I am a 23-year-old, single male Christ follower. I am a member of a local church which I also serve and intern at. I feel called to ministry and am currently helping lead the high school ministry at my church.
I would love to get married to a wonderful woman with whom I can serve as a husband and partner with in ministry. Your blog has taught me so much over the years (started reading it around 19).
Recently, it has come to my attention that a young lady at my church is interested in me. She loves Jesus, serves (under my leadership), cares about the Gospel deeply, pours into younger women, is beautiful, has a great relationship with her family, and great reputation. A no-brainer, right? You are probably wondering why I am not already pursuing this girl. There is only one issue. She is quite a bit taller than me.
Right now I'm struggling to figure out whether this is a simple issue of lack of physical attraction (not the most important thing, but a pretty big deal in marriage) or me being shallow. I'm kind of stuck. I don't want to start pursuing her unless I know I want to marry this girl. I don't want to lead her on and confuse her. Part of me feels like it's OK to pass her up if I am not fully attracted to her physically. I feel safe in saying my standards are honestly not ridiculous, and some people simply are not attracted to other people. The other part of me feels like I could be making a big mistake, and I'm being shallow and insecure. I just wouldn't feel comfortable going out on a few dates and seeing "if I could get used to it," like some of my guy friends have suggested. Please help!
Thanks for writing. I'm sure you're feeling a little alone in this, but this issue comes up more than you might think. In fact, I've had this question put to me numerous times over the years from both men (in your position, worried about being shorter than their wives) and women (worried about being taller than their husbands).
I'll offer you the same view I've offered the other folks: Height is a purely physical characteristic, and basing a marriage decision on a single physical characteristic simply does not reflect biblical thinking. In other words, my bottom line take on your question as you've presented it is that I have to disagree with your idea that it's "OK to pass her up" if you are not "fully attracted to her physically."
Let me start with the broad principle: As I've written before in "Brother, You're Like a Six" and my column "If he's not my picture-perfect guy, should we still marry?" while physical appearance/attraction can play a role in the decision of whom to marry, it cannot and should not "drive the ship." That is, physical attraction cannot be the foundation either of a decision to marry or a marriage relationship. The Q&A linked above lays out the reasons why more fully, but the main reason is that such a perspective is unbiblical.
In seeking a wife, a wise, mature, godly man will make God's priorities his own. When the Bible describes what God values in women and wives, it focuses on character and godliness and actively de-emphasizes the physical. In 1 Peter 3, Peter instructs wives, "Do not let your adorning (also translated "beauty") be external ... but let your adorning (beauty) be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." Proverbs 31, in describing the excellent wife, provides 20 verses about her godliness and character, then for good measure throws in verse 30: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (emphasis mine). You can also check out Ephesians 5 and Titus 2 for more discussion about what God prizes in godly womanhood — especially in the context of marriage.
So that's the broad principle. Let me offer a few other comments based on some specifics in your question. First, the "height issue" is not substantially different than other hang-ups based on physical appearance. Some people have more sympathy with this hang-up because of a vague idea that husbands are "supposed to be" taller than their wives, or that it's so understandably difficult on the couple that it's more legitimate to make a decision based on this factor. Total nonsense. That secular sentiment has no basis in Scripture whatsoever, and there are couples all over the world in which the wife is taller who never give it a second thought. In the abstract, you may desire a wife who is shorter than you (or, ladies, a husband who is taller) but call it what it is: an item on a list of physical preferences.
Also, if I take your question at face value — that she is otherwise physically "beautiful" and that she is romantically interested in you — then two things are true: (1) height appears to be your only physical hang-up with this woman, and (2) the height difference is not an issue for her. If you desired her and she refused you solely because you were too short, I presume you would be hurt and angry. You should weigh these truths in any decision.
You also said in your question that you want to find a wife to "serve as a husband and partner with in ministry." If that's really your goal, then her height does not figure into it. Serving a wife per Ephesians 5 and ministering to her and with her are, ideally, selfless endeavors. It doesn't quite make sense to choose the person to whom you will love and serve and minister on self-centered criteria. This woman sounds (on paper) as if she would do well by the biblical standards above and that she could well be the type of "wonderful" woman you seek. I would encourage you to get past this issue and pursue her.
Finally, brother — and I say this in love — I want to challenge and encourage you based on your position of responsibility with these high school kids. I have worked with teenagers a lot, and they pay keen attention to how their leaders behave and make decisions. Challenge yourself to think biblically through issues of dating, marriage, and biblical manhood and womanhood, and give them a good example.
Probably not precisely the type of answer you were expecting, but I hope and pray it will be helpful and serve you nonetheless. I will pray for you to have wisdom in this, and I will pray for your work at the church.
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