When we were little girls, my parents used to tell my sisters and me that there are no greater vocations than that of being a Lutheran wife and mother. And they were right. Diplomas and jobs, titles and degrees are impressive, but their worth can feed off the praise of men.

The estate of marriage and the joy of children, however, find their basis and their worth in Christ. The joy they bring is lasting, enduring.

Both worlds are good, but they are both very, very different.

So it’s no surprise that as I watch my parents’ marriage continue to grow and change in the best of ways as well as those of my sisters and their husbands, I realize more and more how true my parents’ words actually are.

 

My bro-in-law Jason, being the awesomest of the awesome Lutheran pastors, has listened to me talk (ok, agonize) over the difficulty of finding a Lutheran guy who isn’t afraid of his own shadow. Or is too busy parsing Greek verbs to notice that girls exist. Or is so snobby he thinks his own company is the best. You know the ones.

Jason gets it. And because he’s a pastor, he’s able to put it all in perspective, reminding those who are waiting on the Lord that He is enough, that He is sufficient for the day.

“Often forgotten in the Church are the unmarried, the single. We spend a great deal of time and energy, spill much ink, mining the depths of the image of marriage as the image of our lives in the Church. And we tend to look to the married, to husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, for insights into this reality gained by personal experience. But forgotten are the singles.

And this, I think, is to our great detriment because the single are icons, images of the reality of what all our lives shall be in the renewed and restored creation, in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. For in the resurrection we will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Rather, we will all live by the sustenance of our Bridegroom only.  This is why Isaiah and St. Paul can say:

‘Rejoice, o barren, on who does not bear: Break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband’ (Is. 54:1; Gal. 4:27).

Therefore, ‘Return, o faithful child,’ says the Lord, ‘for I have married you!’ (Jer. 3:14). He has married those who are single. Let this be sufficient for the day.”

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26 thoughts on “

  1. Excellent post. Though I’m saddened the comments are largely about marriage, or getting married, rather than the God-given truth that all of us will be without earthly marriage and there will be not a single disagreeable thing about it! Singleness too points to God, who is our true and eternal husband. ALL OF US, married or not, should learn to consider the blessings of singleness. ALL of us will be without husband other than Christ, whose marriage far exceeds its earthly reflection.

  2. I agree that the Christian church tends to overlook the single. I don’t know if it’s a deliberate thing on people’s part, like they’re embarrassed for you if they still see you’re unmarried, or if they honestly don’t even think about the single Christians enough to give them the time of day. I’ve been the member of the same Lutheran church for FIFTEEN years, and I have only been approached once by a man. In all of those fifteen years, it never occurred to anyone in the church to ask me whether I was looking for a husband or whether I was dating or anything. They just ignored me. I’ve recently started telling people that I am actively looking for a husband, and they always seem surprised when I tell them that. But why should they? If they are happily married, why wouldn’t I want to be?

  3. “If you have the opportunity to tell a woman that you are awestruck by her beauty, her wit and her grace, do it. If she’s timid in her response, that’s how it goes.”

    That’s about how it goes, having been exactly that and done exactly that. 🙂

    “…I’m trying to find a faithful, confessional Lutheran, smart, funny and beautiful woman with whom to share life, to, as the Lord blesses, raise a family, to serve and to be willing to die for if need be.”

    Still looking.

    Same here. Haven’t been very successful.

  4. To everyone, Wow, I seem to be getting a lot of advice on this post. Let me just say for the record: yes, it probably is the best (& most importantly, God’s plan) when a man takes the leading role in asking a woman out.

    As I said before, I know the guy that Adraine described that she agonizes over them, and I have been that guy. But for me, I had a lot of dramatic failure with women early on (and Adraine, you may have heard some of it back in college), and I lost my confidence with dating and women. And with a lot of the guys I know who are chronically single into their late twenties have this experience: they get burned early and fall into a pattern, where they sabotage potential relationships at the first sign of trouble. But thanks be to God, I’ve had time to reflect, and I’m starting to get back out there. Frankly, this post and these comments have really increased my self-awareness.

