Let’s hear what scripture has to say about romance, women, dating and such: (from Proverbs 31)
Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
3 Do not spend your strength[a] on women,
your vigor on those who ruin kings.
4 It is not for kings, Lemuel—
it is not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
6 Let beer be for those who are perishing,
wine for those who are in anguish!
7 Let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Wait a minute—could this be a condemnation of partying and seeking after women to put notches in your belt? Yes it is. It is a reminder (and there are many) that the chief injunction to a man in the Bible is to live imitating the goodness of God. Do not spend your strength on women! But I want to put to rest fears that it is an all or nothing situation.
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
You notice here the character of the woman. I wonder: when we are preparing people for marriage are we first looking for compatibility, attraction and enjoyment or are we looking more carefully? Should we be surprised when someone of poor character to begin with turns out to not be a good spouse? As we shake off the lie that women will automatically respond to a good man, we have to recognize that a dog returns to its vomit, as the saying goes. This doesn’t mean that redemption is impossible, but let’s be honest with ourselves: when we’re helping someone struggling with sin, we are not doing it so that they will overcome the sin, because that’s up to them. They should, but in fact when we do that we’re simply showing the love of Christ. So why do we have this muddle headed idea in marriage? Changing someone through your christlike devotion in marriage CAN happen, but it’s not LIKELY to happen. Because of this, I think as leaders ourselves we need to advocate people taking a serious stepping back from considering marriage, to look at the prospective relationship solely through the lens of biblical teachings on the subject, and drop all the self help books and relationship guides except where they directly support those teachings.
Marriage, for all its flaws and struggles, is popular in Christianity. Why else are so many ministries out there trying to save it? But this should sober us:
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10 37-39)
Friends, as we’re killing lies let’s kill this one once and for all: the idea that women are generally good. They aren’t. We accept that about men. I think one of the reasons why there’s so much disillusionment and frustration among the MRM is that disillusionment. I honestly believe that the average Christian man in particular believes that men are NOT inherently good, accepts that, and believes there must be a necessary struggle for righteous behaviour. However we don’t see a corresponding one from women. But really—should we be surprised? We’re shown many times in the Bible what the moral struggles of men and women are. We’re told many times in the Bible that just as the average man is sinful and separated from God in his will and purpose so is the average woman.
So to unmarried men in the faith I would say this: don’t seek after marriage. Seek after leading a genuinely good life. Pursue the growth of your skills with excellence; learn to live with a sense of thanksgiving in your heart, live courageously according to your faith. If you consider marrying, remember that you are risking your life’s purpose and consider the possibility soberly and carefully.