The Courtship Prosperity Gospel

Courtship & The Prosperity Gospel

A few days ago I received a Facebook message from a homeschool mother who was very angry about my book, Courtship in Crisis, which she had not read. The message came to me while I was feeling low, so I did something I don’t normally do to people who send me angry Facebook messages. I responded.

Yes, I know responding to criticism leads to more criticism, but I’d been frustrated by people who were criticizing the book without reading it or proposing an alternative solution to the courtship crisis.

So I asked her, “What is your solution to the singleness epidemic?”

She responded by saying, “Following Christ not a man or a method. He has a unique plan for each young person beyond even your wildest dreams.”

If you are a single person, I imagine that you get these kinds of “God will bless you beyond your wildest dreams” platitudes from married people all the time. These remarks are usually intended to make us feel better. Perhaps this works for you, but it doesn’t work for me. They make me feel helpless and hopeless.

Would it surprise you to know that these kinds of platitudes are often based on a form of the prosperity gospel?

The Financial Prosperity Gospel

For those of you not familiar with prosperity theology in its most common form, it boils down to this:

“Donate ‘seeds of faith’ to our ministry and God will bless you beyond your wildest dreams with health and wealth. The more you donate, the more God will bless you.”

The concept is based on the parable of the sower, in which the seeds are interpreted to represent money. For the record, Jesus specifically explained that the seeds in the parable represented the Good News about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:18-20).

Often, in addition to donating money, the prosperity preachers recommend their followers do specific acts of faith in order to best earn God’s blessing.

To be fair, God does heal people and bless them financially. But the Bible is very clear that God’s blessings are not something that you buy with money (Acts 8:18-20).  More on this later.

The prosperity gospel does make some people very rich, namely the people who receive all those donations. The most popular of which live in million-dollar homes or own multi-million-dollar luxury jets.

The Relational Prosperity Gospel

As I grew up in the courtship community, the prosperity gospel culture seemed so far away. It is only now, looking back, that I realize I had a plank of the prosperity gospel in my eye that I could not see. It was the same wolf, just wearing the clothes of relational prosperity.

We thought if we used the correct homeschool curriculum, wore the correct clothing, listened to the correct music, and attended the correct conferences, God would bless us beyond our wildest dreams with happy marriages and healthy families.

The relational prosperity gospel teaches that the holier you are, the happier your family will be. This sounds good – except for the fact that it is not in the Bible. Jesus never said “Follow me and I will give you a husband and a happy family.”

In fact, Jesus promises just the opposite.

 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against. 

‘Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”

It is Satan, the father of lies, who said, “I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” (Luke 4:7). I think you could say that the devil was serving up a full course of the prosperity gospel in the wilderness.

The “Spiritual” Way to Kick Someone While They are Down

The tragedy of both the financial and relational prosperity gospels is that when someone is going through hard times, it is “a sign” that they don’t have enough faith. The more we believe in the prosperity gospel, the more we tend to sound like the Pharisees who said the reason the man was born blind was because of his parents’ sin (John 9).

The prosperity gospel tells us, “Are you having trouble with your children or marriage? It is because you are not holy enough. Perhaps your son is listening to the wrong music, your daughter is wearing the wrong clothes, or you are not homeschooling them correctly.” This can be like saying “beatings will continue until morale improves.”

The most unfortunate consequence is that prosperity theology leads to Christians shooting their own wounded. The book of Job shows us that sometimes bad things just happen, even to good people. Job’s friends could not wrap their heads around the fact that someone could suffer without earning it somehow.

The reality is that our actions have consequences. Bad actions can have bad consequences and good actions can have good consequences. The key word here is “can.” If we are not in full control of the world how can all the consequences in our lives be our fault? Laziness does make you hungry (Proverbs 19:15). But do you know what else will make you hungry? A famine. And sometimes famines are not your fault.

Right now America is facing a famine of marriages. The marriage rate has plummeted from a peak of 16.4 weddings per year per thousand people to a historic all-time low of only 6.8 weddings per year (and many of those weddings are for second and third marriages). This is despite having a pool of eligible single people larger than the flood of eligible singles after WWII.

