August 14, 2007

Shrinking Churches and Single People

The Boundless Line blog has a post on the supposed relationship between single people and shrinking churches. Among other things, the post noted:
Dr. Wilcox explains that even while family formation is central to the life of a church, many churches are instead trying to fill empty pews by compromising Biblical positions on family.
I tried to respond with the following comment:
If churches are shrinking, is it really the problem of unmarried people, or is it the problem of complacent congregants and church-leaders who couldn't look beyond their comfort zones and heed the message of Luke 4:15-24? The last time I checked the wording of the Great Commission, it didn't say anything about having babies.
However, the website rejected my comments and informed me that I am not allowed to post.

39 Comments:

Blogger Triton said...

I'm not surprised that they banned you, but I am disappointed. There's nothing vulgar or obscene about your comment; it simply disagrees with their agenda.

A friend of mine, Eaglewood, tried commenting at Debbie Maken's blog. Same story; his comment was reasonable enough, and certainly not vulgar or anything, yet Debbie didn't allow it. Or at least she hasn't yet, and her own most recent comment appeared after Eaglewood's attempt.

As to the issue of shrinking churches, that's easy - the more a church follows scripture, the more likely it is to not shrink. The Anglicans, for example, have pretty much thrown the Bible out with the bathwater, and they're hemorrhaging members as a result. There's no reason to go to church if it's just like the rest of the world.

There may be a correlation between singles and church memberships rolls, but it's a stretch to claim causation. There are plenty of valid reasons for both shrinking membership and prolonged singleness, and the reasons for one aren't necessarily the same as for the other.

8/14/07, 11:13 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

They haven't banned me, but they didn't post my latest comment (responding to Farmer Tom's 'excuses' post):

**
Except that there is quite a difference (in principal, approach – and effectiveness, I imagine) between an ”encouragement strategy” and the ”shame, blame & mandate strategy” insisted on by some.

Speaking for myself, I have no problem with people encouraging me to seek marriage – my friends and family do it quite often. I do, however, have a problem with strident, self-righteous people who, 1) shift the entire blame to one gender for all these problems (something I doubt would change for such people after vows are exchanged), 2) insist that their gender is, en masse, essentially ‘innocent victims’ in this drama, 3) are obstinately ‘deaf’ to the genuine concerns expressed by those they seek to persuade (see point 1), and 4) have, as their chief strategy, heaping contempt and scorn on those the same. These same people then demonstrate how utterly clueless they are when they wonder why….WHY...those they target with such a message don’t respond positively. You know – reaping, sowing and all that…

I realize that Boundless, per se, may not to hold such views, but the website has featured the musings of one such person.
***

Perhaps it was a bit blunt, but I don't think it was out of line.

Triton:
I long ago learned that posting at Maken's site is a crap-shoot. Better just to post here (or somewhere similar). Since most involved in this discussion likely surf the same ciruit of sites (more or less), posting here will 'get the word out'.

As to the issue of shrinking churches, that's easy - the more a church follows scripture, the more likely it is to not shrink.

That's the crux of it. Those churches that stick to the bible (the hated 'fundamentalists') are growing in membership, others are withering and dying.


An anonymous poster (5:22 pm) at Maken's site (I suspect the female your 'shrillness' post addresses) recently had this to say:

Debbie, please stop publishing Farmer Tom's comments. He is, in my opinion, nothing but an Internet troll and is not contributing anything constructive to the discussion...

Farmer Tom is hardly a troll. In fact, he largley agrees with Maken on 'getting singles married'. Farmer Tom offense appears to be that he dares to suggest that women have a share of the blame for the current 'marriage crisis' (to the extent that it exists). He rejects Maken's facile dismissal of the negative impact of feminism and urges women to tackle their own issues in addition to requesting the same of men. This is, I guess, beyond the pale.

I almost wonder how such a woman would deal with her husband when she disagrees with him. To whom would she turn to 'shut him up'?

Regarding Maken re: feminism, the commentor says:

By the way, I am looking forward to reading your response to his comments [regarding feminsim, I presume - wom].

You're not the only one, dear. This is going to make for some entertaining reading. People this eager to deny the obvious inevitibly have to twist themselves into pretzles to make their case.

8/15/07, 4:04 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

May I get really, really honest here? I think I am going to. Here is what the article stated (in part):

"think one of the most counterintuitive "theological innovations" churches have made along these lines over the past couple of decades has been to shift their energies from helping young adults marry well to just helping them find fulfillment in their singleness. While this shift may have helped some single women feel a little less anxious about not experiencing marriage yet, it has had the adverse effect of allowing men to persist in pseudo-relationships and not take initiative towards marriage."

