Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The UnMarried Movie: Singleness as a Result of Rigid and Controlled Parenting

I'm still getting comments on the UnMarried movie posts (More Background Info on the Movie: UnMarried and UnMarried Movie: Is Staying Single Sabotaging Chr... )  and today while looking through my Twitter feed, I noticed quite a few tweets on the topics of modesty and purity.  

In case you missed the brief movie trailer, here it is:

I've discussed this on my blog before.  Our former church had rigid rules on modesty and purity (Hyper-Modesty in the Church, Part 1,  Hyper-Modesty in the Church, Part 2Hyper Modesty in the Church, Part 3, and BGBC Survivors: Legalism: Do Not Expose Your Thighs!)  We had a dress code - nothing above the knees should be showing.  The bride in the picture above would not have been allowed to wear that strapless wedding gown at our church.  Other rules included no co-ed swimming.  The boys were encouraged to turn their heads if they saw a woman jogging.  Some moms were known to cover their boys' eyes when passing through the lingerie section of a clothing store or when passing Victoria Secret at the mall.  I remember my kids racing to the tv to turn off "inappropriate" commercials or shows when they saw someone dressed immodestly.  Some parents would mark up texts books with a black marker if there was a picture of an immodest sculpture or painting.  

And then there were the purity rules - no boy or girl should ever be alone together.  Relationships had to go through the father, girls were given purity rings by their fathers (and mothers) and they pledged to remain virgins until marriage, sometimes signing a covenant . . . . and so on.

As I was thinking about modesty and purity, it made me wonder about the movie, UnMarried.  Do you suppose all of these modesty and purity rules may have backfired and contributed to the growing number of singles?   The people behind the UnMarried movie come from the patriarchal background.  They believe in moms having lots and lots of babies to populate the earth with more Christians.  Singleness remains a threat to their way of doing things because no babies means fewer Christians in future generations (as if they are the ones who determines if their child was elect, right?).

One thing I've heard from moms who have raised young adults in the homeschool environment is that their adult children are somewhat afraid of the opposite sex. They don't quite know what to do with them.  For years these kids were told don't look at the opposite sex, don't lust, don't touch.  And now the producers of this movie are telling these same young adults:  hurry up and get married.  Perhaps they might even say these singles are in sin and preempting God's plans for His church by their "prolonged adolescence".  I've certainly read it before by folks within this movement.

This is more whacked out stuff, people!  Tell young adults, don't touch, don't look and then tell them to get married, touch, and procreate.   What a roller coaster ride for these young adults.  That absurdity might drive me to prolonged adolescence and therapy.   

Yup, I think it backfired.  It is my opinion that the movie, UnMarried is an attempt at damage control.  They are trying to recover from the mess they made by their ridiculous rules of making sure their children were completely modest and virginal.   Legalism backfires, people.  It just does not work the way people want.  It usually produces extremes.  In my former church, the result of this kind of legalism was a lot of young adults acting out sexually.  It can go the other direction, too - prolonged singleness.  They've raised a bunch of adult children who have difficulty functioning normally in a mixed-sex society.  They may be afraid to look at the opposite sex for fear of lust and sin.  They may be afraid to talk to someone of the opposite sex because they aren't married yet and fear, What would people think?  In most circles I am familiar with, a young couple would not be allowed to go to even Starbucks alone unless a little sibling tagged along.  
To the producers of this movie, throw away your legalistic courtship rules and purity contracts.  Let young adult men and women decide for themselves who they want to share the rest of their lives with.  Did your parents decide for you who you were to marry?  Did your parents sign purity contracts with you?  Let these young adults listen to God for the plans He has for them.  Your job as parent was to train them to hear the voice of God, to read His word, to accept the counsel of wise people.  If you did your job right, you have nothing to fear.  God is sovereign, right?   Do you trust God with your adult children and their future?

photo credit: <a href="">Sean Molin Photography</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>


  1. Legalism often sees corruption as coming from the outside. Jesus says it comes from the inside.

    1. That's so good, Craig. Nice to "see" you, friend!

  2. Fundamentalism and formula-based religious thinking is based on the idea that certain actions produce certain results. In this case it would be that pre-marriage purity sets you up for a happy marriage.

