is now twenty-five among women and twenty-seven among men. The fastest growing family type is single parents.

If your church is in an urban area, the percentage of single adults near you is much higher than a rural area. Singles gravitate to the cities for jobs, things to do, and others to meet. They are searching for connection and community.

They are often afraid of loneliness, commitment, and isolation. Most of those under thirty have never been married. The average age of a married person’s first divorce is thirty-four. That means after years of marriage, they are thrown back into the dating scene. They feel awkward and unprepared. They face the same relationship challenges that teens face, but they feel out of place.

One woman said to me, “I am now single, but I feel married. I don’t want to be single, but that was forced on me.” They have been out of the dating world for so long that they have very little idea what to do. And no one is helping them or even having a discussion about some of these issues.

Most singles are invisible to churches.

… They represent every economic stratum you can imagine – everything from presidents of major corporations to the unemployed and all in between. Fifty-three percent of all unchurched adults are single.

But our churches are built on a mind-set of marriage, and singles are often neglected. They are the “Great Invisible Mission Field.” However, businesses are very aware of singles. If you look at the advertising on television or in magazines, you will find that a huge number of ads are geared to attract single people.

Sports clothing, beer, cell phones, and a myriad of other products are marketed to singles. They have the largest amount of discretionary income. But the church in general has a difficult time attracting them and capturing their attention and commitment.

Many single adults believe that the church excludes and ignores them. They feel like the church is either neglecting them or is just not interested in them. So single adults vote with their feet. They come to church for a few months or years; but when their needs are not addressed or they never hear a sermon addressed to their unique issues, they fade away and go somewhere else – or stop going to church altogether. They hear sermons preached on topics such as “How to be a Godly Husband” or “Becoming a Godly Wife.” But they have never heard a sermon on “How to be a Godly Single Adult.”

… [Singles] don’t stay because there is no emotional glue to keep them there. They are not the “squeaky wheel” that is going to ask the pastor to give a sermon directed toward them or to pound on the door of the budget meeting pressuring for more funding. They just fade away.

Are you desperate to attract single adults to your ministry and get them involved? Here is my top ten list on “Why Single Adults Are Turned Off by the Church.”

Number 10: Frivolous jokes degrade the single lifestyle.
Grandparents, pastors, and married friends all have jokes about singles. All the married people laugh, but the single buries the snub under a weak smile.

I was single for forty-two years. When I served as an assistant pastor in my middle thirties, I heard lots of good-natured jokes, but often the ribbing was not funny to me. “Hey, are you afraid to take the responsibility for a mate?” Here I was in charge of several significant ministries in the church, and they tell me I’m afraid to take responsibility?

“Maybe you are just too picky. Are you looking for a perfect wife?” In other words, if you lower your standards you may get somebody.

“You’re not getting any younger, you know.” That was supposed to pressure me to get moving? Sometimes I would get the big one: “What are you waiting for?” Like I better hurry up before I miss the “right one.” But isn’t there a sovereign God? His timing may not be my timing – or the timing of the people who ask me to hurry up.

In trying to encourage me, people would give what I call romantic testimonies: “I finally gave everything to God, and six months later I found the right one.” But I was forty years old and had been a full-time minister for over fifteen years.

Was there something I had not given up to God that some married twenty-year-old ha already given up to God? All the marriage formulas that people give singles may be individual experience they had, but those formulas are not normative for all believers. Why should I seek the holy grail of marriage if God wants me to be content in every situation?

After four years as a pastor, I resigned from my church. Even though I was no longer was the pastor, I continued to attend the church. A single female friend of mine from Kansas came to our city one weekend to visit some of her college buddies. I brought her to the 11 A.M. church service. As we were walking down the aisle, an elderly usher led us to a front row for seating. The organ was softly playing and everybody was kind of quiet. When we stopped to turn into the row, he handed my friend a bulletin and said to me loudly so most of the people could hear, “Hey Dick, when are you going to marry her?” I wanted to die right there, but first I wanted to punch his lights out.

