Sunday, January 27, 2008

the prolonged singleness blame game

(warning: RANT! i've been reading several other blogs and sites lately, and there seems to be a common thread: blaming the church and/or the opposite sex for prolonged singleness amongst christians. it's pissing me off. all of this blame and name calling and whining isn't helping anyone. prayer, compassion, and action to change will help, not virtual whining.)

being single for an extended period of time can be really tough. it can cause you to question a lot of things (your sanity, your values, your spirituality, your past, your friends, your future, etc, etc...). plus it often feels like there's a lack of compassion for prolonged singleness in most christian circles. many married people just don't seem to understand how lonely and repetitive it can be. and most non-christians (and even some christians) don't get the whole 'waiting' (or attempting to wait) thing.

but does it really help to blame? does it really help to go on and on about how prolonged singleness is the church's fault because they only minister to women, or how all women only want over-effeminate submissive men, or how christian men only want petite submissive women, or how women will date loser-y non-christian men instead of solid christian guys, or how men should leave the church because it's ruining them?

what happened to love? what happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt? what happened to making a difference? what happened to listening to people's stories so you can understand their hurts and see why they sometimes make stupid decisions? should we not be praying for our single brothers and sisters? should we not be seeking out ways to minister to them so that they can grow stronger and become more christ-like, and some day be wonderful husbands and wives?

maybe i'm wrong. maybe i should leave my church in disgust. there aren't enough godly single men there, so obviously it's a terrible place with ungodly motives and selfish people. obviously they aren't trying to reach men, and they have their eyes closed to current state of christianity in our country.

i think we all get it. i think all of us single people who would dearly love to be married sometime soon agree that this world is fallen and messy and mistakes have been made, even by people with good intentions. can we stop whining and blaming and start praying and changing? yes, women are dumb sometimes! we often make bad decisions and date non-christian losers! it's true! we're weak in that area. our dumb decisions usually stem from hurts and wounds and insecurities. and yes, men aren't exactly running to church these days. but what can we DO about it? surely more than rant and rave and blame each other? more than walk away from church and dating altogether?

ok. end rant.

8 comments:

Sarah said...

Thank you for blogging on this. It was very insightful, and as a long time singleton reflected my feelings as well.

single/certain said...

woah! a thanks on a 'rant' post! thank you sarah! sweet. actually, i may have more to say on this, too.... been thinking a lot about what can be done aside from rambling blog rants.

Amir Larijani said...

I hear ya. I'm just irritated at the Church culture that has tacitly embraced under the table what Debbie Maken has put into print.

Some of us are single because that is the way the breaks have worked out. While I have written extensively about my experiences with the opposite sex in the Church, I would not suggest that it is indicative of the general any more than Maken's experiences--in particular--make the case for the general.

I've considered jumping ship many times. On the other hand, where is there to go? I mean good grief...does one just pick a church on the basis of whether there are single members of the opposite sex there?

What happens if the church is not in the same solar system theologically as you are? What happens if the folks at that church have completely different values than you do.

I can attest that this is possible, as I have blogged about a pastor in my locale who pastors a church that--while having a certain type of identification--is hardly on the Christian reservation.

I've been to larger churches, and have had no successes. So simply changing churches--while a potentially viable option--is hardly a panacea.

Novagirl said...

Amen! I am also amazed at the hatred and personal attacks on some of the other blogs against men, women, the church, authors, etc. Can we all agree to stop beating up on authors and bloggers we might disagree with?

On what to do, I am more or less stumped. But what I would like to see is more energy going into prayer and seeking God's guidance on what to do rather than attacking those we disagree with.

Amir Larijani said...

Novagirl: While I agree with your sentiments, this issue is beyond mere "disagreement". We have prominent Christian leaders, promoting books by authors who worked for their causes, that constitute one-sided attacks against men.

The angst expressed by folks like myself and Charles (formerly SingleChristianMan) has much to do with that.

If this were about more or less federal spending, or Herods Philip or Antipas (McCain or Romney) versus Jezebel or Ahab(Hillary or Obama), it would be a mere "disagreement".

