Flee Means Get Out Now

If you’ve grown up in the evangelical world at all, then you’ve heard the following advice: “flee from sexual immorality”.  I remember reading this in 1st Corinthians 6 back when I was a teenager and always referring back to it.  It was of course easiest to agree with when I wasn’t dating anyone.  Haha.

This is actually an important idea, even if we can sometimes become legalistic about it or use it to beat up on people.  But at it’s core it is right.  Paul himself writes that sexual immorality is to be fled from because all other sins are outside the body while this has to do with not just the physical and doesn’t just hurt someone else, but against your own body, which should be a temple for God.

But if we are going to understand this idea we need to realize what this really looks like. And to do that we need to define some ideas.

To begin with, we need to define what sexual immorality actually is.  I mean if we are going to flee from something it might be a good idea to know what it is we are fleeing from. There are of course a lot of ways to look at this question.  Some people will point out that in the bible the term usually refers to sex, prostitution, and the like.  In other words, they would say, the bible is silent about oral sex, masturbation etc.

Other people leave the physical all together and jump to what Jesus said about lust in Matthew 5.  They would argue that having feelings of lust in any way or context is sexual immorality.  I’ve already discussed this verse here.

In reality we have to look at the bible as a whole in the contexts of the writers and then ask what would count in our society now as sexually immoral.  But for a simple definition for today let’s say this:  Sexual immorality is the fulfillment of sexual desire outside of a heterosexual marriage relationship.  

Assuming that definition the question becomes how do we flee from that.  This is where I think we mess up.

We need to actually be committed to it.  This is why our definition of sexual immorality is so important.  Am I just committed to not having sex (which is easy if I’m not dating someone) or am I committed to avoiding all sexual immorality?  This is why this is not only a single person question but for everyone.

Secondly we need to get into our heads that flee means just that.  Paul doesn’t say to endure sexual immorality, or work through your sexual immorality, or even to overcome sexual immorality.  He says basically, get the hell away from it.  So what does that look like?

Flee means avoid the situation to begin with.  Now I get how this can be taken to the extreme.  Never be alone with the opposite sex or don’t go dancing are examples.  I’m not suggesting that.  I mean I guess almost anything can lead to immorality if we let it.  But I think there are some common sense things here that we can do.

Fleeing is not, let’s get naked and then not have sex.  It’s not having a secret life online that no one knows about.  It’s not traveling alone and having a girl over to your hotel room.  It’s not drinking a lot and then hoping nothing bad happens.  We could go on and on, and create a nice comfortable list.

These are indeed important to flee from.  We can set ourselves up by having people who know what we are doing when dating someone, setting up online accountability, and generally not having a secret life.  We should live in the light, not in the dark.

But the number one way to flee sexual immorality?  Don’t date the wrong people. Now again that always sounds easy when we aren’t dating anyone.  And yet so many of date the wrong people over and over.

Here’s the kicker you need to flee from it early on.  I think that guys fall into sexual immorality most of the time through their eyes.  Women fall into it through their emotions.  I understand that these are general truths, but I think it’s pretty fair.

Here’s what I mean, guys chase the hot girl, and women give in to the guy that gives them the butterflies so to speak.  This puts us in the position to give in.  Once we are in we start tossing all of our qualifiers out the window.

You need to flee early.  I’ve seen it again and again over the years (and I’ve done it).  It starts out with “She’s hot but not really that deep spiritually.  She’s exploring it though”. “We’re not dating, he’s not a Christian.  We’re just friends” (followed by smile). This soon turns into, “I know I shouldn’t be with him, but I can’t help what I feel.” This is followed by sexual immorality.

The longer you go down the road with someone you “shouldn’t be with”, the harder it is to turn around.  Once you are emotionally invested it gets harder to leave.  Instead we rationalize and justify more.  If we “feel attraction” to someone we know isn’t right, then fleeing sexual immorality means not dating them – not just hoping we don’t sleep with them.

