Before we get to the heart of this post, a few stipulations must be made:
(1) I do not support a “marriage mandate”. I totally reject Debbie Maken’s case for it. No offense to Candice Watters, but I can’t even support her lighter version of it, which is framed in terms of “ought” rather than “must”.
(2) I do not support Mohler’s case for marriage as a marker for manhood. While this appeal to a social standard can be attractive, it simply isn’t Biblical.
(3) Your marital status says nothing of your spiritual walk. Good Christians get married all the time, as do bad Christians. There is no small number of bad marriages in the Church, just as there are a large number of good ones. The ranks of singles include many good and bad Christians, of both sexes.
(4) Getting married will not necessarily make you a better Christian. While it CAN facilitate growth, that growth is not a mandatory byproduct of marriage.
(5) While I am all for the Church looking for ways to address the issues of singleness, we must avoid imposing dogmatic, legalistic totalitarian commands that have no Biblical foundation.
(6) I am FOR Christian singles–of both sexes–working to improve their marriageability. That is the point of this post.
When you look at the landscape of singles in general–and even the Church in particular–the situation is bleak.
(a) the hookup culture has resulted in a promiscuity dilemma among women that is particuarly damaging. In fact, in PERCENTAGE terms, the MALE virgins in college OUTNUMBER the FEMALE virgins. This is troubling, as female promiscuity is–even in our “liberated” society–not considered high-percentage behavior. This puts college-educated women behind the 8-ball.
(b) the student loan dilemma is going to cause many college-educated women to put off marrying and “settling down” due to crippling financial obligations. This will also hurt the men, as they will be constrained in the types of jobs they must seek in order to service their own debts. Student loan debt is particularly troubling because it cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy.
(c) obesity is a serious problem in both sexes, with the women (35%) slightly worse than the men (33%). Women complain of men who won’t take care of themselves, and men often complain of women regarding the same. Both sexes are right, but neither–collectively–has room to complain.
(d) the women complain that the single men aren’t going to church, and the men that are in church complain that the only single women who are “available” are (a) the gravitationally challenged and (b) those who are divorced, and (c) those who are otherwise sleazy and high-risk. Both sexes are right.
(e) the women complain of the “player” culture among the men, whereas the men complain that the women are rewarding those who play that game. Both sexes are correct.
(f) the women complain–with plenty of merit–of the male propensity to view porn and engage in activities that are associated with it; the men will–also with merit–point out that porn usage is very much on the rise among women, and that romance novels are fostering a culture that breeds unreasonable expectations of men by the women. Again, both sexes are right.
I think singles of both sexes need to be honest and accept that–fairly or unfairly–the complaints of the other sex have plenty of merit, both statistically and anecdotally. Even when the stats are shady, the prima facie cases of each against the other are troubling.
It’s also possible that you, the single man or woman reading this, falls into one of the groups that men or women are complaining about. So what can you do about this?
This post will focus on the women. My reason for this is not that they are any worse than the men, but rather a mentality of “ladies first”. The next post in this installment will address the men.
IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER YOU GO TO COLLEGE (note: many of these will apply to the guys, but more on them later):
(a) Study your Bible often. Spend lots of time in Proverbs, as well as the Epistles. (Other sections of the Bible are important too, but I think those sections are of particular importance to single men and women.)
(b) Get active in a good church. Pay particular attention to the pastor. Sound doctrine is a must–that goes without saying–but does he have a good family life? Does he love his wife? Are his kids of good repute? Is the church generally healthy? How are the deacons/elders? Are they godly, affable men? Do they, too, love their wives? If the church passes muster, then take steps to establish a circle of friends. They will become the foundation for a network that will hopefully serve you in singleness and marriage alike.
(c) Get a job and be diligent. I don’t care if it’s flipping burgers or starting your own business. Idleness is bad.
(d) Prudence, prudence, prudence! Manage your finances well. If you can demonstrate personal responsibility, that is HUGE! If you drive a beat-up car with zero debt, that is more attractive to a man than driving a Mustang with 5 figures of debt. If you choose to have credit cards, KEEP THEM PAID OFF EVERY MONTH.
