I enjoy reading Dalrock’s blog. Recently, he posted a couple of posts (first and second) about theologian Doug Wilson. A friend gave me Wilson’s book “Reforming Marriage”, and I did not find it to be a helpful guide to marriage. So, I was interested to see what Dalrock found in Wilson’s other writings.
Here’s one quote that Dalrock found:
As the apostle Paul is urging young women to marry, he lets a very interesting comment fall in passing. “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Tim. 5:14). The word translated here as “guide the house” is oikodespotein. The wife is to be the ruler or despot of the home.
A wife therefore has true authority over her home which no one, including her husband, can take away from her.
[…]In a certain sense, a husband… is an honored and permanent guest… he should learn to see himself as a guest.
Now, that seems to contradict the traditional view that men are supposed to be leaders in the home. I don’t think that Christian women are well-served by pastors who dispute the traditional view.
Here’s what the Bible says about it in Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
It turns out that this denial of male headship shows up in how women approach relationships.
I have a male friend who is actively dating with the goal of marrying. He has a STEM degree and a good career, earns enough money to fund a home and children. He has his own house, and he has spent a lot of time studying apologetics and engaging in debates. He also attends church and Bible study weekly, and runs an apologetics discussion group. He spends his time researching moral issues and he is very persuasive at defending the Christian faith. Defending God’s reputation calmly and effectively is a daily occurrence for him. So, he is able to do the traditional male roles: protector, provider, moral leader, spiritual leader. A 5 minute conversation with him would show that he is well-equipped for husband and father roles.
So I was asking him how things were going with his new lady. On his last date was telling her about his adventures debating some moral issue. Rather than asking him for details about the exchange, or saying her own view on the issue, she completely shut down and refused to discuss it at all! And she wouldn’t even recognize that what he was doing was praiseworthy, in order to encourage him. You would think that a guy would be able to impress a self-described Christian woman with his efforts to promote Christian truth claims and Christian moral values. But it turns out that a many Christian women don’t look for anything seriously Christian in a man or in a marriage. And they don’t see moral leadership or even spiritual leadership as central to what a man does as leader of his home.
And I think part of the reason why women are so passive on dates is because they don’t see their role as picking a man who will lead them. The denial of male headship leads to the failure to evaluate the man about his skills and achievements in traditional male roles (protector, provider, moral leader, spiritual leader).
It really bothers me that “complementarian” pastors are either unable or unwilling to tell women that the Bible has something to say about how to prepare for marriage, and who they choose to marry. I think that parents and pastors think that if the woman is young and pretty and has a degree and a job and totes around a Bible that she is qualified for marriage. But that would be like telling a fighter pilot that his plane is ready for a mission against the secular culture when his plane has no cannon rounds, no bombs, no missiles, no spark plugs and no fuel – no maintenance of any kind. A man who has bigger goals for his Christian life is looking for more from a wife than praise hymns and romance novels.
In a secular society, practical Christianity is about apologetics and moral issues like abortion, gay rights, big government socialism, public schools, college indoctrination, Hollywood, global warming, Darwinism, etc. That’s where the battle is right now. It would be nice for a Christian man to go on a date with a church-attending girl, and have her talk about her latest efforts to defend the unborn, to promote natural marriage, or even to talk about policies that mattered to the family: school choice, homeschooling, consumer-driven healthcare, etc. That signals to a man that she would be a good partner in a Christ-focused marriage enterprise.
If you’re a young woman wanting to impress a Christian man with your qualifications for marriage, then check out my marriage questions, and see how you do.
10 thoughts on “How to tell if a woman is looking for a man who will lead the home”
So…why not just say “I’m looking for xyz in a girl, and I would like her to have abc qualities (male headship etc etc) and it’s non negotiable to me” on the first date and get it over with? Like, literally just say all of this to the girl so no one’s time is wasted on something they aren’t looking for.
If you ask for what you’re looking for, women can paint a picture of themselves with words that is not accurate. So that’s why you have to ask them open ended questions so they don’t know what you’re looking for, and can’t tell you what you want to hear.
