One of the things that I’ve been doing lately was reading the many articles and blog posts about the state of marriages and relationships today. While Christian singles have been all but abandoned by the churches, we also face a deteriorating culture that has ingrained poisonous ideas about masculinity and femininity into us, causing men to behave more like women, and women to behave more like men.
The net result is that our western world has become a veritable wasteland for any well meaning Christian who is seeking to marry a decent spouse equally devout in the faith. To personally address this, I’ve read and received much advice about what I could do to make myself more attractive to women: how to talk, how to behave, how to dress, how to be more like a man, along with advice on where to look: dating sites, singles groups, volunteering, going abroad and meeting foreign women, who to date, who not to date, what age range is acceptable, what age range is not acceptable, and on and on.
Most of it constructive, much of it sensible, but in all of that I kept wondering: Where is God in all of this? Is there an unspoken assertion out there that the LORD is sitting idly by while we continue to grope in the dark looking for that elusive pearl of great price? Is He not a God of love and mercy? Is it not in His power to make that search easier, especially as we draw nearer and nearer to the end times?
In my mind, I knew the truth of seeking God first before I could seek “her,” but it’s one thing to know something intuitively, it’s quite another to actually LIVE it.
And while I was given a word and a vision, certainly enough to believe that there is indeed someone out there who would be my wife, the truth was, I didn’t really believe it.
I may have wanted to, but nothing I did afterward reflected this. I simply did not live my life under the expectation that I would be meeting her soon. Instead, I wallowed in unbelief.
Many sins God will forgive, but unbelief is the sin that ultimately keeps us out of the Promised Land. (Hebrews 3:12-18) If He made a personal promise to me, then how can He reward me if I don’t believe it?
I was putting the cart before the horse. I wanted to see something first, then I would start believing. I needed some morsel of evidence to indicate that all was not lost, that despite the harrowing prospects of a single man my age, I could still end up happily married. Just give me something, LORD, a little something to convince me she was real.
But the thing was, He did give me something: His word. That should have been enough.
And that’s when I finally understood: there’s a greater issue here than merely trying to find a wife in today’s climate, and learning to be more masculine. I needed to believe God for the IMPOSSIBLE, and I’m sure you’d be hard convinced to find a more impossible scenario than the prospects of finding a godly mate in today’s world. And yet this wasn’t about the impossibility of finding a mate and achieving a happy marriage anymore: this was about my faith.
And our God, even our God is able to perform the impossible. Even if I didn’t FEEL like it was going to happen, I still needed to ACT in faith that it would. After all, faith isn’t about what you feel: it’s about what you DO.
And while I feel my heart agonizingly ripping in half and sinking into the depths of despair, I have decided that I am not going to let my emotions dictate my actions. Instead, I’m going to walk in faith, and trust God to do the impossible. I will live my life as if she were just around the corner, so that when she finally does come, I’ll be ready to receive her.
Walk by faith, not by sight.
So I’m checking out all the local groups within 50 miles on Meetup.com to see if there’s any that might hold my interest, just to get myself out there and meeting new people. First group I look at, and there’s a photo in it of one of my coworkers.
Not just any coworker either, a batballs cuckoobags whacky NUTS coworker.
Really? Just… really?
20 million people within a 50 mile radius here, and yet it’s like I’m just recycling through the same 100 people over and over again.
During the time that I attended a service in Colorado, I noticed a few curious things that had me pondering about the state of Christian singles today and how churches treat them. There were so many groups and ministries that were specifically tailored for couples, families, children, men’s groups, women’s groups and youth groups, but virtually nothing for singles. Typically the singles group would really be the youth groups: teenagers or college students who are just getting started with life, and even then the central focus isn’t about pairing people together for marriage, but social endeavors to keep the young people happy and staying in church. And when they stay, they can also be utilized as cheap labor for church projects. It’s win-win (for the church that is.)
We have a culture that promotes and provides an infinity variety of venues for short-term dating, hook-ups and flings, and yet the churches offer virtually nothing to counter that. They simply refuse or fail to take a more proactive in helping singles get married, when it should be one of its major priorities.
Why is it so important for Christians to get married? Marriage provides the training ground to breed new leaders and caretakers for the body of Christ. We read over and over again that a man cannot effectively lead the church unless he has first had the experience of raising and leading his own family. Women likewise are more effective caretakers and nurturers because of the experience of raising their own children. A marriage and family successfully functioning as one cohesive unit provides the skillset needed to run a church as one cohesive unit.
