Will She Go With You?

Over the last three posts we’ve been talking about Servant Leading, what serving has to do with attraction, and the fact that in marriage the man is the head which has many responsibilities including loving (serving and leading would be a part of doing that well). You may want to read those before you dive in here.

Today I want to talk about as a single man, knowing the previous thoughts, how should that affect how you go about things in terms of dating and looking for a wife.  There are at least two parts here: How we prepare ourselves and who we seek to marry.

The number one thing has to be that you have to be going somewhere, and that needs to start with following Jesus.  Now I’m not saying following Jesus perfectly.  That’s a ridiculous standard.  But are you overall submitted to Him?  If not, you need to try to move there.  If you move there, typically He’ll give you some direction.  If someone were to ask where are you going – do you have an answer?  Does the first part of that answer sound something like, “With Jesus.”?

The second thing you need to think about is the role you have as a man and how to best exercise that role.  The idea of headship in a marriage should be exciting and humbling at the same time.  With it comes responsibilities.  But if I understand that as my role, then I’m better able to become the man I need to be to fulfill those responsibilities.* Or as I heard in a sermon recently – If you know who you are, you’ll know what to do.

Let me also state that while both of the above can be hard, they are not only essential but doable.  We have to embrace them.

Now, let’s talk about this from a dating perspective.

First of all, you are not – I repeat not – the head of your date.  You have zero authority. That doesn’t mean that you can’t lead while dating – see this post for more thoughts on that. But you don’t yet have that role in your date’s life which is important to remember both in terms of pressure on yourself and frankly for her as well.

Secondly, I would advise you that as you are dating someone to ask the question, “Would this person respect my role and come with me?”  I could list 100 qualifiers for that statement (this doesn’t mean you command something and she says yes etc) but none of those change the general question.

If the answer is no, then you need to not marry that person.  It will not go well.

Here are two “pictures” of that from my own life, one from dating and another from ministry.

After some dates with one woman we began to talk about what we wanted in life, in the near and far future.  We weren’t getting real deep here but just talking and getting to know more about each other. In the midst of that conversation she said, “I don’t ever want to leave this town.  Ever.  My family is here, my life is here. I couldn’t marry someone who didn’t think they would always live here.”

I knew right then that this wasn’t going anywhere.  It’s not that she was a bad person or even that she wasn’t a Christian.  But that is not my life.  I told her that.  I would go wherever I thought Jesus wanted me to go. I had to know that we would follow Him wherever, no prerequisites.  We stopped dating shortly after.

The other example was in ministry but I think it paints a picture of what it would be like if you married someone who didn’t come with you.  In the ministry that I lead it means going to where kids are.  We go to their turf.  It’s what we do.  I lead other people to also do it. Some people do it with me and some don’t end up doing it.  I remember a meeting with a volunteer who was struggling.  This person said, “I feel like you don’t care about me as much as this other person.  You talk to them more.  I can tell you are close to them and I don’t feel close to you at all.”

I thought for a moment because they were right.  But the reasoning was the problem.  I said, “Well it’s not that I like them better per se.  I like you.  I believe in you and love you. But here’s the difference.  They are in it with me.  They show up.  They go with me as I go. You don’t show up.  My job is to lead people in this mission. That’s where I’m going.  If you want to be with me – you have to actually come with me.”

Now again, I could list 100 caveats and talk about how this can look all sorts of different ways.  But the general truth stands.  You can’t make everyone follow you.  Jesus let people walk.  It’s complicated.  Jesus pursues us yes.  He left His throne to do it.  And yet He doesn’t make people go with Him in response.  And He doesn’t chase them either. The rich young ruler walked.  A man says, “Let me first go bury my father.”  Jesus said “Let the dead bury the dead – follow me.”  The gospels and parables are full of this.  Sometimes you have to let people you wish would come with you walk.  It’s true in life.  It’s true in ministry.  It’s also true in dating.

Remember that marriage is a picture of the Kingdom (as is Celibacy).  They both point towards the Kingdom in unique ways.  Part of the marriage picture is this idea of response to invitation.

I would strongly advise you as a man not to marry someone that wouldn’t go with you. You may be thinking, “Bro you have no idea.  There just aren’t that many women out there like that.”  Maybe.  But there are more than you think.

