Item description for Getting Serious About Getting Married: Rethinking the Gift of Singleness by Debbie Maken...
Overview Widely accepted in the church today is the view that singleness is a gift equal to marriage. The biblical benefits of marriage and God's command to marry have been severely downplayed. Guiding us through the Scriptures and dialoguing with experts, Debbie Maken exposes the erroneous thinking in our culture and helps restore a vision of God's design for marriage.
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Studio: Crossway Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.4" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.6" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Jan 31, 2006
Publisher GOOD NEWS PUBLISHING #65
ISBN 1581347413 ISBN13 9781581347418
Reviews - What do customers think about Getting Serious About Getting Married: Rethinking the Gift of Singleness?
The Gift of Singleness: The Gift That Keeps On Taking May 12, 2008
After finishing Debbie Maken's book, "Getting Serious About Getting Married," in one sitting, I am ever more convinced of the statement that I am about to write.
The gift of singleness, as taught by today's church, is a false doctrine. (I previously stated that it was a load of crap, but I am trying to be nice.)
Now for those whose consciences have been offended because of this statement, please know that I wasn't coming after you, but after a teaching whose departure has been long overdue.
Maken briefly powerfully refutes all of the inane Christian clichés one by one, demonstrating that the historical Christian view was more in line with what God intended. God still means what He said in Genesis 2:18, despite what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7 during a time of distress. (Even then, Paul said he, along with the other apostles, had the right to take along a believing wife in 1 Corinthians 9). Yet the church treats marriage as something spurious, an event that will happen once we attain some sort of contentment with God, or what Maken calls "singleness nirvana." (Has anyone attained it? If so, please tell me.)
But there is a larger schema to Maken's arguments. She revisits the cultural paradigm shifts that has led to the current system of dating. Yes, her words towards men were particularly harsh. But there is some truth to that. For example, I am a 23-year old college student who has made some pretty unwise decisions, thus making me delay marriage unnecessarily. Even so, I am working on the qualities I hope my future mate would find attractive.
Even so, this is where I feel Maken lost me. I believe male leadership extends far beyond setting a timetable for marriage. It extends to the home. Still, I see her point. Why should women waste their time with men who won't commit? I think we are somewhat commitment-phobic by nature. Yet she doesn't give men any particular advice except to "grow up and be a man" (a paraphrase, mind you). How does that look like? How can men become "marriageable" material, especially when some men have some issues beyond lethargy and commitment-phobia?
Nevertheless, it was a thought-provoking book. I know why we singles are dying inside. It wasn't meant to be this way because our Maker said so Himself. Why are we as Christians going against what God had called good? With all of the pro-family/pro-traditional marriage social conservatism many evangelical churches advocate, it seems that it doesn't want lend a hand to help those who wish to get married at a good, young age.
**Edited on 11/11/2008 for content.
Thought-Provoking, but I Don't Completely Agree Apr 22, 2008
Maken repeatedly quotes Luther and Calvin to support her position. Reading these great theologians' work does give us valuable insight into historical Christian views about marriage. We must not forget, however, that Luther and Calvin were only theologians, not apostles or prophets. In other words, their authority does have its limits, and these men were subject to their own peculiar ideas. Consider this quote from Martin Luther:
"Men have broad shoulders and narrow hips, and accordingly they possess intelligence. Women have narrow shoulders and broad hips. Women ought to stay at home; the way they were created indicates this, for they have broad hips and a wide fundament to sit upon."
Anyone want to write a book or sermon entitled, Men have Brains, Women have Big Butts? Not me!
Ironically, both Calvin and Luther apparently violated Maken's interpretation of the Bible's command to marry in "youth"--Calvin married in his early thirties, and Luther married at age forty-two. Luther in particular lived in some unusual circumstances, but the irony is there regardless.
The "Gift of Celibacy"
Maken argues that only a select few are called to celibacy, a "special enabling giving by God to remove their otherwise natural sexual desire." I agree that lifelong singleness should be considered the exception and not the rule. I disagree, however, with this notion of celibacy being a "special enabling" which eliminates the sex drive.
