She’s Baaaack

Adam noted that Debbie is republishing her book. I went and listened to the interview.

One thing that’s really tough about Debbie is there is a lot she says that Amir & I would agree with: she blames the church & parents for perpetuating delayed singleness.

Where we diverge: hermeneutics & the role of females in the problem.

A few things of note from the interview:

“(If not for the fall) The Church . . . would have never existed”
Well, based on Scripture this is completely false. Matthew 18: 19,20: “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

On top of that, there is the fact that Adam had perfect fellowship with God before Eve.

The Church would have existed, just in a smaller form.

“Marriage and childbearing have always been a part of God’s perfect will. In the Garden that is what he ordained before the fall ever happened. “
I went back and read Genesis 1 and 2. There is no evidence of children before the fall. If there was, that would make a childless couple sinful. Childbirth was actually a curse of the fall. Also, child bearing was instituted in order to bring about the Savior.

Despite her embarrassing foundational conclusions, she goes on to make some good points:
(1) One what the church does for perpetuating singleness: “We’re going to look for isolated verses in Scripture to justify this aboriginal behavior pattern.”

This is true. That was one wall I ran up against again and again in my single years. I was told no small number of times that singleness is a wonderful thing because Paul was single. The libido was completely ignored. I was supposed to pretend that I don’t have one.

As a rule of thumb: if you have libido, you aren’t called to a lifetime of celibacy.

(2) The following is a mixed bag. Overall, yes it’s true. However, she’s committing the same sin of singling out men:

“We’re telling young men, ‘It’s OK to be single as long as you build a Habitat house for a woman you don’t know’. . .of course he’s going to choose the path of least resistance”

(3) In response to asking “What’s the first step?”
“The first step has to begin with the families”
“You look at the wisdom (in Proverbs that) the mother gives (her son). . . she does a comparison and contrast. She never once tells her son ‘Well, don’t rush into marriage. Put it off indefinitely’ . . . No, she tells her son ‘Here’s the characteristics of the good one. Here’s the characteristics of the bad. Choose wisely.’ “
This is a good summary of the conversations that Amir & I have had about child-rearing. We’re going to be making a concerted effort to encourage our children to marry early.

The rest of the interview was actually pretty decent. She made good points about not taking out loans, getting a needless degree and using your college years to find a spouse.

Debbie Maken is a mixed bag. Her foundational reasons for her ultimate conclusions are shaky at best. Yet, her conclusions are decent.

She should be warned, though, she needs to stop singling out men. It’s going to bite her, badly. If she isn’t putting equal heat on the woman, she isn’t doing the problem justice.

91 thoughts on “She’s Baaaack

  1. MrsLarijani,

    Despite her embarrassing foundational conclusions, she goes on to make some good points:
    (1) One what the church does for perpetuating singleness: “We’re going to look for isolated verses in Scripture to justify this aboriginal behavior pattern.”

    This is true. That was one wall I ran up against again and again in my single years. I was told no small number of times that singleness is a wonderful thing because Paul was single. The libido was completely ignored. I was supposed to pretend that I don’t have one.

    As a rule of thumb: if you have libido, you aren’t called to a lifetime of celibacy.

    I am concerned that this might not even be a problem, as much as it is a misunderstanding. I have heard pastors preach similar sermons, and I have gone straight up to them and asked them afterwards if they believe that, because singleness is a gift, that a single person should not pursue marriage if they want it. Most pastors were extremely quick to say “no,” and, in fact, believed that, within the social life of the church, there should be some kind of help for a person to find a spouse.

    I don’t know if the problem is with churches, as much as it is communication between churches and the laity. I think the point that many pastors are making is that, no matter whether you are single or married, God has put you in that particular situation at this particular time to be able to serve him best. Yet, they still believe that it is perfectly acceptable to want to be married, and to pursue marriage. I agree. Neither of these two statements are contradictory.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  2. @Adam

    I don’t know if the problem is with churches, as much as it is communication between churches and the laity. I think the point that many pastors are making is that, no matter whether you are single or married, God has put you in that particular situation at this particular time to be able to serve him best. Yet, they still believe that it is perfectly acceptable to want to be married, and to pursue marriage. I agree. Neither of these two statements are contradictory.

    Actually, I’m thinking what you have is a large sector of pastors who are not used to having such a volume of singles who seek to get married, and yet have no prospects for getting married. They are at a loss as to where to begin to help them.

    Telling them that–irrespective of which station in life–one may (and must) seek, serve, and love the Lord, is perfectly legit. Overtly discouraging them in (a) their expression of desire to be married, and/or (b) their efforts to find a mate, is where churches and pastors (and even many parents) often drop the ball.

    I have seen the culture of which Maken is speaking. It is insidious. When she chides that system, I would have to agree with her.

    On the other hand, her one-sided anti-male kvetching is definitely a prescription for more smackdown.

  3. Amir,

    Overtly discouraging them in (a) their expression of desire to be married, and/or (b) their efforts to find a mate, is where churches and pastors (and even many parents) often drop the ball.

    I have seen the culture of which Maken is speaking. It is insidious. When she chides that system, I would have to agree with her.

    If what you are saying is true [and I have no reason to doubt that it is], then I would agree that there is a problem with that usage of 1 Corinthians 7. Nowhere does Paul ever say that the desire for marriage is wrong in that text, and only by a massive rending of that text out of its context could anyone ever hope to get such a teaching. I can just imagine not only how insidious such a position would be, I cannot get over how stupid such a position would be [If someone says, “Your wrong to desire marriage,” How will one ever get married if they have no desire for it??????]

    I guess this is part of the reason why experience is person relative. I am beginning to wonder if I haven’t just had good and wise pastors throughout my life who were as good and wise in terms of practice as they were in terms of exegesis.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  4. I can just imagine not only how insidious such a position would be, I cannot get over how stupid such a position would be

    Welcome to my life before Amir.

    What I think (part of) the problem is? It’s a generational thing. I think there are a lot of good parents out there who had children that did get married early. They are searching for an explanation. They don’t understand why the problem exists.

    However, I did have an older, single, Christian woman (at another church) tell me that my church was not treating me well as a single person. She said “In the name of 1 Corinthians 7 why would they say that?!” Now, I can’t remember what I told her, but I was confused.

    Oddly enough, this was less than two weeks before Amir ended up calling my pastor to get permission to pursue me (again).

    This verse was touted by A LOT of singles I was familiar with. The attitude was never really bashed by the majority of pulpits. The only time that attitude was bashed was by my own pastor. He took a couple of months on Wed. nights and went through I & II Corinthians. I can’t remember exactly how he exegeted I Cor. 7, but he did make the claim that the point of that passage was not to elevate singleness. His exegesis was unlike anything I heard up to that point. But, for the life of me, I can’t remember his exact point.

  5. “(If not for the fall) The Church . . . would have never existed”

    I listened to the interview before my wonderful bride put her post here.

    When Maken said that, I about flipped. Does she really believe this, or did she simply misspeak?

  6. Amir,

    I have come to the conclusion that when Maken says things, it is not so much that she misspeaks, or actually believes what she says, but it is that she speaks as someone who is speaking outside of their area of expertise. She is not a theologian, nor is she an exegete, nor has she taken the time to study these issues, and so such mistakes are going to be common in her writings.

    For example, Debbie Maken holds to a position very similar to the quiverfull movement. Interestingly enough, she puts acumulation of wealth as one of the purposes of marriage right along side the having of children. That is saying something in the context of quiverfull. That sorta slipped by rather quick [listen to the whole list from 2:27-2:45, and wealth acumulation is clearly there], so it might have been difficult to hear.

    Debbie Maken just has a whole lot of odd beliefs, and that is the reason why [along with the misandrism] she shound not be in a teaching situation as the author of a book to singles like she is. I agree with Amir, it is hard to understand why another publishing company has decided to pick this book up.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  7. This story needs links. Where did Adam say that (or was that in a comment on the blog here that I missed)? Where’s the interview?

  8. I listened to the interview. For the most part, I’m unconvinced she’s learned anything since she first wrote her book.