You need someone who will come with you.  When I do weddings I always tell the groom that the bride needs to know that he isn’t leaving no matter what, and I tell the bride that the groom needs to know that she is on his side no matter what.  I know that both of those will get tested.  But they are necessary.

This doesn’t mean that the only qualifier for a spouse is that she would come with you. However I would tell you that it is one of the essential qualifiers and one that often gets overlooked when the woman has a bunch of other qualities that you are looking for.

I wouldn’t advise marrying any woman who didn’t respect you and who wouldn’t have a posture of going with you as you follow Jesus.**

 

 

* I first read about this idea of roles then responsibilities on this post.  I think it is helpful in seeing that how we view the order of roles and responsibilities is extremely important.

** I would also advise women not to marry anyone they didn’t respect or want to go with

Men’s Spiritual Leadership And The Bible

One of the most overused, misunderstood, and confusing things in the church is the idea of leadership.  This is especially true when it comes to men in relation to women. It’s my hope today to make that even more confusing.  Just kidding.  Maybe.

Before we get biblical so to speak, let me throw out three simple thoughts on leadership. Being a leader is not super complicated.  It requires really two main things.  First you have to be going somewhere.  Second, someone has to be following you.  Just because you strike out in a direction does not make you a leader.  That just makes you going somewhere, which is great.  But to be a leader means that you actually lead others.

Secondly, it’s also important to note that leadership is not contingent upon being a “good” person.  That would make you a “good” leader in a sense.  But as I’ve mentioned before you can be a bad person and an effective leader.  Hitler had a ton of followers.  As awful as that was it would be ridiculous to say that he was not a leader.

Jesus was of course the greatest leader in history by any definition of the term.  He changed the world order.  As a follower of Jesus our hope is that we can lead people towards Him and His kingdom.  Which brings us to point three – we have to first be a follower of Him in order to lead towards Him.  I want to clarify that before we start looking at leading others because even though we can learn a lot about leadership from looking at Jesus and how He led, if we aren’t actually following Him then really we aren’t going to the right direction to begin with.  And remember, direction matters.

Now all of that seems pretty straight forward.  So why is it that we are all so confused in the context of singleness and marriage?  There are a lot of reasons.

Some of it has to do with the fact that in order to sound more with the times in our culture we have sort of used the word leadership in some places that aren’t necessarily biblical. They sound biblical but they add to the confusion.

One of the places this happens is when we say that the man is the spiritual leader of the household when he is married.

What most people refer to is the scripture in Ephesians 5:22-33.  Paul is giving instruction to the people of Ephesus about life and in this particular part talks about husbands and wives.  He says that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ as the head of the church.  He commands the husbands to love and give themselves up for their wives and wives to submit to and respect their husbands.

Now whole books have been written about this and I have only a few hundred words here so we are going to keep it in the context of our conversation here.

The first thing to note is that this is not conditional.  Just as the vows you take on your wedding day are not conditional.  When you make the vows you don’t say, “I promise to love and cherish and not forsake you if you do these certain things”.  No your promise is unconditional.  Until death.  That’s the vow.  It’s a covenant not a contract. This is similar. Paul doesn’t say, “Husbands love your wife if you feel in love” or “Love your wife if your romantically attracted at the time” or “love your wife if she is nice to you”.  Nor does he say, “Wives submit to your husband when you feel like its a good idea” or “submit to your husband if he’s earned it that day”.  It’s a command for each person regardless of the situation.*

The second thing to note here is that the word leadership isn’t used. The word head is used to name the role, and the instructions to the man (instructions for the head) describe what he is to do.  But nowhere is he called the leader.  It’s not that he doesn’t lead.  As the head, Christ leads the church – by loving it no matter what.  But he does have positional authority.  Leading is a part of the job description, but it’s not the job title.

Now here is where everyone freaks out.  We don’t like that.  So what happens is one of the following:

Some say, “It talks about mutually submitting before that . . . ”  That is just a terrible argument.  You can say, “What was true for Ephesus isn’t true now.” That’s an argument.  I disagree with it.  But that makes some sense and I can respect it.  But pretending Paul doesn’t mean what he says is weak and intellectually dishonest.

