Sila Lott’s Really Bad Advice for Finding a Husband That is Definitely Not in the Bible: Part 1

A friend recently shared an article about how women in the Bible met their husbands. The article was full of terrible advice based partly on a basic misunderstanding of the stories found within the pages of the bible and the cultures those stories originated from, and partly on proof-texting used to write meanings into the stories that do not exist. It is far too common for Christians in America to view the Bible through a modern, western lens, to read our own lives and opinions into the stories of the Bible, and to try to get advice for every question we have from scripture. This is a mistake, and it has had devastating consequences throughout history.

Since the article I mentioned contains advice that is common in Christian churches and that is harmful to women, I would like to spend some time investigating the claims made by the writer and addressing the inaccuracies as well as the harmful messages she shares.

The article is, How the Wives of the Bible Met their Husbands: What You Can Learn by Sila Lott. I will not link to the article, but you can find it by searching online if you wish.

Dating Apps and Going Out to Meet People

Ms. Lott begins with a heavy dose of internalized misogyny by depicting the world as a place where most women are morally loose, attention-seeking harlots, advertising themselves at bars and clubs or on dating apps, trying to pick up men through what she sees as dishonorable means. Instead, she explains that men are supposed to find women, not the other way around. Throughout this article, she reinforces her belief that this alone is the biblical way. She uses Ruth and Esther as examples of women who, in her words, “weren’t distracted, and weren’t advertising themselves (except when told to i.e. Esther). They were not attention seeking…” So, in her mind, it is okay to advertise yourself and seek attention if men tell you to do so. (More on Esther later.) There are several problems with this message, not the least of which is that Ruth and Naomi, who were living in poverty as widows, were co-conspirators in persuading Boaz to fulfill the role of kinsman-redeemer so that they could have their property and fortune returned to them. Boaz was certainly not the pursuer in this story.

Second, the idea that only men should pursue is not presented in scripture as any kind of command or guideline on “God’s way of living.” Rather, when men are depicted as pursuing women in scripture, it is because, throughout the biblical timeline, women were property and marriage was transactional between men. To tell women that going out or subscribing to a dating app to meet people is unbiblical is a false narrative that attempts to canonize the way things were during time periods when women were not treated with the dignity they deserved as image-bearers of God. Furthermore, it tells women who are extroverts and men who are introverts that there is something wrong with the way God made them.

Finally, dating apps, like any other way of meeting people, can result in wonderful, healthy marriages, and I personally know several happily married couples who met through online dating sites. That being said, dating apps have their share of problems that everyone should be aware of. They are a breeding ground for narcissists and predators since they provide a relatively easy way for people to pretend to be something they are not. This problem is not exclusive to online dating, though. There are also physical places in the world that can function the same way, and narcissists do not need dating apps to prey on vulnerable people. It happens in church, in workplaces, in bars, at parties, and many other places I have not mentioned. The reality is that we all need to learn to be cautious about dating, learn to recognize red flags, and take time developing relationships and getting to know people in many different situations (fast-moving relationships are one of the biggest red flags that you are signing on for an abusive marriage). Even when people do their best to practice these strategies, they are sometimes still fooled and end up abused. In these circumstances, Christians must stop putting the institution of marriage above the health, safety, and value of individual people whom God loves. If you are in an abusive marriage, leave. God loves you more than your marriage, and He does not want you to be abused and neglected.

Bad Interpretations of Marriage Stories

The examples Ms. Lott draws from are Ruth and Boaz, Esther and King Ahasuerus, Mary and Joseph, Rebekah and Isaac, Rachel and Jacob, Abigail and David, and Zipporah and Moses. Let’s look at these examples one at a time.


Ruth and Boaz

Ms. Lott seems to believe that Ruth was working for Boaz as a servant and in service to her mother-in-law. She emphasizes the oppressive language that Christianity has oft used to keep women in “their place” by describing Ruth as selfless, obedient, and a servant. She claims incorrectly that Boaz was attracted to these qualities.  First, Ruth was not in any way serving Boaz. Boaz was doing what was required by Jewish law and instructing his workers to leave some crops behind for those in need. Boaz likely knew that Ruth and Naomi were relatives of his, so he did the right thing by providing extra to take care of them and allowing her to stay in his fields instead of moving on to other fields that had not yet been gleaned. Boaz was a good man. Ruth was a good woman. There is nothing negative in this story. Yet, while Ruth was indeed selflessly caring for her mother-in-law, whom she had come to see as a mother, she also had much to gain through the work she was doing. Ruth and Naomi were poor and hungry, and gathering food from fields like those owned by Boaz was the way for them to legally get what they needed to survive. Additionally, once they began to conspire to persuade Boaz to act as their kinsman redeemer, Ruth had even more to gain. Ruth was not self-centered, but neither was she the doormat too many Christians believe women are called to be. Finally, there is zero mention of Boaz being attracted to Ruth. That is simply not the way marriage worked in biblical times. Their marriage was transactional in nature and benefitted Ruth, Boaz, Naomi, and future generations. I suspect that they did come to love one another but to describe this story as a man being attracted to a woman who believed she had nothing to offer except service is a mistake.


