Too Tough on the Guys Who Are Trying?

50 Comments

I got some great feedback from a young man in our church after two of my recent sermons from Matthew 5, both of which touched on aspects of marriage (the messages were "Jesus on Lust" and "Don't Break Your Marriage or Your Word.") In his mid-twenties, he kindly expressed appreciation for both messages and then went on to voice concern about how I challenged single men to "put down the X-box, grow up, pursue a wife, and glorify God in that relationship" (or words to that effect).

Let me share some of his e-mail (with his permission):

I think I understand your heart and the cultural situation that would lead you to make such a statement. I think your heart is for God to be glorified through marriage relationships and the women of the church be cared for and provided for in that way ... And the cultural situation of the USA is [that] men are passive, they prolong adolescence, and they abuse or neglect women to varying degrees...


I'm not knocking that at all. I love that heart to care for and provide for others and to above all bring glory to our Savior through our marriages. But Josh, I know very few men in the church who need to hear that exhortation.

The men in the church that I know are doing a good job of honoring God in their pursuit of marriage, not a sinless one, but an honest, genuine effort. Between me and the other single and recently married men in my small group, around 30 different relationships have been pursued over the past 5 years ...

And to hear such an exhortation ... without a corresponding encouragement to guys who are trying, can be so tempting. Pursuing relationships is ... probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. And there seems to be so little apparent reward for our efforts (of those 30 relationships that were pursued, only three went anywhere).

I am grateful this brother took time to write. I wrote back and asked his forgiveness for being too sweeping with my statement. Yes, there are men who need to be challenged. But I didn't think carefully about men like him who are seeking to pursue marriage faithfully. I should have nuanced my words more and also commended brothers who are stepping forward (and getting turned down).

To other men in a similar situation, I apologize for not being more circumspect in the way I spoke to this issue. And I encourage you from Galatians 6:9: "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."

After this brother presented his concern to me, I posted about this topic on my Facebook page and received a plethora of great comments for both single men and women. Here is a sampling of helpful observations:

A husband and father to two daughters exhorted: "Husbands, love your wives ... and the wife must respect her husband." [Ephesians 5:25,33] - Young single men, are you living lives that women can respect? ... [Consider] ask[ing] a close trusted friend or a close married couple for some honest observations.


A recently married young lady wrote:
Girls ... have good friendships with guys ... We're free in Christ to enjoy people, make memories, and trust God to fulfill His plans for us. And who knows! Someday one of those mutually enjoyable friendships might turn into romance.

A mother shared this thought:
Guys - are you pursuing God as much as you are trying to pursue ladies?

A young woman observed:
Christian women being encouraged to hold out for "the one" is a good thing, but can be out of balance because the woman's mental picture of what she is looking for in a guy is often pretty unrealistic ... Girls need to be encouraged to be willing to consider imperfect guys who are growing in the right direction.

As I read over these I was reminded of our need for the community of the local church and the wisdom and grace that flow from it.

So now I'd love your perspective. How do you think churches can grow in encouraging men and women toward marriage? Is there too much pressure already? Or is marriage being unnecessarily delayed by the people around you? Are girls too quick to say no? What would you say to a guy who's getting weary of trying?

50 Comments

I hate to be negative but you didn't answer any of the questions you asked in your tweet.

I think that there is too much pressure. You are told to seek God, he will provide when the time is right. I'm 20 and had an eight year old ask me the other day "are you ever going to get married?". I think that maybe when you are trying so hard to find someone that you are losing sight of the more important things. Also, the problem with a lot of females is that they do not trust, if you are not ready for marraige, don't date. You are only toying with each others emotions. I think that the church could provide classes teaching young single women things that are important to know when you are getting married as well as classes for young men, how to treat a lady! These are simply my opinions!

The biggest challenge I have seen, both encountered many times by myself and fellow brothers, is that girls are the ones not interested in relationships. I think in the modern church there is a conflicting message.

For young men, it is as you stated: "Put down the x-box and pursue marriage."

For young women, it seems to be the other way: "Don't be so eager to get married."

This results in guys who are seeking marriage, but girls who are pursuing anything but.