    I agree that she needs to watch what she says about men. I’ve never initiated a breakup with a member of the opposite sex. In addition, I’ve been turned down or shot down for some of the flimsiest of reasons.

  9. as an Christian, single, African American woman individually, here’s my .02:
    1) I thoroughly think that the Church has not figured out how to be the Church, and how to have real community between marrieds and singles. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be married. And if a person doesn’t desire marriage, then that’s fine, and they shouldn’t be shunned, passed over or viewed with suspicion if they have no desire for marriage. Aren’t we supposed to be united in Christ? Not everyone is going to get married(or should). Not everyone is supposed to be single. Should Churches aid singles who want to get married? Yes, by providing wise counsel, discipleship, and healthy mentoring relationships with married couples as a community. There should not be varying degrees of respect given by the Church towards singles and marrieds by the church because of marital status, or a social hierarchy in the Church because of it.

    2.) I think a big reason why there’s been discouragement of singles in their pursuit of marriage is because there’s been a lack of real confrontation and flat out practical guidance in that process. I know plenty of women(and men) who have expressed a desire for marriage, but allow their zeal to exceed their wisdom in their approach.(i.e. the woman who ALWAYS is the one talking about marriage and family in conversation and talks about nothing else and is the one initiating the majority of contact, conversations, and activities—viewing every single guy she encounters as a potential spouse), or the guy that asks/flirts with every girl he finds physically attractive and/or doesn’t know how to interact with Christian women socially because of past rejection and unaddressed relational shrapnel. Churches then see this behavior and respond with the teaching (and other similar teachngs)that their pursuit of marriage borders on obssessive devotion. This is probably why some have perceived that longing for relationship as idolatry (or as the major benchmark for wholeness).

    3.)Debbie Maken,in my opinion, is someone who has no background on what she talks about, and is now attempting to turn her experiences into a mandate. But here’s the problem: She fails to attempt to address (or even really understand) many of the reasons why many men are hesitant to get married, and instead just blames it on passivity, immaturity and laziness. I’m not saying that I agree with all the reasons men may give, but I do believe that their concerns are real and valid ones.

  10. Adam said, “but it is that she speaks as someone who is speaking outside of their area of expertise”

    in my experience, that is true in the church in general. years ago, when my first husband and i were married, we took a teacher-course at the church we belonged to so we could teach classes there. the leader said, “The two groups of people we, as the church, still do not know how to reach are the divorced and widowed.” after i was divorced i realized that this is true b/c the people making the decisions for those divorced and widowed have never experienced either – and they don’t ask those who have. i confirmed this with a friend on staff in a large church in houston – she confirmed that it is the married staff who make the decisions for the divorced and widowed. when i asked her if she ever thought of asking those who are divorced and widowed, she said with shock, “No!” (as if, “what a novel idea!”)

    staff who have been married since forever and have kids are not the ones who need to be making assumptions and decisions about those who have been single for forever. (exaggerations noted)

    AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, people who represent others (ie: pastors, authors, leaders) need to know what they do know and what they don’t know and state such. that should be a huge “DUH!” … but, apparently, it’s not. apparently there are those who believe that b/c they have a title or position or audience or publisher, they are therefore “the expert” on everything and anything they choose. ALSO, these people need to differentiate between fact, opinion, and personal experience. (another “DUH!” … or so one would think)

    if Maken, or anyone else, wants to write a book on their own personal experience, and then state it as such, and then get a publisher willing to print, go for it. but do not make statements, assumptions, based on what you feel or perceive, and then state them as fact. as an attorney, she should have more sense to substantiate what she writes about than what you, who have read her work, have stated (i have not read her work)

  11. @Ame

    if Maken, or anyone else, wants to write a book on their own personal experience, and then state it as such, and then get a publisher willing to print, go for it. but do not make statements, assumptions, based on what you feel or perceive, and then state them as fact. as an attorney, she should have more sense to substantiate what she writes about than what you, who have read her work, have stated (i have not read her work)

    Absolutely. Her book is about her personal experience, and yet she pans it off as an authoritative proclamation about the general situation.

    In her interview, her treatment of men has not really improved. She acts like men are a bunch of idiots who merely take the path of least resistance, because the Church encourages their singleness.

    The Church doesn’t “encourage” singleness, as much as they grasp for straws. Pastors are not used to having large numbers of singles with little or no marital prospects. This is not a demographic problem that they are trained to solve. They fall back on 1 Corinthians 7, because they have no other answer.

    Protracted singleness is a bitch all the way around, and singles do not have the extended network–family, friends, Church, mentors–on their side as they did in previous generations. Even “tough to marry” folks–the less-attractive, the socially-challenged, the physically-handicapped–had an easier time finding mates 50 years ago. They had a TEAM on their side WORKING FOR and not AGAINST them.

    The Church should take a lesson from the Orthodox Jews. They are renowned for their ability to network people all over the globe.

    Then again, the Orthodox Jews are more serious about their families working with the larger community on behalf of their children.

  12. As a rule of thumb: if you have libido, you aren’t called to a lifetime of celibacy.

    Hmmm. That doesn’t sound right to me. I think every human being has a libido. What Paul is distinguishing is not between those who feel sexual desire and those who do not, but rather those who can manage their sexual desire without feeling like they are burning with lust, on the one hand, and those who for whatever reason cannot. I would expect that to some degree the ability to do this would vary depending on the srength of one’s libido — it being likely more difficult for those with higher libidos to manage them in a chaste way — but I don’t think it’s accurate to conclude that those who successfully embrace celibacy either have no libido or very low libidos. They simply are better at controlling their libidos.

    That doesn’t mean that someone who feels the desire or calling to be married should avoid being married because a pastor tells them it’s better to be single — that seems like another misreading of Paul to me. But at the same time I don’t think celibacy is reserved to those very odd humans who have no libido (are there even any of these?)

  13. Amir – “The Church doesn’t “encourage” singleness, as much as they grasp for straws. Pastors are not used to having large numbers of singles with little or no marital prospects. This is not a demographic problem that they are trained to solve. They fall back on 1 Corinthians 7, because they have no other answer.”

    what’s sad is that, somewhere along the line, we have either not trained or not given permission, or something, for ministry leaders to simply say, “I don’t know – let’s pray and research.”

    ***

    “In her interview, her treatment of men has not really improved. She acts like men are a bunch of idiots who merely take the path of least resistance, because the Church encourages their singleness.”

    what is REALLY sad about this is that people take her seriously who should have more sense than that. to write it is one thing … for a publisher to publish it is another (although, they are out for their bottom line) … but for respected, supposedly intelligent and ‘godly’ leaders to support her and encourage her and spend money on her books, that is bad. she’s making money on this stuff.

  14. @Ame
    I can almost sympathize with some of the leaders, who remark of the singles who are not getting married. What I don’t accept is their pat answers, when in fact they have made no attempt to determine what is going on at their own churches.

    Case-in-point: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler. If he knew the extent to which his own church segregated the men from the marriageable women, he would come close to understanding why the men are getting the message that his church is not a good place for a single man who wishes to get married.

    They have recently attempted to resolve that situation, as they now actually have a class for younger singles and a class for older singles. I’m not sure I like that either, but it seems to be an improvement over what they had before.

    Personally, I’m glad I am no longer in that rat race.

  15. Amir,

    What I don’t accept is their pat answers, when in fact they have made no attempt to determine what is going on at their own churches.

    You mean pat answers like, “Delay of marriage is a sin, marriage is a commandment, you are not a man unless you are married etc.?”

    I have been thinking this for a long time. It seems like people see socio-economic problem is in society, and then they ransack the text of scripture trying to find justification for a particular solution to the problem, and end up reading concepts of sociology and economics into the text that has nothing to do with the text.

    As I said to Amir on my blog, I have no problem if someone wants to help singles who want to get married to find a spouse, and to encourage them to see the benifits of marrying young. However, when the text of scripture is abused to make up commandments out of thin air that have nothing to do with the text, and those commandments are then forced onto the text of scripture all in order to solve a socio-economic problem, I do have a problem.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  16. @Adam
    Very well put.

