Pastors vs the Bible: should men be shamed into marrying?

Recently, a book was recommended by Ligonier Ministries that tried to shame men into marrying. Here is a review of that book on – currently rated the “most helpful” review, because it quotes the book and cites the page number, so you know this person actually read the book.

Some quotes from the book, which is written by a pastor:

“it is imperative for your well being that you be married, to move beyond the “not good” status of single adulthood” (pg59).

“And the first step for many of us in becoming the men God wants us to be is to become married, so that we will leave behind our selfish ways and begin fulfilling our masculine calling through our relationship with our wives.” (pg64)

“It does not work very well when a man remains unmarried” (pg57)

“to realize how vitally important it is (in the vast majority of cases) that you become married” (pg59).

“Today, when God looks on single males and says, Not good, He undoubtedly has in mind a long list of truly unfit helpers, among them the pornography, video games, sports obsessions, and empty pizza boxes that are intrinsic to so many young adult male lives, even among Christians” (pg60).

“The best thing a young Christian man can do… is to marry a godly woman” (pg59)

“If you have shied away from marriage, let me urge you to reconsider and (perhaps)
to commit to the necessary growing up” (pg59).

“God says the same thing about single adult men today. He looks into their apartments and refrigerators and sighs, Not good” (pg57)

“But it is especially good to have to rise up in masculine virtue and strength for the sake of my wife, leaving behind a self-focus that was, at best, only intended for a temporary season of singleness” (pg64)

“If you are single, what is keeping you from marriage? Pray for God to enable you to take a wife and for God to provide you with a wife.” (pg158)

Keep in mind that Paul was single. Was he able to obey and serve God while being single? According to this pastor, Paul was a self-centered failure who needed to grow up, man up and get married so he could serve God instead of being an irresponsible, messy, immature loser. Paul needed a godly wife to civilize him, but he failed in life because he stayed single and immature. This view is probably the majority view in churches today, and it probably explains why men can’t be bothered with church. According to most pastors, women are already fully qualified to become wives, it’s only that the lazy, useless men like Paul are not mature enough to abandon their video games and pizza boxes and get civilized by their saintly wives.

But what does the Bible actually say about men and marriage?

Let’s look at this exegesis of the Bible from Unmasking Feminism.


And then there is this: 1 Corinthians 7:25-27 and 32-38

Now concerningthe betrothed,I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

Some Christians will say the “present distress” cited is not the same distress as our modern times and therefore we can reject this, but yet the bible is suppose to true at all times and all situations. There is and will always be a constant undertone of distress in our fallen world. If there wasn’t, this would be Eden. The distress we are in now, which is clear to any red-pill thinker, is obviously the burden of feminism, liberalism, socialism, et al and the strains it has be put on our society. Under those strains,  is it wise to seek a wife?  Yes, if you have passions that will prevent you from being celibate, but if you can manage that, under the present distress, is there a point in taking a wife? See “Note” below for more on celibacy.  Because there is no going back–these are hardcore, legitimate verses that men need to consider when pondering marriage.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife,34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Again, if you have your passions under control, a life free of the worldly distraction (known as learning/managing/pleasing your wife) is the better, anxiety free route, to living a life that pleases the Lord.  As it is said, “no man can have two masters”.  Either a Christian man is single and devoted to the causes of the Lord or married and devoted to the causes of Lord and wife.  A distraction for sure, but necessary if his passion burns. He will just have to learn how to keep his wife from becoming a second master.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

Those who refrain from marriage with their passions under control will do better. They will be more focused and dedicated on the Lord. That is very clear and Christian men need to hear that in order to weigh marriage properly. There is nothing wrong with marriage, just that it can be burdening. There is nothing wrong with being single, just that you can’t have sex, but as you will see in my “note” below that marriage may entail no sex anyway.

I say all this not to be a downer and to sway men from marriage, but so they can make an informed decision. Wives are not always sunshine and lollipops.  The modern Christian message is to just man-up and marry any Christian looking woman and instantly your life will be transformed into this Garden of Eden haven. Don’t be fooled. There will be no heaven on earth. A wife can be a blessing if she is a good wife, one that does not place undue burden and strain on her husband. One that does not cause anxieties. But, and its a big BUT, there is no guarantee that marriage for the sake of marriage will make a woman a good wife or that any given wife will not be wearing sheep’s clothing. Its a gamble and tolerance for risk should be considered.  A single, celibate life is for those averse to risk. If you can manage yourself, its smooth sailing and a life with minimal anxieties. That is all you have to control.

