Category Archives: A Theology of Singleness

The Pursuit of Online Integrity

Last week I wrote about the blessings of singleness (you can read it here), but it wouldn’t be fair to write about its blessings without also writing about it’s challenges.  The greatest of these is living up to what I like to call “online integrity”

Online integrity can be defined by being above reproach with everything viewed online.  That does of course mean we stay away from things such as pornography or R rated, and profanity filled programming.  But it also includes websites or programs that it would be best for a Christian to stay away from (even if you aren’t looking at something bad) and the “look away moments” in much of todays streaming services.

Living at this higher standard of online integrity is absolutely essential…but its almost impossible to do alone.  So online integrity means having an online accountability partner 

Some people would view having an internet filtering system that keeps you from going to certain sites as enough for achieving online integrity.  This is an absolute must (I heartily recommend Net Nanny which sets the standard for online filtering) but you must actually go deeper than just being blocked out.  There must be a level of accountability with someone who will be alerted when you go to a suspicious site.

Another reason I love Net Nanny is they send a detailed report to an accountability partner you have chosen once a week, and more than that if you go to a site that they have flagged.  In my case I’ve chosen the person I have more respect for than anyone (my father) to receive notifications.  

They (Net Nanny) also allow you to set your standard at different levels which leads to some interesting sites being flagged.

  1. (a news reading site)
  2. The SVG tv guide
  3. And (understandable but I use it for news)

In a way Net Nanny (along with my accountability partner) has helped me begin avoiding websites that could possibly have something bad on them.  It is annoying taking some sites out of my daily habit since they are flagged, but its better to cut them out now, than have sites destroy my testimony later.

Don’t Waste Your Singleness

Dear Single Christian,

On Valentines day (or as I like to call it “the day of the Black Death”..just joking) its easy to feel ashamed or less than important because you aren’t married, or in a relationship.

So today especially let me remind your there’s an incredible blessing serving God as a single person.

As a forty-two (next month forty-three!) year old single person I definitely understand the frustrations with serving God as a single.

  1. the Bible clearly teaches God is glorified in the marriage relationship between a husband and a wife
  2. Marriage is especially necessary if you are serving within the local Church like I am
  3. Obviously this also presents purity challenges which God gives help with
  4. And serving as a single makes it easy to become isolated from others, just doing things on your own

At the same time there are blessings for the single Christian. One of the greatest being a large amount of free-time.

A great privilege within marriage (speaking from the husbands perspective) is protecting your wife and children, as well as caring for their financial needs. The wife’s privilege within marriage is caring for the day to day needs of children (a HUGE ministry) and encouraging her husband.

Obviously between work and these responsibilities there is little free-time left for yourself. This isn’t a bad thing since family is your priority. However there is little extra time or energy for deeper study or ministry.

The single person on the other hand has lots of time to themselves….

At the moment as I type the only other sound is a wall fan, and occasional snoring of a sleeping dog. That silence allows me to get MASSIVE amounts of work done in a short amount of time since I’m not interrupted.

Its possible on a good day to complete in 30 minutes what would take other people an hour or more. Thats not because I’m incredibly gifted, but because I have silence.

So Christian single let me exhort and challenge you to use wisely the free-time you been given as a gift of God.

  1. Use it for deeper Bible study
  2. Extended prayer
  3. Reading a challenging book
  4. Focusing on intense uninterrupted work (called “Deep Work” in Cal Newports book)
  5. Creating something (writing, building, etc)
  6. Ministering to those around you in a strong way
  7. Taking well-calculated risks
  8. And being purposeful with your life

There is still a part of me that seeks marriage if it is God’s Will because marriage is clearly commanded by God. But until that day (if it ever comes) I am committed to using the gift of singleness to the greatest effect possible.

The Sacrifice of a Missionaries Mother

Thursday morning I finished reading “A Tribute to Mothers Who Send their Children Into Missions” by Lori McDaniel, and sent the link to my parents with tears in my eyes.  The entire article is excellent, but one paragraph spoke to me in a special way.

