A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is Marriage a Marker of Adulthood?

Recently, one of my readers claimed that marriage was a marker of adulthood. This claim sounds familiar; I am sure I heard it from someone else. It sounds like something Albert Mohler would say. At any rate, the statement that my reader made may sound profound and axiomatic to many. But the more I think about the claim that marriage is a marker of adulthood, the more I realize it leaves something to be desired in terms of what it conveys. Just what do we mean when we say marriage is a marker of adulthood?

1. Is it a marker of biological adulthood?

I certainly hope so, or some people are going to have certain difficulties on their honeymoon. Indeed, some jurisdictions would not look too kindly on marriages where one or more partners had not reached the stage of biological adulthood.

2. Is it marker of maturity (emotional, financial, spiritual, etc.)?

If it is, then I want to know how whackos who beat their spouses, spendthrifts who plunge families into debt, and people who have no regard for God manage to get married. As it has been pointed out under the "Code Green" entry of the Catalog of Anti-Male Shaming Tactics, "It should be remembered that one’s sexual history, marital status, parental status, etc. are not reliable indicators of maturity and accountability. If they were, then we would not hear of white collar crime, divorce, teen sex, unplanned pregnancies, extramarital affairs, etc."

3. Is it a marker of single people's immaturity?

This assertion makes absolutely no sense at all. Logic 101, dear readers:
Invalid proposition: If (A then B) then (if ~A then ~B)

Where A=marriage and B=maturity
We are better off talking about singleness being a marker of immaturity, but then do we want to accuse the Apostle Paul of being immature? Singleness, per se, like marriage, says nothing about the character of a person.

4. Is it a marker of some notable achievement that benefits society?

Maybe we are getting close to the core of what people mean when they say, "Marriage is a marker of adulthood." However, there are two problems with this assertion. It is on this point that I will spend the bulk of my discussion.

First, just because you ate some wedding cake, gestated, and then pushed a baby out of your uterus does not make you a matron saint. Likewise, if you contributed sperm to the making of said baby, you are not the great Cincinnatus (and indeed, society constantly reminds men of this fact). Let's tie in a Bible verse on this matter:
Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son; But he that is a companion of gluttons shameth his father. (Prov. 28:7, ASV)
If the legacy you leave behind are spoiled, amoral, hedonists, then what credit is that to you? Day after day, men and women create children and yet are unprepared to raise them. We don't need anymore thugs, hoodlums, and the such like raised by single mothers and lousy parents. Some people just need to forget about the marriage and family thing and keep their pants on. Just because these people were pretty enough and tough enough to get into the bed with someone doesn't mean society is somehow in debt to the unfortunate fallout of their unions.

Why do you deserve a trophy because you got married and had children? You're taking care of you own? Good. Even the unbelievers do that (Matt. 5:47; 1 Tim. 5:8). Nobody forced you to get married. Society doesn't owe you a debt of gratitude because you raised emotionally stable children who are productive. You've only done your duty (Luke 17:10), and it is your children who owe the debt of gratitude to you (Eph. 6:2). Society will owe your children something when they actually do something valuable. Otherwise, your children are, at best, a charity case. And we don't need people producing more charity cases (Prov. 30:15a; 2 Thess. 3:10).

Anyway, the second problem with seeing marriage as a marker of some notable achievement benefiting society is that it ignores a basic question: If you are a Christian and you are called to be a pleaser of God and not necessarily a pleaser of men (Gal. 1:10), then why should you necessarily care what society wants from you? Society says that I am not a man because I am not impregnating a woman? Very well, then. Society can go talk a long walk on a Mobius strip, for all I care in that regard.

Ladies and gentlemen, is society an end to itself? Are we collectivists, now? Replace the word "society" with "state," and you'll see my concern about this matter. I fear some of us are aspiring totalitarians and authoritarians. This is one of the reasons why I get bristled when socons say, "Family is the basic unity of society." It implies that married people and children are just cogs in a machine. But society is for the benefit of the family and individual, not the other way around. I may have an obligation to God and my fellow man (Luke 10:27), but I don't necessarily have an obligation to a social structure.

There is an a fortiori principle here. If society doesn't value me, then how can it say it values my marriage and my children? Society may say that I am expendable as a man. Women mock the usefulness of men, the workplace threatens to outsource men's jobs or eliminate them through technology, and on it goes. If you declare men to be expendable, however, then you are declaring that you don't need them. If you declare that you don't need men, you release men from their obligation. That's where our logic leads us. In short, if society questions my worth as a man, then my full participation in it becomes optional.

If society wants men to feel like they have a stake in its welfare, then it needs to treat them fairly and with respect. If society wants men to go above and beyond the call of duty, then carrots will do better than a stick, otherwise it's just duty society will get. But no one is really doing any of these things I say need to be done for men, so I can only guess that marriage and family really isn't that important to society, after all. I mean, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. There is no free lunch and if you want men to do something, then you better pony up with the goods (see here and here). Someone may try the religious angle to force men and women to get married, but I've been hitting that one out of the park, too (see here and here).

Now, let me summarize everything I've said on marriage being a marker of contributing to society. Society needs to drop it's male-bashing act like um, yesterday, if it wants men to be good citizens by copulating, procreating, and siring the next generation of taxypayers and cubicle workers. Society need to support men in other ways, too. Married men, in turn, can't demand some special recognition for raising great children, much less just getting wedded. Raising your children to be godly is your default obligation, not some form of sacrificial service that gives you glory. This especially the case if society is supporting you as a father and husband; in that case, you are discharging your debt to society.

Look, people, here's an analogy: Let's suppose some employer says to me, "Man, we could really use you for a position on the executive team, so why don't you go back to school and get a degree for us?" The problem is that I can't afford the tuition for an advanced degree. So what would you advise my employer to do? Sweeten the pot for me?

But on whom does the obligation fall once I take the bait? Suppose some individuals in my faith tradition pay for my tuition so I can get a degree in theology. Do I get to march into some dean's office and demand a gold-plated plaque for the late nights I spent doing homework? As it is, the individuals that paid for my tuition would probably expect me to take a position for several years in some capacity that benefits the church community. That plaque would have to wait.