Fleeing is a choice and while we always have the chance to flee, the earlier we make it the better chance we have of following through.  Fleeing means getting out early, not running up to the line and then trying to stop last second.

What does it mean to you to flee from sexual immorality?  Do you flee early or late?

 

 

 

You Will Spend Eternity Unmarried – But What About Now?

A few years ago I’d had sort of an interesting run where I’d been in a relationship that ended about a few months earlier.  I had been on some dates with various people and was sort of tired of it all.  But I was also doing a lot of random ministry and enjoying it.  I told a friend at that time that I was considering once again if maybe I should just stay single. I wasn’t mad about it (believe me I’d been there), I was just looking realistically at my situation and thinking it wasn’t all bad. The truth was that I had asked God about this several times.  What was cool about that time period is I was really ok hearing whatever from God.  If God wanted me to remain unmarried I was ok with that.

As an aside – one of the keys to hearing God is being willing to hear anything.  I need to be willing to hear yes and no.  That is what being surrendered to him means.  “God I will do what you want – whatever that is.”  When you are in that posture it makes it much easier to really see what He is calling you to.  I’m not suggesting that is easy, just saying it’s true.

But as I prayed it never felt like God was calling me to that.  It just never felt right to say I was called to celibacy and to remain unmarried – even when I wanted it to.

One of the great failures of the church is that we do basically no teaching on this calling.  In protestant culture we don’t really even offer it as an option.  I’m not sure why we are so afraid of it.  I’ve had pastors say from the pulpit essentially, “we don’t know anything about this, so we are going to skip it.”  I’ve mentioned before that at my church we have a position on every other angle – dating, marriage, divorce, remarriage, sexual ethics, homosexuality – but not celibacy or being unmarried.  And our church has at least 40% unmarried people.  Do you think it’s possible that someone in there might need that teaching?

Part of it is that we have made marriage/family an idol in the church.  But I think part of it is that now for generations no one has taught on it, so people are just lost.

Let’s be clear about a couple of things.

You are created and born unmarried.  Even Adam and Eve were created unmarried. There is no soulmate.  Your number one relationship regardless of marital status is with Jesus.  At the resurrection, regardless of what happened in your life here, you will be unmarried.  You will spend eternity unmarried.

The question is what are you called to here and now?  I know it’s really only one scripture but I think Jesus actually lays it out pretty well in Matthew 19.

The pharisees have tried to trap Jesus with a question about divorce.  Jesus answers that by raising the bar to the point where basically divorce is almost always wrong. A person can’t just get divorced.  The disciples freak out and say essentially, “that’s too hard”.

Jesus then says that the gift of marriage isn’t for everyone. It’s at this point that Jesus offers some thoughts on celibacy.  Most translations use the term eunuchs but I think it applies. (for a couple of interesting versions, check out The Message and the JB Phillips)

Jesus basically says that there are three groups of people that are called to celibacy (notice they are not called to dating forever, sleeping around etc.).

There are first of all those who are born that way.  They are born with the “gift” so to speak. Maybe it’s physical.  Maybe they for whatever reason have just never really felt the drive for marriage, maybe even for sex.  In other words there are those who have been created to live a life unmarried.

Secondly there are those who have been made that way by men.  These might be people who have never been asked to be married or have been rejected.  Maybe they’ve been physically injured or have a mental illness.

You see here’s the deal, we live in a fallen world.  I know that hurts.  But there will be some people who don’t have the gift or the calling to remain unmarried who nonetheless, because of sin, woundedness (their own, others’, the world’s) don’t get married.  There are earthly consequences to sin – both our own and others.  This is one reason we need to punt the family idol.  You could do a lot right and still not have one.  We Have To Get This.

Finally there are those who have chosen celibacy for the kingdom.  We have choice.  If we get married, we choose that.  Both marriage and celibacy are a gift and a choice.  Jesus is saying that some choose to dedicate themselves to a work that means not being married. They choose it.

