Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes


#145 Saying that they “married out of their league”

posted by Stephanie Drury

mickeyava.jpgMen in Christian culture like to say they have “married up” or “married out of their league.” They make a point to speak of their wife in glowing terms as often as possible.

charlesdi.jpgPhrases often heard from the husband include:
<br

             “What did she ever seen in me?”
             “How did I get so blessed?”
             “Yes, I married up!”
             “My wife is way better looking and smarter than me.”
             ”I married way out of my league!”

paulinaric80.jpgLikewise, women in Christian culture use their own sanctioned vernacular when referencing their husbands. The nuances of this will be explored in a future post.



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ransacker

posted April 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm


I know it is indeed true in my case. She is really pretty and smart. I am a firm proponent of the idea she could’ve done better. Had a better job than I did and still does. I was completely in free-fall from my place in the middle class and she still married me. Financially I know that I was out of my league. The whole looks thing? Is there some kind of lexicon requirements? Just asking………



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Xander

posted April 12, 2010 at 2:48 pm


What are you going to say?
She is ok or I could have done better but I settled? How about, If I had more money I could have gotten a better woman?
Women would love that. =D



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Chrissy

posted April 12, 2010 at 3:08 pm


I’m sure many of us have also heard it said: “In heaven, my wife will be in the front row smiling and waving back at me.” Yes? Those are the women who somehow reach Proverbs 31 status. I like when husbands sincerely praise the character of their wives. I don’t like the idea of rows that declare your Jesus status in heaven. I don’t like the idea of rows up there in general. It makes heaven seem like it will be one giant church service for eternity where Jesus is finally the pastor. It lacks a certain creativity given the fact that the Creator of the universe is supposed to be there. I’d expect a bit more from him.



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Trev

posted April 12, 2010 at 3:09 pm


I’d have to go with comments on this one…
My church is full of smokin’ hot girls and ugly men, so it goes without saying, they’re all marrying out of their league. Myself included.
Of course, it also goes without saying, they’re all high maintenence. They all want 3 kids, two SUV’s and a big house within five years of marriage.
Most good looking guys don’t have to get all that shit for a woman in order to get laid, ugly guys do.



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Rollo Tomassi

posted April 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm


Considering the degree to which western society has been feminized for the past 60 years it’s no surprise that evangelical culture would be subject to the influence too. I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard Christian men and pastors self-deprecate and desexualize themselves in sermons and testimonies, and in fact I pity the poor women married to these self-confessed losers. Why would a woman, Christian or otherwise, want to be married for life to a man so desperate and devalued that her association with him would reflect that on her?
Christian men, by virtue of their “rules for dating”, tend to lack Game to such a degree that they think any intimate female acceptance is the divine will of God. Listen up Christian Men, your self-deprecation isn’t endearing to your wife or girlfriend, it just constantly confirms for her your pitiable lower value. Which is a shame, because, scripturally, it should be the other way around – she should be thanking God she married a Man with value enough to accept his role as the head of the home, instead of some supplicating whiner.



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cd

posted April 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm


All women marry down. Some just more than others. :-)



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stephanie drury

posted April 12, 2010 at 4:54 pm


Excellent assessment, Rollo.



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Flah the Heretic Methodist

posted April 12, 2010 at 5:12 pm


Too often these phrases are just lip service, while deep in their heart of hearts, the men believe strongly in the Patriarchy.



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Clearly Crazy Mike

posted April 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm


It always seems like an attempt to make up for some unknown error they made at home. The phrase “brownie points” comes to mind. And if this tactic didn’t work, it wouldn’t be so prevalent. Maybe their significant others’ Love Language is a mixure of PDA and self-loathing.
It’s also indicative of buying into our culture’s idea of personal value being tied to looks/intelligence/confidence/money/power/etc.



