William Lane Craig: find a wife who is interested in your field of study or ministry


Marriage and family
Marriage and family

Blake sent me this question and answer from Dr. William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith web site.

The question is this:

Dear Dr. Craig,

As one who has recently discovered the realm of apologetics in the past couple years, you were one of the first I had come to know, and it has been a pleasure reading some of your material and watching your debates. I am currently only a junior in college and am studying philosophy and religious studies and love it, and hope to attend seminary in the future and get my masters in apologetics, God willing.

My question for you is not necessarily a theological or philosophical question but a question that I am hoping I could get some pastoral advice from you about that I feel you are perhaps the best suited to answer. I recently got married this past summer to an amazing woman I met at a one year bible college I attended a couple years ago and it has been great. But between transferring to a new (secular) school and being constantly busy with school and work I feel like my relationship with God is constantly on the backburner, as I am not getting into the word nearly as much as I used to and my prayer life is nearly nonexistent, and because of this my relationship with my wife is not where it should be either.

I love my major and I love my wife, but they don’t seem to overlap very well, as my studies are normally more time intensive than hers and also she see’s my talking about it more as an annoyance than anything. I guess why I am writing you is because I am getting so spiritually burnt out and need advice on how to ignite/maintain my relationship with God and keep a healthy relationship with my wife and if having an aspiration of being an apologist is worth it. Not only does everyone else not see why I have picked the path I have because they see philosophy as impractical and I won’t be able to support a family with such an aspiration, but the path itself is difficult as I do not have many other fellow Christians in my classes and so I am being practically scorned in all directions. I often ask myself if it is worth it and if I should find some other path that would be more conducive to married life and family life that her and I hope to start in the foreseen future.

Dr. Craig is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Even if I make it through my undergraduate years, will seminary be any easier? I hope to seek out a spiritual mentor in the future but am still getting acquainted with our new local church and would love to have some direction until then. Thanks for your help and your great ministry!


I just want to quote the first part of Dr. Craig’s answer, then I’ll comment briefly below.

Obviously, Wesley, not knowing you or your wife, I cannot counsel you adequately. Indeed, I’d urge you to treat this crisis with the utmost seriousness by finding a pastoral counselor or older married couple whom you both trust who can advise you on how to go forward.

Before I respond to your concerns, Wesley, I want to alert other readers to the importance of what Wesley has to say. He has married a woman, who, though “amazing,” does not share his interest in or burden for philosophy and apologetics and so finds his talking about such things an annoyance. I strongly urge those of you who are single to make having a shared interest in your field of study and ministry a top criterion in selecting a spouse. It doesn’t matter how beautiful she is or what a great cook she is if she has no interest in your field of study and so sees talking about things that you are passionate about as an annoyance.

That’s enough Dr. Craig – now it’s time for my comments (which disagree with his in places).

First of all, if you are thinking of studying philosophy or New Testament, etc. then you either need to do it full-time and give up marriage and family, or do it part-time and make your main job a STEM job. I have a friend who has actually done the “full time STEM, part-time philosophy/New Testament” plan, and he has 3 Masters degrees (done part-time) and is completing a PhD (part-time) – and has not a stitch of debt. He is in his 30s. He does not intend to marry, so he is more focused on getting these degrees than saving up for his marriage. His first priority is to put points on the scoreboard, and he doesn’t see marriage as a way to help him do that.

Second, if you are a man with a plan whom God has invested with certain resources – degrees, finances, good health, etc. – then you cannot throw it all away for the wrong woman. Talk to the woman you want to marry, and see if she:

  1. has cultivated characteristics that are useful in a wife and mother (chastity, sobriety, self-denial, hard work, frugality, etc.)
  2. has rejected feminism and understands the roles, responsibilities and needs of men, women and children
  3. accepts that the purpose of the relationship is to pool resources and cooperate in order to serve God better – not her and not you
  4. accepts that following a plan is a produces better results than chasing culturally-determined notions of happiness
  5. is able to identify threats to Christianity in the culture and has studied and prepared to respond to them
  6. is able to acknowledge and understand what her husband is trying to achieve and respect his preparations and plans

One positive way to learn how to make good decisions about women is to take some time out to study economics, politics, etc. and develop a marriage plan that has realistic measurable goals and a realistic interim steps to reach them. That project plan enables you to prepare yourself for marriage and your male roles (provider!) by getting the right skills and resources. And it also allows you to lead a woman so that she can develop herself to be ready for marriage to you. I hope that she would already have done a lot of the work by herself, (chastity, STEM degree, debt-free, good job, apologetics, conservative politics), before she even meets you. Then what’s left is just the final alterations to each of you so the fit is hand in glove.

