Christianity, Feminism

I Guess I’m Not Suitable for Marriage

My corner of Facebook has been fixated on this article by NYCpastor entitled “10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry.”  Since I meet more than half of the criteria that supposedly makes me unworthy to catch a Christian man’s eye, I thought I would spend some time interacting with the material.  Feel free to read his article before continuing.  I will list his 10 deal breakers, but the words after are mine.

1)  The Unbeliever.
Alright, so on this one quality, NYCpastor and I agree.  I think people do best to marry someone from their same faith, and even more, to marry someone whose faith is of similar importance to them.  My Christianity informs everything I do and hope for, and is therefore a huge part of my personality, motivation, and time.  Marrying someone who doesn’t understand or share that passion is going to make for an increasingly disconnected relationship.  So sure, marry someone of your same faith (or lack of faith).  I think that’s wise.

2)  The Divorcee.
As a counselor, I have seen female clients who experienced abuse in their marriages.  Two of my friends work at a domestic violence counseling center, and the women they work with have suffered horrifically brutal lives at the hands of their husbands.  This is Texas, so often those husbands claim to be Christians.  I’m not a fan of NYCpastor’s ignoring the very real fact that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime.  Writing divorced women off as inherently unappealing when they might be escaped survivors of intense trauma bothers me. 

3)  The Older Woman.
Haha, whoops.  Here we get into personal territory.  I almost always find myself attracted to younger men.  This began way back in some public school health class when I learned that women live, on average, five years longer than men.  My weirdly practical brain immediately decided that it would be advantageous to marry someone five years younger than me.  It wouldn’t guarantee that we would die at the same time, but it certainly put the odds in our favor.  Setting aside NYCpastor’s belief that men are to be the spiritual leaders of the home, this just doesn’t make sense.  Leadership is inherently linked to age?  Especially a difference in age of, most likely, less than ten years?  I suppose this means businesses with young CEOs are doomed to fail.  I’d like to think that leadership is founded on humility, intelligence, and passion–qualities that can be found in people of all ages.

4)  The Feminist.
I expected this one, though NYCpastor’s, “There’s no room within Christendom for the ‘Christian feminist,'” immediately made my lips curl.  As a Christian feminist who attends seminary, regularly participates in church, and tries to align my life with my faith, I….have to disagree.  My gut reaction is to argue the post point by point, but instead I’m going to fight a smaller battle.  Sure, if you’re a Christian man who wants to carry the weight of a marriage by yourself, don’t marry a female Christian feminist.  On the other hand, as a Christian feminist, I’m definitely going to wait until I find a male Christian feminist who affirms my God-given talents and wants to share the responsibilities and rewards of relationship with me.

5)  The Sexy-Dresser.
Oh man.  Where to begin?  The unsubtle slut-shaming?  The complete ignorance of cultural pressures that tell women they are only as worthy as they are appealing to men?  This smacks of all the modesty lessons I received growing up in church in which I subconsciously learned that I was responsible for men’s lust.  Whatever I say will pale in comparison to my friend Michal’s blog post about just this topic, “Modesty and Rape Culture” so I suggest you check it out!

6)  The Loud-Mouth.
Oh good, and now we’re on to stereotypes.  Because women are gossips, didn’t you know?  I’ll agree with NYCpastor’s advice not to marry someone who gossips and slanders, but why is this specifically mentioned about women?  A quick jump to his post about types of men to avoid reveals that good Christian women are apparently allowed to marry male gossips.  Or is the implied fact that such men are simply non-existent?  I’m going to suggest “locker room talk” qualifies for gossip and slander, and is just as ubiquitous in male culture as “gossiping” is in female.  All humans feel a compulsion to gossip.  All humans are capable of not doing so.  Find someone, of either sex, who is committed to speaking wisely and kindly.

7)  The Child-Hater.
What an intense label, especially since he immediately clarifies, “This does not mean that the woman hates all children.”  Well, then why not call it something else? This one is especially close to my heart for two reasons.  First, I have dear friends in loving Christian marriages who have been unable to conceive for years.  NYCpastor’s flippant statements about God expecting children out of a marriage reeks of self-absorbed unfeelingness.  Second, I am completely confident in God’s ability to use people’s unique personalities and passions for his glory.  So a couple doesn’t want to have children?  I’m inclined to think God brought them together precisely because their childless marriage can provide opportunities for unique ministry opportunities.  Children are, among other things, huge time commitments.  A Christian couple with loads of time on their hands sounds like an awesome opportunity to me.

