Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Does a man’s decision to marry negatively impact his service to God?

I found this post while browsing on Parchment and Pen, by C. Michael Patton. In it he discusses how his wife Kristie responded to his interest in making sacrifices to become a missionary in Europe. First, let’s take a look at what he wrote, then I’ll comment. This post is the meanest thing I have ever written on the blog. Please don’t read it, especially if you are a woman.

Now I don’t know any of the details of Mike’s life, so I am just using his words as a springboard to make some points of my own. Nothing mean I say applies to Mike or his family. I am trying to talk about my own experiences trying to reconcile my faith with women.

Mike starts admirably by explaining how, as a married man with two children, he became excited about a plan for preaching and defending the gospel in places like Europe, where there are very few Christians evangelizing.

He writes:

When I got home, Kristie attempted to probe for the passion and the source of my excitement. I held back some naively thinking it was going to be a surprise. I wanted to walk her through all I had learned and let the excitement build in her as it had in me. I told her everything we had been learning doing my best to work without the pins. I explained to her how much of a famine for the Gospel existed in other parts of the world. Then, when the time was just right, I gave her the “good” news: “We are going to be missionaries!!!”

I don’t think Mike’s expectations on his wife are realistic given my experiences with Christian women. And his wife did end up rejecting his plan to become missionaries in Europe.

Now I’ll talk about my experience, not about Mike’s story. In my experience, women often (70%) approach Christianity as a subjective experience, not as objective knowledge. So that means that they are not going to find what is written in the Bible as more authoritative than their own feelings, which they may be projecting onto “God” without the benefit of logic or evidence. That is why most women are usually not very interested in Christian knowledge, like theology or church history, and especially apologetics. In my experience, what this means is that they are less interested trying to convince people that Christianity is TRUE.

Most women in the churches prefer subjective experiences like singing, community, prayer, rituals, etc. Many women resent the idea that Christianity might be objectively true, because the truth of Christianity would limit their ability to invent their own version of Christianity based on their intuition. Many are certainly not interested in learning about God as he is, and then in shaping their lives to serve him in the most effective ways, regardless of the cost. Many prefer to spend their time reading fiction, like Stephanie Meyer instead of evidential stuff, like Stephen Meyer. Dan Brown stuff is also popular because it allows them to doubt the Bible when the Bible disagrees with their intuitions.

So the problem is that the Bible seems to be calling for bold action to evangelize and persuade others, but women seem to be more interested in more subjective, inward-focused activities that make them happy.

Note: there are exceptions of course. I know one women who read Signature in the Cell (!). Another woman I know read FOUR Tom Sowell books in two months. Actually some of the strongest denunciations of Christian women comes from other Christian women. One woman once told me that she never attended all-women Bible studies, and another told me angrily that her women’s group spent more time on arranging the table settings than in choosing the speaker for an event! As well, the best book on the Christian worldview is written by Nancy Pearcey. Etc. And of course, there’s Michele Bachmann, who asks her husband to take her to hear Ravi Zacharias for her BIRTHDAY PRESENT.

Mike continues:

Since then I have seen this situation more times than I can count. It is usually always the same: a zealous husband who has become embittered against his wife because she will not follow him in his zealousness. One good friend just got a divorce because his wife did not want to become a missionary. He thought it was the Lord’s will and he believed her unwillingness was keeping him from a “greater good.” Now, after the divorce, his immaturity has disqualified him from taking that step even by himself. Another friend is becoming embittered toward his wife because her focus is elsewhere. Their marriage is suffering. I could tell many more stories, but I don’t want to betray anyone’s confidence.

Friends (and especially young zealous husbands or soon to be husbands), don’t make the mistake of having your passion for ministry end your marriage. You first ministry is your marriage. If you don’t get that, you are not qualified for ministry. In the spirit of Priscilla: Do you not think that God is powerful enough to call you both into ministry or do you think he only has enough power to call one of you? If so, then he is not a God worth your time anyway. In short, if God does not call your wife, he is not calling you. Period.

Well, I agree with Mike that once you get married, unless you’re married to Jan Craig, then you can pretty much kiss your ministry good-bye. You have to uphold your marriage first, and God comes second. If your wife blocks your ministry, then you’re stuck with no ministry. He’s right about that. Which is why I don’t get married. What many women want, in my experience, is to make you like them so much that they can control you. But if they see that you are resisting and evaluating them critically, they give up and move on to easier prey. Many women have no intention of trying to help you to achieve your vision. You are just a tool in their toolbox for pursuing happiness.

What does the Bible say in 1 Cor 7:1-28?

1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.

8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.

9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion

25Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.

26Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are.

27Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.

28But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

And in Matthew 19:12, Jesus says:

12For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

I have seen theologian after theologian explain these verses away, rather than incur the wrath of women in the audience. But it seems to me the verses are pretty clear. Don’t marry. (Note: there are exceptions – I think a marriage to Michele Bachmann would be an ennobling experience).

The only virtuous reason for a man to get married is when he is convinced that he can do better for God with that woman by his side than they can do as singles. Once a man gets married to someone who wants to live a secular life of pleasure, he’s stuck – he can’t break up the marriage to save his ministry. Mike is right about that. So that’s why I say again to men – DON’T MARRY! Marriage gets in the way of your commitment to God, unless you are very careful to find a wife who will support you in your ministry.

