Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Courting rules: what should a Christian woman be looking for in a man?

Here’s a post from Christian men’s issues blogger Dalrock, in which he gives advice to Christian women about how early they should marry. He himself is happily married, but he does not like the way that Christian women have been influenced by feminism inside and outside of the church.

Excerpt:

I propose that young women should take their husband hunt seriously from the beginning.  This means not looking for boyfriends, dates, friends with benefits, etc.  They should be looking for a husband from day 1, focusing exclusively on men who meet all three of the following criteria:

  1. Men who are (or are likely to be) interested in marrying her.
  2. Men she finds attractive enough that she is able to fall head over heels in love with him.
  3. Men she is ready to submit to as a wife and follow his leadership for the duration of her life.

Bullet number one should be obvious, but it is certainly worth stating.  One difference I’ve noted between men and women is women often don’t stick to the set of available options when making their selection.  A woman considering her options in marriage shouldn’t consider the recent interest (accepted or otherwise) from the exciting guy in the local band for some no strings attached sex, or even for a long term relationship.  If he isn’t interested in marriage, she shouldn’t consider him when considering her options.  The same goes for men who might be interested in marriage but don’t demonstrate an interest in marryingher.  Of course, none of the above is always a valid option so long as the woman is honest with herself that this means she is willing to risk foregoing marriage altogether with the hope that her available options will ultimately improve.

Bullet number two is an interesting one.  Many young women set out on a path to what Mentu describes as pursuing the serial monogamy hall of fame, falling in love with a series of (they hope) ever better men.  Early in their search they would no doubt have this as their number one must have criteria.  However, after some period of time even chaste women who find they haven’t located a husband are tempted to lower their standards in this area in order to not have to compromise in the areas of wealth and success.  I’ve argued strongly that women should not do this, and continue to feel this way.

Bullet number three is where it gets interesting.  While wives submitting to their husbands is a clear command in the new testament, very few devout Christians even take this seriously in practice.  It flies against the norms of our culture, and even those who are very traditional are likely to be alarmed by the statement.

In fact, bullet number three should frighten you.  If it doesn’t, you likely aren’t understanding the gravity of the situation.  I’m assuming it immediately raised questions in your mind like:

  • What if he is abusive?
  • What if he won’t take her needs and wants into sufficient consideration when making decisions?
  • What if he is prone to make risky or irresponsible decisions?
  • What if he isn’t faithful?
  • What if he isn’t motivated to work to provide for his family?
  • What are his religious and moral values?
  • Is he a kind person?
  • Is he mentally and emotionally stable?
  • Is he capable of leading her in a way which she is comfortable following? (leadership style/game)

The proof that this is the right process is that these are all of the right questions.  These are the questions women looking to marry should be asking but very often aren’t.

I think it is important to focus on that third point. Women today often are not evaluating men for the purpose of finding one who will lead them, especially on spiritual and moral issues. Many women today think that they can get into a relationship with a man and that the man will be happy with not being the spiritual and moral leader in the relationship. However, it must be said that men are meant to lead the relationship, and if they don’t lead, then both the woman and the man will be miserable.

So it’s important that both men and women have an idea of what leadership looks like. Here are some suggestions. The man should have certain goals. For example, mine are 1) earning and saving enough to keep my wife at home once the children arrive so we get effective children, 2) impacting the church with apologetics, 3) impacting the university with apologetics, 4) impacting the culture through writing about economics, politics, etc. The point of relationships is for the woman to ask the man what he intends to do, what preparations he has made, and what he needs her to do, and then to build her up so that she can do what’s needed. The purpose of courting is for the man to explain how he wants to lead, and then the woman chooses the man who will lead her wisely and well, and while taking her needs into account.

What should happen during the relationship is that the man should communicate what he wants to do and then he should try to get the woman to participate in it. She should let the man know that she is interested in his plans and is willing to be prepared to support him. For example, she can ask for things to read and then take action on problems that he cares about. If he is concerned about the skyrocketing debt, she should read economics and then write or speak about the problem convincingly to her friends. If he is concerned about single motherhood by choice or same-sex marriage, then she should read about those issues and then write or speak about those problems and move the ball forward. His job is to state his plan and supply her with tools, like books and lectures and tickets to apologetics conferences. The man practices leading and the woman practices supporting and helping. She is able to see whether she likes his plan and whether she likes helping him with it and whether he is good at motivating her and supplying her material and emotional needs so that she can help him properly.

