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Source: (consider it) Thread: Evangelical students & early marriage
Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Also, young Christians from some independent evangelical set-ups will have more experience at leading a fellowship group, whereas more mainstream Christians, usually from much smaller churches, are probably used to leaving this sort of thing to the clergy (or possibly to a much older authorised layperson). This being the case, it's hard to imagine that university CUs are likely to be in the hands of MOTR leaders (and hence in the grip of MOTR tolerant theololgy) in the future.

This is only tangentially true. The CU student leaders are appointed by their predecessors (I've never heard of a vote), and are 'supported' by UCCF regional workers who are, AIUI, at the more conservative end of evangelicalism.

I very much doubt whether a group of MOTR Anglican/Methodist/URC students could actually seize control of a university CU, simply because the CU's constitution doesn't allow for that.

Yes, Evangelical Christian Unions are, by their very nature, on the evangelical side of MOTR.

ECU leaders are, in all cases I know of, selected by their predecessors. In some cases there will be an open vote, with an AGM where any member is invited to stand for each position (usually as noted to satisfy the rules of the Student Union), but it would be clear who the outgoing exec has asked to stand and it would be rare for someone else to stand. In other cases there would be no vote. In particular for ECUs which have, or had, a strong Baptist (or other congregational church) influence there may be a vote for the membership to affirm that they recognise the call for these people to lead.

It would be unusual for ECU members to be required to sign the DB, though a short "I believe in Christ Jesus and agree to join the ECU in mission to the university" membership statement is common. All leaders and speakers have to signify their agreement with the DB. And, there would always be copies available so everyone knows what the ECU stands for - and, I can see how if people interested in the ECU at Freshers Fair were shown a copy of the DB and then asked if they wanted to join that might be seen as a requirement to sign the DB to join.

My experience of UCCF staff workers is that they are not usually very conservative. Though, no doubt some would have been. For a start, they usually operate with two workers for a region - usually one man and one woman. I know the female UCCF staff worker who guided us (when needed) while I was on Exec commented on several times that they often had problems with the more conservative members of ECUs because UCCF was putting a woman in an oversight position.

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Pomona
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IME there is a vote to elect a new CU leadership panel, often because student unions (rightly) insist on fair elections within student societies. I know of many CUs who get in trouble with the SU not for any religious reason, but just because they choose the leadership without having a fair election.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
Maybe someone from a MOTR mainstream background makes a stronger assumption - that the CU will be "normal MOTR". After all, why wouldn't a student society for Christians reflect "normal Christianity"?

Certainly when I was a student, my expectation was that the CU would be, well, a "Christian Union" - a broad-based group of Christians from all backgrounds, putting on interesting and educational theological discussions. A bit like the Ship, but in meatspace.

It's because young British Christians aren't found equally in all types of church. If CUs are dominated by evangelicalism it's because that's where the majority of young, practicing Christian students are coming from, and that's why the doctrinal statements for the leaders/participants to sign are evangelical in tone.

Still, the universities I know have a range of Christian groups, even if the CU is numerically dominant. At unis without other groups it's up to the few non-evangelical Christians present to be proactive and start their own!

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
Maybe someone from a MOTR mainstream background makes a stronger assumption - that the CU will be "normal MOTR". After all, why wouldn't a student society for Christians reflect "normal Christianity"?

Certainly when I was a student, my expectation was that the CU would be, well, a "Christian Union" - a broad-based group of Christians from all backgrounds, putting on interesting and educational theological discussions. A bit like the Ship, but in meatspace.

It's because young British Christians aren't found equally in all types of church. If CUs are dominated by evangelicalism it's because that's where the majority of young, practicing Christian students are coming from, and that's why the doctrinal statements for the leaders/participants to sign are evangelical in tone.

Still, the universities I know have a range of Christian groups, even if the CU is numerically dominant. At unis without other groups it's up to the few non-evangelical Christians present to be proactive and start their own!

In most universities, you have to have a certain number of people to start a society, and they also must pay a membership fee. This can be difficult if you are in a very small minority on campus. Also, many newer universities simply don't have the same kind of 'campus culture' and even the CU struggles - universities that have a lot of nursing and teaching students (who are on placement most of the time) and/or mature and commuting students struggle to have particularly flourishing societies generally, aside from sports societies.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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SvitlanaV2
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I'm sure you're right. And some unis have more active Muslim gatherings now than Christians ones, so I've read.

Still, not every gathering of students needs to be something official, does it? A simple note up in the chaplaincy (if there is one) should bring some like-minded students together. If it's just not possible then maybe the uni in question simply isn't the place for someone who wants a certain type of spiritual companionship and support from their peers. This is the sort of thing that could be established on an open day visit.

