(What a time for me to start writing again…eek, this is rather long)
A week ago, a blog post has been popping up on my newsfeed from both believers and nonbeliever friends called “Men Prefer Debt Free Virgins without Tattoos”. Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife is the author of this post as well as thousands of other posts. Based on Titus 2:3-5, she writes with the purpose of mentoring “younger women to be sober, love and obey their husbands, love their children, be chaste, discreet, good, and keepers at home.” I have never heard of her before but she has quite a following with over 80,000 followers on Facebook. The article itself has been commented, shared, and reacted for tens of thousands of times and it has created quite a firestorm on the internet. The post was mocked by nonbelievers as well as received some criticism from Christians as well.
Problem 1: Truths Hidden within Poor Execution
I finally read it at the end of last week and my honest initial feeling was confusion, followed by feelings of disappointment on how this article was aiming towards the target, but missed the mark.
For one, the blog post was not well written nor was it well organized. The way that I would describe this blog post is like a series of “Facebook statuses-like” statements clumped together followed by a conversation with an unnamed woman about why women shouldn’t go to college (which was not eluded from the title). Furthermore, there was no backing to the claims that she was making. The entirety of the post had no Biblical reference, no studies, and no quotations by wise teachers. Only statements made by her and another woman, which made it difficult for me to understand why she believes these preferences are true to all men. This is quite irresponsible for someone who made this blog to teach “what I have learned from His Word.”
In reading the responses that Lori received from these posts, one main problem that I have noticed is how the article presents itself. I think what Lori is trying to (or should) say is this: “Godly men desire Godly women and vice versa.” Based on her purpose, she meant to address specifically to young Christian women with this post, not to the rest of the world. With a public post out in the internet having a general title saying that “Men” prefer this and that, it is not surprising that she was mocked by some nonbelievers who are offended by the concept of seeking after God’s own heart is a quality a Christian should find in a spouse. It is like how “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Lori admits to this when she made her follow-up post that she should have put “Godly” in front of the title.
(By the way, if you are offended by the simple phrase “Godly men desire Godly women and vice versa,” you don’t understand what it means to be a Christian.)
My other thought is the over-generalization of these preferences. “Prefer” means that if you have a choice between one or the other, those that don’t meet those preferences are looked down as lower tiered “candidates” for marriage. If you don’t have a choice, you would settle for what you have.
(Please note: There are men who DO prefer debt free virgins with no tattoos and there is nothing wrong with that. To the mockers who scoff at these men to have such standards: Shame on you! How immature can you be?)
But these three “preferences” in the article were written like universal law when a man is searching for a wife. These preferences are specifically on what a person has done instead of the characteristics of a person: You either have debt or don’t have debt; you either kept your virginity or lost it; you either got a tattoo or not get a tattoo. Apparently according to Lori, ALL Godly men have these preferences and ALL three of these characteristics are intrinsically more attractive to Godly men. By saying this, the article devalues young women who may have failed these expectations in the past. Even if the woman regrets her past and changes her ways in the present, this claim states that they are not likely to be with a Godly man. And if they are with such a man, they would think it is because the men settled with them with no other choice. Thank God this is not true. Some of these preferences may not even be in a Godly man’s mind when considering whether to marry someone, and that’s ok. These are personal preferences, not commands.
Problem 2: Truths Hidden within Poor Theology
This leads to my second main problem with this article. There are good teaching mixed with some bad teaching. If the advice to young women is that “Godly men desire Godly women and vice versa”, it is wise advice. However, what is the purpose of the article? The article was written to young women that they must be this in order attract Godly men. There are some theological assumptions that are false.
- The purpose to live a Godly and virtuous life is NOT so one can marry a good spouse. We are called to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5) because God saved us and transformed us to be like Him; to bear good fruit and be a witness to others, leading others to Christ. Matrimony is just a bonus.
- Women are not made and called solely to be a stay-at-home wife without career aspirations. Both men and women are called to give glory to God in everything that you do. There are many women that God uses who doesn’t simply stay home and focus on raising her children. Deborah was a judge (Judges 4), Priscilla was a tentmaker (Acts 18), Esther was a queen (Esther). Even in Proverbs 31, the noble wife runs a trade, grows a vineyard, provides food for the family, and makes and sells garments.
- Not everyone is called to be married. This article is assuming that all women are made to be married, hence the appeal of being with men. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7 that it is good to stay unmarried. (1 Corinthians 7:8) He even said that the unmarried will be “free from concern”. With what has happened, the unmarried man or woman will be concerned of the Lord’s affairs instead of the worldly affairs, particularly how to please their spouse (v. 32-35). Paul warned that those who are married are not in sin, but will have many troubles in this life (v. 28). That being said, he says that people should marry if they can’t control themselves (v. 9). This is showing that whether a person is married or not married, glory will be given to Him and that they both will serve God’s purpose. Do not limit one’s gifts and future aspirations by insisting that all women must be married and start a family.
- Being debt-free, a virgin, and tattoo-free does not make one Godly. Meaning, some of these preferences are not automatically sinful. I will go through each claim, keeping these problems in mind, and explain why being “debt free”, “virgin”, and “tattoo free” doesn’t necessarily mean one is Godly and that men can freely prefer one or the other.
