Things Women Hear in the Church

I ran across two different articles today, each of which would have probably seemed only more appalling to me if they weren’t simply parroting things I heard growing up as a conservative evangelical.

The first was called True Love Doesn’t Wait, written by a married father of six. The basic premise? Church singles need to stop waiting for true love and just get married already. The author responds to a blog post made popular in the fury of Christian blogging on purity that followed a post on Elizabeth Esther sometime back about the evils of shame-based purity teachings. This blog post was called “I Don’t Wait Anymore.” If you’ve read that original post, you’ll find this response odd.

Far from saying ‘True Love Waits’, the church fathers (the protestant ones. Catholicism is another issue.) told the young people to, ummm, marry. And the church and their fathers were supposed to make sure this happened.

“To sum the matter up: whoever finds himself unsuited to the celibate life should see to it right away that he has something to do and to work at; then let him strike out in God’s name and get married. A young man should marry at the age of twenty at the latest, a young woman at fifteen to eighteen; that’s when they are still in good health and best suited for marriage. Let God worry about how they and their children are to be fed. God makes children; he will surely also feed them. Should he fail to exalt you and them here on earth, then take satisfaction in the fact that he has granted you a Christian marriage, and know that he will exalt you there; and be thankful to him for his gifts and favours.” ~ Martin Luther

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that True Love doesn’t wait. … True Love does not wait, it marries.

First of all, the post is bizarre. Does he seriously think that the problem for aging singles in the church is that they have their true love, they’re just, what, sitting around waiting with him instead of marrying him? Really? The problem isn’t that these women haven’t figured out how to marry, it’s that they haven’t found someone to marry. Of course, it appears that the author has a solution—he has rejected both dating and courtship and believes in, yes, betrothal.

But the thing is, I remember getting this same message about marriage. I remember reading articles in Christian publications suggesting that the solution to the problem of premarital sex was for people to stop waiting to get married, and instead marry at 18 or 20. I remember when a friend came to me at 18, telling me that she’d just started a relationship with a guy, and that the purity thing was killing them, and didn’t I think it would be a good idea for them to just get married, then? And she showed me an article from a Christian publication saying just that. I wasn’t sure what to say at the time, to be honest, because that’s what we were being taught—”it is better to marry than to burn.”

And what of the money issue? What of the fact that those who marry young are the most likely to get divorced? Well, first of all, God always provides, and second of all, good Christians can make any marriage work if they put God first in their lives. Or so I was told.

But enough of that. The second article I ran across was Pat Robertson’s advice to a woman who was struggling with living with a husband who had cheated on her. Now, normally I just ignore Pat Robertson, but this time what he was saying was, once again, things I heard growing up in the church.

On today’s 700 Club, Robertson told a woman whose husband was cheating on her that she should stop focusing on the adultery and instead ponder, “Does he provide a home for you to live in, does he provide food for you to eat, does he provide clothes for you to wear, is he nice to the children…is he handsome?”

After encouraging the woman to focus on the positives rather than her husband’s adultery, which Robertson imagined to be a one night stand with a stripper in a hotel room, he said she should “give him honor instead of trying to worry about it.”

He also suggested the woman could have done more to prevent her husband from cheating: “But recognize also, like it or not, males have a tendency to wander a little bit and what you want to do is make a home so wonderful that he doesn’t want to wander.”

I was struck by both Robertson’s assumption that husbands must provide for their wives, and that their wives should be happy and content if they’re doing that, and Robertson’s quick turn to victim blaming. I, too, was taught that at least part of the blame for man’s affair belonged to the women he cheated on—his wife. Why? Because she must not have been giving him good enough sex, or she must have been nagging him so he didn’t like being around her, etc. The man? Well, everyone knows that men “have a tendency to wander”—what that is is a removal of responsibility.

When I read blogs written by Christian feminists, one feeling I get is that the evangelical church needs to shut up, to stop talking to women, and to start listening to women. Because to be perfectly honest, the advice the church gives women, and it’s usually (though not always) given by men, is terrible.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Kellen Connor

    Let God worry about how they and their children are to be fed. God makes children; he will surely also feed them.

    AAAARGH!!! So. Much. Anger!! That kind of attitude is why I’m a suicidal depressive, my autistic brother is a complete shut-in with no education, and two of my siblings are dead!

