Tuesday, October 18, 2011

For Singles Only

This is a companion-post to the piece over at Pyro today. There I discuss the difficult time singles can sometimes have in local church fellowships.

One need is that it can be difficult for Christian singles to meet other Christian singles. Church should be the best place to meet one's future mate, but some churches are small, or in isolated areas, and the opportunities are nil. So Christians turn to online resources or others. Best is church, or connections though good friends or relatives. But sometimes "best" just is not an option.

In our meta, I'm encouraging singles only to identify themselves, share any of their experiences they'd like to share. I know we had a couple of single readers here at BibChr and over at Pyro who actually met (I'm not sure whether it was because of being co-readers) and married. I wouldn't mind being the connection point for other happy unions — to say the least.

However, let me issue a caution: any single, man or woman, needs to be extremely cautious in starting a relationship with someone you've met over The Intrawebs.

HSAT:

Some of you are reading or have read the Proverbs book. Please feel free to share how it spoke to you as a single as well... because, in writing, I didn't forget you.

The meta at Pyro is open for anyone according to the normal rules. This meta, I'd like to see dominated by singles only.

Well, you know, except for me. But I was one once, and I haven't forgotten what it was like.

59 comments:

Barbara said...

Okay, are you talking about always-been-single-and-seeking-mate single, or are unmarried-and-not-seeking-mate-for-whatever-reason singles included as well? I'm in the latter category and I can tell you that at 40+ I am an absolute anomaly at my church. Everybody over 20 is married and has been married forever. They're very accepting, and I'm happy to learn all I can about parenting even at this late stage in the game because I want to be able to support my sisters and my daughter in their roles as wives and parents and to be a good grandma one day. Coming to faith later in life, there is much I never learned that I am learning now and I can serve people that way.

But there are special difficulties when one is alone in geography and in reality and a lot of people just simply don't have any frame of reference to understand that or the real physical challenges and that ever-running undercurrent of feeling overwhelmed that can come with having come out of the dog-eat-dog world and into the church, carrying in the necessity of having always had to handle life's obligations without a reliable partner to share that burden over the years...and then coming into the church, recognizing in repentance that any future hope of finding a good partner must necessarily be abandoned - which is itself a double-edged sword, because on the other hand I never have go through dating again and trust me - THAT is a great and wondrous gift.

Barbara said...

Just to add...one thing that I notice too, is that I tend to speak more than the other women because they have their husbands to speak for them and for their families. Scripture says "ask your husband" but what about when you don't have a husband to ask? You gotta speak up and ask somebody. And that somebody is usually somebody else's husband - be it an elder or a deacon. There's no man to run interference or protect. So it becomes necessary to take great care with making sure that there is no appearance of impropriety. It is a great gift to have a good sound church to attend where there are people who are able to teach and to lead, and who emphasize the hand of God through the people of the church. At the same time, though, it often seems to exacerbate the acuteness of that feeling of being incredibly alone. There is a great gift in having a Heavenly Husband who does work through His Word and in one's spirit even when all the world falls and fails.

theinscrutableone said...

Dan,

Thanks for opening up this forum for your single readers! I'm one of those folks who belongs to a church that's full of marrieds-with-or-without-children with just a few singles for seasoning.:-) I typically end up having most of my fellowship with married people.

Frankly, being a nearly-fifty-something never-married single in a family-oriented church is a big challenge! My difficulties are compounded by my rather peculiar biography. I was converted in my early twenties but almost immediately fell into the Charismatic Movement of the mid 80's. Soon God told me whom I was going to marry, or so I thought, so in obedience to the "word" I decided that I ought to wait on the Lord and bide my time hanging out with Christian women as "just friends." Although I didn't get into any trouble physically, this custom plus my misguided faith in my aforementioned "word" served to distract me from being about the proper business of finding a suitable spouse.

In due time, the Lord mercifully brought me to my senses. I eventually realized that in this present age He speaks to us only through His Word--the Scriptures--and that otherwise He's left my conscience free to make choices as I see fit so long as they are according to the Scriptures. I've been a member of a smallish Reformed Baptist church for the last ten years.

During these latter years I've finally gotten around to becoming something like an adult, but my status as a late bloomer has left me in an awkward situation. Chronologically I'm in my late forties, but on account of the time I wasted away in the Charismatic Movement and afterwards in recovering from it, I'm not as mature as would be expected for someone of my age. In particular, I lack the life experience I ought to have accumulated by this point in life. I'm old enough to be the father of a young adult but I've never been a husband or father. Unless the Lord should happen to ordain that I meet a lady who matured later in life as I did, I have no idea of how I could make a suitable match at this point in my life.

In closing, I'd like to share some advice for any younger singles who may be reading this:

1. Make the search for a godly spouse a high priority while you're still relatively young!

2. Don't fritter away your time on "platonic friendships." Even if you don't fall into fornication, you'll still be wasting your time and your friend's time.

3. Don't fall for any notion that "God" has "told you" whom you're going to marry. Rather, search the Scriptures for there you'll learn everything that He wants to tell you about the type of person whom He would have you marry.

Dave

Si Hollett said...

Thanks Dan for raising this often overlooked issue (especially on pyro, with it's huge platform).

As a 20-something single I've had not a vast amount, but some, experience of being a single adult in the church.

When I was 18 I moved to Southampton for uni - in student groups it was perfectly fine to be single, fine to be not looking, fine to be looking, rare but fine to be married. Most students were single and my church had a lot of students and were committed to including us with the rest of the church, eg by encouraging families to give us Sunday lunch every now and again.

The church, in my time there, added to the pastoral staff a couple of single people which was a rare blessing and meant that the church thought more about being a friendly environment for singles.

Aged 23, I moved and had to change church. I joined the small group for 20s and 30s, mostly as it was the first small group offered to me, and for the first 2 years, there was always at least one lady in the group that was pregnant. It was occasionally really isolating to be in this group and know little about pregnancy and babies and that got me down.

The church itself is full of families, though a lot of the dads, tragically, don't go to church (this makes it worse, as church life and family life are even more separated). It's a wealthy semi-rural area, so a lot of people are busy, and if they aren't busy on Sundays, they quite often have 'family time', which excludes me. That said, some people have noticed it and try and include me in something with their family every now and again.

The church leadership had spotted this problem and are trying, subtly (imv too much so), to get the singles (there's some older ones - a couple of never-marrieds, a few divorcees, a few widowed) included in church life that happens outside of the normal meetings.

