V'iolence/PA Summit/Marriage Ed journal/Singles - 7/04
Smart Marriages ®
Tue Jul 20 13:05:30 EDT 2004
subject: violence/PA Summit/Marriage Ed journal/Singles - 7/04
- PENNSYLVANIA SUMMIT
- SPECIAL MARRIAGE EDUCATION EDITION OF FAMILY RELATIONS
- SINGLE EVANGELICAL IN NEED OF ADVICE? BOOKS HAVE PLENTY
Breaking Patterns of Intergenerational Violence
Instructor: Rita DeMaria, PhD
July 26, 10 AM - 12 Noon
For information: www.councilforrelationships.org/Workshops/CE.htm#schedule
- PENNSYLVANIA SUMMIT
First Pennsylvania Healthy Marriage Summit
July 29-30, 2004 - Radisson Penn Harris Hotel, Camp Hill, PA
For info: www.pafamilies.org or 717/561-0314
- SPECIAL MARRIAGE EDUCATION EDITION OF FAMILY RELATIONS
INNOVATIONS IN MARRIAGE EDUCATION is the title of a special issue of the
scholarly journal, Family Relations to be published in October. A total
of 17 articles by authors including Bill Doherty, Stan Weed, Howard Markman,
Scott Stanley, Jeff Larson, Kim Halford, Theodora Ooms, Alan Hawkins, Ben
Silliman, Francesca Adler-Baeder address issues such as:
Why is government so interested in marriage education? What are
examples of projects under study?
Where are some examples of successful community marriage
initiatives? Do they reduce the divorce rate?
How do we get marriage education to couples most at-risk for
What are examples of newly-developed and empirically-validated
marriage education programs?
What are the greatest future challenges for the field of
Guest Editor for this special issue is Jeffry H. Larson, Ph.D.
Family Relations is published by the National Council on Family
Relations. Order advance copy at special reduced price for this single
issue: $21 for professionals and $10 for students. To order call
- SINGLE EVANGELICAL IN NEED OF ADVICE? BOOKS HAVE PLENTY
The New York Times
July 19, 2004
> Two years ago, the online bookstore Christianbook.com
> offered 59 titles directed at singles; it now sells more than 300.
> Notably, many of the books, like "Living Whole Without a Better Half" by
> Wendy Widder and "Table for One" by Camerin Courtney, a columnist for
> Christiansinglestoday.com, seek to cast a positive light on being single, a
> status still stigmatized in many conservative Christian communities.
By GINIA BELLAFANTE
By any standard, Michelle McKinney Hammond qualifies as a prolific writer.
In less than a decade, Ms. Hammond has written 20 books, 5 of them published
in the past 18 months, and nearly all are devoted to helping Christian women
navigate the territories of love, dating and self-empowerment.
Close to one million copies of her books have been sold, and Ms. Hammond's
talks at churches and Christian conferences draw thousands of women.
In one of her most popular titles, "Sassy, Single and Satisfied," which has
sold 150,000 copies since its release last year, Ms. Hammond, who is 46 and
single, asks, "Why do we feel that if we are not married, we are not free to
enjoy life to the fullest?"
Ms. Hammond is perhaps the most visible face of a growing evangelical advice
industry for single men and women that borrows more from the vernacular of
psychotherapy than theology, and advances the discussion of romantic
attachments beyond a focus on chastity.
Traditionally, Christian-themed books about dating have been intended for
teenagers and college students. In recent years, recognizing that Americans
of all faiths are marrying later in life, Christian presses have published
books on the more-nuanced issues that adults face as they fall in and out of
According to the Evangelical Publishing Association, the number of
Christian-themed books on single living sold in the United States over the
past year has risen by 35 percent, and the number of books specifically on
dating 21 percent. Two years ago, the online bookstore Christianbook.com
offered 59 titles directed at singles; it now sells more than 300.
Notably, many of the books, like "Living Whole Without a Better Half" by
Wendy Widder and "Table for One" by Camerin Courtney, a columnist for
Christiansinglestoday.com, seek to cast a positive light on being single, a
status still stigmatized in many conservative Christian communities.
When Dr. Amy Voelker, a 33-year-old pediatrician in Kansas City, Mo., read
"Table for One" two years ago, its message of living a full life even
without a partner led her to adopt a child on her own, she said. "It gave me
comfort to know I was not the only one who had not found Mr. Right," Dr.
Of the approximately 15 million evangelical Christians in America, about 3.5
million are single adults, 500,000 to 1 million of them never married,
according to the Barna Group, a research group that analyzes Christian
trends. But demographics alone are not responsible for literature devoted to
these single men and women.
Beyond the proscription on sex outside marriage, evangelicals grapple with
relationship issues many other young Americans do not, spiritual leaders and
authors say. For example, many single people raised in conservative
Christian denominations believe it is not necessary to actively pursue a
partner. "They believe that God will deliver their mate to their doorstep,"
said Ben Young, an associate pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston and
author of the book "The Ten Commandments of Dating." "What I always tell
these people is, `Well, then the only person you're going to meet is the
postman or a Jehovah's Witness.' " Mr. Young said.
