Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Courting rules: how to respect a Christian man in the style of Ephesians 5

I have been thinking a lot about Christian women and respect lately, and reflecting over some of the things that I have experienced with different ones that either worked or did not work. Unfortunately, it is crunch time at work, so I might not be completely coherent in this post, but I thought I would write something out anyway.

There are times when the Bible suggests a way that Christians ought to behave, and one of those cases has to do with wives giving respect to husbands in the marriage:

Ephesians 5:21-33:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

26 to make her holy,cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—

30 for we are members of his body.

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

I think it’s important for us to think about how to implement the specification that the Bible sets out for men and women in marriage. The Bible sometimes sets out rules and goals for expected behaviors, which become moral obligations for anyone for follows Christ. It is up to us to convince ourselves through study that the Bible has authority to speak to us. And it is also up to us to decide the most effective way to achieve the goals that the Bible sets out. This post proposes some tips for women who want to learn how to respect men, based on my experiences of what makes me feel respected as a man. I think this is beneficial for single women, as well, because it allows them to arouse the interest of a man by performing good actions.

A bit about me

There are some things you need to know about me before we can talk about what what women do to me that causes me to feel respected.

Here are some things that I want to accomplish:

  • Be able to have a stay at home mother to raise our children so that they will know God, be moral and achieve great things for God in areas that matter
  • Be able to fix the problem of anti-intellectualism in the church by training more and more Christians in apologetics and worldview, including politics, economics, etc.
  • Be able to have a presence at the university, e.g. – by being a Christian professor, or by supporting Christian scholars, or by sponsoring Christian scholars to speak and debate at the university
  • Be able to speak, write or teach about apologetics and worldview to the general public, for example people who read my blog or my co-workers, so that they either learn how to do it, or become more respectful of Christianity and its founder
I am actually working on all of those things, and many of the decisions and sacrifices that I’ve made so far have been to achieve those things at a higher level.

Things that women do that make me feel respected

1. Work

The first thing that really works is listening. I really feel respected when a woman listens to me explain my thoughts and feelings. This is especially true when I am talking about my work and my work day. When it comes to my work, I feel respected when a woman listens to me explain what I am doing. This allows her to be able to support me more because she understands what I am saying when I talk with terms like “unit tests”, “web services”, “source code repository”, etc. The more time she invests in understanding software engineering (what I do for money), the more supported I will feel. I feel a lot better making sacrifices (studying hard things, working weekends, volunteering at work) when those sacrifices are understood, encouraged and supported. For example, I felt respected recently when I was working on the weekend and could not speak to a lady I really wanted to speak to. Instead of getting upset about my absence, she started making suggestions on how I could be more effective at work, by bringing healthy food so I don’t go to the vending machine or my co-workers’ candy dishes, by asking me about my progress every few hours. I feel respected when I can talk about my work and then be encouraged and supported in it.

2. Plan

Another area that is important to talk about is my plan. I like it when I can tell a woman the specific experiences that I had that cause me to have the plan that I have. For example, my struggles getting apologetics into the churches that I’ve attended have really soured me on church leaders. Another thing I like to talk about are the Christian scholars who are my role models, and how I try to emulate them, and I want my children to emulate them, too. One lady I was speaking to has been studying areas that I care about on her own through books, lectures and debates and then going out into the world and engaging with the people around her. Sometimes just a few people, and sometimes with large groups. Recently she told me that she would like to start a group in her church to study useful books with them. This made me feel very respected. My goals matter to her, and she is trying to help with them on her own initiative, and with her own strategies. Note that women who want to respect men may find that it is useful to learn certain skills in order to be more effective at helping men with their plans. For example, she might study investing and start investing her own money, or she might study science apologetics and then engage her co-workers and friends with scientific arguments for Christian theism. She should find out what areas matter to him with respect to serving God and then come alongside him and help him.