Our enemy (Satan) is well aware of this. That is why he seeks to destroy these cohesive units wherever he can find them. If he finds a single, he will try to keep that person single. If he finds a marriage, he will try to destroy it. If he finds a church serving Christ as one effectual body, he will introduce cliques to fragment that body and severely weaken its collective power. Our enemy is all about creating dissension, schisms, cliques and divisions. Divide and destroy.
For the single, the potential threat of them becoming leaders and a powerful force within the church is removed for as long as they remain single. In spite of the growing number of singles we are seeing today, rarely does the church ever consider that they may be existing in an unnatural state. The presumption is that God hasn’t meant for them to get married “at that time,” so rather than find them spouses, singles are instead pushed to do missions, missions, and more missions. Marrying early, despite no biblical sources to support their premises, is strongly discouraged. Young women are not urged to marry, but do missions, and if God means for them to have a husband, they’ll find one when the “time is right.” The idea of marriage is then put off indefinitely, with the focus instead on supporting church projects, ministries and outreaches. It occurs to very few that there may be little wisdom in perpetuating a lifestyle where both man and woman would have to resist and abide by a constant burn for intimacy and marriage for literally years without relief.
In the meantime, we have singles being given leadership roles within the church that they have no business taking on. The result are amateurs without a strong marital foundation and the needed experience to draw from to effectively lead the congregation. (Even David had his lions and bears before he finally confronted Goliath.) They are novices, and true to the warnings of Scripture, they become lifted up with pride and fall under condemnation.
And yet, the singles crisis is often ignored because it’s couched in the veil of good works. After all, what could be wrong with putting off marriage just for a little while longer to serve the church? What’s wrong with a single going on missions and feeding hungry children in Africa and witnessing to the lost? Is this not a sign of true holiness and proof they are putting ahead the interest of the kingdom of heaven ahead of their own interests and happiness?
Except that, it flies right in the face of Paul’s numerous instructions on running the church, where marriage is prioritized before members can begin taking more active roles. And while he speaks of the virtues of being single, he clearly expressed that this was his own opinion and not God’s, and described singlehood as a gift. If a man has no necessity, then and only then is he is encouraged by Paul not to marry. Any man who burns however would not be able to serve God without distraction, precisely the advantage he was supposed to have if God had truly granted him such a gift. This is the key distinction that too many churches gloss over. They must be confronted with the reality that there are many Christian singles in the church who remain that way OUTSIDE of the will of God, not because of it.
But rather than prayerfully consider whether the single is single by the gift of God or is merely existing in an unnatural state, the churches instead exploit them. Without a spouse or children of their own, such singles offer much time to volunteer and money to give. It is simply not in the church’s own financial/materialistic interest to see such a single get married. And thus, off to missions they go.
So programmed have members become to this way of thinking that we have a generation of Christian men riddled with guilt and frustration at the lack of prospects and a generation of women who rate their holiness not in having a successful marriage, but in the number of mission trips they embark on.
And yet notably there is another group that eerily shared this same trait: the ceaseless effort to travel thousands and thousands of miles to make a convert in the faith. They were called Pharisees.
Churches have focused outward, and as a result have ignored the dead bones within. Singles who remain true in the faith are being left behind, treated as pariahs and exploited for selfish purposes. The time will come when judgment will begin, not with the lost or in the huts of India, but within the house of God itself. May the churches consider their ways before then, and repent accordingly.
I’ve been reading this story with interest, part of a series of love stories that are posted on a blog written by some of my favorite people on the web. The story is basically about Alicia’s journey into ultimately finding her future husband. She writes:
There were two: one who God Himself had chosen for me, and the other that I chose for myself. The one God had chosen I first met the day I visited campus. He shook my hand, introduced himself as Titus, and immediately the Lord spoke to me in very clear voice, “This is the man I have for you to marry.” I freaked. I didn’t know, at the time, you could hear God like that. I thought I was just being crazy or that it was the devil! And so I put it away in a dark corner, to be forgotten. And then I met the other guy. I understand now that Satan always brings the decoy right before the real one thing comes.
So despite hearing the voice of God, she quickly vanquishes the unworthy beta male and begins the chase after alpha douche. Nary a second thought.
He needed my help. He had a sleeve of tattoos, piercings, bleached-blond hair and a crazy sense of humor. He was outgoing, attractive, angry and hurt.
It’s a story as old as time itself, the nice guy (beta male) is long forgotten while she pines after Tattoo Sleeves (the bad guy.) Eons have been written about this phenomenon, but I’ll just mention here that Tattoo Sleeves drew her because she was sexually attracted to his overt masculinity. Nice guys are many things, but being masculine is typically not one of them. There are a lot of effeminate church boys out there probably scratching their heads and wondering why their “sensitivity” and “niceness” doesn’t attract the girls, but it really is that simple. Masculinity is about projecting strength, and any perception of weakness and effeminate behavior is going to be a quick turn off. That’s why the masculinity of “bad boys” turn women on in the same way that… *ahem* well endowed sexy ladies turn men on.
