Equally Yoked Teaching, Complementarianism, Christianity, and Singleness (part 2)
Some Christians – normally the married ones, but occasionally the single ones – maintain a stubborn adherence to the “equally yoked” rule, although it acts as an impediment to any single, Christian woman who’d like to marry.
(It’s so easy for Christians who have been married for decades to preach to women single today that they should only “marry another Christian” when they already have theirs.)
Not only is there a severe man shortage in Christianity, but women of other conservative branches of faith are unable to marry, because there are more women than men in their religions.
Similar material, secular vantage:
Complementarians add yet another unnecessary layer of standards they feel a woman should adhere to in order to marry (such as telling Christian women to not only marry another Christian – the ‘equally yoked’ view – but to marry a Christian who is her “spiritual head” or “spiritual leader”), which makes getting married for single women impossible.
It’s my personal belief that women should have some personal standards in place and not marry just any man, because he has a pulse and is single.
Unfortunately, just as some Christians have ridiculously high, picky criteria they insist all single women must follow should they want to marry, but, some of them tell women to chuck all standards out the door.
One example of this is Christian sociologist Mark Regnerus, who actually tells Christian women who have a strong objection to pornography, and who have “don’t marry a porn user” on their “list of must haves” in mate selection, to chuck and ditch their personal standards and to go ahead and marry a man who claims to be Christian and who is also a habitual porn user.
Regnerus is motivated to promote that view partially by declining marriage rates in American society. Marriage is even on the decline among self-professing Christians. Regenerus actually thinks the solution to this is to have all single, Christian women kick their husband-picking criteria to the curb.
So, where we have one group of Christians issuing unreasonably stringent mate selecting criteria to single women, we have this other group who is panicking over lower marriage rates to tell single women to reject any and all criteria at all, even minimum qualities, to consider dating or marrying even perverted losers.
It’s exchanging one extreme view for another, and neither is good.
Both sides, both extremes, also indicate just how much Christians have over-emphasized marriage and diminish or vilify singleness.
This is from 2014:
Pornography is replacing the desire among young men for marriage, according to a new study that finds males are chasing “low-cost sexual gratification” on the web over a wife and family, the Washington Examiner reports.
First of all, Regnerus’ view (like that of other Christians, such as Al Mohler) who hype marriage, is assuming marriage is better or more “godly” than singleness.
Unfortunately, there exists a cottage industry of Christian and secular conservative groups who seem to think that every one getting married in American society will improve society.
I don’t recall anything in the Bible prescribing marriage as a cultural cure-all.
Singleness is assumed to be second rate and problematic by Christians and secular conservatives – and it’s assumed to be a deliberate choice for many or most, though there are many single adults (such as myself) who had wanted to be married for years. I thought I would’ve been married by now. It just did not work out for me. I was not intentionally avoiding marriage.
Bible is Okay With Singleness
The Bible says that there is nothing wrong with singleness, but the Christians who promote marriage and portray adult singleness as some sort of short-coming or evil seldom mention passages such as:
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.
…But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
On the other hand, Regnerus is correct when he takes the complementarian Christians to task for making marriage an impossibility, by instructing women to look for “spiritual leaders,” or for men who are “more spiritually mature” than they are.
Snippet, Regnerus speaking:
Spiritual maturity is not equally distributed among men and women in the peak marrying years.
Quality survey data reveal only two serious, churchgoing evangelical men for every three comparable women. Thus, one out of every three evangelical women is not in a position to marry a man who’s her “spiritual equal,” let alone “head.”
This elevated standard now translates—for women, at least—to something like this: “Find that uncommon man who is your spiritual equal or leader, not to mention kind, virtuous, industrious, employed, and, if possible, handsome, and then figure out how to make him want to marry you.”
..As a result of the increasing “failure to launch,” evangelicals find themselves saying lots of nice things about the benefits of singleness (which certainly do exist), but seem unwilling to move their boundary stones for marriage.
Except that they have moved them, away from acceptability and toward ideals.
It’s not a surprising move, since marriage is far more voluntary and economically unnecessary for women (and men) today than it was as recently as 50 years ago.
The pressure we put on marriage to be fabulously great is at an all-time high. Marriage is slowly becoming something that only an elite will attain on a natural timetable connected to their height of fertility. Thus, this is not the time to further restrict supply by adding layers of spiritual qualifications.
At least on that point, Regnerus is correct and astute.
May I also point to the elephant in the room:
Equally Yoked is one of the very things that halt religious single women from getting married.
Regnerus and others like him are about hell-bent on insisting that single Christian women only consider single Christian men as husbands, but there are simply not enough such men out there.
One cannot marry what does not exist.
In that article I just cited, Christians are debating, for the love of God, if “inter faith” marriages are acceptable and workable: they won’t even consider asking or allowing Christians to leave the faith altogether when mate-hunting.
Equally Yoked advocates would apparently rather have Christian single women (who’d like to marry) to remain forever single, or, they are living in a very distorted reality where they assume that there is an eligible Christian single man for every women who wants one.