I honestly don't see this playing out in real life. I know very few single Christian men. That is mainly true at church. As for single women, the same is true. Most of the single women in my church are older (widows, etc). I don't see Christian men backing away from marriage. In fact I think the very opposite is true. The "problem", if this is really a problem, is that they maybe finding spouses at Christian schools, social events, or even other churches. What does that mean? The single Christian women are going to have to look outside of their own local church for a spouse. The Christian men are out there, as are the Christian women, it is just a matter of understanding out our society has changed. Our society is no longer based on small communities (etc). Our society is mobile, people move and change often, and that affects every area of life.

As for churches, well, my church is growing. Other Bible teaching churches that I know of are growing. The only churches that don't seem to be growing are those that don't preach the Bible or those that have no outreach ministry. Pushing marriage on people is not going to grow the church. The only thing that grows the local church is evangelism and discipleship. Personally I would not advise anyone to date/marry a professed "Christian" who refuses to become an active part of a local church. Notice I used the term "professed".

Maybe these folks experiences are based on "mega-churches" that use all sorts of things to attract people other than the Gospel? Maybe the problem with the "men" in the church is that they are friends of the world (enemies of God)? The same can probably be said about many of their women. When you draw people to your church with worldly entertainments you should expect worldly people to respond.

Martin.

8/15/07, 5:19 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Martin:
My own experience mirrors yours. I attend a small church and I would be lucky if there are more than 2 single, eligible women my age. If I were to seek marriage, I would probably have to look elsewhere.

Lately, just out of curiosity, when I'm shopping at this or that store or otherwise out in public, I've been making a point of paying attention to how many women are married.

I've noticed that most of the women in my age bracket (34) sport wedding rings. I also see a fair number of women walking around holding hands with their boyfriends I'm sure a substantial percentage of the rest have boyfriends who simply aren't with them at the time.

Admittedly, this 'survey' is very informal, but it seems to me that most people are married or on their way.

8/15/07, 6:26 AM  
Anonymous knightwatch said...

While I do agree that the institution of marriage is not what it used to be, I don't see the men shrinkage problem in church.

As far as the Boundless article, it is disingenuous and narrow-minded that "focus-on-the-family" types do not take a more objective/ wider view to their subject by inquiring why the church has failed in its responsibility to reach out to the lost, as well as, discouraging the growing tide of illegal divorces and remarriages among the Christian people themselves.

It's unfortunate today that many Christians who do get married, don't "stay" married. Thus, what is accomplished? One thing I did notice after reading a few of the comments in Boundless is their unceasing, untiring jab at the narcissistic single man (this assumes that everyone single = hedonism). They seem to not realize that if one is selfish as a single person, getting married is not necessarily going to change that person. This so-called hedonistic single that many folks complain that there are too many of, continues right into marriage, and soon after the wedding vows, both the man and wife become the hedonistic couple.

8/15/07, 6:40 AM  
Anonymous someone said...

"They seem to not realize that if one is selfish as a single person, getting married is not necessarily going to change that person. This so-called hedonistic single that many folks complain that there are too many of, continues right into marriage, and soon after the wedding vows, both the man and wife become the hedonistic couple."

Knightwatch,

I am in essential agreement with this. There seems to be some kind of assumption that marriage is a cure for all kinds of problems, be it narcissism or disordered sexual desire, etc., when of course the reality is that these things are carried into marriage and must still be worked out and brought into submission to Christ within that context. Of course, this suggests that these issues do not depend on marriage to be worked out and that therefore, singleness or marriage is not the primary issue. The primary issue is rather or not people are participating in the mission of Christ in authentic Christian community which allows them to be shaped into God's purposes for their lives. If people in our churches aren't interested in living the mission of Christ then we have far bigger problems than rather or not they are married or single. I've seen this reality manifested in the lives of married people who aren't really interested in living into the mission of Christ.

8/15/07, 7:49 AM  
Anonymous mj said...

Here an interesting comment I saw, I don't who it is but she/he has a point:

There's nothing wrong with family formation and pursuing Jesus your priority. However, I see what you are saying what you saying about singleness. But, there's a way help singles without all this schizohpenic. Here's what I mean. Singles are being asked by people they know at church with statements like "Are you marrried yet?" or "How come you are not finding a spouse?" or "Are your priorities out of order?". Later quite sometime, the singles get pestered by the same thing for a while. Yet, as soon as those same singles express their desire for pursuiting marriage to those some pestering busybodies, they received things like "Wait for the Lord" or "God has gifted you to be single" or "There's hardly any trials and problems in the single life." and just left you alone life as if the whole relationship dilenma is somehthing you have to do all by youself. Does anyone find this rather wrong and cold? I found it to be bad and pathetic :S

It is actually a good point. Another commenter added on to this one with:
I have a kind of side note to what xeres said in her previous post. I agree with her post and I think there's a huge difference between encouraging someone and expecting something out of them. The strange paradox xeres brought up is one where older people expect us to get married, but offer no encouragement to that end. It could be that a lot of churches function the same way, in that they look down upon singles without providing any help or encouragement. And when I say 'encouragement' I don't mean encouragement to stay where they are; I mean encouragement and assistance towards getting people well-married. Very few churches I know of actually practice this, although the expectations are there. People, and churches too, should make sure their encouragement and expectations align.