They also had a seminar on singleness, though getting a Catholic monk (sadly this is the most-biblical church in the town) to do that was perhaps not the best idea, especially as he went on about single-by-choice, and mostly ignored single-by-circumstances, which most of us in the church are. I think a later one that I missed took the more fitting approach.

If I could give just three bits of advice to the church about how to help single-and-seeking people it's this:
1)Don't pendulum swing against the Catholic notions of celibacy. Marriage isn't the higher calling and being a single guy shouldn't exclude you from church leadership - other things might, but singleness shouldn't be an automatic 'no'.

2)Act in a way that you teach that the gift of singleness is a gift, not a curse. Note the gift of singleness isn't the ability to not have desires - being single (and all the benefits that entails) is the gift. Also it isn't necessarily a permanent gift, and nor is the gift of marriage (half of people who get the gift of marriage end up with the gift of singleness again).

3)Remember that Christians are all adopted by the Father as sons, we're all siblings-in-Christ. Older Christians in the church are meant to act like parents to the younger ones, and so on. The church is meant to function as a family and that's undermined by making the nuclear family too important.

DJP said...

Thanks, Dave. sigh — another casuality of Charismaticism. I think a lot of Reformed enablers love the theory of Charismaticism and the friends and good thoughts it gets them, but don't get involved in the trainwrecks and misery and shame its distinctive teachings produce.

As to maturity, I'm not as mature as I should be, either.

Thank God women can be pretty patient.

theinscrutableone said...

Dan,

Some of the most patient people I know are Christian women. Many of them are members of my church. :-)

This reminds me, though, that I forgot a fourth little piece of advice for younger singles:

4. Don't be too picky about the people you meet, and don't confuse Hollywood-style daydreams with reality. The best you're going to find out there is a repentant sinner, so quit trying to find a perfected saint!

Dave

Persis said...

I'm single again, not by my choice, and just hit the 50 mark this year. In my church, there are several senior widows and many young families but no single middle-agers. But I have never felt excluded and am always made welcome particularly over holidays when I am often alone.

I'm thankful for grace to accept God's providence and I'm seeing the fruit of it. But it's hard at times particularly when you are shouldering household responsibility alone when there used to someone else to rely on.

I don't know what God has for me. The thought of dating seems so weird. Given my circumstance, I believe remarriage would be permitted according to scripture. However, if God wants me to remain single, I want to glorify Him in it.

Robert said...

Not single, but as the father of 24 and 22 year old college grads who have struggled to find a place in the churches where they live, I appreciate you putting this out there to challenge people's thinking.

Sir Brass said...

Thanks for posting this, Dan.

I'm a upper-twenty-something and my church, while not in an isolated area, is small. All available girls close to my age are now married. Similar fortune with close friends (family & relatives live on the other side of the country). And all the ladies I would be interested who are available have essentially given me the same signal I've been getting for 14 years or so now, "You're a great guy, and you totally deserve a great girl, but I just want us to be friends." Gee, thanks >.>. Friends have told me, in relation to meeting girls, "Why not go to another church?"

I have a problem with this. A big problem. The problem being that while church is a wonderful place to meet a spiritually-like-minded mate, that should NOT be a reason to leave one's current church and go to another. Especially when the Word is so powerfully preached from the pulpit at my church. It is NOT honoring to God to treat the church as if it were primarily a dating service.

So, while theologically and intellectually I know (and have SEEN firsthand, even) the powerful sovereign hand of providence active in my life and I know that the same Lord has also said, "It is not good that man should be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him," its hard not to feel discouraged at times.

It's like being alone in a crowd of people. The only thing lonelier is the last stanza of a hymn in a baptist church.


(okay, so that was my attempt to end on a bit of humorous note)

Ruth said...

I'm the thirty year old, never married, want to be married, woman in my small (no prospects) church. I love learning about marriage and family because I know this is one of the fundamental relationships God has designed for His image bearers to understand better the relationship He has within Himself, the triune God. I know that God has me in this place in my life for a reason. If I sit at home alone and have a pity party for myself, thinking that I can't truly fulfill God's purpose for my life because I'm not a wife and a mother, would I also say that God's word has nothing to say to me as a single woman? NOT AT ALL! Instead, I choose to make the most of this place God has me by being a kind of surrogate aunt to some of the families around me, to be an encouragement to wives and moms in their place in life, and to encourage younger women in their place in life.
No matter what place God has any of us, man or woman, married or single, as followers of Christ, we all need to seek to glorify God in all that we do, in all the relationships we have, at home, at work, at church, etc. And God's word speaks volumes to that.

Thanks, Dan, for getting me to think about this!

theinscrutableone said...

Sir Brass,

I had the same problem for a long time: "I like you...as a friend/brother." How frustrating this can be! Perhaps some women perceive an easy, friendly manner as being good for a friend/brother but yet not particularly attractive. Recently I've shifted to a more formal, distant approach: talking with unmarried women only in group contexts, etc.. I can't say that this has been "successful" exactly (I'm still single the last I checked :-) ) but at least I'm not having to put up with the "I like you but..." thing so much. Perhaps this less chummy approach will help to lend an air of mystery to this guy who's far more like Jimmy Stewart than John Wayne. :-)

Dave

Sir Brass said...

Here's my take on church and dating:

If you choose to leave a church b/c of lack of prospects, and go to another one b/c of prospects, and those are your primary motivators, then you're insulting both pastors and the Lord Christ as well. It's saying, "I'm here for the dating, not the fellowship and faithful preaching."

That is not to slam on meeting people in church. Not at all. I simply see finding your mate in church to be something God sometimes in His good pleasure provides.

Now, if you meet someone and move elsewhere and thus change churches over that, that's a little different. I'm speaking to evaluating churches based on the "singles availability" in said churches.

Btw, I'm not saying this in response to anyone here in this meta in particular, but in general for those who have been given the same advice over the years and like me have not exactly liked the vibe that goes with such advice.

Or maybe I'm just being stuck-in-the-mud over this? Or maybe I'm just an old man at 27 already :P.

Sir Brass said...

Dave, I hear ya.

It's one of the most frustrating lines ever invented by the fairer sex. I'd rather be told, "I have nothing against you, but you're not my type. Thank you for being a gentleman, though." Really. I would. It's more honest and isn't mean.

Also, I haven't been able to "hang out" with a girl one-on-one since... well, I have no idea. Still single with no prospects. But I still get the "just friends" line when I've gotten to know a girl in a more "group" context anyway. It still stinks.

The problem then with admitting how much it stinks is that then it can give the aire of discontentment and I know that's unattractive. I very much want to be married, but I'm not going to be desperate about it, and I don't want to set impossible standards.