Josh,
I'm not by any means in a possitions to be pursuing a relationship at this point. I'm a high school graduate with a semester off looking for work, obviously not marriageable. But this is an issue that has fascinated me since I read "I kissed dating goodbye."
I think an enormous amount of responsibility here falls on the fathers of the young people in the church, and also on the siblings. We need to, as families, encourage and instruct each other to be confident, circumspect, thinking people. Men need to know that the worst that could happen is still God's will, and accept that there is, more likely than not, going to be at least one "no" before he finds a "yes." We need to seek to glorify God whatever the outcome, because God is in absolute control. He's not up there, shrugging his shoulders going "well, maybe you are a lost cause! I guess I was wrong." Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows exactly what his plan for us is, and that it's an awesome plan.
The young ladies, I think, do often need to be less picky. You are not searching for a needle in a haystack, your searching for a needle in a pile of needles. Men are fallen, and we're fairly uniformly stupid when it comes to relationships (regardless of how many of Josh's books we've read.) The trick, I think, is to know when to settle for the one who knows your worth trying harder for, if that makes sense. Because as clueless as we seem, or as distant from mr. Perfect, many of us do genuinely want to do better.
Lastly, I think the church needs to take it easy on which system is "approved." we cannot assume that a one year courtship will work for everyone.
In sum, I think every one involved simply has to go about the courtship process patiently and prayerfully, knowing that God will not be mocked or circumvented.

I appreciate the perspective of this post, but as a woman in the church, I have to respectfully disagree with the email you received. I see VERY few men in the church who ARE trying - speaking particularly of men in the Body I respect greatly for their faith, Biblical wisdom and teaching, and walk with Christ - in regard to their relationships with their wives or in their pursuit of one. I see even strong, effective leaders in the church as passive, and apathetic in their relationships and their wives are truly hurting! These men need to hear the message you originally presented, in my opinion. What an exhortation it is for men to hear these words from other men! As Proverbs 27:17 teaches, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

Well I am pursuing God now but I think that there is a season in which you should only pursue him and not relationships. That's a struggle right now, I want to have a wife but I also want to be able to lead her biblically. I can't do both of those in totality so I need to focus on just pursuing God first! A big problem that i observe is that it's hard to find women who are Godly and who are even marriage material. I know this is true of men, but I can only speak to what I observe in my female peers. What do you do when you are pursuing Godliness and you can't find a woman is doing the same?
That leaves you no biblically wise options

by the way who decides whether someone is going to get married or not?
whats the role of a girl in starting a reltionship
what happens when the frustration of waiting sets in and a girl messes up?

Josh,

I agree with many of the comments on FB and here. Maybe I'm sharing the same ideas but maybe not.

My opinion is that many guys are content to stay single-minded (playing x-box, not respectful of women, playing with emotions, etc.) but want to get married only for the benefits (sex, maid, companionship, etc.). On the other hand, there are women who have set a standard that is impossible to achieve. They're wanting to get married and have babies but aren't willing to "settle" for less than their perfect list.

A friend of mine recently said she tells young women she talks with to put wants/needs into 2 columns - "NO moving/compromise" and "Want but not absolutely necessary". And have this list evaluated by a trusted mentor. This helps these young women receive guidance/perspective.

As a happily married woman I was recently approached to set up a man and a woman who already knew each other. Later I discovered that there had been opportunity for the two to be together but the interested woman turned down the direct invitation for another previous commitment. When I discovered this I decided I would not be setting them up in any way because when the effort was made by the man, the woman deemed something else more important. Sometimes I think a woman has to jump at the opportunity to be directly in the presence of a worthy man and make it obvious that she is interested in a godly marriage, children etc. It seems that some women think that the man will find them even when they hide in their single girl circles.

When I was hoping to get married, there was a godly family in my home church who said that they wanted to set me up with their brother/uncle, I HIGHLY encouraged it and expressed my sincere excitement. No blushing from this girl, just a sincere desire to marry and good man. At the same time I was offered a position on a one year mission team who would not allow me time off to meet this man (he lived far from me). After a lot of prayer and thought I declined the position on the team to Uganda and stayed in my home town waiting a few more months until he came for the wedding where I was to meet him. It was the best decision of my life! We have now been married al most 9 years and we have a healthy marriage with 4 children.

My point, woman need to show their need for men and men need to respond to the need when they are truly attracted and want a marriage with her. An aloof and distant and independent woman is not as attractive as an open, happy and confident one who knows that she will make a great wife for a good man.
I also hear single women say that there are no single men that are leaders. My husband would not have been seen as a leader b.c no one was following him. I follow him and now we have 4 children under his headship. Sometimes all a man needs to be a leader is for someone to follow him.

Thank you for addressing this subject, it's been on my mind recently.

Christian men are not brave enough. As Christians we play the "waiting on the Lord" card way too many times when it comes to dating. Nowhere in the bible do you find this looooooong draged out periods of dating and courting... It's so over rated in the church hey. The pressure that comes with the Christian dating scene is insane! Lol!