Or think about this scenario: I'm an independent contractor and a guy named Al calls me over to his nice home. Al says to me, "I'll pay you $50 to remove a pile of gravel from my back yard." I say, "Sorry, but my regular price is at least $150." About that time, a guy named Steve drives up in his pick-up truck. He strolls up gingerly to the both of us and hears a bit of the conversation. Steve says, "Hey, Al. Don't worry, man. I'll do it for free." Al says, "Wow! You don't see generosity like this anymore. Steve, you are a real man!" Steve looks at me, cracks a smile, and quips, "Well, Anakin, you heard what Al said!" I reply, "Yeah, I heard what Al said. But Steve, what you really are is a tool if you have that kind of attitude. Al could have just as easily moved this pile himself or paid me to do it. In fact, he's paid me in the past for these kind of jobs. And here's the thing, Steve. I know you are not doing this purely out of the goodness of your heart. Why? Because last week, you were telling me how you needed some gravel for your driveway. So you're shoveling this pile of gravel for free. What do you want? A biscuit, dude?"

Do you see where I am going with my analogies? Marriage is not a marker of anything except that you got lucky with a member of the opposite sex. And for some married men, they would probably question the part about "getting lucky." Marriage and family have perks and privileges, and they come with obligations. If you're married, you're not entitled to a train load of biscuits. Married people have picked their pile of gravel. Nobody forced them to take the pile. If you want me to shovel the pile, then be prepared to pay me. If a chivalrous dude wants to volunteer to shovel it for free so he can use it for his driveway, then he can't gripe afterwards if no one offers him a dollar or a round of applause. And he can't call me a lesser man than him because I didn't shovel a pile that I had no duty to shovel. After all, maybe I don't want a gravel driveway. The married man gets his driveway, and the single man gets to walk away from a sweaty job. Sounds fair to me.

49 comments:

Anika Qing said...

This is particularly helpful....the martyr complex permeates a lot of Christianity...particularly in the female quarter.

Exposing Feminism said...

Hello Anakin Niceguy,

It is a pleasure to have found your blog! I have briefly touched upon the dissonance between feminism and Christianity here.. http://exposingfeminism.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/feminism-and-christianity/

all the best,
E F

singlextianman said...

Hey, Anakin, I've linked to this posting. Excellent parsing out of ideas, here. Likening marriage to gravel shoveling might on first blush not sound very "romantic" but it is in fact a good analogy; a very good one; for both good and bad times in marriage.

Anonymous said...

Why how dare you!!! Gravel shoveling is the greatest achievement of life. Aren't you man enough to shovel gravel?

Problem with the analogy is that in reality Al wants you to pay him for the privilege of shoveling his gravel.

Amir Larijani said...

Anon says: Problem with the analogy is that in reality Al wants you to pay him for the privilege of shoveling his gravel.

There is another problem with the analogy: it's not always gravel.

Sometimes it's worse than gravel....

TMink said...

I see marriage and the single life as callings, just as we are called into different jobs and different roles within the church. To hold one above the other is to confuse who is God and who is not.

One is not better than the other. Obedience and faithfulness are what is good, whatever our calling.

Therefore, it is futile to boast about the one or the other, and silly to ask for special dispensation due to the calling of marriage and children. If God so calls, He will provide.

Trey

Anonymous said...

The Kingdom of God is mans calling. Marriage and singledom are simply modes of getting there.

Luke 14:28, if even disciples are expected weigh up the costs of discipleship, why wouldn't the same apply to marriage?

The Lord even questions those unwilling to consider the costs of an action Luke14:31.

Anonymous said...

Never take the bait on shaming tactics.

The marriage-is-maturity crowd is plainly desperate to push marriage.

Too bad the harlots in their pews are unworthy. Otherwise maybe we would have been interested.

Anonymous said...

"Is it marker of maturity (emotional, financial, spiritual, etc.)?", "Is it a marker of single people's immaturity?"

"It should be remembered that one’s sexual history, marital status, parental status, etc. are not reliable indicators of maturity and accountability."

Of course, no one thing ***on it's own*** is a reliable indicator of maturity and accountability. No one has made that claim about sex, marriage, parenting -- anywhere.

But you cannot deny that the degree to which a person is mature (or not) will most surely and significantly manifest itself in their marriage and marital status. A well-functioning marriage is an indicator of maturity -- the former will not happen without the latter. Whereas, people who have problems functioning in life (un/underemployment, addiction, behavioral problems) are less likely to get married. Even among the never-married childless who you could be said to be functioning well, their maturity is often untested, for who benefits from it other than they themselves? Sure, you find the odd person who takes care of an aging family member, but even then, the married are more likely to have those kinds of responsibilities.

"Why do you deserve a trophy because you got married and had children?...just because you ate some wedding cake, gestated, and then pushed a baby out of your uterus does not make you a matron saint...Married men, in turn, can't demand some special recognition for raising great children, much less just getting wedded."

Thing is, it's the single people in the church, not the married people, demanding recognition -- the latter simply and justly getting that recognition, if they do a good job with their families. And what is the greatest evidence of that? Grandchildren, "a growing glory to the aged" (Prov. 17:6). Which is raising your children well enough to have children and raise them well -- there is no greater accomplishment than that, short of winning souls for the Lord. Kills ya, doesn't it? : )


"Is it a marker of some notable achievement that benefits society?...If your are a Christian and you are called to be a pleaser of God and not necessarily a pleaser of men (Gal. 1:10), then why should you necessarily care what society wants from you?... But society is for benefit of the family and individual, not the other way around. I may have an obligation to God and ***my fellow man (Luke 10:27), but I don't necessarily have an obligation to a social structure."

I wouldn't exactly view the church as just any "social structure". And like it or not, that is how how respect is earned in the church -- caring for others, whether it's your family and/or your "fellow man", in the way of kingdom responsibilities. There are few singles who take on responsiblities that would even come close to matching what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children.

"We are better off talking about singleness being a marker of immaturity, but then do we want to accuse the Apostle Paul of being immature? Singleness, per se, like marriage, says nothing about the character of a person."

Ultimately, maturity and wisdom is meaningless unless it brings forth godly fruit, in the way of caring for others or kingdom work, as Paul did. Too many Christian singles think they can just get by with having lofty spiritual ideas in their heads, as if what you think about God is more important than how you live your life for him, which is ultimately about caring for his kingdom....