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Highfive
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quote:
Originally posted by Emma Louise:
I married on the last day of term (Sadly didn't last but that was for many other reasons) and uite a few of our friends married withint he year.

Strict evo world, no sex before marriage, not much point in dating unless thinking long term, encouragement to marry and settle down etc. Sigh.

I don't want the same for my daughters but haven't had much of the real world modelled to me. I hope to God they don't get involved in uni CUs.

Offtopic, but had to say that this terrifies me every day, the whole "no point to dating" thing. It seems to make sense (because we possess some insight into what a life would be like with that partner) but it also insults the partner (because we seem to think we've discovered all compatibilities from shaking hands alone).
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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
I'm sure you're right. And some unis have more active Muslim gatherings now than Christians ones, so I've read.

Still, not every gathering of students needs to be something official, does it? A simple note up in the chaplaincy (if there is one) should bring some like-minded students together. If it's just not possible then maybe the uni in question simply isn't the place for someone who wants a certain type of spiritual companionship and support from their peers. This is the sort of thing that could be established on an open day visit.

A note up in the chaplaincy may not bring any like-minded students (particularly in universities with not much of a campus culture) - and I don't think students choosing a university on the basis of Christian societies is fair or realistic. Me being an individual member of SCM and not connected to a group, for instance, is not ideal but it's not awful.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Curiosity killed ...

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Most people going to university now are running up huge debts in their attempts to achieve the best degree to qualify them for work - a degree being pretty much a prerequisite for many jobs these days. Universities are far more degree factories for most people. Christian Union choice is going to be a very low priority in this climate.

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
It's because young British Christians aren't found equally in all types of church. If CUs are dominated by evangelicalism it's because that's where the majority of young, practicing Christian students are coming from, and that's why the doctrinal statements for the leaders/participants to sign are evangelical in tone.

That looks like circular reasoning to me. Most Christians I encountered at university avoided the ECU (who repeatedly and dishonestly dropped the E when postering around campus) like the plague, and both the Catholic Society and Anglican/Methodist society were well attended, and large numbers attended services at the university chapels. The ECU remained evangelical because it was a self-perpetuating oligarchy that naturally repelled anyone who disagreed with its conservative attitudes - including not having female speakers or allowing a female president. You cannot infer anything from that about the proportion of students Christians who may or may not be evangelicals.
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Curiosity killed ...

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Chatting to my daughter, the CU at her university tried surveying students to prove that the Christians were all in their group - and failed. The majority of Christians weren't part of the CU. They also learned that the fastest way of being left alone was declaring as RC.

But that same CU and chaplain sent everyone to the local Vineyard or similar church, RC, CofE or whatever. They had to do their own research to find other churches.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
That looks like circular reasoning to me. Most Christians I encountered at university avoided the ECU (who repeatedly and dishonestly dropped the E when postering around campus) like the plague, and both the Catholic Society and Anglican/Methodist society were well attended, and large numbers attended services at the university chapels. The ECU remained evangelical because it was a self-perpetuating oligarchy that naturally repelled anyone who disagreed with its conservative attitudes - including not having female speakers or allowing a female president. You cannot infer anything from that about the proportion of students Christians who may or may not be evangelicals.

You misunderstand me. My point is that evangelicals are becoming a larger and larger proportion of young Christians generally (even as the number of young Christians is declining in general). Consequently, it's hardly surprising that they've come to dominate CUs.

However, yes, it could also be true that evangelicals are far more adept at rigging things in their favour than all the virtuous little MOTR and Anglo-Catholic students drifting around! I suppose the solution to that is not to get mad, but to get even! Why are the evangelical students more proactive? Why is it left to their organisations to tell non-evangelical students where to worship? If there are MOTR CofE students in considerable numbers, why aren't they organising themselves rather than waiting for evangelicals to do it for them?

Jade's point is that expecting students from mainstream Christian backgrounds to consider the religious context of their chosen unis is unrealistic. Probably true. But these same students can't then complain that they've ended up at a uni whose CU is dominated by bossy evangelicals. Evangelical CUs are obviously in the ascendancy, so that has to be dealt with.

FWIW, I didn't bother much with the CU when I was an undergrad - I hung out with MURCSOC (joint Meth. and URC). When I returned from my year abroad to do my final year I didn't join either of them, but just went to a local church that had its own student crowd.

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
It's because young British Christians aren't found equally in all types of church. If CUs are dominated by evangelicalism it's because that's where the majority of young, practicing Christian students are coming from, and that's why the doctrinal statements for the leaders/participants to sign are evangelical in tone.

