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.

First, the church is in constant reaction mode and almost never in leadership mode.  There are numerous reasons for this including insulating ourselves and living in fear of everyone else’s opinion.  We want everyone to like us – and come to our events.

Secondly, we come late to every fight.  Now in fairness – we almost always get there – just not usually first, or when the problem starts.  So bottom line, we react to what is going on around us too late, and then fight the battle that we should have fought earlier.

There are sooooooooo many examples of this in the last 50-60 years.  Marriage is one – I don’t remember the protests when no fault divorce was being ratified state by state across the country.  I don’t remember bakers not doing third weddings?  But now we want to take a stand on marriage.  Here’s one happening right now.  We are now in the last decade or two really figuring out that we ought to do poor urban ministry – heck we should even all move there.  But the next wave – it’s already coming – is called the rural poor.** I’m not seeing a bunch of hip young believers heading out there to “live among” the people.  That’s probably a little harsh.  But the point is valid.

What made me think of this is a recent sermon series from a church about family.  I’ve talked a ton here about the the churches nuclear family idol.  To this particular church’s credit while they did talk about the nuclear family, they started and clarified that the church is a family and we have many different family make ups.

But regardless it was their series description that got my attention and that I want to discuss today.  The first part of that read something like this: Our families are in crisis, marriages are crumbling, kids are hurting . . . .Rediscover how the family (read nuclear) can be transformational.

I’m not picking on this church today.  But this is a great example of the problem.

For starters, the idea that families are crumbling is only sort of true.  Actually most marriages aren’t in crisis.  The divorce rate is actually going down slightly for first time marriages.  Even better news is that the idea that divorce is rampant among practicing believers is not true at all.  The funny thing about this is that the church probably should take some credit here.  But instead of pointing to the success of their marriages, they are reacting to the sky that was falling 25 years ago.

The reality is that the boomers caused the divorce rate to skyrocket. They’re still doing it actually – now they are leading an all time rise in “gray divorce“.  But the new problem, the one going on right now, is not divorce – it’s lack of marriage.  It’s the fact that people aren’t getting married.  The new “family” problem is not “My parents got divorced”.  It’s literally that “My parents were never married”.

You see while people aren’t getting married (or divorced – as much) they are still having sex, living together, and having kids (sometimes alone on purpose – future post).  40% of the kids born in the U.S. today are born out of wedlock.  Don’t look for that number to drop.

Basically what we are doing is telling all the people who probably won’t get divorced, how not to get divorced.  I guess that’s good.  It’s for sure easier.

The problem we are facing now is different.  Why aren’t people getting married?  We have to be willing to actually look at the real answers to that.  Why aren’t they at church?  66% of the people that don’t go to church are unmarried.  We have to be willing to deal with the real reasons for that.

If we want to go make a difference in culture we have to figure out how to talk to single people.  We have to stop being the church for the family and start being the church that is a family. We need to stop looking to save the family and start trying to save the people.  If we do that, the family part will take care of itself.

 

** For free – Read that link and ask – where’s the church in this story?  We should be going there now.

 

Don’t Believe The Lies

I recently read an article in which a counselor was addressing a 30 year old single woman who was feeling bad about still being single.  As I read it, I was once again blown away by how lost we are in dealing with the new reality of singleness in our culture.  Essentially we are in the midst of exchanging old lies for new ones.  Worse, the Church is spiritualizing the whole process.

The old lie (which this article said was still the lie being told in the “evil” western culture), is that if you don’t get married by about 21 then you are in trouble, and if you hit 30 you are an old maid.  Now this has never been as hard as a man. Women in general, and for sure historically, faced much more pressure to marry early.  But even as a guy, there is some pressure.  The message to the 30 year old woman was/is that you must be unwanted, and the message to the 30 year old man was/is that you must be immature.

There is no doubt that no one should be pressured into marriage.  I also don’t doubt that many people have compromised to get married by a certain point.  It was a sign of adulthood, really a sort of right of passage.

The truth is of course that many things can contribute to not being married early, and you can for sure be an adult without being married.

However, this is not the most current lie from our culture about marriage.

The new lie is this.  You can get married whenever you want and you will still get to do and experience everything the way you would if you got married earlier.  After all marriage is a huge decision and it should only happen if you are 150% sure.  This counselor literally said “the thirties are the new twenties”.   Um no.