These kinds of jokes will not attract singles to your church! No way! They degrade single life as if the only bright future is for married people. That idea is not found in the Bible. Even the apostle Paul stated that an unmarried person can have undivided devotion to the Lord (1 Cor. 7:32-35). He did not consider singleness a joking matter.

Number 9: Church leadership is mainly interested in the interests and needs of married people.
The pastor and leaders are usually all married with very little significant empathy or understanding of the unique needs and concerns of single adults.

Single Christians are rarely eligible to be members of the governing board. There are very few single senior pastors. The silent criterion of marriage eliminates singles from serving in many aspects of the typical church. If you carry that to a logical conclusion, the Apostle Paul would not be qualified to be a pastor or elder. Even Timothy would be shut out of the opportunity for leadership.

After four years as an assistant pastor, I wanted to become a senior pastor. I had a total of fifteen years experience in the ministry and two Master’s degrees. However, when I sent in my resumes, not one church ever asked me to candidate, because I had to write on the front page of the resume my marital status: “Single.” Who wants a senior pastor who is single?

It was a bitter experience. I was unqualified to be a senior pastor of a church because I did not have the “Mrs.” degree. Many men graduating from seminary have tremendous pressure put on them. If they want to rise above the level of youth pastor, they must be married. Why is marriage the unspoken golden key that unlocks the door to pastor advancement?

Number 8: Budgeted funds for single ministry are usually inadequate or nonexistent.
Many churches don’t budge anything for singles. When the churches that have budgeted some funds for singles ministry must cut the budget somewhere, the singles ministry often is the one that gets the ax. “Singles are adults – they can handle it,” the budget committee says. But the message that gets across is, “You are not as important as other people in our church.”

… The message the singles hear is loud and cleaer: “You are the lowest on the totem pole. Your needs come last. You are not worth our paying a minister who can meet your needs.” Therefore, singles respond with their feet. They say, “I’m out of here.”

Number 7: Singles feel the church neglects them.
They feel like barnacles on the side of the church ship – there but forgotten. Marriage is espoused as the norm, and singles just don’t fit the model.

I have conducted over three hundred single adult conferences throughout America, Canada, and twelve other countries. Yet only nine senior pastors stopped by to observe and/or greet the crowd.

The even was in their church, in their building, and these are adults. I remember each of the nine because they are so rare….

Number 6: There is a perception that single adults are morally loose.

If a person is not married by mid-twenties, there is something wrong, it is generally thought. A particular church was in the process of trying to hire a youth pastor. Since they could not find one for over a year, they held a congregational meeting to explain the progress they were making. The elder in charge presented all kinds of reasons for the delay in locating the right person for the position. At the end of his explanation, I stopped up and asked, “Does the person you are looking for have to be married?”

You could have heard a pin drop on the carpet. People gasped. It was the unthinkable question. The elder hemmed, and he hawed, and he slithered all over the platform. All I wanted was a yes or no. He was very obviously unnerved by my question. Finally some lady in the very back said, “What we need is a role model for the young girls. So I think he should be married.”

“You mean to tell me, in this entire congregation there is not one woman who’s a role model for the girls?” Silence.

“I tell you what I think the real reason is. You are afraid that a single pastor would be sexually frustrated and have sex with one of the teenage girls. Out of all the pastors I have known personally, four have had affairs and left the ministry in disgrace. Each of them was married. Almost all the other pastors I have read about in magazines and books who have committed adultery were married. True, married people do not have a corner on the market in becoming immoral. But you should not be prejudiced against a single adult simply because he is single.”

I tried to tell them that some of the best youth pastors in America are single. I wasn’t a very popular guy after that. The elders eventually hired a youth pastor. Yes, he was married.

Some churches won’t allow singles to teach Sunday school for fear these men and women will succumb to sexual temptation. That is unfounded fear. We all need the power of God to overcome temptation. Don’t single out single people as the most likely to succumb. That is unfair and inaccurate. Single adults want to be respected and trusted. Let them show by their faithfulness that they have a genuine relationship with God.