When you have leaders making one-sided smears against men--imposing the particular on the general--while ignoring other aspects that are not under our control, that borders on slander.

Given that the Church already treats singles like deviants--or Third Class Christians--the answer goes beyond Rodney King Theology (Can't We all just get along!")

I'm a happy bachelor; while I would like to be married, I see no reason to cry over what I don't have in life. I've spent most of my 41 years on this planet--not including 7 months in the womb--making lemonade out of lemons.

On the other hand, I take offense at the one-sided crap coming from Maken and Boundless, with SBTS President Al Mohler passing out the Kool-Aid.

Every time I turn around, men are the reason that women are single; men are the reason so many women are bulimics; men are the reason Christian women are dating non-believers; men are the reason for the big gap in the Grand Canyon...

Hell, I'm waiting for Maken or Slater to blame men for women getting breast cancer!

And don't get me wrong here: S/C will attest that--while I can be a pain in the arse, I am an intellectually honest pain in the arse: I've always maintained that neither sex has a monopoly on depravity, and I have long suggested that each sex has its respective vices.

Our culture is awash in narcissism, but that manifests itself differently among the sexes. (With women, it's cosmetic surgery and bulimia; with men, it's metrosexuality and porn.)

Had Maken and her enablers at Boundless provided that same level of honesty and balance, most of the griping would be nonexistent. In fact, it was Maken's blurb on Boundless--shown to me by SCM--that got me in this fight.

Novagirl said...

Amir,

I hear ya too. I know that the culture, and sometimes the church, particularly where it has becomed overly feminized, has blamed men for every sin or ill in society and that is wrong.

At the same time, I don't see the level of anti-male commentary that you see in Boundless. I see Boundless as calling men AND women to live up to God's best for us and take the narrow road he's laid out for us. I find that positive, encouraging and sometimes, yes, I find it convicting.

I can't exactly comment on Maken - I have read a lot about her and read her blog, but haven't read her book. I do think she has a really sharp tone and I don't find that helpful. And because of her tone, I think she does herself and her readers a real disservice, in that it makes it a lot tougher to find truth in her work beyond the sharp edges.

But regardless of whether we agree on if they are anti-male, I don't think that the personal attacks we have seen lately are fair, help the debate, or are evidence of loving our neighbors. Whether we agree or disagree with Maken, Boundless, etc, I think we are called to always be loving, and some of the things I've seen are just awful.

Another thought... I disagree vehemently with Rev Fred Phelps -- the guy who is anti-gay and protests at funerals -- not only because of his views, but because of how he presents his message. But I would never call him names or attack him. I would never create a blog to mock him. He is a human being created in the image of God -- no matter how much I disagree with him or think he is misguided, I am still called to love him like I love myself. And if I were to engage him in debate, I would do so on the merits, and not resort to personal attacks.

Now this might sound like an attack on you, but please know that I say this to make a point about language, and not to attack you personally. You said "one-sided crap coming from Maken and Boundless." Language has power, doesn't it? What if you had said "I find their commentary one sided"? Would that have gotten the point across just as well? Do you see what I mean? That is a minor example, but I hope it shows you the kind of thing I'm talking about.

Hope this was helpful food for thought.

Anonymous said...

There is really a lot of food for thought here, SC.

From time to time, I feel compelled to make one point regarding the dignity of the single state.

I'm a Catholic, and singleness is taught as a third vocation. Your vocation in life is religious, single, or married. Each has its own set of challenges and sacrifices. So, the idea of a lifestyle of singleness as somehow "less" is foreign to me.

I think if singleness is being put down anywhere it's a problem because some people may be called to a lifestyle or vocation of singleness for the faith.

I'll quote from Presentation Ministries on the point of vocation, and sacrifices of each:

'Many of you have laid down your lives in the service of God's people. Priests, religious sisters, and religious brothers have given up money, careers, independence, marriage, and sexual relations in answer to God's call. Married couples have made supreme sacrifices for spouses and children. Those single for the Lord have fought the devil's temptations and our society's pressures, and have been pure as Jesus is pure (1 Jn 3:3).'