A mother of a missionary celebrates with her extended family during holidays, but she can’t wait to snuggle up with technology when that video call comes from her child overseas—even if it means she must patiently hit “call again” as “no connection” repeatedly appears on her screen.

There are moments of homesickness or loneliness in Barrouaillie, but missionaries, friends, and countless children who shout “Mr. John!” mean those moments don’t come very often.  Though part of me will always miss mom and dad the strong relationships on the mission field are used by God to fill the void of being away from family…so it’s easy to think sometimes other relationships will fill that same void in my parent’s life.

But it doesn’t

The truth is we missionaries (Including myself) often get so wrapped up in the busyness of daily ministry that we forget about the emotional pain of those still at home.  Yes God gives grace, yes it is a sacrifice they make willingly, yes they are incredibly proud…but it still hurts sometimes.

Thinking about Mothers day and Thursdays article reminded me of the morning I accepted the call to full-time missions.  The Lord had been dealing with me for months (I was too scared to go), but after a veteran missionary, Chick Watkins preached from the last book of John there was no more running.

As I knelt at the altar my mother came down and put her arm around me.  She thanked the Lord for my obedience to His will and gave me over to a life of missions.  In that moment I didn’t realize the worries, concerns, and questions that were going through her mind, but they didn’t keep her from obeying God’s Will for my life.

Today she rejoices in the Lords work through my life and every morning texts to ask how my “fur babies” (puppy and cat) are.  But its necessary to remember those texts and brief video chats can never take the place of actually being there.

There are still moments of concern, worry, or even heartache. It’s in those moments she remembers that prayer many years ago, and once again lays me upon the altar.

The kind of sacrifice that is precious in the eyes of God

Learning to Love the Friend Zone

In the corner

As a teenager I spent a lot of time in whats commonly called “the friend zone” [1]. It usually began with my showing interest in a girl and included a conversation that began with the words “we need to talk” and ended with the words “your a nice guy” while a knife was stuck in my heart 🙂

For a young man the friend zone is the last place you would ever want to be since your constantly reminded there’s no possibility of a relationship. But looking back on my teenage years I can see it as an important part of healthy relationships.

The key difference is instead of coming on too strong and being relegated to the friend zone awkwardly, men must choose to enter it at the beginning of a relationship before dating begins.

Normally the friend-zone isn’t something you would enter willingly
1. You will usually be spending time with the young woman and her friends instead of yours which can be sort of awkward
2. Anyone who enters the friend zone realizes there is absolutely 0% chance of dating her
3. And its common for the young woman to interact with you in a different way than other guys  [2]

So why should I subject myself to something like this willingly? Because in the friend zone you can discover what they are really like.

its my personal opinion there needs to be a relationship stage before the initial “coffee dates” where we truly learn about the person. This isn’t just to think through compatibility, but for a Christian its to ask whether or not this is a person God may have chosen for them to marry.

It is possible to learn about the person while going out for coffee or ice-cream, but in reality a commitments already been made [3] and they won’t be sharing too much of themselves at that point anyways.

The common pre-coffee stage for Christian young men is something I call a “stalker stage” which involves spending time with her whenever possible, and studying like theres an exam on her life next period [4]. While you may gain some information this way its way too obvious, so your not really accomplishing the goal of finding out what kind of person she is.

The friend zone is different because the emphasis is on learning what kind of person they are by observation instead of asking lots of questions. Being a guy they could never see themselves dating is awkward…but you can see how she responds.

  1. To discouragmeent-what is she like on a bad day?
  2. To failure-does she just give up or keep trying?
  3. To anxiety-What worries her? How does she respond to things that are frightening?
  4. Or to anger-Does she have a temper problem?  The she does get made what kind of things calm her down?

