Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ADVICE TO A SINGLE MAN ABOUT MARRIAGE”

Proposition #6


Expect no woman who will not follow you prior to marriage
to follow you after marriage.


First Corinthians 11.3

 

How many of you would knowingly subject yourselves to a quadruple by-pass surgery to save your life if you knew the surgeon had never before performed an operation? Or, what reasonable patient would allow a physician to perform an operation on his brain if he knew that doctor had never before operated on anyone? Those are ridiculous questions, in light of the risks involved to the patient needing those types of surgeries, which is why medical schools gradually introduce surgeons to their craft, by allowing them to assist until their familiarity and their skills are such that the risk to the patient is minimized. However, the point that I make is a valid one.

What kind of thinking goes into a marriage by a man who not only has never before been involved in the selection of a woman to be his wife, but has never even seen a successful marriage close up because his own home life was so dysfunctional that his parents were either constantly at odds with each other or they divorced? No wonder roughly one half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. Many men are more cautious about buying a used car than they are about selecting a wife. Oh, they would never consider buying a used car without making sure of the maintenance history of that vehicle, though they would marry a woman without any interest in investigating her past conduct.

One week before my conversion to Jesus Christ, I was told by a friend at work that he had become a Christian. His experience left me adrift, so that my routine was so disrupted that I stayed in my apartment the next weekend reading a Bible my mother had given me when I graduated from college. It was after reading large portions of God’s Word that I was converted. Sadly, on the advice of his pastor, my friend and coworker married a woman recommended to him some months later, only to find out after his marriage that his new bride was a certifiable nut case, who had been in and out of psychiatric wards on a number of occasions. The marriage ended in a tragic and painful divorce. I wonder if he would have married that woman after spending just a little bit of money investigating her past and learning of her criminal record and mental health history.

Then there is the prenuptial contract. I once knew a woman who married a guy she had known since her high school days. After renewing old acquaintances, she sought the counsel of another pastor and decided to marry her old sweetheart. She then sought my counsel. I remember asking her at the outset, “Are you seeking my counsel about something you are considering, or seeking my approval of something you have already decided?” Sure enough, she married the guy and they lived happily ever after, or until the community property rules in their state of residence kicked in and he divorced her and was awarded one half of everything she brought into the marriage, including the proceeds from the home she sold when she married that joker. When one person has substantial assets, he flatters himself that he is so sexy that he is convinced he is irresistible. Whoever owns substantial assets should find out just how irresistible he remains after mention is made of a prenuptial agreement blocking the assets brought into the marriage. No one with assets has any business marrying without an ironclad prenuptial agreement, which is simply the modern day version of the ancient marriage contract.

My friends, I am not mean-spirited or crass. However, I have been in the gospel ministry for more than thirty years. I have seen men pretend to be Christians for as long as a year to get the women they want and I have seen women scheme and connive to get the men they want. The suggestions that I have been making to single men are based on the reality that no godly man can practice or make trial runs in this business of getting married. You have to get it right the first time, or face the great risk of personal tragedy.

Here are the propositions dealt with so far to help you single men get it right the first time:

 

Proposition #1: “Tending to eternity is more important than tending to matters of marriage.”

 

Proposition #2: “Consider marriage only if you need to consider marriage.”

 

Proposition #3: “Recognize the wisdom of planning for marriage.”

 

Proposition #4: “Recognize the potential for danger when dealing with women.”

 

Proposition #5: “Commit to finding a woman to marry, rather than being found by a woman to marry.”

 

This is not complicated stuff, when you break it down into its discreet components. Consider these propositions somewhat like a check list to be carried in your wallet and consulted with in the men’s room whenever you find yourself flushed with excitement in conversation with a woman. I am trying to save you huge legal bills, a world of personal heartache, and possibly the destruction of the lives of your children.

To be sure, not every marital tragedy can be avoided. However, when afflictions related to marriage enter your life, you will want to reflect on how you arrived at your present distress. If you made the best use of the counsel available to you at the time you married, you will be greatly comforted by the assurance that you have not shot yourself in the foot by your own stupidity by marrying that woman. Exercise good wisdom, so you will know that God’s dealings with you in the hard times of marriage are not chastisement or correction for your folly.

This evening’s proposition does not break new ground. Instead, it expands and enlarges on a portion of the ground already covered in this series. You will remember that I mentioned in our time together last week that finding a wife is a leadership function and that only a man should engage in leadership functions throughout his relationship with a woman, both before and after marriage. Obviously, it is impossible for a man who works for a woman to maintain that posture, since her status as his supervisor requires that he yield to her leadership in that area of his life, or resign and seek a new position if he finds that he cannot honestly submit to her. That type of caveat understood, the principle holds in general. When dealing with a woman who is not considerably more mature, it is wise for a man to maintain a leadership posture, at least in his own mind. It may be socially difficult for a man to openly display leadership without causing furor or offending someone. Wisdom and discretion are paramount in such cases.

