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Posts Tagged ‘Singles’

Single Truths

In today’s Boundless article, Elisabeth Adams tells the truth about her singleness:

 

I want to be married.

Shouldn’t that have happened by now?

 

At first I ask, How do I change this? Then, as resignation sets in, I wonder, How do I survive singleness? In particularly painful moments, I want to know more: Why should I be contented? Why should I stay the course? Does God see me? Does He even care?

 

I think most singles can relate to Elisabeth’s feelings. I recently wrote an article on a similar topic. In it, I considered this question: “Am I valuable to God in my singleness?” The answer yes. Undeniably. I am chosen by God, eternally loved and redeemed for His purposes.

 

But feelings are another matter. Elisabeth talks about how her mother and grandmother got early starts on motherhood, while Elisabeth’s story will be different. Those are the kinds of realities that can distract and discourage us from living in the moment God has for us today. They can make us wonder if our singleness is a waste. The author reminds us that a useful life — a life that glorifies God — is founded in truth. These truths include:

 

·         I am primarily defined as God’s child (with all the blessings and responsibilities that entails), and not as a single woman.

·         The area of romance is not outside the realm of discipleship: God will use it to test me and refine me and bring me joy, just as He does with every other facet of my life.

·         Painful singleness can be godly singleness. God does not condemn me when I am upset. Those feelings have to go somewhere, and His ear and heart are the safest place.

·         Though I’m experiencing a different kind of pain than married people, we are all in the fellowship of suffering.

·         I can model true love while I’m single. Every day I continue to walk with Jesus, He gives me opportunity to exchange the “I-wants” stored up in my heart for the happiness of others. Because He loves me so outrageously, I can make a sacrifice, say “My pleasure,” and find it is the exact truth.

·         Waiting won’t stop when I enter a relationship. At each stage of friendship, courtship, and marriage, the future is still God’s business. Mine is to habitually counter my imagination with the truth: Who this person really belongs to, what our true relationship is — today — and what true love will do for him as a result.

·          

That is only part of the list Elisabeth provides. Truth is so important at any life stage. And, as the author points out, when we’re walking in truth — whether single or married — none of our days is a waste … not one single day. View article…

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 Saving Sex for Marriage, Real Life vs. the Movies

In the latest issue of World magazine, Megan Basham reviews romantic comedy He’s Just Not That Into You (rated PG-13 for sexual content and some strong language).  I’ve not seen it, but I am not surprised to learn that the film is nothing other than the latest variation on the same, worn theme of aggressive, independent women chasing men into their late 20s and early 30s, hoping against hope that they will somehow earn the unwavering love, commitment and respect for which they so deeply (and painfully) long.  They are mainly unsuccessful, as the film’s title suggests, as these men are “just not that into them.”  Basham explains: 

“Behind the laughs, and, indeed, the film’s popularity, is an unspoken question: What left women in such a precarious position? Why do we so rarely see romantic comedies that show men pursuing women anymore, as opposed to merely ‘realizing’ they’re in love two-thirds of the way through the film?” 

What’s changed, Basham goes on to insightfully explain, is that women are now “liberated from the social norm of saving sex for marriage” which means that men are free to approach their pursuit of women as a quest for physical and relational intimacy apart from any long-term, binding commitment.  They can enjoy sexual intimacy without being “stuck” with a particular woman, so they in turn grow more “stuck” in passivity, unwilling to exert sacrificial energy for their woman, unable to savor the joy that only a lifelong, binding, monogamous relationship can cultivate.

Moreover, given the abundance of women willing to play by these rules, many men feel justified in scornfully regarding a woman for even wanting marriage and family.  In the film, the character Beth (Jennifer Aniston) is afraid to bring up marriage with her seven-year, live-in boyfriend because she doesn’t want to seem “clingy or psycho.”

The 80% female audience ought to be left with the inescapable conclusion: trading hearts and bodies for the temporary affection of men is a losing proposition. On the other hand, the confident, steadfast reservation of sex for marriage results in a woman attracting the right kind of man – a man who will lay down his life to earn her respect and win her love.  Sadly, the movie’s ending suggests that the four love-hungry protagonists can have their cake and eat it too.  Only in the movies, folks.     

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I was searching the net for a picture for this story. I gave up. Finding a picture supporting virginity was like finding a sober person at Mardi Gras. I am sure there are, but not worth the effort to find one.