"If society doesn't value me, then how can it say it values my marriage and my children?...In short, if society questions my worth as a man, then my full participation in it becomes optional."

....which means an attitude that says what can I do for others, more so than what can other do for me.

Anakin Niceguy said...

But you cannot deny that the degree to which a person is mature (or not) will most surely and significantly manifest itself in their marriage and marital status. A well-functioning marriage is an indicator of maturity -- the former will not happen without the latter.
Whereas, people who have problems functioning in life (un/underemployment, addiction, behavioral problems) are less likely to get married. Even among the never-married childless who you could be said to be functioning well, their maturity is often untested, for who benefits from it other than they themselves?


Indeed .... "for who benefits from it other than they themselves?" Same argument can be used for your typical family in the Anglosphere. Thank you for making my point.


Sure, you find the odd person who takes care of an aging family member, but even then, the married are more likely to have those kinds of responsibilities.

Agreed ... and my original points still stand.

Thing is, it's the single people in the church, not the married people, demanding recognition -- the latter simply and justly getting that recognition, if they do a good job with their families. And what is the greatest evidence of that? Grandchildren, "a growing glory to the aged" (Prov. 17:6). Which is raising your children well enough to have children and raise them well -- there is no greater accomplishment than that, short of winning souls for the Lord. Kills ya, doesn't it? : )

Not really ... 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Luke 14:26. Like I said, even the unbelievers care for their children (Matt. 5:47; 1 Tim. 5:8).

I wouldn't exactly view the church as just any "social structure".

I would if it's not scriptural.

And like it or not, that is how how respect is earned in the church -- caring for others, whether it's your family and/or your "fellow man", in the way of kingdom responsibilities. There are few singles who take on responsiblities that would even come close to matching what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children.

Marriage and family are not kingdom responsibilities. (Luke 14:20; 1 Cor. 7:34). Paul calls the marriage bond of the "world" (not that it is evil, but it is more certainly not for the advancement of God's kingdom).

"....which means an attitude that says what can I do for others, more so than what can other do for me."

I don't expect special treatment. What I do expect is that people who call themselves Christians not be liars and slanders and dishonor God by dishonoring men created in the image of God, simply because they refuse to marry for mundane reasons. God, the author of life, granted me my manhood and the one who dares to take it away is a thief.

So you think married people are less selfish because of the all people they're taking care of, eh? Does that mean Mother Theresa was a real woman and you aren't? Married people with children take care of their OWN because they HAVE to, but who takes care of the OTHERS because they WANT to? Why don't you tell those married people to give up the family outings, toys for family members, nice houses, cars, the "American Dream" and everything else that comes with married life if they are oh-so-selfless? They're still getting their driveway. Why don't they give it up? If you married your spouse because you wanted companionship and love from them, then what is your glory if you are taking care of them? You got your reward. If you have children because you want that crown of glory you told me about, then what credit is it that you took care of them? You got your reward. Rewards for this life.

Dani said...

But you cannot deny that the degree to which a person is mature (or not) will most surely and significantly manifest itself in their marriage and marital status.


Oh yes I can. I know plenty of immature married people and plenty of mature unmarried people.

So yes. I do deny it.

A well-functioning marriage is an indicator of maturity -- the former will not happen without the latter. Whereas, people who have problems functioning in life (un/underemployment, addiction, behavioral problems) are less likely to get married. Even among the never-married childless who you could be said to be functioning well, their maturity is often untested, for who benefits from it other than they themselves? Sure, you find the odd person who takes care of an aging family member, but even then, the married are more likely to have those kinds of responsibilities

You are kidding right?

So only those who have a spouse or have kids or have an ailing family member have their maturity really tested in life?

I can't believe what an outlandish (not to mention unbiblical) statement that is.

Being married and having kids is not evidence of christian maturity. Neither is it the exclusive (or even primary) domain in which God 'tests' his people.

The Holy Spirit enables us to grow in our maturity and godliness whatever our circumstances of life. Sanctification is not a promise reserved only for some. Nor is it a promise that works best for those who are married with kids.

There are few singles who take on responsiblities that would even come close to matching what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children.

I am honestly really saddened by this remark. Partly because I fear it is true - single people often don't live up to their responsibilities of service to the kingdom, particularly in their local church families. (But you know what - lots of married people don't live up to their responsibilities either. Failure to do so is a result of sin, not marital status).

But also because you seem to be creating two levels of kingdom service where one (involving a spouse and kids) is so much more valuable than the other. The responsibility and privilege of the single person as they serve (for example) the church family is no less valuable in God's sight than the responsibility and privilege of the married person as they serve their spouse and children. That's one of Paul's main points in 1 Cor 7.

(PS. I'd find it helpful if you could use the italic HTML tag when quoting from other posts. It just makes it easier to read what are your comments and what are quotes from someone else).

TMink said...

Dani, how do I do this magic with the italics?

Trey

Anonymous said...

"Indeed .... "for who benefits from it other than they themselves?" Same argument can be used for your typical family in the Anglosphere."

Actually, you do -- if you remain singleness and childless into your old age. Who do you think will be caring for you? Other people's children. That is something you have the luxury to presume because you live in time and place where there is a social safety net. Modern audacity.

"Marriage and family are not kingdom responsibilities. (Luke 14:20; 1 Cor. 7:34)."

They are, if you have them. Otherwise, who will you be caring for? Yourself? What do you think "kingdom responsibilities" are? You're either winning souls or caring for them.

"Paul calls the marriage bond of the "world"

HA! No, he did not.

"I don't expect special treatment. What I do expect is that people who call themselves Christians not be liars and slanders and dishonor God by dishonoring men created in the image of God, simply because they refuse to marry for mundane reasons. God, the author of life, granted me my manhood and the one who dares to take it away is a thief."

If you regard manhood given to you as simply biological, as you've stated, then descended testes is all that matters. As soon as you start talking about "biblical manhood", it raises the question of what else, other than descended testes, does that comprise? You've told us what it isn't, now tell us what it is, this "Biblical Manhood".

novaseeker said...

Dani, how do I do this magic with the italics?

Trey


Type right before the text and then type at the end of the text you want to italicize.

novaseeker said...

Sorry that's
< i > before text and
< /i > after text.

Without spaces.

Anonymous said...

"I know plenty of immature married people and plenty of mature unmarried people."

