Can You Be Disqualified From Celibacy

One day a few years ago I was meeting with a pastor, who was perhaps in his late twenties, to discuss a singleness talk that I was going to be doing at his church.  We talked about many of the things that we discuss here on this site.  As the discussion turned to celibacy it took a bit of a different turn.

He shared that part of his story was that even though he was married he thought there was a good chance that he was originally gifted/called to ministry from the context of celibacy.  Now he was not complaining in any way about his wife.  In fact he has a good wife and a good marriage.  That wasn’t his point in sharing.  He had two points really.

The first was that when he was growing up, he never understood that celibacy was an option or something to be called to.  But later on as he learned about it he began to ask God if he might be called to it.  Just knowing him a little I wasn’t surprised by that.

He said that he flat out asked God in several ways and that looking back, God answered in every way that he was indeed called to that.

But this guy had already had sex. (Not while he was a pastor, but previously in his teenage and college years).  As he met with some elder men they agreed with his original calling to celibacy but warned him that it would be much harder because of all the sexual experience he had already had.  In the end they advised that he go ahead and marry and he agreed and did so.**

There is a lot of important questions that this raises.  It raises some questions that frankly I don’t have perfect answers to.  However I think it is worth some discussion and thought.

Before we dive in all the way, let’s first say this.  We need to raise our kids in the church knowing that celibate ministry is an option.  We just have to start talking about this.  Not only do we need to talk about it with the 30 year old guy but really with the 13 year old guy.  We need this to be a normal dialogue in the church.  Parents need to talk about it. Youth leaders need to talk about it.  Pastors need to talk about it.

We need to share that there are indeed two paths to pursue.  Doing this well would completely change the game.  I’m going to come back to this soon and talk about why that is and give some thoughts on how to set that up from a practical stand point.

But today I want to raise a different question.  That is: Can you be disqualified from celibacy?

Let’s remember that celibacy is not just living a pure life until you get married.  That’s called chastity.  Really we are all called to live a chaste life.  Celibacy means that I have the calling and/or gifting to live a life and serve God from an unmarried context.  Ideally it’s a vow just like a wedding vow, but to God and not another person.  I’ve talked about the different ways we get there here.

But the question is, what if you’ve already had sex.  Or even; what if you’ve already done a bunch of sexual things or been wrapped up in porn or other activities.  Are you then disqualified from pursuing a life of celibacy for the Kingdom?  Do you have to get married instead?****

This could happen all sorts of different ways.  You could become a Christian after you have already lived a life in which you had sex.  You could be a Christian thinking you were going to get married and slip up and have sex.  There are many examples.

Here is my take.  That’s all it is.  My take.

I don’t think that your past necessarily disqualifies you from a present or future calling.  I do think it can affect it.

I’ve written before that regardless of your past you are not disqualified from marriage.  In fact I went further and fully believe that it doesn’t even disqualify you from who you marry. In other words, just because you’ve had sex doesn’t mean you have to marry someone who has also had sex and so on.  If we repent of our sin and fight to live out of God’s forgiveness then His grace is bigger than all of that.

I believe the same holds true for the call to celibacy.  Your past does not disqualify you from that call.

Now that doesn’t mean that it won’t be tough.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t face some unique challenges as we grow out of our past and into our calling.  Paul is also clear; if you are can’t go without – get married.  But if you are called and/or gifted in that way, you can lead that life – with Jesus.

I’ll say more about this in a future post about celibacy but one thing to keep in mind is that marriage and celibacy do have some things in common.  They are both a calling and a choice.  And regardless of calling the choice isn’t made just once.  This is vital.  A married person has to choose to honor his vows.  Over and over again.  The same holds true for a celibate man.  We are all faced with temptation.  We are all faced with our past.  While both are a one time vow, both require deciding over and over honoring that vow.

I’d love to hear what you think?  I’d especially love to hear from those readers who are called to celibacy.  I know there are some.

 

** I’m not suggesting that my pastor friend or his elders were wrong.  Marriage at that point may well have been the right answer for him.  But I don’t think it should be assumed for everyone in that spot.