I have several criteria which have to be met, though:

1) Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ (LORD and Christ being to that person both descriptions of and titles for Jesus) for salvation

2) At least tolerant of (if not an adhere-er to) the Doctrines of Grace (aka, NOT anti-calvinist)

3) Reasonably well-grounded in the faith (she doesn't have to be super-Christian, just solid and not tossed about by every wind of doctrine)

4) Able to take care of herself physically. I'm a guy. I appreciate an attractive woman same as the next guy. I don't expect super-star gorgeous, but it's a definite turn-off if the gal overly rotund (that is, by a guy's estimation, not the girl's own brutal self-estimation... we guys can be way more forgiving in that area).

5) Willing to accept that I'm really a flawed sinner in need of Christ more than most. Willing to accept that though I'm striving to be holy, I'm going to fail... alot. Part of this whole relationship and marriage thing is running the race set before us, and that means helping pick each other up when we fall.

That's what I'm looking for. I don't think those criteria are too strict b/c in the past I've met girls who were clear dead ringers for items 1-4, they just had zero interest in me. Though believe me, I'm trying. Problem is, I keep failing. I'm just hoping to find a girl who will be able to take me as I am while not hoping and encouraging me to continually do better.

DJP said...

We called it "getting 'Jeffed.'"

(Just Friends = JF = "Jeff")

Karon said...

I’m 62 yrs. old and have been single for 6 years. I have married children with children. It’s the first time I’ve ever been completely alone...not a child in my parent’s home, not someone’s college roommate, not in a home with husband and children…just my pup, now. I’m part of Bible Study Fellowship and am on the management team at my church and rock babies in the nursery when needed. I’m a painter and a quilter, but I'm very selective of the activities in which I involve myself because I don’t want distractions to encroach on my desire to be alone with the Lord and His word. Hosea 2:14-16 has a very special meaning to me because I have been like Gomer spiritually: “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness (He moved me to West TX!), and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. ‘And it shall be, in that day,’ says the Lord, ‘that you will call Me my Husband, and no longer call Me my Master.’” You see, He’s changing me in this alone time in the wilderness; He will cause me to bear fruit. That hard valley of trouble was really a door that opened to Hope. I’ll sing praises to Him because He delivered me from bondage. He will be my Husband – He’s teaching me a relationship I didn’t know before. God orchestrated my wilderness time for His glory, and I get to be changed in the process. I’m content as a single; my contentment is in Him. I don’t have a desire to be involved in a singles group, and I don’t have a desire for special sermons for singles. I need the Truth to be preached/taught. As long as God’s pure word is proclaimed from the pulpit, He will speak to our needs.

MitchKill said...

I am a 29 year old single man. Somehow I made it through four years at a fundamentalist Bible college without getting hitched. (Which, in fact, is quite the accomplishment!) Of course, it might have had something to do with the fact that I was also a Blackaby/Pharisee composite. (Nasty combination, that is...) God hadn't told me who to marry yet, and the pretty girls were all carnal because they didn't have the standards I did. (Yeah, I'm an idiot...) Thankfully, the Lord brought me out of that by using a girl whom I was convinced was God's will for my life to break my heart because I didn't come up to her standards. It was good for me. Took care of that legalistic Blackabism.

Anyway, I'm in a different segment of Christianity than most of you. Due to various circumstances, I still am in a rightish segment of fundamentalism although I'm theologically not there any longer. I attend a small fundy church in a country town in Georgia. I am the singles group at our church. The other singles in our church are either teenagers, divorc├ęs or widows. Due to poor vision, I'm not able to drive, and thus, I'm stuck in a situation that I can't do much about. It gets really frustrating to see all of my close friends from college get married and have children, and there seems to be no easy solution. I try to be patient, content, and thankful, but, yeah, I'm not really any good at those things. Some random things I've learned:

1) Developing a close friendship with a girl is far more important in the spousal selection process than that little voice in your head that tells you who God's will is for your life.
--Most of you knew this already. I'm slow.

2) People who matchmake should take the time to actually get to know the people they are trying to match together.
--I'm not against matchmaking. I don't meet many single girls in my normal day-to-day life. It is tiresome for somebody to match me up with somebody they think I'm perfect for when they've never really taken the time to get to know who I am.

3) Single people should learn a skill, talent, or subject while they're single.
--I'm not against playing a video game. I'm not against going to the mall. I love a good movie. However, I have more free time now than I will have when I get married and fewer responsibilities now than when I start a family. I'd better make the most of it. God has helped me establish a flourishing business, take on the trumpet, and build up my love of literature. This is an application, I suppose, of what Paul says in I Corinthians 7. Take advantage of the situation that God's placed you in.

4) Folks in the church should not forget about their single brothers and sisters.
--Singles in smaller churches may not have a lot of Christian friends. Invite us over for dinner. Go fishing with us. Ask us questions about our lives. Get our opinions about things. In short, pretend that we're interesting. We'd appreciate it.

5) Dating web sites are prone to give unrealistic, idealistic perspectives of people.
--I've perused a Christian dating site or two, and the impression I get is that these people are the uberchristian. (My favorite are the type of women who say that she is looking for a man to help her in her ministry. For real.) If you post on a Christian dating site, be genuine. Please.

Thanks, Dan, for your attention to the topic! I've just gotten your Proverbs book in and hope to get to it soon.

Barbara said...

Just anecdotally in light of Mitchkill's comment (as I am also in a small town in Georgia, so some of this may be a local or regional issue - or not): as regards "Christian" dating sites - back when I only thought I was a Christian, and was actively dating, I went on those sites and found to my dismay that when it comes to matters of character and personal integrity, most of the folks I found there were actually worse than the men I had met on the secular sites, albeit in the name of Christian freedom or whatever, leading me to make my choices as far away from "the church crowd" as possible. Just sayin'.

Mizz Harpy said...

