Captain Capitalism has a post up on a topic I have been mulling over. The post is titled The Lord Will Not Provide and refers to a post on Boundless by an unmarried 29 year old seminary grad student titled Out of Control:
I am the type of person who usually goes out and gets what she wants. I wanted to go to a good college, so I worked hard in high school. I wanted to be a writer, so I studied journalism and did internships with magazines. I want to write a book someday, so I write daily and I’m going to grad school to get credentials that will put some authority behind my name. For the most part, I feel in control of things. But being a wife, being a mom seem so far out of my control. I wait on God, hoping He’s listening to the true desires of my heart, and grappling with what it means if He hears those desires but has a different path for me.
When it comes to her real priorities in life, she is all about the plan. But when it comes down to becoming a wife and mother, she is sitting around waiting for God to deliver a beta provider. This seems to fit both with the general advice Haley relays from the church, as well as what I hear many Christians discussing. If I’m understanding the general Christian message to young women correctly, it is:
Don’t worry, God will guide your heart.
I’m not challenging the premise of having faith in God, but the whole thing strikes me as terribly passive. Is this how they approach other less important life decisions, like whether to attend college, which one, and what to major in? Would they simply tell her to trust in God if she were buying a car or taking out a loan? Or do Christian parents only reserve their lack of instruction and guidance for matters of the utmost importance? Yes she is the one who must make the choice, but it is cruel not to warn her of the pitfalls so many other women before her have fallen into.
I don’t see how this kind of advice is even biblical. I think the core problem is that modern Christians are so incredibly bereft of wisdom when it comes to issues of love and marriage. This is a group which set out to create a pro marriage movie, yet somehow ended up making divorce porn. Even worse, no one noticed! At some level they must know this. They are likely looking back on the mystery of their own experience finding a spouse and attributing it to divine providence. God may well have had a hand in the process, but the stakes are incredibly high for both men and women. Having good sense, a feeling of profound responsibility, and a basic understanding of the process shouldn’t stop God from intervening where He sees fit.
The fact is that leaving young women to their own devices has created an unmitigated disaster. Don’t worry, it will all work out according to God’s plan may work just fine for some women, but it fails spectacularly for large numbers of others. Given our culture’s pedistalization of women and misunderstanding of their sexuality, telling them to follow their heart often means turning them feral.
I don’t claim to have all of the answers here, and I acknowledge that this is a very difficult question. My fundamental advice to women in this regard is:
If you want to get married, take your husband hunt seriously from the beginning.
If dating is intoxicatingly fun, you aren’t doing it right. This is a profoundly serious choice you are considering. You have been given great power as a young woman in the sexual marketplace; don’t squander it by playing a game of judging the performance. Don’t mistake your selectivity when it comes to sex partners or your desire to have the man tell you he loves you, or your preference for serial monogamy as signs that you aren’t promiscuous. And don’t ever assume marriage is simply yours for the taking.
But taking your husband hunt seriously upfront doesn’t mean you have license to marry before you are wise enough to choose, or (just as important) ready to stand by your life long vow. It also doesn’t mean you are free to marry a man you don’t really love.
Adding to the difficulty, many women seem to struggle to discern between real options and fantasy. They also face increased searching costs due to their mother’s generation being uncomfortable with slut shaming. Given all of these difficulties, it is amazing that any young women successfully navigate this challenge. Yet many seem to do so without fanfare, and one thing we know is that for women looking to marry, fortune favors the decisive.
Ah, forget it; I’m sounding like Polonius. Get out there and have fun ladies! God will guide your heart.