1 Corinthians 7 is the chapter that many a pastor cannot afford to take seriously. He cannot accept the plain meaning of the text as it is written. If he did, he would offend many people in the church who believe that the primary purpose of men is to please women, not God. In church, a man has no right to evaluate a women for marriage and then decide for himself whether a prospective marriage is worthwhile for God or not. He has no right to ask a woman questions or lead her in order to see whether she can perform what he needs her to perform in order to make the marriage serve God. Many pastors believe that a man exists to serve a woman, and not to serve God.

When these feminist pastors cannot find support in the Bible to make the case for their “blame men” view, then they resort to shaming men without the Bible. “Man Up” they bellow to single guys – as if marrying a woman were something that could be accomplished by spending more time in the weight room. Or that flexing muscles protects a man from the threat of no-fault divorce. “Single guys: don’t overlook the single moms” as one particularly foolish pastor recently advised. It’s very important to understand that many women who attend church today do not look to the Bible as an authority on morality. Many are also not prepared. Men have to be encouraged to select a woman who is ready for marriage, not be forced to rush into marriage with just any women.

According to polls, women are more likely to support gay marriage than men, for example, which shows that many women don’t really understand the need that a child has for a mother and a father. So that needs to be checked. And women are less likely to know how to defend their faith than men, as well. So that needs to be checked. Some Christian women are attacking the Bible’s teaching on fornication, saying that they should be allowed to have premarital sex if they are “in love”. So that needs to be checked, too. Instead of holding them accountable for being wrong on these issues, many pastors just urge men to “man up” and marry women, as is. But not all women are worth marrying, and so it may be better for a man to stay single if he can’t find a good one.

The best thing for a Christian man to do with a woman is to ask her questions to see exactly how she has applied the Bible to her own life, and whether she has taken on obligations and duties in order to serve God that were not easy or pleasing for her. It’s not enough to ask simple questions and await easy answers, you need to see that she has done the work to move from opinions to convictions. If she hasn’t done the work, then it’s better to stay single (and chaste). As 2 Timothy 2:4 says, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”

24 thoughts on “Pastors vs the Bible: should men be shamed into marrying?”

  1. This is a thought-provoking article and commentary. I might add that a young man who is addicted to video games and pizza may not be mature enough to marry – even to a godly woman, since he is going to be in no position to provide the kind of leadership (spiritual or financial) necessary for a proper family life. So, yes, “Man Up” by first getting your addictions under control, putting God before all, and then, maybe we can start talking about finding a proper woman – one who does the same.

    Regardless, any man who places his wife above Jesus is in serious trouble. Many years ago, it was thought that the best thing you could say about a faithful husband who passed away was that “he worshipped the ground his wife walked on.” That is surely anti-Christian.


  2. In Orthodox Judaism to be single was considered almost the same as being cursed and marriage was constantly encouraged as God-honoring obedience to the Hebrew scriptures. And any male who hoped to rise to the level of a Pharisee was almost certainly married.

    This leads some to speculative that as a Pharisee Paul was likely married as a young man and his wife passed away prior to his conversion….giving Paul unique insights into the advantages as well as the restraints of marriage and then later the advantages of staying single if given the opportunity because of the freedom it would bring an individual to serve Christ.


    1. Yes, my Jewish doctor, my Jewish dentist, my Jewish co-workers and my Jewish Facebook friends have all expressed horror at my continued celibacy (and chastity!). They think I have an obligation to marry and have children.


    1. Not untouchable. There are three ways to be a single mom:

      1) Widowed (these are fine)
      2) Single mom by choice (premarital sex undermines the stability of marriage, and more partners = more instability)
      3) Divorced (the more previous divorces, the more risk that a new marriage will result in a divorce)

      If you had a son, you would not advise them to “overlook single mothers” if it was a case 2 or case 3 situation. Because those are more risky.

      But the main point is this. The thing to do about single motherhood of types 2) and 3) is to focus on getting women to be more responsible. Pastor Mark Driscoll does not want to do that, because he is afraid of offending women by telling them to be more prudent in their decision-making with men. So he accepts what they are doing and then turns to men and tries to shame them into marriage. That is bad for the man. That is bad for any children, who are at a higher risk of divorce. And that is bad for God, since men should be marrying with the view of having a stable marriage that impacts society and produces effective, influential children.

