Tag Archives: Wisdom

New study: men and women have different goals and expectations when cohabitating

Men who cohabitate are not certain that the relationship is permanent
Cohabitating men don’t see cohabitation as permanent, but married men do see marriage as permanent

Consider this fascinating article from the radically-leftist The Atlantic, authored by marriage researcher W. Bradford Wilcox. The article discusses the different beliefs of cohabitating men and women regarding goals and expectations for relationships.

Excerpt:

According to a new paper from RAND by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris, cohabiting young adults have significantly lower levels of commitment than their married peers. This aversion to commitment is particularly prevalent among young men who live with their partners.

Pollard and Harris found that the majority of cohabiting young men do not endorse the maximum indicator of relationship permanence: 52 percent of cohabiting men between ages 18 and 26 are not “almost certain” that their relationship is permanent. Moreover, a large minority (41 percent) of men report that they are not “completely committed” to their live-in girlfriends. By contrast, only 39 percent of cohabiting women in the same age group are not “almost certain” their relationship will go the distance, and only 26 percent say they are not “completely committed”. Not surprisingly, the figures above and below also indicate that married women and men are much less likely to exhibit the low levels of commitment characteristic of many cohabiting relationships today.

[…]The only thing worse than being in a relationship for years with an uncommitted person, it would seem, is marrying one. Research by psychologists Scott Stanley and Galena Rhoades, spotlighted in a New York Times op-ed last year, suggests that cohabiting couples are in for trouble when they “slide” into cohabitation and then marriage rather than “decide” to take the same steps. Their work indicates that many couples begin living together without clear expectations, common values, or a shared commitment to one another. And after a time, some of these couples get married, in part because friends, family, and they themselves think it’s the logical next step. But without common values and a shared sense of commitment, the couples who slide into cohabitation and marriage, instead of purposely deciding to deepen their commitment to one another, are more likely to divorce.

Stanley and Rhoades illustrate this point by pointing to the research on cohabitation, engagement, and divorce. Women who cohabit prior to engagement are about 40 percent more likely to divorce, compared to those who do not cohabit. By contrast, couples who cohabit after an engagement do not face a higher divorce risk. Those who cohabit only after engagement or marriage also report higher marital quality, not just lower odds of divorce. Stanley and Rhoades think that “sliders” are more likely than “deciders” to cohabit prior to an engagement, and to have trouble in their marriage if they go on to tie the knot. On the other hand, couples who deliberately choose to move in together after a public engagement or wedding are more likely to enjoy the shared commitment that will enable their relationship to last.

So, given the low levels of commitment and the gender mismatch in expectations often found among today’s cohabiting couples, young men and especially women who aspire to a strong and stable marriage should take caution when considering moving in together.

You can click through the article to see the graphs he is talking about in the excerpt. Highly recommended. Just be aware Wilcox that accepts feminism (i.e. – promiscuity, no-fault-divorce, career-focus, day care, etc.) as non-negotiable improvements that should not be rolled back. His view is that men should just man up and continue to marry feminists like they used to marry non-feminists, even though marriage isn’t as good of a deal for men as it used to be before feminism.

It turns out that women cannot just pick a good-looking guy and drift into a commitment by stringing together good days and good experiences. A man who is looking for recreational premarital sex with a woman before marriage is not looking for marriage, but recreation. Marriage is a commitment to work hard, be disciplined, be self-sacrificial and to compromise with another person – all in close quarters. When choosing a mate, you need to look for someone who is good at commitments. Not someone who is good at fun.

The ability to have fun with a man is not a good predictor of marital success because fun is unrelated to the things that a man really does in a marriage: protect, provide, and lead on moral and spiritual issues. Similarly, the ability to impress your friends with a man’s appearance or entertainment value does not make a commitment work. What makes a commitment work… is a man who demonstrates that he is good at making plans and achieving goals through discipline and hard work. Marriage requires making plans and achieving goals more than it requires having fun. Recreational premarital sex is about having fun – not making plans and achieving goals. Instead of talking about the next good time with a man, maybe women need to learn to talk about the mechanics of marriage with a man. And talk about the man’s roles in a marriage with a man. And then they need to learn to avoid men who don’t have plans and who aren’t ready to perform those roles. There are plenty of men who are not “bad boys” who do have plans and who are ready to perform traditional male roles. Young women: don’t waste your youth and beauty on men who are not ready to commit.