I think it’s both. Young men and woman both need to be exhorted to pursue Christ, NOT marriage as if that is the end all. That is NOT what we were ultimately made for. We are called to follow Christ. I truly believe that if you are pursuing Christ, and it’s His will for you to marry – IT WILL HAPPEN. You don’t have to go looking for it. Sure, for the young men there is a responsibility to pursue, but it should be at the Lord’s leading, with wise counsel (including her parents!) and a LOT of prayer! Also, if a young woman is pursued she is responsible to respond the same way: to seek the Lord’s guidance through His Word and in prayer and to listen to wise counsel. Wise and godly counsel will make clearer or confirm God’s leading, tell you if you’re expectations are too high or if you’re not going about things the right or best way. Be willing to listen and willing to bend your expectations of what is best for God’s true best.

What I have seen is that are godly Christian women who are holding true to purity--but some are willing to compromise. There is but a rement who are truly purposing in their life to walk in purity. Many women will date a man even if he is 'kinda' saved!

That is becaise so FEW Christian men are really stepping up to the plate and being the men that God called them to be! Many of the men are very complacent and quite happy to stay single--not all of these men are called to singleness!

I see many many effeminate Christin men...it is NOT right! I see many men who also date all the Christian women in the single's group and NOT be comitted to anyone--they just serial date and date! While they do this, they hurt many Christian women who desire marriage! Its like dangling a carrott in front of a donkey!

This is a good topic.
Well,both needs to be changed .
For boys,thy should understand their responsibility on the marriage and learn how to be a true man.
For girls,they need to see boys as brothers in Christ first because they are too picky now. I've met some girls who are raised in the protected environment,and I mailed them to tell them some info. Then,they became very upset and started trying to avoid me from the next day. It was terrible.
And stop idolizing their ideal with the future partner,indeed.
There's no one perfect.

Marriage is God's creation. It is good thing. Beautiful thing. Church needs to encourage people more to pursue marriage relationship.(but people never should rush into the marriage)
And they should teach how to build godly family relationship.

I keep trying to keep this short, but it's not working :)

I speak as a single 26 year old woman and have never been in a dating relationship. Honestly, after a while, you feel like old baggage, not used baggage, just dusty. I hear two different messages.

One is to forget about it- to let my heart be lost in God and let Him fill my needs and quench my desires. Apparently, there is a divine UPS driver that just drops off Christian men on your front porch... ? So, everytime I desire marriage or think that some guy is attractive, I get this overwhelming wash of guilt that says, "You aren't being content. Just let go and let God."

The other is to pursue it at all costs and to throw myself at men in a desperate attempt to get married before 30. I was once told in college to "go where the fishing is good." (Yes, men are now, apparently, fish). All of my decisions and motives are supposed to be based on pursuing marriage. One Christian woman told me it should be next on my list and that I should pursue it like I would a job- online dating sites, go out every night of the week, etc, etc, etc and not stop until I have acheived my goal... right.

So, on one hand I'm not supposed to be working at all; on the other I'm not working hard enough, when really all I want is to be somewhere in the middle.

I don't like treating myself as bait, and don't see men as trophy bass. I do guard my heart because I think that is important, but all a young Godly man would need to do is ask. No one ever has.

I like to consider myself undiscovered - a little diamond, in a dusty suitcase. Someone is just a little late to baggage claim :)

Dear Josh,
This is a really helpful topic to consider. I like your points so far.
From what I've observed, men in the church should be more encouraged to grow up in general. I think youth/college/single groups can at times be detrimental to young people because they do not see good marriages modelled and therefore marriage is not held in honour by all (Heb 13:4.) Their perspective of marriage may be unwittingly drawn from what they see in the world, and their idea of "readiness" may include college degrees and established careers from both spouses and the high standard of living that they're used to from living with their parents.
I was 19 when I got married to my then-20-year-old husband (and I gave birth to our beautiful son 10.5 months later!) Neither of us had college degrees and his job paid less than $12/hour. Before marriage we decided that I'd stay home with the kids, so I've made the majority of our meals to save money and we've lived a simple life. We were able to get married shortly after we began a deeper friendship and courtship (5 months later, to be exact!) and we are so grateful for the maturity that God has brought about through marriage. We do not in any way regret getting married when we did and we are grateful that there wasn't much of a limbo phase in which we were pursuing marriage but unable to attain it. I think many young people today are more capable of getting married than they think; they just have to accept that daily Starbucks trips might have to come to an end.
P.S. Your books on courtship really shaped our relationship! We are so grateful for the LORD's grace in using you. We both waited until we were ready to get married before we even confessed any kind of feelings for each other, and (after meeting with my dad) my now-husband did not begin The Conversation with "I like you" but "I feel called to lay down my life for you"! 

There's just no cookie cutter answer. Some men need to be challenged, others need to be encouraged. (By older godly men, mind you - not single women, because trust me, that does NOT create an atmosphere conducive to guys asking girls out. So girls, don't tell guys they need to stop being cowards, then wonder why no one is pursuing you. Side note over.) All except two of the ladies in my church who are younger than me are already married. (Which, incidentally, at 24 makes me the "older single woman".) But this means that quite a few young men have already put down the X-box and have got themselves un-singlized. So from my perspective, a good percentage of young men are stepping up to the man-plate.

