Traditional marriage is still the best relational form for a woman to flourish. What I mean by traditional marriage is this: a woman marries “up.” And by up, I mean a competent man who has his life together. He’s disciplined in his finances, disciplined in his emotions, physically competent, and sexually self-disciplined (not watching porn or sleeping around with other women). He has a purpose and mission for his life. Although he may not be making a ton of money (yet), he has the drive to make and provide for his family.
Marrying that kind of guy is still the best way for a woman to flourish.
The Alternatives to “Traditional” Marriage
The alternatives to traditional marriage only seem to prevent a woman from flourishing. In order to truly succeed in life, both men and women need a support system. In a thriving marriage, the husband is the greatest support to his wife, and the wife is the greatest support to her husband.
But without traditional marriage, a women really only encounters men who want something from her and not a man who wants the best for her. Let’s examine the alternatives to traditional marriage briefly.
#1: She marries down
A women who marries “down” marries a “project”: someone she needs to fix. Is marrying a proverbial “loser” really the best way for a woman to flourish? Will he support her goals, dreams, and aspirations? Will he have the motivation and drive to provide if she wants to be a stay-at-home mom? Will he make her life better? Probably not. Marrying down is not a good option.
#2: She never gets married…
Another option is that she never gets married. Remaining unmarried may be a better state than marrying down. But it seems to me that it is far from ideal. Now, being a pastor who writes from a Christian perspective, I am not referencing those women who have the gift of singleness given by the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:6-7). I am mostly talking about women who refuse to get married.
Under the option of never marrying, there are a lot of “sub-options” which seem detrimental to a woman’s flourishing.
2a: She co-habitates with a man
Some women may want a man to live with them without getting married. In this arrangement, however, most of the burden rests upon the woman. If she is paying for the mortgage, for example, the man really has not legal liability in the arrangement. He can just leave whenever he desires to do so.
Things become even more complicated if children are in the picture. Although the state still tries to hold the man accountable to some degree for the fathering of a child, in my estimation, the burden still rests mostly on the woman to care for the child. How can a woman adequately balance caring for a child and pursue a career if the father is not in the picture?
Sure, single mothers do this all the time. But are they flourishing? Many have to put their life plans on hold to care for their children. It would seem that those who do flourish have a wide support network of family, friends, and church.
2b: She has casual sexual encounters with men without commitment
A woman may decide not to be bound to a man. So she decides that she will only have casual sexual encounters, no strings-attached. Unfortunately, strings do get attached with sex. Casual sexual encounters also put a women in a highly vulnerable situation. Men, in general, are physically stronger than women. So if she takes a man home she doesn’t really know, will she be abused? Will she contract an STI? Will she be sexually satisfied by a complete stranger?
2c: She never has any sexual encounters and never pursues any kind of relationship
That just seems like a recipe for loneliness.
God’s Design is still best
God created marriage (Genesis 2:18-25). He knew what he was doing. When a competent man and a competent woman commit to each other for life, they both flourish. Because marriage isn’t really about you, marriage is really about the other person. In fact, according to the Bible, each spouse holds the rights over the other’s body (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). The point being: God calls each spouse to radical selflessness where they seek the flourishing of the other over themselves.