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.