Candice Watters, Singles, Gender Gap, and Protracted Singleness

While Candice Watters addresses a very important issue behind the protracted singleness issue–she calls it Caution and Courage, whereas I often note the tradeoff between risk aversion and risk tolerance–there’s still a little more to this than merely saying, “People need to be willing to take more risk.”

Sure, risk-tolerance is important. But that is only part of the picture.

In this back-and-forth over protracted singleness, much has been made of the “gender gap”. We all know that the women outnumber the men–60% to 40% when including all marital stati–whereas, as I have pointed out, the most granular study on the ratio of Christian singles, never married, broken down by age group, seems to tell a different story.

Even then, that doesn’t explain the issue of protracted singleness.

(1) That the women outnumber men in the Church (again, we are talking general, not including marital status) is not a recent phenomenon. That has actually been the case for centuries.

(2) The issue of protracted singleness among Christians, on the other hand, is a recent phenomenon.

There are several possible answers:

(1) The Christian men are out cavorting around like tomcats, not wanting to marry because they can get orgasms without commitment.

(2) The Christian men have no balls, and don’t want to commit.

(3) The Christian women have bought into feminism–at least tacitly–and embarked on life paths that have made marriage more difficult.

(4) Many Christian women have spurned the men in church for nonbelievers.

(5) The ramifications of feminism–easier divorce–have made the risk higher for both men and women.

(6) Demographic factors that have scattered singles–especially those who pursue college paths–to a degree that other generations did not experience.

(7) The lack of networking among the larger Church.

(8) Some combination of all the above.

If the matter of protracted singleness were not a problem, it would hardly carry the magnitude of passion that it carries in the blogopshere.

On other blog spaces, I’ve pointed out that one can experience protracted singleness for any number of reasons, some of which may be the fault of the individual whereas other factors may be–and probably are–beyond his or her control.

And what I have listed so far are the general causes.

What about specific cases? Some people are more difficult to marry off than others. Some of us have personality disorders (twitch twitch). Some have social challenges. Some fall outside the conventional attractiveness envelope.

Even in those cases, protracted singleness among them is probably worse today than it was in prior generations.

I’d submit that this has to do with two of the general causes:

(6) Demographic factors

(7) a lack of networking among the Church.

Among those of us who have pursued the professional ranks–and by that I mean anyone who has at least a 4-year college degree, or beyond–we are (a) less likely to find our mates in college as many college students in prior generations did, (b) more likely to find ourselves living in unfamiliar cities or towns after we graduate, in churches whose parisioners are overwhelmingly are older than us, whose pastors run from “singles ministry” in fear of breeding a sexual predator zone, and who haven’t the foggiest clue how to help singles find mates.

The demographics are killing us, and the Church has little or no means to address it. As a result, singles are resorting to more recent methods–Internet dating (eHarmony, match.com, Christian Cafe, etc.), Internet chats–that are not proving to be successful in percentage terms.

That tempers flare from time to time should not be surprising. The Church–especially the leadership–has utterly dropped the ball in this arena.

To that extent, the Church needs to take a lesson from the literal children of Israel, as the Jews are not the most resilient people in the world by accident.

The Jews are the masters of the world at networking. Especially when it comes to matching people.

If I’m a Rabbi in Philadelphia and I have a young gal who is in her 20s but single and wanting to marry, I can talk to people in my synagogue who know a family in Jersey who has a son who is looking. I get the families in touch, and the rest is elementary.

That dynamic is not always necessary, but when you have some people who are more difficult than others to marry, the network can be critical to resolving this.

Unfortunately, that is less possible as long as the Church is divided. When you have one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, and thousands of denominations–scattered along the Arminian-Calvinist spectrum–such networking becomes a greater challenge.

103 thoughts on “Candice Watters, Singles, Gender Gap, and Protracted Singleness

  1. Amir,

    This really is a complex issue for which there is no one simple answer. I do believe that feminism is a large part of the answer though, because of the fact that it affects the majority of reasons you have cited above.

    While I understand the concept of risk aversion (I nave been practicing some risk aversion myself in 2008 which I am preparing to ease up on in 2009) I think sometimes looking at individuals through the lens of probability is an issue. A few years ago I was doing the EHarmony thing without much success…I am one of those who is not very conventionally attractive, so I assumed this was the reason. One of the guys I was matched with and dated for a while told me that he got the impression from my profile that I was a left leaning feminist because I am an academic but he decided to “take a chance” on me. He told me this after we went out a few times and said that once we met he could tell that was far from the truth. That really started me thinking about what misconceptions men may have about me because of what I do. I understand that it could look like I am a driven “career woman” who would never sumbit to my husband or give up “my career”. But, in reality I just walked down the path that was set before me and did what I was good at and was willing at any point to do whatever was best for my marriage should I ever get married (including giving up “my career”). But, I also can see that judging people based on probabilities instead of who they actually are as an individual is part of “risk aversion”. It just saddens me sometimes.

    And…..Amir- I said I wasn’t going to say anything else to Anonymous on the thread over at Anakin’s blog so I won’t, but can I just say AAARRRRGGGHHH!!!!! I have never communicated with anyone who jumps from point to point and is so circular and illogical in their arguments as her. Ok, I feel better now.

  2. I agree with you about the lack of networking amongst churches. I know quite a few godly single men and women I can set up, but some of their viewpoints are so different, I am kind of scared of the whole thing backfiring.

  3. “The Christian men are out cavorting around like tomcats, not wanting to marry because they can get orgasms without commitment” and “Many Christian women have spurned the men in church for nonbelievers” are two very stereotypical extremes. I suspect that the men (and women, too, to some extent) are simply finding their spouses outside of the church. And when the kids start coming they start coming (or coming back).

  4. d: I am not suggesting that either of those stereotypes are the general rule, but they are common explanations that are bandied about, which are logically possible. It is also possible that they may not be true as a general rule but apply in particular congregations.

    It is not, after all, without Biblical precedent for individual regions to have specific sins that are general to them, but which may not apply to another region.

    An appropriate example of this would be comparing the issues that Paul addressed to the Corinthians, next to what he addressed with the Colossians.

  5. Learner: eHarmony is overrated and overpriced. Been there, done that. I empathize with you completely.

    In all honesty, I don’t see you as a liberal by any stretch, let alone a feminist. Then again, I can see why men suspect “feminist” at first glace.