My hunch is that the older people (our grandparents' generation and our parents', to some extent) are projecting the expectations of their day onto the people my age (mid-20s). Back in the day, young people were not so much encouraged to marry as expected to. Now times have changed and folks aren't expected to marry, especially as young as our grandparents' generation did. So they need to realize that an out-of-the-norm desperately needs to be actively encouraged if it is to be at all expected.

I'm not placing any kind of blame on the older generation, but for the most part they are lacking in their responsibility to lead and shepherd my generation (part of the reason being that we don't want anything to do with them, but that's another discussion).

Just my $.02.

8/15/07, 8:38 AM  
Anonymous singlechristianman said...

I have commented at http://singlechristian.wordpress.com/2007/08/15/hits-me-where-i-live/ on this posting. I am just aghast the more closely I examine what "official" Protestendom is saying. Does anyone know what the Catholics are saying and doing? The Orthodox?

8/15/07, 9:18 AM  
Blogger Ted Slater said...

Anakin -- we strive for a conversation on our blog that is productive and cordial. We oftentimes publish comments that disagree with the original post.

The thing is, your comments have consistently been contentious, often misrepresenting us. While the comment you mention here is innocuous, other comments have been unacceptable. Such distracting and unhelpful communication is not welcome on The Line.

Thank you for understanding.

8/15/07, 9:42 AM  
Anonymous tmd said...

Ted:

I've read other comments that have been published on The Line which are quite contentious, and usually written by the same few folks. Why pick on Anakin; because he is pointing out illogical arguments, poor scriptural exegesis, etc? We can understand each other all we want. But understanding must coincide with truth.

Martin: Well said!

I am curious to know what types of denominations marriage mandators et al are pointing to when they decry decreasing church membership. Is it mainline Protestantism or churches who compromis...those that accept gay priests/pastors, etc? Personally, I've only seen churches grow, and as Martin pointed out, it is those churches who take Scripture as it is written.

I find it pretty funny that people out there have the gall to suggest that Christianity should be in procreative competition with other major religions to increase our "ranks". If that's the case, we might as well hand in our condoms and bow to the Pope.

8/15/07, 2:09 PM  
Anonymous young believer said...

singlechristianman said...
"... Does anyone know what the Catholics are saying and doing? The Orthodox? ..."

It seems not to even be on the radar of The Eastern Orthodox Christian Church.

This site has some things to say about men, women, and marriage, but not much men vs. women, single vs. married controversy.

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7101.asp

Peace,
yb

8/15/07, 2:32 PM  
Anonymous mj said...

tmd,

Most GoS supporters and Marriage Mandate supporters are in line with the Reformed theology. Debbie Maken (she is Presbyterian) and Carolyn McCulley (She is an all time supporter for Sovereign Grace Ministries; she litterally works for them) are from the same theological vein. Does that answer your question?

8/15/07, 2:39 PM  
Blogger Ted Slater said...

TMD -- Yes, we publish a lot of disagreeable and contentious comments. The thing is, these people have shown in other instances that they are interested in furthering a discussion, in having an honest debate.

In Anakin's case, I haven't seen that. I've only seen him bent on misrepresenting Boundless and facilitating contention.

8/15/07, 2:40 PM  
Anonymous NeedACatchyName said...

A while back, I stumbled upon a post on this environmentalist blog somewhere on the internet concerning global warming. Anyway, the poster in question was basically arguing that it has already been scientifically concluded that global warming is occurring and was at least partially caused by humans, and therefore there was no reason to debate this point any longer. He announced that as a result, he would no longer allow comments to be posted questioning the existence of man-caused global warming (and called on other bloggers to do likewise), since he felt that such debate on an already-proven idea only cluttered-up the conversation which instead needed to focused on solutions to this already "proven" problem.

So anyway, Maken and the folks on Boundless (mostly the commenters but increasingly the editors) are really starting to become like this environmentalist. They feel that they've already proven that there is a Biblical call to most everyone to get married at a young age, and that the hindrances to achieving this goal are mostly (if not entirely) caused by males. They, like the environmentalist, find their own arguments quite convincing, and are getting annoyed at having to keep explain to folks like us the merits of their arguments, instead of moving on to discussing "solutions" to their perceived "problems."

Incidentally, this is my first comment on this blog, but I've been a longtime reader and would like to congratulate Anakin on creating such a thought-provoking blog.

8/15/07, 3:24 PM  
Anonymous tmd said...

