Posted by: baptistthinker | November 5, 2011

Thoughts On Kevin DeYoung’s Recent Post On Men And Marriage

Kevin DeYoung recently blogged a little about the state of Christian men and marriage, and I’d like to offer my own thoughts as well on this. While Kevin did make some good points, he also made some really lousy ones(in my opinion) as well. This is just a bit of a response to a hot button topic.

Go to almost any church and you’ll meet mature, intelligent, attractive Christian women who want to get married and virtually no men to pursue them. These women are often in graduate programs and may have started a career already. But they aren’t feminists. They are eager to embrace the roles of wife and mother. Most of the women I’ve met don’t object to the being a helpmate. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of mates to go around.

What’s going on here? Why are there so many unmarried, college graduated, serious-about-Christ, committed-to-the-church, put-together young women who haven’t found a groom, and don’t see any possibilities on the horizon?

Well, for one thing, there’s a lot less Christian men in the church than there are Christian women. Let’s not forget that little factoid. Men, quite simply, aren’t going to church. Churches tend to cater to women. There are conferences for women, women’s bible studies, women’s retreats, women’s ministries, special events for women. Men’s ministries usually consist of the prayer and pancake breakfast, a wild game supper once every year or two, and possibly a men’s retreat every few years. Plus, men, “manly men”, just aren’t comfortable in church. Let’s face it, the soft, “I’m so in love with Jesus or my boyfriend/girlfriend-you-can’t-really-tell” music that has invaded Christian churches today just isn’t very manly. The men who are in church, are usually men who have grown up in church. It’s part of their culture, and they know their place. Men can’t be men, typically, within the church. As a result, there are far fewer men within the church. and that’s at least part of the reason that women aren’t able to find men in their church.

Maybe women have impossible standards. That is a distinct possibility in some circumstances. I’m sure there are guys reading this thinking to themselves, “I’ve pursued these young women, Kevin! And they pushed me over the edge of the horizon.” Some women may be expecting too much from Mr. Right. But in my experience this is not the main problem. Impossible standards? Not usually. Some standards? Absolutely.

In my experience Kevin, this is the main problem. I’m probably not the most attractive guy in the world, but I’m certainly not a three or four either. I don’t think anyway. I could be wrong. I’ve been in a number of churches in my life, and I’ve asked out some women…or girls…here and there. Usually, I get turned down. I usually find out that I’m stuck in the “friend zone”. Which, as any guy knows, once you get into the friend zone it’s easier to break out of the earth’s gravity pull than to get out of the friend zone. And let’s face it, in church, you’re kind of trained to “be friends” and “treat everybody like a brother or sister”. And so the cycle becomes self-repeating. Women say they are looking for men, but are they really? Ladies, are you really looking for a man? What is it exactly that you are looking for? Because us guys have no clue. We hear you say “I’m looking for a man”, but then when we ask you out, it’s “well, I’m just kind of content to be single right now”…two weeks later somebody better looking comes along and your contentedness flies out the window when he asks you out. Or, you say you’re looking for a man, but the guys you typically date are boys. Yeah, don’t think we don’t notice, we do. And we think to ourselves “Why is she out with him? What’s wrong with me? I’m a better man than that, I think. I actually go to church already, I’m planted in the Word, I’m working right alongside you in ministry. What’s wrong with me?”

First, the Christian men that are “good guys” could use a little–what’s the word I’m looking for–ambition. Every pastor has railed on video games at some point. But the problem is not really video games, it’s what gaming can (but doesn’t always) represent. It’s the picture of a 20something or 30something guy who doesn’t seem to want anything out of life. He may or may not have a job. He may or may not live with his parents. Those things are sometimes out of our control. There’s a difference between a down-on-his-luck fella charging hard to make something out of himself and a guy who seems content to watch movies, make enough to eat frozen pizzas in a one room apartment, play Madden, watch football 12 hours on Saturday, show up at church for an hour on Sunday and then go home to watch more football.