    When the formulas don't work (because they're usually based on some totally wack understanding of humans, spirituality, etc), however, it's always the fault of the rule follower, NEVER the rules.

    So that's where you get this backlash against a new "problem." It's their own creation based on fear that things aren't working out right. So they have to sell a new problem and a new formula to fix it.

    Singleness isn't some disease that needs a cure. It's not pre-marriage. It's simply the state of not being married. It's not evil or sinful or terrible or wrong.

    Let's talk about infidelity, patriarchy, abuse, porn-addictions, shame, control, coercion, domestic violence, strictly enforced gender roles, manipulation, forced submission, sexual abuse, or any of the statistically proven things that prevent happy marriages. "Singles" don't prevent happy marriages. Formulas and abuse do.

    1. Emily - Your comment could be a blog post. My readers don't know that you and I share a similar background, you as the child raised in that environment and me as a mom getting caught up in it without knowing what direction I was headed. I so appreciate you drawing attention to these issues, too. All of that good schoolin' you got at home is not be wasted on the internet, is it? :)

      hugs to you!

    2. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 6, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      This is more whacked out stuff, people! Tell young adults, don't touch, don't look and then tell them to get married, touch, and procreate. What a roller coaster ride for these young adults. That absurdity might drive me to prolonged adolescence and therapy.

      More than that, Julie Anne.

      That sounds like a breeding ground for sexual paraphilias (AKA "Kink"). Don't Touch, Don't Look, Don't Think, but the underlying desires are still there and can get focused into a different form. Or focused on something else, to the point that normally non-sexual things become arousal triggers. So when they do get married to legalize the sex and start Outbreeding those Heathens ("Our Duty to the Party/LOORD"), there's gonna be some real unrealistic expectations. (Above and beyond the whipsaw from "Even Thinking About IT Is A Sin" to "Dynamite In The Sack Fulfilling Your Every Fantasy".)

      I've often said that in an erotically-saturated society like ours, the best you can hope for is that the resulting paraphilias will be embarrassing instead of actually destructive.

      I've also said that Christians are just as sexually messed-up as everybody else, just in a different (and often opposite) direction.

    3. I recently read a blog post from a young lady who was raised in this environment and she discussed the difficulties of their sex life as a result of these rigid rules. When you've told yourself to basically shut down all sexual response for years, it's not so easy to flip that switch on the wedding night. These adults are now having to wrestle all of those years of tapes going in their heads. Now they have to replace those tapes with: sex is not evil, it's okay to be "immodest" with your spouse, it's okay to flirt with your spouse and tease and have fun. Basically this rigid lifestyle of modesty and purity has backfired for some in the bedroom. What a shame because there are enough adjustment issues for new marrieds. Sex should be an enjoyable time of coming together, even when other aspects of married life are challenging, you can still enjoy being together as a couple sexually. Sex is a gift, but I'm afraid that what I'm reading from those raised in this environment is that sex is more of a chore or a burden. That was not God's design.

    4. Thanks, JA! I feel like I could write about 10 blog posts from those half thoughts I shared earlier. I probably will, eventually. :)

      I think I want to be a little careful, though, with the idea that "singleness is the result of rigid or controlling parenting." I think that it (unintentionally on your part, JA) still perpetuates the idea that "singleness" is bad or negative. I'd rather talk about how negative or damaged relationships with God, ourselves, or others are a result of rigid or controlling parenting. Not all singleness is a result of abuse. (I wrote about the question 'why aren't you married yet?' for Prodigal Magazine:

      I'm very healthy (my counselor fired me haha) even though I come from a high-control church background, but I'm single right now! I could maybe point out a few ways those two are related, but I don't see one as causing the other.

