My experiences with Christian women in church and campus ministries

A friend of mine sent me some horror stories from his time dealing with single Christian women during seminary, and I thought I would write something about the horror stories from my experiences with single Christian women in campus ministries during my BS and MS programs, and in several evangelical churches that I attended in my 20s.

The biggest problem I’ve had with unmarried Christian women in college and in church is that it is impossible to impress them by being a competent, effective Christian man. Every skill and ability that seems to me to be useful and effective for the kingdom (or for marriage) seems to cut no ice with them. I had women in my youth group, in IVCF and in Campus Crusade have told me that being an engineer is bad, being chaste is bad, not drinking is bad, talking too much about apologetics is bad, and especially trying to get them to learn apologetics – that was really, really bad. They hated that. And forget trying to talk to them about abortion and homosexuality. They were very proud to be non-judgmental. It was a badge of honor, saying “I don’t judge” as if they were saying “I am good person”.

Everything that you might think makes sense for a man to be skilled at from a marriage point of view is viewed as creepy and weird by these church/campus-club unmarried Christian women, in my experience. I am a colored guy, so I always put their messed up standards down to the fact that I was colored and therefore was not allowed to talk to them, period. I was also surprised to see how little the command to “love your neighbor” was implemented by the unmarried Christian women. Here I was, struggling through a tough engineering program, and obviously coming from an unchurched background, yet these woman never had a supportive word for me. My interests in theology and apologetics and moral issues and politics were viewed by them with suspicion.

In retrospect, I would say the biggest argument against God’s existence I ever faced was the complete disconnect between what these women professed and how they treated others.

There was one exception. When I was a teen, I had an older college student mentor me and she helped me pick up my grades – especially in English. She eventually fell away from her faith (she was a cradle Catholic). But other than her, I basically was in my mid-30s before I met a Christian woman who had any respect for me because of the things that I could do as a Christian. And that was after over a decade of donations, organizing, training, mentoring, apologetics, etc. By that time, I had my BS and MS and a boatload of savings, and yet up till then, no unmarried Christian woman had ever given me the time of day. I was sort of stuck looking to white Christian women for validation, because most colored girls are liberal. But what I found is that they had no standard in their worldview that I could be graded against favorably, other than physical appearance.

That was the scariest thing for me, to find out that there was no worldview there that distinguished between William Lane Craig and Jim Wallis, for example. There was just the outward appearance – that was the sole criterion that unmarried Christian women were using to decide whether a man had value or not. And their agenda for men was never a mentoring/discipling agenda. It was the standard secular boyfriend agenda. And very often, they chose standard secular boyfriends for that agenda. I later found out that they found men with definite moral positions and definite apologetics ability intimidating. Any man with fixed, entrenched positions – either about truth or moral issues – frightened them.

Even now, I find this such a weird thing, because in my own life, I act as a mentor to younger Christians regardless of their appearance or other such criteria. Mentoring other Christians is what Christians ought to be doing! I mentor about a dozen promising young Christians (women and men) in different countries. On a given night, you’ll find me reading something they asked me to read, sending them links to evidence to help them argue, proof-reading their essays, buying them books, hearing about their school assignments, picking their elective courses, or ordering them not to take the summer off and to work instead, etc. Right now, I have two of my experienced pro-life friends helping one of them take over a pro-life club at a university. Another of my friends who does Internet consulting is helping another friend start his web site. And so on, with me or my friends mentoring other Christians just for the sake of honoring that command to love others upward. It doesn’t even matter how great the person is right now, because we mentor Christians at all levels of ability. No one is left out, and no oneis turned down.

But this idea that other Christians have value simply because they are Christians was NOWHERE to be found among unmarried Christian women when I was in university and in my 20s. It’s totally foreign to them that Christianity imposes those mentoring/discipling obligations on them, regardless of appearances. They are feelings-driven, not obligation-driven. They are concerned with their own agenda, and not looking to God to see what he wants them to do for their fellow Christians.

I was always the same Wintery Knight back them as I am today, just at an earlier stage of development, and yet no unmarried Christian women in the church or in a campus Christian ministry gave me so much as an affirming glance while I was working out my plans. In fact, church women often stood in the way of things I tried to do, like bring in professors to speak at IVCF or show William Lane Craig debates at Campus Crusade. Focusing on evidential issues was deemed “too divisive”. It was prayer walks, hymn sings and testimonies by postmodern relativists every week. I learned not to count on unmarried Christian women for support of any kind for the things I was trying to do. No matter how good the things I wanted to do were, they always had a reason why I shouldn’t be allowed to do them.