I have always believed that I could lead any woman and make her more suitable for being a good wife and mother, no matter how badly she had screwed up her life before. So long as she takes responsibility for her own decisions, does not blame anyone else for her mistakes, and is willing to grow. That is the only way that she will be a suitable helper and the mother of effective, influential children. I think the women I have mentored would agree that however far we got, I left them better than when I found them. But some women do not want to be better, and that’s the kind you need to avoid in order to avoid squandering your resources that God has entrusted to you to produce a return for him.

A good marriage cannot be finessed with emotions and intuitions and pursuing fun and thrills. It cannot be undertaken by people who refuse to grow up. It takes planning and work. You can’t go to an Olympic ski jump, put on skis for the first time and slide down the ramp and stick the landing the first time. You have to train and practice first – a lot.

Nobody ever showed up at the Olympics and got a gold medal by doing what was easy and fun at every opportunity, throughout their teens and 20s.

My courting questions would have been very useful for detecting whether a woman is willing to develop herself so that she will be a good wife and mother. I don’t think that the wife described in the original question above would have passed any of these questions. It’s not the time to start asking these questions after you are already married, either. It was a huge mistake to be swayed by appearance, youth and fun. It was the man’s mistake – he chose her. Don’t you make the same mistake as this guy.

9 thoughts on “William Lane Craig: find a wife who is interested in your field of study or ministry”

  1. Wow – WLC just validated your courting questions – at least in a general way – good show! I guess we all have to take back what we have said behind your back about you being unreasonable. :-) Great post, WK!

    1. He and I disagree about whether it’s ok to go out on a limb and just study things that don’t pay, but you can’t argue with the fact that he was able to do it. I don’t think most other people should try to. My technical friend’s plan works way better than Dr. Craig’s for most people.

  2. Find a woman who recognizes that apologetics is not a consumer activity. She need not be an apologist, but she does need to know that you are not doing this for yourself, but for others.

    Imagine someone who collects guns, ammunition, armor, and military equipment. He practices shooting and studies military tactics. He and his friends (who do the same thing) often talk about military the military equipment that they have bought or are going to buy. They go to tactical training conferences together, and are good friends.

    The problem is, despite living in a country at war, none of them have ever seen, or even sought, combat. They have neither defended nor captured territory. What would you think of them? You might think of them as enthusiasts of military paraphernalia, but you would not think of them as soldiers.

    So many apologists fit this kind of description. They read Lee Strobel, watch Dr. Craig debates, and subscribe to all the Phil Fernandes and J. Warner Wallace podcasts. But they haven’t done anything yet.

    And there are so many opportunities for apologists to have a voice. They can publish blogs, write letters to the editor, produce ads, establish Facebook and Twitter accounts, edit Wikipedia pages or simply post comments on news sites.

    If every American Evangelical donated 1% of his/her salary to apologetics causes, the industry would be infused with over $30 BILLION dollars. Organizations like the Discovery Institute, Reasonable Faith, and Ratio Christi are punching way above their own weight and could make a massive difference with a little extra cash.

    But that’s just the beginning. Teachers are enormously influential. Even if college professorships are scarce, high school teachers are in great demand, and the position provides many opportunities for apologists to weave arguments for their worldview into their work.

    Educational and information-gathering resources are invaluable toward persuading the public. It saddens me that educational resources like the Khan Academy, TED Talks, and the Discovery Channel are so highly secular. Why didn’t Christians get there first?

    Even if you are not an apologist, there are so many opportunities to help out the apologetics war effort.

  3. Finding a wife who wants to be your helpmeet is more important than finding a wife who is interested in your field of study.

    From Wesley’s letter, “….as my studies are normally more time intensive than hers and also she see’s my talking about it more as an annoyance than anything.”

    The root problem here is that the wife is focused on her studies and her future use of that degree. This indicates that her current focus is not on being a helpmeet to Wesley.

    A wife that helps her husband in his ministry will share in the reward for service in that ministry. The helpmeet wife will be rewarded for what her husband does. “41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these [af]little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” Matthew 10: 41, 42

    1. I don’t think that a wife who doesn’t understand your field of study is helpful, especially when that field of study is relevant to the big challenges that students face at the secular university. Men thrive on encouragement and men feel encouraged when their wives show an interest in what they are doing, at work, in apologetics, in politics – everywhere where there are challenges.

  4. @WK,

    I work in a technical field and use lots of math. My wife is not good at math and does not have a technical background.

    But, but, but, my wife has been very encouraging to me in my work. My wife has made the effort to remember details about my work projects and she frequently asks me questions about what I am doing at work. She remembers the names of my boss and co-workers and can discuss them with me. When we have a company open house she gets dressed up and attends, inspects the displays and hardware and asks questions. When I have received an award at work, she dresses up, comes and applauds. My wife routinely brags about the work I do to relatives and friends. I feel very encouraged and supported by my wife!

    It is more important for a young man to find a wife with a helpmeet attitude than it is to find wife who understands your field of study.

  5. I am praying you find a good wife soon.

    Thanks for blogging. I have learned things from your writing.

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