    (I work at a higher-ed outfit, and being a conservative can be sacrilege in those circles. Pilgrim and myself are probably the two people who bring the agency back to the center-left. I’m a pro-life libertarian whereas he’s just an old traditional conservative.)

    I have some of the same issues that you have–I’m not in the “conventionally attractive” boat either, largely due to my height and some of my medical issues (pretty bad arthritis that has impacted most of my joints and especially my lower back).

  6. Learner: And one more thing. I am probably done casting pearls to Anonymous. I suggest not even responding to her rants. There is a logical reason Anakin hasn’t bothered. He probably has figured her out.

  7. Emily: That’s another thing that can hinder Christian singles: worldviews. Someone in a more “blue state” and urban area might tend to lean farther to the left politically, whereas those redneck folks like myself–out in Kentucky–might seem uncivilized to you. LOL

  8. Amir,

    I wasn’t going to read her last comment after I saw the first line, but after I read your comment here I went back and read it. Oh my. Maybe I should change my name to “yes girl” lol. The thing I always find odd about her is that she has a very distinct writing style that is easy to pick out so probably most people know who she is, yet she continues to go by anonymous. I think you are right, Anakin probably figured her out a long time ago.

  9. “Anonymous: This was written before that.”

    Actually, it wasn’t, but carry on, since you guys seem to be on a roll perfecting your own “distinct writing styles”.

  10. Anonymous: To clarify…..

    (1) While Learner is more polite about this than I am, you were indeed quite entertaining. That I poked a little fun at you for it should not be surprising. Trust me: I was being nice. You know I could have popped you a lot harder.

    That said, I figured your comments are emblazoned in cyberspace. That is punishment enough.

    (2) When you are respectful, you will be treated with respect. I have no personal axes to grind here.

    But if you go into someone’s house, and flagrantly disrespect him and his friends–even to the point of disregarding any legitimate issues he or his friends raise–please don’t get surprised when you get your proverbial tushie handed to you on a plate.

    When you get to the point where you are calling Learner “snobby”, that says it all. You majorly stepped in it.

    She’s more academically inclined than most–if I’m not mistaken, she’s got a doctoral degree and knows statistics better than probably anyone on this blog (even Cubbie). Ergo, when she makes a point on that front, she might as well be E.F. Hutton.

    That’s not to say that she’s always right, but it also means that ad hoc dismissals are not going to score you very many points.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Actually, it wasn’t, but carry on, since you guys seem to be on a roll perfecting your own “distinct writing styles”.

    My apologies for not monitoring every comment that is made on blogs I frequent before I comment on my own blog.

    Notice how ridiculous you are being? You tossed some extraordinarily flagrant insults at me, I write them off as entertaining (which they were), and you are all antsy that I remarked about them over here?

    I mean good grief…if I’d said those things about you, I wouldn’t be complaining about you having a little fun with it.

  12. Rigggghttttt…it’s the old “she started it” thing, without any ownership on your part of upping the ante. In the end, you always end up being so much more disrespectful, Amir, and miss out on any opportunity for concilliation. And that, is your “distinct writing style”.

  13. “I mean good grief…if I’d said those things about you, I wouldn’t be complaining about you having a little fun with it.”

    Amir, you are the thinnest skinned guy in the blogosphere. Any attempt I’ve ever made to have a little fun with things you say NEVER escapes your loud and petulant complaint.

  14. Anonymous: The issue here is not your point of view–I’ve discussed this matter with others who share your viewpoint on the issue in question, and the results were far better–but rather your dismissal, even to the point of insulting, of anyone who provides a strong case that is at odds with your viewpoint.

    What did I do that constituted “upping the ante”?

  15. Amir, you are the thinnest skinned guy in the blogosphere. Any attempt I’ve ever made to have a little fun with things you say NEVER escapes your loud and petulant complaint.

    Actually, the problem is that you say such things–in the context of serious discussion–without providing indications that you are kidding.

    Netiquette takes time to learn.

    Contrast that with others–such as Christina, with whom I have had knock-down, drag-out fights–who, at least provide indications when they are joking.

    What you fail to understand is that

    (a) I joust with people all the time–Learner, Christina, Savvy, Carrie–and there is nothing personal.

    (b) In your case, you earn the derision. When others make legitimate points, you provide ad hoc dismissals, even when one of the people opposing you provides a very strong case. You heap personal insults on Anakin; you heap personal insults on Triton; you call Learner “snobby”.

    What did they do to “up the ante”?

  16. “What did I do that constituted “upping the ante”? ”

    Don’t get me wrong, I have no objection to you ever upping the ante, nor you resisting the opportunity to be concilliatory. It actually demonstrates that you’re not quite as well-intentioned as you make yourself out to be.

  17. Anonymous: I’ll apologize for suggesting that you are a “bitch”. That was over the top.

    Still, your comments about me were entertaining. I was hoping you’d laugh that off, and take that as a sign that I won’t hold it over your head.

  18. “your comments about me were entertaining. I was hoping you’d laugh that off, and take that as a sign that I won’t hold it over your head.”

    That’s fine, I’m glad you were entertained. I was entertained by you boasting. Besides, it’s far better than your innocent victim thing.

  19. To demonstrate that I am acting in good faith, I pulled the offending post. Anything else I can do here to prove I mean no ill will?

    You didn’t have to pull it, but thanks anyway. Have a good evening.

  20. Anonymous says:

    That’s fine, I’m glad you were entertained. I was entertained by you boasting. Besides, it’s far better than your innocent victim thing.

    As that great President–Ronald Reagan–once said, “There you go again…”

    Innocent victim…boasting. Now you’re being entertaining again.

  21. Anonymous: Still, I asked you a question. What did Learner do to “up the ante”?

    At the end of the day, I honestly could care less what you think of me. I’m at an age where I stopped giving a crap what anyone else thinks about me.

    On the other hand, I’m pretty loyal, and generally go out of my way to back people up when they are clearly being wronged.

    So tell me. I understand your back-and-forth with me. These types of issues bring out the best and worst in people.

    But what did Learner or Christina do to “up the ante”? I think you owe them an apology.

    And you were a hell of a lot harder on Anakin than was reasonable. I find your attacks on him and Triton quite unfortunate.

