The Cash Value of a Man


A woman only has worth if she’s young and beautiful.

Does anyone reading this believe that statement?

Tuesday night, my wife and I were driving home from a surprise birthday party for a long-time friend, when I made the mistake of turning on a Christian radio station. Yes, I said mistake.

Now most of you readers know that I don’t like to name names when it comes to Christian nuttiness. I tend to avoid pointing fingers at individuals or ministries, preferring to go with the understanding that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

I’m not going to let this one slide though.

The Family Life program was on, featuring a speaker who preached on real manhood, claiming that clueless men are proliferating at an exponential rate. In trying (pathetically and eisegetically, if you ask me) to preach on the husband and wife section of Ephesians 5, he noted that “to nourish and cherish a wife means…money.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t see money mentioned at all in Ephesians 5. I do see a man called to love his wife unconditionally just as Christ loved the Church. The astute will notice that this call to unconditional love of one’s wife flies in the very face of the worldly statement that opened this post. Christians men are to love their wives, even when that fleeting beauty fades and age envelops like a wrinkled cloak.

Can we all agree on that?

As if the ridiculously eisegeted comment about money wasn’t enough, the same preacher (a noted “expert” on biblically-based sex roles) dropped this bomb:

If a man wants his wife to respect him more, he should make more money.


Can I tell you what the world says about the worth of a man? It’s this:

A man only has worth if he is powerful and wealthy.

Does anyone besides me see that this preacher is just mimicking what the world says? We don’t accept that opening statement about a woman’s worth, yet we’re preaching that the respect due a man is directly tied to how much moolah he brings home? In cash we trust?So a Christian man should love his wife unconditionally, but a Christian woman should only respect her husband if he’s bringing home more and more cash?

By this standard, the apostles—at least the married ones—were damnable failures who deserved being nitpicked to death because their wives didn’t have a revolving account at Saks. And let’s not get into that poor carpenter, Joseph, and the miserable father he was for not ensuring Mary and Jesus a gilded, palatial estate overlooking the Jordan.

So much for seeking first the Kingdom! Better seek that fat pay raise or work two jobs, even if your kids never see you.

Who gave this “preacher” a microphone? Shame on Family Life!

Do I believe a man should provide for his family? Yes, I absolutely do. But what message are we sending when we Christians simply roll over and ape the world’s hellish message about a man’s worth?

For all our talk of conforming to biblical standards, we don’t. The Bible tells us that most people worked a farm. In fact, the entire household worked the farm. Distinctions between what men and women did for work didn’t really exist on a macro level. Yes, men did most of the brute strength farm work, while women did things like threshing (still a tough job), but they co-labored.

If we take a look at early America, often held up as Camelot by some Evangelicals, again, you see the same picture of farming and co-laboring, especially in the middle classes on the edge of the frontier. It was only after industrialization hit this country (and that only after a hundred years of factories and reforms) that we started seeing this sort of naïve ideal that a man can’t simply do a man’s work, he’s got to do his wife’s work, too. He better darned well do his work better than the guy next door, as well, because not everyone can have the good jobs. (Some guy’s gotta draw the short employment straw. Guess short straw’s wife won’t have much reason to respect him, now will she? I bet that’s a chilly bed!)

I’ve got to also wonder about a preacher who’s giving a message that the way to a wife’s respect is by making more money. A preacher. Think about that. Think about all the guys out there in the ministry who are making a pittance. I guess the only way those poor ministers are going to keep bringing home more bacon is if they start drinking the Church Growth Movement kool-aid! Butts in seats! Butts in seats! (And a mixed metaphor, too!)

Anyone out there besides me feel like crying?

Oops, can’t do that. Not manly enough.

31 thoughts on “The Cash Value of a Man

  1. francisco

    …(second thoughts…)

    Is this the part of that message that motivated this post?

    “[The man is] charged †“ hear this †“ he’s charged with providing for [his wife’s] freedom to be whatever God is calling her to be. And in our world, providing for your wife that freedom inevitably involves money. It involves money. So a real head not only shows his wife his heart, he not only holds up the Word to her, but he also shows her the money.”

