Thursday, November 29, 2012

UnMarried Movie: Is Staying Single Sabotaging Christianity?

WARNING TO SINGLES:  You just might blow a fuse after reading this.  Brace yourselves.

Yesterday I was reading blog and read this comment:

Jenn Grover November 28th, 2012 at 11:06 pm
Persona -- don’t even get me started on that line of thinking about singles. CJ got that straight from Mohler. “There is no biblical category for enduring singleness.” That was the BS phrase Mohler used. I guess we should just throw out the entire passage on singleness that Paulw rote for the convenience of Mohler and Mahaney. My brother confronted CJ (I was with him) about letting Mohler speak on the subject after the 1st Lousiville NA conference. CJ admitted that he thought Mohler went overboard and that he and Josh had tried to get Mohler to tone it down the night before but overall he thought for the good of the group (at the expense of older singles) Mohler’s message should be heard. CJ tried to deflect my brother to Mohler, but my brother told CJ Mohler wasn’t responsible for SGM, CJ was. Mahaney would hear none of it.
Andy Farmer led a community group for the “older singles” after the session and he spent the whole time doing damage control and from what I understood, the damage control continued at the local churches for quite a while after that.
I remember a PDI where singles were exhorted to glorify God as they uniquely could as singles. After CJ became pals with Mohler that message was out the window, marriage and family became idols, and singles became second class citizens in SGM.

Ok, I found this comment disturbing, so I went searching and found the Al Mohler quote.  It comes from his sermon entitled The Mystery of Marriage:

Embedded in this text are precepts and principles meant for us in our own sexually confused day. I want to make a statement which I know you are likely, at least in your spirit, to want to reject. I want to suggest to you that there is no biblical category of enduring singleness as an aspiration. There is no biblical category of enduring singleness, except for the gift of celibacy for God’s glory in gospel service. Now, this is counterintuitive because we live in a day where we cherish our ability to define our own existence and to choose our own lifestyle. We live in a day of confusion in which marriage has been so marginalized that it is now merely one option among others. In society and even in many churches, enduring singleness is seen as one more lifestyle option. And this is especially true of men, particularly the high number who conveniently self-rationalize that sex before marriage is biblically okay, often with the high-sounding cover that, of course, this is true only as long as it’s in the context of a “loving relationship.”
I believe the Scripture does not leave that option open to us, except in that extraordinary circumstance of God giving the gift of celibacy to certain individuals for His glory and for gospel service. Paul was very concerned about this. “I say this,” he says in verse 6, “as a concession, not a command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” Celibacy is a gift, and marriage is a gift. You have to know which is yours.

I am addressing this blog post to singes.  

Singles!!!!!     Evidently you are to blame for problems in the church.  Were you aware of that?  (ACK  JA is about to pull her hair out.)    Did you know that you are to blame for the problems in our churches, our education systems, and families?  

I'm seeing a disturbing trend.  As I started reading abuse stories, I was struck at how the church in general is treating singles  - whether single by choice or by divorce or death.  So for years singles have been slipping through the cracks, not having a real place.   Singles don't fit in with families, so where do we put them?  Oh yea, single women should be babysitting for couples with young children.  They have time on their hands because they are single, right?  (Don't get me going.)

It's funny how when surfing the net, all of a sudden a bunch of similar topics come screaming out at me.  I stumbled across a trailer to a new movie:  UnMarried.  I'm trying to find more background about the movie.  The YouTube user is connected with Family Vision Films.   (I'm wondering if there is a connection with Vision Forum.  If someone knows, please let me know.)

Check out this very brief movie trailer.  Listen to the intensity of their words.  Is this a "gospel" message they are trying to tell us?   Do singles have an agenda?

Below is my attempt to transcribe the entire trailer dialogue:

Man #1:  This is the fundamental problem of our social systems.  It is a fundamental problem with our churches a fundamental problem with education systems and it will yield severe, severe, socio-economic problems in years to come. 

Man #2:  We’re losing the vision.  Wer’e losing the very thing - God began a unique work in the midst of this movement and we’re losing it. 

Man #1:  If we don’t address this issue, we’re done.  There is no future for the family.  There’s no future for the church.  There is no future for our Nation.

Please someone help me out.  Isn't Nancy Leigh DeMoss single?  Wasn't Elizabeth Elliot single many years as a missionary after her husband passed away?    Maybe someone has become single as a result of their spouse divorcing them or abuse/infidelity or death.   Are they responsible for that?     Have these ladies caused fundamental problems for our churches and families by their singleness?  For some reason only single women are coming to mind - my brain has frozen.