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Trev

posted April 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm


“It’s also indicative of buying into our culture’s idea of personal value being tied to looks/intelligence/confidence/money/power/etc”
Isn’t it a little more than an idea at this point? It’s reality. That IS how we establish our personal value in North America, whether you be a Christian, mormon, muslim, jew or atheist.
If you don’t have those things in North America, most people (if not all) don’t give a shit about you.
We all check our hair in the morning, think carefully about what we wear, feel embarassed when we say something dumb, love to succeed at something (if not everything), like to live comfortably and like to have a say in matters that concern us.
What is there to buy into? We’ve already bought it. Hell, we created it.



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Clearly Crazy Mike

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm


Trev, I give a shit about you, and I live in North America. :)
It would be good if Christians didn’t go along with this reality, is what I’m saying. But that would mean giving up a LOT. Stuff we probably don’t want to.



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Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 8:26 pm


I’m going with Flah on this one. It’s sweet when it’s genuine, but these protestations are generally lip-service and cover a lack of real respect for the woman. The most over-blown statements of this type often seem to come from men who expect to be able to act like over-grown children who are taken care of by their wives while still having their wishes deferred to as the ‘head of household’.
Rollo, the de-sexualization of men and the social convention that only women are desirable has nothing whatever to do with the ‘feminization’ of society and everything to do with the backlash against feminism (although the ‘women are for looking at – men only look’ convention was certainly very much alive and active for centuries beforehand). If society really was run for the benefit of women, then there would be a hell of a lot more obvious and public admiration of men’s bodies and sexuality since around 95% of women are straight. And if you doubt that women are capable of lusting after and appreciating masculine men, then you’ve never seen a bunch of het nursing students watching rugby. They tend not to act like that in public because it gets trained out of them by a culture/power-structure that would prefer it if men were not put in the vulnerable position of being ‘those who may be looked at’.
The unfortunate side-effects for individual men are pretty much a text-book case of ‘the patriarchy hurts men too’. If you want more open admiration of men, then you need to help chip away at the social penalties that women face for expressing their sexuality.



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Theadosia

posted April 12, 2010 at 8:37 pm


It ate my name, that’s me above under ‘Your Name’.
Oh, and Trev, do you have any idea how much time, energy, thought and money go into maintaining a ‘smoking hot’ appearance? Of course those girls want a return on their investment :)



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Dave H

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:01 pm


This blog is out of my league. :-)



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Em

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:57 pm


I don’t think this has anything to do with the feminization of society–especially Christian society I find to be hyper-masculinized, actually, or at least it was where I grew up. Men are MANLY MEN, and women are meek little flowers, and anyone who doesn’t fit those gender norms is told that they’re not walking closely enough to God.
This statement as I’ve heard it usually comes along with talking about how the wife in question has the spiritual gift of hospitality or servitude or something that allows him to be the boss, and how she’s such a “woman after God’s heart,” meaning, a woman that defers every decision to him. She also has to fulfill Proverbs 31, love children and want to pop out tons of them, and have no independent career except for filling the role of a godly wife. It’s a pretty strict set of guidelines, and I’ve found few “godly” women put on that pedestal in a church that weren’t at least pretending to fill most of them. Actually, I’ve only met one example that didn’t, and she spent most of her time explaining to the angry church ladies why she hadn’t had kids yet.



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Jeremiah

posted April 13, 2010 at 1:59 am


I’m all for saying anything that gets you through: “I married up” “Jesus is my co-pilot” “America Bless God”
“One day at a time” “it’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship” or whatever hackneyed pile of sh_t is the flavor of the week. I envy the people who get through life believing their own lies.



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Matt Green

posted April 13, 2010 at 8:34 am


Rollo, I liked your comment, but please don’t talk about game as if it is actually important. It has no lasting value, and is only relevant in the shallow, ego-driven culture that pervades dating. The factors that you mention (confidence, self-respect, etc) are, however, worth cultivating.



