A bit of a different post for today. Certainly a break from the one before. Today’s post is a response to an e-mail I received recently, one which is the latest amongst many that have run along similar lines. It came from a woman who I will refer to as ‘Prodigal Daughter’ throughout this post. I am writing this post for Prodigal Daughter and the other women in her position who e-mail me or have commented her on my blog, asking for help. Also, I want to have a post I can link to in the future when similar questions or concerns are raised.
As a measure of protecting her privacy, I’m going to paraphrase the content of Prodigal Daughter’s e-mail. Brackets are my explanations for things which either weren’t in the original e-mail or had to separated from the original message. Here is the paraphrased e-mail:
Prodigal Daughter began by asking for what I believed was the case about men in general, and not myself in particular.
This was followed by an explanation that she was millennial woman who is presently committed to living a serious Christian life, including biblical submission and a desire for a large family. However, she had sinned sexually in the past with a man. [So N=1.] She indicates that she is fairly good looking. She hopes to find a God-fearing husband who will lead her future family. While she has turned her life around, she recognizes that she made serious errors in the past [and didn’t seem to excuse them]. She very much detests what she has done, but there is nothing she can do about it.
She acknowledged that a lot of God-fearing men only want a woman who has been chaste throughout her life, and she understands why. Her main question was whether it was a possibility that a God-fearing man could “forgive her past” and choose her as a wife despite her history. Was that wishful thinking on her part, and she was no longer desirable as a wife? [Prodigal Daughter can accept not marrying, if that is what happens, but she really does want a husband.] She sought my honest opinion on what men would think, knowing I couldn’t speak for all of them.
Before I get into my response, I would like to mention that I want to keep this post about helpful advice and suggestions. This post is intended to have a very specific focus. I will police this thread heavily, so keep that in mind. People can respond to the e-mail or my suggestions, but free-ranging debates that get off-topic will be deleted. Just wanted to be clear about that from the get-go.
One thing that needs to be addressed before responding to Prodigal Daughter’s inquiry is an important prerequisite. This is not directed at Prodigal Daughter but towards women who are in her shoes. They need to honestly ask themselves if they really are ready or capable of fulfilling the duties of a Christian wife. It is essential for women with sexual sins in their past to do some serious self-reflection (although it applies to all kinds of sins and harm in the past too). Sexual sins/history can (and often do) have a serious impact on a woman’s ability to maintain a healthy relationship, especially a lasting one like marriage. I know that some of my readers and plenty of others out there will disagree with this, but I do think that some women end up being so scarred by their past that they cannot (or are unlikely to) overcome it. So all women in this position need to examine themselves and make sure that they are not so damaged. A full post can be written on how to do this and what to look for, but a major warning sign is a sense of disgust or revulsion associated with sex, in whatever form or context. If you [in the general sense] have blocks in place that would interfere with your ability to afford a future husband his conjugal rights, I’m sorry but you should not pursue marriage. At least as long as you have that block.
[Prodigal Daughter has indicated that she doesn’t have this problem. She wants to enjoy sex in a manner pleasing to God and to her future husband. In fact serving her husband in this manner would be a joy to her.]
Having covered that, now to the main topic.
Reading through the e-mail, it looks to me that Prodigal Daughter is looking for the following:
- A God-fearing man
- Who is willing to lead her and her family; and
- One who will overlook her past
Prodigal Daughter, I will be blunt: you will probably have a very difficult time finding the husband you want.
Much of your difficulty, perhaps even most of it, will not be due to your past. Sadly, the general state of the Faith, the Church and marriage in the West these days is so bad that finding a God-fearing husband will be difficult for many Christian woman. Understand that this is a lousy market for Christians who want to marry and follow God’s commands. Whether a woman has been chaste her whole life or not, she will find a dearth of marriageable and marriage-minded Christian men out there. [The even bleaker situation Christian men face is covered well enough elsewhere on my blog.] So understand that the situation is tough irrespective of anything about you personally. [Prodigal Daughter has indicated she has noticed some of this already.]
That is the overall picture. As for the more specific…
First off, it is not a question of a God-fearing man “forgiving” you your past. You didn’t sin against him, at least, not him specifically. It would only be in the general sense of sinning against the church, of which he is a member. Rather, this is about him ignoring or overlooking your past, and either hoping it doesn’t affect your marriage or accepting the consequences that it means for your marriage. Again, this isn’t about forgiveness. We are called to forgive as Christians; but this is about a man evaluating whether or not you would be an acceptable wife. Your past choices will affect your abilities as a wife. Men will be deciding if you are worth the risk that your past entails.