Number 5: Marriage is portrayed as normal for everybody.
If someone is not married by thirty something, there must be something wrong with him or her.
(please click on the “continue reading/ read more” link to see rest of the post. Thank you)

Continue reading “Single Adults – Why They Stay and Why They Stray From Church – Book Excerpts”

Sick of Being Single / I Am So Sick and Tired of Being Single Alone Unmarried Lonely

Sick of Being Single / Sick and Tired of Being Single Alone Unmarried

My main reason for making this post? Apparently there are a lot of people out there doing a search on the web for pages that contain the phrase “I’m so sick and tired of being single,” or something like it. So here’s a thread for you folks!

On this blog, I discuss singleness a lot – as a semi-former Christian (I’m not sure if I’m sticking with the faith or not), so in particular, I discuss how singleness is viewed by Christians, though I do occasionally post material about singleness from secular sources, or stereotypes secular culture has about singles.

You can go through lots of old posts on this blog if this is the first post of mine you’re reading, and please definitely check out (Link): my “About” page.

Even though I have a background as a Christian and am right wing, if you happen to be liberal, an atheist, or what have you, you’re welcome to post about your experiences about being single, as long as you’re respectful towards me (see the (Link): Policy on Dissent post).

I’m at a point (I’m in my early 40s now, was engaged once, but never married), where I’m at peace with being single, with occasional days or periods where I’m sad or frustrated by it. I guess I’ve gotten so used to being single that it doesn’t bother me too much as it did in my mid 30s, or not as much, or not as often.

Here are a few older posts from my blog (click the “continue reading” or “read more” link to see the links to those older posts):

Continue reading “Sick of Being Single / I Am So Sick and Tired of Being Single Alone Unmarried Lonely”

The Disestablishment of Marriage – people delaying marriage

The Disestablishment of Marriage – people delaying marriage

(Link): The Average American Gets Married at This Age…

    Every year a woman delays marriage, her chance of divorce decreases. Good reason to take your time and choose

    By Chiara Atik for HowAboutWe

    The New York Times (Link) ran an interesting story on the “disestablishment” of marriage this weekend, which unpacks the state of marital unions in this country – which is not as bleak as you might think! People are still getting married – just a little bit later than what used to be the norm.

    And whereas anyone who’s seen Our Town or played the board game Life can tell you that marriage used to be the biggest decision a person makes in their lifetime, one that defined their time on earth more than any other, these days, marriage is just. An important decision still? But one of many, many you will make over the course of your life, and no more life altering than deciding what college to go to, whether to take that new job at a smaller company, or move to Paris for a year, or go back for your Master’s, etc., etc.

    By the time the average American is getting married, they’ve probably made a bunch of important decisions already. In other words, marriage is no longer the start of adult life (as it was mid-century), but rather the merging of two. (The decision to have children, however, and who with, still remains a doozy, though.)

    The average age of a newlywed in the US in 2011? 27 for women, and 29 for men. And if that (sort of low-seeming?) number is panicking you, keep this in mind: every year a woman delays marriage, up to her early 30s, her chance of divorce decreases. Good reason to take your time and choose wisely.

(Link): The Disestablishment of Marriage

    By STEPHANIE COONTZ

    …But rumors of the death of marriage are greatly exaggerated. People are not giving up on marriage. They are simply waiting longer to tie the knot. Because the rate of marriage is calculated by the percentage of adult women (over 15) who get married each year, the marriage rate automatically falls as the average age of marriage goes up.

    In 1960, the majority of women were already married before they could legally have a glass of Champagne at their own wedding. A woman who was still unwed at 25 had some reason to fear that she would turn into what the Japanese call “Christmas cake,” left on the shelf.

    Today the average age of first marriage is almost 27 for women and 29 for men, and the range of ages at first marriage is much more spread out.

    In 1960, Professor Cohen calculates, fewer than 8 percent of women and only 13 percent of men married for the first time at age 30 or older, compared with almost a third of all women and more than 40 percent of all men today.

    Most Americans still marry eventually, and they continue to hold marriage in high regard. Indeed, as a voluntary relationship between two individuals, marriage comes with higher expectations of fairness, fidelity and intimacy than ever.

