Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Stouthearted Read

Thanks to John Thomas for mentioning this A-Z list in his latest advice column on Boundless. John's a sage friend and witty writer. It's an honor to be included in his advice to young women wondering what makes them marriable.

In addition to all the character traits listed below, it's important for single women to know what things they should avoid, things that undermine their best efforts and desires to marry well. I'm reading a new book that goes a long way toward understanding the truth on this presently blurry subject. It's called Getting Serious about Getting Married, by Debbie Maken. If you really want to understand the seeming epidemic of protracted singleness, this is a must read. A lawyer by training and wife and mother by calling, Maken presents a compelling and thoroughly-researched case.

A few gems to get you started:

"When we ignore the fact that God made marriage for our benefit ... we deny our very nature. God created us for marriage. The reason singleness is disappointing, lets us down, and leaves us wanting more is because singleness isn't what God intended."

She paraphrases John Calvin thusly: "Satan dishonors marriage by fooling us into believing that singleness is okay."

"As single Christian women, we must ask for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on singleness--not validation and affirmation for something we don't really like in the first place. ...We must declare outright that singleness in general is not biblically supported..."

"What many men in our generation fail to see is that being single without meeting the necessary criteria set out in Matthew 19 is just as unbiblical as sexual activity outside of marriage."

And finally, "Biblical singleness is hard. It requires giving up dating, sex, and marriage and committing to work for God in a sacrificial way. If you're not called to this kind of singleness, you're called to marriage. There's no middle ground."

Her words sound eerily familiar. You know when you read a book and think, "this person's been reading my mail!" -- that's the experience I'm having reading this. The message is so in line with what Steve and I have been saying and writing that in some cases, it's almost a direct quote of our private thoughts and conversations. Uncanny. I'm glad this book is out there. For all the controversy it's sure to arouse, the conversation is long overdue. And it's invigorating to see this message gaining support. If the gals who email me represent the Christian culture at large, it's a message much needed.


At 8:03 PM, Blogger Jackie said...

Thank you for your comments on this book. I've been praying about whether I should read it--if it would be informative, and equip me, or if it would push me farther along in my "thirsting after marriage" which has been an ungodly distraction from the potentials of today, and in fact an idol I've built up from a godly desire... I pray that men and women find the book helpful to them--that it inspires them to seek marriage in a healthy and zealous way. (Maybe my future husband, as well!)
It excites me, as a law student, to see other professional women "throwing in the towel" to pursue the Lord's highest calling of motherhood. I hope that will be me, someday!

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Ashleigh said...

Thanks for the review, Candice! I've forwarded the link to your blog on to those I know that enjoy reading your articles on Boundless.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Catherine said...

I read this book a few weeks ago, and thought it was wonderful. Her overview of how society's view of marriage has changed was so eye-opening... I knew there had been a shift in perspective, but had not taken the time to look at the timeline of it.
Thanks for spotlighting this book- I'm linking to this post from my blog :-)
I've appreciated your writing on Boundless, and have enjoyed reading your writing here as well.
God bless~

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Elena said...

First of all, thank you, Candice and the other Boundless writers, for keeping a discussion/conversation going about this topic. Finally, folks are talking about it more than just in their own little circles of friends! :o) Maybe whoever needs to hear some of these messages, finally will hear them.

I haven't read Debbie Makken's book yet, so you can take my comments with that grain of salt.

While I appreciate Makken's speaking into the lives of those who outright delay marriage or refuse it out of a selfish desire to keep their "independence," I think that most Christian singles, especially we females, are experiencing singleness because marriage hasn't "come along" yet...not because we're avoiding it. And just because we're currently in the workforce doesn't mean we wouldn't be thrilled to "return" home once we're married (or married and with kids).

I myself envisioned having the same life my mother did---graduate college at 22 and get married soon after and have two children by the age I am now...30. (Mom married at 22, right out of college; had me at 25; and had my sister at 29.) That plan didn't materialize for me. Yes, I could have been married by now...if my goal was merely to get married. But it's not---my goal is to marry a strong Christian man whom I admire and love and enjoy being with and would not want to live without, someone whose greatest cheerleader I want to be.

My fiancé was a Christian and a decent guy. But I didn't really love him (I was more in love with the idea of being in love than I was with him), and I also discovered that I didn't want his parents for my children's grandparents. Whoa! So many red flags...it was a whole marching band color guard of 'em. I broke the engagement. That was '99.

So...I'm a working woman by default, not by desire. I would love to be a stay-at-home wife and mom, but I can't accomplish that goal all on my own. And if I'm supposed to "wait on God" and not pursuit men, then don't the guys need to be told they need to do the pursuing? (Hmm...but they're told too to "wait on God." I think we use the wrong language in talking to men about the things of God. We speak in terms of relationship. They need to hear more about ACTION. Waiting on God, as you yourself and others have written, is not always sittin' on yo hands doin' nuthin'!!)

I think some thoughts from others' writings are important to consider when chewin' on this issue of the crisis in dating and marriage. (Crisis may not be the best word, but I can't think of another one at this point.) Here are some I think are worth your readers' time and attention:
* "So, Why Aren't You Married?" by Connally Gilliam.....A cogent statement from the article is something a dear friend of Connally's told her after commenting that Connally has experienced a type of suffering in and because of her singleness: "You've kept growing, and most of the men around you have not. So the gap and perhaps the sense of suffering from isolation get greater." Of course, that's not an indictment on all Christian single guys. I just think that there's a lot of thirst among Christian single women for the Word and for personal growth. And many of us are around Christian single men who haven't gotten on that same inner growth page yet.
* State of the Date by Camerin Courtney and Todd Hertz......Good explanation of the state of confusion a lot of us singles are in about dating and relating to the opposite sex
* A post by Fern at Purposeful Singleness has this to say about so-called "choosing singleness": "While many Christian singles have not consciously chosen singleness for the sake of the Kingdom, they have chosen singleness over marrying disobediently to God's principles, and therefore have inadvertently chosen singleness for the sake of the Kingdom."

We singles are given various sets of dictums, and we are danged confused about how to reconcile them all:
(1) Wait on God. Don't pursue relationships. God will bring a mate to you if it's His will for you to be married. {My response to that idea is a favorite comment from one of the characters from the Anne of Green Gables series: "What's meant to be will be. But sometimes what isn't meant to be happens anyway."}
(2) If you aren't married yet, then it's your own fault---you don't have enough faith. {Well, that's just ridiculous...and bad doctrine right there!}
(3) Be a good steward of your opportunities. Get out there and live life and even pursue relationships. Just don't be desperate about it. {To me, this one sounds the most like "walking by faith." But tell that to the folks who still cling to the idea that God's gonna send them some kind of heavenly telegram "this is IT!" when they meet "the one."}

The swirl of messages is enough to make one's head spin and ache.

Anyhoo...not sure where I was headed with all this, but I wanted to say it anyway. Thanks for the opportunity to comment. And thanks again, Candice, for facilitating this discussion among Christians. Blessings on your family...and on your writing!


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