A final point. I have noticed today that women tend to avoid men who have strong, exclusive views on moral questions and spiritual questions. The minute a man expresses a moral point of view or a theological argument, women tend to want to avoid him. Sometimes they fear rejection from men with definite convictions. Sometimes they resent male leadership. And there are other reasons to avoid strong men. The problem is that a man who has definite moral views is exactly the kind of man who is likely to be trustworthy and predictable in the marriage. And a man who has definite spiritual views is exactly the kind of man who is going to have some sort of overarching plan for the marriage (AND PARENTING) beyond mere pleasure. You wouldn’t choose someone who was guided by hedonism to be your stock broker or your medical doctor, because doing a hard job requires self-sacrifice and discipline. The same rule applies to choosing husbands. Husbands have duties that are typically best performed by moral, spiritual men.

Is it the man’s responsibility to pursue the woman, or the other way around?

Telling a woman how to make wise decisions protects her
Telling a woman how to make wise decisions protects her

If you ask this question theoretically, most people will probably say that it’s the man’s responsibility, especially in the church. Is this because women don’t like the idea of having to plan out and achieve something? Maybe. But what is interesting is that the man-pursues view is very popular in the church, even though it’s not very common in the Bible. Dalrock posted something about this.

He writes:

One comment I see from fathers with surprising regularity is that their unmarried daughter is in a great position to find a husband because she’s not remotely interested in the kind of men who express interest in her.

I… think this is tied into the erroneous idea that the Bible teaches that men should pursue and women should judge the performance. But it isn’t the Bible that teaches this ethic, it is the religion of Courtly Love that teaches this. Think of the only two women to have books of the Bible named after them. Both Ruth and Esther pursued their eventual husbands. Ruth’s pursuit of Boaz resulted in her being the grandmother of King David, which meant that Christ would come from her line. Esther’s pursuit of Ahasuerus allowed her to save the Jews.

Cane Caldo was actually the first to write about this on his blog:

According to traditionalists (and others): Men are supposed to chase, and women are supposed to be caught. Or they might say: Men are to initiate, and women are to respond.

[…]If you fancy yourself a traditionalist… [s]earch your Bible for a story about a man who woos a woman directly.

So, just consider that for a minute. Ruth is probably the best example of a woman who just makes decisions to get on with life, and happens across a wealthy single man. Then she consults with Naomi and takes action to pursue that man. It works out for her. Where in the Bible does the man pursue the woman?

Derek Ramsey was able to come up with two examples, and he commented on Dalrock’s blog:

You can find examples of all cases in the Bible: fully arranged marriages (for Isaac), where the man pursued the woman (Jacob; Hosea), where the woman pursued the man (Ruth; Esther), and where both pursued each other or it wasn’t clearly stated one way or the other (Samson; Solomon). I would argue that pursuit (by either sex) is neither condemned nor encouraged. Each situation is different and there is no rule one way or the other.

I think that Derek wins the argument, here. But I still think that practically speaking, in such a time (of feminism) as this, it’s much much wiser for women to take action to “pursue” men she is interested in. That doesn’t mean asking men out, though.

thedeti explains in a comment:

A man setting his sights on one or two or three women and then pursuing them really hard trying to get on their radar isn’t the best way to find a woman who’s interested in him and who is the best match.

Instead, he should be his best version of himself, and then see which women are tossing subtle signs of interest at him. Which women just kind of show up where he is, which ones make a point to say hi to him, which ones reach out to him, which ones contact him, which ones strike up conversations with him. And then from THOSE women he should select a few he is interested in and then pursue them.

That certainly isn’t what most Christians are teaching their children. I certainly wasn’t taught this.

And a bit later, thedeti says:

In the current #MeToo climate, false rape allegations, and sexual harassment’s current definition as “any conduct or words uttered by any man anywhere that any woman within sight or earshot didn’t like”, this model can be downright dangerous for men.