    But I do want to reemphasize my main problem with Adraine’s original post: while I understand why you agonize about imperfect guys, you just left it hanging there. Adraine, while I don’t know you that well, I would find it hard to believe that you, or anyone who is single late into their twenties, is single because of the actions of others. I am not writing this because I’m accusing you of anything; I’m sure your worst thing you’ve ever done to a guy pales in comparison to the worst thing I’ve ever done to a woman: http://wp.me/p1ZYxe-1f . I just thought that your statements were made without a complete perspective, and yes, frankly it does hurt when I hear a single girl banging on dumb, single guys like me.

    I hope you know that I am glad for all the things you do, whether it be for the Lutheran Witness or this blog.

  5. To the timid guys, you need to change your perspective. This is how approached women I thought I might be interested in dating (and it works, I have a wonderful wife who is way too good for me).

    At this point, you are already NOT dating her. If you ask her out and she says no you are still not dating her. Nothing has changed. There is only upside, so ask.

    • Amen, Joe. I was always going out on dates. That’s what people saw. What they didn’t see is how many times I struck out. It hurt the first few times, but then you get used to it and realize that this is part of life. Embrace it. Think baseball: If a major leaguer is batting .300, he’s not getting on base the other .700. A full 70% of the time, they’re not on base. The same goes for dating.

      It also helped that I used to think (read delude myself) that there were two type of women in this world. Those who wanted to date me and those who just didn’t know it yet. And it was my job to show them what they were missing.

  6. Derek and Josh (and other single Lutheran guys out there who may be shy around women),

    Another single Lutheran guy here. I get what both of you are saying, being a single Lutheran man myself. This dating stuff is hard, isn’t it? As well, the so-called wisdom and knowledge thrown out there in magazines and books (even most “Christian” dating books) usually only confuses us more. Let’s take a step back from all that.

    Josh is also right to note that modernity has not been kind to us men, be we Lutheran or anything else. While that is true…we need to get over it. Timidity is not something modernist feminists created to put men in their place. There might have been a clearer and easier way for men to approach women in days of yore, but I’d submit to you that every man, when the opportunity comes to ask a woman out on a date, has a few quiet moments of utter fright and horror. If you don’t have one of those moments in that situation, go see a doctor, because you’re probably soulless and without a pulse. It’s OK to be scared. Timidity will get us nowhere, though.

    Be willing to jump out of the trench and go over the top into the “game” of dating. I really don’t like calling dating a game, because it’s much more serious than that. I’m not playing around…I’m trying to find a faithful, confessional Lutheran, smart, funny and beautiful woman with whom to share life, to, as the Lord blesses, raise a family, to serve and to be willing to die for if need be. That last phrase, I think, is key.

    We men need to be willing to hop of the trench and get shot down. Staring down the barrel of being rejected by a woman and asking any way will earn you the respect of that woman, even if she isn’t interested at all. If you have the opportunity to tell a woman that you are awestruck by her beauty, her wit and her grace, do it. If she’s timid in her response, that’s how it goes. By willing to crash and burn, though, you’re showing you’re willing to to put her first, and not yourself.

    I say these things fully realizing I’m condemning myself by my own words. For every time I’ve had the gumption to tell a woman how much I appreciate her, there were two times when I convinced myself that the time wasn’t right. Even in the last few weeks, I (figuratively, not literally) ran into a woman I’ve known for years whose intelligence, wit, faith and beauty have affected me deeply. I had an opportunity to tell her as much…but I let it go. I was timid. I owe that woman an apology. Even if she laughed in my face, she deserves to know what a truly amazing woman she is. I hope some guy soon figures that out and tells her, because she deserves to be happy.

    I guess this is a friendly “do as I say, not as I’ve done” message. Take a chance. Be willing to have your hopes and dreams die. It’s the only way they’ll come true.

  7. Josh,

    I’m a timid Lutheran as well, and I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’m also married and can tell you that you are absolutely asking for the wrong prescription.