I already dealt with this in my last post.

"You are kidding right?
So only those who have a spouse or have kids or have an ailing family member have their maturity really tested in life?"

No. I'm saying that even if they do acquire maturity, they as single people (with rare exceptions) are the only ones that benefit from it, unless they are doing some kind of kingdom work.

"Being married and having kids is not evidence of christian maturity. Neither is it the exclusive (or even primary) domain in which God 'tests' his people."

No one claimed it as "exclusive" or even primary. Marriage and family life makes an irreplaceable contribution to the aggregate maturity within in community in a that you are quite frankly, minimizing.

"The Holy Spirit enables us to grow in our maturity and godliness whatever our circumstances of life."

Some circumstances that you choose will present more fruitful opportunities for that than others.

"'There are few singles who take on responsiblities that would even come close to matching what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children.'

I am honestly really saddened by this remark. Partly because I fear it is true - single people often don't live up to their responsibilities of service to the kingdom, particularly in their local church families."

Quite right. But isn't just simply a matter of "sin", it's also a matter of circumstance. What circumstances do single people have today to give, to the same extent as what families give (however self-interested as Anakin may claim) to their own children? You might point to things like church volunteer work and short term mission trips, but really, do those things require the same degree of devotion? Consider also that a lot of those endeavours are like "make work" projects that exist just as much (maybe more) for the people who need to volunteer. I'm not saying that there aren't meaningful opportunities out there, but noting the practical challenge that a single person would have, if they attempted to use those opportunities to match minute for minute what parents do for their children (thus building and manifesting maturity and responsibility) within the circumstance of family life.

"The responsibility and privilege of the single person as they serve (for example) the church family is no less valuable in God's sight than the responsibility and privilege of the married person as they serve their spouse and children."

Sure, if it actually happens that way, which it rarely does because most of us have not been innately gifted to live that way. You have to admit that our modern Christian singleness is an unprecedented circumstance of individuals essentially living for themselves. As Anakin says, "being single for mundane reasons", just so you know what you're supporting here.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

No. I'm saying that even if they do acquire maturity, they as single people (with rare exceptions) are the only ones that benefit from it, unless they are doing some kind of kingdom work

At least one other person benifits from it...God. Not only that, if a person is part of a communion of believers, then their maturity is going to affect the communion as a whole. Hence, if a person is a true believer in Christ, and thus obeys the command to not forsake the communion of believers, *many* people will benefit from it.

Actually, you do -- if you remain singleness and childless into your old age. Who do you think will be caring for you? Other people's children. That is something you have the luxury to presume because you live in time and place where there is a social safety net. Modern audacity.

I'll tell you what's audatious is this idea that you cannot serve God as a single person, and if you do, we will leave you to die when you can no longer help yourself. That is sort of like saying that, if you don't study to be a doctor, who is going to take care of you when you get seriously ill? That is something you have the luxury to presume because you have a social safety net. Must be more modern audacity.

We are a Christian community. This lone ranger Christian stuff is not Biblical. Neither is this idea that we cannot help those who decide to serve God as singles.

God Bless,
Adam

Anonymous said...

"At least one other person benifits from it...God. Not only that, if a person is part of a communion of believers, then their maturity is going to affect the communion as a whole. Hence, if a person is a true believer in Christ, and thus obeys the command to not forsake the communion of believers, *many* people will benefit from it."

Whether or not *many* people benefit, will have something to do with what you do for that communion.

"I'll tell you what's audatious is this idea that you cannot serve God as a single person, and if you do, we will leave you to die when you can no longer help yourself."

No one will left to die. But many will presume to be cared for, regardless of how they have served (or if they have served).

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

No one will left to die. But many will presume to be cared for, regardless of how they have served (or if they have served).

Just as we presume that, when we get seriously ill, a doctor will help us. That is hardly a statement of fault. It is simply recognizing that we as Christians have the responsibility to look out for those who are serving Christ. If we cannot presume upon Christians to be obedient to the text of scripture, than what can we presume?

I also don't think you are being consistent. If someone comes to us with debts due to drug usage, and yet, they have not repented of their drug usage, do we give them money? Of course not! Yet, you want to say that someone who has never repented of what you say is sin should be accomidated. The sad part is, I really do believe this is the consistent conclusion of marriage mandate teachings.

God Bless,
Adam

Mordecai Lament said...

Okay, let's see if I can break this down:

But you cannot deny that the degree to which a person is mature (or not) will most surely and significantly manifest itself in their marriage and marital status. A well-functioning marriage is an indicator of maturity -- the former will not happen without the latter. Whereas, people who have problems functioning in life (un/underemployment, addiction, behavioral problems) are less likely to get married. Even among the never-married childless who you could be said to be functioning well, their maturity is often untested, for who benefits from it other than they themselves? Sure, you find the odd person who takes care of an aging family member, but even then, the married are more likely to have those kinds of responsibilities.

Actually, I'll dispute that idea that marriage equals maturity. Perhaps, it might be the most VISIBLE, but visibility doesn't always mean that married people are more mature. As to being tested? Well, it's tested differently.

Thing is, it's the single people in the church, not the married people, demanding recognition -- the latter simply and justly getting that recognition, if they do a good job with their families. And what is the greatest evidence of that? Grandchildren, "a growing glory to the aged" (Prov. 17:6). Which is raising your children well enough to have children and raise them well -- there is no greater accomplishment than that, short of winning souls for the Lord. Kills ya, doesn't it? : )

Not really. But let's go back to the beginning. Please tell me where on earth we got the idea that singles are demanding more recognition than their married counterparts? At least where I come from, we aren't demanding recognition. We are merely responding to the idea that marriage is considered more "Godly" than singleness. I agree, however, that talk is cheap and that "faith without works is dead." And yes, singles should be involved in the church from a "help the fellow man" aspect, likewise, helping those outside the church either. Again, I would argue that singles who are indeed living it out, but it's simply not as visible because it's either A. Not at church, and/or B. We simply don't care about the credit. Further, I'm not saying that our lifestyle is better than a married person's. I'm saying these are two different things and two different purposes.

I wouldn't exactly view the church as just any "social structure". And like it or not, that is how how respect is earned in the church -- caring for others, whether it's your family and/or your "fellow man", in the way of kingdom responsibilities. There are few singles who take on responsiblities that would even come close to matching what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children.

