Lies Single Christians Believe

The last couple of blogs I’ve been writing about the idea of not lying.  It’s funny even to type that.  But as we’ve been discussing, this is not always as simple as it seems. We’ve talked about not lying to ourselves, not lying to others, and not lying to other singles.

In the world of Christian singleness there are a ton of lies.  There are lies that the church has told singles, lies the enemy has told singles, lies that singles tell themselves, and lies that our current culture tells them.  I’ve written a lot about these over the years.  Rather than try to sum up that many posts in one new one I’m going to just list some and link to places where I’ve tried to be more honest and straightforward with the truth.  The list is not exhaustive and in fact if you think of more put it in the comments.  I’d love to see what I’m missing.  So here we go.  Lies singles have been told, thought and/or believed:

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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?

Cohabitation Is Not God’s Plan

One of the problems in our culture when it comes to singleness is that the word single is too broad.  It means far too many things.  As I’ve stated before here, this is especially a problem in Christian culture because there are varying scriptural instructions for different groups of unmarried people.  There are at least the following biblical examples of marital status: The married, the divorced, the widowed, those not yet married, those celibate by birth, those celibate because of the fall of man and those who are called and choose Celibacy for the Kingdom.  Needless to say, all of these are different.

But in our culture we have added a group that amazingly I’ve never directly addressed here at the blog.  That is those couples that live in cohabitation.

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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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Nice Is Not A Virtue . . . Or Attractive

The other night I was perusing some old videos of a great teacher named Bishop Fulton Sheen.  He is actually really entertaining.  In this particular video he was talking about the difference between nice people and awful people.  At one point he said this, “A nice person who drinks too much is an alcoholic.  An awful person who drinks too much is a drunkard.”  It’s funny and it’s brilliant.

One of the things I’ve tried to help guys with here over the years is the idea that your goal is not to be a nice guy.  In fact I’ve said that you need to just quit being the nice guy.  I’ve talked about avoiding the nice guy trap.  I’ve talked about how women say, “He’s a nice guy but . . . ” when talking about a guy they are not attracted to.The bottom line is that women are not attracted to nice guys.   I’ve shared all of this from the perspective as a guy who has in the past, and in fact still, struggles with being the nice guy.

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Making Your Church Unmarried Friendly – Experientially

This is the last post in a series about what it might look like to make the church unmarried friendly.  We’ve talked about why this is so important for the future of the church and why it matters in the big picture.  Last time we talked about the theological side of being a church that welcomes 66% of folks who don’t go to church – the unmarried.  Today I want to get practical

The question you need to ask is what is the user experience for a single at your church? Here’s what I can tell you experientially; I was single until I was nearly 41 years old and one of the hardest places to go was church.  The experience was mostly not good.

So what does it look like, or maybe a better way of saying it, what could it look like?

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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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