(e) As far as it depends on you, take care of yourself. You don’t have to be Bible Belt Barbie, but modest weight control goes a long way.
(f) Farmer Tom will tell the women to grow their hair. I DEFINITELY concur. While some women may look fine with short hair, those are the 1%. Vox Day says that short hair for a woman is tantamount to weighing 30 extra pounds. I never thought in those terms, but–now that I am married, and to a woman who has longer hair–I absolutely agree with Vox.
(g) I don’t give a hairy rat’s rectum how much a guy says he loves you–or how “cool” or “good” he appears–if he tries to entice you to have ANY variation of sex and he is not your husband, DUMP HIM. You won’t enjoy doing that, but the pain of dumping him will pale in comparison to letting the memory of his mounting you cloud your ability to receive the courtship of a Christian man.
(h) Stay away from porn, soap operas, and romance novels. The former is increasingly a problem for women whereas it once was almost exclusively a male vice; romance novels and soap operas foster fantasy insanity for women.
FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO GO TO COLLEGE:
(a) Take on little or no debt! Avoid debt like the plague. When you’re 24 and married and get pregnant, you will be glad you took my advice here.
(b) treat the the hookup culture like a radioactive waste zone and avoid it as such! Not only is it a slutty thing to do, the sex is also a real downer for the women, as–according to a “liberated” source–women only experience orgasm 19% of the time** in hookup situations. [HT Susan Walsh: “The Truth About Hooking Up.” Cosmopolitan. October, 2008: 190-1. England, Paula, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University.)
(c) Stay away from booze! Irrespective of what you think of the drinking age of 21, it’s the law. Also, remember that your ability to practice discernment is inversely proportional to the square of your blood alcohol level. If you get drunk, you run the risk of doing very stupid things–even slutty things–that you might not do if sober. I’ve known otherwise good people who got killed–or contracted diseases–due to alcohol-induced stupidity while in college. Even if you believe–as I do–that an occasional beer is ok, (1) wait until you are of legal drinking age, and (2) be very wary of the party scene. Otherwise, you may end up with your picture on Tucker Max’s web site. And remember…the Internet is forever…
(d) choose an academic path that allows for flexibility; consider a 2-year degree rather than a 4-year. Given uncertainties about our health care system, you may wish to reconsider if you are thinking about medical school. If you are thinking engineering, go electrical with robotics. Or agricultural engineering.
(e) if you go to college away from home, start networking sooner rather than later. See above note about getting involved in a church. Some of the good churches in those college towns have solid campus ministry groups. First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach has TOTALLY revamped their student ministry. Embry-Riddle students now have a WONDERFUL opportunity for good mentorship. If you live down there, I’m giving them a shout-out.
(f) Allow men to pursue you, but let your network get to know them, too. If they raise any red flags, listen attentively.
(g) If you wind up in a different city after you graduate, see above note about getting involved in a church and establishing your network.
IF YOU HAVE BLUNDERED ON A FEW OF THOSE POINTS:
All is not lost. Christian men tend to be a generous lot. Some are more hardcore than others, but most of us are wanting to see proof that–if you have certain baggages–that they are in your PAST. Toward that end:
(a) If you are in the hookup culture, you need to get out of it yesterday! Continuing on that path is surefire disaster, even worse than a non-married monogamous relationship. When men see “hookup culture”, they are going to think SLUT! If you quit NOW, you can recover. Men will be forgiving of past stupidity, but if you perpetuate it, that will be a real downer.
(b) If you have debts, work hard to pay them off to the extent that it depends on you. Cut up credit cards if you must. If you must file bankruptcy, make sure you learn your lesson and ensure that you do not take on frivolous debts. Do not spend money frivolously. While past debts are a red flag, demonstration of prudence and responsibility are are green flag. Do the Dave Ramsey thing if you must, but eschew future debts.