    (Transcript here:

    1. From what I read, I see that no preacher was given a microphone to speak. The radio program host(s) played a tape.
    2. This message was the second of a two-part series. The one played on monday (I skimmed thru the transcript) seems fine.
    3. On tuesday, the preacher on tape was using a very popular book to illustrate some of his points. The quote I placed here (see above) was illustrated with the giving-gifts kind of love language (the other four aside were -I guess- somewhat sprinkled across the message)
    4. Now, I still agree with your main point. The scripture text was not honored in that quote. The rest seems fine. However…
    5…because the complementarian preacher-on-tape gets it wrong in that quote, does not mean that egalitarianism (or worse evangelical feminism) is the way to go!
    6. Now, if you’d like to see what God-centered Christian teachers have written about biblical manhood and womanhood, you can check this out:
    7. And to finish, I’d like to share with you some words from Joshua Harris -given in the context of not shifting the blame to feminism for the current state-of-the-art of gender roles in our culture…

    …but still applicable and relevant:

    “The fight to uphold a complementarian, or what I would call a biblical, view of gender doesn’t start with attacking feminists. It should begin with Christian men–single and married–heeding the call of scripture to be humble, masculine, self-sacrificing servant-leaders.”

    Grace and Peace,

    • Francisco,

      Man, thank you! I had no idea they had those transcripts online. Here’s the part of the Eph. 5 “exegesis” that got me riled:

      Thirdly, there’s a third best practice, it’s found in verses 28 through 30. Notice it says this †“ it says, “So husbands are also to love their wives as themselves,” and then it says, “for no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it just as Christ also does the church, because we’re members of His body.”

      Now, when you read that, there are two words that jump out †“ the words “nourish,” and “cherish.” And what those words do is they unfold, for a husband, one of his major responsibilities because those words mean to provide for your wife, to care for her in some material fashion. And I believe that what a real head is he’s a provider. Like Christ provided for His church, a husband practically provides whatever is necessary for the wife to be the kind of woman that God meant for her to be.

      He’s charged †“ hear this †“ he’s charged with providing for her freedom to be whatever God is calling her to be. And in our world, providing for your wife that freedom inevitably involves money. It involves money. So a real head not only shows his wife his heart, he not only holds up the Word to her, but he also shows her the money.

      Again, I have no problems with a man being charged with providing for his family, but this is just terrible exegesis. Not only that, but it upholds an ideal that I can’t find anywhere in the Scriptures.

      As to the part about respect being tied to more money, I do not see that in the transcript. I believe he said it as an aside, but I know he said it because that was the point where I stabbed the radio button off and said to my wife, “That’s appalling.” I’m going to listen again to the recording now that you’ve provided the links because I’m wondering if it didn’t get transcribed. I’m serious about that, too–that’s what got me most riled.

      As to the complementarian idea, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe the sexes were made to complement each other. The question, though—and it’s a big one—is whether our notion of complementarian conforms to a biblical standard or whether we allow our cultural definitions to intrude on that. I believe quite strongly that we’ve let a nuclear family model based on ideals from the 1950s cloud our exegesis of the Bible’s passages on sex roles.

      For the longest time, preachers had nothing to say about women working in a co-laboring role because that’s how it worked in most of the country. Even when the industrial revolution hit America, the preachers did not preach against women working in factories. In fact, a lot of them preached that a factory represented a great opportunity for a family (note that he’s talking about moms, dad, AND kids) to make what it needed to survive. Only later did preachers rail against women in the workplace (because some people started noting the unfair and dangerous working environment of the factories), but now they’ve relented on that one and shifted to this idea that a man has to seriously outearn his wife to be considered a decent provider.

      Where is that coming from? As I just showed, the Church here hasn’t been able to come up with a consistent message throughout history as to the right way to live out work roles. What happened is that we’ve confused work roles with sex roles.

      I’m also taking a stand against ministries that take what may be an unrealistic and unbiblical expectation of men, then lay that millstone around their necks and say, “Good luck buddy, you’re on your own.” I especially hate it—and I’ve heard this ad infinitum—where a guy’s struggling to find work, then he does find the perfect job and all is solved, only to reveal that the work he got was working for the ministry he’s on the radio talking about! Nice work, if you can get it! It’s comforting to know that all these parachurch ministries advocating this stuff have out a permanent shingle that says that they’ll hire every underemployed or unemployed man out there, pay them more than enough to support their families on one income, and then put them on the radio talking about it (like Family Life did at the end of the program—yes, I turned it back on after I stabbed the off button because my wife wanted to hear the preacher’s explanation of why he said what he said about respect and money).

