It’s Time To “People Up”

I have a confession.  For a long time, I thought the way to fix things was simply fix the men.  In fact I remember a meeting where another guy and I were planning a men’s retreat.  We said basically that if we could just fix the men, then the rest would fall in line.

This is the general consensus of a lot of evangelical leaders today.  I’ve talked about this ad nauseam here.  I’ve talked about blaming men, the man problem, the idea that if only men would ask women out, and on and on.

While I think that there are a few people waking up to this complete over simplification of the problems in our culture, it’s still rampant.

The good husband is almost always the butt of the joke in secular culture media and perhaps worse in a lot of Christian media.  Divorce is almost always seen as the guys fault – in the courts and in the church.  Men are the sexual sinners, not women.  40% of births in our country are out of wedlock – that’s just the men’s fault – which makes absolutely no logical sense really.  Delayed marriage in our culture – men won’t commit.  Lack of guys at church or as volunteers – can’t be anything that we are doing wrong – must be the men are worse now.  It’s everywhere.

We have a man problem we say.  A father problem.  An immaturity of men problem.  A video game problem.

The solution to this of course it to get men to “man up“.  So we create all sorts of web pages and sermons.  Some attempt to be encouraging. In other words “come on men – we can help you fulfill all of your societal responsibilities and save everyone else.”  Others are more “challenging”.  Just beat on the men, yell at them and about them until they “get it”.  Of course there is now even a MAN UP APP.  No lie.  It’s true.

It’s not that some of the thoughts and advice on these sites aren’t good.  Some of it is good.  But the problem is the premise.

The truth is that we don’t have a man problem.  We have a people problem.  We have a sin problem.  And men are both people and sinners.  You know what though?  Wait for it.  So. Are. Women.

This is true even when it comes to singleness, dating and marriage.  Want proof?  40% of births are out of wedlock – up from 10% in 1969.  It takes men and women for that to happen.  Women can be controlling and aggressive in relationships too.  Women are more likely to initiate divorce.  Women cheat as well as men and celebrity women think thats ok.  I could go on and on.  The point here isn’t to bash women.  By no means!  The point is twofold.

First and foremost we are all sinners.  Second, you won’t hear many sermons or websites pointing to that last paragraph and saying we have a woman problem.  In fact I would be willing to bet you can’t find one.

There are a bunch of reasons we as the church have fallen into this.  Male pastors like being the best man in the room.  We want the culture to like us and right now the culture says we have a man problem.  We want to be feminist friendly.  Many sincerely believe that if men were better that the women would just automatically fall in line (which is actually sort of demeaning to women if you think about it – do they not have moral agency?).  Men in the church will either take it or leave.  These are just a few of the reasons.

All of this is extremely counter productive.

We have to stop doing this if we want any of the trends we don’t like to change.  The singleness and delayed marriage – or total lack of marriage – trend is a prime example.  It is not a man problem either.  It is a people problem.  We have to start addressing it as such.

When it comes to men specifically, maybe, just maybe we should ask ourselves why we are where we are.  What I mean is, lack of guy volunteers, lack of guys coming to church, lack of guys asking out our favorite single women etc.  Maybe we should resit the urge to look at them, call them names, tell them how bad they are and challenge them to get on board with us.  Instead how about we start with this question: What are we doing/have we done to create this?

Here’s what I know.  There was no secret men’s meeting where we all got together and said, “Let’s quit volunteering.  Let’s quit going to church.  Let’s play video games instead. Let’s delay marriage.”

If less men, and for that matter less singles period, go to church, perhaps we should look inward first for why, before calling them out and blaming them.  Maybe instead of asking singles to suck it up and men to man up we ought to ask everyone to people up.  And maybe, just maybe, we ought to take a good hard look in the mirror and “church up”.

Sexual Sin Myths

Coming into adulthood in evangelical culture one of the constant messages was that sexual sin was different and more important than other sin.  Now of course the official line was that all sin was “equally” bad.  This is sort of true and sort of not true and therefore super confusing.

Let’s clear up a couple of things about sin to sort of set the table for this topic.

First, and this is the best way I can think to describe it, there is a difference between Sin as a core issue and sins that we commit.  Sin as a core issue is really about idolatry.  In other words the first sin for all of us is not being God focused.  We choose to be God of our own life, write our own story, run our own lives.  We worship other things, principally ourselves, instead of God.

