What If You Stopped Lying

This last year I read a book by Jordan Peterson called “The 12 Rules For Life”.  It’s an interesting read on many levels but one of the rules that he espouses has really stuck with me.  That is: Always Tell The Truth Or At Least Don’t Lie.

I think that this rule or idea has enormous implications.  For everyone in every context.

Now, it seems simple enough.  After all as a Christian am I not to always be honest as it were?  Well yes.  In fact “don’t lie” is one of the ten commandments.  It’s one of the basic rules for almost any moral code, scriptural or otherwise.  But for something so simple we aren’t very good at it.

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Singleness During COVID

We are obviously in an unprecedented time right now.  We have a pandemic striking the world, and in response we have asked most people to stay at home.

To be sure this is a strain on everyone in every marital context.  This is not to mention that there are some people in horrible situations.  I think of kids who live in abusive homes or those that don’t have enough to eat.  People who had enough to eat three weeks ago and now don’t. There are those who struggle with addiction, those who were struggling with mental illness before this all started.

But I want to acknowledge a particular group here today.  Not because they are the only ones suffering, but because their suffering is surely different and I’ve not seen it talked about much anywhere.  That is those that are single and live alone.

Now there are all kinds of unmarried people.  Many live with friends.  Some are in cohabitation arrangements.  Some who maybe live with their parents.  But I want to specifically address those who live by themselves.

I was single until I was nearly 41 years old.  Mostly I lived with friends or for a short time had renters in the house I owned.  I’m an extravert and I learned from six months of living by myself that it was an unhealthy setting for me.

25%-28% of Americans live alone.  If nearly 50% of Americans are unmarried that means that about half of unmarried people live alone.  This includes all versions of unmarried that we’ve talked about here over the years.  Not yet married.  Divorced.  Widowed.  Those who are called to Celibacy for the Kingdom.  Those celibate because of the fall of man. Those born in a way that keeps them from getting married.

Let’s remember that no one, even those called to Celibacy for the Kingdom, are called to live their life alone.  And yet there are millions of them doing that exact thing right now.

I’ve debated whether or not to write this post.  Not because I don’t think it’s important, but because what unmarried folks are facing right now I never had to face in my 23 years of adult singleness.  Almost everything on this blog about singleness I’ve written either from personal experience or from the study of the scriptures, church history and other studies. This is different.  So I can’t write with the same authority that I normally do.

However, it needs to be talked about.

First we should acknowledge that it’s hard.  And that would be my first piece of advice to everyone unmarried and married.  To recognize the unique challenges that this context confronts unmarried folks with.

I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting that married folks should feel especially sorry for single people.  But I think it might be good to be aware that they aren’t experiencing this the same way you are.

Church leaders often seem to forget the unmarried.  We’ve discussed this ad nasuem on this blog.  There are churches doing great things right now. Helping with the poor.  Helping provide food for kids.  Doing online things not just on Sunday but every day.  I applaud so much of the effort.  I’m asking you, regardless of how your church views singleness: Please remember your single members right now.  They could probably use a phone call, text, email or whatever.  Simply acknowledging and checking in would be appreciated by many I would think.  There are some who are fine.  But there are some who could use a live voice.

If I go on facebook right now I see all the families on bike rides, in the yard together, taking porchtraits.  Nothing wrong with that.  But if I were single and wishing I was married, this would make even more aware than usual that I’m alone.  I couldn’t go out with friends.  I couldn’t see my co workers.  I couldn’t even sit next to some people at church.

Here are a few thoughts if you are home alone as an unmarried person right now. Remember I’m not speaking with the authority of having lived it here, just offering some things that might help based on 23 years of unmarried life.

  • Give yourself the freedom to feel what you feel.  You’re not bad because the porchtraits make you feel more alone.  You aren’t a bad Christian because Jesus doesn’t seem like enough right now.  Acknowledge your feelings and emotions. Don’t just tough it out.  And for sure don’t condemn yourself for thinking it.  Give yourself grace.
  • Fight to engage others.  If someone does reach out to you, take advantage of it. Use all the technology you have.  Reach out to others.
  • If helping others and ministering to others typically energizes you, do it now. Leadership is lonely but it’s less lonely than sitting there missing leadership.
  • Engage your mind.  Study something.  Read something.  Learn something.  Fight the urge to dwell on darkness.
  • Know your weaknesses.  There is a reason porn sites are offering specials right now. Liquor stores are essential apparently.  Do you already struggle with depression or other mental illnesses.  Don’t pretend right now.  Don’t just sit there and get crushed.  Acknowledge these things
  • Get help with the above if you need it.  Call someone.  Anyone.  Tell someone.  Don’t suffer in silence.
  • To that end, hold onto the truth.  The people that love you and usually hang out with you still love you.  Maybe they haven’t called.  I wish they would have.  But everyone is in free fall in some way right now.  Just because they haven’t called you, doesn’t mean they don’t care.
  • Hold on to the truths of our faith.  You are not alone.  You really can take it to Jesus. He suffered alone.  In front of people, but alone.  In a way only He could.  He sees you!  Please read that again.  Jesus sees you!

Really I hope that if this post does one thing it is that it communicates that.  Jesus sees you.  I see you.  I’m writing this mainly so you know you’re seen.

If any of you who are reading this have thoughts about how you are managing that might be helpful to others, leave a comment.  You’re the expert here.  What has been helpful for you?  What would be helpful to you?

