Every Christian college is familiar with the joke: “Ring by Spring or your money back!” But it’s probably more true than it is funny (the funny part is the thought that you could get your money back). Christian college students like finding their future spouses at Christian colleges.

Since I work with students at a Christian college, I have talked to a lot of guys and girls about who they want to marry. Here is what I’ve learned: Christian girls want to marry their youth pastors. Not their literal youth pastor, but someone just like him.

Christian women are taught that their ideal husband should be an extravert who has natural leadership skills, the gift of teaching, and a degree in Bible. In other words, a youth pastor. I have counseled a handful of distraught young women who felt guilty because they were attracted to (in some cases on the verge of being engaged to) awesome Christian guys who were introverts, weren’t cookie-cutter leadership types, and who had every spiritual gift except for teaching.

While there is nothing wrong with marrying a stereotypical youth pastor type of guy, there is also nothing in the Bible that says that this type of guy is automatically the best husband. Your view of husband/wife relationships probably plays into this a bit—if you’re complementarian you might be interested in more of a take-charge kind of guy, if you’re egalitarian you might not care as much. But regardless of your view on this issue, where does the Bible say that a husband has to be an extroverted teacher?

I think that this perception comes from our culture’s view of what a leader is. A leader is a C.E.O. He is decisive, charismatic, and well educated. He’s the life of the party.

Assuming you think the husband should be the leader in the relationship (I’m speaking to the complementarians because you egalitarians probably won’t need to be convinced on this point), we should ask what the biblical version of a leader is. Does a leader have a certain personality (charismatic, outgoing)? Or does a leader possess a certain character (loving, humble)? Does a leader assume command automatically, or does he lead through example and service?

Paul is clear that not every Christian has every spiritual gift. He asks rhetorically, “Are all teachers?” (1 Cor. 12:29). Of course not. So are only those gifted to be teachers—leaders in a certain sense—allowed to get married?

What I tell these distraught young women is that a godly man is not the same thing as a youth pastor. They should marry a godly man, but they don’t have to feel guilty about wanting to marry a godly man who has one personality and not another, one set of gifts and not another. We should be more concerned about our future spouse’s character than the stereotypes we’ve inherited.

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Mark Beuving

Mark Beuving currently serves as Associate Pastor at Creekside Church in Rocklin, CA. Prior to going back into pastoral ministry, Mark spent ten years on staff at Eternity Bible College as a Campus Pastor, Dean of Students, and then Associate Professor. Mark now teaches online adjunct for Eternity. He is passionate about building up the body of Christ, training future leaders for the Church, and writing. Though he is interested in many areas of theology and philosophy, Mark is most fascinated with practical theology and exploring the many ways in which the Bible can speak to and transform our world. He is the author of “Resonate: Enjoying God’s Gift of Music” and the co-author with Francis Chan of “Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples.” Mark lives in Rocklin with his wife and two daughters.

1 COMMENT

  1. Well said Mark!

    I completely agree that our culture’s definitions of leadership and authority have influenced heavily both our understanding of men and women within the church and even more detrimental our expectations of the pastorate. True we do need well spoken, decisive, vision casting, well educated men in the church who can teach and speak wisely- however, to believe that ALL MEN in the church will live up to this character of the celebrity pastor is simply irrational and irresponsible.

    Furthermore.

    I recently spent time in Genesis 2 pondering the interaction between Adam and Eve- more specifically the concepts of “authority” and “responsibility” (as many complementarians would ascribe to as the primary function of male headship).

    Check it:

    18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for[e] him.”

    “This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
    she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”[i]

    24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

    What struck me during this read was the emphasis placed on the “not good”ness declared by God over the independence of man in his authority and responsibility over creation. Furthermore the language used to describe woman (helper) seems to be echoed elsewhere in Scripture in Jesus’ description of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16). Now verse 24 speaks clearly of marriage and is also quoted by Paul in Ephesians 5:25-33. Here we see the unity between Christ and the Church being the primary image marriage is designed to reflect. Biblically speaking it is the Lord’s passionate desire to dwell with man and to bring glory to Himself through the His people, however it is significant to understand that while Christ has every “right” to display His glory without mankind the Lord never deems this good (i.e. Revelation 21).

    Glory is best displayed through the union- not the headship.

    Within this design men and women together are able to wonderfully carry out God’s plan to fill the earth with His glory (side-bar: all of this is temple language- if you hang out in Ephesians you’ll get that too 😉 and give us a beautiful microcosm of the cosmos. The implications of this are vast in understanding how men and women of all personalities and gifts can seek out spouses to display this with. Trust, dependence, purpose, and union under God.

    Just some thoughts.