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When marriage is your chief motivating force, and not God, you have idolized marriage. The most eligible Christian bachelor is a man who reveals that he is animated by God towards the conformity of himself to the image of Christ — not the cheap parody of conforming himself to what he thinks makes him the most eligible Christian to be married.
We take that verse as a blank check to go about solving our aloneness at all costs. Yet, there is a much more important truth in that verse that should bring such great hope and peace — the creator of the universe recognized this at the dawn of creation — of all things, God, Jehovah Jireh, has got this one! That verse is not entirely marriage centric or even sexual. Adam had no knowledge of such things before Eve.
It was that man was created as a social creature that needed to be in community with an equal and have intimate companionship. Within a community of Christ, among the brotherhood and sisterhood of all believers, no one need feel alone. The degree to which this is true in any given community should be the barometer for whether or not a Christ like community is being expressed. Seriously, slow down, listen…You.
Our identity is to be found in Christ and among the body of Christ. Adoption into the family of God frees us from the relational pressures and expectations of the world again see 1 Cor 7. You are most certainly not half of a whole — the idea that you will be completed in someone else is a lie and completely opposed to the biblical foundation of dying to self and finding your identity in Christ.
Sex is not the answer.
Marriage is not the answer. Christ is the only answer to the longing you feel. We all must detach our loneliness from assumptions about singleness.
Otherwise we commit a caustic error of correlation vs. Just because you feel lonely does not mean the reason is singleness or the solution is a romantic relationship.
Spend any amount of time with the Bible studying the lives of all the men, women, prophets, and leaders who went through long seasons of abject loneliness. Even, and most completely, our Savior. We can know for sure that God understands, is with us, and is at work in these seasons. You are not alone in this. Single, married, famous, destitute, popular, unknown…all feel alone at times. Nothing on this earth will ever fill that void. Lewis It is not good for man to be alone. Trust me, this one I get.
I understand exactly why it is not good for man to be alone and I battle the reasons why every day. I have not been given one solitary moment of contentment with my singleness. Feeling unloved and unlovable. The long dark nights — when it feels as if your own soul has turned against you as it screams for release from this mortal coil. The temptation…so many temptations — to give in, to give up, to act out, to drown yourself in any of the ungodly releases this world places at your fingertips. The hand at your throat.
Lies from the pit of hell. Christian community must step in as the body of Christ. We must not leave anyone alone.
Or worse, be a driver for feelings of rejection and loneliness in others through our careless selfish pursuit of a wife. I know that it is not good for a man to be alone, but I do not get to define myself by it, let others define me by it, allow it to take over my priorities, or weaken my faith in a sovereign God.
The most eligible Christian bachelor does not let himself or anyone else define him by his bachelorhood. The counsel that follows is clarified as being his advice and not of God.
Is it really any different now? The amazing revelation of the Gospel is unfolding before us and we keep writing in about dating questions. As with any other area, when Christians are denied biblical instruction they readily borrow from contemporary culture to fill in the gaps.
Yet, the popular understanding of dating, sexuality, and relationships is completely incompatible with a proper theology of Christian community.
Reacting when we should always be leading. We see a readily observable parallel to this in other Christian media: The same thing happens when our posture towards relationship models are also mere knock-offs or spins on what the greater culture is embracing at the time.
We end up offering nothing close to the new reality the Church is meant to represent. The single men and women in our communities are confused, broken, and hurting. As adolescence and young adulthood continues to expand as a stage of life, more and more men and women are single longer and experience more deeply committed emotional and physical relationships while still longing for marriage.
This growing demographic of single young adults who are putting off of marriage to later and later years has resulted in a lot of questions about self, identity, sex, and relationships few people are equipped to answer.
So far Christian community has not offered them any relief from their loneliness or bad relationship cycles. This is a strange generation when it comes to dating and marriage — the first to have these concepts totally taken over by a romantic individualistic ideal.
Disconnected from traditional models, and often community of any kind, we find ourselves alone in the search to not die alone. The majority of the advice I give these days is on dating, relationships, and how to heal from damaging experiences. The best I seem to be able to offer is not answers, but a shoulder to shoulder sharing of the burden because I do understand what they are going through. The most eligible Christian bachelor does not take or give counsel drawn from the patterns of this world.
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Many communities have lost respect for singleness. Over half of the US population is unmarried. That is the norm. And our churches are woefully ill-equipped for it. Many of my peers would wholeheartedly agree. Often, even if unintentionally, singleness is treated as a gross ailment contrary to biblical teaching that needs to be cured as soon as possible so that a true and full existence can begin — or, at best, as something to come to terms with and submit to.
