Men and marriage: follow the money...

I note Letha Scanzoni who has betrayed Biblical Christian faith so she may promote sexual immorality is directing readers of her "Web Explorations" list to come here and read what she terms this "anti-feminist Christian blog." She's right: this blog is Christian; and we are utterly opposed to the heresy of feminism, seeking in every way possible to warn souls to flee this path of evil that ends in Hell.

But make no mistake: my brother, David, and I are great lovers womanhood and femininity as God our Father created it; and we are loved by and love our mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters in Christ.

Anyhow, welcome! We hope you will take time to explore this blog and to find all the reasons to turn to Christ, and away from Letha Scanzoni along with all those others who make a living off calling good evil and evil good.

Here are a couple posts (one, two, and three, and four) I thought you might particularly appreciate.

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(Tim, w/thanks to David C.) After an extended period of time trying to get our Executive Director to accept a salary increase she richly deserved, the other board members of a non-profit I served asked me to find out to find out what was behind her resistance to the increase. Tearing up, she said, "I don't ever want to earn more than my husband again."

She had been a pro-abortion feminist, but now that she had turned in faith to Jesus, she was unwilling to return to a position or salary that she judged might jeopardize her submission to her husband or her obedience to the Word of God. I was shocked and have never forgotten that day.

This brought to mind by a Pew Research Center Report released today showing that men benefit from marriage more than women do because more men than women marry up...

Apparently the fruit of feminism is that, instead of husbands giving themselves up for their wives, wives now give themselves up for their husbands. AP reports:

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Historically, marriage was the surest route to financial security for women. Nowadays it's men who are increasingly getting the biggest economic boost from tying the knot, according to a new analysis of census data.

The changes, summarized in a Pew Research Center report being released Tuesday, reflect the proliferation of working wives over the past 40 years — a period in which American women outpaced men in both education and earnings growth. A larger share of today's men, compared with their 1970 counterparts, are married to women whose education and income exceed their own, and a larger share of women are married to men with less education and income.

"From an economic perspective, these trends have contributed to a gender role reversal in the gains from marriage," wrote the report's authors, Richard Fry and D'Vera Cohn.

Comments

First, I have no reason to challenge the data this report is based on, or the ~judgment~ the authors make, viz. that marriage is a more advantageous arrangement for men (today) than it was in the past.

Let's grant all of this, in order to ask this question:

Are marriageable men today making the same judgment?

Other researchers are conclulding "no." Or, rather, they report that men are marrying less often and much later when they marry at all. Either they do not make the same judgment as this report; or, other factors overide what this report indicates ~should be~ an incentive to marry. For details, peruse some of the long-ongoing research at the University of Virginia National Marriage Project (http://www.virginia.edu/marriageproject/)

One of their reports in 2002 listed the following ten reasons why "men won't commit:"

1. They can get sex without marriage more easily than in times past

2. They can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying

3. They want to avoid divorce and its financial risks

4. They want to wait until they are older to have children

5. They fear that marriage will require too many changes and compromises

6. They are waiting for the perfect soul mate and she hasn’t yet appeared

7. They face few social pressures to marry

8. They are reluctant to marry a woman who already has children

9. They want to own a house before they get a wife

10. They want to enjoy single life as long as they can

"Marrying up" doesn't seem a compelling reason to override any of the ten factors isolated in that 2002 report.

From my own resevoir of anecdotal evidence (including a counseling session with a young, beautiful, spiritual, Christian virgin this week) I hear constantly from or about similar women who are near to despair at what appears to them to be a dearth of men who are even remotely interested in marriage at all; or, if they show any interest, it is tepid, tentative, and vascillating.

Am I hallucinating? Do I inhabit a pinched, dark world of chicken-littles who re-enforce one anothers' myopic misperceptions?

I have also found that many young men wish to avoid marriage for a host of selfish reasons (and, on occasion, some unselfish). The impact on gross income per person per month is just one consideration.

>I hear constantly from or about similar women who are near to despair at what appears to them to be a dearth of men who are even remotely interested in marriage at all; or, if they show any interest, it is tepid, tentative, and vascillating.