Ted: I've read all of Anakin's writing. Unless I have a big sign on my forehead labeling me Stupid, I haven't read his comments as distasteful. But even if he has been contentious every now and then (and of being contentious, we are all guilty), how does that differ from others who comment on your site?

Bent on misrepresenting Boundless? I think you and the rest of the staff should be more concerned with Captain Sensible. The remarks on that sight oftentimes cross the line into utter contempt for your fellow staffers. [And of that, I am truly sorry.]

I completely agree with you - censor comments that are completely out of line. But in general, Anakin is simply questioning erroneous logic.

MJ: Thanks for answering my question! I like to visit various churches now and then to see what/how the larger body of Christ is doing. And from my upbringing, I'd like to say I have a pretty good perspective on the different flavors of the faith. The church I presently attend is within the Reformed vein. While I don't agree with their views on one or two theological interpretations of grace, they are very kind to both the singles and marrieds within the congregation. In other words, none of this marriage-is-a-must for everyone nonsense. And, to top it off, the church is growing!

8/15/07, 3:33 PM  
Anonymous mj said...

Tmd,

You are welcome. Glad to help. There are many good Reformed folks that don't buy into the either GoS/GoC or Marriage Mandate bologna. I know several. However, it is true that majority of either camps are from that theological vein. I'm a Wesleyan and I hardly know anyone from my denomination or from the other church sisters of John Wesley's theological family who knows about the GoS/GoC or Marriage Mandate bologna. I doubt Catholics and Eastern Orthodox folks having any idea it either

8/15/07, 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting but disturbing that Boundless banned Anakin from commenting at their site on account of his "contentious" comments and alleged misrepresentations.

About a year ago a married poster using the handle "lpt," who uses Ted Slater's photo as an avatar, started a thread at the Crosswalk.com singles forum entitled, "Singleness is a Sin."

In the original post, "lpt" asked the following question:

Who says that singleness is a sin (please don't reference Al Mohler or Debbie Maken, since they specifically say singleness is not a sin)?

Several posts later, someone posted the following quote from Candice Watters' Boundless review of Debbie Maken's book:

Why is this book necessary? Because a generation of singles are at risk of believing they've all been given the "gift of singleness" quite apart from the biblical conditions for celibacy; because a generation of singles are stuffing their discontent and starting to believe that it's their discontent, and not their protracted singleness, that is their sin; because a generation of Christian singles are at risk of never marrying and having children, thwarting God's desire for a godly seed (Malachi 2:15).

Rather than admitting defeat, "lpt" replied thusly:

Do you see any difference between "protracted singleness" and mere "singleness"? I do, both in possible motivation and in state. If someone's called to marriage, and are intentionally protracting their singleness because of fear or selfishness or some other reason, I'd have to say that their behavior is sinful. If, however, someone is either called to a life of single service, or is just having a hard time finding "the one," then I don't see anything necessarily sinful in that.

Do I sense a budding politician in the making? He's clearly gifted in the art of obfuscation.

The discussion which followed could most charitably be described as contentious, with most of the commenters disagreeing sharply with the OP. Eventually, "lpt" backed out of the discussion like a puppy with his tail between his legs.

Anakin, don't feel bad that you've been banned from Boundless. Obviously they're not interested in as free and open a discussion on the issues as they claim. In fact, Candice Watters' husband Steve posted an entry on the Boundless blog today sharply criticizing a commenter whose viewpoint dissented from the Boundless party line.

8/15/07, 4:42 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Ted Slater said...
I've only seen him bent on misrepresenting Boundless and facilitating contention.

==You mean kinda of like you marriage mandate folks do with Scripture and history? Remember when you point a finger at someone you always have three pointing back at yourself. :)

I wish I had the time to launch a website devoted to debunking/refuting the Theological and Historical errors of the marriage mandate crowd. However I have too many responsibilities to spend my time doing that.

O, well...

Martin.

8/15/07, 7:21 PM  
Blogger Triton said...

Ted, I'd be interested in seeing some of those comments from Anakin that were so awful. If you could provide some links, or even quote them here, I would appreciate it.

I would also like to know how Boundless has been misrepresented. Thanks.

8/15/07, 7:33 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

In my previous post I mentioned some of that the marriage mandate folks promote several theological and historical errors. The following is a great example of that. Not only does it contain theological error it also makes several untrue assumptions.

Why is this book necessary? Because a generation of singles are at risk of believing they've all been given the "gift of singleness"

==The claim that all Christian singles believe they have the gift of singleness is easily refuted. I have met very few Christians singles (male/female) who wanted to stay single or thought they had/have the gift of singleness. Most of the singles I know, who are around my age, desire marriage. Here I am talking about Christian singles I meet at work or around since there are very few (to none) at my church. Anyway, I am pretty sure that the assumption made by the writer of that statement is overblown.


quite apart from the biblical conditions for celibacy

==I am fairly certain that this person would try to understand Matthew 19:10-12 in a very selective way and would also probably try to explain away 1Corinthians 7. Why? Because parts of Matthew 19:10-12 don't fit the marriage mandate agenda and 1Corithians 7 just blows the marriage mandate arguments out of the water.

