>For All the Single Folks (or "Single People are Christians Too")

Posted: 18/10/2009 in marraige, sex

>We all did it. We all grow up evangelicals or something similar. Then, we went to a Christian college and likely attended a few Christian college and career groups. We probably have been through a few camps and summits. We are all now the quarter life Christians out in the world.

And if any of us are not married, we’ve likely felt the pressure to hurry up and do so!

For those of us, who for whatever reason, remain single in our twenties, I like to think that our Churches get it, but the reality is that evangelical culture can sometimes be less than understanding. Folks like Josh Harris, Dobson et al make marriage seem like requisite for all “real” Christians. Fortunately, I recently stumbled on an old article written by the Internet monk that was a nice change, especially in light of the case for young marriage in Christianity today.

I won’t go through the whole article, but there are number of things in it I liked. Internet Monk asks whether we emphasize marriage to much. His answer is in many ways “yes.” Let’s start with this.

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 adul;t 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.

Oh wise Internet Monk, you speak the truth. Thank you for affirming those who delay marriage for good reasons. Thank for reminding us that we can be faithful Christians when we live in large cities, have ambitious career, education, artistic or even religious commitments that force us to put of marriage past the ripe age of 21!

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.

This is another great point. How many post-college single people stick around the college groups? Feels odd doesn’t it? One wonders exactly what we’re supposed to though, if every other demographic segregation is geared towards married people and their kids.

I would also like to speak for myself here. I am very, very, tired of how evangelical culture shuns the divorced and those who have had or are having sex outside of marriage. Why are these two things the litmus test for who is a “real” Christian? It seems very arbitrary to me.

I think he really hits the nail on the head with this though. What about dating and “courtship”?

1) Courtship is far from a Biblically established and ordained way of finding a spouse. Ever since post-Josh Harris youth speakers began saying “Don’t date. Court!” there’s been enough confusion on this topic to fill a warehouse. This essay won’t attempt to straighten that out, other than to say this: The view of family and adulthood I read in the courtship movement would be quite at home in medieval Islam. If an individual wants a parentally supervised or arranged marriage, then by all means they should have it, but nothing in the Bible compels such a thing. If we are going back to the view of women in Leviticus, please let me know.

2) Dating is not a dirty word. In fact, what I am learning is that there is so much mass confusion over single people of opposite genders spending time together that condemnation of dating is no longer a fringe activity. It is mainstream. Parents of small children confidently assert their children will not date. Those who have dated imply that it was sex, 24/7 and ruins marriage. Dating leads to depression, suicide and certain divorce. All this is said routinely.

I can’t speak to the details of the courtship thing. I can only say that my experience with it was not positive. Believe it or not, dating and relationships is something that is learned by doing not by some kind of pious avoidance of the opposite sex. Even at my Christian alma mater, I know that many of the girls were upset about how the guys were not open to casual dating. Is the courtship movement partially to blame for this? Yes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that people should stay single forever. My own long stretch has gone past due, and is especially poignant since my recent summer relational debacle. Nonetheless, I like that there are those out there will to openly question the “hurry up and get married” script that is so often prescribed in the evangelical land.

Thanks for reading.

  1. Q says:

    >I feel like Internet Monk may be tearing down a straw man (which is always so exciting but rarely useful). Or perhaps this is so removed from my experience that it seems exaggerated.Obviously the previous CT article you posted gives some credence to the view, but I never felt that the pressure to marry was overbearing or suffocating. I think it could occasionally be subtlely implied, but I never felt it was an expectation or that not marrying was somehow a sign of immaturity in any of the churches I attended. I also never got the sense that singles were somehow less welcome or even less involved in the church. Can you cite examples, or does IM?And, not to defend Josh Harris, but I think his position is characterized unfairly. It's entirely possible that I misread him, but I never got the impression that courtship was a parent-supervised and condoned relationship. I always felt his big argument was against casual dating (i.e. dating not leading to marriage). The difference between courtship and dating was only in its desired outcome: courtship intentionally leads to marriage while dating does not. I still sympathize with that argument, though I don't completely buy it. I think there can be value to casual dating (as you said, it's essentially practice) but I think there can be an emotional danger (rather than a physical "danger") in casual dating. That's my personal opinion though.That said, I do agree with your overall premise: I think there needs to be more active reaching out to singles, particularly young adult singles. The churches that I've been attending are either very good at that or developing great groups to address the problem (this is true also of the divorce issue; particularly LCPC and Westminster have strong programs that seek out and minister to those who have divorced).And just to completely negate everything I've just said =) I can't exactly say that I come from evangelical churches. PC(USA), despite some individual churches' attempt to enter the evangelical fold, cannot be properly called evangelical, so your posts may not be speaking to my experience anyway. =) Interestingly, I felt more of this pressure in high school rather than college.

  2. Jin-roh says:

    >Jeff, Internet Monk did give a few examples of statements by Josh Harris et al. on the "responsibility" of young marriage.Also, I can remember a few words from Frank Pastore during the Prop 8 voting time.

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