Letter to a (Frustrated) Single Young Man

Dear Frustrated Single Young Man,

Hi. Welcome to this particular webpage. I have some thoughts for you that I’m going to work out. I have seen your plight, and I want to be of help to you.

I want to play the role of big brother to little brother in this little piece (or good friend to friend). Sibling grace is easy to forget, isn’t it? Remember when your older brother or cousin (or very close friend) took you aside after your dad (or authority figure) put the world to rights and said, “Hey, bro, it’s cool. Do what Dad says. But you’re going to be all right. I’ll help you if you need it.” Then he gave you a pound on the back and told you to come play outside. Remember that feeling? It was powerful. It was restorative. It put things in perspective, helped you to see that you were going to be okay. That’s what I’m hoping to do here. I’m not at all taking back what “Dad” says—I’m just coming alongside you. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.


Man Trouble

Men today are in trouble. Many need a stiff challenge.

Many evangelical and particularly “new Calvinist” commentators are noting problems endemic to modern manhood—Al Mohler, Mark Driscoll, Darrin Patrick, and Rick Phillips, to name a few. This could not be more welcome. Guys today have been taught by countless sources and media outlets that they are inherently dumb, ignoble, and inferior to women. Guys hook up with girls, shirk responsibility, take only unserious things seriously, and generally neglect the great opportunities before them. The statistics related to college attendance, marriage, and workforce entry and advancement offer boundless testimony to this reality. A generation raised on Maxim sees women as conquests and children as an inconvenience. A generation devoted to Jackass embodies it. A generation obsessed with fantasy football gives itself over to a fantasy world, where games and players replace serious pursuits and leadership of others. Men are in trouble, with Christian men falling prey to many of these lesser things.

So let the horn sound. Challenge boys and men to follow a different path. Model what this looks like. Show them how to live for Christ, and to serve family, church, and society. Absolutely.

But there’s a danger in our contemporary situation. In going after the broad swath of boys and men like a gracious but fearless drill sergeant, we might chew up the well intended. Some guys have heard the call; they have read the books; they go to the conferences. They really want to be husbands and fathers and church leaders. They are taking steps in all of these areas to make maturity happen. In some cases, they weren’t trained well by fathers; in some, they didn’t have fathers. Whatever their background, they have heard the call, and they want to answer it. Despite little or poor training, they are burdened to make a better way. They want to rise up, love a woman well, raise children to know the Lord, and join other men in shouldering the work of ministry on their backs. They’re signed up, they have the nametag, and they are eager to get going.

This Is Not a Group Hug

This is not going to devolve into some sort of pseudo-psychological call for lavish tenderness and the tending of fragile hearts. Life is hard. God grows his people through difficulty. Being a young man has never been easy, and it really shouldn’t be easy. The bar should be set high, and young men should have to jump to reach it. Things should be this way not because it’s fun to be mean, but because maturity, and especially Christocentric maturity, is tough. Staying faithful to one woman, providing for a family, pushing past weariness to care for one’s family and lead it well—these are hard things. They call for hard preparation, lest—like in a war—you think things will be easy and get in over your head.

But we do need to remember that being single can be unusually tricky. It looks easy in retrospect from the vantage point of someone who’s married. Funny how we can forget the abject fear that comes from risking it all and actually asking a girl out (gulp). Funny how we can forget the gut-punch that comes when she says no. Funny how we can forget struggling with feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, and anxiety. As with every earthly trial, these struggles call for the grace of God, the counsel and kindness of friends, and the acceptance and encouragement of the church.

I’m not calling for a torqued Christian movement in which we endlessly qualify our challenges, rebukes, and prophetic calls. I’m not even suggesting that Christian leaders sounding the call to masculine maturity have missed something. If you listen to and read the figures I mentioned above, you’ll frequently encounter helpful, gracious nuances and explanations. I have no quarrel with these men. I have benefited hugely from their biblical teaching and consider it personally foundational. I think it’s desperately needed, more even than what I’m writing about here. But with all that said, we all need encouragement and hope. To deny this to men—especially frustrated young men who seek good things—would be cruel.

What to Do

Women need the same brand of comfort as do men. This isn’t exclusionary. Many young women make their way through singleness in silence and loneliness. Even as we call young women to biblical femininity and all its privileges and responsibilities, we need to make excruciatingly clear that single Christians are full citizens of the kingdom. Many of us know young women who yearn to be nothing more than wives and mothers but who have not, for whatever reason, seen God make this happen. The doctrine of providence is the answer and comfort of those in such situations.

