Ahh The Man Problem

We have a man problem!  How many times have you heard that in the Church in the last 10 years?

I want to respond some more to a piece from the SBTS that quotes Al Mohler talking about this.  This isn’t personal by the way.  All Mohler is doing is putting words to what so many in the Church think about singleness and marriage.

As Mohler is discussing the “sin” of delaying marriage (what length of delay equals sin is unclear of course) he says,

“This is a problem shared by men and women.  But it is primarily of men.  We have established a boy culture in which boys are not growing up into men.

Guys, the reality is that God has given us a responsibility to lead, to take responsibility as a man, to be the man in every way before God that we are called to be . . . It means taking the leadership to find a godly wife and to marry her and to be faithful to her in every way and to grow up to be a man who is defined as a husband, and by Gods grace we pray eventually, as father.”

I just . . . I mean. . .

First let every man read and understand what I say next.  You are not primarily defined by being a husband or even a father.  You are primarily defined by your relationship with Christ.  Period.  This is vital because if you don’t get this then you won’t be a good husband or father if you get married.

Now if you get married, then there are defined roles and responsibilities (which these same evangelical leaders will be sure to remind you of).  It’s not bad to know what those are because it should impact your decision to get married.  Are there guys slacking off because they don’t want to “man up” as it were?  Sure.  But that is only a part of the issue.

This premise that its all the guys’ fault is a complete failure of the Church to acknowledge the rest of culture and it’s own part in creating it.

The blame the men movement comes up short for lots of reasons –  Just for starters:

  • It fails to address why men are not going to church, getting married, or even finishing college (or other “mature” things).
  • It fails to address women’s sin in any way
  • Completely ignores attraction and choices involving it.
  • It makes women the helpless victims and absolves them of their choices
  • Embarrasses the men in church who women don’t date – of which there are many
  • Doesn’t help any of those men learn anything that will help them get married
  • And most of all, creates more disrespect of men within the body of Christ

Here’s the other funny thing about it.  If all of these Christian men are a bunch of “boys” whose fault is that?  Was there a secret men’s meeting that I missed where we all got together and said, “Let’s not grow up.  Let’s step back from leadership. Screw what the Church teaches.”  Guess who raised us?  Guess who spoke to our parents in the pews?  Guess who taught us how to be nice?  Guess who told us that slogans, rallies and sermons can save us?  

I could handle the “men are the problem” line better if it started with, “We’ve failed our young men.  We help set them up to fail.”  That would maybe lend some sort of credibility.

Mohler and company have this idea that there are all these sinless godly women just sitting around and if only men would act they would say yes and marry them.  They assume that the reason that Christian women don’t get married is that men just aren’t . . . well . . . man enough.  (This idea of men are sinful and weak and women are sinless is everywhere and in everything they talk about – not just singleness.)*

But the truth is that I know a lot of men that want a godly wife.  There are single men in every church looking for that. I was one.  For 20 years. Is Mohler suggesting to the women that they should go out with any of these guys that ask them and become their wife?  Of course not.  Men should go find a wife – really any wife.  They don’t need to be attracted to them and the woman doesn’t have to be that godly.  Just man up and marry a woman – you can help her be godly.  Women on the other hand are taught to be careful.  Don’t settle.  They are told they need protection from all of the not quite godly enough men.  

So according to many of our leaders, the only way to be a godly, mature man is to get married.  But the only men that women should marry are godly, mature men.  Again – whose fault is all of this?

Part of the problem (without getting into this too much here – more later) is that they are asking men to play by the cultural rules from 50 years ago, while not asking the same of women.  They fail to recognize how the culture has reshaped the getting married game.  It’s not just the men that have created this.  There’s plenty of blame to go around.

The bottom line here is that simply saying man up is a non-starter.  It’s not working.  At all.  We have to talk to both sexes and we have to teach them both not only what to do in marriage and that they should get married but also how to go about getting married.



*Examples – If Husbands will lead the right way then women would not try to take over the lead.  If more men would sign up for combat duty then women wouldn’t feel the need to. Etc.  H/T Dalrock


13 thoughts on “Ahh The Man Problem

  1. I agree with a lot of what you said, but I’m going to push back a bit on the women are perceived as innocent victims part.