(c) If you have a past sexual relationship–even if you were not in the hookup culture–you need to repent of that and not get into any new ones. Serial monogamy will send your marriageability downhill fast. One past indiscretion is one thing, but if you continue that pattern, it’s very bad news.
(d) If you have ever been divorced, you need to be very honest with yourself about what went wrong. If you were just in an unhappy marriage and are spinning that into a tale of abuse in order to sanctify your filing divorce, you are engaging in deception and that will rear its ugly head sooner or later. Also, if you are engaging in that deception, you are making matters WORSE for those who REALLY ARE divorced due to such exigent circumstances.
While I tend to err on the side of grace on the issue of remarriage, keep in mind that single men are going to be skeptical for any number of reasons, some of them Biblical. It doesn’t make these men evil; many are just trying to be prudent in the face of a large set of risks that are very serious. But don’t take offense when they ask hard questions. They don’t romanticize the Eat-Pray-Love divorce; in fact, they do not wish to be on the receiving end of one.
At the same time, being honest and open about lessons learned–not just about him, but about YOU–is VERY important.
(e) If you have personal control issues, get some help. If you have a weight problem, see a doctor and get a referral to a nutritionist and/or a personal trainer. Do Weight Watchers if you must. But no matter what you do here, make sure you establish a foundation not just for weight loss but also long-term health.
And personal control is not merely about food and exercise. If you are not a good housekeeper, then get some ladies in the church to advise you on how to do it better. If you have issues with drinking, or porn, get some counsel, preferably from folks in your network.
(f) If you don’t have a network, then start looking to establish one now. If you’re out of church, get into a good one.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE NOT BLUNDERED, BUT YOU ARE STILL HAVING A HARD TIME FINDING A MAN?
At this point, you need to be honest with yourself: are there men available in your church? Have you rebuffed them in the past? Why did you do this? Were the reasons due to shady character? Was he just not attractive to you? If not, what was so unattractive about him? Was he too short? Bald? Fat? Did he come across as a Beta? Are they Aspies?
We all have to decide for ourselves what our preferences are. This is not about good versus evil, but rather (a) establishing what our preferences are, and (b) whether those preferences are reasonable or less than reasonable, and/or (c) making adjustments as the situation may demand.
(For example: A catastrophically obese man has every right to insist on only dating super-hotties; that said, his demand is very likely quite unreasonable unless his bank account is sufficiently large. Assuming he has not the latter, I would advise him to reconsider his demand. Either way, I’d advise him to get his weight down!)
You have to be very honest with yourself here, and there is no perfect answer. If there’s an otherwise decent guy in the pews who comes off as a Beta, that may not be the guy of your dreams, but, without further information, you can’t tell me he’s not a godly man. (An Alpha male is not necessarily a godly man; nor is a smoking hot female necessarily a godly one.) You have every right to leave him be, and hope you can find better.
But, ten years from now, if you find yourself still single–and he’s married–you’re going to be quite miserable. (Just ask Kate Bolick.)
In my current church, we had a gal–BW. She had decent men in her path over the years. She turned them down, because none of them were as captivating as the pastor (RL), who she pedestaled. Eventually, she and the pastor would embark on an affair. When confronted, they each refused to repent.
Today, RL and BW live together. She turned down decent men over the years, so she could steal another woman’s husband, and deprive a girl of her father’s presence in the home.
I’m not saying that ALL women who shoot down decent folks in their churches will go on to mount the pastor; I AM, however, suggesting that a sense of entitlement can lead you to do some very bad things.
Even then, a good gal–with few or no blunders–can still fall through the cracks. It happens. Toward that end, I suggest leaning on your network. Be willing to look in other ZIP codes. Be mobile. The men are out there, but it may take some unconventional efforts.
**With numbers that dismal–the same study indicates that men achieve orgasm ONLY 44% OF THE TIME in those cases–one ought to be able to conclude that, given the stigma that accompanies the hookup culture, there is plenty of marginal incentive not to participate in it. Waiting for marriage absolutely translates to better sex. Especially for those married, conservative Protestant women: They REALLY enjoy it.