Theologians may agree with her, but I simply see nothing in Scripture to back up this claim. Paul, for example, was most likely a widower (1st Corinthians 7:9), yet Maken listed him among those who had the gift of celibacy. When I read Paul's writings, I see a man who forfeited his right to re-marry (1st Corinthians 9:5)--not a man who claimed to have no sex drive. If the "gift of singleness" is not Biblical (and I agree that it isn't), then creating a "gift of celibacy=no sex drive" doctrine is equally problematic. Would we also argue that martyrs were "gifted" with no will for self-preservation?
Since lifelong celibacy is a rare calling, Maken insists that "protracted singleness" is a sin against God (violating the commandment to "be fruitful and multiply"). Much like the "gift of celibacy" idea, I simply do not see this in the Scripture.
As I read this book, I wrote "M-B" (short for "man-bashing") in the margins of several pages. Consider a few of these quotes:
"Most of the men I observed on the dating scene were essentially boys in men's clothing."
"Of course, if you're a single woman but are not called to singleness, it's usually not your fault."
"Most single Christian women today are not at fault for having to endure protracted singleness."
"The average Christian single woman isn't at fault here."
"Ultimately there are no sound reasons or legitimate excuses why men--especially Christian men--are not getting married."
"Pointing to feminists and easy sex is a convenient distraction from the real problem concerning the formation of Christian marriages."
I agree that God has given men the responsibility of pursuing wives and marriage. I also agree that God has called men to be leaders. Maken, however, seems a little too eager to put the blame of "protracted singleness" squarely on men's shoulders. Intentionally or not, this book presents all single men as immature, indecisive, hormonal brutes. Bachelors over thirty are considered particularly villainous, and are to be treated with the same suspicion that one would direct towards a drug addict. As you might imagine, I couldn't help but take some offense after several pages of this.
Premarital sex, for example, does much to destroy a man's incentive for finding a wife (I've mentioned that in previous articles--see the Male Sex Drive and the Power of a Modest Woman). If this is the case (and I believe it is), we must also hold women accountable for their own moral decisions. Men would not be having non-marital sex if there were no willing participants. I think Maken failed to make this logical connection between female moral laxity and male immaturity. The two work hand-in-hand, yet Maken's scathing criticism is only directed at the male half of this dysfunctional equation.
In this author's paradigm, the solution to "protracted singleness" is for men to get their act together. I find this quite one-sided, and it was the most disappointing aspect of this book.
After reading this, you may find it surprising that I still recommend the book. I think this author has given us some food for thought, and the book has some really good points to consider.
The Whole Counsel of God:
"When we approach Scripture, we must look at it as a whole." This is one of the first lines in Chapter 2, and I wholeheartedly agree. Beginning in Genesis, this author outlines the Bible's overall affirmation of marriage.
I believe too many singles books put undue emphasis on 1st Corinthians 7 and neglect other crucial passages. Maken does not make this mistake. While I disagree with some of her conclusions, she brings a desperately needed balance to the discussion on singleness and marriage.
Singleness and the Sovereignty of God
There was a pretty intense discussion here on my multiply account after I mentioned an article on Boundless.org. This is what I said:
"What I'm saying is that I believe singles are being taught to be too passive, assuming God will answer our prayers without us doing anything. Many authors are arguing that if we are single, it is by God's divine will and He will hook us up in His time. This is easy to say if you got married in your early to mid-20's, but what about the rest of us?
I encounter many in their late 20's and 30's (here and in the States) who want to be married but are still single. Statistically speaking, singleness has risen dramatically over the past couple of decades in the States. I suspect it is also happening here in the professional classes of Manila. Either God isn't doing His job as divine matchmaker, or we have misinterpreted our roles in finding a suitable spouse."
This author and I are definitely of the same mind when it comes to this issue. Here are a couple of quotes from the book:
"Doing nothing when it comes to pursuing marriage will most likely get you just that--nothing."
"If a woman wants to be a lawyer, she can go to law school, take the Bar Exam, send out resumes to employers, and practice law . . . But if she wants to get married, she's told to sit like a bump on a log until the right Christian man finds her. I don't think so."
Maken argues that we are "hard-wired" for marriage. Our sexual and emotional needs are God-given, she says, and were meant to be met through a marriage relationship. Telling singles "Jesus is enough" is compared to telling a starving woman that she needs Jesus instead of a sandwich. Maken is definitely onto something here. I'm afraid that too many singles have been told their desire for a spouse is idolatrous or reflects discontentment with God. GSAGM defends this desire as God-given.