I would respond with a paraphrase of Paul here. "Those who are married are concerned about their spouse and children, and rightly so, but a single person is more concerned about the things of God."

Ultimately, maturity and wisdom is meaningless unless it brings forth godly fruit, in the way of caring for others or kingdom work, as Paul did. Too many Christian singles think they can just get by with having lofty spiritual ideas in their heads, as if what you think about God is more important than how you live your life for him, which is ultimately about caring for his kingdom....

I agree with the idea that singles and married must live out the faith. One is more visible than the other. Marrieds do well when they raise their families... but singles also have the ability to step in and do kingdom work. Once again, I think we do... it's just not as visible. And not as "quantifiable." Man worries about numbers, God worries about the heart and the "intangibles."

Mordecai Lament said...

Sorry. This next one is going to be a bit random... I'll try to keep everyone's remarks in context:

Actually, you do -- if you remain singleness and childless into your old age. Who do you think will be caring for you? Other people's children. That is something you have the luxury to presume because you live in time and place where there is a social safety net. Modern audacity.

Er, wha? Okay, first of all, I'm not QUITE sure what brought this on, but I'd argue that this is not a modern thing. This has been going on since the early days of the church. Take a look at Justin's First Apology. Which, I'd hasten to add, if the church actually bothered to take on this responsibility, perhaps we might have less of welfare/Social Security/et cetera issues.

No one claimed it as "exclusive" or even primary. Marriage and family life makes an irreplaceable contribution to the aggregate maturity within in community in a that you are quite frankly, minimizing.

Please explain how we as singles are minimizing this contribution?

Quite right. But isn't just simply a matter of "sin", it's also a matter of circumstance. What circumstances do single people have today to give, to the same extent as what families give (however self-interested as Anakin may claim) to their own children? You might point to things like church volunteer work and short term mission trips, but really, do those things require the same degree of devotion? Consider also that a lot of those endeavours are like "make work" projects that exist just as much (maybe more) for the people who need to volunteer. I'm not saying that there aren't meaningful opportunities out there, but noting the practical challenge that a single person would have, if they attempted to use those opportunities to match minute for minute what parents do for their children (thus building and manifesting maturity and responsibility) within the circumstance of family life.

I'd argue the reason why we, as singles, have little opportunity to serve these days (speaking as a guy) is because of the fact that the church has gone corporate, complete with "CEO" pastors and paid staff. Just my opinion, but again, another topic for another time. Again, my mind is wandering so I may have completely misunderstood what you're asking... If I understood your statement correctly, you're asking why singles aren't involved in as many practical, meaningful opportunities in church and why we aren't doing them more often.

Sure, if it actually happens that way, which it rarely does because most of us have not been innately gifted to live that way. You have to admit that our modern Christian singleness is an unprecedented circumstance of individuals essentially living for themselves. As Anakin says, "being single for mundane reasons", just so you know what you're supporting here.

I'm quite aware of what I'm supporting. What others call mudane, I call practical and what you call selfish, I call prudent. Considering that our marriages last about as long as those outside the walls in general, I believe it wise to be very selective about dating someone and marrying someone and not rush it. The church, in regard to marriage, has listened far too much to society... and not enough to God's word. Therefore, as a result, the institution of marriage that God has set up has become extremely perverted. Instead of being the institution that provides a husband and wife with mutual love and respect (among other things), the institution now resembles a prison.

And considering the attitude I've seen from most marriage mandators of blaming men for the woman's immaturity,I think it fails the scriptural litmus test, that is, the fruits of the spirit. I don't find that fruit here. Instead, we find the "fruit" of fault-finding ("It's the MAN's fault I'm not married!"), criticism (in the sense of helping the accuser of the brethren) and pride (Marriage is better than singleness when there is no justification in scripture for that.)

Anonymous said...

"I'll dispute that idea that marriage equals maturity."

I didn't say that. I said a well-functioning marriage is a manifestation of maturity. Marriage can also have a maturing effect on people, although not always (so please don't react to that as if I said "always").

"Again, I would argue that singles who are indeed living it out, but it's simply not as visible because it's either A. Not at church, and/or B. We simply don't care about the credit...."

You could say the same thing about marrieds and families.

"Those who are married are concerned about their spouse and children, and rightly so, but a single person is more concerned about the things of God...Marrieds do well when they raise their families... but singles also have the ability to step in and do kingdom work. Once again, I think we do... it's just not as visible. And not as "quantifiable."

Maturity is manifested in how you care for the kingdom of God, either through winning souls or caring for them. So the question remains: How many singles who take on responsiblities caring for the kingdom that match, in time and effort (not just "in-the-head" intangibles), what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children? You'll be hard pressed to prove that it's any more than a gifted few.

Anonymous said...

"Please explain how we as singles are minimizing this contribution?...I'd argue the reason why we, as singles, have little opportunity to serve these days (speaking as a guy) is because of the fact that the church has gone corporate, complete with "CEO" pastors and paid staff."

I'm not saying it's entirely singles fault. I'm saying that the net effect of both protracted singleness and (if what you're saying is true) less opportunities to serve will result in a less mature population, manifesting in social issues that have been rehashed here before. And singleness begets more singleness. And to deny that is to enable that.

"What others call mudane, I call practical and what you call selfish, I call prudent. Considering that our marriages last about as long as those outside the walls in general, I believe it wise to be very selective about dating someone and marrying someone and not rush it."

Fine. Stay single even longer, and live for yourself even longer.

"Instead of being the institution that provides a husband and wife with mutual love and respect (among other things), the institution now resembles a prison."

What hippie told you that?

"And considering the attitude I've seen from most marriage mandators of blaming men for the woman's immaturity,I think it fails the scriptural litmus test, that is, the fruits of the spirit. I don't find that fruit here."

Well that doesn't apply here, since I haven't blamed men for "woman's immaturity" or vice versa. Just because Debbie Maken had an issue with pizza delivery boys doesn't mean that skepticism about modern singleness isn't justified. Candice Watter's book challenges women's behavior without "blaming men".

novaseeker said...

