Close window  |  View original article

Does Church Keep Black Women Single? - 2

Christianity places a strong importance on marriage.

By Lee Tydings  |  August 31, 2010

Scragged writers pay close attention to reader comments because we learn more from disagreement than from agreement.  Sometimes a question reveals that we weren't as clear as we should have been.

When the first article in what is now becoming a series pointed out that men pursue women because every man knows in his heart that a woman can give him a taste of the joys of heaven, we received this comment:

Good article, but when you say "Every man knows in his heart that a women can give him a taste of heaven right here on earth" I think you're wrong. I'm assuming your talking about sexual pleasure, which is a wonderful earthly thing but highly doubtful to be present (or anything remotely like it) in the afterlife.

That insightful comment goes to the heart of what's gone so badly wrong with so many modern marriages.  The article said that men and women ought to marry with the goal of giving to the other party rather than getting.  Plainly we didn't sufficiently emphasize this point: Biblical teaching holds that God expects a husband and a wife to serve each other all their days.

It's hard to serve another person whose sins and shortcomings are as evident as those of the person to whom you're married, but married people can console themselves with the thought that in doing what God expects, they're serving God.  A marriage prospers when each party serves God by serving the other.

Obstacles to Marriage

The earlier article was a reaction to a relationship consultant's claim that women who attend church won't date men who don't attend church and thereby limit their choice of mates.  This is true, but not bad - in fact, limiting the choice of mates to well-qualified ones is a very good idea, as any number of unhappy ex-wives (or single mothers) could tell you.

We see no reason why a woman would want to marry a man who wasn't willing to take on the obligations which the Bible assigns husbands, but that isn't the biggest problem women have finding husbands.  Every man knows men who've been badly hurt by their relationships with women.  This makes men reluctant to open their hearts to women, and that's the main problem a woman has in settling into a satisfactory relationship with a man.

She has leverage, however, in that a man knows she can give him the joys of heaven if she's inclined to do so - regardless of precisely what you feel those particular joys to be.  If she explains how she plans to do that and explains what she'll need from him in order to give him the joy he expects, she may stand out from the crowd enough for him to marry her.

And if not, well, is that such a bad thing?  Why would a sensible woman marry a man who isn't interested in her plan to give him joy?

Commands To Married Women

Everybody has the right to choose the minimum requirements of their potential mates.  It's only natural that the religious would consider religious teachings when making that most important of life decisions.

Unfortunately, the Christian divorce rate is not that different from the secular ones.  If a woman has decided that she wants to obey the Bible's teachings, she should be more aware of the obligations marriage would place on her.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

- Ephesians 5:33

Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

- I Peter 3:6

The Bible teaches a woman to honor and obey her husband - "obey" was part of the traditional marriage vows - and call him Lord, which is the equivalent of saying "Yes, sir" today.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

- Colossians 3:18

Titus 2:3-6 commands older women to teach younger women how to love their husbands.  This command has two startling implications:

A) Women don't naturally know how to love their husbands; and

B) Men are pretty much the same in their needs and desires.

There is no similar command for men to teach younger men because women are far more different from each other than men are.  A man has to spend hours in open heart-to-heart talk with his wife to learn what pleases her.  What pleases the older woman's husband will probably please the younger woman's husband, which is why it's possible to teach a woman how to love a man.

How to Give the Joys of Heaven on Earth

As our commenter implied, from a man's point of view, the heart of marital happiness begins in bed.  Plenty of secular sex therapists would say the same, but the Bible goes further into the emotional underpinnings which are of great concern to women.

The comment described sex as a "wonderful earthly thing," which it is.  The problem is that modern American society has debauched the physical joining of man and women, applying very negative words such as f**k and s***w to what God intended to be a powerful force to hold husband and wife together through the strains of life.  What is the difference between a man f**king his wife, s***wing her, and making love to her?  The physical act is the same; the difference lies in the man's attitude toward his wife.

This is explained clearly in the Song of Solomon.  The wife states three times that she belongs to her husband.  The third time in 7:10, she rejoices that "his desire is toward me."   Song 8:2-3 explains how she handles his desire - she encourages him to make love to her; most men would stand up and cheer at the idea.

Movies such as the James Bond series give the impression that women are eager to have sex, but real men find that most real wives are considerably less interested in sex than they are.  The Song of Solomon is a picture of a woman who is so much in love with her husband that she wants to give herself to him, not so much because she's interested in sex itself, but because she knows it makes him happy.

Having his wife give up her immediate wants to make him happy makes a man very happy.  A man can get some pleasure by taking a woman who's not in the mood, and many do.  They have to grow up a bit to realize that real joy in a woman comes when she gives herself to him out of love instead of just letting him take her out of lust.

