Whether your instinct is to say “heck yea!” or “heck no” this header is sure to draw attention, gain clicks and go viral. I’m talking about two hundred thousand shares. This post references controversial scriptures with controversial ideas of how to respond to them. It hit a ton of points, with little explanation, empathy or encouragement for those who already find themselves with debt, not a virgin or with tattoos. It incited response videos from angry youtubers and fury over social media.
The drama is on and in my response to the original blog post and these subsequent videos, I’m going to both criticize and applaud both sides of the argument to help bring unity, or at least understanding, within the Christian community.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10
There are two quick ways to temper emotions and have a thoughtful, productive discussion.
The first is do not add on connotations and implications that make the actual words written anything other than what they actually are. This practice is rampant through Western culture right now and it’s not helpful.
For a lighthearted understanding of the phenomena, lets look at memes. On of my favorites was inspired by Jordan Peterson’s interview with Cathy Newman. It shows him stating“I ate bacon and eggs for breakfast” and she responds “So you think we should kill all vegans?!” This is what I’m talking about. Read what is written and don’t come to overgeneralized dramatized conclusions.
This already happened in a response video to Lori Alexander’s post. The responder led with 1 John 4:8, a verse about how God is love. That sounds like a great place to come from. But then she then proceeded to question the salvation and Christianity of men who prefer debt free virgins with no tattoos. The thought process being he “doesn’t know God because he does not know love.”
But wait - the claim is that they prefer those things. Furthermore, it says nothing about excluding women in these categories from the general love that we as Christians are called for all people. It isn’t hateful for men to choose what standards they’ll use when it comes to who they date and eventually marry.
This post didn’t claim that men will exclude women with debt, who aren’t virgins or who have tattoos from their dating prospects. But even if it did, is it fair to assume that if someone chooses not to date someone for any multitude of reasons that they aren’t a Christian and don’t have the love of Christ?
There are some points in the article that I disagree with and we’ll get into that, but if our goal is unity, lets not add fuel to the fire where fuel wasn’t. My encouragement is to look at the actual words that were written and use critical thinking to judge each idea presented. Let us remember to not be quick to anger and judgement.
A man's discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.
The second tip for unity is to assume positive intent. Most people reading the blog and watching youtube rebuttals do not know the creators personally. No one can read each other’s mind. Lets assume that all people involved did so in an effort to communicate what they believe God inspired in them.
This is the positive intent that I assume for both parties:
The author feels called to speak God’s truth and not shy away because of the world’s standards. (The author likely didn’t want to add a lot of fluff so as to not water down the message.)
The responders feel called to speak God’s grace and show the world God’s love. (Along with that, it’s easy to protect those who may be offended by the article while forgetting that God’s love extends to the author, her supporters and any men who have the preferences she described.)
Contrary to what you might expect, the blog post is mostly quotes from a fan who wrote to the author sharing the fan’s reasons why she thought girls shouldn’t go to college. The author added her thoughts in parenthesis. To me it had an air of older women sharing wisdom to youngins’ before they make decisions or possibly speaking to those still in college. In the case readers aren’t in that demographic, it can be framed as older women discussing how society is versus how they believe God designed it to be.
As I watched responses from Christians, it seemed they took it from the point of view of how someone who already had debt, lost their virginity or had tattoos could potentially feel. They stepped in to help ensure those people didn’t feel discouraged or unloved.
Now that I laid some groundwork, I’ll share the points that the author made and I’ll address each.
1 - Biblical femininity isn’t “independent, loud and immodest.”
2 - College leads to debt and men prefer women without debt.
3 - If women have already invested huge amounts of money in college and need a career to pay off debt, they are less likely to stay home with their children.
4 - College professors and cultures teach women the opposite of God’s design for how to act, think and live. Men prefer to not have to help them unlearn what they’ve been taught.
5 - College takes up precious fertile years, which delays having children, potentially to the point women cannot naturally get pregnant.
6 - Women don’t learn how to cook or take care of a house in college, so they end up being unprepared.