Some want to abuse it.  This happens when we give men the role (head) without the instructions (love, give your self up etc).  This is where men can abuse their position.  This has for sure happened throughout history and still happens today.

But most in evangelical culture today want to say essentially, “Men, this is your position, if you do everything right and earn it.  Your wife will let you know when that is.”  I know that’s a little sarcastic.  But this is really does seem to be the message.  Do it all right and then it will all go right.  That last sentence is dangerous on a lot of levels.

We like the term “spiritual leader” because it sounds better than head.  But what we end up telling guys is: If you lead well, you’ll be the head.  What we need to instead say is: you’re the head, so lead well.  When we get this wrong, we basically want men to take on the responsibilities that he has without giving him the role that he should have.  Why would anyone want that?

Once you’re married – from a biblical perspective, you’re the head.  You can either be a good one or a bad one and your wife is not necessarily the grade card on that.

Wow! We just covered a lot of ground not very deeply.  You still might be thinking, “what in the heck does this have to do with me the single man?”  In my next post I’ll give you some thoughts on why how you view this is so important.  For now I’d ask you to think about exactly that.  How do you view all of this?

*I understand that there may be extreme conditions that would be exceptions – such as abuse etc. but we have turned everything into an exception and it isn’t working out well.

Servant Leadership Confusion

I was recently at a conference where we spent some time talking about leadership.  The conversation was centered around what makes a good leader and how do we be good leaders to others.  One of the interesting things that was said was something to the effect of the only way to be a good leader was to be a servant.  This is of course a common theme in Christian culture.  And like a lot of themes in Christian culture it’s only sort of true.

I’ve been giving the idea of leadership a lot of thought lately – both in the context of my job and in the context of singleness and marriage.  You can see some of my thoughts about leading while dating here.

I think in our context as a Christian man, be it single or married, this idea is very confusing.  Partly because we use a lot of words like servant and leader interchangeably and I’m not so sure that’s helpful.

We tell men to lead.  We say in fact that you should lead.  That our leadership is needed.  We are told to serve.  We are told that Jesus’ model of leadership was servant leadership and that we should follow that example in life and of course in marriage and often even in dating.  So let’s unpack that all a little.

Here are some important conclusions that I’ve personally come to

You can be an effective leader without being a servant.  Now this will undoubtedly bother some people.  I guess it sort of depends on how you define servant.  Let me rephrase.  You can be an effective leader without being what Christian culture calls a “servant leader”.

I know this because I can quickly name several historically effective leaders that weren’t what we would call servant leaders.  Just for starters: Hitler.  Genghis Khan.  Alexander the Great. I don’t think you can argue that they weren’t leaders.  But you wouldn’t call them servant leaders.  Now you could say they served in a sense.  They gave people vision, or hope, or purpose bigger than them.  Maybe they even provided protection or riches for their people – which could be a sort of service.  But I don’t think we’ll be calling any of them servant leaders.

My point is that leadership and servanthood – at least as we typically define it – are not the same at all.

To be a leader you really only need two things.  You need to be going somewhere and you need to have someone following you.  If you don’t have anyone following you, you are not a leader.

Now Jesus was indeed the greatest leader in history.  Even from a common sense secular point of view.  This is a guy who had no army, no land, no money, no committee, no title, no political office etc.  He had a three year public life, lived in a small geographical area and really only talked to a few thousand people, most of whom also had none of the afore mentioned advantages, was executed and yet changed the world and we are still talking about it 2000 years later.

Jesus was also obviously the greatest servant of all time.  He left His throne, gave up his power, met people’s deepest needs and gave his very life for each of us.

But here is a thought I have – and I’m not saying this is exactly right as I’m still working it out:  It was not Jesus’ servanthood that made Him a great leader but instead it was who He was, partly as a leader, that made Him the greatest servant.  In other words, in order to wash your followers feet – you have to have followers.

Feel free to wrestle with that.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “Ok Justin.  Neat stuff.  But what does this have to do with singleness?”  As a man, looking for a spouse, I think it has a lot to do with it.

 

We spend a lot of time telling men that the need to be the leader.  Be it in dating or marriage.  We also tell men that they need to be a servant, like Jesus was a servant, to their wives and too often by extension to women in general.  In other words, “Be Like Jesus to get the girl” and then “Love your girl like Jesus would and everything will go right.”  Leadership of your girl/wife means serving your girl/wife.