The "issue" of "protracted singleness" is really a non-issue because most people eventually marry anyway. Why are people delaying marriage? Because of career concerns, finances, and the risk of being with an unsuitable partner in a context that permits easy divorce. The best that the church can do is help people find the best mates they can, so that the risk of divorce is lower, and not harp on people getting married younger, but instead support people who are ready for marriage. Harping on the "delay in marriage" is pointless and is having no effect -- people are not marrying any younger as a result of the moaning about this. Why not do this? Stop writing books and articles harping on people in their early 20s and instead help people in their late 20s and early 30s make good matches so that they don't become a divorce statistic, if you are so concerned about marriage?

Anonymous said...

"The "issue" of "protracted singleness" is really a non-issue because most people eventually marry anyway. Why are people delaying marriage? Because of career concerns, finances, and the risk of being with an unsuitable partner in a context that permits easy divorce...Harping on the "delay in marriage" is pointless and is having no effect -- people are not marrying any younger as a result of the moaning about this. Why not do this? Stop writing books and articles harping on people in their early 20s and instead help people in their late 20s and early 30s make good matches so that they don't become a divorce statistic, if you are so concerned about marriage?"

Yes, people are delaying marriage, for reasons that you've mentioned and more. Things that are out of their control and within their control. I don't think that taking an honest look at those reasons and the consequences is necessarily "harping on people". So should we just ***not talk about it***??? Mustn't let any unflattering truths offend anyone?

It's incredible to think that anyone would be offended by the suggestion that marriage is a marker of (but not necessarily a guarantee of) mature adulthood -- in every culture on this planet that is understood, except in the west where we think we are so smart and sophisticated. And look at the reaction here when the obvious is pointed out! -->> ***that few Christian singles take on responsiblities caring for the kingdom that match, in time and effort what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children.*** If that is true, then why should anyone be so outraged by that?

If I don't get to take a computer course for reasons beyond my control, and my skills and knowledge fall behind, you'd think that I would say, "hey look, I'm not able to take this course and now I don't get to learn this or this..." rather than acting like it doesn't matter and being offended by people who critique the system -- as if it's a personal affront to my skills.

Dani said...

How many singles who take on responsiblities caring for the kingdom that match, in time and effort (not just "in-the-head" intangibles), what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children? You'll be hard pressed to prove that it's any more than a gifted few.

What exactly do Christian 'spouses do for each other and parents do for their children'?

Well I would suggest that when you boil it all down that they seek to love and serve one another in such a way that the other (spouse or child)

- grows in their relationship with God AND their own personal godliness through the witness and service of their spouse/parent. (For some this will involve short/medium/long term evangelism and prayer for the spouse/child.)

- understands that they are deeply loved, respected and appreciated by their spouse/parent


This is manifested in a diverse number of ways which will often be characterised by the specific relationship on view. For example:

- a husband will seek to love his wife self-sacrifically, as Christ loved the church such that ultimately she might grow in Christ-likeness herself and know that her husband cares deeply for her.

- a parent will seek to discipline his/her child (just as our heavenly father disciplines us) both for the sake of their own welfare and so that they might understand more what it is to live a godly life.


These are just two examples of the way in which a spouse/parent does the extremely valuable 'kingdom work' to which they are called. I'm assuming for the moment you would agree with me on this?

So back to your claim - there are few singles who take on responsiblities that would even come close to matching what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children.

Given what I have just suggested concerning the 'bottom line' of serving your spouse and/or child, then if your statement is to be proven accurate it must be shown that the average Christian single person neglects to engage in the same kind of service in their life-situation. Correct?

Well, from my experience (being served by, and serving alongside a vast array of single people for my 30 years) I can't help but conclude that your assertion is incorrect.

By the very nature of their situation single people do not have the same intensely narrow (not used negatively) relational focus as a spouse or a parent. However, single people do have a lot of different sorts of relationships. Indeed, the very fact that they are unmarried and (mainly) without children enables them to continue focusing on all sorts of different life relationships. And often they are able to commit to the fostering and development of that array of relationships in a way that a married/parent cannot (because of the latter's right focus on their family - a la 1 Cor 7:33-34).

I suggest that single people are as deeply involved in valuable 'kingdom work' within their relationships as married/parents are within theirs. Indeed I suggest that the single person is as committed to helping the individuals they relate to

- grow in relationship with God and in personal godliness through their witness and service. (For some this will involve short/medium/long term evangelism and prayer for the other)

- understand that they are deeply loved, respected and appreciated


(cont)

Dani said...

What are some of the ways in which single people are involved in this kind of kingdom work? Well for example:

- with work colleagues who most single people spend enormous amounts of time with (both at work and often socially)

- with their own parents and extended family (because most single people also have family they are deeply involved with)

- with flat/house mates (a hugely important relationship)

- with those within their local church (both those they relate to socially and those that they minister to whether that be as a leader, as a member of a bible study, as a kids church teacher etc)

- to a whole collection of friends from their past (school, college, previous churches etc)

All of these are arenas in which the single person actively encourages others to grow in godliness (which may mean life-long evangelism for some) and in which they convey their love of them.

--------
You see Catwoman, though single people do not have the same 'introverted' (again not meant negatively) type of relationships as do married/parents, they do have all sorts of relationships. The Christian life is a life of service wherever we are and whatever we are doing. The single person spends just as much time and energy and resources modeling Christ, encouraging and exhorting and evangelising, and indeed simply loving others as the married person and the parent does. They are just called to do it to different people.

Earlier you charged me with minimzing the irreplaceable contribution to the aggregate maturity within in community made through marriage and family life (a charge which if you knew me personally you would see is incorrect). However, it seems to me that it is is you who through your repeated statements above are 'quite frankly' minimizing something - and that is the irreplaceable contribution to the aggregate maturity within the community made by Christian single people.

novaseeker said...

Yes, people are delaying marriage, for reasons that you've mentioned and more. Things that are out of their control and within their control. I don't think that taking an honest look at those reasons and the consequences is necessarily "harping on people". So should we just ***not talk about it***??? Mustn't let any unflattering truths offend anyone?

The point is that this entire discourse by you marriage mandators is having zilch effectiveness. Zilch. Again, if you are concerned about marriage, try something else. Haranguing the young for not getting married quickly enough is a waste of breath.