Look at Mike’s bio page:

I am Michael Patton, the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen blog. I do a lot of stuff and love teaching theology. In fact, I have been blessed enough to be able to make my living doing so. I am married, have four kids (two girls and two boys). Got married to the most beautiful gal in the world.

If you click through, you will see a picture of his wife in some sort of beauty pageant. But right away I am concerned because I am suspicious of women who enter beauty pageants.

Now forget Mike’s pretty wife, and let me make a comment about men and sexual attraction.

Most Christian men become interested in women because of sexual attraction (unless you’re me, and you have visions of little homeschooled William Lane Craig and Michele Bachmann clones dancing in your head). I think that many men today rely far too much on physical attraction, they start the physical contact way too early which destroys their objectivity. And most men don’t take the time to screen women to see whether their stated beliefs are grounded. They just take the women, and their stated beliefs, at face value. And what this means is that God is being left out of the relationship – his needs don’t matter. What matters is the physical attraction.

I have a friend with a PhD in physics who is an elder in his Calvinist church. His wife has never read an apologetics book. Not even The Screwtape Letters. She says that logic and evidence don’t apply to Christianity. She knows God through her intuition, not through the Bible, because the Bible was written by men. And Christianity is really about doing whatever she wants to be happy. She reads Dan Brown and she gave him Dan Brown to read, too. She doesn’t believe in Hell, and she thinks Jesus was married. She views her husband as a tool for serving her. She has a pretty appearance, so  he never screened her statements of faith. His eyes were blinded by a sexual attraction.

One of my friends has married well, and his wife is 100% perfect in every way. They had a good long courtship, with pre-marriage counseling, and were very strict about physical contact. (They were both virgins when they married in their late 20s). And that is the only way to do a courtship – they put God’s needs first and they knew exactly what vision they were pursuing. I think that men need to look for women who treat God as a real person, with a distinct character of his own. (She was a missionary for a year in a very nasty part of the world). On her evening off from being a stay-at-home mom, she answers apologetics questions for unbelieving seekers. This woman was screened very well.

More Mike stuff is here.

UPDATE: When I say DON’T MARRY, I really meant “don’t marry without sharing your vision with your prospective mate first, and make sure that she is on board with it”.

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34 Responses

  1. Alisha says:

    Perhaps I should’ve heeded your warning to not read this. Ouch, ouch and ouch again! I’m not offended, but again, I do worry about you when I read such harsh things. But, we ‘re all entitled to our opinions.

    The thing I object to most is your characterization of almost all women as having “no intention of trying to help you to achieve your vision. You are just a tool in their toolbox for pursuing happiness.” Really? While I think many women (sadly) are like that, to paint almost all of us with that brush is wrong. And unloving to us as your sisters in Christ. After God, my husband is second. Period. And believe me, it would THRILL me if he wanted to go into ministry if God called him.

    It’s strange to me that most of the evidence presented to support your point is subjective! You detail some of your friends’ (unfortunate) experiences as proof that wives are ministry-killers. With all due respect, how are a handful of stories proof of nearly ALL women?

    You do make a few good points I want to applaud. First, I wholeheartedly agree there is something VERY WRONG that many Christian women (and men, too!) don’t bother to read, study and internalize the Word. They often rely on their feelings they believe God is laying on their hearts, and with no solid Biblical teaching fall quickly into fallacy. That is why there are so many Christians who have bought into the Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith Movements that have become so popular in churches across the denominational spectrum.

    I also want to highlight what you wrote: “Marriage gets in the way of your commitment to God, unless you are very careful to find a wife who will support you in your ministry.” Emphasis on the “very careful” part. Seek God and His kingdom first and these things (including a wife if it is His will) will be given to you.

    • Sorry to be so mean. I was careful not to say all, but only (I think) the majority of women, in my experience. So this is not a proof, it’s a warning to Christian men to spend time TALKING to prospective mates about these things during the courtship. I just want men to consider these things before marrying, and I want women to focus on developing character that men will need to rely on in the marriage.

      I think that marrying can work, but only if men stop judging women by appearance. The point of my article isn’t to attack women so much as it is to attack men for focusing on superficial things instead of trying to find a wife who demonstrates her interest in the man’s plan during the courtship. I’ve read your blog… definitely not talking about you.

      I visited a friend a while back and stayed over at his house because William Lane Craig was in town to speak in a church (very rare). He has two teenage daughters. And neither his wife nor his daughters came to hear William Lane Craig. They have a wonderful family and his wife is perfect as a wife and mother. Her husband is very happy. But I think experiences like this where the man goes to hear William Lane Craig alone without wife and children sour me on marriage. Bleh!

      When I asked her about it, she was very comfortable with the idea that she wasn’t obligated to know how to answer questions about God’s existence, Jesus’ resurrection and to respond to philosophical objections. And I think that is what men need to test for during courtship. I need my wife to be able to protect the worldview of my children, and I screen for demonstrated ability in that area during courtship.

  2. jerry says:

    a slightly off topic question, but if you advocate that men do not marry, do you propose we be fruitful and populate the earth outside of marriage, let the human population die off, or subjugate women?

    • I propose we raise the bar of male conduct so that women realize that they need to develop certain skills in order to win a husband – skills that are more focused on Christianity.

