Jesus Freak: Church Is The Wrong Place To Husband Shop

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Jesus Freak: I am a Christian mom who was raised in a fundamental Christian home. I have questioned my beliefs and have come to love myself and God on my own terms. I’m raising my kids the same way. 

As a Christian in my early 20s, I was desperate to find a husband. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that, but it’s the truth. At the age of 20, when most young adults are looking forward to hitting up bars as they turn 21, I was hoping that someone, anyone with slightly-godly street cred would tie me down.

In retrospect, it sounds ridiculous. But I wonder where I got it from? I was raised in a typical Christian home with a submissive mother. I was told verbatim, “The husband is the head of the household, and the wife should be submissive.” I didn’t ever question this because it was how I was raised. It was also explained to me time and again at church that this imbalance of power should honor both the husband and the wife, so it technically wasn’t disrespectful to a woman.

I am not discrediting the Christian marriage model because I know it can work for some people. However, I have seen it exemplified in all of its overblown glory, where “balance” fell by the wayside. On top of that, marriage was presented to me in church and in Bible College as the highest honor for a woman. Instead of spending your early 20s as a sad, single loser, you should find the right person to “yoke” up to—the person God has waiting for you.

If you think I am exaggerating, I am not. The “MRS degree” is a popular joke in the church culture:

It’s a joke that when men go to Bible School, they get their Bachelor’s Degree, and women get their “Mrs” degree. It just seems that a lot of Christian women get engaged by the time they graduate.

The MRS degree isn’t specific to Christianity; this Mormon forum user below proudly advertises her MRS degree in her forum signature:

Female, late 20′s, BIC, MRS degree @ BYU, Temple Marriage, young kids, recently resigned, happily attending new Christian church

One “eye-opening” post entitled How to Find a Christian Husband! provides the following advice for snagging a godly man:

If you want to know where to find the right kind of man to marry be like a fisherman. When he wants to catch fish, he goes where the fish are, the river or lake or sea. If you want to find a Christian husband, you should go to church or the youth group where Christian people meet!!

This is a complicated subject. I know that many people who found their mate in church are likely to get their feathers ruffled. While I do agree that it makes sense to “go where the fish are” and look for like-minded people to date, often found in church, I disagree with the pressure placed on young women to get married within a church community.

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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    • https://twitter.com/perfctlyflawd1 JenH1986

      Anecdote: (anecdata?) A good friend of mine met her husband in her church. They are devoutly Catholic. They were all on board with most things, even not having sex until marriage (despite both having previously had sex, re-finding their faith and recommitting to it). Despite meeting in church and having similar beliefs it’s still tough for them, because he’s more old school than she is. They still fight over what if their kid is gay (he says no they can’t bring their spouse, she says stfu), Godparents (she says its and “in name only” thing, he thinks its a serious faith decision).

      TL;DR: Just because s/he’s in church doesn’t mean it’s all going to be sunshine and roses. You’ll find someone when you find someone.

      • AE Vorro

        I have a friend who is also Catholic and met her husband that way. They don’t have quite the same issue as your friend and her fella, but they do have a weird disconnect because they have very little else in common. I understand that if you are particularly faithful in a certain way that you’ll need your spouse to share that, but sometimes it seems like that’s ALL they have in common and it makes me a little sad, especially when he takes her and her role as a mother for granted, which I’ve noticed happens a little too often.

    • Ursi

      ohhhh Bethany, you’re always on my wavelength.

      I was never into Christian guys. Here’s the thing about submission in marriage. SO MANY Christians think it’s about the wife being submissive. Who am I to argue with them, anyway, if it makes them happy. But I don’t think it makes a lot of people happy except those women who feel like someone telling them what to do is where it’s at. And of course a good Christian man who is head of his household is ideally taking his wife into consideration but all that terminology just squicks me.

      I wanted someone who also believed in God so I married a Jew. But really he’s just more of a casual believer. It isn’t ardent and fervent like my own belief and God. And sometimes it sucks being unequally yoked. But I chose him because I love him and he and I have our heads in the same place. We don’t believe in gender roles. Our own roles in the marriage do fall closer to traditional than you might expect for that but that’s just because we do what we’re good at. I’M the spiritual head of my family. He’s the financial head. Neither of us are ‘in charge’ because marriage is about submission. Mutual submission. Each puts the other first. As I believe God intended.

      And though I believe God comes before family he doesn’t so we learned to respect each others beliefs even when they clash. Our marriage isn’t perfect but it’s going to last because we found traits in each other that called to us and we didn’t need belief systems that matched up exactly to form a stable foundation for love.

      • Bethany Ramos

        This sounds like a great balance – so well said!

    • amyp

      I work with an IFB minister and every time he opens his mouth it pushes me further from religion and believing in God. He expects all us female employees to be submissive to him even though he is not our superior (and if he was-I would quit). There is no way I could marry someone who believed in submissiveness of his wife. Glad you were able to find the best solution for you!

