On Raising Wives But Not Husbands: An Examination

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There’s this video that has been making its way around the internet of a preacher who suggests that “too many women want to be married but are walking in the spirit of girlfriends”. Cool concept. He goes on to say that you should be a wife well before a man decides to put a ring on your finger. Another noble idea. I watched the video clip and then sought out the full message because I like to research before I jump to any conclusions. What I was searching for was any, and I truly mean any, mention of what role men play in this. Must they also be husbands before? Is there anything that a man should have to do other than buy a ring and bend his knee? Are there any husband commandments, pinky promise/chastity campaigns and/or seminars that put the onus on men to be ready to actually become husbands? Do men ever have their entire identity defined by their relationship to women? Did the same preacher think that men were walking in the spirit of boyfriend and not in the kingdom of husbandry?

B****, you guessed it! Nah, kidding. But seriously the answers to those questions, by a large majority, is no. And I think there are a lot of reasons why. The first being that there is no personal value placed on becoming a husband for men. If you’re a bachelor forever, no one will assume that it is your spirit of “boyfriend” that has kept you that way. No one will suggest that you have somehow missed out on a key component of what you were born to do because you failed to bend the knee. In fact, you can easily place the blame, once again, on women. “There aren’t enough good women”, “they don’t know how to submit”, “they want to take trips with their friends instead of clipping my toenails”, etc…etc…etc… And you don’t ever have to accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, you’re single because you’re not at all fit to be a life partner to any fully functioning adult ---that would mean admitting that maybe, just maybe, no one prepared you to step into that role in your life. Your mother, your father, your preacher, your teachers have all convinced you that all you have to do is show up into a woman’s life and offer your last piece of chicken and then BOOM, you’re a husband.

The hard truth is that we raise our daughters to be wives and we don’t raise our sons to be husbands. From day one, boys are autonomous beings. We buy them race cars, video games and tool sets—we teach them to have reckless abandon, to plug in to alternate realities and unplug the moment they’re no longer interested and, of course, how to build things but not because “one day you’ll have a family to build things for” but because, perhaps, you’ll be an architect someday, sonny boy. We do not dictate how they should dress, speak or behave in order to be palatable for women. We do not suppress them sexually under the guise of saving themselves for marital bliss. We do not teach them that they must be blemish-free, well educated or the perfect weight to find love. We do not stand on pulpits full of admonishment ridiculing their inabilities to find mates. Men have almost zero expectations imposed upon them by the public when it comes to marriage and within those very free boundaries, when they do fall short, there is always an out in the form of what the woman did or did not do to make him feel like the king of the castle. And yet, this preacher, believes that women must put off their “girlfriend spirit” (What does that even mean?! We chastising women for being in committed relationships now? What is this?!) in order to please men who haven’t the slightest idea about how to operate in a healthy partnership?!

It’s a no for me, dawg.

The measure of a woman is not in her ability to focus her entire life’s work on being someone’s “Mrs.”. The measure of a woman’s worth is not in her relationship status. The measure of a woman’s relationship with God is not in whether or not some man ever comes for the oil in her alabaster box.  It is time that we check these patriarchal, antiquated ideas at the doors of the sanctuary and start to have some real conversations about developing both women and men to become the best versions of themselves. Maybe, if we can for one second, stop relying solely on the labor/resources/souls of Black women in our churches---we will stop feeling the need to break them down in order to keep them emotionally dependent on the words of their pastors. Maybe if Black women weren’t being the alpha and omega on every church board of directors----they could have the time to find loving, committed partners who may not be in their churches. Maybe if the men in leadership positions at churches actually honored the sanctity of marriage---the other men would follow suit. Is that too real for y’all? It shouldn’t be. The truth of the matter is that if the majority of the women doing the heavy lifting in churches were in healthy, thriving marriages---no lifting would get done. So what happens? Black women reach the bar---being devoted, holy, virginal---and then the bar moves. You need to be more devoted, more holy, more virginal---keep coming to church and they’ll show you how. Never mind the very real possibility of being the perfect Christian woman and still never finding a comparable mate because the Christian man is not held to the same standard. After all, why focus on the men when the men aren’t carrying you?

So I offer this to pastors, ministers, evangelists, Christians---if you stand on the premise that the man is to lead then the key to “making wives” out of the women in your churches may just be in “making husbands” out of the men in your pews. Until that’s the focus of your sermons, Black women will all be doing what we’ve always done---taking care of ourselves. In Jesus' mighty name. And I offer this to parents, as we move forward in raising our daughters to be bold, autonomous and equal to their male counterparts let us also raise our sons to be accountable, responsible, emotionally healthy and equal to the women who've, for so long, showed themselves more than worthy of all things--- the least of all a man's love. 

I wrote more on the Black woman’s role in churches here.

Iman Milner4 Comments