State-By-State-Marriage-Rates

I think the primary reason for this singleness epidemic is that both Modern Dating and Modern Courtship have discouraged young people from getting married. We have a saying in business,  “the system you have right now is perfectly designed to give you the results you are getting right now.” The problem is the system, not the people.

Platitudes are not going to make the wedding famine go away. Prosperity theology is not the answer.

If you want to be rich, the Bible does have the answer. It is not donating money to certain ministries, it is… wait for it… hard work (Proverbs 10:4). In your hard work, remember that it is God who gives you the strength to work hard.

Could it be that hard work is also the answer to the courtship crisis? Could it be that God wants to partner with us as we work to find a spouse? Is it possible that healthy relationships require hard work both before and after the wedding?

If a man has a field that is not producing a harvest because he is not plowing the field, he doesn’t need platitudes. He needs to plow his field. Where in the Bible is trusting God an acceptable excuse for laziness and inaction?

Hiding at home and believing in platitudes is easy. Going on dates and putting yourself out there requires faith, vulnerability, and hard work.  Ruth didn’t sit at home waiting for someone to come find her. She got a job in a place where she interacted with a lot of people (Ruth 2:2). She acted again by making it very clear to Boaz that she was interested in him (Ruth 3:7-9).

An Important Caveat (Please Read Before Commenting)

When preaching against the Prosperity Gospel the temptation is to go too far the other way and portray God as a mean bully with a club that He beats His followers with. This portrayal of God is unbiblical and untrue.

God loves us. Of all of God’s titles, the one Jesus showed us to use when we pray to is “Father.” (Matthew 6:9-13). To me, that sounds like a God who loves us and wants to know us and be known by us. Plus, He tells us He loves us over and over again in the Bible.

God answers prayer. He is not some distant watchmaker who put the world into motion and is now watching from afar with His arms crossed. God still heals people, blesses them financially, and helps them find a spouse.

As Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-11:

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

I may be wrong about this but I don’t think asking God for healing is an excuse to not go to the doctor. Asking God for provision is no excuse for idleness. So, is it possible that asking God to provide a spouse is no excuse for not going on dates? Perhaps God will lead a stranger to your door to ask for your hand in marriage. But, could it be that telling God that courtship is the only way you will allow Him to lead you into marriage is putting God in an unbiblical box?

What do you think? If you are single, what sorts of platitudes do you hear from married couples?

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

22 thoughts on “The Courtship Prosperity Gospel

  1. Great article Thomas, I had never made that connection. As a homeschooler (and for most of my life anti-dating advocate) I can really see that tendency.

  2. I agree that God does want us to prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers, but the logic behind the prosperity gospel (as it is known) is fundamentally flawed. Nothing we receive is a result of anything we do, but a result of what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection. See, the problem with safeguarding your life with “doing all the right things” ie. homeschooling, wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, going to the right church, etc. is that you are ultimately putting your faith into your own works, not Jesus’. Putting faith in our own abilities to bulletproof our lives is a complete waste of time, because we can do nothing in and of ourselves to create a safe life. Life is… well, life. It always has, and always will have its good and bad aspects. To think following any sort of method will create the life you’ve always wanted is folly.

    Having said all of that though, yes, I firmly believe in hard work. It’s a forsaken art in today’s society. The key however, is the reason WHY we work. Are we working hard to please God, honour Him, and carry out His will in order to get something out of Him, or because we truly have a relationship with Him; full of love for Who He is alone, that trusts He knows best and will not withhold any good thing from us? If the only reason we’re serving God is to get our way, we’re doing it wrong.

  3. “I may be wrong about this but I don’t think asking God for healing is an excuse to not go to the doctor. Asking God for provision is no excuse for idleness. So, is it possible that asking God to provide a spouse is no excuse for not going on dates?”