Really?  Give me a break.

Singles, please pipe in.  Tell me how you are contributing to the troubles in our church.  I dare you.

How does this message promote the gospel?  What redeeming message is it sending singles?  What am I missing?  If I am misunderstanding this message, please let me know.  I can handle it. 

Do these folks have 1 Corinthians 7 in their Bibles?  Oh boy . . . I need to go to choir and unwind my confused brain.  

* * * * * * * Addendum * * * * * 

I did a little more searching today and blogger Karen Campbell at reports that Kevin Swanson is behind this movie.  I'm trying to get more information on that.  But this confirms my suspicions of connections with Vision Forum. 

Kevin Swanson most definitely has an agenda behind this movie and I'll be posting more on that soon.  


  1. Oh my gosh. *Bangs head against wall* Don't even get me started. This single disabled woman simply doesn't go to church as it definitely is not accessible to her at this stage in life. I am done with being pigeon-holed into the role of servant to others just because of my marital status or lack thereof. My value is not dependent on a marriage license or any other label assigned to me.

    By the way, does anybody know of a truly handicap friendly church, one that welcomes us and makes the entire church accessible to all members? I am recovering from a major orthopedic surgery and I don't know when I will ever be able to attend a traditional church service again.

    1. Mandy - boy, that's another issue. You've got a double whammy! There are a few people in wheelchairs at our church. One guy is even in choir and they seem to be able to accommodate him quite nicely. But you raise a very important point for those who might have some mobility issues. My eyes were opened when I tore my ACL and had to be on crutches. Wow - the simple things we take for granted like walking and working knees, etc.

  2. Where else but in churches is one's marital status even such an issue?

    Nowhere are adults more segregated than in churches. Everyone in church is pigeon-holed into groups based on age, marital status, and gender. I'm a single woman that used to belong to a large church that has all these groups. So much for "Christian unity". So much for friendship and learning with people different than ourselves.

    1. This is sad, Shannon. I'd love to hear from singles who have positive experiences in churches. What would make a church welcoming to singles? That might be very helpful to discuss. Do you have any ideas, Shannon?

    2. Well, if churches are unwilling to do away with special groups, I think it would be helpful to have in addition, regular all-encompassing events (Bible study, work days, social gatherings for example) and publicize them as such. After some time it should result in some barriers being broken down.

      It would also help if the minister didn't talk so much about marriage in his sermons. I remember hearing, once again, another sermon on marriage and thinking probably half the congregation was never married/divorced/widowed.

  3. Just read the whole Mohler sermon. I did not glean from it that he was blaming singles for all the "problems" in the church. I think he was trying to point out that as Christians, we A.) Do not have the right to determine that we will never marry, and B.) Dare not regard marriage as carelessly as the world does. It has significance way beyond what an unbeliever can understand.

    Read carefully, Mohler says that there is no biblical precedent for enduring singleness as an aspiration, EXCEPT for the gift of celibacy. He never says it is wrong or "less than" to be single.

    Here is a quote from Elisabeth Elliott:

    "f God has given you singleness, then you should thank Him for that, and offer it back to Him for His glory and for your blessing. There are probably many obscure women who have understood that. But, by and large, there's so much endless talk about why doesn't God give me a husband? Many people have said to me, "Why would God give you three husbands when He hasn't given me a date?"

    My answer to that is matter-of-fact, "How do I know? Why would I be any more knowledgeable than you would?"

    NOTE that she says if "God has given you singleness....". It must be God's agenda, not our own. That is exactly what Mohler is is up to the Lord and not to ourselves to determine our state.

    1. I question what EE says in the quote. Is it really God giving someone singleness or a spouse? Or is it our own decision to marry or not marry? Or is it either by our own doing or circumstances in this imperfect world that we don't get to make a decision? And if a Christian is "given" marriage by God and turns out bad, what does one think then? And could it be okay by the Lord either way if a certain individual is married or single?

    2. Anyone is, of course, free to make their own decisions. Not sure one can call themselves a bond-slave of Jesus Christ and insist on their own way, "chart their own course", however.

      Why is it difficult to believe that our happiness and God's will are at not at cross purposes? For me, obeying God is the most self-serving thing I have ever done because I know that despite trials along the way, there is no safer or fulfilling path.