Hmmm. I was single till I was 40 and I found many of my Christian male friends had a similar despair regarding the dearth of women who wanted to enter into a biblical marriage.

I am a 23 year old male who desires marriage, seeks to live a redeemed life and a redeemed family history....who desires a marriage based on Biblical mandates of sexuality, that's centered on Jesus Christ and seeks
to be reformed in every way by the word. I have many character sins that I have to work out and others that need to be dealt with by means of true Biblical authority and leadership. I can say that most of the guys I know that are Christians want to be married but aren't in a church environment that promotes marriage but rather chokes it out by encouraging women to pursue careers, college, financial stability. I've been ridiculed for bringing this to light and hope to help change it, and my situation. But nevertheless the social shift has made it hard to work these things out and promote this distinctively Biblical call. Anyhow I don't know where I was going with that, but somethings gotta give.

Fr. Bill pointed out is dead on with the mindset that men have in general nowadays and in the Church. I can count at least five couples I know that are living together, functioning like a marriage but have replaced marriage with mutual consent and replaced children with a pet. This is a growing response to the failed marriages many in my generation have experienced and the sins of our generation and backlash towards Gods created order.

I got married at 36 and being single for 18 years was difficult. Most of my male friends wanted to get married but all of the women we knew would only date men who made more than they did. Since all of the women in our single’s groups were professionals, many with graduate degrees, they had no interest. A cardiologist with an MD is not in general going to be interested in dating a man with a BS working as a financial planner. Women who didn't go the college route or right out of college were often recruited for lengthy missions trips by the church to 'use the gift of singleness to the fullest' Funny thing was, I’m a self-employed plumber with an excellent income but I faced another hurdle. The women in the singles group didn’t want to date a man without a college degree. Single women in the church need to understand that if they are in the working world, they will be making the same or more as other men their age and need to adapt expectations.

Yes, but because there has always been a surplus of Christian women to Christian men in the church (overall), and this is especially obvious in the singles' community:

[1] it is no surprise that many of the Christian single women I knew pursued degrees - as much as they wanted marriage and family they instinctively knew that a Christian man might not be there for them. If we had had a large majority of men to women, they may not have done so.

[2] David Gray - we agree on something for once :-) !

[3] To Fr Bill - this surplus possibly explains why the young woman you were counselling is struggling to find a man who is up to par. Another factor: Christian men will often be very careful about showing an interest, because they've had their heads bitten off in the past for doing so - generally from women who had no shortage of male attention - and really don't want to repeat the experience.

There are women out there with a Biblical view of patriarchy. One of them was my wife's phlebotomist last Saturday as my wife gave blood, and we both agreed that single young men in the Twin Cities really need to take off their skirts, put on some jeans, and get to know young ladies like her.

And I praise God for the woman in the story, and half hope that she was yet of an age when she could hope to have a child and ditch outside work altogether.....sounds like her man was wearing pants, too.

>There are women out there with a Biblical view of patriarchy.

Yes, they just form a minority of Christian single women. Including here in Minnesota. :)

-- I am not sure that the AP report actually says that more men than women "marry up." At least in terms of income, only 22 percent of wives outearn their husbands. That is just a quibble though. The main point of the post still stands -- that men benefit from marriage economically and in terms of their health, yet many are inclined to postpone marriage.

-- I suspect a lot of marriage postponement stems from our much greater life expectancy than in the past. People, men especially, feel little to pair up young because the decades are stretching luxuriously ahead. There is no sense of urgency. This is more the case with men than with women. While the factors Fr. Bill lists can affect women too (some of them made me hesitate before marrying), women are more likely to want to marry young because we have to worry about our rapidly aging eggs if we want biological children within marriage.

I am 30 and single, and have been thinking about marriage more seriously for the last 1-2 years. I started working that way since I became convicted of and repented of laziness, selfishness and (especially) sentimentalism. I've found meeting godly women tough as well. Any suggestions on some ways that young single Reformed can start to find and get to know each other?

