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?

 

The Meek Will Not Inherit A Wife

A few years ago I was talking with this woman I liked, when she said, “You know what, I’m so tired of Christian guys.”  I laughed, cringed, and completely understood what she meant.

She didn’t mean that she wanted to date/marry an unbeliever or that she didn’t love Jesus. She meant that she was tired of the over thinking, over spiritualizing, over nice acting “Christian” guys, of which at the time I was one.

Now, to be sure, this girl had her own issues.  But the fact remains, we have a real problem within the Christian community when it comes to dating.  It’s everybody’s fault.

We (meaning the Church big picture) have this extremely weird double standard going on where we tell guys to be basically be nice and get in line, while following all the guys who don’t.  We say don’t date around, don’t ask anyone out if you don’t know you can marry them, guard the girl’s heart, but oh by the way – lead.  What the heck?!

What we’ve created is a whole lot of nice guys that don’t act.  And when they do act they end up doing so in a weak way.

I used to be completely frustrated at the fact that the “bad guy” would always somehow have the girl, and I, who was of course the “good guy” didn’t.  But while it’s true that some of these guys were bad, what most of them were was confident, regardless of their goodness or badness.  I on the other hand, when I really liked someone, was not.

When it comes to being attractive to females, confidence is perhaps the single most important factor.  Not even a lot of females can name this, but it’s a fact.  It’s more important in terms of initial attraction than just about anything including but not limited to: looks, money, spirituality, brains, ambition, drive or sexual prowess.  Although all those things both affect and are affected by confidence.

Women describe this different ways but it is core to what they are looking for.  They want, “someone who knows who they are”, “who knows what they want”, or “who is comfortable in their own skin”.  However they describe it they are attracted to it – they respect it.  And respect is the key.

We as men, have to get a handle on this, and most of us don’t.  We think we do, but we really don’t.  It takes some real courage to confront our lack of confidence.

I’m not talking about arrogance.  Although, arrogance is more attractive than boring or weak.  It is more attractive than fearful (although most arrogant people are masking fear). And this is important: Passivity is not the opposite of Arrogance.  Humility is. And humility is not about being weak.  

It’s more than semantics.  Humility is not interchangeable with weakness, meekness, or passiveness.  You cannot be insecure and humble at the same time.

Yes Jesus said the meek shall inherit the earth.  But meek as we mean it in our culture (tame, mild, bland, unambitious are given as synonyms) is not what Jesus meant.  He was none of those things.  That verse does not mean the scared and passive will inherit the kingdom.  And they for sure will not inherit a wife.

It’s a double whammy.  Confident guys get dates because they are attractive to women, and because they are confident enough to ask.  They act because they are less afraid.

But here’s the best part, a lot of Christian spokesmen seem to think the answer is telling the non-cofident guy to man up.  That is completely ridiculous.  What we need to do is two things.

First we need to help guys dig deeper into why they are insecure and passive to begin with.  The spokespeople don’t like this because it requires actual work instead of just sounding cool in a sermon or book.  But it’s essential.  We have to figure out why we are scared.  What is it that makes us insecure around the women we want to pursue.  Actually at a broader view – what makes us insecure anywhere.  Where is that coming from?

Jesus was not insecure and if we are going to follow Him then that means facing our insecurities and growing out of them.  As a side benefit, as we do, we become more attractive.  Growth is hard work, but I promise you this – Growth is Hot.  Dead serious.

Secondly, we need to give men tools in interacting with women.  Here’s why.  Men are afraid of what they don’t know how to do.  We loathe failure.  So if I’ve spent most of my life not knowing what to do with women, guess what – I’m going to be insecure in that area.

All men are confident in what they know how to do and unconfident in what they don’t know about.  Therefore if we want Christian guys to have confidence and “man up” as it were, then we need to give them the tools, not just a pep talk.

I’ll have more to say about his later this week, but for today let me leave you with a couple of questions.

When are you confident?  When are you not?  When is the first time you can remember being passive?  Do you have the tools to pursue and marry a woman?