  22. Amir,

    I am ABD (“all but dissertation”) so I just have to complete my dissertation (“just”). I hope to graduate in August 2009. But thank you 🙂 When I finish maybe I’ll change my name to “Dr Yesgirl” lol

    Anon,
    I find your calling me a “yes girl” very amusing. It makes me smile when I think of it. He he. Then again as I have said before I am easily amused (see my amusement over “jousting”).

    Seriously though Anon, no one reacts well to being insluted. If you think that you have some valid points you would have more success if you didn’t lace your points with insults, and if you keep to the point and answer questions that others ask you instead of ignoring the question and bringing in a different point. These guys will definately listen to women who discuss a subject rationally and with mutual respect.

  23. Carrie: Yeah…on the blog space of one of my colleagues, our good friend Anonymous had a substantial meltdown.

    Reminds me of when Debbie Maken self-destructed at Boundless. Adam (PuritanCalvinist) and myself had a hand in that one. We did not push Debbie out the window, but we did hold the window open for her.

    But hey…it’s a new day.

  24. Amir, this is a very interesting and thoughtful post. I would consider adding two more possible answers: too many Christian women choose “bad boys” over nice guys, and too many Christian women turn down Christian men for some of the flimsiest reasons. And in all fairness, I’m sure some of your female readers could come up with similar answers regarding Christian men.

    Regarding “The lack of networking among the larger Church,” I recently read a book called “Quitting Church” written by Julia Duin. The subject of the book concerns evangelicals leaving the institutional church.

    One of the book’s chapters concerned the church’s abysmal treatment of singles. Toward the end of the chapter, Ms. Duin suggested the church consider matchmakers for singles seeking mates.

    On the one hand, I could see some merit for the concept. But I’m also a bit skeptical because of the possibility that churches which employ them could impose the legalistic “courtship” rules and regulations found at Sovereign Grace Ministries and other similar churches. In addition, Ms. Duin suggested this idea after endorsing Debbie Maken’s book, which gives me some pause.

    Some years back, my church’s rector (senior pastor) suggested that his parishoners consider making “thoughtful introductions” to their single friends. But in the years since he suggested this, I’ve received no such introductions.

    I still hold out some slight hope that I may one day marry. But with my 50th birthday approaching next year and having not been on a date in years, that hope is fading fast.

  25. singleman:

    (1) That is absolutely correct, as many churches have a tendency to take a good concept–i.e. networking, introductions–and burn it beyond all recognition with stupid, legalistic rules arrogated to the level of Biblical commands.

    (2) I think my point (4) addressed the issue of women who want “bad boys”. They’re out there, just as there are men who want the “bad girls” (super-hotties who only show up for church when they’re getting ready to start the Spring volleyball season for the local Baptist association).

    (3) You never know. I’d say that, the way things are coming down economically, if you are stable and project good leadership, women will be more drawn to you as their image of “the perfect man” gets shattered. A man of faith and action will be seen as worth more than all the gold in Lakota. That is because we will find ourselves facing challenges that rival the Great Depression generation.

    And there will be plenty of us guys who are “available.” LOL

    Seriously…we’re going to find out who the Christians are before this is over. There will be no small number of surprises.

  26. On the other side of the coin – there are Christian folk who don’t want fall in the temptation of legalism and therefore stay mute when it comes to matchmaking. It makes them nervous because they feel like they are being overly intrusive, despite what their true and loving intentions are.

    It’s difficult. Hopefully those of us who feel this way – when we’re married – will act differently than our current married counterparts. Maybe one of us will resurrect matchmaking and not charge a high fee – just some free food at the reception. 😉

  27. Carrie: I’ve seriously considered starting such a business, using my existing domain. I figure I might be able to charge a low fee, and still make a reasonable profit. The key, however, is to provide a concept that the others do not fill. I’m sort of mulling that over in my head.

  28. LMAO

    . . . great minds think alike. 😉

    However, I think you might need to get married first. People might not be likely to take part if it’s run by a single guy. Personally, I’d be a little leary.

    Just my 2 cents.

  29. Singleman and/or Amir (or anyone else who cares to answer),

    How would you define a “bad boy”?

    Also, what do you consider to be “flimsy” reasons?

    I’m curious

  30. Learner: I’d suggest the characteristics of a “bad boy” might include the following:

    (a) sporadic–or nonexistent–church attendance
    (b) a reputation for being a playboy
    (c) hangs around with shady people in the community (gang leaders, drug dealers, etc.)
    (d) is known for being a party animal
    (e) his contributions to the Body are in the sports trophy case (from softball, volleyball, or bowling leagues) more so than the spiritual growth of others in the Body, as sports seasons are his only serious times of attendance
    (f) he is well-versed in worldly things, but cannot recall his last Bible study.
    (g) has a rep for alcohol abuse or use of illegal drugs.

    Anyone else want to add to the list?

  31. Amir,

    Not sure what you mean by “flimsy reasons”. Reasons for what?

    I was refering to what Singleman said in his comment: …too many Christian women turn down Christian men for some of the flimsiest reasons

  32. “However, I think you might need to get married first. People might not be likely to take part if it’s run by a single guy. Personally, I’d be a little leary.”

    Carrie – i’m not sure i agree. i think that Amir would be great at this, and i do not think being single would be a detriment.

  33. Amir writes:

    Learner: And one more thing. I am probably done casting pearls to Anonymous. I suggest not even responding to her rants. There is a logical reason Anakin hasn’t bothered. He probably has figured her out.

    Yes, there is a reason I haven’t bothered. See my latest comment in the post string in question. *grin*

  34. Learner: I’ll let singleman give some of what he had in mind.

    I’ve listed some of the reasons–when discussing the “bad boy” and “bad girl” matters, which I think sort of tie in to this.

  35. Amir,

    I agree with Ame, I don’t think you’d need to be married for your new business idea.

    That would be how I would define a bad boy too but sometimes it seems that others mean something else. Same thing on the flimsy reasons issue…it seems like people have different meanings for that. So I was curious what Singleman meant. Hopefully he’ll come back and answer.

