A Guatemalan Wedding

March 27, 2017

Til the Cows Come Home

March 27, 2017

Oh to Be Mennonite and Single

March 27, 2017

I briefly considered calling this post “Mennonite and Single,” but that sounds too much like a profile I might put on a Mennonite dating site—a “here I am, come and get me” type of  line. Several of my non-Mennonite friends, concerned about my lack of a husband, have actually suggested I start a dating service such as that . . . MennoMatch, Mennonite Mingle . . . you get the idea. And I’ve always told them “No way!”

No way does a non-Mennonite have any idea how such an action would ruin my good reputation in Mennonite circles. We pray for a mate. We create lists of what to look for in a partner and hold seminars on how to conduct a godly courtship. We attend youth group, youth rallies, Bible school—nonchalantly, as though dating someone is the last thing on our mind.

We do NOT advertise.

Turns out I don’t need to start a Mennonite dating site, though. There already is one.

Yup. It’s called MennoMeet: An Online Singles Potluck. Check it out if you don’t believe me. No way could I have come up with something that corny myself.

It’s my non-Mennonite friends who seem most concerned about my singleness, by the way.

I have heard Mennonites say that we as a denomination have exalted marriage above its Biblical importance, and that consequently singles in our churches are marginalized and overlooked. That no doubt has an aspect of truth in it, but on a personal level, it is always my non-Mennonite friends who ask me those awkward questions. You know the ones.

“Do you have a boyfriend yet?”

Uh, no. I didn’t last time either, or the time before that. And I know you are looking at me wondering what I do in my lonely little house all day, and how come I never go out and meet people.

“Why aren’t you dating, Luci?”

Let me see. I could say, “I don’t care about getting married,” but that would make me sound cold and unnatural. Or I could say, “Well, I would if someone would ask me,” but that would make me sound desperate and unhappy. Guess I’ll settle with, “Well, if God has marriage for me, fine, and if he doesn’t, that’s fine, too.” Which will leave you looking bewildered—as though I just said God has to find me a job, or else I won’t have one—but at least it doesn’t commit me to anything.

“When are you going to find someone?”

Does, “I don’t know,” work for you?

Last year, two Mennonite singles—one a man and one a woman—posted their thoughts on marriage and its relation to the church. They had v-e-r-y different ideas.

The girl, Esther, was all like: Marriage is w-a-a-y too important in the church. Marriage is really only a metaphor of Christ and his union with the church. We should be focusing, not on marriage, but on kingdom work. Marriage is an idol that leads to an ineffective Christian witness. You can read her post, called “The Idol of Marriage,” here.

The guy—his name is Joel—was all like: In this individualistic day and age, marriage has become an inconvenience. Young people in the Mennonite church—especially the girls—don’t want to commit to marriage, either because they are too selfish or too idealistic for their own good. And not choosing commitment will cost our faith and our future. “Disposable Mennonite Men: Millennial Rejection of Marriage and Mennonite Bachelors.”

It was like watching a CNN news clip and then switching over to Fox. Whose world is reality here?

When I read the posts, I was all like: Come on guys. This is life. We’re human more than godly. We do what we do, and it’s not always bad or good. Sometimes it just is.

Esther, I really don’t think marriage (by which we mean sexual and emotional intimacy) is an idol, but a basic human desire. Like food. (Okay, so maybe food can be an idol, too.) But I would hate to say that all the people who so blithely wish marriage on me are idolators. I really just think they want me to experience the happiness in marriage they have found. And that’s a good thing, well-meant. I would hate for it to be the other way.

That being said, I appreciated your thoughts, especially the last section, which highlights how greatly singles are needed in the Christian church. I had never thought before about those issues which a single Christian can more relevantly address than a married person. Clearly, marriage is not for everyone, and to be a single with a testimony is powerful.

And no, Joel, I am not selfish or idealistic just because marriage has never worked out for me. (I lost my idealism in that respect after I reached twenty-four or so.) And no, I definitely do not keep a list. Anyway, in my experience, a guy is every bit as choosy as a girl in selecting a partner. I’m fairly certain you haven’t yet asked every single girl that you know.

I do understand where you’re coming from, though. A guy is more unhappy without a girl than a girl without a guy, as you pointed out in your blog. And now that the days of women needing a man to earn her a living are past, girls are just that much harder to squeeze a “yes” from.