Such passivity, some ministers and Christian counselors say, can lead to the
sort of poor decisions that result in failed marriages. Consequently, many
of the new books stress a near-scientific approach to analyzing
compatibility. A recent book by the popular Christian writer H. Norman
Wright, "101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged," asks couples to
reveal not only what they might ask Jesus to change in their lives, but also
what they would like to say to their parents that they never did.
"There's a belief that as long as you marry a Christian and you're turned on
to that person, that's enough," said Neil Clark Warren, the author of
spiritually minded relationship guides like "Date ... Or Soul Mate?"
"It's an absolute scandal for Christians that the divorce rate is as high as
it is," said Dr. Warren, a former dean of the graduate school of psychology
at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. According to a survey of
7,043 Americans chosen at random by the Barna Group in 2001, 33 percent of
all marriages for born-again Christians ended in divorce. "In the Christian
camp, there is so much emphasis on premarital sex," Dr. Warren said, that it
has led to "a push to marry young."
Dr. Warren, an evangelical Christian who holds a doctorate in clinical
psychology from the University of Chicago, is the ostensible leader of what
might be termed the better-selection movement. Four years ago, hoping to
curb the divorce rate, Dr. Warren, 69, founded the Web site eharmony.com,
which asks subscribers to fill out a 436-question survey and tries to match
couples in 29 areas of compatibility. About 15 of the questions relate to
spiritual practice. Although the site is nondenominational (and it will not
match up same-sex couples), it is particularly popular among Christians
because of Dr. Warren's prominence.
Regina Clark, 34, an evangelical Christian from Washington, D.C., who works
as a hairstylist, heard an advertisement for eharmony last year on a
Christian radio station. "At first I thought the word of God says my husband
is supposed to find me; then I said maybe God is using this as a vehicle for
my husband to find me," Ms. Clark recalled. She did not own a computer, but
went out and bought one. Through eharmony, she met Daryl Clark, a
firefighter, in January, and they were married in April. The time frame is
not what Dr. Warren would have advised. He believes no couple should marry
before the two-year mark.
Another reason for the explosion of interest in Christian single life is the
belief among some unwed evangelicals, and even some ministers, that church
culture has lagged behind secular society in validating the experiences of
those without partners or families.
"The church has adapted the concept that there is something wrong with you
if you've reached a certain age and you are not married," said Heindrich
Shirley, 34, a pastor at Redemption World Outreach Center, a Pentecostal
church in Greenville, S.C., with 6,500 congregants, more than half single.
"We've given singles the idea that if they're single they are diseased or
gay," Mr. Shirley said. He is holding a conference for singles later this
month, at which Ms. Hammond, the author, will be the featured speaker.
The importance of marriage and family to church life can leave many singles
feeling alienated. "Sunday mornings are my loneliest time; I go to worship
and I often feel like crying," said Kristee Jackson, 30, a social worker in
suburban Chicago who grew up in an evangelical household.
Though many churches have long maintained singles ministries - church
services and social outings just for singles - unmarried congregants say
they often feel segregated by them. At least one among the new wave of
books, last year's "Single, Not Separate," calls for churches to integrate
singles better. "Single people should not feel like misfits, especially at
church," said Virginia McInerney, the author of the book.
Like many of the new books, "Single, Not Separate" urges women to be
self-reliant. Ms. McInerney's written by women with a strong message of
self-reliance. Others with a similar bent include "The Single Truth" by Lori
Smith and "A Girl and Her Money: How to Have a Great Relationship without
Falling in Love" by Sharon Durling, a former stockbroker in Chicago.
Ms. Courtney, the online columnist, who is 32 and single, said she was
motivated to write "Table for One" to counter the attitude of some single
women that " `I won't buy a house, I won't buy nice dishes - I'll just get
some at Target, I won't do anything until I get married.' "
Ms. Smith, an evangelical author and speaker, included in her book a chapter
titled "You May Not Get Married." Such a message of self-sufficiency
ultimately proved too unconventional even for the producers of "Sex and the
City," who ended their series this year with all four main characters in
Ms. Smith's book, on the other hand, says that marriage is neither
preordained nor is there any guarantee that a woman will find a husband if
she goes seeking one. That kind of pragmatism may stem partly from the
demographic reality that there are far fewer single, churchgoing Christian
men then there are women. "The imbalance is real and has historical
precedent," said Lauren Winner, an adjunct professor of religion at the
University of Virginia. Ms. Courtney said some of the churches she has
attended have had a ratio of four single women to every single man.
"I once got a letter from a reader that said, `I know that even if I were
stranded on an island, God would send me a mate,' " Ms. Courtney said. "I
wanted to write back and say, `If you're stranded on an island, you
shouldn't be worried about a husband, you should be thinking about a boat.'
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