McDonalds surrounded by haute cuisine...

(Tim: Under the post, What godly eldership looks like with a 30something single man..., PCA teaching elder and church planter in Taiwan, Joel Linton, made this comment. It's so good, I'm promoting it to the main page.)

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If men pick godly, mature Christian young women, these women would not be turned off by lack of money.

The question I think for the women (if they are mature and secure in the Lord) is are these men "with it" in the sense of being responsible for their personal lives and for others -- or are they barely getting by as single men. I think women do not want to have to be "moms" to these men. Women want to find men to whom they can willingly submit and follow.

I meet so many single 30's men who are passive, do not take the initiative or responsibility, and just seem lost as far as what their life is all about. They might hold a steady job (some do not), but they are just working to work. They might have a decent car and a decent house and lots of videos, video games, sound systems, etc. installed in their homes, but they do not really know what to do with each day...

They come home and watch TV, or they go out, but they do not seem to have a vision. The marriages that happen with these kinds of men are usually where the woman takes the initiative and rules the home.)

I think much of this derives from sin and compromises in these men's lives -- bondage to e.g. pornography, or ways of related to women - ways they have dealt with girls in the past, ways they keep girlfriends, coarse innuendo in their conversations, etc. They have given themselves over to short thrills of the moments. And they go from one to the next.

They do not know about hardship and suffering and persevering.

They do not know about laying down their lives for someone else.

If a man cannot lay down his life -- even to take the initiative of making a decision about a life-mate, then how can a woman feel loved?

Basically, I think so many men were never taught how to be men. And through their young years, they gradual event by event, decision by decision, action by action, took steps away from godly manliness.

Some men are walking around fearing rejection, failure, etc. They fear to make mistakes. They fear to decide. They do not have their identity in the eternal and unshakeable fact of their sonship in Christ. They cannot face shame or ridicule from others. If they feel outside the cool and popular, yet they still yearn for it and follow its way. They have picked up these things over the years in the movies and television they have watched and in the schools where they little by little made decisions to take the paths of self-protection. 

As an alternative to the feminized man, the main model presented by the world is a drinking-jock stereotype of a man which really in many ways is a sissy -- especially when it comes to responsibility as a husband and father. This man, may try to be manly by working out. He actually derives comfort and identity in his fitness. He reads books and thinks he is manly by keep up on man-issues. But he is afraid of commitment. He also is sold out to indulge in pleasure and is afraid of hardship. He does not want to risk rejection. He tries to be a suave player -- cool. He wants to have some young pretty thing around him, but he does not think much beyond that. 

If he has taken in any Christian morals, he will somehow know that sex before marriage is perhaps wrong, but that really depends upon the girl -- he'll give in to a girl's seduction. He also will be seeking to go as far as possible without crossing the line of some act that gets her pregnant. He will have sex with her in all but the final act. And after getting into that habit, he will one day go all the way. With guilty slight regret that gradually hardens away, he partakes with his girlfriend of all the foreplay that preps the hormones and physiology and gives the heightened pleasure leading up to and ready for the conception of a child.

So these men in the thirties have a mixture of guilt, hardened hearts, unsatisfied lives, and feel rudderless and timid, but also stuck and have no practice in resisting the old habits. 

In all that turmoil, it seems beyond this kind of  man to take a new direction and to truly be a man of God who takes responsibility to embrace fatherhood and self-sacrifice as a husband.

Some even say they wish to get married and go to single groups and ask for prayers and long for a wife. But their past dalliances in pornography or in that which is held up as beauty for the world mean that their taste is very limited. Most women they cannot appreciate. The women they feel attracted to are the ones who are most unsuitable and unready to be wives. No matter how pretty a woman is in truth, if she is mature, maturity casts a pall around the women in their eyes; it scares these men away and makes them think of the woman not being sexy but plain. Part of sexual attraction has been reduced by the world to young women who are overly, unnaturally thin, insecure, dress immodestly in order to get praise from the world, a bit lost, a bit unsure of themselves, and basically easily led by single men into pre-marital sexual relationships. Or the other type of women the world shows is the "hot" woman of the world who has known many men and knows how to flirt and excite them.  