7 - Stay virgins, get out of debt and don’t get tattoos
Point 1: Biblical femininity isn’t “independent, loud and immodest.
In my opinion the author didn’t give enough examples of what she really meant to be helpful for edifying women, particularly regarding loudness. One responder mentioned how she just is not a quiet person so where would this verse put her? I don’t believe that’s what the author is referring to but we don’t know.
As far as immodesty goes, it is undeniable that God’s ideal design is modesty. Yes, that implies being a virgin at marriage. It should not be controversial to state God’s ideals, especially when it is so clearly biblical. She wasn’t even getting into one piece bathing suits or cleavage free wedding dresses. Literally the only example in this post was to not have sex outside of marriage.
I believe where the outrage comes from is the confusion about the difference between:
A: Stating God’s ideals and pointing out that they are preferable to future spouses
B: Being mean to people who don’t live up to it.
The gospel basically is that God has pure holiness and high expectations and all fall short. That’s why we need Jesus as our Savior. We need His grace because we fall short. We need the law to see our failings. Through Jesus our relationship with God can be restored. While we are on earth, we will continue to mess up, but God’s spirit lives in us. For our entire lives we become more and more Christlike, aka sanctification.
It is not cruel to encourage God’s standards. This post encourages women to remain virgins and states that future spouses would prefer a woman to have never slept with another man. (Wouldn’t women prefer that their husband hadn’t slept with other people? This isn’t an outrageous preference.)
The blog post does NOT say “if you had sex outside of marriage, you aren’t going to heaven. Jesus’ blood doesn’t cover you. And no man will ever want you!” That’s false, mean and unloving. I agree that would justify the outrage if that were the message.
My prayer is that God will help His children to have discernment so we can more openly have conversations about purity, conservative values and traditionalism without people going up in arms.
Now about the notion to biblical femininity is not independent. When Christians discuss the independent hot button they tend to go extreme. On one hand conservative Christians can at least seem to advocate for a woman to put herself in a really vulnerable position of just trusting that her perfect husband will always faithfully and wisely take care of the money, her and her many children. On the other hand more liberal Christians end up dismissing verses that speak of submission and differences in gender roles, especially if it seems limiting. The topic of female independence could easily be a post of its own. However, for unifying purposes, I want to point out that rejecting independence doesn’t mean rejecting employ ability.
I believe the real heart issue isn’t about career choices, but rather attitude. Isn’t that usually the case? God looks at the heart. I’d even argue men aren’t called to be independent either.
So often in Western culture we focus on being able to take care of ourselves. But God has given us communities! We are called to help pick people up when they need it and others can help us when we need it. We are individual parts of one body, one church. We aren’t called to dependent or independent.
Man and woman are called to interdependence.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Point 2: College leads to debt and men prefer women to not have debt.
If you were given a survey that asked “would you prefer to marry someone who has debt or who is debt-free?”, what would you say?
If all other things were equal, why would anyone, male or female, prefer that their partner had debt?
The other belief underlying this point is that college leads to debt.
Yeah. Student debt is debt from college. This is true.
Here’s a fact from time.com “Of the more than 40 million Americans who have student debt, 5.9 million—about 14% of the total group—owe more than $50,000.” (2) Yikes.
Yes, college is expensive.
Yes, it’s preferable to be debt-free.
Where is the controversy?
With that said, I do see how the comment “That isn’t right to bring into a marriage” (in reference to debt) can cause controversy. That’s harsh wording. It isn’t ideal to bring debt into a marriage. That’s reasonable to say.
What is this author suggesting by saying it isn’t right? Is she saying women shouldn’t get married until they’ve paid off their debt? Love accepts each other’s baggage. Whether that is emotional or financial. Let each individual couple decide how to proceed.