And that’s what women should be doing with men when they are young. Men are not for fun. Men are leaders. And women should be evaluating men to see which one has a good plan and good leadership skills. Women are not choosing entertainment and pleasure when they choose a man – they are choosing the person who will prepare them and lead them. And that’s what men should be selected for. Life is an adventure. It’s important to have goals and to work with someone you like.

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16 Responses

  1. Dalrock says:

    Thanks for the linkage!

    Men are not for fun. Men are leaders. And women should be evaluating men to see which one has a good plan and good leadership skills. Women are not choosing entertainment and pleasure when they choose a man – they are choosing the person who will prepare them and lead them. And that’s what men should be selected for.

    This is it exactly. This is one of the many reasons why it is such bad advice to tell young women to just date for fun. Being courted is fun. But choosing a husband is a frightening proposition, at least it should be.

    Also, if her head isn’t where it should be she will waste the opportunity. After a number of years men will consiously or unconsiously figure out that courting her doesn’t pass a cost/benefit analysis. When scores of other men have taken the risk and expended the effort and resources to court her and she was just along for the fun of it, smart men will move on to a woman who is a better prospect. This is part of the concept of “old maid”. It isn’t just her declining chastity, fertility, and beauty which are at issue, but the ability of serious men to take her seriously.

    • wannabeachristianwife says:

      Hello! I see so many wonderful things here that Christian ladies should be looking for in a Godly man but I was wondering where I would find such a man who actually does these things? :) God is so good by laying out what he desires a marriage to look and be like and unfortunately todays society does not support such a position. My heart is to find a Godly gentleman but it just seems like a needle in the haystack at times. When I think I might have found one I learn he believes it’s okay to wear a woman’s dress to be funny. Which I believe goes against God. What would you suggest to a woman who already is looking for many of these wonderful things in a Godly man but can not seem to find him – anywhere I look. :)

      • Start a blog, and post answers to the questions that the most goal-oriented Christian men want answers to. I would give you my list, but only if you promise not to be angry. You have to promise!

  2. Re the third point, the issue is, as ably described by Doug Wilson, is “When God assigned a place, a station, to someone, it is disobedience to desert that station.” We are in active rebellion—even in the church—to that submission point, both men and women.

    • temo says:

      Hi there, I have just discovered Doug Wilson. I was wondering if you could give a title of one books of his that talks about marriage. thanks.

      • Hello, in case you haven’t found out, Doug Wilson’s book ‘Reforming Marriage’, is an excellent book on marriage. I’d highly recommend it, though this is coming from a single who has been dating for a number of years. =)

  3. mrgronk1 says:

    The remarkable thing about the list of questions in the third bullet point (except, perhaps, for the last one) is that a bad answer to any of them will be a major problem even in a relationship where submission isn’t an explicit element. A selfish, unfaithful, irresponsible, harsh or violent boyfriend (or husband without “submission”) is still going to cause a great deal of heartache.

    In fact, if a woman isn’t asking those questions, there are only three causes I can see. Either (a) she hasn’t thought through what a serious relationship entails, (b) she expects to call the shots, or (c) she’s already made up her mind that she’ll head for the hills at the first sign of trouble. (a) can to some extent be worked through, but I’d regard (b) or (c) as a fairly major red flag.

  4. Peter Gana says:

    Nice guildline to folows. Thanks for your advices and encouragement.

  5. Max Marshall says:

    Hi WK,
    I want to get manried one day.I am worried however that women are getting ahead of men in terms of employment and career advancement. I have seen Hannah Rosen and i am worried about what she says about how we are at a turning point back in 2010 when women became the majority of the workforce. What does that bode for men? We still the expectation that we will provide.For women, they are looking for someone who earns more than them. For me it is a worry , as many men will be looked over as pbtential mates because they don’t earn enough.

    • Could not agree with you more. This is not something that affects me personally, because I have a couple of degrees in engineering, but I know that a lot of younger men are struggling in a school system that favors women over men. And then there is preferential treatment for women in the workplace, as well. It’s a bad time to be a marriage-minded man.

      • In a broken system, such as we have today, it is more difficult to find a spouse and have a happy marriage. However, it is not without hope.

        For those who want to marry, you don’t need every man or woman to find you attractive and worthy. You just need one.

        In general, women are making more and yet wanting a man who makes even more than they do. But there are still plenty of women out there who want to stay home with their children and have a man who is a provider. The trick is to find one and to work to become a provider in the meantime. If you realize the problem, then you can take steps toward your goal. You just have to be smart about it.