But then again, here I am, wondering why there is absolutely-and-without-exaggeration not a single unmarried man in my church between the ages of 24 and 35.

As to whether or not women are being too picky, that's hard to answer. I get uncomfortable when that gets thrown around, as I automatically think people are judging me for turning guys down and THATS why I'm still single - a few frantic conversations with my parents were needed to assuage my fears that I had screwed up. (And yes, my parents agreed with my decisions.) I've had quite a few gentlemen pursue me, so I have a hard time believing that the shortcoming is guys actually trying to pursue. At least in my case, it's more the uncontrollable anger issues, emotional instability, lack of faithfulness, heavy drinking, or complete lack of compatibility that is the problem. (And if you're tracking, that means every guy who tried to pursue me has left the church. Yeah.) I'm not looking for a guy with the maturity of my father, just a guy headed in the right direction that I can come along side of, and serve the Lord with. (And who won't judge me for ending sentences with prepositions.)

Is there too much pressure to get married? Yes. Yes there is. I already want to get married, so hearing the constant barrage of information of the woes of waiting too long does not help my anxiety as a I wonder if I'll ever have kids, or realizing that the picture book story of marrying the boy you grew up with in children's ministry is no longer for me. (We're moving into Sara, Plain and Tall territory here, folks.) Then because it's been built up so much, when a good guy DOES come along, there's a mountain of pressure to make it work. Which is not helpful, let me tell you.

And to the gentlemen who are weary of trying: Don't be - because that girl out there is going to get weary of waiting.

I agree that both that men in general need to be stronger and that there are men struggling so hard to get a woman to no avail. Both issue need to be addressed. I can only speak fro myself and for men. In my experience, I'm 30 going on 31 and I spend everyday of my life concentrating on being content with the life God has given my (because no Christian woman has ever given me a chance on a slightest date or anything of the sort). I don't know if it's right to blame women for it. That seems very unfair to me. I honestly don't know what I'm doing wrong. In the past I admit definitely to being weak and I've dealt with this. In the past 3 years I've grown so much as man. However my perpetual singleness stays put. This is where God has me to glorify him today and I will do so. All men in my situation need to realize that. Don't just "wait"...simply glorify God. So in short don't feel what you preached is wrong at all, only know that there are many that are alone because they try and fail. In my case, I fret because all the Christian women I know are spoken for (or have turned me down).

Hahahaha! That's a good one!!! "I like to consider myself undiscovered - a little diamond, in a dusty suitcase. Someone is just a little late to baggage claim :)"
I'm also single and have never been in a dating relationship.

I think you have begun to write on an important issue facing all young people searching for relationships, even those who are not in the church.

What I have noticed is that often our USA culture sets a precedent on young women to find "the One" or "Mr. Perfect," so much so that girls tend to refuse a young man for small imperfections he has. We need to tell our daughters that the man they will marry will not be perfect, he will be a sinner, just like she is. The question she should ask instead, is, as another commenter pointed out (I cannot remember who, I'm sorry!) is whether he is growing in the Lord and putting for an effort to be as Godly or "perfect" as he can be. Is he willing to take criticisms and learn how to be a good husband and lover? Does he pursue her with Godly intentions?

Refusing a otherwise "great guy" because of something that falls into a mental list of imperfections is hurting our young men. I do believe women need to be more open to the men in the church that are honestly doing their best. Perfection is unattainable, but a man with a good heart can be found.

(This argument can also be made for men and women outside the church, where this problem also lies)

I find these responses fascinating. I think the answers must reflect upon the society they live in, in their state. For us Southerners, it's the TOTAL opposite. I would be so appreciative if a young man ever asked to court me. I would love to get married. In fact, most young women where I come from are WAY too eager to be married. It's like a curse to stay unmarried past 21 over here. That is an issue. Another issue here is that most of the young ladies who are unmarried would love to be married, but there are no young men their age in the churches these days. That is part of my problem. I am seeing far less young men really seek out God like they should. My standards aren't impossible. All I want is a young man who is a Christian who lives it out everyday- where his life is consumed with God.I don't care about race, height, hair color, appearance, etc. I want him to be Godly.

I feel like the church needs to find a way to teach men and women what to look for in potential spouses. too often i see where a really Godly man is chasing a Godly woman, but the woman fails to notice the man because she is all wrapped up in some idiot of a big boy thats only considered a man because of age and facial hair not mentality or faithfulness to God. and visa versa. women, are picky and men are sometimes too simple. work is definitely needed from both sides.

This has also been my experience Jeremy.

