In this post, I want to look at a series of tweets from an ordinary pro-marriage pastor. He is concerned about declining marriage rates. He observed young people in his church, and he did some social science research. And he’s come up with a theory about why young Christians are delaying marriage, or not getting married at all.
First, here’s the marriage rate, accurate to 2020:
This pastor is just talking about ordinary Christian men in his tweets below, not the ones who do a ton of research on apologetics, etc.
Here is what the pastor said:
I saw this chart a while back and scratched out some rough thoughts…
Around 2010 or 2011, I noticed a significant shift in “the relationship marketplace.” I can sum up this shift with two trends I saw in my church circles.
First, I noticed that many (not all) average to above average Christian men in overall quality (e.g. health, looks, ambition, etc.) were struggling to get a girlfriend. At first, I thought these guys were just being too picky or had some other major deficiency. After all, there are a lot of lazy foolish men out there. This wasn’t the case with these men. They weren’t the top 1%. But they were quality and had very reasonable (perhaps too low) standards for a girlfriend.
Second, I noticed that many (not all) average to below average Christian women (I know me suggesting that such a thing exists is upsets a lot you) in overall quality (e.g. beauty, personality, temperament, etc.) had a fear of a committed relationship and were extremely picky. They would often complain that there weren’t any good men. But there were good men. They just thought those men were below them. They weren’t. The arrogance and pride of these women was shocking to me at the time. Not anymore.
I ran my concerns past a boomer pastor. He dismissed it. He thought all the women were just great and men needed to step up to win them. Man up and all that. That really was the moment I realized that there was some form of generational blindness related to what is happening. And that’s why I started tracking trends in sexuality not just generally but specifically as they related to dating (aka the relationship marketplace).
Now let me point out 2 particularly concerning trends that overturn older assumptions about the relationship marketplace.
First more and more women today are delaying marriage into their 30s. They, however, aren’t delaying sex. Very few of these unmarried women are virgins when they turn 30. Stats vary but it’s below 10% and perhaps closer to 5%. Moreover, these women have multiple sexual partners. It’s difficult to calculate the number but a survey of the material points toward between 7-14 sexual partners prior to getting married right around 30. Others say that is a low number. Regardless, the consequences of this are hard to overstate. This sort sexual promiscuity has intense negative emotional, spiritual, and even physical consequences in the lives of these women. Also, it means that a large number of these women are using hormonal birth control and having abortions.
[…]Second, as you see in the chart above, male virginity between ages 18-30 has increased 20% since ’89. That’s good, right? No. It’s doubtful that this increase in virginity is directly connected to an increase in morality among men.
[…]So who are these women having sex with?
There appears to be men who are consider “top tier guys” by women who are having a lot casual sex with a lot of women. Supposedly, 20% of the men are having 80% of the sex.
The pastor mentions that 80% of the young women these days are chasing the “top” 20% of men. It’s important to understand that these are not the top 20% of men according to criteria like commitment ability, protecting, providing and moral / spiritual leading. These are the “top” 20% of men according to appearance. In fact, if a man has definite, defensible views on moral or spiritual issues, that is bad, because that means that he is strict, judgmental and boring. Not high status.
What do young women consider “high status”?
Look at this survey of women who use Bumble about where they set the minimum and maximum height of men they are seeking:
What this shows is that women have the height slider set to find men who are between 6 feet tall and 7 feet tall. The average height of a North American man is 5’9″. This is what they value in a man.
Have a look at this survey of OKCupid users:
Again, the men with the highest status are judged by their appearances. And how do 80% of the women get the attention of these top 20% of men? Why, by giving them premarital sex, of course. Since these men are swimming in attention from 80% of the women, there is no need for them to commit first in order to get sex. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Although you might think that promiscuity makes men unstable, selfish and low status, you would be wrong. These are the men that women want.
But this analysis downplays the unbelievable gains women have lately made, and, more important, it forgets how much those gains depend on sexual liberation. Single young women in their sexual prime—that is, their 20s and early 30s, the same age as the women at the business-school party—are for the first time in history more successful, on average, than the single young men around them. They are more likely to have a college degree and, in aggregate, they make more money. What makes this remarkable development possible is not just the pill or legal abortion but the whole new landscape of sexual freedom—the ability to delay marriage and have temporary relationships that don’t derail education or career. To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture. And to a surprising degree, it is women—not men—who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.
I’ve written about how feminists support the hook-up culture before.
They aren’t looking for men who will commit until they reach their mid-30s or 40s, and feel peer pressure from their friends who are married and having kids. And many Christian women think that hooking up with hot bad boys is compatible with Christianity, because Christianity is just about God making women happy by letting them do whatever they feel like doing “in the moment”.
What Christian women, their parents and pastors believe
Here are some things I’ve heard over the years by Christian women, their parents, and their pastors:
- there’s nothing wrong with women choosing men based on height, appearance, and bad boy character traits
- bad boy character can easily be fixed by nagging, sex-withholding, and threatening divorce
- marriage will magically happen when the woman feels like getting married, until then she should focus on casually “dating” attractive men, career, travel and fun
- a woman’s ability to choose good men and be a good wife and mother isn’t harmed by having premarital sex with hot bad boys
- men aren’t discouraged by a woman’s student loan debt or secular left indoctrination, or her desire to put the kids in daycare and public schools, so she can keep working after they are born
- it’s wrong for men to have standards about what they want in a wife and mother, or to prefer early marriage
- if Christian men want to attract women, they should spend more money on expensive cars, clothes and watches
- women are just as likely to get pregnant at 35 as they are at 20, as long as they are in good shape and healthy
- studies that show that past promiscuity causes the woman to be unhappy, and the marriage to be unstable, are all false
There are costs and risks to men who decide to marry. There are external threats from policy, courts, the workplace, the schools, etc. It’s become dangerous for men to advocate for Christian views, and having a family makes it even more risky. These risks make sense when the man gets early investment from a woman – support, investment and many well-raised children. These risks make NO sense when there is no early investment from a woman. A woman who chased “high status” men will never be attracted to a good man. She may eventually want to settle for one, but she will never respect him.