Matthew - seriously, try one of the better Christian net sites, like Christiancafe.com, and start by specifying "Reformed" in the relevant search filter. One of my friends has just married a woman from a European Reformed background, via this site, and it's an absolute class match. Also:

http://www.reformedsingles.com

You should also get to make some good Christian female friendships - not unimportant if for whatever reason you are gong to be single for a while.

"Be fruitful and multiply," was/is the greatest commandment ever given (fun too), and the best mission field you could ever serve on. Consider this, delay in marriage is sinful and opens us to sexual temptation and lust that is problematic. Also consider this, respectfully as I can, men and women lie. The whole dating charade because more drama than God honoring. Yes even those who claim they want biblical, male headship have trouble living it. Being "reformed" is not required. If you're leading your household, lead it in the reformed way.

Matthew, we have friends that started a site called marry well that is based on courtship ideas, as well as you can do that on the web, i.e. recommendations from pastors, fathers, on people's profiles; also, reformed mostly. www.marrywell.org

Here is the fruit of two decades plus of take your daughter to work day. Neither evangelical churches, nor Christian families, nor evangelical youth groups, nor "conservative" evangelical seminaries have stood against the chickification of our entire culture; instead, they have glorified it (especially places like Wheaties College and Dallas Theological Cemetery). Who is surprised by any of this? Eventually, as they always have in times past, these many feminized institutions will go the way of the dinosaur.

Man, O' Man!

This issue is one that's just been smacking me in the face from every angle lately. With every young man I know and voices from my own past.

Okay, so yes, there are marriageable women that can't find men and then there are men who say they can't find women. Ultimately who's fault is that? Just the fact that a man asks the question indicates the failure of Christianity today.

Now, I write this as a man who did everything sinfully regarding his future wife but by God's grace I learned from my sins.

Last night I continued my family devotions through Ephesians and we focuses on Eph 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body."

I asked my kids what I was wondering about in this verse. My 14 year old daughter said, "You're thinking about how Christ is savior of the church and the connection of husband being savior of the wife." Which was right.

Now I didn't like this theological limb, so I looked it up in Matthew Henry's commentary, which said little about what I was thinking.

I went on to teach my children that a man has to be careful not to think he's the savior of his family but as a man is under Christ, he does sanctify and cleanse his family (v 26) through his wife.

Now where does this begin? I say it most unreservedly begins at the moment boy meets girl.

Many women have been horribly hurt by men in the past and the men have as well but it's the man's job to start the sanctification process during dating or even initial socialization.

When I said this to one young man he said to me, "But I wasn't married to [her] we were just dating" and I said, "Your dating relationship will reveal and determine what your marriage will be like - your leadership begins during dating."

The men can't expect the women to know about biblical marriage, they've never seen it either. Men have to teach them.

I have heard tons of stories (including my wife's dating trouble with me) about the fact that women are waiting for men to have the backbone to tell them, "I want to marry you, I want you to quit your job and stay home with the kids and I will take care of you [as Christ loved the church]."

There's a song, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" that describes this process perfectly in the secular realm but where have our wives typically come from - the secular realm!

Absolutely men have been hurt and afraid to show their emotions to women but after all men are supposed to be men not women - they have to jump back into the fray and be strong!

Also the issue of men fixing their sin before marrying is a good one but it must be balanced with the fact that men marry in faith and that the longer they delay the more entrenched their sin is likely to become.

My pastors and a couple of friends, know I married in extreme faith, having sins that I didn't think would ever go away, not because I was faithful but because I'd already sinned so badly before marrying, I knew if I left the woman I loved because I knew I didn't deserve her and wasn't ready, I would just hurt her more - I also knew clear as anything that God didn't want that. I wasn't brave, God made his will clear to me and I remember thinking, "I don't know if God exists but he wants me to marry Ginger." It was my first real act of faith as a Christian, my assurance of my salvation came two years later.

I'm not saying that's the way to go, but it takes faith.

And Faith is what should define Christian men.