In no wise should a man ignore the recommendation of Proverbs 31.3: “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.” No matter whom the woman is you are interacting with, whether it is an adult son with reference to his mother, or a man with reference to a woman he has met at the gym, this principle always applies. “Give not thy strength unto women.” Even King Asa, removing his own mother from being queen, was an example of this important principle being followed.[1]

That understood, we should now consider the sixth proposition in this series. To that end, please turn to First Corinthians 11.3, where the Apostle Paul is obviously commenting about the functional hierarchy that exists between a husband and a wife: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” What is set forth in this verse does not apply to the general relationships that exist between men and women. Certainly, no son is his mother’s head and no employee is his female boss’ head. As well, no guy is any woman’s head just because he likes her. However, since we are dealing with matters related to marriage, it is reasonable to discuss the relationships that exist between a single man and the women who might conceivably be considered for marriage. That being the case, it is time to state the sixth proposition:

 

“Expect no woman who will not follow you prior to marriage to follow you after marriage.”

 

Are we all understanding that I am not at this time referring to your mother, to your grandmother, to your sister, or to your female boss at work? Neither am I referring to your best friend’s wife or your brother’s fiancé. We are limiting our consideration to those women who might be considered by you for marriage, women who might end up in that functional hierarchy the Apostle described in our text. You have no business expecting any woman to follow you after marrying you who did not follow your leadership prior to your marriage to her. It is unreasonable to expect a relationship pattern, once established, to be dramatically altered. The unwritten social contract that is established when two people meet each other cannot be rewritten without the mutual consent of both involved parties.

Allow me to lead you through the various phases of a relationship with the woman you might end up marrying. Recognize that this is pure speculation, on my part, designed to help you address some of the problems you will face with respect to the functional hierarchy that is God’s will for every marriage:

 

First, THERE IS THE INTRODUCTION

 

Unless you and the woman you marry are childhood sweethearts, it is almost certain there will be a point at which your acquaintance with the woman you marry actually begins. It may be that you are introduced to her, or that she is introduced to you, as was the case with Pam and me. It may even be that you introduced yourself to her. However, I would caution you to take note of the introduction if she introduced herself to you. If she introduced herself to you, she performed a leadership function in establishing the relationship with you. As well, if she arranged to have herself introduced to you, you have another instance of a woman performing that leadership function.

Keep in mind what we saw from Proverbs 18.22 last week. Young man, it should be you who finds your wife, not your wife who finds you. If you are so passive and effeminate that it does not matter to you how your relationship with a woman is begun, then there is little hope that you will function as a spiritual leader in your relationship with your future wife. I am not saying that a woman who spied you out and asked her friend to introduce her to you is necessarily excluded from consideration as a prospective bride. However, I am asserting (without attempting to prove it) that if you allow her to lead from the beginning of your relationship with her, she will find it virtually impossible to follow you once you are married to her. That functional hierarchy Paul described in our text will not be found in your marriage, unless you take action.

This is where old men and savvy old women are useful. She has arranged to meet you and you like her. However, you are wise enough to know that every relationship is better managed that gets off on the right foot, so you need to establish right away that you are the leader, not her. Before the ink on that unwritten social contract is dry, you need to make sure things are spelled out in terms you find agreeable and scriptural. To do this, my advice would be when introduced to a woman is to straightway invite her to church. It is a very simple, yet very effective test of her willingness to follow your lead. If she comes to church, assuming she is not already attending our church, then she is following you. If she will not follow you to church, or if she comes to church and in any way bad mouths our church, remember that there are many fish in the sea. Take the hook out, toss her back, and then wash your hands.

I am not suggesting that any fellow should be abrupt or in any way discourteous to a woman. However, I am recommending that no man waffle and display timidity in this regard. Someone has to be in charge in a new relationship, so it might as well be the one God wants in charge if it ends up in marriage. Remember, guys. Spiritual behavior is usually planned. So have a plan. Decide now that when you are introduced to a woman who you have not met as a result of your own initiative, you will immediately invite her to church. That way, if there is to be a relationship, even if it is just a friendship, you are providing spiritual leadership (what you should be doing anyway).

