Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Perpetual Bachelor... Are We a Part of the Problem?

Now, on to the promised topic. My first question after I started pondering this topic was… Is "perpetual bachelorhood” a problem?

What about the "perpetual bachelors?" Why is it that single men in our churches seem to shy away from relationships and commitment? Well... I am not a guy :) And honestly, I've not really heard this theory anywhere else that I am aware of. So... I've either stumbled across a revolutionary truth, or I'm dead wrong. This is just my personal opinion, take it or leave it.

I've been doing a little online research to see if my "theory" holds water at all. First let me say what I found when googling "Men's Basic Needs." Aside from the one that seems to be the most prominent (and that I do not intend to get anywhere NEAR in this conversation) the top 4 were repeatedly...
Men want to be:
1) Respected
2)Appreciated/ Admired
3) Desired
4) They want "recreational companionship" (A companion for their adventures)

I would add to this one more thing. ALL humans have a basic need for touch. I'm not talking about sexual, intimate touch, I am talking about basic human contact and interaction. There are many studies out there that bear this out. The ones from the Russian orphanages are particularly compelling and even heart breaking.

So... what about these "perpetual bachelors" in our churches? And... what about our interaction with them?

It seems to me that there are many more single women in churches and church groups than there are men. I'm not sure why this is, and I'm not even going to postulate a theory. It's just a fact. So... among some women, the competition is pretty fierce. I can't tell you how many times I've been told "You shouldn't leave him wondering if you like him or not, there are plenty of gals who are willing to 'snatch him up' if you aren't interested." Or some such choice tidbit. So... here is what I see. Your typical "perpetual bachelor's" needs are being met. Think about it. I'm going with the church guy here, because 1) that is where my experience lies, and 2) I would imagine that most of you who read this are looking for a man who loves God, and is faithful in church.

I'm going to introduce you to the "anonymous church bachelor" This could be any guy, anywhere. The average bachelor in a church has multiple females (just by virtue of statistics) swooning over him, many acting just as I did in the friendship mentioned in the last post. This feeds his ego (whether consciously or unconsciously) and meets a need. So... his needs for being respected, admired, appreciated and desired are met right there among these women. Added to that are the women who choose the "helpless female" approach. Every man also wants to feel needed, and we certainly can do a good job of making them feel needed if we want to.

Also, in some church circles (not the ones I grew up in) that need for human contact is easily met. When Anonymous Bachelor walks into church, he hugs everyone... the old ladies, the guys, the children, and yes, the single women.

Look ladies, relationships take a LOT of work... and commitment... and patience. I cannot even begin to imagine the pressures and the responsibilities of being a husband, leader and provider. So... if one can find all of the respect, admiration, appreciation, desire, human touch, and companionship that one needs, and get it for little or no investment... well... why in the world would a man enter into something that requires commitment, time and effort? Also, why settle for all of that from one woman, when it is available from many?

I am not addressing what is right or wrong with that thinking from the male perspective. I am simply wondering... is our interaction with the men in our lives appropriate and pleasing to God? Are we enabling "perpetual bachelorhood?" Is this necessarily a bad thing?

Paul says, 1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.a 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion...

32I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (I Cor 7)

So... if it is possible to remain unmarried and yet not sin, then if I understand Paul correctly, we should do so. Based on all of this, I have some questions that I actually don't have answers to. (I do have to acknowledge here that the Bible clearly states, "The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."Genesis 2:18, and... "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD" Prov 18:22)

Is it wrong for us to meet those needs, that help men to remain content in their "perpetual bachelorhood?" or... is it a good thing? I Corinthians 7 seems to state that being single allows for greater devotion to ministry and others. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

Are we then causing a "problem"? Is it right for us to fault the men who are serving God faithfully and seemingly contentedly as single men? or... are we "defrauding" one another by fulfilling needs that were not intentioned to be met in this way? I DON'T have the answers... I just have the questions :)

I DO think however, that if our desire is marriage, then maybe, JUST MAYBE, we should rethink our behavior toward eligible men. And I DEFINITELY think that instead of complaining about them, we should be praying for them, that God would give them wisdom to know and to follow His will, that they would be the kind of leaders that we are looking for. That He would give THEM the common sense to know and understand their emotions, and how they can use them to bring honor and glory to Him. And that God would give them strength and integrity to stand strong in this evil world.

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