It is out of this condition that we commit other sins.  Both what we do wrong, and what we don’t do right.  In a sense, these are the symptoms of the bigger issue.

The cost of this condition is death.  Regardless of the consequences of a particular sin.  We can’t fix it because it’s a heart problem not an action problem.  This is why Jesus came and went to the cross.  Amen.

However, our sins (the symptoms part) have different consequences.  This is just the truth. So sexual sin has different consequences.

But this is where we need to get a hold of some important facts and to debunk some myths.

Myth 1 – Sexual Desire Itself Is Bad.

First, sexual desire is not a bad thing.  It is part of God’s creation.  It’s pre-fall.  This is important.  We are sexual beings.  God made it powerful because it is to be used to bond two people together inside the context of marriage. There are even chemical reactions to it in the body.  It bonds us physically, emotionally and spiritually.  This is why separating sex and marriage (or even orgasm from sex) is not good.

Sin, in many respects, is really the manipulation of what God has created as good into something that is not.  Sexual sin is no different.

But desire is not a bad thing in and of itself.  If it’s seen as a bad thing then we end up trying to kill the desire.  This is the “eastern” religion answer: Don’t desire anything.  We need to submit the desire to God, but we don’t need to kill it.  We should flee sexual immorality, but we don’t need to kill sexual desire.

This is also important because if we say that sexual desire is bad we end up doing theological gymnastics when it comes to marriage.  For example I’ve heard people say that marriage redeems sexual desire.  That gets confusing real fast.  Sex is for marriage, as stated above, but that sex doesn’t need redeeming.  That’s just one example.

Myth Two – All Sexual Sexual Sin Is The Same

I’ve discussed this before, but looking at a woman lustfully does not have the same consequences as sleeping with the same woman.  It comes from the same place, but it doesn’t have the same consequences.  We need to quit teaching people, by accident or on purpose, that it’s all the same.

Now we shouldn’t use this fact as an excuse to sin less boldly so to speak.  I’ve spoken before about what I call lazy sexual immorality.  There are still costs involved.  It’s still wrong.  But its important to realize that the resulting problems are different.

Myth Three – Sexual Desire Always Leads To Sexual Temptation Always Leads To Sexual Sin 

This is the idea that sexual desire is so strong that I can’t possibly have victory over sexual sin . . . at least not outside of marriage.  Again, I need to submit the desire, along with all other desires, to the Lord.  But the thing is, I can actually do that.  We don’t have to fail.

It also creates a situation where we end up saying that celibacy for the Kingdom is not a viable vocation or calling.  This is part of the reason that in evangelical culture we have no room for those called to celibacy.  Frankly most protestant leaders don’t really think this is even possible.  We don’t have any sort of plan for it.  As I’ve written many places here, with no theology of, or plan for, celibacy, we set up everyone to fail, even married people.  The reason they don’t think it’s possible is that they don’t think that anyone can avoid sexual sin.

We are not just animals with no moral agency.  We can, with the Lord, avoid moral failure.

Myth Four – Men Are Responsible For All Sexual Sin

This is worthy of at least a post itself.  But let me see if I can briefly go at this.  We have to quit talking about the issue in this way.  The idea is that men want sex all the time.  If a man and woman have sex outside of marriage it is the man’s fault.  He is the sinner – she is the victim.

Don’t believe me?  Check out this example from Matt Schmucker on Boundless:

We do not want a brother standing at the altar on his wedding day looking at his beautiful bride only to imagine behind her the boys and men who took advantage of her and robbed her of the trust and confidence that she now needs for her husband. We do not want a sister standing at the altar on her wedding day looking at her handsome groom only to imagine behind him a string of relationships with girls and women he failed to honor, and knowing that images in his head from pornography use and past flings may stick with him for a long time.

Do you see it.  Evil boys and men have victimized the woman.  But the man has failed morally. This is just one example.  I could link hundreds.

There are so many factors in this.  But what I can tell you is that this teaching is not helping.  I do believe that the man should lead, even in a non marriage relationship.  But telling men that they are basically animals forcing women to have sex is not productive and frankly it’s not true. Really it’s a shot at both gender’s moral agency.  It also sets up married sex in the wrong way*, but that is for another day.