Belonging to a Man is Hard

The Bible teaches that God made women for men:

For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

- I Corinthians 11:8-9

Many unchurched women are surprised to hear that, and certainly bra-burning feminists find the thought horrifying; but it is nevertheless true in the biological sense, and the religious one as well if you're so inclined.  Women are made for men, and there's little they can do about it.  God designed women so that most women have a strong desire to hang around with a man.

It's hard enough for a woman to belong to her husband and submit to him as the Bible teaches, particularly in this day of women's lib.  If a woman gets involved with a man who isn't honorable, whose leadership she can't respect, it will be even more difficult.  That's a good reason to restrict her dating pool to worthy men.

This is a part of marriage that doesn't get much talk because it's no longer politically correct.  The Bible says in two places (Deu. 21:14, Eze. 22:11) that getting involved with a man humbles a woman.  Opening herself to a man whenever he wants her and encouraging him when he hasn't asked tends to wipe out any sense of independence she may have had, gets her emotions bound up in him, and she ends up belonging to him.

The Bible teaches this - the woman in the Song of Solomon declares three times that she belongs to her husband (2:16, 3:6, 7:10).  A woman can give a man physical pleasure without loving him or belonging to him, but a husband's joy comes from having his wife give herself to him out of love and because he appreciates her so much that she likes belonging to him.

What of the Man?

A lot of men think that having a woman belong to him would be truly wonderful and wonder what's the problem?  Why won't their wives do as they expected when they got married?

They forget that God intended that a man should also belong to his wife.  Two of the three passages in the Song have the woman rejoicing that her husband belongs to her.  He tells all her friends that she's "but one" (6:9), which means that he doesn't even see any other women.  That's why she can be so confident that his desire is towards her - she's the only woman in the world as far as he's concerned.

The Song of Solomon shows a man relating to his wife in detail.  He praises little things about her including the shape of the roof of her mouth, no doubt having explored it at some length.  This shows her that he's paying attention to her and opening his heart to her.  Opening his heart to her out of love when he's not in the mood to talk gives his wife as much joy as he receives when she opens herself to him when she'd rather do something else.

The Bible Tells How To Receive Joy on Earth

The Song shows a husband who is made happy because his wife likes belonging to him.  This wasn't clear enough for most men, however, so the New Testament fills in a bit more detail:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.

- Ephesians 5:25

How did Christ love the church?  He died for it.  A man is supposed to dedicate his life to serving, nourishing, and cherishing his wife.

The Greek work translated "love" is agapao, which is not an emotion, it's an act of will.  Agapao means serving the other person's best interests.  The Bible says that the husband is the head of the wife, but after Jesus washed the disciples feet, He told them that Christians were not to lead by command as others did, but to lead by serving.

But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

- Mark 10:42-44

If a husband desires to lead his family, he has to serve them; the more he wants to lead, the more he should serve.  A Christian husband is commanded to lead his wife by serving her.  This works only if the wife is willing to follow.

If a man obeys the Bible's commands by praising his wife, appreciating his wife, and serving his wife, he'll make it make it more likely that his wife will enjoy belonging to him.

The Joys of Heaven

The major joy of heaven is that Christians spend eternity in a close relationship with the person Jesus Christ.  The major (though far from only) punishment of hell is that the sinner spends eternity cut off from all relationship to God.  The joy of heaven is based on a permanent, unconditional relationship to God, the punishment of hell sunders that relationship.

The joy of marriage is based on a life-long unconditional relationship between husband and wife; the marriage relationship is supposed to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church.  Thus, the joy a wife gives her husband by truly enjoying his joy when she gives herself to him and the joy a husband gives his wife by truly enjoying her joy when he gives himself to her, mimic the joys of heaven.

Mark 12:25 implies that there probably won't be sex in heaven as we think of it today, but there will be relationship.  Lovemaking and conversation are expressions of the relationship between husband and wife and represent the highest form of giving between husband and wife in this life.

The Bible teaches that Christians have to die to themselves in order to be one with Christ:

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

- Romans 7:4

This passage is one of many which emphasize the way that marriage illustrates the relationship between Christians and Christ.  Christ gave His life to sustain the relationship between Himself and His people; Christians who are willing to die to their former lives receive joy in Christ.

Similarly, the only way husband and wife can belong to each other as God expects is for each party to die to their individual selves and become one in marriage.  Both husband and wife must give their lives to sustain their relationship; that gives them joy in each other.

Christian women, and Christian men for that matter, are well advised to limit their dating to people who understand and agree with God's view of marriage.  Otherwise they are expecting two totally different things and are doomed to critical disappointment.  This is no way to start off what is supposed to be a life-long relationship.

So to return to the original topic: yes, churchgoing women who expect their mates to be equally devout are, indeed, limiting the dating pool.  Many churches have far more single women as members as they have men; on its face, this could be a serious problem.  But the writer forgets one important point: religious membership is not static.

If a Christian woman is not finding enough men already attending church, there is another alternative: go out and convert some - for many is the man who has had his life changed and improved by the love of a good woman.