The idea now is that you go and live you life for you during the twenties and then maybe get married later.  Secular society has totally bought in.  Now they don’t mind having sex, living together and having children, but marriage can wait. Get everything you want, then get married.

But the truth is that this is also a lie.  There are costs to getting married later.  You don’t get to start out life together.  You build a life that you don’t get to share.  You decrease your chance of having children together.  (Sorry friends, biology is still biology).  From a purely secular point of view this lie is even worse for women. Like it or not women and men age and mature differently. A 40 year old woman does not have the same chance in the “singles market” as a 40 year old man.  The truth isn’t what we want it to be no matter how much our culture wants to tell you that.

In Christian culture we have joined in the lie.  In attempt to run from pushing early “irresponsible marriage” that leads to our greatest fear – divorce, we end up telling people to wait.  We still tell men to man up and ask women to marry us, but we aren’t in a hurry about it.  And to “guard our women’s hearts” we only encourage them to marry the perfect Christian guy.  Do you see a problem here?

But even worse, because we don’t want to actually walk with people and help them navigate dating, marriage and celibacy, we tell them not to fret.  Enjoy this season of singleness, be closer to God and then God will bring you the person when and if He wants.  He is after all writing your love story.  If you are 35 and single, that isn’t your fault – it’s God’s.

You see it isn’t that our culture has gone off the rails.  It’s that God has decided that in the 21st century, as opposed to all the previous ones, people will get married 10-15 years later than ever before.

So the message ends up being – you should seek only marriage, don’t have sex, but if you aren’t married it’s not your fault – God is just asking you to wait a decade or more for it.  It’s all part of the plan!  Really?!

Now let me make a couple of huge clarifying points.  You are not less valuable single than married.  No matter your age, situation, or past, you are not disqualified from marriage. You can still have a great marriage.  I got married at 41.  I love my wife and my life with her.  There’s hope no matter what.  You are both lovable and capable of loving.

But we need to stop pretending.  We need to stop blaming God and start looking at ourselves and our culture – including our church culture.  We need to stop reacting out of fear and actually help people overcome their wounds, arrogance, and fear.  We need to be proactively thinking about how we teach, encourage, and walk with people through the whole process and every stage.

Telling single people they are less because they aren’t married is wrong.  But so is offering spiritual platitudes as a way of avoiding hard conversations and putting band aids on obvious wounds.

The Sermon On Singleness You Won’t Hear

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about why married people need a singleness sermon series.  The reason I wrote that post was two fold.  First, we need married people and single people to be taught from Christian leadership the truth about the whole thing.  Single people need to learn from a marriage and married people need to learn from singleness.  It represents the whole of the story.  One without the other comes up short.

Secondly, I think that one of the reasons that more pastors and leaders are scared to preach and teach on this (besides never having thought about it) is that they don’t know how to include the married people in it.  I outlined that in that post and I’d encourage you to go back and read it if you haven’t.

Today I want to share with you the opening remarks of that sermon series.  It’s the sermon you probably won’t ever hear, but the only one with a real chance to matter.

So without further adieu – pretend I’m in your pulpit.

“Today we begin our sermon series on singleness and the gospel.  As I mentioned last week, we all need this sermon series – no matter what our marital context.  It’s important because it affects not just the unmarried in our congregation but the marrieds and our youth.  It all works together.  This is one of the most important things we’ve done here in a long time.

I want to start today by saying this.  Most of what you have heard about singleness is wrong.  On behalf of the church – our church here and the church universally – I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for all the times that we skimmed over it or mentioned it in passing including the obvious scriptures.  I’m sorry for all the times we focussed on the nuclear family instead of the family of God.  For all the platitudes and easy quick answers, I’m sorry.  For all the times that we said things without actually studying and thinking about how all this plays out in the gospel and in the lives of our people, I’m sorry.

In the fight to rescue our culture, we’ve often failed to engage all of our people.  In an effort to fight for the marriages in our church, we’ve often left out or glossed over the unmarried. To those who are unmarried and struggling, I’m sorry for where we have not taken your context seriously.  For all who are married, I’m sorry for how what we taught you about singleness (or didn’t teach you as the case may be) may have hurt your marriage.