Now, clearly the situation you find yourself in is, to your best discernment, being "called" to marriage, yet in waiting mode. That's a different ball of wax than someone who knows he or she is to live a lifestyle of singleness. But, still, your single state should not be put down!!!

On that point, I find it tiring and waste of energy to cast wide nets of blame on the opposite sex, etc. or to fuss endlessly with worrying about what "should" or "should not" each sex do during the dating dance. I suppose I find it a form of idolizing and idealizing the process of getting married, to take it to an extreme.

This talk also downplays the hand of God in the process as it this were all a formula you were messing up. Yet, somehow the lecturer got it right. Yeah, right!!!

I am in complete agreement with you on so many points. I think prayer is a huge point in the right direction. Let's ask our Maker what he thinks more often.

' God's thoughts are high above ours (Is 55:8-9). There are times when His requirements don't make sense to us. Therefore, He simply asks us to give in. In what areas of your life is God calling you to give in to His will? Live your Baptism and die to yourself. Give Jesus the Christmas present He wants: "Give in." '

Best to you all --

links:
http://presentationministries.com/obob/obob.asp?d=1/26/2008
http://presentationministries.com/obob/obob.asp?d=1/13/2008

Amir Larijani said...

Novagirl:

(a) My blog was never set up for the purpose of attacking anyone; in fact, the topics range from aerospace [my college major] to politics to theology to current events to personal hobbies. I only got into this issue when Boundless started touting Maken and Charles (SingleChristianMan) alerted me to it.

(b) I'll stand by my assertion that Boundless is biased against bachelors, and men in general. I can back that up with facts. That they endorse Maken is only the tip of the iceberg.

Fact is, they have diatribes that blame men for the vices of women (I've pointed this out on my blog, and will list them again in an upcoming post).

Fact is, by endorsing Maken, they blame men for the singleness of women (I've pointed this out on my blog, and will list that again in an upcoming post).

Fact is, they act as if men are the only ones who use the "I haven't found the right one" excuse (I will also list that in an upcoming post).

Fact is, they act as if it's only the men who unreasonably say "but I'm not attracted to [so-and-so]" (I've pointed this out on my blog, and will list that in an upcoming post).

(c) As for calling Maken's one-sided arguments "crap", that's exactly what it is, and I challenge you to prove me wrong. Today, I provided excerpts from her book to prove it, and I show exactly why I came to that conclusion. Feel free to opine.

While--in my threefold review of her book, which I wrote last year--I pointed out what she got right--and it is substantial--I also pointed out that she was unfair to men. She also ignores the issue of unequal yokes, which is OVERWHELMINGLY on the women. Very unbalanced on her part.

When Charles and I confronted Ted Slater (Editor of Boundless) on the matter, he sheepishly hid behind a half-hearted disclaimer. Where was THEIR balance in this?

Conviction is good if it addresses legitimate issues; however, they are browbeating bachelors for the sake of browbeating them.

Regular respondents on my blog--which include people who are divorced (Charles, Ame), and single women (S/C)--have lauded my intellectual honesty and balance in dealing with tough issues. S/C would probably vouch that I try very hard to be fair.

I almost always provide disclaimers that--on matters of depravity--both sexes are guilty. There are times in which I deal with gender-specific vices.

(Example: If I walk into a shopping mall with a Super Soaker and start shooting, more than half the men who get wet are current or former porn users, whereas more than half the women who get soaked will be current or former bulimics. On the other hand, I can probably the number of male bulimics on one hand, and the number of women porn addicts on the other hand.)

On the issue of protracted singleness, I've often pointed out that it is a demographic problem and not one of men playing the field or women dating non-believers, although those two issues can present major problems in the particular church where there are more singles of one sex than another.

As for the "blame game", folks like myself and Charles are merely responding to the one-sided onslaught from Maken and Boundless. We are sick and tired of their enabling a culture that already treats single men like deviants.

They are not "convicting", they are "browbeating" people who have done nothing to deserve it.