      • jerry says:

        while maybe goal state, your response seems impractical. And if woman don’t change – they do hold the power in many situations if you want kids – how do you propose that situation is handled? I believe their influence over family matters and what not has won them many societal concessions, the only places that have resisted are those that subjugate (think about asia – mid-east right through the orient)

        • Well coercion of women is out of the question for me. What needs to happen is that men need to call women’s attention to what benefits God. I believe that women will respond if men can just articulate these things during the courtship phrase and take the lead in the relationship. Men have to explain to women about what God wants. Then they have to explain their plan. Then they have to explain the opposition. Then they have to explain what skills and resources to make their plan work. Then they have to listen to the woman explain how she can help.

          During the courtship, the man should be working on his plan and the woman should be solving problems for him using her formidable skills, education and character. The more education and experience a woman has in areas where she can actually help her husband, the better it is for the husband. For example, she can advise him on how to avoid getting sued if she is a lawyer, do his taxes if she is an accountant, or advocate for limited government if she is a journalist or policy analyst.

          And women need to be building up the kinds of skills that Christian men will need all through their childhood and during the courtship.

          • jerry says:

            many of the skills required are out the realm of your average man. I would posit that most in society aren’t college material (despite our push to get everyone a college degree), not that college is required for what you state, but it indicates the intelligence and sophistication required to properly explain and respond to tough questions of faith and everyday applicability.

            Now, you also underestimate the role of nature…ok, so I know you don’t believe in it – we’re all creatures of god…anyways, the very picture you paint shows that men are creatures of nature – they’re seeking out the best mates based on health (and some societal suggestions of what’s pretty).

            I’ll make this my last post on this!

  3. matthew says:

    You make it out to be an either/or proposition.

    First off, regarding strong christian women: I must be very lucky, but most of the women I’ve become friends with in my lifetime have been those who, while not quite “male” in their appreciation of theology and the logic and mental side of Christianity, are far from the “spending more time arranging the tables than picking the speaker” variety you are familiar with.

    And it’s not just my Christian female friends either. Women who are concerned about the deeper things in life are more common than I think you’ve experienced. They are just so beaten down with the culture that insists they have no thoughts deeper than their own mascara. They need an environment where others want to know what they think and feel and encourage those deeper pursuits.

    Regarding the either/or of marriage or God-following:
    It is not true that once you get married you have to please your wife before you please God. Paul says that once you’re married, the way you please God is by pleasing your wife.

    You’re taking an “if I can’t have it now it’s not worth having” approach to ministry result.

    I’d rather take the “down payment and work long and hard” approach to ministry. I married my wife (down payment) and we’re raising a family now (work long and hard). Eventually I hope to release several strong, mature, driven people into the world to accomplish even more than I could.

    The point of marriage, as in the point of any successful business, is to, through the mingling of our individual strengths into one cohesive unit, accomplish more together than we could have apart.

    My wife and I don’t participate in every ministry together. I work in the men’s ministry at our church, building a Band of Brothers by assisting in the role of communications coordinator. My wife is a missionary with CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) and at church participates in a ladies bible study. She was a student at Moody Bible Institute studying linguistics with the hope of traveling overseas as a missionary training indigenous peoples in their own language.

    What we do apart though, we come back together and share. I’m better able to support our Band of Brothers because I share with her what’s going on in the team and she is able to provide her own ideas and hone mine. She’s able to give her strength to the children in the after-school clubs because she knows I’ll be there when she gets home, ready to hear about her day and give her that support.

    Without each other, we’d be struggling alone, without the balance that comes from being so closely intertwined emotionally.

    Regarding the men who had an enthusiasm for a particular form of ministry, we can say that their wives were God’s way of telling them that was not His calling for them.

    There are not levels of holiness in our work. Going to Egypt as a missionary is no more inherently holy than sitting on my duff in a chair fixing people’s computer problems all day. It is how we work, not where we work, that determines the holiness of our ministry.

    Rather than come home and say “Hey honey, pack your bags! We’re going to a third-world country where you’ll be walking into the desert at night to use the restroom and we’ll be around people who want to kill us for our beliefs! Isn’t that exciting!!!” to which he should deservedly get a slap on the face, he should communicate to her this tug on his heart.

    By commanding this change of life, he is not honoring or respecting her. He is expecting her to go along with whatever he planned regardless of her own feelings in the matter.

    I believe it wouldn’t be out of line to say that if he didn’t feel strongly the need to minister overseas before he was married, this sudden onslaught of such feelings is not necessarily God telling him the way it is to be.

    For better or worse, marriage is a fantastic honing tool for us as people. I thought I was a decent, rather above average guy before I was married. Now I know I’m a selfish, lazy brute who doesn’t take too kindly to significant commitment and who is very quick to point out others flaws while ignoring his own. And that isn’t because my wife keeps telling me so.

    That’s because I see how my actions and reactions affect me wife, as I see how hers affect me.

    This is uncomfortable at times and difficult at others, but it is always worthwhile.

    So first, you should probably start looking elsewhere for a wife. Your current selection is not what you need.

    Second, you’d probably benefit from being married.

    Third, don’t blame the woman for being her own unique person when the husband is showing how very unaware of hers he is.

    Fourth, get your big plans together before you marry, and in going about bringing your plans to fruition you may find a fellow laborer who is already headed pretty much the same way as you who makes you such a better person.

