In a previous post I dealt with Foolish Fixups and in another I mentioned marriageability in the context of Achieving Adulthood for Adultescents. My personal experience is that those who attempt Foolish Fixups never consider what the scripture teaches about marriage. Moreover, churches as a whole do not take sufficient time in preaching and teaching to prepare adolescents, post adolescents and single adults for a godly Christian marriage. It always seemed to me that there was more on dating, which relied on the experience of the married couple doing the teaching. It also seemed to me that there’s this strange obsession to keep single adults from kissing before either engagement or marriage.
Very often, I’ve found that older, married Christian women seem to be very obsessive about fixing up single adults. To be fair, though I’ve met pastors who are just as determined in this obsession – but I’ll deal with that later. As far these women, there is a ministry which the Bible explicitly sets out for them in regard to the younger women in the congregation. In regard to adolescent girls and single adult women, it’s reasonable to apply this passage as giving them responsibility for the marriageability of the younger women in the church, since the character qualities they are to teach deal primarily with marriage and family. It’s my belief that Christian men would take the initiative more and pursue Christian women who were schooled by this scripture, and foolish and obsessive fixups would recede into obscurity.
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way that they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5).
Here are some ways that I can see this working out in practice and the problems that I’ve seen in the church that happen when this passage is not being followed.
Teaching by word and example how to avoid being slanderous.
One of the immediate disqualifications that I’ve had in my own dating life for assessing marriageability of a potential partner is finding out that a woman is vindictive and slanderous. I’ve known professed Christian women who slander the men that they are or were dating to others, sometimes even to those who may be influential in the spiritual or professional life of the man they are or were dating, when they are going through difficulties or after a breakup. I’ve known others who acted flirtatious to the face of single Christian men but were slandering them behind their backs. And the tragedy is that there were older Christian women in their lives who could have corrected them and stopped this vindictive slander. And there is little doubt in my mind that married Christian women who slander their husbands behind their backs and others throughout their lives learned that habit much earlier, perhaps even from older Christian women who knew better.
Teaching by word and example how to live and grow without addictive behaviors and outside and beyond the secular social culture and party culture.
In an earlier post on the life and death of Jessie Davis, I wondered how a young woman who had been part of an evangelical church could have become involved in such a downward spiral in her life. It seemed to have started with getting involved in the party culture when she left for college. Since the older women were themselves to be examples of reverence and sobriety, it looks like she never received this kind of guidance and example. I wonder how many of the older women in our churches teach and show how to live in reverence and sobriety.
Teaching by word and example how to act lovingly toward a husband and children.
One of the fallacies that some Christian leaders perpetuate sometimes is that the Bible never teaches a woman to love her husband and children, but assumes that it will come naturally. Not true! It teaches that exact thing right here. In fact, one of the signs of last days godlessness is that people will be ‘without natural affection’ (II Timothy 3:3 – the true meaning of the word that is translated ‘without love’ in the New International Version). It’s reasonable to assume that a young woman or single adult woman who grows up in the atmosphere of II Timothy 3:1-5 will need instruction in this area.
I think that one part of this teaching by word and example will be also how to avoid putting a career, a job or even a ministry in the church or a sense of missionary calling ahead of the responsibility to love the husband and children if a woman takes on marriage and family responsibilities. My own thought is that that this can be a huge, unstated obstacle as to why many single Christian women in ministry and missionary positions do not find husbands; they have lived and acted so independently in the pursuit of their ministry in the church or missionary service that they do not prepare themselves for genuine partnership in marriage and parenthood. They have lived by themselves and tried to do it all by themselves for so long that a husband would find himself subordinate to and less significant than his wife’s pursuit of a ministry in the church or missionary service. In fact, in their single lives, they have made the blunder that many male pastors have made over the years, in making the ministry in the church or missionary service a higher priority than spouse and family.
Teaching self control and purity by word and example.
I’ve often been appalled how much Christian women try to manipulate Christian men with flirtatiousness, even single women with single men with whom they intend no long range dating and marital prospects. It’s also unbelievable how much some married Christian women will try to interfere in the life of a single adult man where the Bible gives them no authority and they demonstrate no wisdom. In addition, this command of purity and self control needs to be contrasted with the many Christian women who are slaves to secular soap operas and romantic novels.
Teaching diligent homemaking by word and example.
During my years in seminary, I noticed how many Christian women who were hoping to be married and serve as married women had few skills in cooking and cleaning. Even if these responsibilities were to be share strictly 50-50 in their prospective home, they still did not have the skills and experience to be competent, let alone excel, in fulfilling their own responsibilities in the home. (Note that most church kitchens are unused for most of the week and often during normal church hours. Why are they being used more to teach some of these life skills in addition to the Bible teaching available in the church?)
Teaching kindness by word and example.
The Bible also says, “A kindhearted woman gains respect . . .” (Proverbs 11:16). I’ve noticed a tremendous absence of this quality often in Christian women who want and crave respect and significance. Pursue kindness and compassion with wisdom, and see if you find what your looking for on that path.
Teaching by word and example how to follow the godly leadership of a godly husband.
I cannot see how an older married or widowed woman that encourages a younger woman to go aggressively after single men or conspires in a fixup scheme with a single adult woman is doing anything that encourages this quality. It seems to me that what is being taught is that a woman needs to trick, trap and manipulate a man into a Christian marriage. More than once I’ve felt that these schemes are being hatched by the wife of a henpecked husband, and that she was seeking for me to become the henpecked husband of her single adult woman friend. Moreover, these tactics seem to sabotage a man’s desire and responsibility to take the initiative to pursue a woman whom he finds desirable and marriageable.
All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.