I think that, while Christian guys should always endeavor to be a better reflection of Christ, usually Christian girls have much to high of expectations when it comes to the man they marry. I wrote a blog post about this the other day.
http://www.chrisnchristy.com/2012/09/marriage-and-jesus/

I agree! There is always more to learn, but the art of being a gentleman in this day and age is sadly missing in many men out there and I think that a lot of girls feel like they have to compromise their standards. Plus God's timing is everything if you want the best for your life and the life of your spouse.

I always get a bit confused when I see articles or here conversations like this one. I'm a Christian female in their mid twenties who is actively involved in church/parachurch ministry as a participant and leader. I know lots of Christian guys but I've never had a guy ask me out. I'm not sure I've even seen much interest in my direction. Where are these guys everyone keeps talking abot who are trying really hard and making an effort to pursue?

I think it's different honestly for every church, as they all have different cultures. Some like to go the courting route,some just go the friendship and suddenly they're in engaged route, and some just want to date around or are in NO shape to date. I also think it is both men not being ready (even in practical areas like finances, job aspirations and just lack of vision in their lives). Our generation has a lot of wounds to get over and sometimes until those are healed in our walk it God it would be harmful to bring those into a romantic relationship. That being said, a woman should have a list of 10 must haves and 10 deal-breakers, and really discard the rest. Guys, sorry but some of you are shallow in terms of what you think is attractive. I've actually prayed before that God would expand my idea of attractive so I wouldn't miss out on any good guy just because he wasn't my physical "type". I think that "type" stuff is so shallow.

I think being picky is not an issue. Instead, Christians know what we truly desire as God speaks to us. Christians will take time and enjoy what God has placed in within for us, the time in which we seek and pursue.. we shouldn't raise the issue that time is running short and create the reasons that single Christians should lower our criteria in what we believe God has given.. every Christian is created differently, and everyone has a different personality and character, different conviction different values in how each and everyone of us can live to honour Him.. I believe that we Christians ought be conscious as we fellowship.. we have to be aware that someone who we spend time with out there all these while, might be the one. We may also need to know and remember that we cannot rush things but we need to walk with God as He brings us along in this interesting journey of seeking and yet knowing His truth and glory.. He will eventually show the right person if we choose to focus on Him.. it's always about our God.. don't we think so? :) blessed day ahead guys..

Thanks for bringing this up Josh. I've grown up in the church and spent most of my adult life in "courting culture" churches. Now in my mid thirties (still single) there have been countless sermons I have heard like the ones you describe. (I'll listen to those as soon as I can) A recent revelation for me is that I realized that most of the time when I have heard about marriage it has been mostly ideological. I'm presented with a "picture" of what marriage looks like and even what a Godly man "should be" and then asked, "Why don't you want this?" Well here's the problem. I have no problem with marriage. I don't need to be convinced that marriage is awesome, beautiful, etc. etc. In fact I don't think almost anyone really has a problem with marriage in concept. Marriage is beautiful. However, RELATIONSHIPS are hard, ugly, messy things. The sad thing is that we all know this. We all know deep down that it's far easier to aspire to a "picture" than actually love, sacrifice, be vulnerable, forgive, etc. For guys often we look at that "picture" and since we don't see ourselves there now, and don't know how to get there, we just ignore it. For girls I think the "picture" is actually encouraged and promoted by the church. Girls are more encouraged to desire "marriage" as a station of life and to look for a "type" of man. We categorize each other because too often it seems easier in the church to deal with relationships (as well as masculinity and femininity) within the category of marriage. We keep trying to put static what is actually dynamic and ever changing. When we are trained to think in ideals and pictures we don't relate to people. Honestly that's what's hard.

As a 23-year-old female it was interesting, your explanation on a guys reaction to "the picture". A big problem I think is that we don't understand our points of view (meaning male and female points of view), whether we agree or not.

Dear Josh et al,
Of our 9 children, 5 are now married and 4, ages 22-14, are as yet unmarried, although our sons, 22 and 20, are participating in a purposeful dating relationship ie. dating with the vision of marriage as the end result and intentional friendship ie. spending purposeful time building a friendship based on trust that may develop into purposeful dating.
All of our children and their spouses have read "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" and/or "Boy Meets Girl". These are required reading in our discipleship phase of growing in wisdom and stature. The point is: we are purposeful in developing in our children a mindset and heart attitude for marriage.
To round out our reading, we've also adopted two newer publications by trusted authors: "Get Married" by Candice Watters; founder of the Boundless.org webzine for Focus on the Family and
"Just Do Something" by Kevin DeYoung; Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in E.Lansing, Mich.
These two modest tomes are icing on the cake to both of your books and truly debunk the myths that hinder godly marriages. Read them and be blessed and then pass on a copy to someone else and so on.
The Bible says that God brought Eve to Adam therefore, God will bring godly men their wives--no looking has to be done! And for women, it's about being prepared to be the woman that God is ready to bring....is her lamp full of oil and the wick trimmed?
Encourage older godly women in your churches to form prayer groups committed to fervent, effectual prayer on behalf of the as yet unmarried men and women in your churches.
Encourage your young men and women to read the wealth of articles at boundless.org....research what Capitol Hill Baptist Church is doing to prepare young people for marriage.
To cut to the chase, women need to practice better manners in regards to the polite invitations of godly young men and men, through the power of the Holy Spirit, fight against bitterness!
God is still the best matchmaker!
Respectfully submitted by Mom who meets weekly to fervently, effectually pray for our as yet unmarried young people.
Diana Smith
Phoenix, AZ

