Pages

Friday, December 22, 2006

Getting Serious About Getting Married: Rethinking the Gift of Singleness, by Debbie Maken



This is one of those books that you know will offend half the population. It's one of those books that you almost don't want to review for fear of forming a firm opinion on the subject and offending your (single) friends by sharing your thoughts on it.

I confess I like debate and therefore I was eager to get my hands on a copy of this. Just by asking for a few people's thoughts on the mere title and description produced something of an uproar. This book is titled to incite a certain rage and not a mere smidgen of conversation. And well it should. It's written to provoke thought and discussion on the issue of singleness and it does that very well.

I also confess that I picked up this book fully intending to disagree with Maken point blank. I can't say I agree with her totally, but I think she makes her points well enough that I'd be stupid to say I disagree with her completely.

There's a lot to discuss and debate concerning this book. I would have to write a whole new book in order to adequately cover the ground that she did. As this is supposed to be just a review, I will try to keep myself to some main points.

Her position is this: most people were meant to be married. Only a tiny, tiny percentage of the population were called to be celibate (and she draws a distinction between celibacy and singleness). She also states that marriage should happen earlier on in one's life (early 20's) rather than later. She argues that prolonged singleness is unbiblical.

She states that there would be three reasons why a man would not be called to marriage and she poses it in the form of this question: What kind of eunuch is he? Is he that way by birth, by force, or by calling? She argues that unless a man falls into one of these three caveats, he is most definitely called to marriage and should be pursuing it. She argues that to do less (by decision or whimsy) is irresponsible and -- unbiblical.

She is NOT advocating early marriages (in the teenage years). She is not advocating marrying for anything "less than love" (my quote, not hers). She is not arguing for arranged or forced marriages. She does advocate free will in entering into a relationship. She does encourage marrying at the "peak" of one's life (sexually) -- where women are most fertile. She does not give parents all the authority in the process, but she does (strongly) encourage their involvement.

As there are so many points to cover, I will limit myself to telling you where and how she changed my mind in one particular area.

For most of the book I felt she spent her time man-bashing. Not in a vicious way. Perhaps even unconsciously. Whatever the case, it bothered me. She blamed men for being shifty when it came to offering firm leadership in the area of relationships. She argued that they spend their 20's trying to "keep their options open" by spending time pursuing many rounds of education, by insisting on traveling, by playing video games or dating around and claiming that they are "just not ready" to get married (thereby gaining some of the perks of marriage without having to produce the commitment). She argues vehemently against them being allowed to offer excuses as to why NOT to marry. At first I was thinking thoughts along the lines of "Well, everyone is different. Some people truly need time to mature and figure out where it is they are going in life." And for some people I'd say that may be true. However, she convinced me that such excuses should not be widely accepted.

Now, here is where I risk offending. But since she already did, I guess I'll just hop on board. I think many single guys ARE wasting their time AND much time of the single women that I happen to know. They want "friendships" without strings. They want to be able to call and talk to girls at their convenience without being tied down. They want to reach a certain level of "earthly success" which, let's face it, no one knows if they'll ever reach. They want to wait until age 30+ before settling down. By so doing, their female counter-parts have pretty much been made to sit around waiting for Mr. Selfish to finish up whatever it was he thought he needed to do for him. If facts are facts (and I'll be funny and say that they are) - women's fertility levels DO decrease the further into their 30's that men make them wait. So by refusing to marry in their 20's (for whatever reason) they are denying women the blessing of being able to bear and raise children. If you are scratching your head over that one -- I'd say denying a woman the right to a family is a bad thing. Particularly as that is what the large majority of women want to be able to do in this lifetime. Myself included!

She argues that prolonged singleness is not only unfair to women but it essentially breaks down society as the population dwindles. (That is, after all, a natural result of fewer children.) Women are also emotionally scared as they must spent 5-10 extra years suppressing feelings and desires which internally drive them. Women were made to be man's help meet. They were made to be life givers and nurturers. To refuse to step up and husband them in an appropriate manner takes away their ability to fulfill God's mission for them. God did not give Adam his Eve for a "best pal"! She wasn't sent for him to talk to just whenever her got the urge, or to go shoot some pool with him when he decided that he was tired of playing his video game. She wasn't around to just "grab a beer" with every now and again. No. She was given to him in order that he might have a serious, committed relationship. One that was to be productive on every level and the only way that they could reach that level of productivity was to be married.

In the book she quotes Martin Luther, which I will also do here:

"Many think they can evade marriage by having their fling for a time, and then becoming righteous . . . If one in a thousand succeeds in this, that would be doing very well. He who intends to lead a chaste life had better begin early, and attain it not with but without fornication, either by the grace of God or through marriage . . .
Why should one not forestall immorality by means of marriage? For if special grace does not exempt a person, his nature must and will compel him to produce seed and multiply. If this does not occur in marriage, how else can it occur except in fornication and secret sins?
But, they say, suppose I am neither married nor immoral, and force myself to remain content? Do you not hear that restraint is impossible without special grace? For God's word does not admit of restraint, neither does it lie when it says, 'Be fruitful and multiply' . . . You can neither escape nor restrain yourself from being fruitful and multiplying; it is God's ordinance and takes its course . . .
Whoever finds himself unsuited to the celibate life should see to it right away that he has something to do and to work at it; then let him strike out in God's name and get married."


Now where does this leave the single woman who really does not have complete control over whether or not she marries today or 20 years from now? In a rough spot. Especially when it is her great desire to love and be loved in return. By a man.

Maken recognizes that women do not have the control that they and their families once did over finding a mate. It's not as if its a common practice for a woman to go up and ask a man out to dinner. Frankly, that's frowned upon (and I think it should be). But there are some safe guards that Maken mentions that both puts the female in a position to be in a relationship, and yet limits the access that any man has to her without a commitment.

Maken offers a few suggestions I don't like and/or agree with (like the idea that a single woman must or should live in her parents home until marriage). But she does offer one that I thought was very smart. That is: when a man asks a single woman out, she should ask him exactly what his intentions are. Now, this requires some bravery for most girls I know! All the same, I feel it is important. It puts the guy on the spot. Is he looking for a fling? A good time? You'll soon find out. And it'll put him on guard that he's not to waste the girl's time. So many times guys just want someone to "have" to pal around with and take out every now and again. I've heard the excuse that it "helps them feel like a gentleman." HOGWASH. If a guy takes a girl out, she's automatically questioning the outcome of that one date. Where is it going to go? Maken says (and I wholeheartedly agree) that one date should give you an idea if you want it to go anywhere and by two you should know for sure. She recommends finding out what the guy's intentions are from the get-go and then mutually agreeing upon a time table for any dating relationship to occur. She recommends three months as being adequate time to know whether or not you could see yourself married to this person. If you can't, then you should end the relationship. By agreeing on a time frame, the chances of anyone being hurt or misled is greatly diminished. Also, the girl's time isn't wasted. How many stories have you heard where the guy dated the girl for years without committing to anything? Then suddenly - one day - it's over? (And btw, I am so absolutely 100% not referring to teenage relationships. Those are just ridiculously silly and should never be entered into. If I hear one more teenage girl complaining that her silly boyfriend broke up with her and now she's 18 and lonely, I'll scream. At 18 he was never in a position to do anything about their relationship. And if she was smart enough, she'd have realized earlier that teenagers don't commit to anything serious. I am only referring to adult relationships ( i.e., post 20) when commitments CAN [and should] be made!) Oh and btw, if a couple knows they are going to get married at some point in time -- no matter what the age -- Maken recommends marriage. To quip: Life is too short. Make the most of it. Yes, marriage is hard work. But anything worth having requires a bit of work and effort. To stall or delay because something seems "hard" is stupid. (I have to agree, of course!)

Needless to say, I could go on and on concerning this topic. But I'll refrain. I think Maken presented a great argument to challenge present day relationships. She calls for a return to a time when people married early and walked through life together, pursuing the same goals. Not waiting until your individual goals have been met -- alone. But togetherness. Wholeness. This book is a challenge. It absolutely is. And at times it is most unpleasant. But I think its valid and deserves attention.

So I double dog dare you to read it. And let me know what you think.

70 comments:

Sherry said...

The problem I see in our church is that most families discourage dating. So the guys are free to "be friends" with girls, maybe even one particular girl, on their own terms, without even making the commitment of asking for a date. The kids spend time together in groups; guys and grils are friends. But the guys have a very hard time knowing how to take any relationship to the next level. And mostly they don't. So the girls are single. And I'm talking about young people in their twenties and even thirties sometimes.

Carol in Oregon said...

Carrie, you did an excellent job reviewing this book. I haven't read it (yet) but I am intrigued.

I have seen upclose the heartache of "pal" relationships which go nowhere, the false intimacy of late-night phone calls, the feeding of certain masculine desires with no intention of committment. I've seen selfish behavior on both sides, guy and gal; they will grab at relationsips that are going nowhere instead of insisting on direction.

On the other, happier side, (and this will sound boastful, I'm sorry) my two older sons married at 21 and 22. One thing that may have spurred this on was our expectation that they be independent of us relatively early. We cautioned them against putting money into cars (their preference) and urged them to start saving money for a down-payment on a house.

I can count five absolutely beautiful, godly, accomplished women in their late twenties who desire to be married. These would be excellent wives. Where are the men?

Carrie said...

Carol-

YES! I know a handful of beautiful, godly, wonderful women in their mid to late 20's also. (And I know where a few of the men are that aren't doing diddly squat about it.) It's maddening and discouraging. I married in my mid-20's but my husband is younger than I, so that worked out well for me! =) We just had our first kid (a son) and we are of the same mindset as you -- encourage him to be independant of us early. There seems to be less dawdling about when a guy is on his own from an early age. Responsibilty kicks in. Those that linger in their mommy & daddy's homes seem to take longer going anywhere -- something we'd like to avoid!

Sherry - Maken also discussed the downfall of "groups" of any sort which foster loose friendships without specifics. I had never thought of that being an issue before but I can look back in my past, and look around me today, and see how that gives a guy more freedom with his female counterparts than perhaps he should have!

Agreed.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Carrie. I hadn't even heard of this book, but I love how you jump in not fearing debate. I love that about you.

I also agree with singleness being a man's issue--meaning that many people are single, because men refuse to grow up. My friend was biblically divorced (and against her wishes) in her early thirties, and has enountered several men who are in their early 40's, never married, and claim to be looking for a wife. . . .

