Many men are largely driven toward marriage by sex. In "My only motivation to pursue marriage is sex. Is this OK?" one reader actually asked if that was OK. (Your short answer: "To want to be married because you desire sexual intimacy is not incorrect; it is incomplete.")
Similarly, women may be driven in part by the financial security a man can bring to marriage. I suspect Candice would suggest that financial security alone isn't a wrong motive for marriage either, but is also incomplete by itself.
I'm wondering if it's wrong for a man to focus on financial security as a "selling point" to a potential wife? It's not as if I'm going to wear a sign around my neck saying, "Good paycheck, high credit score, looking for wife," but you get the idea. Some might say I shouldn't say anything until a relationship is serious, but would you tell a beautiful woman to intentionally look plain so men won't pay attention to her for the wrong reasons?
First things first: For the record, I wouldn't tell her to look plain, but to be wise. No woman should want a husband who married her for her looks alone.
Now on to your question. It's a good one. Just as a woman's beauty is (or should be) the bonus when you find a wife, so should a man's ability to generate above average wealth. As you've correctly noted, a beautiful woman is identifiably so, even if she holds back on the glamour. Though I've known women who take extra steps to present themselves modestly, concealing where others would flaunt, a true knockout is hard to camouflage. Similarly, unless you're stingy, it will be hard to hide the fact that you're good with money and accumulating wealth, even if you're not flashy.
I can think of one man I know who dresses in outdated clothes (he's frugal); drives a used car that's paid for; keeps a modest social calendar; and overall, lives simply. (No, I'm not talking about Warren Buffet or Thomas Stanley's Millionaire Next Door, but I might as well be.) The first tip-off to his ballooning balance sheet? He owns his home. Not own, as in, "I have a 30-year-mortgage," but own, as in, "it's paid for." He never flaunts that fact, but he'll happily talk about it if you ask him. He's a hard worker and a conscientious steward. In the way he spends and saves, he's a good model for his friends.
But the last thing he'd do is lead with his wealth in an attempt to get a date. That would be as unattractive in a man as it would be if a woman were to go on her looks alone. (And the same applies to a drop-dead gorgeous guy and a loaded woman.) In all those scenarios, you'd have to wonder if you'd be getting anything more than a pocketbook or fashion plate.
Neither beauty nor money — on the part of the man or woman — should be the main prize if it's godly marriage you're seeking. Both have a way of masking shallow character. That's not always the case and doesn't have to be so (see Esther on beauty and Solomon on wealth). I fear, however, if you put your financial status out there as the focal point, the type of woman you'll attract will be very different from the woman who will be attracted primarily to godly character.
I think God is after something much deeper in His people on their way to marriage (and at every life stage). And this is good news for all singles hoping to marry well, whether rich or poor, beautiful or plain. He wants you to focus on Him. He wants you to dedicate your heart, mind, soul and strength to loving Him. And that kind of loving is so much more than a feeling (if it's even that at all). It's about obeying Him (John 14:21-23) and seeking Him (Jeremiah 29:13) and growing more like Him (Matthew 5:48).
I also believe, based on Scripture, that the primary way a man should go about looking for a godly wife is by striving hard after God. Paul's instructions to the young man Timothy in 1 Timothy 3, 4 and 5 are a great place to start. Note especially 1 Timothy 6:6-21. Just after Paul warns against the love of money — "a root of all kinds of evil" — he exhorts Timothy, saying,
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time — God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.
When your life is dedicated to wholehearted devotion and service to Him, including a desire for and openness to marriage for His glory, you are more likely to notice women who are living that same way. And it's two people who have made God their goal, who are more likely to make a godly marriage.
Hope this helps.
Copyright 2009 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.