I think we need to be a bit more careful here Kevin, gaming is much more representative of things than you might think. I read a study recently(in the past year), that I can’t find for the life of me now that I need it, that puts a different spin on this. We live in a culture that is largely devoid of any sort of a clear definition of what it means to be a man. Hebrew boys begin their path to manhood at age 13. Once they hit that age, their life changes, and they focus more on becoming a man. Native American tribes had different rituals for boys to become men. Societies all across the world have had something, where a village would say “alright, these boys are now men once they do this or hit this age or whatnot”. Guys today don’t know what to do. We don’t have any really clear idea of what it means to be a man, and we aren’t taught anything. This is why guys tend to get involved in sports and video gaming. You get to progress through different levels, you can get achievements, you can accomplish something either in sports or video games that you can’t necessarily do in your everyday life outside of those things. Now, granted, this is no excuse for men spending all of their weekends gaming. But this study did explain a little why psychologically gaming made guys feel something that isn’t necessarily offered by society. Granted, gaming can become addictive. Or it can just be a little more than need be for a guy to participate in at times. I get that, I really do, and guys who spend all their time doing things like that are in the wrong. But ladies, aren’t there really some things that you do that guys just cannot identify with and like? Like, for example, spending all day at the mall or otherwise shopping. For stuff you don’t need. Really? And you think your boyfriend/husband really wants to spend all day shopping with you? Maybe some do, but guys just don’t see the point. Especially if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to buy.

I don’t think young women are expecting Mr. Right to be a corporate executive with two houses, three cars, and a personality like Dale Carnegie. They just want a guy with some substance. A guy with plans. A guy with some intellectual depth. A guy who can winsomely take initiative and lead a conversation. A guy with consistency. A guy who no longer works at his play and plays with his faith. A guy with a little desire to succeed in life. A guy they can imagine providing for a family, praying with the kids at bedtime, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and being eager to take everyone to church on Sunday. Where are the dudes that will grow into men?

And I think men…real men…want some women with substance. A woman who can discuss the Bible–and not Beth Moore’s interpretation of the Bible[sidenote: No Beth Moore in my home. There, I said it. Beth Moore and her moralism will not be allowed in my home. Ever.] I(yes, this is me speaking my own preferences here) want a woman who can engage in *intelligent conversation* about anything from politics, to history, to Scripture, to whatever. I love to read. I love to read classical literature, NOT THIS TWILIGHT GARBAGE THAT HAS INFECTED OUR CHURCHES LIKE THE PLAGUE. There, I got that off my chest. I want a woman who can read John MacArthur, RC Sproul, JI Packer, Mark Dever, John Bunyan, William Shakespeare, Adam Smith, Charles Dickens, and talk about those things with me. Where are the girls who grow into women and have some depth to them? I mean, seriously. I don’t want a woman who watches soaps like Grey’s Anatomy or Twilight and talks about those constantly. Gah!

The second issue is that we may simply not have enough men in the church. Maybe the biggest problem isn’t with nice Christian guys who lack ambition, maturity, and commitment. Maybe we have lots of these men in the church, but they’re all married and there aren’t enough of their brethren to go around. I don’t know which is the bigger problem, the lack of good men or the lack of men in general. It’s probably a combination of both. The church needs to train up the guys it has. And by “training” I don’t mean “clean ‘em up, plug ‘em in the singles ministry and start matching them up with a spouse.” I don’t believe most unmarried Christians are looking for a church community full of Yentas. But a church full of godly, involved, respectable, respected, grown up men? That’s a project worth undertaking.

Yep. Pretty much.

Men, you don’t have to be rich and you don’t have to climb corporate ladders. You don’t have to fix cars and grow a beard. But it’s time to take a little initiative–in the church, with your career, and with women. Stop circling around and start going somewhere. It’s probably a good idea to be more like your grandpa and less like Captain Jack Sparrow. Even less like Peter Pan. Show some godly ambition. Take some risks. Stop looking for play dates and–unless God is calling you to greater service through singleness–start looking for a wife.