      Singleness isn't an abused state. There are unhealthy people who are single and there are unhealthy people who are married.

      I love talking about these things. Thanks for opening up space on your blog and in your life, Julie Anne. Thanks for not letting this documentary slip by unnoticed or uncontested.

      What do you think?

    5. I think I want to be a little careful, though, with the idea that "singleness is the result of rigid or controlling parenting." I think that it (unintentionally on your part, JA) still perpetuates the idea that "singleness" is bad or negative.

      I agree with you, Emily, and have devoted several blog posts to singles on this topic. God does not value you or other singles any less than marrieds; however, this is how singles sometimes feel in churches and I find it troublesome. I looked in several church bulletins to see what is offered for singles and find "divorce recovery" as a popular group. Really? Is that it? Sermons are directed to marrieds and families, but we don't hear much mentioned about singles. They seem to slip between the cracks. Paul didn't slip through the cracks in the Bible, did he? Neither did Jesus. hmmm

      We have choices on how we live our adult life. Some people can grow up in highly legalistic homes and get through adults years fine. Others are affected at a deeper level emotionally and it can interfere with relationships, how they view their sexuality, their singleness, who God says they are, etc. These environments can cause a reliance on dad for hearing the voice of God, for making major life decisions, etc. I don't think that is healthy.

      I think the people in this film are saying that singleness (apart from a divine calling of celibacy from God) is wrong - and I've even read some place that they thought it was sinful. This is the underlying and sometimes blatant message by folks challenging singleness.

    6. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 6, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      Some years ago in an Internet Monk thread on the subject, somebody coined the phrase "Salvation by Marriage Alone".

      Someone else traced it to the Reformation Wars, a backlash against the elevation of Celibate Religious and Holy Orders in the Medieval church and the resulting zero-sum downgrading of marriage.

  3. Well stated, Emily!! Yes, what 'really' prevents happy marriages?!

  4. I once was involved with a young woman whose parents held to certain extremes in the courtship model (but not to others). They wanted to control not only the courtship, but any future marriage, including how far we could live from them, where we could attend church, etc. So if I wanted/needed to move for a job, church, missions, we would have not been "allowed" to. It felt like the noose kept on tightening. I finally had enough on a couple of the talking points, and the relationship ended abruptly. To my knowledge, the young woman never married.

    1. Matthias - there you go. They make it nearly impossible for their adult child to marry and then label the single adult child as having "prolonged adolescence". Would someone please hand those parents a mirror? Come on, now.

      Good thing you saw that when you did. Can you imagine having to ask daddy permission to do all those things? I wonder if you'd have to ask daddy permission to consummate the marriage after the wedding?

    2. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 6, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      I wonder if you'd have to ask daddy permission to consummate the marriage after the wedding?

      Or whether Daddy would insist on being there to watch?

      (That big a control freak, you never know. "Daddy May I?" before each pelvic thrust? I think I'm going to stop there before things get too kinky.)

    3. Thanks for stopping :)

      There is a patriarchal family that I have followed for years. I think I found them originally because of a book they wrote on time management with a large family. Their lifestyle intrigued me in many ways and they had an online forum. It's been interesting to watch this family over the years. They now have 2 married sons, but their oldest daughter is now over 30 and still single. I don't think the dad can find a suitable mate for her because his standards are so high. But if you are a young lady marrying into this family, what we have seen is that she will be moving very close to the Patriarch - as in next door, or down the block. She will be joining the bigger family at their church gatherings (at a retirement home), her husband will be employed by the Patriarch, etc. The Patriarch seems to orchestrate everything. I wonder what is going to happen when this Patriarch dies. Are the boys going to fight for his position?

    4. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 6, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      The Patriarch seems to orchestrate everything. I wonder what is going to happen when this Patriarch dies. Are the boys going to fight for his position?

      Struggle for the Throne. Dagger & Poison a la Dune, or are they going to try the old Turkish system where the first prince to kill off all his brothers when the old man dies cinches the succession?

