A reader yesterday drew my attention to a very good list of suggestions for what churches should do to encourage marriage between its single members. The list, he said, comes from a blogger named Free Northerner, who is part of the manosphere, but I think these are excellent suggestions. Here’s how it starts, referring to the graph above (which comes from the arch-manosphere blogger Heartiste):
Follow the yellow line, it represents the church. In 1940, the church was the third likeliest method of meeting your spouse, after family and friends. Now it is the lowest, practically non-existent, while family is the second lowest.
Some of this could possibly be chalked up to declining church attendence rates, especially among the young, but, church attendence has remained near 40% since 1940.
Church leaders are always asking why young people leave the church. The first graph is all that needs to be said.
Young people are looking to find love. This is natural, this is healthy. If they can not find love in the church, they will find it elsewhere.
The church should be supporting young people in finding love, so healthy, productive marriages will result. Instead, the church has entirely abandoned its responsbility to promote family formation, and has left the process to peers, clubs, and online dating.
Why is the church letting this happen? Why is the church forcing their young people to rely on friends, the club, and online dating to find a family? Are godly marriages going to result from restaurants and bars? Are peers the best means of finding a marriage partner?
If young Christians are forced to look elsewhere to find love and marriage, they will be enticed by the secular world. If a man can’t get a wife at church, that cute non-Christian smiling at him at work may have a stronger pull than his developing faith. If a young woman isn’t being courted at church, resisting the temptation of the attention of dozens of men at the club will be difficult.
If the church doesn’t capture its young people through marriage and love, the secular world will through sex and pleasure, and the church will continue to collapse.
Is the church really going to allow the depersonalized meat market that is online dating to be the most effective way to find a Christian spouse?
Of course, church’s aren’t entirely to blame: where are the parents? Look at that blue line? Why has this generation completely abandoned their children to fend for themselves?
If you want to see the church renewed, if you don’t want your young people to continue abandoning the church, fix this. Bring your young people together and get them married. Don’t abandon them to their own devices and allow the secular world to devour them.
The writer then goes on to make some useful suggestions. The first one:
1) Christian parents need to start talking with other Christian parents and start meeting with each other as families. Bring your children together in casual situations so they can get to know each other.
That was one of the most startling things to me after my conversion to Catholicism in my mid-20s: how impossible it was to meet a potential spouse at church, and how unconcerned any of the older people there — priests and laymen — were about it. Fortunately, God sent us Leah Libresco Sargeant (read about her in The Benedict Option; she has a book coming out on how to do Benedict Option hospitality).
We need about 10,000 Leah Libresco Sargeants.