Dave Murrow–author of Why Men Hate Going to Church–has the following take on the dating scene at the Church. (HT: Lisa Anderson of Boundless.)
I can’t say that my views are completely at odds with Murrow. I’ve long been a critic of children and youth ministry. And I completely agree with his take on female youth leaders. If you want to help boys become men, you need MEN involved in educating them. Otherwise, you are running a greater risk of developing a generation of GIRLY MEN.
Moreover, I also have observed exactly what he describes in the lengthy, intimate praise and worship sessions that drone on ad infinitum. I’ve also been in settings where–if you aren’t worshiping in terms that are satisfactory to the music minister–you end up on the receiving end of a plethora of shaming tactics.
And the teaching? Gooooodddnesssss, he’s right on the money. For one thing, the teaching is topical, with very little in-depth discussion of the Scriptures. As Murrow says, the emphasis is often on the hot moral issues, often involving sexual immorality. (While I’m all for admonishing people to eschew sexual immorality, there’s more to the Christian life than that.)
Sadly, it is in those years that the kids can be gaining great insight into the Scriptures. A good teacher can challenge them, and do this in a way that they would likely enjoy.
As for who ends up left among the adult men, Murrow provides his take on the categories of single men:
1. The Bible geeks. Quiet, studious men who love to study theological tomes. Or verbal guys who love to teach.
2. The musical. They play in the band. Or they stand on the front row raising their hands during the music.
3. The asexual. Guys who are OK with kissing dating (and kissing) goodbye.
4. The predators. Guys who know there are plenty of desperate young women in church and enjoy trying to get them in bed.
5. The social misfits. Strange men who come to church because it’s the only place women will smile at them.
(Hey…what’s so bad about us geeks?)
On a more serious note: the single musical types I saw either (a) got snatched up, or (b) were also in the “predator” category, as they used their musical affinity to attract the ladies, or (c) tended not to date at all.
Murrow also describes something quite interesting:
If you’re into these kinds of guys, then the church dating scene isn’t so bad. If not, then you’ll have to fight over the most rare (and for some, the most desirable) category of single churchgoing men: the late converts. These are men who came to Christ in their teens or 20s, bypassing much of the screening process. Many were saved out of terrible sin. They have been forgiven much and love God much. (These guys get snapped up quickly by the best-looking women.)
Granted, I didn’t see a whole bunch of that after I got out of college, but I did see a little bit of that dynamic during my days at Embry-Riddle, when I attended the Assembly of God church that ran the bus to campus. I knew a few of those guys–former drug/alcohol abusers who had been saved–and they had recently married. And their wives–while not originally members of that particular church–were definitely quite attractive.
I think what Murrow described there is more prevalent in the charismatic/Pentecostal circles. I think that has to do with the fact that charismatics/Pentecostals are a VERY forgiving lot, and are very receptive to people with baggage. Say what you want about some of their doctrinal emphases regarding certain spiritual gifts, but one thing they do that other evangelicals don’t do well: they are very receptive to people with “pasts”.
But here’s where I’m kinda mulling things over, and I’m not sure I’m completely in agreement with Murrow.
On one hand, he is suggesting that the men aren’t in the church, and yet he categorizes the men who are there: geeks, musicians, asexuals, predators, and the socially-challenged.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, but how would it go over if I said that the only single women available were (a) the gravitationally-challenged, (b) the divorcees, (c) the head cases, (d) the sluts, and (e) the basket cases? I didn’t think so.
My point: if Murrow is correct, then the women aren’t really asking, “Where are the men in Church?”
No…they are really asking, “Where are the ALPHA men in Church?”
Now let’s be honest here: we have a plethora of men and women who fall into the “tough to marry” brackets, who are having a hard time finding a mate. Fact is, 50 years ago, even these folks would have had an easier time getting married.
But both sides need to get a grip here: the ladies need to accept that not every gal is going to get an Alpha male; the men who fall into the difficult categories also need to gain better skills to improve their market value.
Still, Murrow is on many right tracks: the Church in the United States has a long way to come before She recovers from the onslaught of the Jesus with No Balls–the variation that has been slammed down the throats of Americans for nearly 150 years.