Additionally, it would have been a less divisive post if it had been brought up that women would prefer men to not have debt as well. Even if we are talking about a man who intends to provide for his family, contrary to popular belief, college is not always the responsible choice. If they specifically desire a career that requires a degree, such as IT or engineering, then it’s clear. But the idea that a college degree, whatever the major, opens doors to abundant well paying jobs is just not true. Without a clear career path, college often leads to unemployment, underemployment and a ton of debt. That’s a bad combination but that’s what society still encourages. Maybe it would have been better to obtain credentials for things like electrical work, plumbing, welding etc., then work for someone else or even plan to open a business with the newly learned skill that is in demand.
I believe her intention is to encourage young women to actually consider being a wife and mom as the career of the first half of their adult lives. If women did that, they would be much less likely to invest tens of thousands of dollars, most of which they likely can’t afford yet, for a career they don’t intend to have for another 20 years. The book Professionalizing Motherhood alludes to this as well. I recommend it for any mom, but especially sahms. Honestly I believe it is beneficial for young engaged or single women as well to help them decide the direction they want to steer their lives. It takes a much less controversial tone and focuses on validating the role of mom and homemaker while encouraging women to grow and develop in the role rather than view themselves as stuck and stagnant during those years.
Point 3: If women have already invested huge amounts of money in college and need a career to pay off debt, they are less likely to stay home with their children.
Another angry youtuber responded that going to college is totally normal, so how could you expect people to not do that. Surely something so commonplace can’t be sin.
To clarify, the post definitely did not say it is a sin. Rather that it may do more harm than good and because of that women should forgo. It was questioning the wisdom of going to college (the wisdom that is hugely present in society) and giving a different recommendation based on several different points. This is different than not condemning those who chose college. (Additionally as Christians we are aliens in this world so normalcy of a practice is not evidence that it is good.)
My husband and I frequently discuss the wisdom in encouraging all women to go to college. This is especially true if the young lady desires to get married and stay at home with her kids. Society tends to rag on this idea as old fashioned or even oppressive. We aren’t called to live like the world. However,
Even in Christian culture there’s an unquestioned encouragement to attend college.
Then there’s a paradoxical encouragement to stay at home with the kids after children are born.
Kind of would have been helpful to hear that encouragement to be a sahm before investing four years, tens of thousands of dollars and picking a major without considering how flexible the corresponding career options would be.
I believe true empowerment is encouraging individual women to make their own choices with the best information. It’s not helpful to ignore the reality that many women end up yearning to stay home with their babes (even if, like me, they didn’t expect themselves to react in that way).
As a church we should encourage women to keep biblical references of gender roles at the forefront of their decisions. It is a complicated subject because verses like Titus 2:4-5 speaks of loving and caring for your husband and children but undeniably Psalm 31 references entrepreneurship and money management, indicating to me that women should not necessarily be excluded from the family finances and there is space for money making.
As I discussed in my post about my internal tension between building a business online and focusing on my role at home, including the dreaded housework, my encouragement for Christian women is to pray for them to discern God’s direction in light of their current circumstance. Additionally I encourage long-term vision, assessment of strengths and specific career ideas, deep bible studies that get into the historical context of female gender role passages and authentic conversations over female gender roles in the family, careers and motherhood. Prudent prayer and planning is critical for young women to make optimal decisions. Pretending plans for motherhood are irrelevant until a woman is trying to conceive is recklessly poor and damaging advice.
My story is that despite being raised in a Christian home and even living in conservative Oklahoma since middle school, the message I received was that the desire to be a stay-at-home mom as plan A was taboo. I heard that “yes, real people in 2006 go to college and really are just looking for husbands, that’s called getting a MRS degree.” I laughed in disbelief and thought is was just for Southern debutantes. I adamantly declared that I was not one of those ignorant, gold digging women.
College is actually a ridiculously expensive match making method but my point is that the idea to plan to be a wife and mom was totally foreign.
I had never considered how I’d feel when I had a baby. I never thought about what it’d be like to after only a few weeks, send my child off to someone else to watch them the majority of the day. (And spend the majority of my salary for them to do that.)