3. Roles

A final area that is important is my roles as a man. I have been a Christian for a long time now, and I have noticed that many Christian women in the church are basically secular in the way that they choose men. Many Christian women are guided by their emotions, by pop culture notions of romance, and peer approval – even the approval of their peer group. According to the Bible, men are supposed to be the main provider for their families. So, I made the decision early in my life to prefer work to academics – so I have actually been earning money since the time I was 12 years old. My grades were As, but I was always working part-time, and in the summers. The money I earned went straight into investments, so that I would be able to afford two degrees in computer science (BS and MS) and have a nest egg saved for marriage. I had $9,000 before undergraduate school and $16,000 after, with no debts and a car. I chose computer science over English literature, because I knew that computer science was a more reliable way to earn a living. Marriages run more smoothly when money isn’t a concern, so I had to take practical steps in order to avoid a known risk factor for divorce.

But women also have a role related to providing. Their role is to prefer men who take that provider obligation seriously. I feel very respected when a woman takes the time to ask me about my education, research, employment, and investments. Our culture today doesn’t value men taking their provider roles seriously. Instead, many women prefer men who will not be able to exercise the authority in the home that comes from being a competent provider. They sometimes prefer to see all choices in education and work as equal, so that no man is more respected than any other man based on education, earning and saving. I see a lot of Christian women going after men who are much younger than they are, with non-STEM degrees, who have no savings, and no practical plan for financing a marriage – much less a homeschooling stay-at-home mother. That is disrespectful of the provider role, and I believe it stems from the desire to not acknowledge male leadership. When a woman minimizes the education, career and savings of the man, it diminishes her regard for his ability to navigate the world and take responsibility. Many women want to be swept along by impressions of confidence and superficial indicators of success. But this is not wise: a man who has a gap-less resume and an investment portfolio is a good provider, and a man who lives with his parents at age 30 is not – even if he is confident, has a deep voice, nice shoes, big shoulders, and a square jaw.

To treat unequals as equals in this important area is disrespectful and unBiblical – it disrespects the Bible’s mandate that the man be a good provider and instead substitutes an emotional/pop culture/peer-approval standard of what counts as a good man. Additionally, women need to have an understanding of the external conditions that strengthen a man’s ability to take on the provider role. To respect a man acting as a provider also requires voting for policies that support a man’s ability to work (e.g. – less regulation on business, lower corporate taxes) to keep what he earns (lower income tax, lower inflation) and to spend it the way he sees fit (privatization of health care, education, etc.) – and these issues need to be studied, not checked off on a checklist as “we agree”. Studying economics and politics in depth, and being political active, are ways for women to respect men in their provider role. Women need to take action to enable policies and laws that promote liberty and prosperity. They should not be supporting policies that promote the redistribution of wealth, or reward irresponsibility and dependence. They should not support policies that punish men who work hard at being providers while rewarding men who refuse to be providers.

It also helps when a woman studies hard topics on her own – math, science, engineering and technology – and builds up her own investment portfolio. It helps her to be able to be respectful to a man because she understands exactly what he studies and exactly how hard work is and exactly how hard it is to save money in a society creeping towards socialism. A woman who experiences sacrifice and hardship herself is more likely to respect a man who does the same in order to be ready for marriage, even if she eventually gives up work when there are young children to raise. And this works for other male roles. For example, men who guard their chastity in order to protect women from infidelity should be respected for making that decision. It’s important for women to study marriage research, e.g. – how factors like chastity and church attendance and cohabitation increase or decrease marriage stability, so that they have reasons and evidence to prefer men who choose to make that sacrifice.

Men also study moral questions like abortion and marriage, as well as spiritual areas like apologetics and theology, so that they can advocate for the victims of abortion and marital breakdown. Again, women must study the research on these issues so that they are able to prefer men who can do this over men who can’t. Christianity is not a checkbox and you cannot equate someone who understands these issues with someone who doesn’t because both attend church. When a woman puts in the effort to study apologetics, moral issues, economics and foreign policy, then a real man feels respected – because he knows that she has a standard for judging him that is a true measure of his ability to be a husband and father. It is important to treat a man who takes his male roles seriously differently from other men who do not take those male roles seriously.

