Gender Complementarian Advice to Single Women Who Desire Marriage Will Keep Them Single Forever / Re: Choosing A Spiritual Leader
Usually, I am not a fan of the “and that’s why you’re still single” view dished out in Lonely Hearts columns, but can I tell you, if you are a single Christian woman wondering why it is you’re 35, 45, or 55 years old and still single – though you want marriage – it may just be that you have too many qualifications you insist a man must meet before you will consider marrying him.
This isn’t quite the same thing as scolding a woman for “being too picky.”
Often, being “too picky” is distorted by critics of singles to mean that “you insist every man look like actor Brad Pitt and be a multi-millionaire,” when, usually, a woman who is “being too picky” is merely holding out for a solid, average guy, someone who has a steady job and who will treat her well.
And there’s nothing wrong with having standards, ladies.
Don’t settle for some ugly, fat, broke, and/or abusive guy just for the sake of being married, or getting your marriage-obsessed family to back off.
No, I’m not talking about being picky (having standards). I’m talking about erecting all manner of laughable, unwise, unduly limiting, idiotic restrictions on to mate selection that some Christians recommend you do, such as only be willing to marry a Christian man if he is your “spiritual leader” or if he goes to church every week.
From the ladies’ section of Christianity Today online magazine:
This seems to be a newish trend with Christians, erecting more and more criteria to what they feel – not what the Bible says, but what they feel – a Christian woman should insist upon in a partner.
For example, take this moronic, legalistic advice to single women from preacher Mark Driscoll:
- (Link): Obnoxious and Sexist Preacher Mark Driscoll Wants Christian Singles to Stay Single Indefinitely – And Even Though Unwanted, Prolonged Singleness has Been a Huge Issue For Christian Singles for A Couple Decades Now – Driscoll: ‘Christians should not marry pro choicers’
See how that’s designed to limit the number of potential mates a single Christian woman may choose from? Yeah, and it’s not helpful.
Look, in my Christian days, all I was looking for in a guy (in- so- far as religious traits were concerned) was that the guy was a sincere Christian.
I was not even insisting and demanding that a suitor had to be more spiritually mature than me, be my spiritual head, lead me in prayer, be at the same level as me spiritual-maturity-wise, or know the Bible better than me, or attend church weekly. And I am still single in my 40s.
There are not a lot of men out there who meet the Basic Christian Criteria – which is, the guy accepted Christ as Savior, so what makes the author, Hill, believe a single woman cannot only get a Christian (a man who accepted Christ as savior), but also one who is her “spiritual leader”?
Once you start expecting a suitor to not only be a Christian but also to be your “spiritual leader” (and whatever other qualities you tack on), you are unnecessarily limiting the number of potential marital partners in your dating pool. As a result, you will remain single for a very long time, much longer than you had expected, or possibly the entire duration of your life.
Excerpts from Advice to Women: Marry an Evangelist by Megan Hill, with more comments by me farther below this:
- by Megan Hill
…. So, when I read (Link): a recent blog post telling single Christian women they ought not to make competency in prayer and teaching the Bible a requirement for a husband, I hesitated.
True Love Dates author Debra Fileta wrote, “As awesome as it is for a man to pull out his bible [sic], share some verses, or do a devotional—if you ask me, that’s not the mark of spiritual leadership, that’s a spiritual gift. We all have different spiritual gifts, which is something I’ve been so aware of since getting married.”
I agree with Fileta (and Marlena Graves, (Link): in another post) that couples-only devotional times aren’t a great diagnostic tool for a husband candidate — I’d rather observe in the ordinary context of the church prayer meeting or Bible study.
But I don’t want single women to think that praying aloud, reading the Bible and explaining it to others, and testifying to the work of God are optional spiritual gifts, granted only to some, from which a potential husband might be exempt.
Of course, whether a man talks easily about God is not the only test for a godly husband. I want my single friends to marry a man who demonstrates a life transformed by Christ, who shows forth spiritual fruit in love.