I am also a mother of young adults and married 27 years. What I have seen over the many years and various churches we have been in OVERALL is that this is more a personality/maturity thing than a gender thing. Some guys need to get off xbox and get going on LIFE...first pursuing the Lord and growing in their walk with Him (FIRST!) and then pursuing a wife (I disagree in saying that we should look at what happened in the garden to say that a man should just go to sleep and God will drop his wife on his doorstep. Clearly, there are other stories where we could say that a man ought to pursue a woman/wife Abe sending the servant tolook for a wife for Isaac, though Isaac didn't do the pursuing there, actually. For that matter we have Ruth initiating with Boaz. We need to be careful overall in making narratives into instruction in the Word. Christ, the ultimate 'Bridegroom' pursues His Bride. The Bride is the responder. I agree with women needing to keep their wicks trimmed...first and foremost for the Lord and then for a husband should one come along to seek them.)
I think it is also Scriptural that Fathers/Families ought to be matchmaking (like the one gal who shared that she chose to not go on the missions trip but to wait and go to the wedding where her friend was going to have her meet someone they thought she was well suited for and vice versa.
All that to say, sorry to be so long, is that the Body needs to be helping these women and men meet eachother but only if first of all they are walking with the Lord individually. If they are not, then they need the accountability and encouargment from the other married and older people in the Church to come along side them and help them over all. Discipleship.
That's my two cents. (or $1.95)
God bless you all.
I like the Mom's idea bout prayer groups. Though Paul was pretty clear in 1 Cor 7 that those who are unmarried ought to be making the most of the time and draw near to the Lord. As hard as that is to do (and type!) it is the Word of God and we ought to follow/obey it. We ought to help these young ladies who desire marriage to be content with where they are and have meaningful/blessed lives of service in the Body and include them in our families and make a place for them. We ought also to help these young men grow up , if need be, to be able to marry or serve the Lord as single men, as the Lord leads.
I liked the comment that said that we need to each be seeking the Lord and follow Him . that is the main thing..... Amen.

I say "Amen" to Diana's post... God is still the best matchmaker.
I see all types...men who aren't growing up, women who are too picky, and men and women who are trying to do God's will.
Sadly, I do also see too many "Christian" households in which the men are not treating their wives as Christ loves the Church, and giving himself for her.
In all three circumstances, and for those of us who are married, we all need to keep growing in God's grace...growing to be more like Christ, not for the benefits we get out of it (a great marriage, healthy kids, good job, etc), but for the value of CHRIST! Paul says, for me to live is Christ and to DIE is gain--and he wasn't married.
My wife often encourages young women (and I'd love to share this with young men too), are you Christ's child? Then you are a daughter (or son) of the king, and that's ALL you need. Are you ok with God's plan if that means He did not intend for you to be married? Can you perform as a valuable member of His body without being married, or will you just sit, waiting, whining, wanting a spouse? Do you believe that the most loving Father, the gracious God of all the universe will truly give you the BEST life possible? Do you believe that He loves you more than you love yourself, do you TRUST Him?
Then live it, go in His path, and if there is a young man or woman in that path too, test out the relationship. If it's not for marriage, don't press it, but enjoy all the relationships that God has given to you. Each one is a blessing and there is something to learn from them.
If one turns into marriage, then love that person as a beautiful gift from God.

I agree 100%!!!!

I don't know about the church as a whole, but I can think of particular churches that should stop pressuring single people to get married. I am certainly not opposed to supporting families and encouraging people in marriage to embrace the way God sanctifies them within that context, but whatever happened to "concerning marriage I have no command from the Lord"?

What on earth is the problem with encouraging single men to love the Lord with all their hearts and to glorify Him in all that they do, including dating? Why can't there be encouragement to single women to pursue Christ with their whole hearts, and not continually remind them about the marriages that they are not in but will be some day? If God brings together men and women in marriage, why is it that the church supposedly has a mandate to encourage this union?