    • LL

      I’m sorry you’re depressed. But I totally agree with you. I grew up watching so many people have children they had no business having – abused, neglected, unwanted, resented… the list goes on and on. My own cousin has a child that she abused so badly that she is severely brain damaged and will always have to be taken care of. You’d think that somebody could do something about this, but you’d be shocked by how difficult it is to have children taken away from abusive situations. And apparently, in my Catholic community, all of this is A-OKAY. Yup. But I’m the evil one because I don’t want children. Have kids that you will hurt, make suffer and ultimately ruin? BLESSING.

      I so hope things get better for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vaughn-Ohlman/100000095932931 Vaughn Ohlman

    >> Does he seriously think that the problem for aging singles in the church is that they have their true love, they’re just, what, sitting around waiting with him instead of marrying him? Really?

    Ummm, no. Not really. Not at all, in fact.
    The problem is that they have been sold the idea that the way to find a husband is… to wait. That the whole church, their family, even the young man are just supposed to ‘wait’.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      For the record, I grew up in the church and I was *never* told that. And the young men? The young men in my community were certainly not told to wait, they were told that they needed to be the instigators in finding wives. I think you miss the point of the phrase “true love waits” — it refers to not having sex before marriage, it does not refer to not getting married.

      I also think you completely misread the piece you were responding to — the author was saying that she felt like her life was on hold until she would get married, until she realized that her value was in Christ, and that it was wrong to see her life as on hold. Your solution seems to be to throw that out and say “yes! your life IS on hold! so you should get married ASAP!”

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vaughn-Ohlman/100000095932931 Vaughn Ohlman

        That’s great you were never told that.
        And, yes, in light of the Scriptural injunctions to women (I’m sure everyone here knows what those are) and, a little less specifically, to men, yes, ‘Get married ASAP’ would be a nice summary of some of what I am saying Scripture teaches. As opposed to, say, ‘waiting’.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

        Given the extremely high divorce rate among evangelicals, is that wise advice?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Suzanne-Harper-Titkemeyer/1605911351 Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

        Not just high divorce rates among evangelicals but the high rates of marital abuse, marital infidelity and pornography usage rates. Higher than the world in general. Doesn’t sound at all like everyone marrying in haste is any sort of solution at all.

        Whatever happened to love? Mutual attraction? Common interests?

      • Staceyjw

        Dontcha know that love is a CHOICE, not just a feeling? A woman chooses to love her master, er, I mean, husband, every day. Emotions will follow if you just reverence your man properly. Finding a man that is a bible believer, and that your parents approve of, trumps any wily female emotion you might have. (/snark)

        They sure do think anything to do with love and relationships is a choice. Like being gay, love in marriage is something you choose. Your feelings aren’t relevant.

      • The_L1985

        This always baffled me when I was a teen. I thought infatuation was love (don’t we all at some point), and I didn’t know how to not be infatuated with friendly, attractive boys at school.

        Of course, I also learned that if you think love or infatuation is developing, you can “nip it in the bud” by not being around that person for a while, to clear your head. That still doesn’t mean that you could just make yourself love somebody when the chemistry just isn’t there.

      • Frimp

        So Scripture teaches that you shouldn’t “wait” until you find a mate with whom you are compatible — you should instead just rush to the altar with the first person to whom you are attracted?

        Can you please explain why God gave us brains if he wants us to ignore them at every turn?

      • Alice

        A lot of churches basically teach that women who are not currently dating/courting/whatever should wait for God to show up in their driveway with a Perfect Spouse delivery truck, however long that takes. They teach that women should do nothing to attract men, flirt, or (heaven forbid!), go somewhere to meet new men or use an online dating service. Women are supposed to be 100% passive so they won’t step on the fragile masculine ego. Cavemen enjoy hunting their prey and dragging them home, so we wouldn’t want to spoil their fun now would we? /sarcasm

        This teaching is only for women who are not currently dating or courting anyone. The church is sometimes urged to be a matchmaker for the women, and the men are strongly urged to initiate the relationship, and once a couple has been together for a little while, they are pressured to marry ASAP.

        I don’t think Vaughn is saying that courting/dating couples are waiting too long to marry, but that the church is encouraging unattached women to do absolutely nothing except pray.