I have focused, though, on men. Much of the kind of encouragement I’ve suggested as necessary needs to come in the context of the local church, and in particular through older or more experienced men reaching out to younger men. There is a dearth of this kind of activity in many churches, and we need a recovery of mentoring and discipleship. The book of Titus is small but potent on this point for both men and women. Some of this kind of relational involvement will mean helping frustrated young men to think hard about how best to strategize for leadership. In some cases, it may mean asking questions—how are you presenting yourself? Can you grow in conversational skills? Why do guys who ask girls if they want to consider marriage on the first date deserve to be shoulder-punched? In others, it may mean simply encouraging them, reminding them of biblical truth, and listening—not giving tons of answers, but listening. All this will help young men to see that though the Bold Call to Manly Maturity is absolutely necessary, it should not be heard as condemnation.

In all of these things, we need an emphasis on trust in God, the Savior and Shepherd of his people. This is basic but essential. God sent his Son to earth to save our lost souls. That is our chief joy. Every person, single or married, has the opportunity to participate in the work of gospel promotion, to live doxologically such that God is shown—in any and all seasons of life—to be eminently more worth living for than sex, or money, or status, or achievement, or even the natural family. The comfort that this God, overwhelmingly good and gracious, directs each and every aspect of our lives, each moment that passes, is no mere theological datum, but a biblical reality of greatest personal consequence.


So there’s my case, single brother. Consider me, if you can pull this off mentally, your brother and friend. Don’t worry about the whole arm-around-the-shoulder thing. Wherever you find yourself, with whatever hopes you carry, do all you can to heed the biblical call to manly maturity. Reject the culture and its temptations. Emulate your Savior. Seek out godly men in your church to mentor you. If you discern that you are not called to singleness (and some definitely are), keep risking rejection. Keep pushing past fear. Keep serving your church faithfully. Pray hard. Pour out your desires to the Lord. Trust him as you do so. Never stop trusting him.

Manhood is hard; keep pushing and taking dominion—spiritual, physical, emotional—of your life and your world. God has loved you; you love God. I don’t know what God has for you, but I do know that because he is great, and good, and gracious, you are going to be okay.

Enough talking. You ready to go outside?

Your brother,


  • http://www.docsdining.blogspot.com Jason Kanz

    Brilliant. Thank you.

  • Eugene Shin

    I think the issue of biblical masculinity has been the stream of thought for many…

    pastor/artist Jaeson Ma also notes the notion of masculinity in his blog… http://jaesonma.com/365-days-of-love-day-284-the-5-pillars-of-manhood-how-men-should-love-respect-women/

    this is a big concern for evangelicals all across the board for people who observe culture and church simultaneously…

    thank you for this by the way…

  • http://www.twitter.com/lucas_parks Lucas Parks

    Thank You for this breath of fresh air. I have been married for 16 years, but as I have seen younger guys try to respond to the (nessassary) call to biblical masculinity I have been concerned that the intensity of the call, at times, can seem overwhelming. I have seen guys guilt ridden and feeling condemned because they feel like they are not measuring up to the manliness they percieve they have to. Some of this is because the call is over-hyped machoism at times and I think this article is timely and balanced. I also appreciate the encouragement to mentor younger guys to be able to bring nuanced,personal application of the call. Thanks again.

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  • Eugene Shin

    I would pose the question though…

    what if the single frustrated guy isn’t frustrated with his single… just he’s tired of the hunt and would just like God to make the next girl he finds to be that one… because he knows he will do what it takes to love her, honor her, value her, cherish her, and serve her well… he only needs just one… and he knows this…

    cuz to be honest… that is me… the “hunt” is tiresome… I want to get married… it’s not the failures and rejections that a bothersome… the drudgery is just tiresome… and my attitude right now is described above…

    what would you say to guys like me in that state?

    • Mike

      I would say, stop hunting. I know how you feel because I was “hunting” for a long time. I finally told God, “I’m done, I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m not in control, you are and if you want me to be married so be it, and if you don’t, I’m fine with that too”. I stopped hunting and about a year and a half later my to be wife re-entered my life (I had known here previously through a job I used to have) and it was one of those things where you just knew. Hard to describe but I just knew. All that time of hunting for a wife and dating different girls was a waste of time. I wasn’t even close to ready to be a husband and during that nearly two years of not searching God molded me into the man I needed to be in order to be the husband he wanted for my wife. It all boils down to control. We want to be in control of our lives and we think we know what to look for in a woman (and we have an idea) but God knows what we need in a wife and He will make that happen. Yes you can make a marriage work by doing what “you’re supposed to do” but God does have the exact right woman out there for you. His timing is perfect. Trust God.