    I agree wholeheartedly and this is why I have chosen to participate in online dating opportunities. My dad always advises us that it’ is ‘easier to steer a moving vehicle’. He’s always advocated that we seek Christ first and work towards whatever goals or actions we feel He is leading us to. So, I actively seek Christ first and let Him work out the details of ‘marital bliss’. On a side note- I think that all relationships get messy from time to time. Friendships, family and especially dating and marriage. But, when we keep Christ at the center, He helps us wade through the messiness of our humanity to make a beautiful ‘messy’ work. 🙂

    Ecclesiastes 3:11
    11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

  4. i am so sad to hear the weight of the suffering you are carrying. Christ has room for us to participate in his suffering and, likewise, for He to participate in ours. From that, he promises to give us the power of his resurrection. (Phil 3:10). I don’t know how that resurrection will manifest itself for you, but I can join you in an honest acknowledgement of the pain and in add my prayers for Christ to subsume and transform it within Himself.

  5. This is an excellent article, Thomas!! Thank you so much for writing it and sharing it with us! I never made the connection between the prosperity gospel and the courtship movement, but that makes a lot of sense that they’re related. I have definitely heard the whole adage “if you’re a good Christian, go to church and do all the right things then God wil bless you with a wife and family.” Like you said, it doesn’t mean that God won’t provide, since ultimately every good and perfect gift comes from Him. But Paul said that if a man won’t work, neither shall he eat, and most people can agree that relationships and marriage require work, so waiting at home for “God to provide a spouse” without working to meet other people is like waiting at home for God to plow the fields for you and sow the seeds.

    Excellent article, keep up the good work. And you know this, but if you’re getting shot at, it means you’re in a war. If you challenge the system, the people in the system will fight back, so be strong!

  6. Oh wow….. Very thought provoking! As someone who has read your book (in one day!) thank you so much for sharing your insight. I grew up in the ultra conservative homeschool moment (ATI/IBLP) and even though I’ve been out of it for 10 years I’m still reprogramming my brain. Your book and this post has given me a lot to think about; thank you.

  7. I recently entered into a covenant of marriage with a man that God specifically brought into my life through the wildest venue …. on top of that, we both knew within the first three days that we were a kingdom union and divine alliance for the purpose of fulfilling our mandated callings from God for our lives

    Both of us have been married before and both of us have been actively single for more than a few years …. might I add, content and happily single in healthy relationships loving God and choosing to love and like our own selves….. we were fully complete in Christ but believed God had someone of His choosing to walk in agreement with

    We had decided to spend our single season working diligently on the issues within our selves as directed by Holy Spirit …

    At times it was difficult to wait and difficult to trust … and the temptation to take matters into my own hands a couple times won out over the years ….

    But it was always quickly obvious that it was “me” not God doin this, to try to “help Him out”

    I got to where I stopped trying to date because I realized I dont believe in dating [for me] … I believed God had someone specific and I needed to trust Him and wait

    I can honestly say God brought a man perfect for me into my life and gave him a gift perfectly complementary for him in me…. we chose to be intentional in our interaction and intentional in our love … rather than impulsively feelings and sensually focused … we built upon principles, such as our internal core values, love languages and lots of intentional prayer, praise, and worship

    We are truly living an abundant life in Christ and establishing a culture of demonstrating honor, esteeming the other better than myself … being respectful and treating each other with intentional kindness and love, the most excellent way … our relationship has an eternal purpose and destiny to demonstrate love like Jesus did ….. we take that serious between one another

    For us, neither of us wanted to date but simply trust God to bring His choice because He is totally trustworthy and His picker is perfect …. for us, its working out well and we believe it will continue as such forward going

    All gratitude to God!!

  8. You have some good thoughts here. “Prosperity” thinking is doomed to frustration in any arena – wealth, health, relationships, success. That’s not how any of this works.

    I would challenge you to expand your thinking in one area: the idea of thinking of singleness as an “epidemic.”