So these single men cannot feel an attraction for the most beautiful women inwardly and outwardly in the church. They cannot feel any romance spark. As someone who visits a big city but only can enjoy McDonalds when all around him are the riches of the cuisine of other cultures -- Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian, Romanian -- but he just wants a big-mac and fries with ketchup. His taste in women are likewise narrowed to the limited stirring of the taste buds that coarse fat and sugar and salt can provide.

Marriage when it comes, is by accident, a spur of the moment. The motive force is the circumstance, not a conviction of principle.

There are so many different issues where these men need to be "reprogrammed" from the brainwashing of the world, and of sinful habits and indulgences of their past. 

It is with added hope and joy that I have witnessed that the message of the Gospel applied in their lives really can change them.

Comments

Thanks for posting this. Could I just add one more picture of hope and motivation for change -- starting with a change of view and understanding:

To often Christians sit at the edge of a vast, burning desert (not dessert) that is dry and empty and will lead to death. We try to step over the line as much as we can as if this dust and ash is something delectable. And instead we need to fully turn away from it and turn towards a relationship with God, and the life He calls us to. That life is beautiful, rich, lush, verdant, full of everything good, noble, just, pure, loving, trustworthy, excellent, praiseworthy... How could we rob ourselves of the truly delectable by turning to the lies and cheats of Satan that only gives a momentary thrill but then leads to death?

This is a penetrating and remarkably astute

analysis into the maladies that plague young men today. The cultural influences that have shaped our modern paradigm of masculinity(forgive this oxymoron)have compromised and in some instances ruined innumerable young men.

The church I attend is acutely sensitive to this situation and has instituted a systematic, programmed, and aggressive approach to redress these ills; but in some cases a great deal of damage has been done by the time we get these young men.

The province of turning boys into men is ultimately the task of fathers. If we fail in this task the damage done to our sons will be in some degree irremediable. When I reflect on men such as King David, Scipio, William Wallace, and King Alfred and their respective ages when they assumed the mantle of manhood and fulfilled the cultural expectations of their respective times in relationship to the cultural expectations for young men today I realize how much ground we've lost and how daunting our task is.

> as an alternative, that they are simply not up to marriage character-wise.

> the Christian single men I know are there precisely because they have decided to stand for Christ and follow his ways - even at the cost of a relationship - rather than go looking for one in the world.

I'd like to believe this but I know tons of Christian men who haven't married and then tons of women in the same boat. One such woman who had extensive wealth built up over years of being single said to me, "All the men I ever met were jerks!" And then later was made a deaconess when there were tons of eligible men but not enough servant leader men. Thinly veiled feminism is rampant even in very solid conservative churches. Women are unleadable, men are unleading - it's a sick cycle.

There's this extreme fear of messing up a family.

I was told recently by a young man who is afraid to marry that I lacked faith, while this is somewhat true, I said, "You have no idea what faith it took for me to marry and have children - trusting God to do what he promised."

My family was not a good one, neither was my wife's. Tons of men are saying that they can't lead a family - I like the line from a popular movie, "I can't get married, I'm a 30 year old boy" and another "what you see is a generation of men raised by women."

I'm far from saying that all men should marry but usually the motives for not doing it are pathetic.

-Clint

> as an alternative, that they are simply not up to marriage character-wise.

Also, that Christianity Today article had the line that I will now often use - "we think of marriage not as formative but an institution we enter into when we are fully formed."

It always sounds very noble when a man says, "I'm not ready to be married, I must grow as a good Christian man, ready to lead a family."

While this may be true, we hear this sort of objection in another situation. We hear men say, "I can't join a church, I'm not ready yet - I'll spend more time reading my bible alone and eventually I'll join a church, or attend one regularly."