**** One caveat needs to be said here.  If you are married, even if you were called to celibacy at some point, you are now called to honor your marriage vows.  God will still use you.  No one who is married should get divorced claiming a new found calling to celibacy.

Is Getting Married In God’s Hands?

I recently received an email from a reader asking some questions about a particular situation.  I won’t go into the details but one of the things she said was that she was trying to leave the situation in God’s hands.  This is similar to some things I’ve talked about before but I want to revisit this idea.

This message of waiting for God to bring me the one or that God will bring the right one at the right time is super problematic if not wrong entirely.  And yet it comes from everywhere.  I remember once sitting in church and hearing the pastor in a marriage sermon say that he knew there were frustrated singles because God had not brought them the person yet.

It’s used often as a spiritual platitude spoken to singles as well as by singles themselves.  Especially women.

It’s extremely shaky.

How do people get there?  Well there are some good and bad internal motivations.

A few good motivations

  • Some people are trying to honor God as sovereign over everything.  They don’t want to take false credit or assume they know the answers.  Fair enough.
  • Some are trying to have a submissive attitude towards God.  “God I want this or that, but Your will first, not mine”.  A great starting point for any endeavor.
  • Some have been so over focussed and have had marriage as an idol that they are trying to avoid that by giving it up.
  • A lot of pastors and married folks are trying to be encouraging.  Truly.  They don’t see how they really got married other than a gift and they just know that God wants to gift their friends in the right time.
  • An effort to defeat the myth that you earn a spouse from God – which is important because you don’t.

Here are a few bad motivations

  • We don’t like dealing with rejection so if it’s all on God then it’s not on me
  • We don’t like dealing with our insecurities so again it’s not on me
  • We don’t like dealing with our sin and shortcomings.  It’s not me God it’s You
  • We are scared crapless and this way I don’t have to face the fear of acting
  • We have completely over spiritualized the whole thing to the point that any action seems like it would be to take matters into our own hands and not allow for God to move..

These are just a few examples of how we arrive at the “When God wills it then I’ll get married” sayings.

None of this is actually helpful if you are over 25 and single.

We don’t do this with anything else we do.  Not anything that we really care about anyway.

We shouldn’t do it with ministry.   God will bring the people He wants to our church.  We don’t have to ask anybody or market ourselves or serve the community.  We’ll just build a building and hope some people show up.  We don’t have to talk to them when they do.  If they are meant to be here, then they’ll come back.  No church planter I’ve ever known goes at it that way. (I’m sure some do – and the planting is short lived).

We don’t do this when we seek employment.  I see a job opening at this great company I want to work for.  I think I’m qualified.  But I won’t apply or send them a resume.  I won’t work to get an interview.  I’ll just pray and if I’m supposed to have that job, I’m sure they’ll offer it to me.

We know this won’t work in any other area of our personal life.  I need to lose 10 pounds.  No need to work out or eat better.  Just pray about it.  After all if God wants me to be 10 pounds lighter He will make it happen.

I could do this all day.  Literally.  All. Day.

But for some reason, including the ones above, we’ve turned singleness and marriage into something that is basically akin to who gets in to heaven in terms of spiritual consequence.

Look, God has given us some guidelines.  We should have qualifiers for sure.  I’m not saying just go get married to whomever.  But we have to act.  Just like any other part of life.

In fact, and catch this (let those that have ears. . . ); It is in the acting that our faith is proven.  Whatever you believe theologically about God’s sovereignty, that sovereignty should be a launching pad not a hiding place.  It’s exactly because He is over everything that we can act in faith.  So by all means – act.

In fact, God’s will is mostly done by God’s people. So we need to do it with God.  But we need to do it.  That’s the whole point!  He wants us to do it all with Him.  But He wants us to do it.

Over and over we need to submit our desires, heck our whole being, to God.  We place ourselves in His hands and then we act out of that.  He grows us along the way.  Again that is His whole plan.

Now the question becomes what does that action look like?  That’s a great question.  I’ve written a lot about that for the guys here but in the coming weeks I’ll have a post for guys and one for the gals on what I think it means to act.