    But WHERE or HOW did/does this twisting of Scripture arise? I can’t put my finger on it, but I believe this is one area where the difference between a “theology of glory (remaking society)” vis a vis a “theology of the cross (proclaiming the Good News of salvation to a lost and dying world) is really evident. When marrying or not is basically extrapolated into a salvation issue, then something is really wrong.

    your thoughts fellow readers….. 🙂

  17. @tannen
    I think it has to do with people–in their personal experiences–suffering greatly in their quest for something that ought not be so difficult, like finding a spouse. Compounding matters, the very Body–The Church–which once was a great facilitator in the marriage process, is often as useful as tits on a boar hog for the single Christian.

    This results in several possible reactions:

    (1) People bolting the Church altogether.
    (2) People like Debbie Maken, who present a reactionary theology that calls churches to impose Draconian measures to make sure that people get married. They end up getting empowerment from “leaders” like Mohler, and–for a while–some support from FotF/Boundless.
    (3) Parties that advocate “Biblical dating”–who would like to see people get married, but not quite as emphatic about this as the mandators–reaching for ways to challenge the prevailing culture, sometimes imposing where matters ought not be imposed.
    (4) Men and women blaming each other for the problem. (They are both right. And wrong.)
    (5) Voices of sanity who reach through the vitriol and embrace sound doctrine and wise counsel, and seek for answers that are not quite so easy. (Boundless seems to be heading in that direction.)

    Maken is one of the prominent types of reactions. It is sad that a large segment of Christian leaders has empowered her, failing to contest either her assegesis or the theological conclusions that she derives from her assegesis.

    Sadly, Maken provides many good pointers that get overwhelmed by (a) her one-sided attacks on men, (b) her terrible treatment of Scriptures, and (c) her asinine conclusions that she derives from said treatment of Scriptures.

    She has allowed her personal experiences to supplant the Gospel–a theology of the Atonement and Resurrection and the Kingdom–with a theology that, at best, has more in common with the worst fringes of Dispensationalism than with the sound doctrine presented by Jesus and the Disciples.

  18. “(5) Voices of sanity who reach through the vitriol and embrace sound doctrine and wise counsel, and seek for answers that are not quite so easy. (Boundless seems to be heading in that direction.)”

    thanks, in great part, to you and others like you who have persisted in speaking the truth and calling them to a higher standard of truth

  19. I’m completely stunned by Maken’s comment on the church never having existed if it weren’t for the fall. Is she trying to say that therefore, the church isn’t really that important by comparison to marriage, or that it’s just a stop-gap sort of measure?

  20. #20 Amir – assegesis, hmmm… For a moment I read that as assegai, which really threw me 🙂

    (4) Men and women blaming each other for the problem. (They are both right. And wrong.)

    Very true.

    (5) Voices of sanity who reach through the vitriol and embrace sound doctrine and wise counsel, and seek for answers that are not quite so easy.

    Like the late Anakin and MLV (through whom I found out about all this marriage mandate hysteria). So much of the marriage advice/theology seems in fact to be socioculturally generated and specific to a narrow milieu within the Anglosphere, chiefly America.

    A devout evangelical (whatever that means) christian, (instead of just a christian, that’s no longer good enough) must subscribe to an entire set of religious values (some teetering on heresy, but not quite), a certain spectra of political ideologies and economic theory, gender responsibilities, eating habits, etc. in order to be approved as “saved” by one’s said evangelical denomination. Rather than a Venn diagram of sorts, with Christ at the centre of the intersecting sets and adiaphoric matters in their respective non-intersecting sets.

  21. @Adam

    You mean pat answers like, “Delay of marriage is a sin, marriage is a commandment, you are not a man unless you are married etc.?”

    Yep.

    I have been thinking this for a long time. It seems like people see socio-economic problem is in society, and then they ransack the text of scripture trying to find justification for a particular solution to the problem, and end up reading concepts of sociology and economics into the text that has nothing to do with the text.

    That would be Mohler and Maken.

    As I said to Amir on my blog, I have no problem if someone wants to help singles who want to get married to find a spouse, and to encourage them to see the benifits of marrying young. However, when the text of scripture is abused to make up commandments out of thin air that have nothing to do with the text, and those commandments are then forced onto the text of scripture all in order to solve a socio-economic problem, I do have a problem.

    Yep…my sentiments exactly.

  22. @MrsLarijani

    Well, if she does think either of those things, then her view of the church could use some adjusting, to put it mildly. She might want to start by reading and reflecting on Eph 3:10, and then go look up and reflect on all the places in the gospels were Jesus seems to place the primary importance on the community of his disciples rather than the biological family. Also related and interesting for reflection in this regard is Matt 22:30.

  23. (5) Voices of sanity who reach through the vitriol and embrace sound doctrine and wise counsel, and seek for answers that are not quite so easy. (Boundless seems to be heading in that direction.)

    There might be a few voices of sanity at Boundless (Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, for one), but the overall message won’t change a whole lot so long as 1) Motte Brown and Steve and Candice Watters remain affiliated with Boundless/Focus on the Family, and 2) Boundless continues to post articles and videos from folks like Mark Driscoll, Joshua Harris, and Albert Mohler.

  24. @singleman
    Driscoll is a mixed bag. His offending sermon was aimed at the Mars Hill folks, which is one of the hotbeds for Metrosexual wussies. I’ll give him a qualified pass on that one.

    Steve and Candice are mixed bags, as is Al Mohler. When Mohler is ripping the theological liberals, he’s on the money. When Mohler delves into social engineering, he’s out of his freaking mind. When he figures out how his own church treats single men, he’s more than welcome to give me a call. Until then, he has as much credibility as a Bill Clinton speech on the virtues of chastity.

    As for Steve and Candice, they need to quit looking to Mohler when they need a definitive word on the single culture. They really are wrecking their credibility every time they consult him on such matters. To their credit. they’ve sorta distanced themselves from Maken’s “mandate”, without specifically saying it outright.

    Ted is ok. Never had much of a beef with Suzanne. Never had any qualms with Tom Neven or Heather Koerner. Ashley Ramsey is usually pretty good. Lisa Anderson isn’t bad, although I’ve whacked her with a few pillows over here.

  25. The thing that got me so riled about her in the days of SCM Blog #1 was that utterance of the word “shame.” I’m old enough to have lived through and gotten past the worst excesses of the Chariscostal idiocies in the 70s and 80s — it wasn’t exactly hard to see where it was going.

    I would hope that she does not have an open pulpit at boundless if her ideas have not changed.

    …When we see ministries calling on their followers to pray and fast for single Christian men then they will have the relational standing to wag the finger at them.

  26. Amir,

    Wow, you aren’t going to believe what Albert Mohler said this time. He was on the Boundless Show talking about the delay of marriage here:

    http://fotf.cdnetworks.net/boundless/mp3/boundless111.mp3

    It begins at 24:15:

    Candice-Are you encouraged by Mark Regnerus and others who are encouraging early marriage, and do you think that this movement will gain traction?

    Dr. Mohler-Well, I’ve been at that a long time, and I can tell you its extremely controversial whereas throughout most of human history that would be the mormal expectation. I am encouraged…It’s going to be a counter-revolution. We are literally going to have to stand against the kind of demographic tide that is coming at us, and say…you know, here is the question. I just want to ask you this honestly. I talk to young guys about this more than probably any other subject when they bring it up and say, you know, here is the issue: How are you going to be holy without marriage? And that’s a tough question to answer, unless, you know, if God has called you to missions, if God’s called you to special service and deployment in this area, then the word is going to compensate for that, but, for most guys, the big issue is just this now long wait.

    Absolutely unbelievable. There you go; even though Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by his word [John 17:17], that can only happen to the vast majority of God’s people if they get married!!!!!! Even though Christ washed the church with water and the word [Ephesians 5:26], apparently, it only applies if you get married! I want to know if this statement is even orthodox!