For all the times, and there have been many, that we made it seem like the only important thing for the unmarried was not having sex – I’m sorry.  There have been times where we have treated you as less complete, less spiritual and less capable of leadership because you weren’t married.  That was wrong.

For those of you who are called to celibacy there are no words.  We have just flat screwed that up.  We haven’t talked about it or offered you any guidance, support or teaching.  Nor have we honored your calling and choice.  I ask your forgiveness.

For lumping all unmarrieds into one group, I’m truly sorry.  The truth is there are those who are single by calling, those who are single by choice, those who are single because of sin in their life or the sin of others.  There are those who don’t know how to get married but want to.  There are also those who are divorced – some biblically and others not so much and others who were divorced before they even knew Jesus.  Finally there are those who are widowed – who never expected to be unmarried again.  These are all completely different situations, and yet we’ve often treated them the same.  That was wrong.

We’ve taught you what not to do, but not what to do.  At times – too many times – we’ve made marriage and family an idol.  We repent of that here and now, in public. Jesus invites us all to be in the family of God – and so do we – no matter what.

One sermon series over the course of a few weeks cannot repair all of that.  It can’t possibly heal all the wounds or fix all the problems – for you as an individual and certainly not as a whole church.  But maybe it can be a starting point towards a different discussion – and a discussion that actually includes everyone.  The conversation won’t be easy or short, and we won’t all agree on everything.  But we have to have it – both for those inside our church and for the lost outside the church.

Our hope is that this series will open the door to a whole different way of seeing singleness, marriage and the Kingdom.  So, here we go. . . . ”

The serious guts it would take to say the above and pursue this series would be incredible and probably won’t happen.  But it would be awesome.  Talk about changing a room.

What would you want to see in a singleness sermon series?

 

Are You Good In Bed?

Earlier this week I shared about three questions that all men wrestle with in some way.  “Are you good looking or not?” “What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?” and “Do you have a small or big penis?” All of us have answered these questions in our head, but almost no one has answered them out loud – at least not in any meaningful way.

And yet how we answer them affects many aspects of our lives, none more so than how we interact with women.  This is because all of these answers affect the core confidence we need that in order to pursue, attract, and eventually love a woman.

These questions have to do with three areas of our life – our self image, our shame, and our sexual prowess.  I’ve written a lot about our self image, and I wrote this week about our shame.  Today I want to talk about the third question.  So buckle up men.

The issue of having confidence sexually is gigantic in how we feel about ourselves as men and therefore how we interact with women.

First, let’s just admit that this is true.  Men are about performance.  This is why everywhere you turn you see sexual enhancement drugs, workouts, and techniques.  A man’s greatest fear is failure.  As Eldrege says, every man is asking, “Do I have what it takes?”  No where is this more true, or more scary and vulnerable, than sex.  Nowhere!

Every guy is asking the question do I have what it takes to be good sexually with a woman. In simple terms – “Am I Good In Bed?”  Every Guy.  Our answers are all jacked up.

Most of us began to have the question answered when we were very young.  There are so many factors.  Do you have a father that even broaches the subject?  What happens in the boys restroom in elementary school?  What are you comparing yourself to?  The guy next to you?  The guy who developed before you?  The guy in the porn video? (Average age a male sees internet porn for the first time is now 11).  It can also be affected by our view of sex, abuse, being emasculated by peers or parents or both.

Sometimes the answer is that we are “small” and that we don’t have what it takes.  Often we get no answer at all.  Almost never do we get a positive answer in the right way.

So we of course go and try to answer it.  We might dominate women or become extremely sexual to prove our prowess.  This is the guy who lives for sex and is always out to, “get some”.  We might seek to control the answer by fantasizing or looking at porn.  But this usually just brings about shame, and can undermine the question once again.

And in the Christian culture, for the most part, we are told to bury it, kill it, or starve it.  In fact, we are told basically, “Don’t look, don’t touch, don’t explore, but don’t worry you’ll magically know what to do when you get married.”  It’s like there is supposed to be a Christian switch when it comes to sexual prowess.  Don’t have any, and then man up and have it.  Really?!

It seems to me that most Christian guys end up in one of two camps.  Be a Christian but have sex anyway which leads to the obvious problems.  Or, we go without touch, without intimacy and therefore end up freaking out when we get to it. Sex becomes this taboo thing. We end up having fear and passivity around women, especially a woman we are really attracted to.  We don’t know what to do, partly because we aren’t sure we could do it – as in literally “do it”.