 

Next, THERE IS THE DANCE

 

You all know that I strongly favor a courtship arrangement, whereby two people agree to keep company with each other to ascertain God’s will for their respective futures. It is a good way to explore the possibility of marriage without in any way taking advantage of the other person or in any way rejecting the other person if you are persuaded marriage to her is not for you. However, few people exercise this very appropriate wisdom to increase the likelihood of their future marriage being a strong one. Most people engage in what is typically called dating. I call dating the dance. Why do I call it the dance? Because dating is essentially dishonest, and involves posturing by both the man and the woman, designed more to impress the other person than to inform the other person about whom you really are. I am convinced dating is foolish in light of the potential danger involved. However, it is also a great boost to the ego, which is why the lost cling to it so tenaciously.

When two people are involved in a courtship, the end result can always be spiritual. Either the two people end up married to each other, or the two people part company as friends with mutual respect for each other. However, dating is usually begun at a much earlier age, years before either person is reasonably ready for marriage, greatly increasing the likelihood that frustration will occur and eventually sexual sin. As well, if dating a person does not end in marriage, it almost always ends in one person rejecting the other person, and the pain and anger that goes with that.

That understood, what frequently happens during the dating dance, that is hopefully less likely to happen in a courtship scenario? First, there is less straightforward honesty. A guy says, “I am looking for a wife,” to establish a courtship relationship. If he says anything like that in a dating relationship, he is usually lying. Marriage is typically the last thing a dating guy wants. He wants ego gratification and sex. Next, look at the posturing. When a guy is dating a girl, everything he does is pretense. He pretends he has more money than he has. He pretends he is flashy. He pretends he is funky. He pretends about everything. Guys who date are frequently like peacocks, which show off to impress females, rather than being genuine with people.

The problem with all this, of course, is that in a courtship relationship a young man can reinforce his leadership position with her, and she can evaluate things in a serious and reflective way. Dating, however, is frequently a game in which the question of leadership is up for grabs, and is usually a confused mess. It is entirely possible for a man to envision himself as a spiritual leader in his future home, yet he exercises no leadership in meeting and establishing the initial relationship with a woman, leaves the relationship confused throughout the dating process, and marries the woman, to suddenly be surprised by her inability or unwillingness to follow his leadership.

 

Third, THERE IS THE CEREMONY

 

Bob and Jane met. Bob did not know, and never bothered to find out, that Jane schemed to meet and woo him. He always imagined himself to be the leader in their relationship, having not the slightest clue that virtually every decision that was made (about everything), was made by Jane and not by him. He even remembers proposing to her, even though he did not propose marriage to her. Rather, it was the inevitable result of a well thought out plan she had devised. She typically even picks out the engagement ring he is to give her, and the wedding ring he will place on her finger when she snags, err, when she marries him.

The marriage ceremony is actually the very last opportunity a man has to make sure the relationship between a husband and a wife entering into marriage will reflect Biblical principles and values. However, as with so many other things, most guys entering into marriage have been subtly persuaded into thinking that all of the decisions related to the marriage ceremony are to be made by the bride. However, not only does that not reflect a scriptural approach to the marriage ceremony, but it hardly does justice to the Biblical concept of marriage.

Excuse me, but marriage involves a relationship between a man and a woman in which the man is the leader and the woman is the divinely instituted follower. Therefore, on what basis are wedding ceremonies to be designed and executed under the direction of the bride, with the groom having no effective leadership or decision-making function? I am not for a minute suggesting that any groom engage in the naked and arbitrary exercise of authority. What I am suggesting is that every groom should insist that no matter who pays, the final decisions about everything are his decisions to make, and that at no time will he participate in any power-sharing two-headed monster of a democracy pretense that establishes the wrong tone for the marriage that is begun by that wedding ceremony. If a bride cannot live with that, my guess is that the bride cannot live with him.

 

Finally, THERE IS THE MARRIAGE

 

The meeting, the dance, and the ceremony, are the run up to the really important thing, the marriage. When the ink on the unwritten social contract was written, when they first met, it was still wet. The fellow might have made sure the wording on that social contract was correct as they were getting to know each other, before the ink had a chance to get good and dry. When the marriage ceremony was conducted, however, the ink on that unwritten understanding between the two of them that defined their relationship was really set.

Now comes the reality of life as husband and wife. Now comes the gritty time of life when the application of God’s Word to daily living must take place. Now comes the time when the functional hierarchy is supposed to be in place. Now God’s words to Eve in the Garden of Eden are seen in life on earth under the curse: “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” Genesis 3.16. The problem, of course, is that at no time since you met her have you really exercised spiritual leadership, or expected her to demonstrate a willingness to follow you. You have proved throughout that you are the follower in this relationship, and now you expect her to reverse roles? You suddenly want her to agree to a rewriting of that unwritten contract that governs your relationship, that understood agreement that you both tacitly agreed to when you first met? You have now, after all this time, decided to lead?