But if we have the wrong view of what that means, which many in Christian leadership do, then we are setting ourselves up for at best a lot of frustration and at worst utter failure.

I’m going to get more practical in the next blog or two about this.  But for today I want to leave you with some questions to ponder.

Why did people follow Jesus?  Why would a woman follow a man?  What does serving another person really mean?  What does serving have to do with attraction?  Are women attracted to leaders?  To servants?

Some Help For The Ladies

Most of my usual readers know that this blog is written mainly for men.  Lots of ladies read this and probably 70% of what I write here is pretty applicable to both sexes.  This is especially true of all that I’ve said theologically about celibacy, family and the Church.  It’s mostly true of the things we discuss having to do with living in the context of being unmarried including things like dealing with sexual desire, community, touch, money, dealing with loss, etc.

However most of what I’ve offered here in terms of what to do with attraction, how to attract people, how to get a date and how to date, have been very guy centered.  I’ve had several requests from female readers at different times for thoughts on what they can do in those areas.  So I want to offer some thoughts today.

I’m not going to write several posts on this although I surely could.  But that is not the main format of the blog and not really my wheelhouse because after all, I’m a guy.

So instead I want to offer some things that the ladies can do with some tidbits on what not to do mixed in.

Here are some things to do:

Go ahead and initiate contact

There is a difference between initiating with someone and pursuing them.  We all know that women want to be pursued (not chased).  But as a guy it can be hard to know who to pursue and a little help on the front end can go a long way.  It can be as simple as being the first to make eye contact and smile.  There is nothing wrong with introducing yourself or starting a conversation with some guy you might be interested in.  I wouldn’t advise asking them out.  But you can talk with them, laugh with them, be friendly and even a little flirty.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It creates a comfort level.  I think this is especially true in the church setting where sometimes guys are being too careful (which is sometimes merited).

Make yourself available

This could mean showing up at events that you know good men will be at.  It might mean letting a certain guy know where you’ll be.  I had a good friend share with me how she once had a guy she met at church who she wanted to know more.  She loved biking and found out that he did as well.  She shared with him that her and some friends biked at a certain place at a certain time and that he was welcome to come.  It wasn’t a date.  But it gave him a chance to show up.  Which he did.  And then he asked her out.

Being available might mean seeing that a guy goes out the same door every Sunday and choosing to go out that door – sort of setting up the opportunity to run into you.  It might mean online dating.  I know that there are pros and cons to that, but it for sure puts you in a place to of availability to meet men.

Put your most attractive self forward

Dress feminine.  I’m not saying dress sexual.  But it’s ok to put some effort into it.  And don’t downplay that.  Don’t talk about your “faults” when you are with a guy on a date.  I had women do this all the time.  They would tell me all that was wrong with them.  They’d tell me how much weight they gained or lost.  They’d tell me how they were difficult or couldn’t change this or that.  I guess there is a place for that but it’s not early on.  Maybe they wanted to lower the bar or make sure I wouldn’t run at the first negative thing.  But frankly here’s the deal.  If a man is on a date with you, he was at least fairly attracted to you.  You should just go with that.  Don’t sabotage it.  He likes you a little or he wouldn’t be there.

Learn to just say no and yes and be respectful either way

If someone asks you out, there are only two possible answers to that.  Yes or no. Anything else is disrespectful.  If you don’t want to go out you can be nice – but say no nicely.  You aren’t dating Jesus.  You don’t have other plans that day. You’re not working on you right now.  You just don’t want to.  That’s ok.  If he keeps asking you out, then say no a bit more firmly.  But don’t go nuclear with it.  If you do want to go out with him then for the love of all things holy say yes.  If you don’t know if you want to out with him and he meets your qualifiers, my advise is say yes – at least once maybe twice.  You don’t have to know you want to marry him.  It’s a date.  If you want to go out with him and he is not a good guy – then say no and stay the heck out of that situation.  Become unavailable.

Readers – maybe you could throw some other thoughts out.  Ladies – what has been helpful to you.  Guys, what have you appreciated.  We don’t need comments here just ripping each other – that’s pointless.