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Letting Go of a Relationship

Most of us know that letting go of a relationship, even if it’s a toxic relationship, is one of the most difficult thing to do. In a previous article we mentioned when it might be a good idea to let go of a relationship However,  many single Christians have communicated to us that simply knowing […]

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Graciously Confronting Cohabitation

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Marriage is on the Rocks.”  In a recent piece by Mark Penn, entitled “Committed Cohabiters” we are reminded that fewer than one in four U.S. households consist of a married couple with children. Married couples of any kind have fallen into the minority as of 2005.  Its not that celibate singleness is on the rise, far from it. Rather, more people are choosing to commit sexual immorality and ‘live together’ than ever before. According to the latest Census, 5.2 million couples are doing it and they are raising 2.2 million children. Apparently the trend will continue.

But this trend should alarm us. Not just because abuse increases in these households, nor because their collective income falls, nor because of the social awkwardness in finding the right term to use to refer to them (partner? spouse?). Its not even wrong merely because children languish in insecure environments. While those are all true, the main reason to be alarmed at the burgeoning trend of fornication and adultery is that it violates God’s design for covenant marriage.

God commands: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4). Why? Because covenant marriage says something wonderfully true about God’s covenant union with his Church, his Bride: God keeps his promises. Sexual immorality lies about God – it makes him look unfaithful.  While the married vow, ‘til death do us part,’ cohabiters say, ‘til life drives us apart.’

Graciously confronting this pandemic level of adultery is worthy of one’s life.

I have recently enjoyed meditating on the life of John the Baptist. Have you ever considered the shocking horror of his death? Herod, the local leader had taken his brother’s wife in adultery. Her name was Herodias. John the Baptist, full of holy zeal for righteousness, called out Herod as a law-breaker and adulterer (Mark 6:18). This struck fear into Herod’s heart. (Mark 6:20).  Surely it angered Herodias as well.

Ultimately, for his prophetic voice against adultery, John was beheaded. What courage! We must have our sense of right and wrong recalibrated to match God’s. Adultery is unlawful. No matter how ‘committed’ it is, apart from a marriage covenant, living together ‘pretending’ to be married mocks God’s design and breaks God’s eternal law. Rather than entertain or bore us, adultery should appall us.

Since covenant marriage is God’s design, it will surely last. No human perversions have ever succeeded in destroying it. What appears to be destined to crash on the rocks is any society which violates God’s commands of sexual purity (Romans 13:9). Apart from the rescuing grace for adultery found in trusting Christ alone (Ephesians 1:7), those committed to sexual immorality will stumble over the rock of Christ to their own destruction (I Peter 2:7-9).

 

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How To Start Over If You’ve Lost Your Virginity

What can you do if you’ve lost your virginity?

Can it be re-gained by asking God for forgiveness, vowing sexual purity until marriage, having surgery to restore your body physically to a virgin state, or by being spiritually renewed?

No, your virginity cannot be re-gained once it is lost, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t commit to abstain from sexual activity until marriage or ask God to forgive you.

The Bible says that when we are born again, we are new creations, our old selves are dead and gone, and we have new life given to us by the Holy Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). This means that God chooses to no longer remember our past transgressions (Jeremiah 31:34), including losing virginity before marriage. (source)

There is absolutely no doubt that God will forgive sex before marriage.
God’s love for a person is not diminished because of the mistakes that person has made. (source)

So, what should you do?

A Christian who has made the mistake of sex before marriage should: (source)

  1. Make a firm commitment to save yourself for marriage from now on, and believe you can do it. (Because you can!)
  2. Get away from people, places, things and situations that weaken your self-control. Sometimes the healthiest thing we can do is avoid people who tempt us.
  3. Avoid intense hugging, passionate kissing and anything else that leads to lustful thoughts and behavior. Anything beyond a brief, simple kiss can quickly become dangerous.
  4. Find non-physical ways to show your love and appreciation.
  5. Remember that anyone can start over. Including you! When you focus on commitment and self-discipline, you can control your impulses.

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“The courting relationship should be handled carefully by Christians because it is a volatile sexual relationship. The fact that it is unconsummated does not keep it from being sexual. When a young many approaches a girl’s father, there is no sense anyone pretending that something platonic or spiritual is happening. ‘Mr. Smith, may I have your permission to speak with your daughter about missions?'” (Her Hand in Marriage, p. 53). View article…

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Closer to Home

overwork

Are You Busy

Lazy? Not me. I’m busy. Up early, up late. My schedule is filled from beginning to end. I love what I do and I love getting stuff done. I attack a daily to-do list with the same intensity I play basketball. Me lazy? I don’t think so!