      A man only has a certain amount of time and assets, and he is not there to please women, in this life. He is there to please God. His marriage is there to please God. And so he can be kind to every woman, no matter what she has done, but he must be careful about whom he marries.

      Keep in mind that Pastor Mark has, in the past, rationalized single motherhood by choice, which is essentially child abuse:

      You do not tell women that they are justified in engaging in premarital sex and having fatherless children, so that adult women can be happy. That is unChristian. No Bible-believing pastor could justify sin like that and escape condemnation. Pastor Mark is wrong on this.

      He is right on practically everything else, but not this.


      1. For #2 the first question to be asked is “Are you a Christian?”. If the premarital sex occurred prior to the renewing of the mind through the washing of sins and the indwelling of the holy spirit, changing our desires from the bottom up—then certainly I think these changed women (2a) should be up for consideration by a man capable of sound judgement and decision-making, rather than fitting into a “more likely to” statistic. If the girl’s not a Christian (2b), then we’re talking unequally yolked and yes, not marriage material.

        I think it’d be prudent to break up #3 into the divorcer (initiator) or the divorcée (potentially, the victim) of a divorce. Driscoll in a message on divorce was very clear that those who initiate divorce (3a) don’t have a round two available to them in remarriage—they should have invested that energy in fixing their first marriage.

        As for the divorced (3b), they could be anywhere on the scale from negligent (aiding the eventuality of a divorce) to benevolent (truly, the victim of a hostile divorce), and again don’t deserve to be clumped into a “more likely to” statistic.

        So given the 3 ways someone ends up as a single mom, each category has an easy out and not enough weight to call the pastor foolish for 140 characters (among similar statements fleshed out from the pulpit)

        Some of the men I know whom have stepped up to father the children of a single mom and make her his wife are superheros compared to me, and I definitely know some godly women in the 2a and 3b categories that deserve a second chance.

        Thanks for responding,
        —A chaste, apologetics-loving, debt-free, self-employed marriage-pursuing 25y/o guy.


      2. Just to say that I don’t think Mark Driscoll was condoning single motherhood in that article. He is stating a situation that exists – that there are women (lots of them, in fact) that have gone this route. I know of young women like that who have come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and their lives have taken a whole new direction. Driscoll is primarily having a go at young men who are selfish, self-centred and immature.
        I have personal experience of this of such young men, as I will describe.
        With having an atheist husband, who has therefore not fulfilled the Biblical requirements for a father, and despite all my input into my sons lives during their childhood, I now have one apostate son looking for love in all the wrong places (and being hurt by it), and two who are essentially living self-centred lives, although (thank goodness) they are chaste and do go to church, where they hear (but perhaps do not internalise and apply) challenging messages. Neither of them shows any spiritual enthusiasm. One spends all his spare time (when not at work, eating or sleeping), playing computer games, has no friends, and I reckon isn’t mature enough for marriage, although he is now older than my husband and I were when we got married. I cannot undo or change my choice of husband, who I met when I was an agnostic and far from the Lord. After I came to know the Lord, I did my best with the moral and spiritual training of our boys and prayed continually, but as I see other families with spiritually mature young-adult children who know and love the Lord, duly getting married and starting families, I wonder how it all went so pear-shaped…


    2. Just to add to the comment above re: the single mother tweet – Pastor Mark is also suggesting that single mothers in general are comparable to Mary and in doing so, he is not only not recognising the sin that led (the majority) of them to their present state, he is even whitewashing it by putting them on the same level as the mother of Jesus. This is pedastalisation ne plus ultra, and evidence of a guy who is completely clueless about modern women.


      1. That’s EXACTLY right. If he cared about fatherless children, he would be telling women to be more careful about sex instead of telling men to just accept that women make these mistakes and that they have to make women happy regardless of women’s own poor decision-making. I wonder if he would urge women to “woman up” and marry men with criminal records? I would not tell my daughter to do that. Forgiveness yes, marry no way. Single motherhood by choice and divorce are serious moral failures, and men need to steer clear of women who do that in general. There are exceptions, just like some men with criminal records may be reformed. But in general, we do not sacrifice our young men by urging them to do imprudent things just so that women can be “happy” without having to study how the world works, accept guidance from fathers, and make good, moral decisions.