    3. Galatians 5:1 comes to mind: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (ESV). Does my Lord not make me free to marry or not to marry? (I chose marriage.) Paul goes to lengths to warn the Galatians not to submit to the yoke of slavery to the Law given through Moses. Why would anybody now submit to the yoke of legalism imposed by these preachers who would say "You must marry," "You must tithe," "You must dress just so," "You must attend every 'church' meeting," "You must believe every doctrine you are told to believe," and on and on. Concerning such legalistic impositions, we are specifically informed, "For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you NO GREATER BURDEN than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. (Acts 15:28-29a, ESV, emphasis added). And yes, we can be a bond slaves of our Lord whether married or single. He is sovereign, but He is no control freak.

    4. Sad - When I read your comment about God doing the choosing, it reminded me of the salvation argument that we often hear: who chose salvation, did we or God? Is that kind of what you're implying with marriage? That God decides for us if we're going to be married?

      One thing I have learned along the way in my spiritual abuse process is that sometimes actions speak louder than words. When you read the quote from the Sovereign Grace site, it was perceived that this was a legalistic kind of teaching. In context of the sermon, it doesn't seem as legalistic, so my concern is - - what are his comments on this topic elsewhere - - where the rubber meets the road?

      My former pastor used to mention "grace" in his sermons, too. But his life and how he treated others was not gracious.

      Another thing I have learned: when someone touts a pet topic that seems to stand out different from what others have said, it's probably a good idea to take a closer look to see what is going on. Is there an agenda?

  4. Maybe because I'm a guy, or maybe it's because I'm in a younger generation (I'm 22), but I can hear exactly where Mohler is coming from, though I disagree with how he expressed it. He has hit on a lot of good points, but especially further down when he talks about us Americans having a "boy culture." (This is a hot button issue for me, so I'll try not to soap box, other than to say that most descriptions I have heard Christian leaders give are spot on, though understated.)

    Most guys I've met that are single, my age and older (by about a decade), have remained single out of selfish desire so they would not have to alter their lifestyles (and while this is a broad brush stroke, I have heard several professing Christians give almost this exact reason).

    But I do know guys who have remained single their entire lives, and are in their 50s and 60s. The difference between the two types is that the latter had no desire for marriage or its pleasures, but had every desire to work for God.

    On the flip side,there are guys like me who've prayed and looked hard for years, and yet God in His providence has not yet granted that we would find a godly woman willing to have us. I know of several guys, who though they were mature (and maturing) in the faith, who sought a godly wife, were not granted one for years.

    However, there is deficiency in the presentation Mohler gave because there is an aspect of the gospel's work that I think singles can experience in a more direct way than married folks, and that's the sufficiency of companionship in Christ. However, there are sanctifying graces God gives to the married folks that singles do not generally experience in the same way. One example is that wonderful passage of Ephesians 5, where God calls us men to love our wives as Christ loves the church. That's a calling that single men will not experience in the same way as married men. The gospel speaks to both groups of people, and there's blessing and responsibility for us all.

    1. Malachi - I really appreciated reading your comment. I have a son born in 90 (and single) and reading your response made me want to discuss this with him.

      I think it's pretty common in the twenties to experience the "boy culture" (I don't know that it's narrowed to just the male gender, either - females are just as prone). I actually think it's just part of the maturation process. If you think about it, it's a time when you are spreading your wings of independence, some for the first time, and part of that independence can lead to a little too much worldly "fun". I get that part of Mohler's sermon.

      I've been doing more reading (by searching: Mohler and singleness) and there's quite a few references to his teachings. I'm getting more of an understanding of the full picture now. Apparently there have been a number of people who have been put off by his strong wording and he even has had to do some damage control.

      I think this is one of the very dangerous things when being a leader. People are listening to their every word and sometimes those words can affect people in negative ways. Read this follow-up comment to Jenn Grover's post (the first comment I posted above on today's article):

      November 29th, 2012 at 1:09 am
      @ Persona #241--That message is responsible for more heartache in my life than any other that I’ve heard at an SGM conference. It led many of my friends to pursue marriage more than fellowship with their brothers and sisters at the church, and it placed a burden on me to get married to such a degree that I almost married a woman who was completely wrong for me. I’m not fond of Mohler.

      The SGM culture is performance driven, not grace-driven, so you can imagine how a speaker like Mohler would cause a response as Michael described.

  5. Try being a single, divorced male in a congregation filled with married families. I tell you straight out, in too many churches, there's no place for us. I don't think anyone would say that I'm "sabotaging the church", but they still don't understand us. We're not included, our feedback isn't valued. It's been insinuated that since I haven't remarried since my divorce that there must be something wrong with me, maybe I'm not straight or something. Maybe it's because I've got other priorities. Maybe it's because I'm working 3 jobs to keep the lights on. Maybe it's because I'm trying to be a good parent to my children.

