Archives For Stereotypes

Every Christian college is familiar with the joke: “Ring by Spring or your money back!” But it’s probably more true than it is funny (the funny part is the thought that you could get your money back). Christian college students like finding their future spouses at Christian colleges.

Since I work with students at a Christian college, I have talked to a lot of guys and girls about who they want to marry. Here is what I’ve learned: Christian girls want to marry their youth pastors. Not their literal youth pastor, but someone just like him.

Christian women are taught that their ideal husband should be an extravert who has natural leadership skills, the gift of teaching, and a degree in Bible. In other words, a youth pastor. I have counseled a handful of distraught young women who felt guilty because they were attracted to (in some cases on the verge of being engaged to) awesome Christian guys who were introverts, weren’t cookie-cutter leadership types, and who had every spiritual gift except for teaching.

While there is nothing wrong with marrying a stereotypical youth pastor type of guy, there is also nothing in the Bible that says that this type of guy is automatically the best husband. Your view of husband/wife relationships probably plays into this a bit—if you’re complementarian you might be interested in more of a take-charge kind of guy, if you’re egalitarian you might not care as much. But regardless of your view on this issue, where does the Bible say that a husband has to be an extroverted teacher?

I think that this perception comes from our culture’s view of what a leader is. A leader is a C.E.O. He is decisive, charismatic, and well educated. He’s the life of the party.

Assuming you think the husband should be the leader in the relationship (I’m speaking to the complementarians because you egalitarians probably won’t need to be convinced on this point), we should ask what the biblical version of a leader is. Does a leader have a certain personality (charismatic, outgoing)? Or does a leader possess a certain character (loving, humble)? Does a leader assume command automatically, or does he lead through example and service?

Paul is clear that not every Christian has every spiritual gift. He asks rhetorically, “Are all teachers?” (1 Cor. 12:29). Of course not. So are only those gifted to be teachers—leaders in a certain sense—allowed to get married?

What I tell these distraught young women is that a godly man is not the same thing as a youth pastor. They should marry a godly man, but they don’t have to feel guilty about wanting to marry a godly man who has one personality and not another, one set of gifts and not another. We should be more concerned about our future spouse’s character than the stereotypes we’ve inherited.