I appreciate what Barbara wrote since I am also in my late 40s and never married. I went from charismatic to reformed while I was in graduate school earning my Ph.D. (yes, Dan I'm one of THEM). The Christian Medical and Dental society at my school was very good and some of the members invited me to their Bible church that featured expository preaching. I had never encountered this type of preaching before since I grew up in the Episcopal church; it never occurred to me that pastors who were not on the radio really preached that way. My CMDS friends were all younger that I was so I was more like an older sister or aunt to the young men. The church did not have singles ministry, we were 'mainstreamed' in the congregation. Singles helped in the nursery and cooked meals for people just like the married couples. We weren't treated as some sort of odd special needs group. I was fortunate to find a good Bible church where I went for my first postdoc that had a large singles class specifically for career age people in their late 20s to 40s led by a young married couple. That was an ideal situation if a church insists on having singles separated since we don't fit with the college age or 55+ group. Better yet, I wish churches didn't have single classes at all. I don't understand why we need to be separated from the rest of the body because of marital status. It seems really absurd when I think about it, how are our spiritual needs different as it relates to Christ? Doesn't everyone need to grow in His grace daily? How else do singles who grew up in a Christless environment learn about marriage if they aren't welcome to fellowship with married couples who demonstrate Christian marriage? How do people coming from broken homes ever learn what a Christian family looks like if they are sequestered from families?

I left science several years ago to become a writer for a Christian organization headquartered in a small town and ran into the problems that Barbara described. I wasn't culturally prepared to work in a Christian organization, the married women seemed cold and the only women who made me feel welcome were the widowed volunteers. I am used to working with men which made the transition more difficult since I really never learned how to relate to other women. I tried joining women's groups at the churches I considered joining but felt very out of place. The singles groups in this town are for younger people or elderly people but nothing for men or women in their late 30s to early 50s. I went to age appropriate Sunday school classes and Bible studies but they were mostly married couples and no one would talk with me beyond the usual hellos. While I was looking for a good Bible church I turned to old Puritan writings to shore up the teaching that wasn't there and realized I was not regenerate. I eventually gave up on church but am trying to go again and have found a church but I dread the introductions with the “What do you do” and “Ooh you're single, we have singles group” conversation. I'm not looking for marriage, it would be horrible for a Christian man to marry me as I am right now.

If I had any advice for young Christians considering a career in science or medicine it would be for them to realize that it will be very, very difficult to meet other Christian singles of the opposite sex in their career field. It is a little easier for medical students because there are more Christians in medicine but beware science geeks because it will be lonely for you as far as dating Christian men is concerned. Statistically, women with PhDs marry other PhDs or MDs while it is more flexible for men. I've met men at church or other social settings who seemed interested in me who immediately became cold when I told them what my degree was. Anymore I start out with, “Hey, I have a PhD” rather than start to know someone who suddenly looses interest as soon as he knows the truth.

DJP said...

Oooh, a PhD!

I'll have to treat you with much more respect!

(c:

DJP said...

Mizz H - Oh, I'm sorry; that crack was funny off of the start of your comment; totally different by the end of it.

Ouch. I think you win poignant-comment-of-the-day, with some tight competition. This in particular should stop every leader in his tracks to think and re-think:

Doesn't everyone need to grow in His grace daily? How else do singles who grew up in a Christless environment learn about marriage if they aren't welcome to fellowship with married couples who demonstrate Christian marriage? How do people coming from broken homes ever learn what a Christian family looks like if they are sequestered from families?

Thanks for your candor. That was a very valuable, moving contribution to a good discussion.

(We like PhDs here, btw. Some of us wish we were one!)

theinscrutableone said...

Regarding Christian dating sites, I spent the better part of a year on an obscure little site whose initials are eH******. What a waste of time and money! I started out with a profile that was somewhat lacking in precise details and got matched with a number of gals who were supposedly compatible with me but turned out to be not so much so once we started to discuss what we believed. This problem disappeared after I added more detail to my profile: that I was an ex-Charismatic Reformed Baptist, etc.. After that, I never had another match stick around through the four-or-five stage breaking-the-ice procedure. I suppose if I'd loosened up a bit on the picky stuff such as what I believe and just went along with the site's purportedly advanced matching technology I'd have enjoyed one of their much-touted happy endings, but by putting Truth before stuff like psychological compatibility I suppose I lost out. Oh, well!

Dave

Unknown said...

I am just over the half way point between 20 and 30 and I have been single my entire life. It is not an aspect of my life I am very passive about either, I hate being single (and when I say the word hate I mean it).

In so many ways I can relate to what Sr Brass has said in his posts. I attend a rather large church that I actually started attending regularly to meet single women (and since then God used my motivation to refocus me on hearing his word instead:) ). But I get similar reactions from my single women friends. I don't have very many meaningful friendships with single women and the one time I asked one of them if they would be interested in trying a relationship I got a "I just don't have very deep feelings for you".

The frustrating thing is, despite respecting my friends decision, she told me a week earlier that I deserve someone amazing. But then all I hear after being rejected is that I am just not good enough for her. I hear this kind of thing all the time from friends, that I will make someone an awesome husband, just not them. I get some hypothetical girl instead of one of the real women I already know. I honestly don't understand and it is so amazingly frustrating.

Like Sr Brass said, it is one of the most discouraging times I can ever remember in my life. On one hand I hear that God loves me and that for nearly all people the standard has been "it is not good for man to be alone", and yet here I am, still alone.

This type of thought has lead to a lot of begging from God for help in some way (and no I don't think God will lead me to "the one", it would be nice if I had more wisdom to know what to do though).

Fortunately I still do have potential prospects (well one anway), I just pray this time it all works out. For God's glory and my sanity haha.

God bless,

DJP said...

In case you're not tracking both threads, Robert over at Pyro said:

...I just finished Chapter 6 and started Chapter 7 of "God's Wisdom in Proverbs"! Anybody on here who has not ordered this book needs to click the link and do so pronto. While nothing can take the place of being discipled in the church, this book can definitely serve to help any single see what the Bible says about identifying, building, and maintaining good relationships.

Mizz Harpy said...

@DJP I couldn't resist the crack.

Getting a PhD limits employment opportunities outside your field of study. Employers assume you will demand a higher salary or they assume you will be bored with the job. I've encountered both since leaving science.

DJP said...

Yeah, maybe... but cutting through long lines at the theater?

"Excuse me... pardon me... step aside, please, I'M A DOCTOR!"


(c:

Mizz Harpy said...

For Unknown and Sirbrass, The Jeff reply is not really total rejection of the guy, it's a statement of indecisiveness, fear of commitment or a bit of both. Unfortunately, most women don't realize how brutal it sounds and yes, I remember Jeffing one of my lab mates once. However, isn't it better to be somewhat honest at that point rather than pretending commitment and later embarrassing him by refusing a marriage proposal after he's bought the ring?

DJP said...

If Turk were monitoring this meta, he'd already have a T-shirt ready.

Mizz Harpy said...

