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So it’s Valentine’s Day, in case you didn’t know. And The Christian Post has decided to celebrate the martyr’s death, apparently, by publishing an article on the most “eligible Christian bachelors.” 

Ugh.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not against setting aside a day to talk about romance. Yes, the day is heavily materialistic. So is Christmas. That doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate the birth of Christ. In the same way, it’s good to remind our significant others that we love them – and Valentine’s Day certainly provides an opportunity to do that. What’s more, it gives Christians (along with everyone else) a day yearly when public discussion of love and relationships is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. So if The Christian Post wants to publish a romance-inclined article on Valentine’s, I’m all in favour of it.

Just so long as it’s not this particular article.

What exactly is wrong with CP’s “list of the most eligible, and admirable, Christian bachelors?” Simply put, it’s this: the article glorifies particular individuals as the “ideal” by which Christian women should be judging potential husbands, rather than encouraging them to consider men in light of the qualities God desires of all men. In other words, they’re asking you to take a particular example and then to judge the entire category by it rather than the other way around. “Take note of some of these bachelors’ most promising qualities,” the author writes, “and then search for the same features in the man you plan on dating.”

No, no, no. Don’t do that. It’s bad advice. You shouldn’t look to celebrities (even Christian celebrities) as if they were the ideal. The fact is, any picture you can draw from the public persona of anyone is just that – a public persona. You have no idea what the person is like. You have no clue what’s going on in his or her heart. She or he may be all sunshine and happiness on the outside, but for all you know that person is cruel, self-centered, and an all-around not-nice-guy/gal.

That’s not, of course, to suggest any of the “eligible bachelors” CP lists are somehow bad people. I have no idea. That’s the point: I have no idea, nor do the rest of the readers, nor does the author. Holding them up, therefore, as the standard by which woman should judge all men? Well, that indicates a pretty shallow understanding of how Christian relationships should work.

It also indicates an approach to husband hunting heavy on the objectification. Apparently, the ideal man is a professional athlete (three of four “most eligible men” are) or should (in the other case) at least be built like one.

Now, I know this article was probably meant in a light-hearted vein. But it represents too much of what is wrong with how Christians seek out spouses to let it slide. We focus too much on what is immediately visible, and not enough on the far more important things. How many couples early on in their relationship discuss whether their theologies jive? Whether their job aspirations are compatible? How many children they want? I’m guessing not as many as ought. But really, if you can’t agree on these sorts of things – or at least be working through them – then what business do you have being in a relationship together?

Christians keep entering into relationships with their whole hearts, it seems, but not their minds. They’ve not worked through the heavy issues together. And (if this article is any indication), they’ve also entered those relationships judging their spouses according to glorified “ideal” men and women. So when things hit a bump (as they inevitably will), the entire relationship goes off the road. After all, the ideal man (at least the picture you have of him in your mind) should be flawless. And if that’s the standard by which you’re judging, no one is going to be good enough.

Want to find the “ideal” husband or wife? Stop looking at celebrities and start looking to God’s Word. Then, look around to find someone who matches what God has to say – not someone who merely reflects a celebrity you’ve never met. Admittedly, it’s not as funny a story as The Christian Post put out today. But it’s infinitely better advice.

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[An article I wrote for Converge Magazine might be a help to you in beginning to think biblically about God’s plans for men. It’s called “The man God hasn’t called you to be.” Check it out (pages 32-33).]

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