The Bible clearly calls us to flee sexual immorality.  It’s important, not just in terms of our personal purity and becoming married, but also because of our witness.  However the right view of it is part of the key to doing just that.  Taking short cuts and getting it wrong, just leads us back to the same cycles we are in.

 

*Examples of this include but are not limited to: teachings that husbands have to earn sex from their wives, that men cheat and women don’t, that men evolutionally (married or not) are always looking for the next person and women are not.

Ahh The Man Problem

We have a man problem!  How many times have you heard that in the Church in the last 10 years?

I want to respond some more to a piece from the SBTS that quotes Al Mohler talking about this.  This isn’t personal by the way.  All Mohler is doing is putting words to what so many in the Church think about singleness and marriage.

As Mohler is discussing the “sin” of delaying marriage (what length of delay equals sin is unclear of course) he says,

“This is a problem shared by men and women.  But it is primarily of men.  We have established a boy culture in which boys are not growing up into men.

Guys, the reality is that God has given us a responsibility to lead, to take responsibility as a man, to be the man in every way before God that we are called to be . . . It means taking the leadership to find a godly wife and to marry her and to be faithful to her in every way and to grow up to be a man who is defined as a husband, and by Gods grace we pray eventually, as father.”

I just . . . I mean. . .

First let every man read and understand what I say next.  You are not primarily defined by being a husband or even a father.  You are primarily defined by your relationship with Christ.  Period.  This is vital because if you don’t get this then you won’t be a good husband or father if you get married.

Now if you get married, then there are defined roles and responsibilities (which these same evangelical leaders will be sure to remind you of).  It’s not bad to know what those are because it should impact your decision to get married.  Are there guys slacking off because they don’t want to “man up” as it were?  Sure.  But that is only a part of the issue.

This premise that its all the guys’ fault is a complete failure of the Church to acknowledge the rest of culture and it’s own part in creating it.

The blame the men movement comes up short for lots of reasons –  Just for starters:

  • It fails to address why men are not going to church, getting married, or even finishing college (or other “mature” things).
  • It fails to address women’s sin in any way
  • Completely ignores attraction and choices involving it.
  • It makes women the helpless victims and absolves them of their choices
  • Embarrasses the men in church who women don’t date – of which there are many
  • Doesn’t help any of those men learn anything that will help them get married
  • And most of all, creates more disrespect of men within the body of Christ

Here’s the other funny thing about it.  If all of these Christian men are a bunch of “boys” whose fault is that?  Was there a secret men’s meeting that I missed where we all got together and said, “Let’s not grow up.  Let’s step back from leadership. Screw what the Church teaches.”  Guess who raised us?  Guess who spoke to our parents in the pews?  Guess who taught us how to be nice?  Guess who told us that slogans, rallies and sermons can save us?  

I could handle the “men are the problem” line better if it started with, “We’ve failed our young men.  We help set them up to fail.”  That would maybe lend some sort of credibility.

Mohler and company have this idea that there are all these sinless godly women just sitting around and if only men would act they would say yes and marry them.  They assume that the reason that Christian women don’t get married is that men just aren’t . . . well . . . man enough.  (This idea of men are sinful and weak and women are sinless is everywhere and in everything they talk about – not just singleness.)*

But the truth is that I know a lot of men that want a godly wife.  There are single men in every church looking for that. I was one.  For 20 years. Is Mohler suggesting to the women that they should go out with any of these guys that ask them and become their wife?  Of course not.  Men should go find a wife – really any wife.  They don’t need to be attracted to them and the woman doesn’t have to be that godly.  Just man up and marry a woman – you can help her be godly.  Women on the other hand are taught to be careful.  Don’t settle.  They are told they need protection from all of the not quite godly enough men.  

So according to many of our leaders, the only way to be a godly, mature man is to get married.  But the only men that women should marry are godly, mature men.  Again – whose fault is all of this?

Part of the problem (without getting into this too much here – more later) is that they are asking men to play by the cultural rules from 50 years ago, while not asking the same of women.  They fail to recognize how the culture has reshaped the getting married game.  It’s not just the men that have created this.  There’s plenty of blame to go around.