        1. The difference is whether the women being referred to are Christian or not, and whether you believe that the Lord is able to save and/or restore those who have fallen into sin. In a former church I attended, a girl (in her late teens) who had been on fire for the Lord, was seduced by an older man (my husband says the difference between rape and seduction is patience). She suddenly dropped out of church and no-one knew where she was, then one day our pastor spotted her waitressing at a fast-food place and button-holed her. It turned out she was pregnant and ashamed. Our pastor counselled her, and she came to repentance – in fact, repented before the church – and was restored. She broke off relations with the man, who was totally unsuitable as a marriage partner (there were legal issues to sort out though), and with the compassionate support of her family and the church, had her baby. It was quite a while later (I can’t remember how long now – at least a couple of years) that she met and married a man who had joined our church. (That was a young man who didn’t overlook and write off a single mom). They have since had more children, are strong believers and have become deacons in our church – in fact, they were my home-group leaders for a year. In this young woman, I see a testimony to the grace and restorative redemption of our Lord. I think we need to beware of generalising and writing people off – to do so is to limit God.
          Jesus never spurned anyone who came to him in humility and repentance. He looked on the heart, not the outward appearance. It was those who lacked compassion and were judgmental in their self-righteous/ religious pride that he denounced.

          P.S. My one son who dated occasionally in the past, or rather, it was girls (who were not Christian) who chased after him for dates, reckons that most of the girls he knew, even just as friends, were “dodgy”, so he’s now decided that he will only pursue a relationship if he feels that it is the right woman and will lead to marriage. He’s also, through what he’s seen at church, observed the difference between godly Christian women and the worldly women he knows. He’s actually the most mature of my sons.


        2. Yes, yes, to both of you. Why aren’t pastors (or any members of the body) allowed to tell young women to not hop into bed before they are married? And I can assure you that engagement rings mean little. Until the vows are said, keep yourself to yourself!

          Of course, that makes me judgmental. Never mind that following that advice, as I did, saves all kinds of pain, heartache, and God knows what for an illegitimate child.


          1. I do think it’s good not to be judgmental to women. But sometimes it’s necessary to do it because setting boundaries on men AND women is good for God, who wants us to be good. And it’s also good for children, who need to be cherished and protected from harm caused by selfish adults.


          2. I don’t think warning them of danger and reminding them of God’s expectations is at all “judgmental”. For us to act rightly is not only glorifying God, it is good for us as well, because He does not want us needlessly harmed by our own stupidity and/or selfishness.


      2. Thank you. When he speaks on issues like this, he’s clueless. Look at his congregation. Mostly female attendees. He’s not going to insult the flock or his income on matters like this. Like I said, I do like a lot of what he has to say, but on this issue he’s wrong.


  3. Pastor Driscoll on some things I do like, but I find it funny and strange when he does his “man-up” thing, and wants men to men…..he’s dressed like a fifteen-year-old skater


    1. I know. And frankly, when I think of a manly man, I think of someone like Dr. Walter Bradley – a mechanical engineering prodigy who can really bring home the bacon while still having a powerful Christian influence in the university.


    2. Thankfully salvation nor the content of his messages hinge upon his clothing. In that moment you are joining the masses who attack the messenger rather than the message (or in this case, the worker rather than the works).

      He’s made it pretty clear that while his stuff is blogged around the world, he’s not trying to impress middle americana because he considers himself to be a missionary to the Pugot Sound area and he wants to identify with his local culture.

      It feels ridiculous to defend someone’s dress because it’s ridiculous that that’s the content of the insults getting thrown out these days, certainly there’s more meaty things to critique in a pastor. Now I wonder if my love for Christ is diminished in the sight of other believers based on how I dress.


      1. So you are saying he’s trying to fit into the world? He’s the hip pastor…he knows what young people are all about? He wants to identify to the local culture?

        Look, Pastor Driscoll would have ZERO qualms about telling a guy to “grow up” and act and dress his age. If I were chatting with him, discussing my lament of singleness and dressing like that. He would “shoot from the hip” and tell me to grow up. Go shop at one of the high-end malls in the Seattle area and wear nice clothing so a woman finds you attractive.

