Equally Yoked Teaching, Complementarianism, Christianity, and Singleness (part 3)
What is the use of the equally yoked rule for Christian single women if it affords no protection for women? (Because “Equally Yoked” does not protect Christian single women from marrying abusive men, or men who are serial adulterers or insensitive jerks.)
Some of these Christian women I’ve mentioned in the previous post, and in this one, were judging these self-professing Christian men by their “fruit,” as Jesus says to do in the Gospels.
These men showed the outward signs of being “true” believers, but they were actually rapists, physical abusers, or sleazy operators.
Look at this guy. He gave all the signs of being an honest to goodness, real, Christian (I mentioned him in a previous, separate post):
December 23, 2017
A man described as a devout Christian who volunteered at a local church was charged this week with killing his wife and two young daughters after their bodies were found in a home in western Canada.
…Canadian authorities found the bodies Tuesday in Kelowna, British Columbia, and identified the victims as 33-year-old Clara Forman and her daughters, Yesenia, 8, and Karina, 7.
They charged Jacob Forman, 34, with the murders.
He showed no emotion during a brief appearance in court Thursday, Global News reported.
Forman was a plumber, a devout Christian and had a leadership role at his small church, the news outlet reported.
…“They were just very nice people,” a woman who knew the family, Gail Baran, told Global News. “You would never ever think that from that family, they were very down to earth people. He would go to work every day and appeared to be such a gentleman. It’s a shock for all of us here.”
…She wrote on Facebook that she met him 12 years ago, the Columbia Valley Pioneer reported.
“Met in January, started dating in July, engaged Oct. 27 married three weeks later on Nov. 11 at sunset,” she wrote in 2015. “When I married Jacob Forman I left everything I knew to come to Canada and build a life.”
He was a “devout Christian,” so says the article (which I also blogged about here).
And boy did I see Christians on another site get into the “blame game,” many of them very angry that this article would describe this murdering piece of trash as a “devout Christian.”
They they began arguing among each other in the comments section, very heatedly, about if this guy were a “real” Christian or not, which I feel is an exercise in futility.
Some on that other site were insistent that no “real” Christian would murder his wife and kids.
His wife must have felt he was a “devout Christian,” or I doubt she’d have married him, especially if she was a pro- Equally Yoked sort of Christian.
And look at that – he volunteered regularly at a church and “had a leadership role” at that church.
Are you telling me that this woman, who I take it was a Christian herself, knowingly married a violent guy who was going to murder her and their future kids? I doubt it.
That a self-professing Christian man is a “true” or “false” Christian is of no import. It’s of no relevance, as we can see examples of Christian women who believed they were dating or marrying a “real” Christian, only to be duped, to discover the man they dated or married was a pedophile, rapist, or abuser.
Whether the men in these examples, who seem to be Christian, or claim to be Christian, are actually “saved” or not, is moot from the vantage point of whether these men made, or would make, good, loving husbands.
That there is a lack of single, Christian men for single, Christian women to date and marry, and that some self-professing Christian men are scum balls or are rapists, murderers, or abusers, makes me wonder why so many Christians keep demanding that singles only date or marry other Christians.
As I said, I suspect some Christian women adhere to the equally yoked rule because they feel they can trust God to send them or reward them with a caring, decent, reliable Christian husband.
Perhaps another motivation is that some people, some Christians, have a misplaced allegiance to God or to the Bible: they sit around being faithful to their wooden interpretation of the Bible.
So, if such Christians understand 2 Corinthians 6:14 to be saying that a Christian should not marry a Non-Christian (though that passage apparently pertains to avoiding idolatry – it’s not meant to be marriage advice), they may feel they want to “honor the Lord” by following that command, come hell or high water.
Unfortunately, single Christian women who stubbornly cling to “equally yoked” out of a misplaced loyalty to God in this area harm themselves in the process, because the way the demographics work, and that some Christian men are abusive perverts, this means these single women will either die single, or wind up marrying an abusive jerk but an abusive jerk who say she “loves Jesus” and who has favorite Bible verses.
(Yes, this Christian rapist had favorite Bible verses he liked to quote at his rape victims and at the judge in the court room.)
If God Considers the Equally Yoked Rule Applicable to Marriage
If God exists, and God was really all that keen on ‘Equally Yoked,’ in regards to dating and marriage, then why is the God of the Bible not providing a decent, Christian man to marry for every Christian woman who wants to marry one?
I have run across many single Christian ladies who are still single, even though they wanted to get married, and many of them were praying and asking God for a spouse, and were believing God for a spouse. But they are still single.
If God is a believer in Equally Yoked, it seems to me it’s his obligation to send every Christian single who wants a spouse a spouse, but that’s not happening.
Widen the Net
If you’re a Christian single, and getting married is up to you and your efforts (and it sure appears that it is), I think the smart and logical thing to do to increase your chances or marriage, would be to widen the net you are casting.