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." Titus 5:3-5

How is this ever going to happen with the current church model where the elderly are separated from the young women? It's sad. I attended one church where I preferred to go to the Sunday school class for older women. These ladies knew the Word, the instructor was excellent, always presenting good, meaty expository lessons and the young mothers were off in another room missing out. But I know this is happening everywhere. My godmother who has attended the same church her entire life is now cordoned off from the rest of the church in a class for widows and widowers, and the church wants it that way. It's completely unBiblical.

Sir Brass said...

"For Unknown and Sirbrass, The Jeff reply is not really total rejection of the guy, it's a statement of indecisiveness, fear of commitment or a bit of both. Unfortunately, most women don't realize how brutal it sounds and yes, I remember Jeffing one of my lab mates once. However, isn't it better to be somewhat honest at that point rather than pretending commitment and later embarrassing him by refusing a marriage proposal after he's bought the ring?"

Actually, it's better to be honest and say, "I don't know how I feel, and I don't want to hurt you."

Ladies, take it from someone who has a near perfect "I never even had a chance" record, dancing around the bush with a guy when he's attracted to you is probably the worst thing you can do to him. At that point he's probably more infatuated than in love, but that just means the emotions at the moment are more intense. Giving him a "Jeff" in that period is like putting him on hold. You're giving him some hope that (unless he's become the wiser due to the emotional trauma in the past, or learned from others mistakes) you might still end up being attracted to him. It's like a carrot and a stick at that point. Logical? Nope. But like I said, when a guy is seriously infatuated, unless he's learned to put a solid reign on his emotions, logic goes straight out the window. And if you have no idea, tell him, "At this point, no." If your feelings change, and he still likes you, he'll understand. We guys understand that it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind.

Also, yes, the Jeff IS a statement of total rejection for those of us who have experienced it. I have YET to see any Jeff I've been given or my friends have been given ever change into an actual relationship.

And if you really are unsure, but like the guy, tell him you're unsure and you need to work it out some. Then get back to him once you have. Even if it ends up as a "no," he'll be happier than if you'd Jeff'd him, b/c you'll at least have been honest and followed through.

Btw, Unknown, I never said hating being single was a good thing. I merely confessed that I had done it. I had to grow out of that. The Lord has His purposes for me being single right now even if I don't always see those very clearly, and those purposes are to my good. Being single itself is a trial, so instead of being discontent, thank the Lord for what He is doing, even if you have no idea what that is. In a way, that mirrors the faith of the Old Testament saints who knew God would provide a savior, but they only had vague types and shadows to go off of, but they trusted God, and that was counted to them as if they had put their trust in Christ like we do today (in essence, it is the same thing). We do not know how God will use it, but we know He has purposed all things to our good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Hate being single? Get over it. You don't have to like it, but instead of hating it, learn to make the most of it. Besides, I think it's probably not a good indicator to a girl if the guy hates being single, but it'd be a good thing if she saw him content with being single and making good use of it, even though he desires to get married and is attempting to pursue that as the Lord wills.

neurotransmitter1 said...

Mizz Harpy said:

"If I had any advice for young Christians considering a career in science or medicine it would be for them to realize that it will be very, very difficult to meet other Christian singles of the opposite sex in their career field. It is a little easier for medical students because there are more Christians in medicine but beware science geeks because it will be lonely for you as far as dating Christian men is concerned."

I think I'd second Mizz Harpy's point.

Then again, perhaps this depends where your med school is located. If it's in a large metropolitan area with a sizable and diverse population including people your age and so forth, then it's likely to have a lot of solid evangelical churches and other Christian ministries (e.g. CMDA).

Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, med students are quite often socially awkward. I know I am. I know a lot of my classmates are. At the same time, a lot of us tend to have crazy expectations for ourselves. Expectations which often don't correspond to reality. Not only with grades and achievements and such like. But also with choice of partners! This includes many otherwise godly Christians. Dare I say it? Socially awkward + high expectations for partner = recipe for singleness. Or at least singleness for longer than is probably necessary.

All that said, I agree it's hard to date a med student because we're so busy all the time. Medicine is one of those fields where it's not so much about intelligence, I don't think. Rather it's mainly about self-discipline and time. I hope this isn't overly simplistic but it seems the more time you spend studying med, the better doctor you'll be in the end. (Unlike say mathematics. In math, it's conceivable someone spends a long time on a problem and still never grasps it, whereas some people grasp the same problem right away. Time isn't as closely correlated in mathematics as it is in medicine. Although obviously in anything, generally speaking, the more time we spend the better we'll be at it. I think this is more or less the point in Malcom Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule or Peter Norvig's Teach Yourself Programming in 10 Years article. Still I think medicine is one of those fields where time spent studying and competency in field are much more closely related than in other fields.) Yet this means we have to spend a lot of time studying. Time away from cultivating relationships.

And after med school, there's residency. Where you're working like 80 hours per week. On-call every couple of days too (depending on your specialty). That lasts at least 3 years if not more. Obviously surgery is much longer.

Then you're a doctor. Life can get better. But that depends again on your specialty, private vs. public practice, and many other factors.

By then you'll have done 4 years of undergraduate + 4 years of med school + 3 years if not more of residency. So minimum 11 years of school. Of course, if you took any breaks say in between undergrad and med school or if you have a longer residency, then that's just more time to add to the clock.

Sure, you'll be making $200,000 per year minimum in even the most undesirable specialties like primary care specialties (although much higher in others like surgerical specialties). But at what cost to your relationships?

Just something to think about. But please take my words with a grain of salt. Maybe I ain't seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and so this is a bit more cynical than it really is.

Sir Brass said...

"Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, med students are quite often socially awkward."

Doubly so for us engineers.

You know the joke which goes, "How do tell if someone is an engineer? He's looking at his shoes. How do you tell if an engineer is an extrovert? He looks at other people's shoes too." Well, it's flippin' hilarious b/c it hits so close to home.

Unlike docs, we engineers spend most of our time socializing with other eggheads and our tech. Docs at least need to have some interaction with the rest of humanity in their day-to-day.

Not to mention that there are is serious dirth of women in the engineering fields. At my alma-mater (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University), we had this thing we called "The Riddle-ratio," which was numerically about 10::1 or 11::1, which was the number of guys hanging around 1 girl there. Running joke, but like the joke above, hits waaaay close to home.

Add to that if a guy is serious about Reformed theology, and he's doubly cursed. I've found most gals simply are more "okay" with the wishy-washy emasculated worship in today's evanjellyfish culture (well, since its tailored to women generally, is it any surprise?). This isn't meant to insult the discernment of any reformed ladies reading, but honestly, think about how many reformed women you know compared to the number of reformed men you know... that is, among your local network of fellow believers in Christ.

