Bible study

Are men allowed to have preferences about which women are best for marriage?

So, in a previous post, I explained why men have to be careful about choosing a wife. Men have plans and they need a woman with the right skills to achieve it. Even if a woman genuinely repents her past, she may not have developed the skills for a godly man’s marriage plan. For example, her 50K of student loans makes it harder to afford a stay-at-home homeschooling mother.

But many Christian women feel that there is no such thing as a Christian woman who is a bad candidate for marriage. It doesn’t matter what a Christian woman did in the past. A man should never evaluate her skills for the roles of wife and mother. After all, if God forgives a Christian woman for running up student loan debt for a useless women’s studies degree, or for getting drunk and sleeping around with hawt bad boys in college, then no Christian man should hold her past decisions against her when choosing a wife. Men are obligated to disregard the past anti-marriage decisions made by women. To do anything else is to deny the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So many Christian women say.

What would happen if the shoe were on the other foot? What if it were the MAN who had been selfish, lazy and irresponsible? What if the MAN had made choices that seriously harmed his ability to perform male marriage roles like protecting and providing for his wife and children? Would marriage-ready women be obligated to marry this man as much as a man who had remained chaste, got a good education, built up a gapless resume, saved enough for a downpayment on a house, and taught apologetics in his home church? Is she allowed to prefer a man who has made good decisions to prepare for his marriage roles over a man who has made horrible decisions, but just hollers “grace” when anyone questions his ability to be a husband and father?

This MUST-READ article from The Federalist asks and answers that question.

Do you agree with the author?

I think it’s time for a conversation about another elephant in the room: this idea that women prefer physically fit men with good jobs and no criminal record. It’s incredibly sexist and matriarchal to insist that women have a natural preference for men who have invested time and energy into stewarding their bodies, have shown the capability of earning a living and supporting a family, and have not gone to jail for attempting to grow 452 marijuana plants in their mother’s basement.

I know more than a few men who spent their twenties languishing in their parents’ homes, subsisting on Cheetos and Mountain Dew, playing Xbox, watching pornography, and smoking controlled substances. If one of these men turns his life around, accepts Jesus, and starts fresh, young women have no right to overlook him as a potential mate just because he is 280 pounds, has almost no marketable skills at 30 years old, and cannot vote, serve on a jury, or own a firearm. He is created in the image of God, and accepted by Jesus! Any women who would overlook every other noble quality he possesses for basic financial security and a clean background check (not to mention browsing history) isn’t a woman he should want.

Men like this have often long since repented of their listless and slothful ways. If the lingering consequences of their pasts didn’t stop Christ from living and dying for them, then it shouldn’t stop a Christian woman from loving them, either. Period.

The Federalist article makes it clear that a man’s poor choices about his education, job, obedience to the law, and physical fitness CLEARLY compromise his ability to perform his male duties to protect and provide. What about moral and spiritual leading? Well if he didn’t spent his teens and 20s studying  apologetics, moral issues, etc. then he isn’t going to compare favorably to a man who teaches apologetics in his church, debates atheists, and writes blog posts for the Life Training Institute.

My friend Lee is a superb stay-at-home wife and mother. She says that we shouldn’t accept “Jesus forgives me” as an immediate reversal of past harmful choices:

I would note that there is a difference between just being forgiven of sin and actually repenting of it. Repenting is a turning away from and will manifest in changes; paying down debts, becoming chaste, becoming otherwise responsible and wise. Someone’s past doesn’t have to define their future. But that will manifest in observable and measurable changes.

She’s right.

I knew a Christian woman who had 25,000 worth of student loan debt when she was 29. She wasn’t using her degree, she was just working as a waitress. I found her a job as an IT project manager in an FT100 company, so she could pay off her loans. She declined, because “being a waitress is the easiest job I’ve ever had”. She hasn’t worked full-time as a professional since January 2013. She’ll say “Jesus forgives me!” and “I hate my student loans!”, but the loans are even larger now, and the wasteful spending on fun and thrills hasn’t stopped. Hollering “grace” and saying you hate debt doesn’t make you a good steward – and you’ll need to be a good steward if you are in a marriage. She’s not ready to manage the finances of a household. If she had taken the job, and paid off the loans, then she would have overcome the mistake, and become marriage-ready.