        Of course, not all fundamentalists are teaching this, because even some of them realize how contradictory it is to say “Don’t worry, God will provide a husband for you if you are patient.” and “YOU MUST MARRY ASAP OR YOU ARE DOOMED!!!!” at the same time.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Vaughn’s solution, though, is betrothal.

      • Alice

        True, and I agree that it’s a horrible idea.

      • butterfly5906@yahoo.com

        Is there a difference between “betrothal” and “courtship”? Can you explain?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vaughn-Ohlman/100000095932931 Vaughn Ohlman
      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Read your little intro: ” We have many of the very best and brightest of our Christian young people who are already well past the flower of their age, and they are not married.”

        “Well past the flower of their age,” eh? I wonder when you consider that to be? If you’re going by Martin Luther’s ideal ages of marriage (which are rather disgusting–many girls in the age range he mentioned wouldn’t even have reached menarche yet and very few married that young), I really do not know a soul, Christian or otherwise, who I can describe as having been “in their full flower” when they were teenagers or even in their early twenties. What qualities of a person supposedly “wilt” when they remain single past those ages? Certainly not things like emotional maturity, self-possession and self-knowledge which tend to improve as people mature beyond their high school and college years. So what are you so worried is going to be lost forever if people don’t marry until they hit the ripe old age of 25 or 30 or 35? Except maybe the opportunity to produce half a dozen or so babies that the world really, really doesn’t need.

      • Alice

        I agree.

        I have heard a few fundies tell women that marriage will be a lot harder if they get married in their 30s, because by then they will be so “set in your ways” that it will be harder for them to submit to their husbands. GRRR.

        Hmm, now that I think about it, maybe there’s a connection between “Our children MUST be married by the time they are 21!!!!” and “We MUST convert our children to Christ before they are 14!!!!!”

      • Alice

        I agree.

        I have heard a few fundies tell women that marriage will be a lot harder if they get married in their 30s, because by then they will be so “set in your ways” that it will be harder for them to submit to their husbands. GRRR.

        Hmm, now that I think about it, maybe there’s a connection between “Our children MUST be married by the time they are 21!!!!” and “We MUST convert our children to Christ before they are 14!!!!!”

      • Staceyjw

        In many Islamic arrears, they believe it is best to betroth the girl very young, like 7-8yrs old and then get them married early (12-15) so they are “still pliable”. The man wants a girl he can “train” to “properly serve him”, and the idea is that younger is better.
        Ick. Poor girls.

      • AnotherOne

        This is a gross misrepresentation of the phenomenon of early betrothal and marriage in Muslim societies (which is not the norm; the average marriage age of women in Muslim-majority countries is 21.6, and it’s been rising steadily for a while). If we want to address the problems of early marriage and the poor status and oppression of women in Muslim-majority countries, we need to stop bandying about caricatures of Muslims as women-haters par excellence, and look at the complex web of poverty, culture, religion, and other factors that create the circumstances in which women are oppressed.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Well, my thirties are still a few years off, but I actually agree that women that age are going to be “more set in their ways” and less submissive than, say, women in their early twenties. And this is exactly why I think that marriage that young is usually (not always, of course) a bad idea! Most women I know (myself included to an extent) say that they were less assertive and less likely or able to advocate for their own needs in a relationship when they were in their late teens/early twenties and that they got better at these things as they reached their mid-twenties or so and became more mature, confident, and self-assured. I was certainly never a doormat but I definitely took crap at the age of 19 or 20 that I would never dream of taking now, thank God! I hear so many women I know say the same thing about themselves and I observe a marked difference in the way very young women interact with men and male partners and the way women with even just a few more years under their belts do.

        So what those fundies were basically saying was “Quick, women! If you don’t get married right away, you might have time to develop on your own as your own person, which will make it harder to mold yourself to the needs and desires of some man. The horrors!” Ugh.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

        It’s all about pumping out those babies. Who cares about the people in the marriage? Certainly not Von.

      • The_L1985

        I didn’t hit menarche until I was a senior in high school, and I was still wearing training bras. There’s something very, very creepy about the idea that someone who is just beginning to Notice Boys (or girls, but I was pretty well repressed in that area) and doesn’t even look like an adult yet, being immediately forced into a marriage.

        I honestly think it’s a case of “your personality isn’t set in stone yet, so maybe if we marry you off now, your personality will just automatically grow into one that suits your new spouse.” That, or they forget that women ever have personalities other than “sweet and submissive.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

        So how did you get married?