    The reason why we will be like Christ, and the reason we are able to live a holy life has to do with his work on the cross alone, and has nothing whatsoever to do with marriage.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  27. ” unless, you know, if God has called you to missions, if God’s called you to special service and deployment in this area, then the word is going to compensate for that,”

    ***

    this statement alone is unbelievable … when i was in counseling several years ago, my therapist said that sex addiction stats, IN THE MINISTRY, topped 70%.

    if his argument is that the Word only compensates if one is in missions/ministry, then his argument is already invalid.

  28. @Adam
    I’m not surprised at all. For one thing, given that they spend no small amount of time promoting marriage and emphasizing to men that they must get married in order to be holy–and many of the men at seminary will hang on Mohler’s every word–the men, in turn, start getting scared because

    (a) they aren’t meeting the marriageable women in seminary (most of the women are already married)

    (b) they aren’t finding the marriageable women in their church communities (many are serving in pulpit supply capacities at neighboring churches)

    (c) they don’t have the network–family and friends–actively working with them to help them find a wife

    (d) even minus the commandments of Mohler, they want to be married and were already anxious about where they were going to find their wives.

    Marriage is not going to make anyone holy. I don’t care how godly the husband and wife are. That is because (a) we can’t make ourselves holy, (b) we can’t manufacture holiness, (c) we cannot impart our holiness–which is itself a gift from God–to anyone else. At best, we can live that out and God uses that to draw others to Him.

    Holiness and sanctification are God’s work, not ours. This is possible through marriage, but God works this in the life of the single Christian as well.

    As for the sexual purity angle, marriage is hardly the cure-all for sexual immorality.

    Having been on both sides, however, I can speak to the fact that–having a wife and being in a covenant in which we are each predisposed to serving each other in sexual matters (among other things)–fighting that battle is an order of magnitude easier when one is married. Especially, like I said, if both partners are predisposed to serving each other in such matters.

    Marriage will not guarantee that one will never fall in that arena; after all, there are no small number of couples, Christian and non, who cheat on each other. There are no small number of couples in which one or both members struggles with porn. There are no small number of couples in which one or both members find themselves drawn to another member of the opposite sex.

    However, done rightly, marriage can make the fight easier.

  29. @singlextianman
    I can’t tell you everything I know–nor do I purport to speak for Boundless–but it is fair to say that the Boundless folks are not going to be going gung-ho for anyone who pontificates either way on this issue. They may stoke the discussion, but it is fair to say that they are not about to come down definitively on the matter.

    They seemed pretty enthusiastic at part of Maken’s message–and let’s face it, she rightfully takes the proverbial club to a part of evangelical culture that unwittingly perpetuates the problem for those who wish to marry–but the resultant backlash against other parts of her agenda definitely left the Boundless folks a little bruised.

  30. Amir,

    and many of the men at seminary will hang on Mohler’s every word

    I initially thought this statement absurd, but I am seeing the reality over at Boundless. The kind of “circle the wagons” routine that is going on over there shows that some people just accept what Albert Mohler has to say uncritically:

    http://www.boundlessline.org/2010/03/dr-albert-mohler-used-to-be-a-young-adult-episode-111.html

    In fact, apparently, if you dare to say that Albert Mohler has said something wrong, even though you provided full context, you still are accused of taking him out of context, hating Boundless, and denegrating marriage [even though I have provided full context, never mentioned Boundless, and even defended Boundless on other issues, and support those who want to serve God in marriage]. Also, two of my posts defending myself were never posted.

    It is amazing to see how someone like Albert Mohler are just taken for granted to be correct by some people. I sure hope that, in my ministry, no one *ever* just accepts something because I say it. If we are people of truth, we should be willing to challange what even the most popular of our teachers say.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  31. I just read the comments over at Boundless. Here’s what Ted Slater had to say about Adam:

    Adam, why do you so love hating on Boundless? Seriously, you remind me of those “ministries” that point out all the heretics in Christendom, from Billy Graham to Dr. Dobson. It just gets boring and petty.

    You of all people should know what Dr. Mohler was talking about. You affiliate yourself with the Puritans, who proclaimed that God conceived of marriage to help us become more holy. (A concept summarized in the subtitle of the book “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas: “What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy.”) And yet you denigrate those who affirm such a conviction, and twist what they say to puff yourself up as some sort of expert on theology.

    Furthermore, I’m surprised that you so demean marriage, since it was my understanding that you were engaged, perhaps even married by now. Your cynicism about God’s gift of marriage just doesn’t seem consistent with your pursuit of it.

    I think you’ve overstayed your welcome here, Adam. Maybe go away and hate on someone else.

    Sorry, Ted, but you went way overboard with those remarks.

  32. gosh … i’m sorry, Adam. i stopped reading boundless a long time ago … b/c my life is too full … and b/c i get tired of the petty-ness of ‘the church’ expressed thru people like that. i know they need to discuss these things; i just don’t need to be a part of it.

  33. @singleman and Ted:

    Here’s the thing: I believe that Adam is referring to more of a cumulative case, in which Mohler–at the very least–needs to clarify what he is talking about.

    In the past, Mohler has made some pretty broad, sweeping statements about singles. Adam was probably evaluating Mohler’s latest comments against his previous statements.

    Personally, this is my take on the matter….

    In Mohler’s world–The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary–he is dealing on a daily basis with young adults–mostly male–who are studying to be pastors, evangelists, counselors, and missionaries (foreign and domestic).

    There was once a time when the average student at seminary was older than 30 and already married. But that trend has been changing over the years. Now, the single male–in his early 20s and straight out of undergrad–is a common occurrence at seminary. And those young single men are less likely to be married than they would have been 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

    Those men are overwhelmingly desiring to marry. For some, sex is a huge motivator. Others want a help-meet but also hope to enjoy the sex.

    Either way, Mohler would be correct to point out a stark reality: marrying earlier–rather than later–would help settle certain matters and allow for the young man to focus on ministerial matters.

    If he’s already married, then he can focus on his studies while he is in seminary, rather than wonder if every decent gal he meets–in seminary or church–is a potential wife.

    If he is already married, then he can approach potential churches with the understanding that his wife will be part of the package.

    Paul was correct: the single, properly focused, has more time for the things of the Kingdom. On the other hand, the single who desires to marry, is also going to be easily-distracted when he is in ministerial situations.

    Done rightly, earlier marriage would help that dynamic, as it would settle some fundamental matters and put such a man–and his wife–on good footing. From a practical standpoint, that makes good sense from an advisory–not mandatory–perspective.

    The real issue here: for earlier marriage to become the general rule for the aspiring minister, we need for families and churches to work together, and for the Church to stop being part of the problem.

    I’ve busted Mohler about the way his church treats singles. That is not Mohler’s fault by the way; he is not the lead pastor, nor is he required to know what happens in every particular sector.

    On the other hand, if he wants to help provide an equitable model for the singles, he can begin with his own stomping grounds. Once he realizes what singles go through in that church, then he will be in a better position to really address the situation.

  34. Ted’s comments are consistent with his public persona, at any rate. Adam has developed a reputation for being fair and methodical. Ted is just another quasi-pastoral figure to walk in forgiveness towards.

    On the question of holiness and sexual purity, I think Ted would be well served to revisit _The Great Divorce_ and read the “Lizard Story.” On reflection he might find himself agreeing with Adam.

  35. Amir, Singleman, Ame,

    Thank you for your support. I have dealt with the issues on my blog here:

    http://otrmin.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/the-dark-side-of-evangelicalism-a-response-to-accusations-on-the-boundless-blog/

    And, yes, Amir is correct. The thing that is most disturbing about these statements is that they were made in the context of what Dr. Mohler has said before.

    I hate dealing with these things, as politics is something the church could do without. It is dirty buisness, and, as Amir has said, it doesn’t help to have this stuff in the midst of real problems that need to be solved.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  36. @Chitownie
    I’d suggest–this is NOT a command–trying to get a network of friends (Christian friends) on your side, who will seek out men and try to match you up. You might even check with your pastor about this. He may know someone who knows someone.

    In your venue–Chicago–that approach might have some traction.