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Rollo Tomassi

posted April 13, 2010 at 9:01 am


I have to laugh when I hear the old Patriarchy chestnuts thrown about. You’d think that the women’s studies crowd would’ve come up with some new material in the past 30 years, but I guess not. The very fact that popular culture (even evangelical culture) recognizes “leagues” is a testament to women being hypergamous – women want the best pairing deal (provisioning, sexuality, security, etc.) that their sexual market value will command. It never ceases to amaze me at how deftly feminized society can turn on a dime and use even men’s casual observations of gender relations as evidence of patriarchy.
SInce the start of the sexual revolution masculinity has been progressively and systematically ridiculed and demonized to the point that boys have been raised into men based on the presumption that they are fundamentally flawed by virtue of their maleness. The most effective social conventions are ones where those affected willingly accept their condition, ridicule others who don’t share their ego investments and actively reinforce and encourage other to participate in it. What Stephanie observed in this blog post here is yet another passive reinforcement in evangelical culture of exactly this masculine-negative convention. Evangelical men are overwhelmingly ready to sublimate themselves to their women because they’ve been acculturated in a society that’s conditioned them to believe their testosterone is poisonous and they need the grace, charity and uniquely feminine perspective to save them from themselves (not to mention their horrible lecherous libidos).
Now add to all of that the limitations of sexual expression that evangelical culture places on young men and it’s not hard to understand why any christian guy would cop the idea of being eternally grateful his wife / girlfriend would’ve ever deigned to accept him intimately.



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Sarah

posted April 13, 2010 at 9:50 am


Gender roles are sad on all counts. For my own part, I grew up under the teachings that by virtue of my femaleness I was an inherent “stumbling block” to good and earnest boys, and that I therefore was innately and particularly evil, dirty, ungodly, etc.
Can we maybe agree that whatever is being done to gender concepts in our culture is f*cked up? For men and women both? I wonder what it would be like to move beyond male vs. female. It amazes me that in milennia of struggling for equality we’ve gotten no further than men blaming women and women blaming men, and using charged words like “patriarchy” and “feminization” as weapons against the other sex. We all have horrible, objectifying, dehumanizing, repressive, violent experiences of our sexuality. Something is being done to us, to all of us. But what? By whom? Trev is totally right that we’ve bought, heart and soul, the idea that power is prime, and we often wield that power in the form of sex. Men and women are both nasty to each other in the power play known as the dating game. And everyone is so angry at their gender roles and what is being proscribed for them that even the argument of “mutual submission” rings hollow for most people in the church, and humility doesn’t seem to exist much anywhere.
We’re all in this SNAFU together…it’s like a vortex of shrieking voices telling us what to do and what to be and who to blame for everything that’s wrong and unfair, and we’re all whirling around in it scratching and clawing at each other. Which isn’t getting us out. We’re all we’ve got, we’re all human. And we all have a right to be angry at what is being and has been done to us — but I don’t think we’re angry at the appropriate source. Rollo Tomassi, I’m really saddened by your reductivist, demeaning experiences of being told what it supposedly means to be masculine. Theodosia, I know exactly what you mean as well. We all have our particular stories, stories of how we’ve been badly taught and badly used. I bet if we started putting them together like puzzle pieces instead of throwing them at each other, we’d find some common threads that might lead us back to whoever or whatever is pulling the strings, and what that entity or ideology is after. We can’t effectively combat this pervasive perversity being levied invisibly against us if we don’t know its source; we’re just wildly flailing at one another in a fog. And something is snickering about it.



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Trev

posted April 13, 2010 at 10:37 am


“Oh, and Trev, do you have any idea how much time, energy, thought and money go into maintaining a ‘smoking hot’ appearance? Of course those girls want a return on their investment :)”
I couldn’t agree more! Of course, women will (typically) accept a payment in the form of “hot guy” in leu of a financialy successful one. But this payment is often recieved about 5-10 years into her marriage, when the material possesion appeal wears off, and she has a “I wonder if I could still get that guy” crisis.
How does that song go? “If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never a make a pretty woman your wife, so from my personal point of view, get an ugly girl to marry you.”