One of the big problems is that we have lumped all unmarried people into one category – single.  But in the scripture there are the not married yet, the married, the divorced, the widowed and then these three – those who are unmarried because they were born with a different gift, those that are unmarried because of a fallen world, and those that are unmarried because they choose to forgo that gift and follow a different calling.

The question is of course where are you on this list.  Are you willing to hear that answer? Are we willing to walk with people to help them figure it out?

I’m not pretending to be exactly right about all of this.  But I do know we HAVE to have the conversation.

Must You Lust?

Many years ago I was at a men’s weekend golf outing.  It was an incredible time where we spent time golfing, getting to know each other and talking about Jesus.  Every morning and night we would circle up and someone would lead with a thought about Jesus.  But before that at each meeting one or two men would share their story.  They could share whatever they wanted about their life, usually a little of their past and then where they are now.

One night as one man in his late twenties was sharing, he shared a shocking secret with the group.  He said that he had never masturbated.  Now of course I knew from my evangelical training in avoiding all things sex that this was impossible.  After all, 99% of men masturbated, and the other 1% lied about it.

The problem was I believed him.  He wasn’t bragging about it, and no he wasn’t a teen groom and he didn’t even have the call of celibacy.  He just hadn’t done it.  What in the world would we hold him accountable for.  What promise could he keep?  Hahaha.  Man we are messed up.

There is so much that goes into the assumptions we make about men and singleness/marriage/sex that has been perpetuated by both our culture and the church that I can’t even begin to get into it all.

Let me begin with this.  I get that Christians are trying to help.  I respect the heck out of the desire to have men who live virtuous lives.  I agree we need that.  But how we go at that makes a huge difference in whether we actually help men achieve it.

Here’s the basic message to young men.

You WILL want sex.  All the time. While not exactly wrong, you must do everything you can to not think about it.  But you will.  Looking at a woman and wanting to sleep with her is wrong and pretty much the same as doing it.  But you will pretty much walk around doing that exact thing, forever, no matter what.  Victory over this is not really possible.  But you should be held accountable for it.  Women are holy and only give in because men demand it.  If it weren’t for men being controlled by lust, women would basically never sin. Therefore it is your job to be nice, not want sex until you are married and then be “the man sexually“, all the while knowing that you will still lust after every other hot woman that you see.

What kind of plan is this?

First, the desire for sex is not wrong.  In fact it is a huge part of why we get married.  We are created to be sexual beings.  We will desire sex.  We will be attracted.  None of that in and of itself is sin.  Read that again.

The bible does not say, “don’t desire sex”.  It does say, don’t be controlled by that desire. (OR ANY OTHER DESIRE).

Second.  Looking at a woman and thinking about sex is not the same as having sex with her.

People love to point at Matthew 5:28 and say that Jesus is saying that if you desire sex with a woman, that is the same as sleeping with her.  Well not exactly.  I don’t have space here to go into the whole thing although it’s for sure worthy of a post in and of itself.  But we need to stop using this as a way to beat the crap out of Christian men.

To begin with we need to understand that Jesus is giving a whole message (the sermon on the mount) that goes all together.  He has just stated that you need to be more righteous than the Pharisees.  In other words, they were following the letter of the law and Jesus is saying, “let’s get at the heart of it”.  He then basically says, “Here are some examples.” Take out the subtitles – It’s one sermon.  (Notice how we don’t have a bunch of messages about anger, oaths, fasting/religious activities etc. and we don’t suggest cutting body parts off.)

Jesus is also not equating looking at a woman with sleeping with her.  Without going into all of the Greek here, He is saying the sin of adultery starts before sex.  It has more to do with coveting the woman and actually considering how to be with her.  In other words, looking at her with the intent to engage in that activity.

Lust is actually not a sexual term per se.  It is a term of desire – where it becomes more of coveting of something.  I can lust after a lot of things.  James clearly writes that desire is not sin.  Even sexual desire.  Sin can come from evil desire.  But it doesn’t have to. The question is, where is your heart.  If a person’s heart is not right, that is when the desire (lust) grows into sin.