  37. @charles
    Ted’s comments are consistent with his public persona, at any rate. Adam has developed a reputation for being fair and methodical. Ted is just another quasi-pastoral figure to walk in forgiveness towards.

    If you mean Ted’s tendency to “go nuclear,” so to speak, you’re right about that. Focus on the Family, Boundless’ parent organization, might want to reconsider whether he’s suited for the role of editor. This kind of behavior on his part doesn’t bring them any credibility.

  38. @Adam
    I hate dealing with these things, as politics is something the church could do without. It is dirty buisness, and, as Amir has said, it doesn’t help to have this stuff in the midst of real problems that need to be solved.

    I’m not sure whether this is a case of politics. This could, in part, be a case of “touch not mine anointed” syndrome, more often seen in charismatic churches but sometimes seen in evangelical churches as well. Basically, this syndrome objects to the questioning of certain leaders, even if evidence exists they’re wrong.

    I wonder if it’s also, in part, a refusal to accept fellow believers who don’t march in lockstep with their particular cultural standard or worldview. This particular worldview expects men and women to marry by a certain age and use “biblical dating” or “courtship” as the means to get there. The resulting family should consist of a working husband and, once children arrive, a stay-at-home wife. Singles are necessarily considered inferior to married folks.

    Ironically, this particular worldview claims to reject most tenets of feminism but embraces feminist misandry when it suits them – for example, blaming single men for the delay in marriage.

    Did I make any sense, or does someone else have a better explanation?

  39. singleman – it makes perfect sense to me.

    i have a very dear, life-long, forever-friend who comes from very authoritative and legalistic parents. i love her parents. i respect them even though i do not agree with some of what they do and stand for (and they stand in a realm of great influence among a large segment of population). recently i had the first opportunity ever to share with her mother a different pov. she graciously and respectfully listened to me w/out ‘correcting’ me on any level. my prayer is that God will take my words and they will resonate in her heart till He opens her eyes to a world different from her own utopia she has created and chooses to live in. i will not share again unless asked, and i would not have shared this first time except that she did ask. i see that as an opportunity to, in a sense, break into a theory and theology within a person of great influence and cause them to see more clearly in whatever ways God chooses. actually, i never even conceived of this opportunity, and i think it cool that God did 🙂

  40. @singleman
    In fairness to Ted, I have not seen him “go nuclear”. Are there times where he has sipped from some of the prevailing Kool-Aid? Absolutely. (In the higher-profile ministries like FotF, that is always a temptation BTW.) Overall, he’s fairly moderate.

    His response to Adam–like Adam’s response to Mohler–is more of a cumulative case of perceived persistent contention. I’m not saying he’s right, but let’s be honest here: it’s not like SXM or myself or Anakin have never gone off on FotF/Boundless at perceived persistent contention.

    In this world, if you’re gonna dish it out–which I have–you gotta be man enough to take it.

  41. @singleman

    I’m not sure whether this is a case of politics. This could, in part, be a case of “touch not mine anointed” syndrome, more often seen in charismatic churches but sometimes seen in evangelical churches as well. Basically, this syndrome objects to the questioning of certain leaders, even if evidence exists they’re wrong.

    Here is my observation…

    (1) Even if Steve and Candice disagreed with Mohler–and I cannot speak for or against what their real thoughts are–do you honestly think that Steve or Candice will just walk into Mohler’s office and set him straight?

    No way in hell. There are smart people–me, you, Russ, SXM, Adam–and then there are guys like Mohler.

    Steve and Candice aren’t dummies, but Mohler would steamroll them without blinking. Even when you are right, he’s EXTREMELY formidable. If he were not a seminary President, he’d probably be a CEO for a large corporation, sitting on the boards of several others, and probably be looking at running for a Senate seat.

    He could tell you to go to hell, and do so in such a way that you’d be relishing the journey.

    (2) Boundless is not about to get into the Dave Hunt/John Ankerberg business of nitpicking every evangelical leader. I can see several reasons why: Ted seems to allude to one of them–it can devolve into pettiness.

    The other angle is this: while none of the folks at Boundless are idiots–in fact some of them, like Tom Neven, are downright impressive–none of them are top-flight theologians, exegetes, or apologists. Those are specialties all their own.

    Fighting Mohler on his home turf, is like me taking on Evander Holyfield. If I’m gonna fight that fight, I’d better have my life insurance paid up…

    There is much wisdom in picking one’s battles. If Boundless starts getting into apologetic/theological circle-jerks with Mohler, they will lose far more than they would ever stand to gain.

    The messenger is everything. Mohler needs a kick in the pants, but Boundless is not the group that needs to be delivering it.

    My only gripe: why are Steve and Candice looking to Mohler every time they want a perspective on single adulthood?

    I think that is something that Boundless ought to be answering.

  42. Childbirth wasn’t a curse of the fall, “increased pain in childbirth” was. God said in Genesis 3:16

    “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
    with pain you will give birth to children.
    Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

    Scripture is clear that children are a blessing and an essential component of biblical marriage. (Where infertility or other problems make childbearing impossible, those circumstances are evidence of the fall.)

  43. @Candice Watters
    I actually had that argument with a gal at church once. She was trying to make the case that childbirth–worse, even sex itself–was a curse from the Fall. She was among some folks who have a warped view that sex is inherently evil and that–even in marriage–it is more holy to have less libido.

    (Thankfully for me, MrsLarijani is nowhere near that camp. LOL)

    But yeah…I pointed out that painful childbirth–not childbirth–is the curse.

  44. i’ve heard it said, and have come to agree, that the “painful childbirth” extends beyond actually giving birth to a baby … but encompasses birthing that child through life. it is often painful to be a parent. the pain in actualy childbirth is but a breath of the pain that comes later. the intensity and duration of that pain varies, too, from birth to birth and from child to child.

  45. Amir,

    No way in hell. There are smart people–me, you, Russ, SXM, Adam–and then there are guys like Mohler.

    As I said to you on my blog, there is much truth to what you are saying here. However, I have been thinking, and wondering if we would need to ask what our priorities are. I don’t think we should be concerned about winning an argument, as much as upholding the integrity of the text of scripture. I don’t think God cares much if you end up loosing on the rhetorical end. I am concerned about the way Albert Mohler has been treating the text of scripture in this whole mess, and I think that upholding the integrity of scripture should be more important to us than winning an argument. So, yes, if we ever got to meet, and it was in a context where it would not be disruptive, off topic, etc., I *would* challenge him on this issue, as well as his idea that deliberate childlessness is a sin on an exegetical basis, not in order to win an argument, but, rather, because we need to have 1. the courage of our convictions and 2. the understanding that the goal is not to win the argument, but to show concern for God’s word being accurately handled.

    I actually have studied [am studying] under someone every bit as smart as Albert Mohler, Dr. Willem VanGemeren. When Dr. VanGemeren was in a position similar to mine, he was invited to study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem when he was an MDiv student at Westminster! I remember him telling us about taking these classes all in Modern Hebrew, and telling us about these professors who would get really animated when they were pronouncing their Hebrew if you said something they didn’t like. Let us also not forget that he had to learn English to study at Westminster, as his first language was Dutch! Dr. VanGemeren is someone who welcomes extended dialogue and discussion on various issues. It is actually through challenging Dr. VanGemeren, and talking with him for extended periods of time in class that I have learned much of what I know. Thus, I also think there is also a growth in wisdom that takes place as you dialogue with folks like this, as they force you to be consistent in what you are saying, and to think outside the box.

    However, you are correct that we need to always act in humility. We need to recognize the accomplishments of someone like a Dr. Mohler, or a Willem VanGemeren, and speak to them out of respect for their accomplishments, and, indeed, for the good that they have done for the body of Christ.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  46. @Adam
    What will need to happen: someone at Mohler’s level–a trustee, another seminary President, a top-flight OT/NT exegete with the professional creds–will need to tell him, “Al, you’re in over your head on this. Knock it off.”

    Such a one would have to be a well-known conservative in that arena.