Ok, I fully agree with this. I’ll gladly admit, I’ve been single far too long. Part of it has to do with my leaving behind the branch of the church that I did. I was born and raised a Fundamental Baptist. I went to a Fundamental Baptist college. I had very clear goals on what to do with my life. I was going to go to college, within a few years of starting college I was going to get married, and then graduate and go off into pastoral ministry. And then I left Fundamentalism. And for those of you who have never been Fundamental Baptists, you don’t know what that’s like. For one thing, you lose all your friends. Further, you lose your identity. You lose the girl you were pursuing. I also lost my goals, because I didn’t have a good, solid church in my area, and further, I didn’t know what the path to ministry was in other churches. Then I moved down South, and became paralyzed by the myriad of choices in churches. When I finally found one, and settled down in it, I discovered that I was pretty much the oldest single person in the singles group. And when you’re over 26, and most of the single girls are 18, 19, 20, you kind of find yourself at a disadvantage. And further, the single ladies that are closest to your age that are eligible, you just plain aren’t attracted to. And I know, I hear you already, “looks aren’t everything!!!!!!”, and I’m not looking for a ten. I’m just looking for somebody who meets my criteria, but who is also physically attractive to me. Because let’s face it, you can’t realistically have a good marriage if you’re just not physically attracted to the person at any point in the relationship. Come one now, let’s be real.

Men do need to be men, and give up some of their things in order to be the man they need to be for marriage. But so do ladies. We can’t put all the blame on men, especially since men…single men, make up a minority in the church.

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Responses

  1. The problem in any church, fundamental, or whatever, is that there are human beings with sin in their lives in it. They have there priorities mixed up. Their first priority is to glorify God, but they don’t. They are in to selves, not God. So they go to church look for a man or a woman and not for God. If our focus is right and our priorities are God’s priorities, then when it is right God will bring that man or woman in to our lives. We may not even find them in our own church. We may bump in to them at the store. The goal is that they be a dedicated Christian like us. And yes, a lot of churches tend to cater to a woman, but if men would step up to the plate we wouldn’t have that problem. So real Christian men, need to start acting the part. They need to right Godly manly music if that is what is needed. But even that shouldn’t be needed to get a man to church. A Godly man should want to be at church to worship his God, serve Him and glorify Him. Music is not our reason for church attendance. And out of curiosity, I must be in the dark, what have I missed…what is Beth Moore’s moralism issue?

    • 1: I agree, many people do come to church looking for a mate. That’s pretty wrong-headed of people. 2: How would you suggest that “men step up to the plate” and solve the problem of churches catering to women? 3: There already is “Godly, manly music”. They’re usually called “hymns”. We’ve exchanged hymns for songs that are softer and gentler and focus more on how the songwriter feels about God, rather than on who God is and what He has done. Some of them are even what I call “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs, songs where you’re not entirely sure if you’re singing to Christ or to your girlfriend or boyfriend, except for the fact that you’re singing it in church. 5: Of course that shouldn’t be the reason to get a man in church. A Godly man should definitely want to be in church. But no man wants to spend much time in a building that is centered around women. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. If you want to attract men to your church, add more songs like “A Mighty Fortress”, or “In Christ Alone”, etc. Stop putting flowers everywhere. Seriously, stop it. Have events for men, where it’s more than sitting around and praying. That’s important, yes, but there needs to be more for men. Men tend to want more focus on doctrine, on theology, on what it means to be a Christian man. Most churches, in my experience, don’t focus very much on theology and doctrine. 6: Beth Moore preaches moralistic deism. That is to say, she uses God as a crutch to uphold doing more, doing better, following these steps on how to be a better you. She preaches moralism. It’s all about doing, it’s not about Christ and the cross. She’s just a lousy, unbiblical teacher. Like Andy Stanley.