Rather than cast your net in “Christian only” pools of churches singles classes or Christian dating sites (which harbor rapists anyway), why not consider ditching the Equally Yoked belief to date or marry Non-Christian men?
The Christian Women Who Have Happy, Successful Marriages To Non-Christian Men
I’ve seen so many Christian women online say they did just that and married Non-Christians who treated them well.
This especially comes up in blogs or forums for Christian egalitarians who discuss the nightmarish complementarian Christian marriages they were once in where their Christian husbands used complementarian “male headship” teachings to abuse them.
To paraphrase the comments by one Christian woman I saw:
She said she was in two failed marriages, to two different complementarian Christian men who abused her, she divorced both of them, and is now happier single.
She also raised the good point that if one applies the “good or bad fruit” to complementarianism, all one will find in complemenarian marriages for a lot of people is bad fruit: depression, physical abuse, power, control, spiritual abuse, etc.
The School of Hard Knocks
I’ve learned a lot from reading other people’s life experiences – from reading about their experiences, you can see what works and what doesn’t work.
I think it pays off more to learn from other people’s life experiences than from the Bible. (This also holds true for things like treating mental health problems.)
A man who professes belief in Christ, or who goes to a church every Sunday, is not necessarily guaranteed to make a better spouse than a man who is a Hindu, a New Ager, or an atheist.
So – why would any Christian single woman continue to needlessly limit herself by following the “equally yoked” rule?
I’ve seen numerous Christian women say they endured one or two abusive marriages to “good Christian men” (men who seemed by all outward appearances to be godly – they claimed to love Jesus, they went to church regularly, etc), yet who abused them emotionally or physically, or had multiple affairs.
These women say after they divorced their Christian husbands, they went on to marry atheist men.
The part that intrigues me with these stories is that these women say that their atheist husbands are more “Christ-like” and loving in behavior than their Christian husbands ever were.
If you are a single woman who’d like to be married to someone who treats you well, it makes more sense for you to judge any men you date based on their character, regardless of what their profession of belief is – whether it’s atheist, Jewish, agnostic, New Age, or Wiccan, or whatever other form of Non-Christian worldview they may adhere to.
Faith Alone or Bible Alone Does Not Work
For all the years I suffered from clinical depression and anxiety, I had Christians advising me to trust only God for a healing, and to turn to prayer and Bible reading as “cures,” or as coping mechanisms.
I was discouraged by some Christians from using medications or visiting therapists to deal with my depression and anxiety – some will even slam you for using the phrase “my depression,” if they are into the Word of Faith mumbo-jumbo.
I’ve explained my journey out of mental health problems on previous posts of mine, but suffice it to say, automatic adherence to the Bible (or to my understanding of what the Bible said and meant) and my automatic trust in God did not help me at all with mental health issues.
I therefore doubt the same approach – staying true to some interpretation of the Bible, or depending on God – helps with much else in life, including dating and getting married.
You can be loyal and idealistic towards your (or someone else’s) interpretation of the Bible on some topic or another, but that idealism and loyalty may not pay off in this life time but may even be harming you in some way.
Are you absolutely sure that your interpretation of the Bible (or the interpretation of it by your favorite denomination, pastor, Christian celebrity, or theologian) regarding dating and marriage is absolutely, one hundred percent correct? Because it may be flawed.
I grew up thinking that the Bible absolutely, totally teaches “gender complementarianism” but by my 30s, I came to realize it does not.
Can you imagine how you may be throwing away your time and energy “trusting God” for a spouse, and unnecessarily limiting your chances for marriage by abiding by “equally yoked,” when maybe the Bible actually is not fully prohibiting you, a Christian from dating and marrying a non-believer?
Everyone’s understanding of the “equally yoked” passages may not apply today, or perhaps the translation of such passages is incorrect.
Snippet from that page just linked to – which deals with complementarianism but which is applicable to the dating and marriage “equally yoked” philosophy:
While some Christians rationalize sexism and patriarchy by appealing to the “plain reading” of Scripture, others instinctively question whether what they see on the pages of Scripture is a faithful and consistent translation of the original text.
At stake is something much more costly than a statue; we risk living our lives based on distortions of Scripture, which, in turn, justify a Christianity centered not on Christ but on male rule. Thankfully we have examples of leaders whose informed instincts challenged bias in Bible translation.
As I said though, in my last ten plus years on the internet researching a lot of subjects pertaining to Christian singleness, I’ve seen plenty of anecdotes by Christian women online, on various forums and blogs, who’ve said they were once married to Christians but divorced the Christian husband (usually because of abuse) and married an atheist, and they say the atheist treats them so much better.
These Christian women say they are happily married to Non-Christians after having tried marriage to Christian men.
I have seen a few articles mentioning that the atheist community is rife with its own problems with sexism, so I am not suggesting that any and every atheist man out there would make a decent spouse.
