Like I’ve said elsewhere, this month’s issue of Christianity Today was really good. Just, a lot of insight and recognition.
I think the thing about CT that encourages me the most (did I just write about this? Can’t remember) is it reminds me that there are intelligent, reasonable Christians out there. A lot of times I get caught up in the public image of Christians, and that can be frustrating. Just, I start to feel like there are few thinking Christians or reasonable Christians. But when I read CT, I reminded that there are both, and that they are leaders. And that’s encouraging to me.
Anyway, this issue was on dating, and there’s one thing the article brought up that I thought was very true. The Protestant church just has a screwed up theology of singleness.
Maybe not in word (although this is also probably true), but definitely in deed. It doesn’t hold up to Scripture. If you look at what Paul says about marriage, he almost treats it as a concession. He says it’s better not to marry, like himself.
But in the modern Protestant church, that’s not what people think at all. They think you have to be married, that if you’re not married, you’re in some way incomplete or not whole. And there’s an idea that until you’re married, you’re not fully mature or that there are things, even about faith, that you can’t understand. Some churches require their pastors to be married. There’s just a tacit understanding that until you’re married, you’re both incomplete and not fully mature. Marriage brings about the maturity that nothing else can.
CT insightfully pointed this out in a review of some books out there on dating. Many of them, when they talk about marriage, say that it’s God’s solution to the problem of singleness. It’s taken as a given that singleness is a problem that needs to be solved. And there’s maybe some Biblical basis for that. But it doesn’t hold up to the whole of Scripture. Yet it’s taken for granted.
Anyway, in the Protestant church, singleness is for the most part seen as a problem. And no one really takes celibacy seriously as a calling. People don’t honestly really think about it until maybe they’ve reached 35 without getting married, at which point they consider whether they might have the gift. It kind of seems like it’s stumbled into.
It’s not like that in, for example, the Catholic church. When someone takes a vow of celibacy as a part of the priesthood, people don’t think they stumbled into it or whatever. It’s taken as being a serious calling. And rightly so.
But there’s no real equivalent in the Protestant church, it seems. I dunno, it’s just weird.
Anyway, yeah, CT was saying how the Protestant church has put so much of an emphasis on marriage and family that it’s nearly made an idol of it. Not everyone has to be married. But the Protestant church lacks a proper theology on singleness, and I think until it develops one, it’s views on dating will be a little screwed up.
Anyway, it’s a good article. Just to clarify, it’s not Josh Harris or whoever that I dislike. It’s the more conservative Korean churches that I’ve seen that have wholly unrealistic views on dating, whose sermons on dating spend more time looking at obliquely related Biblical passages than those that directly address marriage and singleness.
But yeah, read Christianity Today.
She is one of my own.