  36. I have no doubt he’d be great at it, but I’m looking at it from a public relations/consumer standpoint.
    If I heard about a single/matchmaking service that was run by a single guy, I would be unlikely to invest. If I had no idea who I was dealing with, I would think “Gee, if he’s so great at match-making, why isn’t he married?”
    Then again, maybe I’m not part of who he’d be targeting.
    I’m pretty resigned in my singleness. Just a couple of months ago, I made a decision that I thought I would never make. I have come to accept that I have chosen to be single.
    Amir would in all likelihood target people who have – like he – searched high and low and left no stone unturned.
    I can’t say the same is true of me. There was a stone I could have looked behind, but didn’t because I refused to exercise faith and cling to my current circumstances. I am no longer allowed to belly-ache about being single.

  37. Ame: I’d probably go for a different name, as I would not want to make it seem like this is the only Biblical way to do it (which, unfortunately, is what the “Biblical dating” movements do).

  38. What I’ve got in mind is a concept that none of the other sites have in their model.

    For all the hype about eHarmony, (a) their actual marriage rate is low, and (b) they are not even remotely promoting Christian principles, as they are now moving to do same-sex matching.

    As for [mis]Match.com, it’s just a secular dating service. Christian Cafe (CC) is a Christianized version of that. Ditto for Christian Mingle (CM).

    I don’t want to knock CC or CM, as I think they do have their place. But the problem is less with the companies and more with the model itself.

    eHarmony, once you cut through the personality profile, is not much different from the others.

  39. Ame,

    I would not be a good matchmaker because I am terrible at recognizing what other people find appealing in a mate.

    Carrie, I don’t know much about match-makers othert than what I’ve seen on TV and in movies (though my dad used to joke with a neighbor who was from Armenia that he’d arrange a marriage for me and the neighbor’s younger son…..I might partially wish that he was not joking except the son is gay). Anyway, it seems to me that sometimes match-makers are single women…..so why not a single man?

    BTW, my sister did meet her husband on Eharmony.

  40. i met this man on eharmony. go figure. the reason i even went that route was because i have such little free time at the same time as places like churches have socials for singles … mostly evenings and nights b/c that’s when they’re available after work, but it’s also when i need to be w/ my kids … and my special needs daughter’s night-time routine is very important and also her bedtime is early … so those that provide childcare are not even an option for me. in all honesty, i’m very surprised it worked.

    though, funny enough, he mentioned the other day that we ought to begin some kind of match-making thing in the church we end up in – and i’ve not had time to share w/ him these discussions.

  41. Amir,

    The problem with your “bad boy” criteria is that it muddles together those with serious behavior problems (gang associates, substance abuse, “playboys”– I’m assuming that means promiscuous sex) with those who are just iffy church attenders.

    There are plenty of sporadic and non- church attenders who’d make pretty lame bad boys. There are even substance abusers of the solitary variety who couldn’t pull it off.

    Few women reject men for not being “bad”, but more because they’re not interesting. You don’t have to be bad to be interesting.

  42. catwoman: Actually, one need not have all those qualities to be a “bad boy”.

    Non-church attenders are “bad boys” because, even if they are otherwise decent people, they are not showing evidence that they are believers. It’s one of those Hebrews 10 things…

    That there are substance abusers who wouldn’t qualify as “bad boys” means little here. All I’m suggesting is that a guy who women find attractive–who is abusing drugs and/or alcohol–is a “bad boy”.

    While it is true that one need not be “bad” to be interesting, it is also true that “bad” adds a serious potential to the mix. We could go the other way when discussing “bad” girls–and how men are attracted to them–but the question was raised about “bad” boys.

    I simply provided a short list of things that could–in singularity or combination–provide evidence of a “bad boy”.

  43. “Non-church attenders are “bad boys” because, even if they are otherwise decent people, they are not showing evidence that they are believers. It’s one of those Hebrews 10 things…”

    No dice, Amir. Your whole “more never married Christian men than women” argument hinges on belief, as opposed to church attendance. As one of your girls said, “The church is the body of Christ, not a building. People who are “born again” are in the “church”. You can’t have it both ways.

    “While it is true that one need not be “bad” to be interesting, it is also true that “bad” adds a serious potential to the mix.”

    “Bad” is not what adds to the mix. Gangstas who are unattractive and socially awkward have the same diificulties finding women as their “good boy” counterparts.

  44. catwoman,

    No dice, Amir. Your whole “more never married Christian men than women” argument hinges on belief, as opposed to church attendance. As one of your girls said, “The church is the body of Christ, not a building. People who are “born again” are in the “church”. You can’t have it both ways.

    Actually, Amir’s argument does not hinge on that because, while those who willfully refuse to enter into fellowship with the church are not believers [or, at very least, are believers we are told to treat as unbelievers according to Matthew 18:15-17], just because you *do* enter fellowship with the church does not mean you *are* a believer. That is one of the problems with these kinds of statistics. You have to take the heart into account, as well as whether they appear to be outwardly obedient to God’s commands, and that is something that is impossible to do via statistics.

    BTW, I don’t agree that all who are “born again” are the church. What does Jesus mean when he talks about tares being removed “from the kingdom” when he returns? In fact, in 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul specifically mentions the “church” in the context of laying out to qualifications for overseer, which is a specific church office. How can anyone make sense out of this without recognizing that the Bible distinguishes between the visible and the invisible church? The reality is that, while we are here on this earth, we will always have hypocrites in our congregations. That is a major problem for all of these statistics. Even a person who can say the right things might turn out to actually be a hypocrite at heart.

    However, Amir is right to point out that a man who openly refuses to go to church on a regular basis is living in sin. As such, any believer must call him to repent of this sin.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  45. Catwoman: You’re really grasping for straws.

    (1) The issue here is persistent non-attendance. I’ve mentioned it in those terms on previous blog spaces–Anakin’s blog comes to mind–so the fact that I forgot to include the word persistent here was a minor oversight on my part.

    So what do I mean by persistent non-attendance? Let’s say I meet a gal. Could be at a church function, could be through acquaintances, could be online, doesn’t matter.

    Let’s say she’s a professing Christian, but hasn’t been to church in months. That’s a perfectly legitimate red flag.

    After discussing the matter with her, let’s say she decides she’s going to get serious about her faith and get back into church. Now we’re seeing some potential.

    On the other hand, let’s say she insists that she will not go to church, and she doesn’t care what I say? She may very well be a believer, but she has a snowball’s chance in hell of being my wife.