      • Jayamama

        That is not true dominance/submission. That is tyranny, and it does not belong in any relationship, especially a marriage. My husband and I believe in mutual submission, and it works for us. It just so happens that we have more traditional roles right now because he make enough money that I can stay home and I’ve been either pregnant or nursing for over three years now. He’s better with numbers and likes to save, so he’s in charge of money. I’m good at reading books and researching parenting questions, so matters regarding the children fall to me. But it’s all about what works for you, and mutual understanding, not someone demanding that the other submits or else.

    • wispy

      This reminds me of this lovely umbrella model that popped up on my FB a couple days ago that pissed me off to no end…

      http://www.bible.ca/marriage/submission-bible-patterns-submission-headship.htm

      I tried to just put the picture here but it was too big.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Oh wowwwwwwww

      • Snarktopus

        Wat

      • http://overthecuckoonest.blogspot.com/ Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

        I…no. Just no.

      • Ashley

        Against my better judgement I took a peek around this website and found this gem:
        http://www.bible.ca/marriage/marriage-mistakes-top-ten-list.htm

        This is satire, right? People don’t REALLY believe this is true, do they??
        This makes me sad.

      • wispy

        OMG. Going to read all that when I have time.

      • noodlestein’s danger tits

        Holy. Shit. That list is pure INSANITY.

      • wispy

        Ok I just read it. It has to be satire. Wife cannot speak above a whisper? The husband is the manager of the wife? Shoot me now.

      • Jayamama

        About the going to bed with anger one:
        I actually find it helpful to go to bed without resolving an issue. I’m much more rational when I’ve had time to think about something and am not exhausted. However, we make sure to always return to the argument and resolve it instead of letting it fester, and we always make sure that we know we still love each other.

      • 2Well

        These were all things I was taught in church. I had a difficult time with them and refused to play wedding with my friends because the idea was just so awful.

        If I ever do find someone (I do want to get rid of my last name and that connection to my biological father) I want the passage in Ruth as my vows, for both of us.

      • Spongeworthy

        NOPE

      • Ursi

        I feel the need to explain something about #1 on the list.

        This is something Christians and Jews traditionally believe but it does not mean that we don’t have body autonomy in the sense that our spouses have authority over our physical selves. There are times when it is right and proper to abstain. Furthermore no one has right to do anything to their partner without consent.

        The practical application is that it is good and right to have intimate relations with our partner and furthermore a fundamental component of a good marriage. Therefore we are not to withhold out of pettiness or spite or to “punish” our partners. And we should think of their needs and put them before ours in this, as in all aspects of marriage. Because your partner should be doing the same. I hate seeing this on the list with some of the other weird stuff on there because this is often misinterpreted for bad ends.

      • Ursi

        oh jeez I replied to the wrong one, I meant to reply to the list Ashley posted.

      • wispy

        I read Ashley’s list after I read your comment and I understood what you were talking about!

      • K.

        Oh fuck me a big one.

      • sudden_valley

        Yeah, but, don’t you see, women have it easy. Men have to submit to everyone, while women only have to submit to their husbands. (I realize the level of snark I am intending might not come across here).

      • wispy

        And men NEVER refuse to submit in their categories!

      • Justme

        I’m not sure if I’m more offended by their mindset or terrible webpage.

    • Spongeworthy

      This concept of getting married young is so foreign to me. I grew up on the East Coast with mostly non-religious family and friends, so the emphasis was more on not getting married too young. My mom was 21 when my parents got married. They’re still married, and they have a solid relationship, but my mom has said that if she could do it all over again, she’d wait. She’d still marry my dad, but she would have waited, gotten her own place and lived on her own for a few years.
      It reminds me of the difference of watching the original Say Yes to the Dress in NY and the Atlanta one. The brides in NY are all ages, but many of them are in their late 20s, 30s, or beyond. The Atlanta one? Most of em are 20, 21, 22. That’s crazy to me. To each their own, but I can’t imagine getting married at 21.

      • Mystik Spiral

        I was raised Catholic, and my parents were dead against any of us getting married young. I have a cousin who married (the first time) at the age of 18, and my mom said if any of us ever did that she’d disown us (don’t worry, she wouldn’t really do that haha).

        One of my younger brothers at 24 years old was the youngest of my siblings to get married, even though at the time my parents fretted that he was too young, even though they were married and had a kid when they were that age!

      • Spongeworthy

        I think our parents, when we got to that age, sort of saw how young they really were. Like, when I was 21 I thought I was so smart and had it all figured out. Now at 34, I can look back and be like “self, you were kind of a dumbas.