    5. Julie Anne,

      There would have been no asking permission of her father. They wanted me to vow these things to them prior to the marriage, or they were not going to allow a marriage to occur.

    6. Matthias - Good thing you are freeeeeeeeeee from that! This is all kinds of crazy.

  5. Julie Anne,

    I always appreciate the way you see the "big picture" and the wisdom and common sense you bring to bear on issues like this!

    "God is sovereign, right? Do you trust God with your adult children and their future?"

    (The same question could be asked of controlling Pastors - Do you trust God with your church members and with the future of your church?)

    I was not impressed with this film trailer -(they misspelled "Singlenes")

    Not surprised to see fear used - "We're losin' the vision, we're losin' the very thing - God began a unique work IN THE MIDST OF THIS MOVEMENT"
    "if we don't address this issue we're done! There is no future for the family, there is no future for the church..."

    I don't know who these people are, but they need to "set their minds on things above", renew their faith in God, trust Him more than "their movement" and they probably need to take a vacation to restore perspective.
    They have this "under a microscope", but need to get the "big picture"

    I would rate this movie trailer minus F - lacks faith and promotes fear.

    Fear is often used to "sell" things, but "Perfect love casts out fear".

    1. NAR - - You are good catching that typo! That made me laugh out loud.

      I have a couple comments on things you highlighted:

      The "God began a unique work in the midst of this movement" - - that seems arrogant - that they think they are so special for God to do a movement just for them - - and that they think they get to control this movement by producing a movie to help get these singles to hurry up and reproduce. Boy, if that is not works-based religion right there, I don't know what is. They can't allow God to do His own work? They feel they are responsible for the trajectory of this movement? When one puts themselves in this level of importance, it is elevating themselves to a god-like status and that is wrong.

      You are absolutely right that the film's message seems to be using fear to sell. Fear-based messages do not produce good fruit. The motivation is wrong - it presents God as evil, unloving, it focuses on performance and works. That is not biblical.

    2. "I would rate this movie trailer minus F - lacks faith and promotes fear." love the way you put this. :-)

  6. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 6, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    One thing I've heard from moms who have raised young adults raised in the homeschool environment is that their adult children are somewhat afraid of the opposite sex. They don't quite know what to do with them. For years these kids were told don't look at the opposite sex, don't lust, don't touch. And now the producers of this movie are telling these same young adults: hurry up and get married.

    And start Outbreeding those Heathens.

    How to reconcile the two?

    Ever heard of the phrase "Our Duty to The Party"?

  7. I didn't know 'heathen' was genetic and had to be outbred >.<

    Seems God's sovereignty to save whom He wills is gone now.

    1. What are these folks allowing God to do? Their status seems to be pretty elevated compared to God, huh?

  8. Good thoughts. I always enjoy your perspective, Julie Anne!

    As I work on doing a series on my own courtship story, I keep getting stuck on the fact that the purity ideas, parent guided courtship, and "staying pure," is all going against trusting God, and allowing God to have control. It's saying that God isn't going to protect hearts, or that He can bring all things together for good. :sigh: it is really frustrating to try to make the good, adult decisions that I was raised to make and have the decisions shot down or severely doubted by my parents and other parents. When parents continue to try to make their adult children's decisions for them, that only causes rifts between the parents and kids, or it allows for the kids to continue to be reliant on their parents and never make decisions for themselves. Thus you usually will end up with spineless children, or "rebellious" children. legalism with your children will almost always end up producing one or the other.

    1. Chryssie: Doesn't this seem to go back to parents, and specifically fathers, "owning" adult children rather than entrusting them to God? At what point does an adult child "get" to own their faith, own their decisions?