Or at least I didn’t think so. That is, until I read about the difference between busyness and fruitfulness, and realized just how often my busyness was an expression of laziness, not diligence.

I forget now who first brought these points to my attention. But the realization that I could be simultaneously busy and lazy, that I could be a hectic sluggard, that my busyness was no immunity from laziness, became a life-altering and work-altering insight. What I learned is that:

  • Busyness does not mean I am diligent
  • Busyness does not mean I am faithful
  • Busyness does not mean I am fruitful

Recognizing the sin of procrastination, and broadening the definition to include busyness, has made a significant alteration in my life. The sluggard can be busy—busy neglecting the most important work, and busy knocking out a to-do list filled with tasks of secondary importance.

When considering our schedules, we have endless options. But there are a few clear priorities and projects, derived from my God-assigned roles, that should occupy the majority of my time during a given week. And there are a thousand tasks of secondary importance that tempt us to devote a disproportionate amount of time to completing an endless to-do list. And if we are lazy, we will neglect the important for the urgent.

Our Savior understood priorities. Although his public ministry was shorter than one presidential term, within that time he completed all the works give to him by the Father.

The Father evidently called him to heal a limited number of people from disease, raise a limited number of bodies from the dead, and preach a limited number of sermons. As Jesus stared into the cup of God’s wrath, he looked back on his life work as complete because he understood the calling of the Father. He was not called to heal everyone, raise everyone, preach copious sermons, or write volumes of books.

While we must always be extra careful when comparing our responsibilities with Christ’s messianic priorities, in the incarnation he entered into the limitations of human life on this earth.

So join me over the next few days as we discover the root and nature of laziness, so that we might devote ourselves to biblical priorities and join our Savior in one day praying to the Father, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4, ESV).

Posted by C.J. Mahaney

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A Singular Mission Field

Single people are “the most unchurched population in America and therefore one of the greatest mission fields in the world,” says Rich Hurst, director of strategic adult ministry resources for Cook Communications and a 20-year veteran of singles ministry.

Hurst spoke to CT while hosting Cook’s ninth annual Single Adult Ministry (SAM) convention in March. Nearly 700 men and women traveled to Denver for the event, giving a glimpse into the current state of singles ministries in the United States.

Single people are one of the fastest-growing groups in America, Hurst says. A Rutgers University National Marriage Project report found that the nation’s marriage rate has dropped by 43 percent in the last 40 years. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that single adults and single parents continue to be the fastest-growing household types in America. Since 1980 single mothers have increased 42 percent, single fathers have increased 99 percent, and people living alone have increased 36 percent compared to married-couple households, which only increased 9 percent during the same period.

With such growth and diversity in the singles population, churches are finding that they have to be strategic.

“Single adult ministry is becoming more specific,” said Angela Hamm, singles minister at First Baptist Church of Lewisville, Texas. “The groups are becoming more broad—Gen Xers, single parents, elderly—and you have to break it down more to meet needs.”

Ministry to single people in their 20s must be different from ministry to single people in their 50s, she added: “The only thing they have in common is their singleness.”

To address the varying needs of singles in the church, the SAM conference offers more than 80 workshops and 15 special seminars. Hurst estimates that 80 percent of the teaching focuses on the practical aspects of ministry. Indeed, workshop titles like “Starting a Single Adult Ministry,” “Young Adult Children of Divorce,” and “Meeting Real Financial Needs with Real Answers” dominated the program in Denver.

Most leaders agree that involving single Christians in all aspects of church life is essential to a successful ministry, but not everyone at SAM placed the whole burden on the church.

“It’s also up to the singles to take the initiative to plant themselves,” said Terry Thompson, a lay leader at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California. “The church is looking for workers. Most of the time it doesn’t care if you’re single.”

Though encouraged by the church’s increased sensitivity to singles issues, Rich Hurst is not yet ready to declare victory. Asked why he continues in singles ministry after two decades, his eyes moistened.

“It has been painful to watch the church ignore this,” he said. “I’ve been in churches where single adults are treated like second-class citizens. I’ve watched as the church goes to do something with the new generation while single moms beg for help and the divorced are thrown out of the church. For me, it’s been the Scripture, ‘If you do this unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.'”

Margaret Feinberg is a writer based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

 

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