Just the other day a woman in a ladies bible study I attend was in tears about how she was so grateful for her extended maternity leave, but she really needed to go back for financial reasons. On the other hand, I’ve also heard women share that maternity leave was a real challenge for them. The days can feel long and women yearn for “adult conversation.”
I recognize that it’s difficult to imagine these things when you aren’t anywhere near wanting to have a baby. However, I believe as a church we should at least encourage women to think about this. How much more informed would young women be if it were typical for them to sit down with older women: stay at home moms, working moms, part-time moms, work from home moms, and make a real assessment of their Plan A.
With all of this said, I wouldn’t encourage any young lady to just sit around waiting to get married. However, I believe for those women who do want to be Chief Operating Officers of the home, it is logical in those years prior to starting a family to invest significantly less in their careers and instead seek jobs with less expensive trading and jobs that offer flexibility, part-time work and work-from-home opportunities. Or alternatively, they could do what I fell into, which was get a lucrative degree and save like crazy until it’s baby time.
The fact is that if you invest in a career, it’s going to make it both emotionally and financially more challenging to give up if you end up with the desire to be home full time with your children.
Even though culture likes to act like careers are super fulfilling and enjoyable, the reality for many is dreading Monday and living for Friday, holidays and vacation.
Point 4: College teaches women the opposite of God’s design for how to act, think and live. Men prefer to not have to help them unlearn what they’ve been taught.
To be fair, college experiences are highly variable depending on the college, major, friends, organizational involvement and professors. With that said, recently I’ve had my eyes opened to a lot of the craziness that is promoted on campus.
Do your own research on what is going on but college now. It is not what it was even 5-10 years ago. The identity politics is unreal and “female” is one of those groups that have become highly politicized. Radical feminism that thrives on some campuses is undoubtedly unbiblical. It goes much beyond promoting career women and encouraging equal opportunities.
Look up things like:
Social justice warrior (SJW aka social police)
Safe spaces (yes, segregation is a thing now, in the name of helping minorities)
Trigger warnings (oversensitivity is highly promoted)
Intersectionality, or for a more humorous view of it, the oppression olympics.
Third and fourth wave feminism
Rape culture (be sure to see how to this is played out i.e. Mattress Girl)
The enemy is hard at work in deceiving people and warping people’s world views. The result is mostly victim mentalities, increased division among identity groups, most pertinent to this post are male and female relations. Clearly this is not an environment that promotes a biblical unity of the uniquely made, man and woman.
Current active feminists promote are not about giving equality of opportunity and options (unless it’s for an abortion.) It’s anti-man and it’s really about claiming supremacy over men. Look up testimonies of people being “red pilled.” Or better yet, watch The Red Pill, a documentary made by a feminist filmmaker who originally wanted to expose the men’s rights movement for their cruel intentions. In her TED talk she spoke about “talking to the enemy.” She eventually realized men are people too and saw how the feminist movement had become anti-man. Listen to interviews of how the people who used to support her literally tries to ruin her career and life because she dared mention that men’s rights matter too. Yes, it’s worse in the UK, Europe and Canada. However, this mentality affects United States culture and campuses as well. I continually am shocked to see videos of insanely rude and sometimes violent protesters on campuses I would not have begged as overly liberal. They’ve protested people who 10 years ago would have been on the left. These protests are not even necessarily against conservative Christian speakers. It’s anyone who disagrees with them on any of many different points.
How can a Christian woman come out of that environment and reconcile the idea of submitting to a man in marriage? How will this help her learn to respect her husband?
I see bits and pieces of feminist influence in my life and marriage. I was raised in the church, lived in a conservative state, attended a conservative college and majored in the business school, not something ideological like gender studies. Nevertheless, as I am writing about the virtue of submitting to your husband in marriage, as is instructed in the bible, I squirm. I’m fearful that I’m coming off too traditional and closed minded. Whaaaat? Why is this an even slightly controversial opinion in Christian circles?