The bottom line here is that simply saying man up is a non-starter.  It’s not working.  At all.  We have to talk to both sexes and we have to teach them both not only what to do in marriage and that they should get married but also how to go about getting married.

 

 

*Examples – If Husbands will lead the right way then women would not try to take over the lead.  If more men would sign up for combat duty then women wouldn’t feel the need to. Etc.  H/T Dalrock

 

A “Big” Christian Singles Problem We’re Ignoring

In the late 1960’s 60% of those 19-29 were married.  That number now is only 20%. That’s a whole different ballgame.  Half of America is unmarried.

There are a whole lot of reasons for this.  We’ve talked about it many times here in one way or another.  Lack of ability to interact with the opposite sex, fulfilling sexual desire outside of marriage, creating false spiritual platitudes, and over spiritualizing the whole thing, just to name a few.

But there is one thing that I haven’t talked about here.  And this is going to probably make some people uncomfortable and possibly even mad.  But to not talk about it at all, seems to me to be a cop out and if you read here at all, you know I’m not usually willing to do that.  So here goes.

I think one of the unnamed reasons we have less marriage comes from one of the sins and addictions that we don’t like to talk about in the Church.  That is our bad relationship with food and the sin of gluttony.

I’ve mentioned before that attraction is not a choice. Ok I’ve mentioned that about a hundred times.  Now to be fair, I’ve also talked about how our attraction scale is jacked up, and how there is no one who is perfectly attractive or attracted.  I’ve clearly stated that there will always be someone “hotter” and that we need to be careful as to what we “require” for attraction.

But again, attraction matters and we don’t get to sidestep this fact.  From a physical standpoint this is especially true when it comes to how we deal with women and their attractiveness to men.  Again, we correctly point out that our standard of beauty is warped.  We have created an airbrushed world that no woman can live up to.  That is absolutely right to point out and fight against.  But that doesn’t give us a pass on dealing with gluttony (for men or women).

To ignore this issue is a mistake.  According to the CDC 69% of Americans age 20 and older are overweight.  35% are obese.  Now we can argue over what counts as overweight and BMI and all of that.  That’s fine.  But bottom line there are a lot of people struggling here.  In case you are wondering, Christians are doing worse here, not better.

My point here today is not to “fat shame” anyone.  I don’t want to shame anyone, for any reason.  It’s also not to put more pressure on anyone to look perfect.  But I think that the fear implying those things or of dealing with this issue in the wrong way, has pushed us into not dealing with issue at all which is not ok.  It’s as if due to our fear of being politically incorrect we have stopped being honest and this is not helping us as singles or marrieds.

Food, just like alcohol, porn, and many other things can be an addiction.  Just like we have a broken relationship with sex in our culture, we also have a broken relationship with food.  In fact, I’d say that they often sort of play on each other.  Just like there are people in bondage to sexual addiction and drug addiction, there are people in bondage to food in one way or another.  It can for sure be a coping mechanism and one that leads excuses, lack of self control, and rationalizations just like all the afore mentioned vices.

This is important for many many reasons.  There are the obvious heath issues.  But as a single person, it matters in specific ways because you are sending a message with your appearance.  All of us are.  If we are overweight – especially if we are considerably overweight – we could be sending a message that we are out of control, are undisciplined, aren’t good at taking care of important stuff, or just don’t care.

It also affects how we feel about ourselves in two very important ways.  First, if we are unhealthy we don’t feel good.  I mean this is sort of obvious, but if we don’t feel healthy it’s hard to engage with life the way we want to.  It also affects our confidence and how we carry ourselves.  If we see ourselves as unattractive it’s infinitely more likely that others will as well.  It for sure affects our confidence when it comes to how we interact with the opposite sex.

I think that in the Christian culture we often like to pretend that none of this should matter. After all we should just love people where they are at.  I agree.  But part of loving someone is helping therm deal with reality.  If we tell people that it doesn’t matter and shouldn’t have anything to do with them attracting a spouse, to me, that’s lying.

Now in the same way we can’t just stand in the pulpit and tell men to “man up“, we can’t just stand up in the pulpit and say “lose weight”.  We have to actually walk with people. We have to do the hard work.  That starts with honest assessment.

