HOW REAL IS AUSTRALIAN'S 'MAN DROUGHT'?.....For Christian ladies looking for love

The Australia's 'Man Drought' 


Australia is a wonderful place with equally wonderful people.  But like it is everywhere on earth, political and economic conditions have affected people's finances.  The high divorce rate and its effect on people and their families is affecting many to rethink marriage around the world, including Australia.

A lot of people have not bothered to know what God says about marriage and how it should be conducted, that is why the government can approve same-sex marriage.  That is why people have resorted to co-habiting for years and remaining single. 

The church is on trial everywhere because of the time we are living in. If our churches are cold, the children will refuse to go, and those going will not take it seriously.  If we are not living holy, there will be no spiritual power to convince such children and dissuade them from following the world.

The youths want to see signs and wonders in the church of God.  If a cancer patient will go to church with the disease for years without divine healing, the children of such a sick person may lose faith with the God of their fathers. 

This is why there is a frightening scarcity of men aged 25 to 35 who are churchgoing, single and godly wise. Most men in the Churches have two out of three of these qualities, with the last often lacking. If they’re single churchgoers, they’re often in want of basic social awareness.

In the early 1960s, 87 per cent of Australian men identified as Christian. That figure now has dropped to 49 per cent, with regular churchgoers in even further decline. Just 14 per cent of all Christians in Australia attend church weekly. In Sydney churches, women outnumber men nearly two to one, according to the latest National Church Life Survey data, with the average parishioner in her 50s.

Social Awareness 
Social awareness is important to society women, to the extent they want to see men in the church, who are socially aware, instead of men who love the Lord, who fear the Lord and live holy.  That should not be thinking of believing women.  Thinking in terms of social awareness to simply following the world, and such will never work for the harmony of the home and the church.  

The good News is that there are good single guys out there. Of course, there are. It is for the godly women to identify them and pray for the Lord to guide them to their own husbands.  Ladies confess to meeting some wonderful, intelligent, principled men in the church.  

However, their number is less compared to the many beautiful, smart, single women who just want to find a good man to love and honour. Yet this pool of women seems to keep getting bigger while the number of marriageable men is swiftly dropping.

The Australian story

The Australian story is detailed research conducted through interviews to show how Australian women feel about the scarcity of men, especially for Christian women.  They asked 54,000 Australians about their lives. 

Here's what they told them:

At 32 years of age, Anna Hitchings expected to be married with children by now.

But over the past year, she has found herself grappling with a realisation that she may never tie the knot.  "But that's a reality I have to deal," she says. "It no longer seems impossible that I may never marry. In fact, some might argue it may even be likely."

The "man drought" is a demographic reality in Australia — for every 100 women, there are 98.6 men.  The gender gap widens if you're a Christian woman hoping to marry a man who shares the same beliefs and values.

The proportion of Australians with a Christian affiliation has dropped drastically from 88 per cent in 1966, to just over half the population in 2016 — and women are more likely than men to report being Christian (55 per cent, compared to 50 per cent).

Keeping the faith

A woman with blonde hair and a white singlet looks into the camera.
Ms Hitchings is Catholic.

She grew up in the Church and was a student at Campion College, a Catholic university in Sydney's western suburbs, where she now works.

"I'm constantly meeting other great women, but it seems to be quite a rare thing to meet a man on the same level who also shares our faith," she says.

A woman with blonde hair and a white singlet leans on a wall.
Anna wants to marry someone who shares her values.

"The ideal is to marry somebody else who shares your values because it's just easier." But not sharing the same faith isn't necessarily a deal-breaker.

Her sister is married to an agnostic man and while "he's great and we love him", Ms Hitchings is quick to admit there were some difficult conversations that needed to take place early on.

Like abstaining from sex before marriage — something that, as a Catholic, she doesn't want to compromise on.  "It's very difficult to find men who are even willing to entertain the notion of entering into a chaste relationship."

Dr Natasha Moore wears a floral t-shirt and glasses in a courtyard.
Ms Hitchings has dated Catholic and non-Catholic men.

Her first serious relationship was with a Catholic guy — they were both students at Campion College, and she was sure he was "the one".  "I don't think I'd ever met anybody who I shared such a profoundly strong connection with, and he was the first person that I fell in love with," she says.

He was a few years younger than her, and after coming to the realisation they were in "different places in life", they decided to part ways. They remained friends and though he eventually married someone else, Ms Hitchings says she learned a lot from the relationship.

"I think I just thought that if you find someone that you love and get along with, everything will be fine — and that's not true," she says.  "You do have to work on yourself, you do have to sacrifice a lot to make a relationship work."

The stigma of singledom

The marriage rate in Australia has been in decline since 1970, and both men and women are waiting longer before getting married for the first time.  The proportion of marriages performed by ministers of religion has also declined from almost all marriages in 1902 (97 per cent), to 22 per cent in 2017.

Despite these cultural shifts regarding marriage in Australia, single women in the Church — and outside it — still face the stigma of singledom.  Ms Hitchings often feels that when someone is trying to set her up on a date, "they just see me as the single person they need to get married".

"There are a lot of anxieties that you can feel — you can feel like you're pathetic or there's something wrong with you," she says.  On the other hand, the Church has also provided a place of hope and empowerment for single women, giving those like Ms Hitchings the confidence to live a life that doesn't start and end with a marriage.

"I very much hope I do get married — I really hope that happens — but I don't believe that my life is meaningless or purposeless if I don't get married either."