    But marriage is no longer the central institution that organizes people’s lives. Marriage is no longer the only place where people make major life transitions and decisions, enter into commitments or incur obligations. The rising age of marriage, combined with the increase in divorce and cohabitation since the 1960s, means that Americans spend a longer period of their adult lives outside marriage than ever before.

    … An analogous process is taking place with marriage. Many alternatives to traditional marriage have emerged. People feel free to shop around, experimenting with several living arrangements in succession. And when people do marry, they have different expectations and goals. In consequence, many of the “rules” we used to take for granted — about who marries, who doesn’t, what makes for a satisfactory marriage and what raises the risk of divorce — are changing.

    Until the 1970s, highly educated and high-earning women were less likely to marry than their less-educated sisters. But among women born since 1960, college graduates are now as likely to marry as women with less education and much less likely to divorce.

    And it’s time to call a halt to the hysteria about whether high-earning women are pricing themselves out of the marriage market. New research by the sociologist Leslie McCall reveals that while marriage rates have fallen for most women since 1980, those for the highest earning women have increased, to 64 percent in 2010 from 58 percent in 1980. Women in the top 15 percent of earners are now more likely to be married than their lower-earning counterparts.

    ….Until recently, women who married later than average had higher rates of divorce. Today, with every year a woman delays marriage, up to her early 30s, her chance of divorce decreases, and it does not rise again thereafter. If an American woman wanted a lasting marriage in the 1950s, she was well advised to choose a man who believed firmly in traditional values and male breadwinning. Unconventional men — think beatniks — were a bad risk. Today, however, traditionally minded men are actually more likely to divorce — or to be divorced — than their counterparts with more egalitarian ideas about gender roles.

    Over the past 30 years, egalitarian values have become increasingly important to relationship success. So has sharing housework. As late as 1990, fewer than half of Americans ranked sharing chores as very important to marital success. Today 62 percent hold that view, more than the 53 percent who think an adequate income is very important or the 49 percent who cite shared religious beliefs.

    Two-thirds of couples who marry today are already living together. For most of the 20th century, couples who lived together before marriage had a greater chance of divorce than those who entered directly into marriage. But when the demographer Wendy Manning and her colleagues looked at couples married since 1996, they found that this older association no longer prevailed. For couples married since the mid-1990s, cohabitation before marriage is not associated with an elevated risk of marital dissolution.

    In fact, among the subgroups of women facing the greatest risk of divorce — poor minority women, women who have had a premarital birth or were raised in single-parent families, and women with a history of numerous sex partners — cohabitation with definite plans to marry at the outset is tied to lower levels of marital instability than direct entry into marriage. America may soon experience the transition that has already occurred in several countries, like Australia, where living together before marriage has become a protective factor against divorce for most couples.

The Rise of the Single Mother and of Women Out-Earning Men

The Rise of the Single Mother and of Women Out-Earning Men

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and much sorrow over the demise of the 1950ish nuclear family and the Ward Cleaver type father, among Christians who have made an idol out of the Culture Wars and social conservativism who see these news stories:

(Link): Moms Now Primary or Sole Breadwinner in Record-Breaking 40 Percent of US Homes With Children

    In a record-breaking 40 percent of U.S. households with children under 18, mothers are either the primary or sole breadwinner, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

    According to the analysis, the share of primary breadwinning moms was just 11 percent in 1960.

    ….When it comes to American sentiment on single mothers, some 64 percent feel that the growing trend is a “big problem.” Young people, however, are less concerned about the trend than older adults. More whites are also likely to see the growing trend of single mothers as a “big problem” and men and women are equally divided on the issue.

    ….Other highlights of the analysis point out that the total family income is higher when the mother, not the father, is the primary breadwinner; married women are increasingly better educated than their husbands and most people reject the idea that it is bad for a marriage if the wife out-earns her husband.

Acceptance of single-motherhood grows, poll shows

    Everson and women like her are part of a shift in American society. An Associated Press-WE tv poll of people younger than 50 found that more than 2 in 5 unmarried women without children – or 42 percent – would consider having a child on their own without a partner, including more than a third, or 37 percent, who would consider adopting solo.

