By Walter & Trudy Fremont
Mary, a talented Christian school teacher, came from a good Christian home and was a graduate from an outstanding Christian college. She married a businessman in her church who claimed to have been saved in childhood but was known for his jealousy, bad temper, and worldliness. While Mary was engaged, her friends warned her that he was a loser, but she was desperately in love with this handsome, misunderstood man and would not listen. She ignored warnings from parents and friends about his past and his character.
Seven years and three children later, Mary came to the counselor’s office bemoaning the fact that her husband was selfish, abusive, irresponsible in leading the family, and in debt for many thousands of dollars.
The greatest threat to the stability and permanence of the Christian family is men who are losers””men of little Christian character or conviction. Parents and teachers need to warn single women, starting in the teen years, about the dangers of dating and marrying this type of man. Heeding these warnings would prevent heartache, unhappiness, divorce, and passing on a corrupt heritage to future generations.
Men who are losers are characterized by their need for quick gratification for any fleshly appetite without regard for others or the morality of the situation. They are often jealous and controlling, with explosive tempers that may indicate future verbal and physical abuse. These men are generally unbalanced individuals who go to extremes in their thinking or in their habits. They often want an ideal Christian woman to give them stability and standards, but they are not willing to change their own lifestyle.
What makes some Christian women marry men who are losers? Following are five common reasons:
1. Search for a father image. Sometimes the woman who is attracted to a loser has a father much like the man she is dating. Women tend to marry men like their fathers because they are comfortable in coping with that type of man.
2. Escape from a bad family situation. The woman who sees marriage as an escape usually has an attitude problem of rebellion and bitterness. Instead of adapting and adjusting in a Christlike manner, she sees escape as the answer to her problems. She takes her rebellious, negative attitudes with her into the marriage.
3. “Wounded dog” complex. An especially compassionate woman may see a loser as a project she can change and correct, especially if he is bitter against his parents and tells the woman about how he has been rejected or mistreated during childhood. Her mothering instincts tell her that she can change him by providing the right loving environment which he so badly missed in childhood. Teachers are especially susceptible to this motivation, for they are professionally dedicated to turning potential losers into winners.
4. Guilt over immorality. Many times women are burdened with guilt about their immorality and seek to minimize the guilt by marrying a loser. They don’t think they deserve any better.
5. Rejection and loneliness. Many women feel rejected and unworthy of being loved by any man because of rejection by their fathers or a lack of dates during teen years. They feel so grateful for being considered and loved by a man that they overlook his faults.
Every single young lady needs to examine her relationships with men to make sure that the above factors are not pushing her down a wrong path. For a woman who has made a wrong choice, divorce is not an option. The only course of action she has is found in 1 Peter 3:1-18 and Romans 12:1621. She needs to concentrate on making him happy and letting God make him holy.
Choosing a lifelong marriage partner is one of the most important decisions a Christian will make. Knowing the mind of God in this matter is the first step (Prov. 3:5-6). Parental approval of the person is another crucial criterion. Following the general principles on dating listed below is the third step to help avoid making a bad marriage decision.
1. Avoid dating or marrying a divorced person. A divorced man brings into his second marriage all the problems of the first marriage, and the divorce rate for second marriages is twice that of first marriages. There is also the Biblical admonition in Matthew 19 that a person who marries a divorced person is committing adultery.
2. Look at his home background. “Like father, like son” is a true statement, for men tend to follow closely the emotional behavioral pattern of their fathers, even as women are much like their mothers. Another truth is that a man who does not get along with his mother is unlikely to get along with his wife. Especially notice the way a man treats his mother in everyday situations, for he will treat his wife in much the same way after marriage. Any man can put on a good front on dates, but the daily actions show what he is really like.
3. Set firm moral standards before ever dating. Every woman should determine exactly what her standards are before starting to date, and under no circumstances should she violate them.
4. Avoid Satan’s traps. A lady should never be alone with a man in his home or in her own. A 1994 study of collegebound teens indicated that of those who had been immoral, 79 percent had their immoral experiences at home while the parents were away. The wise couple avoids unchaperoned situations. They let other people or a crowd be their chaperon. The Bible talks about avoiding all appearances of evil (1 Thess. 5:22), and Romans 14:16 says, “Let not then your good be evil spoken of.” Romans 13:14 says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Discretion and modesty should be the hallmarks of a dating couple’s talk and actions.
5. Evaluate his spirituality before getting serious. The man should have a record of consistent church attendance and participation, have a growing devotional and prayer life, and be wellgrounded in the faith. He should be the one to suggest and lead in devotions. He should exhibit discipline in his life and should be gaining spiritual victories along the way.
6. Make sure there is agreement in spirituality, background, interests, and general attitudes toward life. Amos 3:3 asks, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Extremely diverse religious backgrounds or cultures only add to the multitude of adjustments that must be made in the early days of marriage. Marriage between one person from a struggling economic background and another from a well-to-do environment is often plagued with serious financial problems. Similar interests and attitudes help to build the unity necessary in a good marriage.
Following are some ideas to help single Christian women find the right kind of men for future dates and possible marriage:
1. Develop friendships with men who have the right character and meet the criteria that you have set for a husband. Show genuine interest in them, their backgrounds, their ideas and opinions.
2. Be available for dates. If you are interested in a young man and are asked for a date that you cannot accept at that particular time, suggest another time. If a man thinks that a woman is genuinely interested, he will determine another time for the date.
3. Do your part in making the date a good one by being positive, enthusiastic, and energetic. Help him with suggestions about where to go on a date. Have a number of things in mind that would be enjoyable, taking into consideration the financial cost. Help keep the conversational ball rolling by asking appropriate questions and being an interested listener as well as a thoughtful responder. Express your appreciation for the date, and if he is the kind of man that you would want to date again, let him know.
4. Work to develop a bond of friendship. Good dating that leads to marriage is nothing more than a tremendous friendship developing to the point where the two finally decide that they are such good friends and get along so well that they might as well live together for the rest of their lives. A good marriage and real love happen when two people experience a close friendship and fellowship, sacrifice for each other, and unselfishly understand and meet each other’s needs.
5. Introduce to your parents every young man who asks to date you. Talk over your dating relationships with your parents. They can look at your relationship objectively. A wise and godly father can pretty well size up a man and give you an evaluation of his character.
6. Seek the Lord’s leading and guidance in your relationship, and He will show you whom you are to marry. If God wants you to be married (1 Cor. 7:32-35), He will bring the right man into your life, and you will know it. If you have serious doubts, however, break the relationship. There is nothing wrong with you if you are not married.
By following the above principles and guidelines, you can marry the man God has for you, a man God wants you to love, honor, and obey all your life.
Dr. Walter Fremont has retired from his duties as Dean of the School of Education at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. His wife Trudy continues as a member of the faculty. Article reprinted by permission from FrontLine magazine.