Double Standard: Single Women Asked to Lower Standards but Not Men
To this date I’ve also never heard a male preacher or any complementarians advise single men to lower their standards if they hope to marry.
No. I’ve ever only seen secular conservatives and Christians (especially complementarians) advise single women to lower their standards.
Men are not expected or asked to lower their mate-hunting criteria. I consider this to not only be a very hypocritical double standard but also sexism.
I think one of the things backing the mistaken “be equally yoked” perspective is perhaps an assumption (especially by Christian women) that a Christian man will treat them better in a marriage than a Non-Christian man.
How does one reconcile that view with the many, many instances in the news of self-professing, regular church-going, Bible-reading Christian men who abuse their wives, or who are pedophiles? (Examples to follow.)
I’ve seen Christians on other sites get into very heated debates over these sorts of stories – news stories of “good Christian men” who are arrested for having drowned their three kids and hacked their wives to death with a machete.
I’ve seen Christians comment below such articles or when discussing these stories on other sites that no “real” Christian would hack his wife to death.
I realize that in the Bible, Christ is on record as saying that “by their fruit you shall know them,” and that there are false converts and wolves in sheeps’ clothing, but what does any of this matter to the women who marry these men?
In some cases, the women in question may not realize that their Christian husband is abusive until after they marry. Some abusive men keep their abusive natures hidden during the dating phase of the game.
I don’t know of any single Christian women who want to marry a controlling or abusive man. Most (all?) would like to marry a guy who is thoughtful, considerate, and good-natured.
How many of these women who end up married to Christian pedophiles or Christian abusers knew that their husband was a pedophile or an abuser prior to marriage and decided to marry him anyway? I am willing to bet the answer is zero.
I’ve seen some of these Christian women say they prayed to God for many years for a husband, and when their husband- to- be crossed their path and seemed to be godly and was considerate to them, they assumed, “this man must be the answer to my prayers,” they married the man, only for the man to turn out to be abusive.
Here’s one example of many I’ve seen:
Sally [Christian woman] met Peter [Christian man] when she was in her mid-30s, and had been praying for a husband. She wasn’t instantly attracted to him but was charmed by the deluge of flowers and love letters he sent. She grew to believe she was meant to be with him.
….Peter’s personality changed on the first day of their honeymoon..
……The abuse quickly escalated as Peter drank, gambled and demanded sex every second night, usually after having yelled at her for hours.
Also relevant (her Christian community did not help her):
Sally found little comfort in her Pentecostal church, which she had turned to repeatedly. Counsellors there simply advised her to forgive him. She also told her pastor her story, but no one followed it up.
There are Christian single women who feel safe trying to meet single Christian men online, only for those Christian men to turn out to be serial rapists.
Some single Christian women have signs and traits they look for in self- professing Christian men to weed out the false from the true, and these women still end up with lemons any way, such as:
…After the verdict, Deputy District Attorney David Williams III called Banks a “very dangerous Internet predator” who talked about Jesus and the Bible with the woman he met through ChristianMingle.com before going to her apartment.
…She added, “I pray for him every day. I pray that he changes.”
During his trial, the woman testified that she met Banks on ChristianMingle because she “believed in God, Scripture, going to church, reading the Bible, and … wanted someone who had those same interests.”
Same story but with other details:
A Del Mar man [Sean Patrick Bates] who raped two women he met on a Christian dating website was sentenced Friday to 37 years to life in prison after he challenged one victim to take a lie-detector test.
…Kuhlman spoke in court, saying she was raised a Christian and wanted to find someone who shared her values and beliefs, so she turned to an online dating service that advertises as a place for Christians to meet.
She said Banks contacted her, said he was a Christian, and they talked mostly about their faith.
….Goldstein said Banks made a prior statement that Kuhlman was attracted to him because she saw attributes of Jesus in him, so she was effectively kissing Jesus when she kissed Banks.
There are other Christian men who have sexually transmitted diseases, including men who work as preachers, who use dating sites as hunting grounds to find Christian women to date:
Carr, who reportedly tested positive in 2005 for HIV, allegedly infected a married woman whom he reportedly dated in 2010 and 2011; her identity has not been revealed.
…According to the woman, the 47-year-old preacher never told her he was HIV positive. The woman claims she trusted Carr, because he is a minister.
Here’s another winner: a Christian man who raped his wife, forced his wife to wear chains, and sign a slave contract:
Kenneth Eugene Harden met his wife through Craigslist—the two were married in July of 2013. At first he had described himself as a Christian.
..According to a probable cause affidavit, Harden forced his wife to wear a choker collar, bound her with ropes and duct tape and tortured her as part of a “slave manual” contract he compiled.
…She described him as “sweet” and “godly” and said he “swept her off her feet,” according to court records.
If “equally yoked” were true and applicable for Christian singles wanting to date and marry, and even though a lot of Christian women adhere to equally yoked, and pray to God to help them find a decent man to marry…
Why is it that so many Christian women get raped or abused by self-professing Christian men they are set up with, or find via dating sites?