Have a Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Good argument and comments. There are a lot of points that you made that I agree with. But before I can make any good comments I want to read the book. Know where I can get it for cheap!

~Nicole

Carrie said...

Amazon.com is the cheapest.

I did check Parable here in town and while they don't have it in stock, they can order it.

Another option is through Canon Press. I bet www.cbd.com would have it also.

Captain Sensible said...

Oh it is so good to see this book getting the positive recognition that it warrants! Great review too :)
In addition to buying Maken's book, obviously, check out my blog if you are interested in joining the movement to "rethink the gift of singleness"!

sallie said...

I think its true that men refuse to grow up. I do see where Debbie Maken seems a little rough on men, but they need to understand responsibility.

I myself was dating a wonderful man but had to break things off because he wanted to put off commitment for a few months. I know I really hurt him and he isn't seeing anyone else, but it is important to set some guidelines and stick to them.

Maken is right about dating purposefully and marrying within a short span of time. Otherwise, it is just a friendship instead of marriage.

Anonymous said...

I just finished this book. It is very good advice. So many Christian women are single past fertility and miss out on children and a husband.

I do fear that many women will wait too long for that perfect man who may not exist. Lots of women in my church group find themselves turning forty and realizing the good men they turned away earlier are now happily with someone else. Yet they still turn away men who may be 99% of what they want, but it's never enough.

I'm so glad I'm getting married this Spring at the ripe old age of 33. Better late than never!

Tracey, South Padre Island, TX

Carrie said...

Tracey,

Hmm. I do hesitate to be too harsh with "picky women." Mainly because I was one myself! And many, many people told me I would never meet anyone who had certain attributes on my list. But walla! I married a man (when I was 26) who matched up very well and I'm extremely happy. There's something to be said for picky.

And because I grew up near Padre Island I find it VERY hard to fault those women!! =D I was very picky when I lived THERE.

Carrie said...

p.s. Congratulations though. (Meant to say that in my last comment.)

Mark said...

I have one main disagreement with the book (having not read it): That so many people make money pitting one group of Christians (happily single) versus everyone else by writing this kind of stuff (whatever happened to missions, Christian discipleship, our role as salt in society, etc, as main topics of Christian discourse?).

Before I go on, the general annoyance expressed in this post is not directed toward the posters, and certainly not Carrie and Jonathan (who both pre and post wedding have shown a remarkable amount of common sense on such topics, not to mention an amazing tolerance for me).

An interesting discussion that arises in Christian circles fixated on marriage issues, is the belief that single =lack of purpose. In all of the commands in scripture that indicate imperative direction for all believers, marrying does not exist. Yet there are hundreds of commands that we are all called follow. But over the last ten years in particular, this issue seems to get far more than it's fair share of press.

Here's a dirty little secret: The shortage of marriagable man material is not my fault (or single Christian guys like me).

The fact of that matter is, there just are not enough mature Christian guys, single or otherwise, to go around.

That's a missionary issue, a discipleship issue, a salt and light issue.

And while I'm at it, is the apparent existence of more "christian" girls wanting to get married because (1) there are more committed Christian young women than men, or (2) is it that there is a larger category of young women who wish to find someone consistent with their family christian identity without being particularly committed on their own?

Studies have shown that if guys aren't on fire for God, they're gone. But lots of women stay involved in Christian circles because it gives them a sense of community and belonging. If it's the latter, that just means there's a large pool of combined committed Christian and traditional christian girls to be sorted through. Yet somehow the somewhat limited pool of Christian single men is blamed for creating this Christian www.match.com discrepancy.

So why this fixation on trying to give a guilt trip to those who get past the early twenties without diving into marriage (and believe me, that's the most tempting part of life to get through) with your individual status still intact?

Sometimes it seems like a continuation of the trend of women to blame men for all of life's problems.

Maybe God's will for your friend Joe is to actually be single until he's thirty-five (or forty, or to float right into the after life completely ring free). Did you ever think about that? And maybe by telling him that he really should find a nice girl and settle down you're messing with God's will.

The whole "guys should get married early" movement also seems to lack discrimination. Or at least it does not allow us to discriminate.

I'm hoping that no one seriously wants guys running around holding their heart in their hands out for any slightly available girl to break.

Guarding your heart may sound somewhat old fashioned, but I would even argue that it should apply to both genders.

So really, how in the world is a guy supposed to be asked to marry earlier without having a less strict criteria for what he is looking for?

Certainly some of us have said that we would not look for a wife until we accomplished certain things first. But beyond that, once we are open to finding a wife, isn't there room to be picky?

Or is there a fairly broad category of women called "marriageable Christian girl" where we should flop our net into the tank, pull one out and take her home just as soon as we can pay the electric bill?

Don't get me wrong. There's plenty of extremely eligible, very high quality women out there. But does recognizing that fact about an individual woman make her the one for you? That's silly.

Besides the quantifying qualities that may or may not match up with what fits your personality, there's also the intangibles. Quite frankly, there are probably several girls who score extremely high on the quantifying qualities list in every man's life. But does that mean that the intangibles match up? Can you even say why the intangibles do or do not match up? How much of that do you control?

And what about the all too common mistake of a guy (or girl) getting caught up in the intangibles (a large part of which is chemistry) and justifying the relationship as God's will despite all evidence to the contrary?

By telling a guy that he should marry early or fostering the tendency that many have to like girls very easily in their early twenty's to the point of being somewhat vulnerable, you're actually nudging them toward overlooking the quantifying qualities. Is that what women really want? A guy who makes decisions exclusively with his heart?

Life with purpose is not a marriage category. It does not mean you marry young, or that you put it off. It just means that you seek God's will.

While I can philosophically understand that the biological clock looms large in any single girls mind (my best friend for most of life was/is my sister, who made it to 32 before marriage, with occasional long conversations with her bachelor brother to remind him that if she couldn't come through he would have grandchild creating responsibilities for the Richard Bigger family), blaming men for not making the decision to get married earlier is a cop out that will probably lead to men retaining their status of scapegoat until the day you die.

Please, don't blame us.

And if you do blame us, please don't do so with absolutely horrible circular logic. You may just get what you wish for. The whole "Christian guys are so immature that its hard to get them to commit to marriage" thing is laughable if it wasn't so sad. Do you want to marry an immature Christian guy? Because quite frankly, that happens all the time and as a general rule I really don't see it as improving the Christian life.

Please don't dispute the following points:
1. Not all single guys are immature.
2. Not all married guys are mature.
3. Trying to make an immature guy mature by marrying him is not likely to be a successful social experiment.
4. Just because a single guy is mature (more or less) does not necessarily mean that it is God's will to marry in the short term.

We live in a materialistic, fast food, impatient, and non-trusting society.

Isn't there an aspect of the "get married early" crowd that has bought into that?

God laughs at our little fixations on a few years.

He's eternal.

Perhaps we should spend more time dwelling on His eternity than our matrimonial status.

Cameron said...

"Not all single guys are immature."

Thanks for saying that. I'm cautious by nature, but willing to commit. Women sometimes think a man is resistant to commit for financial reasons, or for personal immaturity.

Sometimes, he simply wants to be able to support a woman in a way she deserves. Lots of men take time to build a career, but few women have the patience to wait for him - even if the waiting time is only a few months.

It's a shame. Especially when he is ready to commit on every other level.

Maybe the churches are right to discourage dating and encourage Christian friendship. I'll never give my heart to a Christian woman again after the brutal rejection I got. The woman I loved knew I was ready to commit, yet simply walked away because everything didn't exactly match her expectations.

Oh, well. Life goes on.

Anonymous said...

Mark - I really do suggest you read this book. You might be surprised to find it offers a perspective that you weren't expecting. I know -- you probably don't want to spend the money on a "singles" book, and no doubt would be very embarrassed to be seen reading it. Am I right? ;)
I can't really help you with the first part, but you could always rip the cover off easily enough? Or hide it inside a copy of Car Monthly, or whatever it is you guys like to read!
Seriously -- please read it? And then give us your opinion? If nothing else, it is causing quite a stir, so it would be good to have an informed opinion, wouldn't it?

Jonathan said...

Hey Mark -

Having not read the book either, I feel perfectly justified in arguing its content with you. :-)

Although your post makes some very good points, I think you're debating against a straw man.

1. Nobody recommends marrying an immature guy, Christian or no. The point made in the book is that by immature guys dating at all, they are doing women a disservice by wasting their time and drawing them into relationships which don't have much to look forward to.

2. Nobody, bar none, can justly gainsay a mature Christian guy who is actively seeking and following the will of God. To generically insist that they all "just get married!" as nothing more than a service to femalehood and fertility makes no sense at all, and nobody's doing that. If a guy is mature but chooses to remain single for a time, then one would hope that he would not be frivolously "dating". If he is interested in getting married, than a mature Godly man will likely not waste his time when he finds the right candidate. The book serves to encourage mature guys to stick to one of these two paths and not try to play fast and loose in the meantime just because their age and society permits it.

Yes, our culture is experiencing a dearth of solid Christian men, which makes the casual dating attitude amongst the more common immature (or maybe "partially mature") Christian guys doubly frustrating to women who are more spiritually in tune with where their lives are headed. Hence people write books like this.

Carrie said...

The only thing I would add is (another point Maken argues) that God made us all relational. We weren't created to live alone. It's hard for anyone to say that they would choose to live all by themselves without any human interaction. Since we are, by nature, designed both to want and need others, and most people do desire intimacy with another person, marriage is often the best option for that.

Also, God explains many of His attributes in light of a familial relationship (i.e., father/son, bride/bridegroom). These examples are far better understood in light of one's own relationship with another in the same fashion. Suddenly things click and make sense!

While I'm as pleased as punch to fall in Mark's "reasonable" catagory (that's no small compliment and I know it) I'm still suggesting marriage is the better option for most people. I think God is in full support of it and is pleased when people follow after His design for them. So while singleness isn't to be dogged, I also don't think marriage is. And, I think marriage is the better state. For so many reasons.

I REALLY appreciate your comment, Mark. It lends balance. Plus I would have hard time blasting you to bits because I know your position. Also, you are completely respectable. Respectibility ELUDES so many single guys. But not you. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe the shortage of marriage-minded Christian men is as severe as many think.

Lots of women become very over-active in the church; Carolyn McCulley comes to mind - so much so that they appear as perfect "church ladies"; completely unapproachable and too religious to simply enjoy a conversation with a man without visualizing Jesus standing between the two with a judging sneer.