    I'm sure not all churches are like mine, but I'm afraid there are a lot out there just like it. It's like if you are an older single (divorced, never married, whatever), you have tattooed on your forehead "outcast."

    I wonder if the Apostle Paul would come back how they would treat him?

    1. Matthias - You are not an outcast to God. They should not be treating you differently than anyone else. This just floors me. I'm very sorry to hear this. Have you discussed this with anyone?

    2. Hi Julie Anne. I know I'm not an outcast to God :-). And, yes I have spoken with others about it. But there are few, especially marrieds, that get it. You can only change one person's mind at a time. Unfortunately, when it comes to a topic like this, you aren't just fighting CJ Mahaney or Al Mohler. You are fighting an entire church culture that doesn't value singleness. I'm convinced that if the Apostle Paul were alive today, they would marginalize not only him, but his writings as well.

      I think valuing singleness is at the root of the problem.

    3. Matthias: I've been stewing about your last sentence trying to think is devaluing singleness the root problem or is it just a lack of love? I don't know. I just don't like the way these men have portrayed singles and it sure makes sense why singles don't feel welcomed. I wish I could wave a wand and fix these problems.

  6. So to sum up all of our comments, every single one of us just wants a place to meet with other believers where we will be accepted for who we are. No assumed labels, no segregating the congregation, no "chosen ones". We each want to be valued and to matter because we are loved by the One Who created us.

    If anybody feels like it, I could use some prayer support right now. I had major orthopedic surgery earlier this week and I have been experiencing so many complications since then.

    1. Mandy - your desires sound perfectly reasonable. It's baffling that this is not happening in churches, but I'm glad we're discussing it. It's going to cause me to look more closely at my church and I do speak up when I see areas that might be overlooked. Maybe others will do the same at their churches.

      Thank you for sharing your prayer request. I will be praying for you as you recover. Surgery is bad enough, but to have complications - - - that's just not fun. Will you please keep me posted, Mandy?

    2. Thank you all for praying. Some issues are starting to resolve, others are coming to light. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about the latest one - I am having an allergic reaction to the plastic surgical draping used during the operation. Nothing quite like a nice big rash surrounding the surgical site, especially when you are allergic to some of the common drugs used to treat the problem.

    3. Mandy - Thanks for the update. I'd like to ask my readers to continue to pray as you recover. That allergic reaction does not sound like fun at all! Hopefully time will help that issue to resolve. Hang in there, Mandy! sending cyber hugs your way!

    4. Today was so much better. I am finally in control of the pain, the allergic reactions have calmed down, I can actually keep food down, etc... And cabin fever is setting in. Modified bed arrest orders are in place for the next 5 weeks or so. I told my orthopedic surgeon that this is the last time he gets to operate on me for many years to come (4 major surgeries in the last 17 months, each one with mandatory 6 weeks bed arrest).

    5. Wow, Mandy, you really have gone through a lot. i'm sure that takes its toll more than just physically. I'm glad to hear you are recovering better. That's good. I'll try to provide some good reading material for ya ;)

  7. As a single man myself, and close to 40, I feel very strongly on this topic. Reading all these stories of singles who become outsiders in their own congregations, I'm reminded of my blessings. Both here and back home, God has given me friends and church families who've included me, and made me part of their lives. Most of them want me to find someone special, but they know I want that, too. It does bug me when people tell me I should hurry up and marry, as though I could do it just like that. Still, I know they mean well.

    And then there's the video above.... I watched it yesterday morning (your time). I think I understand what the movie will be about, but its over-the-top, almost apocalyptic, tone is irritating. What I found truly insulting, though, was on the site for that movie clip.

    They referred to adult singleness as "prolonged adolescence".

    As I mentioned on the Wartburg Watch, my singleness is is painful enough to me. I need that kind of attitude like I need a kick in the face.

    Thanks for mentioning this, Julie Anne.

    1. Serving - Yes, I agree with you. The tone is irritating and I think when you do a little background into Kevin Swanson, you can see where he is coming from. I did some digging. He has Reconstructionist influences. He is a homeschool leader (having himself been homeschooled in the very early homeschool movement). He also seems to promote much of what we hear from Vision Forum - Doug Phillips - on generations of families influencing the world for Christ. So, from his viewpoint, a Christian remaining single defeats what he deems is the most important job of a Christian - to be raising Christian families to affect future generations.

      Dude, you are messing up his agenda by remaining single. How dare you, Serving! :)

      I wish they wouldn't pick on singles. I wonder why people aren't making movies about the very many sad marriages in Christianity? Just because one is married doesn't mean that their family life is all rosy.