It won’t take long to get a firm understanding of what she is like on her best and worst days. You will also know whether or not this is someone you want to pursue a relationship with.

Of course if you do find out this persons someone your interested in then you have to successfully “escape the friend zone” which definitely isn’t an easy feat. However many times being able to observe people over time allows us to work past the initial emotion, and realize they aren’t as perfect as we imagined them to be.

  1. for those who don’t know, this is when a person your interested in isn’t interested at all in dating you, but still wants to hang out as friends. Its leads to very awkward situations  ↩
  2. she will talk and interact as if your “one of the girls”  ↩
  3. One to find out if the other persons truly interested in you, and express your interest in them  ↩
  4. constantly asking her very personal questions, and grilling her friends for information  ↩

There needs to be a dating stage before the “Coffee Stage” of a relationship


A few months before leaving Barrouallie I began teaching on relationships at our Young Adults meeting every Friday.  During each these lessons we discussed what a dating relationship would look like if our final goal was marriage with the person who God had chosen for our lives.

Some of the changes this would bring were obvious (you ask “is this a person God may want me to marry?” Instead of “am I attracted to this person?”) but others took a lot more time to truly understand.  One truth in particular took them weeks to grasp because it goes against pretty much everything they believed about relationships.

There has to be a dating stage before your pre-dating stage

I know this is confusing so allow me to explain…

95% of the time a couple won’t go out and start dating right away since even though they may be really interested in a person, they don’t truly know them.  Therefore instead of asking  that person out on a date you would invite them to something that had a lower commitment level like going to get coffee or ice-cream.  This would allow you to get to know each other after working through the initial “awkward silence” and if your careful it can even be done without anyone else finding out.  The general idea is after going to get coffee or ice-cream a certain number of times your ready to make a decision about entering a dating relationship.

Now I have nothing against the coffee stage of a relationship because it keeps things from becoming too serious right away.  This is especially true if your thinking of marriage in the coffee stage since there’s no way to know whether or not that person is someone God may want you to marry without learning more about them.

My point isn’t that the coffee stage is a problem….instead I think we should make it longer by creating a separate relationship stage BEFORE the coffee stage begins.  

Now before you start looking for a Bible passage that teaches this there isn’t.  My belief that there needs to be a pre-dating stage for our pre-dating stage comes through my own teenage years.

Take a few moments with me this afternoon and remember what it was like to be a teenager (go buy some stridex pads for your acne if it helps).  How long did it take you to go from “wow that persons beautiful!” To “do you want to get a cup of coffee?”  If your anything like me while the physical act may take a week or so , mentally you were already thinking of conversation starters and jokes for the upcoming coffee “date”

Did you notice that there was no real evaluation stage where I focused on learning what kind of person she was before entering the coffee stage?  

“Oh come on!” You might say, “the coffee is all about learning what kind of person she is!”  That’s true, but in all of my first coffee stage dates I didn’t really learn too much about the person

  1. Because I was too busy trying to get through the awkward silence
  2. Thinking about what I should (or shouldn’t) be saying
  3. Trying to make myself look awesome (I am awesome, but it’s hard to be that way in a stressful situation)
  4. And attempting to find the deeper meaning in everything she said

After the first or second coffee date one of two things happens…either you become comfortable with each other and move into a dating relationship, or drown your sorrows in pepsi and baked goods.  Either way the result of a coffee stage proves there needs to be a relationship stage before it.

For those who don’t move on a pre-coffee stage would save heartache and empty calories

And those who move into the dating relationship still don’t truly know the other person….they are in a position to get to know the person better, but following the coffee stage have just become comfortable with one another.

Think about all the pain, sorrow, and empty calories that could be avoided if there was a stage before coffee.

What if we knew that guy was an egotistical jerk, or that girl was incredibly controlling BEFORE the pre-dating stage.

What if it was possible for us to honor God by only taking that first step with those who we feel may be God’s will for marriage instead of going from interest to coffee in seconds?

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