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    Lack of Male Leadership as a Root Cause of Singleness

    April 13, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I promised I would discuss chapter four, entitled The Lack of Male Leadership: The True Cause of Protracted Singleness, so here we go. Before I begin to explain the parts of this chapter that I do not agree with, I thought I would affirm the underlying assumption of Getting Serious About Getting Married. A well-educated attorney long before she became a wife and mother of two children, Debbie Maken believes that men were designed by God to lead. I think we can all agree that leaders are ultimately accountable for the performance of the whole team. I hesitate to use the following metaphor because it is not intended to convey a belief that the male/female relationship is akin to the boss/employee relationship. However, I think the boss/employee relationship is an excellent way to illustrate the accountability aspect of said relationship. If an employee makes a major mistake, who has the ultimate responsibility? The boss. The boss may have hired the wrong employee, inadequately supervised the employee, or given the employee authority beyond what he was able to handle. The employee made the mistake, but the boss needs to be held accountable.

    Or maybe I should try parent/child. If my child does something horrendous, like throwing a raisin party, when I am out of the room, who is ultimately responsible for the travesty? Me! Because even though the child should not have been throwing a raisin party, I should have been more effectively supervising the child so that the party did not occur in the first place.

    Make sense?

    With the ultimate authority of men in the culture assumed, Maken has every reason to blame the rampant singleness in our culture on the general lack of male leadership.

    However, Maken uses the idea of male leadership as a root cause to excuse feminism as some sort of hobgoblin distracting the church from the real issue. I would have felt much better about chapter four had it been followed up by a chapter five entitled Christian Feminism: Not Ultimately to Blame, but Still Contributing to the Problem. Or, Maken could have explained that there are lots of books out there that already address feminism as a real issue among Christian women, and then suggested her favorite.

    My concern about this stems from two areas. The first is practical. Maken’s primary audience is women, so, though I agree with her that single men who refuse to marry are revealing their own lack of leadership and maturity, this may allow some single women to excuse some other issues that also contribute to the problem, issues that they might actually have power over. It’s kind of a take-the-rod-out-of-your-own-eye issue. Lack of leadership may be a plank, but it doesn’t mean that feminism isn’t a rod. And just like the leadership issues, feminism can haunt a marriage as much as it haunts singleness, so the earlier it is dealt with, the better.

    My second reason is based on the saying that it takes two to tango. Si and I are old enough that we have had to watch a few marriages fall apart. Often, the falling apart is accompanied by an affair {usually on the part of the husband, but definitely not always}. In the situation of affairs, it is so easy for the “victim” to play the martyr, and never admit to playing any part in the overall failure of the marriage. But affairs, unless one inadvertently married some sort of sexual deviant, are often a symptom of a larger, unaddressed problem. In other words, if Maken wants to check out every angle on why, culturally speaking, she found herself single and unhappy at 28, she can’t just brush feminism aside. After all, if the fact that bachelors went to prison for living alone in early America is deemed important, why not the very real current issue of so-called “Christian” feminism?

    Next post, I will try to unpack some of the details of chapter four and explain where I think Maken goes right…and where I think she goes wrong. For now, I simply wanted to point out that though Mommy was ultimately to blame for the Raisin Party, this does not mean that the child should have thrown it. Though the boss is to blame for an employee’s mistake, it does not absolve the employee of his failings. If we want to build a better culture for singles, we have to check out feminism, too, rather than brushing it aside as a mere ancillary issue.


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