      • Nica

        I was raised Catholic and educated in Catholic schools. My parents met when my mom was 14 and my dad was 16. They married at 23 and 25 and that was only because my mom wanted to finish her college degree and teach for a year before marrying. I think she was really a product of her times (graduated college in the early 60′s). She envisioned a different life for me and my sis. She’d always say to us “25 for me to go to your wedding, 30 for me to smile…” She pushed us to make our own way in the world on our own two feet before marrying. Good advice, I think…
        My sister married at 27 to someone she met through a nonprofit where they both volunteered. They’re still married 16 years later… I married my husband at 32. We met via an online dating service. We’re still together 9 years later. There is NO WAY I was even remotely ready to get married when I finished college. I was still such a child then (and kind of a dumba$$ in a lot of ways too!).
        Honestly, it never even occurred to me to meet a mate at church, mostly because the median age at my church is about 65. There are lots of activities for kids and for seniors at church, but not much for those in-between (seems to be the case for Catholic churches in general.
        I

      • Spongeworthy

        Haha, aren’t most of us dumbasses at 22?
        My mom finished nursing school at 21, right before she and my dad married, and she always did that if she hadn’t been done with school that they would have waited to get married. And they waited 5 years before they started having kids, so she had time to get going in her career.

      • Nica

        My parents actually ended up not having my older sister until they had been married 7 years, which was unheard of by 60′s standards. All my mom’s friends had their first baby within a year of marrying! There was a lot of pointing and whispering and friends and family were convinced my parents either couldn’t or wouldn’t have kids. The reality of the situation was they both had good jobs, a good amount of disposable income and were in no rush to be tied down with children. They traveled, made further improvements to the house, built their careers and generally had a good ol’ time throughout their 20′s. They got it all out of their system by the time my sister arrived and then I arrived, by surprise, 2.5 years later. They were awesome parents and I do believe a large contributing factor was that they were true adults who had done all their “living” by the time we came around and so they were more than ready to devote themselves fully to parenting.

      • Spongeworthy

        Sounds very similar to my parents, actually. They got married young, but made sure to have some time to be married and get themselves a little more secure financially before having kids.

      • guest

        Yeah, when my mom gave me crap I was like “well by my age you had a kid already so….” and she’d just tell me that SHE could do that because she was so much more mature for her age. Yeah, I’m sure thats it.

      • guest

        My family is the same. My parents met when my mom was 15 and my dad was 21 and dated then married when she was 19. She had my brother at 23, me at 27, little brother at 29. She became an LPN but wanted to be an RN. She is constantly harping on me about finishing my degree, and waiting to have kids, and all I can gather is that she regrets not doing all these things. I couldn’t imagine having missed out on living alone, with my friends, and then with my husband. Such important life events.

        My husband’s family was more religious and both sisters got married at 19- they both divorced very quickly and it was horrible for them. I never wanted to wait til late 20′s but I made terrible choices at 19, 20, 21.

      • Spongeworthy

        I think living on your own is a HUGE thing that made me much more responsible, and made me feel much more capable and confident.

      • K.

        …annnd I still can’t help but love the bitchfest that is SYTTD: Atlanta.

      • sudden_valley

        I love that show so much! There was an episode where this really young bride considered an ivory dress, and her future sister in laws were all, “No ivory because it’s really important everyone know our brother is marrying a virgin.”

      • K.

        The exchange, “WWJD?” “He would wear. the. dress.” STILL makes me giggle.

      • Guest

        Totally! I grew up in the NYC metro area, and it’s a totally different mindset from where I live now in the south.

        The Millionaire Matchmaker also notes the difference between California women and East Coast women – East Coast women tend to be much more into getting educated, establishing a career, and THEN worrying about settling down. Oh the things we learn by watching junk tv shows…

      • Spongeworthy

        So I can excuse my watching of trash TV by claiming it’s educational? Sweet!

      • sudden_valley

        MM also complained a lot about east coast women and how bitchy and independent they were, and she seems to have some pretty traditional ideas of gender roles. I’m not sure she’s the best source for our feminism dating lessons :) ….but I do love that show.

      • Rachel Sea

        That doesn’t jive with my experience. If you get married young on the California coast, people mostly think you’re making a mistake.

      • ted3553

        I’m not specifically against the issue of getting married young but I do think that for most people, they’re not ready in their early 20s. You’re just out of the house and figuring things out on your own and I’ve seen too many people get married to have sex ( I am not christian but had many evengelical christian friends who did this) or to get out of their parents house or because it’s the first adult relationship they had.

      • Spongeworthy

        Yea, I’m sure it works great for some, but I always think of myself at 22. I was dating a nice guy, but if we had gotten married, I know there are lots of things I wouldn’t have experienced that were crucial to making me who I am today.

      • M.

        Yeah, I wasn’t nearly ready for all that that young. I met my husband when we were 23, but we waited until we were 28 to get married…neither of us were antsy to jump into it, but we did move in together at 24.