 

Get Out Of The Friend Zone

friendzone

When I was an teenager in school, one of the things that I heard constantly from girls that I wanted to date was something to the effect of, “You’re a great guy, but I just see you as a friend.”  In other words over and over again, I entered what has become known as the friend zone.

This is a terrible place to be.  We get there a whole lot of different ways.  When I was younger, (at least in my experience)  there were some times when I really was friends with the girl before I decided I wanted to date her.  But as you get older this is less likely.

Many guys when they like a woman start being really nice to her.  We go out and try to meet her needs, help her out with anything she wants, buy her considerate gifts etc.  I once bought a girl a birthday present that I wasn’t even dating.  I was a 30 year old man.  WTH was I thinking?  I liked her.  I should do nice stuff for her right?  Yikes!

Many guys think that this is a way to get in with a woman.  Rather than ask her out, I’ll simply get to know her as a friend.  After all, this is way less threatening.  The idea is to be safe and a friend first.  But this is a terrible strategy and frankly it’s intellectually dishonest anyway.  Friending someone in order to get them to like you is manipulation just as much as any of the “evil” dating game moves.  Just way less effective.

The funny thing is, women know all of this. Some of them are even mad about it.  I saw a blog (which I can’t seem to find or I’d link it) where the women were basically saying, “There is no friend zone.  Guys shouldn’t be mad about this.  You could be my friend or not.  But if I tell you that I don’t want to date you and want to be just friends, take a hint.  I don’t want to date you.”

When a woman says I see you as a friend, 9 times out of 10 it means they don’t want to hang out.  And if they do, it’s for some other reason other than being interested.

So the question is, how do you get the heck out of this cycle.  I want to offer a few frank suggestions.  Some of you won’t like them.  That’s fine.  Do you man, but don’t whine about it.

Stop Using This As Strategy

Just stop!  Now!.  Stop trying to get a woman to like you by being her friend.  Stop it.  And most of all, stop being self righteous about it.  I’m a nice guy and I want to be friends with the girl first.  I care about her and if I can be friends with her with the hope of more, so be it.

It’s totally ridiculous, completely dishonest and chicken.  It’s hiding what you really want behind the guise of platonic friendship or worse in the church – ministering to her.  Ugh that makes me want to vomit.  It won’t help her.  It for sure does not help you.  And it won’t end up with you together.

Quit Agreeing To It

If you want to date someone and they say that they want to be just friends, just say no. Stop feeling like you have some sort of responsibility to be friends with every girl you’ve been on a date with.

A few years ago I went on a few dates with a gal and I actually thought we had some real chemistry.  But when I called her after a date she didn’t call me back.  Now by this point in my life I had learned that there was always someone else and I just sort of moved on.

About three months later she called me.  I was sort of in shock to be honest.  I had written the whole thing off. We were sort of chit chatting and I said, “Look, I enjoyed our dates and I’d be willing to go out again and see where it goes.  I’m totally open to that.”  She then said, I kid you not, “Well I’m not really interested in that, but I thought we could be friends.”

After laughing, I said, “Look, we are friends in the sense that we like each other as people, but I don’t have time to just hang out.  I have friends.  I’m looking for a wife.”

Change Your Mentality

In high school I was always the “friend”.  But when I went to college I made a conscious commitment.  I was not going to seek out girls as friends.  Now this didn’t mean that I had no female friends.  But I was not going to be “that” guy.  And you know what happened?  I had a lot of dates.  Most of them went no where.  In an ironic twist my best female friend in college by far was girl who I met on a date.  We both decided it wasn’t going anywhere.  But you know what? She respected me and our friendship because she knew I wasn’t “just a friend”.

This leads to my final point:

Get Out Of Any Friend Zone Relationships Now

If you are friend zoned with someone, just end it.  Stop being a buddy to the girl you want to date.  It takes way too much of your time, energy, thought life, and heart.  It’s unhealthy, keeps you from pursing other women, and it’s not going to suddenly change.  You’re worth more and frankly so is she.  Move on.

People have asked me, how do I get our of the friend zone with this particular person.  My answer every time is simple.  Just stop doing it.  Walk away.  In a sense, break up.  It is the only way.  There’s an outside chance (extremely remote) that it might eventually make you more attractive to her but that can’t even be the goal.  Move on.  Just do it brother.  It’s not complicated.  Do you want her respect or her acceptance?