What do I base this on? My reading of other marriage mandators.

because a generation of singles are stuffing their discontent

==Singles are discontent? I am 32, single, and I am not discontent. I follow the Lord, I have a life, and I have no reason to be discontent. Christian singles I know who are discontent are discontent because they are not yet married. I think the above writer has the whole thing wrong.

starting to believe that it's their discontent, and not their protracted singleness, that is their sin

==Where in Scripture does it say that "protracted singleness" is a sin? I can answer that question: NO WHERE! The author is adding to Scripture (Pr 30:6).

Also, what is "protracted singleness"? At what age does Scripture say a person must be married by? Again I can answer my own question(s). Scripture does not give an age by which a person must be married and it does not mandate marriage. Certainly Scripture assumes that most people will get married. Scripture is also realistic about the fact that most people need marriage (for more than one reason). However Scripture does not condemn waiting to marry or never marrying (as long as the person is not violating God's moral standards).

because a generation of Christian singles are at risk of never marrying and having children, thwarting God's desire for a godly seed (Malachi 2:15).

==First God's purposes are never "thwarted" by mortal man (Is 46:10-11). Secondly Malachi 2:15 is talking to people who are already married. That verse has nothing to do with this issue. The writer of the above statement is twisting Scripture, adding to Scripture, and denying the Sovereign nature of God. Why? To support their doctrine of marriage mandate.

Sad, very sad.

Martin.

8/15/07, 7:41 PM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...

Hi Ted,

I understand from your comments here and on Single Christian Man's blog that I have, in fact, been banned from Boundless. Let me reiterate what I have said in the comments section of a previous post: that if I have misrepresented anyone, that it was not intentional.

As for being contentious, I am puzzled by the charge. I note that on Single Christian Man's blog you said that Boundless draws "the line at boorishness." If that be the case, I wonder why I find myself at the head of the line outside the principle's office. Throughout my writings here and on Boundless, I have endeavored to:

1. Forgo personal attacks, profane speech, slander, and the "such like".

2. Refrain from being rude and being heavy-handed with those with which I was in dialog.

3. Try to make substantive points that expressed real concerns (as opposed to just being an agent provocateur or troll).

I suppose that I have not always been successful, but I believe my track record shows a good faith effort.

To your credit, Ted, I have noted that you have not allowed Boundless to devolve completely into an echo chamber, which is commendable. I suppose that drives folks like "Captain Sensible" bonkers, but that is his/her loss. Just the same, my banning strikes me as bit odd when more strident commentators (even those that would ostensibly agree with me) have been allowed to post on Boundless Line.

The only problem I can see is that I sharply disagree with several things written on Boundless. I find that some things written are "beyond the a pale," just not plausible, and not particularly helpful to single believers. So yes, I am going to draw attention to that. I am sorry if I come off like Micaiah in that respect, but I welcome feedback and valid correction from those who disagree with me.

I am not the only one that has engaged in ongoing criticism. Adam (aka Puritan Calvinist) has been pretty vigilant himself. Has he been banned for being a contentious fellow?

You can do what you want. I respect your prerogative as a Boundless staff editor, and I wouldn't say you are acting in bad faith. Frankly, as for my being able to post on Boundless, I am not sure it is really any skin off my back. I have a readership here, as it is.

You are certainly welcome to continue posting here. If you want to discontinue any interaction with me, you are still welcome to respond to other posters. I recommend that you at least read what others are saying, if to only strengthen the arguments of what you believe.

Take care.

8/15/07, 8:55 PM  
Anonymous mj said...

If you don't like something that has been written, don't read it. It is that simple. It seems that Boundless had officially became enemies of all of you guys (your point of view) as well as Captain Sensible (her/his point of view as well).

8/15/07, 8:59 PM  
Anonymous someone said...

"Secondly Malachi 2:15 is talking to people who are already married."

Martin,

Actually, I would go further than this. I would say that Malachi is speaking to the Israelites and is leveling charges against them pertaining to their unfaithfulness to the covenant God made with them. The passage around 2:15 particularly addresses marital unfaithfulness, specifically how the Israelites had abandoned their own wives/women for those of the pagan idol worhsipping nations around Israel, something God had expressly forbidden. This is where the passage concerning "godly offspring" comes from. It refers to children born by two Israelite parents as opposed those born of these mixed marriages to pagan parents.

To wrench this verse completely from its historical context and simply to quote it as if it where some kind of universal, timeless law the way marriage mandate supporters do is to engage in the worst kind of proof-texting and abusive misapplication of scripture imaginable.

