Practical advice to single Christian men establishing leadership and the right frame when starting a relationship

Responding to this comment as I’ve encountered some young men I’ve met from Churches who have asked similar questions to me in real life about this too.

Hi. I’m a young Christian man about to finish college and start my career. I used to be a clueless pedestalizer, but a painful dating experience led me to the red pill and Christian manosphere blogs about a year ago, and my life has changed as a result. Reading this stuff has helped me trust the Word of God, make sense of my experiences, and grow. That’s my background, though I am leaving out a lot of detail.

Now I have a question: how important is intellectual agreement on the topics of headship and submission if a prospective wife shows promising behavior? Or how–practically–do you broach the topic to find out what she believes?

I am realizing that believing what the Bible plainly says about men and women puts you at odds with what 99% of Christians believe. I know one or two girls who are sweet and attractive, perhaps even naturally submissive personality-wise, who would probably go out with me if I initiated, but I have a hunch that they would parrot the typical mutual submission or complementarian sentiments if engaged intellectually on the matter of biblical marriage roles. With someone like this, is it ever a good strategy to date and just act like a leader without saying what you’re doing and see what she does? Or is it best to go in guns blazing and get the hard topics out of the way early with the idea that the bad ones will filter themselves out? Should I not even waste my time unless I already know what a woman believes?

Just looking for thoughts on some of these practical issues. I really appreciate all the discussion that happens here.

Good start that more young men are thinking about these questions. However, there is still a significant amount of thinking is embroiled in a lot of nice guy pedestalization thinking. In particular:

but I have a hunch that they would parrot the typical mutual submission or complementarian sentiments if engaged intellectually on the matter of biblical marriage roles

Why shoot yourself in the foot before you even start? This is classic defeatist thinking whereby a man is literally making up things in his head about women he hasn’t even talked to yet. You don’t know her, her family, her background, or really anything about her. How can you know how she’s going to act? Why assume anything?

Remember, if you start to implant any type of ideas or thinking in your head that can lead to fear over what might happen that is going to sabotage your ability to lead a potential wife.

With someone like this, is it ever a good strategy to date and just act like a leader without saying what you’re doing and see what she does? Or is it best to go in guns blazing and get the hard topics out of the way early with the idea that the bad ones will filter themselves out? Should I not even waste my time unless I already know what a woman believes?

This is precisely what you do. Take the example of Jesus and His disciples (e.g. Christ and the Church, which is the analogy we have for marriage in Ephesians 5) in all 4 gospels:

  1. Jesus has started his ministry in Galilee preaching and teaching about the kingdom of God
  2. While doing this, he invites various men to be His disciples to help Him (e.g. shades of Genesis 2 where the wife is created to be the man’s helper). Fishermen, tax collectors, etc. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
  3. He continues on His ministry which grows and has the disciples help him with miracles, instructs and teaches them, and then eventually has them go out and try during his ministry (e.g. Jesus sends out the 70).
  4. Jesus continually sanctifies them by correcting and teaching them as necessary (e.g. Ephesians 5 – Christ loves the Church for the purpose of sanctification).
  5. Jesus does ALL of this BEFORE engagement and marriage. The engagement of Jesus and His bride is generally defined as the body of Christ who have received the Holy Spirit (Eph 1) much like an engagement ring or dowry and the marriage of Jesus and His bride is at the end in Revelation 19.

Ephesians 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

As an aside, the discipleship model of Jesus generally follows the model of (1) tell them what, (2) show them how, (3) let them try, (4) send them out, (5) have them do the same.

So to go back to the original question:

  • Ideally, you should know what your mission for God is and be walking it out already. It’s fine if you don’t, but this has a big role to play as she is going to be your helper so you need to have a role for her to play
  • Yes, act as a leader and see how she responds
  • You don’t have to go into any deeper topics while dating. Usually only once you establish a relationship (e.g. going steady) that is generally a better time to explore deeper topics. I don’t think dating needs to last anymore than a month or two at most. You should be able to get a good feel of her character and personality in a month or two to see if you want to continue
  • As a potential husband, you should start emulating the role of a husband prior to marriage. Why? Not only did Jesus do it but it’s a good idea to get in the habit of building the foundation of the husbandly roles and responsibility even if you don’t have the actual position. For instance, if you start off the relationship with regular Bible study, prayer, and such it’s easier to maintain then to try to introduce that later. Additionally, you’re already in the habit of ‘washing your wife with the water of the Word’ (per Ephesians 5), so it’s much easier to bring things up from a teaching and correctional standpoint.