    Of course there is truth in that too. Our society has an epidemic of delayed maturity, where adolescence extends into the late 20’s and people who should be mature adults continue to behave like hormone-crazed teenagers. If an entire population wants attachment-free, guilt-free sex on demand, it will see plummeting birth rates (already a reality in most developed countries) and skyrocketing births outside the bounds and protection of marriage. This does indeed lead to a host of spiritual and social ills.

    My caution would be against thinking of singleness as an evil on the *individual* level. Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but in your writing and choice of words, I seem to detect the all-too-common assumption that EVERY Christian wants to and should eventually be married in order to fulfill “God’s best” plan for them and to experience a full life – especially, it seems, for a woman.

    To give you my own background: I was homeschooled from fifth grade onward. I had some exposure to the courtship movement and the thinking behind it, but my family didn’t really buy into it. My parents would have been happy for me to date as a teen; by the time I was in college, I would say my mother was nearly desperate for me to have a boyfriend. Indeed, my younger sister met her future husband literally on the first weekend of their freshman year of college, and was engaged to him by the following February – an engagement my parents blessed, even though they had not met him yet. (They didn’t actually marry until after they both received their bachelor’s degrees.)

    For whatever reason, it just didn’t happen for me. I wanted it to. I had friends (male and female) and showed interest in boys who attracted me. The feelings weren’t mutual. Later on, I tried speed dating and online dating sites. I made one good friend that way, but romance didn’t blossom.

    On the scant handful of occasions a man has shown interest in me, it’s been someone I just could never picture myself with. And somewhere along the way, I really and truly stopped wanting it to happen. I’m 37 years old now and still single… and happy with my life! I own my own house. I own my own business. I am deeply involved in a ministry to disadvantaged youth. My life is full and I believe that I am serving God in the ways that He intended for me.

    For years now, I have held my relationship status with open hands. I’m happy with the way things are and not looking for a change, but I am open to a change if God does send someone into my life. On a practical level, this means that I am not investing time and money into dating websites. I attend the church where I’ve been since childhood, where I have friendships and connections, rather than seeking out a “Meet Market” megachurch. I am not in any way critical of singles my age (or younger, or older) who still have a deep desire to be married, who do invest their time and money in those ways. Your point about trusting God while doing the hard work is perfectly valid. It’s just *not worth it* to me personally.

    The problem is, I feel like that is incomprehensible to a lot of people, especially fellow Christians. Whereas the Catholic Church has historically glorified celibacy, I feel the Protestant/ Evangelical Church has gone overboard in the other direction exalting and nearly worshiping The Family.

    Church activities are heavily centered around marriage and family. Pastoral staff tend to nearly all be married from a young age, and may not have any conception of the needs of single adults in their church. Being a single Christian can be a terribly lonely experience at times. Even worse, some in the Church feel authorized to look down on single people as somehow “less than.” I think there is a psychological element here – people who were married in their early 20s, who grew to maturity within a marriage, have a subconscious tendency to think of unmarried people as stuck in that age and stage of life, as if it is not possible to mature as a human being outside of marriage. Singles are less likely to be invited into positions of leadership and responsibility. Some married people consciously or unconsciously think of singles as spending all their time and energy battling sexual temptation, and consider them “high risk” for sin in this area. Sometimes this discrimination is overt. I will never forget the time when I was told by an older married man that he did not consider a single man appropriate for service in a job ministering to youth, because it would be “too much temptation” for him and would create an “appearance of evil.” By that reasoning, neither Jesus nor the Apostle Paul would have qualified for the job!

    This can get especially dicey for single women. Should a woman be able to teach a mixed-gender adult Sunday school class? Your church’s answer will depend on where you fall on the egalitarian/ complementarian spectrum, but in my observation, married women in traditional-thinking churches get away with a lot more simply by having their husband present, as if he is “authorizing” their activity, or he is the one actually doing it and the woman is just “helping” (even if in reality she’s doing all the work!).