Jesus is saying it starts in the heart, not that every temptation or thought is equal to committing the sin.  This is why Paul writes to take every thought captive.  The battle starts in the heart.

Bottom line is – we don’t have to do it.  We’ve confused the idea that we will always struggle with SIN with the idea that we will always struggle with a particular sin.  But in truth we can grow and have victory over certain sins through Jesus.

So how do we get victory?  I will share more about that.  But the point here today is that we are not destined to give in to the lusts of our flesh.

What have you been taught about men and sexual desire, lust and sexual sin?

The Orgasm Idol

Probably 15-20 years ago I was at a conference of some sort and sharing a room with a couple of guys that I didn’t know (and whose names I don’t remember).  But as is often the case with young guys the conversation one day turned to dating and marriage.  We were talking about the desire for sex etc, when one of the married guys busted one of the best one liners I’ve ever heard.

He said, “One of the most overrated things in the world is sex and one of the most underrated things in the world is taking a quality dump.”

I don’t really think that he was saying we should say forget sex, and just work on taking quality trips to the toilet.  Nor do I think he was unhappy in his marriage.  I think his point was that the physical feeling of an orgasm could be relatively equal to the physical feeling to the old number 2.

How I’d say it is this, the goal of sex is not just orgasm, and if it is, we’re in trouble.

Let me first say clearly that I’m extremely pro-orgasm.  I mean I want to have them and I want my wife to have them.  So orgasms all around = good. Seriously.  Good stuff!  Outstanding stuff!  I’m for it!  Ok you get the picture.

But to this guys point, and the one I want to make today, that’s not “The Point” of sex.

We have come to a place in our culture where sex has been relegated to a physical thing – aka – the orgasm.  When it’s relegated to this, then why not have it, whenever with whoever.  If the orgasm is king then why does it matter how we accomplish it.

This is the result of so many forces in our society.  Hollywood constantly promotes sex with whoever.  Feminism tells young women, wait to get married – but don’t wait for sex.  Porn let’s you watch others’ orgasms and have your own without any effort.  Kids are told, essentially, “Here’s how it works.  Here’s a condom for you boys and a shot for you girls. Good luck out there.”

We live in the world where “science” reigns supreme.  You’re a sexual animal, just a bit more advanced.  It’s natural.  It’s about the physical realm.

There are also the “realists”.  These are the people who say things like, “You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, why should you marry someone without sleeping with them?”  Yeah it’s like a test drive, except that every time you take a car out, you wreck it.

All of this is a lie.  It doesn’t make sex better.  It just makes it cheaper.

Most Christians would say they know all that I’ve said so far.  And I get that.  But I think the reality is that this notion of orgasm as the goal of sex has totally infiltrated even our church culture.  We don’t wait for marriage – we wait for sex.  The basic message often inadvertently becomes, “Don’t have sex then get married and have lots of sex.”  Sex outside of marriage leads to bad stuff, but sex in marriage will be all pleasure.  If only it was so simple.

The reality is if the point of sex is the orgasm – I can have one of those inside or outside of marriage, and it will still feel good.  I might or might not feel bad about it later.  Heck if the point is orgasm then I don’t even need a partner.

Let’s assume that the bible is true.  That means that sex was created by God for us in the context of marriage.  In the bible there are only two contexts for sex – Marriage and Sin. Now God does have our pleasure in mind.  He created orgasms and the truth is that in study after study people who are married having sex report more orgasms than non-married people having sex.

But that’s not all it is.  God’s view of sex isn’t smaller than the worlds’ view.  It’s bigger. From the very beginning of the bible, as in the second chapter of Genesis, and reconfirmed throughout, sex is the joining together of two people.  It is becoming one flesh. It creates oneness, bonding two people physically, emotionally, and spiritually together.  It grows intimacy both in that moment and over time.  All of this can happen whether or not both people orgasm every time or not. How amazing is that.  This is why if you aren’t ready for marriage, then you aren’t ready for sex.