-Clint

Give blood, Matthew!

I'm serious; stay in fellowship, serve in what ways God has fitted you, and you will be surprised what comes your way.

>Now where does this begin? I say it most unreservedly begins at the moment boy meets girl.

Yes, but reaching that point can be very difficult for many.

Wow! Well said, Clint!

At our church(PCA) we have lots of wonderful families. Families, I might add, which have been bountifully blessed with children. We have husbands who love their wives, and wives who honor their husbands. We have parents who love their children, sacrificing to train them biblically. Of course we all struggle with sin, and there is always much work to be done.

This family context has kept the young adults who grew up in our church at our church. It has also attracted numerous singles to our congregation. The young adult mid-week Bible study our daughter attends is being led by two couples from our church whose children are grown. It is such a blessing that my daughter can go to the study and there is the teacher she also had during middle school Sunday School. I might add that he is STILL teaching middle school Sunday School.

"Yes, but reaching that point can be very difficult for many."

Absolutely, and I'm not trying to belittle that really. God blessed me by sending my wife when I was 18, we married at 20 (two years late), it was all God.

If men pursued Godly churches and thus Godly women as much as they pursued college, career and fame then this would be a non-issue.

We'll move for college but not for a good church.

-Clint

"male friends had a similar despair regarding the dearth of women who wanted to enter into a biblical marriage."

You know, I agree with this. But here's another thing. When I met my wife she was already accepted to Vanderbilt Medical school. I was pre-med there. She didn't walk up to me and say, "Hello, I'm Ginger Sands, and I'd like to meet a Godly man who will let me stay home with the children instead of being a world-famous Doctor - Are you that man!"

If she had I probably would have wet myself.

But bit by bit, we talked and realized we both wanted a close family, a biblical family more than anything else. She wasn't going to say plainly what she wanted, if she did, she would have been leading me and besides she was scared to scare me off. For better or worse, she always let me lead and it took extreme sin for me to see what I had to do. Maybe I would have been just as bad if had been a Christian, but I think in most cases men just don't have the nerve to put themselves out there and say what they really think so the girl thinks she has to just keep plugging away at her career.

Besides, as I always say, when God removes your idols, they have claw marks on them.

The work still lies with the men. Women will follow us if we lead. Heck, we follow the women easily enough, and we're not even made for that!

-Clint

>If men pursued Godly churches and thus Godly women as much as they pursued college, career and fame then this would be a non-issue.

Sigh. I've belonged to multiple churches where there were NO unattached women of marrying age. Godliness then, to my mind, means being content (invariably a struggle) and not church hopping to find those that have women who are marriage eligible.

Yes, but "godliness with contentment" doesn't cancel out the onus that is put on the men to go and find a wife, either. As you put it well, even men who are diligently searching for a wife sometimes won't find one, at least not right away. This, too, is within God's providence. But that doesn't take away the responsibility for men to actively search for a godly wife. God's providence (and being content in it- whether or not God is providing that wife that you're looking for) and actively searching go hand in hand.

David,

Yeah, I definitely see your point. Church hopping is pretty horrible. I definitely have to admit that this wasn't a problem for me. However, when I've had the ability to know couples up close I see that availability of Godly spouses isn't usually the problem. Maybe it is for you.

For example, I know one young man who has known this one woman for years - when you ask her, she says, "He doesn't care about me" - if you ask him he says, "I just haven't met anyone" and if you ask anyone else they say, "They're perfect for each other!"

This seems often to be the case. When I ask the girl, "What about this guy or that guy?" She says, "Oh, THEM - I they're not my type."

It's crazy. It seems like most of these couples are keeping themselves from marrying. At least from what I can tell.

And it's not like these couples have dated and decided they're not right for each other. This one girl's been pining away over this one guy for over ten years - I think they're both nuts, and they don't go to the same church.