        I sit next to homeless people in my church. Many smell. Many have dirty clothing. They are there because they need to be fed. They need something to believe in. They need to feel welcome in a place.

        As a single, never married man, with no children watching Pastor Driscoll on THIS issue speak, and him dressing like a fifteen-year-old skater tells me “Do as I say, not as I do.”


  4. Hopefully (thanks to the internet) more and more pastors are getting “clued in” on proper theology, but it seems the mainstream guys (and gals – of course that’s another matter altogether) like to pick on men. Why? Because, arguably, there are fewer men in their congregation compared to the women attendees and so where does the money come from? Yes, mostly from the women. I could be wrong, but I think a lot of the pastors say feminist sounding things because they like to tickle the ears of those who give their money. It could also be that these pastors are trapped by the sweet song of the feminist siren too. Or, it could be a combination.

    I still want to know what “man up” means. I’ve asked those who really like that phrase what it means and the answers I get are difficult to understand, like trying to figure out how some people actually think Hitchens won his debate with Dr. Craig. I just don’t get it. How is marrying a woman with kids “maing up?” How is marrying a lady for the sake of marrying a lady because I’m single “maning up?”

    I’m curious. Wouldn’t it be “manlier” to endure the pressure of these gonging pastors barking at young (even old) single men to marry by truly finding out about a woman before engagement; by preparing yourself for marriage in good economics, sound theology and philosophy, and chastity; by resisting the “urge” (to put it mildly) to marry for the sake of getting rid of that “urge” and instead devoting yourself to prayer and having solid Christian friends to hangout with who don’t give in to vice and vulgarity? The man who does this has “man-ed up” in my opinion. The man who does the above ( and more) shows me he is a solid thinker because he has prepared himself for marriage. This man has truly found out just what kind of woman he is spending his pre-marriage time on. What else is dating but to investigate the person? To find out her thoughts on reality is to find out if love is in there for that person. External beauty doesn’t hold much weight when, after marriage, your wife becomes pregnant on “accident” and she hits you with the abortion option. “What?” you say. “You think abortion is okay?” Just how important is her blonde hair, big blue eyes, and nice rack then? Not very important is it? Dating is very important. Dating isn’t about finding out how well two people match in kissing or anything beyond kissing, instead dating is about how well two minds, or souls, match. No, it’s not magical, i.e., the love in dating doesn’t happen quickly. Dating isn’t what you see on tv or in the movies. Television and films don’t depict romance (often) they depict the writer(s) blind dive into the pool of vice; it’s where you find out just what kinds of vices people have and how they enjoy them instead of seeing two people develop intelligent love like in Austen’s novels or even in Shakespeare.

    Anyway, I didn’t intend to write so much, but I think a true man is man who marries a woman based on the compatibility of their souls. I realize a physical attraction has to be there. I do. If a man can stop a relationship with a super attractive woman because his worldview clashes with hers then I think he is a true man. If he marries because everything lines up physically and mentally then he is a true man too. I don’t think a man has “man-ed up” when he marries due to shaming, pressure from a woman, or pure lust (Some Christian men marry just to have sex…yes, it happens….sadly).


  5. I find the attitude towards single moms expressed here somewhat simplistic and a bit graceless. Isn’t there grace and compassion for Christians single-moms who have made bad choices in the past? What about their children? Many of them need and long for a father. Do they deserve to be punished because of the wrong choices their mothers made?

    I really am not a fan of Mark Driscoll at all, but I think he’s more right than wrong in his tweet. I am a 42 year old, never married, virgin, and I have dated a Christian single mom from your category 2. While we are not dating any more, I continue to be in a mentoring relationship with her five year old son. The opportunity to love him and impact his life is one of the greatest callings and privileges that God has ever given me. If I had been unwilling to consider her at all because of her past mistakes, I would have missed out on the work that God wanted to do in the lives of all three of us.

    Christian marriage is not about living happily ever after with the perfect Christian partner; it is about two broken, sinful people coming together to submit their lives to the purposes of God and His kingdom.


    1. That’s great that you are being a good example to a young man. There’s nothing wrong with that. OTOH, forgiveness in the bible doesn’t just magically erase one’s misdeeds. You know that, though. Also to note that adultery, last I checked, is still a sin. A good christian man isn’t going to press his luck.


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