In a way, we need to demystify the orgasm and re-mystify sex.  Talk about countercultural.

Maybe it’s time for each of us to take stock.  How do we really view sex?  What is it for? Do we want to relegate it to a bodily function? Or do we want it to be holy?

Is He Gay?

About 20 years ago on a random cold night I was hanging out with my brother and sister. We had planned to go to a movie but got snowed out. So we settled for a snack at a nearby McDonald’s and as so often happens when you actually stop and share a meal, a real conversation broke out.

My sister was dating a guy and it was heading to marriage.  As we were talking somehow my sister brought up that they were not going to kiss until they got married.  My brother and I both must have had some sort of astounded look on our faces as she quickly said, “It was his call actually.”  My brother and I both looked at her and one of us jokingly said, “Is he gay?”

Now it’s not my intention today to get into homosexuality per se.  Not because I’m afraid of that conversation (in fact I have a lot of thoughts about that), but because that isn’t the point of this post.  Neither is my point really about the decision my brother-in-law made. I’ve talked about kissing before, but almost oddly I’ve never really done a post on “how far is too far” in the two years I’ve been writing here.  I have a post on fleeing sexual immorality coming soon.

What I want to talk about today though is how we think of single men who are living virtuously.

Our current culture obviously thinks everyone should sleep with anyone.  But our evangelical culture is different, they think everyone is sleeping with anyone and even they find it weird when they aren’t.  The funny thing is, the Church’s answer to singleness is “Don’t Have Sex” but when someone doesn’t, it shocks even them.

We have a totally warped view of Christian men.  It starts with the assumption that we are all (all men including Christians) driven primarily by lust.  In a sense the message is that the truest thing about us is that we, if not held in check, will have sex.

But when a man, actually lives a virtuous life then he’s sort of weird.  And if he does it into his 30′s then he is really different.  Between what our culture says, and how we handle it as evangelicals, it’s no wonder that eventually men become what we tell them they are.

The older you get as a man, if you stay a virgin, the more you are viewed as, well, different.

This plays out in a lot of different ways.

Take for example a man who may be called to celibacy.  Since we have no teaching on celibacy and what it is, (and I mean absolutely none as in nada, as in I’ve never in 23 years of church heard one sermon, attended one seminar, men’s retreat, heard a podcast, or read one book), we view those called to it as “different”.  We think for example that a man called to celibacy is someone who, because he has “the gift”, doesn’t struggle with wanting to be with women.  And wait. . . you know who else doesn’t struggle with that . . . men who are attracted to men. . . hmmmm.

The reality is that men, especially early on in their call to celibacy, might very well be very attracted to women.  It’s just not their call to get married.  But we have no reference point for that.  Because we don’t, we don’t know how to encourage them, and we certainly don’t know how to help a man determine if he is called to it.

Now a lot of this can be in our own heads, but it’s not only there.  I’ve led a ministry that reaches out to high school kids for almost 20 years.  When I was younger and single I never thought about it.  But as I reached my early thirties, it creeped into my head, “I wonder what people think when I as a single 33 year old talk to a group of high school girls, or for that matter guys?”  In our environment I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought it.

The problem is that when we see a thirty plus year old single guy, we want to put them into a neat little category.  Here are a few

First we assume sin

  • He is a player who won’t settle down.
  • He is struggling with secret sin – porn, habitual masturbation and the like

If he is virtuous in actions then

  • He is really nice guy who doesn’t have what it takes with women
  • He is too focussed on work/ministry.
  • He lives with his parents and or plays video games all night
  • He is attracted to men

Now any of those could of course be true.  But should we really assume any of them? Should our only answers to singles be based on that assumption?

I want to say a lot more about this in the coming days.  But we need to change two major assumptions.

  1. Just because a person is celibate does not mean they are not “attracted” to women and
  2. Men are not inherently controlled by lust

If we don’t change these two, at the end of the day we are actually pushing single men towards them.