  47. @ReconsDad

    Thank you, ReconsDad — your interpretation is correct. We have a long, long history with Adam, who tends to be a theological bully. And I happened to read his rebuke of Al Mohler — a friend of Boundless and member of the Focus on the Family board of directors — when I was in a grumpy mood. I maintain that Adam sometimes misinterprets what we publish, focusing on what may be a clumsy phrase, and then writes a 10-page treatise about how terrible we are. It’s just exhausting to be on the receiving end of such bullying. Yes, we should be held accountable for what we publish; but please try to understand what we’re saying before issuing your rebuke. One more thing: We prefer “correction” over “destruction.” If you find fault with us, help us get better. Don’t try to destroy us.

  48. @singleman

    You wrote: “Focus on the Family, Boundless’ parent organization, might want to reconsider whether he’s suited for the role of editor.”

    That’s what I was talking about in my previous comment. Instead of trying to encourage me, instead of trying to spur me to love and good deeds, instead of helping me improve my “tone,” you want to see my wife’s husband without a job, my four daughters’ papa without a job. In this job market, that likely means we’d have to try to sell our home (at a loss), and move to a place where I can find employment. That would be very difficult for my wife, three air-breathing daughters, and the child whose birth we’re expecting some time in October.

    If I’m incompetent or behaving immorally, I *should* lose my job and find other employment. But that’s just not the case.

    singleman — It’s just not cool to wish for a family man like me to get fired. It just seems like a callous, heartless thing to say about a man who pours most of his energy into trying to honor the Lord through my work and trying to bless our readers. It may help if you put a face with a name. Here are a couple of photos of me and my family:

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=9001152&id=561160243

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=9001005&id=561160243

  49. @Ted Slater
    I’m not looking to “destroy” anyone. Mohler is right 9 times out of 10. But he needs to get a clue what is going on with singles before painting the guys with a wide brush.

    Fact is, singles–both sexes–are getting screwed here. It’s not Mohler’s fault, or Boundless’ fault, or FotF’s fault, or Mark Driscoll’s fault. In reality, you have a confluence of factors that are leaving men and women with an extremely short time window during which early marriage is possible.

    Minus a robust network–and not all of us have that–that quest is quite the bitch. What happens if you didn’t grow up in the church? What happens if you went to a college–or had a major–where the men seriously outnumbered the women? What happens if you don’t find a gal in those first couple years coming out of the college gate?

    Then, let’s say you land in a seminary like SBTS, which was quite the disaster at the time, and most of the “single” women there are feminists. (And when I say “feminists”, I’m talking the “We cannot call God ‘Father’!” types. If you think I’m hyperbolizing, ask Mohler about that. Ask him about Molly Marshall and Frank Tupper. Ask him about the trash he had to clean out when he got there. I know about it, because I was there.)

    Does the situation for single men look good now?

    And I’ve pointed out what happens at the very church where Mohler serves as a teaching pastor: they unwittingly make it very difficult for men to find mates. It’s not Mohler’s fault–he’s not in charge there–but it would serve him well to find out what goes on there before he starts painting with a wide brush.

    Why do I contest Mohler so hard? He–of all people–should know better, given the mess he had to clean up when he arrived at SBTS. There is no small number of guys who paid the price for the crap that went on before he got there.

    As for Boundless, I have no personal axe to grind with you guys. But keep in mind that fixing this problem–protracted singleness–will take at least a generation, and will take more forethought than many of the pat answers being bandied about.

    I’m all for earlier marriage. I would love to have married earlier–and I would hazard to guess that you wish you did as well. I’m not going to cry over not getting that break in life, though.

    That said, for earlier marriage to become the rule, will require for parents–Christian parents–to start taking the lead in their own households.

    The 9,000 pound elephant in the room remains, however: we have no small number of angry singles who want to marry. They are sick and tired of a Church whose leaders are effectively telling them to STFU, and yet they don’t like the mandators treating them like second-classers.

    There are no easy answers here, but I know this much: I’m not impressed with the pat answers and proclamations coming from some of our “leaders” on this matter.

  50. @ReconsDad

    Ah, in my comment I started by affirming you, and then drifted into commenting toward Adam and singleman. What I wrote at the end of my comment — “If you find fault with us, help us get better. Don’t try to destroy us.” — was not directed toward you, but at people who would rather tear down our ministry than build it up. I sense no malice in what you write, just a raw passion to grapple with the truth. Just wanted to clarify that.

  51. Ted,

    You have made a lot of accusations here that require some proof.

    1. You have called me a “theological bully.” Please, explain what you mean by that term. It sounds to me like nothing but name calling. Remember, when you talk about theological bullies, think about the fact that there are many people who you have criticized on your own blog. Why did Candice Watters not get this treatment when she said something about John Piper? What about some of the authors over at Boundless who have been teaching these things to people that have no way of checking what they are saying, because they are laymen? Do these things make you an “theological bully?” I can’t even count the number of times you guys have misunderstood me. Does that make you a “theological bully?” Being critical, and wanting you guys to hold to a higher standard is not “bullying,” it is wanting to see these issues resolved in a *Biblical* fashion. Again, this stuff you have said is nothing but politics. Also, can I ask you where I ever “bullied” Heather Koerner, or Matt Kaufmann, or Tom Nevin, or many of the other authors you guys have over there? And, again Ted, why is it that you would say this when I wasn’t even criticizing you?

    Also, how can I focus on “how terrible you are” when I would defend you nine times out of ten? There have been times I have gotten on your blog, and defended you against atheists, feminists, and secularists of all shapes and sizes. And, normally, when I am critiquing someone, it is not meant to be a critique of Boundless as a whole, but of the individual author. Again, Ted, these accusations are simply of someone who is not thinking about this problem.

    Also, I have other people who are reading you in the exact same way as I am. I *do* have people who read your blog who support what I am saying. What should that tell you about the clarity of what you are saying, if this keeps on coming up, and people are agreeing with me?

    As Amir has said, we are not trying to destroy anyone. We want to see the problem of singles wanting to get married solved in, as Amir says, a way that actually deals with the problem. This stuff, not only does not deal with the problem, but it destroys care in interpreting the text of scripture.

    I guess the whole issue here is what is most important. Do you care about helping singles get married? Do you care about accurately handling the text of scripture? If you do, then are you going to show it by being willing to say that Albert Mohler, Candice Watters, and others are wrong to just grab hold of this stuff, and drink it down like kool-aide? Also, are you going to make sure to state with sufficient clarity what you are saying, so that we do not have the very problem I was afraid of at the top of this thread, namely, ministers not communicating well with the laity? As Amir said, these things are going to require more than pat answers.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  52. To Everyone:

    I am almost wondering if the internet has its disadvantages in dealing with these issues. The reason is that simple written word cannot always be understood accurately. You can sometimes read into people certain thoughts, motivations, and goals that they do not have. I am wondering if that is happening on both sides.

    The internet is an interesting place. I have used it to finally get drawings of the Khirbet Quiafa ostrocon, which I hope to make a blog post about soon, but it can also be a place that is very difficult to communication feelings and intentions. Hence, I am almost wondering if the issue is not a lack of clarity on the part of Boundless or myself, but simply limitations on the medium of the internet itself.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  53. @Adam
    I’ve often suggested the same thing, because in the I-Net, you cannot pick up on nonverbal communication, or even voice inflections or things to that effect, which are integral to understanding what is being said.

  54. Ted wrote:

    “If you find fault with us, help us get better. Don’t try to destroy us.”

    that is excellent. unfortunately, there are many who do not want to ‘get better.’ i’ve found, for me personally, it is often better to shake the dust off my feet and quietly move on. (i am not speaking personally directed towared you here). i believe that sometimes we need to pray and sit back and let God do His thing … or that it’s someone else’s place to speak. that’s a hard call sometimes.

    i think Amir stated it well when he wrote: “What will need to happen: someone at Mohler’s level–a trustee, another seminary President, a top-flight OT/NT exegete with the professional creds–will need to tell him, “Al, you’re in over your head on this. Knock it off.”

    Such a one would have to be a well-known conservative in that arena.”