    You may not yet realize this, but what you really mean by “little assist” is “permission.” This is relationship poison, so stay away from it. A young woman who recognizes that she wants a leader is rare indeed in this day and age; this quality should never be discouraged by asking them to lead. Not just “even” in the beginning of a relationship, but especially in the beginning of a relationship.

    The encouragement/assistance that young men need should generally be coming from other men. Granted, the generation that should be doing this are the baby-boomers who caused most of the problems we suffer from in this regard. But since you’re obviously ok with asking for help, I suggest you seek if from successful and trustworthy men rather than from women.

    And let’s face it: changing the way women in general behave is a rather tall order. If that’s a key part of your plan to get married, it’s not a good plan. Our generation has been given a brutal and tragic situation, but we need to learn how to succeed within it. And you can. Really.

    And Derek, if I may: Don’t worry about a woman’s list of high expectations. That’s a list of qualities they’d like men they’re interested in to have–they are not usually what interests them in the first place.

  8. By giving “a little assist,” I am talking about signal sending. Specifically, I am talking about engaging the guy in a little conversation. In small groups or Sunday morning Bible study, a lady would be advised to not position herself between two dear and elderly women (it is like a mighty fortress that surrounds her). Essentially, a lady can let a guy know that she is open to him approaching her. I am not suggesting anything too forward, but I am not just going to crawl out of my cave and begin clubbing a woman over the head.

    • The point is that women aren’t unapproachable because they’re sitting between two old ladies. They’re unapproachable because guys are wimps. I’m told that there are few things more attractive in a man than when he takes a risk and talks to the drop-dead gorgeous woman who they think they have zero chance of wooing. A little (very little) bit of confidence goes a long way.

      Ever see a dweeb, dork, or nerd-ball with a beautiful wife? Guess what… she probably didn’t ask him out.

      I’m not suggesting that you club someone over the head and drag them back to your cave by their hair. I’m suggesting that getting within “club’s reach” and saying “hi” is a good idea, even if you stammer a bit.

  9. I found a wonderful Lutheran wife precisely at the moment that I quit being afraid of my shadow, acknowledged the fact that every woman was “out of my league,” and approached them anyway.

    Guys, you’re supposed to be proactive. Grab a club and get out of your cave (but also bring roses).

  10. Heather,

    I did not miss the overall point of Ms. Dorr’s post. I merely took exception with a point she made. I get it that the single life can be rough and being a single Christian can be an even greater burden. It is difficult watching other people enjoy the blessing of marriage. It becomes especially discouraging when well-intentioned folk are frequently asking or commenting on why you are not married. Ms. Dorr does a fine job of putting this singleness in the perspective of Christ, the hope of the Resurrection, and all that we will be.

    Also, I think there is a difference between leadership in marriage and getting started in a relationship that will hopefully lead to marriage. Not all guys have game. Not all guys have experience with dating. All guys are sinners and flawed, just like you ladies. I get that the Christian ladies value leadership in men. However, just because some guys are timid and take some time to break out of their shell, it does not mean they lack the ability to lead. Sometimes a person needs a little assist initially with getting up on that horse, and then they will gladly take the reins.

    • See, but here’s the thing–from the female perspective, regarding a “little assist”. Paul doesn’t tell husbands to simply “love their wives” in Ephesians. He tells them to love their wives, ” just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Husbands aren’t expected to JUST love their wives (I love my dog, don’t I?), Paul’s making it clear, you’re expected to lead her, love her and be willing to die for her! This takes courage–and on the husband’s part, not the wife’s.

      And I really believe God gives us the deep-rooted desire to find that sort of husband.

      So, that said, do you see how it’s a problem when we’re searching for the man who will love us so much he would die for us, only to find a man who can’t even summon the courage to start up a conversation with us?

      And it’s a nice sentiment to say, “Sometimes a person needs a little assist initially with getting up on that horse, and then they will gladly take the reins.” Sadly, in my experience it usually doesn’t work out that way. If step 1 is handed to you on a platter without having to work at it, what are the chances you’ll start facing the challenge with step 2?