It's incredible to think that anyone would be offended by the suggestion that marriage is a marker of (but not necessarily a guarantee of) mature adulthood -- in every culture on this planet that is understood, except in the west where we think we are so smart and sophisticated. And look at the reaction here when the obvious is pointed out! -->> ***that few Christian singles take on responsiblities caring for the kingdom that match, in time and effort what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children.*** If that is true, then why should anyone be so outraged by that?

If I don't get to take a computer course for reasons beyond my control, and my skills and knowledge fall behind, you'd think that I would say, "hey look, I'm not able to take this course and now I don't get to learn this or this..." rather than acting like it doesn't matter and being offended by people who critique the system -- as if it's a personal affront to my skills.


Because it's ridiculous to suggest that only those kinds of things that you learn as a parent and spouse are the kinds of things that are life giving and so on. I know plenty of singles who spend a good bit of time helping others, including sick family members, being primary caregivers for eldery parents (because the married ones are not doing it) and so on, yet you would denigrate these people as having fewer "skills" in these care-related areas than parents do, or spending less time in these areas than parents do? I know married people and parents, men and women like, who spend less time caring for others, including each other and their kids, than single people do. The generalizations in your posts about this are simply untrue, and are rather outrageous, as has been pointed out to you by several of us.

Anonymous said...

"By the very nature of their situation single people do not have the same intensely narrow (not used negatively) relational focus as a spouse or a parent. However, single people do have a lot of different sorts of relationships."

Ah yes, "relationships-lite"...
...more on that later.

silly girl said...

Nah, the problem is telling young men and women that singleness till say 25 is the mark of intelligent, disciplined people. Naturally those who identify themselves as such will conform to the cultural ideal. We need to stop discouraging young responsible people from delaying marriage longer than they want to because it doesn't gain them or society anything. Probably why the Bible doesn't make as big a deal of age, rather stresses faithfulness, etc.

TMink said...

Statistically, marriages at 25 are much longer lasting and less prone to divorce than those under 25. Them's the facts, and the truth is important. Certainly, like any statistic, this applies more accurately to 1000 couples than it does 1, but reality data is psychological nutrition.

Trey

Anonymous said...

"Statistically, marriages at 25 are much longer lasting and less prone to divorce than those under 25. Them's the facts, and the truth is important."

This is more modern artifact than "the facts". Young marriages don't last because we don't expect them to. This has not always been the case.

Dani said...

Ah yes, "relationships-lite"...
...more on that later.


Catwoman or gortexgrrl or whatever your name is (who would know since you obviously don't have the conviction/guts/integrity to put your own alias, let alone your own name, to your posts?).

I've personally had enough of your condescension and patronisation of godly and servant-hearted single men and women.

In God's sight our relationships and our kingdom service is not 'lite'. It is just as valuable and real as that of our married counterparts. We too are good and faithful servants- as I attempted to show in the sustained argument of my previous two posts.

So you know what?

Don't bother with your 'more on that later' because I doubt that many (maybe any) of us are interested.

ML was right - you are doing the accusers job for him.

Anonymous said...

"What exactly do Christian 'spouses do for each other and parents do for their children'?

they seek to love and serve one another in such a way that the other...grows in their relationship with God AND their own personal godliness through the witness and service of their spouse/parent...understands that they are deeply loved, respected and appreciated by their spouse/parent.

This is manifested in a diverse number of ways... For example...a husband will seek to love his wife self-sacrifically, as Christ loved the church...a parent will seek to discipline

These are just two examples of the way in which a spouse/parent does the extremely valuable 'kingdom work' to which they are called. I'm assuming for the moment you would agree with me on this?"


NO. This doesn't even scratch the surface as far as the hard work, mental energy and day-in day-out sacrifices required of a spouse or a child. What a measly tribute! All you've done is listed a bunch of touchy-feely, relationship-y things that don't even come close to reflecting the practical realities of parenting, like months and months of sleep deprivation until a baby can make it through the night without screaming and crying and waking you up ever couple of hours. OR THE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES!

And you compare those things to what you do for your friends? Understandably not, because you wouldn't get the same returns. Even if they are getting returns (further down the road, in many cases) from those responsibilities, they are still responsibilities that when fulfilled both foster and indicate maturity.

"So back to your claim - there are few singles who take on responsiblities that would even come close to matching what spouses do for each other and parents do for their children."

"Given what I have just suggested concerning the 'bottom line' of serving your spouse and/or child, then if your statement is to be proven accurate it must be shown that the average Christian single person neglects to engage in the same kind of service in their life-situation. Correct?"

NO, you are NOT going to mischaracterize what I've said -- I did not suggest that the average Christian single "neglects" anything or anyone. Never did I claim that singles *should* try to match what spouses/parents do in the way of service or suggest that they are "sinning" if they don't -- I said that most don't -- understandably! - and probably can't, since, understandably, single life just isn't structured in the same way as family life which has necessary sacrifice built right into it.

And this "bottom line" nonsense -- it's like claiming that singles get the same results with much less effort!

"By the very nature of their situation single people do not have the same intensely narrow (not used negatively) relational focus as a spouse or a parent. However, single people do have a lot of different sorts of relationships. Indeed, the very fact that they are unmarried and (mainly) without children enables them to continue focusing on all sorts of different life relationships."

Oh yeah, they have ***different kinds of relationships***, lot's of little relationships but of course to the same effect as the long, slow, steady marathon that is marriage and parenthood. What a spin! As if married people don't have relationships with people at work (with whom singles spend an "emormous" amount of time??), church, and extended family, etc.! Statistically, never-married people are less likely to go to church, less likely to volunteer, and don't do anything more for their parents and relatives than those who married. I am stunned that you would compare the demands of friends and flatmates -- that are negotiated by way of mutual agreement and convenience -- with the non-optional commitments of marriage and parenting.

Anonymous said...

"I suggest that single people are as deeply involved in valuable 'kingdom work' within their relationships as married/parents are within theirs. Indeed I suggest that the single person is as committed to helping the individuals they relate to"

I don't doubt that there are exceptional single servers of the kingdom or that there have been situations where a single person takes on some intensive responsibility for a friend. Or that the independence required by singleness itself (depending on how much pride you take) can foster maturity. And I certainly can say from experience that balancing many friendships -- many of which matter to me deeply -- is no mean feat. But "commitment" is more than just a heart thing. It's has more to do with what you actually do with your time and energy (including money), and the entanglements of responsibilities to others that you cannot easily be backed out of. And in that regard, single people, by and large, have much less on the line than married people.