      • Spongeworthy

        Yea, I think it just depends a lot on where you are in your life too. I was at a point in my career in my early 20s where moving to another state was something that could always be a possibility, and I didn’t want to be tied down. So most of the guys I was spending time with then weren’t exactly what I’d call marriage material :)

      • Obladi Oblada

        Welcome to the south. My niece moved in with me to attend college. (3 hours away from her extremely small town.) She dropped out to get married at 18. I tried to encourage her to go ahead and sleep with him because I knew that’s why she was getting married. She’s now 26 with a punk for a husband, a 6 year old and a 2 year old. To her credit she did finish college but the fact that she felt she had to marry him so they could have sex is completely crazy to me.

    • Snarktopus

      I actually met my husband in Sunday School when we were maybe 11. Our church was (and is still) way progressive in that we weren’t taught that the wife was to be submissive in a marriage. We were always taught that both partners should have a ‘servant’s heart’ in the marriage regarding each other. My pastor is totally my favorite because when I mentioned that I didn’t want that bullshit ‘who gives this woman to be married’ or to be introduced as ‘Mr and Mrs HisFirstName HisLastName’ (as I had seen at many weddings) he just looked at me like I was a little insane and was like, yeah, no, I don’t do that anyway.

      • wispy

        Haha my sister got married by Elvis in Las Vegas a couple months ago. When Elvis asked if they had any requests she was like “I will NOT say obey so you can leave that out” and he was like ummm yeah we don’t say that here lol.

      • Jayamama

        Despite both being raised in Christian families, my husband and I wanted an “equally submissive” marriage, and the same vows. The ministers we got were a married couple who very much ascribed to the more traditional views of marriage. We suffered through pre-marital counseling with them because it dropped the cost of the marriage license from $50 to $5, but I, especially, hated every moment of it.

        The worst moment, though, was in the middle of our ceremony, where we were doing the “repeat after me” vows. The wife was doing mine, and when she got to the “love, cherish, honor” part, she looked me right in the eye as she said “obey,” and then kept going, even though I had specifically asked her to not include that, so our vows were equal. My husband squeezed my hand to keep me from jumping on her, and I had no choice but to say “I do” to all of it. He’s since told me, though, that he doesn’t hold me to that part. I’m still a bit mad about it, honestly. You don’t screw with someone’s wedding vows.

      • wispy

        I’m so sorry that happened. :(

      • Ursi

        That is messed up. We adamant that “obey” be left out of our vows entirely. I would have been absolutely furious in your place.

      • Rachel Sea

        That is so unethical…I’m absolutely gobsmacked.

        I’m a non-denominational minister, so I set my own standards, but I would NEVER EVER EVER do something like that to someone. Those vows are sacrosanct to a lot of people, as good as a contract, and will be entered into evidence in the event of a divorce. When a couple gives me the text of their vows, I practice them over, and over to make sure they are word perfect on the day. Changing it on purpose…fuck, that’s bad.

      • Spongeworthy

        That is some bullshit. I’d still be pissed about it too.

      • ted3553

        That Mr and Mrs his first and last name drives me nuts. I specifically mentioned this to our JP when we got married with an overly emphatic-”absolutely do not say this”.

      • sudden_valley

        I agree with the mr & mrs his full name. I didn’t even change my last name, so I requested that we just be pronounced husband and wife and let’s leave it at that. I also asked for no “obey” and no “til death do us part” because death is hopefully really far away, and who can foretell what’s going to happen between now and then. But, then, even though my hubby is religious, he agreed to a JP, so we could tailor all the vows. And I still get cards from his family addressed to Mr. & Mrs. His Full Name. WTF, why don’t women at least get a first name?

      • wispy

        OMG I HAAAAATTTEEEE the mail addressed to Mr. and Mrs. His full name. Or Just Mrs. His Full Name. I said a female with that name does not live here so the next person who sends something is going to get a return to sender. I changed my last name kicking and screaming but I most definitely did NOT change my first name.

      • Clever name

        I’ve always hated the whole Mrs and Mr his whole name too, but my husband’s culture takes it one further- once you have a son, you are forever referred to as “son’s mom”. So for instance, if you had a son named Henry, your name is henceforth ” Henry’s mom”. And if you never have a son you have the shame of everyone knowing that you were unable to produce a male heir, because you are still called by a regular name. I told him that if anyone ever calls me that (we have two sons) I will kill them, but he assured me that they won’t because I’m not Cambodian.

      • wispy

        That is in-freaking-sane.

      • Justme

        My husband and I were both coaches when we got married so we were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Coach _____________.

      • Jayamama

        I agree. I gladly took his last name, especially since I always hated my maiden name. But I don’t lose my entire identity just because I got married. We are two halves of a whole, which means we both get to keep our individuality while also committing to support the other. I’m proud of my name, both the first and last, and I’ll happily be “The (last name)s.” But I am still me, and I still get a first name.

      • V

        Ugh, I get cards addressed that way by my own family. My aunt asked why I wouldn’t have taken his last name because I should b consider it an honor that he would give it to me. Barf.
        Then she goes on to complain about what a misogynist asshole her husband is. But, you know, she’s honored to have taken his last name.

      • M.