A man can no longer just pick a few girls he’s interested in and pursue them. If he selects some girls who dont’ like him, he’s in for a world of hurt by trying to “perform” for them. If he selects one who kind of likes him, but he makes even one wrong move or says one remotely mildly offensive thing, he’s done. Not only will she know about it, all her friends will know too.

When a woman is very interested and shows it, she’ll be much more forgiving of his expected missteps. That gives him room to run, and gives a budding relationship the space it needs to germinate and grow.

Deti advises women to just show up in places where men they are interested in are, and not actively discourage them. Maybe ask him questions about what he is doing as a Christian, and ask for his advice about something he knows about, etc. And deti warns women to consider that in a culture where false accusations and frivolous no-fault divorces are everywhere, men with good educations, degrees and finances will be very careful about pursuing women.

My thoughts

I was speaking to someone who thinks that she wants to be pursued by a man. I suggested that she read the book of Ruth to counter her view. The first and most important piece of advice I gave her was to “cross the room” for any man she is interested in. Stand up, walk directly at him, and speak right in his face. Maintain eye contact and speak directly to him about things he is interested in. On another day, I told her that the most important thing you can ask a man about is his vision to serve God.

As women age and lose their beauty, the only thing that remains is the man’s passion – his plan – and the place of the woman within it. Men stay in love with women who have invested in the plan they made to serve God. Naturally, it’s POINTLESS to choose any man unless he has a plan to serve God effectively that he has demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice for. In my case, writing this blog is a sacrifice, and giving money to Christian apologists and pro-life debaters is a sacrifice. A woman should be skeptical about anything a man says – look at what he has already done for his vision, and whether he is actually practical and determined enough to achieve anything. That’s where you’ll find your place. And that’s what you need to investigate in a husband candidate. Standing back and remaining passive, waiting to be pursued, is just going to attract a lot of non-Christian men who are pursuing you for sex. If the man is pursuing you, and he hasn’t told you his vision (why he needs you as his wife anyway), then he wants sex.

The pursuit of women by non-Christian alpha male bad boys seems to be welcomed, surprisingly, by a lot of passive Christian women who kind of lie back and expect to just acquiesce to experiences that feel good. Women today don’t like to think about marriage in a structured way. And they especially don’t want to be asked by men about past decisions, demonstrated abilities, future wife responsibilities and obligations, etc. (How dare men evaluate them for a marriage plan!) They don’t want marriage, defined as self-sacrificial commitment. They want marriage as constant tingles, supplied by an alpha male bad boy who exists solely to generate feelings of happiness in them, and feelings of envy in their girlfriends. Think about marriage as a plan? That’s boring. Let’s get drunk and hook up with an alpha male bad boy, and see if he calls back after the abortion.

Alpha male bad boys feel good (for a while) and this is how women get trapped into relationships with men who have no reason to commit to them. A much better strategy is to stop being attracted to alpha male bad boys, and deliberately engage in conversations with marriage-ready men. As my friend Lindsay says, you need to learn to become attracted to men who have a vision that will survive the loss of your youth and beauty.

In my own case, I’ll be able to retire at 50 with a net worth well north of 7 figures. Because of this, it would be stupid for me to waste my time pursuing Christian women whose criteria for men has nothing to do with the marriage enterprise, and is INDISTINGUISHABLE from the criteria used by non-Christian women. The ONLY thing that would catch my eye at this point is a woman who is equal to me (chaste, no tattoos, STEM degree(s), debt-free, married parents, house or savings, into apologetics, conservative politics, and between the ages of 23-28). And that’s a minimum. And she can forget about being pursued by me. She’ll have to approach me, and question me about what my plan is, and where she would fit into it.

I’ve often been told by wise female Christian advisors that I need to do a better job of showing off my situation to women. But if I spent the money on sparkly things and fun, I wouldn’t be financially secure, would I? It’s up to women to stop being so shallow and emotional. They need to look beyond appearances and fun. They need to have a marriage focus, and they need to choose men, show up and start investigating and investing. I simply don’t have the time to flail around in a feminist culture where women, including Christian women, are woefully unqualified for the marriage enterprise. It’s not my job, after having made thousands of good decisions, to risk my fortune by pursuing women who have made thousands of bad decisions (promiscuity, debt, useless degrees, etc). The entitled attitudes of women today, including Christian women, is nothing short of astonishing to men like me who have spent a lifetime being careful about being chaste, sober, practical, frugal and effective.