Here is a song of commiseration:

(For the uninitiated, all the initials and names in this song are Mennonite Bible schools and Mennonite missions, often ideal places to find a partner.)

Be comforted, singles. There is humor in the world yet.

***

Feature photo at the top is courtesy of the PAX collection, Mennonite Church USA archives, posted in “Awkward Mennonite Photos” by Colleen McFarland.

 

31 comments

  1. My youngest son found his wife on MennoMeet. She was a local girl but they had never met. He saw her profile and sent her a message, “Do I know you?” She didn’t think so. He said, “Maybe I should,” and it went from there. She is a very sweet girl and a good wife. Sometimes it works out very well. God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.
    On the other hand, my sister is single and happy. She has a doctorate in English and has taught English in a Mennonite high school for over 30 years. She has more friends that I do.

    1. That is a sweet story about your son. People find fulfillment, as well as marriage partners, in so many different ways. I love the variety.

  2. I believe both blogs are true to an extent. I believe some have made an idol out of marriage to the extent that they are unwilling to compromise their ideals—they rather be single than show committed love to someone they regard as beneath them.

    It is true that some guys and girls are seeking marriage out of selfishness. It is also true that many remain single for selfish reasons, because they do not appreciate the options that were made available to them, and I believe that is a problem far more prevalent in this sinfully individualistic age.

    Anyhow, pretty interesting that in one breath you’re only human and in the next you are being defensive as if you are feeling guilty. Have you ran off guys who have shown interest because they weren’t up to some arbitrary standard?

    1. LOL. I wasn’t aware that I was being defensive. Mostly I was just having fun. Sort of a “lighten up, we’re only human” message. Thank you for your thoughts!

  3. I loved your post for various reasons. 1. Your featured photo is the best!! I’m still laughing! 2. What you said resonates with me. I get that question a lot from Thai friends, “Why aren’t you dating?” etc. 3. You had a well balanced view of a controversial issue. The two blog posts were both thought provoking with some good points. But one thing, Joel, please, please, do not call woman selfish for being single until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. (Which probably would be impossible, given the size of male feet.:) Thanks, Lucinda, for a good post on a subject I’ve been wrestling with.

  4. I’m not Mennonite and I’m old and widowed now. But without God being central in marriage, from bringing husband and wife together, to being welcomed into their lives daily, a couple is going to have a basket full of challenges to work through. The Bible is clear that marriage is a good thing and that from the beginning God intended it to be an integral part of his children’s lives. He set the example when he stated “it is not good for man to be alone,” and then creating Eve for Adam. He may choose, however, for a man or woman to remain single in order to best fulfill his purpose for their lives. That is why it is so important that we remain sensitive and open to God’s spirit and his leading. It is knowing and following his will that brings peace and contentment and any spiritual success we may have to our lives. I sincerely believe that we do not have to “go looking” for a companion if we are truly committed to God. If he has a partner for us, he will bring that partner to us in his own time and way. He will also make it clear to both the lady and gentleman in question that they are to be together. If either one is in doubt about the relationship, some serious praying is in order. In the meantime, as so many readers have indicated, you continue to live your lives and work for God as you understand God’s will and trust that he will grant the desires of your heart as he sees best, not just as you yourself want. Psalms 37:5 Luci, I so enjoy your insights into both the Mennonite life and on being a Christian and serving God. It’s so good to know that there are still many who are holding God and the gospel high in this day and age when wickedness is so prevalent. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I appreciate these thoughts, Teckla, and I agree. Thank you for taking the time to give such a thorough reply. My heart’s desire, like yours, is to hold the gospel high all the days of my life. God bless!

  5. *Chuckle* This came up in discussion recently coming out of a semi-formal survey that was presented (not conducted) at REACH. The gist: Out of the 650 young adults surveyed that were not dating, 44% of guys said they wished they were dating, compared to only 30% of girls. https://timothystoltzfus.com/2017/03/24/reach-2017-i-can-tell-something-is-bothering-you/ (See page 30) I do think it fails to account individually for the “A guy is more unhappy without a girl than a girl without a guy” thing.