The Sins (plural) of Singleness
I do not believe singleness (even "protracted singleness") is a sin in and of itself. Having said that, being single does make one more vulnerable to certain temptations (sexual immorality and pornography use, for example). Delaying marriage prolongs this period of vulnerability, and is arguably one of the reasons sexual sin is so prevalent among Christian singles.
Maken notes that two-thirds of American Christian singles are "throwing away their virginity" (engaging in premarital sex). Much of the problem, she argues, is the seemingly indefinite waiting period that we are imposing on ourselves. I think she has oversimplified the sexual immorality issue, but she does have a point (I have made this same point when lecturing about teen sexuality).
Maken gives her readers several suggestions for finding a spouse. Some of them are extreme, but many are very practical:
*Women should consider using an "agent" in courtship--someone (father) or something (dating website) to help facilitate her introduction to high quality suitors.
*Dating/courtship is "serious business" and should be preparation for marriage--if young men and women are not ready to marry, they should not date.
*Dating/courtship should be intentional. Men should be 100% clear in their intentions. Men who are not serious about marriage should not be entertained.
*Courtship should have time limits. Maken suggests that couples date for three months then make a decision (either pursue marriage or stop dating). I'm not sure that three months is quite enough time, but I agree with this principle. I've known more than one couple that dated for years then broke up. This is definitely a waste of time. Women have more to lose by prolonging such dead-end relationships (due to the biological clock factor).
GSAGM is one of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read on the issue of singleness and marriage. While I disagree with some of the author's points, I'm convinced she has made a valuable contribution to this discussion.
You can read more of my reviews at kuyakevin.com
Let Men Be Men & Take Accountability Mar 25, 2008
Kudos to Ms Maken for challenging the men to take the proper role in a relationship!
Author Of Black Women Deserve Better
Mostly the Author is Angry with the Church Mar 1, 2008
I expected that this book would be more about how/why singles are not serious about getting married, or how singles should stop worrying about the 'gift of singleness' issue and begin to do more of the things that one does when one is serious about getting married. But this book is not about singles getting married, and I would say that it is not meant particulary for singles at all. It seems to be directed at changing the prevailing attitude among church leaders. Maken makes the argument, from church history and scripture, that marriage should be the normative Christian status, and that singleness should not be accepted/tolerated as a legitimate Christian way of life in modern church culture. Though the book is very thought provoking and has value in reminding the church of the significance of marriage, I disagree with the author on many points would not recommend this book for singles. For example, I don't agree with her big idea that if everyone in the church focused intently on getting people married, and stopped legitimizing the single lifestyle, singleness as we know it would come to an end. As if Christians remain single because the Church encourages them to. Not. Also, Maken harkens back to a historical model of the 'age of marriage', but fails to consider the sweeping changes that have taken place in the world since that time, particulary for women, that might make a return to the 'age of marriage' an unrealistic, and unrealizable, goal. Overall, my biggest problem with the book is that Maken seems to lack empathy altogether for singles who want to be married but aren't. She even gives a few examples of women whose circumstances make the possiblity of marriage very unlikely, but after acknowledging the difficult situation she glibly asserts that these stupendous challenges are no excuse for remaining single. Huh? Her 'Just Do It'(get married) viewpoint misses the point and isn't encouraging, uplifting or insightful from a singles point of view.
This book gave me my faith back. Nov 28, 2007
I was a convert to Evangelical Christianity at the age of 21. For years, I struggled with the "Gift of Singleness" teachings and prevailing attitudes in the Evangelical church. I could not bring myself to believe this doctrine was of God. I no longer attend Evangelical churches, but after reading this book, I realized that the modern interpretations of the "Gift of Singleness" doctrines are not Biblical. It was very liberating to realize that I can still believe in the Bible's teaching that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone--without also having to buy into the "Gift of Singleness" garbage. There are so many voices in the Evangelical world that make it seem as if you have to accept BOTH, or you're not Christian. (Or, rather, you're not a "Good" Christian.) I wish the Evangelical people all the luck in the world solving their problems regarding the lack of men and particularly single men in the Evangelical church. If Evangelicals are smart, they will at least read this book and consider what Mrs. Maken has to say.