Tag Archives: Wisdom

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.

The surprising pro-masculinity message in the “Far From the Madding Crowd” film

Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship
Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship

So, I have about a half-dozen older and/or experienced Christian women who advise me and assist me in various ways. The wisest and most experienced is calm and thoughtful Dina. She has a very stressful job dealing with demanding women, and what she admires most in men is “masculinity”, which she defines as a man’s ability to tell a woman what is right and wrong, what God expects from her, what she should be doing with her life, and guiding her and providing for her through the steps to get there.

What makes Dina angry is when a man makes a fool of himself for youth and beauty, abdicating his role as moral and spiritual leader because of attraction / lust. According to Dina, men who have self-control think about what a woman should do that is morally right, with the goal of her producing a return for God. Men who are swayed by youth and beauty are willing to give up that leadership role in exchange for attention and/or sex.

So, with that said, Dina asked me to watch a recently-made movie called “Far From the Madding Crowd“, based on a novel by Thomas Hardy. I immediately said “no” because I know about Thomas Hardy from Tess of the D’Urbervilles, where he presents Tess as the helpless victim of Providence. I really hate that view of women, where they can do reckless, selfish things and then blame everyone but themselves for the destructive consequences of their own free-will decisions. But Dina said “wasn’t I right about the debate between David Robertson and Matt Dillahunty?” I said yes, and watched the movie. And of course, she was right, as she almost always is. This movie is a punch in the face to the radical feminism that seems to have infected so many young women, even in the church.

Here is a review of the movie by Rebekah, posted at her blog. Unfotunately, the post has been deleted, but here is an excerpt.

Rebekah writes:

What does this 19th century tale offer to modern audiences?  This latest rendering emphasizes something actually surprising and unexpected given that it is made in our age of radical feminism.  It is Gabriel Oak’s character that shines the most, not the proto-feminist Bathsheba.  […]In Bathsheba and Gabriel we see how men and women support one another in such a way as to ensure a flourishing in any role that fate might thrust on them.

[…]The relationship between Gabriel and Bathsheba, though unequal in earthly terms of authority and wealth, is one of mutual dependence.  We see Oak taking on a role of both counselor and conscience with Bathsheba – roles that in her striving towards independence she struggles to admit her need for.  She is not unlike the modern feminist in this regard, nor is she unlike all of us in our relationship with the Lord.  Her struggle is best seen in the various times she repels Gabriel only to find herself in desperate situations in which only he can help.  The filmmakers’ clever use of a recurring theme of Bathsheba galloping after Gabriel on a horse when he is needed is particularly moving (and surprising) here.  In the end, the film resists the urge to pander to our more extreme modern views on what women require to thrive.

Gabriel Oak also seems to be an embodiment of the biblical virtue of selflessness.  We see in his actions towards Bathsheba the Philippians admonition to refrain from “being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity,” but rather “in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.” Indeed, vanity itself can be seen as a fateful character flaw of every major character apart from Gabriel.  He alone is able to move past rejection and carry on.  In fact, he is required to go so far as to be under the authority of the very woman who rejected his offer of marriage and, despite his continuing affections for her, witness her being courted and then married by another far less worthy man, Frank Troy.  No other major character is able to accomplish this challenge to their pride.  Though Bathsheba does eventually overcome the rejection of her husband, she only does so after tremendous tragedy and with the selfless and steady support of Gabriel.

Gabriel respects her independence, but, like a good shepherd, stays close by to protect and guide her.  Though he cannot protect her from her free-will choices, he does warn her.  He then remains faithful to her in the midst of the trouble she brings upon herself.  In this, he is not unlike our God, for he allows her to stray, all the while letting her know of a better course when asked.  And, she does ask.

In an important scene at a party, where Bathsheba must decide whether or not to marry a particularly obsessive suitor, when she asks, “Tell me what to do, Gabriel,” he simply tells her to “Do what is right.”  Is that not like our Lord?  Gentle shepherd, indeed, for our wild, independent hearts.  In this, I see Gabriel as most suitable for the role as the husband written of in the epistle to the Ephesians.  He loves Bathsheba “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her…”

Men and women both struggle with self-centeredness, but men usually work themselves out of it by studying hard things in school, and doing hard work that pays. Men have a natural desire to provide for others, and it is actually a duty laid out for them in the Bible. As a result of studying and working at things they don’t like, men typically are better at resisting their feelings and desires. In fact, if you ever want to make a woman less self-centered and emotional, leading her to study STEM and work a demanding job is a good plan. Dina has multiple STEM degrees, and a very difficult, challenging work history.

I would be suspicious of men who don’t prioritize providing, (as in 1 Tim 5:8), because working and saving gives a man practical experience at self-denial. When a man gets accustomed to working to share with others, it helps helps him to lead a woman to do the same: deny her feelings and desires, and make prudent decisions that will allow her to love and serve others – including God – in a sustainable way. Over the long-term, this practice of effective, self-sacrificial love will be worth more to the woman than the short-term pursuit of fun and thrills. To provide for a woman means to look into her future, and make a decision today to set aside something that will help her to deal with what the future has in store for her.

Dina’s advice to young women

I asked Dina to take a look at the draft of this post before I hit “Schedule” and Dina said:

What I would advise to all young women is not to expect a Gabriel Oak to be waiting for you at the end of your reckless years of hooking up, partying and wasting your youth on fun and men who have no desire to lead you to God or guide you to goodness. Don’t expect the hot stud that your friends approve of to turn into someone with the character of Oak with the magic powers of your premarital sex life. Find a man who doesn’t give in to your every whim, because if he does, you will only resent him for it, and blame him, for being what you thought you wanted him to be.  Find a man who leads, one who demonstrates self control, self denial, who can provide and protect. And most importantly, respect him for doing it.

Emphasis mine.

Sound advice from the Dina, young ladies. By the way, Dina’s favorite drama is the BBC production of “North and South” from 2004. I also give it a 10/10.

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

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

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.