Alistair Begg has a great sermon series on Ruth that emphasizes Ruth’s agency, and her willingness to make decisions that were practical without any sort of being led by feelings or being nudged by God. Christian women, if you want to get married, then get to work on finding a man and making it easy for him to choose you.

New study: 1 in 8 divorces is caused by student loan debt

I already mentioned the studies that show that marrying a non-virgin is less stable than marrying a virgin. But what about student loans? Are they a risk factor for divorce, too? I was reading over at Captain Capitalism and saw this CNBC article, which discusses data relevant to our recent discussion about whether men ought to prefer debt-free virgins without tattoos.

Excerpt:

When it comes to student loan debt, “for richer, for poorer” doesn’t quite cut it.

In general, finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship, according to a study by SunTrust Bank, but student debt takes a particularly hard toll on a marriage.

More than a third of borrowers said college loans and other money factors contributed to their divorce, according to a recent report from Student Loan Hero, a website for managing education debt.

In fact, 13 percent of divorcees blame student loans specifically for ending their relationship, the report found. Student Loan Hero surveyed more than 800 divorced adults in June.

Now, when deciding whether to marry and who to marry, it does make sense to me to think about what needs to be bought and how much these things cost, and where the money will come from. It just makes sense to me that people who are REALLY interested in marriage will be interested in doing what works to prepare for marriage. You can’t just do whatever you want before marrying, because marriage involves being faithful to your spouse, and buying things that you need for the marriage enterprise, like a home, and baby stuff. It doesn’t make any sense to say “I want to get married” and then not prepare for marriage by being careful about what behavior marriage requires of you.

This 2017 article from Harvard Business Review is interesting.

It says:

Examining 46,934 resumes shared on Glassdoor by people who graduated between 2010 and 2017, the researchers looked at each person’s college major and their post-college jobs in the five years after graduation. They then estimated the median pay for each of those jobs (also using Glassdoor data) for employees with five years of experience or less. Their key finding: “Many college majors that lead to high-paying roles in tech and engineering are male dominated, while majors that lead to lower-paying roles in social sciences and liberal arts tend to be female dominated, placing men in higher-paying career pathways, on average.”

Here’s the plot, and you can click it to expand it:

Starting salaries by major, broken out by gender
Median salaries by major, broken out by gender – don’t study things at the bottom!

Maybe we can just simplify this whole issue by saying “it’s unwise to marry people who choose not to prepare themselves for marriage”. That goes for men and women, by the way. Basically, you can avoid student loans if you study something that you don’t feel like studying, and work jobs that you don’t feel like working, and don’t buy things that you feel like buying. Don’t marry people who are led by their feelings. Marry someone who demonstrates self-control.

Anyway, I feel obligated to post a relevant Dave Ramsey video, just to remind everyone that stewardship of money is a Christian virtue, and that being forgiven by Jesus for your sins doesn’t make you good with money.

This one from 2014: (H/T Robb)

When I was in high school, I was far more interested in becoming an English teacher than I was in becoming a software engineer. It was my Dad who overruled my choice of college major when I was still in high school. He had me take a first-year English course at a local university. When I saw how politicized and useless it was (they were studying all sorts of politically correct postmodern relativist stuff, instead of the Great Works, and they weren’t trying to learn any wisdom from any of it), I chose computer science. I did what was likely to work, instead of what was easy and fun and made me feel good. I think this makes me a grown-up. And marriage should only be done if there are two grown-ups involved in the enterprise.

Are Christians responsible for making plans and making good decisions?

Here’s a wonderful post on decision making and the will of God posted on Neil’s blog. In his post, Neil explains the Biblical model for making good decisions.

Excerpt:

Really short version: Aside from direct and clear personal revelation from God, you don’t have access to his sovereign will when making decisions.  Therefore you must look at other factors.  If it isn’t moral, don’t do it.  If it is moral but not wise, don’t do it.  If it is moral and wise, then use your personal preferences.

Using this model you can end up with a wise and biblical decision, but you have avoided the traps of the “God told me to ____” routine.  People who run around saying that God told them this and that convey a super-spirituality that can leave less mature believers wondering if they really have a relationship with God (i.e., “God doesn’t tell me every little thing to do, so maybe I don’t really know him.”).