At some point a man enters into things because he trusts that God is who he says he is and that He will enable us. That's not to say sin the more so that grace may abound but let's not expect to be perfected in the flesh before living boldly in the spirit.

-Clint

This feedback is interesting; in that one message which is also given to singles, is one of "God won't let you get married until you're content to be single".

Another is to tell the singles, especially those struggling with their state, that it is better for them to be single, than be in a bad marriage. When that came to me from a woman at my church who admitted to a lot of the woundedness in her own marriage, it was very hard not to ignore it.

Thanx too, for the feedback on this thread and its precursor - can we keep bouncing the ideas around please?

Trying again ... :-\

"it was impossible to ignore what the woman had said" (ie it had to be taken seriously)

[mea culpa]

Also, to Clint

>> the Christian single men I know are there precisely because they have decided to stand for Christ and follow his ways - even at the cost of a relationship - rather than go looking for one in the world.

>I'd like to believe this but I know tons of Christian men who haven't married and then tons of women in the same boat

I take your point, but (as I observed on the other thread) I'm not writing from within the American Christian culture. Also, there are other reasons why men end up single beside being either called to it or lacking the Christian character to be in it.

Ross, I definitely see your point and I always end up saying what you said, "God won't let you get married until you're content to be single".

This ends up being what I end up saying to 90% of young people, single mothers etc. etc. that until they stop making marriage an idol, God isn't going to bless them in it.

Yet, the other side is people who are waiting forever until they are ready. It takes faith to marry.

I'm convinced that the reason God gives marriage and children to the young and stupid, instead of the old and wise is because the wise wouldn't ever do it - because they'd realize how completely unprepared they are.

-Clint

> [Clint:] I'm far from saying that all men should marry but usually the motives for not doing it are pathetic.

Agreed. And you can also get married for the wrong reasons and still end up happily married for life. I distinctly remember my wife saying as we drove off from the church for our Honeymoon, how great it was she could now do what she wanted and not have to listen to her father anymore! My self-centered reasons were hardly any more noble, I can assure you. That was 34 years ago, and we did the right thing, even if not with the greatest motives. I was far from "ready" for it. And who's ever "ready" for children?

What is a part of the reason single men are so immature? Because they aren't married. They don't have to take responsibility for anyone, so they remain an overgrown kid. It's a Catch 22: women want mature men, but marriage is part of what matures them.

I realize that feminism, the anti-male bias, and the perpetual youth culture haven't helped things, but they are no reasons to stay single if you don't want to be.

> [Clint:] I know tons of Christian men who haven't married and then tons of women in the same boat.

...who presumably want to be married. You'd think at least a few of them would randomly bump into each other and somehow manage to get hitched. Today's situation is very abnormal. As usual, the church is reflecting the world instead of leading the way.

> [Ross:] Another is to tell the singles, especially those struggling with their state, that it is better for them to be single, than be in a bad marriage.

That's like saying: 'Don't go on vacation, you might have a wreck, get lost, get robbed, get kidnapped, get sick, or worse. Stay home in your little room and be safe, even though you'd really like to see the world.' Just like it takes some common sense when going on vacation, so it is when choosing a mate. [I wouldn't recommed hiking on the Iraq-Iran border, like some recently chose to do.]

> [Ross:] the Christian single men I know are there precisely because they have decided to stand for Christ and follow his ways - even at the cost of a relationship - rather than go looking for one in the world.

Where is this? ... a monastery? It sounds rather gnostic. Love and sacrifice are lived out in the world in actual relationships. What other strong relationships do these young men have? What are they accomplishing while single that is so earth-shaking? Aren't there loads of single women who also want to stand for Christ in this generation? How does following Christ's ways preclude having a wife? Why are most of the young single missionaries around here female? [My wife has said countless times she doesn't know how single missionaries do it all by themselves, and that is usually just referring to dealing with the correspondence.]

> [Clint:] Yet, the other side is people who are waiting forever until they are ready. It takes faith to marry.