We live in a culture in which the average guy gets married at  28-29 years old.  What that means is that in the Church we are asking a guy to go about 15 years of his life (during the most crucial time when he is answering all of his life’s questions – including this one – for the first time) to not have sex.  My contention is this:  We can ask him to not have sex, but we CAN NOT ask him to not have an answer to this question.  Because he WILL answer it.

While this affects how we interact with women, its much bigger than that.  This answer affects how I do other things in my life.  It affects how I relate to other men, how I relate to my own body and self image and even how I interact at work and play.  This question matters.  I would submit that even if I’m called to celibacy in the kingdom, I’d still better have an answer to this question. It’s crucial no matter what.

In my next post I’m going to take a stab at what I think the Christian community can do to help guys answer it.  But before we can get help, we need to check what our answer is to the question right now.

Do you have what it takes to be good sexually with a woman?  Where does that answer come from? How have you tried to answer it?

The Marriage Is Hard Movement

The other day over lunch a young friend said, “I think it’s the trendy thing in the Christian world to make sure that everyone knows that marriage is hard.”  Haha – Amen.  For sure in the hipster Christian world it is.  In fact it’s so trendy that if your marriage isn’t “hard” then you aren’t cool, must not get it, and are probably heading for disaster.  Man we have over thought this thing.

To begin with it seems sort of counter productive to keep telling this to a group of people (those aged 18-29) that aren’t getting married.  Only 20% of them are married.  So if the goal is to warn people – well then – good job!  Seems to be working.  No one is rushing into marriage.  In fact they are rushing away from it.

As the divorce rate rose in the late 20th century, the Church rightly reacted to re-estabish marriage as a covenant and not just a contract.  They wanted people to make sure they knew it was permanent and that even when it’s hard you hang in there – because less and less people were.  All good so far.

But I believe as an unintended consequence we’ve now got a Christian culture that has made an agreement with the enemy by accident.  They’ve made marriage out to be harder than singleness.  The words Marriage and Hard are now interchangeable in Christian culture.

It doesn’t help that a lot of this generation’s pastors bringing this message are generally kind of joyless to begin with. (For free – one thing the New-Calvinists and Emergent Church leaders have in common – They’re both mad).  These people want to make sure that everyone gets the seriousness of marriage, which is great.  But if we let that steal the joy of marriage then both the married and unmarried are screwed.

On top of this our generation whines a lot.  I’m a part of it.  Think about it.  My job is hard, my school is hard, singleness is hard, times are hard.  Everything seems to be hard and everyone wants to make sure you know that they are suffering just as much as you. Hardness is a badge of honor.  Joy isn’t even on the radar.  I’m dead serious.  There’s a spirit of complaining that is rampant in our world. Can you picture your grandparents sitting around talking about how hard any of those things are?

We spend more time complaining than doing something about it.  How many men’s “accountability” groups are really “share your problems” groups.  “Yeah Bro, that’s tough.” is about as much help as we offer each other.  We’re all about empathy and understanding, which are important.  But at some point, it’s time to actually deal with your stuff, not just have a great premium beer while talking about it.

Marriage is hard because dealing with our sin and woundedness is hard – and marriage forces the issue more than any other relationship.  But marriage isn’t the problem.  We are.  We don’t need to be afraid of marriage – we need to deal with our crap.

Over the years I’ve walked with a lot of people in tough marital situations.  What usually happens is this.  I listen to a guy for about half an hour pour out all that is wrong with his wife.  Then I ask a couple of questions.  And the next thing you know I’m saying something to the effect of, “This is really about you.  You need to deal with . . . ”

Now sometimes a guy has been sinned against or his wife is really going through something horrible and I’m not negating that type of thing.  But about 90% of the time when a guy says to me that marriage is hard what he really means is, “I don’t want to –  face this wound, deal with this sin, make this change or grow up in this way.”

The truth is that in the long run, marriage is not “harder” than singleness.  All research I’ve ever seen (almost all secular) says that married people are happier, have more and better sex, make more money, live longer and impact society more.  It’s a societal foundation. That’s not to say that being single is “wrong”.  Some are called to celibacy and some are single for other reasons.  My point is that a whole lot of this trendy “marriage is hard” stuff is more about sounding deep than actually dealing with deep stuff.