    Continue reading “The Rise of the Single Mother and of Women Out-Earning Men”

Salvation By Marriage Alone – The Over Emphasis Upon Marriage by Conservative Christians Evangelicals Southern Baptists

Salvation By Marriage Alone

Internet Monk asks, from a 2010 entry (at least I think it’s from 2010, I may have the year wrong), have evangelicals and Baptists placed too much emphasis on marriage?

To which I would reply: Does the Pope wear a funny looking hat? Do bears crap in the woods? Is water wet?

(Link): Have We Said Too Much? (About Marriage, that is)

And, on that page, I.Monk links to:

(Link): Is Singleness A Sin?

Excerpts from “Have We Said Too Much? (About Marriage, that is)”

Recently, my daughter returned from a conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. She had a fabulous time, but she mentioned something unusual. She said that every public prayer contained a request for God to guide the conference participants in finding a spouse. This wasn’t the theme of the conference, but the conference was primarily single young college students. Was this odd?

It didn’t surprise me. Southern has become increasingly visible in the culturally confrontational Christianity of its President, Dr. Al Mohler. (A personal hero of mine, and nothing that I write here changes that, I assure you.) And Dr. Mohler is on a crusade to get Christian young students to make marriage a priority.

In August 2004, President Mohler gave an address to a group of (primarily) Christian singles under the auspices of Josh Harris’s New Attitude conference. Mohler’s summaries of the address can be found at his web site: Part 1 and Part 2. The audio of the address is also available on the site.

The address created a bit of a firestorm, as Mohler did not just endorse marriage, but specifically criticized those who delay marriage.

[snip obnoxious quotes about singles by Mohler]

This debate is a small part of what I see as a major evolution within evangelicalism; an evolution toward overemphasizing marriage at the expense of much that is Biblical, good, healthy, balanced and normal in human and Christian experience. From the best of motives, some bad fruit is appearing.

…How can we over-emphasize marriage? Let me suggest some trends that disturb me, and make me want to suggest a larger, more critical discussion of the current “family values” emphasis before we buy everything that is being sold in all the current rhetoric.

1. Saying that delaying marriage is bad is overemphasizing marriage. This is too simplistic, and we all know it. Don’t get me wrong. Mohler sees a legitimate problem: singleness as an excuse for immaturity and rejecting legitimate adult responsibilities. There are such people. I’ve met them. Kick them in the pants.

On the other hand, there are so many other legitimate, good reasons people delay marriage, it’s almost beyond belief that they are ignored. Mohler is speaking to the culture that he sees influencing America in sitcoms like “Friends.” Let me speak about the single’s culture I see at our ministry here.

…thers are single because they have no real marriage prospects. Some are delaying marriage to care for parents or to pursue a larger career path beyond OBI… Of course, we also have divorced and widowed singles as well.

Frankly, many of the singles I know are more mature than I was when I was first married at 21. I absolutely encourage our high school students to delay marriage until they have matured in many different ways. Mohler is right to point out that marriage is a maturing experience, but it is not the only maturing experience, and it is not an automatically maturing experience. …

…Sometimes, listening to the current advocates, you would think that marriage is unfallen, or at least a refuge from the fall. While I agree it is a common grace, and even has sacramental qualities, it is thoroughly fallen and is not our salvation.

2. We overemphasize marriage when we say only “spiritually gifted” singles are truly in God’s will. Again, when Mohler talks about those called and gifted to be “single” as the only “normative” singles, he is running along a very narrow path, with plenty of ways to fall off.

The contemporary concept of spiritual giftedness has proven to be far from perfect or even helpful in many cases. I have done far more counseling with individuals who were confused about their spiritual gift than those who were finding assurance and joy from knowing their spiritual gift. How does one know he or she is called to celibacy and their delaying or passing on marriage is approved by God? In particular, given the differences in male and female sexuality and sexual development, how does a young man know that he is called to celibacy?

The concept of being “called to celibacy” occurs in the Bible in two ways: purposeful vows to be single, and pastoral advice to those who are single. Where in the New Testament do we see a “gift of celibacy” being considered by young singles in the way spiritual gifts are discussed in today’s church?