Despite atheist men being more pro-equality in surveys, it doesn’t mean they are completely immune to internalizing some of the sexist messages in our society.
Sexism is found in many areas in our culture, but there also may be certain aspects of the atheist community that allow for it to spread in their space. Atheists do not have any theological basis for sexism like theists do. However, many atheists are science-minded and may use a scientific explanation to justify their sexism.
I have personally had run-ins with very rude and condescending atheists on social media. Would I want to date any of those guys, much less marry them? No, of course not.
Am I saying all Christian single women should just run out and date or marry any atheist or pagan or Hindu or Jewish or Buddhist man they come across? No.
In the last ten or so years, I’ve read several warning blog posts or Christian magazine articles on this subject. I’ve read articles or posts by pastors who screech and warn single, Christian women not to marry a Non-Christian man, because such a marriage will end in heartache, they say.
I even once read a flip version of what I’m saying in my own blog post here, where a Christian woman said on her site that she married an atheist man, and the atheist was a jerk, and she had to divorce him.
So, she spends her article cautioning Christian women from marrying atheists (or any Non-Christian) man.
I’m not swayed by their warnings, because, for one thing, the “Christian” approach of “equally yoked” does not get Christian singles spouses, nor does a Christian marrying another Christian always make for a healthy or lasting marriage.
While all men of whatever religious persuasion are going to have flaws, I don’t know why any single, Christian woman who wants to be married, (would, I suppose due to a naive, misplaced loyalty to a 2,000 year old book, whose adherents cannot even agree on what it means or consistently accurately translate its contents), choose to only consider one small segment of the population to date, with dating possibly leading to marriage.
If you are a Christian, single woman who’d like to marry, suppose I place you in a room with four other single, Christian women who also want to marry.
Suppose further that I place you and the four other single women in a “meet and mingle” singles function in a room containing single men, for the purposes of potentially hitting it off with one of these guys to date and later marry –
With 2 of those men in the room being Christian (like you are), but the rest of the men in the room can be broken down into, say, 20 Buddhists, 60 atheists, 5 agnostics, 3 Jewish men, 2 Druids, and 8 Hindus.
With that configuration, you and four other Christian women will be fighting over the lone two Christian men.
If you want to be smart about things, you will not just flirt with the two Christian guys to see if there is chemistry, but you’ll spend time getting to know the Buddhists, atheists, and the other guys in at the party as well.
Mathematically, if all five of you single Christian women insist on playing by “equally yoked,” in a room full of men where only two men are Christians, that means three of you cannot even get a Christian man to marry.
Sadly, this is the situation in real life.
There are only so many Christian guys to go round, and those two Christian guys – what if, even at this party, he seemed real nice and quoted the Bible frequently, but he turns out to murder you after you marry him?
What if you and one of the Buddhist guys is more compatible than you and either one of the Christian guys? Or, maybe one of the Jewish guys would treat you with kindness and sensitivity but the Christian men are jerks?
Christianity is not a necessary ingredient to make a person treat you nicely, or for a marriage to be successful, and as a matter of fact, some Christian men are abusive or violent.
So what exactly is the point in hanging on to “equally yoked?”
I see no practical benefit for single Christian women (or single men) to continue to practice it.
By Christian author Sarah Allen, who was at one time a believer in “equally yoked”:
“Other than our different beliefs, we enjoyed the same activities, movies, music, and other interests. We fell in love and were engaged three months later.”
…We have been married 11 years and we have an inter-faith-ish marriage. How do we do it without having a holy war in our house on the regular? Well, sometimes there are arguments about our faith or lack thereof. But mostly we have a pretty peaceful life.
I know if that grumpy, unmarried Christian woman were still following this blog or reading it, I bet she’d leave a scathing message declaring her un-dying devotion to “equally yoked.”
Even though I felt her behavior was really obnoxious, I partly feel sorry for her.
She, like a lot of well-meaning Christian single women, are, I believe, naively devoting themselves to a doctrine or interpretation of a biblical passage or two, which is going to keep them single for much longer than necessary.
They really think they are being loving or devoted to God, but they’re really harming themselves.
There are some conservative Christians who have not noticed that society has changed, that there are now more singles in American culture than married couples, but out of the percentage of those who have noticed, such as Al Mohler, they complain that singles are single. They really want all Christian singles to marry.
If that is so, if conservative Christians want single, Christian women to marry one would think that they would go about removing unnecessary or unreasonable standards that makes it impossible for Christian women to marry, such as the equally yoked rule, but they seem stubbornly insistent upon keeping it in place, which puts Christians singles in a bind.
I do not see the sense in the equally yoked teaching and find it aggravating that so many Christians continue to support it, or act as though any marriage between a Christian and a Non-Christian is guaranteed to go down in flames, when I’ve seen so many Christian women say they married Non-Christians and their marriages are doing fine.