Maybe most importantly, we need to realize that hard and bad are not synonyms – even if our comfort culture tells us they are.  In the kingdom, hardness and joy are not opposites.  That fact is part of our witness.  But we lose our witness if we leave out the joy part.  Read that again.

As singles looking to be married we need to walk a line here.  We need to realize that marriage is not sex and romance on demand and it certainly won’t solve all of our problems. But we need to not give into the lie that it’s so hard that we probably can’t do it.  Don’t resign to it being bad.  It also would be good to start dealing with our sin and woundedness now.

I’d encourage married folks to think about what you mean when you say it’s hard.  What’s the point you’re really making?  Why are you making it?  As a warning?  As an excuse? Are you dealing with what is specifically making it hard right now?

How Hollywood Is Helping To Kill Marriage

A couple of months ago I was flipping channels late one night and Jessica Simpson was guest on Conan. They were doing the usual chit chat when they began to talk about fact that she was pregnant with her second child with current fiance Eric Johnson.  She talked about how it wasn’t really planned, I mean they just had baby number one a year ago, but that they were excited.

Friends, our culture is backwards.  And Hollywood is for it.  To top it off, the media actually “covers” Hollywood.  Think about that. It’s funny, but it’s not.  

We live in a culture in which marriage is declining.  Less and less people are getting married.  And those that are, are doing so much later.  But they are not waiting to do “married” things, such as live together and have children.  In fact, in the United States today more women have their first kid out of wedlock than in it, and for many that is by choice.

There are so many reasons for all of this and I’ve debated on whether to even bring Hollywood into the discussion here, but I think if we are going to talk about singleness and marriage in our current culture we can’t leave it out.  Hollywood and the media are part of the reason that there is less and less marriage in America.

We are a media and entertainment society.  It’s everywhere, all the time.  Hollywood has gained power and influence because of it.  If we are going to walk with Jesus in the culture we need to be sure that we know what is going on around us.

First, there are the movies and TV shows that Hollywood puts out.  I actually believe there is more good writing, producing, acting and compelling entertainment than ever before.  I’m not really “against” it.  But because we are so inundated with it, we need to make sure we realize the subtle messages it sends including these four:

1. Romance almost always equals sex, and sex right now.  Quick, name one TV show or movie where the main characters fall in love and wait until marriage to have sex.  Sex is always for right now and not tied to commitment or consequence.

2. Ending up together is always the end, never the beginning.  The message is this, all the struggle, journey, and fun is in getting the person.  Ending up together is the end of the story.  In real life it is more like the beginning.  But when you grow up on TV and movies your expectations don’t line up with that.

3. Fewer and fewer shows have a working marriage in them.  There are some.  Friday Night Lights had perhaps the most realistic marriage I’ve ever seen on TV.  But compared to even 15 years ago the pictures of marriage are small.

4.  The married guy is almost always the one with the boring life.  The husband stereotype is extremely bad.  They are all either passive, distant, mean or stupid.  Almost never is the hero of the movie married.  Again there are some (Cinderella Man comes to mind) but they are in the minority.

But all of what I’ve said so far isn’t Hollywood’s only impact on marriage.  There are two other big factors to recognize.

We have allowed a group of people who are entertainers by trade to dominate our culture with their personal lives.  Their lives are a mess, and yet somehow what they do and say carries sway.

Now some of us watch the mess because we like to judge them and build our own self righteousness.  Others of us watch them (read about them, follow them on twitter, etc) because we are entertained by their chaos.  Oddly both of these negate the fact that these are actual people. They’re not “real” and yet we follow them – and they are not getting married.

Entertainment is always both a reflection of our current society and an attempt to influence it.  Which leads me to an important point I want to make.  I believe that the Hollywood Elites are basically opposed to marriage.  It’s not a conspiracy or anything but we need to understand that the people running the show (literally) are not on the side of covenant marriage with one person for life, and it shows in everything they do.

The only marriage the Hollywood Elites are for is gay marriage.  And frankly if it were legal everywhere they’d probably be against that.

Finally, because there is so much entertainment available it’s easy for singles to use entertainment and entertainers as their escape from loneliness.  It used to be that entertainment was something you went to – with other people.  Now it comes to you – on your phone.  This is not helpful for singles looking to engage others or pursue relationship.