Maken is right to attack the Gift of Singleness as a misinterpretation used to humor these non-romantic women.

A decision must be made; either actively search for an evangelical minister to marry, or be content with a good man who goes to church on Sunday. Not every single Christian man is going to be a walking/talking apostle of God with every waking breath. Too many women are looking for this.

Nothing is more pathetic than a woman over 35 who gets stars in her eyes over her church's pastor, yet ignores lots of men who otherwise would have asked her out on a date.

Maybe the problem is that too many women are choosing to be "pals" with good available men while waiting for Mr. Wonderful to come along. If you continually turn away men who are almost perfect, you may find your time has run out; those almost perfect guys have gone away. What will you do then? Buy Debbie Maken's book and nod approvingly as she attacks men?

I would be very wary of taking advice from women who married late and seem to fundamentally distrust the motives of decent Christian men. While McCulley teaches women how to be a man-repelling church lady, Maken's book is a primer on avoiding all but 100% perfect men.

Seems like a recipe for permanent singleness.

Anonymous said...

Hang on! This is madness:

"Maybe the problem is that too many women are choosing to be "pals" with good available men while waiting for Mr. Wonderful to come along. If you continually turn away men who are almost perfect..."

Where does this Anonymous live? Because obviously that planet is far more appealing to me than Earth is!

It is the men that are choosing to be "pals" with the women, instead of being purposeful about finding a wife. It is up to the men to lead a friendship on to another level, and they are just not doing it.

Honestly, women are not continually turning away men that are "almost perfect"! Every woman must have laughed out loud reading this!

Anonymous said...

Jonathan and Carrie have made some excellent points.

But I would like to raise issue with some other things Mark (who hasn't read the book!) says, so I copied and pasted the comment and have added a few notes. Hope it isn't too hard to follow!

Actually, Debbie Maken's book is the ONLY one that speaks against this "singleness contentment" doctrine that seems to have gripped the church.

There are however lots of books that aim to tell singles (women, primarily) how to be content as a single, even though it goes against their very nature. The reason these books sell, sadly, is along similar lines to the reason that anti-wrinkle creams work. They know that last one they bought didn't work, but they will try this new one because it promises some new magic ingredient! And before you dismiss women as shallow for falling for this trick, please remember in relation to singleness, women have been made to feel guilty - sinful even - for being discontented with their singleness. So they buy these books in a way as a means of trying to please God.

Regarding your comment "whatever happened to missions, Christian discipleship, our role as salt in society, etc, as main topics of Christian discourse?" well, you know the bookshops contain those books too! You pays your money, you takes your choice! But you know, if you had read Debbie Maken's book, you would see that singleness/marriage actually impacts those things as well. It impacts a person's whole life, and therefore, it affects their entire Christian walk.

Interesting you say that in all of the commands that indicate direction for all believers, marrying does not exist. Really? Then your Bible is somewhat different to mine! In mine we are instructed to go forth and multiply; be fruitful and fill the earth; marry and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage so that they too may have sons and daughters (that one comes from Jeremiah 29 in case you are not familiar with it. Just before the "I know the plans I have for you" promise which everyone knows, but somehow not many people are aware of the instruction that comes before it!)

What Debbie Maken also does is commend those that have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom. She is just making a differentiation between those people, and the vast majority that haven't renounced marriage for a good reason - they just have been playing around with dating and having lots of female friends - some of whom they may (inadvertently) have led on to believe the friendship might develop into something more.

You say "over the last ten years in particular, this issue seems to get far more than its fair share of press." There is a reason for this. The newfangled notion of a gift of singleness and the idea that we should just "wait on the Lord" and "trust in God" to bring our spouse to us, is very new. Just the lifetime of this current generation. It in fact closely mirrors our culture when increasing numbers of people are remaining single. It is a new Christian school of thought, that bears no relation to traditional Christianity.

You say: "The shortage of marriagable man material is not my fault (or single Christian guys like me)...The fact of that matter is, there just are not enough mature Christian guys, single or otherwise, to go around. That's a missionary issue, a discipleship issue, a salt and light issue."

Well, it is all of our problem collectively as the Body of Christ. If we are trying to make an impact into society without the traits of boldness, leadership, courage etc that a full component of men would bring to it, then it is no wonder we struggle as we do. Plus of course, it is devastating for Christian women, a proportion of whom may need to remain barren spinsters all their lives, whilst all around them, women that are atheist, agnostic, or followers of other religions, are all being fruitful and multiplying!

But also, I think men choosing to be single has something to do with this too. God drives home in Scripture that it is not good for man to be alone, and that he who finds a wife finds a good thing and receives favour from the Lord. I think what often happens when men remain single is that they don't function very well. For whatever reason, women seem to be able to cope better as singles than men do. So the men in particular become very inward-looking, and I believe this has an effect on their ability to outreach to their peers. All too often, young single Christian men are not involved in many church activities, so "outreach" ends up focusing on things like family fun days, or children's ministries. None of these particularly attract men, but the church is doing what it can with the members that are most active ie. the women! There may also be an issue here with regard to Christian men that don't have a God-given outlet for their sexuality, ending up using pornography. I get the impression this is a bigger problem with single Christian men than the church cares to acknowledge. This again may mean that the men do not feel inspired towards outreach, when they are struggling with issues of sexual sin.

As to your point about "Christian" girls not being particularly committed, I am really not sure I understand this point. You say "lots of women stay involved in Christian circles because it gives them a sense of community and belonging."
I think in any church there are a mix of committed and less so people, and yes, we all want to meet someone that shares the same commitment ideally. But I don't see the point you are making here, sorry.

Moving on, you say "why this fixation on trying to give a guilt trip to those who get past the early twenties without diving into marriage." Well, I think you know the answer here. The biological clock! God also talks about the "wife of your youth" five times in the Bible. There are good reasons for starting a family young. It is healthier for mother and baby, and in most cases it means that grandparents and even great-grandparents can play an active role. I believe I am right in saying that women's fertility actually begins to decline from about the age of 28 or so. We know that God desires "godly children" and it seems to me that we are just following the pattern of our culture rather than Scripture in marrying later, if at all.

Let's also be very careful when we talk about "God's will". God's will is not a rubber stamp approval on what may be erroneous decisions on the part of the individual or collectively. The primary source for discerning God's will is the Bible, and there it seems clear that other than a few exceptions, it is God's will for us to expand the Kingdom through marriage and godly children.

The one thing that I do agree with is the importance of guarding our hearts, and yes, that should apply to both genders.

With regard to this comment: "how in the world is a guy supposed to be asked to marry earlier without having a less strict criteria for what he is looking for?" I think a balance comes into play. Being a realist is also an issue! If either a man or woman is waiting for God to send them the perfect man/woman, then the chances are they will be waiting the rest of their lives for "God's will" to be done! Yes, you can call it being "picky" if you like, and of course, to a degree there is nothing wrong with that. But all I am saying is there needs to be a balance.

I think we also need to exercise caution with regard to this comment: "Certainly some of us have said that we would not look for a wife until we accomplished certain things first." We need to really examine our hearts and again, a balance needs to come into play here. No one is arguing foregoing a graduate education for example. But we have to ask some serious questions about a God-honouring lifestyle if we still feel we are not ready for marriage way into our 20s, 30s or even beyond.

Sure, I agree that the "intangibles" that you mention are important. But again - an element of realism is required here. I am all for falling in love! This is slightly off the point here, but I do feel that one of the dangers of this big emphasis on being "friends" is that by being over-familiar with someone, you soon see them in a less than perfect light. Now, obviously this is not a bad thing when considering a spouse, but if a person was dating rather than being friends, then the close emotional intimacy, and to a degree, the physical intimacy, would bond them to each other so that has a chance of leading somewhere. That doesn't happen with friendship, and so the other person is already written off before they are even really given a serious consideration. Well, that's just my current theory - I may be wrong on this!

You then go on to say: "And what about the all too common mistake of a guy (or girl) getting caught up in the intangibles (a large part of which is chemistry) and justifying the relationship as God's will despite all evidence to the contrary?" Well, obviously wisdom and prayer need to play a part. But you know, if two people are both committed Christians, and also in love with each other, then to be honest, they will both be heading in the same direction in life as far as the important stuff goes. Whose to say they won't work out all the stuff in between?

You then say: "By telling a guy that he should marry early or fostering the tendency that many have to like girls very easily in their early twenty's to the point of being somewhat vulnerable, you're actually nudging them toward overlooking the quantifying qualities. Is that what women really want? A guy who makes decisions exclusively with his heart?" You see, at the moment we are going too far in the other direction. And actually, we are in danger of having so many "quantifying qualities" that in the end, we all remain single because no one could ever match all of them!

Then you say: "Life with purpose is not a marriage category. It does not mean you marry young, or that you put it off. It just means that you seek God's will." You are making marriage and God's will out to be two opposing forces. Have you thought that by being purposeful about marriage you may actually be fulfilling God's will? That is what the Bible indicates, in my opinion.

Oh and this is just precious! "While I can philosophically understand that the biological clock looms large in any single girls mind" Of course it does! This is the reality of God's design, and it cannot be ignored!

It's also very easy to say: "blaming men for not making the decision to get married earlier is a cop out that will probably lead to men retaining their status of scapegoat until the day you die" and then "Please, don't blame us." The reason women "blame" men is because it is the male role to lead a woman to marriage. It's not up to the women to do this! There is nothing malicious or vindictive about this. Are you saying we should be blaming women for not leading men to marriage in a timely fashion?

Regarding maturity/immaturity, men need to be told that it is not godly to extend their adolescence so far into adulthood. To an extent, I do believe marriage does mature a person. Put simply, if a man has a wife and baby to support, he is not going to be spending his money on the "boys toys" that grown men are so fond of these days!

Now, as to these points that we shouldn't dispute!

1. Not all single guys are immature. (No one is saying ALL, but yes, certainly the vast majority are I believe)

2. Not all married guys are mature. (Again, no one is saying ALL, but yes, marriage does mature a person, like in the manner I exampled previously)

3. Trying to make an immature guy mature by marrying him is not likely to be a successful social experiment. (God said a man needs a wife. A woman can achieve a lot through marriage in terms of maturing a man!)

4. Just because a single guy is mature (more or less) does not necessarily mean that it is God's will to marry in the short term. (Again, enough of the "God's will" as a frequent excuse for lazy/immature or just downright bad behaviour!)