8/16/07, 5:37 AM  
Blogger Ted Slater said...

Anakin,

Over the course of the past year, we've banned 41 people from The Line, for a variety of reasons. I "unbanned" one guy after he apologized for commenting that Satan is happy to welcome Jerry Falwell into hell. This morning I "unbanned" two others.

I don't have much patience for people who hide behind pseudonyms, who use false e-mail addresses, who never affirm truths on Boundless but only engage in fault-finding. It's especially maddening when the "faults" that are found are based on either unintentional misunderstandings or intentional misrepresentation.

I believe I've contributed to some of the misunderstandings by not defining such terms as "authority," "dating," and such. See the discussion here -- http://singlechristian.wordpress.com/2007/08/15/retraction/ -- to see how such misunderstandings can be identified and lead to productive conversation.

I believe some of the misunderstandings, though, are not my fault, but based on a predisposition against Boundless, a writing us off as legalistic "marriage mandaters" who hide behind terms such as "biblical" while ourselves being biblically illiterate. It's this arrogance, coupled with an accusatory (rather than dialogical) tone that tempts me to press the "ban" button.

Though I continue to disfavor your hiding behind the mask of a pen name, and am not entirely convinced that you are committed to not misrepresenting us, I've gone ahead and "unbanned" you from Boundless. I look forward to reading your comments on our latest post.

8/16/07, 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look Ted,

Don't be such an ignorant slut!

The only people who truly understand the Bible are Anakin, Kostenberger and Adam the Puritan.

Don't you know they speak Greek (or are Greeks, I forget)

8/16/07, 10:15 AM  
Blogger Ted Slater said...

Martin -- behind your sarcasm and barbs are some valid points.

Here's something to consider: We're attacked by both those who mandate timely marriage (e.g., "Captain Sensible") and those who think timely marriage is irrelevant (e.g., Anakin, Adam). Why? Because our message is between these two extremes, at times subtly so. And that can lead to misunderstandings about what we're saying, and can be maddening for those on either side of the spectrum.

Even within the Boundless team there are some slight differences of opinion. Among our authors there are some slight differences of opinion. And that's fine, as long as it generates healthy godward dialog and spurs each of us on to love and good works.

Let me just address one point, as I've got a lot of work on my plate (contracts, next week's articles, site redesign issues, our publishing system's "issues," meetings, and so on).

Last night it came to me that in many cases (not all, of course) "extended singleness" is a symptom of a problem, and in many cases provides a context that facilitates sin. I need to reiterate here that singleness is NOT a sin, though it can be a symptom of it and can facilitate it. The problems that result in extended singleness may be fear, or indecisiveness, or selfishness, or apathy. And these work themselves out in some people's lives as extended singleness.

And as I said, this season of extended singleness *can*, for some people, facilitate sinful behaviors such as defrauding of members of the opposite sex, pornography use and masturbation, excessive media and gaming use, poor stewardship of our resources and time, and so on.

There are exceptions. Some who are called to marry will not see that call come to fruition for years. The Lord may have other callings on their lives that postpone a calling to marry: a calling to serve overseas for some years, a calling to prepare intensively for a particular vocation/career, a calling to focus on a job or ministry opportunity.

But many are *not* the exception. And it's these men and women that we're trying to encourage. If God has called them to something (missionary work, the health care profession, marriage, parenting, life-long celibacy, etc.), then we are eager to support that calling. We want to help equip and motivate them to carry out the Lord's calling in the Lord's timing. Some may benefit from just a bit of information. Others (as was my case) need brotherly correction. If you're the former, then disregard our brotherly correction. If you're the latter, consider accepting the correction as from a brother in the Lord.

Does this help explain some of our messages and the way we sometimes communicate them? Can you offer suggestions on how we might better walk out the Lord's calling for Boundless to encourage Christian singles to live intentional, rich, godly, meaningful lives?

8/16/07, 10:28 AM  
Anonymous someone said...

"Don't be such an ignorant slut!

The only people who truly understand the Bible are Anakin, Kostenberger and Adam the Puritan."

Anonymous,

For you to publish the above remarks after all the back and forth that has just gone on concerning misrepresentation, contentiousness, and the like, really shows how much you just don't get it. Give it a break.

8/16/07, 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO you give it a break!

8/16/07, 10:35 AM  
Anonymous someone said...

OK. No problem.

8/16/07, 10:37 AM  
Blogger Ted Slater said...

Anakin -- please consider deleting any comments from "anonymous." They're detracting from our conversation.

You may even consider banning him, as he's clearly a disrupter.

8/16/07, 10:40 AM  
Anonymous egghead said...

singlechristianman said:
Does anyone know what the Catholics are saying and doing?