Another man I know who was about 31 at the time, was despairing of ever marrying. A 40 year old female deacon at his church seemed to be a nice woman (hmm) - and I said to her, "What about so and so" and she said, "HA! Him!!?" Then later, she said, "Every man I've ever met are jerks!" Well, probably that man dodged a bullet, now he's married and expecting his first child but you know, we had to sort of fix them up or else it wouldn't have happened, it seemed. We invited them over for dinner together, later his wife said, "We knew you were fixing us up, but we didn't care - you both officially get the credit for fixing us up."

Before that the guy was too afraid to make a move and she kept assuming he wasn't interested! So yeah, it wasn't our job to get them together, but we sort of played diplomat between them until they realized that they had noting to be afraid of. By this time, he was around 32 and she was around 35. So they may only have this one child, because they're too old to have more most likely.

I no longer play matchmaker like this because as one young man recently said to me, "If I don't do this [courtship] myself, my marriage will always be based on other people's advice." Very true. He still asks for advice but not as much. We'll see how it goes.

It just seems that usually there is a lot of trepidation, not just a shortage of good people.

Not saying everyone's like this but it seems very very often to be the case.

-Clint

My best friend recently dated one of those wonderful Godly men that everyone is always recommending to you. Her family had been in close relationship with his for years and it seemed to be one of those unheard of movie moments as they began their relationship. She had heard countless stories about how stable and reliable he was. How satisfied and content he was in God.

Unfortunately the relationship did not go to well. Contentment turned out to be a guy who didn't need or really want a relationship. His pursuit of her consisted of asking her to be in relationship with him and seemed to have ended there. He selfishly desired to have the relationship fit in his schedule and didn't think about her. When the relationship ended he wasn't even interested in knowing why.

Now, one may think that perhaps he just wasn't interested in her. And perhaps this was the case, but he did initially pursue her (I can guarantee she did not pursue him). He never took the initiative to get to know her and she is a gem. He may of thought she was just silent, had nothing interesting to say, or wasn't very open. But her silence was largely due to the fact that he never pursued knowing her and was content to have a convenient surface relationship.

As a young woman of marrying age the problem I have seen the most is a lack of mature interest. It has seemed to me that men find themselves in relationships with women for very shallow reasons and then they don't make the decision to get out. The woman, perhaps open to a serious relationship, ends up leading their relationship or as in the case of my friend the relationship becomes non-existent and soon finds its end. If the woman takes over leadership she will soon began to hate herself for it and become insecure because of her acute awareness of his lack of pursuit. All too soon fruit of this insecurity will pepper the relationship and her sin combined with his lack of assertiveness becomes a recipe for disaster. After this experience, many women don't trust themselves or a man to start another relationship.

As someone who has had experiences more like the latter of the women. I can understand why it would seem so important for a woman to date someone with a higher level of education, better income, or some other respectable worldly quality. While "waiting" for marriage many women have had to pursue some form of "alternative" for the day when we are old and realize we are to be a maid. And if we are well aware of the intense struggle submission is going to be, we want to end up with someone who seems "competent." Obviously these qualities are not the determining factor in whether a man can love and care for a wife. But as a master manipulator and a well educated "pushy broad," I would prefer to marry a man who can give me a run for my money on my bad days.

>Maybe it is for you.

Thankfully not any more... :)

"By this time, he was around 32 and she was around 35. So they may only have this one child, because they're too old to have more most likely."

If God is gracious there is no reason they can't have more children. Believe me we know you can have kids after 35 from experience!

"But as a master manipulator and a well educated "pushy broad," I would prefer to marry a man who can give me a run for my money on my bad days."

Anon,

Other than the master manipulator part, at which I've never been very good - you're not my twin, are you?

Kamilla

To Ed -- You wrote, "'Be fruitful and multiply,' was/is the greatest commandment ever given...." Um, not according to Jesus. He picked "Love the Lord your God" as #1. ;-)

To Ross and Leslie -- The singles sites creep me out. They seem so indiscreet -- as if people were putting themselves on display in a shop window for others to check out the goods. I'd rather see some sort of Reformed matchmaking service, with careful oversight by wise men and women.