I have total respect for all those who believe God has called them to a life of celibacy, but I have to be honest. I know many who concluded God called them to singleness who later married. Our Roman Catholic friends could tell us a lot of stories about this.

3. It is an overemphasis of marriage when marriage is automatically called a “priority” for the unmarried Christian. Here is where I hope my readers will think carefully along with me.

…Does this mean that every Christian young person needs to make “finding a spouse” their major business? I say this as a youth professional and a youth minister who is watching many Christians- especially females- literally make finding a spouse the priority of their lives. Instead of boy crazy teenager girls, we have spouse-obsessed girls, who are seeing marriage as the most important, all consuming principle for living their lives. It is the focus of their prayers, the basis of their reading, the guiding principle of their involvements and a priority in all decisions. This concerns me.

… Should I be advising my daughter to put finding a husband as first on her list of priorities? Should my kids be, literally, pursuing mates in their relationships? (I use that word because I see this increasingly happening, and it’s not particularly spiritual.) Is there no value to a social activity with the opposite gender except what may lead to marriage?

In fact, shouldn’t the priority of general Christian character and growth be clearly ranked above any specific matter like marriage or missions, especially for a young person? Am I wrong to tell young people to pursue general Christian growth as the foundation of understanding God’s will in other areas? And will that general Christian growth always indicate that, yes, marriage should be the assumed priority for their life, even though Jesus wasn’t married and the New Testament shows a remarkable openness to single people in ministry?

4. We overemphasize marriage when those who are not married are out of the “center” of the Christian community, thus violating clear implications of the ministry of Jesus. I am extremely concerned that the emphasis on marriage in contemporary evangelicalism has created an imbalance within the body of Christ. I am already sensitive to this because of my own life experience.

I grew up in a fundamentalistic Baptist Church where the divorced were ostracized, baited, humiliated and blamed at every opportunity. (No, I am not exaggerating. Drinkers and divorced people were what was wrong with the world. Oh….and anyone who married a Catholic was bad, too.) This is why my dad only heard me preach, in person, five times in his life. What is outrageous about this is that 1) it was done by elevating never divorced families to the center of the church community, and 2) ignoring Jesus’ ministry to the marginalized and broken.

Jesus would have included- even preferred in some instances- the divorced, the single and the rejected in his community of followers. It is inconceivable to me that a church pastored by Jesus would put the emphasis on marriage that I saw in my childhood- or in many circles today. Today’s mega-churches specialize in that traditional family with two kids and a dog. Yes, many of them also successfully minister to singles and other groups, but am I the only one who hears such an incessant drumbeat of teaching on marriage, threats to marriage, crisis in marriage, marriage success principles and so forth that it can sometimes appear the church is preaching the “Good News of Marriage and Family” a bit louder than the Good News of Jesus?

I know single people can be whiners. Every pastor has those single members who don’t want to be single and annoyingly keep complaining that God is unfair. But are singles wrong when they say the church looks so much like a club for families that they don’t feel like they are normal, whole and blessed? Are so many family-oriented events and ministries done with serious thought to how Jesus did ministry? Did Jesus emphasize marriage as we do in most churches?

(Please click the “read more” link to read the rest of this entry)

Continue reading “Salvation By Marriage Alone – The Over Emphasis Upon Marriage by Conservative Christians Evangelicals Southern Baptists”

Male Preacher Marries For First Time At Age 44

Male Preacher Marries For First Time At Age 44

Please note: the following is hosted by on the site of the “Biblical Counseling Coalition”. I disagree with their views as to the causes and treatment of mental health issues.

(Link): The Bachelor Pastor: Three Reflections From my Single Life

His article is very long, so please click the link above to read the whole thing. Here are just a few excerpts:

    AUGUST 19, 2012: I have waited 44 years to write this. It is my last sermon as a single man. This coming Saturday I will marry the love of my life, Miss Jennifer Terrell.

    The unusual circumstances of my marriage give me an opportunity to say some important things. The first circumstance that makes my marriage atypical is my age. I am 44 years and 7 months old. If the national average age for a man’s first marriage is 28, this means I’ve had more time than average to think about these things.

