It wasn't until I read Cathy Lynn Grossman's USA Today blog post Tuesday that I knew there was a word for them: Yentas, the people (usually women) in your life who pry about your love life (or the absence thereof) and, for better or worse, try to set you up with someone. The term is Yiddish slang (think Yente, the matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof), but let's face it, every culture has its yentas. And American evangelical culture is no exception.
Are evangelical yentas helpful? In my experience, they only serve to exasperate.
I'm 23 years old and a recent graduate of a private evangelical college where people paired off as quickly as its suburban rabbit population reproduced. I graduated without an official significant other, and thus became prime yenta target.
Fresh from the holiday season, I'm sure many Christian singles have had recent encounters with yentas. Surely the yentas in our lives mean well when they about our love lifes and try to set us up with a "nice young man" or "sweet Christian woman." But I ask the evangelical yentas out there: Why do you do what you do?
One of my suspicions is that our culture is overly romanced. It provides a narrow view of what romance is: something that is passionate and limited to the young or those in the bloom of a new relationship. Perhaps when a woman's era for romance is over, a yenta looks to younger women to vicariously enjoy romance, just as she might turn to romance novels or chick flicks. Or perhaps most yentas are just nosy people. I give the benefit of the doubt to the yentas in my life and suspect that most of them genuinely care, but genuine care isn't always genuinely helpful. In my experience, yentas only add unnecessary ...1
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