      • Frimp

        I live in the “godless” and “liberal” northeast, where men and women wait until their late 20s and early 30s to get married. /We have the lowest divorce rate of the entire f’ing country./ And people like you sit there and deride our values. Meanwhile, the communities you exalt have higher rates of teen pregnancy (OUT OF WEDLOCK), higher rates of divorce, and higher rates of abuse.

        Your way isn’t working. You invoke God not because you know Him, but because you need an excuse.

      • http://www.facebook.com/zebulon.stenman Zebulon Stenman

        In betrothal, the parents pick their child’s spouse and basically force the marriage on them. In short, arranged marriage, pure and simple.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        In a courtship, the couple gets to know each other to see if they are a good match. There’s a lot of parental control and the couple is often not allowed to be alone together, but there is a period of trying to see if it will work out long term. In a betrothal, the parents arrange the match and then the couple marries, with no time for getting to know each other to see if it will work in the meantime.

      • Christine

        Is this the same as the “stop obsessing over getting married already, and enjoy being single. Sure you may marry, but it’s not the be-all and end-all” message that a lot of churches don’t do well. (I’ve seen a lot of times where that gets conflated with “many people marry later in life” which seems to really defeat the purpose of the message)

      • Alice

        Similar, yes, but a lot of fundamentalists are leery of the word “enjoy” so it’s often more like “Stop obsessing over getting married when Jesus is supposed to be the #1 man in your life, you idol-worshipper! If he is #1, then you will be fulfilled whether you are single or married. Once you’ve learned to love him above all else and trust him to provide for all your needs, he will reward you with the husband you no longer care much about. Until then, congratulations! You have loads of free time to do service for our church and get cozy with God! You better start right away. The faster you show God how holy you are, the faster you get a husband.”

  • CarysBirch

    I can’t even start to catalogue the harm this stuff has done to me. I’m currently floundering in a promising early relationship, because I’m so deep in courtship baggage I can’t function in a casual dating world.

  • dj_pomegranate

    “God makes children; he will surely also feed them.” Yes, that’s why there are no hungry children in the world!

    Oh, wait.

  • tsara

    “Let God worry about how they and their children are to be fed. God makes children; he will surely also feed them.”

    That sounds a lot like
    “Kill them all, God will know His own.”[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_at_Béziers]

    Ignore reality and your own judgment, and do what I say God wants from you. God put me in charge; it’s his job to fix things and make reality reflect my concept of justice.

  • Gail

    The first article really rings a bell for me. At the Southern Baptist church I attended as a child, it seems like everyone got married really young, about 19 or 20 if they didn’t attend college and upon graduation if they did. I’m in my mid-twenties and most of the people I knew there in my age group are now married with at least one child, while I’m single and in grad school. Older singles did not really seem to fit in at that church; I can only think of a couple.

    Encouraging young marriages strikes me as pretty irresponsible. Of course some couples who marry young do well, but if the encouragement to marry comes from the church basically as an alternative to abstinence, that’s not really a good reason. There are basically two alternatives to abstinence in their mind–one is to get married, and the other is to become a major sinner by having sex and using birth control. When you eliminate the Christian dogma from the situation, the latter seems more reasonable to me. Being unable to remain abstinent doesn’t mean that you’re ready to commit to a marriage.

    And was I the only one forced to go through the True Love Waits program? I am cringing at the memory.

    • Sally

      “Being unable to remain abstinent doesn’t mean that you’re ready to commit to a marriage.”
      Good point.

    • Baby_Raptor

      lolno. I remember sitting through a True Love Waits program…Did you get the example where they glued two different coloured pieces of construction paper together, or the one where they spit in the glass of tap water? Oh, or the chewed gum one?

      And at the end, we signed these pieces of paper with a statement on them saying that we promised “to God, our future spouses and ourselves” to wait. And then the Youth Pastor hung them all in the sanctuary, and bragged about how many promises he’d gotten the next Sunday.

      It was all so sick.

      • The_L1985

        Ewww, the Youth Pastor bragged about promises involving the genitals of minors? Well, that’s not creepy or suspicious at all!

      • Gail

        Yeah, our youth pastor hung our certificates in the hallway and bragged about them too. It was so creepy. He told us that we should frame them and keep them by our beds when we went off to college to help stave off the temptation.