    And that leads me to the next point…

    (2) the issue I am raising is one of preference in quality and represents my own personal standards. And that is only one of my standards.

    Fact is, there are bipolar Christians (a dealbreaker for me).
    There are Christians who smoke pot (a dealbreaker for me).
    There are Christians who are promiscuous (a dealbreaker for me). There are Christians who are chronic liars (a dealbreaker for me). There are Christians who are anorexic or bulimic (a dealbreaker). There are Christians who show no sense of personal responsibility (a dealbreaker for me).
    There are Christians who show no regard for their personal health (a dealbreaker for me).

    The Barna study does not break down any of those parameters, nor does it need to, as those are quality issues.

    Now if you are cool dating–and considering marrying–someone who does not attend church, please knock yourself out and go for it. We all are entitled to our own standards, with latitude as loose or as tight as we wish.

    It is on you to determine between yourself and God whether your standards are right.

    On the other hand, having seen no small number of married women in the Church, who moan that their husbands are nonbelievers, or that their husbands are Christians who would rather play golf or stay home on Sunday rather thancome to church, you need to remember: when you make your bed, you have to lay in it.

    (3) Quoting you:

    “Bad” is not what adds to the mix. Gangstas who are unattractive and socially awkward have the same diificulties finding women as their “good boy” counterparts.

    Not true. Having been a youth minister and a minister of education in an inner-city church, I can attest to having seen young gals fall, hook line and sinker, for exactly those types, to the exclusion of the guy who dresses modestly, is attentive in church, works hard in school, and has a steady job. Every youth minister and pastor I know will attest to that dynamic.

    And, as I’ve said (and Christina has also mentioned this) before, it also works the other way around, when guys are generally attracted to the slutty “Sex And The City” types, to the exclusion of the moderate-looking gal who makes no such waves.

  46. Adam says:

    BTW, I don’t agree that all who are “born again” are the church. What does Jesus mean when he talks about tares being removed “from the kingdom” when he returns? In fact, in 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul specifically mentions the “church” in the context of laying out to qualifications for overseer, which is a specific church office. How can anyone make sense out of this without recognizing that the Bible distinguishes between the visible and the invisible church? The reality is that, while we are here on this earth, we will always have hypocrites in our congregations. That is a major problem for all of these statistics. Even a person who can say the right things might turn out to actually be a hypocrite at heart.

    The issue here may be one of semantics, but I think a clarification is in order.

    (1) All who are born-again are the Church.

    (2) All who profess to be born-again (i.e. Christians) are not necessarily born-again. Some profess a salvific faith, but are in fact tares among the wheat.

  47. Amir,

    Actually, kind of both. #1 is true if we understand this as referring to the *invisible* church. However, #2 is true if we understand this as referring to the *visible* church, since all professing believers who are part of a covenant community are called the “church.” The invisible church is made up of all those who have been born again, and the visible church is made up of all those who profess faith in Christ, whether their profession is genuine or not. In reformed theology, there is a a distinction between these two. I don’t see any way, exegetically, that you can avoid the conclusion that there is such a thing as the visible church, given the passages I cited.

    Hence, the statistics break down, since it is impossible to survey the hearts of everyone within the visible church to even get a semi-accurate picture of how many men [or women] there are that are marriagable. Expecially with the state of much of the visible church today, it requires great discernment with respect to who you are going to marry, even if the person regularly attends church.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  48. Amir,

    Ok, I see. Ya, it was semantics. When she said, “As one of your girls said, The church is the body of Christ, not a building. People who are “born again’ are in the ‘church’,” and did not also give the fact that these girls also believe that there is a visible church which is visible in character, I guess it was kind of misleading, since catwoman’s argument only makes sense if there is no visible church. If there is a visible church, then there are real problems for this argument, as there is a real obligation of a believer to seek the fellowship of the local church.

    My mistake.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  49. Adam: no big deal. Actually, your prior post was correct. You seemed to be referring to the visible Church whereas I was referring to the invisible Church.

    As we’d say in physics: frame of reference is everything. LOL

  50. As the “girl” to whom catwoman is referring, my statement about all born again believers belonging to the “church” because the church is the body of Christ, not a building, referred back to an exchange she and I had on my blog last winter. My point was this: the Bible refers to the “church” as a group of believers, not as a building. A person can be a part of the visible church by participating with a group of believers in a home church or fellowship group and never step through the doors of an institutional church.

  51. Catwoman: Ultimately, you’re in a bind trying to argue the stats on this.

    (1) We’ve already established that the 60/40 ratio tells us nothing of relevance to singles.

    After all, (a) if the 60% if slanted toward older age brackets–and churches tend to be top-heavy in that department–it is not relevant to the singles; and (b) singles are more practically inclined to people near their age and theologically and practically inclined to those not previously married.

    Moreover, while the 60/40 ratio is not a recent phenomena–it has been the case for centuries, the matter of protracted singleness is a recent phenomena.

    Ergo, the latter begs more explanation than the 60/40 mantra, and one can reasonably ascertain that the cause(s) of it is (are) recent in nature.

    (And I would submit that there are several causes at work here.)

    (2) The only study that provides such a relevant breakdown among single Christians, never married, by age group, tells a far different story than the common mantra, and has men outnumbering women in almost all the younger age groups.

    (3) Any statistical effort to refute that–accounting for church attendance–would also have to be broken down by age group, and also with respect to the overall population, for an apples-apples comparison.

    Such a study is not out there.

    (4) The study that you cited on Anakin’s blog does not come within a foot of clearing that hurdle. At best, you have a weaker prima facie case than the one I have.

    (5) Appeals to authority–i.e. Dave Murrow–are irrelevant, just as arguments from consensus are, when the most relevant statistical evidence tells a different story.

    In fact, attempting to argue from consensus would require for you to admit that the opinions of leaders are more than “worst-case scenarios”. This would weaken your case against Anakin & Co.

    On the other hand, given that Anakin, myself, Triton, and others have made the case against such leaders, neither myself nor my allies are under any burden to elevate them beyond the level we have ascribed to them.

    (6) To counter the statistics that I cite, all you are left with is your anecdotal evidence, which is no more authoritative than my anecdotal evidence.

