One of the problems in our evangelical culture today when it comes to singleness and marriage is the message that is sent over and over again that men are less spiritual, more sinful, and less mature than women. It is said from pulpits, in interviews on tv, and of course in books. It’s all part of the Christian “Man Up” industry. It assumes women are innocent and men are not.
In case you don’t believe me read the following quote from one of the biggest names in evangelical culture today. At the end of a blog post to single women he writes,
To my single sisters wanting to marry, I do not want to discourage you in any way. But, the truth is that it is harder to be a single woman than a single man as a Christian. Every poll I have ever seen says that single women are generally more mature and responsible than single men. Men are waiting until around 30 years old to marry for the first time, if they ever do. And, they are going for younger women, according to the statistics. Across Christianity, there are far more single women than single men, which means that the odds are not in the favor of godly single women. In addition, for theological reasons, many Christian women do not want to be the dating initiator, asking guys out and taking the lead in the relationship.
All of this together means that godly single women live in a complex world that is increasingly more difficult for those who want to marry and have children with a godly man. Love, prayer, friendship, support, counsel, and community are needed more than ever.
This is complete and total nonsense.
First of all, let me be honest in the interest of full disclosure. There was a time where I would have agreed with this statement. I would have said that if men did what they were supposed to do then women would be set. I was a part of the “man up” group. But I was wrong.
Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are a lot of men that need to step up and become better men. Are there men that need to learn to lead, initiate and get past their own selfishness, idols, and insecurities? Uh. . . yeah. . . all of us, including me. But to lay the problem of increased singleness in the church at the feet of men and say, “hey it’s all your fault” is extremely short sighted, only addresses half the equation and does both men and women a lot of harm.
There are three main ideas that I believe are completely false and/or overblown.
For starters the idea that there are more Christian women than men is complete garbage. I’ve been working in full time ministry for the last 20 years mainly with people aged 15-35. I’ve worked with literally thousands of people in that age range. I’ve been in church that whole time, have helped lead small groups, and even helped plant a church. Here’s what I would say. There are indeed more women who go to church. There may be more women who say they want a godly marriage. But that means about jack squat when it comes to how people act and what they do with their lives.
Which leads into the second idea that women in their twenties are more “mature” than men. What exactly constitutes this maturity? I know that the statistics on college and church attendance lean female. But I’m not so sure that equals maturity. Been on a college campus lately?
But most egregious to me is the idea that men are more sinful. Especially when it comes to sex, dating and marriage. This idea that men are just about sex and women are some sort of “victims” is wrong. Women are obviously having sex. How do I know? Because men are. It takes two to tango so to speak. Amazingly, women also sin.
This whole line of thinking has a profound effect on singles in our churches (and frankly marriages). For starters (the list is much longer and deeper):
- 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.
Think you aren’t affected by this? When a man says he can’t meet a Christian woman what do you think vs. what you think if a woman says the same thing? What’s the first thing you think when you meet a divorced woman vs man? When you see an unwed mom – whose fault is it? When a woman can’t get a date vs when a man can’t?
I’m not suggesting we switch gears and put all the blame on women. The truth is there are a lot of reasons for the rise in singleness and the decline of marriage. But it’s everybody’s fault – not just men’s. Plenty of blame to go around.
I’m also not saying any of this from some sort of whiny, mad place. It’s just a fact. If you keep telling men it’s all their fault, you’re sending the wrong message to everybody. Maybe some nice men who your women won’t date will jump on board. Maybe women will cheer you and feel better that Sunday. Maybe you will be the hero to women in your congregation. But mostly it will just create more of the same and we can’t afford that.