This post will probably be changing as time passes and I learn more about relationships.
The goal of my opposite-sex friendships (hereafter just “friendships”) is for me to build up the skills of Christian women by exchanging training materials to work through, and monitoring progress. The training materials for friendship are centered around apologetics, with some conservative policy, as well. The friendships are beneficial to God because we are building each other up, and it also provides a context for us to evaluate changing to a courtship.
Most of my relationships with Christian women will never enter into the friendship phase because virtually none of them even care for apologetics. But some Christian women have shown an interest in apologetics and conservative policy and that’s what gets the friendship going.
I basically think about this friendship-courtship distinction as a continuum where passing through the gate from friendship to courtship is dependent on progress in sharing my vision with her and having her take appropriate steps to recognize and contribute to my vision. When a female Christian friend begins to contribute to my overall life vision, that’s the point at which we consider changing to a courtship.
I am open to marrying any chaste female Christian. The grounds for the decision to marry are that the marriage would provide a better benefit to God in terms of his purposes in the world than if we continued to work separately. In particular, I am looking for my prospective mate to demonstrate her commitment to my four-pronged vision for serving God in the most effective ways. (See below)
I am also interested in whether she understands the challenges facing men and male needs, especially in areas like feminism, big government, no-fault divorce, child custody, etc. But I am also interested in her views in areas like chastity, modesty, grooming, physical fitness and expected frequency of marital sex. She must also recognize standards of chastity, chivalry and romance and participate in standard activities like letter-writing.
My vision involves operations in 4 areas:
- get a PhD and teach in the university as a publicly-identified Christian OR no PhD, but teach in a community college
- fund Christian scholars to lecture and debate at the university
- fund research by intelligent design scholars
- raise brilliant home-schooled children who can get PhDs and go on to impact the university
- bring scholars in to lecture and especially to debate in the church, and sponsor these events
- teach adult Sunday school classes in apologetics (i.e. – show debates and discuss them, read books and discuss them)
- find a wife who can help with these goals
- study apologetics and engage co-workers in discussions at lunch if they are interested
- operate a library to lend out lectures and debates to those who are interested
- give co-workers gifts at Christmas like DVDs on intelligent design or debates
- put things in my office to declare myself as a thoughtful Christian
- find a wife who can be hospitable, prepare meals and host discussions in our home
The public square
- blog: inform and educate Christians about economic and public policies that affect our liberty
- donate to Christian politicians who reflect my priorities
- donate to other Christians who engage in debates on abortion, Islam, etc.
- run for office after kids are grown-up
- encourage wife to run for office after kids are grown-up
- encourage kids to run for office after they retire from teaching at the universities
If a Christian woman is interested in having me assist her with learning apologetics and stuff, so she can serve God better, that’s called a friendship. If she starts to inquire about my vision and begins to show real recognition and support for it, that’s called a courtship.
The main thing is that God’s goals are always the center of our interactions. Marriage is not the end goal of the relationship. God’s goals in the world are the end. Marriage is just a possible means to that end. Being a good husband is a means to that end. Even being a good father is a means to that end.
Here are my rules for dealing with Christian women:
- No touching during friendship or courtship. This rule holds until the engagement day, where a kiss is permitted, but nothing more. The reason for this rule is to avoid losing 1) the ability to focus on my plan instead of women, and 2) the ability to evaluate Christian women objectively and dispassionately. (Note: I now think that hand-holding and hugging is OK once the initial evaluation of her is complete, and she starts to put in effort on the things that you care about, that are related to your plan)
- No being together by ourselves in non-public places without a chaperone. This applies to friendship and courtship.
- The friendship advances by exchanging and executing tasks that help us both to be more effective Christians. For example, listening to lectures together and stopping the lecture to discuss things, and then writing about the lecture afterward.
- The courtship advances by exchanging and executing tasks related to my vision. For example, we arrange a viewing of a debate or lecture DVD at her church and then jointly take questions from the audience.
- Gifts exchange is allowed during the friendship, but no tokens can be given to me.
- Token exchange (e.g. – a lady’s handkerchief with her colors), is reserved to mark the beginning of courtship. I have to carry it with me whenever I fight, and give reports to her on how I did. She can withdraw it, ending the courtship. I can also return it, ending the courtship. I can only carry one token at a time.
- Parents should be kept informed about the progress of friendships and courtships.