    As for the “bad boy” discussion, you keep pointing out that women are dismissing men because they are not “interesting”. Fact is, the “bad” element has a tendency to add intrigue to the mix. Even if the “bad” element often includes destructive or self-destructive behavior.

    That there are certain “bad” elements that you do not find appealing, does not mean that women in general do not find them appealing.

    As I said, the same goes the other way around for the men. I don’t find myself anywhere interested in dating a slutty woman. But there are no small number of men who would be…

    And this is not restricted to our generation. Looking in the Old Testament, there seems to be a certain affinity of the men for Pagan women.

    That God would warn against this through the Patriarchs, and later through the Prophets, seems to indicate that this was quite a problem.

    Times have changed, but human nature has not changed…

  52. “We’ve already established that the 60/40 ratio tells us nothing of relevance to singles. After all, (a) if the 60% if slanted toward older age brackets–and churches tend to be top-heavy in that department–it is not relevant to the singles; and (b) singles are more practically inclined to people near their age and theologically and practically inclined to those not previously married”.

    IF, you are going to start theorizing with the word IF, then you must also consider that the 60/40 might be even worse with the younger age bracket, because of evidence I cited from men are 57 percent less likely to attend church regularly if they are not married with children, compared to men who are married with children. Women are 41 percent less likely to attend church regularly if they are single and childless.” (W. Bradford Wilcox, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia). And that’s quite a spread, begging a further population breakdown.

    “The only study that provides such a relevant breakdown among single Christians, never married, by age group, tells a far different story than the common mantra, and has men outnumbering women in almost all the younger age groups”. Actually, the Boundless article you’re referring to calculates ever-married and never married in terms of age group in one breakdown and then ever-married and never-married in terms of Christian belief WITHOUT age breakdown — please report honestly.

    “Any statistical effort to refute that–accounting for church attendance–would also have to be broken down by age group, and also with respect to the overall population, for an apples-apples comparison…”Such a study is not out there”.”

    You’re making my point even more for me — you say that “Non-church attenders are “bad boys” because, even if they are otherwise decent people, they are not showing evidence that they are believers”, which, by your own definition, renders your stats about belief alone (without adding in church attendance) as insufficient evidence.

    “Appeals to authority–i.e. Dave Murrow–are irrelevant”

    Fine, I’ll remind you of that when you quote Angela Fiori.

    “As for the “bad boy” discussion, you keep pointing out that women are dismissing men because they are not “interesting”. Fact is, the “bad” element has a tendency to add intrigue to the mix. Even if the “bad” element often includes destructive or self-destructive behavior.”

    Unless you can understand the operative ingredients in what makes some “bad” men interesting (and other “bad” men not interesting), and to whom, you won’t have much influence in challenging this dynamic.

  53. catwoman (so happy you’ve selected a handle, thank you)

    IF, you are going to start theorizing with the word IF, then you must also consider that the 60/40 might be even worse with the younger age bracket, because of evidence I cited from men are 57 percent less likely to attend church regularly if they are not married with children, compared to men who are married with children. Women are 41 percent less likely to attend church regularly if they are single and childless.” (W. Bradford Wilcox, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia).

    You don’t seem to have grasped the idea that these statistics say zero about the ratio of single women to single men who attend church. They report the likelihood that a single man or woman will attend church but do not say the actual number of men or women who attend church. In order to talk about the ratio of men to women in church you need to know the actual number of people who attend church. To get that you could multiply the percentages by census numbers of single men and women (never married etc). It would be much more meaningful to the concept of ratio of men vs women who attend church.

  54. catwoman – I’ve got to hand it to you. You must have some serious gall if you are brave enough to come on to someone’s personal blog and tell them – repeatedly – that you think they are wrong and that they should change their (well-founded, grounded) opinion.

  55. Catwoman says:

    IF, you are going to start theorizing with the word IF, then you must also consider that the 60/40 might be even worse with the younger age bracket, because of evidence I cited from men are 57 percent less likely to attend church regularly if they are not married with children, compared to men who are married with children. Women are 41 percent less likely to attend church regularly if they are single and childless.” (W. Bradford Wilcox, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia). And that’s quite a spread, begging a further population breakdown.

    All I am stating is reality: single Christian men who have never been married are practically-inclined toward women who are in their age bracket, and theologically-inclined toward women who have not been married before. What part of that statement do you wish to contest?

    With that logical basis in mind, the Barna numbers are as relevant as are available.

    As to your premise that the 60/40 split can be worse for the younger singles, that is logically possible. On the other hand, the burden of proof is on you to test that hypothesis, and report your results, subjecting them to the rigors of peer review.

    Until you have hard numbers from which to form an apples-apples comparison, all you have is an untested hypothesis that has a body of opposing evidence.

    Actually, the Boundless article you’re referring to calculates ever-married and never married in terms of age group in one breakdown and then ever-married and never-married in terms of Christian belief WITHOUT age breakdown — please report honestly.

    I have reported that honestly. You are the one who is forgetting that it is a Barna study, included by Boundless in a related article. That study breaks down singles–never married–by age bracket. And the numbers are more meaningful to singles than anything you have been able to provide.

    You’re making my point even more for me — you say that “Non-church attenders are “bad boys” because, even if they are otherwise decent people, they are not showing evidence that they are believers”, which, by your own definition, renders your stats about belief alone (without adding in church attendance) as insufficient evidence.

    Actually, I am the one who has suggested that the Barna study represents a significant prima facie. I never said it was conclusive, only that the numbers are more relevant and meaningful to Christian singles than anything else out there.

    And as prima facie cases go, it’s the most statistically-sound one available.

    Catwoman says this with respect to appeals to authority:

    Fine, I’ll remind you of that when you quote Angela Fiori.

    If I try to use Fiori to refute solid statistical evidence contrary to my anecdotal opinion, then please feel free to blast away.

    Unless you can understand the operative ingredients in what makes some “bad” men interesting (and other “bad” men not interesting), and to whom, you won’t have much influence in challenging this dynamic.

    Excuse me, Catwoman, but blaming Christian men for being “uninteresting”, as an excuse for women chasing “bad boys”, is total crap.

    After all, in the Scriptures, God never castigated Israelite women–for not being intriguing enough–as an excuse for Israelite men marrying Canaanite women.

    In fact, God never implored Israelites women to “better understand men” and make adjustments so they could challenge the social dynamic of the day.