    The Bible, of course, teaches something very different about singleness. While it has many beautiful things to say about marriage and parenthood, Paul’s letters in particular make it clear that unmarried individuals have a special ability to devote themselves to God’s work outside the home because their time and attention is not divided between that and God’s work of caring for the needs of a spouse and children. I can see this in my own life. There are a lot of things I do which would be much harder for me to do if I were married and meeting the needs of a husband. Maybe someday I’ll be called to give those things up in order to be married; or maybe I will be single and at liberty to keep doing them for the rest of my life. I can honestly say that I am content either way.

    So, apologies for my long-winded comment. But if you have not given a lot of thought to singleness as a legitimate lifestyle choice for a Christian, rather than as a temporary state to be exited as soon as possible by hard work and good dating strategy, then I hope this has been helpful. I agree with you 100% that if marriage is your goal, then there are some significant benefits to what you call “Traditional Dating.” I’m only challenging the assumption that marriage is (or should be) everyone’s goal.

    • Vivian,

      Thank you for your comment. I think you are exactly right that the church tends to look down on adult singles. I am right there with you experiencing it. I chuckle inside about churches who are “too holy to hire Jesus.”

      I put a lot of thought into whether I should use the term “singleness epidemic” in my book. I didn’t want to play into the discrimination against singles but I did want to convey a sense of magnitude and urgency to the problem. Statistically, there are a lot of serious health consequences for being single so I felt that the word epidemic was justified in a literal sense. You can read about this in the first chapter of my book with is free at http://www.CourtshipInCrisis.com

      The problem with the term, as you rightly point out, is that often within the church married people see someone being single as their own fault when in reality there is a very good chance their courtship system has failed them.

      One of the ideas that has become popular in the conservative evangelical church is the concept of a “season of singleness” which I can’t find in the Bible. Both Jesus and Paul talk about people who are called to a life of singleness either because God called them to it or because of the actions of man. But they never talk about singleness being a season. On the contrary the Bible talks a lot about “the wife of your youth.”

      I think that we have allowed the “season of singleness” to obscure the “gift of singleness” that God gives some people. Someone who believes in the “season of singleness” will be tempted to look at someone who is 37 and single as someone who is broken because the “the season of singleness should be over by now.” If that person believed in the gift of singleness then they would be more likely to embrace the single person and allow them to serve in positions of influence.

      If God has called you to a celibate life go for it! One of the most godly women I ever met was a single 50 something who had one of the most fruitful and amazing college ministries I have ever seen. She was like a Baptist Mother Teresa. She clearly had the gift of singleness and was using it to do amazing things for The Kingdom. Instead of having a handful of her own children she had hundreds of college students who looked up to her with respect and admiration. Her life really proved Galatians 4:27 true.

      When I talk about the “singleness epidemic” I am talking about the general trend of young people to avoid the institution of marriage altogether. The trend is massive and it is already having bad consequences on society. The minority of people with the gift of singleness are not part of this problem.

      Discrimination against people called to a life of singleness is a real problem. It frustrates me that I am part of that problem, but I am not sure what to do about it other than watering down my message. I don’t know how to wake up the church about the singleness epidemic without weaving a linguistic net that catches some fish I don’t want to catch.

      • Thomas,

        I really do appreciate your overall purpose and what you are trying to accomplish. Would it be all right if I made a few observations to help you with that “linguistic net”?

        First of all, I still feel like you are rightly combating that phrase “It’s your fault you’re still single” without fully grasping the falsity of the underlying assumption. Why SHOULD it be a “fault” to be single? This implies that singleness is somehow “less than” married-ness. It all depends on whether the single person being spoken to WANTS to be married or not – did the person making the comment even bother to ask them?? I think that is the first assumption that needs to be challenged, even before jumping in to the problems with the courtship model, etc.

        And I’m very uncomfortable with the dichotomy between “season of singleness” and “gift of singleness.” I understand what you’re saying about the problems of seeing it as a “season” – whether you are arbitrarily imposing it as a “season” on everyone (ignoring scriptures about marrying young) or arbitrarily defining an age when you expect that season to end.

        But I have also seen big problems with teaching about the “gift of singleness” – that phrase has also been used like a bludgeon on single people. I know that God has given me the gift of being content in the season of life in which I now am, and for that I am grateful. I don’t know that I have a life-long “gift of singleness.” There’s nothing to say that in a couple of years, God won’t stir me up with divine discontent and send me out to seek a husband.