  11. With all due respect, I sort of feel like you fellows missed her point.

    Furthermore, Josh, I totally get what you’re saying, I really do. Can I just offer a Christian female perspective, however, in response to this:
    “So, if you know a single guy who otherwise exhibits the qualities necessary for being a Christian husband, why not take a step in his direction? You might have to give him a little bit of time for him to gain his confidence, but you may come to discover that such acts of mercy…”

    Again, I get what you’re saying, but what I feel you may not understand is that many conservative Christian women (such as myself) seek leadership as a very important quality in a potential husband. Honestly? Probably the #1 quality, as long as they’re Christian first. Lutheran women are brought up to see the beauty in God’s design for marriage: that men should be leaders, loving, and heads of their households. So do you see why “lamenting over the difficulty of finding a Lutheran guy who isn’t afraid of his own shadow” is a very real concern and setback for us conservative ladies? It cannot be belittled down to one minor character flaw, it’s sort of a big deal to those of us that believe in the Biblical way of marriage. Women don’t often want to be the pursuers, and frankly, I feel God designed us this way.

    Not to sound harsh, but this is how I feel toward my husband, that you can’t have the best of both worlds. It’s not my responsibility to draw him out of his shell. His responsibility as my husband means leading, and if he wants the benefits of that then he also has to accept the setbacks–which mean’s leading me like Christ leads the church (or at least giving it his best), and that hardly involved timidity and passiveness. So you see, this isn’t just a minor character flaw, it can be an immediate red flag for women seeking God-loving, wife-leading, loving husbands. I completely understand Adriane’s concern.

    Respectfully,
    Heather

  12. Adriane, I would really echo Josh’s comments. I will say that, as a single guy, it does get fairly intimidating approaching women who wear there high expectations on their sleeves. I know I’ve given up on things were I was too intimidated by a girl, and I regret a lot of those times.

    And there is one thing that I do take offense too: while I know that there are many single guys who are too caught up in themselves (after all, I am one at times), I find it a bit one-sided at tinot to say in the same breath that at times, your own celibacy is caused in part by your own attitudes and actions. I’m not saying that you don’t have a right to complain about it, but when girls turn me down and don’t return my interest, I don’t just blame them. I look at myself and say, well, maybe I’m not the greatest guy to them. And I don’t have to be, because I know when it doesn’t work out, there’s still opportunity. I’m not writing this because I’m mad at what you wrote, I’m just trying to add perspective. I know being single always hurts, I’m there too.

    And not that there’s anything you can do about this, you do have that typical single person’s idealized view of marriage. Not that I’m criticizing, I have the same view of marriage sometimes, and there’s nothing we single people can do about it. Not that marriage doesn’t have it’s amazing spots, I know it does, and it does build people up to be more than they would ever be apart. But likely, there will be a number of married people who get on here after me, and go on about how hard marriage is. And I’m think you know that.
    I hope you understand where I’m coming from.
    Derek

  13. I think the way you wrap this post up by pointing our eyes to Christ and the resurrection is wonderful.

    I will take issue, though, with your lamenting “over the difficulty of finding a Lutheran guy who isn’t afraid of his own shadow.” Maybe all of the single Lutheran ladies could give those timid and shy single Lutheran guys, especially the ones who are timid around the opposite sex, a helping hand. Modernity has not been good to us guys, and it can be very easy to over-think everything and determine the outcome without ever acting. So, if you know a single guy who otherwise exhibits the qualities necessary for being a Christian husband, why not take a step in his direction? You might have to give him a little bit of time for him to gain his confidence, but you may come to discover that such acts of mercy (e.g. patience and facilitating the conversation early on) are really an answer to his own prayers.

  14. Dear Adriane,
    Thanks for this uplifting and encouraging post. I am in the same boat. Not too many single, Lutheran men under fifty in my area. As lonely as singlehood can be, these verses point me to the joy of my situation. Just what I needed today!
    Ellen

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