I think you might have things the wrong way round. ECUs are evangelical, the DB is evangelical, UCCF is evangelical, and that has been the situation for a long time. ECUs exist for a specific purpose, and it's a different one from the chaplaincies.

Chaplaincies exist to provide a place of worship, pastoral support etc within a denominational structure. They are effectively churches, in many cases the chaplaincy will be a local church (especially for non-Anglican and non-RC chaplaincies), providing services including Communion etc. If there is a university chapel, the focus of the chaplaincy services will be there. Otherwise the focus would be on a single local church. In a large, broad, denomination like the CofE there may be recognition that a MOTR chaplaincy would suit the majority of students, but some may prefer a higher tradition and there would usually be some list of local parishes where different traditions are practised. There may, or may not, be an associated student society. The student society associated with a chaplaincy may be wider than the chaplaincy denominational structure (eg: one university I knew of there was an Ecu-Soc for Anglicans, Methodists, URCs, Baptists - but there were separate Anglican, Methodist, URC, Baptists chaplaincies).

The ECU, in contrast, is not an evangelical chaplaincy. It is an evangelical mission organisation. The aim of the ECU is to preach the gospel in the university, all of it's structures and activities exist to support that aim. The ECU does not provide a church, which is why it would produce a list of local churches to help students find a local congregation to provide a church environment with all the benefits of that (fellowship, pastoral care etc). Naturally, as an evangelical mission organisation, the churches members attend will be almost entirely evangelical, and the ECU probably won't know enough about other local churches to direct people there if that was what someone wanted.

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womanspeak
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My experience of Australian Universities forty years ago was that most of us married after the last year having met during our course either at uni or at another uni in the city ( Sydney) or at our local churches.

However early marriage was not advisable then if the male was called to ministry as Sydney Anglicans had to be single to attend Moore College. This was countercultural for its time.

Now Sydney Anglican churches and EU do encourage early marriage. This is very countercultural for today's world.

Ca plus change?

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
It's because young British Christians aren't found equally in all types of church. If CUs are dominated by evangelicalism it's because that's where the majority of young, practicing Christian students are coming from, and that's why the doctrinal statements for the leaders/participants to sign are evangelical in tone.

I think that's because being well-funded they naturally have more resources available to pull people in. And from there large size is self-perpetuating.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
ECUs are evangelical, the DB is evangelical, UCCF is evangelical, and that has been the situation for a long time. ECUs exist for a specific purpose, and it's a different one from the chaplaincies.

Chaplaincies exist to provide a place of worship, pastoral support etc within a denominational structure. They are effectively churches, in many cases the chaplaincy will be a local church (especially for non-Anglican and non-RC chaplaincies), providing services including Communion etc.

If this is the case, then chaplaincies need to be proactive about offering easily accessible information to new students. Otherwise, the students will turn to the CU for general advice, unaware that the CU's remit is to direct everyone to CU-approved churches and meetings, regardless of whether or not this is what the individual wants.
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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
ECUs are evangelical, the DB is evangelical, UCCF is evangelical, and that has been the situation for a long time. ECUs exist for a specific purpose, and it's a different one from the chaplaincies.

Chaplaincies exist to provide a place of worship, pastoral support etc within a denominational structure. They are effectively churches, in many cases the chaplaincy will be a local church (especially for non-Anglican and non-RC chaplaincies), providing services including Communion etc.

If this is the case, then chaplaincies need to be proactive about offering easily accessible information to new students. Otherwise, the students will turn to the CU for general advice, unaware that the CU's remit is to direct everyone to CU-approved churches and meetings, regardless of whether or not this is what the individual wants.
I don't know what it's like these days in British and Irish universities but many years ago, the chaplaincies were out there in full force. With RC-majority student bodies, CUs had a rather fringe existence.

In anglophone Canadian universities, chaplains are rarely full-time and one has to search them out. At the last University of Ottawa freshers' week, I counted 3 evangelical groups, 2 Jewish, and 2 Muslim. The local mainstream churches (Anglican, UCC, BCC, French/Latin RCC) had student welcoming events nearby and they had non-members attending, mainly because they were seen as not-high-pressure venues.

Talking with students, I gather that the Chinese Xn groups are perhaps the most active, partly because they provide a social home for visa or recently-immigrated students (FOBs), and partly because the Chinese evangelical churches purposely stream high-school members into related university groups. The extremely active Korean Presbyterian congregations have a similar transfer programme, both with follow-up from home congregation pastors and youth ministers. One of the subtexts of this activity is a strong wish for members to meet (and marry) other young evangelicals, preferably within the ethnocultural community-- I would note that while these are very ethnocentric communities, families appear to be welcoming to their kids' choices from other communities. Friends have spoken with me about their happiness that their children's partners are Christian, although they are compelled to mention the non-Asian ethnicity, (just as a point of interest, of course).