Faith or naivete. But I still highly recommend it -- for better, for worse, for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health. It is not good for the man to be alone.

I'm enjoying this. To Mike:

Why are there so few single male missionaries? Two reasons: the overall gender imbalance within Christendom means that any single man who goes out will find, that there are plenty of single women there, so at the end of that, you have one less single male and one less single female missionary. Which is hardly a bad thing. Another thing, is that many missionary societies will simply not take single men onto the mission field, because it is perceived as being too risky.

Also, what I meant by:

/... the Christian single men I know are there precisely because they have decided to stand for Christ and follow his ways - even at the cost of a relationship - rather than go looking for one in the world/

was that some of us (not me personally) have had the choice of ending up with women who weren't Christians. Which is quite a temptation when your sisters in Christ aren't interested period.

And just on the off-chance I wonder how much of the problem, in the American church anyway, can be traced to Bill Gothard's teachings, or more accurately their poor implementation?

> some of us... have had the choice of ending up with women who weren't Christians. Which is quite a temptation when your sisters in Christ aren't interested period.

Are you saying that non-Christian women are more interested in marriage than Christian ones, even with "the overall gender imbalance within Christendom"? I would also expect a Christian guy to know more Christian girls than non-Christian ones.

I keep hearing of all the Christian women who would like to be married, but they can't find any serious Christian guys who are interested. But I'm in the American culture.

> I'm not writing from within the American Christian culture.

What culture are you writing from, Ross?

British.

This means that overall churchgoing rates and attendance are a fraction of yours, except in Northern Ireland.

Actually, the fix to this problem and many others, is getting our men's evangelism right:

* Seeing more single men saved, so that the numbers imbalances can get evened up (my theory is that they arise because our adult evangelism works much better with women, single or married, than with men, single or married).

* Seeing more married men and fathers saved, because if you save the father you save the family.

The other fix is to do some more work with the single men that are there, and see if the game of at least some of them could be lifted.

> your sisters in Christ aren't interested period.

Ross,

What is their excuse? Career? Independence from men? Don't want children? Too picky? Too busy converting the lost?

I've heard how terribly expensive housing is there in the UK. It isn't very "Green" to have so many people living by themselves.

> This means that overall churchgoing rates and attendance are a fraction of yours

I see three choices:

CONVERT the willing non-Christian women there.

IMPORT Christian women from here.

EMIGRATE, at least long enough to find somebody.

I don't see how it is automatically God's will to remain single just because the surrounding society decides to commit suicide. Not in this mobile age, at least.

> * Seeing more single men saved, so that the numbers imbalances can get evened up

> * Seeing more married men and fathers saved, because if you save the father you save the family.

How is this a fix when you were saying the Christian women wouldn't have the Christian men that there are now?

Thank you for standing up for those women who are tired of being "moms" to husbands.

Anonymous,

One thing though, it takes two to tango.

Typically women who end up as moms to their husbands at some point wanted to be and then realize what a drag that is. A man afraid to lead, a woman afraid to be led, that's the magic combo.

Such women turning to their leaders bemoaning what wusses their husbands are, accelerate the emasculation process. So I urge such women to see their own sin in this as well.

The word "mothering" is contained in the word "smothering".

-Clint

Manly men do not need to be self-defensive or feel sorry for themselves. Their actions speak volumes.

One issue is that in many parts of the U.S., solid Reformed churches are small and few. Thus, it is more difficult to for Christian singles to find a compatible spouse. Compatibility isn't everything, but I have found that it does make marriage easier.

I think we need to move back to system where single men and women are not left to fend for themselves in the dating pool as in the world, but instead where family, friends, elders, etc. make introductions and likely matches through connections across churches and even across the country.

Single men especially need to be more intentional and use whatever resources they can to find a wife, and single women need to be open to the possibility that finding a husband may not follow the typical American cultural pathway.

