Coffee with Perry Noble

On Mondays, we fast and pray for the Lord to do a work in our generation: for Him to move mountains, raise up men to walk into relationships, soften women to allow God to work in our hearts, and to bring the gift of marriage for those who desire it.

Every once in a while, when I run out of things to say here on FastPray and on Single Matters, I wonder if sites like these are doing good and necessary work. It’s easy to get discouraged writing about singleness and other related topics because the broader church population often still doesn’t understand what it is like to live wanting marriage, finding no one, and hearing “just hold out a little longer” from the pulpit.

Then, a co-worker sends me a blog post from South Carolina, mega-church pastor, Perry Noble summing up eight reasons why you can’t get a date or married. I read it with a furrowed brow and then, share it with Amy who is mystified. I remember why this FastPray conversation is necessary. I wish I could sit Pastor Noble down with a cup of coffee and chat about his little blog post.

According to Mr. Noble, we may be single because we don’t have our lives in order, we struggle with impurity, and we are bitter. All of those things may be true. But, there’s a huge flaw in his logic—a lack of self-control, raging bitterness, and sexual immorality aren’t sins that only afflict the unmarried. If you’re cuttingly sarcastic and bitter, you might have trouble holding a first date dinner conversation, but getting married isn’t directly tied to your current level of holiness.

As Amy and I were sitting there talking, I started laughing because really, Perry Noble’s blog post is probably the worst written advice to singles I’ve read in a while, but sadly, people say this stuff in person. And, even if it’s ridiculous, the lies can get lodged in your heart. I was reminded why we choose to fast and pray and why we talk about the ups and downs of living—wanting marriage but staying single.

Finding a spouse is not formulaic.

One problem (of the many problems) with Perry Noble’s perspective is that pretends that if you could somehow take care of those eight things, but you’d find a spouse. Check all the boxes. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Make it happen. Pluck your eyebrows. Memorize Proverbs 31. Teach Sunday school. Then, after all of that you’ll be good enough to earn a husband.

I’ve run down that road before. And, then when I opened my eyes, I realized on some kind of singleness treadmill. I thought by doing X, Y, or Z that I could manipulate my circumstances into creating a marriage. I assumed that my married friends were clearly more worthy, hotter, and better in the kitchen. I just needed to work harder.

Frenzied thinking is a spiritual trap.

You’re not single because of some broken formula that needs to be fixed. Even if somehow magically, overnight you could lose 20 lbs, get rid of all your impurity, and be 125% bitter-free—you might still be single. Marriage isn’t something you earn from good behavior.

Marriage (like singleness) is a gift. It’s not the next level in Super Mario Brothers. Your married friends didn’t get married because they beat Bowser through more complicated holy maneuvers within the time limit.

James 1 says:

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Basically, if you’re married, don’t chalk it up to your awesome skills. If you’re single, don’t waste your time blaming yourself unnecessarily. Some are married. Some desire marriage and haven’t married. God gives good gifts. He writes our stories. Do we always like where our story currently is? No. Do we even understand why on earth God is taking us down this path? Not usually. Is God trustworthy to meet your needs where you are? Definitely.

No one went to the Perry Noble School of Awesomeness and came out with a certificate of readiness and a spouse. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God, and God hasn’t abandoned us to or punished us with a life of singleness because of our sin.

And, why not? Because…

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:10-13

Blessings on you as you pray and fast this week.

Anna

 

 

 

 

 

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34 Responses to Coffee with Perry Noble

  1. Pingback: A Letter to My Younger, Single SelfSingle Matters Magazine

  2. My married brother sent me this sermon on singleness from Perry Noble’s church right before I happened to read this blog post. http://newspring.cc/watch/thehungergames/the-message-every-single-person-needs-to-hear
    Perry isn’t preaching, but it still has the same “you’re single so there must be something wrong with you,” vibe. I do appreciate it’s coming from a person who was single for awhile, and there is still some sound thinking here and therefore I couldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’d love to know what you all think.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Oh dear. Haha. This could be great or terrible! I agree that throwing the baby out with the bath water is never a good idea. Perry Noble could have solid teaching elsewhere on the subject. Thanks for passing it along. I may listen to it after I’ve had a lot of coffee.

      –Anna

      • fast. pray. says:

        I listened to the sermon. Parts of it I loved. Talking about married people including single people in their lives. That was excellent.

        Some parts of it I thought were formulaic and not solid theologically– you’re not a good gift yet etc. Many people who married weren’t “good” gifts from an earthly perspective. When God says He gives good and perfect gifts, I don’t always think it means exactly what we think it means.

        Glad I listened to it! Thanks for sharing.

        Anna

  3. Alex McKellar says:

    I had to google Perry Noble – being Australian I’m not familiar with every American mega Church Pastor. Ugh, what an awful article! (His, not yours) I would be surprised if there are any single people in his Church over the age of 30 (they would have all withered up and died with that sort of discouragement!)
    I am so grateful for a Church where I am never made to feel ‘less than’, and nobody offers ‘here’s what you’re doing wrong’ advice. It makes a huge difference that enables me to get on with it and live life whilst simultaneously waiting for an answer to prayer that might never happen.
    Thanks for your encouragement and incredible writing – I check in here every few weeks and always find something that speaks to me! 🙂

    • fast. pray. says:

      True confessions: I had to Google him too! I hope that he doesn’t give this kind of advice in real life– reading it online is bad enough!

