Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Challenge Accepted

I'm thrilled by Elena's comment on "I Dare You" (below). She's accepted the dare and started reading Debbie Maken's book, Getting Serious About Getting Married.

What does she think about it?

Candice, I bought Getting Serious About Getting Married last night and I read the Intro and Chapter 1 and immediately called my best friend. We decided that the "waving the white hanky" of agreement was an inadequate metaphor for the feelings we had over Debbie Maken's message — it was time to bring out the entire marching band and let them do their halftime show, we're SO in agreement with Debbie.

Wahoo! I know there are thousands upon thousands of single women out there who will be equally encouraged by this very challenging read (not literarily speaking, but culturally). I'm glad for Elena's help in spreading the word.

Boundless just posted my full-blown review of the book.

I'm so eager to hear from lots of readers: What do you think of it?

Go get it.
Read it. And share the wealth. This is a book to pass on to and discuss with your best friends!


At 2:24 PM, Blogger Mike Theemling said...

From a guy's perspective, I found the book to be a very good read. I can't say I agree with everything that's written in there, but overall I think it is a breath of fresh air to the entire "don't seek a wife" mentality within the church.

From a biblical perspective, it is clear to me that the default will of God for most people is marriage. The 1 Corinthians 7 passage was referring to a time where that default was in question given the turbulent events in the region. Paul is clear that his advice to not marry was not from the Lord directly (v.25) and that if someone does marry, it is not sin. Furthermore, that unless someone has the constitution to resist the physical and emotional longings for intimacy, then they shouldn't even try to stay single.

I will also add that as a man I agree that many men are not taking the lead as they should. They are not treating women as the "glory" of men (by that I mean opening doors, watching their behavior around women, etc) and not taking responsibility for their actions (deadbeat dads).

However, I will say that it could be that since this boldness is so rare, many women (the one's I've met in single groups anyway) are suspicious of any direct requests for dates. Most of those I've asked make some sort of lame excuse and never give a direct answer.

What's even more discouraging is that even in casual conversation with no hidden agendas when I ask young women in their 20's about their future plans almost no one mentions wanting to get married and start a family (even if they truly do want that). It is always about their future job, school, travel plans, or some other peripheral. Maybe like Danielle Crittenden wrote, women who admit this feel weak, non-independent, or maybe it's their way of saying "I do want a relationship, just not with you". Ouch.

I agree with the author's analysis regarding extended celibacy. From a guy's perspective, given the ubiquitousness of premarital sex and pornography, the issue isn't a lack of sexual desire, it's a lack of direction towards how to properly use that desire (i.e. towards marriage). I'm not suggesting we have 16 year olds immediately marry, but I do think that marriage should be something planned for sooner rather than later.

Finally, one issue I do disagree with her is her criticism of single groups. Yes, they aren't perfect and can in some circumstances compound problems, but church is about community. Praying, worshiping, and breaking bread together. No one seems to criticize people of other commonalities meeting together: Senior citizens, newlyweds, women, men, etc. Singles meeting together do allow a "safe" venue to mix and mingle with those of both the opposite and same sex. Ideally it'd be better to have more community involvement from family/friends/church (the Mormon church for example have full blown services for singles only to encourage marriage [at least they see the importance of marriage if even for the wrong theological reasons]) but we live in a day and age where many singles are transient and far removed from family. Thus a singles group may be the only "family" they are in regular contact with.

I hope that there will be a book/article which approaches this topic from a guy's perspective. I hear Candice's husband (Steve) is concocting such.

At 3:30 PM, Blogger Elena said...

Mike, good points.

I too agree that singles ministry is important—as an umbrella ministry, one that consists of leaders who seek to make sure that singles needs are met, regardless of what programs and structures are put in place to accomplish the meeting of those needs. However, I also think that when the singles group is allowed to become a subcongregation (or even separate congregation) from the particular local church, we have a problem.

This happened at my church. Many singles didn't want to go to the all-church gatherings or to the joint worship services (when the contemporary worship congregation and the traditional worship congregation all met at the same hour in the sanctuary and the music was blended but more to the traditional side). When the rest of the adults were in prayer meeting, the singles had their Bible study. Our singles activities were constantly being scheduled in conflict with the rest of the church body's activities, which not only led to the forming of a singles bubble but also sent the message that going to the all-church gatherings wasn't "cool." Instead of leading young singles to become part of the larger church body (and thus, fostering their continuing maturity as adults and as Christ-followers), we catered to their immature, consumer-driven attitudes. Eventually, I switched to the traditional service in order to put down roots at the church I had chosen for that very reason—it was the type of church into which I could put down deep roots. I moved out of the singles Sunday School area and joined a class that is all ages of adults, both marrieds and singles. I made a commitment to my local church body—not to just one demographically-based ministry in it—and I have served at one time or another in all the age group ministries (preschool, children's, youth, and adult).

If young adult single Christians are to grow up in the Lord and be trained up to be leaders, they need to be involved in the entire church body and begin serving as apprentices in various ministries (as they are gifted and interested), not to continue to be merely spectators and recipients or merely singles. Perhaps we singles wouldn't feel our singleness so keenly if we stopped using "single" as our primary identifier and chose to see how we have much in common with other adults...and then focus on other people, getting to know them as fellow human beings who love Jesus and love people.

Debbie's initial impetus for leaving the singles area of her church may have been because she didn't feel she belonged there anymore, and it wasn't the same reason I left my singles area at church....but I think it was the right thing to do for her and it was the right thing for me.

Something's not quite right in the state of Denmark, to borrow from the Bard... And somehow singles ministry needs to be approached in a better way, a different way—one that leads single Christians to be part of the entire church; and I think that way can be found.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Elena said...


Had some other thoughts; but they got to be so long, I moved them to my blog. Here's me: Polka-dotted Sky


At 8:55 PM, Blogger jennifer said...

I am just about finished reading the book, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I know that many singles feel that Maken is bashing singes, but I do not feel that way at all. I think, on the contrary, that she is affirming singles who desire to get married but have yet to do so.

Thanks for the post.


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