He has a helpful picture posted as well:

This is actually a very important topic for me, because I like making plans and making good decisions. I like being the quarterback or squad leader of my own life. I like to pick objectives and then make plans to achieve them. (Nothing too exotic, just simple stuff like saving money or reading more books)

Actually, I really oppose the idea that God has a magical fairy tale will for each person that will make them happy and fulfilled. For me, life isn’t like that. I don’t expect God to lead me along like a child at a scavenger hunt. I expect to survey the battlefield where I am and then do something to make a difference. There are lots of things you can do that will please God. Should you focus on your career and sponsor apologetics conferences? Or should you use your spare time preparing Sunday school lessons? There are lots of good things you could do to please God. Your job is to pick the one that will be the most effective. It doesn’t matter if it makes you happy, it only matters if it’s effective and if you are good at it.

Who is Rifleman Dodd?

A while back, I was busily working my way through the U.S. Marine Corps Official Reading List, and I came across a book by C.S. Forester called Rifleman Dodd, or alternatively titled Death to the French. It’s a work of historical fiction that takes place during the Napoleonic wars. The story is about a British marksman named Dodd, who is cut off from his own lines during a withdrawal maneuver. He is subsequently left to fend for himself behind enemy lines. An ordinary man might be full of despair and forget about his mission entirely. But Dodd is no ordinary man. Not only does he find a way to survive by finding food to eat, water to drink and places to sleep, but he also tries to remember his orders and to think about what he can do to advance the cause of his General, the Duke of Wellington.

Here’s an excerpt from a gritty book review:

It’s about a green-coated British infantry rifleman in the Napoleonic Wars, an age when rifles were a novelty and most of the army was red-coated and carried muskets. Private Matthew Dodd gets separated from his regiment during a retreat and finds himself stranded behind enemy (French) lines in Portugal. With the occasional aid of some natives, but mostly on his own, he harasses the French with his rifle and tries to prevent them from building a bridge across the Tagus River. It’s a remarkable tale of survival and solitary achievement, of a rank-and-file soldier who lives by his wits and slowly learns to make plans without orders, and shows leadership qualities and a knowledge of warfare.

I think we’re in the same situation as Dodd.

There is no point in us looking for breadcrumb trails to happiness at this point. That’s not the point of Christianity. The point of Christianity is friendship with God, imitation of Christ, honoring moral obligations, self-sacrificial love for your neighbor (and even your enemies!), and dedication to the truth – whether anyone else likes you or not. It’s not supposed to make you happy, and it’s not necessarily going to be a normal life like everyone else has. Things may not work out the way you’d like them to.

We seem to be making such a big deal about compassion and forgiveness in the Christian life these days – such a big emphasis on our feelings. Almost like we have forgotten that we have obligations to our friend. A relationship doesn’t mean that one person does whatever they feel like, completely disregarding the character and goals of the other person and then is automatically granted forgiveness whenever they want it. That’s not a friendship – that’s using someone else for your own ends.

For a lot of people today, Christianity only comes into play after you’ve made a mistake and you’re feeling guilty. For example, suppose you decide to go to a party with your secular friends, then you drink too much, and you do something sexual that you shouldn’t have done. Or maybe you watched some prosperity gospel preacher on TV, then made irresponsible business decisions thinking that God would bail you out and make you rich, and you went bankrupt. Most people think Christianity is for this situation: you’re a Christian so that you don’t have to feel guilty about sin. And so that you can tell people that God forgives you, so that they can’t think anything bad about you, either. You sort of get your idea about what you should be doing in order to feel good from the culture, and God is just there to forgive it all when it blows up in your face.

But in my case, putting myself in a situation like that is not even possible. I’m more likely to try to plan to do something for God. Like, I might try to mentor a young Christian by sending them books. Or, I might try to teach a class in apologetics at my church. These are things that are for God, not for me. I’m not just being dragged along by the culture, and trying to find happiness by feeling good (e.g. – with alcohol) or being liked by non-Christians. And if my plans fail because the mentoree doesn’t grow up into anything, or nobody comes to my apologetics class, that’s when I go to God and say “I screwed up. but can I still be in your army?” And God always says yes to that. You don’t have to be the best player on the team for the Coach to like you. He already likes you.