Student members are strongly encouraged to be "serious and intentional" in their relationships. Doing a quick head-count among my Chinese Baptist/ Korean Presbyterian contacts, a bare majority are engaged or married within 2-3 years of graduation, which would be 5-7 years sooner than the population of the majority (anecdotal evidence alert).

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Pomona
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Even large, popular chaplaincies are getting huge funding cuts nowadays, and universities don't always see the value or point of a chaplaincy.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
If this is the case, then chaplaincies need to be proactive about offering easily accessible information to new students. Otherwise, the students will turn to the CU for general advice, unaware that the CU's remit is to direct everyone to CU-approved churches and meetings, regardless of whether or not this is what the individual wants.

ECUs will encourage members to be active in a local church, because the CU does not exist as a substitute for church. Some chaplaincies do exist as a substitute for church (as an example, when I was a student the Catholic chaplaincy held a mass on Sunday morning, and quite a few students went there and didn't attend mass at any of the local Catholic churches). Other chaplaincies operate out of a local church, often with a meeting Sunday evening following an evening service, and naturally students involved in that chaplaincy would tend to attend that church. Because ECUs are not based in a local congregation and have members from a range of different denominations (and independent churches) their members would usually attend several local churches. Naturally, the ECU would want to put people in touch with local churches, but usually those contacts exist only if ECU members attend those churches. You will get events in Freshers Week where at ECU meetings members will stand up and say a bit about the church they attend, and offer to take people along. Naturally, such events can't have people stand up and say "I can take you" for churches no one in the ECU attends. Depending on how well organised people are, and Student Union policy, there may be a list of churches with contact details which might include churches current members don't attend (I got such a list in the pile of information sent from the SU before I arrived at uni, having already said I was interested in Christian Societies - I expect these days ECU webpages will be able to carry that sort of information, though SU policy may prevent it). ECUs don't (or, shouldn't have) a remit to decide whether a given church is "sound", though it does happen - both informally with members expressing personal opinion, and sometimes more formally with "officially endorsed" churches.

Whether chaplaincies need to offer such a list of churches as well will depend on the chaplaincy. As mentioned, some will be effectively substitute churches. For groups like the Methodists, Baptists, URC there's not going to be a substantial range in worship style and most students from those backgrounds would find the church the chaplaincy is based in familiar. Anglican chaplaincies would have a harder time given the wider range of worship style within the CofE. A chaplaincy based in a MOTR church may not suit students looking an Anglo-Catholic church, or a very evangelical one. Catholic students may also find a chaplaincy doesn't meet their needs, with a similar range of worship styles.

Then, of course, there's the students who decide to try a completely different church to their home congregation. A list of churches with description and contact details, and maybe name(s) of student(s) willing to take people along for the first couple of Sundays in the year, would be useful then as well.

When I was at university we had a Christian Magazine. Our Freshers Fair issue always included descriptions of each of the Christian student groups and a paragraph on as many local churches as we could include - but that depended on a student going to those churches to write such a paragraph, although we did re-use material from the previous year unless we had good reason to think the details were incorrect.

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Persephone Hazard

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In my teens, I was a member of a con-evo-fundie-type Baptist youth group that was pretty well attended. We're now all in our mid-twenties, and I'm pretty sure that there are only two of us left unmarried, at least out of those that I was close to - there's me, as I ran away to be a bisexual polyamorous Anglo-Catholic pagan witch, and my friend L who ran away to be an agnostic lesbian.

L and I are still close, but not really in touch with any of the others any longer because, you know, we're not really their favourite kinds of people. One picks things up on Facebook, though, and that lot (perhaps unsurprisingly) seem to have more time for her than they do for me so she passes things on. They mostly married each other, and I don't think any of them have split up yet. Many of them married very young indeed - before twenty.

[ 16. July 2014, 11:54: Message edited by: Persephone Hazard ]

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Lyda*Rose

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Then most of them haven't passed the dreaded seven-year-itch. hmm [Devil]

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"Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG... thank you. Thank you for my life." ~from Joe Vs the Volcano

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Persephone Hazard

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quote:
Originally posted by Lyda*Rose:
Then most of them haven't passed the dreaded seven-year-itch. hmm [Devil]

Yeah, now that the tide of their weddings is slowing - there's one more this summer that L is going to and I can't think who on earth is left unmarried except the two of us - there's a bit of me that does wonder if there's going to be a tide of divorces next!