Conclusion

One of the best ways to respect a man is to speak highly of his abilities in all 3 of these areas to others. If women are careful about the man they choose, then they should be able to speak highly of him with others. When a woman praises a good man, it is a signal to other men about what they should be doing in order to impress women. To change the culture and to encourage men towards marriage, women must be intentional about who they celebrate and why they celebrate them. It also helps if they understand what policies make marriage a more realistic undertaking for men, and then advocate for those policies. Again, this requires reading things like economics and law to understand what challenges a man will face from government and ideologies (feminism, socialism) should he choose to marry, and making sure that those challenges are reduced. A man feels respected when a woman has developed a detailed understanding of what marriage is about and how society needs to change to support and respect men who choose to marry and become fathers. The Bible says that divorce is morally wrong, so it is up to men and women to make decisions that reduce the risk of divorce. We can’t just float through life relying on our emotions and thinking that God has a secret, mysterious plan and there is nothing for us to do. Usually, that attitude will just make us avoid learning and avoid making hard decisions to prepare for marriage, and that will not do – we are responsible to avoid divorce, and we have to make an effort in order to achieve that goal.

If any of my female readers are interested in learning about men and what men need in order to act competently as protectors, providers and moral/spiritual leaders, you can take a look at Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” as well as Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages“. To understand the connection between marriage and policy, try Jay Richards’ “Indivisible“. And don’t merely read the books – put it into practice by advocating for men and marriage from church to university to workplace to courtroom to government. Make plans to show that you respect Christian men who know what they are doing and why. Don’t rely on your emotions to guide you – this is more of an obligation requires training, recon, planning and execution. (The same way that a man prepares to love a woman and then loves her – because women need love just like men need respect). Men pay attention to women who respect them, and it’s much better for women to get attention from men by learning about them and helping them than by trying to bypass respecting the man to get attention by leveraging appearance and sexuality to get attention. And, of course, some men cannot be respected, so don’t choose one of those.

NOTE: Please post improvements for this post in the comments, as I may be posting this elsewhere if it gets a positive response. Please share it on Facebook and Twitter if you find it useful.

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9 Responses

  1. Dina says:

    This is a positive post and I hope people reading it see it as such. You could have written a whining rant about disrespect, or the lack of respect shown to men nowadays, but instead chose to write advice and guidance in order to help both men and women.

  2. Expositorium says:

    I like this. I’m reading Indivisible right now and it’s amazing. Richards is a Christian but doesn’t speak Christianese; he’s translated all of these issues into language that we can use when speaking to our nonbelieving co-workers and friends.

    Because of the breakdown of the family – which I’ve experienced as well – it’s hard to remember all of these questions. I wonder, WK, whether you’d consider putting together a printable PDF or pre-marital pre-screen for women to use on men, or vice versa?

  3. Caroll Cerello says:

    Very well encapsulated.
    1Cor 13:13 “.. these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (further reading: 1Cor 13:1-8).

    More to WK’s write-up:
    Courting is bi-directional and needs to be sustained throughout especially as the relationship matures through committed Christian commitment and anointed through the covenant of marriage. My thoughts race towards 1 Cor 13:10-12 “…but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

    It’s really important to be AND remain current and honest with your wife. It propagates Eph 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
    Matthew 7:16-18,20 “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit…..Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them”. This is where we hope that a husband is true to himself as he needs to love himself first to love his wife as Christ loved the church.
    This is the kind of mindset we hope for in husbands (young, and maturing). Matthew 3:8 “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” 1 Timothy 6:6 “…But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

    Husband and Wife – 1Peter 3 8-9 :”… all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

    Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    A call to men – young and maturing – Love your wife, as Christ loved the church. the woman a man courts is elevated to the position of a wife It is absolutely vital that a marriage is kept current husband, you need Holy Spirit to bind your marriage to your wife; wife, you need Holy Spirit to bind your marriage to your husband. Marriage is a covenant; a wife is an equal and a companion to her husband. Husband – relate to your wife; wife relate to your husband. No man or woman can covert a husband or a wife; no one can come between. Freedom (of will) is self-limiting; so choices that set you free need to be made.