To the single guys -- Enlist help. Talk to your pastors and elders and ask them to network with other pastors and elders they know to help you identify eligible women without your having to church hop. Also, read Debbie Maken's book "Getting Serious About Getting Married." (Or listen on audio -- http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Serious-About-Married-AudioBook/dp/1591284023 -- since the print version's out of print and used copies are pricey.) Oh, and make sure you know the difference between contentment and complacency.

To Clint -- Your posts here have been terrific. Sad that you've given up playing matchmaker. I think the church needs more of that sort of thing...provided it's done wisely. What's wrong with advice? The Bible has good things to say about "a multitude of counselors." If you really don't want to be a matchmaker anymore, at least consider being a butt-kicker when there's a single guy around who needs to get off his lazy duff and do something about it.

To anon. -- Here's a quote for you: "Because of the wonderful way God made the world, what one woman respects in a man, another may not. In other words, some women can be led by men who in no way could lead someone else. A woman with a strong personality will need a man with a lot of horsepower to lead her. She doesn’t want to marry a man whom she will always have to be leading herself." (Context: http://femina.reformedblogs.com/2007/07/23/what-kind-of-man-are-you-looking-for/ )

Now to sit back and see if anybody responds to my comment. The last three times I've commented I seem to have managed to bring the conversation to a dead halt. Sheesh...a girl could get a complex! ;-)

And to Kamilla -- No, she's our triplet. ;-D

Valerie,

My dear sister! Just for a moment, I did wonder if Anon was you and your forgot to put in your name . . .

Kamilla

"For example, if she is not a camper, but she wouldn’t mind becoming a camper, then that falls in the indifferent category."

--from the column Valerie linked.

Reminds me of my stock response to the mere suggestion of camping:

My idea of roughing it is when room service is late.

Kamilla

Valerie - the reformedsingles site I mentioned does look like one of the better ones, and is run in a fashion close to a matchmaking service. What works for some, won't for others, I do grant you.

Ross -- Yeah, I remember looking at it when it first opened, and I liked the elements of parental/pastoral oversight but there's still the semi-public personal profile that I can't get over.

>To the single guys -- Enlist help. Talk to your pastors and elders and ask them to network with other pastors and elders they know to help you identify eligible women without your having to church hop.

I think those are great ideas but so much of this discussion assumes relatively heavily populated areas. If I were single in my current church it would be over 100 miles to the next orthodox reformed church. One of my previous churches there were I think two other reformed churches within 200 miles. I wound up driving around 480 miles, one way, to court my wife. Well worth it I might add!

"Sad that you've given up playing matchmaker."

Well, I still do it just in such a way that encourages them to do it themselves.

"The last three times I've commented I seem to have managed to bring the conversation to a dead halt."

Don't feel bad, that tends to be what me and my wife's comments everywhere seem to do. I never know if it's our fault or not.

"my current church it would be over 100 miles to the next orthodox reformed church."

I've often wondered about this sort of thing, because my wife and I weren't Christians at all when we met but we worked. Other women are not really well grounded but go to church, often such women can be lead and are great wives but you will find them in in parachurch groups etc. Also, if I had the maturity most people on this blog seem to have, I think I would have moved to be in a church that was larger during my pre-married years. Being at a grounded church is critical, but one reason I came to my current church was because my kids needed other strong kids. Coming for a wife isn't completely invalid.

For example, the way I met most of my current friends was through pro-life work. I found people who went to different churches but had similar convictions about scripture, meaning we were more alike than our separate churches would indicate. Hey, I know at least one couple who married through pro-life! It's not any weirder than meeting online!

-Clint

>Also, if I had the maturity most people on this blog seem to have, I think I would have moved to be in a church that was larger during my pre-married years.

So you'd have attended an E Free or Lutheran church if you were single?

When in his last year in seminary, my good friend (who was a dead ringer for Errol Flynn) stood up in a church singles' group numbering about 200 (yes, very large church) to announce that he was looking for a wife, that single girls whom he called for a date should save him and herself time by declining if she already knew (for whatever reason) that she'd not care to marry him or a pastor (his chosen vocation).

