I found this post while browsing on Parchment and Pen, by C. Michael Patton. In it he discusses how his wife Kristie responded to his interest in making sacrifices to become a missionary in Europe. First, let’s take a look at what he wrote, then I’ll comment. This post is the meanest thing I have ever written on the blog. Please don’t read it, especially if you are a woman.
Now I don’t know any of the details of Mike’s life, so I am just using his words as a springboard to make some points of my own. Nothing mean I say applies to Mike or his family. I am trying to talk about my own experiences trying to reconcile my faith with women.
Mike starts admirably by explaining how, as a married man with two children, he became excited about a plan for preaching and defending the gospel in places like Europe, where there are very few Christians evangelizing.
When I got home, Kristie attempted to probe for the passion and the source of my excitement. I held back some naively thinking it was going to be a surprise. I wanted to walk her through all I had learned and let the excitement build in her as it had in me. I told her everything we had been learning doing my best to work without the pins. I explained to her how much of a famine for the Gospel existed in other parts of the world. Then, when the time was just right, I gave her the “good” news: “We are going to be missionaries!!!”
I don’t think Mike’s expectations on his wife are realistic given my experiences with Christian women. And his wife did end up rejecting his plan to become missionaries in Europe.
Now I’ll talk about my experience, not about Mike’s story. In my experience, women often (70%) approach Christianity as a subjective experience, not as objective knowledge. So that means that they are not going to find what is written in the Bible as more authoritative than their own feelings, which they may be projecting onto “God” without the benefit of logic or evidence. That is why most women are usually not very interested in Christian knowledge, like theology or church history, and especially apologetics. In my experience, what this means is that they are less interested trying to convince people that Christianity is TRUE.
Most women in the churches prefer subjective experiences like singing, community, prayer, rituals, etc. Many women resent the idea that Christianity might be objectively true, because the truth of Christianity would limit their ability to invent their own version of Christianity based on their intuition. Many are certainly not interested in learning about God as he is, and then in shaping their lives to serve him in the most effective ways, regardless of the cost. Many prefer to spend their time reading fiction, like Stephanie Meyer instead of evidential stuff, like Stephen Meyer. Dan Brown stuff is also popular because it allows them to doubt the Bible when the Bible disagrees with their intuitions.
So the problem is that the Bible seems to be calling for bold action to evangelize and persuade others, but women seem to be more interested in more subjective, inward-focused activities that make them happy.
Note: there are exceptions of course. I know one women who read Signature in the Cell (!). Another woman I know read FOUR Tom Sowell books in two months. Actually some of the strongest denunciations of Christian women comes from other Christian women. One woman once told me that she never attended all-women Bible studies, and another told me angrily that her women’s group spent more time on arranging the table settings than in choosing the speaker for an event! As well, the best book on the Christian worldview is written by Nancy Pearcey. Etc. And of course, there’s Michele Bachmann, who asks her husband to take her to hear Ravi Zacharias for her BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
Since then I have seen this situation more times than I can count. It is usually always the same: a zealous husband who has become embittered against his wife because she will not follow him in his zealousness. One good friend just got a divorce because his wife did not want to become a missionary. He thought it was the Lord’s will and he believed her unwillingness was keeping him from a “greater good.” Now, after the divorce, his immaturity has disqualified him from taking that step even by himself. Another friend is becoming embittered toward his wife because her focus is elsewhere. Their marriage is suffering. I could tell many more stories, but I don’t want to betray anyone’s confidence.
Friends (and especially young zealous husbands or soon to be husbands), don’t make the mistake of having your passion for ministry end your marriage. You first ministry is your marriage. If you don’t get that, you are not qualified for ministry. In the spirit of Priscilla: Do you not think that God is powerful enough to call you both into ministry or do you think he only has enough power to call one of you? If so, then he is not a God worth your time anyway. In short, if God does not call your wife, he is not calling you. Period.