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Billy

posted April 13, 2010 at 10:39 am


My wife is no where near perfect, but neither am I. I think she is perfect for me. There have been a few times in our 12 years of marriage where I think most couples would have given up, but coming from a broken home I refuse to give up. She has a great sense of humor. Yes, I could survive without her and she could survive without me, but I wouldn’t want it that way.
At my church, the staff like to get there “most beautiful women in the world” wives on stage and go on about how their wives pick out their clothes and so on. It kind of goes on like “I’m an idiot and she’s the only reason I get by in life.” But, in my dark sense of thinking I can’t help but think sometimes that what they really mean is “I’m the smart one and I’m just saying this so my wife doesn’t feel insignificant.” That’s kind of harsh, I probably don’t mean that completely, but you get the point.



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Rollo Tomassi

posted April 13, 2010 at 10:39 am


Sarah, in my estimation the genders were intended to be complimentary to each other, not adversarial. Each gender has their inherent strengths and their weaknesses that the other compliments and compensates for in a healthy marriage. It’s my belief that God designed it this way for a reason, but it’s when we fail to recognize and respect these differences, and instead attempt to replace that complimentary design with a misguided egalitarian equality that declares both genders can be all things to all purposes, equally effective at the expense of the other, that we veer off course into discord.
It’s just this belief in a baseline equality that causes the imbalance by degrading the weaknesses or ridiculing the strengths of each gender’s character. From this perspective a guy extolling and pedestal-izing his wife while self-deprecating is seen as some covert attempt to perpetuate an oppressive patriarchy. It’s perceived as being covertly adversarial. You’d think there’d come a wink and a nod after such an admission, but I’m telling you, no, they really do believe what they’re saying because they’ve bought the same egalitarian ideal and actually do devalue their own worth (which is equally insulting to woman) because they think it’s endearing to do so.



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stephy

posted April 13, 2010 at 11:15 am


I feel like I know what you mean, Billy.



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Flah the Heretic Methodist"

posted April 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm


Rollo, I agree with your comments, wholeheartedly. However, you say:
“Evangelical men are overwhelmingly ready to sublimate themselves to their women because they’ve been acculturated in a society that’s conditioned them to believe their testosterone is poisonous and they need the grace, charity and uniquely feminine perspective to save them from themselves (not to mention their horrible lecherous libidos).”
This is true, I’m sure, but I’ve also heard these wife-glorifying statements made by men trying to show how enlightened they were about women, but who I knew beyond doubt acted like controlling assholes when they weren’t on the dais. Don’t assume the patriarchal movement has disappeared.



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Sarah

posted April 13, 2010 at 12:10 pm


Rollo Tomassi, I am in complete agreement about the complementarity of the sexes. I wasn’t talking about futile and dehumanizing attempts to erase difference (sorry; I could have been more clear); I was talking about the kind of arguments that crop up everywhere, including in this thread — men are angry about not being able to be men and blame feminization; women are angry about not being able to be women and blame the patriarchy. It’s not getting us anywhere, and the fact that each sex still tends to blame the other points to what you were saying about the discordant effects of trying to force sameness on the sexes. It also shows that each side aggressively asserting itself isn’t a helpful dialogue.
I don’t mean to push for sameness. When I say, “We’re all human,” what I mean is, our humanity is our unifying element, that place in the Venn diagram where the circles overlap. We need to be on each other’s sides. Whatever is going on in our culture is poisonous to both the sexes simultaneously, but instead of trying to overcome evil with good, we’re (the human species) mostly just trying to overcome each other. I’m just thinking that our shared stories would point us in a more effective direction. For example, I bristled when you talked about the problem of feminization, until I heard your later comment expounding on your experiences — thank you for sharing that. Obviously there is something seriously disordered about how gender roles are currently assigned in our culture.



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Rollo Tomassi

posted April 13, 2010 at 2:07 pm


One thing I overlooked in all this is discussion is just how pervasive a marketing tool it is for christian culture that an average looking guy would be able to hook up with a girl who’s “out of his league.” Whether that’s the reality or just the guy encouraging the idea by way of his pandering / supplicating to his wife, the message is still “believe on the name of the Lord and a beautiful babe will arrive on your doorstep in 6 to 8 weeks”.