But being a great guy, even a great Jesus-loving guy, is not enough. Christ-like character must be joined to Christ proclamation. We serve a God who—in the words of Francis Schaeffer—is not silent, and his disciples shouldn’t be either.
For complementarians like myself, finding a husband who can teach me the Scriptures is particularly important, of course. Maybe, too, I’m writing from life in the Bible Belt where every nice boy from a nice family is a nice Christian.
Among the single women I know, marrying a man with the ability to explain the Scriptures sometimes becomes an afterthought. But, for every Christian, “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16) is a vital mark of true faith. Please, marry a theologian.
…To a friend contemplating marriage, I would ask the question in earnest that my husband’s friend once asked me: “Have you heard him pray?”
Regarding this comment by the author,
- But being a great guy, even a great Jesus-loving guy, is not enough
But for a Christian single woman who wants to marry, that is all she can hope for – if that. I have already changed my dating site profiles to now accept atheist, agnostic, and Catholic candidates. I’m living in the land of reality now; I would encourage Christians to join me there.
As far as some of Hill’s other errors are concerned, as a commentator said on the bottom of the Christianity Today editorial,
- The Bible says that all believers are priests unto God with Jesus being the lone high priest. The Bible says nothing about a spouse being one’s teacher, leader, or priest. Those roles are played by Jesus or the Holy Spirit.
Ergo, it is false and un-biblical to teach that a woman needs a husband to lead her, to teach her the Bible, to pray with her, or to do other spiritual things for her.
I cannot believe the woman who wrote the CT editorial, Hill, actually wants to “find… a husband who can teach [her]… the Scriptures.”
Hill is infantilizing herself, and placing her spiritual growth – which is her responsibility alone, or in partnership with the the Holy Spirit – to another person – a man. And the Bible does not teach this at all.
The same Holy Spirit that resides in her husband is the very same Holy Spirit that resides inside her – you know the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead: is she saying in effect that the Holy Spirit is incompetent to teach and guide a married woman, or any woman, in the Scriptures?
If so, please point me to the Bible verse or passage that says this, or says that the Holy Spirit treats women any differently than He treats males.
Seems to me she and a lot of gender complementarians are reading way, way too much into the “male headship” verse mentioned in Ephesians – which has been horribly misunderstood in the first place, for “head” in the New Testament there is not speaking of a husband as being in authority over his wife, but is used in the sense of the word “source,” as in, “source of a river.”
Hill’s perspective also discounts single women and the experiences and lives of single women. What of women who never marry, or who become divorced, or their husband dies?
Hill does not truly address such women, not directly, but only in so far as she is giving them husband selection tips. But what is a woman to do in the meantime, while she is single, and what if she remains single her entire life? Hill is basically saying such women – the never married, the widows, and divorced – are “leaderless.”
And her view on this reminds me of this:
Over and over, gender complementarian Christians assume a woman is lacking without a husband.
Repeatedly, gender complementarian Christians assume, preach, advise, and teach that if a woman is to have leadership, protection, spiritual guidance, or a myriad of other things, that she needs a husband. What is a woman to do if she never marries, or her spouse dies? That is rarely addressed.
Are such Christians teaching that the Holy Spirit is not effective, is not enough, or is not available to single, Christian women? Because it sure sounds as though that is what they are teaching, or, it is where their views logically lead or imply.
I have not attended church in years, nor do I fully intend on attending one again. Some Christians falsely teach that a single Christian woman still needs “male headship” or “male covering,” so they advise her to submit to a male preacher (or male elder at church, or some male authority figure of some kind) – but the Bible no where teaches any of this at all, either. It is invented out of whole cloth by Christian patriarchalists and gender complementarians.
As far as gender complementarians, and other types of Christians, making all sorts of unbiblical rules about who a Christian single woman may or should marry, Mark Regnerus writes (Link): source,
- Genuine interfaith marriage is a challenge I don’t recommend. But as marriage has shifted in purpose over time, many Christians have added layers of meaning onto Paul’s wise command. “Unequally yoked” has evolved into a graded criterion for an optimal mate rather than a simple test for an acceptable one. This is a problem.