He spent the fall and most of the spring semesters working through the single women, and kept a cordial friendship with all the lassies involved. No engagement resulted.

But, when I took him to my cradle congregation (350 miles away) one weekend, he met a young lass one Sunday evening at church, just before we took off for the long drive home. They conversed by phone about 20 hours over the next week, at the end of which he returned to my cradle church to spend two days of face-to-face time with her. At the end of it they were engaged. Many years and many kids later, they're still wedded.

Rare? Probably. Unreasonable and foolish? Not at all. My friend's year long search really honed his own understanding of what he needed and desired in a wife, and the first woman he met who fit the bill and who was similarly minded toward him ... well, what's the point of delay? They wedded 3 months after the engagement was struck (which took, as I said, a week of serious, purposeful courtship to achieve).

Another couple I met in my cradle congregation had met, courted, and became engaged entirely by correspondence (and, this was before computers and the internet!) while he was stationed aboard a Naval destroyer and she was a student in the local university. They did not meet face to face until the week before the wedded. Again, they're still together.

I can't possibly know, but I'd guess that matches like these could be far more common if single Christian men and women showed similar focus and initiative in pursuing a mate. Waiting for it to "just happen" is not a strategy for success.

Disclosure: my wife and I were engaged 72 hours after we undertook to evaluate one another as potential spouses. Yes, we knew one another before that (which helped to speed things along, obviously). Four children and 30 years later (next month) we're grateful to God for the example and encouragement of the two couples I've described above.

Fr. Bill, thanks for that story. This is a little of what I am getting at. Men need to be intentional, this is not unromantic.

Recently at a women's bible study a woman said many women described skipping college etc. awaiting a husband but finally giving up.

My wife also had an interesting conversation with a very godly young woman, protesting with us at Planned Parenthood today. She is single and from her description of her courtship with a very Godly young man I know, I couldn't figure out what went wrong either.

And that got me and my wife talking as we drove away, we both concluded something that a young man we know told me recently which was that now that he was very actively struggling against his lust, abstaining from pornography etc. he was beginning to feel more motivated to get married.

Now this may sound crass but I wonder if that isn't a big reason why men are not pursuing women much these days.

Now this man had said that he didn't feel that "spark" with the Godly women he knew, well, why would that be - I had told him a while back, "When you look at pornography do you think about whether that woman is likely to be a Godly wife and mother?"

It seems that today many men I've met have inadvertently trained themselves to respond to pornography and dulled their hearts to women.

So the only women who get men's attention are the ones who show far too much sex, and such women hopefully aren't found in church.

My first year of college internet pornography existed but it wasn't easy to come by and the web didn't exist yet. So pornography has always been easy to get but never as easy as it is now, and surely that has had an impact.

I knew a month after meeting my wife that I wanted to marry her, but alas, I listened to my family and the world who said that marriage at 18 was insane.

All these issues, feminism, marriage, pornography, homosexuality, abortion, college, debt, etc. are connected.

We are a Godless society and we haven't yet deprogrammed ourselves of the lies that are all bound together.

We tend to want to compartmentalize these issues but we can't if we're going to see clearly and defeat our ancient foe through Christ.

-Clint

Interesting article from Focus on the Family:

http://www2.focusonthefamily.com/focusmagazine/marriage/A000000910.cfm

Why would we think things that affect marriage don't affect pre-marriage?

To Kamilla & Valeria, glad to know I have family ;) as far as the different women needing different things in men to be led I'd have to agree

To Clint, with reference to the FOTF article he's linked to:

I wonder if another thing impeding marriage inside a variety of Christian singles' circles, is that there's actually an awfy lot of fornication going on within those circles as well.

Criticisms of this view welcome.

Ross,

To quote that inimitable social critic, Homer Simpson, "Doh!"

Kamilla

Ross,

I'm sure you're right but also any sort of sexual release outside of marriage will tend to prevent someone from pursuing or maintaining a healthy marriage.

