Do Single Christian Men Owe Marriage to Single Christian Moms?

It always amazes me just how much of modern churches’ contempt for men could be resolved simply by having good theology.

One of Dalrock’s latest blog posts is a critique of an old entry by Sam Parkison that essentially shames Christian men for not eagerly marrying single mothers. As usual, Dalrock provides very biting practical criticism. But as a theologian, I thought it was interesting how the author’s unwarranted disrespect for men proceeds from basic theological errors.  In other words, even if you don’t like being involved in contemporary politics and social conflicts–and many Christians do not–simply being a faithful Christian who understands his Savior’s teachings is going to prevent you from adopting worldly philosophies like this.

And just to be clear, I don’t disagree with the message stated in Parkison’s title–that Christian men should consider the single mothers in their church. Some such women may be a good choice for some men, and men should genuinely consider whether that’s the case in their own circumstances. That said, I do take issue with the author’s preening contempt for any criticism of single mothers–a contempt that effectively eliminates true consideration in favor of indiscriminate pursuit.

So without further ado, here are the theological errors in his three reasons he thinks “Christian men should pursue Christian single moms for marriage.”

“1. Single Christian moms are as pure as the sinless Son of God, which is more than you deserve in a wife.”

Here, Parkison confuses righteousness coram deo (before God) with righteousness coram mundo (before the world.)  Before God, single Christian moms are indeed pure due to the imputed righteousness of Christ, which he mentions several times in the piece. But in this very same sentence, he judges Christian men coram mundo when he indicates that they don’t deserve such a wife.  After all, coram deo, Christian men are likewise pure & perfect. Accordingly, they truly deserve a spotless bride just as much as Jesus Christ does. In other words, Parkison is making an apples-to-oranges comparison here.

What if we make an apples-to-apples comparison? Well, coram deo, there is no judgment to be made, for all the faithful are pure & perfect while all the unfaithful are totally depraved. That is precisely why Christians, when considering whether someone would make a good wife (or husband), always do so coram mundo. Coram deo, Even the penitent but struggling prostitute is just as pure as the sinless Son of God. That doesn’t mean she would make a good wife.

As long as one thinks a man should actually evaluate a woman as a prospective wife rather than marrying completely indiscriminately, then it must be done coram mundo. And as long as any such evaluation is going to take place, then men are going to prefer debt-free virgins without tattoos, all other things being equal. The author desperately tries to tie that male preference for virginity to pimply 17-year-olds at youth camp, but as I’ve written before, that preference is rooted in natural law, biological reality, and God’s Word–not in vanity as the author asserts. This God-given preference cannot and should not be overwritten by worldly philosophies, and none of the author’s deceptive rhetoric changes anything on that count.

“2. Single Christian moms shouldn’t be punished for rightly responding to their sin.”

This is a peculiar point, as the author doesn’t describe any behavior that actually fits this description. Nobody is punishing single moms for repenting of their lives of fornication. Nobody is punishing single moms for refusing to murder their babies. The closest he comes is his contention that, “Quite often, single moms have an easier time finding men who are willing to be with them out in the world than they do in the Church.”

First, I do want to point out that what started as “men should consider marrying single moms” in the title and shifted to “men should pursue single moms” in his thesis statement has now become “men are punishing single moms by not marrying them.” That boom you just heard was from the goalposts flying by at Mach 2.

But theologically speaking, where in Scripture does God promise us that our faith will never lead to hardship in life? I can recall abundant promises to the contrary, but never that one. Perhaps the author specifically objects to those hardships coming on account of Christians, but once again, this is a confusion of the two kinds of righteousness. Natural consequences of sin do not suddenly cease even among Christians. For example, if your pastor confesses before the congregation that he has molested children at the church and publicly repents of his sin, it’s not “punishing him for rightly responding to his sin” to remove him from his office. On the contrary, its the responsibility of the congregation to do so because he has proven himself unfit for that office despite having the imputed righteousness of Christ.  As before, one must judge coram mundo rather than coram deo. If we are required to make such judgments even for ecclesial offices, how much more must we do so when it comes to civil offices?