    ***

    on the flip side, one cannot be directed by every comment that comes their way or they become like playdough. wisdom, discernment, discretion, from God, are imparative. that being said, God does not usually dump all His wisdom on us at one time. He gives it to us in layers over time. hence why hindsight is 20/20 :).

    ***

    btw – Ted, i LOVE the pics!!! had some friends with four daughters, and dad was gathering them up after church when they were mostly preschoolers … all girls were whining and crying – i imagine he needed some estrogen breaks from time-to-time! little girls are priceless, though – i’ve got two of my own 🙂

  55. Rather than responding point-by-point to the broadside leveled against me in comment #58, I thought I’d share where I’m coming from in hope of providing some background for my thoughts.

    I am NOT anti-marriage. I’m single by circumstance, not choice. Simply put, all my pursuits to this point have been shot down: most sooner, a few later. This has caused me intense heartache at times; I’ve desired marriage for many years. In hindsight, however, I can see that at least some of those rejections were God’s means of delivering me from potentially bad situations.

    At this time in my life, singleness has proven a blessing. I’ve been unemployed for more than a year. There is simply no way I could support a family on unemployment benefits, especially in the Washington, DC area with its high cost of living. Should it become necessary to relocate, it will be a lot easier moving only myself as opposed to a family.

    I still hold out some hope that I will someday marry. However, my prospects are getting dimmer now that I’m eligible for AARP membership. (Don’t worry, Amir; I haven’t joined.)

    I’m aware that there are a lot of other singles besides myself whose longings for marriage and family have gone unfulfilled. Having been a Christian for a number of years, I’ve far too often seen the church respond by attacking singles, particularly single men, rather than trying to help them. The reasons for extended singleness are quite complex. One is not going to resolve it by simply blaming a group of people that ironically constitute one of the smallest demographics in the modern evangelical church. Nor should we blame single women for extended singleness.

    Another issue that irks me is the legalism often seen in proposed remedies. I was exposed to lots of legalism as a young Christian, as well as the prosperity doctrine and the shepherding movement. Since returning to church about ten years ago after leaving for several years, I’ve been trying to eradicate this scourge from my life. I also don’t want to see other Christians go through what I did.

    There are other things I thought about saying, but I’ve probably gone too long already. I hope this has been helpful.

  56. Ted wrote:
    “you want to see my wife’s husband without a job, my four daughters’ papa without a job. In this job market, that likely means we’d have to try to sell our home (at a loss), and move to a place where I can find employment. That would be very difficult for my wife, three air-breathing daughters, and the child whose birth we’re expecting some time in October.

    If I’m incompetent or behaving immorally, I *should* lose my job and find other employment. But that’s just not the case.

    singleman — It’s just not cool to wish for a family man like me to get fired. It just seems like a callous, heartless thing to say about a man who pours most of his energy into trying to honor the Lord through my work and trying to bless our readers. It may help if you put a face with a name. Here are a couple of photos of me and my family:”

    ***

    Ted, I greatly respect you and your position. however, these comments bother me. no one wants to see a wife and kids have their husband/daddy out of work. there are many who serve the Lord in their job, whether in ministry directly or not, who have lost their jobs, who have family. no one wants to see anyone loose their house.

    the reality is … the rain falls on the just and the unjust. you cannot be righteous enough for God to choose to favor you with a job and another man with children to loose his job.

    no, it’s not cool for a family man to loose his job … it’s also not cool for a little girl to be sexually abused by her dad … or for a dad to desert his kids … or for a lot of things.

    i think this is the argument that is valid: “If I’m incompetent or behaving immorally, I *should* lose my job and find other employment. But that’s just not the case.”

    even still … there are many, many competent and moral people who are loosing their jobs … people who have wives and kids. my own financial disaster doesn’t even come close to what you’ve described … it wasn’t cool for my ex to be unfaithful … it wasn’t cool for him to desert us, his wife and kids … it’s not cool that he’s been out of work for almost two years and not paying child support. there are lots of things that aren’t cool, but they are.

    i think what disturbs me the most is this statement: “a man who pours most of his energy into trying to honor the Lord through my work and trying to bless our readers.”

    there are many of us who pour most and/or all of our energy into trying to honor the Lord through our work and home … who try to bless all those who come into our paths, but that has not kept the rain from falling on us.

    no, i do not want to see your beautiful wife and adorable daughters live through a husband/dad loosing his job. but i will tell you this, as i have been through this and worse, it’s not the worst thing that can happen to you … and if it does, God will never leave you nor forsake you.

    the pics of your family are beautiful. so are the pics of me when i was a little girl … and so are the pics of my girls … and many others.

  57. @Ted Slater

    I noticed that comments were never showing up on that particular thread. Boundless’s policy in the has been to have a fairly accepting of comments, even those fairly harshly critical of the site’s policies. Has this changed, or was the disappearing-comments more of a one-time thing?

    Since my comments never appeared on Boundless, I’ll ask that same basic question here as was filtered out from Boundless: why complain that Adam “puff[s] [him]self “up as some sort of expert on theology” when well-respected “experts on theology” (e.g. John Piper and Andreas Kostenberger to give two examples), seem to disagree with comparatively unqualified guests of Boundless like Debbie Maken? Have you ever attempted to interview these individuals on the topic?

    Can I suggest that the failure to accept harsh criticism might be one symptom of a church that’s become weak (in lines with the most recent Boundless post)? Being on an academic track, if I fail to nuance things properly in my research or fail to accept and give criticism (however well respected the authors of a idea are), I’m simply failing at my task.

    (If you ever have a chance to read Richard Feynman’s autobiography – he won a Nobel Prize, lots of teaching awards, and is probably one of the best known physicists of the last century – he seems to attribute much of his success to a disrespect for authority. I don’t mean a disrespect for persons but rather a constant questioning/evaluation of the arguments they make.)

  58. @ Ted: How to help you be better?

    For starters, you might as an institution calibrate what it means to “destroy” you (generic you; not specific you). It might so happen that the person you are quick to think of has having ignoble intent is, in fact, sharpening you. Ask yourself who gets to decide this — is this a “Ted” call, or do you have safety in the multitude of counselors (i.e. other people join with you before you assay someone as ill willed?).

    Here’s another thing you can do — when you know that someone like Doug Wilson or Debbie Maken has some off-in-left-outer-space field ideas, make a point of specifically disavowing those particular notions if you are going to give them a venue at boundless.

    Of course, I”m just a layman.

  59. i thought, perhaps, i should come back and give a little background into why on my comment #67.

    i have a friend who did all the right things, honoring God, her husband, her children, her church, her friends, etc. then things fell apart, big time. she blamed God b/c she was doing everything right, and she had been taught, somewhere along the line, that if one does everything right, God will bless them and things will not fall apart.

    i do not believe this would happen to Ted. i believe he is more grounded than that. however, there are those whose faith is not so strong, or their theology is so off, that they do believe such things. it’s a hard road back from such a fall.

    when i was going through my sexual abuse recovery group, i spent some time with a friend who had also gone thru the group prior to me. she listed all the things she’d done wrong in her life to justify the consequences she was living with. i looked at her and said, “I have those consequences, too, but I was not the one who made all those choices. Someone else made them.”

    i don’t know how God chooses those for who seem to walk thru life with little difficulty. i have very dear friends whose lives are like this, and they feel guilty when they hear of mine. it’s a false guilt. i used to think i had more control over my life b/c of good choices, but i’ve learned that good choices are not a guarantee for good things. they are, however, a guarantee of a purity in my relationship with Christ.

  60. @Ame

    i have a friend who did all the right things, honoring God, her husband, her children, her church, her friends, etc. then things fell apart, big time. she blamed God b/c she was doing everything right, and she had been taught, somewhere along the line, that if one does everything right, God will bless them and things will not fall apart.

    Oh come now, Ame…you wouldn’t be suggesting that certain television figures are promoting a false gospel of prosperty, now…would you?

  61. @ReconsDad
    I don’t think this has as much to do with the “Prosperity Gospel” as it does with an over-arching mentality in The Church: God helps those who help themselves.