You also say: "We live in a materialistic, fast food, impatient, and non-trusting society. Isn't there an aspect of the "get married early" crowd that has bought into that?" Actually, I would say it was the other way around. It is our materialistic, non-trusting etc society that encourages the delay of marriage. God's plan is for procreation. And He has given women a biological clock. He has also given both men and women a sex drive. So it is not "impatience" that should cause us to seek marriage in a timely fashion. It is accordance with God's design.

Finally, I love this comment! "God laughs at our little fixations on a few years. He's eternal. Perhaps we should spend more time dwelling on His eternity than our matrimonial status."

Our "fixation on a few years" is a) because of the biological clock and b) I would argue that marriage makes us more able to focus on the Lord and matters of eternity! We are made in the image of God - both male and female. To try and struggle through life as a single person is actually far less fruitful, not to mention the cost to the Kingdom in terms of fewer children. It's good stewarding of our bodies, as Debbie Maken says in her latest article on her blog.

Come to think of it, the stewardship of my time would have been a lot better by simply saying: Mark, please go read the book!
:)

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Maken's advice works for everyone. Sometimes marriage is better when one is older, sometimes younger.

I would be careful of some writers. I really believe those who support the Gift of Singleness idea are really content to be "church ladies" throughout life, with no men to date or marry. If being single is a gift, one doesn't have to date anymore.

Anonymous said...

I don't like Maken's approach. If I meet a woman who immediately "brands" me as a eunuch because I'm not married, I'm hardly going to feel postively toward her.

Also- having children doesn't solve all of life's problems. Ask any marriage counselor, 60% of marriages fail when children come along - 80% of those divorces are initiated by women.

No judging going on here, just reality. The problem isn't men=bad, women=good. There are other things going on.

Anonymous said...

"The reason women "blame" men is because it is the male role to lead a woman to marriage. It's not up to the women to do this! There is nothing malicious or vindictive about this. Are you saying we should be blaming women for not leading men to marriage in a timely fashion?"

No, men don't blame women at all. We simply know the reality. We cannot be the perfectly hyper-religious and wealthy men you envision.

Perhaps men would commit much more frequently if women didn't instigate 85% of all divorces?

I've begun to notice lots of similarities between Christian women and secular feminists. Both groups see men doing wrong and needing to change. Whatever men do, it is never enough. The laws are stacked against men and women are free to divorce and collect spousal support for decades.

How about this proposal: Get YOUR house in order first, then come and talk to us.

Carrie said...

Pardon me for laughing at the latest string of Anon comments. Come on, people. The point of the book isn't to attack anyONE (sex) per se. It was to attack the idea that our modern culture supports of putting off marraige indefinitely, waiting for.....what? The "What" is different for everyone, I think.

I made the point in my original post that I was disturbed by the apparent man-bashing contained in the book. Then I explained how her arguments agianst what I shall now term "The Lazy Man" (hereinafter: "TLM") actually makes sense in light of what is blatently obivious to most females. Men play games. (Yes, you can also say that women play games. Ever since I began reading this book I was trying to figure out what it is that makes the men want to avoid the women in the first place.) We just play different kinds of games.
Women are more manipulative. Men are more evasive. This definitely creates problems.

The main point, I think that Maken (and myself) is trying to make is that marriage is GOOD and ought not to be delayed for....trips, cars, fourth degrees, the video game room, etc. If a mature Christian man knows that he eventually wants to get married, to delay the point is counter-productive. (Pardon the pun!) By refusing to get married because he thinks that, in order to get married, he must have $100K in the bank (what woman is looking for that? I dare one to honestly admit that that is the case), be CEO of his own company, have the entire New Testament memorized (what woman can admit the same?) and own a fleet of ships he is rejecting a relationship that God created and ordained. Point blank. Simply put! Likewise, he is refusing some female the right of companionship, intimacy, children and...purpose!

(I don't understand why more women aren't getting mad that they are being "accused" of existing solely for the purpose of children and family. Have you guys that are all up in arms noticed this? We aren't denying that that is what we want. We aren't denying that our Maker made us for this purpose. We are finally being honest and saying, "YES! That IS why I was created and I'm tired of publically denying it! I want to be married!" So you see, we lose either way. We admit we want to be married and the men are all up in arms declaring that its not their responsibility "within the will of God" to husband us. If we deny that our inner nature is to be a wife and mother and insist that we want nothing more than to be friends with the opposite sex, and that we wish to run the world, then the men complain that women aren't interested in old fashioned gentlemen anymore and so you'll have nothing to do with us then. Amazingly enough, women want a return to the truth. They want to go back to the time when love made life worth living. They are tired of pretending that they are ok on their own. We weren't MADE to be alone. That's the point here people. We weren't made to be alone.

And yes, Anon #?, I did laugh at the other Anon who suggested that it is the women who are suggesting that all they want are friendships. Ah, the bliss of the eternal friendship! ;)

For the record, I don't think any woman is out looking to marry the Apostle Paul. (And as he was destined not to marry -- wouldn't that be a tragedy?) And I think pickiness is to be tolerated to a degree. For example, I was once asked out (when I was 22ish) by a single, divorced father of a 6 year old in his mid-30's. I declined his offer. I wanted something more. Am I to be shamed for my pickiness? (I'll laugh at you if you say "yes.") If he had been 25, single, a Christian with a committment to live life as one and showed signs of stability and maturity and I turned him down because I didn't like the color of his hair or I thought his nose was too big THEN you'd have a right to chastise me or any other girl for doing the same. But as that is often not the case - oh well. And guys, just because you ask a girl out doesnt mean she's obligated to say yes. One or two turndowns isn't an assault against you personally. Maybe she had a good reason. Maybe she knew your personalities just didn't match up in the way you thought they did. Instead of feeling sorry for yourselves and turning to video games for consolation, you could keep pressing onward, living your life and enjoying it, until you find someone else you think you might be interested in pursuing a serious relationship with. That's all we're asking.

If you want my latest bash on part of the problem with females in this department -- check out my LATEST blog post on my thoughts on the modern romance novel. I think that's partly what is effecting females in the way that they view males. The sooner we ditch certain of our own faults, the more appealing we might be, eh? I'm willing to say that we need work too. I'm willing to say it, because its the truth.

And although this book is written On Behalf of the Single Female and definitely addresses the issue of the TLM, it is a challenge for BOTH sexes to rethink the issue. After all, it effects everyone, no?

And for those of you who are still commenting without having read the book -- I now TRIPLE dog dare you to read it and then get back to us all. Mwwuuuaaa hhaaa haa!!!

Anonymous said...

www.nomarriage.com

Anonymous said...

Hmm - So Christian women are "waiting" -- sometimes even until they finally become barren -- on a motley crew of misogynists and adultlescents that use "God's will" as an excuse for immature behaviour? I don't think so!
I suggest a twofold approach:
1) Work to realign our approach to marriage in accordance with God's revealed word. One very practical way of doing this is by helping to promote Debbie's book, particularly amongst church leaders. However, it must be acknowledged that this may be more of an investment for future generations of Christian women, than an immediate solution.
2) In the meantime, Christian women could (should???) start dating godly men that would never dream of setting foot inside a church. We have very urgent work to do -- here in the UK at least -- with regard to people's perceptions of church, which are simply horrifying. I have just come back from a date with a guy who believes in God, but never, ever, would he be seen dead inside a church! Well, maybe if he was actually dead, but certainly not whilst living. ;) Oh, except for the fact that he has said "of course" he would come to church with me -- just the one time, mind! Now, even if the relationship doesn't develop, if nothing else, I would have maybe helped him to see what "church" is all about a little more clearly. And who knows what fruit that might reap? Seems to me there is a harvest of men out there in the world that just might be open to the Kingdom, if only someone would reach out to them. Sadly, as has already been pointed out, the Christian men don't appear able to do this, so perhaps it's up to the women? And some of these men just might end up being great husbands. :)
And yes, I know there are problems with this approach. But tell me, does anyone else have a better idea?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

It's good you are at least dating Christian men, even if they refuse to go to church. What matters is beliefs, not chemistry or love. Just try and help him align with your beliefs and you'll have the perfect man.

I married a man who made me laugh, who held me the right way, who shared the same private dreams - you know; real romance, not that dogmatism that most English girls fall into.

Good luck finding a vicar to marry. In the meantime, other women will be taking the princes.

Carrie said...

I'm not going to change my comment settings, but it sure would be nice if all the anon's would at least offer a name.

In the meantime, I have to say that dating guys who "believe in God but won't set foot in a church" in not only dangerous, but borderline stupidity. The Bible clearly states that we are not to forsake the assembly of the saints. Iron sharpens iron. There is a reason for communing within the body of Christ. I, of course, feel sorry for those who, for whatever reason, have chosen to reject the visible church of God here on earth. But I would by NO means encourage a girl to date someone who refuses to hold himself accountable to a group of believers who share in his faith. Nor would I encourage any male to date a female of that mindset. We are supposed to be functioning as THE BODY of Christ. The hand cannot function without the arm.

That, btw, is all a bunny trail from the original issue here at stake. Dating non-Christians or dating those who choose to be "loners" in the Christian world is hardly adviseable by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, its downright scary.

Think again.

Anonymous said...

Carrie - I am the anonymous that posted regarding dating men that don't go to church.
I appreciate everything that you have said -- I felt the same way for a long time, and now I am nearing the end of my 30s with all the pressures of the biological clock that entails. But aside from my personal circumstances, let's look at the realities we face, and my comments here refer to the UK.
We are very much a secular nation, with, I believe, just around 6% of the population being church-goers.
(You may be interested to know that we are actually in the position now of having missionaries come over to us from the US and also Africa!)
What's more, a study by the leading UK Christian publication, has put the female to male ratio of church-goers at the age of 40 to be four to one.
The concept of "church" to most people is of a cold, draughty building, filled with little old ladies and a weak-chinned Vicar of the "nice, but dim" variety, and where pressing issues of the day, such as whether it is likely to rain on the summer fete, and if the Women's Institute has baked enough Victoria sponges, are discussed over a pot of stewed tea.
And those are the positives! Others view the church as being full of stern-looking "hypocrites" who are anti everything that involves laughter or having fun.
Attractive, yes?
So if you are a person, male or female but especially male, that has a belief in God and maybe even prays regularly, unless you have had some personal contact with a Christian or a local church, you are very unlikely to want to darken its doors.
Too many churches are not actively involved in reaching out to the community and instead are very inward-looking, squabbling amongst themselves over burning concerns such as the positioning of the chairs on a Sunday morning.
One of the ministries I am involved in is a form of "Street Pastors" where we go out into the town centre on a Friday or Saturday night, and are basically just there if anyone wants to talk to us, or needs help in some way.
I am always astounded by the number of young men that come up to us and are interested to know about what we are doing and why we are doing it. What's more many of them volunteer things like, yes, they are Christian, yes, they believe in God, but no, they don't go to church.
I completely agree with you about the importance of joining together with the body of believers, but there is so much work to be done in order to encourage them to do so.
So we have this problem where there are a lot of women in the church that are looking for men that are believers, and we have a lot of men that are believers but need encouragement in their faith and will be found just about anywhere else except for in our churches.
If you believe as I do that God's plan for almost all of us includes marriage, that implies to me that the men will be out there. God will have done the maths.
But are we just going to continue to sit in our churches until we become barren, or are we going to go to where the men are, and see if we can be fishers of men?
My current mindset is not to date someone who isn't a believer, but similarly not to reject them just because they have a false perception of "church".
To "think again" is exactly what I am offering as a suggestion.