There isn't anybody pushing a "marriage mandate" theology in the Catholic Church. To the contrary, the single life is said to be - along with marriage, religious life, and the clerical state - a vocation from God. However, the literature on the subject is, to say the least, sparse. So much for what the Catholics are "saying."

As for what the Catholic Church is "doing" - well, I'd have to say it's treating Single people with a sort of "benign neglect." Except for some singles groups that act more as social clubs and meat markets, there isn't any sort of ministerial outreach specifically toward single people.

Just my $.02

8/16/07, 11:33 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

Ted Slater said...
behind your sarcasm and barbs are some valid points.

==I wish it were only sarcasm and barbs. Sadly it is neither. It is 100% serious. I honestly believe that the marriage mandate crowd (Maken, etc) are adding to Scripture, twisting Scripture, and putting ungodly guilt on people who don’t deserve it. I also believe that those who promote this doctrine, while they maybe saved, will have to answer for their false teaching before the judgment bar of God.

Last night it came to me that in many cases (not all, of course) "extended singleness" is a symptom of a problem, and in many cases provides a context that facilitates sin. I need to reiterate here that singleness is NOT a sin, though it can be a symptom of it and can facilitate it. The problems that result in extended singleness may be fear, or indecisiveness, or selfishness, or apathy. And these work themselves out in some people's lives as extended singleness.

==I am not going to take issue with any of that. Certainly there are people who are “extended singles” (however you define that) because they have some sort of problem. My advice to/for them is to get help (spiritual, medical, whatever). However I would be quick to point out that marriage is not a cure all for those problems/sins. I believe most people should certainly get married. However I believe it is very wrong of people like Maken (etc) to attempt to put guilt trips on those who are not married. People, and here I am only talking about Christians (followers of Christ), remain single for different reasons. Sometimes it just never happens for them (no matter how hard they try). Other times they prefer to stay single for health reasons, job reasons, religious reasons, and others remain single because they just don’t want to get married and have children. There is nothing sinful/wrong about any of those choices (as long as the person is a Christian and is not disobeying the moral standards of God).

And as I said, this season of extended singleness *can*, for some people, facilitate sinful behaviors such as defrauding of members of the opposite sex, pornography use and masturbation, excessive media and gaming use, poor stewardship of our resources and time, and so on.

==Before I was a Christian, during my college years, I worked in a video store that rented x-rated movies. You want to know who the number one customer of those type films were? Besides men and besides soldiers? The number one customer was married men. If a person has a lust problem, which is a heart problem, marriage will not cure that. The only thing that can cure a lust problem is the new birth. The only thing that can cure the lust problem is walking in the Spirit. There may also be a need for counseling and accountability. Having said that, however, I would also point to what Paul said in 1Cor 7:9. If a person knows they will have a difficult time controlling themselves then they should seek out marriage. This, in fact, I believe is the situation of the vast majority of people. However that is still no guarantee that marriage will be in their future. That is why they must learn to walk closely with the Lord so He can help them overcome any temptation(s) that may enter their lives.

But many are *not* the exception. And it's these men and women that we're trying to encourage. If God has called them to something (missionary work, the health care profession, marriage, parenting, life-long celibacy, etc.), then we are eager to support that calling.

==Ok, and this is going to be direct, if that is the case why did boundless post an article by Debbie Maken? Maken is a woman who is dedicated to promoting the false doctrine of marriage mandate. Maybe you did not make the decision to post her article but someone at boundless did.

Does this help explain some of our messages and the way we sometimes communicate them? Can you offer suggestions on how we might better walk out the Lord's calling for Boundless to encourage Christian singles to live intentional, rich, godly, meaningful lives?

==Yes. Encourage them to seek after the Lord first and everybody and thing second. Get rid of false teachers like Debbie Maken. Erase her article from your website. Show, by your actions, that you realize her position is extreme and unbiblical.

Martin.

8/16/07, 4:02 PM  
Blogger Songbird said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/16/07, 4:34 PM  
Blogger Songbird said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/16/07, 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Ted Slater said...

songbird -- where have Jenny Schreodel,"Professor Theophilus" and Roberto Rivera y Carlo written something you'd consider heretical? I'm happy to evaluate those.

8/16/07, 5:09 PM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...

Hi Ted,

I wanted to response to some of your latest points to me.

On my pen name you wrote:

I don't have much patience for people who hide behind pseudonyms, who use false e-mail addresses, who never affirm truths on Boundless but only engage in fault-finding. It's especially maddening when the "faults" that are found are based on either unintentional misunderstandings or intentional misrepresentation.