        My grandmother got married at age 38 and had my father at age 42. Did she have a “season of singleness”? Did she have the “gift of singleness”? Can you see the problem with trying to put it in boxes and define it? What about people in their 30s who are still single and desperately unhappy about it? Are they being sinful by denying what is clearly intended to be a God-given “gift of singleness” since, if they were going to be married, it would have happened by now – and since it hasn’t, of course God will give them the gift of being content? (That is how I’ve seen it used as a bludgeon by well-meaning people.)

        I find that the greatest peace and most fruitful life comes by not trying to have it all figured out. To people who are single and want to be married, I would say this: “Do the things and put yourself in the situations that are likely to bring you in contact with a marriage partner. But don’t build your whole life around it. Don’t wait to start living or put off your other dreams until you find a partner. Buy the house. Take the job. Get the puppy. Go on the dream vacation. If the right partner comes along, you can always make adjustments to accommodate their life in yours. But don’t waste your life pining after something when you don’t know if it will happen. If it doesn’t happen, God will give you grace in the years to come to deal with it.”

        And to the people like me who are content in singleness, I would say this: “Enjoy your gift of contentment, but keep an open mind if God does send someone your way! Be willing to make the necessary adjustments if that’s what God calls you to. You truly never know.”

        I think you can avoid a lot of these pitfalls in your writing by taking a moment, just a sentence or two in each article, to acknowledge that God does call some people to contented single living EITHER for a season OR for life, and that it’s not ok for married Christians to look down on them or invalidate their choices.

  9. Prosperity theology is cute, in the same way that a mentally handicapped adult who still thinks they are going to marry their opposite gender parent is cute. Its endearing in the emotion behind it, but sad in that it is an unrealistic and unattainable fantasy. The Spirit leads individuals, that is a fact, however God is not a micromanager. That would defeat the purpose of His free will human “experiment”. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is best analogized as the rudder on a boat. The rudder may be pointed in the appropriate direction to lead the ship where it should go, however without forward momentum, the direction is meaningless. We are responsible for making that forward momentum, that movement forward in almost any direction that allows the Spirit to direct us.

  10. I just discovered your original post and subsequent writings. I’m a 40 year old married mother of four (and engineer) who was skeptical of IKDG back in the ’90’s. My husband and I recently left a conservative church because the culture is just too conservative for us. I’ve pointed out to a few people over the past 20 years that being a woman in engineering school isn’t a bad way to meet men.

    I’m a strong proponent of friendships/everyday relationships promoting friendship leading to marriage. I think one of the best books on modern marriage is Margaret Kim Peterson’s _Are You Waiting For the One_ .

  11. “I think the primary reason for this singleness epidemic is that both Modern Dating and Modern Courtship have discouraged young people from getting married. We have a saying in business, “the system you have right now is perfectly designed to give you the results you are getting right now.” The problem is the system, not the people.”

    Just a comment regarding your statement and idea, above. If you look at the strength of our dollar in the 1950’s vs 2015, and then factor in the size of government/growing rate of taxation, plus the consequences of the free love movement of the 1960-1970’s, you’ve got entirely different causal factors for the current lack of marriage rate. Tired-out people just trying to pay rent and their utility bills aren’t thinking of romance or of starting a family. And the divorce rate has left emotional wounds – abandonment, rejection, etc – which keep children of divorce from desiring a similar fate. Another difficulty today: technology has separated us from community. Ever see an internet cafe? Everyone sits by themselves, facing a screen. We’re forgetting how to have face-to-face conversations. And on top of that, instant communication isn’t helping build lasting relationships. These all play into the current marriage rates, in my humble opinion.