      Glad you’re around here. 🙂

      Anna

  4. Heather says:

    My biggest frustration is that most of the people who are speaking on singleness aren’t even single. As a matter of fact, they got married in college or in their mid-twenties. It’s like someone who doesn’t have children giving parenting advice. They may have been single at one time, but do they really know what it is to live and walk in continued singleness…I’m talking YEARS of singleness? I’m 38 years old, never been married, but hope to be some day. I could tell you about a long journey in singleness and how I’ve grown from it. I’ve learned a lot and have had to surrender my plans, my perceptions and my rights because I’ve chosen to let God lead me. Is this what I would’ve chosen? No. I had other plans. But here I am. So, for those who are married and trying to lead singles, of any age, stop talking for a while and listen. You might just be surprised that you don’t understand singleness like you thought you did.

    • fast. pray. says:

      I (and the other FP writers) know that frustration well! I sometimes have hard time keeping my cynicism over cliche advice at bay, but it’s really helpful to be able to hear similar experiences from single adults all over the world. My prayer is that I will be able to be a faithful witness to God’s grace while I’m unmarried–and unafraid to speak graceful truth about living as a single adult to pastors and other married advice givers.

      Anna

  5. Stephen says:

    This is good. Very encouraging.

    I would just like to point out that it applies to single guys just as much as it applies to single girls – and that the problem of stereotypical answers goes both ways.

    A lot of the people who write about issues of marriage and unintentional singleness seem to be from some subset of culture in which there are lots of unintentionally single women pining to get married and lots of intentionally single guys, and that’s not what some of the world is like. Most of the social circles I’ve ever been in have been very nearly opposite. (For the record, y’all don’t seem to be stuck in that perspective – but most others who write on this subject are)

    Just throwing that out there in hopes that some who have this subject on their minds will realize that it isn’t always helpful just to tell guys to go initiate, and to keep telling them that as if they’ll just have to ask two or three girls out and – bam – be going steady then be married before they know it. There is a lot of helpful advice that could be given to guys about things like actually being attractive, cultivating chemistry, etc. (it isn’t nearly as obvious to some of us how to do that as it probably is to most girls), and a lot of grace that could be given by writers and speakers who write and speak as if all single men were staying single deliberately to avoid commitment, etc.

    • fast. pray. says:

      I think your right about the stereotypical answers go both ways, and I think you’re right about most of the “unintentionally single” dialogue is geared–for better or worse–towards the female perspective. I don’t know about the demographics in other parts of the country or the world, but in most of the places that I’ve lived or visited, in sheer numbers–single women outnumber men in churches, in many universities, and on the mission field. I’m not saying that feminine focus is right, but I think that’s the reason.

      And, because there are so many more women chattering on the internet about the problem, the assumption is that any men that are single in church must therefore be intentionally single–which isn’t fair at all. I know single men who are marriage-minded, but who also feel a loss as to how to navigate the current dating market in a way that is intentional without being too serious, thoughtful without being creepy, and that somehow doesn’t label them as a church-hopping player. It’s a minefield.

      I’m not saying that any of those qualifications are ok or good, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t hear that kind of confusion from single women on regular basis. Being a single, Christian man, in today’s culture, is hard.

      Re: grace-filled, advice for men — yes, this is definitely a huge need. FastPray has all female writers, which limits our perspective and ability to see things from a male point of view, but one of the reasons we pray for God to raise men up and embolden them in relationships and in the church is so that men can receive grace from the Lord to follow him down whatever path he is taking them on. We love our brothers in the Lord. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!
      Anna

      P.S. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Brett and Kate McKay’s Art of Manliness http://www.artofmanliness.com, but in terms of advice for men, they are great!

  6. Neelam says:

    Thanks so much. Spot on. So appreciate what you do.
    Thank you for speaking for us!

  7. arcee32 says:

    So good to graciously address that there is more to singles (and the waiting/transformation process) than a checklist! Thanks for doing so in a kind, gentle way. I think that the ministry of singles to other singles can be a behind-the-scenes ministry so often that it comes naturally to question if it’s bearing fruit. Now and again, you get that encouraging word from someone who is nourished by what you share or how you live and wrestle with God, knowing He loves you very much and that He’s also not on the same page as you over some of the events of your life. 🙂 I have prayed the pain and awkwardness wouldn’t be in vain and that it could lift up other women. God does answer that prayer. We just don’t see it everyday or even every month!
    I’m sure marrieds end up measuring themselves or their marriage against similar checklists that pastors comprise. Is there a kernel of truth there to reflect on? Sure, perhaps. Our lives are more complex than these lists, though. God knows intimately and He cares deeply.