    No…instead He ripped the men a new one for marrying Canaanite women. Don’t believe me? As a great philosopher, Casey Stengel, once said: “You can look it up.”

  56. Amir,

    I was just wondering. Last year when that whole mess with Debbie Maken occured, you asked for a clarification from Boundless. Did you ever get it?

    God Bless,
    Adam

  57. Adam: Nope. Never got it. Motte Brown actually shut down the discussion after I threw the question out, and responded to BDB’s attempted defense of Boundless.

  58. Amir said:

    “Actually, I am the one who has suggested that the Barna study represents a significant prima facie. I never said it was conclusive, only that the numbers are more relevant and meaningful to Christian singles than anything else out there.”

    Amir, the issue you raised was CHURCH ATTENDANCE, therefore your Barna study, measuring only belief, is not relevant to this issue. There is no “more relevant” — either it’s relevant or it’s not.

    “All I am stating is reality: single Christian men who have never been married are practically-inclined toward women who are in their age bracket, and theologically-inclined toward women who have not been married before. What part of that statement do you wish to contest?”

    Huh? Where do I contest this?? This is a red herring question, one of your fave distraction tactics, Amir.

    “As to your premise that the 60/40 split can be worse for the younger singles, that is logically possible.”

    Uh, that’s why I used the word “might” — Wilcox’s “likelihood” stats may not give a complete population picture of statistical “proof”, but they are compelling and, as I said, beg further study especially in light of much anecdotal evidence from laity and leaders alike.

    I said: “Actually, the Boundless article you’re referring to calculates ever-married and never married in terms of age group in one breakdown and then ever-married and never-married in terms of Christian belief WITHOUT age breakdown — please report honestly. And you said: “I have reported that honestly.”

    You did not report that honestly. You said, “The only study that provides such a relevant breakdown among single Christians, never married, by age group, tells a far different story than the common mantra, and has men outnumbering women in almost all the younger age groups”

    You have given the false impression that the Barna study gave a breakdown of single Christians, never married, by age group when it did not.

    “Excuse me, Catwoman, but blaming Christian men for being “uninteresting”, as an excuse for women chasing “bad boys”, is total crap.”

    It’s amazing Amir how quickly you jump to your favoured notion of widespead wanton single Christian women “chasing bad boys” — and being excused for doing so because of “blaming Christian men for being uninteresting”. When there’s a dearth of interesting Christian men to date, most of those women just won’t date anyone. Even if they do date outside the fold (as do their male counterparts), it’s not generally a drug abusing, gangsta playa type.

    Again, I don’t think you have a clue about what a “bad boy” really is, or how women think. A couple of volunteer stints with the unwed mother cause and you think you’re an expert.

  59. Learner said, pedantically, as usual: “You don’t seem to have grasped the idea that these statistics say zero about the ratio of single women to single men who attend church. They report the likelihood that a single man or woman will attend church but do not say the actual number of men or women who attend church. In order to talk about the ratio of men to women in church you need to know the actual number of people who attend church.”

    Perhaps when you were quoting me you didn’t *grasp* the final sentence in my paragraph: “And that’s quite a spread, begging a further population breakdown”. Or did you deliberately leave it out when you cut and pasted?

  60. Catwoman: You have worn out your welcome here. You have the distinction of being the first person I have ever banned from commenting here.

    Here are the reasons you are being banned:

    (a) Your flagrant disrespect for other commenters here (calling them “my girls”)

    (b) Your refusal to accept the facts when presented to you, without engaging in personal attacks

    If you want respect, then you can start by showing it. If you come into someone else’s house and piss on their carpet, then it should be no surprise when you get escorted out the door.

    Personally, I could care less what you say to or about me. On the other hand, (a) you refused to answer my question about how you treated others, (b) you continuously disrespect others on this site by calling “my girls”–Damn, I must be good!–and (c) attacking their explication of the statistics in flagrantly disrespectful terms.

    For that, you are no longer welcome here. I will also refuse to acknowledge you on any other blog spaces. As far as I am concerned, you are nothing but a distraction that impedes meaningful discussion.

    Hasta La Vista

  61. Amir,

    I shouldn’t have tried to explain it again. I’m not always so good at drawing the boundary of what is meaningful discussion and what is casting pearls.

    Thank you.

  62. “Learner: Maybe that’s the problem…those of us in the institutional Church are institutionalized.”

    lol

    ***

    “Hi! Which institution do you belong to?”

    “Oh, they admitted me to the one where you aren’t supposed to dance, but you’d never believe all the ways these people ‘don’t’ dance.”

    “Gosh, I’m sorry. I lucked out and got the one where the wine flows freely. None of us even remembers if we were dancing or not.”

    “Isn’t there an institution where we can drink and dance and remember what we’ve done?”

    “Yep, but let me assure you. You do NOT want to be in that one … because not only do YOU remember everything you’ve done, but so does EVERYONE else. Been there; done that; got the scars to prove it.”

  63. i’m reading down thru the comments:

    “Someone in a more “blue state” and urban area might tend to lean farther to the left politically, whereas those redneck folks like myself–out in Kentucky–might seem uncivilized to you.”

    my girls and i are STILL adjusting to this east texas, country, redneck man who seems to want to set up camp round these parts! “uncivilized” has come to mind a few times … thankfully, my age has brought a level of maturity, and i’ve kept my mouth shut! hahahahaha!!!

  64. “(super-hotties who only show up for church when they’re getting ready to start the Spring volleyball season for the local Baptist association).”

    … and who come in skin-tight, low-cut tops and bend over OFTEN to show off the return they got on the 5G’s they donated to their plastic surgeon.