I don't expect to find a girl like the lady in the "My wife loves John Piper" video, but if I'm looking for a mate, I'm looking also at theological compatibility. The God who sent Christ to "Die for the opportunity," isn't the God who sent Christ to perfectly atone for me. I want the woman I marry to worship the same God I do, not just think He has the same name.

neurotransmitter1 said...

Oh, one more thing. I've read articles which indicate there are more and more singles in the 20-30 (and perhaps above) age range. Much more so than compared to past generations. I believe this is true among evangelical and Reformed Christians too.

If so, then it'd seem to mean there is or will be a bigger pool of older singles available. This isn't an excuse to put off marriage, per se, but a hope for "older" Christians, which it seems like there are several here.

However, keep in mind women over a certain age have more difficulty getting pregnant and are at a higher risk for delivering babies with disabilities. Of course, the Lord is in control of all things and as Christians we'd love any child simply for being from the Lord. But this doesn't mean we should ignore practical realities either.

Older men can have problems too. Like sperm does begin to deteriorate more after a certain age. But generally speaking these aren't as big a factor in men as in women. Maybe a bigger problem for men is not being able to do activities like certain sports which call for a lot of physical exertion once your child is at a particular age.

theinscrutableone said...

Indeed, there are older Christian singles out there. I've met a number of never-married Christian women in their thirties and forties. Besides one brief courtship (broken off because she didn't feel attracted to me), none of them have panned out so far. Some of them seemed to be quite particular about various secondary issues (grooming, hobbies, etc.) so perhaps part of the reason they hadn't married yet was because of that. (Obviously, men can be too particular about women, too.)

Another category of unmarried Christian women that's even more numerous than the never-married is the previously-married: widows and divorcees. I have no Scriptural qualms against pursuing a relationship whose prior marriage was dissolved for Biblical cause such as the innocent victim of an adulterous husband. On the other hand, what has held me back from seriously considering a previously married woman is what I call the "life experience gap:" she has 100% more life experience with marriage and most likely child raising than I do. This strikes me as being a very challenging issue. If I were to marry such a woman, she'd be in a position in which she'd have to submit to the spiritual leadership of a man who is 100% less experienced and knowledgable about many/most of the matters that will come up in our shared day-to-day lives. So far I've not been able to work out how such a challenge could be confronted in a wise and prudent manner, but if I could be persuaded of some way to make such a relationship work out, I'd be willing to consider pursuing a previously married woman should a suitable person cross my path.

Dan/fellow commenters, I'm interested in your opinions/pronouncements regarding this issue. I doubt that I'm not the only older single who's given at least some thought to it.

Thanks,
Dave

Wendy said...

In regards to your Proverbs book (given to me because of a nifty 2-fer-1 deal!), I have to say that I REALLY appreciated one aspect of the parenting chapter: there was no father/mother differentiation. One of the most frustrating parenting books I've read was written by my pastor and I was sincerely hoping you would avoid that. I was not disappointed.

I am a just-turned-30, never been married single woman (mom). I got saved when I was 8 months pregnant, and until my son was about 7 months, I went to my church's large single's sunday school class.
Then I figured out that while I was the right age, we had nothing in common and I couldn't go to many of the functions because of my son.

So I just went to the main service for a while (actually, listened from the speakers outside), keeping my son with me. I can't tell you how many people passed me by, never saying hello or anything.

Finally, due to the one old lady who said hi and invited me, I joined an all-age fellowship group. There are no singles, and they range from mid-twenties to 80's with a lot of seminary families.

I do want to get married - I think my son might benefit from that as well :) - and I realize that my fellowship group is not going to help me.

But, I've decided to give up on meeting other singles, in favor of teaching that better equips me where I am at the moment.

Fitting in doesn't really matter anyways, right??

Andy said...

Thanks Dan, great post :)

As a 25-yo single guy who's been "Jeffed" more than I'd care to think about, I pretty much agree with everything Sir Brass had to say...

The worst part is the female then assuming that you can become close friends immediately - she gets what she wants out of the relationship (emotional intimacy) without wanting to give some commitment back.

I find Philippians 4 is a challenging rebuke/exhortation to stay faithful & fruitful even when I'm not in the season of life I want to be in...

DJP said...

That in itself is no good reason to hold back, Dave.

Seriously, if you haven't, I'd urge you to get and study that Proverbs study. But just to summarize something developed at greater length, I think I see a fundamental misapprehension at the root of your... well, apprehension. Being a good leader does not mean having all the answers and experience, and being a good follower/submitting does not involve having none. There's a whole lot more to it, and it's lifted out at some length in that book.

MitchKill said...

Sir Brass,
Just a quick comment regarding your desire for a girl with the same theological convictions as you have: I'd caution against expecting theological perfection. I say this as someone who was a Christian long before I came to hold to the doctrine of grace.

Many folks have not had the same exposure as others to these teachings, and it takes a little time for them to understand and embrace them. For me, if a woman has a heart for God and loves the Scriptures, then we can work on these other things. Who knows? Maybe you're the one to help her see what God teaches in His Word about election and grace.

Sir Brass said...

Dave, in the Boy Scouts, I was told more than once by my scout leaders: "If you are going to lead, you must first learn how to follow." Being a good spiritual leader if the kind of situation you present will require you to take charge, but listen.

In the military, every green-as-grass 2nd Lt. that is worth his salt listens to his platoon sergeant, even though that Sgt. is subordinated to the Lt. The new, inexperienced leader learns to lead by leading and by listening to the humbly-submitted advice that experienced Sgt. gives. Now, of course the home isn't like the military, but in terms of submission, the leadership principles are the same.

I don't speak from personal experience, but I do speak from observational and intellectually-instructed experience (there are fine role models of biblical men at my church for me to learn from).

Sir Brass said...

Mitch, I think I expressed multiple times that I'm NOT expecting theological perfection. I thought I made that painfully clear and was actually a little worried about over-stating my case. I see I was mistaken. I expect a degree of theological like-mindedness beyond simple heartfelt profession of Christ as Kurios, but not theological perfection. Whenever I express a desire for a girl to be at least friendly towards the Reformed position I get warned against "expecting theological perfection," and I'm getting the sense that "You people protest too much."

Andy wrote, "The worst part is the female then assuming that you can become close friends immediately - she gets what she wants out of the relationship (emotional intimacy) without wanting to give some commitment back."