But then, the tide of babies is only just beginning. Maybe it won't be till after that.

[ 16. July 2014, 13:39: Message edited by: Persephone Hazard ]

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A picture is worth a thousand words, but it's a lot easier to make up a thousand words than one decent picture. - ken.

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Chorister

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This will sound very dull after Persephone Hazard's assertions (!) but I've heard it said that, if you are not an evangelical, the best chaplaincy to get involved with is the RC one, even if you are not RC. They have a better handle on the needs of 'normal MOTR' or Anglo Catholic students than the other chaplaincies.

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Amir Emrra
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At long last, a response from the UCCF:

quote:
Our strategy in UCCF is to resource CUs as student societies with the focus of giving every student an opportunity to hear about Jesus. We value good partnership with local churches, where life-long discipleship and ministry take place. It wouldn’t be wise for us to make a blanket statement on perceived general trends, when each person’s circumstances are different.
…which I interpret as slopey shoulders [Disappointed]
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SvitlanaV2
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[Confused]
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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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Amir had made enquiries with UCCF, as indicated here and has now got a response. I'm not very surprised at the response to be honest. I don't expect UCCF to be keeping track of which churches students go to (if any) nor details of specific teaching at those churches (eg: on relationships and marriage). At a local level, the UCCF staff members working with particular CUs may know more, but are unlikely to feel the need to pass that information on to Leicester in anything other than the most unusual circumstances (eg: seeking advice relating to a particular church that appears to be going off the rails).

So all UCCF can give is a rather generic answer. Restate their policy, which is to encourage students to be active members of local churches.'

I'm not sure about the "sloping shoulders" bit, I took that as a local phrase which I have not come across. But, it didn't seem necessary to enquire further.

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Pomona
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Aka UCCF feels no need to take any kind of pastoral responsibility for the damage that CU church culture does to young Christians. It's a pretty shitty response for a so-called Christian organisation to trot out.

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Amir Emrra
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Sorry about the obscure vernacular and lack of recap. Jade Constable translated it correctly.

From what I have heard, and what can be read on the thread, this situation is common across CUs in the UK - CUs being the common thread, not individual churches or denominations. Therefore I agree with Jade Constable that it is beholden on the UCCF to formulate some sort of pastoral response, in alliance with university-town churches.

I almost replied to challenge the UCCF staffer who sent the explanation, but then I thought "What's the point?". As long as the precious darlings stay "pure" for now, UCCF has no motive to challenge the situation; in fact, their passivity strongly implies approval. Just leave it to Relate/local churches/divorce courts to pick up the pieces years down the line. Shameful.

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Amir Emrra
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# 18100

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BTW, interesting to come across another article this week by ex-Christian atheist declaiming "Christians marry young, to legitimise sex!"
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SvitlanaV2
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British evangelicals have been going to university for decades now, so if they were all getting married at graduation and having disastrous marriages they'd presumably be resigned to the fact by this point. The American ones seem to have accepted divorce as a fact of life. In the long run it means there'll be fewer evangelicals, which some cynics will see as a good thing.

As for the chap in that link, his story goes to show that a dose of childhood Christianity, especially of the strenuous kind, is always useful to the nascent writer.

[ 26. September 2014, 22:58: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Jade Constable:
Aka UCCF feels no need to take any kind of pastoral responsibility for the damage that CU church culture does to young Christians. It's a pretty shitty response for a so-called Christian organisation to trot out.

I can't see how UCCF can take pastoral responsibility for (supposed) damage caused by local churches. It, to me, seems entirely right for Christians to join and be actively involved in local churches, and for that to be their main port of call for pastoral support. Which is, and always has been, the position UCCF promote. CUs are groups with very limited roles, summarised by that response from UCCF, of witness and evangelism in universities. They are mission organisations, not churches. Though some CUs may take on teaching and pastoral roles, I would stand with UCCF and say this is ill-advised since in the vast majority of cases CU leaders are ill equipped for such roles.

The pressures on young adults are substantial. And, it would probably be very useful for churches to have access to resources to help young adults. It's been 30 years since I was in that age group, but I know there were plenty of relevant books available then, several of them were always present on the bookstall at our CU meetings and in the libraries of local churches. I'm sure they've been updated since then, and books may no longer be as appropriate a medium today (I've noticed a reluctance among students to read books [Roll Eyes] ).

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
It's been 30 years since I was in that age group, but I know there were plenty of relevant books available then, several of them were always present on the bookstall at our CU meetings and in the libraries of local churches.

Was Joyce Huggett's "Going Out" ever relevant?

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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Maybe, just maybe, 30 years before she wrote it?