So what’s really behind the hysteria against men evaluating women for marriage?

Deti nails the real root problem:

Not one person – NOT ONE PERSON – said that nonvirgins with tattoos and debt are bad people; that they are irredeemable, that they’re bad Christians; that they cannot be Christians; that they’re unsalvageable; that they’re ugly; or that they couldn’t and shouldn’t marry. That is NOT what was said.

All that was said was that men prefer tattooless, debtfree virgins for marriage. That’s all.

[…]The bible… teaches repentance is the way to salvation. But repentance does not mean you no longer bear the scars of your past sins in body and mind. You do. Oh yes you do. The effects can be minimized, even overcome. But they’re still there.

And more to the point, what’s really being complained about here is a Christian woman acknowledging that men have preferences and that men are entitled to have preferences. If women want men, then they have to satisfy those preferences or lower their standards until they find men whose preferences they can satisfy.

This can’t be overemphasized – it’s the idea that men have preferences. Its’ the idea that there’s a man that’s one-half of that relationship, and there are things HE wants, and HE needs, and HE desires. Why does it matter what HE wants? Why do we care about him?

Men don’t want to marry high N women. Men don’t want to take on debt and they don’t prefer markedup tatted up women who look and act like men.

What this gets down to is women objecting to men having standards. Because that leads to men judging women. And that leads to men evaluating women. And that leads to men rejecting some women and accepting others. And women hate judgment and rejection, especially when it’s “less than” men who are doing the judging and rejecting.

N refers to the number of sexual partners a person has had.

The reason we discuss best practices for marriage-minded women is so that young women, especially young women who lack a father in the home, can get some kind of guidance about how to resist the culture’s lies about men, sex and marriage. Such a woman has NOWHERE TO GO in this culture in order to learn how to relate to men, and how to marry to a man who will love her faithfully and forever. That’s not fair! We have to help her!

What Christian men are doing by promoting chastity, sobriety, good stewardship and self-control to these young women is protecting them from a culture that lies to them. The well-meaning Christian women who think that talking about moral boundaries and wisdom will hurt the feelings of women who have made mistakes are actually making it harder for young women who have no guidance at all. The most vulnerable ones are the ones who need to hear that chastity is wise. Doing a STEM degree is wise. Getting out of debt by spending less is wise. Not seeking attention with graffiti on your body is wise. That’s what unmarried women need to hear.

It’s amazing to me that so many Christians do not understand the protective value of recommending Biblical morality and Biblical wisdom to young women. They would rather sacrifice these young women to the secular culture than allow older women to feel bad about their past decisions. So many Christians seem to be more concerned about their own feelings than about promoting and defending what the Bible teaches to young people who really need help.

6 thoughts on “Are men allowed to have preferences about which women are best for marriage?”

  1. You really need to stop the projections with “STEM degrees”.

    I agree with your general intent here, but you may want to acknowledge that many, many people are not designed for STEM.

    You’re forcing a modern iteration onto a heterogeneous group. It’s not particularly biblical.

    This just needed to be said. Take it or leave it…


    1. As long as people consider 1) how to undo the natural tendency towards emotion-centeredness and self-centeredness, and 2) how to earn a living without mooching off of taxpayers, then that’s fine. STEM is good for both of those. Better than non-STEM. I especially recommend STEM degrees and private sector work experience to parents, so that they can protect their children’s faith, and make their children financially independent.


      1. WK! You didn’t get all ‘controversial’ and all and say things like “mathematics ability is highly correlated with g-factor” or “mathematics is highly g-loaded” (g = general intelligence)

        That is to say, if you were trying to be controversial, you could also make the claim that strong math ability and therefore strong STEM ability is more correlated with general intelligence than say, “being really good at Gender Studies.” (cough)

        I’m also trying hard to encourage my kids go down the STEM path. Both my wife and I are STEM-oriented (my wife doesn’t want my kids to go down her particular vocation, although “making pet meds” like being a veterinary pharmacologist might be more creative).

        Both my boys are heavily showing the engineer disposition. That’s not surprising (I’m the black sheep of the family that didn’t go civil engineering — dad is a civil engineer, maternal grandpa was a civil engineer, … there’s maybe like 3-4 generations worth of civil engineers).