Surplus women is not a problem
A situation of surplus women is not unique to the Church or Australia — or even this moment in time.  The term was first used during the Industrial Revolution, to describe a perceived excess of unmarried women in Britain.

Dr Natasha Moore says it "statistically won't work out" for all Christian women. 
It appeared again after World War I, when the death of more than 700,000 men during the war resulted in a large gender gap in Britain.

According to the 1921 census, of the population aged 25 to 34, there were 1,158,000 unmarried women compared to 919,000 unmarried men.

Today, this surplus of women within the Church means that if they want to get married to someone of the same faith, "it statistically won't work out for all of us", says Dr Natasha Moore, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Public Christianity.  "But actually, this is not a new problem — if it is a problem."

Living her best single life
It's a phenomenon Dr Moore is all too familiar with, both in her professional and personal life.  In her twenties, she watched those around her navigate the world of dating, break-ups, marriage and family life, and found herself wondering, "Am I missing the boat?".

Did you know there's a "man drought" on? Or that in some places those who don't have a partner are known as "leftover women"? Yep, it's a jungle out there.

It was during this same period, while studying overseas, working and travelling abroad, that she developed a deep appreciation for her own independence.  "I don't think I would've imagined I would be 35 and loving my single life," she says, "but that's how it's gone."

Dr Moore attends an Anglican church in Sydney's inner west that bucks the trend — there are more single men than women in her congregation.  But even so, she's been on the receiving end of what she calls "singleness microaggressions" — like when someone at church asks, "Why aren't you married?" before adding, "You're great!"

Singleness microaggressions

Dr Moore says she has been on the receiving end of what she calls "singleness microaggressions".  "I want to say, 'I was born not married, why did you get married?' You're the one who made a decision to change your situation," she says.

"There can be an assumption that marriage is the default, which in a way it is — most people get married, most people have kids — but there are quite a few of us who don't [get married]," she says.

A defence against the fear of missing out
No one is immune to feelings of loneliness, anxiety and the fear of unmet expectations, and Dr Moore says her Christian faith has offered a defence against all these things.

"If this life is all there is, and you really need to squeeze every experience out of it that you can, then it can be quite stressful if your life isn't going the way you thought it would," she says.

"Whereas to go, actually this is not all there is and I can trust God ... then it kind of frees you up to take risks, and to make sacrifices, and for that to be ok."

Dr Natasha Moore (centre) sets aside time to pray with her best friends every week.

Dr Natasha Moore (centre) sets aside time to pray with her best friends every week.

Dr Moore has also developed rich friendships in the Church where her marital status, or theirs, have not mattered.  Over the last decade, she's set aside time every week to catch up and pray with her two best friends, who are both at different stages in their lives.

"Praying for each other means that we are for each other, we care about what's going on with each other, and we understand each other's lives," she says. "We're not competing, we're for each other."

Reclaiming the spinster label
Dr Moore also has a tribe of "mighty spinster friends" in the church — they talk about reclaiming this pejorative term and owning it as strong, independent women.

They see a lot of themselves in the network of spinsters and widows, or "surplus women", popularised by Dorothy Sayers's detective novels, who help protagonist Lord Peter Wimsey solve crimes.

Dr Natasha Moore laughs at a friend's wedding.
Dr Natasha Moore laughs at a friend's wedding.

"There are all these women with all this energy, this spare energy that they would've put into their families, and so he sends them out undercover to investigate his murders," she says.

"Even if it is really challenging, and there's some grief in there being quite a few women in the Church who won't marry and have kids who would've liked to, it's so like God to make something beautiful and fruitful out of kind of a crappy situation."

"I bet [God] has something cool for us to do, that there are tasks that need doing that those spare energies will be directed towards."

I wanted to be a mother, more than a wife
Yoke Yen Lee lives at home with her parents and two older siblings in south Sydney, and admits she "definitely had hoped to be married and have a family by this stage".

The 40-year-old carved out a successful career in early childhood education and now devotes her time and energy to serving in her local church as the Children's Minister.

Yoke Yen Lee drinks a coffee at a cafe.
Yoke Yen Lee drinks a coffee at a cafe.

Yoke Yen Lee admits she had hoped to be married with a family of her own by now.  "I think I valued being a mother more than I valued being a wife," she says, "I desired to be a mother much more so."

Why being single isn't a character flaw
For the last few years, I've stopped worrying about my single status, and started to embrace it, writes Madeleine Dore.  In her twenties, she looked into ways she might be able to become a single parent, but in line with her faith and "God's design for marriage", ultimately decided it was not a path she should pursue.

Like many women, becoming a parent was something Ms Lee longed for, so it was difficult when at the turn of a new decade, she was facing the reality that marriage and motherhood may not happen.

"I had to go through a process of grieving," she says, "like if it doesn't happen, where do I find my identity, and my satisfaction, and my wholeness in life?"

Finding family in a different format
The idea of missing out on creating a family was something that she contemplated a lot.  But it's also something she's found in the Church.

Yoke Yen Lee laughs on a street in Sydney.
Yoke Yen Lee laughs on a street in Sydney.

Yoke Yen Lee has found a different kind of family in the church.  She is surrounded by children and young people and has played a significant role in their lives by providing them with spiritual guidance and support.

"The beauty of God's plan is that he's fulfilled those needs and desires in a much more profound way than I think even I could have ever imagined," she says.

"I haven't missed out on family, it's just in a very different format." Story from ABC News


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