Claim 1a: “[Godly] men prefer debt free [women].”
While the other two main claims were familiar to me, I found this particular point to be quite strange when I first saw this. I’m imagining a fictional scenario of a couple on a date, and the woman revealed that she has debt, and the man immediately breaks up with her.
No one finds debt to be favorable. Scripture gave the observation tha
t “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7) This verse, however, is not saying that having debt is sinful. If it is sinful, you would imply from the verse that being poor is sinful as well. This verse is simply saying that if you do owe something, the lender has a hold on you, which is true. When talking about being subject to government authority, Paul said this:
“For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:6-8)
We are to be subjected to government authority, which is why
if we owe taxes, we should pay them. Having debt is not an act of rebellion against God. You know what is sinful relating to debt? Those who “borrow and do not repay”. (Psalms 37:21).
Men’s preference in terms of having debt varies depending whether one can handle it, but there is no universal preference that a woman must have no debt to attract men. Compare to that fictional situation earlier, most probably don’t give it much thought as long as the woman is being responsible in paying them back.
Claim 1b: “[Godly] men prefer women to not go to colleges.”
Attached onto the debt topic is the topic of women going to colleges. I have already made some points in the above section on bad theology, so I’ll focus on addressing some of the concerns listed on the blog post:
Most of this debt comes from college.
We already talked about debt, but I do want to make a note that private (including Christian) colleges and universities tend to have higher enrollment cost than public secular colleges. It is more likely to get loans to attend these colleges. Christians who go to a Christian college or seminary not only want to continue to grow in their faith but also to learn the knowledge and skills needed for their future, contributing to society and serving God. People will decide that it would be wise to finance for a specific education.
“They lost a handful of years of experience learning to cook large meals and learning how to work in the garden. College kids don’t cook. If they do, it’s typically for themselves.”
Undergraduate is only a 4 year experience. Typically after a child has lived for 17-18 years. Why are we blaming a child’s knowledge of cooking and gardening towards college? What were the parents doing during all those years prior to college? I have seen plenty of college students who do know how to cook, to take care
of themselves, to hold get together meals with a large group of people, etc. If a child who doesn’t know how to cook prior to college, the child’s own maturity and the parent’s responsibility factors into that. If these factors don’t change, the child wouldn’t learn how to cook, with or without college.
One thing that I will agree with Lori is this: We live in a society that pushes the false thinking that everyone has to go to college. That is not true. You ma
y be called to work on places that don’t require a college education.
“Secular universities teach against the God of the Bible and His ways. It’s far from what God calls women to be and do: it teaches them to be independent, loud, and immodest instead of having meek and quiet spirits.”
Again, why do we think that secular universities has an unchallenged influence over families…and even God, that we are urged to avoid going to universities overall? Do you avoid having nonbelievers as friends?
Parents have the responsibility to have that close relationship with the child and show them love and righteousness. “Train up a child in the way
he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) If the child lives a lifestyle of open rebellion against God right when they started college, it means that they were not aligned with God before they went to college. You know what a wise, Godly woman would do if they go to a secular university? She would find a local church, fellowship with other believers, continue to dive in the Word, and to continue to live for Christ…on her own. There are so many Christian men and women involved in InterVarsity, Cru, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, and other campus organizations and ministries in their secular campuses and are enjoying their time living their faith. The opposite can also be true. There are stude
nts who either no longer identify themselves as Christians or never came to Christ while attending a Christian college. The main focus should be this: Is the youn
g lady striving to walk in the ways of the Lord?
Claim 2: “[Godly] men prefer virgins.”
There is something unfortunate about this claim, because I think Lori meant to tackle the sexual promiscuity and immorality in our culture and that is worth advising everyone to avoid. This is true: Fornication, or sex outside of marriage, is sinful; being sexually loose is sinful; sexually immorality is…immoral and sinful (Matthew 15:19, Galatians 5:19-21). Scripture itself says to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
However, specifically saying that all Godly men prefer virgins is harmfully and irresponsibly false. It’s really a poor choice of words. To say that those who, willingly or unwillingly, gave their virginity away are automatically going to turn away all believing men from being attracted to them is wrong. To say that that Christian women who would want to that God-fearing, repentant men (who are
under the same saving grace of God) prefer women who were perfectly without sexual sin is a double standard.
Think of the victims of sexual crimes like sexual abuse, assault, forced prostitution or, more prevalent in other countries, bride kidnapping. What hope do they feel if they read that their involuntary loss rendered them unwanted by Godly men? Think of those who have foolishly lost their virginity and have turned from their sinful ways. What message of redemption do they see when they see that one sin is not Godly men should not dwell on past sins if the woman is transformed through the power of Christ. Godly women are not devalued by her past sinful history.
Claim 3: [Godly] men prefer [women] without tattoos.
This is the one topic that is heavily a theological issue. Many apologetics and Bible answer sites identify this topic to be the more frequently asked question. Lori recently made a follow-up post discussing whether tattoos are sinful. One can say a lot about this topic, but in summary, the act of putting tattoos is not a sin, just like the act of drinking is not a sin, or the act of eating meat is not a sin, etc.