Christian men are required to judge wisely when it comes to choosing a mother for their children because their choice is going to bear profound consequences for their offspring. Setting aside the small minority of widows, single moms have demonstrated poor judgement by either choosing a terrible man or discarding a good man from their home. Just as when men choose their wives, women choosing to fornicate has grave consequences for their own children–depriving them of having a father in their lives. Men must consider such poor judgment when deciding whether any given single mom would make a good mother for the children they would have together.  It’s not a question of whether the single mother has repented, but of whether she has developed good character in the meantime–because she clearly didn’t have it in the past. And the truly repentant single mother isn’t going to balk at that assessment.  Her repentance means she has already recognized her own character flaws as such and confessed them before God.

“3. Marrying single Christian moms demonstrates the gospel, which is what marriage is supposed to do.”

This is probably the most atrocious theological error of the bunch because it demonstrates such a misunderstanding of the Gospel itself.

Now, strictly speaking, as written, this point is actually more-or-less correct. The Bride of Christ is not pure and virginal on her own account, but because of the gracious gift of Christ.  The Christian man who is similarly gracious to a single mother in this way is indeed demonstrating the gospel (provided he is also being gracious to his future children, as explained in the previous point.)

But the problem is that Parkison has already removed grace from the picture. After all, he has already described Christian men’s collective failure to marry single moms as “punishment.”  In other words, he sees marriage as something that Christian men owe single moms rather than a gracious gift. You can see the same attitude in his faulty contention that single Christian moms are more than Christian men deserve.  You can see it every time he sneers at men for caring about virginity–as though the sins of single mom aren’t anything truly damaging in the first place.

The Gospel that Parkison portrays in his proposed unions is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By expelling the gravity of sin, it has altogether expelled grace by heavily implying that single moms have no need of it in the first place. Dalrock is quite right in explaining “Parkison dismisses their graciousness by pretending it wasn’t gracious at all! Parkison is stealing other men’s graciousness for himself.”

The reason the Gospel is good news is because our sins were already bad news. We don’t do anyone any favors by trying to minimize or ignore that bad news. Calls for Christian men to simply ignore the sins of Christian women because “the Gospel!” is effectively a denial of the Atonement. God did not simply ignore our sins because they weren’t really a big deal. They were a big enough deal that His Son had to die to pay for them, and He forgives us at unfathomable cost. That’s the wonderful grace we receive as Christians, for which it is our joyous duty to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. And it is indeed a grace we should share with one another by forgiving as we have been forgiven. But you can’t do that by pretending sin doesn’t matter.

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7 Responses to Do Single Christian Men Owe Marriage to Single Christian Moms?

  1. gdgm+ says:

    Thanks, Mr. Cochran.

  2. Pingback: Hate the Sin, Flatter the Sinner? | The 96th Thesis

  3. Bob Sponge says:

    Matt, do you have idea why Parkinson’s view is so common among evangelicals? Why is the church so effective at producing spineless, pussy-whipped white knights?

    • Matt says:

      Great question. I’m inclined to think that primary problem is simple worldliness–that Western culture has a major problem with emasculation and Christian members of that culture bring the problems into their congregations. It’s not like there’s any shortage of secular soy boys who would take the same views minus the Christian veneer.

      That said, there may be some ways in which poor or incomplete teaching in our churches is exacerbating that problem instead of mitigating it. After all, I get the impression that the problem is slightly worse in churches. I’ll need to think about that some more and give it its own blog post pretty soon here.

  4. Peter Vincini says:

    Only touched upon is the stress and sometimes total disruption caused by the biological father’s presence in family. Visitation and unwanted, improper parenting is one. Child support is another, especially when it comes to the later years and college tuition is to be paid. Most important is the relationship between the biological father and the wife. They were intimate and the past is never the past. Many times have I seen the wife and the child’s father at an out-of-town soccer tournament without the husband present, and wondered…

    • Matt says:

      You’re right, Peter. I hadn’t really thought of that part of it, but that extra complication to the family dynamic can indeed be burdensome. It’s not an insurmountable challenge, but one would do well to count the cost of it while they’re making their decision.

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