      • J

        Don’t take this personally, but this is the same stuff that a log of men who have experienced prolonged bachelorhood in he church hear over and over again. But please, explain how you “shut off” your mind to something you want? Trust me, I’ve tried to let it go, but it isn’t that simple. All I know is that I’m getting older, and all the single women are all but gone from my world. Those who are around still expect me to be a millionaire with all the answers to life (and those are the so-called “Christian women”). All I hear is “you’re alone, deal with it, sucks to be you brother.”

        • Steve

          Amen to that, J. Mike, (and others) I speak for many single men when I say that I hear and understand your encouragement to trust God – and that is my goal – but J’s words ring very true: “his is the same stuff that a log of men who have experienced prolonged bachelorhood in he church hear over and over again. But please, explain how you “shut off” your mind to something you want?”

          It’s always seemed that as a young, single Christian man I’m told to take initiative and lead a relationship, make the first move, etc. Then, in the next breath I’m told to stop looking. I’ve never quite grasped the nuance there, that I’m supposed to stop looking but still be the one who initiates things.

          • Ben Steinke

            Another amen. I am so SICK AND BLOODY TIRED of hearing men tell me, “When you stop looking, God will bring her into your life—she’ll come along when you least expect it.” Another thing men do is throw books at me and tell me to memorize Scripture and pray, pray, pray. As someone who has not known a woman’s love for 13 years, that is very cold comfort. J, you are absolutely on point about so-called “Christian women”—they all seem to go for the same kind of guy: tall, dark, handsome, good corporate/office job, physically muscular, etc. They all go for “Eliabs” while the “Davids” are left out in the cold, cruel rain. The glut of “purity for men” books at Christian bookstores doesn’t make our situation any easier either. It’s like the Church system SAYS that singlehood is a wonderful thing while simultaneously saying just the opposite through its ACTIONS. It glorifies and supports marriage so much that it forgets the fact there even ARE single men in their congregations. It’s hard to be calm and humble when the Church system leaves you out of its focus.

      • JC

        At the same time, J, that attitude, “tired of the hunt and would just like God to make the next girl he finds to be that one” is equally the same stuff that a lot of men who are married hear from single guys over and over again.

        I’d like to humbly make a suggestion. Gear up for missions and go. Now. The female to male ratio is like 2 to 1. You really want to find “that one” who’s given her life to the Lord? Don’t assume she’s even in this country. Maybe she’s out in the wilderness waiting for a church planter to come along and lead her and the people whose feet she’s been washing for years.

        Let me add that pursuing full-time ministry for a woman is a horrible reason, but I’m only suggesting this based on the assumption that your pursuit of a woman is not your primary focus in life to begin with. Put those statistics of men shirking responsibility in the church to shame.

  • http://boycecollege.edu Owen


    Appreciate you reading the piece, and the thoughtful question. I don’t have the pleasure of knowing you, so I can’t speak into your life in the way that members of your church can. That would be the most significant place to go for counsel.

    I would say, though, that it strikes me that there is likely no magic bullet here. Your words about the difficulty of finding a wife ring true, especially in an age when the culture trains women to distance themselves from marriage at a younger age and the “hook-up” culture has, ironically, made true romance much harder to find. The thing to do, I think, is to continually draw on God’s daily mercies, to remember what His call is to young men (outlined a bit above), and then to keep pursuing it.

    Finding a wife seems much like so many aspects of the Christian life: it requires patience, reliance upon God, and effort. It doesn’t happen magically in most cases, and modernity has only made it harder for many.

    Persevere, brother. Sounds like your heart is in the right place. I feel you on the struggle. But persevere in Christ.


  • Chris
  • Kishia

    A single, female friend of mine posted this article toher FB today, and quoted a few excerpts from it. I would like to add that I too think this is a breath of fresh air. I’m recently married and did so at the age of 32. I have many female friends who are struggling with their singleness- just like I did and I am going to send this to them for encouragement. Before I met my husband, I didn’t know that men struggled with their singleness as did me and my friends. So thank you for this perspective.

    And most importantly, for the truth of how singleness can be like any other earthly struggle, the need for counsel, encouragement, mentoring, discipleship, and trust in God & His Providence to bring about His Good will for our lives.