    On another tack, you cannot stop people from getting married when the right people meet and it is our Father’s timing and calling in their lives. If unmarried folks seek our Father’s will, He WILL provide for all their needs. I sincerely believe if I needed a physical husband, I would have one! Hence, there is yet something to do for Him unmarried. I’m okay with that. I am content to live out the perfect will of Yah for my life. After all, it is no longer MY life, it is His! Sometimes we fight with our Father over His plans. It’s okay, He understands and knows all our winding paths.

    Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? ~ Romans 9:20

    “Who is he that sayeth and it cometh to pass when the LORD commandeth it not?” Lam. 3:37

  12. “Hiding at home and believing in platitudes is easy. Going on dates and putting yourself out there requires faith, vulnerability, and hard work. Ruth didn’t sit at home waiting for someone to come find her. She got a job in a place where she interacted with a lot of people (Ruth 2:2). She acted again by making it very clear to Boaz that she was interested in him (Ruth 3:7-9).”

    Yup. All of the above. I attended a conference yesterday for people who want to (or think that they want to) start an outreach to singles. My enthusiasm started to dry up as I perused the syllabus and saw nothing about dating/dating issues. When I brought up this elephant in the room, I was told that the topic didn’t apply. It was stated that a person who is close to Christ will find Him to be adequate for meeting needs. In other words, you don’t measure up spiritually to the person advising you.

    This is much like the garbage advice I’ve had from many (thankfully not all) Christians that my depression was a result not spiritual inadequacy. “Just dig into God’s word and seek His presence.”

    To borrow from my favorite poet:

    The best way out is always through.
    Robert Frost

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robertfros101249.html#MXDq1idoUgFH6AE6.99

    • Correction to my previous post:
      “…that my depression was a result of spiritual inadequacy. ”

      So, I see at least two errors:
      — pride
      –unfair judgements
      –(why not a third?) Made-up distinction between secular and sacred, leading to the dismissal of certain things (like dating) as ungodly or unbiblical.

  13. The platitudes I receive are “You won’t be content married until you are content single.” I get this from married people who got married right out of high school. They don’t know what it is like to be in your mid and upper twenties, still being alone. I agree very much with your article. Thanks for writing it!

  14. I’ve heard the classics: “The right one will come along when you least expect it.” and “The harder you look, the less likely you’ll find someone.” In time, I found it to be good advice, albeit frustrating at first. More on that in this post.

    If someone comes to me and talks about a desire to be married, the first question I should always ask them is “Why?” The thing is, I don’t want to be married just because everyone else is. I used to think this, thinking “Where’s mine?” But after thinking more about it, I want my reason to marry not based on what other people think, but rather what my situation in my life is at that moment and weighing it against Scripture. I use I Corinthians 7 a LOT in thinking about it.

    Honestly, there are times I want to stay single, citing the many failures of other marriages, and a sense that the way their marriages work just isn’t my cup of tea. Then, there are the times I really want to be married, citing what Scripture says about my own feelings and temptations.

    As of this writing, I have come to an understanding of why I want to marry: Part of it is to have less distraction in my life (sounds weird, but with today’s tech-filled world, distractions are everywhere, I figure my mind will at least recognize that I have a responsibility to my wife). Yes, I Corinthians 7:32-33 speaks of focusing more on the Lord as a single person. But in this world of distraction, are we even doing that? At least in marriage, I am forced to pay attention to my wife and kids. The other part of why I want to marry can be found in I Corinthians 7:9, and that’s all I wish to say about it. Well, it does tie in with some of life’s distractions. So, if I can sum up why I want to marry in two words, it’s the all-time classic: SETTLING DOWN.

    But, back to those platitudes, I’ve always thought and asked, “What then? Are we to do NOTHING?” Very grateful to God that the answer is a resounding NO. So, yeah, big props to putting yourself out there and going on dates. I mean, if God gives you the tools to do it, why not? Whether you want a spouse or not, in everything, if you know what you need to do, do it. Otherwise, you sin, says James 4:17. Just don’t be so focused on it, just do what you need to do, and move on.

    • Well, maybe perhaps I can reduce distractions without marriage. But still people, ask yourselves WHY you want to be married. The institution is too great a responsibility to have a shaky foundation.

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