Do what it takes.  If that means switching community groups do it.  If it means taking her number out of phone or de-freinding her on FB, do it.  If it means not talking to her at all, do it.  Whatever it takes.  Do it and do it now.  You don’t owe her or anyone else the self flagellation.  You really don’t.

Picture from Coloring From Grown Ups

If Only Christian Men Would Ask Us Out

One of the things I’ve heard over and over in recent years in the Christian circle of singles is, “Why don’t Christian guys ask the Christian girls out?”  This can be said several ways but the message is essentially that guys should “man up” and ask out all the Christian girls regardless of who the women are.  Some even go so far as to say essentially, “This is why Christian women end up dating non-Chrisitan men.”  According to these folks, if all the Christian guys would just ask women on dates then everything would work out.

There is so much here.  It’s a mess.

The Christian dating culture has made this so complicated and confusing.  And as a guy it’s really hard to navigate that culture.  In the secular culture its much more cut and dry when it comes to asking people out (or hooking up as the case may be).

Not so for us. On the one hand we are supposed to only ask people out that we think we can marry because marriage is the goal.  Now some women and Christian leaders say you should basically not ask anyone on a date without knowing this and of course, be sure to guard her heart.  Of course this is fairly impossible.

Then there are those that say, we can causally date at first.  How else can we get to know each other.  But here’s the thing, if you casually date more than one person in your church or community it can cause all sorts of problems.  It only takes one person to feel scorned to mess up your whole standing as a guy.

So we’ve got two constantly conflicting messages.  One side says nothing casual is ok and the other side says, just date around, it’s all good – as long as it’s “Christian”.  How do we know which girl you are?*

All of this makes men hesitant, both because they are confused about what is right** and by what is expected.  I know it did me.  When I was dating I pretty much took my chances anywhere other than my own church. I’m not saying that was right, but that’s how it felt.

The second factor at play here is that a lot of guys have never been taught how to be effective in talking with women.  The church likes to say man up and ask girls out, but they are short on help on how to do that in any sort of effective way.

So what happens is “nice” Christian guys go about it all wrong, it doesn’t work and then they get frustrated, quit trying or keep failing.  We need to teach men the truth about attraction, how to handle it, and how to approach women.  Not doing this in our current environment puts them at a disadvantage.

This leads to point three.  This is the idea that these poor Christian women just never get asked out by Christian men.  The women are of course more spiritual, out number the men and are frankly just the victims of our Christian guys not being man enough.  The general idea is that if Christian men were better men then all of these women would date them.

Look, there are some women who aren’t asked out at all. Some women need to think about how they present themselves and their own social skills.  Some really are a victim of sorts because they are choosing to modest and chaste and want to be a good Christian wife and are losing out to others.  Fair enough.

However, when a lot of Christian women (read most) say, “No one asks me out” what they mean is, “no one I’m attracted to asks me out.”  You see women don’t want to be asked out by just any guy. They can say that they want a “good Christian guy” but what they mean is that they want a guy that they are attracted to, who also is a good Christian guy. Now I’m not necessarily saying anything is wrong with that.  But the truth is that we do a terrible job of dealing with women and how attraction works for them.  We don’t teach guys the truth of how it works and we aren’t honest with what women really mean.  We rarely challenge women in this.

Finally, this idea that Christian men not asking out Christian women as the reason that Christian women date non-Christians is a complete joke. We are constantly rescuing women from responsibility. How heroic.  Here’s the bottom line.  People typically date who they are attracted to.  At that point they either use Christian as qualifier of not.  That is why it is important to manage attraction and desire, not just give into it.

I have no problem saying that a lot of Christian men need to take initiative, quit worrying about it and make a move, if you want to ask someone out, I’d do it.  I get that there are men who are hesitant, but I think it has more to do with confidence than courage, more to do with effectiveness than effort.

But we must stop blaming men alone for the problem.  We are all part of the mess and it is not a quick fix.  We keep dealing with about 1/10th of the picture and that isn’t going to cut it.

 

 

* The best plan is to ignore all of this and focus on what works.  More soon

**As a simple example of recent “Christian messages” – This guy says, just go out causally, while this one says we need to stop being casual – why would be confused?

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.