  • http://sacredraisincakes.com Scottyi

    I think the frustration of the single Christian male is not only a plight rooted in our romance-driven secular commercialism, but the church itself is culpable for growing this inferiority complex. Intentionally or not, we’re teaching our generation that to be a “man of God” = being married. That’s Marriage Mandate Theology, and we can see it manifest in all sorts of ways, such as when Bible studies on “masculinity” inevitably centers around sex and marriage. In view of what the Bible holistically says about manhood, that’s incredibly narrow-minded. And even in our exhortation toward young men to keep risking themselves in relationships, we’re implicitly teaching that this is the greatest thing that Christian men can do with their lives.

    I agree 100% that single men need comfort and encouragement in these complicated times when gender roles and expectations have undergone such massive upheavals. But I think the church can do a better job in raising up a generation of strong male Christ-followers, than by just encouraging them to ask girls out.

  • Jason Nicholls

    Well, said, Owen–and with respect to the great men of God you mention in your post. I think that God may use your words here as a well-placed encouragement to many a brother. – Jason

  • http://seefearlove.wordpress.com/ Gethin

    Thanks, brother. I’ve seen the word “encouraging” and the phrase “breath of fresh air” pop up a few times in the comments. That is certainly what this is. Thanks, and God bless you.

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  • http://faceofdeep.blogspot.com Garrett League

    I’ve listened to lots of Driscoll et al. on this, and it has really convicted me. Unfortunately, I’m often left feeling 2 inches tall and lying in the fetal position over my shortcomings. This really helped.

  • Anthony

    I would recommend readers to Barry Danylak’s new book “Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life (Foreword by John Piper)” for some robust biblical foundation on the matter.
    A major problem is that much of the conversation is still from the sphere of experiential teaching and sharing, with a sprinkling of Christian religiosity, and sadly lacking solid biblical theology.
    Readers may also wish to checkout Danylak’s initial research paper titled “A Biblical-Theological Perspective on Singleness” (2006) at http://www.hantla.com/blog/images/biblical_singleness.pdf ; and a sermon by John Piper on the subject in April 2007 at http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/resources/single-in-christ-a-name-better-than-sons-and-daughters

  • http://gospelized.com Stephen Carradini

    “But with all that said, we all need encouragement and hope. To deny this to men—especially frustrated young men who seek good things—would be cruel.”

    yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

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  • Ben

    To be sure, there are good thoughts in this article. However, like most articles on singleness, it is incomplete. No doubt, single men and women often bear some responsibility for their situation (if in fact they desire to be married). However, it is not helpful that the majority of evangelical local churches (including almost all “reformed” churches) have inadequate leadership and inward married couples who totally miss the mark in regard to single people. Singles are invariably viewed as second class citizens until they get married. On my part, I want to invest much time in the lives of single people. They have so much to offer to the cause of Christ. I want to encourage them primarily in this manner rather than encouraging them to get married.

  • Carissa

    Wow! As a single young lady, I am extremely grateful that someone has taken the time to write this and share it with a hurting generation. The honesty and balance of edification and challenge in this post refreshes my soul. What a blessing to see young men rising up to encourage one another in Christ-likeness!

    I think this post also has a lot to say to the ladies who may be reading. This describes the type of men we should be praying for as we pray for our husbands (whether we are married or not)and for men in general, that God would strengthen them for the calling He has placed on their lives. And we, as ladies, should be constantly striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman worthy of such a man’s affections and devotion.

    Focus on Him, follow Him, and let Him work out the details.
    “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” ~ Psalm 37:4
    “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ~ Matthew 6:33

    Thanks again!

    • Kellie


      Thank you for this post! This is EXACTLY what I was thinking! Also, thank you for the Psalm 37:4 reference…I needed that.

      As for all the single men, coming from a single young lady, please keep searching for us!!! We want you to find us as much as you want to look for us! I know sometimes you might get discouraged or “warn out” from “hunting,” but if you quit hunting, how will we know you’re still interested in finding us? True, we might just run into you one day while moving into a new living environment, but maybe we don’t… What if after we move in we leave our door open hoping you’ll come by and say “hi”? Couldn’t you say you “found” us, even though there was little, if any, effort involved?

      As for now, I think all of us single women and men should stick together and support each other as we live for Christ. I have experienced true peace through being single because I have faith that God will provide me with a husband (if it is His will to do so). But right now, the only thing I can do is trust in Him, and love my Brothers-in-Christ.

  • Anthony

    I would recommend readers to Barry Danylak’s new book “Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life” (Foreword by John Piper) and Piper’s own sermon which drew heavily on Danylak’s initial research paper – http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/resources/single-in-christ-a-name-better-than-sons-and-daughters

    They help direct the conversation on the subject from the sphere of experiential teaching and opinions squarely into the realm of biblical theology. Importantly and ultimately, it is the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth that will really instruct, edify and transform us.