Yes, there are some pretty awful resources out there. I don't think we can do much about that.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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jpm
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# 14389

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>> a strong expectation on "Good Christians" that they will settle down quickly, get married and have children and be a model family

But that is a modern aberration - for the first 15 centuries of Christianity, the aspirational ideal for serious Christians was to stay single, and there is a great body of Christian writing about marriage being a second-best choice.

Early marriage is now a key part of the natalist agenda. Steve Watters, the (former) Director of Young Adults at "Focus on the Family" (a big U.S. ministry) in the book "Start Your Family!" urged couples to seek “children in your youth, the spring season of life” citing Psalm 127 "sons born in one's YOUTH" and also (weirdly) “a time to be born” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). He commends this “prime time for having babies, a window of opportunity”.

Another book, by Nancy Campbell also cites Psalm 127 and concludes “God wants children to be born in our youth”. She (and others) also exaggerate the health risks of delayed childbearing, warning readers of the risk of heart attacks and other illnesses unless they start childbearing young, contrasted with divine protection- citing “none of these diseases” (Exodus 15:26) for those who obey God, whose first command is supposed to be reproduction (Genesis 1:28).

Books and sermons promoting youthful early marriage as natural and normative have proliferated among some types of conservative Evangelical since the 1990s.

best wishes, JPM

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J P McKeown, author of God's Babies: Natalism and Bible Interpretation in Modern America.

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Zappa
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Oh dear there's some memories of long ago and far away in this thread. Yes: 1980s, and as an evangelical Christian undergraduate I knew that I had to be married to have sex. Which seemed a Nice Thing to do at 19, 20, 21. That is to say to put that in there. [Eek!] Other things could happen, but always on the assumption that the practitioners would soon get married and then put that in there. Not before, of course. If that wasn't the unforgiveable sin it was at the very least the Inescapable Shame.

I had a torrid stormy relationship in my first year at uni during which that didn't go in there but most things went somewhere so we had to get engaged. We broke up over and again - probably from unrequited sexual tension! - and eventually she left the campus (and the faith - now a millionaire several times over, hiding from the Japanese business mafia because she swindled then $40 million about 7 years ago. But I digress).

So I had a year off women, even considered the evils of catholic priesthood, before falling in lust with the vicar's daughter - who was four years younger than me and still in her final year at school when we first teamed up (to be honest she was a substitute for another girl who wasn't interested). The Vicar and Mrs Vicar were not impressed, and on again off again was on again, and out of sheer bloody-mindedness we got married so that could go there. [Hot and Hormonal]

Apparently it did, because we had six children before the marriage died. She wanted children, for she had no career and children were her authentication. I wanted children because by then that was the only basis on which that could go there.

I simply had not known what relationship and marriage was all about, and despite six wonderful daughters I and my good evo wife ended up bitterly unhappy. Actually we were bitterly unhappy almost as soon as we tied the knot. Or before.

It is a cautionary tale. My advice to the person that was me then would be to have it off (with appropriate precautions) and get over it. The me then thought God had given me a wonderful bride, pretty and faithful, who would love and obey and serve me and God for evermore as long as we didn't put that in there at the wrong time. For some unknown reason that attitude did not enthuse said Pretty Woman™ [Disappointed] Can't imagine why.

She has moved on to a much happier life, and so have I, and we share the six wonderful daughters. But I'm sure we both wish we hadn't believed that ghastly myth that you have to get married at 19 and 23 respectively before that can go there.

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and mayhap this too: http://broken-moments.blogspot.co.nz/

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Boogie

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# 13538

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quote:
Originally posted by Zappa:

She has moved on to a much happier life, and so have I, and we share the six wonderful daughters. But I'm sure we both wish we hadn't believed that ghastly myth that you have to get married at 19 and 23 respectively before that can go there.

God bless you Zappa [Votive]

I couldn't agree more. It's time that the Church as a whole caught up with the fact that safe, consensual and kind (ie not cheating on anyone else) sex is a good thing for heart, mind and soul.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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Of course you can also be in your 30s, and not know what sex and relationships are about and end up in an unhappy marriage.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Amir Emrra
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# 18100

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
I can't see how UCCF can take pastoral responsibility for (supposed) damage caused by local churches. It, to me, seems entirely right for Christians to join and be actively involved in local churches, and for that to be their main port of call for pastoral support. Which is, and always has been, the position UCCF promote. CUs are groups with very limited roles, summarised by that response from UCCF, of witness and evangelism in universities. They are mission organisations, not churches. Though some CUs may take on teaching and pastoral roles, I would stand with UCCF and say this is ill-advised since in the vast majority of cases CU leaders are ill equipped for such roles.