The bottom line for today: We should put ourselves in God’s hands. While there we should face our fears, insecurities, weaknesses and sins, as we act boldly to help advance the Kingdom that we know bringing – singleness, dating and marriage included.

Marriage Isn’t What Makes You Holy

This is my final post in response to Al Mohler’s words about the “sin” of delayed marriage. As I’ve said before, I’m not really singling Mohler out other than that I think his words represent a lot of what Christian leaders think and teach.**  We’ve discussed the nuclear family idol of the Church already, but I want to talk about a part of that idol that is often left out.

Mohler sets this up by basically saying that you are made an adult by getting married and if you wait too long (however long that is) you are going to make it tougher.  He states:

Delaying marriage until the late 20s or beyond often allows a person to develop unhealthy lifestyle patterns that become difficult to break once he or she is married, Mohler said.

“The corruption of delay, the injury that comes by delay, is multiple,” Mohler said.

“If we claim for ourselves, either as men or as women, the right to define ourselves as adults who will get married when we get to it, we’re defining ourselves in pretty specific terms. Let me be clear: The longer you wait to get married, the more habits and lifestyle patterns you will have that will be difficult to handle in marriage.”

Now remember, I’m for marriage.  I’m for getting married sooner than later if you are called to it.  But this crosses the line in several ways.

First, the statistics don’t back this up at all.  In fact the divorce rate of people getting married after 25 and with a college education is ridiculously lower than if you get married younger.  I’m not saying you can’t get married younger but the reality is that our culture has changed.  We’ve lengthened adolescence.  The delay of marriage is both a cause and a result of that, but we have to be careful here and deal with the current reality.

But the bigger issue here is the idea that we can’t be mature if we aren’t married.  The way this usually gets talked about is the idea that Marriage Makes You Holy®.

This is the bell that evangelicals have been ringing lately.  Marriage is hard.  Marriage is not about making you happy it’s about making you holy.  Which is sort of true . . . sort of.

This talking point creates all sorts of weird dichotomies.  Let’s look at the messages we are receiving.  It goes something like this:

Marriage is really hard.  But you should hurry up and get married.  You are able to focus more on Jesus and be less distracted as a single person.  But marriage is how you become more holy.  You need to be a man and get married.  But being married makes you a real man.

Confused yet?

Here’s the thing: Regardless of your marital status you are called to holiness.  We are called to grow and that includes the proverbial “growing up”.  But marriage doesn’t guarantee that. There are lots of immature married people.  For sure there are lots of spiritually immature and unholy married people.  Marriage itself doesn’t make you holy.  Jesus will if you walk with Him.

You see marriage isn’t the answer or the problem.  We’re the problem. Our sin is the problem.  Jesus is the answer.  The context of marriage can indeed lead us to deal with our sins and wounds if we let it.  But if I’m single, I need to deal with those same things, and you know what? –  You can. Right now.

People always told me when I was single that one of the things they learned when they got married was how selfish they were.  But what’s funny about that is that they were already selfish.  They didn’t become selfish when they got married, they just didn’t deal with it until they got married.

In some ways it was an advantage for me when I got married later in that I already knew I was a sinner.  I didn’t need a wife to show me that.  Now I do see it in some new ways to be sure.  But you can’t sit around and wait to get married to deal with sin.  That’s a terrible idea.  And you don’t have to.  You can deal with your sin now.

We don’t need to fear marriage and we need to quit underselling it.  Telling a bunch of people who aren’t getting married how hard marriage is seems to me to be sort of counter productive.  Marriage is good and can be fun.  It actually can make you happier.  I’m happier.

God can indeed use marriage to make you more holy if you let Him.  But He can, and wants to, use your singleness to do the same thing.  God always, every single day, wants to grow us to be more holy.  Regardless of context.

When we count on marriage in and of itself to do that we are adding to the idolization of it.

 

 

**Recently someone has suggested (on social media) that I am unnecessarily picking on Mohler.  They have suggested that Mohler doesn’t actually believe what I’ve attributed to him.  First, I want to be clear that I have nothing personal against Mohler.  However, I in no way feel that I have misrepresented him here.  I have for sure not misquoted or even taken his quotes out of context in any way.  If he doesn’t believe it, then he should think about how he says it.  I think he does believe it, as do most evangelical leaders – not out of malice or ill intent – but out of modern evangelical tradition on the subject of marriage of which I was once beholden to as well.  Their premise is wrong to begin with in this area and it’s killing us.  What they are doing is not working.  At all.