    The second circumstance is my role in the church. I have been a pastor for 20 years and senior pastor here at Bethel for 15. My observation is that bachelor pastors are rarer than Packer fans at Soldier Field, and they are sometimes treated like them. They receive disparaging comments, questions of sexual orientation, and the like.

    These challenges are often overlooked in the church and I have one last chance to write about them as an insider, before I become one of those married pastors telling singles how they should feel.

    Many people have had the misunderstanding that my singleness was somehow related to a monkish vow of ministry or that I was so focused on Jesus that I had no interest in women or marriage. To the contrary, I have had my marriage radar on high alert since I went to college. I wasn’t desperate, and clearly wasn’t in a hurry, but I have greatly desired marriage and the blessings that go with it. In fact, I would say if I erred on any side, I have erred on marriage being too important.

    Related post this blog:

    (Link): Woman’s First Marriage at Age 40+

Article: ‘That’s Odd’: On Bias Against Single Pastors

Article: ‘That’s Odd’: On Bias Against Single Pastors

Please note: the following is hosted by the Gospel Coalition Blog. They are “gender complementarians” and tend to be Reformed. I vehemently disagree with gender complementarianism and do not accept Reformed theology (to me, it’s the same as Calvinism, and I don’t like Calvinism either).

Excerpts (the guy who wrote this later went on to get married for the first time at age 44):

(Link): ‘That’s Odd’: On Bias Against Single Pastors

    A friend wrote me about how I would respond to the recent New York Times article chronicling the frustration of singles pursing pastoral positions. I probably came to his mind because I am both single and a pastor. I am completing 14 years as senior pastor at Bethel Church—a church that bucked the apparent bias and took a risk on a 29-year-old single fellow. It has proved to be a great ministry partnership. I am no crusader for singleness in ministry, and I address this subject with a fair amount of shyness. Truthfully, I would very much like a wife and family and have prayed consistently since I was 18 for God’s provision and gift.

    I am well aware of the cultural expectations for marriage and ministry, both here and in other parts of the world. I recall candid discussions in Sierra Leone and Romania where men are not allowed to be pastors without a wife. An unmarried American pastor teaching and preaching there was a source of some concern and amusement. I have experienced countless moments of bewilderment and awkwardness from others when I answer their inquiry about my wife and children by pointing to the lack of a ring on my finger. The U.S. evangelical church’s perspective is well summarized by an experience in North Dakota a few weeks ago. I was enjoying a visit with some former members of our church when their 6-year-old daughter whispered to her mom, “Is he married?” She replied, “No.” The little girl proclaimed loudly, “That’s odd!”

    Not a bad summary of the attitude The New York Times highlighted when it comes to singles in pastoral ministry: “That’s odd!”

    Should It Be?

    The question is, should it be? From the perspective of the New Testament, it is hard to see why. As is often pointed out, the head and hero of the church is a single adult male. Jesus obviously gets a Messianic pass and is not often factored into the “oughtness” of married pastoral leadership. Yet the early church was dominated by apparently single men (at least when the manuscripts were written): John the Baptist, Paul, Luke, Silas, Barnabas, Timothy, and Titus. When this list is combined with a single Savior, we should at least be in a position of neutrality on the matter.

    It would be hard to see Paul as neutral, at least in respect to his own singleness in 1 Corinthians 7. He speaks to the single man’s freedom from anxieties (7:32) and freedom to serve with “undivided devotion” (7:35). The married man (pastor) has responsibilities that “divide” his attention. This is balanced by Paul’s affirmation that marital responsibilities are good and holy and also a “gift” (7:6). Paul teaches neither singleness nor marriage is inherently more spiritual or holy, although the freedoms of singleness lead him to say, “I wish that all men were as I am” (7:8). Paul’s basic starting point is that marital status in the kingdom is spiritually neutral, each with its own benefits and responsibilities.

Click here to read the rest

Woman’s First Marriage at Age 40+

Woman’s First Marriage at Age 40+

A lady wrote to columnist Ask Amy to say she got married for the first time in her 40s. Here’s part of her letter:

DEAR AMY: I got married (for the first time) three years ago. My husband and I are both in our 40s and are well matched, happily childless and happily married. We bought a house, and both of us have good jobs.

