So as a single guy, I’ve definitely watched too much late night television. Every now and then after I’ve had enough Sportscenter, I’ll flip through the informercials. Now I’ve only ordered two or three things ever (NuWave Oven – greatest thing ever – Ab Roller, not so much). But one of the latest trends is just incredible to me.
This is the anti-aging movement. We’ve got Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty (she really does still look the same – weird), Victoria Principal who is now 63 years old and has been doing “anti-aging” for what seems like forever and the latest I saw is “Julie is 53, but looks 35”. We also have all the men’s versions. You can get drugs to make your hair grow back, your sex drive go up (watch out for that four hour erection) and apparently get all your old energy back.
Here’s the reality. We live in a culture that worships youth and it is confusing singles and killing marriage.
Marriage you see, is for grown ups. Everyone knows this, which is why no one is getting married. . . . because they don’t want to grow up.
In 1970 69% of 25 year old white men were married. In 2000 33% were. In 2010 only 20% of all adults aged 18-29 have ever been married. A huge part of the reason is that we keep moving the bar of what it means to be an adult. Several studies now say that adolescence goes all the way up to 26 years old. It used to be adolescence ended at 18 and you’d have reached most of your adult milestones by 25. Forty years ago you would have been done with your education, had a job, been married and probably had a kid. Now it’s a free for all.
Human brain development has not changed, human social development has.
Humanity has always wanted to live forever and the natural outtake of that is that the younger I can look, feel and act, the better off I’ll be. As a society, and to some extent as the church, we’ve embraced it all. “Get your masters,” “Follow your dreams”, “join this short term program right after college – you know before you have to get a real job” “see the world” etc. We have over nurturing parents that don’t want their kids to grow up. Even churches and ministry organizations have fallen into this trap. We have youth group, then college group, then young peoples group. Where’s the grown up group? But I digress.
The point here is that one of the huge reasons that we have more single people than ever before is that we have more immature people than ever before. I’m sorry if that hurts. It’s hurts me. But if we’re honest it’s just true. We can get away with it so we do. This is especially true with guys.
Adolescence and singleness are not the same thing. But by extending adolescence we are making it harder to distinguish. Marriage is seen as something I can do later, when I grow up – if I grow up.
This is bad for everybody. So what do we do?
The Church must go after the unmarried. If the church isn’t going to do this, then we are in serious, serious trouble. I mean big time. Here’s what the church used to do. They’d lose all the early 20 something men, but they’d get them back because when they got married and had kids they remembered that they used to go to church. But now they aren’t getting married and they aren’t coming back. We HAVE to address this. According to Barna 37% of the “unchurched” are single/never married and 55% are men. Do the math. If our plan is, “they’ll be back when they are married” we are in serious trouble.
Second, we as singles have got to grow ourselves up. We have to fight against the temptation to act like an adolescent. We need to move out of our parents houses, take real jobs (even if it is a starter job), quit playing video games and looking at porn, and figure out what it means to make a vow to another person, be it the vow of marriage or the vow of celibacy. We need to start facing our sin and woundedness. Community will be required for any of this to happen so we’ll have to actually engage others.
If we don’t it’s not going to matter whether or not you get married because you will either be a completely narcissistic single person or a terrible spouse. We are not called to be either of those.
The good news is that grown up is good. Facing our stuff is hard but freeing. Getting older should mean getting better. That’s the thing about each step of maturity. It is harder but better. That is what growth is.
So are you a grown up? What areas of your life do you still feel like an adolescent? What area of your life can you get away with because you are single?