        My husband and I aren’t religious at all, but we had to be married by a minister/pastor/religious guy (in Georgia). We found some rando on the internet and wrote the whole thing ourselves, excluding all the usual ceremony tropes. I didn’t want any obey, any death do we part, we didn’t even say “I do.” I felt like it was so much more us and we wrote vows that really meant something to us instead of just repeating some crap everybody repeats.

    • WriterLady

      I don’t understand the push to have people married off at such a young age. If it happens, that’s great. But many people aren’t ready for that level of commitment as a young twenty-something, and I really hate that women bear the responsibility of putting their life goals on hold indefinitely (and possibly forever) simply because the church—or certain denominations, I should say—have an agenda.

      Also, I hate the idea of advising people where to look for potential mates, especially when it’s unsolicited. When a person is actively trying to find a long-term partner or spouse, he or she comes off as desperate. I’ve been there before, though never in a church setting. I was always the girl in a series of monogamous relationships, and when I finally found myself at 26 and single, I decided to take a different approach. I discovered that I could actually be alone for a while and still be quite happy. Sure enough, this boosted my self-esteem a bit, and I just so happened to meet the right guy at the right time. I realize this isn’t everyone’s perspective or experience, but sometimes we just have to step back and let things fall into place. With that said, I see nothing wrong with going out and mingling in an effort to meet new people or using dating websites.

      • leahdawn

        Very similar story here, I was a serial monogamist until I found myself single for more than a few months at a time at 24. I was actually REALLY enjoying myself, and was vaguely annoyed with my now-husband when we started dating, because I liked him but I liked being able to do exactly as I pleased with all of my time, energy and resources too. In the end I compromised with myself. People always come knocking when you aren’t looking.

    • Maria Guido

      The term “Mrs Degree” makes me want to stab myself in the face.

      • Bethany Ramos

        It is the WORST.

      • noodlestein’s danger tits

        Yeah, when people talk about it, I’m all like… http://img.pandawhale.com/53914-Supernatural-Im-stabbing-you-i-W7AG.gif

      • Michelle Pittman

        excellent gif :-)

      • noodlestein’s danger tits

        Thanks! Jensen Ackles is always appropriate! :)

      • K.

        As someone who worked really hard to get her degree (both at school and to pay for school), this makes me stabby too.

        Getting married is not an accomplishment. STAYING married might be, but getting married? Please.

      • GPMeg

        It was used at my college (high end liberal arts school filled to the brim with feminists of all genders chasing multiple undergraduate degrees) as a degrading term for girls who never did their classwork, hung on (literally) the frat boys, and tried to get pregnant to get someone to marry them.

        Needless to say, they didn’t last long with the rest of us. They either changed their tune or transferred somewhere else.

        (And yes, I realize this is super Mean Girl sounding, but why the shit are you paying $50k a year just to try and bag a husband?!)

      • M.

        This was pretty much the context at my college, too…it referred to girls who weren’t really serious about their education, were generally in the “easy” majors, and hoped to find a man to support them before they left. It was definitely a derogatory term, I doubt the girls people used it against would have used it about themselves.

      • GPMeg

        Yeah, there were a few who would use it in reference to themselves and they were higher on our shit list than the ones who were like, “OMG, I’m going to major in communications and be a stay at home mom!”

        Nothing against SAHMs (I could not do that, I would just watch TV and be the worst ever, so you have my respect) but if that were my goal, I would have gone to an in-state school that had an equally good communications program and didn’t cost $50k a year.

      • OptimusPrime*

        I was floored when I, 17 year old high school senior taking classes at the closest big city university, heard one of my classmates say that she was only in college and only majoring in early childhood ed so she could be a better mom one day. Her friend basically responded “totes!”. I think may have vomited at that one.

      • GPMeg

        Barf! Someone should tell her that ECE won’t prepare her for being a mom, so much as managing a classroom! She’ll find out soon enough.

      • K.

        Well ‘Princeton Mom’ likes to say you pay $50K a year so that you can marry a Princeton Man.

        Welcome to the 2014 version of a dowry.

        :P

        (Honestly, though, the BEST response I read–I think it was Craigslist of all places–was from a man in response to a girl who wrote: “I’m super hot and I can’t find a rich man to marry me so I don’t have to work. Why??” I can’t do it justice, but it presented the economic reasons why it was a stupid deal for a man to do something like that, but the kicker was a line that said something like:

        “At the end of the day, my wealth is near guaranteed to increase with age, as my earning power will increase and my investments mature, however, your hotness is guaranteed to decrease with age, making YOU a worthless investment, if I’m investing in you solely because of your appearance. That’s probably why you’re not getting any takers, Ms. Hotness.”