Dee

Anonymous said...

There are some other factors that keep men away from church. Here in Austin, Texas, our Great Hills Baptist Church has had three major child molestation scandals.

Many families stopped attending this church after the most recent sex crime back in August 2006. Even church-going men won't attend a church with a reputation for child molestation.

The churches have a problem. Either they adopt too much of popular culture or allow dangerous people to work with young people.

If you were a single man, would you want to be associated with such an institution?

Anonymous said...

I wish Debbie Maken would have touched on divorce in her book. Over five million men are divorced and paying child support and spousal support. Half the time they are not allowed to see their children. The courts are unfair to men in the USA.

Perhaps the whole answer to this "mystery" of non-committing men is the fact that too many guys have seen their friends, brothers and fathers destroyed through divorce?

If the laws were changed back to favor marriage, more women would be getting proposals.

Men still love women, but they won't risk having 50% of their lifetime income confiscated merely because a marriage failed. Men want families, but divorce often permanently separates them from their children.

Debbie is an attorney, so she should have addressed family courts and divorce laws. She knows it is the biggest part of the problem, but dropping all the blame on men is so much simpler. No?

Ouichi said...

Maybe we should ban video games. I suspect guys would be so bored on Sunday morning, they would be happy to go to church.

Carrie said...

ouichi - HA! Yes! The ban of video games. ;D haha! (Except I have a few I like to play myself...of the OLD Nintendo variety.)

Anyhoo.

Dee - Yes, I realized you were writing from the UK perspective which is, admittedly, something I cannot understand, being in the US. Hmm. I find it hard to know how to comment, even as I review my own beliefs, opinions, coupled with Maken's book, in my head. I recognize that even she is writing from a US perspective. That is the way that I think. I will refrain from arguing the point with you from a UK perspective.

However, I will say this: No woman in America has the same excuse. Nor does any MALE in America. There is no excuse -- not even in Austin, TX, that is valid enough in my mind that should make people want to avoid the church. Now, I say this without you realizing that I've had my own church struggles in the past. If anyone on this planet would have an excuse to not ever want to darken the doors of a church - it would be me. Therefore I do not accept the excuse that someone has been "hurt" by the church. They were hurt by people in teh church, sure. But all people are not the same. If they were THAT hurt and wanted to carry out things to their logical conclusions -- then they would stay hermits within their own homes. They would never see or speak to anyone. But we don't do that, do we? Even though corporate America has its pitfalls and hardknocks, we will participate there, right? Even though people cut you off when driving, you still drive right? There are people who will hurt you and make you mad whenever you go. That doesn't change the Biblical command to be a part of the body. Despite the fact that parts ocassionally hurt - we're still a part. And the body can heal. That's the power and the grace of God. (I could go on another bunny trail about forgiveness but I think I've made the point that I'm not interested in the excuses of those who are not interested in being part of the church for one reason or another.) Ironically enough, I find that the main reason for this new trend for Christians to avoid the church is the desire to remain an authority unto themselves. It is the human's desire to be a god that drives this trend. It is not the church's fault. It is man's eternal fight with God. It's Adam in the garden, people. Therefore I do not find "the church was mean to me" to be a valid excuse.

In conclusion, if you are in America -- get thee to a church and stop making excuses. Be a part of the body. Not only do you need it, it needs you.

Jake said...

Disclaimer: I haven't read the book, though it's beginning to look like I'm going to have to. However, given that I generally have not found much that I agree with in positive reviews of it, nor much that I disagree with in negative ones, I don't expect to like it.

First of all, there's one small point I'd like to get out of the way, because I see it crop on on blogs and message boards all the time. Even if we men are "refusing to marry in our 20's," (which I do not believe we are), we are not thereby denying women childbirth in their prime fertility years, because women in their 20's can marry men in their 30's. If they find it "creepy" or "gross" to do so, that is a reflection of the secular culture's influence on believers, not of any biblical principles.

With that out of the way, I was glad to read your review because it is the first I've seen that mentions that Debbie Maken does not advocate marrying for "less than love." I had heretofore assumed that Maken believes I should go around willy-nilly asking out every single Christian woman I can find, even if I have no attraction to her or interest in her, until I find one who agrees to marry me. If I understand the phrase "less than love" correctly, however, that must not be the case. It must be acceptable for me to look for a girl I actually find attractive.

Now, there are two common complaints made by man-blamers like Debbie Maken and the writers at Boundless, complaints which are mutually incompatible, and I can't tell which on Maken identifies with. The first is that Christian men are said to be dating Christian women but failing to propose to them, instead perpetually keeping them in a holding pattern of a casual dating relationship. Their "girlfriends", it is asserted, very much want them to propose, but they fail to do so because they seek to shirk the responsibility of marriage. The second complaint is that Christian men are not pursuing Christian women at all, not asking them out, but instead concentrating on decking out their bachelor pads with big screen TV's and Playstations 3's. Obviously, both of these cannot be true. Insofar as a trend can be identified, it has got to be one or the other, or neither. Either we're dating or we're not.

The problem is, although both of these complaints are alternatingly taken as gospel by Debbie Maken and those who think like here, I can't see that they're true. I wonder very much why those who make these complaints think that this is what's going on. To paraphrase Camerin Courtney at Christianity Today, it almost seems like people are watching secular sitcoms and romantic comedies, which typically portray women as desperately seeking marriage and men as trying to avoid it and live in perpetual bachelorhood, then simply assuming that this is what Christians are doing. But men avoiding marriage not only has not been my own experience, I don't see it at all around me. In my last relationship, I was the one constantly wanting to move toward marriage, repeatedly bringing up the subject, while the girl was the one always putting it off and finally ending the relationship when I became sufficiently adamant about it. Furthermore, I literally do not know any Christian men (except for one who just graduated from college) who is dating a girl but not engaged. The vast majority of my Christian friends are married; I can think of one who is single and not dating. At my church, I am the only post-college never-married man I can think of off the top of my head. So unless Debbie Maken and her supporters can provide some evidence that there really is an epidemic of men not seeking marriage, the entire basis of their argument is one big red herring.

Finally, imagine how this stuff looks to a guy like me. I date a serious, devout, mature, involved Christian girl for over a year and a half. I push for marriage virtually the entire time, yet am constantly met with "I'm not ready", "I'm just not sure yet," etc. I take her out for dinner, I buy her flowers, I try to surprise her with little romantic treats now and then, I make her laugh, I compliment her, I give her birthday and Christmas presents which she complements me on the thoughtfulness and aptness of, I pray with her, I propose that we read a devotional book together and follow through on it, I even tell her I love her, though I get no response. Finally I convince her to go looking at rings, she calls me the night before to tell me she just doesn't think she can go through with it, and I talk her out of it, and we go. The following weekend, she insists we take a month-long "break" from our relationship so she can think about things. At the end of the break, despite being close to 30, claiming she wants to get married and have kids, and never really being able to identify anything distinctly wrong with me or our relationship (other than the absence of a feeling that I'm "the one,") she breaks up with me.

So I start thinking, you know, it seems like the church in the past 20 years or so has really encouraged women to be too paranoid about marriage, too afraid of abuse or divorce. I go online, thinking, let's see what Christian writers are saying about this issue, maybe they'll have an explanation for why it's so hard for Christians to get married these days. And what do I find? "Christian women are desperate to get married and have kids, but Christian men aren't asking them out." "Christian women desperately want their boyfriends to propose, but their boyfriends are more interested in video games." "There are tons of beautiful twentysomething Christian women in every church who long for marriage, but Christian men are 'kidults' and 'adultlescents' who refuse to grow up and accept the adult responsibility of marriage." So, based on my own experience, I'm not only thinking "what!?" but also "screw you!"

I know some might dismiss my experience as mere anecdotal evidence and say that the exact opposite is the norm. However, because I don't see the opposite in my own life OR in my local church, I can't believe them. Yes, it's true there are more single women than single men in my church. But as much as pains me to say it, ALL of the post-college single women, with the exception of my ex-girlfriend, are physically unattractive. All of the pretty, non-overweight ones are married. I feel sorry for these ugly girls, I really do. But I just don't believe the assertion that churches are loaded with beautiful single women just waiting for a Christian man to ask them out.

So what is guy like me supposed to do? Lower my standards, bite the bullet, and marry a 200 pound girl just so I can do my Christian duty to make babies? If not, if I should not marry for less than love, then what?

Anonymous said...

Jake,

I feel for you. I really do. I am a devout Christian who married a Hindu girl. I was 22 and she was 20. Through me, she and her entire family converted to Christianity. Until I met my (now) ex, I had met dozens of Christian girls who wanted to be with lots of guys before selecting a perfect husband. Most of them are now overweight or have children from casual relationships.

Don't settle. Find a woman who compliments you. I'm 40 now and divorced for 2 years. The women are the same. The devout women are obese or have 2-3 kids from players. I've had a very difficult time simply meeting good women. If you cannot find them when you are young, there aren't going to be any when you are older.

I don't agree with those who say you MUST marry within your own faith. Sometimes marrying out of your faith will bring lots of people to Christ. I myself married a Hindu and not only her family, but the family back in India converted to Christianity because of my influence. Friends of mine have married Chinese and Vietnamese girls who also converted to Christianity.

Be careful of nominally Christian women. Many of them suddenly become Christian again when they hit 35. After dozens of lovers, they realize they want one good man. At that point, they don't deserve a good man.