We should respect all people, our husbands especially. It’s such a biblical concept and so important for marriage. In fact our married small group went through the book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs. This book described a man’s need for respect and a woman’s need for love . Every couple in our group found it helpful.
How much harder would it be for a woman to unlearn unbiblical toxic feminism that is indoctrinated to a much larger degree than what I experienced in the unusually conservative world I experienced in college 10 years ago when it wasn’t as pervasive?
These are real concerns.
HOWEVER, the woman who wrote in did imply that it was the husband who needs to teach his wife how to act, think and live. This is the part that gets funky.
“Your posts sound crazy to anyone who does not believe the Bible is true. Most girls have not read the Bible with their father (Ephesians 6:4) or husband to explain it to them (1 Corinthians 14:35). That part is important. Instead of learning it from their parents, they seek out books or movies on how to interpret the Bible which leads them down the wrong path.”
The only point Lori Alexander refuted was a different part that indicated men prefer women to live at home with their parents before getting married so I’m going to refute the implications of the above quote.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers,[a] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Corinthians 14:34-35 Women[f] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
One angry response to this post was dismayed to hear someone promoting the idea that women can’t read the bible themselves and need their father or husband to interpret it for them. I agree with her dismay on this one. The woman who wrote in appears to have misunderstood Corinthians 14:34-35. It doesn’t say a woman needs her husband to explain the bible. For one, the bible didn’t exist at that time. Secondly, it specifically speaks about how to act while in church, not when studying scriptures.
No doubt Corinthians 14:34-35 is one of those verses a woman’s got to wrestle with. I recommend reading John Piper’s article about it as it gets more into the specific language used and other information we know from other parts of the bible around this topic. It seems to be similar to the idea of respecting your husband by not questioning him in front of other people or your kids. It’s like hey, have a private conversation about it instead of publicly calling someone out. Something like that.
As far as the overall anti-college sentiments, it should be noted that Christian women are able to hear something and review it using the belt of truth, being the word of God. Even without attending a Christian college, they could attend a more conservative college. Furthermore, the ideas of being “independent, loud, and immodest” would be more heavily promoted in majors like gender studies. If they don’t associate with the intolerant and extreme social justice warrior and active feminist crowd, the influence would be much less pronounced. To some degree women are affected by the media, friends and other sources anyway, so avoiding college wouldn’t necessarily avoid the influence.
Point 5: College takes up precious fertile years, which delays having children.
While this is true and I advocate for more truth and honesty in this area, this seems a bit dramatic to me. With that said, here are some unpopular truths.
Yes, the biological clock is real.
Yes, it could end up being trickier to get pregnant than you imagined.
And I’ll add one of my own, yes, you may not want to be super old when you are a grandparent.
A woman could go to college, get married, wait a couple years to start trying and have her first child at age 25. Depending on how many years apart she has children, how long she waits to start a family, how quickly she gets pregnant and whether or not she gets married while in college, college and a big family don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
The situation is that women delay starting a family long after college graduation. Women are trying to establish themselves in their career before kids, not just get the applicable degree. That is what has changed society to the point that the average woman has their first child in her early 30’s instead of her 20’s (3).
This is actually another topic my husband and I discuss a lot.
I’m a prime example of how the years slip by. I was unique in that family life was high on my radar. However, I ended up giving birth to my first child at 27 and my second at 30 . This is despite me meeting my husband at 19 and marrying him straight out of my college at age 22. No extra semesters for me and no downtime. We started trying after our 3 years anniversary, at that point I was 25. We hit a fertility snag that praise God was overcome relatively quickly. It took less than a year to get pregnant despite being diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.) Thanks to PCOS I needed to wean my first before taking the progesterone and Clomid to ovulate and get pregnant. However, we value breastfeeding for health purposes and additionally my daughter and I were attached to breastfeeding. I got pregnant with daughter number two when I was 29 and a little after my thirtieth birthday she was born. We possibly want two more kids and I’d definitely prefer to be done with pregnancy and sleepless nights in my late 30’s. (Pregnancies do get harder the older women get!)