Yeah, I haven't had that happen to me... well, except once and she had me really confused to the point of me having to tell her, in essence, "I know you don't mean to be doing this, but you're really confusing the dickens out of me. You're sending me all the signals that tell me you're interested, but push away when I respond. I like you, I really do, but it has to be one way or the other." She backed off, and we're still friends today (she just got married about a year ago to a good friend and brother in Christ). But that's the ONLY time I've been Jeffed with the girl then wanting some sort of intimate emotional thing anyway without the relationship.

theinscrutableone said...

Dan/Sir Brass,

Thanks for your responses! You've given me some good food for thought/prayer. Dan, I'm planning to do some online shopping soon so I'll pick up your Proverbs book while I'm at it. Sir, your military analogy is very helpful indeed. I have no doubt that situations such as you describe are very common in both the military and the home. It stands to reason that there must be a way to lead over those who are smarter or more experienced than you.

As a lifelong single and IT technician, I've largely just taken charge of my own personal affairs my whole life. I've done OK with the rare occasions when I've been called upon to take charge of other people, but those occasions are exceptions to my typical life pattern. You've gotten me to thinking that I could definitely stand to bone up on what the Bible teaches about leadership and submission. This is one of the things I most certainly didn't learn as a charismatic, but better late than never!!!

Dave

Sir Brass said...

Dave, you know what has helped me a little?

Dancing.

No joke. Swing dancing (which is also the location-context behind my profile photo... taken at a new swing venue in town on its grand opening night). The lead/follow of a good social pair (where the lead must lead and give direction, and the follow needs to follow but not merely turn her brain off) is a small microcosm of relationships.

For example, I'm a good dancer. Not great, not a pro (despite the opinion of a few follows who are really new and think I'm the bees knees... they'll get over it), but good. I know what I'm about on the floor. But sometimes I am dancing with a girl who obviously doesn't either follow well or doesn't know Lindy Hop (THE swing step... the evolution of Charleston, and the predecessor of the more simple but less fun East Coast), and I have to lead accordingly. True, she needs to follow me, but if she isn't able to follow what I lead due to her lack of experience, then it just doesn't work. And because the dance is about the two dancing as one as lead and follow, I'd be a royal jerk to yank her around the floor forcing her to stumble through moves she didn't know were being lead and generally making her feel like an incompetent idiot while showing off. Yeah.... not cool. Instead, I still clearly lead, but keep things to a pace and with a degree of obviousness that she can follow and generally enjoy herself.

OR, I'm paired with a girl who is a much better follow than I am a lead. It's a really good thing when this happens because a) it exposes for me where I may have stepped into bad habits with expecting the follow to know to do something when I wasn't clearly leading it, and b) she listens and knows how to support me in her role as follow (really get that critical connection that when good makes lindy hop swing outs look oh-so blasted cool).

Sound like a bit like relationships? There's give and take and thinking about the other person as much as you are about where you're going with the dance. The follow has to follow and resist the temptation to back-lead (a good reason why when you're starting out to dance constantly with people better than you... they're less apt to let you slip into bad habits by simply being good dance partners), but also pay attention and support the lead. It's very much a balancing act that is as much practiced coordination as understanding about interpersonal relations acted out for about 3-4 minutes on the dance floor.

Its also helped a little with being tongue-tied around a pretty girl who I've never met before. Used to feel REALLY socially awkward and was too reserved around girls I didn't know. Now I have no trouble asking a total stranger at a swing dance if she's like to dance. it's friendly and social without intimations of romantic relationships (unless you communicate it, which is both easy to do but also easy to avoid doing), but gets you out and interacting with the opposite sex in a public group setting. The only problem I've had is finding Christians there.

MitchKill said...

Sir Brass,
Ah, ok, I looked back through and see the "at least not anti-Calvinist" criteria you posted earlier. I read that earlier today, but I hadn't put the two posts together. Sorry about that!

You had said in the post I was responding to: "The God who sent Christ to "Die for the opportunity," isn't the God who sent Christ to perfectly atone for me. I want the woman I marry to worship the same God I do, not just think He has the same name."

That kind of language I've seen used by those who have no patience toward those who are still working on theological precision.

Again, I apologize for my misunderstanding.

Sir Brass said...

Well the reason I put it that way is that I'm pretty sure that there are plenty of folks who, even if they aren't calvinists, would believe in their heart of hearts that Jesus' sacrifice did actually accomplish redemption... it's just that their soteriology doesn't then follow from that point of their Christology (it's Christology in that it is about Christ's work as propitiatory sacrifice).

However, if she takes offense with my stance (the biblical stance) that Christ saves sinners, insisting that Christ only tried and actually fails at times, to save sinners, then sorry sister....

Andy said...

SirBrass: come to Australia, there's heaps of Christians in the Swing scene over here! There's 6 swing dancers (including me) in my church alone!

And as a fledgling swing dancer myself, I couldn't agree more. It's done wonders for my confidence, ability to lead (and listen!), and just interaction with women in general :D

For everybody else, this is what you're missing out on:

Mizz Harpy said...

@neurotransmitter, it's not all doom and gloom for medical students getting married although it is difficult. I knew three couples, two at my church in Texas, that met in med school and married after they graduated just before starting their residency. There are enough couples that there is actually a couples match service that tries to get them into at least the same city for their residency.

This spells it out:
http://www.nrmp.org/res_match/special_part/ind_app/couples.html

Not that you're there yet but just so you know.

Sonja said...

This made me LOL:

"Indeed, there are older Christian singles out there. I've met a number of never-married Christian women in their thirties and forties."

You'll meet more singles that are older. I'm a never-married 58 y/o. My chance of getting hit by a meteor is greater than marrying as my age group is all married.

There's some single men my age, either widowers who aren't interested or newer to the faith and divorced. And sometimes I can see why they're divoced (prior to conversion).

Is it a "gift"? As a gray-hair, I don't look at it like that, it's just what it is and I don't fret over my lifelong singleness. If I was much younger, I don't think I'd look at it as a gift either.

Prov. 31 is hard words when you can't strive to do it though. But I can make a nice house and offer hospitality at any opportunity. So maybe my singleness is indeed a gift to better serve others.

BTW, I much prefer the word "courting" over "dating". I'm old school. :)

Sir Brass said...

Andy, I would but I bleed a bit too much red, white, and blue :P (plus y'all driving on that whole wrong side of the road business... I call it stockholm syndrome :P)

Barbara said...

For some reason, in reading Mitchkill's responses on theological differences, I suddenly have that song "I think my wife's a Calvinist" stuck in my head. (it's on Youtube)

Thanks. Now I'll never get to sleep. ;)

CR said...