    Who knows, you might even enjoy the ride.

    :)

    • Yes, I’m not saying that a man should marry and then spring this plan on his unsuspecting wife. I am saying that he should make his plan and publicize it before marrying and then test prospective mates to see if they are willing to help with that plan.

      When I say DON’T MARRY, I mean DON’T MARRY unless you’ve made sure that your wife is going to be OK with these plans up front. And I mean DON’T MARRY for any other reason except that this woman is committed to your plan, because if you marry for some other reason, your plan is doomed. She won’t go along with it.

  4. Alisha says:

    Matthew, amen, amen, amen! It was so awesome to read your reply. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Drew says:

    I’ll critique women about as much as anybody, but your thesis here is incredibly unbiblical. Ascetic theology is a sign of demonism and not spirituality (1 Timothy 4:1-3, Colossians 2:20-23). Paul even seems to assume in 1 Timothy 3 that pastors (‘bishops’) will be married, unless you assume that the ‘children’ and ‘family’ refer to illegitimate offspring and concubines.

    And 1 Corinthians 7 explicitly states that one factor influencing the advice is the “present crisis” or “present distress” (v. 26, see also v. 28-29). Most people assume that this phrase refers either to persecution or famine. Paul even seems to admit frequently in that chapter that most of the readers won’t be able to follow his “better” advice. (v. 2, 5, 15,

    He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. (Proverbs 18:22)

    And I still say that your desires for women are unnatural. You are seeking someone who is physically a woman but who acts exactly the same way as a man except for being submissive to you. Women should certainly learn real religion, and some women will even appreciate the same subjects you appreciate. The Bible seems to teach that women’s main service to the kingdom of God generally still tends to be the bearing of godly children (See 1 Timothy 5:14). And if you find a woman who has all the same skills you do, you will be denying yourself the strengths of a complementary personality. That would be like a doctor who needed a secretary and so he hired someone fresh out of MED SCHOOL to do that job. It’s not ecnomical and it’s not natural.

    • I don’t know what ascetic theology is, but chastity is Biblical, and I am arguing for chastity. The only reason to marry is because a union of two singles will produce a better return for God than the two people being single. And I think that men don’t approach women that way, because they are too influenced by sex appeal and premature physical contact. As a result, women focus more on winning men over with appearances rather than good character and apologetic/theological capabilities.

      I think that Christianity is a knowledge tradition, based on propositional truth. So I look for women who approach it that way. I don’t say that this is a masculine way – I am saying that it is the RIGHT WAY. The foundation has to be the same, even if the houses built on the foundation are different. I think what I would say is that marriage made sense before postmodernism, relativism, universalism and subjectivism became so predominant.

      Today, I think that 1) the disposition of women influenced by these -isms is unsuitable for marriage, and 2) there are so many threats to faith and family that women really do need to step up and get the skills needed to be able to counteract secularism and socialism. If I had children, I would like my wife to be able to nurture the worldviews of our children the same way, or better, than I would. By emphasizing reason and evidence. I don’t think there is a version of Christianity that is compatible with irrationality, moral relativism, universalism, socialism, secularism, etc.

      I just don’t believe that Christianity is compatible with postmodern relativist universalist subjectivism. And I am argue that men need to focus less on sexual attraction and more on detecting postmodern relativist universalist subjectivism during the courtship period. You can call this “unnatural”, but I think that women also must accept Christianity as a knowledge tradition, that is objectively true, and demonstrated to be true using objective logic and objective evidence. I hope this clears things up for you. I don’t think there is a postmodern relativist universalist subjectivist version of Christianity. I think that isn’t really Christianity.

      I think that we are still in the present distress that Paul talks about. Namely, that the culture is hostile to Christianity. And I have evidence to back that up. And I think that the words of 1 Cor 7 and Matthew 19:12 are very clear and people just don’t like what it says because they want to ignore God in opposite-sex relationships. It’s just too much for them to swallow that God should be a consideration in courting and marriage.

      • matthew says:

        Why did God create Eve?

        God did not say He created Eve because Adam needed someone to help him populate the earth. God said Adam needed a companion.

        We like to say there is a God shaped hole in all of us.

        God was saying there was an Eve shaped hole in Adam.

        It is not good for man to be alone, God said.

        Making a better return for God is not the primary reason to marry. It is an incidental reason, resulting from when the two are no longer as needy because their needs are being met in each other.

    • Drew says:

      Just type asceticism into wikipedia and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

      You have frequently abused the term “chastity” to mean absence from sex when that word technically only means “purity.” Hence, you often have equated purity with abstinence from sex, but that is wrong. Sex is good. You are ignoring the benefits that God might derive from our “sex appeal,” “physical contact,” and ultimately CHILDREN.

      Yes, America is a perverse society, but if you want to argue that we are still in the “present distress” then you must also concede that Paul’s solution is monogamy (7:2). But whereas the whole chapter is about advice and not commands (7:6), you are here telling us that Christian ministers should not get married.

      I already agreed with you that women should develop a reasonable faith, but that does not mean that they have to become miniature William Lane Craigs. A lot of the stuff you focus on, while important, remains fairly esoteric. And don’t forget that Paul discourages women from teaching.