Well, I agree with Mike that once you get married, unless you’re married to Jan Craig, then you can pretty much kiss your ministry good-bye. You have to uphold your marriage first, and God comes second. If your wife blocks your ministry, then you’re stuck with no ministry. He’s right about that. Which is why I don’t get married. What many women want, in my experience, is to make you like them so much that they can control you. But if they see that you are resisting and evaluating them critically, they give up and move on to easier prey. Many women have no intention of trying to help you to achieve your vision. You are just a tool in their toolbox for pursuing happiness.
What does the Bible say in 1 Cor 7:1-28?
1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.
8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.
9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion
25Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.
26Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are.
27Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.
28But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
And in Matthew 19:12, Jesus says:
12For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
I have seen theologian after theologian explain these verses away, rather than incur the wrath of women in the audience. But it seems to me the verses are pretty clear. Don’t marry. (Note: there are exceptions – I think a marriage to Michele Bachmann would be an ennobling experience).
The only virtuous reason for a man to get married is when he is convinced that he can do better for God with that woman by his side than they can do as singles. Once a man gets married to someone who wants to live a secular life of pleasure, he’s stuck – he can’t break up the marriage to save his ministry. Mike is right about that. So that’s why I say again to men – DON’T MARRY! Marriage gets in the way of your commitment to God, unless you are very careful to find a wife who will support you in your ministry.
Look at Mike’s bio page:
I am Michael Patton, the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen blog. I do a lot of stuff and love teaching theology. In fact, I have been blessed enough to be able to make my living doing so. I am married, have four kids (two girls and two boys). Got married to the most beautiful gal in the world.
If you click through, you will see a picture of his wife in some sort of beauty pageant. But right away I am concerned because I am suspicious of women who enter beauty pageants.
Now forget Mike’s pretty wife, and let me make a comment about men and sexual attraction.
Most Christian men become interested in women because of sexual attraction (unless you’re me, and you have visions of little homeschooled William Lane Craig and Michele Bachmann clones dancing in your head). I think that many men today rely far too much on physical attraction, they start the physical contact way too early which destroys their objectivity. And most men don’t take the time to screen women to see whether their stated beliefs are grounded. They just take the women, and their stated beliefs, at face value. And what this means is that God is being left out of the relationship – his needs don’t matter. What matters is the physical attraction.
I have a friend with a PhD in physics who is an elder in his Calvinist church. His wife has never read an apologetics book. Not even The Screwtape Letters. She says that logic and evidence don’t apply to Christianity. She knows God through her intuition, not through the Bible, because the Bible was written by men. And Christianity is really about doing whatever she wants to be happy. She reads Dan Brown and she gave him Dan Brown to read, too. She doesn’t believe in Hell, and she thinks Jesus was married. She views her husband as a tool for serving her. She has a pretty appearance, so he never screened her statements of faith. His eyes were blinded by a sexual attraction.
One of my friends has married well, and his wife is 100% perfect in every way. They had a good long courtship, with pre-marriage counseling, and were very strict about physical contact. (They were both virgins when they married in their late 20s). And that is the only way to do a courtship – they put God’s needs first and they knew exactly what vision they were pursuing. I think that men need to look for women who treat God as a real person, with a distinct character of his own. (She was a missionary for a year in a very nasty part of the world). On her evening off from being a stay-at-home mom, she answers apologetics questions for unbelieving seekers. This woman was screened very well.
UPDATE: When I say DON’T MARRY, I really meant “don’t marry without sharing your vision with your prospective mate first, and make sure that she is on board with it”.
- Does being a virgin before marriage affect marital stability?
- What is the meaning of white roses?
- Is Mark Driscoll afraid to hold a woman accountable for her own choices?
- The Wintery Knight’s greatest fears about the future
- How to communicate requirements to a Christian woman during courtship
- How feminism made women unsuitable for marriage and parenting
- Why men should refuse a woman’s offer of casual sex
- What has Michele Bachmann got that third-wave feminists haven’t got?
- How Christian women can make Christian men marry without using sex appeal
- John Piper’s questions to ask before you get married
- Does a man’s decision to marry negatively impact his service to God?
- The rules for friendship and courtship between Christians
- What Christian men want from Christian women… in paintings!
- Why Christian men should be chaste
- Should Christians marry non-Christians?