Mrs. ktc over at To our bodies turn we then had a post some days back (found here) in which she linked over to a discussion at The Thinking Housewife in a post called Looking for a Wife.
The discussion starts thanks to a commenter named George- a frustrated mid-30’s Christian man who cannot find a wife. While there is a lot to dissect in his comment, and the ones that follow, I want to focus on one particular segment of his comment. Specifically, the parts in bold of his second to last paragraph:
This lack of goal fulfillment is most dispiriting when it comes to family formation, as I feel that if I cannot find and marry a mate within a few years that it will be too late from a practical perspective to achieve my goal of having a family. After 35 the single male is for better or worse seen as defective and a romantic discard, especially those who are shy and have had little experience in relationships. They are seen as losers and I have come to the conclusion that this is absolutely the correct way to view them. They are not up to their duties as men to procreate, provide, and protect and they have failed the game of life. This of course also means that I consider myself to be a loser. Is this the correct way to view such men? I understand that not all men want to marry or have families, that some men abstain for religious or other convictions, and that events in life sometimes lead to undesirable but uncontrollable outcomes. But I have had plenty of time to do the heavy lifting and have failed to do so, frankly out of cowardice and fear, and also because it is very difficult to find traditionally minded women out there.
Comments were closed there, so I couldn’t respond, which is a pity because I had a lot to say about this. This post is about objectification of men, and how it relates to George and to other men in Church. It will be in two parts- the first addresses George specifically, and the second men who find themselves in a position similar to George (somewhat older man who is moderately successful yet unmarried).
My first, initial reaction was disgust. Here was a man who had completely, unreservedly accepted the feminist construction of man as an object designed to serve women. Under this view men exist only so far as they can provide for and protect women, and for a rare few, procreate with them. It is the ultimate objectification of men (unless someone can clue me in to one that is worse), turning them into mere tools for women. Ballista over at Society of Phineas has countless posts about this mindset. Plenty of other bloggers have addressed it as well, including Dalrock and Free Northerner, to name a few. And this guy had bought into it hook, line and sinker. His question “Is this the correct way to view such men?” is a meaningless formality, and not a serious inquiry, as one can tell by both the proceeding and following sentences.
George’s real problem is not his lack of a wife. That is a problem, true, but one that can wait. First he needs to recognize the poison that has infiltrated his mind and eject it, forcibly (much like removing snake venom from a wound). In its place he needs to accept that men (and women) exist to glorify God, first and foremost. Everything else comes second. To place anything about serving and glorifying God is Idolatry. And that is what George has (apparently unconsciously) done. Note how serving God never shows up in his comment in reference to himself. He is an idolater and doesn’t even realize it. Until George transforms his mind, until he reassess his worth and value, everything else he does is moot.
What would I tell George?
I would tell him that serving God needs to be the primary focus of his life. Perhaps that means doing so as a husband and father. Perhaps it doesn’t. Prayer and discernment are key- figure out your vocation, your calling so that you can do what God wants you to do. At the same time, recognize your value as a man doesn’t depend on how well you can “procreate, provide and protect.” Your value is based on how well you serve God. It is not based on how well you serve women. If society teaches something other than that, society should be ignored. Conform to God, not the world. Oh, and once that is done, remember you aren’t looking for a woman whom you will serve as your wife. You are looking for a helpmeet, a woman who will help you serve and glorify the Lord.
This brings me to another point. Even after a man stops objectifying himself, he needs to watch out for other people, especially
other Christians Churchians, who will objectify him. Now, I gather from George’s comment that he has relatively little, if any, sexual history. So what follows will be based in part on that assumption, as applied to him and to other single Christian with little to no sexual history.
I’ve written in the past that “sometimes I get the impression that a lot of Christians see good, virtuous men as janitors or sanitation workers who are expected to pick up the “trash” in church.” I believe that this phenomenon is largely a result of
Christians Churchians having come to objectify men (aided along by the feminine imperative, of course). They view men as tools or resources that can be used to solve problems. This is especially prevalent among those in leadership positions, who have to confront those problems in church and find solutions for them. One such problem is the former carousel rider and/or single mother. Both are problems in their own way, especially the single mother, who is almost certainly a net resource drain on the church. What I think happens is that is that when someone in leadership looks at that situation, he sees a problem that needs solving. And what do you do when you have a problem that needs solving? You look for the right tool to fix it, of course. Enter the single Christian man looking for a wife- here is the solution to the Church’s problem! When he marries that washed up harlot single woman the man has the wife he was looking for, and the Church no longer has a drain on its resources. And if there were children, why they have a father now!
Of course, someone with that mindset is motivated by what is best for them, and best for the church as an organization. They do not have the best interest of single Christian men in mind. Certainly they never stop to consider what would make for a good wife for the somewhat older single Christian man with little to no sexual history. If they did they would realize that such women would certainly not be good wives for men in George’s position (Truth be told, they might not be good wives for men in any position-but that is another matter). Of course, those who have that mindset would never stop to consider what would make for a good wife for men like George. If they did, they would have to recognize that it would be women whom the church would be in short supply of, and the kind of women that most people in the church don’t want marrying anyways (devout, younger, not unattractive women with little to no sexual history).
I would say to George and to a man in a similar position the following: marry a woman because you want to marry her and because she is a good match for you and you are a good match for her, not because others want you to marry her. Unless God orders you to marry a harlot, you are under no obligation to wife one up. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You have no duty to rescue a woman from her past
mistakes errors by marrying her. You do not owe it to a child that is not yours to marry his or her mother just so that child has a “father.” You should take to wife a woman who is a good match for you (and vice versa), not someone that people in church are trying to offload on you. Marriage is meant to glorify God, through properly channeling human sexuality and rearing God-fearing children. It is not about reducing the monetary burden of a Church. Or for providing a happy, fairy-tale ending to all the women in Church. If anyone tries to press the issue, make it clear to them that you are a man, not a tool. You have inherent value and dignity. This means you aren’t obliged to marry an unsuitable woman*. And don’t hesitate to make that abundantly clear. If they don’t respect that position, then leave that church, shake the dust from your feet, and find a new community of actual Christians.
Men, don’t objectify yourselves. You exist to serve and glorify God, not to serve and glorify women. Also, don’t let others objectify you, especially when it comes to a wife. Marry a woman who is a good match for you. If you don’t have much of a sexual history, ignore those who want you to marry a single mother or former carousel rider. If they don’t accept your decision, leave that church and find a better one.
* I should at this time emphasize that suitability is the most important thing here. A woman might have truly, earnestly repented of her past but that doesn’t automatically mean she would make for a good wife. I am working on a post (hopefully out by Friday) which will examine what men should look for in a wife, and it will delve into further detail on this. But some qualities, like sensibility and good judgment, are crucial for a woman to have to make a good wife, and a man needs to look for them in a potential bride. Women who have grievously sinned (especially sexually) knowing what they were doing have demonstrated a serious lack of such traits. Furthermore, they might never gain good sense or judgment, despite their repentance.
Of course, that covers only character. As readers of my blog are well aware there are other reasons why a woman’s past might not make her suitable as a bride, especially for a man with little to no sexual history. A woman whose innocence was stolen from her is not at fault for her past, but unfortunately that past can and usually does impact her marriage. A man must carefully discern whether such a woman is a suitable match for him, and also whether he is equipped to deal with the consequences of her tragic past. My suspicion is that few men with no sexual history are ready or capable of this. A similar reasoning applies to women who were not raised to see fornication as a sin- they are usually not a good match for such men.
The important thing is prayer and discernment. Don’t let anyone else manipulate you into what is likely to be a bad marriage.