What reason are we searching for? See, we begin in singleness and if anything we are called out of that into marriage. Singleness in service to the cross is the norm not dating and marriage take another look at 1 Cor 7. This builds a frenzied culture of relationship seeking when we have no idea what we are doing.
We are constantly stealing from the marriage we hope to secure as more and more shame and baggage are being carried into relationships by people who have no idea how to deal with it. Moreover, the challenges of being single are just simply not given nearly enough credit.
I mean no disrespect, but if you have not been single you have no idea what you are talking about. Almost every message I have ever heard or read has been from people who just simply do not get it. They flippantly make insensitive references and jokes treating the 27 year old the exact same as the 17 year old. Just imagine if a message about marriage was given by someone single.
Let me make my feelings on dating jokes from the pulpit clear: These well meaning relevancy attempts are one the lowest class appeals from the pulpit you can make and are almost always more damaging than the speaker realizes by assuming, perpetuating, and validating a caustic norm.
Young adults are treated like youth groups by leaders who have no idea what do with or how to relate to single adults who live in a very real, very physical, and very broken single world. What is the fear? Assuming dating as a norm. Good, yet, still entirely marriage centric and offers little to those of us living in singleness or truly recognizing the realities of this adult life.
I think a case can be made that this well-meaning counsel does not dig deep enough into the foundations of our faith nor even bother to ask the question of what kind of relationships we are to be having and community we are to be building. What do you think singleness is exactly?
You, who when you were my age, had been waking up next to your wife for the past 10 years. You have no idea what a faithful single person goes through every day and trials they face. Your goodwill is recognized, but your patronizing is not appreciated.
Rarely do I see the discipline it takes to be single given the respect it deserves. They can not fathom such loneliness and physical discipline. They have no idea what it is like to try to contain every lustful thought and impulse, absorbing it, never entertaining those desires.
Sure, married men experience the same temptations, but at least they can turn their thoughts to their wives. Single men have nowhere to turn and must contain every explosion with discipline alone. Discipline they are rarely taught. They have no categories for what it is like when no matter what level of joy or pain life brings, at the end of the day, you will be alone. Alone in the dark. Their advice falls flat, hollow, and often condescending.
What it really takes to be single, to be a good man, to be a most eligible Christian bachelor in this desperate and disparate world should be seen as awe inspiring and heroic.
Yet, we hide those people in our communities rather than celebrate them. We are not designed for it. I would not wish it on anyone. The most eligible Christian bachelor is the one who holds a rightful respect for his singleness and wants to help others be God-honoring in all relationships more than he wants to get himself married.
The problem is not with the pursuit of marriage or of marriage as an institution, but with the crisis created where the rightful respect Christians have for marriage meets the wholesale endorsement of modern dating culture.
Lacking the proper theology of Christian relationships mentioned earlier, it is through this cultural frenzy, media onslaught, and tacky sermon jokes that the pursuit of a spouse through pop-culture dating schemas becomes the primary interaction model in our communities. In this way, we have let the culture teach us how to interact with one another — how we see one another, how we think, act, react, and speak to one another have all been taught to us by a culture given over to the patterns of this world.
Again, the popular understanding of dating, sexuality, and relationships is completely incompatible with a proper theology of Christian community. We have needlessly, yet enthusiastically, invited this culture into our youth and young adult ministries and thereby reinforced an improperly focused encounter with every guy and girl that meets in our churches.
Moving on…unless of course you have some friends I can run through my romantic qualifier. It takes daily discipline to not do so. How we see one another as individuals, as men, as women, is so heavily influenced by the broader culture and our dating obsessed sub-culture that it requires a deep intentionality about developing a proper theology of Christian relationships if there is to be any hope of building an authentic community.
This collision between worldly norms and Christian ideals can often creates a strange, confusing, even schizophrenic culture of relationships, friendships, and dating in our communities. Is it any wonder why our student ministries and young adult groups struggle with a true sense of community?
We can do better. We can create a radical counter cultural community. The Bible and church history have a lot to teach us about how Christians have lived out a theology of Christian relationships. I can promise you that if there was a community where everyone could enter in and lay their armor down just for one second, where no one would feel judged, pressured, or compared, where they could truly trust the people around them, that countless men and women would run to be a part of that kind of community.
The floors would be stained with the tears cried in relief from the pressures and loneliness faced day in and day out. Brothers meet your sisters! Sisters meet your brothers! How we understand one another as men and women affects all of our relationships. The primary understanding of one another and our primary interaction model from scripture is that of the brotherhood and sisterhood of all believers — and that changes everything in a world wrecking, plan changing, pride stomping, inverted, topsy-turvy way that Christ and his kingdom does so well.
