Today Jon talked about people who want change in their lives, but aren't willing to do anything to help make that happen. It's not unlike the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago about those open doors that God provides in our lives. He went into much more detail, though. He made some excellent points. I really liked what he had to say about Nehemiah.
For the most part, the post was well received. Most of the negative comments - heck, maybe all of the negative comments - came from single women. I was one of them.
What did he say that was so offensive? Nothing I haven't heard before. That's why it offended me. And it wasn't just what he said...it was that I felt that it reinforced stereotypes about singles that are not helpful.
He was talking about singles who want to get married without putting any effort into meeting people. Yes, I know such people exist, but I also think they are the minority, and do not represent the rest of us. Some singles want to marry, some don't, and others of us have honestly reached a point where we have given this to God and said - and we mean it - "Not my will, but Thine." We manage to remain emotionally healthy despite our singleness - some might even say because of our singleness. We get out and are involved in our communities. We are not living in our parents' basements. Really, you would think Christians would understand this concept, but no, Christians can be the worst when it comes to accepting another's singleness.
Jon's comments reminded me of an Ann Landers answer to singleness - you know, "Get out and join a singles group at your church." That's not exactly the way Jon put it, but that's how I read it. And I know that's not what he intended. But the comments in his defense only served to validate why it bothered me.
I have run into this for
First of all, as I said in my comment to Jonathan's post, single people go to church for the same reasons married people do. They are looking for fellowship with other followers of Christ. They are looking for a deeper knowledge of the Bible. They are looking for a stronger relationship with Christ. They are looking for the same things that married people look for in a church group.
Yes, there will always be some who are at church looking for a mate, but - particularly in groups over the age of 30 - they are the minority. (Which works out nicely because after 30, the ratio of men to women typically drops each and every year.) So could we please stop perpetuating the myth that singles go to church to get married?
Secondly, the responses directed to those of us who were offended echoed too much of the advice I've received over the years.
"You'll find someone when you quit looking." I don't even remember when I quit looking, but sometimes God's answer is just, "No." Sometimes it's "Not now." I don't need people who don't know me to tell me what God's plan is for my life. For that matter, I don't need people who do know me to tell me what God's plan is for me.
"I met my husband on eHarmony." That's nice. I'm thinking I could make money selling a t-shirt that says "I joined eHarmony and all I got was this lousy t-shirt and a boatload of gun-toting redneck matches." WE KNOW ABOUT eHARMONY. (Sorry, I didn't mean to shout.) I know a lot of people seem to think singles are living on another planet, but really, we have heard all about online dating.
"Get out and meet people." Excuse me, but most of us are not single because we're in hibernation. Again, it's assigning a stereotype to people that doesn't fit most of us. We are a "living, breathing, vital part of society," thank you very much.
And then there were a few suggestions that weren't posted, but ran through my head when I read the comments:
"You know, at this point in life, you just can't be picky." You're right. Set me up with that guy who you wouldn't set your own sister up with (for obvious reasons) because I can't be picky. I'm sorry, but when it comes to marriage, I think a little more discernment is in order, not less.
"You're not listening to God." This came from a married guy who was offering to "help me out" and the man wasn't offering to fix my faucet. He gave me the story about the guy sitting on his roof in a flood who turned away a life preserver, a boat, and a helicopter, saying he was trusting God to save him. Then the guy drowned. When he got to heaven, he asked God why he let him drown, and God replied, "I sent you a dingy, a lifeguard, and a helicopter and you refused them. What else could I do?"
Trust me. I know God's voice. And in this case, God told me to tell that guy to take a hike.
"God doesn't have a 'right person' for you. You just have to find 'someone' and make it work." The implication here is that just anyone will do...and yet we wonder why the divorce rate is so high. Again, I have to go back to that discernment thing. I understand that there is no perfect person but at the same time, you can't just find anybody and expect to make a marriage work. I once heard a pastor of a church I visited preach a sermon about how you just have to find someone and make the best of it. I later learned that he was cheating on his wife. Interesting how much of the bad advice seems to come from people who aren't happy in their own marriages.
There has been other bad advice over the years...do "something" with your hair, wear contacts, pretend to be someone you're not, you spend too much time with singles (?)....the list goes on.
Really, I love Jon's "Serious Wednesday" posts, but marriage advice for singles is a bit of a touchy subject.