I’ve said before and I’ll say it now.  One of the things about my 20+ years as a single is that I wish more people would have given me more practical help and less spiritual platitudes.  We don’t control a lot about our appearance.  But we do control some things. We should work on those.

Two Lies About Marriage You Don’t Have To Believe

A couple of years ago right after I got engaged I was at a retreat of sorts with a bunch of men.  One night we were on the back porch enjoying a beverage and a cigar when a gentlemen I knew started to talk to me about marriage.

Now as we who have been unmarried for any amount of time know, usually this sets off the “Crap, here comes the platitudes” warning sirens.  In this case I was pretty ready for that conversation but instead it went a different direction.  This guy and I know each other moderately well and he’s probably 15-20 years older than me.  He asked me if I was excited which I said that I was.

Then he did what almost no one does – he told me marriage was worth it.  He said that he and his wife have had their struggles (I knew this, which was why I was ready for the platitudes about marriage being hard, enjoying my singleness etc.).  But then he said basically this, “You know what though, I wouldn’t trade any of it.  Marriage is good.  I mean even after all these years, I go to bed and she’s there, next to me, that’s what its all about!”  Amen brother, Amen.

A lot of people, including – and maybe particularly – in the Christian community have sort of created a bunch of general statements about marriage that frankly are just sort of false. I think it happens for lots of reasons.  Part of it is an attempt to knock down the marriage idol. (One of the funny things is that you and I need to give up the marriage idol but the Church doesn’t have to apparently).  Also, just to be honest, what a lot of Christian married people remember about being single is being 23 and single – not being 33 and single.  I mean yeah, 23 was fun.  Not better, but way easier.

I’ve talked about some of the big falsehoods such as the Marriage is Hard Movement and how singles should take advantage of their singleness, do more ministry and focus on God. You can click the link and check those out.  Today I want to talk about two simple lies that if you are single, you can feel free to let go of.

First is the idea that marriage doesn’t really answer any of life’s questions.  I remember talking with friend who got married in her early 30s.  She told me of a conversation she had with her mom while she was engaged where she, trying to sound holy, said, “I know that it doesn’t change everything and that I still have a lot to work on.” Her mom responded, “Actually it changes a lot and it answers one of the biggest questions you’ve ever asked.”

While it is true that marriage doesn’t answer all of life’s questions or solve all of your problems, it does answer some big ones.  For example, “Will I get married?”  “Who will I marry?” Those are some pretty dang big questions that most people ask a lot.  They can dominate your thoughts.  “What will she/he be like?”  There are some bonus questions too.  Who will I live with next year?  Will I ever have sex?

The point is, marriage actually settles a lot – and that’s a good thing.

A second one that especially as a guy I heard all the time was, “Just because you get married doesn’t mean that you won’t look at other women.”  I bought into that one all the way up until I met my wife.

Here’s the scoop.  Might you notice an attractive lady that walks into the room?  Yes you are not now blind because you are married.  But you know what is awesome?  It doesn’t matter.  Know why? – You’re Married!  Do you know what the means?  No more having to size everyone you meet up to see if they might be someone you could pursue – or if they might like you.  No more, “Hey she’s cute – I wonder if she’s a Christian?”  No more trying to figure out if they are hot enough, fun enough, smart enough, Christian enough or any other enoughs.  It doesn’t matter.  At all.

After over 20 years of asking those questions I can honestly tell you that I’ve never once thought about it.  Now you say, “Justin you’re just in newlywed bliss and so on.”  Whatever.  Let me tell you, not having to deal with that is awesome.  The question of who I’m with has been answered.  Yes I could go out and screw that up – but that’s a different deal.  That’s called open rebellion, not looking for a mate.  Two different things.

The affair question is a separate one.  Sexual sin can still happen.  That has to do with sexual desire, temptation and how marriage plays into that.  That is a different blog post. But as someone who has spent too much time trying to determine if I could date this or that person, it is awesome to have that answered. I was constantly looking and sizing stuff up.  Then I met my wife, and that was that.  The decision has been made.  It’s totally different.  Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.