8)  The Wander-Luster.
It’s almost as though this list is hitting each of my self-described adjectives listed below my blog title.  NYCpastor says, “The constant desire for new experiences, new places, new faces, and new forms of entertainment only serves to clearly manifest the fact that the woman has not found her rest in God.”  It’s almost as though he thinks change is inherently bad.  And it completely ignores the fact that some travelers seek new places and new faces because they love seeing how God is working in other people’s lives around the world.  Once again, this seems more like a matter of common sense.  If you want to spend the rest of your life in one place, marry someone with a similar passion.  If you want to make travel a significant part of your life, marry someone who values that too.

9)  The Career Woman.
By this point in the list, I’m so near to just recording retching noises rather than forming intelligible thoughts.  NYCpastor’s statement that “God made men to be the providers and women to be the nurturers of the home (in most instances)” ignores the fact that a work/home duality is a modern system only available to first world countries after the Industrial Revolution.  It also ignores the fact that the first church in Europe (in Philippi) was founded in a career woman’s home (Acts 16:13-15), or that Jesus’s ministry was funded by women (Luke 8:2-3), or that Proverbs 31 praises women who work (v. 16-18).  And what about men?  I personally believe men are perfectly capable of being loving and nurturing to their children.  Why the need to divide everyone into boxes all the time?

10)  The Devotion-less Woman.
This is pretty much just a re-tread of point #1.  And again, yes, I agree that people ought to marry people with similar faith commitment levels.  But yikes, this is an intimidating litany of questions.  Maybe I’m just feeling nit-picky at this point, but it would be nice to see some grace here.  A person’s faith is deeper than a checklist of accomplished tasks and personal recommendations.  Look beyond the rules to the relationship below.  And maybe throw out the lists of how to choose good wives (or husbands) while you’re at it.

What was your response to reading the original blog post?  Are my critiques ridiculous or thought-provoking?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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18 thoughts on “I Guess I’m Not Suitable for Marriage”

  1. I’m apparently the perfect wife because none of these things really are me (that much)! I think it’s safe to say that, especially today, I am far from the perfect wife. Lists are stupid (but I kind of love them).

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    1. Good point. Marriages are extremely complicated, and fitting an “ideal” does not guarantee a perfect marriage. We’re all messed up and awesome in a unique combination of ways, and no list will ever capture the complexity of humans and our relationships….but I’m going to keep checking out BuzzFeed lists and quizzes anyway. Agreed, Jenna, they’re fun–so long as they don’t become the be-all, end-all!

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  2. Trish, I agree with you just about 100%. The list maker is an ass, unfortunately Christianity is replete with such asses and they give the rest of us a bad reputation and drive folks away from experiencing Christian freedom. I rarely meet a “good” Christian whom I respect, especially the ones who have placed themselves on a plane of righteousness that they think they have earned or must earn rather than comprehending the tremendous gift God has given us with His forgiveness and salvation. Is it any wonder churches are becoming less important to so many?

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  3. I remember reading the original article, my first thought was, “This should be ’10 Women Men from 1950 Should Not Marry”. Too harsh? I was under the impression our society, especially our “Christian” society had come a LONG way since the 1950’s, but you wouldn’t know it from some of these. If my job as a woman is to be a content, quiet, modest, devout, childbearing wife… well I guess I got one of those right! One guess which one 😉 I think I speak for a lot of women when I say our generation (mid 20’s) tends to be a lot more open minded than the author of this article, which is a very very good thing.

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    1. Yes, it does bring to mind the “idyllic” 1950s, a golden era for…middle class white men. I’m so glad the Church (and the culture) is starting to listen to the voices of minorities, whether they be women, people of color, or….well, I’m not really sure if we’re hearing from the poor very much. Hm. Anyway, YES, I’m so glad to be living in this time and hopefully doing my part to make it better for those who come after us.

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  4. OK Tricia,

    So I just wrote a long post and it didn’t take it and it disappeared. So I will try again, but shorter.

    First, very cool that you have people following and commenting. Congrats!

