Wednesday, May 09, 2007

~ throw your hands up at me ~

Monday night I participated in a taping of the Revive Our Hearts radio show with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Nancy had a special guest in town, Carolyn McCulley, discussing the topic of singleness. This particular taping was more of a question-answer session with the audience, as never married, currently married and formerly married women discussed the joys and the challenges of being single. I appreciated Carolyn’s heart and was laughing at the familiarity of many of the stories she shared.

At one point in the conversation, Nancy was really pressing the topic of “pursuing”, and opened the floor up to any questions the audience had on the subject. An 18 year old college freshman raised her hand and wanted to ask a question on behalf of a friend. Her friend (whom I gathered was close to if not the same age) was not pursuing a relationship, but had been pursued by several guys. This friend feels called to be a missionary, and as her “pursuers” do not have a similar calling, she has declined their interest. The audience member was asking what the friend should do about these pursuits.

What happened next put my body into near shock. My chest tightened. My heart was racing. It was as if I was listening to the conversation from a distant observation point. Carolyn’s response was to compare this friend’s call to missions with an irrational “ideal-mate checklist” (i.e. he has to dress nice, play guitar, like puppies…). She mentioned that we tend to set too many expectations for what our lives will be, and that when we marry our responsibility is to submit to our husband’s call for his life. (Note that I am not quoting word-for-word, as I was in a daze and could not shake myself to take notes). She said that marriage is meant to interrupt our plans for our lives.

I don’t whole heartedly disagree with what Carolyn was saying, I just felt that she was completely missing the point and speaking to something entirely different. This girl has a call on her life (and, in reality, don’t we all?) to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations”. And she is not willing to settle for “some guy” and surrender that call. The impression that was left was that women do not have individual callings on their lives from God, that a woman’s sole calling is to be a wife, that a woman has no purpose for God apart from marriage, and that singleness is not an option but rather a waiting period.

I couldn’t hold it in. I had to raise my hand and ask for clarification. I asked how she would suggest that women who do feel called to be single can pursue God’s call for their lives wholeheartedly and still pursue what she calls “biblical femininity”. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what I asked, as my mind was racing and my voice was shaking. I tried not to use her terms and I tried really hard not to sound attacking or defensive. I brought in
John Piper’s recent sermon, which I could tell from the responses I got that both Carolyn and Nancy had read.

Carolyn McCulley sort-of tried to respond but ultimately fell back into the “most women are called to be married and should spend their singleness preparing for marriage” monologue. It broke my heart. It was like she had no concept of singleness apart from marriage, of singleness as a life option, of singleness as an opportunity to fully pursue the heart and mission of God for His world. Luckily Nancy Leigh DeMoss did chime in and reference several single female missionaries who had tremendous impact for Christ. Now I don’t always agree with everything Nancy says or writes (and I’m certain she would not agree with everything I say and write), but I very much appreciated her help that night and my heart was able to sit back and rest a little.

I wonder if Miss McCulley has taken a
Perspectives course? I think it would expand her vision a bit. And I think I now know what I will share with my own Perspectives class when we have our celebration/wrap-up next week.

The conversation continued to weigh on me as I left the recording. I stayed up writing down thoughts that night. I woke up writing down thoughts the next morning. I sat in my car in the parking deck at the office pouring thoughts onto paper. Once I finally made it to my desk, I kept a document opened on my computer to continue capturing all of the emotions and questions that were running through my mind. I think I am coming alarmingly close to adding yet another book on singleness to the store shelves.

I could not escape the plaguing question of what we are teaching our young girls (and our young boys, for that matter). Remember
this post? How many of our children and youth even know that singleness is an option for their life, whether for a season or for a lifetime? Are we teaching our kids to pursue a good, Christian family, or are we teaching them to pursue Christ and his commands? A life lived desiring to fully live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is going to look fairly similar whether lived out as a single or lived out as a wife and mother (and both situations will bring unique joys and challenges). But a life lived simply in pursuit of marriage, and not in pursuit of the heart of God is going to be empty and meaningless, whether a husband comes along or not.


Anonymous said...

The tightness in your chest is the Holy One. I call that a warning that you are in a dangerous place.

I went to the website for having my heart revived and I noted several things:

1) The largest and most prominent image on the page is the face of a human being. This is strange to me - given the numerous references in scripture which would lead me to believe that this self-glorification is not what Christ had in mind when he chose to die on a tree for each and every person on the face of the earth. She seems rather prominent. This seems a contradiction to me.

2) One may purchase many things on this website. Most notably a CD for $20 entitled Leaving a Godly Legacy. I don't feel the need to comment further on this. There is also a store, in which one may purchase a book which contains "proven principles for personal and professional fulfillment." This in addition to a Mother's Day gift set for $25.00, The "Princess and the Kiss" Packet for $37.00, and the "Squire & the Scroll" Packet for $38.00. One could go broke with all these resources.

3) A Colossians 3:12 totebag, which one can obtain by donating any amount does not prominently display the terms of the scripture which clearly state that we are to put on "...humility and meekness..." How does one do that by putting one's face at the top of a web-page as the largest icon on the site?

Most notable of all, however, was the fact that I saw myself on the website. It showed me that I am, indeed, someone trying as hard as possible to be somebody. I am trying to get the word out there. I am trying to make a buck.

Jesus keeps reminding me, though, that I'm not supposed to do that.

Daughter of Job, turn and walk away from the warnings given you by the Spirit of the Most High. Your heart is racing because of Truth. Follow it there!

Carolyn McCulley said...


Thanks for participating in the ROH recording and for writing about our time together. It was helpful and informative for me to read your reflections. I obviously didn't hear the question the same way you did. I heard it more as a question about how to evaluate the men who do pursue. I think if I had clarified the question and understood it the way you did, I would have answered it differently. I don't know if you've had a chance to read my book or not, but I think in there I make it clear that singleness is gift and it is to be used to further the Kingdom.

I trust that you understand that these Q&A sessions always carry the risk of presenting incomplete viewpoints--both because of the format and because of the limitations of the speaker. It can be taxing to be on the spot and required to give clear answers spontaneously.

Nevertheless, I am glad you were there and that you are thinking about this topic in light of God's glory. May the Lord richly bless you as you serve His people!

Ines said...

I want to read all those writings you posted the day after! when do we get to see those?? :-)