    Feminism, whether real or imagined, moderate or extreme, gets blamed probably just as much as men not “manning up.” I think women, especially when they are at least reasonably attractive, are accused of being “too picky” for not choosing the perfect “nice guy” Christian man and only going after bad boys (whether or not they are actually dating anyone) by Christian men who feel entitled to date them. Single professional women are accused of putting career over motherhood even though by default, most single women are career women and there are plenty of career women with children. Professional women are also blamed for only wanting to date certain types of (professional) men when the reality is that those are the men they come across day to day. Single women are certainly not perceived as innocent victims by married women who think they’re after their husbands. I think both sexes get blamed for their immaturity and selfishness.

    These preachers like Mohler are speaking primarily to men because they are men and they think they know men’s motivations to remain single. They are also the public faces of the church. Women get their share of the blame, but as we’re not as public, the accusations aren’t on the same platforms. For example, you’ll hear about the abusive single/childless colleague who harassed the innocent working mom for leaving early to take care of her child, but those are stories on Facebook, on blogs and in person (and oddly, not in the workplace in my experience). Women aren’t in the pulpits to the extent men are and aren’t sharing their opinions in the same way.

    That said, I do think men get a lot of the blame publicly and I’ve said before that it’s not fair. But I think if you speak to an individual woman struggling with being single, she is probably blaming herself at least to some extent. Maybe it’s her friends and her preacher blaming the men. I just don’t know many single women who aren’t examining themselves and not accepting their responsibility for the situation. I think we’re more in the same situation than not.

    • Hey T

      Always appreciate your thoughts. I agree with a lot of what you say here. I want to be clear that I’m not saying I think women are the problem alone either. And for sure, women do not think other women are innocent.

      I also agree whole heartedly about that nice men being mad because the Christian women won’t date them. No one is entitled to a date. I actually have a couple of posts coming up about this.

      But I do think in the church that the leadership thinks women are less sinful. Part of this comes from a desire to protect them. Part of it comes from the desire to have women like them. And for sure they shame men publicly way more. Mohler is taking to men, but he’s doing it in front of women, which no one ever does the other way around (nor should they necessarily).

      For the latest example of this look no further than the abortion issue. Abortion is murder, but the woman is not responsible for the decision. Men are told to love their wives no matter what, but submission is only if the man has “earned” it. If a man does it right then the women will be fine.

      I’m not blaming women for that – as I think you know. But I really do think that many in the evangelical culture don’t see women as responsible for any of it.

      • Thank you. I hear you. I agree that leadership does harp more on men than women, but I do think a lot of it is because leadership in the church tends to mean men. You have an extremely valid point about saying these things to men only, and not in front of women, and the fact that this isn’t considered is demonstrative of the lack of respect leaders in the church have for single men. I think it’s hard to say if single women would get equal public shaming if women in the church had a bigger voice in general.

        Although, the few women I’ve encountered in pulpit ministry have been supportive of single women, and of all women and people in general.

        I think some of your other examples, like submission, really depend on the church and that particular church’s leaning. Some churches emphasize mutual submission and others emphasize submission of wives to the point where they are pressured or told to stay in abusive situations.

      • T – in response to your post about pastors not instructing women because they are men – and men understand men – I have to disagree with this. I think life experience teaches men things about women that especially younger women can learn from.

        For example, women need to do a much better job of guarding their own hearts which is one of the reasons men are hesitant to date or even spend time with a woman from church in the first place. Us guys have seen what happens when a woman is told “I am not interested in you” by the guy and the guy, say, only spends time with her every other week. She still becomes convinced this is the man she will marry before he has even asked her out on a first date. I believe a proper understanding of the following paragraph would clear up a lot of the hurt that happens in the church and make men not be so afraid of church dating:

        Guys need to understand that making her your best friend where you tell her about your problems and past hurts to an extreme has a way of leading women on. Its not that you can’t get to know each other as great friends and have some personal discussions – but – that friendship needs to have limitations unless you are in a relationship with someone. Part 2 – when a woman is determining if a guy is interested in her or not, she is not just watching what a man says, she is watching how a man acts; so, it is quite possible for a man to say he is not interested – yet she thinks he is interested because of something he is doing. The problem is men have no idea what their actions are saying to you as a woman. Therefore, women need to trust exclusively in what a man says – if he says he isn’t interested in you – he isn’t interested in you. Also, don’t assume he is interested in you until he tells you. Men, generally speaking, only think they have communicated based on what they have said – not necessarily how they are acting.