Get Out Of The Friend Zone

friendzone

When I was an teenager in school, one of the things that I heard constantly from girls that I wanted to date was something to the effect of, “You’re a great guy, but I just see you as a friend.”  In other words over and over again, I entered what has become known as the friend zone.

This is a terrible place to be.  We get there a whole lot of different ways.  When I was younger, (at least in my experience)  there were some times when I really was friends with the girl before I decided I wanted to date her.  But as you get older this is less likely.

Many guys when they like a woman start being really nice to her.  We go out and try to meet her needs, help her out with anything she wants, buy her considerate gifts etc.  I once bought a girl a birthday present that I wasn’t even dating.  I was a 30 year old man.  WTH was I thinking?  I liked her.  I should do nice stuff for her right?  Yikes!

Many guys think that this is a way to get in with a woman.  Rather than ask her out, I’ll simply get to know her as a friend.  After all, this is way less threatening.  The idea is to be safe and a friend first.  But this is a terrible strategy and frankly it’s intellectually dishonest anyway.  Friending someone in order to get them to like you is manipulation just as much as any of the “evil” dating game moves.  Just way less effective.

The funny thing is, women know all of this. Some of them are even mad about it.  I saw a blog (which I can’t seem to find or I’d link it) where the women were basically saying, “There is no friend zone.  Guys shouldn’t be mad about this.  You could be my friend or not.  But if I tell you that I don’t want to date you and want to be just friends, take a hint.  I don’t want to date you.”

When a woman says I see you as a friend, 9 times out of 10 it means they don’t want to hang out.  And if they do, it’s for some other reason other than being interested.

So the question is, how do you get the heck out of this cycle.  I want to offer a few frank suggestions.  Some of you won’t like them.  That’s fine.  Do you man, but don’t whine about it.

Stop Using This As Strategy

Just stop!  Now!.  Stop trying to get a woman to like you by being her friend.  Stop it.  And most of all, stop being self righteous about it.  I’m a nice guy and I want to be friends with the girl first.  I care about her and if I can be friends with her with the hope of more, so be it.

It’s totally ridiculous, completely dishonest and chicken.  It’s hiding what you really want behind the guise of platonic friendship or worse in the church – ministering to her.  Ugh that makes me want to vomit.  It won’t help her.  It for sure does not help you.  And it won’t end up with you together.

Quit Agreeing To It

If you want to date someone and they say that they want to be just friends, just say no. Stop feeling like you have some sort of responsibility to be friends with every girl you’ve been on a date with.

A few years ago I went on a few dates with a gal and I actually thought we had some real chemistry.  But when I called her after a date she didn’t call me back.  Now by this point in my life I had learned that there was always someone else and I just sort of moved on.

About three months later she called me.  I was sort of in shock to be honest.  I had written the whole thing off. We were sort of chit chatting and I said, “Look, I enjoyed our dates and I’d be willing to go out again and see where it goes.  I’m totally open to that.”  She then said, I kid you not, “Well I’m not really interested in that, but I thought we could be friends.”

After laughing, I said, “Look, we are friends in the sense that we like each other as people, but I don’t have time to just hang out.  I have friends.  I’m looking for a wife.”

Change Your Mentality

In high school I was always the “friend”.  But when I went to college I made a conscious commitment.  I was not going to seek out girls as friends.  Now this didn’t mean that I had no female friends.  But I was not going to be “that” guy.  And you know what happened?  I had a lot of dates.  Most of them went no where.  In an ironic twist my best female friend in college by far was girl who I met on a date.  We both decided it wasn’t going anywhere.  But you know what? She respected me and our friendship because she knew I wasn’t “just a friend”.

This leads to my final point:

Get Out Of Any Friend Zone Relationships Now

If you are friend zoned with someone, just end it.  Stop being a buddy to the girl you want to date.  It takes way too much of your time, energy, thought life, and heart.  It’s unhealthy, keeps you from pursing other women, and it’s not going to suddenly change.  You’re worth more and frankly so is she.  Move on.