        I don’t remember any spitting in tap water or anything. I remember writing a bunch of letters to our future spouses and decorating boxes to keep them in. And a lot of talk about how you will regret having sex before marriage. There was this one speaker who didn’t wait for marriage and his talk was all about how much he regretted not saving himself for his wife.

      • Kate Monster

        “One last thing to put up and this will be the most AWESOME dorm room ever! Hmmmm… Where should I hang my official abstinence certificate? Over my bed, or on the fridge?”

    • aim2misbehave

      My family regularly goes to week-long church gatherings at the same camp every year. However, they’ve noticed that lately I’ve been barely attending any services or events – only going to the one “family” service a day and otherwise mostly killing time on my computer (yes I’m one of ~those people~ that only goes “camping” if there’s indoor plumbing and wifi, LOL) and catching up with friends. That was when I had to point out that there was almost no programming that would be relevant for a single adult woman with a “secular” career, because almost everything for adults was directed at parents, couples, or people “in the ministry.” (Considering how many people at those gatherings get married to each other, they’d do well to host some singles/”College and career” events ;-)

    • Laura

      I had to go through the True Love Waits program. The “activity” I remember the most was a wrapped present. I held the package and stood at the front of the room. Then, the youth leaders lined up the guys and each of them tore off some of the paper. Then I had to read some paragraph about how virginity is like a gift – no one wants a present that was “meant for them” to have already been opened by someone else.

      Because of that one activity, I never told anyone I was raped at 15 until years later. I can’t even imagine the rest of the damage that was done to the other girls in the group.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana Hope

    The first quote was kind of funny. Bethrol girls don’t usually get married young. They just sit at home and have to wait for the magical moment that never happens. Oh well….

  • Alice

    I shouldn’t be surprised because Pat Robertson always has something crazy to say but WTF! Being handsome is more important than being faithful? How shallow does he think women are! The Bible emphasizes marital faithfulness a hell of a whole more than it emphasizes a man’s duty to provide for his family. But of course, a man’s ability to provide is the most important thing in a culture that insists women do not need an education or job skills. That teaching is so dangerous because if a husband is abusive, lazy, dies, abandons his family, is paralyzed, can’t find a job, can’t make enough for the whole family to live on, etc. then the wife and children are screwed! Especially since fundamentalists are so anti-welfare.

  • smrnda

    This is some pretty irresponsible nonsense to be promoting, and high divorce rates among fundamentalists pretty much prove this false.

    I think a problem is how certain religious people view marriage. Marriage is kind of a pissing contest you want to win by having the *right kind of marriage* in which people are just viewed as replaceable cogs – just shove 2 pieces together that fit. Perhaps they don’t like the idea that there exist people who actually think there’s more to life than just religious duty, where people have personalities, interests, likes and dislikes. I’ve used the phrase ‘mindless praise-bot’ before to sum up what some religions teach people to be, and I see a lot of this there.

    The other thing is that there’s nothing selfish about being cautious about making a major decision. When someone asked me if I wanted to found a start-up I took my time to answer because it’s a big deal – I’d have been selfish to reach a decision too soon. Getting married is a really big deal. You need to be very careful who you end up with since it has to work long term. If you’re too young, it’s too hard to get a clear picture of what ‘long term’ is going to be, so it really does pay to wait. No amount of commitment can fix basic compatibility issues, and the better people are on compatibility, the better the relationship will be.

    This seems like another issue where churches are offering simplistic, easy answers and seeing practices of the past through some serious nostalgic fog.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

      …but it worked in the good old days where everything was perfect! /sarcasm

    • Alice

      “This seems like another issue where churches are offering simplistic, easy answers and seeing practices of the past through some serious nostalgic fog.”

      This quote is true for so many fundie teachings. Also, I think one reason fundies often completely ignore issues of compatibility is because they assume the wife will just submissively adapt to whatever type of husband she ends up with (like the metamorph in that Star Trek episode “The Perfect Mate”). Like Libby Anne said in a review of Debi Pearl’s atrocious book, Debi mentions several male personality types and how women should handle them, but never says anything about female personality types.

  • Christine

    Not entirely on topic, but Libby mentioned the connection between early marriage and high divorce rates: is that corrected for factors (like being fundamentalists, having fewer degrees, etc) which raise the divorce rate and have a high correlation with early marriage? I’ve never seen anything other than the raw statement for that, and I have no idea where to find high-quality paraphrases of the studies.