I don't understand the view that it is the churches who are causing this damage, but that the churches are the only ones that should be trusted with its resolution. Isn't that contradictory? FTR I completely agree that churches should be the source of pastoral support and that CU leaders are not to be even remotely trusted with any such thing!

My point is that it is not the churches causing the damage but the theologically and pastorally rarefied bubbles that CUs operate in. It is a national phenomenon, which individual churches cannot hope to identify or combat strategically. Therefore, it is up to the UCCF, who have a national perspective of such pathological trends, to flag them up and work with local churches to help them develop appropriate pastoral responses.

Finally, it is unacceptable for the UCCF, who evacuate these bubbles in the first place, to deny any responsibility for the problem. It is an organisation not just focused on evangelism but discipleship too, "Making disciples of Jesus Christ in the student world". They are uniquely positioned to at least help guide the kids away from such folly.

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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But, for the churches that most CU students attend, and correspondingly the staff workers at UCCF and CU leaders who are also products of the same churches, sexual ethics are a major issue. You and I may consider the emphasis of evangelical churches on sexual ethics is unbalanced, but I can't see anyone convincing the churches of that. UCCF will be crucified by the very churches it's seeking to encourage students to join if there's a suggestion that they should turn a blind eye to students being sexually active outwith marriage, much less hint at there being circumstances where it might actually be the best thing. And, that's before the parents hear about it.

Yes, you could get a programme together that encourages young adults to take marriage seriously, and it is more than just the only way of being sexually active. Find ways to delay people getting married until their late 20s. That could work as a programme. But what will it do, create a lot of marriages starting with people in their late rather than early 20s which are going to fail because the people getting married still have no experience of relationships and have been frustrated as they await the day they can finally "do it".

I don't see an easy solution. And, UCCF doing something that then alienates the churches students attend is not going to be helpful. That's even assuming UCCF has the resources to do much at all. It has a few dozen staff workers and a small office in Leicester. Staff workers tend to be very busy already, they're not going to want to take on a major programme involving lots of local churches - even getting local churches together can be a major operation in itself.

Now, don't get me wrong. I know there's a lot in evangelical teaching about sex that's unbalanced. And, I accept that something needs to change to reduce the chances of young adults being hurt. I just don't see putting the responsibility on the shoulder of UCCF helping. Over the years I've criticised UCCF for many things, and I know longer support them even though they do an awful lot of good in student groups. But, I'm not going to say UCCF need to solve a major problem that has been caused by the teaching within evangelical churches for decades. UCCF didn't cause the problem, they have limited scope for addressing it.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Twangist
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# 16208

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Seems a bit much to blame UCCF for the whole evo subculture and expect them to change it!
I'm sure that plenty of non-Evo and non-Xtian students and 20's shack up with one another or get married and some have messy break-ups/divorces and others make a go of it.

edit for spelling

[ 27. September 2014, 14:51: Message edited by: Twangist ]

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Snags
Utterly socially unrealistic
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There is of course the option of providing teaching that both preserves "the sanctity of marriage" and prepares people for real life long commitment (and doesn't have a cow if someone falls short). The argument that you can't learn about commitment without putting it about a bit is as specious as the one that claims people who wait are so blinded by exploding gonadal pressure that they'll rush in blindly just to get a knee trembler.

(General comment, not directed at any specific post)

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cliffdweller
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# 13338

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I also think this discussion underrates the significance of early unmarried relationships, and the impact of their dissolution.

The research shows that the once you take the "married/not married" factor out of the equation, the average early adult relationships of the abstinence crowd look a lot like the average early adult relationships of the non-abstinence crowd. Both are becoming sexually active around the same time, form strong emotional bonds with their partner, and have very similar rates of dissolution.

The discussion we're having here seems to assume, though, that if an early marriage fails that is a tragedy, even if there are no children involved-- but that a corresponding unmarried-but-cohabitating relationship that fails is no big deal. I'm curious as to why that would be.

I think looking at that might help us decide whether the real problem here is early marriage or something else altogether, or maybe even if there even is a problem.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Paul.
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# 37

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Hmm. Evangelical organisation hold evangelical views on sex and marriage. In other news pope still Catholic.

Seriously though, where's the evidence that "early" marriage is so damaging? Marriage - so I'm told - is tough at any age and people make mistakes, which may lead to "damage" I suppose. But then many good things have the potential for badness if some flawed human, i.e. us, screws it up. Baby, bathwater.

As for "early" - if we're talking UCCF, we're talking about university students, i.e. 18+. So in the UK they're old enough to drink, smoke, vote and die for their country, but we're going to tell them they're too young to marry? A tad patronising methinks.