      I look forward to reading more on your courtship story. People need to read your story to see the fruit from this movement. I don't think the parents involved have malicious intentions, but they are missing key red flags. It's time to get bigger flags and raise them a little higher. Your writing will help facilitate that, Chryssie. :)

    2. I sure hope so. And yeah, it really does point back to the parents. I have actually always been confused about when that line is. When does an adult child own their own faith and their own decisions? A lot of parents feel that to be honored by their children, their children, no matter what age, should come to them and ask for wisdom before making a decision. honoring then further looks like the adult child (even if the child is married with kids) taking the parents' advice. I walk away scratching my head especially when I see married adult children living just down the street from their parents and constantly involving the parents into their decisions. the apron strings are never cut, and I think that's really dangerous.

    3. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 6, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      In that situation, Chryssie, I sure hope Mommy & Daddy plan on outliving their children.

      Due to some mess-ups in my own upbringing, when my mother died in 1975 I had to grow from a dependent emotional age of 6 to my chronological age of 20 literally overnight. Even today at 57 the damage is still there. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to grow from an emotionally dependent, totally inexperienced age 6 to 60 instantly. And that's what's going to happen to those adult children with uncut apron strings.

    4. HUG,
      I think you're onto something here. I also lost my father when I was 20. I think it was one of the hardest times of my whole life.

      If a person never learns to make their own decisions, who will replace their parents? They are in for a terrible shock, IMHO.

      I totally agree with what you are saying here.

  9. Julie Anne,

    I know you and I have discussed this offline before, but could you please put up a post as to why the courtship/betrothal movement (and specifically the more legalistic applications/models of it) took off in Reformed Christian circles, but not so much so in Arminian leaning churches? I have known of Arminians that practice forms of courtship as well, but dare I say, it has always been much more grace filled than their Reformed/Calvinist brothers and sisters.

    1. Yes, I'll have to do that. But briefly, it stems from the homeschool movement and the founders, movers and shakers within that movement starting with Rushdoony who was a Reconstructionist. Key pillars in the homeschool movement are Reconstructionist or Dominionist - they are all staunch Calvinist and many hyper-Calvinists. I really have not seen any Arminians connected with the homeschool movement. I might have to research that a little more.

    2. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 7, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      In a nutshell, the "Reformed" (i.e. Calvinist) Christian circles are being taken over by "Truly Reformed" (i.e. Hyper-Calvinist) extremists. Wartburg Watch calls them "Calvinistas".

      And Truly Reformed Calvinistas are Control Freaks. Just like their beloved Calvin was in Geneva.

    3. The Five Solas of reformed theology have absolutely nothing to do with politics, so it is incorrect to link them to dominionism.

      Calvinistic thinking, carried to its natural conclusion, can be nothing but grace filled. If we are depraved worms that deserve perdition and yet were given would be portray a complete lack of apprehension of the magnitude of that mercy were we to be graceless to others.

    4. Julie Anne,

      There are anti-Calvinist (Arminian) home schoolers who have practiced not only courtship with their children, but actually "arranged a marriage" - two dads agreed on the potential for a relationship and then the young couple was allowed to proceed with the courtship.

      Bob Jones University has strict rules and "dating parlors" - a grad mentioned that Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. had said "No kissing, Over my dead body" or some similar quote. He told the story of how some students took that literally and met to kiss over the grave of Dr. Jones, Sr. - No way to know if this is a true story, but enough people seemed to know it.

      Make rules and some young people will create a "work-sround".

      I know of two families whose extreme control of their children created young people with washed-out, robotic personalities. They went to college (secular Ivy league for one family) and then came home to live with parents. The controlling parent is a father in one family, a mother in the other family. Both of these parents grew up in dysfunctional families where they lacked affection from a parent. One family is Reformed, the other is strongly opposed to and suspicious of any "Calvinism".

      "Whacked out", rigid and controlled parenting occurs primarily in Reformed home-schooling families.

    5. Oops! I meant to type - "Whacked out", rigid and controlled parenting occurs in Reformed and anti-Calvinist (anti-Reformed) families regardless of the type of schooling, but I agree it may be more prevalent in home school families.

    6. Sad, I am no expert on the subject of Calvinism. I know Calvinists who demonstrate grace in their life. However, I have not seen the same measure of grace by New Calvinists. I'm not sure why that is.

