Husband material

In case you missed it, Mark Driscoll has been to Sydney recently. It’s created lots of healthy discussion about lots of important things. I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on one particular idea that occurred more than once in his public talks: the challenge to the ‘late-blooming’ young men of Sydney to grow up and take some responsibility. His basic formula was move out of home, get a job, buy a house, get married and plant a church—in that order.

Along with many other women hereabouts, I rejoiced to hear someone having a go at jolting the Peter Pans of our churches out of their extended adolescence—not for my own sake, of course; I’m very happy with the husband God gave me!—but for the many Christian single women I know who are looking, not for a buddy or a boyfriend, but for a good and godly husband. In the words of one single friend, “It’s about time someone said something to the men in this country!”. I’m also glad that he made his challenge concrete and sharp and funny and memorable: he didn’t just give us an abstract idea or a general principle; he gave us something tangible, practical, specific for the men to step up to.

But I’m not entirely sure that the tangible, practical, specific things that he focused on were the right ones. In particular, it was the ‘house’ bits that I wasn’t convinced by: is he really right that moving out of mum and dad’s house, and buying some real estate of your own should be at the centre of the picture when a Christian woman thinks about what makes for ‘husband material’ in a man? There is at least one significant practical difference between Seattle (Driscoll’s home town) and Sydney. According to one major study, the median house price in Sydney a couple of years ago was AUS $520,300, and the median household income was AUS $61,200.3 In the same period, the median house price in Seattle was US $372,400, and the median household income was US $64,100.

More importantly, while buying a house may well be a responsible and wise decision for many people, I can’t see how the Bible encourages us to see it as the standard or universal option for Christians living in the last days. Even from the standpoint of creation wisdom, there are words of warning to be said about rushing prematurely into a big mortgage in a bid to snare a woman (Prov 24:27). Given the shortness of the time and the urgency of the work of the gospel (1 Cor 7:29-31, Mark 10:29), some men (and not just the ones who have the gift of celibacy!) may set their sights on serving Jesus in ways that don’t involve owning a own home.

Nor was I convinced that moving out of home (into a share house of other 20-something-year-old men, or into a family home purchased in advance on spec) is the essential pre-marriage step for a man to take. Mark’s suggestion that it was biblically mandated (Gen 2:24) was hardly good exegesis. And I am not sure it was fair to consistently describe the parental home as “mom’s home”. Why, if not for the purposes of taking a cheap shot, was it never ‘dad’s home’? Surely there’s a way for a young man to stay at home, earn an income, pay board and help out around the house (and save for a deposit on a house of his own!) without being some sort of immature ‘mummy’s boy’!

So if those things are not the formula, what does make for husband material in a young man? What should I be advising my single female friends to look for these days? Here are a few thoughts to get you thinking:

  • A man who loves Jesus (1 Cor 7:39).
  • A man who wants to do something worthy and God-glorifying with his life so that you could give yourself gladly to be his helper (Gen 2:18).
  • A man who loves you (both in emotion and in action—Eph 5:25).
  • A man you can respect (Eph 5:33).
  • A man you can desire (Song 5:8).
  • A man who has self-control (including control of his sexual desires—1 Thess 4:4).
  • A man who loves and wants children, who understands how central they are to the purpose of marriage, and who is eager to play his part in teaching and disciplining and caring for them (Mal 2:15, Eph 6:4).

What do you think? Have I left out anything important?

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