And I fell in love. I fell too fast and deep.
Of course you did.
I had a void in me that felt filled when I was saving him, and his pain was alleviated as long as I was in his life. I was totally co-dependent, tied to his soul. We said we would get married. We had no clue what that really implied. And then, right after Christmas break, he was gone. He told me that he didn’t love me anymore. That was it. And then he hung up the phone.
This bothers me for a myriad of reasons. She was so hard for this guy that I wonder if she gave up her virginity for him too. She’s mum on the subject, but this is a really crucial detail that could her affect her marriage with Titus. You never really get over that first love when sex is involved. Imagine being in bed with your wife and yet no matter how hard she tries, she’s still thinking of HIM instead of you. Awkward.
Even more telling, it was Tattoo Sleeves that broke up with HER. Had it not been him finally getting bored and moving on, poor old Titus would probably still be waiting for the prodigal girl to return home. I guess he should consider himself lucky that she didn’t come across another pierced up bad boy to pine after in the meantime, or he’d be waiting even longer.
After the breakup Alicia is devastated of course, leading to a period of introspection and repentance(?) She writes of Titus:
Titus was a great guy. We had a number of conversations in the past that developed in me a deep and genuine respect for him. [...] I thought he was an amazing man, but beyond that, I never considered him to be anything but a boss and friend.
Oh, Lord. Women say this kind of thing all the time to “nice guys” that they feel absolutely no attraction to, whatsoever. There’s a post by Sunshine Mary that humorously defines this doublespeak as Hamsterese, and while it’s hilarious, it also provides some key insights as to what women are really thinking when they say certain things to men.
For example, when a girl tells me I’m so sweet and that I’m going to make some lucky girl very happy some day, she’s really saying:
“You are going to make some lucky girl (but not me) a great boyfriend/husband some day!”
“You’re such a nice guy… you’ll make a good husband one day (but not for me)”
“You’re such a nice guy… you’ll find someone to love you for who you are (but not me)”
These are the often useless (and misleading) platitudes women serve up to men they are not attracted to, lulling them into a false sense of confidence that meeting the ONE will only be a matter of time, rather than consider that there might just be something about the way they behave that women simply do not find attractive.
As the story progresses there is some cause for hope. Alicia apparently starts to feel attraction, I suspect in part due to the effects of propinquity (since they were nearly always together or near proximity), and partly because it now seemed apparent that Titus was drawing the attraction of at least one other girl too.
At one point, I mourned because I truly thought that Titus was falling in love with one of my good friends. I was confused and miserable watching their friendship, but I obeyed God, letting my desires pass from my hands into His, knowing that My Beloved loved me, and knew what was best.
It’s commonly understood (and if it isn’t, it should be) that men suddenly become more attractive to a girl when the girl sees he is attracting OTHER women. That’s partly why husbands are more attractive to women than single, unattached men are, and why sexually active men are more attractive to women than virgins. That’s just how it is.
The question is whether this was enough to fuel a true marital relationship based on love AND mutual attraction. For Titus’s sake I hope it was, but that little niggling detail as to whether Alicia went the distance with Tattoo Sleeves will probably determine that more than anything else. Otherwise this whole thing about “ordained” and “God’s will” and so on is just smoke and mirrors. If there was no real attraction, it presents the danger that she could one day say, “I love you, but I’m not IN love with you,” just as so many bewildered husbands have unfortunately come to hear from their soon to be ex-wives.
I realize Titus and Alicia’s story is the kind of story that I should find encouraging, and yet I found it profoundly depressing, because as much as God might intervene in our lives, ultimately we still have to choose to do the right thing.
That means dealing with the possibility that God did indeed have a wife in mind for me, but that she made her decision a long time ago and instead of waiting, she’s now married with kids to a Tattoo Sleeves like dude. Or… marriage was a low priority to her as she went on to get heavily involved with her church, carrying the haughty attitude that no man will EVER be good enough for her, until she finds herself in her late 30s/40s, barren, alone, with only a few cats to keep her company.
And then there’s me. What if I screwed up as well? What if I made the wrong decisions myself and that’s why I never met her? Is it too late for me? Did the ship sail for good and I’m now destined to a life of solitude as well? As I get older these thoughts weigh more heavily on my mind.
Ultimately I’m inclined to trust that God is able to break even our own flinty obstinance for His purposes. I just hope it’s not too late for me.