Why? Spiritual maturity is not equally distributed among men and women in the peak marrying years. Quality survey data reveal only two serious, churchgoing evangelical men for every three comparable women. Thus, one out of every three evangelical women is not in a position to marry a man who’s her “spiritual equal,” let alone “head.”
This elevated standard now translates—for women, at least—to something like this: “Find that uncommon man who is your spiritual equal or leader, not to mention kind, virtuous, industrious, employed, and, if possible, handsome, and then figure out how to make him want to marry you.”
A tall order it is.
As a result of the increasing “failure to launch,” evangelicals find themselves saying lots of nice things about the benefits of singleness (which certainly do exist), but seem unwilling to move their boundary stones for marriage.
Except that they have moved them, away from acceptability and toward ideals.
It’s not a surprising move, since marriage is far more voluntary and economically unnecessary for women (and men) today than it was as recently as 50 years ago.
The pressure we put on marriage to be fabulously great is at an all-time high. Marriage is slowly becoming something that only an elite will attain on a natural timetable connected to their height of fertility. Thus, this is not the time to further restrict supply by adding layers of spiritual qualifications.
I was not even being anywhere near as picky in choosing a Christian spouse as the Mark Driscolls and Megan Hills are asking Christian women to be, and I’m still single.
I could not get a baseline, run of the mill Christian man (though I was engaged to one for a few years, but we broke up), let alone insisting that I get one who is also Pro Life and also a “spiritual leader.”
If not-totally-unreasonably-picky me is still single at 40ish years of age, what does a 25 year old, or 30 year old, Christian single woman, who wants to marry, hope to happen if she follows the very narrow parameters of mate selection that Mark Driscoll, Megan Hill, and other Christians (usually gender complementarians) insist they follow?
I’m afraid that these Megan Hill, Mark Driscoll, gender complementarian “what you should look for in a man” type of posts, while intended to be helpful, do more harm than good to and for Christian single women.
On a last note, Hill, who wrote her editorial I linked to above, makes some sort of comment therein where she says something to the effect that single, Christian men are very plentiful in her region of the nation. Why you can’t throw a rock without hitting a Christian man where she lives, so she tells the ladies not to just marry a Christian man who loves Jesus, no, she says, that is not good enough, he must also be willing to read the Bible with her, teach her the Bible, and lead her in prayer.
To her, I say: data show that there is only one single Christian man for every 2 to 3 single females. That’s a reality. There is a shortage of Christian, single men for women to marry around the country.
You may have a bonanza of single men in your neck of the woods, but that is not so for the rest of us scattered around the rest of the country.
And we don’t need some lady, who may mean well, basically telling us to shoot ourselves in the foot by limiting our chances at marriage even further by insisting on ten more levels of qualifications in a mate.
I hope this trend of Christians erecting hundreds of un-Scriptural standards on to mate selection that they insist single Christian women must adhere to dies soon. It’s only helping to keep singles single even longer than they wish to be.
Related posts this blog:
(Link): Christian Single Women: Another Example of Why You Should Abandon the “Be Equally Yoked” Teaching: 21-Y-O Christianity Student, Children’s Minister Charged With Murdering Fiancée He Was to Wed in August; Made It Look Like Suicide
(Link): Pastor charged in wife’s murder was headed to Europe to marry boyfriend, prosecutor says – Single Christian Ladies: Kick that Be Equally Yoked Teaching to the Curb! Also: Marriage and Parenthood do not make people more godly or mature or loving or ethical
(Link): Pro Ball Player Convicted for Kid Diddling Three Kids Claims to be an Outstanding Christian (and he’s married with a kid of his own) – again, why should Christian single gals limit themselves to only marrying Christian men? The Whole “Being Yoked Equally” thing is irrelevant and unduly limiting for singles