Hi Josh. Don't normally run in your circles, but I thought I'd offer my two cents. In my single days, I always found the "men are delaying marriage" message to be pretty sweeping if not irrelevant for the men going to church. I spent a good ten years pursuing a relationship that would lead to marriage, but unfortunately, I had a lot of growing up to do. I think a lot of guys in the church are like that, and although they might not be husband material, they want to be. Perhaps the most harmful thing that can come out of this process is the thought that since you are not good enough for a young Christian lady, you are not good enough for ministry, the church, or even God.

How to lift such guys up? I don't know, but I found comfort in knowing that rejection is not the worst thing in the world, and that Jesus suffers more in his rejection of love offered to the world.

this has been on my heart a LOT this year. I havwe asked the older women and men in my church to pray... there is an overall disconnect..you can blame men who have been burnt out from putting themselves out there (something i have to fervently pray to not succumb to)...you can blame women for having unrealisitic expectations from the men in their church... you can blame our culture and technology for assaulting our men with pornography and our women with hyperidealized romantic ideals...I think that , simply put, Satan has been and will continue to attack the institute of marriage, especially Godly ones...

As someone in her late twenties who recently met and married a wonderful man after spending most of her twenties single in the church this is a topic I have thought a lot about.

First, I do believe that often too much pressure is put on women to get married. As an example right after college I moved back to the church I grew up in. About the same time 2 Godly young men moved into the church. Obviously this church had watched me grow up, loved me, and wanted to see me married. So soon people began asking me which guy I wanted to marry. This took me by surprise. Who said I wanted to marry either of them and even if I did who said either of them wanted to marry me? In talking with other women it became apparent to me that this was a common attitude in conservative christian churches - the girl needs to choose the guy and work to catch him. I disagreed. I began responding to these questions with, "They are both Godly men. I desire to marry a Godly man. You are welcome to pray that the right Godly man would pursue and you are even welcome to suggest me to Godly men that you know but I am not going to connive with you to figure out how to catch a guy." Eventually through repeating this many times, I caused a discussion in our church that many have told me changed the culture of the way people interact on relationships.

Second, I think guys do have trouble pursuing but there is also blame on the way we as a church look at things. A guy really only has one chance to date and get it right before he is a "serial dater". You see I knew that if one of these guys asked me out and the church found out and it didn't end in marriage, he would be tainted because he must just be playing around. It almost feels as if asking a girl out is half a step away from a marriage proposal. I think in reacting to serial dating we have swung the pendulum too far and have made dating (or courting) to be too serious so men feel they really have to know a lot so they don't end up a social outcast because they "can't commit".

I would strongly recommend that all singles do this courses from Craig Hill's Family Foundation. http://www.familyfoundations.com/index.php/news
Many of the relationship issues they confront relate to family of origin, and pass on from generation to generation. Fortunately Jesus is faithful to each generation, if you give those issues to Him. I only wish I had done these courses in my late teens - early twenties, before I got married. I work with a large group of guys with fatherhood issues, and these seminars have been life-changing for them.

I married my college sweetheart at 23, so I'm not sure if I have enough insight into this, but here are my two cents. They go for parenting, as well. I really resonated with the man who talked about relationships being much messier than the image of marriage presented. Marriage is great in its metaphor and in its sanctifying aspects, but it is not easy. When I was on the other side of the altar I never saw what real, broken, working marriage was. My parents were divorcing, for goodness' sake! Just as I got engaged. All I had was a hope and prayer that my husband was willing to stick it out with me. Same goes for parenting. You amass the tons of junk for the nursery, but once you have the child it is hard to explain the mind-numbing exhaustion of the everyday (we have two now, five years later, and inexplicably want more). The truth is that there are men who have given up the xbox, most of the men in my chyrch are married. But it seems to me that once you are married you have "moved on", when it must be important to stay in the trenches with the singles and help e eryone's view of marriage become more realistic. I ahte that single women feel usolated. I can't provide them a spouse, but surely I can invite them in to my family, if they're willing to be there.

Thank you for writing this. At some point recently it became popular for pastors to yell at guys for their shortcomings...and while I do think that sometimes hard words are necessary, I think the importance of inspiring someone can't be overlooked.

I can't speak for all men, but as a young man who struggles sometimes to fully "grow up" and embrace responsibility...a kind and uplifting word is worth ten lectures about how much I suck. The parts of my life where Im not living up to who and what I could be are probably more apparent to me than to anyone else.

Value - mission - purpose - destiny - fulfillment: these are the things that motivate me to put aside passivity and start running the race.

If we're not running...maybe it's because we don't know where we're going, or have lost hope that we can actually get there. Hope changes things.

Thanks for writing this post, Josh.

Maybe the answer to all these questions is to pursue Jesus and trust that in that pursuit all the good things you need will be positioned in your path at the right time in your life.

