A few years ago a Facebook-friend was one of 126 000 people who shared an article entitled Godly Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos. The author, Lori Alexander, writes from a conservative Christian perspective and a comment on the shared post describes her as a “hot mess” – and yes, I can see why the whole concept is messy from the point of view of modern Western society. This article caused a stir (over 90 000 comments on the Facebook post) and for many reasons I still think about it today.
The backlash from this article came from within and from outside the Christian community. Certain aspects were very disturbing insofar as it suggests that women should not continue with further education in order to remain debt-free – it’s true that debt is not idea, but this seems extreme. Other points made by Alexander, however, do find resonance within the Muslim community.
In addition to having no tattoos and being debt free, Alexander quotes one of her readers who say that the most desirable women are those who:
- have not been in previous relationships
- live at home
- do not give into their desires based on “what if’s”
While Lori Alexander knows that even within the conservative Christian community this kind of woman is rare – the Muslim community does not. Prospective partners and their families have clung on to a notion that these men/women are available in abundance. The statistics suggest otherwise and we are in major denial.
We have to start re-centering what we value and what we prioritize. It goes both ways – for men and for women, but as always, women are disproportionately affected.
If you are currently seek a spouse who has abstained from pre-marital sex, does not consume alcohol and does not occasionally smoke weed – you know as well as I do, that this is not that easy to find. At first blush, it may seem that there are plenty of young Muslims who fit into this category – duh. But upon further probing you will quickly realize that this is hardly the case. Gone are the days where it was only the outliers, exceptions and “naughty ones” who engaged in this unholy trinity. The reality is that these vices are latent but prevalent amongst those who identify as practicing – they attend jumua prayers, they fast, they pray, they wear hijab, they live otherwise very “good Muslim” lives.
If we have certain values we do not wish to compromise on, we must be aware that we will have to compromise in some other way. I know this sounds obvious, but what it means is that when it comes to marriage, our options are not endless. He may not be a knockout, she may not be the most beautiful, he may not earn the most money, and she may not come from a “good” family.
I wish things were different, but they are not.
It’s all about priorities. If your priorities include someone who is a debt-free virgin without tattoos, then so be it. But always keep in mind that it is unlikely that you will get everything that you want. Therefore, be at least open to the idea that the other qualities, features and characteristics that appear lower down on your list of priorities may not be present. This will save you many unrealistic expectations and will help you decide what exactly it is that you want in a potential spouse. And after all, knowing what you want is never a bad thing. It is foolish to think you can marry someone who drinks alcohol and have children who do not. Similarly, you cannot command your children to pray if your spouse does not.
In writing this and thinking about Lori Alexander’s piece, I’m not trying to convince you to subscribe to particular values, I’m simply saying know which values you do subscribe to and stick to them.