The Prosperity Spouse Gospel

I see a lot of people these days critiquing the so called prosperity gospel.  This prosperity gospel takes several forms and extremes.  Sometimes it’s used to suggest that if I do certain things then God will give me worldly prosperity.  For example if I tithe then God will give me a lot of wealth.  Or if I give my life to Jesus, then my life will go the way I want it to.  The idea is that doing what God wants will alleviate my suffering in this world sort of runs counter to the idea of picking up my cross.**

This is of course not true.  Now it is true that God rewards faithfulness.  It’s important as we critique the prosperity gospel peddlers that we not lose that truth.  Otherwise we’d have to toss out a lot of scripture.  But God doesn’t promise rewards in the way that we often like to see them.  That’s the key distinction.

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Making Your Church Unmarried Friendly Theologically

In the last couple of posts I’ve been trying to make the point that if we want to do evangelization in the current western culture we have to have the unmarried in mind.  Two thirds of those that don’t attend church are unmarried.  I’ve asked the question, is your church unmarried friendly.  The obvious answer for most of us is no.  So what would it look like if it were?  Today I want to take a stab at the beginning of the answer to that.

There are at least two parts to this.  First there is a belief side.  This is the broader, overall view that we need to have in mind.  It includes theology but also practical belief.  The second part is the practices part.  What does it look like fleshed out.  What are some best practices that make the unmarried feel welcome?  Assuming correct theology and practical belief, how do we put it into practice?

Today we’ll look at the first part.  In my next blog we’ll take a stab a the practical implications.

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Can Christianity Be Bred Out?

As you may know, Christians around the world are being persecuted at a high level right now.  I saw an interesting article about what one political group in India wants to do.  They want to sterilize Christians as well as Muslims.  You read that right.  Confess your faith, be sterilized.

According to the article:

“Deva Thakur, vice president of the radical Hindu Mahasabha Party, has called for the forced sterilization of Indian Christians and Muslims. The radical leader also called on Hindus to have more children in order to counter the rise in India’s Christian and Muslim populations.”

Needless to say, this is an inhumane and terrible idea.  But it sort of raised some thoughts for me about things we’ve talked about here in regards to the church and the family of The Kingdom, vs. the church of the nuclear family idol.

The real question is this, can you breed out Christianity?  It’s actually a really, really interesting question.  The answer is of course no.  But it’s not as simple as even I might like it to be.

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From Hard To Holy

One of the thoughts in our culture right now is the idea of how unfair and hard particular situations are.  It’s an interesting time.  I think maybe in past generations we sort of pushed down a lot of our feelings of hard.  In other words there was a lot less analysis of and concern for our feelings.  Part of that was simply the fact that we had less free time, less technology, less ability to see the whole world around us and compare our lives to others.

Whatever the case we are making up for it now.  Hard is the new cool.  Everyone needs to somehow earn their hard merit badge.  I get it.  I’m part of it.  While there is nothing wrong with acknowledging hard things, I wonder at what point this becomes counterproductive.  Fairly quickly I think.  It also can be really confusing.  I think this is especially true in the church when it comes to sex, marriage and singleness.  And I mean the whole church today, not just evangelical culture, but all the different church cultures.

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The Costs Of Reformed Romance

In my last post we discussed the utter fiction of what I’m calling Reformed Romance.  The idea and mindset where we take the secular culture’s idea of romance and chivalry and combine it with Calvinism.**

Today I want to talk about some of the price we are paying for this.  I can’t cover it all in detail as that would be more of a book than a blog post.  But there is a cost to getting all of this wrong, not only for those of us in the western Christian culture but also for the rest of world that we live in.

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Modesty, Lust and Attraction

One of the fun things about writing this blog over the last few years is the questions, thoughts and ideas that readers bring via comments and emails.  Today I wanted to write a post in response to an email question I received a while back.

A young lady wrote in and asked:

I want to know why modesty in dress is considered so important for men’s purity of thought.

I dress modestly. I have no problem with that. Doesn’t bother me. . .

But, I don’t really believe that normal, average women are physically appealing to men when the women who men want to look at are strippers, porn stars, prostitutes and lingerie models. The women who men pay to see are surgically enhanced with silicone parts and fake hair, nails, tans, noses, breasts and eyelashes. That’s not what most average women look like. We don’t meet that physical gold standard of beauty or physical attractiveness.

So why do we have to worry about men lusting after us when we’re not the ones they want anyway? They’re looking at the iPhones, not me or other women who are around.

This email actually raises several different questions and thoughts.  We are talking here about modesty of dress, men lusting, how attraction works among other things.  Let me address a couple of points here that might be helpful.

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The Three Eunuchs

One of the things we have to do is our Christian culture and language is rescue the idea of Celibacy.  I’ve tried to write quite a bit about this in the past but I realize that we need to talk about it even more.  The good news is that more people are talking about it.  The bad news is that a lot of us don’t realize what we are talking about including most of our “leaders”.  We are going to need a more full theological and biblical understanding if we are going to lead in this conversation.

Most people tend to start in 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul talks about marriage, celibacy and the gifts.  But I believe a better place to start is Matthew 19 where Jesus discusses the three eunuchs.

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The Church Is Fighting Yesterdays Battle

Right now there is a lot of reporting out there about the American Evangelical culture and it’s impending doom.  While I think that reports of it’s death have been greatly exaggerated, it should lead to a lot of reflection in all sorts of contexts.

As I watch it unfold and watch the church interact with the culture in several ways and in many different contexts I see a couple of things that we have to get past.  These things play out in all sorts of different ways, but of particular interest here in the space, is in relation to singleness.

Here are two major problems (not that there aren’t more – as well as many good things) that I see over and over again in different cultural exchanges.

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