    • fast. pray. says:

      You are so right about the fact that marrieds get their own checklists, and my hope for for singles is that they will not think of being married as some kind of escape from bad advice, comparison, or other pitfalls. Regardless of whether we are married or not, we will always face the temptation to believe that God is not good to us based on x, y, or z.

      Married people still face the checklist mentality… we all have to practice giving up our thought patterns to the Lord.

      Anna

  8. Monica says:

    Dear Anna, Thank you for the wonderful post which has beautifully reinforced the same core message the Lord has been teaching me this season: marriage is a gift from Him, not a goal to be earned or achieved. It is grace all over again and I have realized that apart from smartness, prettiness, kindness, I was even trying to use the fasting and praying as a way to achieve marriage (i.e. maybe if I fast two meals He will give me what I want). All around the Lord is giving evidence that he is opening the heavens and sending godly spouses to meet our desires in His perfect timing. Last week I went to the wedding of a friend with whom I started praying last March. At the wedding I met others who have seen the answered prayers from their fasting and praying, even if not yet in the form of husbands.

    Bless you and everyone in the writing group for your encouragement and use of the sword of truth to dislodge the cultural lies that unwanted/extended singleness can often attract.

    ps I loved the Super Mario metaphor.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Thanks for your note! You are right about even the potential to use fasting and praying for our own ends. My prayer is that we will fast and pray for marriage with humility and graciousness for how God is working in our hearts now.

      Haha. Couldn’t help it. I love Mario a little too much. 🙂

  9. lwinzarni says:

    Thank you for your post and your girls are blessings to all the single Christians women out there. Your posts are great encouragement to all of us.

  10. And, as is so often the case, this sage advice comes from a married man. Thanks for being brave enough to gently call him out on it. Hope your post somehow makes it back to his desk…and his heart.

  11. Lane says:

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Michelle says:

    I’m pretty sure Mr. Noble had a very small sample size with which he based his assumptions and advice. Clearly he did not evaluate his own life to realize his wife accepted (or initially overlooked) his faults when they married, as ALL married people do!!! (Used extra ! for emm-phasis)

    Yes, there are things we can all work on to become more Christ-like, and some of them may be glaring and date-repellents, but seriously there are people with major issues that married… How’d they sneak over?

    A more appropriate title might be “8 things you should make sure aren’t in your life, so your life and marriage (present or future) are more God-honoring.” Not as attention drawing, right?

    Good stuff Anna!

    Michelle

  13. M says:

    What an excellent post. Thank you! As a single woman in my 30s, I admit I sometimes wonder whats wrong with me that I am still single. Whenever I talk to well-meaning people about my singleness, I’m always encouraged to find avenues for me to get more involved, go out more etc, as if its my introversion which is at fault.

    I’m so relieved and encouraged to read that its ultimately in God’s hands, and its not necessarily my FAULT that I’m single, as if to say all married people are perfect therefore they got married.

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

    • fast. pray. says:

      From one introvert to another… preach. 🙂

      God brings sinners of all shapes and sizes together in marriage. We all have stuff we can work on, but even if we were “perfect” in the world’s eyes… we can’t earn marriage.

      Anna

    • Melody says:

      Love this! I’m not even an introvert and my friends will sometimes “helpfully” suggest to get more involved! I’m busy and have an active social life, believe me, I’m involved!

      • fast. pray. says:

        Exactly. The assumption is so often that you haven’t found the godly pool of men doing ministry… just jump in more pools and then clearly your problem will be solved. Haha. If only it was that easy.

  14. Lynda says:

    Hey Guys,
    Just wanted to say that I think you are doing good and necessary work. Each week I have enjoyed reading about different thoughts of this journey and find them always really encouraging for the week to come.
    Thanks!

  15. Kristi says:

    Okay, I read this pastor’s blog post and I felt as if I was being shouted at. The abundant use of exclamation points screamed condemnation and finger pointing. Perhaps he didn’t mean it that way. If you can get past that, there is some truth to be had in some of his thoughts which may apply to some singles (and anyone, as you pointed out). But, to use broad brush strokes like that is really unfair. You’re absolutely right about formulaic answers. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

  16. Emma Cocks says:

    Hi Guys, Thanks for your posts I really get a lot out of it. I had just written a similar piece for a friend in the UK who is writing a book on singleness (she is married). I sent your link to her to read as well to get the single girls perspective. Thanks for backing me up! I’ve only recently realised how much some of our well-meaning Christian culture messages had screwed up my thinking on marriage and the hoops we need to jump through and then when we jump and don’t get the ‘reward’ how much of a failure and negative effect on our self worth it can have. I’m glad to be free of this but it’s a constant battle at times not to link the two. Anyways, Blessings to you all from New Zealand, Emma
    Date: Mon, 26 May 2014 00:08:37 +0000 To: emma_cocks@hotmail.com

    • fast. pray. says:

      You are so right about it being a constant battle not to link our self worth to our circumstances. Married or single.

      Thanks for your encouragement and I hope your friend’s book turns out well. Also, I want to visit New Zealand. 🙂

      Anna

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