One of the great things about being a Christian is that you can never lose your identity as a Christian by failing to do something for him that you planned to do. That’s what forgiveness is for. If you set out to do something for God’s glory, and you mess it all up, that’s OK. But I do think that, like Dodd, our ambition should not be about just making ourselves happy, or making non-Christians like us. We should be trying to make plans and carry them out for God.

That’s how I understand forgiveness. It’s not just something that’s there for you to use to fix your feelings when you’ve been irresponsible while seeking your own happiness in secular ways. It’s also there when you’re trying to do something good for God, and you fail. A lot of times in life you try your best, but you fail, and then you lose something that you really wanted. With God, when you try your best for his glory, and fail, you don’t lose your identity as a member of his team. I think that not losing your identity in Christ is even more important than not feeling guilty about selfish decision making.

So, have you got a plan to serve your General? Let’s focus more on what operations we’re planning for God than on being happy and being popular with non-Christians. Your life should not be all about you, with God just there to make your bad feelings go away. Your life should be about God’s goals and God’s interests.

Lori Alexander is right: serious Christian men prefer debt-free virgins without tattoos

Marriage stability vs sexual partners,(Teachman et al. JAMF, August 2010)
Marriage stability vs sexual partners,(Teachman et al. JAMF, August 2010)

Christian writer Lori Alexander recently wrote a blog post (H/T Lindsay) urging Christian women to do 3 things:

  1. be a virgin before marriage
  2. be debt-free before marriage
  3. don’t get any tattoos

She also urged women to be cautious about college, because it often gets them into debt. I disagree with her a little here. I always urge young women to earn a STEM degree in college, then work a few years to pay off their loans (if any) before marrying. This is because women, like men, need to have the experience of doing something hard that they don’t “feel” like doing, in order to grow. STEM degrees teach young people that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and that their feelings don’t matter when trying to solve a problem in the real world. It’s a very useful way for women and men to break themselves out of the desire for free and easy happiness that is so common in our time.

Lori’s article drew enormous opposition from both secular and Christian sources. So far, the only people defending her are men’s rights sites, like Dalrock (Christian) and Spawny (non-Christian). Every other “Christian” blog or news site that I read disagreed her article, and argued that premarital sex was no big deal, that having debt was no big deal, and that having tattoos was no big deal.

Let’s take a look at her three points, then I’ll explain why her article is largely correct, and why she is correct about what she asserts about the criteria that godly men have for women.

Even one non-husband premarital sex partner raises risk of divorce
Even one non-husband premarital sex partner raises risk of divorce

Virginity

Regarding her first point, virginity is commanded by the Bible, it’s in line with peer-reviewed studies on marriage quality and stability. The reason that people find this difficult is that they want the freedom to give in to sexual desires without feeling shame. They want to believe that there is no permanent effect. It doesn’t help that parents and pastors are terrified of telling young people, and young women in particular, that promiscuity harms marital stability. Right now, the culture is drowning in feminism. Feminism tells women that the traditional male roles of provider, protector, and spiritual leader are “sexist”. The “best” men are good-looking pro-abortion bad boys. If a Christian woman is not able to think through the meaning of sex with respect to marriage enough to control herself, it seriously harms the stability of her future marriage.

Starting and Mid-Career salaries by profession (click for larger image)
Starting and Mid-Career salaries by profession (click for larger image)

Debt-free

Regarding her second point, almost everything a serious Christian man might plan to do for Christ with his marriage is impacted by finances. From education, to marriage timing, to number of children, to home ownership, early investment, to the success of children. to age of retirement. Less money means fewer choices, and less ability to counter challenges. Think of how important money for legal defense is to Christian-owned businesses who are being persecuted, for example. The reason that many people find the Bible’s teaching on stewardship difficult is that they don’t want to exercise self-control with money if they don’t feel like it. They want to waste money seeking fun and thrills, and then act like their poverty could not be avoided. Being debt-free is an indicator of practical wisdom and self-control in a woman.