      • I agree I think there needs to be a mix of music in church. I love the hymns and they give a good biblical full story, as compared to the praise songs of today. But the praise songs have some benefit to them as well. I do agree that too many contemporary songs have such a generic feeling that you can’t always tell they are Christian songs. I think Beth Moore has a lot of good in her studies and scripture. Our goals should be to glorify God through our actions, not works as a means to the end. Andy Stanley tries to reach those who are not in the normal Christian realm and teaches very basic milk to them as a result. It serves its purpose. His preaching and church are not necessarily meant for the mature Christian needing meat. Every church and every Christian has a call and ministry to perform. We are all different parts of the body performing different functions of the body. So we may need an Andy Stanley or Beth Moore that can reach those groups of people that are at that stage in their walk. We may need a Billy Graham to reach a certain group of people. We may need an old hell fire and brimstone preach to meet another groups needs. God places us where it pleases Him and we are to serve Him there as He has called us to. We need to go to church where He leads us. He may even call us in to a milk feeding church to help be the mature Christian that leads a discipleship class to grow babes in to adults for the Lord. Who knows. Only God and you know where you are to serve and worship.

  2. I’ve been worshipping with a PCA congregation for the past few months, one in a college town and through whom the local RUF campus ministry is run (so lots of college kids come through). One thing that has stood out to me is that the elders seem to take their role seriously (in general but also) when it comes to discipling the men, young and not-so-young, who attend regularly. They don’t push themselves on you, but they do step up and take an interest and make a point of knowing you. I have heard some of the young men say how appreciative they are that a counseling elder has invested in them personally. And they teach – regularly, routinely, as a matter of course. It’s fostered an environment of genuine discipleship. They want to train up the next generation of elders, and they need godly men who are qualifiable in order to have anyone to lead the church (and families) of the future. I do notice that and I think it’s wonderful.

    The same happens with the young women, via the womens’ ministry and RUF, but that’s not so much your topic here, although I will make mention that there is a stark difference between the type of woman who will participate fully in a Beth Moore study and one who will instead seek out something deeper and more fruitful in the Word – it’s the difference between seeking self and seeking God. As you essentially mention, there are too many church programs set up around using God to serve self interests instead of discipleship in self-denial for the purposes of love to God and His Church. I would venture to say there is just as much of a shortage of women in the latter category as there are men. Our ladies’ Bible study leader is an NANC certified counselor who works with women in the community, and she has mentioned more than once that most women – even churched women – simply don’t know God well enough to have any true peace or contentment in Him – and yet, Jesus says that eternal life is to know Him! I venture to say that is a sad but true assessment. While it does appear that the situation is slowly improving, it would seem that there are just too many churches that don’t teach about God either from the pulpit or in the life of the church enough for its members to Know Him, abide in Him, and bear the fruit of the Spirit – and it seems to me that in seeking a mate, one needs to not only be continually seeking after God through Christ so that he or she can be as Christ-honoring a mate as possible onself, but also to seek to be content in Him in Thanksgiving for His Sovereign will that in His Perfect Wisdom has the individual in the life circumstance that is the here and now. It is for a purpose, for the good of those who love Him and for His glory.

    Some of us (like me) aren’t marriageable at all, and we have to put those kinds of wishes aside, instead seeing the beauty and sufficiency of Christ in the day-to-day that can get overwhelming as we live in and negotiate through a fallen world in a church full of people who are just as sinful as myself, and knowing Him in such a way that any earthly shadow or companionship would just fall far short of the Light.

    Back to the shortage of godly single men – it’s maybe even more of an issue for our African-American sisters, and when it comes specifically to our African-American brothers’ absence from the church, Eric Redmond has a good book on the subject entitled, “Where are All the Brothers?” a Gospel presentation to the dechurched and confused brothers out there. That may be helpful too.

  3. Hello!
    Could you give some specific examples of Beth Moore’s moralism?


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