I am always surprised when I meet a woman and she wants me to read the Bible, or read a book, or do anything like that. (That actually happened to me again last week!) I’ve had a handful of women do that to me in my whole life. Unmarried Christian women are, in my experience, running a very secular playbook, making decisions about how to treat others from their feelings. And then if you question them about it, they attribute their feelings to the work of the Holy Spirit. You don’t really see how bad it is until you hear them tell you that God told them to move in with the atheist guy, etc. It’s striking to me how far the Holy-Spirit-wrapping of their feelings goes, and yet they don’t see a problem with it. I think the answer to this problem is that we really need to help women to think through their worldview and think about how to act on Christian convictions with other people, and men in particular, and men who are committed to building the Kingdom effectively and intelligently above all others.

21 thoughts on “My experiences with Christian women in church and campus ministries”

  1. “Unmarried Christian women are, in my experience, running a very secular playbook, making decisions about how to treat others from their feelings. And then if you question them about it, they attribute their feelings to the work of the Holy Spirit. You don’t really see how bad it is until you hear them tell you that God told them to move in with the atheist guy, etc. It’s striking to me how far the Holy-Spirit-wrapping of their feelings goes, and yet they don’t see a problem with it.”

    Your experiences are quite likely not unique.

    Thanks for keeping up your standards of character. Also, I think it’s wonderful that Scripture doesn’t mention Jesus’s physical attributes such as height or attractiveness.

    WK, I don’t know what’s God’s plan for your singleness, but I totally honor your work and ministry for Him and His Kingdom.


  2. First of all, forgive my English. I am from Paraguay. Speaking about mentoring… could you recommend me books about christian marriage?


  3. I think the answer to this problem is that we really need to help women to think through their worldview and think about how to act on Christian convictions with other people, and men in particular, and men who are committed to building the Kingdom effectively and intelligently above all others.

    Having gone through it and come out the other side “reordered”, I can say that this is not easy, but it’s doable, with God’s grace. You’re on to something here.

    And yes, all those women are disordered. Christians are supposed to love what you presented. But lukewarmness is a virtue nowadays in the Church of Feelgood…


  4. What it seems like you’re saying is that you see no evidence that these women are, in fact, Christian.


  5. I wonder if Christian women have difficulty knowing how to be effective disciples of Jesus because He is a (THE) Man? Could that be why they gravitate toward a Holy Spirit feelings-based approach, which is perfectly valid when it dovetails with the Bible, btw?


  6. I have observed very similar things. While in college I met absolutely no women who were remotely interested in apologetics or anything intellectual. They had their own goals, they hated any form of judgment on any topic, and even the Christians seemed to have very few Christian ideas. My church had many women like this, too. Lots of emotional appeals, but no logical analysis of any topic.

    I’m thankful with my wife that she has a good moral compass. I’m working on the apologetics part – I suspect men naturally gravitate towards that because of how we are structured mentally, but I think it is important and essential for both men and women to be involved. I recently started an apologetics group and hope to rope her into it soon.

    It really gets me angry when I hear pastors who condemn chastity and purity and men with strong moral compasses who refuse to marry women that are as Christian in behavior as anyone who has never heard about Christ. I’m hoping the boiling point hits soon and the trend becomes unacceptable. We need men and women who value virtue! Avoiding promiscuous or anti-intellectual women (and men!) should be something that Christian leaders praise. For what it’s worth, I know I hold such Christians up in high regard, yourself included.


  7. So I’ll start with two anecdotal stories.

    1. I had a close Christian male friend who met his wife and his wife had had no previous boyfriends. Yet they had a very good romance/courtship/dating+engagement period; she was very realistic and godly in her choices. I asked him what he thought were the most important factor or factors (especially with the lack of dating experience). He said that she had good godly married Christian women mentors / friends who helped her and guided her.