People have asked me, how do I get our of the friend zone with this particular person.  My answer every time is simple.  Just stop doing it.  Walk away.  In a sense, break up.  It is the only way.  There’s an outside chance (extremely remote) that it might eventually make you more attractive to her but that can’t even be the goal.  Move on.  Just do it brother.  It’s not complicated.  Do you want her respect or her acceptance?

Do what it takes.  If that means switching community groups do it.  If it means taking her number out of phone or de-freinding her on FB, do it.  If it means not talking to her at all, do it.  Whatever it takes.  Do it and do it now.  You don’t owe her or anyone else the self flagellation.  You really don’t.

Picture from Coloring From Grown Ups

Look For A One, Not The One

I want to continue today to respond to a message from Al Mohler.  I’m using several posts for this because I believe that a lot of what Mohler is saying is representative of the kind of things that church leaders believe and teach.  It’s not a Mohler problem.  It’s our problem. To his credit – at least he flat out says it.

We’ve talked previously of the idea that our walk with Jesus is seen through the lens of marriage mainly and how that makes the nuclear family an idol as well as how using young men as the scapegoat of our society is not right and obviously not working.

Today I want to address a smaller part of Mohler’s statement that leads to total confusion and frustration in the Church’s singles.

Here it is,

“Young men and women should not delay marriage until it is convenient for them to take a spouse but should actively seek the mate God has chosen for them”

Now to be honest, I agree with part of this.  Although I would back up several steps.  The first question needs to be, do I feel like God is calling me to serve him from a context of celibacy or from one of marriage.  I’m not going to say a lot here as this is not a post about celibacy.  But there are those who for various reasons and callings end up following Jesus in a lifetime of being unmarried.  This is a part of the Kingdom and one that should be pursued by those called and honored by the Church at large.

If one is not called to that, then I do agree that sooner rather than later, we should look for a spouse.  This only makes sense.  But here is the problem with the above statement.  The idea that you have to find the one God has for you.

Nowhere in scripture does it say that we have a Christian Soulmate as it were.  In fact the scripture says the opposite.  Jesus says that we will not be married in heaven.  You and I will spend eternity unmarried.  Beyond that, no where does the scripture say to go and find this exact one person that God has for you.

Paul does not say, “Go and find your wife.”  He says “Go get married.”  This idea of “The One God Has For You” is bad on many levels.

First it can be an excuse on our end and a part of the problem of delayed marriage that Molher is complaining about.  “I went out with her for a year but she just wasn’t the one”.  “No one has asked me out, so I guess God just hasn’t sent me the one yet.”  In other words it can lead to inaction.  I don’t have to do anything, after all God has the one for me.

Secondly it’s used as a spiritual platitude to “comfort” people.  “Don’t worry, He wasn’t the one.”  “God is preparing someone just for you.” “God is in charge.  He’ll show you the right one at the exact right time.”  Essentially we take what I would call bad Calvinism combined with Oprah/”help you sleep at night” theology to explain why you aren’t married yet.

Third and maybe worst of all, it puts an inordinate amount of pressure on everyone.  There are some who would basically say don’t go on a date with someone unless you think they could be “the one”.  It can lead to not giving someone a chance.  It can lead to staying in relationships we shouldn’t because we are convinced they are the one, or bailing too early because we can’t be sure that they are.  The idea of the one also creates a sense of the perfect person or at least the perfect one for me.  After all God would want the best for me right?  And He would surely bring the perfect for me person.

The most frustrating thing about this message is that I have to go out and search and work to find this one.  So it’s not enough to go find someone that is godly that I can marry, I’m looking for this Christian Romance Novel person who God has for me.

No where in scripture are we promised The One.  As I’ve said here many times this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t bring people into our lives.  I believe that He does.  I believe that as we walk with Him, He can lead us to someone to marry.  But marriage is a choice.  “The one” is the one that you choose to marry.  We are searching for a one not “the one”.  It’s not just semantics.  How we see this affects how we go about it.