      And saying that rationality is the “RIGHT WAY” to faith also seems like a stretch. A lot of people become Christians just because their parents instill religion into them or because Christians are nice to them. It’s certainly not a sin to convert to Christianity, even if it’s out of emotion. It’s not a matter of right and wrong; it’s just reality. Of course, Peter and Paul do say that once you convert, you should grow in knowledge (2 peter 1:5, Hebrews 6:1-3). But they’re referring to correct doctrine and not necessarily to persuasive missionary arguments.

      Ideally, should every Christian know as much William Lane Craig knows? Yes. Is that practical? No. Will the world end because women take a lesser interest in his ideas than men? Probably not.

      Women are good at certain things men are not good at. But even if men were better at every single skill imaginable, that would not negate the usefulness of marriage. In economics, “comparative advantage” makes trade prosperous even between one superior individual and an inferior individual. For example, assume that a brain surgeon makes $120 per hour. Assume that he needs his grass cut, which will take about an hour. The brain surgeon can benefit from passing that task off onto someone else, even if that person is the “inferior” kid next door who can only get about $8 per hour for his labor.

      Sometimes it’s good to have subordinates, and to diversify roles. That’s why women are different, and why they are useful even though they are bad at many important, manly activities. If a woman were as good as you at everything, why would she want to submit to you?

      • I only believe in chastity up to marriage! Marriage is fine, and I recommend it to everyone who can find a suitable mate.

        You’re only going to get the benefits from sex appeal if you manage to pass on the Christian worldview to the offspring, and that is getting harder and harder to do lately, which is why I am writing to encourage men to be more picky about who they marry. There are real intellectual and financial challenges, and that’s going to take a real woman to help solve.

        I am NOT saying that people should NOT get married, but that they should be more careful about WHO they marry, in view of the intellectual and financial challenges. So I don’t mean DON’T MARRY. I mean DON’T MARRY unless you choose a wife who is going to help you to offer God something better than either of you could offer as two singles.

        I agree with you that non-rational conversion is valid. I am saying that the time and place where we are now means that your conversion should result in an interest in theology and apologetics as you encounter more and more non-Christians. It’s then that you start to need to know theology and apologetics, because now you see that you need to SHOW OTHERS that these things are true. Of course, my conversion was pure evidence and rationality, but I am not saying that my experience should be normative. I am arguing for people to later improve their skills when they face threats, and they will.

        I agree with you on roles, what I am saying is that given the threats to the children’s worldview, we now need women who have incredibly good character and knowledge in order to help us to pass on our worldviews. Any old hot babe will not do in this challenging time and place. THAT was the point of my post: AIM HIGHER. That’s what I am telling young men. Don’t just settle for looks.

      • Drew says:

        “Well, I agree with Mike that once you get married, unless you’re married to Jan Craig, then you can pretty much kiss your ministry good-bye.”

        That’s simply not a true statement. As long as you’re bringing in an income and your wife remains relatively loyal to you, I don’t see any reason why a typical ministry would be neglected.

        The illustration at the beginning, with the world-missions thing, is a little different because it requires the wife’s active involvement. But there are plenty of ministries here at home that do not require much from the spouse.

        • OK, I retreat here. You have a point. You’re right.

          I just think that it is better if the wife takes an interest in these things and understands what is happening. You have to be able to talk to her about it. What is the point of marriage if it isn’t to get someone to talk to about things that matter? To be able to talk with the husband, the wife has to understand and value what the husband is doing, and vice versa. Men need to demonstrate during the courtship that they appreciate the role that their wife will play as a companion and secondarily as mother to the children. They have to show why they need a quality person, so that the woman understands that she will be appreciated and needed.

          When I go to my friends’ houses, I always ask the wife parenting and relationship questions and then talk about that for hours. I talk to her about her vision for the children and her feelings about the relationship. It’s my way of trying to grow in my appreciation for what women bring to the marriage. And they like it too.

          • timmah says:

            I wanted to read this all but work is busy and I’m leaving for vacation tomorrow. I’ll catch up over the break!

            I’ve never really understood the call to minister in crazy far away places. I mean, I get that if someone doesn’t do it the gospel will never reach those places, but I can’t help but feel that so many people overlook the simple fact that people right outside our back door are just as in need of ministry as the people far away.

            And when raising a family, I would say that the absolute primary ministry and best way to serve God is to teach your children and bring them up with the right values and knowledge of the Lord. If I ever have kids you better believe they’re going to get apologetics at a young age. WK is right because women need to flex their brain muscles and get more intellectual, and men need to put on blindfolds and realize there’s more to women than fluttering eyelashes and push-up undergarments! But I don’t think that “being called to ministry” always means doing something drastic. Sometimes it’s just living for God and doing your thing for Him.

            A number of months ago a friend emailed me and said he had become a Christian. He was the brother of a college roommate of mine who’s house I would stay in between travels back and forth to school. He emailed me to thank me for just being a good friend, and a good influence and taking the time to talk to him about life, and things like that. I never tried to do anything, but it warmed my heart to know that God used me even when I wasn’t consciously thinking about it. =)

          • I totally agree that the marriage is a form of ministry, if you are focused on raising the children to be world-changers. And to really do a good job on the children, a man needs to be intentional about choosing someone who is interested in teaching the children everything they need to know to have a solid Christian worldview. And those capabilities don’t necessarily show up in the way a woman looks. To do a good assessment, a man has to test a prospective mate by talking to them in long discussions and essay exchanges. Women have a very important job to do in the home. I don’t think that you can just rank them by looks and then say that God is going to be happy with that.