Do I wish this timeline was moved up at least a few years? Absolutely. I’m not sure how much quicker it could have happened, but I do wish we hadn’t thought it totally outlandish to get married while in school. Maybe we wouldn’t have done anything differently but we saw earlier marriage as totally outside the realm of possibility. Looking back that belief has no biblical basis.
I acknowledge that in order to bring back a society where people actually get married younger, expectations and responsibilities for teenagers need to drastically go up. Perhaps the ideal to promote is that mature high school sweethearts should marry at 18 and start growing the family when the husband has finished whatever training he needs for a good job. Personally I would be happy for either of my daughters to fall into that situation but it’d be hard to come by. I recognize that situation is drastically different than what we are used to, and therefore scary to consider.
Point 6: Women don’t learn how to cook or take care of a house in college, so they end up being unprepared.
I agree not being prepared for the homemaker role is an overwhelmingly common problem for stay at home moms and even working moms. However, I find this point silly because while it is true that college students aren’t known for their culinary skills, it’s not as if people can’t learn these things while in college. I’d argue that all of society should do a better job of preparing their children, both male and female, in basic cooking, cleaning and house management.
In point number three I discussed the logic behind empowering young women to really consider their career choices and to change decisions and actions if their plan A is to play the homemaker role. Particularly for these young ladies, it is wise to actually prepare for their role instead of learning these things while also managing a crying baby. I wish I had.
Point 7: Stay virgins, get out of debt and don’t get tattoos
We talked about the modesty bit in point 1 and get out of debt in point 2. The line about tattoos is randomly brought in. It made the header catchier but at the cost of divisiveness. At first I wasn’t sure how serious the author was about no tattoos but I did see she made a follow up blog post expressing biblical concern regarding them. I don’t quite agree with her belief that tattoos are unbiblical but I do believe she has some points to be considered.
Additionally, I was surprised that so many men commented on youtube response videos etc. that they totally agree with the no tattoo part. I still suspect that their concern is more so with the “tatted up” woman than someone with a smaller meaningful tattoo. Either way, just as woman prefer certain things in men, men certainly have a right to dating preferences and I believe women should respect men and not ostracize their feelings. Unfortunately the female responses to this blog post displayed a shocking lack of respect and empathy for men.
It seems to me that it would be helpful information for a young woman to know that many Christian men are not into tattoos. Additionally these men expressed they did find a high correlation between the attitudes of tattooed vs. non-tattooed women. Yes, it’s a stereotype, but it is not unreasonable for men to strive to save themselves time and heartache. The same can be true if a woman avoids a stereotype after getting burned i.e. not dating a guy in a band if the last 2 musicians cheated on you. It doesn’t mean they hate women with tattoos or can’t love them in a general “we are called to love all people” way. It just means some men have set up certain boundaries, qualities and standards in the women they chose to date. Women should do the same thing.
Furthermore in Lori Alexander’s defense, it does make sense to consider that one day a future spouse will be affected by any decisions you make with your body, especially permanent ones like tattoos. One day you will be one with another in marriage. With that said, I get how people who were already put off by the rest of the post could get sent over the edge with the no tattoos remark, given that tattoos are so common.
Could this post been written with better explanation and more grace? Yes.
Was this post hateful and cruel? No.
Does it have some good points? Yes.
Should all the ideas be taken as gospel? No.
Hopefully my post helped you sort through these ideas, encouraged critical thinking and will help Christians in both camps understand each other and unify!
Leave a comment with your thoughts from the Men Prefer Debt Free virgins Without Tattoos post or comment with your thoughts from my analysis of both the post and the responses to it!
*This post contains several affiliate links.
1) July 16, 2018, Lori Alexander, Men prefer debt free virgins with no tattoos
2) February 22, 2018, KAITLIN MULHERE A Shocking Number of Americans Now Owe at Least $50,000 in Student Debt—and Many Aren't Paying It Down: http://time.com/money/5169145/50000-dollars-student-debt-default/