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I don’t get how a wife being the ruler of the home renders her husband a mere “guest,” which is disgusting concept. At that, why jump on the husband as an example of how she rules, and not children, since they actually need close supervision, rules, and guidance? I would think that would be the main point to guiding the home!
Really, this seems to stem from people viewing rulership/leadership as about being “in charge” or the rank and “prestige” as opposed to the extra responsibility, and the importance of not neglecting your duty.
Yes, it’s weird. When I think of headship, I think about making sure that the overall operation of the home is oriented towards achieving goals for God, and not anyone’s feelings. For example, making sure that something is being done about how kids lose their faith at the university.
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Wilson’s position is the edgiest complementarianism can tolerate. Close, but still far from biblical headship
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Yeah when I read his book, I read three chapters and then threw it in the garbage. I just thought, this man is a fool if he thinks that women are the gatekeepers of commitment and need to be given more stuff. In all honesty, a man with stem degrees and savings is in a powerful position. The thought of having a woman come in with no prep (no apologetics, no chastity, no sobriety, no studying of economics, no formed policy views, etc.) Is not attractive. The last thing in the world that the pro marriage Wilsons need to be doing is giving more goodies to single women. Marriage is already a low value proposition to men in a culture where even Christian women are going into debt for English degrees, playing the field with bad boys in high school and college, and delaying marriage into their 30s. Not to mention single mothers by choice.
I have more education, career and finances than the Wilsons of the world. I bought the home I’m living in for cash, and it is new construction. It cost a lot. It doesn’t help the culture for him to be telling women that they should expect to rule the home that they never paid a dime for.
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Doug Wilson’s “complementarian” view can be summed up thus:
1. The husband is the head of the household and therefore all marriage problems are ultimately the husband’s fault. If your wife divorces you, no matter the reason, you are at fault because you are the head.
2. Also, your wife has absolutely NO obligation to obey you ever. In fact, she should disobey you if you are failing in your responsibility to love her as Christ loves the church.
Wilson likens this to how a ship’s captain is responsible if the ship runs aground, even if he wasn’t personally responsible for what the helmsman did. However, he doesn’t seem to recognize how the 2 above points contradict. If the husband is responsible for the marriage, then it is precisely BECAUSE his wife has an obligation to obey him just like the helmsman had an obligation to obey the captain. This is similar to how in the book of Genesis, God holds Abraham responsible when he tells Sarah to lie and say she is his sister. Sarah obeyed Abraham as her husband, and because he was in authority, Abraham bears the responsibility.
However, if Wilson’s second point is true, the man CANNOT bear responsibility. The only way he could is if the wife did have an obligation to obey him. If she is free to disobey anytime God speaks to her through her feelings (a ludicrous and unbiblical view that Wilson also endorses) then her husband can’t possibly be responsible for what she does.
Wilson is simply promoting the modern feminist view that women have all the privileges of headship but none of the responsibilities. No man in their right mind should marry a woman who thinks this is acceptable.
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What’s sad is that society at large would be acceptable with Wilson’s model.
I’ve been asking people for a long time: if you get married at all, why get married on paper?
People don’t understand the difference between a promise and a guarantee. Before no fault divorce, the vows that men and women made on their wedding day were guarantees. Now they are only promises.
A guarantee offers some sort of recompense if one or both parties to an agreement fail to deliver. However, a promise is essentially just someone saying, “please, please believe me!” In fact, as author Gavin de Becker has pointed out, you should always feel suspicious whenever someone feels the need to use the words “I promise,” without putting it in writing and formalizing what consequences follow if they fail to deliver.
I would encourage all men out there, do not get married unless your bride to be is willing to sign a legal contract stating that in the event of a divorce, the party seeking the divorce forfeits any and all rights to any joint property, child custody, etc. If they are unwilling to do so, one must ask how seriously they take the vows they are making.
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Agree in principle but such a contract would never fly in court. You would have to have some form of trust/bond created wherein her family is obligated to cover costs of divorce, etc. in case she (cheats/leaves you).
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