When I was in high school and college, one of the things that I battled with constantly was the idea that I wasn’t “good enough”. I battled this in almost every area of my life. I saw myself as decent, but not great at pretty much everything. The things that I did care about (sports for example) I worked my tail off to become great. But I never saw myself as arriving at greatness.
Nowhere was this more true than with the opposite sex. I was constantly in the friend zone with the girls that I liked. I thought I was physically not attractive enough. Later I thought I wasn’t making enough money. The list goes on. One of my go to thoughts was, “I’m just not good enough.”
Today I want to revisit the idea of the “gift” of singleness. I was reminded of how messed up our theology of singleness seems to be by this post at Relevant.
Now to be fair, the author says some good things so I want to point those out. He rightly says that the Church is too focused on marriage as the only path. He also rightly implies that the Church is terrible at dealing with single people. And he even goes so far as to say that not everyone will or even should get married. Amen!
However, the problem here is that he links the gift of singleness to all people that are not married. This idea is rampant and it’s bad. It’s terrible theology, and it leads to confusion. Now I’ve written about this a ton, but like I said, we need to keep revisiting this.
So recently Charlize Theron stated in an interview that she was shockingly single. She said she was available and that someone just needed to grow a pair (Christian leaders would say “Man Up”) and ask her out.
As soon as I saw this story I started laughing. I laughed for two reasons. First, I knew that a bunch of people would ask her out through various means and second, that she was completely full of it.
And . . . that is exactly what happened. A good looking man from Kansas City (shout out to my home town) sent in a video asking her out. She signed a picture for him. Uh yeah, not what he had in mind. You can see both her original statement and the guy asking her out in this video here. It’s great.
There is so much great material here it could probably be 5 posts but I’m going to break it down in one and look at what we can learn from it.
In my last few posts I’ve been talking about how we publicly shame men, even the good ones, from the pulpit and on the internet. Note that I’m talking here about how Christian men shame other men. This doesn’t include all the other people doing it.
Before I say any more, I want to say that I’m not bringing all this up to play some sort of men are the victim card. I’m mainly bringing it up because it’s not effective in any way. Frankly its part of the reason guys don’t go to church. (There are other reasons, but that’s for a different day).
Today I want to venture deeper into the other side of this whole deal. How does the way that Christian men call out good men impact Christian women. While I’ll touch on some ways it affects marriages, my main focus will be for the unmarried.
The other day I saw a post on social media as a message to married men. This message was in line with most Christian messaging to men that I’ve seen over and over. The basic message of most of these types of posts are:
You will know how well you are loving your wife by how she feels (does she feel loved, supported, empowered etc)
You are to be a servant leader not a manipulator or ruler. In other words you’re not in charge.
Be willing to be wrong even if you’re not really wrong. Her truth is the best truth.
Selective reading of Ephesians 5 focusing on how you should love your wife (which is correct however that’s not all that Ephesians 5 says).
Have you ever gone into the Christian Fiction section in a bookstore. It’s sort of unbelievable. First of all, I still have not figured out what exactly counts as Christian fiction. Why do we have our own section – why can’t it just be in the fiction section but written by Christians? Is there a Jewish fiction section?? The truth is that we have our own section because we want it, and we are the only people that would possibly read it.
But the most disturbing thing about the Christian fiction section is the focus on what can best be described as Christian romance novels. It’s incredible. I would wager that close to 70% of the books in this section fit that category. Probably more. More amazing is that of those romance novels, probably 80% are either western or amish. Talk about a limited audience.
We’re in obvious need of better literature but that isn’t why I bring this all up. I bring it up because rather than lead in what love, marriage, and singleness looks like (let alone what good literature looks like) we in western Christian culture have adopted what the world says and then arranged our theology and practices to accommodate it. The impact of this runs much deeper than we realize and impacts not only Christians but everyone else.
We have made romance the thing. We don’t say that directly of course. We’re more “holy” than that. Instead we couch it in what I call Reformed Romance. This is where we sort of combine secular romance and shaky Calvinism.
Today I want to talk about the second of the three groups of people that Jesus talks about in Matthew 19 who are unable to marry. You can see the general overview from the initial post here. But as a quick refresher, Jesus said that there were three ways that a person could end up a eunuch (unable to marry). The first was that they were born that way (physically or mentally unable to marry). The second was those that were made that way by man (which I am suggesting can include those that end up there because of the fall of man). The third, which we will discussed in the previous post, are those that choose celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.
Today I want to focus on the second group, those that because of the fall of man, because of sin, end up celibate.