What does this have to do with walking with Jesus in our culture?  Everything.  If we are going to love people around us we need to recognize that this stuff has impact on them.  And, like it or not, we are impacted by it.  We don’t have to turn it all off, but we do need to be intentional about how we let it influence us as well as recognize how it influences those around us.

How do you think the entertainment industry has affected your singleness?  How has it shaped your view of marriage?

God’s Plan For Marriage

Several months ago. while talking about my upcoming marriage, an encouraging friend said, “It’s amazing.  You’ve had to wait all this time.  And this whole time God had this plan and person for you.”  I just kind of grinned.  After 20 years of singleness in the Church, I’ve heard it all.

You know he might be right, but if he is then we’ve got a God who has changed his mind about marriage.

Here’s what I mean.  If we play out that there is one person for you from the beginning and that God has a plan to bring you a perfect Christian soulmate, then God has changed His mind about how to deliver it.

It seems that early on God wanted us to grow up and get married at about 14.  Now this makes some sense.  I mean we hit puberty in our early teens (or earlier) so let’s do this deal.  Besides, you might only live to 40 so all the more reason.

But it gets better.  God also decided that for centuries he would deliver this soulmate through arranged marriages.  Now before you get in your head the perfect scenario for this where all parents are believers and they only hook you up with the hot chick, think again and ask yourself if you’d like your parents to pick your spouse for you when you were about 10.  As the song goes, “At 3 I started Hebrew school, at 10 I learned a trade.  I hear they’ve picked a bride for me, I hope, she’s pretty. . . Tradition.”

Not only that, but this was only done within your caste.  God didn’t want anyone to marry up or down economically or socially.  He just wanted the deal done.

But then God decided that in the “New World” things would be different.  Each person should now go and find their own spouse and everyone would have full right of refusal. (Unless you were a woman who kind of had to say yes to someone because you couldn’t get a job).

But God wasn’t done.  Not by a long shot.  He decided that even though he had this perfect person “planned” for you, that he wouldn’t be revealing that right away.  Now early on, he only made you wait until you were 18-23 (after all, He had already pushed back adulthood by 4 years – he was just getting started).

God enjoyed holding out on us so much that He decided to keep pushing the limit. In fact over the last 40 years He has been dropping the amount of people to receive the “great reveal” before the age of 29 by about a percentage point per year so that now in 2013 only 20% of those people currently receive this revelation.

To sum up God’s “plan”, if you were born 500 years ago He revealed your “one” to your parents when you were a kid.  If you were born 100 years ago He revealed to you by 20. And now, He’ll reveal it to 1 in 5 of us by 29.

Is that the message we want to send single people?  Because essentially when we drop the “God has someone for you, just wait on it”, that is what we are saying.

Here’s the truth, this whole idea is way more about western culture affecting theology than the other way around.  But worse, when we combine it with our culture, it sets up to fail, both in finding a spouse and in staying married.

I believe that marriage was meant to be a calling and a choice.  So is staying married.  Like any other calling you can of course walk away from it.

But this idea of having to find God’s one person that is perfect for me is a crazy way to go about singleness, even if it were to be true.

Among a myriad of other problems, it helps turn us into consumer daters.  We end up looking for this person that fits whatever we think God would have for us.  Right away we are in trouble.  I mean find the person who says, “God has this person planned for me who doesn’t meet all my needs and has all these personal issues”.  At the very least, if you are going to believe that God has one person for you to marry, flip the script.  In other words ask who you are perfect for instead of who is perfect for you.  That will get you a step closer to truth – Heck, that’d I’d maybe buy.

Look, I’m not suggesting that we go back to having our parents marry us off at 14.  We don’t live in that culture.  We live in this one.  I’m also not saying God doesn’t bring people into our lives because I know for sure that He does.  What I am saying is that we need to quit treating our singleness as if God is the Great Witholder and I just need to be good, and wait out this person He currently refuses to reveal to me.

God’s main plan is for us to know and walk with Him.  That is our first calling and vow.  After that we need to ask, are we called to celibacy or marriage? Then we need to pursue that calling with God, figuring out stuff that gets in the way.  We in the Church to stop giving out sleep at night theology and help people do those three things.