- Her parents have the right to engage me in discussions about my views on apologetics, etc. at any time during the friendship or courtship, but they do not have the right to override my vision with their vision.
- It helps me if women dress modestly, because I am more comfortable when a woman tries to attract me using non-physical approaches, like words. I resent it when women try to attract me using sex appeal instead of words. I like being in control of myself. Sex appeal is strictly for after the wedding. There are a million ways for a Christian woman to knock a Christian man off his feet just by taking an interest in things like apologetics and economics. The trick is to find a man who cares about being friends with God.
- I am looking to court someone who already has the skills to assist me with my vision, or who demonstrates a willingness to develop them, or who is able to persuade me that other skills are an even better match for my vision.
These are guidelines that I try to communicate to women to help us to constrain our relationship to serve God’s goals. These are all subject to discussion and debate, of course.
I think that one of the effects of these rules is to take the pressure to be “sexy” off of women. And to remove sex from the equation entirely – there is no room for clumsy groping in the back seat of a car in this operation. Instead, a woman wins the heart of a man if she is willing to listen to him, learn about his needs as a man, and his vision to serve God, and then work hard to recognize and support all that.
In a friendship, the first steps are going to involve a lot of studying and talking. For example, it is not uncommon for me to spend 2-6 hours just talking to a Christian woman about spiritual things. We do independent studies around things like reading the same books, listening to the same lectures, or even doing the political compass or resurrection questionnaires together. Individual tasks for me from her might include Bible reading, church attending, bringing her resources that she asks for, writing about my feelings and experiences, etc.
I believe in exchanging tasks so that the woman gets into the pattern of getting outside her own needs and thinking about her obligations to me. My concern is that a lot of women have a fairy tale view of marriage. She picks a man for superficial reasons and hopes to change him later. This leads women to ignore male needs and the man’s vision prior to marriage. The man is tricked into the marriage by pre-marital sexual activity.
Unfortunately choosing a bad man and then tricking him with sex doesn’t work to keep that man as her appearance fades. This is particularly bad for women whose self-esteem is tied to appearance. And I think that is a major reason why women are so interested in no-fault divorce and massive government social programs – to relieve them of the burden of having to choose the right man and having to work to win him and having to work to keep him.
Real men find big government very discouraging, which is why men are not interested in marriage any more. The prospect of facing activist family courts run by feminists is too much for thoughtful men to contemplate. Men can’t support a family on a salary that is highly taxed to pay for things like VAWA or welfare programs, or single-payer health care. Men also don’t want to lose access to their kids based on fake charges of domestic violence.
I know that these rules and procedures are going to strike a lot of you as odd, and some of you are going to stop reading my blog because I am just too weird. Well, I think you should just snicker at me and keep reading. After all, someone has to be different. The only people really in a position to judge whether this is working are my female Christian friends, and God. I myself am very happy with these rules because they help me to put God first.
Building Christian women up
One last thing. The man’s role in the relationship is to love his wife all the time, and to do it intelligently. It’s therefore imperative for him to read about how women understand love. I recommend the book “The Five Love Languages” for learning about how to love women well. Also, it’s a great idea to read all about how women think and feel about what they do in a marriage, so that you can support them after first understanding them. A good book to read on that is “What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women: and similar books. It’s a good idea to think about how to become better at leading by persuasion – by convincing women to grow upward. For example, I convinced one girl I was courting to go back to school and do a degree in economics. Another one went back to school get her law degree. And this not to even mention the basic stuff that women I court do – like organizing public debates, apologetics conferences, teaching apologetics in the church, finding summer jobs, getting top grades in school, giving public speeches, and so on. Courting is the time where you intentionally lead women to become stronger.
In the 2012 the Presidential election, I supported Michele Bachmann as my first choice for the office of President. Her husband Marcus is very traditional about courtship and marriage, just like me. He actually asked her to go back to school at one point to specialize in tax law, in order to help the family business and be better at pushing the children upward through school. That was a smart decision, to grow his wife up like that so that she could be better. So whatever you do in the courtship, your goal should always be to push women up, up, up. And that applies whether she is for you or for someone else or for no one else. Make her better than she used to be so that she can serve God better – to be a better wife and mother, and to have more of an influence in the world for Christ and his Kingdom. Never, ever bring her down or minimize the impact she can have for good. She is a partner in serving God, after all.
Neil has a related post on complementarian marriage (which is my view).