Telling people called to marriage to go and seek a spouse is good.  Telling people who are called to marriage to go and find THE ONE™ is counterproductive and confusing at best, and unbiblical and paralyzing at worst.

Avoid The Nice Guy Trap

One of the complaints I hear all the time from men (and that I used to make all the time) is that women, and in our case Christian women, always seem to choose the bad guy over the good guy.  If you are a consistent reader hear then you know that I would say that is the wrong view of a real issue.

Here is what women do – they choose the guy they are attracted to over the one they aren’t.

There are a lot of men who say that women should date them because they can be a great husband, are trying to be godly etc, even though they are not, for whatever reason attractive to women.  I would ask that guy, are you asking out women you know to be godly that you are not attracted to?  I’m guessing no.

So rather than sit around and complain, maybe we should think about what is attractive and work on it.

This leads us right back into something that I’ve written about before but I want to address in a different way.  If “nice” guys are not attractive, why do we continue to be nice and how do we keep getting into that spot.

If we are the nice guy, chances are that we will keep getting friend zoned by women.  Maybe eventually a woman, after being with enough “not nice guys” will decide to choose the nice guy, but usually that leads to a marriage that isn’t super successful either.

Today I want to talk about why we think we should be or need to be nice.  Later I want to talk about how to get out of it.

There are lots of reasons that men, especially Christian men, fall into the “nice” trap.  Here are a few.

We think that if we are nice, that it will be reciprocated.  

This of course isn’t actually being nice for niceness sake.  It’s being a player in it’s own way.  In other words I like the girl so I’ll be really nice.  I’ll meet her needs.  I’ll buy here stuff.  I’ll listen to her problems and “minister” to her.  And if I help her enough, surely she will want to be with me.  Except that she won’t.  And if she does it won’t be because you did those things.  Forgetting the fact that this is just as manipulative as any other “game” move, it is not typically effective.

The Church has taught men that if they are nice (or Godly or servants or . . .), women will be attracted.

Making matters worse is the fact that most in the church teach their men this.  They say, serve the woman, protect the woman, rescue the woman, listen to the woman.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do those things.  But what I am saying is that those things will not make you attractive to her.  And getting mad about it won’t change that.

You cannot serve your way to attraction.  You cannot buy your way to attraction.

I know you’ve seen the romantic movies (made for women) where the guy buys the flowers or rescues the damsel.  But go back and re-watch those movies.  When was the girl attracted?  Seriously.  Think about it.

Often we think that we can “save” the girl and if we do then she will want to be with us.  I know I thought this a lot.  But it just doesn’t work that way.  Look, the hero isn’t attractive because he is nice – he’s attractive because he is strong, brave, and doesn’t need anything back from the person he’s saving.

We equate being nice with being good.

This is a false dichotomy.  Nice does not always equal good.  You see someone doing something wrong.  What’s the nice get along thing to do?  What’s the right thing to do?

Jesus was not nice . . . at all really.  He was for sure good.  He called out stuff.  He was fully confident in who He was.  He didn’t need anything from anyone other than God. Remember in The Chronicles of Narnia? Aslan (the Jesus character) was a lion for heaven’s sake.  Not safe, but good.  There’s a difference.

We are scared.

Finally the reason a lot of guys are nice is because they are afraid.  Afraid of rejection.  Afraid of not being liked.  Afraid of conflict.  Afraid of tension.

This fear causes many men to not approach women at all.  It causes others to do it extremely poorly.  It also causes husbands to not lead their wives.  Avoiding conflict and tension with women is a terrible plan.  I had a mentor who said that most men are afraid of their wives.  Look around you and tell me it’s not true.  Happy wife, happy life right?  Really what we mean is don’t deal with crap and then we won’t fight.

I’m not saying be an a-hole.  What I’m saying is that being nice while expecting reciprocation is not really nice.  Being nice to get the girl is horrible plan.  Being nice and being good are not the same and being nice to avoid “trouble” is not healthy.

Gentlemen I get it.  I really do.  I was the nice guy to the women I liked for almost two decades.  What’s funny is that I’m not really that nice.  But I was nice to them.  You know what that did for me?  Nothing.  I honestly don’t think it served those women.  It for sure didn’t help me get married.