So church let me ask you this.  When you see a 35 year old single, never married man, what first comes into your head?

Get Out Of Your Head

I remember back when I was a teenager and just starting to like the idea of dating.  I can remember working up the nerve to call a girl or to ask her out in person.  I was not confident in this area.  What I would do of course made it worse.  I would speculate in my head over and over again about how the conversation would go.  Then after a couple of almost dials, I’d let if fly.  You know what never happened one single time?  It never went the way I made it up in my head.  Never.  Not once.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my head and what I’ve named “the pretend“.  It started when I was a kid as imagination.  And there is nothing wrong with imagination.  But as we grow older we have to move into something very important.  We have to live in the real.

Here’s the thing, the key to health in anything, be it business, ministry or our personal life is to define the reality and then deal with it.  It’s one of the key’s to mental and emotional health.

But there are all sorts of ways to avoid reality.  We can choose to hide.  We can do this by “escaping”.  We might escape to fantasy, video games, alcohol, drugs, porn, comics, you name it.  Or we might just spend all of our time alone, consciously or subconsciously avoiding real community.  Some of us have more conversations with people in our heads than actual conversations with people.

I remember this man I knew who was always mumbling.  What I realized later was that he was carrying on a conversation in his head.  If you saw it on the street you would think that guy was crazy.  But if we do it all the time in our head silently are we crazy?

It’s not healthy.  The worst thing about this “pretend world” is that it strains our minds.  And I remind you that it is absolutely not real.

As a single person in today’s world living in our own head is a real trap.  Married people can fall into it as well to be sure, but when half of unmarried people live alone there is often no one around to physically engage.  Many of our jobs have us working basically alone.  We drive in our car alone.  We go home alone.  We eat alone.  Go to bed alone, wake up alone and do it again.

There’s a reason that in prison the worst place to be is solitary confinement.  Even if we are called to celibacy, we are not called to that.

I struggled with this immensely at different times in my life. I would have conversations with people in my mind over and over again.  This was especially true when I was mad, or when I if I need to have a conversation with a girl I liked.  I would turn the conversation over and over again in my mind.  This sort of process is unhealthy.  It took me more into my own head, more isolation and frankly a lot more stress.  The reality is, from a practical standpoint, never one time did a conversation go the way I thought it would.  Not One Time.  

I remember when God started showing me it was wrong.  I can still remember the first time I prayed against it.  I was driving and getting onto a highway and I literally just prayed, “God, clear my head.  Help me to live only in the real, no pretend.”  I kid you not it was like BOOM and there was silence . . . and peace.  After that, God began to walk me out of it.

We have to submit our minds, imaginations and speculations to God.  It’s a fight but I’m telling you it’s worth it.  We need to engage God and we need to engage others.  We need to shut off the computer, the ipod, the car radio, all of it, and engage the real.  It’s not that God doesn’t want us to ever day dream or use our imagination.  But just like the rest of our life, it needs to be submitted to Him, and the incessant analyzing, conjuring, and practice conversations that won’t happen are not a part of that.  We need to take every thought captive.

The more we let the pretend (in all it’s forms) run rampant, the more it will wear us down and isolate us.  This is bad for our work, play, ministry and dating life.  You will not be who you need to be in any of those areas if you don’t pull this area under control.

So how do we fight this.  Here are some practical things:

  • Pray – this seems so basic, but I mean this in two ways.
    • Pray against this specifically.  Submit your imagination and speculation to the Lord.  Ask Him to fill your mind with peace
    • Pray about the things that you are over thinking.  Instead of speculating and imagining things, lift them up.  Don’t practice the conversation, pray about it.
  • Instead of practicing the conversation or confrontation, write down the main things you want to make sure get said and then move beyond it
  • For me, I needed to turn off the fast music when I drove.  Anything that sends you into the pretend, turn it off.  I actually do better with talk radio – because I have to engage and listen.
  • If you work alone, go to where you have to interact with people.
  • Have people in your life.  You must have community and people to engage with.  Everywhere
  • I would encourage you to not live alone.  I know some people love it.  I think it’s dangerous on many levels.