Well, shucks, just reading this now before I go into my try to sleep routine because I'm an insomniac. Can't spend to much time, I'll be brief.

What has really helped me is my service in my local church. I have a huge church family that I'm very thankful to God for and I think that has been an important means of grace for me. I certainly don't have the gift of celibacy and hope to be married some day and am kinda interested in one person, but this person's life is pretty complicated by their own admission. But we'll see.

Robert said...

I'm not single, but as I was reading the comments regarding being a Christian scientist, something came to mind. There are Christian groups that work in the realm of science...have y'all looked into any of that? You probably have, but just wanted to ask. Answers in Genesis and The Institute for Creation Research are a couple that come to mind...mainly because my oldest son loves science and right now he wants to work for a group like that when he grows up. I certainly hope that doesn't hinder him in meeting a Christian lady to court (if he wants to).

SolaMommy said...

Sir Brass, I am still cracking up at your engineer joke :-D It's so true...my husband is an engineer and so are most of his friends ("friends" meaning people he emails periodically...) You are right about the engineering field being male-dominated. I think if not for our acquaintances setting us up and me being slightly more extroverted, my husband would probably still be single. If I may put in a plug for Sir Brass and the other strong, silent types...engineers may struggle socially, but they make reliable, loyal, committed husbands. And they don't face much temptation at work since they mostly work with other men ;-)

Sir Brass said...

Well, I'm not exactly silent (extremely extroverted... except when I am put in a kind of awkward situation, then it's sporadically silent or chatty... or better put: nervous and uncomfortable), but yup I'm loyal and committed.

Sir Brass said...

On point of factual clarification I may not have been clear on (I'm such an engineer when it comes to me being precise in what I lay out in words on the internet):

Andy, I never meant to insinuate that I haven't found Christian girls in my local swing dancing scene. Met quite a few actually (a handful of whom are also Calvinists), but genuine Christian girls in the scene is still something more of an exception than the general rule out here, unfortunately.

musicfrombrokenchords said...

Wow what an interesting post. I am 44, never married and it's been an interesting journey. Before I was saved I dated and considered marriage with former boyfriends but nothing ever seemed right.

I ended up taking care of my Dad for 10 years when he had Alzheimer's disease throughout my thirties. As an overly concerned Aunt put it "In my good years" eh hem. I kind of waffle back and forth between wishing and praying for a Husband and then I realize it's not all wonderful, and that I am serving God and helping in my Church and enjoying life so much...right now. I think social pressure and just plain lack of stimulating conversation with other Christians is often a problem with me. Our Ladies group at Church is very much into stereotypical "Womens" bible studies. It's not unicorns, pink stuff and Beth Moore but it's not exactly stimulating conversation either, I don't mean to sound theologically snooty but I joined a local reformed Bible college for that reason and it's been a wonderful place to make friends. I think the hardest thing for me is living in such a small town, with a small Church I am really the only single in my age group and sometimes that's just emotionally tough. No matter what

I am going to keep persevering and make as many Christian friends as I can, I am blessed with some wonderful friends I met online (Persis is one, love you girl) and that's been so rewarding, I am blessed beyond measure. But I still ain't swing dancing..uh uh, no way. :-)

DJP said...

It's not unicorns, pink stuff and Beth Moore...

WIN

Over the years I've heard far more complaints about women's groups from women who want to learn and grow, but get "unicorns, pink stuff and Beth Moore," or the equivalent. Pity.

Angela said...

I love Barry Danylak’s book Redeeming Singleness. Helps me keep my head in the game when I’m wrestling with Providence over my being single.

Fav quote: “The cosmological horizon of the Christian subsumes the present age into the eternal one. This means that the plans and purposes of the present age are subsumed into the plans and purposes of the anticipated eternal kingdom of God. This is not a denigration of the present world but a radical relativizing of the current age in light of the eternal age, recognizing that one’s true sufficiency and fulfillment will be realized ultimately only in the coming age of the King and the kingdom” (p.208).

Esther said...

I appreciate the invitation to comment. The first commenter, Barbara, expressed some of my frustrations with being single again. My husband and best friend was killed when I was fairly young--37. I thought I'd be married again in a few years. But now I'm 51, and I've raised 4 children by myself.
Let me tell you: the church WILL NOT help you. You must make all those decisions yourself, and take up the slack for all those things that there is no partner to do...you will find yourself spread too thin many, many times.
I have to believe that God, should His good providence for me be that I should never marry again, will restore all in my eternal future with Him. He never gives bad gifts...so my "gift" of singleness is good, no matter how it feels. Even so, come quickly, Lord.

Gilbert said...

Wow. I am late to this conversation, as I have been at a weather weenie conference. HST, Mizz Harpy:

"Doesn't everyone need to grow in His grace daily? How else do singles who grew up in a Christless environment learn about marriage if they aren't welcome to fellowship with married couples who demonstrate Christian marriage? How do people coming from broken homes ever learn what a Christian family looks like if they are sequestered from families?"

WOW. As a meteorologist, I am with you, sister. I am right there with you. I'm comforted to hear that I am not alone in this struggle. Indeed, the problems you and I face are huge. Single, Christian, scientist, and many married people shun us as the third man out, or are judgmental. It hurts. It really does. While I'm not going to throw a pity party here, because, of course, we are in Christ, it makes things harder, no question. The struggles we face are silent, painful, depressing and seemingly overwhelming in our current culture. We see others so seemingly joyous in their marriages, and we cannot share in that because the door is closed. I pray that, even so, the Lord would reign in both of us, and that we would be reminded that Christ died for us, and he warned us it would be hard. Harder for us in some ways, but we just need to learn to be faithful, and know His ways trumps our loneliness and frustrations. It won't be much longer before that won't be an issue ever again. In the meantime, continue to share the Gospel with as many as you can, and watch to see when God opens up a relationship (married couple, or someone special) in your life. I'm praying hard, and my prayer is that you'll have that opportunity.

Liz said...

I think one of the more important things to realize is that "singleness" is extremely diverse. The issues faced by never married 20-somethings are different than those of "single again" 40 or 50-somethings, and then there are the never married 40 or 50-somethings, which face yet another set of issues.

In the intro to Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (I think), John Piper quotes a woman who said something to the effect that the effects of singleness are cumulative. Just because you were a single 20-something before you married, don't assume that you understand the singleness of the never married 50-something!

My church is large and has singles programs, but I always preferred to integrate. I felt that if I was going to remain single for life, I didn't want my whole life defined by my singleness.