Now, God-fearing men fall into several “camps” as far as a woman’s sexual history is concerned. Some, especially those who have been chaste themselves, won’t ever accept as a wife a woman who hasn’t been chaste. [For the sake of disclosure I should mention that I personally would fall into this camp.] It is tough to get a read of just how many men are in that camp. Others will hesitate about it, with the amount of baggage you have being a determining factor. The more you have, the more likely it will tip the scales against you. Your other attributes will matter here a great deal. Of course, not all God-fearing men are as “picky”, especially those who have themselves fornicated in the past. What will matter to them will be your recent actions and your present state. There are also those who have been indoctrinated to think that it a woman’s sexual history doesn’t matter or that they are lesser men if they let it affect their judgment. While that can work for you, I would advise you be be careful when dealing with such men. You don’t want to marry a man who will secretly regret his choice or later resent being told to bury his wishes.
With an N (number of premarital sexual partners) of 1, you are in a far better position that many other prodigal daughters out there. Many of the men who would consider marrying a woman with a sexual history will be far more accepting of you with such a low number. They will know you aren’t a slut (a crude word but accurate and useful here). Instead you are a woman who erred with a single man. Either you did so once and realized your error right away, showing more wisdom than most. Or you stuck with it, and showed an interest in a serious relationship. As sad as it is to say, this is in your favor. Most millennial women have higher N’s than that.
So in sum, there will be some God-fearing men who will not accept you as a wife because of your past. But your history is not so bad as to push away all of them.
Age is another possible hindrance. The older you are, the more restricted your choices. A man might be willing to overlook a certain history in a 20 year old that he wouldn’t for a 30 year old. In addition, men are drawn to youth in women. All else being equal, we will choose the younger woman. In addition, the younger you are, the more time you have to find someone. I would also point out that those men who want a larger family will want to marry a younger wife in particular. The manosphere likes to throw around certain numbers, 25 years old and 30 years old being the most prominent, as ages past which a woman is not marriageable or worth marrying. I wouldn’t worry about that all that much- the ‘sphere is quite small and women past those ages can and do marry. But it could always be a factor, so it is important to understand and accept that. Plus it means you shouldn’t waste time- this really does need to be the primary focus of your life right now.
In summary, the older you are/get, the tougher the situation will be.
You have mentioned you are fairly attractive. [Prodigal Daughter has explained she works out daily and eats well. She dresses modestly and attractively, and has her hair long and well groomed.] This will be in your favor, and might ultimately be what helps you find a husband. Men are drawn to beauty as well, and it might help a man decide you are worth the risk. Even when we shouldn’t, men will overlook a lot for a pretty face and a shapely body. Keep taking care of yourself here, this is a chance for you to really stand out. Keeping your weight down and your body-fat percentage in a healthy range gives you a leg up. Just keep in mind your attractiveness is tied to your age, so it will be of less help the more time that passes.
So where am I going with this? Simple- your situation is difficult… but not impossible. Your past counts against you, but your looks will help you out. Your age can help or hurt- it depends on how old you are. But women in your position can and do marry. Even to God-fearing men. So it is not a lost cause.
Here are a few pieces of advice that might help you out:
- Look at men older than you. Don’t just look at guys within 1-3 years of your age. You need to be looking well past that. Seriously consider men 5 to 10 years older than you. Trust me on this. An older man will appreciate having a younger wife, especially if she is still pretty. He might not care about history as much either, as he will be grateful to have a wife.
- Look out for men who are recent converts or “prodigal sons.” The men most likely to accept your past failings will be those with a sinful past as well. You will find more of those among those who have recently joined or returned to the church. Widowers, while rare, are a possibility if their wife died young.
- Be pro-active. Many men are gun-shy about marriage these days. Emphasize your support of, and willingness to engage in, Christian marriage (with biblical submission and everything). Ask around if anyone knows of any men who are looking for a wife. Introduce yourself and be friendly with the unmarried men in church. Talk with your fellow women, find out if any have brothers or cousins who might be interested in marriage.
- Set realistic expectations. Prince Charming doesn’t exist in real life, and never has. The highest value, most attractive men might not accept you because of your past. Age could also push some away. So be realistic, not picky.
I cannot promise that anything I’ve said will be of any help. Like I said, it will be a hard road, but not an impossible one. However, it is entirely possible that you may never find yourself a husband. Many God-fearing Christian men and women will not be able to find spouses int his day and age. Don’t build up unhealthy expectations or let your anxiety overcome you.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
At the same time, remember-
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
If any of my readers have any suggestions of their own they would like to, please feel free to do so in the comments. Once again, I would like to keep the comments focused on the topics of this post only, and will be policing them.