    7. Julie Anne,

      How do you define "Calvinist" versus "New Calvinist"?

      Not A Rebel,

      If you are referring to Protestant home-schooling cannot be "anti-reformed" and be a Protestant. Were it not for the Reformation, we would all be Roman Catholics. Were it not for Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc. being moved of the Holy Spirit to throw off the corruption of Rome...the only grace available to us would be filtered through the magisterium and coffers of the Vatican.

    8. Sad - Calvinists sometimes define themselves on a scale using the TULIP 5-pt. Some will call themselves a 3-pt Calvinist. A New Calvinist/Hyper Calvinist/Neo Calvinist is one that embraces TULIP and goes beyond that with a distinct focus on the sovereignty of God over salvation. I'm going to leave it at that because that is my understanding of the difference in which I can put real words on. Interestingly, I just went to several different sites to see what they said about this topic and the definitions were all over the place.

      Author Paul Dohse (and blogger, listed in my side bar) does most of his writing on this topic and told me months ago, he believes New Calivinism, Neo Calvinism, Hyper Calvinism are all the same thing.

      Since blogging and interacting with countless readers on spiritual abuse, I do see a pattern of abuse more likely in New Calvinist circles than Calvinist circles.

    9. In response to Sad:

      You're correct - "one cannot be "anti-reformed" and be a Protestant."

      The person I was referring to was raised Roman Catholic and has come to faith in Christ. However, this particular person has a very hard time accepting God's election and believes people "choose Him". Therefore, this person is opposed to TULIP or Calvinism. Many might call this person "Arminian", but there are varying degrees of spiritual growth and understanding.

      One thing I appreciate about being able to read Julie Anne's blog is that there are a wide range of Christians posting. And there are a wide range of views and grace and acceptance of people here in all stages of spiritual growth and understanding.

  10. On a somewhat related note, I saw a post in the Christianity subreddit forum from a 24 year old woman who married her boyfriend of 7 years. She is in panic because after years of abstinence and purity pounded into their heads, their sexual feelings for each other have been completely stamped out. They have not even celebrated the 1 year anniversary, but the marriage is almost sexless already.

    Never thought of that as an unintended consequence of the heavy handed approach to purity and modesty. How twisted is that?

    1. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 7, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      They may be able to salvage things by concentrating on the Companionship angle first. I have always longed for Companionship instead of orgasm, and orgasm is everywhere these days. (An upbringing as a sheltered-and-fast-tracked kid genius and bad experiences in high school and after has left me with a deep deep distrust or women.)

      I suspect the root of this "abstinence and purity pounded into their heads" is an extreme reaction to the eroticization of the surrounding culture.

    2. David: I haven't read that particular story, but have read similar stories. It does make sense when you are shutting down your God-given natural responses, you are going to have to retrain yourself to accept them as normal and good. That sure would complicate marriage and marriage is no easy task to begin with!

  11. As someone else pointed out, it has been my experience that the teaching on "kissing dating goodbye" and courtship has caused problems including singles not marrying that want to or as early as might have been appropriate.  One person wrote a blog entry titled along the lines of regretting kissing dating goodbye and he indicated that the KDG movement caused him to no learn social skills with women thus making it difficult for him to meet and marry.  Another person indicated in a comment on my blog that KDG gave men in their 20's an "excuse" for not pursuing relationships with women and just doing things with other single men.  

    My experience has been that wherever "kissing dating goodbye" and courtship is taught, singles are almost "afraid" of those of the opposite sex.  To put it another way singles learn how to avoid relating to those of the opposite sex vs. how to properly relate.  

    Isn't this vision group the same ones that had a video talking about "stay at home" daughters.  This would be where daughters over the age of 18 rather than going to college or get an outside job would stay at home and learn domestic skills till and in preparation for marriage?  

    "I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?"  

