A “Big” Christian Singles Problem We’re Ignoring

In the late 1960’s 60% of those 19-29 were married.  That number now is only 20%. That’s a whole different ballgame.  Half of America is unmarried.

There are a whole lot of reasons for this.  We’ve talked about it many times here in one way or another.  Lack of ability to interact with the opposite sex, fulfilling sexual desire outside of marriage, creating false spiritual platitudes, and over spiritualizing the whole thing, just to name a few.

But there is one thing that I haven’t talked about here.  And this is going to probably make some people uncomfortable and possibly even mad.  But to not talk about it at all, seems to me to be a cop out and if you read here at all, you know I’m not usually willing to do that.  So here goes.

I think one of the unnamed reasons we have less marriage comes from one of the sins and addictions that we don’t like to talk about in the Church.  That is our bad relationship with food and the sin of gluttony.

I’ve mentioned before that attraction is not a choice. Ok I’ve mentioned that about a hundred times.  Now to be fair, I’ve also talked about how our attraction scale is jacked up, and how there is no one who is perfectly attractive or attracted.  I’ve clearly stated that there will always be someone “hotter” and that we need to be careful as to what we “require” for attraction.

But again, attraction matters and we don’t get to sidestep this fact.  From a physical standpoint this is especially true when it comes to how we deal with women and their attractiveness to men.  Again, we correctly point out that our standard of beauty is warped.  We have created an airbrushed world that no woman can live up to.  That is absolutely right to point out and fight against.  But that doesn’t give us a pass on dealing with gluttony (for men or women).

To ignore this issue is a mistake.  According to the CDC 69% of Americans age 20 and older are overweight.  35% are obese.  Now we can argue over what counts as overweight and BMI and all of that.  That’s fine.  But bottom line there are a lot of people struggling here.  In case you are wondering, Christians are doing worse here, not better.

My point here today is not to “fat shame” anyone.  I don’t want to shame anyone, for any reason.  It’s also not to put more pressure on anyone to look perfect.  But I think that the fear of implying those things or of dealing with this issue in the wrong way, has pushed us into not dealing with issue at all which is not ok.  It’s as if due to our fear of being politically incorrect we have stopped being honest and this is not helping us as singles or marrieds.

Food, just like alcohol, porn, and many other things can be an addiction.  Just like we have a broken relationship with sex in our culture, we also have a broken relationship with food.  In fact, I’d say that they often sort of play on each other.  Just like there are people in bondage to sexual addiction and drug addiction, there are people in bondage to food in one way or another.  It can for sure be a coping mechanism and one that leads excuses, lack of self control, and rationalizations just like all the afore mentioned vices.

This is important for many many reasons.  There are the obvious heath issues.  But as a single person, it matters in specific ways because you are sending a message with your appearance.  All of us are.  If we are overweight – especially if we are considerably overweight – we could be sending a message that we are out of control, are undisciplined, aren’t good at taking care of important stuff, or just don’t care.

It also affects how we feel about ourselves in two very important ways.  First, if we are unhealthy we don’t feel good.  I mean this is sort of obvious, but if we don’t feel healthy it’s hard to engage with life the way we want to.  It also affects our confidence and how we carry ourselves.  If we see ourselves as unattractive it’s infinitely more likely that others will as well.  It for sure affects our confidence when it comes to how we interact with the opposite sex.

I think that in the Christian culture we often like to pretend that none of this should matter. After all we should just love people where they are at.  I agree.  But part of loving someone is helping therm deal with reality.  If we tell people that it doesn’t matter and shouldn’t have anything to do with them attracting a spouse, to me, that’s lying.

Now in the same way we can’t just stand in the pulpit and tell men to “man up“, we can’t just stand up in the pulpit and say “lose weight”.  We have to actually walk with people. We have to do the hard work.  That starts with honest assessment.

I’ve said before and I’ll say it now.  One of the things about my 20+ years as a single is that I wish more people would have given me more practical help and less spiritual platitudes.  We don’t control a lot about our appearance.  But we do control some things. We should work on those.

18 thoughts on “A “Big” Christian Singles Problem We’re Ignoring

  1. Interesting, I’ve never really heard this addressed from a Christian single’s perspective before – thank you for that… That said, I’m sure the typical Church culture of constantly going out to eat or having potlucks and breaking bread with one another as a recurring way of spending time with fellow church members doesn’t help much in this arena!

    • Hey Angela

      Funny you say that about the eating out and potlucks. One of the studies I looked at, did indeed indicate that could be part of it. There is no factual data I could find that could say exactly why (I’ll admit I did not do an exhaustive search). But I’m sure that could be a part of it.

  2. I mostly agree with you but it’s fair to say that there are enough men who are attracted to heavy women that the bridal industry has had to respond. But I also find it interesting that everyone wants to be accepted no matter what, yet some people complaining about society’s standards only want to be with people considered to be hot – I’ve seen this in both men and women. I don’t think weight is necessarily holding back marriage for some, but realistic expectations are in order as well.

  3. This is quite interesting and I agree because as Christians we need to treat our bodies as the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19). If you feed the temple with junk, (this junk is not just food but anything that is contrary to The Word) then you’re not respecting the temple. I look forward to reading more of your blogs. God bless 😊🙏🏾

  4. Singles just have to hit higher standards in all areas, don’t they? Once they’re married, they can relax, let up, slack off, enjoy all that home cooked food and skip exercise because of all their family-oriented commitments. Earth to Justin: married couples are some of the fattest, most unfit specimens on the planet!