Do you have more conversations with real people or in your head?  When do you fall into the pretend?  What thoughts are not submitted to God?

The Church Needs Single Men To Stay

So last week while I was writing some thoughts about what we as singles could maybe do about being angry with the church, Donald Miller was writing about how he doesn’t go to church, and then some people responded – ok a lot of people.

So I thought since I’m on a roll with singles and church, I’d offer a couple of thoughts.

First, two quick points that don’t have anything to do with singleness, but I have to say them.  1. What planet were all these people on that they were surprised that Miller doesn’t regularly attend church?  I mean when I see people say they love his books but were disappointed by him sharing that he doesn’t often attend church . . . what the H . . . are you sure you read the books?  2. I always find it mildly entertaining when protestant people in denominations (or “non-denominations”) younger than me try to drop the authority of the church angle on people like Miller.  Yeah that’s consistent.

Ok, just had to get that off my chest.  Moving on.

Miller shared a lot of thoughts, many of which I agree with even if I don’t agree with his conclusion (although to be fair, he was only making that conclusion for himself).  But one of the things that I think he left out, but I would think that he has experienced as I know I have, is that is church is hard as a single person – especially once you hit your late twenties.

Miller like myself lived his thirties as a single man.  And I would say that a thirty something man is in the most awkward spot in all of the church.

Here’s the reality that evangelicals refuse to deal with.  Single people (and especially single men) don’t go to church.  This isn’t a new phenomenon by any stretch.  At least in my lifetime all the research has always pointed to the fact that people in their twenties go to church less than any other group.  What would happen essentially is that people would leave, but then when they got married, or at least when they had kids, they’d come back. Because the Church is the “family place“.

The problem is, that when you don’t have that family or even get married, you don’t come back.  A funny thing is that whether you keep following Jesus or not, you get used to not going.  The longer you’re out there, the less likely you are coming back.

When I was in my earlier twenties I never thought twice about it.  Church was fine, everyone around me trusted my leadership as a young man and we all thought I just hadn’t met the one yet.  But as I grew older, that view, both mine and others, changed.

What’s ironic is, in a lot of churches, including many led by the people attacking (lovingly challenging in their words) Miller, he would actually have been limited in what he could be a part of there.  In many churches singles aren’t really allowed to lead.  So we should go, God only works through his local church, we can’t have real community without it, but we shouldn’t have access to it all until we get married.  Yeah that’s a good sell.

Add to this the stereotypes and messages that are sent to single men (men are bad, non committal, only care about sex, are more immature than women, is he gay, etc) and you’ve got a recipe for single men leaving the church.

Single men are the most watched, judged and ostracized people group in the evangelical congregation.

But this is where I want to circle back to what I said last week. For the sake of the body of Christ, we need to not run from the church.  Whether they like it or not, the church needs it’s single brothers to hang in there.  While understanding that the church will not change for us, perhaps we could impact the church for the men that come behind us.

Let me be totally honest with you.  For seven years I rarely, and I mean rarely, attended Church.  It wasn’t all because of the singleness issue, but it played a significant role.  Like Miller, I had just as good of community then as I do now.  I did stuff in the kingdom, even though I wasn’t “plugged in” to a church.  So why did I come back?  Why for the last eight years have I stayed?

For starters, I found a church that didn’t care as much that I was single (they do exist).  For the most part, they treated me as an equal.  But more than that I realized that there were bigger issues at play than my comfort level.  It was for me, more about communion than community.  In other words, while I can get community, teaching, and impact outside of the church, I can’t get communion and that particular connection to the larger body there. Secondly, I had a role to play.  If I invested, eventually I could have impact, not only in how I was viewed but in how singles that come behind me will be viewed – and there are a lot of them coming.  I will not abandon them.

Bottom line to this post as well as last week’s posts is this:  If we all leave, it won’t change.