Listen to your heart; pray and only accept the best for yourself. A good man who serves the Lord isn't a man who should accept the role of saving women from bad choices. Stay single until you find a virtuous woman. It takes time but it is worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I feel I must clarify that I don't think the problem is nominally Christian women or a lack of virtuous women. Indeed, I think the problem is that Christian women today are too virtuous. Of course, strictly speaking, it's not really possible to be too virtuous, but what I mean is that they feel getting married is a distraction from "God's kingdom work." My ex-girlfriend was not out running around having fun with non-Christian guys or spending all her time and money going out with her friends and shopping for shoes and purses. Instead, she was the textbook example of the good evangelical Christian girl. Raised in a Christian family, went to a Christian college, went to the Urbana missions conference and has always thought she had a "heart for missions", never misses daily devotions, teaches kids Sunday school, goes to women's Bible study, etc. The problem is that whereas 50 years ago the good evangelical Christian girl thought God's purpose for a good Christian girl's life was marriage and children, and made that her priority, today's good Christian girl more often seems to view marriage and children as a sinful wordly distraction from pursuing God's will. It's almost as though the modern Protestant church is returning to the view of medieval Roman Catholicism, wherein celibacy is thought to be superior to marriage because it allows you to be totally focused on God.

I have to admit, though I never used to think this could happen, lately I have been having thoughts of what it would be like to date a non-Christian girl. I don't think my conscience would actually let me do it, but I sometimes wonder whether such a girl might be better able to simply enjoy being together as a couple, without spending every second of every minute of every day agonizing over whether she was doing God's will at that exact moment. Being with my ex-girlfriend was like taking a never-ending exam; I was constantly being evaluated to determine whether I was "the one." She would sometimes ask me about things like my devotional life, and I thought that obviously honesty was the best policy, and thought we could share our struggles together as a couple, so I'd tell her that once in a while I'd forget to do daily Bible reading. But that would make her "concerned" and set me back a few months on the track to marriage, because she'd be worried that I couldn't be her "spiritual leader." I don't think she will ever get married unless she happens to find a guy who she thinks will spur her on to be even more "on fire for the Lord" than she is; e.g., by dragging her abroad to the mission field sooner than she otherwise might go on her own.

The problem is that the church has tried to hard to combat the divorce rate, and tried in the wrong way. We have simply assumed that divorce is caused by all the usual cliches, like marrying the "wrong person" or rushing into things, so Christian leaders have raised the last generation to be guarded against such things. Consequently, young singles now have this "better safe than sorry" attitude about marriage that causes them to turn down most realistic opportunties they have, because they scrutinize until they find some tiny flaw. Christians aren't going to start having an easier time getting married until they, particularly the women, decide it's enough of a priority that they are willing to accept imperfections--and to accept that it might alter their previous plans as to how they were going to serve God.

Jake said...

Oops, I signed in anonymously by accident. That last comment was me.

Anonymous said...

Jake - I think you make a very valid point here: "It's almost as though the modern Protestant church is returning to the view of medieval Roman Catholicism, wherein celibacy is thought to be superior to marriage because it allows you to be totally focused on God."

This idea that being single enables you to have an undivided devotion to the Lord comes I think from 1 Corinthians 7. But aside from needing to weigh this passage up against the weight of the rest of the Bible, there are various qualifying factors to this: Paul was writing in response to particular matters during a time of "present crisis" and makes the point several times that he is primarily writing his own opinion. To take this passage out of context, you could find yourself perilously close to forbidding marriage altogether -- something which Paul himself warns Timothy of in 1 Timothy 4: 1-3 in very strong terms: "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry..."

Today, singles are often told they have this undivided devotion to the Lord in order to make them feel like their singleness has some purpose, and reinforces the erroneous assumption that it is all automatically "God's will".

In practice, unless you have a rare gifting towards celibacy, singleness usually means even less devotion to the Lord. The reason for this is that God has ordained a wife to be a helper. The original word used for this "helper", ezer, is stronger than any of our translations would indicate; it's more of a "lifesaver" (See Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge) and in all the other places it is used in the Old Testament, the person being described is God when you need Him to come through for you desperately.

Jake -- romantic love shouldn't make you feel like you are "taking a never-ending exam". In your case the "exam" was with regard to your faith, but it can take many forms: attractiveness, intelligence, humour, sociability etc. Never feeling that you are somehow "good enough" is, in my personal opinion, a sign that you really weren't with the right person for you.

Dee

Anonymous said...

I think many people are making valid points here, but in the vast majority of cases, there isn't really any imperative to marry anymore. Couple this with the consequences of divorce later on and people are simply waiting for the "best possible" partner to minimize pain and frustration later on.

I go to church on Sunday and I pray and read my Bible daily. If that isn't enough for most Christian women, I'll date elsewhere. I cannot stay where I'm not welcome, right? Jesus never condemned anyone who didn't do Southern Baptist daily devotionals. If I was dating a woman who was evaluating my daily activities, it would end quickly.

The women who are being hyper-religious and super-devotional need to get perspective. If your primary and only focus is on being "religious" instead of simply being human and a good Christian, you'll find yourself over 40, alone and seen as "that church lady" by men. You know the type; there are dozens of them in every church and they never get asked out.

Let's see, it's hard to find a good man, but many Christian women are looking for men who are:

-more devoted than their local minister.

-before dating, want to be "friends" for a long time.

-don't think dating is helpful and would rather watch a potential partner "unfold" through service.

-angrily denounce the man as a eunuch and then demand to know why he is asking for a date.

Uh.. I think I speak for all Christian single men when I say there is no mystery why you are all single. Stop following the advice of the "experts" who either aren't married or who had to take drastic measures to get married.

Rick said...

"Never feeling that you are somehow "good enough" is, in my personal opinion, a sign that you really weren't with the right person for you."

Some of us are attractive and successful Christian single men. Even though we have confidence in ourselves, very often the women we meet expect and demand a much higher level of devotion and service to the church. Maybe the available Christian men aren't good enough. Perhaps this is why there are vast numbers of single Christian women and a publishing industry serving their concerns.

I know in the eyes of most Christian women, I'm not "good enough", but there are plenty of women who aren't hyper-religious who are happy to date me.

Anonymous said...

There are so many experts out there!

There are women writing on this topic who were promiscuous and liberal who became Christians. Those women writers advance the Gift of Singleness and being "friends first" for many years. Clearly, those women have rejected immorality AND men. They are Christian AND celibate. The don't want to marry, but make a big show of wanting a man to disguise their contentment with Christian "solo femininity".

I have to agree with Debbie Maken's approach, but will emphasize her book is NOT for men. Men could be offended by it. The message is all about helping women get perspective. I wish there were more women pressing this point of view instead of the crowds of authors preaching contentment.

Anonymous said...

I was especially amused by the guy who said...how can men go to church..we had child molestation scandals in my church...

Are you kidding????
Excuses for everything...

SD

Anonymous said...

In fairness to the guy that posted re scandals, it was in relation to the bad PR that "church" sometimes has, and the ensuing problems that can cause.
I really don't think that's the worst comment on here!

Anonymous said...

I do think there is a problem with the maturity level of many single Christian men. I almost feel it would be better for them not to attend church or date Christian women until they have their lives sorted out.

Once they've proven themselves, they should only be "friends" with single women for 10 - 15 years. Then after a 2 year "marriage preparation" course, they should be ready to meet us. Being mature Christian men, they will meet many more of our requirements.

After all these years and tests, if we are asked to be married, the engagement time should go at least for 24 months, with absolutely no physical contact during this time. This will ensure purity and will guarantee the seriousness of the men. In fact, the best way to spend an engagement would be for both parties to do missionary work on different continents.

I know this would keep all marriage-minded Christian single men out of circulation for over twenty years, but at least they would be acceptable to us when we finally met them. They may not have a pulse by that time, but they would finally be the men we want.

Anonymous said...

Ms Anonymous: You're not really...Carolyn McCulley, are you?

Carrie said...

Thank you for the sarcasm, Anon, who suggested that men not attend church or date Christian women, etc., etc.I was about to post something like that myself. =D

HA!

I don't know any women like the type you single guys are describing. Does a Christian want a godly husband who can spiritually lead her? Yes. Don't blame them for it. Yeah, its YOUR challenge. Get over it. We shouldn't apologize or have to stop walking the walk so fast to allow you time to catch up. That's not fair to us. "I won't marry you because you are too spiritual for me"? Ok. Don't. But don't make her apologize for seeking after the One who matters the most. More than even you. =)

I think this is kinda silly. And bunny trail after bunny trail after bunny trail....

#1 - Marriage is supported by God and encouraged by Him;
#2 - He relates to us through relationship. He made us to relate and to be partners/helpmeets;
#3 - Men often waste women's time by being friends for decades and pursuing things that they think need to pursued before they can marry. Sometimes this is purely because they are scared, they feel inadequate, whatever. I think they misinterpret women;
#4 - Women have been trained to think that marriage isn't All That and that they are wasting their time by being wives and mothers. Thank you feminism;
#5 - This book (as well as Revelations of a Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn't Expect) is prompting a move back towards the truth. Which is? Women long to be married. We were made to be lifegivers. We were made to be help meets. Maybe some of us are still having a hard time admitting this, but it is true. We were designed for this.
#6 - This book is so NOT for just women. And yeah, it might offend men. So what? If we all had to spend our time pussy footing around and segretating books between the sexes we woudl remain perpetually frustered with one another. As is OBVIOUS from this string of comments.

I agreed that women are part of the problem. I am willing to explore why. I am not willing to bash them over the head anymore than I am willing to bash the men.

And for all things that are good and right in this world --- ;D ---- do NOT feed me the weak excuse that, "Women are hungrier for a deeper walk with God."

Gotta problem with that? It's yours and yours alone.

Anonymous said...

I think women ARE hungrier for a deeper walk with God. Why worry about the short time women are fertile or desirous of husbands? God is eternal. It seems to me that trying to communicate with immature men is pointless. Just focus on your spiritual life and don't worry about men getting themselves together.

God doesn't want us to marry immature and selfish men. Lets keep them out of the churches and out of our lives.

If we as women have increased freedoms and greatly enhanced leadership opportunities, do we really want to be submissive to men who could never deserve us? I think a lifetime of aching sadness and barrenness would be far more preferable. Judging by the numbers of single women such as myself, I can tell most single women agree.

Carrie said...