So go ahead and cast me as the dastardly villainess of singledom for not joining in with the pretense that most Christian singles are as deeply involved in service to others to the extent that marriage and family life requires. This is not "piling on" singles, since it was never said that they don't make any contribution to the body. But let's be honest about matters of degree. As said before, "credit given where credit is due".

Anonymous said...

>>> [...] that don't even come close to reflecting the practical realities of parenting, like months and months of sleep deprivation until a baby can make it through the night without screaming and crying and waking you up ever couple of hours. OR THE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES!<<<

Yes, and most of these parents will whine and complain about how tough they have it!!! They want everybody to be aware of their hardships!

Instead of shutting up and shoveling the gravel we're forced to hear them babble on about Johnny's every ache and pain while on the job. Some of us don't care to hear it. And that's the problem. They made their choice. They need to shut up and live with it! Sounds like a lot of work for diminishing returns. Problem is most of them don't shut-up, and they'll come to work complaining about how tough they have it while everyone ELSE on the job has to get an earful of their BS.

TMink said...

< i >"This is more modern artifact than "the facts". Young marriages don't last because we don't expect them to. This has not always been the case."< /i >

Data please. I am aware of no scientific literature that pertains to your statements on cultural expectations and length of marriage. I googled it and found nothing with numbers.


Here is one of the many studies that show a high correlation between marrying at or after 25 and marital success.

http://www.umm.maine.edu/resources/beharchive/bexstudents/DaniellePatten/DP%20340.htm

And do you ever agree with anyone? Ever? I cannot recall you ever agreeing with anyone on this board. Ever. If this continues, I will ask that you be banned as you are contributing nothing but ill will and rancor. Your fruit stink.

That is why I label you as a troll. Please repent and start adding something positive to the discussion.

TMink said...

Looks like my HTML programming needs a LOT of work!

Trey

Kathy Farrelly said...

"And do you ever agree with anyone? Ever? I cannot recall you ever agreeing with anyone on this board. Ever. If this continues, I will ask that you be banned as you are contributing nothing but ill will and rancor. Your fruit stink."

Catwoman is as entitled to her opinion as you are to yours.
Whether she agrees(and there have been intances when she has) or disagrees is not the point here.

How boring would life be if everyone always agreed with one another.
I actually enjoy reading her thought provoking comments, even though I don't always agree with what she says.

For the record, I don't believe that marriage is necessarily a marker of Adulthood. I think it is dependent upon a person's upbringing, and how much they love and value God (in their lives)

Learner said...

Trey,

Leave the spaces out of your html and it will work fine.

TMink said...

Kathy, it is not that she occasionaly disagrees, or usually disagrees, it is that she has never accepted a single point that anyone has made. It is that she has been insulting and disrespectful. It is that her fruit has no scent of love, not even the barest whiff.

And that is a banging cymbal indeed.

But I can only speak for my own observations.

Trey

TMink said...

Learner,
THANKS!

Trey

Kathy Farrelly said...

"Married people with children take care of their OWN because they HAVE to, but who takes care of the OTHERS because they WANT to."

Exactly Anakin. I totally agree.

"Why don't you tell those married people to give up the family outings, toys for family members, nice houses, cars, the "American Dream" and everything else that comes with married life if they are oh-so-selfless?"

And this is the crux of the matter I think. Being married in and of itself does not make one more selfless, Godly (or more mature) than a single person.(Even pagans marry have a family and look after their children.)

A person, who offers all they do up to God, and takes up their cross lovingly can be married or single. It is all about intent. What is in one's heart.

"If you married your spouse because you wanted companionship and love from them, then what is your glory if you are taking care of them? You got your reward. If you have children because you want that crown of glory you told me about, then what credit is it that you took care of them? "

Well put Annakin.

TMink said...

" It is all about intent."

I agree with your point Kathy, but not this sentence. I think my intent is one thing, but my obedience is more important. If I have children when God called my to a single life, or vice versa, then my intent might be the problem.

What do you think?

Trey

Anonymous said...

"I think my intent is one thing, but my obedience is more important. If I have children when God called my to a single life, or vice versa, then my intent might be the problem."

There is nothing scriptural that supports the idea that God might be "calling" you to a single life, and that getting married and having children might not be "obedient".

Christina said...

"Lars and the Real Girl" has an amazing quote that talks about what it means to be a man -

And it has nothing to do with marriage. (though he used examples of marriage in it).

Pretty much, doing what is right even when its hard and you don't want to do it.

Adulthood is having the wisdom to know when and how to sacrifice your own desires to pursue something that is right.

So, marriage would/should (don't read that as mandated, I mean "should" because a lot of kids [including those over 25] are marrying without knowing what being self-sacraficial is) be an expression of adulthood - but it doesn't make an adult.

SavvyD said...

Getting married CAN be a marker for that, yet at the same time outrageous amounts of people have gotten married when they definitely shouldn't have. It disgusts me that people really think that all of the good ones are taken. There are so many good ones that aren't. There are bad ones that aren't. There are people with great spiritual wisdom and maturity who are not married and raising children. There are immoral drug dealing people who are married and dropping their children off with the neighbors while they go out on dates with men they aren't married to. These people are married and have children while those who might be far better and far more commited are overlooked??? WHAT???

SavvyD said...

Trey--it's not a calling if you don't choose it.

SavvyD said...

Some people delay marriage purposely. Others have marriage delayed for them. By saying this, I am saying that sometimes someone is not dating, courting or otherwise involved with the opposite sex. If that is the case, especially for a woman, she is not delaying that which is not imminent. She may even try placing ads online, telling friends she is open to a relationships, etc. If no one is asking, there is no delay. In that case, a woman is better off finding a meaningful career.

If a man needs more time, then that's what he needs. If he wants to be more established in his career before he takes a wife, then fine. If he can stay pure under those circumstances, then more power to him because he will be able to be faithful in marriage.

I see the real problem coming from too much mixing of the sexes at the same age. There is an implicit ideal of age related peers in all things. A girl might indeed be ready to marry young, but a man might need time to establish his career. it's a problem. The end result is that perhaps it makes it appear that he is somehow mistreating his age related peers who are women. That isn't fair. I suppose we'll figure it out somehow.