    2. I had two friends who were extremely private i.e., not a lot of involvement from outside their families. Both supposedly were from a Christian families… the man’s uncle was a pastor, another uncle was an elder from a church, his dad is a Christian counselor. On paper, he did all the right things: they met at a singles’ ministry, they dated over a year and they even did pre-engagement counseling, they were pretty involved and had Christian friends, they did pre-marital counseling. But their marriage failed in 3.5 months. There were a plethora of problems, ranging from lack of sanctification, lack of full disclosure and truthfulness, lack of reconciliation, dividing a church to take sides, and so on. (The wife also had a lack of a strong father figure …)

    I mention these two as extremes but also as case studies and there are many truths to be learned both from success and from failure. So if I compile some various factors to aid with godly dating (that may or may not end in marriage):

    1. The father of the Christian woman is highly influential. Don’t undervalue daddy-daughter dates; that’s where she may learn key skills like discernment, encouragement, social skills, how to act with men.

    2. Discipling and training in godliness starts from an early age and takes parents, friends, older (both spiritually and biologically) people.

    3. Training in terms of godliness with the opposite sex can start as early as the kid is going to school. (I hear a lot of Family Life Today programs that advocate this.)

    4. You don’t need to date a lot to be marriage-ready. The latter is more of a function of sanctification rather than dating. In fact, the way that world does dating is more rehearsal for divorce.

    In the first story, the wife had no previous boyfriends. The husband had 3 prior girlfriends. Neither had sexual partners.

    If one doesn’t date a lot (or one is in the anti-Christians-dating-only-advocating-courting camp), then what is one to do? I suggest several things: a) spend time in group settings getting to know people, and given the occasion b) getting to know the other person better and c) discerning and observing.

    There was a story earlier from 2013 written by an older Christian women. The girl was with the popular flashy well-dressed loud-mouthed boy, who was very vocal, assertive and demanding of what he wanted. There was another boy who wore glasses, was more of an introvert, but was serving everyone else. The latter is going to be overlooked but he’s going to be a much better marital prospect.

    (I think it brings up your point, Wintery, that many women in the church are influenced by secular culture/subculture and implicitly take their values and views, and much about evolutionary biology tends to pick very short-sighted options, i.e., men and women who aren’t strongly sanctified will only go after the best looking ones; women will after alpha males.)

    5. However you say it, there are several periods to get to marriage.

    You become acquainted with someone,
    You get to know someone,
    You discern that you two could have some potential including for romance and for marriage,
    You continue getting to know that person while you continue discerning while having different experiences and scenarios to help get to know the other person. (Usually called ‘dating’.)

    It’s not only about fun and having a great time (although that’s important).

    Now, if I were telling men or helping Christian men, what kinds of things would I suggest (other than the above, developing discernment)?

    1. Seek to work on your character; it’s the most enduring thing.

    The not unequally yoked concept usually is applied to Christians dating non-Christians but could also be applied in terms of differences in sanctification. Want a really sanctified woman? Better work at one’s own! Besides — yes, keep up your standards. I’ve been asked by friends, “Is it better to be single than dating/married to someone who has chronic low self-esteem? or has other significant sanctification problems?” Yes, it’s better to be single!

    2. Continue to serve in the church.
    Serve in whatever ways that your abilities and talents and the Holy Spirit leads you. You may also find out that by serving in various capacities you develop surprising skills. E.g., I used to organize the largest annual outreach for my church and those skills made organizing a wedding and reception a cakewalk.

    3. Be courageous and bold to get to know women; and if they are deserving of your attention because of their strong convictions and character, then ask them out.

    Use Wintery Knight’s dating advice and questions :)

    4. Yet be wise in how you pursue and how frequent you pursue (e.g., asking her out more than once a week communicates you want a relationship).

    5. Develop good relationships with pastors, married men who are spiritually wise, even spiritually-wise women who can serve as advisors and mentors and sounding boards.

    6. Strategize carefully as Wintery Knight has done, in terms of where to meet women who are going to be the type you’d be attracted to.
    As one of my friends once said to me, “The type of woman that you’d want to marry (i.e., very spiritual, sanctified, a Christian leader, etc.) is not going to be one of the regulars at (a certain singles’ ministry) … nor are you going to meet them at parties or whatever.”

    You may have to ask an elder or pastor or spiritually wise married couples for assistance. You may have to enlist the help of godly friends. Or maybe, (gasp) eharmony.