            But I also think that men need to be careful about getting a demonstrated commitment to the non-parenting outward-focused ministry during the courtship phase, as well.

  6. Bob says:

    Wasn’t Paul married?

    I agree with a lot of the things you wrote here. And another factor here is leadership. Men are supposed to be the head of family.

    • I agree with that. The man supplies the vision, and the woman supplies complementary skills that help him to get things done. Things he cannot possibly do himself because a large portion of his time is committed to trivialities like making money, which is pretty useless compared to forming the worldview of the children and resisting secular and leftist influences. (I am not opposed to women working after the children are in school, but not when they are still in that pre-school period of attachment/conscience formation – that period is critical and you absolutely need someone full of kindness and patience to form that bond with the children).

  7. Wintery Knight
    Reluctant as I am to get involved in an Evangelical foodfight, I can’t resist mentioning: 1. Many of the Bible passages you cite from Paul and Matthew are the ones used to justify the practice of priestly celibacy.
    2. The Theology of the Body is John Paul II’s analysis of the good of marital sex, and the theological significance of male/female differences. We are supposed to be different, and we are supposed to lead each other to holiness.
    And finally, if I could just say as an outsider: I have observed Evangelical men who were convinced their ministry was doing God’s work, when in fact, they were doing their own work, and claiming God’s support for what they themselves wanted to do. It is very easy to let our egos get involved in these matters. Humility is a virtue for everyone, male and female alike.

  8. S. Askim says:

    Wintery Knight,

    First off, great blog.

    Second, you best be careful with your argument here, as you are starting to sound like a Catholic! Although being a Catholic, I have no problem with that.

    • No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I can’t argue with Dr. J (the shorter) about this, but I can argue with you.

      First of all, I am only urging chastity UNTIL a man meets a woman who can help building something better together than they can separately. I am not urging this as a vocation, but as a prudential decision UNTIL the right person comes along. (If there is one) And I am saying that chastity prior to marriage as a temporary measure helps a man choose a good wife who will support him in his ministry. I am not making any vows! I am giving people a piece of advice. I hope you read the post about Jan Craig as she is a prime example of a woman who makes her husband do incredibly more than he could do on his own, and that’s what I am holding out for. That’s what I mean by chastity. I am urging men to avoid ruining their judgment with premature physical concerns until they find a wife who can bond with the man into a team that can do better than you and she could do separately.

      Secondly, Jesus says in Matthew 23:1-12:

      1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
      2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
      3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
      4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
      5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;
      6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;
      7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’
      8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.
      9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.
      10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.
      11 The greatest among you will be your servant.
      12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

      So definitely, positively NO PRIESTHOOD and NO CHURCH HIERARCHY.

      My post “Why I am not Roman Catholic” is here.

      • S. Askim says:

        Good Morning Wintery Knight,

        I apologize that this particular post is slightly off topic (and I will reply to your actual post concerning this subject later today), but I just read your short “Why I am not a Roman Catholic” argument and could not resist, in the spirit of friendly debate, retorting with my own “Why I am not a Protestant” argument that is based largely on your argument’s framework:

        1. To be a Protestant, you need to believe in Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide.

        2. Only at the “Reformation”, did the “Reformers” pronouce these doctrines to be true.

        3. This pronouncement was derived simply from the minds of the Reformers.

        4. There is no record of this doctrine in the Bible as well as contradicting the plain reading of the Bible (see James 2:24) in addition to not being able to account for the creation of the Bible itself.

        5. All the early Church Fathers are clearly Catholic in their doctrines.

        6. Documents show that without the use of Sacred Tradition as a decision-making tool, the Bible could not be complied.

        7. The two doctrines discussed only appeared for the first time in thier current form at the “Reformation.”

        Just some tongue-in-cheek arguing. Take care and again, great blog. Keep up the great work.

        • Drew says:

          1. Well, a person *should* believe those two things, but many so-called Protestants do not.

          2. Clement of Rome, either ~65 A.D. or ~90 A.D.
          “And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

          Rhodon, ~185 A.D., cited by Eusebius in “Church History” ~400 A.D.
          “For the old man Apelles [a Gnostic] entered into conversation with us, and was convicted of uttering many false opinions. . . . For he declared that those who had rested their hope on the Crucified One would be saved, provided only they were found living in the practice of good works.”

          Tertullian, “On Baptism,” ~200 A.D.
          “Here, then, those miscreants [evangelicals] provoke questions. And so they say, ‘Baptism is not necessary for them to whom faith is sufficient; for withal, Abraham pleased God by a sacrament of no water, but of faith.'”

          Jerome, “Against the Pelagians” Book I, ~390 A.D.
          “Who can bear this, and suffer you to prohibit the mercy of God, and to sit in judgment on the sentence of the Judge before the day of judgment, so that, if He wished to show mercy to the unjust and the sinners, He must not, because you have given your veto? For you say it is written in the one hundred and fourth Psalm, ‘Let sinners cease to be in the earth, and the wicked be no more.’ And in Isaiah, ‘The wicked and sinners shall be burned up together, and they who forsake God shall be consumed.’ Do you not know that mercy is sometimes blended with the threatenings of God? He does not say that they must be burnt with eternal fires, but ‘let them cease to be in the earth, and the wicked be no more.’