If the last comment is serious I am definitely taken aback. If that's TRULY the attitude of single, Christian women then - taken on its face - that is appalling. And it explains some of the guy's comments.

I'll respond as if that is a serious comment. (I'm very sarcastic by nature and I'm up for a joke as some comments on here have been. But I can't tell on this one and I never would have written anything like that.)

Um. YEAH if women want a closer walk with the Lord they should not hold themselves back on behalf of a man. As stated, God is eternal and what is our chief purpose in life (EVERYone!)? To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Here on earth as it is in Heaven. From this time forth forevermore. To be avoided for marriage because you are serious about said walk is appalling.

To slam men universally as being immature and to want to cast them otu of the church and our lives is............... I have no idea what to say. =) You have me stumped. I can't think of a worse conclusion.

To the women who are interested in pursuing their walk with God: Amen. Press on. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. By no means sacrifice it on the alter (heh heh...pardon the pun). However, this should not make you want to hold yourselves out as top dog over the men. It is true that women seek to rule (or as a natural consequence simple DO) when men step back and relinquish responsibility. But we can help the attitude by curbing our desire to "check in" on their devotional time and by refraining from putting incentive charts with little gold stars on the walls of their office and bedrooms. In order to be led by the men, we must be willing to be quiet, take a step back, let them step in front of us and -- for goodness sake -- let them TRY before you tell them they aren't good at it.

Sometimes its better to hold one's tongue and listen to the guy instead of bashing him about the ears telling him he hasn't spent the right amount of quiet time with the Lord. That's between Him and God.

I'm not saying that women are to stop pursuing God because that is not what God wants. He wants us all to pursue and glorify Him. I am saying (now that I've heard the latest comment) that if a woman truly does hold herself out as the ultimate seminarian over every guy she meets -- she has an obvious problem too. I'd say that's a classic sign of Eve's desire to rule over the man. It's a struggle for women -- that is UNIVERSALLY TRUE!!!!!!!!! And we have our own responsibility to fight that sinful desire and submit to leadership and.........allow guys a chance to prove themselves.

Anonymous said...

"I'd say that's a classic sign of Eve's desire to rule over the man."

But did Eve desire to rule over the man? Or was it that at the same time as the serpent tempted Eve, Adam failed in his leadership? After all, Adam was right there by her side (Genesis 3:6 shows that he was "with her" all along), but he didn't pipe up at all!
What's more, although of course God knew all this, who does He call to account? Adam! ("But the Lord God called to the man" v9)
Oh, and then Adam -- instead of taking responsibility over what has taken place under his leadership (or lack of) -- then tries to shift all the blame onto the woman: "The woman you put here with me -- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." (v12)
And what is it we are seeing today? Men failing to lead and then blaming -- who? -- the women of course!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Adam did fail to lead - just as Christian men fail to lead now.

It may be difficult to accept, but I think we all agree that Christian women MUST turn against Christian men for all time. We must turn them away from our company, from our churches, and from our lives.

Sure, they may be good for quick marriage and easy divorce simply to win spousal support for many years, but we need to keep them out of the Christian church.

I'm afraid the feminists were right - men have no place in our lives. The Muslims, Hindus and Jews may have incredibly happy and rewarding marriages, but we Christian women have no men of our own - and we are happy to realize this!!

I'm going to start an online community for Christian women. It is going to be all about keeping single men away from us. Hopefully, within a few years, all Christian churches will be all-girls clubs. We'll finally be free!

Rick said...

This has been a big wake-up call. I never knew how strongly Christian women were rejecting us. Maybe this is why I'm fit, wealthy and a regular church-goer and still can't attract a Christian woman.

I wish you all the best, but us men cannot stay where we aren't wanted and are judged very harshly.

I simply have to expand my dating options or I'll be facing rejection from Christian women forever. I guess I will go out with that Buddhist woman from work after all. Why not, right? If I'm not an extremely rich evangelical pastor I don't stand a chance with Christian women.

Goodbye ladies and good luck.

David said...

Sorry to interrupt the discussion, but I've just been "lurking" here and reading the exchange.

I'm a little bit uncomfortable with all this. I'm glad this is mostly anonymous so I'll say that a lot of us guys are very romantic and have such strong feelings of love for women. I've always felt this was from God. In the past when I had a crush on a girl, I felt so overwhelmed by the experience it was almost spiritual. I always wondered if it was the same for women.

After reading the women's comments I really feel like reality has hit me in the face. I guess I was lost in fairy-tale land and love is simply being aggressive and having a big salary.

It has been educational. Don't look for me in church any time soon. I think I've given up on romance.

Don't bother telling me to read Debbie Maken's book. I've read enough comments from women telling me how little I mean to them to want any more abuse. How about a truce? You women go your way - us Christian guys will go another. We give up. You win the battle of the sexes.

Maybe this is the reason there are so few men in church. Maybe you simply don't need good men who are ready to form relationships and give everything they have to give. Maybe you are happy being single and angry and thinking ordinary Christian guys don't measure up.

Fine. We'll leave you to work things out. Sorry we weren't up to the task. It would have been nice if we were welcome in your lives in the first place...

Carrie said...

Hey Rick

I'm pretty sure the last comment was sarcastic.

And I don't think those types of jokes are funny.

Nor do I think going after a non-Christian is an option. In fact - it isn't. We aren't to be unequally yoked.

And if SOME girls really ARE like that (and are horribly misguided) -- they aren't all like that. I dno't know ANY like that -- and I know a lot of single Christian girls that are beautiful inside and out.

As this comment thread has gone way off base and away from the original post, I would thank the anons to stop. Ifyou want to comment on the book -- if you want to READ the book -- great.

If you are here to haggle yourselves into believing that no one needs each other then you've missed the entire point of my entire BLOG (let alone this post) which is to read and THINK. Let it change you where it should and may it always strenthen your resolve to keep seeking truth.

Basing your life choice off of a book review (over a book you've never read *ahem*) is not the smartest thing out there.

Keep reading. Keep thinking.

Jake said...

The over-the-top anti-male comments sound like the author of the The Gift Of Singleness blog, presumably formerly of Solo Masculinity and Sad and Solitary Life, or someone trying to imitate him. I don't think that form of sarcasm is helpful or even interesting. It crowds out real discussion. And I say this as someone who's on his side more than not. I don't think that Carolyn McMulley or anyone else want to drive men out of the church.

As I've said elsewhere, I think some of the complaints being made against women aren't true. I don't really believe the Christian men who are taking the men's rights activism line and saying they're afraid of being divorced in the future. You can tell whether a girl is a believing Christian or not, and if she is, she understands that divorce is simply not acceptable. Also, in my experience, these women are not looking for pastors (some say they wouldn't want to be a pastor's wife because of the pressure to occupy that special place in the congregation) or particularly wealthy men (indeed, many would be suspicious that a guy with any interest in making money is too worldly). They are just extremely spiritual and have been told that they should marry a man who is even more so than they are.

It goes beyond the qualities they are objectively looking for, however, into the realm of how they feel about men. Most people today, Christians included, aren't exactly up for arranged marriages; they believe they should feel in love with a person before marrying them, that indeed the feeling of being in love is one of the signs that this person is "the one." And since women are generally attracted to men who are "above" them in some way, they're not generally capable of feeling "in love" with men who aren't as super-spiritual as they are. I believe many would claim that a man who goes to church, reads his bible daily, and has any kind of evidence at all in his life that he really believes it, is "good enough", and would not consciously reject a man because he doesn't meet some list of qualities they have in mind. Rather, it's about this magical, mystical, inchoate feeling she's looking for, and a non-super-missionary guy just doesn't inspire the feeling.

Philippa said...

I've always felt this was from God. In the past when I had a crush on a girl, I felt so overwhelmed by the experience it was almost spiritual. I always wondered if it was the same for women.

Yes, David, it most certainly is. I for one am an incurable romantic.

Jake, I'm sure you're right about the source of these exaggerated anti-men comments. They don't even succeed as satire, do they?! *rolls eyes*

Carrie, I'm sorry that your comments thread got hijacked by certain wind-up merchants. You could always disable anon comments. :)

I enjoyed your review of Maken's book, because I'm half way through reading it and some of it I think is excellent. In chapters 5-11 she really is on a roll!

Like you, I don't agree with everything she says - she makes some rather sweeping statements and some of her shock tactics misfire, IMO. I also agree with you that she is too hard on the men in chapter 4 whilst neatly sidestepping the challenges of contemporary feminism. Believe me, I'm no fundie anti-feminist. Far from it! But for 30 years we have been urging men to get touch with their feminine side and then telling them they're a bunch of sensitive wimps when they do! Sheesh! :)

Nonetheless, I think her book poses a robust and welcome challenge to the super-spiritualisation of singlehood that has been part of evangelical culture for so long, and for that reason alone I think it's worth reading. :)

Anonymous said...

It’s always easier to be a critic on the sidelines that “rolls eyes”, than someone who actually attempts to change a situation, Philippa.

Some even take up the role of critic without even having read what they are criticising. But I am pleased you have now decided to read Debbie Maken’s book, rather than just posting against it on her blog and elsewhere.

I am also pleased that you are seeing the sense contained in it, as opposed to the “super-spiritualisation of singlehood that has been part of evangelical culture for so long.” How is your “good cyber-friend” (as I seem to recall you calling her), Carolyn McCulley, by the way?

I think it is easy to forget that around this time last year, it was next to impossible to find any piece of work anywhere that argued against the newfangled false doctrine of a “gift of singleness”. The frustration that has built up was in part due to the likes of the Solo Femininity blog, through which Carolyn consistently preached contentment with the singleness state, disallowing all but a rare few dissenting voices, and then never giving them a right of reply.

Through the work of Debbie Maken, the postings of GortexGrrl, and yes, the Sad and Solitary Life blog, which I believe was the first to lampoon this ridiculous teaching, this situation is now changing, even to the extent that someone remarked to me the other day: “The gift of singleness has already been discredited, hasn’t it?”

Not without the work of the above mentioned people – and of course others – it hasn’t!

There is still much work to be done. With Christian men believing that they need to “wait on the Lord” instead of being proactive about finding a wife, as shown by a recent posting on the Gift of Singleness blog, many more single Christian women are reaching their 30s, 40s and beyond without a husband on the horizon, or an opportunity to realise their dream of a family of their own.

It’s not much good being an “incurable romantic” on your own, is it?

Dee

Philippa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carrie said...

Ok I get it. =) A bunch of you track each other down all over the web to harrass over this same topic, is that it? Then you found my blog. Yipee for me.