I recently wondered, “What do I have to look forward to?” I couldn’t think of anything. I spent a big part of my adult life searching for a good husband. So now what?

I have hobbies that I am too worn out to enjoy because of my long commute to work. I search for jobs closer to home, but the job market is tight. Any spare time I have is spent doing laundry, running errands, taking care of the house and getting ready for work.


Related:

(Link):  The Reason Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others by D. Brennan

Search for love in China fuels ‘ghost marriages’; grave robbing

Search for love in China fuels ‘ghost marriages’; grave robbing

(Link): Search for love in China fuels ‘ghost marriages’; grave robbing

Excerpts:

BEIJING – Wei Guohua finally found his Mrs. Right – almost 10 years after he died.

Led by a rooster, Wei Guohua’s children brought the remains of his bride and buried them inside his tomb in Yulin, a town in Shannxi province, on Nov. 14, 2012.

A well-known local feng shui master hosted a ceremony to pronounce them husband and wife. (The rooster was there because people believe the birds can guide the dead to a new home.)

Continue reading “Search for love in China fuels ‘ghost marriages’; grave robbing”

Links: Delayed Marriage and How Straight People Paved the Way for Gay Marriage

Links: Delayed Marriage and How Straight People Paved the Way for Gay Marriage

I can’t say I’m in total agreement with this page. Isn’t comparing homosexuals who want marriage to straights who have messed up marriage, a sort of apples and oranges comparison? Isn’t the point for the homosexual activists to prove from the outset that a same-gender marriage is okay, not describe how straights have changed marriage for straights or messed it up?

(Link): How Straight People Paved the Way for Gay Marriage

The other link:

(Link): Late Marriage and Its Consequences

Excerpts…

    One of the useful things about the “Knot Yet” report, though, is how much it tries to tell us about the impact of delayed marriage on the lives of adult men and women.

    The simplest way to interpret this impact is suggested by the write-up the study received from the Atlantic: Great for college-educated women, pretty good for the rest of the female population, bad for men and particularly bad for working class men.

    Continue reading “Links: Delayed Marriage and How Straight People Paved the Way for Gay Marriage”

2008 Audio Interview with Julia Duin About Christian Singles

2008 Audio Interview with Julia Duin About Christian Singles

(Link): Interview About Christian Singles with Julia Duin, author of “Quitting Church”

The interview also covers the subjects of unanswered prayer, how single mothers are ignored and single women marginalized, Christian views on sex, and other topics are covered.

I recommend this interview a lot. If you are over 35 and never married, and were a Christian at any time (or still are one), you will totally relate to this discussion. I tried to embed the audio into this post two ways, but neither one worked.

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

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

———————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How TV Killed the Republican Party’s Family Values

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

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

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 7:28:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed Young’s Sexperiment, from Church Marketing Sucks

The Trouble with Ed Young’s Rooftop Sexperiment

Esther, Mark Driscoll, and using rape to control women

Profane Preachers Contribute to Killing the Conscience

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

The Church of Sex

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

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

The advantages to getting engaged at 37

L.A. Affairs: The advantages to getting engaged at 37

(source: http://www.latimes.com/features/home/articles/la-hm-affairs-20120721,0,4256427.story )

All her friends have been married for years, and as she approaches her wedding and the marriage to follow, she’s learned a thing or two from them.

By Patricia Beauchamp, Special to the Los Angeles Times

July 21, 2012

….I am the last in my circle of friends to get engaged. Given that I managed to accomplish this at 37 without the aid of “Millionaire Matchmaker” Patti Stanger or the combination of a terminal illness and lucrative life insurance policy, I figured it would be an occasion worth commemorating. That I accomplished this in a town obsessed with finding the bigger, better thing — and by bigger and better, I mean thinner and younger — I expected the girls back home to be shocked and impressed at the same time.

But because my friends have been married (and some remarried) for years, it’s been a bit like telling them about the wonders of the Internet. The wow factor is long gone.
Continue reading “The advantages to getting engaged at 37”