Honestly, Why Do We Need Posts Like This? Argh!

I have blogged about this issue before (ahem, several times), but the firestorm of comments on a couple of Kevin DeYoung’s posts (darn that guy, always writing stuff I wish I’d written) makes me think it’s time to revisit.

Look, people. There is nothing inherently wrong with or less mature about being unmarried. Paul? Pretty darn mature guy. Jesus? Him too. Also: Marriage isn’t the silver bullet to make you grow up, and it’s not a superior status. Also: Don’t give advice to people you just met. Also: Don’t try to fix people and certainly don’t try to “fix” them with pithy axioms. Also: Don’t be a jerk. Also: The golden rule, you guys. Nine tenths of the hurtful, ridiculous stuff that gets said to single folks could be eliminated if people just remembered their basic kindergarten manners.

That stern intro aside, here are some Dos and Don’ts, bullet-point style:

DO pray for your unmarried friends. DON’T just pray for them to get married. (At a loss? Start with “Christlikeness” and go from there.)

DO be on the lookout for potential mates for your closest unmarried friends. DON’T assume that you can make romance happen between two of your friends however much you want it to, and DON’T accuse your friend of being “picky” if he or she says, “No thanks.”

DO encourage your unmarried friends to grow in godliness, contentment, and maturity. DON’T imply (or say!) that any deficiency in these areas is what’s standing in the way of them getting married.

DO offer specific counsel when appropriate to your level of friendship with your unmarried friend. DON’T just offer pat answers — why don’t you move churches, why don’t you try online dating, why don’t you do speed dating, etc.

More soon on the right and wrong way (or… a wrong way and a better way) to fix up two friends and other ways for you married folks to step into the lives of unmarried folks.

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6 thoughts on “Honestly, Why Do We Need Posts Like This? Argh!

  1. WORD

    i cannot WAIT until we’re brilliant sparkling old maids living together in our house on some European coastline indulging ourselves in pearls and cigarettes, novels and really trashy tv. ’cause we’ll deserve it ya know. Consolation prize.

  2. That “Dude, Where’s Your Bride?” post is interesting, but my immediate reaction is:

    (1) Why is surprising that men are less mature than women of the same age? Hasn’t that always been true?

    (2) “Why are there so many unmarried, college graduated, serious-about-Christ, committed-to-the-church, put-together young women who haven’t found a groom, and don’t see any possibilities on the horizon?” Partly, perhaps, because the choice is between (a) broke young men with brand-new college degrees trying to get careers started and working long hours that get in the way of marriage; or (b) young tradesmen with high-school diplomas and money (although the economy is putting a big hole in that second category).

    (3) “It’s the picture of a 20something or 30something guy who doesn’t seem to want anything out of life.” Possibly. Or perhaps those guys are playing video games to distract themselves from the fact that, without help, their goals seem unachievable. Or perhaps they’re playing video games as a (not very good) way of learning to interact with other men. Or perhaps they need help in articulating their goals. Where is the mentoring from older men? [Looks around. Oh, are you looking at me?]

    (4) “young women … just want a guy with some substance. A guy with plans. A guy with some intellectual depth. A guy who can winsomely take initiative and lead a conversation. A guy with consistency. A guy who no longer works at his play and plays with his faith. A guy with a little desire to succeed in life. A guy they can imagine providing for a family, praying with the kids at bedtime, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and being eager to take everyone to church on Sunday.” Oh, is that all. No wonder the young fellas feel they should be waiting before marriage.

  3. And (5) when did we start demanding all young men be witty conversationalists? Men, as a class, are on the whole not as articulate as women, and the best young men are often the least articulate.

  4. Kevin DeYoung is a man ministering in a particular context, namely the coltish, unbalanced world of the neo-Reformed, and he’s addressing particular issues in that context. My experience jives with his, although I give the fellas a bit more benefit of the doubt because they’ve been hamstrung and thwarted at every turn and functionally abandoned by many of their literal and figurative fathers.

    I know you wouldn’t advise the young woman in question in your #5 to set her sights on a shallow, aimless, passive, prevaricating dude with an unserious faith and no people skills whom she can imagine sleeping in on Sunday and ignoring the kids. No one’s expecting perfection, just trajectory. In generations past, many of those characteristics — leadership, strength, ideas — were fundamental to masculine identity and every man over age 18 was expected to have acquired them. This is not a passive-aggressive question, I honestly want to know: why are they unrealistic now, at least as goals?

  5. That line “No one’s expecting perfection, just trajectory” is exactly what I was trying to communicate.

    If a young fella doesn’t say much, that’s youth. If on careful listening, there’s solidity under the surface, that’s promising. If you peer into his soul and the Abyss peers back, not quite so good.

    I could accept leadership, strength, and ideas as fundamental to masculine identity as long as you don’t set the bar too high for non-essentials. Not every man is an “alpha male” (and being an “alpha male” isn’t all that great, anyway). Not every man has a PhD (and having a PhD isn’t all that great either). But every man should be prayerful, and honest, and sober, and responsible, and true to his word, and respectful of women.

  6. There is an ancient model of marriage (not the only model, of course) in which a young man is hard-working and skilled at his trade, but (in the spirit of Genesis 2:18) leans on his wife’s verbal and social skills to help run a business. On the whole, this model works well, because a man who cares deeply about mitring each joint perfectly is a man who is likely to care deeply about other things.

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