As the guiding principle of all of our interactions it is so much more. We are given this greater default relationship as a gift of grace.
And as with all things Gospel you do not need to be anything other than who you are at this very moment to receive it! We begin in the eternal. How amazing is that! Through spiritual rebirth we each become brother and sister of Jesus Christ through adoption into the family of God.
Consequently we are brother and sister to each other. There may be no generation or culture in history more in need of the freedom and security that comes from this understanding than ours. Our guiding question at all times must be: What does that look like for an eligible Christian bachelor?
As always, look to Jesus. Naming women as equals and co-heirs of the Kingdom. Trusting them as central to His Church and choosing women to first announce The Gospel.
No wonder women were His most faithful followers from cradle to cross. Weaving burqas of your own design. Immaterial or fabric the impact on women is cut from the same dark cloth.
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No favoritism or withholding affection… No matter how strongly I desire a wife, even if my pursuit of that is noble, I can not allow that to control how I engage in fellowship — meaning romance being my only concern. Positioning, posturing, and manipulating in order to secure that future. The example given is that of rich and poor but it is not a stretch to say the same about how we treat one another as single men and women. Likewise in 2 Corinthians 6: We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.
As a fair exchange — I speak as to my children — open wide your hearts also.
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If you withhold love for someone based on a romantic qualifier you have failed the community of God. In my current church it has.
Not one single misfit. I have seen men, good men, walk into an event and if there was not a woman he was attracted to there would walk back out.
You may not do it physically but you may emotionally. The same thing happens when you seek out and talk to the girl you are attracted to while ignoring everyone in between. In fact, I once watched as an entire healthy young adult group completely imploded after one remarkably attractive woman literally walked in off the street and joined the community.
The men could not handle the competitiveness for her attention and the women could not handle the comparison and the abandonment they felt when all eyes turned to her. She was not served well at all and eventually left the community and her faith in a public disaster. We settle for so much less than God has for us. The fellowship of the saints, the body of Christ, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all believers is the something greater!
We can bring all of life and love into the community because we are in this journey together as caretakers. No one has to do it alone. I think we can all rest assured that attractions and romances will inevitably surface within these relationships.
Obsess over His Kingdom and invest in the Body of Christ above all. Trust in Him for the rest. Anything less is telling God we know best and our needs must be put first or met in the way we insist.
Not that this is simple, nor is it something that can just be told to you. It is something that we must stand for and work through together as a community. They are the ones first and foremost showing a genuine interest that she and everyone else that comes around become a part of the community. I believe we have made matters even worse by applying a layer of idealism and judgment to the interpersonal alchemy that has got to stop.
Our way is becoming the more hurtful way. I have sat across from remarkable sisters in Christ and have asked them why they have never been in a Christian relationship, never dated a Christian man — their answer: I have sat with my head in my hands for hours over this one.
How did we create a community where that thought is possible? What have we done? I think I know, and many of you know too.
Tell it to us, Matt: Jesus wants the rose! God does not owe you anything…. How could we ever go back to any other system of marriage? Why would we want to? Best known for His: Promoting his new album. We moved to be closer to her parents. Life was especially confusing for my mother, who was very young when she lost her husband. We were poor and lived on food stamps and welfare. Mom was a painter who was shy and not comfortable to share her work.
By day she worked as a legal secretary. She was wrestling lots of challenges: We shared my first music memory when I was three. We lived in a small apartment right by a prison.
One day we pulled up outside the apartment in her rusty old car in the freezing cold and Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival came on the radio. I refused to get out because I was transfixed and Mom stayed with me until the song finished.
Advertisement As odd as it might sound, my mother never mentioned my father when I was growing up. I have pictures of him, but I knew almost nothing about him other than he was studying for a master's degree in chemistry at Columbia University when he died and that he had been in the military. Mom remarried a guy called Richard when I was 22, a year after I moved out of home.
He was bright and very thoughtful. Prior to that, she had questionable taste in men. She dated out-of-work musicians and Hell's Angels members. She nearly got stabbed to death in the kitchen when she tried to break up with a motorcycle boyfriend. Mom was complicated and unpredictable. At times she was funny, calm and very attentive; other times she was distant and angry. For better or worse, I loved her very much, but I never knew who I was going to get.
She died from cancer ina year before my album Play came out. I saw my maternal grandmother on a daily basis. Her parents were Scottish missionaries. She was born in Scotland, lived in Minnesota, then grew up in India until age She came back to the US and went to college. She was a Presbyterian.