  6. I actually know the couple in the wedding photo. The male attendant is a goofy funny person and he was making eyes at the female attendant who is his WIFE. This is called an awkward Mennonite photo, but it’s really all about perspective! 🙂 I just HAD to shed some light on it. 😉

  7. 1. Do I get to be CNN or Fox?
    2. I’m glad you blogged about this topic. Not that I necessarily feel self-conscious (very much) about my big opinions, it’s nice to know I’m not the only girl talking about things like singleness, online.
    3. I think that rather than saying that “all the people who so blithely wish marriage on me are idolators” (an idea that I included in my post, but was slightly sarcastic), I was hoping to communicate that *culturally*, marriage seems to be on an inappropriate pedestal, wherein the single life is not affirmed, celebrated, nor thought possible. This subtle attitude toward single living is problematic for a variety of reasons, outlined at the end of the post, under #3.
    4. Love the photo, lol!

    1. 1. Hmmm. CNN, I think. 😉
      2. Big opinions seem to work well for bloggers. They are more interesting than the small ones.
      3. I meant my post in fun, and definitely a bit of exaggeration is included in that. As I said, I appreciated your blog, and I believe you did get your point across. That the single life should be affirmed, celebrated, and thought possible, rather than considered a second best–I totally agree.

  8. #relatable. I have had that online dating conversation so many times. Lol. I’ve decided, next time my co-workers are talking about their significant others, and pause and look at me, I’ll just jump to, ‘no, we don’t date online.’ Will save about 5 steps of predictable conversation for me. 🙂
    P.s. Thanks for spreading some singles comedy. Always a win. 🙂

  9. I’m twenty-five….. people tell me I should have gone to bible school, lol. =) Your top pic. is perfect and song is pretty cool too.

  10. 1 Corinthians 7:1 Says it is better for a man (woman?) not to marry. 🙂 We thought our two eldest sons were being quite spiritual until recently when in quick succession they started dating. Long story , but my wife and I discovered Mennonites about 15 years ago and recently, finally, converted to Mennonitism. My second oldest son has attended about six ‘bridal’/Bible school sessions , for the sole purpose of learning about Mennonite doctrine, etc.. We were talking about it recently and he said that looking back, there had been some young ladies that had shown a ‘subtle’ interest in him, in the traditional Mennonite way, but he was oblivious. 🙂 My eldest attended ‘bridal’/Bible school twice and never really seemed convinced that the Mennonite way was right. Oddly enough my oldest son has now joined our Mennonite church and is now dating the Bishops daughter and my second eldest has not joined the Mennonite church and is actually engage to a Christian girl who to my knowledge has never set foot in a Mennonite church of any flavor.

    1. So your sons weren’t quite as “spiritual” as you thought they were. This made me laugh. As well as the young ladies showing interest “in the traditional Mennonite way.” I guess I’m so much a part of the culture I don’t think much about how our subtle methods of showing interest vary from other young people’s methods. But of course they do. And on your sons’ final choices–life is a funny old thing, isn’t it? I don’t know you, but I am glad you have chosen to be a part of our denomination and wish the Lord’s blessing on your continued spiritual journey.

  11. I’ve been there – CBS twice, Faith Mission Home, Hillcrest – and every time people predicted I’m only going to find my guy. That was NOT my intention and it didn’t happen!

    1. Glad you are satisfied with where you are. I am too. And also open and willing to be whatever/wherever God leads me.

  12. Lucy, You’re a great writer! Have you ever considered becoming an English teacher? 🙂 I always enjoy reading your blog posts!

    1. Thank you. It’s good to hear from you, Jonathan. I have good memories of being in youth group with you and you keeping things lively. 🙂 I sort of am an English teacher, in our small church school, though I didn’t specialize in it. And truthfully, though I love writing, teaching other people how to write is HARD. Seems you either love it or you don’t, and there’s not a whole lot a teacher can do to change your mind.

  13. I read up on your blog…. fun to catch up on your trip etc. Love you for a sister. Funny post on singleness n marriage! On the post when you said that it takes a ‘village’ (in my words) to help you accomplish things…. that is exactly how I feel with my life!! Love u

    1. Love you too, sister. You are always such a big encouragement in my life. Yes, and it’s so true it takes PEOPLE and LOVE and SUPPORT to do anything worthwhile in life.

  14. You are enough, with or without a mate. The video is clever. I was 25+ when God sent me the perfect mate.

    You are living a rich life which your followers recognize. 😍

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