I think a practical way to combat awkwardness in Christian dating is not to treat singleness like a disease that needs to be cured in the church. Don't relegate singles to an awkward "young professionals" group that should actually be called "the people we don't know what to do with" group, and wait for them to get married so they can join all the more "legitimate" groups in the church like young marrieds, family groups, etc. That makes it seem like it's somehow wrong for people to be single, and that they can't really be used of God while they are except in the workplace.

This is where multi-generational groups and fellowship comes in. Individuals can only pursue it so far - the church should provide it, IMO.

Granted, I'm 23 and married, but seeing this happen has been a peeve of mine for awhile now. Maybe this is a rabbit trail, though?

Great insights here Josh. Two thoughts:

1) I've seen guys pursue marriage more than godliness, or godliness as a means of getting the "Ok" for marriage. Subsequently after marriage, they become complacent or bewildered as to why their desire for God has waned after their mission of marriage is accomplished. I think it's good to encourage men to grow in godliness and pursue marriage, but I think it can be a hidden tether between the two that communicates godliness as a means to the alter, but what do you do with godliness after the altar?
2) Another facet of this is that it seems to me that guys tend to put a lot into getting the girl to say yes, but little effort in after the marriage. Understandably, men want the dating/courting relationship to be fun and appealing, and the proposal to be memorable (e.g. viral flash-mob proposal videos). But I rarely see men put the effort into surprising and delighting their wives that they did in to planning the proposal/honeymoon. Kind of like a Jane Austen book - great story upfront, but what happens after the "I do's"? This seems to be a bit of an issue that follows out of the first point.

~Jacob

Maybe the issue isn't unrequited good intentions. It could simply be that these singles only seem to fish in one pond. There are Christians everywhere in your community. Get out of your isolated church clique, expand your horizons, get to know OTHER Christians in the world outside of SGM. Other churches aren't heretics just because they aren't your church. They are Christians like you, who also love God, but who happen to meet in another building. Don't be afraid of them. Think outside the box and meet more people than just the convenient ones in your small circle. Maybe the issue is really that your efforts are isolated to one geographical sample of Christians. Visit another church. Travel. Help people in another venue.

Jessica, I can TOTALLY relate to you. I"m 26 too, and in the exact same situation.
Love your last line. So poetic.
My philosophy is to just be myself. I'm tired of being pulled one way or another with people's ideas of what I should do--because being 26 and single (and never having had a boyfriend) automatically casts you as a person in need of advice-- so I just do what feels best in accordance with my own private prayer and devotional life.
We are God's daughters and ultimately, He will take care of us and show us how to walk in His ways.

Both should learn to Love God more than they love each other so they know to love each other than anyone else.

As a Christian counselor, I contend that your exhortation to men was not at all misplaced. Maybe there should have been a nod to those "doing it right" but many do indeed have a single man mindset when it comes to their wives. The root of it is of course selfishness and I believe it is at the root of many marital problems.

I believe men should be pursuing relationships with the fathers of women they are interested in and not with the women directly. If we get back to the biblical concept of the father giving away their daughters, then we avoid many of the pitfalls.

I like Voddie Baucham's book "What He Must Be: ...If He Wants to Marry My Daughter"

Good for self-examination.

Jeremy-your point is so true. I have felt the same confusion from mentors at times. Feeling pulled left to right from one answer to the other. I've found, being single myself, that even in the midst of faithful service to the Lord, my heart remains open and willing to step forward into the season of marriage. Because it is a deep desire; one that has been consistent through each moment in life.

So to men-don't be afraid...being lead by the Lord is more simple than you may think.
And women-continue trusting and believe that in the midst of our obedience to follow Jesus wherever He leads, we'll be found and our hearts will be captured by the husband He calls to pursue us.

Sarah,
You nailed the issue.
We are taught that in everything else, we put passion into an organized search ... ie. job, investments, home, etc.. But marriage? We let God handle that one. Well, God is not going to be serious unless we are. To be single or married is a choice God gives to each of us under His Free Will. He backs us on either decision.

I do observe in every church I ever associated with - that single men ( gets worse as men get older ) are looked down on as second class. Not to oint of being asked to leave & come back married, but just not 'accepted" as if they were married. I truly believe a single man, groomed, loving the Lord, financially secure, employed, could go into a church / Sunday School / Small Group ) and a drug addict / etc., unemployed, dreg of society could walk in right behind him with a wife in tow ... the single man would be pushed aside to welcome the other.

Why else are churches ALWAYS mostly composed of married couples? Singles say "hypocrits" when they walk in and are treated second class. They could have the best attitude and smile, but if not married, better for them to tur around and just walk out until they can return married.

Churches are in bad shape. Divorce rising - and those folks leaving the church, not returning.

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