Let's face it, being able to have sex is a huge motivation for young men to get married. If they're gratifying themselves with fantasy women on the net then they will be less likely to overcome their inhibitions and pursue a women.

I had another conversation with another man today who described thinking that the women he talks to have no personality - I've heard several young men say this about other young women I've known - I told him what I told those others, that the girl has a lot of personality but she's shy and waiting for the man to draw her out. And ladies, please help these foolish young men along, show your shimmering personalities! Don't worry, if they don't like you, someone better will!

-Clint

Fr. Bill, Leslie, Clint, Valerie and everyone else- thanks for your thoughtful responses to my question. I appreciate it.

Clint, Fr. Bill, Bayly brothers...

Sound theology helps a lot with these difficult questions concerning marriage, gender roles, and the working out of our salvation in the family and local church.

Sadly, subcultural proclivities can tempt all of us to go out on theological limbs... to our own detriment and that of those we lead, love and serve.

Dr. Powlison mentioned an article he wrote during his excelelnt address at the CCEF marriage conference recently. Here's hoping that it might serve the readers of this blog to interact with his thoughts on Eph. 5: http://ccef.org/sites/default/files/nc2010/notes/The-Fear-of-Christ-is-the-Beginning-of-Wisdom.pdf

Dear EMBG (is that your name?),

Downloaded Powlison's article and, though it makes an effort not to depart too widely from the historic church's orthodoxy concerning our duty to submit to those God has placed in authority and the duty of those holding authority to emulate our Lord in their exercise of it, the article is many, many words trying to cop a posture as halfway between the historic church's position and the feminist heresy.

So, for instance, until Powlison's piece came along, we might have been tempted to think "traditionalists" were right. In the nick of time, though, Powlison joins the millions of his contemporaries all assuring us that they're not. Right, that is.

The real truth of Ephesians 5 is ever so much more nuanced than those who have gone before, and if we read him (Powlison) carefully enough, we might be saved from all the errors hitherto prevailing. And so on. Note footnotes six and eight and their "drift in this direction" language applied evenhandedly to both the "traditionalist" and "egalitarian" camps.

And there's his habitual use of the language of "roles," as if woman and man, mother and father, and child are simply hats we take on and off at this and that point in life. God's commands don't apply to form so much as function. So is our sex and the authority and submission adhering to it everywhere in Scripture just one more role? Seems that way when you get done with Powlison. There are noises that might be interpreted otherwise, but he uses the word 'role' over and over again, and this strikes me as dangerous.

Sex is that hard biological bifurcation God does at the very beginning of life. Sex is that form God invests with authority and submission throughout His Created Order. Sex is no role. Yet now, instead of calling it "sex," we call it "gender" and write about "roles" of authority and submission. Or rather, in Powlison's case, of submission and submission and submission and servanthood and kindness and compassion and sharing and Velveteen rabbits and cotton candy and niceness and gentleness and wounded healerness and...

Really, I tire of men who think they have something new to say concerning authority and submission--something that corrects all those who have come before them. Even if they're part of the much-appreciated brothers at CCEF.

What I dream about as a pastor called to guard the good deposit and the sheep is men who try hard NOT to be original; men who try NOT to have something different to say on this subject, today; men using fewer words (than 8,000), fewer syllables, less breast-beating and heavy breathing. Men who don't write trembling lest they appear to their subscribers as not sufficiently progressive.

Really, we don't need more highly nuanced pieces on authority and submission in which the author tries to distance himself from everyone else, claiming he has a unique insight, a fresh direction, and a posture that radically diverges from those who have gone before him. We need authority and submission--the very kind of authority and submission egalitarians and feminists hate. Unless, of course, you think behind every rebel stands an abusive authority whose actions justify the rebel's rebellion.

Love,

Women who have pursued careers, college, and financial stability are probably much better prepared for marriage than those who have not. These things prepare young people for a successfull life outside their parents' home. You should rejoice in any skill or asset your future wife brings to the family unit. Check out Proverb 31:16-18. A godly woman can be financially savvy and self sufficient. Far from "choking out" marriage these aspects enhance it.

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