          For it is one thing for them to desist from sin and wickedness, another for them to perish for ever and be burnt in eternal fire. And as for the passage which you quote from Isaiah, ‘Sinners and the wicked shall be burned up together,’ he does not add for ever.
          . . . .
          To lose the glory of the resurrection is a different thing from perishing for ever.
          . . . .
          If the wicked and sinners are to be burned with everlasting fire, are you not afraid of the sentence you pass on yourself, seeing that you admit you are wicked and a sinner, while still you argue that a man is not without sin, but that he may be. It follows that the only person who can be saved is an individual who never existed, does not exist, and perhaps never will, and that all our predecessors of whom we read must perish.”

          Augustine, “City of God,” Book XXI Chapter 20, ~420 A.D.
          So, too, there are others [teachers of eternal security] who promise this deliverance from eternal punishment, not, indeed, to all men, but only to those who have been washed in Christian baptism, and who become partakers of the body of Christ, no matter how they have lived, or what heresy or impiety they have fallen into. They ground this opinion on the saying of Jesus, “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that if any man eat thereof, he shall not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If a man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.”[1] Therefore, say they, it follows that these persons must be delivered from death eternal, and at one time or other be introduced to everlasting life.
          . . . .
          There are others still who make this promise not even to all who have received the sacraments of the baptism of Christ and of His body, but only to the catholics, however badly they have lived. For these have eaten the body of Christ, not only sacramentally but really, being incorporated in His body, as the apostle says, “We, being many, are one bread, one body;”[1] so that, though they have afterwards lapsed into some heresy, or even into heathenism and idolatry, yet by virtue of this one thing, that they have received the baptism of Christ, and eaten the body of Christ, in the body of Christ, that is to say, in the catholic Church, they shall not die eternally, but at one time or other obtain eternal life; and all that wickedness of theirs shall not avail to make their punishment eternal, but only proportionately long and severe.

          4. See Luke 12:13, Luke 23:42-43, John 10:9, John 4:10, Revelation 22:17, John 3:14, John 6:27-29, John 6:39-40, Luke 18:13-14, Romans 10:11-13, Matthew 9:2, John 6:37.

          And James 2:24 is probably referring to justification before men rather than before God. (Alternatively, it may be referring to the rewarding of faithful believers in heaven, see e.g. James 2:12-13 and 3:1.)

          5. That’s a silly statement. Origen and Tertullian, for example, would be considered saints if they were “clearly Catholic in their doctrine.” But they are not. Furthermore, I already showed you quotes from Jerome that did not appear particularly Catholic. I also showed quotes from Tertullian and Augustine showing that other teachers taught non-Catholic doctrines.

          6. Maybe, but was the tradition Catholic? And shouldn’t the tradition now be rendered obsolete since we have the infallible Bible? “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

          5. See #2. The Reformation was a Rennaissance of correct doctrine.

          John Wycliffe, “Christ Stilling the Storm,” ~1370
          “If a man believe in Christ, and make a point of his belief, then the promise that God hath made to come into the land of light shall be given by virtue of Christ, to all men that make this the chief matter.”

  9. Bin Saleh says:

    Hi,

    Read your post re: Paul’s teaching in COR. It seems to me that Paul was making an exception to the rule of being married, due to the coming vindication of Christ in 70 AD. This seems to be consistent with the momentum of the New Testament writers.

  10. mknz says:

    At the risk of adding to the cacaphony…

    The list is by no means exhaustive, but pretty darn close:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1944_questions_to_ask_when_preparing_for_marriage/

    • Oh, this is great. My Dad says to make this into a post.

      Oh wheeee! Do you know what would be fun. I’ll tell you. Going through these questions in a courtship with some Christian woman. Oh, wow! Just thinking about it makes me giddy. Hours and hours of eye-contact discussions about how we are going to make marriage and parenting work. I’m glad you posted this, because I actually have a much shorter list that I use that isn’t nearly as good as this list.

      Here’s my favorite:

      Discover how you form your views. What is the reasoning-believing process? How do you handle the Bible?

      Oh wow! This one is worth the entire list to me. If I felt that I could just have space to ask a woman to read something and have her views change as a result of reading… that would be enough for me. I just don’t want to be in the position where I have to obey all her commands under the threat of divorce.

      I’ve actually tried to convince the perfect wife of my friend to change her mind about various things, just to test her out to see if she would respond to evidence and arguments. She just snatches up the books and reads them and comes back with her mind partly changed a few months later. She’s even changed my mind about a bunch of stuff by giving me books to read, and she knows a ton about children, despite her two engineering degrees.

      Anyway, yes. This one is the key. I have to be able to see that a woman can change her behavior based on being convinced that the world is a certain way independent of how she feels. She has to be open to research and debate. If she is, then there is no reason to fear that she will use her power to dominate me based on intuitions and emotions.

      I wish you all could meet my friends perfect wife. She is the number one argument I know for getting married. When you talk with her, you think… wow! This could really work! It makes a lot of sense! She makes marriage seem like an engaging, noble adventure. She makes her husband feel brave and virtuous.

  11. Dancel says:

    I discovered your site and I liked your views; however, I have a few comments for this article. I have read the comments and I won’t repeat the critiques made by Alisha and Matthew. I certainly think that I’m still a bit young and there could be a lot of naivety in my beliefs. Also, context may also play a huge role and why you said such things because many of the arguments you presented must fit quite well in your country.