Seriously folks -- I have not, nor do I intend to, change the ability for everyone to leave comments. I'd rather hear honest, thoughtful conversation. But I would ask for a bit of courtesy in return. That is?:

The point of my blog is to read books that a. challenge my way of thinking b. entertain me and c. create topics for discussion. The more worthy of debate any book is, the more inclined I am to read it. I've always liked a good argument (a reason I thought law school would be fun)! =)

If you are here to read/think and reason -- then great. Keep your comments on track. The beginning of this string was fun and informative and thoughtful. It then disintegrated into wild ideas about dating outside the faith and huffing off to lick wounds caused more by pride than by consideration.

One way of doing this is to read other books that will promote more thoughts and ideas. Hear people out without huffing out of churches over it. (please!) Get off this post and move on to another.

I do not mind the sarcastic post and will not try to moderate so long as the commentors stay on point. Please do not spoil this blog for me. You are beginning to do so.

I would refer back to my original post in which I clearly stated that I picked up this book not intending to agree with it on any point. However, after reading it, Maken was able to change my mind on certain issues. Because I thought her points were valid, I find the book worthy of a recommendation and some good, honest discussion. That discussion does not involve people running outside of the church to wreck havoc on their personal lives. You've carried things too far.

So. I would ask you -- AGAIN -- to read this book and THEN come back and comment to your hearts content on what you've read and what you thought about it. That is the sole purpose for this blog. It is not to harrass or maim others. If you cannot contain yourselves to appropriate comments, then I will be forced to moderate comments (which I do NOT want to do-- but I'm feeling pressed).

Use other blogs to rip on one another. Use this one to think about something you've never allowed yourself to think on before. Maybe change is in order. Maybe its not. We can talk about how to reach a happy medium. With real, Bible-based options. Heavy emphasis on scriptural options. Dating non-Christians and leaving the church to take buff, financially stable selves is NOT an option. So drop it. The Bible is clear on that point which doesnt' leave room for debate.

In short - debate the debatable and stick to the discussion at hand and skip the personal attacks on one another.

That being said, having no knowledge of who any of you are, I appreciate Phillipa's comments because she's READING THE BOOK. And I appreciate Dee, Jack & David for signing their names to the anon comments. Thanks!

Proceed politely.....

Carrie said...

Ok. That's about it. Given our slump in use of words -- all comments will have to be moderated.

I'm quite put out that you guys put me to this. But this line of conversation has gone steadily downhill to the point where I don't feel like this is a forum for my friends and I to discuss our thoughts about the books that we've read without being subjected to language and arguments which are, quite simply, unacceptible.

Since the guests on my blog cannot control themselves, and as I would call you aside if you were a guest in my home and ask you to stop, moderation is in order.

If you cannot stick to the subject at hand in a manner that is polite and friendly then please do not bother trying to comment at all. I will not post what you have to say.

Carrie said...

p.s. The last comment that is shown as deleted as a language issue in it. Foul language absolutely will not be tolerate on this blog.

Please "leave" if you can't speak intelligently.

Mac said...

Jake, I sympathize with you because I’m in the same situation. Apparently I am now only the second guy that exists who dates with the intent to marry, but is ultimately rejected by a nearly 30 year old woman (I’m 26) who expressed only positive things about the relationship but lacked the right feeling that I was the “one.” Ultimately, she told me that she received “special discernment from God that could not be explained.” So did Joseph Smith.

After thinking through it, I’ve realized I may just not be desirable to women….especially self-described extreme idealists like this particular woman. After all, I only lead one Bible study at my church, and am only a part time seminary student. I play only two musical instruments, not four. I can’t afford to buy a house because I’m only a senior advisor to my Congressman, not his chief of staff. And I’m so uncoordinated that I can’t play video games…I can only run and play soccer.

Setting sarcasm and anecdotes aside, I think we have to accept that there are probably just as many immature women who won’t commit because of their ideals, as there are immature men who won’t commit because they want to keep playing around. It’s not a one side or the other deal. It’s parts of both sides screwing things up.

I think it’s completely ridiculous to feel sorry for oneself and say that because a Christian girl broke your heart, you’re leaving the church and dating non-christians. However, I think there may be some truth that can be extracted from that idea. It is possible that in practice, non-christian women have a better understanding of the doctrine of sin in the lives of fallen human beings than do Christian women (and men for that matter). As far as I have found, non-christians have no delusions that perfect people exist. In general, I think Christians lack a true understanding that people are sinners and aren’t perfect. But our Gary Chapman induced mentality that true love is someone who satisfies all our longings propels us to continually search for the perfect ideal that doesn’t exist. A certain amount of idealism is healthy, but taken to extremes (and it often is) it is selfish lust.

As Josh Harris recently said (and for the record I don’t go to his church and I don’t agree with everything he says): "For single women who are here, for you it might involve the realization that your criteria for what matters in a man really doesn't have anything to do with what God says matters in a man. Maybe you've turned down relationships because you're being informed more by our culture than you are by what scripture says is important in a Godly man. God wants you to exercise discernment and turn away from a foolish worldly criteria."

Anyway, I could on, but I’ll wrap it up at let someone criticize me for a while.

Ouichi said...

Carrie,

You are right to promote Debbie Maken's book. There is an important message there. There are a lot of lonely hearts on both sides of the debate.

Don't be discouraged and always be looking forward. There are men coming back to the church - a growing "counter-cultural" movement. Probably about 40% of men out there are not players or swingers and have a strong romantic impulse. These are the guys you'll see in church - even if they are alone for a time.

Women are very smart and always have been. The good women who see through the players also see through the men who wrap themselves up in theology in order to delay marriage. Marriage is part of God's plan. Those who are looking for it are doing God's will.

Cheers on the blog.

Carrie said...

As I received an apology for the language used in the deleted comment under the Getting Serious About Getting Married post, (thank you!) I disabled comment moderation. I do not WANT to have to moderate everything people have to say.

Thanks for cooperated and, as always, happy reading! =)

Jake said...

Carrie, I'm sorry for leading the discussion off-topic. I didn't know that you wanted your blog to stick to discussions of books themselves as opposed to issues raised by them. I'd like to read Debbie Maken's book so I can comment on in more knowledgeably, but I don't think I'll have the time before this post sinks down into the abyss!

Incidentally, in case you were wondering where this sudden surge of newcomers came from, it's probably because Captain Sensible linked to this post from his blog The Gift of Singleness. That's how I found it.

Carrie said...

Jake -

Thanks! And yes, the entire purpose of this blog (if looked at as a whole and not just this one post) is to read a book and discuss its merits and worth. It does involve discussing the topic of the book -- to a degree. But this is a Book Review Blog. So I love comments but I'd really prefer that they stick to the exact topic at hand -- which is the book.

RoRo said...

All the bickering on both sides... Satan is happy indeed! Men need women and women need men. Both need to be married to each other. The Lord established those facts at the very beginning.

Men need to evaluate women for their Godly inner qualities more than for their external appearances. Life has a funny way of being able to change the latter in a heartbeat (an accident, illness, the natural aging process, etc.). Looks change, and that's a biological, inescapable reality.

Women need to evaluate men for their Godly inner qualities more than for their material traits. Life has a funny way of being able to change the latter in a heartbeat (an accident, loss of a job, illness, etc.). An that is a highly probable likelihood.

Both need to pray and ask for God's guidance--then get on with the business of getting married. Follow the outline in God's word for Godly qualities to look for (an again, a woman's looks and a man's wallet size aside from his general ability to provide for his household are no where to be found), and you will be fine.

Be blessed!

M said...

Personally I found the book very refreshing.

I didn't agree with everything, but I think that there are some valid points made about marriage being in the will of God from the beginning and it being his answer to the fact that it is not good for man to be alone.

She challenges both men and women into valuing and being intentional about pursuing marriage.. ...I suppose what people see as the 'man bashing' comes because ultimately it is the man's job and honour to initiate and lead that pursuit.

I thought the discussion around the gift of celebacy was very interesting too and I do think that churches should definatly remind people that ultimately a big way to avoid 'fornication' as Martin luther would put it, is to marry rather than 'burn with passion'. Pursuing marriage is actually a key to maintaining purity that is sometimes forgotten...

As a (currently) single person I've felt at times so frustrated with the well intentioned 'God is all you need' advice that over the years has made me feel more and more guitly about being dissatisfied in my singlenesss. At times, to the point when I have felt wrong/bad for desiring marriage.

I found it very releasing and refreshing to be reminded that whilst adam had an incredibly close relationship with God in the beginning, God created us both (man and woman) for even more and that desiring marriage is entirely in line with Gods will- not to be something to feel guilty about at all.

What strikes me from the comments is that actually there are lots of christian guys and girls who want marriage- and that sadly lots of people have been hurt along the way- that doesnt mean we should paint all guys/girls with our own past experiences. Debbie's advice for example about have time-limited, frank and honest courting, is equally protective for both guys and girls as it means nobody ends up wasting years of their life with someone who isn't willing or 'ready' to commit.

I've passed the book to a couple in my church leadership to ask for their opinion and look forward to some interesting discussions amongst my friends ;)

shing said...

I just finished reading the book tonight, and because my mind is still reeling, I've posted a blog entry to my friends and some married mentors. I need to hear their comments.

Also, because I couldn't seem to reign in my thoughts, I linked your blog entry to mine, in case they're wondering what the book is really all about.

Still reeling...

taza said...

I'm so confused by all these blogs on "why single guys don't want to get married." Not true.

I know a whole lot of guys who are pursuing women all the time. One of them dated me for a while. He said I was the "only one." From that and other comments, I gathered that he was dead set on marriage.

So I broke up with him.

(I don't want to date a guy who thinks I am his dream wife come true).

Brandi said...

Psalm 73:25
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

He should be our all in all. Glorifying our Creator should be our main focus. He should be our Bridegroom and the Lover of our souls! :)

BerlinerinPoet said...

I'm going to read this book. I'm also prepared to disagree (as someone who is enjoying her gift of singleness). I also was cracking up over your comments. I also have been asked out for a beer multiple times, by the SAME guy. I also have been texted multiple times/multiple guys messages like the following "I really appreciate your friendship." "You are such an awesome woman, Heather." OH really my texting "buddy"? If you liked it perhaps you should have put a ring on it. To quote Beyonce Knowles.

....You are SO funny! I could read your blog all day. Oh wait...I did read your blog all day.

Top  blogs