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Theadosia

posted April 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm


I’m not blaming ‘men’ for anything, I know too many good ones. I’m blaming a centuries-old hierarchical social structure that screws over everyone except a handful of men at the top. That’s why it’s called ‘patriarchy’, the term still gets used because it’s still accurate, 30 years isn’t anywhere near long enough to change a society.
The problem with ‘complementarity’ and with rejecting egalitarianism, is that it assumes a very narrow range of abilities and strengths for each gender. The way it is traditionally used also tends to put most of the abilities and characteristics that lead to real power in this society into the male template.
I know some amazing men who don’t really fit into the traditional ‘masculine’ template, but who are perfectly comfortable with themselves and their maleness while being amazing cooks or incredible nurturers, dressmakers or embroiderers (and the ones I’m thinking of are straight, by the way). And I also know some women who I could fairly confidently state would be able to beat 98% of men in combat with one hand tied behind their backs (and they’re not all dykes, either). If you believe that everyone is created by God, and endowed with particular talents and strengths, then you should open your eyes to the reality of those talents and encourage people to develop and use them regardless of narrow, earthly conceptions of things like gender. If God sends you a great warrior and a wise leader, what a waste to force them into a supporting role where they will never be able to use their ability for the good of the community. If you get someone with a compassionate heart and a great tenderness for, and ability to reach and help the sick or children, what a mutilation to force him into a rigid straitjacket and beat any ‘softness’ out of him.



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Sarah

posted April 13, 2010 at 9:38 pm


Theadosia, thanks for the clarification re: the definition of patriarchy. That makes a lot of sense. I probably spoke out of turn.
What you said about the gender roles bending to individuality, and a need for a lack of narrowness and eschewing labels, I love that.



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Tyro

posted April 15, 2010 at 12:21 am


Considering the degree to which western society has been feminized for the past 60 years … I pity the poor women married to these self-confessed losers.
Interesting that you feel that the result of being “feminized” is to become a “self-confessed loser.” Feminine = loser, huh?



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Still Breathing

posted April 15, 2010 at 8:47 am


OK Stephy you got me again. I married out of my league. Not that I new it at the time all thos eyears ago. In the early years of our marriage I would have thought of us as equal (I think) but she has managed to put up with me through years of physical, and now, mental illness and she has stuck with me. I’m not sure I’d have managed if it had been the other way round so I have to admit she’s better than me and I love her for it.



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Rollo Tomassi

posted April 15, 2010 at 10:23 am


No, self deprecation in the extreme = loser
But nice try with the out of context, non sequitur binary argument.



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Shannon

posted April 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm


Stephy,
Maybe self deprecation in general should be a separate item to write about Christian culture being into. It is not just about the men saying “I married out of my league”. It is about the countless women I have heard in churches say, “I know I seem dumb, but…” or “I don’t need to be attractive to the world to be beautiful to God…”, etc., etc.
Drives me insane.



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Tyro

posted April 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm


Rollo, you specifically blame self-deprecatipn, which you say means “extreme loser” on society being “feminized.” you can’t get away from that formulation which you yourself made.
In any case, people who are self deprecating in these contexts can afford to be. People who talk about how they use hard work to make up for their lack of natural smarts are many times scientists or other brilliant people. People who talk about having “married out of their league” are usually community leaders or pastors. In a sense, this sort of thing is a form of bragging– the ability to self deprecate and get away with it is actually a signal that you are hot stuff.



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RedRover

posted February 20, 2011 at 10:41 am


I realize that sometimes it is a result of uncreative guys trying to be sweet or the fact the some guys are just so overwhelmed by how different and amazing the female species seems to be they can’t help but make statements like this. However, I don’t feel flattered when a guy tells me something like this. The last guy I dated made a statement like that and instead of saying “That’s sweet” I found “That’s not really true” coming out of my mouth. While I do believe that a man should respect women and treat them with obvious respect, they shouldn’t treat us as if we were something that is to good for them. That alienates us as being to apart from them when, I believe, we were made to be one with them and to complement each other. I am so glad you posted this. I’ve been having trouble putting my finger on why that statement made me so uncomfortable until now.



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