When I was in high school and college, one of the things that I battled with constantly was the idea that I wasn’t “good enough”. I battled this in almost every area of my life. I saw myself as decent, but not great at pretty much everything. The things that I did care about (sports for example) I worked my tail off to become great. But I never saw myself as arriving at greatness.
Nowhere was this more true than with the opposite sex. I was constantly in the friend zone with the girls that I liked. I thought I was physically not attractive enough. Later I thought I wasn’t making enough money. The list goes on. One of my go to thoughts was, “I’m just not good enough.”
So recently Charlize Theron stated in an interview that she was shockingly single. She said she was available and that someone just needed to grow a pair (Christian leaders would say “Man Up”) and ask her out.
As soon as I saw this story I started laughing. I laughed for two reasons. First, I knew that a bunch of people would ask her out through various means and second, that she was completely full of it.
And . . . that is exactly what happened. A good looking man from Kansas City (shout out to my home town) sent in a video asking her out. She signed a picture for him. Uh yeah, not what he had in mind. You can see both her original statement and the guy asking her out in this video here. It’s great.
There is so much great material here it could probably be 5 posts but I’m going to break it down in one and look at what we can learn from it.
Have you ever gone into the Christian Fiction section in a bookstore. It’s sort of unbelievable. First of all, I still have not figured out what exactly counts as Christian fiction. Why do we have our own section – why can’t it just be in the fiction section but written by Christians? Is there a Jewish fiction section?? The truth is that we have our own section because we want it, and we are the only people that would possibly read it.
But the most disturbing thing about the Christian fiction section is the focus on what can best be described as Christian romance novels. It’s incredible. I would wager that close to 70% of the books in this section fit that category. Probably more. More amazing is that of those romance novels, probably 80% are either western or amish. Talk about a limited audience.
We’re in obvious need of better literature but that isn’t why I bring this all up. I bring it up because rather than lead in what love, marriage, and singleness looks like (let alone what good literature looks like) we in western Christian culture have adopted what the world says and then arranged our theology and practices to accommodate it. The impact of this runs much deeper than we realize and impacts not only Christians but everyone else.
We have made romance the thing. We don’t say that directly of course. We’re more “holy” than that. Instead we couch it in what I call Reformed Romance. This is where we sort of combine secular romance and shaky Calvinism.
One of the things I did a lot as a single person is pray for a spouse. That took a lot of different forms. Sometimes it was simple and relaxed. Other times it took the form of crying out (read begging) for God to bring me The One. Often when I really thought someone could be the one it was praying for God to “make it happen”, sometimes before I’d even been on a date (that hurts a little to type – Ha!).
But over and over again for years, it never happened. God didn’t “answer” my prayer.
This really begs two different types of questions. First, should we, and if so how should we, pray about gaining a spouse. Second, why is it that God doesn’t seem to answer this prayer or as I like to say, why doesn’t God just “poof” us a spouse.
I recently received an email from a reader asking some questions about a particular situation. I won’t go into the details but one of the things she said was that she was trying to leave the situation in God’s hands. This is similar to some things I’ve talked about before but I want to revisit this idea.
This message of waiting for God to bring me the one or that God will bring the right one at the right time is super problematic if not wrong entirely. And yet it comes from everywhere. I remember once sitting in church and hearing the pastor in a marriage sermon say that he knew there were frustrated singles because God had not brought them the person yet.
It’s used often as a spiritual platitude spoken to singles as well as by singles themselves. Especially women.
I want to continue today to respond to a message from Al Mohler. I’m using several posts for this because I believe that a lot of what Mohler is saying is representative of the kind of things that church leaders believe and teach. It’s not a Mohler problem. It’s our problem. To his credit – at least he flat out says it.
We’ve talked previously of the idea that our walk with Jesus is seen through the lens of marriage mainly and how that makes the nuclear family an idol as well as how using young men as the scapegoat of our society is not right and obviously not working.
Today I want to address a smaller part of Mohler’s statement that leads to total confusion and frustration in the Church’s singles.
In my last post I shared some thoughts in response to what Scott Sauls wrote at Relevant’s site about why we in the Church focus so much on the nuclear family. The focus of that post was to point out that we need to focus on God’s family not the nuclear family. Simply saying that the nuclear family is not the savior or necessary for salvation is not a good enough starting point.
Today, I want to talk about the idea that God is running every aspect of our dating lives.
I want to again say that I’m not trying to go after Scott but simply saying that what he writes, while better than what a lot of Church leaders are doing, is frankly not enough. I believe he represents what many people in leadership are thinking. There are assumptions here that I believe are at best short sighted.