    1Cor 13:13 “.. these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (further reading: 1Cor 13:1-8).

    • Courtney says:

      as youI thought your article was interesting, although I was honestly aggitated and disillusioned with some of it. You place a lot of demands on a respectful woman and I don’t agree with the blanket statements about a women needing to study math, engineering, technology, politics, economics so she can appreciate a hard working man. I’m a single mommy, 31, never been married, and can’t stand math, engineering, technology. My add brain couldn’t focus on it for the life of me which is actually okay considering those are not areas of gifting and interest for me. Even if i wanted to get involved politically for specific cause, I wouln’t have the time considering I’m a full time mom with a passion for recovery amongst believers and healing from debilitating strongholds. If I homeschooled multiple children I certainly would not have time to do accomplish the myriad of expectations you place on a prospective wife.

      I deeply respect, look for, and require a man to be a provider in all meaning of the word, and I long to love him, care for him, and present myself to him for his enjoyment, comfort, and happiness. I also have been called to a certain ministry of my own which I believe if why I was put on this earth. I would be denying my birthright, my infinite purpose, my reason for living if I ignored this calling to study math, engineering, and become a political activist so my husband could feel respected. Thank goodness we are all unique in the family of God and what might be one man’s avorite flavor might be another’s poison. I could only marry a man who had been given the same ministry placement on his heart so we could be a team and work side by side furthering the growth of our brethern in the kingdom of god.

      My advice to you: find a women who has the same interests as you or very little so she can pour herself into yours.

  4. Rachel P. says:

    This is very helpful to me because I have difficulty imagining things from a man’s point of view. By reading this I learned about new things I hadn’t thought of before!

    Under the section about a woman studying topics on her own you said, “It’s important for women to study marriage research, e.g. – how factors like chastity and church attendance and cohabitation increase or decrease marriage stability, so that they have reasons and evidence to prefer men who choose to make that sacrifice.” While I agree with what you say here, I think you’ve neglected to mention a stronger and more important reason for chastity and being careful with marriage decisions, which is love. If the motivation becomes because of love, and not just avoiding tough consequences, the motivation goes deeper and is therefore more binding. What I mean by love is commitment in a relationship even when the relationship is not making you feel happy. Yet love as a motivation is effective only with a Christian woman, so if the woman was not a Christian her knowledge of the research may benefit society as a whole by helping her not tear apart her own family as much if she ever does have one– by having abortions, premarital sex, getting divorces, ect. But the topic of the post as a whole is respecting men according to Biblical principals, so it would be more effective to explain what motivations for a Christian woman should be, and not just an atheist/ non believer woman in general who is trying to be smart. If a person makes a decision based on love, they are active in their decision, but if they make the decision based on trying to avoid bad consequences then it is a passive decision. For example, it is against the law to murder. So therefore, people who don’t want to have the consequence of going to jail if they break that law will avoid breaking that law. But a person who loves God will not murder even if the situation would be more favorable for them if they did, because in their love for God they want to uphold and protect God’s law. Studying the research is still really important too though, in addition to basing decisions off of love for God, because it helps add assurance. It would be irresponsible to disregard the importance of research.

  5. Rachael says:

    you sound like my perfect potential husband lol! but seriously, this is what i’m looking for in a guy. nothing turns me off more than finding out the cute guy i’m taking to dosen’t work or has little interest in theology. the two most important things to look for in a potential mate!

  6. Joy says:

    Well spoken, however, the woman spoken of above is required to read and know alot… I wonder. I am a well educated and working single woman, thanking God for His blessings and I would love to think that I shall respect my husband when the time comes. But if I was supposed to learn apologetics, law, economics and other topics that am naturally not interested in just to show respect for my husband, I would be soo disappointed. I would still respect his leadership without getting into the nitty gritties of his career, though I would do my best to cheer him on. And, what about my God given interests? It seems to be all about the husbands interests Where does the womans interests come in? Is she a professor in apologetics? Pardon me, but I just had to ask?

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