    1. Steve - Thanks for your comment. I think this "vision group" is not officially connected with the stay at home daughters. I assume you are talking about Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin? They are different families with the same patriarchal belief system. All of their blogs seem to look alike with - Victorian-looking women dressed in gowns, etc.

      Meanwhile, I'm wearing pants in my house as I type this! :)

  12. Julie

    Shame on you for wearing pants. ;-)

    You are correct about the stay at home daughters being associated with Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin.

  13. From experience I would totally agree that the movie is all about damage control. The church where I grew up all my life and only left a couple of years ago went down the path of 'no see, no touch' in terms of relationships between the sexes. There are now probably 70-80 people between the ages of 20-30,and there's been no relationships/marriages between anyone inside the church, and only one with someone from outside the church, and they left as soon as they got married I think in order to get out.

    For all of us guy It got to the stage where you didn't even acknowledge the existence of girls around you or make eye contact because of the ramifications that would follow. Small wonder that this problem is now really becoming a problem in the church...

    1. Jerome - Thanks for sharing your experience. That's a lot of singles in that age group. What a shame. When my husband and I were at our college group at church, quite a few paired up - in fact, I'd say at least half did. This was way before this courtship/I Kissed Dating Good-bye stuff. Are you in a new church now? So now that you've been out for a while, do you feel more freedom? Or do you still hear the old messages in our head? I know sometimes it takes a while to exchange those faulty messages with good teachings.

  14. Julie Anne - yes I'm attending another church which is far more 'lax' on the practical aspects of relationships between unmarried men/women.

    Mentally its very tough overcoming the habits that have been built up over many years - still got a long way to go before I find a balanced approach. At the moment I'm still very conservative as I don't want to swing from one extreme (no contact with members of the opposite sex) to the other (basically 'hitting' on all girls that I meet) as I've seen some guys do. Holding eye contact with girls of my age range is still very difficult, and yet at work I manage a couple of rough construction crews!

    An interesting aside is how it is much easier to talk to non-Christian girls than Christian girls. I'm still trying to figure that one out, whether that's typical, but with many of the guys in the former church I noticed it as well.

    Going back to the Unmarried Movie Trailer - I would have to say in part that this 'issue' is also due to in many churches there being few role models of the marriage process for young people to follow, which causes a paralysis in young people who do wish to get hitched because they have no idea what to do.

    1. Jerome - Thanks for the response. I'm glad you're in a place that seems more healthy as far as relationships between singles. I think you could be right about a lack of role models. Good point.

      I'm wondering if the difficulty in letting go of those rigid rules with Christian young ladies is because the subject is so clouded with rules and you'd really have to discuss this topic at length to figure out "where" she was on this issue. You have no clue when looking at a young lady if she is of the "no touch/no talk" camp or if she's from the "it's okay to talk and engage with someone of the opposite sex" camp. It must be so confusing for you. With non-Christians, they've never been exposed to this, so there are no rules. It absolutely makes sense that connecting with non-Christians would be easier, but that's not the best idea when considering the unequally yoked aspect, unfortunately.

      I'm going to throw this idea out because I have a hunch that you are not the only one struggling with this issue and maybe you or others may find this beneficial. One interesting tool I've learned along the way about conflict is that the actual conflict presents itself as a huge mountain. Sometimes it's easier to discuss about "why" the conflict is a conflict - tackling that mountain in smaller steps by talking about you and your feelings about the conflict rather than deal with the conflict directly.

      You can use this "conflict" to engage a young lady. For example - you may be trying to figure out where a particular girl stands as far as the unspoken rules. Instead of of not talking to her because of not knowing, bring the subject up. Yes, bring this subject up to her. Put it right smack on the table by saying something like: "this is a little weird for me because in my former church we were discouraged from having conversations with someone of the opposite sex, etc. I'm trying to work through that." yada yada Jerome, let me tell you, I cannot imagine a young lady turning away from that kind of honesty. This is like a magnet for young ladies. It will invite conversation. Try it and let me know how it works for ya :)


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