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leo
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# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by Late Paul:
Seriously though, where's the evidence that "early" marriage is so damaging?

There is plenty of evidence if you read people's comments on this thread, e.g. Zappa's - to whom my heart goes out.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Paul.
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# 37

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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
The discussion we're having here seems to assume, though, that if an early marriage fails that is a tragedy, even if there are no children involved-- but that a corresponding unmarried-but-cohabitating relationship that fails is no big deal. I'm curious as to why that would be.

I think looking at that might help us decide whether the real problem here is early marriage or something else altogether, or maybe even if there even is a problem.

I cross-posted obviously but - [Overused]
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Paul.
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# 37

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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Late Paul:
Seriously though, where's the evidence that "early" marriage is so damaging?

There is plenty of evidence if you read people's comments on this thread, e.g. Zappa's - to whom my heart goes out.
Mine too, but there's other stories. And there are stories of people who never married because they held out too long. Or married later in life and found it harder.

Ultimately we all make mistakes, we all cause and receive hurt due to those mistakes and we rely on a merciful God to redeem what can be redeemed.

Zappa's story is sad, and so are similar ones closer to home to me, but there are other stories, from people who didn't marry "early" but also suffered "damage". So my question about "evidence" is looking for an overall picture.

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cliffdweller
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Would Zappa's story be any less sad if he and the pretty girl had simply cohabitated for several decades, producing 6 children? I think not. (fwiw, I also married early as well, with similar aspects of evangelical abstinence values at play, and it also ended in divorce 11 years later after 1 child. I just don't think it would have been any less sad if we had been "only" cohabitating).

Perhaps what we need to look at is the way we are preparing adolescents for those early relationships, and how to navigate what is clearly a learning process with lots of trial and failure. Perhaps both of the easy answers in play-- abstinence followed by early marriage/ or early co-habitation-- are inadequate to the task. Perhaps something more is needed, especially as young people may have fewer and fewer role models to follow.

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Arethosemyfeet
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# 17047

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Is part of the problem likely to be that CU members are more likely to be recent converts and not necessarily have had many positive models of marriage in their formative years. I mentioned earlier in this thread that I married young, and I think having the model of my parents who also married young (and are still together) was and is a big help.
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Jane R
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cliffdweller:
quote:
Would Zappa's story be any less sad if he and the pretty girl had simply cohabitated for several decades, producing 6 children? I think not. (fwiw, I also married early as well, with similar aspects of evangelical abstinence values at play, and it also ended in divorce 11 years later after 1 child. I just don't think it would have been any less sad if we had been "only" cohabitating).

I don't either. The whole idea of not counting failed relationships unless you got married first seems odd to me. Breaking up after however many years together is still painful even if you aren't married to each other and don't have any children.
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Gwai
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Honestly that's why I don't understand it when people have so obviously committed to each other and lived together, but say they're not married. I would never tell them so obviously, because it's rude, but in my head those people ARE married. They just don't want to call it that. I

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If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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anoesis
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# 14189

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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
cliffdweller:
quote:
Would Zappa's story be any less sad if he and the pretty girl had simply cohabitated for several decades, producing 6 children? I think not. (fwiw, I also married early as well, with similar aspects of evangelical abstinence values at play, and it also ended in divorce 11 years later after 1 child. I just don't think it would have been any less sad if we had been "only" cohabitating).

I don't either. The whole idea of not counting failed relationships unless you got married first seems odd to me. Breaking up after however many years together is still painful even if you aren't married to each other and don't have any children.
I don't disagree with this, but I think it may be missing the point slightly. What sang out to me from Zappa's post was this:

quote:
Originally posted by Zappa:
[QB]The me then thought God had given me a wonderful bride, pretty and faithful, who would love and obey and serve me and God for evermore as long as we didn't put that in there at the wrong time.

I identify with this despite being a.) female, and b.) still married to the one I followed the prescribed pattern with. This is where an extra layer of bitterness comes into the whole thing, I think. It is not Christianity's fault, but there certainly was a sort of an underlying, unspoken, vibe in the evangelical circles we moved in, that as long as you followed all the rules, you would be guaranteed a successful and happy marriage. Which is a load of horseshit, to be frank. You may, possibly, slightly increase the chances - but if you have set up expectations of more than that, disappointment will follow. I can't comment, personally, on the level of pain involved in breaking up a cohabiting non-married relationship, because I haven't been there, but it seems to me that although it will come with pain, it may not have that sense of injustice - 'I did everything I was supposed to do, and still it didn't work!' - sort of thing.

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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