To put things in stark terms I know a lot of young, single, professing to be Christian women; who are on the market and frustrated that they can’t seem to find a man. They can’t fathom why Godly, single, employed young mens seem to have no interest. And my response is simple. Because they are not the kind of woman a Godly, single, employed, young man would ever risk marrying.
The key to this problem is brought into sharp relief by the recent history of the Proverbs 31 woman. Twenty-ish years ago it was in vogue for pastors to teach through Proverbs 31. And while the general tone was flattery and to assume that most women were already doing this, there would then be a kick in the direction of the men that they needed to be worthy of such a woman. Typically around verse 23, the instruction is that men should be the admirable sort who could sit in the gate etc. But inevitably despite all the prefacing and pulling of punches pastors would do, the lady blogs would rend their garments, weep and gnash their teeth at this patriarchal nonsense. Women would be called to reject this, and pastors were told to pipe down. What was interesting is that the only people who came out of this were the young men, who actually read the text and obeyed the sermon.
While there are still plenty of lecherous humps out there, I do find myself surrounded by more Godly single men than I can swing a dead cat at. But I also find myself looking at a lot of churched (or just too anxious to go to church because of “trauma” but still totally a christian) women who kvetch like yentas that there are no men. It also doesn’t help that what they are looking for does not actually exist. They say they want a Christian, but they also want him to be easily controlled, they want him to be well employed, but completely at the mercy of their “needs” and schedules, they want him to be sexy, but not needing sex, he has to be a feminist, a liberal, while able to answer her theological questions without mansplaining, or better yet telling her that what she already thinks is exactly what God thinks… the list goes on.
And as I said, many of these women are gathered in singles ministries en masse. And one quick look at the typical singles ministry will reveal very few men and a goodly amount of women asking, were all the good men are.
Well not there. Obviously.
What the Men Know
The thing is these men already know a couple of important things. One, very practically is that is that the dynamics the woman have set up severely limits him and his ability to find a future spouse. The specter of intentional dating (e.g. dating with the intention of finding a spouse) looms large. If he were to simply ask each girl out that interested him he would quickly gain a reputation as a predator. The singles pastor would have to pull that wolf aside, in the last vestige of church discipline allowed. Instead he is forced to make friends with all the women, then somehow gracefully extricate himself from the friend zone when he thinks he has found “the one.” God forbid there is a break up, because there he is right back in the potential wolf penalty box. Every mistake he made in the relationship circulates (gossip) as a warning to the other girls about his potential to be a predator. In general all of the sane, not bitter, actually Godly women married long ago. Why would a man want to fight through such a toxic quagmire in the fading hope that there is an overlooked gem. The stark reality is right now the church has a good amount of frustrated young-ish men. But it is about to be inundated with a hoard of bitter old spinsters who were flattered and catered to in the singles ministry.
The second thing is what I pointed out at first. These Godly men, know their value. They are not going to throw their pearls before swine. This is not pride, it is wisdom. Too often I see women who profess to be Christians, in their Tinder profile. We have reached the inverse culturally of the cliche that if a man sleeps around he is a stud, if a woman does she is a slut. Now if a woman sleeps around she is liberated and brave, if a man does so he is toxically masculine. A truly Godly man simply has no time for this nonsense. Among other contradictions that get thrown his way. Proverbs spends plenty of its time on the horror of a foolish, nagging, loud, gossipy wife. A wise man knows that it is better to walk out into a desert and die than to live under the tyranny of a harridan. In short they are looking for a Proverbs 31 kind of woman because they are the kind of man whose value is above rubies. They are acutely aware of the question that opens the passage, “An excellent wife who can find?”
It is at this point that it would be easy to say pastors should grow a spine and actually rebuke the women in their congregations in clear terms. And they should. But there are some other points of action the married laypeople in the churches can take up.
1. Realize that the world you found your spouse in is not the one these people are trying in. I often remark to my close friend Aaron that it really feels, marriage wise, as if we were on the last chopper out of Saigon. We each managed to get a good wife, and as far as we can see they were the last ones out there. The Jim Wilson days of, “Find out her name and ask her out.” have come and gone for the reasons outlined above, among others.
2. Encourage the young men. Do not assume they are single because of some failure on their part. You may find something they can be discipled in, and I did say there are still actual wolves out there. But if a man is single don’t start with the assumption that the problem is on his end. He might not be a coward, he could be hesitant because there just are no viable options.
3. Conversely, accept that there can be sins of women. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, including single women. Gossip, bitterness, promiscuity, immodesty, laziness, foolishness, and pride are all fairly apparent to see if you have the eyes to see them. Most people put on blinders because we have been culturally trained to do so. Correct the women in your sphere that you have the ability to. God will not bless sin, it is unloving to give a, “you go girl” to her because it is what is expected of you.
Sin is cancerous, and the Western Protestant church has been growing a tumor nearing the size of Detroit for some time now. We have become like the Black Knight assailing the gates of Hell by bleeding all over them. It’s time for us to look clearly at our situation. The statistics of who attends our churches don’t look awesome. There are more women than men, and it is pretty apparent that those women are not doing well. But a good portion of those men are the kind that we need. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate where the sickness lies, and how we are treating it.