    One of the most propagated lies told to singles is “Work on contentment. Once your content with God, he’ll give you the desires of your heart.”

    I had the same frustration. Four-ish years ago when my brother (7 years younger than I) got a girl pregnant, and he became a “father” I had some wrestling matches with God. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t even meet someone. All I could do was think of everything with me that was wrong. I had a very hard time focusing on what I was doing that was right. Or the things that were going right, for that matter.

  62. @MrsLarijani
    It’s still a variation of the Prosperity Gospel. At the end of the day, it’s a false gospel because it is based on works. The line of thinking falsely assumes that human works will somehow entitle a person to God’s favor.

  63. Amir – hey, i’m looking for a job … do ya think i could dress myself up real purty and get on tv and make some money promoting such a thang?!!! yee haw!

  64. MrsL – “God helps those who help themselves”

    Oh, you hit a GOOD one there! and those seeds are DEEP w/in christian/church culture. that’s a whole new post girlfriend!

  65. @singlextianman
    Excellent suggestions, singlextianman. I would also add any contributors from Capitol Hill Baptist Church or Sovereign Grace Ministries to your “off-in-left-outer-space field ideas” list.

    I would also recommend that Boundless seriously and soberly reconsider some of the advice they’ve given regarding early marriage. It was recently revealed that former Boundless contributors Sam and Bethany Torode, who married when Bethany was just 19, are now divorced.

  66. @singleman
    I don’t think I’ve seen them advocate teenage marriage, but more early 20’s marriage. So many factors go into a divorce that pinning it down to just the age at marriage is folly.

  67. @singleman
    With which particular advice are you taking issue?

    Are you suggesting that early marriage is a failed idea, simply on the basis that one couple who tried that approach, had a failed marriage? I know a couple who married early (he 18, and she 15), and are doing fine 15 years later. The particular doesn’t make the general. And even when you look at the general, it is fair to look at contributory factors for success.

    If early marriage is evil, then what do you advise?

    Most of the folks who blog here–BOTH OF US INCLUDED–have had to deal with the consequences of what happens when you fall short of marriage in a very limited time window. Until just north of 3 months ago, I was in the same boat as you. I haven’t forgotten.

    I have tarred Boundless from this blog space, and even on their own blog space. I’ve spared neither Ted, nor Steve, nor Candice, nor Lisa over here. I’ve busted them when they got it wrong.

    I have yet to see, however, what is particularly wrong with the advice that Christians ought to consider marrying sooner and not later.

    This is NOT a Biblical command, but rather a statement of practical reality. The Bible doesn’t command, for example, that men must do the pursuing. On the other hand, a man who waits for the woman to pursue him, may be waiting for a VERY LONG TIME…

    One can haggle around about which age is more optimal than another, and that’s all well and good. On the other hand, this discussion becomes a discourse over the tradeoffs and age is merely one factor.

    Women are under pressure–biologically–to marry early, but not too early. Men are under pressure–due to career development issues–to marry later, but not too late. That leaves a limited optimal time window.

    Like you, I oppose the marriage mandators. That’s not on the table here.

    But to raise the issue of the Torodes, is a red herring.

  68. even though my marriage failed, i still support marrying young (i met him at 19 and married him just after turning 21). i really wish it hadn’t failed, but i do not think marrying young had anything to do with why it failed.

    there is a lot to be said about growing up together … starting life together. it’s a beautiful experience that i am very glad to have had.

  69. @ReconsDad
    Upon re-reading my comment in response to your reply, I realize I could have expressed my thoughts more clearly and appropriately by saying “examine” rather than “reconsider.” The fact that two of Boundless’ former contributors have divorced should be enough of a reason for the current contributors to take a fresh look and ensure the advice they’re offering is sound.

    I consider the Torodes’ divorce to be more of a cautionary tale than a red herring. I don’t know all the particulars, and I’m aware that there could be mitigating circumstances.

    There are advantages to marrying earlier in life, no doubt about that. Child-rearing is a whole lot easier when one is younger and has more energy. And while marriage is no guarantee that one remains sexually pure, I’m sure it makes the task a whole lot easier.

    Like it or not, however, marriage hasn’t happened for some of us. I’ve regretfully given up my dreams of being a father, and my father will likely never see any grandchildren.

  70. To be clear, it’s not that Boundless advocates “early marriage.” We are simply encouraging our readers not to be afraid of marrying in their early 20s because of their parents’ divorce or their educational pursuits or feelings of immaturity.

    Making a decision is a very difficult thing. It seems that it takes longer and longer for new generations to make a decision. Moving from childhood to adulthood — it takes longer now. Moving from dating to marriage — take a lot longer now. We’re encouraging our readers to bring in the counsel of Scripture and mentors … in order not to delay making certain decisions. For delay can bring a heartbreak of its own …

  71. “Child-rearing is a whole lot easier when one is younger and has more energy.”

    yes! i didn’t have my babies till 33 and 35 … and i can tell you, those who had them in their 20’s had a LOT more energy.

    ALSO … a woman’s body pops back a LOT faster in her 20’s. sigh.

  72. It was absolutely the making of me to marry early, as I did – at age 23. I don’t know that if I had married later that it would have contributed to the stability or not of my marriage or kept its failure at bay. My ex of course is not here to give her side of the story (though she was the one who strayed), but I am inclined to think that she benefited from a great deal of stability she would not have otherwise had if she had married later to me; the same kinds of issues would have raised their head as we approached mid life the same. In fact, the longevity of the marriage was probably greater because we had that developed track record of communication and problem solving, etc.

    My only horse in this race is whether single men are “pressured” by churches vs. “prepared” — and by “prepared” I do not mean finger-wagging about white bread suburbia values vs. developing a sound foundation in your walk with God.

    @singleman: I concur with your ideas, but I only have “internet” knowledge of Capital Baptist, though I do have personal experience with some of the extreme ideas of some Sovereign Grace-flavored fellowships. It was added to just a few weeks ago in what amounted to something like a “pastoral date” with someone who had severely injured in her walk by a profoundly legalistic church in that orbit.

  73. @singlextianman

    My only horse in this race is whether single men are “pressured” by churches vs. “prepared” — and by “prepared” I do not mean finger-wagging about white bread suburbia values vs. developing a sound foundation in your walk with God.

    That’s exactly where I stand on the matter. I’m all for earlier marriage, but not in a vacuum. Parents and church leaders need to be teaching and admonishing children and youth, preparing them for the issues of adulthood. Marriage is but one of those matters–for the vast majority anyhow.

    What is failing now: children are not being prepared for adulthood. Parents are failing in their duties as teachers, and church leaders are often more interested in providing good times and fun experiences for the children, than they are in teaching.

  74. Ted wrote: “Making a decision is a very difficult thing. It seems that it takes longer and longer for new generations to make a decision. Moving from childhood to adulthood — it takes longer now. Moving from dating to marriage — take a lot longer now. We’re encouraging our readers to bring in the counsel of Scripture and mentors … in order not to delay making certain decisions. For delay can bring a heartbreak of its own …”

    in my personal experience with my 19 yo niece, i would concur.

    also, Christian parents are teaching their kids NOT to get married … until they have a degree and are settled in their careers. daughters are taught that they must prepare themselves for the “what if the marriage doesn’t work out, and i need to support myself” scenario.

    Christian parents are often, under the table, willing to put their daughters on birth control pills to keep them from getting pregnant, “just in case.”

    i think that not only do the young adults need to swim upstream in society, they need to swim upstream in Christian homes and churches, and that is the really hard part. it is difficult, at young ages, to go in a direction against the advice of your parents – even simply to think differently in going against the advice of your parents.

  75. Coming to dicussion REALLY late but I wonder …

    One person says get married as x age. Another says, “No wait.” I wonder what 10,000 years of biology would have to say on that matter? Doesn’t it have something important to say after all? In a way, having a wife at age 13 would have been nice.

  76. “having a wife at age 13 would have been nice.”

    that’s called “Growing Up Together!”

    i tell ya … those that have babies young have perfect bodies after birth. having babies in my 30’s (33 and 35) nearly killed me.

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