Marriage won’t answer all of your core questions.  God answers those.  It won’t solve all of your problems.  You’re still you.  You still have a lot of your problems.  Haha.  But it does answer some of them and you don’t have to pretend that it doesn’t.  In fact you can trust that it will.  You can even go ahead and want it to happen.

 

 

When “Staying You” Is A Bad Idea

When I was about 27 or so I had been dating a woman for a several months when she decided that I wasn’t for her and that someone else was.  It was a hard thing for me to take for a couple of reasons.  I had waited what felt like a long time already to get married and I really, really thought she could be “the one“.

As I was processing through the “breakup” I was fortunate to have some good friends and mentors who really came along side me.  But one of the weirdest conversations I had was with a woman maybe 20 years older than me said something like, “Wow it’s hard.  All these years you’ve been single.  How do you keep from blaming yourself?  How do you keep from thinking you’re the problem?”

I gave some sort of answer to that.  I don’t really remember what, but I’m sure it was good. But here’s what is interesting.  In many ways I’d like to have that conversation back.

While I think that this woman was honestly just trying to be encouraging and telling me that, “Hey, don’t worry – it’s not you” maybe what I needed to hear was, “So what part of this is you?”

The reality was in that particular case, it really wasn’t me.  But the fact that I made it to 41 and single – a lot of that was indeed me.

Do you remember when you were in school and you would get the school yearbook? There’d be a few pages or an insert or some other place where you would get notes from classmates. Have you ever read back over those?  It’s mostly generic stuff like, “Hey bro – great time rockin’ with you in English this year,” or “J Man – thanks for keeping me sane in Chemistry.”  But often we gave each other the worst advice of all – “Stay you.”  “Don’t ever change.”  Umm yeah – don’t grow or develop – good idea.

If I look back on mine, I could sum up the what every girl I was attracted to wrote – “J – you’re such a good friend.  Couldn’t have made it without you.  Don’t ever change.”  I’ll come back to this in a post soon – but that right there sums up far more guys’ lives than would want to admit it.

But for today, what I want to focus on is this idea that we don’t need to change who we are, what we do, how we act, think, or live.  I’m not saying people who espouse it don’t mean well, they typically do.  But when it comes to most things in life, and for sure dating and marriage – it’s just simply terrible advice.

In Christianese terms it usually means that God “has someone else for you” or if you stay true to yourself, then for sure God will bring someone at the right time. It could also be that every person you’ve ever been interested in had it wrong.  But the bottom line is, there is someone out there for you.  And you need to just stay strong and be “who you are” and then the “right person” will love you for “who you are”.

It all sounds nice, but I’m not sure how helpful it really is.

Without even getting into the dating/single/marriage stuff, we are not called to be who we are currently.  One could make a case that we are called to become who we are created to be.  But that is different.  Who I am right now is a flawed, broken by sin (my own and others’) individual.  I’m in Jesus and He is changing me over time to become who He meant for me to be.  But until I’m there – I should be changing, aka growing.

We all have stuff that we need to grow in and change.  Now to be clear, I’m not saying that you have to first get all your stuff together before you get married.  That’s part of the reason we have the problems we do, this false idea that i have to be “ready” to get married.

When it comes to dating, if the same stuff keeps happening over and over again, we need to look inward and ask what part of that is us.  What can we do different?  I think when it comes to dating, especially as a Christian guy, this seems to get skipped over.

Stuck in the friend zone over and over again?  That could be you.  In a new relationship every six months?  Maybe you.  Can’t seem to ever talk to or approach someone you are really attracted to?  Might be worth thinking about.

Look at this way.  In other practical areas of your life you grow.  When you were a kid, you got better at sports or math, or a band instrument.  You didn’t stay the same.  When you get a job – hopefully over time you get better at it.  Are your current friendships the same type as you had in high school? (If so, that might be a problem as well).

Relating to the opposite sex is no different.  If you’re stuck, maybe it’s time to change.  Maybe that means getting help -be it friends, counseling, books – you name it.

Most of the time in life, we know when change is necessary. We just don’t like it.  It’s easier to say, “it’s not me” than to say, “Maybe it is me”.

Final thought and clarification.  Am I saying be fake?  No.  Am I saying go out and misrepresent yourself? No – that’s called lying.  What I’m saying is it’s ok to grow in how you relate to the opposite sex.  In fact, I would suggest that if you are over 26 and single, it might be necessary.  It was for me.