Excuse me, but no matter how right it is for a man to lead his wife in marriage, he is in the wrong if he first yielded to her leadership when they met, then yielded to her leadership during the dance leading up to marriage, and then yielded to her leadership in preparing the wedding, and now wants to change the ground rules to reverse their roles. Even if the guy is in the right for now wanting to lead, and in the right for now attempting to lead, he is still in the wrong for the weakness and the abandoning of his manly responsibilities leading up to this point.

Pardon me, but how can you expect a woman who led you into a relationship, and who led you throughout the dance leading up to marriage, and who led you to and through the ceremony, and who may have led you for quite some time in the actual marriage, to suddenly conclude that it is the right thing to sit back and let you take charge? You have very effectively persuaded her over time that you are not a leader, yet now she is supposed to submit to your leadership with a dumb smile on her face? It is not going to happen,

 

Unless, Of Course, THERE IS A GREAT REALIGNMENT

 

It has happened that a couple comes under Bible preaching and they begin to recognize that their marriage is very much out of kilter. Sadly, it is usually the case that husbands and wives do not usually come to this conclusion at the same time, which creates a great deal of friction, and usually does not result in the problem being properly rectified.

Sometimes the husband sees the problem and begins to demonstrate a concern about his failure to provide spiritual leadership by making leader-type efforts and decisions. Usually when this happens the wife not so gently informs him there will be trouble in Mudville if he pursues this course of action, so he backs off to preserve peace in the marriage.

Sometimes the wife sees the problem and becomes very eager to see her husband provide spiritual leadership in the home. However, when this happens the husband typically becomes irritated that the status quo is being disrupted, and he rejects the notion that he should step up and be a leader.

Then there are times when the wife is nicely ensconced in her leadership position in the home, and the husband is very comfortable with the minimal demands of a marriage requiring no demonstration of real spirituality and leadership. Such couples just sit in church and play dumb, either because they honestly do not grasp the significance of the truths from God’s Word that they are exposed to, or they exhibit a feigned unawareness of their marriage’s unscriptural dynamic.

You see, what most people want in their marriage is peace and tranquility, harmony and stability. However, what God wants in a marriage is for the husband to properly represent the Lord Jesus Christ and for the wife to properly picture the bride of Christ. Of course, this is impossible with the wife providing the leadership and the husband being very passive in a spiritual sense. So, what will it be? My friends, marriages in which husbands are seeking to provide spiritual leadership are sometimes tumultuous and electric with tension, as an inexperienced husband clumsily tries to lead and a wife resentfully resists his attempts to lead.

What is needed, of course, is great grace from God, and great humility from the husband and the wife, as they commit their lives and their marriage to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Had the husband known to begin the relationship as the leader, and had the woman known not to begin the relationship as the leader, things would have been so very much easier. Having known each other for so long in a relationship established with an improper leadership dynamic, however, it can be really frustrating and challenging to reorient a relationship.

 

Would you like to know how the kinds of problems discussed this evening came about? They are the direct result of the feminization of western culture, and the onset of militant feminism in our society. You simply do not find these kinds of issues in cultures that are masculine. Granted other cultures have problems our culture does not have, but the leadership issue in a marriage relationship, or in a relationship heading toward marriage, is one that is a serious deficiency in American culture.

It is confusing. It is frustrating. It is misleading. It is simply not right for a man in a marriage not to lead. It is simply not right for a woman in a marriage to lead. God’s functional hierarchy is the way He wants marriage to work. However, you can expect no woman who will not follow you prior to marriage to follow you after marriage. That is why the leadership issue must be settled at the time a man meets a woman, continually reinforced during the time he is getting to know her better, and reinforced again at the time of the marriage.

My wife and I have been married for thirty-four years, and during the time I have known her there has never been a moment when I did not make it crystal clear what the ground rules of my relationship with her simply had to be for me to pursue the matter. She fully agreed and willingly complied at every step, including the wedding plans that I both endorsed and paid for myself. That said, marriage is still not easy. I shudder to think of what we would have had to deal with if we had not begun with a proper understanding of the way things ought to be.

Young man, I plead with you, make sure that you understand that no woman who will not follow you prior to marriage can ever be expected to follow you after marriage. To delude yourself into thinking otherwise is to doom yourself to a substandard marriage if you put up with it, and to mislead and deceive your wife if you plan on changing things around after you marry her. Either way, it is simply not right.

To glorify God and to honor Christ the functional hierarchy must be in place in your home. However, for it to be in your home it needs to be implemented in the relationship with the woman you marry. My suggestion is that you work on that from the very beginning, and not try to shoe horn it later into a relationship that already exists.



[1] 2 Chronicles 15.16



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org