  8. Try being a single woman in church. Though I’m not really single, I appear to be, my husband has moved out of the house and refuses to attend my new church with me. I was glad to see a familiar face when I first started attending, a casual male friend that I hadn’t seen in about 10 years.

    After service, in the sanctuary in full view of tons of people, as we were catching up, someone had to hot foot it over and ask “where is your lovely wife this morning”. I’m sure she was well intentioned, but just because I’m alone doesn’t mean I’m trying to steal another woman’s husband. The thing that gets me most is she never even acknowledged my presence. If she was concerned for this man’s virtue, why not engage me in conversation to see what I was about. Or better yet welcome the newcomer. I had forgotten how suspiciously single woman are looked at in church.

    1. jlo - Oh boy - that's a whole 'nuther can of worms, isn't it? Why do Christians have such difficulty with men talking with women and women talking with men? I definitely have felt that all along. It's almost like after someone is married, they need to sign a contract that they will never have a conversation with another woman again.

      I understand having some mutually accepted boundaries like not driving alone with someone of the opposite sex when married, but in the sanctuary of a church filled with people? Hmm, I'll bet that woman wouldn't have a problem going up to the pastor to ask a question in the sanctuary. Why is that any different? Because he's a pastor? Or is it because you appear to be single?

    2. "It's almost like after someone is married, they need to sign a contract that they will never have a conversation with another woman again."

      It is because we men are raised (at least I was) that women are extremely jealous & have self esteem issues...and since talking with 'another woman' could 'give the appearance of evil'...we are asked to refrain from doing so as the norm.

      Eventually you grow up (well hopefully right?) and realize that women are humans too and should be able to communicate without freaking out on each other.

      I then decided that if by me talking to a 'non significant other' caused relationship issues, that my significant other needed to deal with those self perceived concerns herself or find another partner.

      Once I changed my viewpoint, the stress in my life dropped dramatically and I met my wife.

    3. As we told our kids growing up, there are pretty much only two kinds of people on the earth: he's and she's. There ain't no other kinds. Basically, two kinds of 'earth suits'.

      Further, you only marry one person. The rest are brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles. I appreciate having so many brothers. I didn't have one growing up. I have a husband and a grown son, and I also like talking with and asking questions of guys--in multitudes of contexts.

      Life is so much richer when we can include both halves of the human race. Within proper boundaries, people should be able to chat with either gender. Sounds simple enough!

  9. I would argue that 'singleness' has the potential to destroy "man's church". But also that being single has zero bearing on God's church.

    As with any society...a decline in children messes with the economy. We see that now with baby boomers retiring and social security drying up. The same could be said for man's church...less babies = less tithe = unsustainable church grounds.

    The problem is, pastors get confused and often blend their (man's) church together with God's church (the body of Christ). God is not a building and the only temple He resides in is our hearts.

    1. God is not a building and the only temple He resides in is our hearts.

      Now see, if that was the focus from the pulpit instead of other hidden agendas, there'd be little for me to rant about here. Excellent point, Steve.

    2. Yes, Steve. You have hit a nail on the head. The behind the scenes view of 'expanding the Kingdom' in certain places falls short.

      Now there is nothing wrong with birth-increased Kingdom growth, loving Christian families in a neighborhood, etc., but when it is peddled as 'the only path' to the exclusion of people who are not child-bearers, then there is distaste and distress in that kind of a model of church growth. :(

  10. I am late getting to the game. I have been too sick to keep up with your blog lately. I am only writing this to answer your question. I know how my singleness is negatively affecting the church. Because of how I am treated, I no longer attend church, so you could say I am diminishing its number. I would like to also point out the twisted reversal of all this nonsense. I am either attacked or isolated on the sole basis of my marital status. You can badger me as much as you want about remaining single, but no one, NO ONE is offering a solution to me. They want to blame me for being single without offering a way to resolve what they see as sin.

    Precious few people choose to bed single over having a relationship. Blaming them because they can't get a date is just evil. Berating them for having standards in who they select to spend THE REST OF THEIR LIVES with is wrong. Just because I don't fit a mold doesn't mean that God rejects me or my life.


    1. Shakes, What a powerful comment and I'm sure your words speak for many singles. Thank you so much for sharing your heart here!

      I feel angry for the way you have been treated. ARGH is right!

    2. HAHAHA! I just realized I wrote bed instead of be. That can't be good.

      Also, thanks again for having a place where I can express myself freely and still feel loved :)

    3. That's hilarious. And I missed it! If I could edit it, I would, but it's fine. No worries. And it's funny and we all need to laugh :)

      You are loved, Shakes!


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