Note: The following post was written by my friend Laura. On this blog, I have often offered men suggestions about what to ask prospective mates. Laura’s article looks at the problem from the other side, offering women suggestions about what to look out for in a husband candidate. I’ll be posting one per day for the next 10 days.
Apart from the decision to follow Christ, marriage is the biggest decision you will ever make. It is a lifelong commitment that will impact every area of your life for as long as you both shall live. As Jesus’ disciples realized and the apostle Paul taught explicitly, for many people it is better not to marry at all (1 Corinthians 7). But for those who do marry, it must not be entered into lightly. Here are ten behaviors to avoid in men when considering committing for life.
3. Unwillingness to make enemies. One of the most concerning characteristics I see in many men today is an unwillingness to stand up for what is right if it means getting pushback, losing the approval of others, or making enemies. But women are required to respect their husbands, and a woman cannot respect a people-pleasing pansy who kowtows to the masses and concerns himself with the opinions of the secular culture. Such a man has not yet reached maturity. He is not ready to be a husband or a father. In fact, Paul says he is not even a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10; see also 1 Corinthians 4:1-4). And when faced with the choice between protecting his own reputation or standing up for truth and honor and goodness, he will almost certainly protect himself and lose your respect very quickly. It is absolutely critical to find a man who is willing to make enemies over matters of conviction and truth, and to leave behind the people-pleasers who need the approval of men (and women).
One of my favorite portrayals from classical literature of a man who is not afraid to make enemies is Cyrano de Bergerac. In the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand, Cyrano is an outstanding duelist, a gifted poet, and a nobleman serving as a soldier in the French army. His character is brash and strong-willed, and he is not afraid to make enemies in his quest for excellence. He speaks, writes, and fights with conviction, refusing to be influenced by the culture around him, even at the expense of fame and fortune.
At one point in the story, Cyrano is offered the opportunity to have one of his plays performed on stage if only he will allow Cardinal Richelieu to change some of it. In perhaps his most famous speech, Cyrano refuses, declaring to his friend,
“And what would you have me do?
Seek for the patronage of some great man,
And like a creeping vine on a tall tree
Crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone?
No thank you! Dedicate, as others do,
Poems to pawnbrokers? Be a buffoon
In the vile hope of teasing out a smile
On some cold face? No thank you!”
Instead, Cyrano will remain free…
To sing, to laugh, to dream,
To walk in my own way and be alone,
Free, with an eye to see things as they are,
A voice that means manhood- to cock my hat
Where I choose- At a word, a Yes, a No,
To fight- or write. To travel any road
Under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt
If fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne-
ever to make a line I have not heard
In my own heart; yet, with all modesty
To say: “My soul, be satisfied with flowers,
With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them
In the one garden you may call your own.”
Cyrano knows that by refusing to compromise in order to please the crowds—to make friends everywhere “as a dog makes friends”—he may never be applauded or even accepted by men, but he will maintain his integrity, even if he must go it alone.
In contrast to Cyrano, King Saul of Israel was a man who longed for the approval and praise of others. Ultimately, Saul was removed from leadership when he failed to follow God’s instructions to destroy all of the Amalekites and their livestock because he was more afraid of making human enemies than he was of disobeying God. The Lord had ordered Saul, “Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Samuel 15:3) But Saul spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, as well as the best of the sheep, oxen, lambs, and other livestock.
When confronted by Samuel, Saul at first insisted that he had fully obeyed the Lord. But Samuel heard the bleating of the sheep. Saul then tried giving excuses for his actions, but eventually he was forced to acknowledge his disobedience, saying: “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.” (1 Samuel 15:24).
Saul was the most powerful and influential man in all of Israel. He had a tremendous opportunity to lead the people closer to God, but he threw it all away because he “feared the people and listened to their voice” rather than accepting disapproval from others.
In the book of Galatians 1, the apostle Paul rebukes those who have perverted the gospel by accepting a distortion of the truth. He says, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” And then he adds, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul again contrasts being a trustworthy steward with being a people-pleaser when he writes, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.”
In other words, Paul didn’t care what others thought of him; in fact, he didn’t even care what he thought of himself. He only cared what the Lord thought of him, and so must any man who is worthy of the love and submission of a Christian woman.