        If women – especially at a young age – understood this, church dating would be a lot less scary place to date. A male pastor could easily teach this and be absolutely correct. We need to teach men and women how each other communicates and not rules – like be friends first before you ask her out on a date.

      • Hi Terminator – I’m not sure where there is disagreement but to clarify, I’m saying that the people in the pulpit predominantly are men and they are the ones chastising single men publicly. It doesn’t mean that women can’t learn from men or men from women (or women from women), I just mean that this is the reality. Men are the ones talking in the public platform that they have access to. They are the ones choosing what to say or not to say. But I don’t think anyone should be shamed from the pulpit either.

  2. I have enjoyed reading your post and your insight. I have to wonder what Al thinks of us 50 something single again Christian men? Are we less fulfilled in our walk? Are we just supposed to rush to the altar with a likewise single woman from church whether or not there is any attraction?

    The ” Man Up” movement is seriously flawed for all the reasons you state. I tire of hearing about the 20 or 30 attractive, smart, Godly single women in church while all the men are home playing video games. The women in my church seem as flawed and broken as we are no matter what their age. Calling out one gender as the problem in order to pander to the other doesn’t help either of us in the long run.

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  4. Happy New Year funsters…

    I turned 47 just before Christmas, volunteered, helped with a Christmas play at a large ‘mega-church’ and worked during the whole Holiday at my job because unimportant people with no life, wife, or children are put at the top of the list to work……………even at “faith based” non-profits like mine.

    “oh but she / he has children, and that’s so important this time of the year…..” and “this place is about Jesus and family first”

    So before I conclude my Internet presence (FB has been gone for eons in my life. I eliminated Googe / Youtube. I hate TV) Throwing the cell phone into the trash……going back to a land-line only. I have this to say. My final piece on “singleness” on “Christian women” and “our pathetic church culture in the USA today”

    Men like myself, the Christian the ugly losers who get the “correction” from all the worldly mens bad behavior and actions with you ladies. We have taken enough a bum rap on this topic. Any man in my situation that dares question *any* Christian female decision:

    Hates women, hates his mother, is bitter, is jealous, needs-to-give-it-to-Jesus-and-pray-harder, volunteer more, get a better job, improve his attitude, guard her heart…but don’t guard her heart, pursue her now, don’t pursue….let your fruit be seen, needs to join a gym, has to understand that looks don’t matter to women (I call whale excrement on that), has to settle (but she NEVER has to, she’s always right), is ugly but if he *just* improved his attitude and confidence tons of women would give him a shot (another lie…but Christian women *never* lie, they just stretch the truth), needs to learn how to be funny but the dirty humor is excused if the guy with said humor is *hot* by a cultural standard, he needs to take action, he needs to slow down, he needs to pray, he needs a mens-accountability-man-up-group. He needs to work on his life, he needs to only trust God. He needs to take life into his own hands……………..

    No one ever…..EVER tells a Christian woman “she made a bad choice” Never.

    With the “me too” movement now filtering down fewer men are not going to bother with all of you. More of us are leaving church because we’re sick of “all the amazing holy, beautiful women who just-wants-a-nice-man-who-loves-Jesus” comments. I dropped out of mine two weeks ago. I’m tired at age 47 being told what I have to improve on to get a wife…..when half of my church is divorced (initiated by the women), and had children out of wedlock and are un-repentant

    If I have to be a man alone feeling miserable in a church, and around Christians who are “so holy” and “saved” but can barely even strive for a life like Christ………

    It reminds me of a situation. One Sunday in church, the welcome was “soooo amazing” The church was asked if they “could not WAIT to get to heaven!!!!!!”

    Cheers! Yells! Shouts of ‘Amen’ but……but there was ONE man in the front. He was sad. He was not responding. He was asked “Why are you not excited about going to heaven????”

    He replied “If I have to be in eternity with everyone in here, gossips, liars, frauds, phonies, materialism-run-rampant, cliques, passive aggressive behavior, bad attitudes…..no. The answer is NO, I don’t want to spend eternity with you all.”

    Gasps from the chapel! Shocked bewilderment.

    What this man was hoping for was healing. Was hoping for a serious dialogue, a serious call to family, a serious call for help. A serious call for love. A serious plea for what Christ wanted.

    What did he get? The same answers as above. Self-righteous. Self indignant. Told he had a bad attitude.