    • Staceyjw

      IIRC, Pew research did a huge study on religious vs non. I can’t post links (disques!), but if you Google “atheists have lowest divorce rate” it should come up.

      • Christine

        Oh, I’ve seen that one. It’s one of the reasons that I know to get suspicious of “people who marry younger have a higher divorce rate”. It’s a fairly meaningless statement. It’s no more an argument against marrying “young” (under 25) than the fact that couples who live together before they get married (in the US) have a higher divorce rate is an argument against cohabitation. You need to look at the other correlations too.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Um why is “young” in scare quotes? Are you also of the opinion that 25-year-olds are old maids?

      • Christine

        Thank you for pointing that out – it wasn’t really necessary, as the meaning was obvious from the context. I just have a very hard time with using “young at first marriage” to mean “under 25″. I’m used to “young” in the context of marriage to refer to someone who is unusually young. In my context that would normally be someone who got married before graduating (assuming that they weren’t an older student of course, although they’ll get funny looks either way). I’m very much from a university background, so the average age of marriage is under 25 in my circles.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Thanks for clarifying. But I’m a little confused–you say you’re from a university background and that means that marriage under 25 is common? Why would that be the case when the average age of marriage for people with college degrees is much higher than for people without? Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean here.

      • Christine

        You’ve got me stumped. I thought that the statistics I saw were for the US as well. It could be that the “people with degrees get married younger than those without” wasn’t actually a large demographic shift.

        I have not read the actual articles (no database access from home anymore, and I don’t have a sociological background so I can’t get a lot from the original research anyhow), so there could be mistakes there (either in the conclusions that were presented or simply by omitting relevant data). One possibility is that the observation that people with degrees get married sooner is only looking at those who are in long-term relationships. i.e. only couples who were in a serious relationship by the age of 20. This would result in a much smaller sample of the population, and would skew the proportion of those who have degrees.

      • AnotherOne

        I’m pretty sure that in the US and across the world, marriage ages for people with university and advanced degrees are higher than for people with lower educations. But maybe that’s not true of all countries/places?

      • Christine

        Maybe some of the statistics are counting marriage or common law together, and some aren’t. Because I know that the discussions I’ve seen on the rising age of marriage for those without tertiary education has specifically stated that they’re choosing to live together without getting married.

      • Anat

        How do they factor in those who don’t get married at all? Considering that many low-income low-education people end up doing that?

      • Christine

        Ok, I looked for what I’d seen before, and the best I could find is http://www.pewresearch.org/2010/10/07/the-reversal-of-the-college-marriage-gap/ . I suspect that what I saw was either someone misreading the statistics, or that there were some interesting corrections done to the data.

        I’m not saying that the corrections would be a problem, but it’s difficult to look and see a trend that’s changing when you’re looking at something like this. It’s a failure to do corrections that led to the myth that women with university degrees had almost a zero chance of getting married past age 35 (?). However, I don’t know how one would deal with a bimodal distribution if you did that.

      • AnotherOne

        Yes. A *lot* of socioeconomic factors are operative in marriage age, divorce rates, etc., and so statistics that only look at one angle don’t tell us much, even though it’s tempting to use them when they work in our favor as “proof” of the goodness or evil of a given practice.

  • Gail

    And has Pat Robertson been reading up on Debi Pearl? I’m surprised he didn’t threaten the woman with living in a duplex…

    • Mogg

      I get a giggle out of this every time :-) I love my cozy duplex, which I bought myself when I was single.

  • Elisia

    “Does he seriously think that the problem for aging singles in the church is that they have their true love, they’re just, what, sitting around waiting with him instead of marrying him? Really? The problem isn’t that these women haven’t figured out how to marry, it’s that they haven’t found someone to marry.”

    I found this to be a little confusing. I don’t think the church is suggesting that young singles are waiting to marry their current boyfriend or girlfriend and should just get on with it rather than burning with lust for each other. What I was getting from this piece (and what I had been sold growing up in the church) was that you shouldn’t wait around for true love, but marry someone, anyone (as long as they’re Christian) because they believe love is a choice.