        My daughter says things like “I like art” or “I want to be a fashion-designer” and I’ve tried to say “Those are good hobbies to do on the side of something else.”

        The way I see it,
        As a musician if you are Taylor Swift,
        As a football player if you are Pat Mahomes or Tom Brady,
        As an artist if you were the late Christopher Rush,
        As a fashion designer if your name is “Armani” or “Gucci”,

        You’ll do great. However, these people are the best of the best.

        Even Scott Adams had his fall-back STEM career while building his notoriety.

        We shouldn’t generalize careers based on the best-of-the-best in that field.

        What we’ve said to our kids is that to be in STEM, 1) one has to be a very good student, 2) one needs very good skills especially in math, but STEM is a very good career for those who have the skills, have good work ethic, put in the work, and have the disposition. It is possible to have a decently paying job and decent career and gain employable skills in STEM. In other words, it’s possible to get some uncommon STEM skills and be employable — and having transferable skills and qualities, useful for the well-ordering of society.

        Lots of people *think* math or STEM is hard: it isn’t — you just need decent teachers and parents who can be guides along the way. There are lots of great applications. For instance, my fourth grade son is up to some geometry (perimeter, area) and I was going to teach him the area of right angle triangles.

        Then we were cooking and I wanted him to pour out roughly a cup of half-and-half for white chicken chili and the smallest size the store sold it was a pint. So how do you get roughly half? Do a diagonal across the carton — make a triangle. Then the next day he got a math sheet for right angle triangles.

        The progression isn’t tough.

        It’s of course not foolproof (i.e., STEM careers don’t prevent stupidity or bad decisions) — I ran into plenty of people at my time at The Epitome of STEM Schools (TESS) who made plenty of bad choices.

        Another way to get at the data is that we could talk about Return On Investment:

        From the first article,
        “The analysis reveals a clear difference in earnings by major. Ninety-five percent of engineering programs, weighted by the number of graduates, will produce median earnings above $80,000 per year by the time their graduates reach mid-career. (Unless otherwise noted, all figures in this paper are weighted by the number of graduates.) Other majors with strong earnings outcomes include computer science, health and nursing, and economics.

        But just 1% of psychology programs will yield earnings above $80,000 per year when their graduates are aged 35. Similarly, it is unlikely that graduates of arts, music, philosophy, religion, or education programs will reach annual earnings of $80,000 or more by mid-career.”

        (Some of these articles also indicate there’s negative ROI because of opportunity cost and actual cost of education.)

        I think STEM is a first-order analysis, WK’s shorthand of saying,

        “Be wise: Get good work ethic and develop some employable and transferable skills, that has highly positive ROI and contributes to the well-ordering of society.”

        The Bible is CHALK full of reference in being wise — and written in androcentric language in Proverbs (meaning Proverbs should also be applied by women) — but certainly, as men, I should avoid the adulteress. I should avoid the unwise. I should avoid the wayward woman, the unruly woman.

        (Sure, God’s grace is enough to empower me, sometimes through His community of believers, to deal with shortcomings in others.)

        It’s completely biblical for men to DEVELOP and to EXERCISE wisdom and discernment, especially when it comes to marriage.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thought I would leave this here for everyone’s consideration re: both true men and true ladies. Your article reminded me of this so I thought I would share. Hope its not off-base.
    ‘Where Are All the Men?’ This Vintage Manual on Manners From the 1880s Can Make a Gentleman [or Lady] Out of You (Epoch Times)


    1. I’ve seen that – it’s really good. Keep in mind that both abortion and sodomy were illegal in the 1880’s, so people were generally on a much higher moral plane than we are now. In fact, there was an illegal (female) abortionist in NYC that everyone knew was one, even the children. When she rode past in her magnificent, and expensive, carriage, the children pelted that Jezebel baby killer with rocks.

      Even children in the 1880’s were more moral than adults are now. :-)

      Also, for a sizable portion of the XX sex today, if I even open the door for them, I might get rebuked. I still take the risk of course, but that’s because I laugh out loud when it DOES happen.

      Sill it is nice to remember a time when Americans were at least somewhat civilized. Thanks for the memory!


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