    Before I present some of my criticisms, I must tell you that the cultural difference between us might have affected my reaction to this article.

    1. You’re not too careful on how you present your arguments.
    2. You don’t reinforce complementarianism but focus on the negative trait of sexes, especially women.
    3. You make offending and assumptions about women, and those statements are the ones that helped drive feminism to extreme levels.

    This is the least mean part of my critique: you’re not careful. I understand that you are not afraid of criticism and you want to make your point clear despite possibly offending people. I understand that but you have to explain more. People whom commented on your post clearly interpreted your article as strictly pro-celibate. I also saw this as a call not to marry, despite the some of the verses Paul mentioned in Corinthians are clearly from his personal opinion. I only realized your true message when you clarified it at your replies. Sometimes our means of communication does not fully reflect our message right?

    I also feel that your article does not recognize the building of God-fearing family as a ministry.

    Given this assumption that your message may have been interpreted wrongly because of grammatical limitations, this following reactions won’t be personal. And there’s a cultural difference, I remind you again. Some things may be different from where I live.

    I’ll post some of your quotes and react to them:

    “Please don’t read it, especially if you are a woman.”

    Because you think women will react to this irrationally because it would hurt their feelings? So you think women won’t be able to handle this article well? Or because you don’t want to be critiqued by a women? What do you mean? The article does hurt, not because it’s a false accusation, it’s logical, but it’s a disappointment compared to you other very good articles. This article would offend even real Christian women.

    “like Stephanie Meyer instead of evidential stuff, like Stephen Meyer. Dan Brown stuff…”

    Oh dear… Stephanie Meyer. Don’t you know that Twilight is popular to teenage girls but is reviled by many mature women? 99% of the my female friends in college HATE that book.

    Oh, and I have read Screwtape letters, and that book was given to me by my female teacher.

    “That is why most women are usually not very interested in Christian knowledge, like theology or church history, and especially apologetics.”

    So you think men are interested? I don’t live where you live but from MY experience, there is no significant difference between men and women’s preference in literature. In our bible reading organization, the number of girls reading church history are equal to boys.

    “but women seem to be more interested in more subjective, inward-focused activities that make them happy”

    Depends on the context. Women here do this to strengthen themselves in the midst of poverty and domestic abuse. Our maid’s husband is a lazy bum and she works hard to feed their family, and sometimes she would ask for our leftovers because they have nothing to eat. She said that the love she receives from God and the church renews her spirit.

    “Note: there are exceptions of course.”

    So most women are what you described? I think I’m one of the “exceptions” you mentioned, but do you know the pains of being one of the “exceptions.” That’s why I mentioned you don’t reinforce complementarianism and instead, viewed the natural traits of women as negative forces that weakens the church instead of suggesting ways to channel this resource into productivity and strength.

    About the pains of being an “exception.” I must applaud you for recognizing women like us, but most men don’t share your taste. In MY experience, the women I know, including myself, get negated by men just because we’re women. There is a husband I know that gets too defensive when being beaten intellectually by his wife and would react by belittling her, stereotyping women calling them “insistent,” and quitting the conversation with hurtful words.

    Also, I suffered a great deal of insecurity in my younger years and it still persists until now, for not being too feminine as being intelligent in logical matter is unfeminine in society’s standards. I have been told that I shoo boys away because they said that my knowledge in things is intimidating. I don’t mind being single for now, but I do wish that someday I could met a man that would acknowledge my “unfeminine trait” and find it attractive *laughs*.

    So you want women to be knowledgeable in the scripture when you don’t see that many men are just as less knowledgeable and would not get insulted when a woman outsmarts them?

    One sad thing that causes radical feminism is the view that women are weak inferior for their natural traits but when they pursue intelligence they are seen as unfeminine and unsuitable for marriage…

    “What many women want, in my experience, is to make you like them so much that they can control you. But if they see that you are resisting and evaluating them critically, they give up and move on to easier prey.”

    Men do that do, like what I mentioned above, it is also true that men also prefer women they can manipulate.

    “Many women have no intention of trying to help you to achieve your vision. You are just a tool in their toolbox for pursuing happiness.”

    It’s because many men promised they would bring down the moon for them. Many men woo women and promise them a heavenly marriage then they end up treating them worse than when they were courting them. Women are at fault for believing their lies, and men are at fault for lying, both are wrong for pursuing marriage for the treason.

    I do agree that women tend to be unreasonably demanding some times. But in my opinion, I think you’ll see things in a new perspective if you marry. Sometimes, you don’t get credibility with this kind of issues of you don’t experience them yourself. Of course I see your arguments as valid despite you being single, but I doubt that other people will.

    Lastly, I’m not liberal. I believe that male and females complement each other, I believe that wives must submit to their husbands, I believe that men must hold more authority in the church and I believe in chastity.

    I think feminism in the west has evolved from granting important rights, into a movement that encourages promiscuity, divorce and abortion.

    Maybe my reaction boils down to this sentence: Women are more diverse and much more complex than what you see. If the women in your country is just when you describe, I pray that they see the truth. Abortion being legalized is one of the worst things modern people had done.

    I am looking forward in reading your other articles and I would recommend this site to my pastor.

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