      • GPMeg

        Oh, Princeton Mom! And oh, Craigslist! I suppose if everyone were clever, we wouldn’t have anyone to look at sideways while we judge them and laugh a little ;)

        http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Oh2KpCzoBSM/UgK2oM2J2vI/AAAAAAAAB2M/SvKNYWmI_Uk/s400/tumblr_inline_mr2xwqnbCK1qz4rgp.gif

      • Victoria

        While I disagree with Princeton Mom in that I don’t think it’s something we *should* be doing, I do think that getting a degree from an expensive school when one doesn’t intend to use with the goal of meeting a man and have a baby right away is an economic decision, on some level (again, I’m not saying it’s right). I don’t know that anyone consciously says “I want to get married immediately after college and have a baby within the year and ideally never work outside the home, so I’m going to go to the most expensive, prestigious college possible so I can guarantee upper middle class or higher existence for my family” (actually, there probably are people who say exactly that, but the majority of them probably don’t), but I’ve seen a lot of people follow that path. What it comes down to is that their education provides them access to a dating pool of people who are more likely to provide a certain standard of living.

      • K.

        I don’t disagree–in fact, it’s kind of interesting to me.

        I went to an ivy and while in general, you had to be a decent student to survive, there were some men and women who were there for the social credential that they needed in order to maintain their family’s economic and social position (coming from the Left Coast, this was a kind of thing that struck me as very old money East Coast). Blue-blood dynasties are nothing new at the college level, but I was sort of interested in the women in particular, because some were clearly there to be Mrs’s but the they couldn’t just go through the motions. These were “designer” Mrs’s–ie, Mr. Blue Blood could no longer come home with any old college girl, he had to come home with a girl who studied environmental science and was captain of the club tennis team and organized “Take Back the Night” and also played concert piano and also might be going on to medical or business or law school…

        …And yet, this sort of ‘brand’ of Mrs. was merely sort of racking up credentials–ie, she might be prelaw or (later) even HAVE a JD, but she had no intention of actually using it. It was really a weird sort of ornament, because it’s no longer fashionable to come home with an ‘Mrs,” you have to come home with a girl who’s “better-than an Mrs.” Honestly–I know one of these women now, who is a wonderful SAHM, but I guess I think it’s weird that she graduated with honors and got an MA in Philosophy from another ivy while always intending to be a SAHM (it’s different if you do that but then decide later to be a SAHM). To each her own, but I got the sense that her husband (whom she met as undergrads–he went on to be an MD) wouldn’t have wanted to say he was marrying a girl with “just” a BA, and that’s why she got the MA.

        The other thing is many of these women came from money themselves, so it’s not like attending a private college was putting them in debt or anything, but still…From my vantage point, it was strange to do all that work to get the degree and then deliberately NOT use it to be financially independent.

        Anyway, that’s a whole lot of gobbledey-gook, so to sum up: yes, yes, you are absolutely right. Is it a waste? Maybe, maybe not. It’s just not MY reality, so I’m curious about it.

    • http://facebook.com/guineverew Guinevere

      We had loads of people joke about the “MRS” degree down at Sewanee….but the joke was not a joke? http://www.sewanee.edu/

    • guest

      My husband actually took me once to Mormon church when we were engaged and they have a single’s ward (from what I hear) specifically for this reason- people can find someone to marry. That is a little creeptastic to me. I’m also not really into the whole “it’ll happen when you’re not looking and least expect it” spouse stuff either. I met my spouse when I decided to sit down and think about what I wanted in a husband and start searching for that and not settle for whoever wanted to date me next.
      I realized my expectation to be married and starting to have kids by 25 was ridiculous..but then I got married at 24 and (luckily) decided to hold off on kids for a bit. I go back and forth on feeling really young still or really old in comparison to people my own age. My family though is constantly like “you have time!” “wait to have kids!” etc. My husband’s family is like “pop out babies asap!”

    • js argh

      Bethany, I feel like you would really enjoy Rachel Held Evans’ blog (and guest blog) posts on egalitarianism – the viewpoint that God created women and men as equals, period. (Not the whole “equal but different” thing that complementarians, like your early childhood churches, preach.) I personally loved that it was a Biblical viewpoint that also meshed with feminism. Here’s a link – http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/mutuality-2012-posts

      • Bethany Ramos

        Thank you – I will check it out! :)

    • OptimusPrime*

      Great post, Bethany! I’m loving this series, btw; however, I might nix the “isn’t limited to Christianity” line if you are then going to speak about a Mormon–who labels herself as a Christian. It may just be my pet peeve, but I hate it when we wrongly label one sect as Christian but the others as something else. For example, I’ve had to explain to Southern Baptists most of my life that Catholics are Christians, too. Mormonism might seem odd to some, but they consider themselves Christians and are classified as a Christian sect. Ok, unnecessarily lame rant over. Great article.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Thank you, and I will definitely keep that in mind for the future! I wasn’t exactly sure if Mormons were a Christian sect, but now I know. Thanks again. :)

      • http://facebook.com/guineverew Guinevere

        Some Christians do not consider Mormons “Christian” as they are not baptized in the name of the father, son, and holy spirit, but as something….else, and they do not recognize the trinity union of one God from three. You were not inaccurate. Depends on what creeds you are following. A large portion of Christians consider the trinity to be a crucial part of Christianity and hence re-baptize any Mormons joining their church.