Ahh The Man Problem

We have a man problem!  How many times have you heard that in the Church in the last 10 years?

I want to respond some more to a piece from the SBTS that quotes Al Mohler talking about this.  This isn’t personal by the way.  All Mohler is doing is putting words to what so many in the Church think about singleness and marriage.

As Mohler is discussing the “sin” of delaying marriage (what length of delay equals sin is unclear of course) he says,

“This is a problem shared by men and women.  But it is primarily of men.  We have established a boy culture in which boys are not growing up into men.

Guys, the reality is that God has given us a responsibility to lead, to take responsibility as a man, to be the man in every way before God that we are called to be . . . It means taking the leadership to find a godly wife and to marry her and to be faithful to her in every way and to grow up to be a man who is defined as a husband, and by Gods grace we pray eventually, as father.”

I just . . . I mean. . .

First let every man read and understand what I say next.  You are not primarily defined by being a husband or even a father.  You are primarily defined by your relationship with Christ.  Period.  This is vital because if you don’t get this then you won’t be a good husband or father if you get married.

Now if you get married, then there are defined roles and responsibilities (which these same evangelical leaders will be sure to remind you of).  It’s not bad to know what those are because it should impact your decision to get married.  Are there guys slacking off because they don’t want to “man up” as it were?  Sure.  But that is only a part of the issue.

This premise that its all the guys’ fault is a complete failure of the Church to acknowledge the rest of culture and it’s own part in creating it.

The blame the men movement comes up short for lots of reasons –  Just for starters:

  • It fails to address why men are not going to church, getting married, or even finishing college (or other “mature” things).
  • It fails to address women’s sin in any way
  • Completely ignores attraction and choices involving it.
  • It makes women the helpless victims and absolves them of their choices
  • Embarrasses the men in church who women don’t date – of which there are many
  • Doesn’t help any of those men learn anything that will help them get married
  • And most of all, creates more disrespect of men within the body of Christ

Here’s the other funny thing about it.  If all of these Christian men are a bunch of “boys” whose fault is that?  Was there a secret men’s meeting that I missed where we all got together and said, “Let’s not grow up.  Let’s step back from leadership. Screw what the Church teaches.”  Guess who raised us?  Guess who spoke to our parents in the pews?  Guess who taught us how to be nice?  Guess who told us that slogans, rallies and sermons can save us?  

I could handle the “men are the problem” line better if it started with, “We’ve failed our young men.  We help set them up to fail.”  That would maybe lend some sort of credibility.

Mohler and company have this idea that there are all these sinless godly women just sitting around and if only men would act they would say yes and marry them.  They assume that the reason that Christian women don’t get married is that men just aren’t . . . well . . . man enough.  (This idea of men are sinful and weak and women are sinless is everywhere and in everything they talk about – not just singleness.)*

But the truth is that I know a lot of men that want a godly wife.  There are single men in every church looking for that. I was one.  For 20 years. Is Mohler suggesting to the women that they should go out with any of these guys that ask them and become their wife?  Of course not.  Men should go find a wife – really any wife.  They don’t need to be attracted to them and the woman doesn’t have to be that godly.  Just man up and marry a woman – you can help her be godly.  Women on the other hand are taught to be careful.  Don’t settle.  They are told they need protection from all of the not quite godly enough men.  

So according to many of our leaders, the only way to be a godly, mature man is to get married.  But the only men that women should marry are godly, mature men.  Again – whose fault is all of this?

Part of the problem (without getting into this too much here – more later) is that they are asking men to play by the cultural rules from 50 years ago, while not asking the same of women.  They fail to recognize how the culture has reshaped the getting married game.  It’s not just the men that have created this.  There’s plenty of blame to go around.

The bottom line here is that simply saying man up is a non-starter.  It’s not working.  At all.  We have to talk to both sexes and we have to teach them both not only what to do in marriage and that they should get married but also how to go about getting married.

 

 

*Examples – If Husbands will lead the right way then women would not try to take over the lead.  If more men would sign up for combat duty then women wouldn’t feel the need to. Etc.  H/T Dalrock