The e-mail I have used on Boundless is a real one and unless I have mistyped it, I should get a note from anyone who writes to me (albeit I don't check that account very often). As for my assumed name, let me point out that 1) It is clear that it is not a real name (I chose not to be deceitful and come up with a real-sounding name); 2) I have used it consistently and have pointed back to a real e-mail address and real blog (unlike anonymous trolls that engage in drive-by posting). Why do I use an assumed name? Like you, I work for an organization run by fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. Unlike you, I don't get institutional support to write on matters like the one my blog addresses. Although I do my blogging on my own personal time and although I believe the president of my institution could probably care less one way or the other about my views on marriage/singleness, I still represent my institution in a de facto sense. Therefore, like the posters who comment on the Boundless blog, I state my views as a private citizen. I see other bloggers in the evangelical blogosphere who are inclined to do as I do when they receive no institutional support. That includes Single Christian Man and Puritan Calvinist on one hand, and the several female bloggers that extol Mrs. Maken's book on the other hand. They write as individuals and not as public figures, per se.

On my position you wrote:

Here's something to consider: We're attacked by both those who mandate timely marriage (e.g., "Captain Sensible") and those who think timely marriage is irrelevant (e.g., Anakin, Adam). Why? Because our message is between these two extremes, at times subtly so. And that can lead to misunderstandings about what we're saying, and can be maddening for those on either side of the spectrum.

I do not think marriage is irrelevant (and I doubt Adam does either). I do think it is unnecessary. By way of analogy, consider our standing vis-a-vis God: Man is unnecessary to God, but he is not irrelevant to God. God loves us and wants us, but he doesn't need us. Basically, I would have to say that no man alive today needs marriage. Like the Sabbath, marriage was created for man, not man for marriage. In the proper context, marriage can be a great source of blessings (the key is that the proper context must be there).

Marriage Mandate proponents do indeed allow some to be single (Debbie Maken comes to mind) but they affirm that most must get married. Perhaps the crucial difference between you and Mrs. Maken is that while you do not view willful singleness as a sin, per se, you do think it is often caused by sin (You may correct me if I am mistaken on this.). If that be the case, then fair enough. Realize, however, that taking care of the underlying sin may result in the person still not getting married. There are myriad reasons why people are not married or choose not to marry (such as what Martin mentioned). I would add to the list the wariness men feel about how they are treated by women and society (e.g., the "marriage strike").

You write:

Anakin -- please consider deleting any comments from "anonymous." They're detracting from our conversation.You may even consider banning him, as he's clearly a disrupter.

I apologize for some of the distracting posts here. Up to this point, I have had an unmoderated post policy with only spam control in place. With Blogger, the moderation option requires me to go into my account and process each post (not something I can immediately do on my work/church/etc. schedule). I typically save the delete option for the beyond-the-pale posts that contain profanity, etc. For now, I am leaning toward the benefit of timely posting and lively discussion without me needing to be present all the time. I may change my mind later, however.

Anyway, take care.

8/17/07, 1:45 PM  
Blogger farmer Tom said...

anakin said,

Basically, I would have to say that no man alive today needs marriage.


Are you serious?


Your kidding right?


Do your father and mother know that you hate them? After all if your father is married, it must be that he's some kind of freak or something because, Basically, I would have to say that no man alive today needs marriage.
Your father must be in serious need of prayer, or has some sin issue to deal with if he doesn't meet this standard you have established.

Read what you said again man,

Basically, I would have to say that no man alive today needs marriage.

Have a nice life dude. And when you get to heaven, make sure you explain to the Creator God, how badly he screwed up the human race by instituting marriage for Adam and his decedents.

8/17/07, 8:05 PM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...

Famer Tom asks:

Your kidding right?

No, I'm not. And neither is the Bible (1 Cor. 7:29-38)

8/17/07, 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Proverb:21:19: It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.

Many women are angry and contentious nowadays, within the church and without the church. No thanks to feminism.

And don't even get me started on divorce laws and how men get legally RAPED in the process. Don't get me started on how many sexless marriages there are today (wife's and husband's bodies belong to each other... sounds familiar?) just because wife wants to ration out sex to manipulate the husband. What then, becomes of the purpose of marriage to satisfy sexual needs (better to marry than to burn)? Nowadays a husband can be accused of RAPING his WIFE on the marriage bed... goodbye conjugal rights, goodbye 'undefiled marriage bed'.

Still want to marry? The Bible talks of the endtimes, two signs of the apostasy 1) Forbidding to marry and 2) the abstaining of meats. I'm pretty sure we are all seeing #1 in action now.

apostasynow.com/tgd/2signs.html

(1 Tim 4:1-5)
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith; giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils;
2. Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3. Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5. For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Note that 'forbidding to marry' is not a disapproval of marriage, or enforced celibacy in eg. Catholic clergy. It comes from 'the doctrine of devils'. Feminism is one key aspect of it. It's of course good to find a good woman and marry, seek companionship and procreate, but it's not worth the risk nowadays.

Single ones - stay single. Married ones - stay married. Apostle Paul spoke wise words. That's all.

8/20/07, 7:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home