I recently read this article and experience a wide array of emotion: sadness, anger, compassion, and frustration. I would say “pardon me while I get on my soapbox”… but I will not. I have no problem defending the faith and Christ’s sacrifice and design for marriage. My goal here is to not be a jerk, but to affirm Christian Marriage.
I am slightly hesitant about commenting on this given I am not an African American man or woman… but, last time I checked Christ was a colorblind, resurrected Jewish Messiah. His Church should be colorblind. The “Body of Christ”, aka, the Church, is a beautiful, multicolored, patchwork quilt. My post is in reference to the church, marriage, and dating… NOT African American people.
Here is the link to the article referenced in this post: CNN.com – Does the black church keep black women single?. While you could go there and read the article, I am copying and pasting many points from it in the text below. Quite a few articles could be written about some of the claims / issues in the article: men’s issues with the church, too much reverence for a pastor, the culture of Christianity in the South, using Church as a dating service, and more… but I will stick to the main claim about the Church “keeping women single”.
Essentially, the commentators in this article accuse the church of being the reason devout African American women are single. Although you probably understood that fact from the title of this post, I will let the article explain itself:
Deborah Cooper, a writer for the San Francisco Examiner, recently made claims on her blog SurvivingDating.com that predominantly black protestant churches, such as African Methodists, Pentecostal, and certain denominations of Evangelical and Baptist churches are the main reason black women are single. Cooper, who is black and says she is not strictly religious, argues that rigid beliefs constructed by the black church are blinding black women in their search for love.
… [Devout belief in Christianity] and attachment to the black church that is keeping black women like Davis — single and lonely.
I do find it quite interesting that someone who is “not strictly religious” is telling the Church how to interpret the writings and teachings in the Christ and the Holy Bible. Cooper continues…
“Black women are interpreting the scriptures too literally. They want a man to which they are ‘equally yoked’ — a man that goes to church five times a week and every Sunday just like they do,” Cooper said in a recent interview.
“If they meet a black man that is not in church, they are automatically eliminated as a potential suitor. This is just limiting their dating pool.
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 – Do Not Be Yoked Together with Unbelievers
Let’s allow Scripture to speak for itself here.
14Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15
I do not see how interpreting these particular verses is complicated nor questionable. This is one of those tidbits that is actually pretty straight-forward. This is not of an issue of “taking it too literally”… the more appropriate questions are “Why does it say that?” and “Do I have faith in Christ enough to believe and live it?”. In a moment we will explore the “Why” question.
Unfortunately, some of the commentators in the article seem to assume God and marriage are unrelated. However, that is obviously far from the truth. Being legally united by the government and being a Christian united in marriage by and under God are different. God intentionally designed marriage.
Marital companionship is not God. Christians should not be defined by their relationship statuses. It is NOT OK for single OR married people to idolize marriage. Marriage, money, sex, other carnal pleasures, work, children, and so many other things can be idols. Idols are not Good. Idols are not God. Marriage is not Jesus.
In the article, another really smart-sounding, and undoubtedly intelligent person offers additional thoughts…
Dr. Boyce Watkins, a professor at Syracuse University and advocate for African-American issues, responded to Cooper’s article online. Though he applauded Cooper’s courage to voice her opinion , he agreed — and disagreed — with her.
“I don’t think the church keeps black women single,” Watkins says. “But I do agree that some black churches teach women that they must only date a man that goes to church regularly.”
Watkins, who is African-American and whose father is a Southern Baptist minister, described his interactions with southern women who are devout churchgoers. “I am a male and I know that I will treat a woman well, but I have been rejected many times because I don’t thump a bible with me everywhere that I go.”
I’m glad churches teach that a woman must only date a man that goes to church regularly… but that is one of MANY reference and relational points for pursuing a romantic relationship. Going to church does not make someone a Christian. I am not saying going church is “optional”. Christ died for the Church. While churches are definitely full of a bunch of knuckleheads, myself included; church is an immense blessing. Hebrews 10:25 tells us “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
What is Marriage and What are Man / Woman’s Roles?
Volumes have been written on these topics, but lets sum them up . The important questions here are:
- What is marriage?
- What are man and woman’s roles in marriage?
A Christian marriage is a life-long union where two separate entities are bonded together. Both persons are called to live in complete submission to Christ, while selflessly serving, submitting to , and loving EACH OTHER. Please note, that does NOT say: “Lowly Woman: Cook, Clean, Make Babies & SUBMIT to Your Husband”
Ephesians 5:22-33 communicates some of responsibilities of man and woman in marriage.
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will tleave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33
How in the world or eternity, can a man who is not in love with Christ lead and love a woman as Christ loved the church? How can a man like that present his wife as holy and blameless before the Lord? A husband is called to be submitted to Christ and somehow, only by the Holy Spirit, reflect the love of Christ to his wife, which should point the wife right back to Jesus.
I find great difficulty living this with my wife even as I try loving Jesus with all mind heart, mind, and strength. There is a HUGE difference between “treating a woman well” as Dr. Bryce mentions, and earnestly seeking to fulfill the role of husband, as defined by the Bible. The husband is called to the heavy and humbling role of spiritual leader within a marriage. How can the relationship of Christ and the church be shown in a relationship between two “unequally yoked” Christians, much less between a Christ-lover and and an unbeliever. The unequivocal and definitive answer is, they cannot. God designed marriage as a gift and responsibility that should point back to Him and his love. This means it should be fulfilling and joyful in Him.
Will You Trust Christ in your Dating?
This is the other important question. God designed marriage, so He is the only one that can tell us how it is supposed to work. He tells us in the Bible.
Some people are so afraid of being lonely or they want sexual pleasure so badly that they will say “God, this is one area of my life that I just will not trust you in?” What are the results of trusting God? As Christian, you should not be dating someone who has not given their life to Christ and who is not passionately pursuing God. Many people know this truth, but choose to wipe it under the rug for mediocre companionship and other types of fulfillment. Let’s face it, those folks are afraid of being alone and want to feel affection / and love. It is OK to feel this way! Those are some of the very reasons God sacrificed Christ in the ultimate act of love. He did not call for you to replace his pure love with piddly table scraps. Pursue God, experience his love and grace, and let life happen as you do that.
Many say things like “I hope my unbelieving significant other finds Jesus or sees Jesus in me”. However, there is a deep flaw to that idea. The person actually experiences you living in contradiction with not just Christ’s command, but his intentional design. Instead of showing them Christ, you are are most like pushing the person away from Him.
I’ll use the wonderful words of Patty Davis, 46, of Union City, GA from the article to conclude this post. She said everything a woman needs to know:
“Every day is a blessed day for me,” she says. “Jesus is the No. 1 man in my life and any man who wants me must seek me through Him.”
… “All the arguments over what the church preaches miss the point. What truly matters are women’s motives. The real question is: What are you coming to church for?” she says. “To feed your spirit? Or your carnal desires?”
“It is a woman’s own actions and decisions that will determine the outcome of her love life, not the church’s,” Davis says. “Because the last time I checked, the church ain’t no dating service.”
Pardon my manly 3 snaps of “You Go Girl [mmm hmmmm]”. Patty Davis “gets it”. I hope she is blessed with a husband that passionately loves Jesus. However, if she does not get married, she will be quite alright.
All we need to do is love, worship, and serve Jesus and others. In our own power, that is impossible. With Christ it flourishes. If marriage happens great. If it doesn’t, great. God is great. He should be the source of our fulfillment. He is our most important relationship. Focus on pursuing and loving Him. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”