  65. Amir, Learner,

    Unfortunately, this has been my experience about the behavior of the people who are involved in this movement. While there are those who seek to dialogue about this issue in a fair fashion, the vast majority of them behave in just the way you described. If you want to see more of this very thing, look at some of the things I have commented about in the following blog posts:

    http://puritancalvinist.blogspot.com/2008/04/more-fanmail-from-mandatory-marriage.html

    http://puritancalvinist.blogspot.com/2007/08/more-fanmail-from-mandatory-marriage.html

    http://puritancalvinist.blogspot.com/2007/05/more-fanmail-from-mandatory-marriage_24.html

    http://puritancalvinist.blogspot.com/2007/05/more-fanmail-from-mandatory-marriage.html

    http://puritancalvinist.blogspot.com/2007/03/fanmail-from-mandatory-marriage.html

    As I said, while there are many people in this movement who are willing to address the issues in a fair manner, it is, by far, not the norm, expecially among the ones who most closely follow Debbie Maken.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  66. Amir – move on down to texas … where EVERYthing’s bigger … and where the people, in general, LOVE to show off their bigger stuff! let me tell ya, i get so SICK of cleavage i could puke. i mean, how many different ways can a woman pop back her shoulders and stick out her 5G’s chest covered thinly in a push-up bra and highlighted by the bling decorating her 5G’s? apparently, down here in texas, the women find a need to continue to create as many different ways as is humanly possible … outside the church … and INside the church. ugh.

  67. Ame: LOL. They have that saying, “All hat and no cattle”, for men who show a lot of wealth but actually own very little.

    What would the saying be for a woman whose cleavage is a product of surgical artistry?

  68. Adam: I hear ya. I think the Marriage Mandate issue tends to bring out the worst in everyone. As I told Ted a while back, all expressions of anger toward Maken are not appropriate, but the anger itself is very justified.

    I realize that we all have a tendency to vent from time to time. On that level, I fully understand Catwoman’s frustration. I have absolutely no doubt that her experience with men in the Church has been crap, and a lot of that is probably no fault of hers.

    On the other hand, I’m not the first blogger who has banned her. Emily–who is probably well to my left ideologically–has also banned her.

    As a bachelor who has a few gray hairs, I’ve seen how human depravity plays out in both sexes. I’m not surprised that women are attracted to “bad boys”, just as I am not surprised that men are attracted to “bad girls”.

    It’s called Total Depravity: that natural condition of ours tends to lead us to be attracted to things that are of the world. It’s one thing to confess the doctrine of Total Depravity at an academic level, but when you see how it plays out in others–and yourself–and watch it line right up with Scripture, that’s when you “get it”.

    Over here, I generally lean in the direction of allowing more discussion, not less. As a libertarian, I usually prefer to allow people to comment.

    But at the end of the day, all societies have limits. Even the most libertarian bloggers–like Vox Day, an ally of mine–have limits.

    And today, I’ve had to enforce my own.

    (1) I will not tolerate people who come here and deny facts. You may decide that you think some facts are stronger than others based on critical reasoning, but you may not disregard relevant facts.

    How might that play out? Let’s take the issue of global warming, for example.

    It is true that there has been a global warming trend. It also true that we have a large consensus of scientists who believe that global warming is anthropogenic. It is also true that there are mathematical models that scientists have used as a rational basis for their proposition.

    To deny those facts is intellectual dishonesty.

    On the other hand, it is also true that there are serious shortcomings with the “science” involved here:

    (a) the mathematical models are not accurate in the predictive sense, and have only worked in the back-testing sense, thus the “science” is far from anything close to settled;

    (b) we have had global warming–and cooling–long before Man invented the steam engine;

    (c) there is an observational basis that activity on the Sun could be a bigger culprit than any anthropogenic contribution.

    Consensus tells us one thing, but consensus once told us that the world was flat, too.

    I’ll not disregard sociologists and other researchers who speak of the “gender gap” in the Church, nor will I disregard those who suggest–with factual basis–that single women outnumber single men in the Church.

    The larger issue, however, is one of relevance to Christian singles: how do the demographics break down by age bracket, among never-marrieds?

    To answer that question, a better prima facie case exists. To disregard that case is well short of any reasonable standard for legitimate discourse.

    I will not tolerate that here.

    (2) I will not tolerate people who are disrespectful of other bloggers on this site, who have done nothing to deserve that. You can call me any name in the book, but don’t screw with the other bloggers.

  69. Adam,

    Duh! I didn’t realize you were Puritan Calvinist.

    You’d think if people really believed what they were saying was true that they could defend their position without resorting to insults.

  70. “What would the saying be for a woman whose cleavage is a product of surgical artistry?”

    my fiance said … “men singing ‘Down In the Valley;”

  71. “(2) I will not tolerate people who are disrespectful of other bloggers on this site, who have done nothing to deserve that. You can call me any name in the book, but don’t screw with the other bloggers.”

    Amir – this is why we come back … you make this a safe place. you treat us all with respect whether we are right or wrong, and you defend us when we are right. to be honest, your post to catwoman banning her from the site was VERY respectful … and in truth, it honors her without degrading her. you are a man of great character and integrity, and you use wisdom in the way you present yourself thru the written word.

    some woman out there is gonna LOVE being your wife b/c you will protect her and your kids with an even greater intensity yet still with great character and integrity and wisdom.

    thank you for making this a safe place for me and others.

  72. Hey Everyone!

    Well, I guess we can also add the final paragraph of “finn”‘s comments from last night to the links that I quoted:

    http://puritancalvinist.blogspot.com/2008/12/marketing-and-politics-in-promotion-of.html?showComment=1228537320000#c2933887103135997361

    Ame, you are right. While they are out there [the editor of Boundless is someone I have dialogued with, who is not like this], the problem is that the vast majority of them are not respectful in the way they dialogue.

    In fact, I figured on not allowing anonymious comments on my blog to prevent people from making nasty comments and running. Now, I have run into another problem, and that is that, when people make nasty comments, they sign up for a separate account, just for the purpose of leaving nasty comments. I have noticed several comments that have come from people who signed up for the blogger service the very same month they left their nasty comments.

    Unfortunately, Blogger does not allow me to ban people like Amir’s system does. However, I have just figured on letting these comments speak for themselves. If they have to resort to insults in order to defend their position, well then, that says a whole lot.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  73. Adam: I saw Finn’s comment. Seems like he’s making a mountain out of a molehill. While Kostenberger has not specifically mentioned Watters in his opposition to Maken, the real issue is Maken’s mandatory marriage stance, and the teachings that she perpetuates.That is what Kostenberger has come out to oppose.

    That being the case, by default he would oppose Watters’ position, which is–at best–a slightly toned-down version of Maken’s.

    Personally, I would just state Kostenberger’s stance in terms of his opposition to marriage mandate teachings, which are perpetuated by Maken, Watters, Mohler, et al.

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