In my previous post, I talked about how Trust is earned and an expression of the character of godliness. In particular, there was a section about generally how sanctification is gradual:

Obviously, a wife who is respectful and submissive even when it is difficult is much easier to trust than one who is disrespectful and rebellious. But there are many different steps that it takes to get there. For instance,

  1. A wife who is disrespectful and rebellious according to her own whims
  2. A wife who knows what is right but can be disrespectful and rebellious when things get tough for her
  3. A wife who knows what is right but has developed greater self control and perseverance but sometimes slips up when things are tough
  4. A wife who knows what is right and it’s rare that she’s disrespectful and rebellious

There can be many in between with these circumstances like how she responds to teaching, correction, or rebuke for good or for evil. You could probably make another whole list or expand this one to 8-9 bullet points with these.

However, the point is that if you and your wife are a Christian and actively wanting to obey God and His Biblical roles and responsibilities, the sanctification process will be gradual over time in most cases and it is a process. This process is cultivated step by step and large jumps though they can happen tend to be unlikely since unlearning ingrained sinfulness is difficult.

Most women start around a 1 or 2. My wife probably started around a 2 but has made it to 4 over the course of our relationship and marriage. RPA said his wife has made it to about a 3 over the past 2 yeas.

The key, however, is not where she starts but if she has a strong desire to obey God. This is what we’ve been talking about in terms of the T in FAST on RPC/askRPC — faithful, available, saved, teachable. Is she teachable in that she wants to grow in sanctification (and yes, the journey can be tough, but if she likes you it tends to be easier). If she’s teachable she will grow in this as long as you are teaching her what it means to be respectful and submissive to you.

That’s one of the key points most men miss. You need to point out to her if she’s disrespectful or rebellious. Some women will continue to be as such and if she does that then you can drop her. But if she amends her ways because she wants to honor God — even if it happens with kicking, crying, and screaming — that’s a good sign. You can work with that. Obviously, it should improve over time where she gets less and less dramatic or emotional over it.

I’ve covered some more actionable steps to finding a wife here as well and in the book.

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7 Responses to Practical advice to single Christian men establishing leadership and the right frame when starting a relationship

  1. Jack says:

    Merry Christmas, DS!

  2. Pingback: Does marriage take a lot of work? | Christianity and masculinity

  3. hamg says:

    Much appreciate the thoughtful post. The bit on defeatist thinking was a needed reminder for me because I tend to overanalyze rather than act and take the risk. Overcoming that has been an ongoing process for me.

    “You don’t know her, her family, her background, or really anything about her.”

    To clarify, this is not strictly true in my case since I wrote my comment with a specific girl in mind who I do know a bit–that’s where my hunch about beliefs came from–but the point stands. Cultivate a fearless mindset.

    Speaking of which, I took her out for coffee a few days ago. Good first date, fun conversation. The rest of the leadership concepts discussed here will come in handy as I start plotting a trajectory and figuring out what her faith is made of. It could go either way, and the key thing is I’m fine with that. I don’t need her to be the one. Big difference and major confidence boost compared to my approach to dating a couple years ago.

  4. @ hamg

    Speaking of which, I took her out for coffee a few days ago. Good first date, fun conversation. The rest of the leadership concepts discussed here will come in handy as I start plotting a trajectory and figuring out what her faith is made of. It could go either way, and the key thing is I’m fine with that. I don’t need her to be the one. Big difference and major confidence boost compared to my approach to dating a couple years ago.

    Awesome dude. Keep building the leadership skills. They’re useful not just with dating but with life.

    If you need any advice from any of us feel free to ask questions. I went through the same process mid/late 2010s and am now married, so I’m familiar with the craziness of this dating/relationships era.

    I have some of the more important posts linked up on the blog as a section too.

  5. Pingback: Pre-marriage headship and submission | Christianity and masculinity

  6. Pingback: Authority is positional, but effective leadership is by example and action | Christianity and masculinity

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