 

When In Doubt, Blame The Men

One of the problems in our evangelical culture today when it comes to singleness and marriage is the message that is sent over and over again that men are less spiritual, more sinful, and less mature than women.  It is said from pulpits, in interviews on tv, and of course in books.  It’s all part of the Christian “Man Up” industry.  It assumes women are innocent and men are not.

In case you don’t believe me read the following quote from one of the biggest names in evangelical culture today.  At the end of a blog post to single women he writes,

To my single sisters wanting to marry, I do not want to discourage you in any way. But, the truth is that it is harder to be a single woman than a single man as a Christian. Every poll I have ever seen says that single women are generally more mature and responsible than single men. Men are waiting until around 30 years old to marry for the first time, if they ever do. And, they are going for younger women, according to the statistics. Across Christianity, there are far more single women than single men, which means that the odds are not in the favor of godly single women. In addition, for theological reasons, many Christian women do not want to be the dating initiator, asking guys out and taking the lead in the relationship.

All of this together means that godly single women live in a complex world that is increasingly more difficult for those who want to marry and have children with a godly man. Love, prayer, friendship, support, counsel, and community are needed more than ever.

This is complete and total nonsense.

First of all, let me be honest in the interest of full disclosure.  There was a time where I would have agreed with this statement.  I would have said that if men did what they were supposed to do then women would be set.  I was a part of the “man up” group.  But I was wrong.

Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are a lot of men that need to step up and become better men.  Are there men that need to learn to lead, initiate and get past their own selfishness, idols, and insecurities?  Uh. . . yeah. . . all of us, including me.  But to lay the problem of increased singleness in the church at the feet of men and say, “hey it’s all your fault” is extremely short sighted, only addresses half the equation and does both men and women a lot of harm.

There are three main ideas that I believe are completely false and/or overblown.

For starters the idea that there are more Christian women than men is complete garbage.  I’ve been working in full time ministry for the last 20 years mainly with people aged 15-35.  I’ve worked with literally thousands of people in that age range.  I’ve been in church that whole time, have helped lead small groups, and even helped plant a church. Here’s what I would say.  There are indeed more women who go to church.  There may be more women who say they want a godly marriage. But that means about jack squat when it comes to how people act and what they do with their lives.

Which leads into the second idea that women in their twenties are more “mature” than men.  What exactly constitutes this maturity?  I know that the statistics on college and church attendance lean female.  But I’m not so sure that equals maturity. Been on a college campus lately?

But most egregious to me is the idea that men are more sinful.  Especially when it comes to sex, dating and marriage.  This idea that men are just about sex and women are some sort of “victims” is wrong.  Women are obviously having sex.  How do I know? Because men are.  It takes two to tango so to speak.   Amazingly, women also sin.

This whole line of thinking has a profound effect on singles in our churches (and frankly marriages).  For starters (the list is much longer and deeper):

  • It fails to address why men are not going to church, getting married, or even finishing college (or other “mature” things).
  • It fails to address women’s sin in any way
  • Completely ignores attraction and choices involving it.
  • It makes women the helpless victims and absolves them of their choices
  • Embarrasses the men in church who women don’t date – of which there are many
  • Doesn’t help any of those men learn anything that will help them get married
  • And most of all, creates more disrespect of men within the body of Christ.

Think you aren’t affected by this?  When a man says he can’t meet a Christian woman what do you think vs. what you think if a woman says the same thing?  What’s the first thing you think when you meet a divorced woman vs man?  When you see an unwed mom – whose fault is it?  When a woman can’t get a date vs when a man can’t?

I’m not suggesting we switch gears and put all the blame on women. The truth is there are a lot of reasons for the rise in singleness and the decline of marriage. But it’s everybody’s fault – not just men’s.  Plenty of blame to go around.

I’m also not saying any of this from some sort of whiny, mad place.  It’s just a fact.  If you keep telling men it’s all their fault, you’re sending the wrong message to everybody.  Maybe some nice men who your women won’t date will jump on board.  Maybe women will cheer you and feel better that Sunday.  Maybe you will be the hero to women in your congregation.  But mostly it will just create more of the same and we can’t afford that.