    Other ideas.
    I have an idea I have yet to really explore; I was going to make a website “Most Eligible Christian Bachelors (in a certain city).” These would be people that I’d have to know well so I could speak about them from personal experience, and they’d have to have solid character. But women like men who are famous (it helps with the alpha-male thing) … and not so much on the reverse. It’s also another way to help me market eligible Christian bachelors of solid character. (Heh)


  8. Wow, WK. I’m sorry that the Christian women you met in college behaved this way. My own college experience was much different. My small group leader (a single Christian woman) was one of the first people to introduce me to apologetics. And there were several other people, including women, in our campus ministry who studied it. We even had a sort of “Christianity for beginners” class.

    I think those women you met were abusing the Holy Spirit if they were using Him to justify immoral behaviors. I have always been taught by my pastors and mentors that the leading of the Holy Spirit will always be consistent with the Bible. Apparently those women were never taught that.


    1. Well, it’s not so much that they were immoral – a minority were. But in general they just were not looking at other people as targets for encouragement and mentoring for the Kingdom. That was the furthest thing from their minds. Even when we eventually managed to get a debate done, (with William Lane Craig vs a philosophy professor), they wouldn’t lift a finger to help us – it was just us guys who got it done.


    2. Thanks for chiming in Kelli. My experience mirrors yours. I went to an evangelical college that wasn’t even particularly strict and met many young women (like myself) who were very serious about their faith and took theology seriously in the classroom and outside of it. That was the norm rather than the exception.


      1. I wonder if there are any differences between Christian colleges and secular ones, and in different parts of the country. I went to a state university in the South. Not a Christian school, but the Christians weren’t afraid to be Christians or that they might offend anyone. Not that there weren’t any secular liberals (there were), but the local culture was very Christian friendly.


        1. I’m not sure. Even though I had an overall positive impression of the spirituality of my peers at an authentically Christian college, I did sometimes feel that perhaps being in a secular environment would have encouraged more Christians to be more on fire about their faith and take it less for granted.


  9. What you basically describe is a valid concern. I agree that modern women are largely immoral and foolish. However, there is also the separate issue of attractiveness — which your post did not even address. You basically combined the two issues into one post. Frankly, a person may be the most moral Christian in the world, but that does not mean a woman will be attracted (for marriage or anything else). You are justifiably frustrated. But your analysis was a bit unfocused because you basically conflated the concept of women giving you the time of day on a personal level, with women’s anti-Christianity.


    1. Well, what I am arguing for is what I do in my personal life. I just mentor young Christians and encourage them when they are doing hard things without thinking about their appearance or whether they meet some arbitrary social standard of attractiveness.


    2. Drew, I’m not trying to answer for WK, but I do NOT think that he Is arguing that he is highly moral. (Although he IS arguing that God is highly moral.) Instead, I think that he is arguing that he is highly committed – to standing firm for Jesus and for the defense of authentic Christianity. I find that (increasingly rare) attribute highly attractive in both men and women.

      I think that’s what Christian attractiveness should be, rather than just a tingly feeling experienced by women or men. Some of the most beautiful Christian women I have ever seen would be considered quite plain by worldly standards. But, you can literally see their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ bubbling up to the surface of their exteriors. They cannot wait to slap down nonsense anti-Biblical sentiments – yet they somehow always manage to do so in a joyful way – what a rare combination!


  10. This was a telling statement: “I was sort of stuck looking to white Christian women for validation, because most colored girls are liberal. But what I found is that they had no standard in their worldview that I could be graded against favorably, other than physical appearance.”
    This indicates that they were what one might term “cultural Christians”, and there had been a lack of sound discipleship and doctrine in their lives. I think many of the churches they attended may have been those that rely on hype, emotions, and shallow doctrine (if one can call it doctrine), rather than solid teaching – that syndrome is also prevalent among the Word of Faith/ Prosperity Gospel types as well, where Scripture is often taken out of context and twisted to say what the preacher and the hearers want it to say. I’ve heard some messages that are just a lot of verbosity, sound spiritual but have no substance.
    One could say that Jesus Christ was not Lord of those women’s lives, because they’d never come under conviction of sin, repented and received Christ. Of course, this requires the Lord to work by his Spirit in their lives, which is often in his timing (I was nearly 40 when it happened). Without that transformational event, one cannot expect them to produce the fruits of repentance and righteousness in Christ, or any other godly fruit.


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