        So for men who want to marry and provide for a family, get a degree in a field that will provide stable income. Forget art, english, and psychology. Get a degree in math or science. The days of “do what you love” are over. You can’t think that way in this economy and expect to be employed. Work hard to build a good resume during your school years by doing internships or getting real-world experience in your field. These days you need more than a degree on your resume to get a job. Then land a good job and do it well so that you will have job security.

        If you’re not good at academics, train in a useful trade such as plumbing, electrical work, machining, or some other skilled job. Jobs like that will always be around because they can’t be outsourced to China. We actually have a shortage of skilled labor in this country so there are many good jobs out there that do not require a college degree – and many offer on-the-job training as well. Don’t turn your nose up at hard work, be willing to learn something new, move if necessary, and there are plenty of options.

        In looking for a wife, keep in mind that there are many Christian women who secretly want to have a family and stay home with their children, but society has told them over and over that they should keep quiet about that, squelch that desire, and work on a career first. Even in Christian circles, many women who do plan to marry and raise children believe they must get an education first, in case they are divorced or widowed or their husband is unemployed. Thus, not all women out there getting degrees and working jobs are lifetime career women. Many are just doing something useful with their life while waiting until the right guy comes along.

        So don’t be afraid to ask women about their ultimate goals. If all you hear is a plan to make a lot of money or move up the ladder, move on to someone else. But if you hear a desire to have a family, realize that a) it took courage to admit that in today’s world, b) it’s likely that she is only working because she doesn’t have a family yet, and c) she may welcome a man who is a provider. It’s worth giving her a chance.

  6. Erica says:

    “She should let the man know that she is interested in his plans and is willing to be prepared to support him. For example, she can ask for things to read and then take action on problems that he cares about. If he is concerned about the skyrocketing debt, she should read economics and then write or speak about the problem convincingly to her friends. If he is concerned about single motherhood by choice or same-sex marriage, then she should read about those issues and then write or speak about those problems and move the ball forward. His job is to state his plan and supply her with tools, like books and lectures and tickets to apologetics conferences. The man practices leading and the woman practices supporting and helping. She is able to see whether she likes his plan and whether she likes helping him with it and whether he is good at motivating her and supplying her material and emotional needs so that she can help him properly.”

    I have a question about this. I am a young woman, believing marriage is for my life. While I understand working together to accomplish goals and purpose, I did not see anything in this particular section of the commentary that indicated the female counterpart may have a purpose outside of that of her husband. For example, I am a songwriter. My husband will not necessarily have to be involved in the music industry/ ministry, but based on the above, my efforts would need to be focused on his goals alone(?). Does this emply that I should no longer desire to write, or start a business or any of the other things I have a vision for, in support (solely) of my husband? I am simply wondering, what happens if I support and am willing to help (via prayer, agreement, understanding, insight, wisdom, or even working side by side to further his goals), but also have a career of my own that I know I am called to, that may not necessarily mirror his goals.

    • It depends on what you are trying to achieve. For example, I supported Michele Bachmann for President because I felt that she did understand the authority of her husband and that she was supporting his plan by becoming President. I think Michele becoming President was consistent with the goals and plan of her husband. However, I am not sure that marriage is compatible with what you described there. If I met you you and you said that, I would probably cut off my courting right there.

  7. sarsrose says:

    Interesting article, and I agree with it, but what would you say to Christian women who follow this approach but then find that they are putting so much pressure on themselves to make the right choice, and thinking so long term, that they’re afraid to go out with any guy?

  8. Erica says:

    Just for clarity in regards to my previous inquiry, and you response- I am a single woman approaching the age of 30. I live alone, as I am not afforded the comforts of supportive parents that I am able to live with. I am a college graduate, work full time, make a pretty decent living for myself,do not have any children, and am involved in ministry in my church. Based on your comment, should I assume that God has no plans for my life besides for me to meet my husband and support him? What if Gods plan is that I do not marry for another 5 years or more? Should I assume that I should not have goals or plans to achieve anything independent of a man (whenever it is the correct time for us to unite)? I do not believe that Christ died for me to be hopeless outside of marriage or for marriage to be the ONLY plans that He has for my existence. That’s not biblically sound.

  9. Jen kemble says:

    Oh brother… enough fo a woman to from Christianity completely…. men and women are not equals but complimenting halves of a whole. Each has their own strengths… The 2 should work in union and intelligent thought, debates and results should ensue… not one leading but both together working their lives and families out in an equal union.

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