    • Christine

      Where did I say this was only a problem for single people? No where. It’s a huge problem for a whole lot of people in every context. But earth to Christine: this is a blog about the singleness and the context there of. Basically every post – for three years.

      But to be clear – married people should not slack off. In fact if any thing they should probably do it better to demonstrate to their kids etc. Part of the reason we have so many obese kids in our country is that parents don’t deal with this the right way.

  5. Some people overeat because they are emotionally starved, not because they are making an idol out of food. I would wager that most unhappy and overweight singles fall into the former category. Agree that such people can be helped by facing reality and eating a healthy diet to better their lives on all fronts, but to frame this in terms of sin is unhelpful and only makes people feel inappropriately guilty. Better to suggest how these folks might get more comfort from God than from extra food. Accomplishes the same without the useless and misguided shame.

    • Leslie

      If they eat because they are emotionally starved then that is still a food addiction/issue. It’s still not right. Saying something is a sin is not shaming someone. At least not in the real non-safe space world. Calling the person fat or telling them their worthless would be. But naming a sin is not.

  6. Justin. Thank you. This is a VERY sensitive topic today, and I liked how you DID address it in a thoughtful, Christlike manner. I battled a crippling cocaine and alcohol addiction, and I finally dropped the cigarettes as well (which was in some ways harder than the cocaine). All of this was done with a deep submission Christ, and understanding that these addictions were the result of a broken, lost spirit. It was not the fault of women, society, my parents, the early 1990’s, or “everybody else”

    It wasn’t easy. Still isn’t easy.

    I agree with you…..in my walk many single women in church, on dating sites, on blogs, chat forums……demand / tell / belittle men for not “manning up” and not being Jesus and facing reality. This is indeed true in many cases, it was in my own life for a long time. I get it.

    But when I am being told that I am being “judgmental” and not being “like Jesus” because I don’t want to pursue a woman who may be 50,100, 200 pounds overweight and telling me that she is “just big boned”. Or during fellowship meal and she eats a whole bowl of potato salad while telling me that ” Yes, I should lose weight, but Jesus loves me as I am, and this is a cultural thing. You men need to start looking on the inside of a person, like Jesus…instead of just pure physical beauty because the Bible tells us beauty fades.”

    And, yes….she is right….but Jesus would not want her on insulin by the age of 33, using a walker to walk around her home by the time she is 34 because of the weight her body is carrying.

    We all are not perfect, but in my church I do see a lot of “gluttony” so to speak. Pot luck, fellowship meals, lunch groups, going out for dinner, poor diet and cooking habits….and it’s accepted as healthy and normal. It’s a sensitive topic, but all issues like this are……..will pray to be kind and supportive but I can no longer also be shamed because “I” won’t date a woman who has issues with food or diet.

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  8. Hi guys, I know I kind of missed the boat timing wise but I just came across this and I thought it was really interesting. As immigrants, my family ran into some shattering problems with food on several fronts within a few years of getting here. While many factors were at play, one of them was for sure the food culture. My older sister came close to death with anorexia; I struggled with bulimia for seven years; my younger sister developed what I would call a food addiction, though she remained active and is hardly obese. Even my mom got caught up in it; where before I got smacked for even mentioning diets, within five years she was advising me to view it as a normal part of life. My point is: you’re onto something here. It’s not just about physical attractiveness; our relationship with food, even if it makes us thin and beautiful, can make us ugly and pathetic if it is unhealthy.

    Secondly, to the guy who says he won’t date a woman with food issues: I think I get what you’re saying, but I’m not sure you understand how pervasive “food issues” are among Christian women, fat or otherwise. If a woman grew up in America, chances are she has or has had some struggles in this area in one way or another. I’m not saying you shouldn’t consider it at all, but ask yourself if it’s only gluttony you can’t deal with because of the physical ramifications, or is it also the prettier looking ones like vanity, people pleasing, control issues, obsession, neuroticness, etc…. that said, I know I would struggle immensely to convince myself to date an obese man. This partly has to do with my interests; I’m a bit of an outdoor nut and there aren’t a lot of overweight people doing trail running, and consequently I don’t find them attractive. However, I know this is something I should work on, because goodness knows the last guy I was in a relationship with had to deal with serious crap related to my own food issues, even if they didn’t make me fat, and the way he deat with it remains one of the best examples of kindness I’ve ever experienced.

    Thanks for bringing the topic to the light Justin; it’s confusing precisely because we never talk about it.

  9. Eating for health and to serve God better is good. But “dieting” to wear a size 8 is unrealistic for me. And all the men at church are married; not going to commit adultery.

    Actually I try to look plain Jane and dowdy so I won’t make women jealous or their hubbies lustful. Perhaps I’m afraid of losing much weight because of it.

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  13. Lost 50 pounds. Haven’t been this light since my twenties!

    I owe it all to finding someone who would take me off my SSRIs. They weren’t helping my depression and made weight loss impossible.

    A lot of people take those pills which are notorious at causing the munchies.

    To anyone reading this, if you take these pills and battle obesity, ask your doctor if he/she could take you off and you could try exercise instead. Worth a shot. 🙂

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