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.
Douglas Wilson obviously doesn’t believe that, and that’s not unusual. Most Christian parents and pastors don’t believe it either, and they don’t teach their daughters to approach relationships that way. The culture tells young women that men are for fun and entertainment, and Douglas Wilson isn’t going to rock the culture’s boat, he just says what women want to hear.
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 lot of 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 in asking men about their beliefs, how they lead, whether their decision-making has worked to achieve goals, etc. 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 interrogate the man about his skills and achievements in traditional male roles (protector, provider, moral leader, spiritual leader).
For most young unmarried church women, Christianity is just something that is about her – her feelings, her diet, her fitness, her fiction books, her essential oils. It’s not a mission where there are definite goals to be reached, and an outward focus. Her Christianity hobby isn’t a partnership for advancing Christ and his kingdom. And just as her Christianity is about praise hymns, romance novels, yoga and essential oils, so are her relationships. So is her future marriage. There isn’t any higher goal. There isn’t any training. There isn’t anyone in charge who she is accountable to for results. That all wouldn’t feel good. A woman doesn’t have responsibilities to her shoes, or obligations to her handbag, so why should she see her husband and marriage as anything different?
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.