    Danylak’s initial research paper titled “A Biblical-Theological Perspective on Singleness” (2006) can be found at – http://www.hantla.com/blog/images/biblical_singleness.pdf

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  • Danielle

    Great piece! It’s very helpful to read words which encourage us single Christians to reflect on God’s providence, our call to serve both Him and His people as well as presenting the challenge to pursue mature godliness whatever our life situation

    However, I believe that we also need to spent a lot more time thinking not only about how we respond to the ‘experience’ of singleness… but perhaps even more importantly, the theology of singleness. The reality is when we truly understand what God’s purpose is in gifting singleness to those of his people who ARE single, then we have further, trustworthy insight into how to respond to the personal (and often) painful experience of it.

    Scottyi touched on my concern when he addressed the marriage mandate assumption which underlies a lot of evangelical theology at the moment. Like him, I am troubled at the way in which christian maturity is becoming more and more synonymous with getting oneself married, as if being a wife or a husband is the ultimate goal of the christian life.

    This is one of the reasons I’m so excited about the work that Barry Danylak has been doing on the biblical theology of singleness. Like Anthony I’d like to very highly recommend both Danylak’s initial research paper and his new book. I found his interaction with Scripture on this topic enormously encouraging, challenging and very often surprising! His strength is in keeping the discussion in the realm of theology, without giving into the temptation to leap too quickly to thinking it through in practice.

    I’m really passionate (in case you had’t guessed!) that we need to keep taking any discussion of singleness (or marriage for that matter) back to God’s word. If we continue to do that I suspect that we’ll probably be a bit surprised that some of our current evangelical assumptions about the purpose and place of singleness don’t actually stack up to what Scripture has to say about living in the now but not yet.

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  • Stephen

    I’m a 22 year old single dude whose been electrocuted by Jesus’ grace.

    Love the effort to be Patrick and driscolls good cop but Owen’s tone came across something like my mother’s would before I moved out and she was babying me.

    Guys, don’t worry bout the anxieties of asking girls out. If she loves the King and is attracted to your godliness, just ask. Jesus loves you either way – dont be scared.

    Young dudes truly lit by the grace of Jesus are more concerned that the average Christian girl is a straight-up pagan princess.
    Any girl striving for Pro. 31 is beyond legit. I’d fight for her

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  • Kate

    “Masculine maturity”? “Biblical femininity”? Are you serious?

    First of all, you don’t even define your interpretation of masculine and feminine, but if you’re following the ideas presented by someone like Mark Driscoll (who is apparently worried about the “chick-ified church,” which I find highly insulting) I can figure out your assumptions.

    There seems to be a general panic in our society about shifting gender roles (increase of women in the workplace, media representations, and higher education levels of females), and many evangelicals are reinforcing the status quo by clinging to patriarchal gender binaries. Perhaps there wouldn’t be this anxiety about what’s “happening” to the MAN if you would drop the illusion that there’s assigned characteristics based on sex or gender.

    Maybe you wouldn’t have to comfort a man who’s nervous about asking out girls, if there wasn’t pressure on him fulfilling the social role you constructed for him. Maybe if women weren’t told their “proper place” was sitting at home knitting waiting for the man to ask her out, they could take action! Being shy isn’t feminine, it’s part of someone’s personality!

    If Christian men would stop being so threatened by gender equality or reevaluation of traditional gender roles, we could support egalitarian relationships that don’t operate on stereotypes and patriarchy.

    Check out Christians for Biblical Equality.

    Side note: You pine about the media representations of men (dumb, incompetent, etc.), but I think you need to have a fuller picture of those representations. Sure, there are some negative representations of men, but there are also countless positive representations. Men are far more likely to be central characters in tv shows and films, be strong leads, or be represented in powerful positions. On the other hand, pretty much the ONLY representation of women are sexualized, trivialized, or nonexistent. If I was using your post to construct a picture of women, we’re all waiting at home to be asked out so we can get married and start making babies.

    Stop victimizing your gender. Don’t worry, men are still in charge of most media sources, own over 450 of the Fortune 500 companies, and are leading all three branches of government. Relax.

  • http://www.bereansnotepad.com Diane Woerner

    I believe today’s pervasive singleness is a symptom of the serious inversion of God’s master plan for masculinity and femininity that characterizes our contemporary culture.

    Once we understand what our enemy has accomplished, we will be better able to counteract it, both in our own lives and in our communities.

    I would invite you to read an extensive examination of this issue at http://www.bereansnotepad.com.

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