EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following article is adapted from A.J. Kiesling’s Where Have All the Good Men Gone? (Harvest House).

In the story The Emperor’s New Clothes, everyone ignores what they can plainly see—the emperor’s shocking nakedness—because groupthink encourages them to believe what they’ve been told versus what they know to be true.

Sometimes it feels like the same thing is happening among Christian singles in our postmodern society. We are told that singleness is a special season of grace from God, a time to be devoted solely to spiritual matters, a time to have fun before we are weighed down by the responsibilities of marriage and children. Yet privately many (if not most) of the singles you talk to long to find “the one,” growing tired of the endless round of group activities as the years tick by. Everyone is supposed to be happy-happy-happy, enjoying these carefree days of singleness, but like the awkward specter of the emperor’s nakedness, the unspoken subject hangs in the air: most of us want to get married and enjoy loving, committed relationships. 

At a meeting of my singles Bible study one night the topic turned, awkwardly, to marriage and the frustrations of singleness. As usual whenever we discussed this subject, it was a woman—in this case, me—who initiated the tack change in conversation.

“Why do you think it’s so hard to get married today?” I asked. Several other women nodded their agreement with the question, suddenly keenly interested. A couple of the guys sank deeper into the sofa or fidgeted on their chairs.

“What do you mean?” a man in the group replied, the look of incredulity on his face genuine. “People get married every day. They fly off to Vegas and get married at the drop of a hat. I think our culture makes it too easy to get married. It’s not treated seriously anymore.”

He had a point, but it was not the one I was driving at. “What I mean to say is why is it so hard to get married? Look at us—fifteen attractive men and women of marriageable age all wanting to find a mate, yet nobody is getting together and each of us is waiting for ‘the one.’ Why can’t we find someone to marry?”

Ultimately it proved to be almost a rhetorical question, but the asking sure launched a firestorm of opinions for the next forty-five minutes. This question didn’t pop randomly into my head that evening at Bible study. It was something I’d been mulling over for quite some time. At the singles functions I attended, I couldn’t help but notice how many attractive women milled around, trying to be sociable and likable, and most of all trying to get noticed. The guys were there too, of course, but generally ran fewer in number—sometimes as little as one man to every four or five women. What struck me, however, was that these weekly gatherings (in this case, at a large church) gradually came to seem like the last place in the world to meet someone interesting of the opposite sex.

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

In conversations with some of my single girlfriends, we joke that being single and Christian in the modern world is like living in The Twilight Zone. We bolster each other with our humor, wisecracking and telling first-date horror stories from our ventures into the netherworld of online dating, but sometimes the reality of living in this odd parallel universe is anything but funny.

And then there’s the weirdness of getting back “out there” after years of being off the market, so to speak. Crass as it sounds, there really is a lot of truth to the whole “market” mindset, and you find that out fast once you enter this subterranean world of commodity shoppers—especially now that finding someone to date online has become mainstream, no longer a recourse only for the bolder among us.
To all those happily married people out there who met their spouses online, please don’t be offended by my words. As I said, the “tales from the front lines” make for good laugh sessions with your girlfriends or entertaining family members at holiday gatherings. Yet beneath all the laughter and eye-rolling, I find myself growing disillusioned by degrees, and my thoughts go something like this: Do I really want my love story to begin with ‘Well, there was this website, and he saw my photo and I saw his, and then he e-mailed me…’?