      • OptimusPrime*

        In the comment Bethany refers to, the woman calls herself a Christian. Whether you or I agree doesn’t matter, she is a Christian in her eyes and her own words: “Female, late 20′s, BIC, MRS degree @ BYU, Temple Marriage, young kids, recently resigned, happily attending new Christian church”
        some =/= all

        Further, it is unclear from the referenced comment if the commentator is still a Mormon re:”recently resigned”

      • OptimusPrime*

        Ok, I just realized that my last post might seem really argumentative. Sorry. I think I have “having-to-justify-my-faith-as-really-Christian” PTSD. I’m not even a lapsed Catholic anymore, I’m an Anglican.

      • Justme

        Yes, Catholics will re-baptize a Mormon joining their faith.

      • OptimusPrime*

        They also rebaptize Southern Baptists, but I don’t think anyone considers them non-Christians.

      • Ursi

        Very much this. In fact a lot of Christians of protestant-based denominations seem to believe that they can define the term for themselves. Not so. Any branch of faith, sect, cult, etc, that is based on the teachings of Christ, however loosely, is technically a denomination of Christianity even if other Christians don’t recognize it to be.

      • WriterLady

        I was one of only three of four Catholics at school while growing up. I don’t know how many times I was told I wasn’t a Christian. I didn’t really blame the kids, because they were just mimicking what they heard at home, but it sure reflected on their parents.

      • AP

        I had this debate with my evangelical roommate freshman year of college. She said, “I’m Christian,” and I said, “Oh me too but it’s not a big thing for me.”

        Imagine how it went when she discovered I was not Christian, and when I discovered that some people have a weak grasp on world theology.

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        Yep, I’m not sure how many times I’ve had to awkwardly stop someone partway through talking about “Catholics and Christians” (in whatever context, the differences, the similarities, the flip-flopping between Catholicism and the Church of England with Henry VIII and his successors) and say “I think you mean Catholic and Protestant”. Having gone to a Catholic high school and then learned a lot about the Church and the Reformation in university, it’s one of my pet peeves. And I’m an atheist.

    • Melissa

      The guys in the 20-somethings church group I very briefly attended in my trying-out-religion-again early 20s were total dicks because they had all these desperate, Christian, “old maids” looking to land a husband. In addition to being desperate, almost all of the females in the group were catty and back-stabby because they way outnumbered the guys. It was sad, and one of the many reasons I quit organized religion for good.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Seriously, the female desperation gives many guys in these circles way too much arrogance. Try dating in the real world…

      • Melissa

        Yes, arrogance and SO much judgement. I had a flirtation going with one of the guys, but it ended immediately when one of the girls who also liked him told him I (gasp) sometimes went to bars and drank alcohol. I swear he wouldn’t even make eye contact with me after that. It’s actually funny in retrospect!

      • Bethany Ramos

        HOW DARE YOU.

      • K.

        You were too fun for him. He needed more of a wet blanket type.

      • K.

        I had never thought of that!

        (not that this is the be-all, end-all, but there was a fundie guy I knew in college who I happened to have several classes with one semester, so I thought I’d you know, talk to him once in a while, since we saw each-other every day. We’re talking literally, “Hey, what’s up” and “How was your weekend” kind of niceties. One day, he came up to me and he was like ‘I’m really flattered, but I don’t think you’re right for me.’

        …*I* don’t think you’re right for *me*?!

        Believe me when I tell you, I really was not flirting and trust me, no other man would ever think that was flirting. Friendly enough to test the waters, fine, but not enough to assume I was *interested.* And of course, this offended me to no end because I was not at all in the LEAST bit interested. And I found out later that other girls had received the same sort of “speech” and also thought it was super weird. Maybe he was just a dildo, but maybe he was used to Mrs. hopefuls falling at his feet? Hmmm…)

      • Bethany Ramos

        Hahaha this is terrible yet familiar to me.

    • Jenni

      So, I went to college, met my husband at church and got my MRS degree. But, that isn’t what I set out to do.
      I went to a catholic high school, and some of my friends went to the college I went to. So, I hung out with them the first year before I found some more people to hang out with. Part of that was going to the campus church. I got involved, played on the flag football team, etc. Met a cute guy, we started dating and never stopped. BUT, I am not catholic. I’m not even very religious. So, we now are Easter/Christmas churchgoers, and my husband is fine with that (he was raised by a devoutly catholic mom) and I can deal with it (though Easter mass is a tedious affair). And I tried to get a degree in college. I tried so hard, but I just couldn’t make it. So the only “degree” I got was my MRS. So, I’m glad of that, since I never would have met my husband if we hadn’t gone to the same college, but I’m not so self-centered that I view it as a real degree.