    Preferably they like it when you marry young because the sooner you can be saddled with kids and responsibilities the more likely they’ll be able to control you. After all, it will be harder to survive financially without help (and the more you’ll need their charitable church contributions – strings attached), and the less likely you’ll be able to finish that degree (and thus avoid further brainwashing by the liberal institution that is college), and they can use your children as pawns in their fear mongering (aka, the secular, humanist world is trying to turn your kids into commie fagots and they’re going to burn in hell for all eternity if you don’t be good parents and come to church).

  • sarah f.

    Thank you so much! You said exactly what I really wanted to rant at that blogger about! I’m 28 and not married. I believe in True Love Waits, the sex side at least. I can promise you that I am not single of my own choice. That post assumes that there are hordes of single men out there that all of us single women are ignoring in favor of some ideal of perfection. We aren’t… I know in our singles group, none of the women are single by choice. We want to be married! We aren’t waiting, we are always looking for our husband, but at this point we can’t find him! Sorry, it just really angers me when people (usually married) think that I am still single because I want to be. That post just really ticked me off!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

      Even if you are unwillingly single, it’s no one’s business as to how your relationships are carried out.

    • The_L1985

      I don’t even agree with abstinence anymore, but I still say that anyone who insists “There are plenty of fish in the sea–if you really wanted to get married, you’d already have caught a husband!” as if good men were all automatically compatible with every woman ever, is deeply annoying and completely wrong.

      I’ve known lots of fellows who were very nice, morally-upright folks, but who just weren’t compatible with me. I tried dating some of them in spite of the lack of chemistry. It never worked out.

      I did finally meet a fellow who I think is my “Mr. Right,” at a Renaissance Faire. If there’s hope for someone as “crazy” as me, then there’s hope for anybody! :) Good luck in your search!

  • Lisa

    a similar thing happened to me last week. I said I wouldn’t spend any more money on clothes, I was going to wait for my next paycheck and stuff. But then I saw this really nice dress and it was only $20 and I wanted it so badly, and they had some more stuff which was ok too. So I figured I’d just buy the entire store right away. Now, I don’t have any food and way too much dept, but at least I’ll be dressed for the next 50 years. Fingers crossed the stuff doesn’t go out of style!

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  • fiona64

    This is regularly taught to the LDS youth; returned missionary boys are expected to get married within 6 months. So, they’re usually about 20 years old. And, of course, they’re supposed to start having children ASAP. So, most of the young LDS women are married before they’ve even completed community college, and are popping out babies left and right. It’s pretty hard to get out of a bad marriage if you’re tied down by lots of kids and have no skills …

    • Kate Monster

      Who would ever want to get out of a marriage? As we all know, that’s just a one-way ticket to living a life of abject poverty in a duplex while your ex parties down with someone new, duh.

    • aletha

      I’m LDS and have a serious dislike for Christian Fundamentalism (due to some…”advice” from a coworker’s wife when I was first married). I realized lately that what I hate about the Fundamentalists is that their dogma is pretty close to Mormons. Doctrinal differences, but culturally identical. Lots of kids, housewives, subservient.
      Oh, and I married my returned missionary 6 months after he got back (though he was 25 and I was 24). We’ve been dealing with infertility, so kudos to me for being a failure! Maybe if I’d gotten hitched sooner…

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  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    Oh man. I have encountered these 2 extremes within purity culture- the one where the girl has to just wait and wait and wait until God does all the work and brings the perfect guy, in God’s timing, could be when she’s like 60 but that’s God’s will so that’s the way it is, whether she likes it or not… and then the other extreme, where it’s like, “let’s solve the problem of premarital sex by just having kids get married at like 18. Just pick somebody! It’ll be fine!”

    How about some balance? How about people have certain standards and some people’s standards are different than others, and you marry when you find someone who fits you, and it’s YOUR CHOICE and not something that God has planned since the beginning of time and you are forbidden to date until you KNOW that this dude is God’s choice.

    Seriously. Choice! Freedom! That’s what Christianity should be about, from my perspective. But purity culture is all about fear.

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    Hmmm. But doesn’t he realize that the church teaches young people NOT to “want” to get married, but to sit around waiting for God to move and make it happen?

    What I remember from my youth group days was that we were discouraged from thinking too much about marriage, because we didn’t want to “get ahead of God” and start wanting something until he had forcibly brought it to our doorstep.

    Sigh. Betrothal? Really?

    These articles make me so glad that I had Christian parents who encouraged me to date and trusted me to make good decisions about guys.


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