    That man was me.

    I believe Christ. I believe the Bible….all of it…even the part where is says about a wife submitting. Abortion is ALWAYS wrong. Pre-marital sex IS a sin. Nowhere does it say we must have “youth groups” or “retreats” or “pay for the pastor” or “Sunday school” or “babysitting” or “PA systems with wireless microphones”. Nor does it say health care, a good job…….none of the crass trappings in modern American church culture are mentioned in the Bible.

    I want no part of it. This is glorified high school. The early Christians met in houses, were persecuted for their faith, and were poor (how dare a Believer back then DARE get married if he didn’t have a good career, owned several flocks of goats and was not good looking!!!!)

    Jesus isn’t your buddy or friend. He is a King. You are not “dating” Him. Apostle john who walked and talked with Him for three years said in Revelation that when he saw Him “he fell to his face and worshiped Him as if dead” and there was FEAR in this.

    This toothpaste Christianity I want no part of, and Christ (praise Him) is not going to want ANY part of it when He returns for His bride.

    I don’t care at this point about women, marriage, what this pastor thinks, or that one thinks….I care only what Christ thinks and it’s time I got right with Him, and Him alone than waste my time with a “body-of-believers” who are the most judgmental bunch of folks I have come to know.

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  6. I won’t go to church again because of this. And, I’m sure the Southern Baptists et al will be right there waiting when I die to push me into hell.

  7. Al Mohler doesn’t realize it, but he is embracing collectivism in assuming all bachelors are that way because they play video games. Each individual has a unique story as to why they are single. Many not by choice.

    This large number of unhappily single men is a relatively new problem. When I was trying to find a husband (and had a sliver of a chance) back in the 90’s there were places to meet potential Christian spouses in your teens or tweens. After 22 or 23 you were on-the–shelf. Especially women. In all that time no guy asked me out.
    Blame my awkwardness, my ugliness, my poor fashion sense, my lack of small talk, my plumpness, my inability to arrange my hair the way guys preferred, my bookishness. But not my pickiness.
    I don’t judge all the boys who found me repulsive. But I take issue with being accused of “pickiness.”
    First there was the Christian Athlete’s Club. Christian service camp. Youth group activities.
    A high girl to guy ratio for most. We girls were told repeatedly not to show too much interest because it would scare the good guys away.
    I couldn’t make small talk and read a lot of books. I never discussed those or said too much because I was told acting smart or weird would scare the boys away, Plus I just wasn’t cute enough. 2.5 girls per guy everywhere and you had to be eye poppingly gorgeous to stand out and get asked on a date.

    The ratio got worse in that Christian college I attended. According to matrons I consulted I should never ask a guy out, or even express direct interest. There seemed to be some manipulative, coy mind game of signals and reverse psychology I couldn’t figure out. Giggling at the right time, playing dumb, wearing the right clothes to show off your body without looking easy. “Men love a chase.” So mixed messages and flattery were great. I had moral qualms. But they seemed to work better than standing around–hoping you looked pretty enough–waiting to be asked,
    Asking a guy out, telling him you liked him were forbidden. And often he couldn’t pick up on the elaborate, crazy network of mixed signals other girls mastered enough to send out. But somehow the burden of “catching a husband” lay almost entirely on us. Poor ratios notwithstanding. Our fault if we wound up old maids in our mid twenties for not being pro active enough.

    I wasn’t fat then. Not as bad as now at least. But in the 80’s and early 90’s men didn’t like curves. I hated my body and would go for days obsessed over my caloric intake, keeping it below 800 calories, hoping I could become “wicked skinny” and earn love. Never worked.

    My health plummeted at 20. Had to leave college and disability completed my undesirability.

    We don’t all have the same story as to why we wound up on the singles’ scrap heap. Singing “Worthless” like the old cars in Brave Little Toaster. But that’s how I was rejected early in life and will always remain unwanted.

    Not just “Here’s why all men/all women who are single wound up that way.” There is no broad reason to contain so many unique stories.

    • If it means anything, it’s no better on the other side of the fence. I quit dating after the supposedly Christian woman I’d known for decades literally tried to ruin my life. Eight years later, yeah, it gets lonely sometimes, especially this time of the year. But at least I know where I stand. It’s better than being with someone smiling in my face while lying and faking everything about herself.

      All that said, I’d be open to friendship if you are. Can’t have too many of those.

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