    • Larkin

      This is always so interesting to me. I moved away from Christianity while I was in college, and was never part of a fundamentalist denomination by any means (though my parents are Lutheran, which tend toward the conservative side). The friends I knew who went to religious colleges, and even those who were super religious but went to secular colleges, almost ALL got married right out of college. On the other hand, my friends from my super liberal art college and those I’ve met living in L.A. mostly got married much later. In fact, a lot of them are still single. The differences are so striking to me.

      • OptimusPrime*

        This. I went to a Jesuit university and a shocking number of my peers married within two years of graduation. My friends from “the real world” after college, if married, waited to their late 20s or 30s.

      • AP

        A lot of my friends from my liberal, urban university started dating the person they married around age 20-22…but most waited until age 26-28 to actually get married (myself included) and lived together first.

        The thing I find amusing is that most of us, if we run into people who married right after graduation, are quick to turn our noses up at them for “marrying too young,” for all the reasons you’d criticize someone for marrying straight out of college. When for all intents and purposes, we all did the same thing.

    • Ashie

      I got married when I was 19. I got married mainly because although I am Mormon and so is my husband, we did sexual things which are considered a sin, so got married. I love my husband to death, and wouldn’t trade him for the world but I do feel like I have missed out on things getting married so young. Now, I was not one out searching for my “MRS degree” but it certainly is a term throughout the Mormon religion.

    • Abby

      Every time I read one of these articles, I have to double check and make sure I didn’t secretly write it myself without realizing it.

      I went to college with the attitude that I’d meet Mr. Right during orientation week; that we’d get engaged sometime during junior year; that we’d marry a couple of weeks after graduation (maybe a couple of months, since fall weddings are nice up here in New England); and that we’d have our first kid before we both turned 23.

      And… well. I met a guy during orientation week, but he turned out to be a verbally abusive jerkwad. I spent most of junior year studying abroad and falling in love with England; and a couple of months after graduation, I was in a good friend’s wedding and thinking “thank God that isn’t me.” And I JUST had my first kid, six months shy of my thirty-first birthday.

      I wish so much that I’d not been so desperate to find a guy when I’d started school and when I’d been that young. I feel like I missed out on so much by being that hyper focused, like there are so many relationships I could have cultivated better if I wasn’t constantly thinking of them in terms of the “end game.” And I wish so much, too, that I could drill this into the mind of every young Christian girl who will be starting college in the fall: your post-secondary education is not about finding a husband. As cliche as it sounds, it’s about finding yourself.

      • Bethany Ramos

        We are the same person. :)

    • Keyser Soze

      The kind of guys who go to church to meet women are most likely more interested in having sex with your kids than they are having sex with you.

    • Harmand Amadeus

      My Name is Harmand Amadeus from California. I am here to give testimony on how got my wife back. My wife left me for no reason 3 years ago. She moved out with another man, i felt like killing myself, my life became very bitter and sorrowful. Then 1 day, a friend of mine told me about a great spell caster that is very good and does not even charge for his services, he said he gave him some lucky numbers that he played in a lottery and he won. I didn’t believe it because I’ve worked with so many of them and it didn’t work. He begged me further so i decided to try this great spell caster called DR. OTIAGBE and i contacted him via his email: {Otiagbe@yahoo.com}. I still didn’t believe. I used the spell he gave me and the next day i received a call from my darling wife called Rugina last month. She apologized and came back to me. I’m very happy now. Thank you DR. OTIAGBE, You can reach him via email: {Otiagbe@yahoo.com}

    • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

      I’m going to try not to write a book here, but this could be long.

      I have really complicated feelings about this. I’m a Christian and so is my husband. But when we started dating, I was and he was not.
      I was very upfront with him from the beginning that I liked him and really wanted to date him, but I would never marry him (or anyone) if they/he wasn’t a Christian (we’d been friends for like…8 years when we started dating, it wasn’t weird more of an FYI)
      And, one of the many reasons I liked him so much at the time is that he was *gasp* willing to date me without knowing if we were going to get married (The Christian dating scene is weird y’all)
      Which is where my complicated feelings arise: The Christian dating scene is weird because of societal (not all, or even most are biblical) constructs that have been beaten into Christians from birth. You shouldn’t casually date. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you could be sexually tempted. Be modest. Don’t lust. You must be married by the time you are 23 or you are an old maid.
      So that leaves….modest courtship starting when you’re 18?
      It screws a lot of people up and it honestly breaks my heart, because again…all of the above is societal. (Well except the don’t lust).
      But at the same time, I truly believe that it is important to share your faith with your spouse. A friend asked me why once and I said I wouldn’t do that to my kids or myself. It would break my heart every day to love someone that much and know I won’t get eternity with them.

      So while I agree with you that the Christian dating scene is screwy beyond belief…I do see why people feel trapped. They want to marry someone who shares their faith, but they can’t find people who are just willing to, you know, go out to dinner and not pick out their kids names.

      Long way of saying: It’s a really really complicated subject, and this article was hilarious.(Who puts that they got a MRS degree in an online profile? Really?)

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