    Second, Why is it that there are 10 times as many responses to the 10 traits of women than there are on the 10 traits of men? Would women complain no matter what he said? Are there no traits that are unacceptable? My challenge to you is this; what 10 traits would you give to your future son?

    Third, I disagree that you would meet over half his criteria, Only 1 for sure – Feminist. You seem to identify with wander-luster, so maybe you meet that criteria, but I am not sure you both mean the same thing. Also, I don’t know your long-term career plans, so maybe you meet that criteria. But you are NOT an unbeliever, divorcee (unless you are hiding something), sexy-dresser (you dress very modestly), gossip (at least that I’ve seen – and if you are, you better get out of counseling), child-hater (you love children), or devotion-less (though I don’t know your private devotion life). And by definition, it is impossible for you to meet the older-woman criteria at this point. Both younger and older men are still attractive to you and available to you.

    Blessings,

    Craig

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Craig! I won’t argue over how unsuitable I am, though I do happily claim 5 of the labels as my own, one more (maybe two) unhappily. 🙂

      It’s interesting that you point out an over-reaction to the post about women; I can only concretely respond by saying that, as a woman, I was offended, so I wrote about it. I can guess that the disproportionate response is because women are disproportionately crammed into boxes that often lead to our harm (both by culture and by the Church) and we are learning to speak out against it. Of course men are also crammed into boxes, and I hope very much that sensitivity, emotionality, and nurturing behaviors will soon be accepted in men as well as women.

      I gave your challenge some thought, and honestly what this blog has taught me is how much I distrust lists. If I have a son, I think I would encourage him to marry someone who is a Christian and is committed to a continually deepening relationship with God, someone who you have fun with, and someone whose dreams you would love to support. Three things. There are a million other minutia that I will definitely have opinions on, but I think it’s wiser to approach relationships with a broad perspective and allow God to work in His mysterious way that often surprises us with an unexpected outcome.

      I would love to hear your perspective as a single man. What has been your experience with the Church and its pressures to conform to an ideal of “manhood”? What was your reaction to the post about types of men to avoid?

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      1. In terms of my response, I can say I never felt pressure from the church to conform to some ideal of “manhood.” The only pressure I felt growing up in church was to be a missionary. I always thought that I would get married and have a family, but never considered it a pressure. I think that is something most people want naturally. I will say that as I have gotten older, I have really come to deeply respect responsible family men. I believe I am less mature in many ways because I haven’t had family responsibilities.

        In terms of cultural pressures, there are always pressures to conform to the prevailing culture no matter the time or place. No one can escape it. In our culture for instance, as progressivism grows, it is not destroying cultural pressures, it is just replacing one set of pressures for another. Every culture has pressures. Every individual is a member of one or more cultures.

        I know you look at this differently, but I do not believe there has been an ages long conspiracy of men to keep women down. I believe that through the ages, men and women have developed culture together to create the most productive relationships for the family and society. There is clearly an economic component to marriage and the economic principles of division of labor and marginal utility come into play, As our world has changed, so have the economics, and so have the marital relationships. We are still sorting it out.

        In terms of arbitrary lists, I agree with you somewhat. He could have listed 5 things or 20 things. Lists are better when they actually quantify something measurable. I really have no problem with either of his lists though. I believe he is honestly trying to make a case from the Bible for several traits for both sexes. Others are his opinion, others are statistical. Either way, I have no problem suggesting that there are traits in people that make them unsuitable marriage partners. And EVERYONE has a list whether conscious or not. It is only natural.

        Ideally, Genesis 2, before the fall, sets the ideal for what God wants out of a marriage. Man and woman together as one flesh, serving God. In Gen 2:15, I believe the best translation is that “God rested the man in the Garden of Eden to serve (worship/serve/work) and keep (obey/guard/keep).” In Gen 1, God makes males and females equal rulers. Here in Gen 2, God makes man a servant and the woman to help him serve. ONE flesh, SERVING God. Not two individuals pursing their own power and their own agendas and their own kingdoms. Find someone who has a like-minded calling and mission to serve God, and where your gifts complement each other in accomplishing God’s call.

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        1. I definitely agree with your interpretation of Genesis 2 and an ideal relationship of mutual love and work. It will be nice when the sex wars have ended and men and women can be together healthfully.

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