Hugh Hewitt's "In, But Not Of", Chapter 9: Tattoos, Don't
Chapter 9 of Hugh Hewitt’s “In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition”

Tattoos

Tattoos are a problem for serious Christian men for several reasons. First, they cost money and for no gain, and can even cause you losses in your career. Second, most people get them because of low self-esteem or vanity or to look rebellious or to look dangerous. None of these motivations should be acted upon by someone with a robust Christian worldview. The money could be better used on charity, or investments, etc. Women show what their priorities really are by how they spend their money and time. Show me a woman’s bookshelf, and I’ll tell you how seriously she has thought about what it means to be a Christian in all areas of life. Instead of showing me your tattoos to demonstrate your “spirituality”, show me your apologetics books, to demonstrate your intellectual engagement. And tell me how you used that information to engage in conversations with educated non-Christians to answer their challenges to your faith. That way I’ll know that you use your money to train do hard things in order to have an influence for Christ in serious, practical, effective ways. A woman who can defend her faith and discuss Christianity with non-Christians is demonstrating her ability to raise Christian children in a secular society.

A family praying and reading the Bible
A family praying and reading the Bible

The goal of marriage is to serve God

Today, young people have been taught to follow their hearts, and to deny that there is any authority or practical wisdom that should govern their decisions. They always imagine themselves to be exempt from moral rules, statistics, cause and effect, etc. They think they know better than everyone else – even though they do almost no research on their own. Every adviser who tells them to study computer science instead of creative writing is wrong. Their same-age friends know more about what causes divorces than peer-reviewed research papers. And money should be spent on skydiving and zip-lining, regardless of what financial experts like Dave Ramsey might say.

A woman who has made many mistakes cannot fix those mistakes with words. Rationalizations, evasions, and blame-shifting do not work to show that there has been real repentance. The man can only assess whether grace has caused any real re-prioritization of goals by evaluating her outward actions over a long period of time. Furthermore, if a woman who has made mistakes attacks those who correct her from Bible’s teachings on chastity, stewardship, etc., then it’s a sign that there is no real repentance.

Choosing a wife wisely doesn’t mean that Christian men treat OTHER Christian women poorly. Christian men love all the Christian women. We care for them and support them. But when a man chooses a wife, he is choosing someone who will have more influence on his ability to serve God than anyone else. In my case, the goals for my marriage involve making a difference with apologetics in the church, having many children who will receive the educations and careers they need to have an influence, influencing government to promote Christian-friendly policies, charitable giving, mentoring young Christians, modeling a good marriage to others, and having a home that can serve to host discussions about issues that matter. These things are not free – they take careful planning and execution to achieve.

Lori’s advice is  intended for men who are serious about making their marriage produce a return for God. Men who are chaste themselves. Men who accept the Bible as an authority. Men who earned STEM degrees, instead of easy nonsense degrees that don’t lead to good careers. Men who earn 6-figure salaries, who buy houses for cash, and who are on track have a 7-figure net worth by age 50. Men who made good decisions cannot risk marrying someone who hasn’t prepared for marriage. The wrong woman in the home could ruin the man’s effort to produce a marriage that gives glory to God.

Not every man intends to achieve something for God with his marriage, but those who do need to choose a woman who has demonstrated ability at doing the job. For example, if the job requires marital fidelity, then chastity is a good indicator that the woman has the necessary self-control. If the job requires frugality, and practicality, then being debt-free, having a STEM degree, and having some private sector work experience are good indicators that she’s qualified for the role. Nothing valuable in life is ever been achieved by being lazy, wild and irresponsible. Serious Christian men look for wives who have applied themselves to difficult tasks that they didn’t feel like doing, who achieved success by remaining committed to the plan, in spite of their unhappy feelings and unmet desires.

We have a problem in the church such that we aren’t serious about teaching young people to develop marriage-ready character and to make serious plans for marriage. We are teaching them to follow their hearts, and that their feelings and desires are clues about God’s will for their happiness. We are teaching them to be uncomfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations to others. We are teaching them not to do their own research. We are teaching them not to make practical, wise plans. We are teaching them to ATTACK those who try to get them to be serious about doing what is likely to work. This approach is not working.

My own criteria for a wife are more demanding than Lori’s. My advice there is only for serious Christian men who want their marriage to serve God.