Esther and King Ahasuerus

As with the other stories, Ms. Lott puts a lot of emphasis on obedience to a father or father figure as the path to being blessed with a husband. This is a common belief among fundamentalist complementarian Christians who believe that women are supposed to go from obeying a husband to obeying a father. In her article, she explains that Esther was obeying Mordecai, but that is not really the case. Mordecai gave her advice, and she decided to follow it. There is a big difference between following advice as an adult with agency and obeying as a servant. There are other inaccuracies in the way Lott describes Esther’s story, such as her claim that King Ahasuerus was the one to provide Esther with beauty treatments and special food when it was Hegai, the king’s eunuch who treated Esther with such kindness. One of the most disturbing parts of this article (and there are many) is that the author presents Esther’s story as a Godly path to finding a husband (or rather, having a husband find you). The truth is, Esther was a victim of human trafficking who made the best of a really terrible situation. She was not given a choice when she was forced into the king’s harem after a mass enslavement of young women that the king ordered because he was angry that the previous queen dared to defy him and refused to be paraded around as an object. She was made queen as part of God’s plan to save her people from genocide. The story of Esther is not a story about how to find a husband. King Ahasuerus was Esther’s oppressor, not her husband and partner in life. Esther is the heroine of her own story because she refused to sit by in submission and allow herself and her people to be abused and murdered. She took the power back, fought a battle where the odds were stacked against her, and won!


Mary and Joseph

I have had a difficult time fully capturing the gravity of Lott’s misuse of Mary’s story as an example of how to be blessed with a husband. Simplistic, sickening, offensive, demeaning, invalidating – I am not sure any of these words or all of them combined are enough. Like Esther, Mary was the heroine of her own story and the story of her people. God chose Mary to carry His incarnated Son in her body for 9 months and to raise Him to adulthood. The Bible does not say why Mary was chosen, but only that she found favor with God. What is clear, however, is that God chose Mary because of something He saw in her character, in her life, or in her devotion to Himself. Mary’s favor had absolutely nothing to do with Joseph.

Lott erroneously states that “it is her willing obedience to God and fulfillment of her purpose – to have Jesus, that keeps her blessed by God in marriage.” Mary’s willingness to become the human mother to the incarnated Son of God had nothing to do with her being “blessed” with a marriage. Mary was already betrothed before the angel visited her and had this event never happened, she would have almost certainly married Joseph as planned and had an uncomplicated life as a respected Jewish woman.

Perhaps the most harmful message in this article is when Lott writes, “The Lord intervened to have His purpose fulfilled, and He always does in a God-filled marriage, if we humbly submit to His will and plan. No matter how the situation may look, we must trust God as Mary did, and that obedience showed her Godly favor and eventual protected marriage to Joseph.” First, I want to mention that Sila Lott divorced an abusive husband 10 years ago, which was the right choice. The message delivered in the preceding words, however, is one that virtually every abused wife is given by the church. We are told that we need to trust God and that if we just pray hard enough for our abusive husbands, they will change, and we will eventually have a blissful marriage. Unfortunately, this is not how God works because people have free will. No one is responsible for changing another human being. If someone is abusive, they must make the choice to do the work themselves and fix what is behind those behaviors. At the first signs of abuse, the victim should be counseled to get out of the relationship. Yes, people can change, but abusers seldom do. The cycle of abuse keeps people hanging on because love bombing almost always follows the worst incidences, keeping victims holding onto false hope that their partner is changing.

If you want a takeaway from the story of Mary, let it be one of God empowering a woman to be a hero in Israel, not one of a woman being rewarded with a husband for living as a doormat.

This is the first in a two-part series. Stay tuned for the second installment, which will discuss the stories of Rebekah and Isaac, Rachel and Jacob, Abigail and David, and Zipporah and Moses.

I am a writer, a mom, a follower of Christ, and an INFJ. I believe in freedom in Christ and that God's love, grace, and faithfulness are more than sufficient for anything we go through. C.S. Lewis said it best when he wrote, "The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation."

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