Although I had been seeking a godly wife for many years, I had a difficult time due to my "unique" personality. Certainly I had issues to grow in, but sometimes God makes people really different. God did bring me to the right woman at His appointed time, and I married at age 35 after a year-long completely long-distance courtship. One benefit of marrying when older is that I had a clear idea of who I was and what sort of woman would best fit me, so when I met her, things could go quickly.

We now have three daughters (1, 3, and 5 years old), and I pray that God will provide them godly husbands.

OK, thanx for people's feedback. All very helpful.

[1] The significance of my remark that I am in the UK, is that single men do *not* bother with the church unless they are truly committed to Christ. And a result, and for the most part, I don't recognise Joel Linton's comments as being true of the great majority of Christian single men I know here. There may be significant personality issues getting in the way (eg. poor communication skills), but that is not quite the same thing as the long list of character flaws he provides in the original post.

[2] To Clint - it's not the world turning marriage and family into an idol, but is a lot of well-intentioned teaching having this effect?

[3] To Michael - the importance of seeing single men get saved? Well, even if we sorted out all the existing Christian single men, so that they were fit for marital purpose, that would still leave a significant 'overhang' in terms of numbers of single women. That overhang, I think, is a direct result of how we do our evangelism at the moment. And also, there is a measure of 'missionary dating' already going on, because a lot of my sisters in Christ simply find the nonChristian guys more interesting - attractive etc. If the men got saved, they would need work, sure, but at least might be fit for marriage reasonably quickly.

[4] You also asked why the single women ignore the Christian men who are available. Good question - I think their reasoning is that marriage and family would trump a career, but a good career trumps a bad marriage, or a potentially bad marriage. And yes, sometimes the Christian women *are* being overfussy. I have not seen any evidence that they simply don't want children. Perhaps one of the consequences of feminism is that it has given single Christian women many more choices than they otherwise would have.

[5] Joel Norris's comments were helpful; I wonder how many of the men are single because it is more or less a matter of waiting for the right woman to come along, and the waiting is part of the character development. I am not sure how much traction the idea that God might have a specific woman for a specific man, has in the Reformed culture (the idea is not uncommon amongst the Pentecostals), so I would suggest that that be included as a possible diagnostic. I'd be interested in people's views on this idea too. Finally, the other diagnostic is that God may have simply decreed that someone is meant to remain single, even if they find that very painful, and even if they would make a good husband and father. Was this Jeremiah's situation? (Jer 16:1ff).

Come, now, Ross,

There are certainly 30's men who fall outside of this description, and I had not expected that kind of man to get defensive about it. As surely as the Apostle Paul describes some men -- "their god is their stomach, their glory is their shame" -- to the extent it does not apply to me, the fact that some men are described that way will not bother me -- though I do try to see if there is anything that applies, and I, Joel, do see "tendencies" in my own heart with remaining sin to make satisfying appetites an idol.

Note the words used:
"I meet so many single 30's men" and "Some men are walking" and "Some even say "

But I write this way, because I personally know of many men whose life overlaps this description -- men who span the globe -- not just from the U.S. -- and I hope God will use it to convict hearts and put in these type of men a longing to begin to change, and a confidence that God is right there alongside them as the take little steps of faith away from what is their want (usual habits).

If a 30's man is already taking the initiative and relatively mature Christian women keep rejecting him, that is a trial God has allowed him to bear, and so as he persevered is faithfulness and sexual purity, he will only become a stronger man. In the meantime, he may not have the gift of singleness, but certainly has the call of singleness for the present until he finds a wife.

Does that clarify the context of my note?

Ross, although a man might need to wait for the right woman to come along, he should be actively working to increase the number of godly single women he meets (virtually or in person). This could include asking friends at church to introduce you to any women they know who might be a suitable match, even if they were across the country. It could also include joining matchmaking services (my experience showed varying results). I encourage you to do these things if you are not already.

To Joel Linton - thanx for the clarication, it was helpful.

To Joel Norris - agreed; I concur with your view that matchmaking services "show varying results".

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