Those like Lori who says having tattoos is sinful will constantly quote Leviticus 19:28:
You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.
They use this sole verse to defend this because it is the ONLY reference to tattoos. There are a few hermeneutical problems with using only this verse to claim that getting a tattoo is sinful.
- Lori mentioned this in her follow-up post: “this verse is from the Law which we, as believers in Jesus Christ are no longer under” and quoted Romans 10:4. This is true. There are some civil and ceremonial laws in the Old Testament that do not apply to us under the New Covenant. Some of the laws are specifically given to the people of Israel at that time. This is one of those laws that do not apply to us because it is not mentioned in the New Covenant that marking your body is a moral issues, but is for the Israelites at that time. (Some of these Levitical laws are so specific to that time that Christians nowadays are not under it simply because they are culture specific, like sacrificial offerings, Jewish ceremonies, what year to eat or not eat the fruit that you grew, etc)
- In context of Levitical civil laws, these laws forbid the use of tattoos because it was a pagan practice back then. The cutting of one’s body for the dead in the same verse is also an example of pagan practice (like the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:28) These laws were given by God to the Israelites to separate His people in holiness from those actions of pagan god worshipers. There are many of these laws that were given in that context but are not repeated in the New Covenant.
- If you are interpreting this verse to be a universal moral law instead of a civil law, then the surrounding context will make it seem like one is cherry picking laws to follow. In the same verse, it said not to make cuts in one’s body for the dead. Some people use this to say that piercings are sinful (which from Lori’s picture, she doesn’t believe it is). The verse immediately before verse 28 told men not to shave their beards. Verse 19 stated not to wear garments mixed with two different materials. All of these verses are on the same chapter of Leviticus, but Christians do not follow all of these laws, because most of them are civil law specifically assigned for Israel at that time.
So does this mean getting a tattoos is ok? Yes and no. The act of getting a tattoo is not a sin and Leviticus 19:28 doesn’t prohibit that. One quotation from the follow-up post said that having tattoos is not attractive because that is not how God made us, but that reasoning doesn’t work with make up, hair dyes, or earrings. There are Godly people who do find tattoos to be attractive. Some don’t even get a tattoo until after they are married. Christians have the liberty to partake on these actions. However, intentions, motivation, and how it’s viewed by other people behind getting a tattoo or how much tattoos is what determines whether it is sinful or not. If the purpose of getting tattoos is to draw people’s attention to your body, that is an evil motivation. If you getting a tattoo as a remembrance of something meaningful, or as an act of solidarity, these are not vile motivations.Some of you may live in a culture that sees negative connotations to having a tattoo and it may not be wise to get one, while others live in societies that the view of a person with a tattoo has changed, preventing one’s witness to be untarnished.
Earthly meaning of symbols change. Think of the sign of the cross. It was originally used by the Romans as the symbol for punishment and embarrassment, and now it is a sign of hope and redemption for sinners. Think of the Coptic Christians in Egypt prior to the first millennium that suffer from persecution from Muslims. They tattoo Christians to identify and persecute them. Now, Coptic Christians get the Coptic cross tattoo voluntarily on their hand and wrist to remind themselves who they are, to remember the fallen, and to proclaim their faith.
For me, I would approach these topics of Christian Liberty based on 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14. It is not sinful to partake on these things and I will not judge others of being sinful if they do these things, but if the liberties that I can enjoy can cause a new or weaker believer to stumble, I should refrain from it for the sake of the Church. It is similar to the issue of alcohol. Drinking is not a sin (Ecclesiastes 9:7). Drinking to and with the purpose of getting drunk is a sin (Ephesians 5:18).
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)
What do I think about Lori Alexander’s post? In essence there are some good truths in some bad teaching. There is nothing wrong for a Godly man to prefer a debt free virgin without tattoos, but it is very wrong to mock people who have these preferences. There is nothing wrong for a Godly man to prefer a debt free virgin without tattoos, but it is very wrong to shame and devalue women who did not meet the preferences of some men. There is nothing wrong for a woman to be called as a wife at home, but it is wrong to claim that all women are called to be a wife at home. Godly men truly desire Godly women, but being debt free, being a virgin, or tattoo free doesn’t make one Godly.
As a Christian guy, I desire my future wife to love God, to be knowledgeable of His Word, to abide by His authority, to bear fruit of God’s righteous and transforming power, and to love me under God as modeled like the love between Christ and His Bride, the Church. These are some of the all-or-nothing requirements. However, my preferences will vary compare to the other Christian guys and they probably mean more to men than being debt free, a virgin, or to not have tattoos. It could be appearance or demeanor, ideological or theological stances, personality or compatibility, or views of living life or views of raising a future. For me, it doesn’t matter to me whether a woman has debt or not as long as she is managing them responsibly; I focus more on whether a woman is sexually pure right now compared to what she did in the past; I personally am not a fan of tattoos (the ink, the pain, the permanence, and my changing tastes), but I would not judge a woman to be unholy for having tattoos.
Whether we are single or married, wherever we are, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
An Asian Believer,