  2. I listened to the audio portion of the tape and did not hear that direct quote, though I swear it was there in the broadcast I heard. Still, he ties a woman’s respect to her husband’s being able to meet needs. He notes the following:

    Why would he leave his father and his mother, they’re taking care of stuff †“ and go cleave to a wife, as verse 31 says. Why would he do that, knowing that if he did that, as a Christian man, he’s going to have to assume these huge responsibilities of being a lover and open up his heart when he doesn’t even know how to talk. And being a standard bearer, when no one has really discipled him in the Word and being a provider, and he’s just barely making ends meet as it is. Who would want to do that?

    I like what it says in verse 32 †“ “The mystery is great.”


    It is a great †“ you’ve always wondered why that statement was in there. There it is. Why †“ it’s a great mystery.


    But verse 33 helps a little bit in solving the mystery. It says, “Let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.” Here is what I’ve learned after 35 years of marriage †“ you see, in a marriage, a man has a unique opportunity to experience something in his heart and his life, whether he knew it or not, when he first got married, that, really, he’s always longing for.

    In many ways, he will find, if it ever happens to him, he will find that, in many ways, this is the crowning achievement of his manhood. It becomes a reward.

    He also says this toward the end:

    Maybe you will get into a Bible study and start learning about God’s Word. Maybe you will get into some study where you start learning more about the needs of women, like in a men’s fraternity or whatever. Maybe you will say, “You know, I need to change jobs. I’m not going to earn enough here.” Maybe it will be a spur for you to reach higher in your career.

    But here is what you’re going to do †“ “he who loves his wife loves himself.” You will never feel more loved in life than if you do these three things.

    After I got married, I stumbled into that same thinking. I had a decent job that made more than a lot of men my age, but when I kept on thinking about the need to make even more to satisfy all the things people were telling me I needed to be as a man, it soon became much too little. So I went for the money and derailed the ministry. And nothing has been quite right since.

    So with the wisdom of a few more years, I oppose that message pretty strongly, yet it’s a message that men continue to hear in the Church. You want to be a real man, to have the respect of your wife, then “show her the money.”

    But isn’t being a model of godliness, going God’s way rather than the world’s way, a far better way to cherish and nourish your wife? That’s all I’m asking.

    I find that too many men get caught up in the money and everything else in life suffers for it. His relationships with other men, his ability to be around the home and actually model godly character to his wife and kids, his ability to make a difference in his immediate community—it all suffers if “show me the money” becomes the primary focus of his life. And it will become the primary focus of his life because that’s the same message the world is sending him. If the Church’s message isn’t counterculture, then we’ve got a huge problem because suddenly the Kingdom of God is the same as the kingdom of this world and all that is passing away with it.

    Yesterday, I walked through a $2 million house. As beautiful and extraordinary as that house was, the fact is that the owner of that house can’t take it with him when he dies.

    If the measure of a man is what he lays up in this lifetime, then God help him—and God help me because I’ll probably never meet the standard. But if that’s not the measure (and it certainly isn’t), then why are we preaching a message that happiness is found in how much money you make? That true manhood consists of laying up treasures that one day will fall to someone else and get eaten by moths and rust?

    We need a better message.

  3. I listened to the program before commenting and I am just as frustrated after listening to it. Why does the church insist on continuing to place a heavy burden on men and tie it into the standard of the world?

    Where does Paul say that the measure of a man is in how well he does in his career and by how much money he makes? A man miserable in his career will be miserable in his marriage as well.

    It was quite a stretch for Lewis to see in Ephesians 5 that we are to show our wives “the money”. Our freedom is found in Jesus Christ, not money. Why is the goal that we are pressing on to have to be money? Our goal is to press on to mark the high calling in Christ Jesus.

    • Yeah, Don, it’s a conflicted message.

      Worse, a woman hears that message, looks at a husband who may be a godly, if not necessarily wealthy, man, and gets dissatisfied. The message becomes one of envy for her that the she isn’t married to “the captain of industry” her best friend is married to. So she grouses. Everything else positive about her husband gets lost in the fact that he makes a third of what her friend’s husband does.

      Of course, the friend’s husband is never around because he’s always at work so the family can vacation in the Caribbean every summer, and he may be having some kind of inappropriate relationship on the side, but man, he keeps the coffers filled!


  4. Pingback: Is the Measure of a Man Money?
  5. You know, I didn’t even realize that the title of that message was “Best Practices of Headship.”

    Does anyone see the juxtaposition of church and business? Yes, “Best Practices” is a business management buzzword, the kind of thing that has drifted over into Church Growth models that advocate running your church (and I guess your family) like a ISO 9001-based business.

    Now it’s all coming together…

  6. francisco

    “Our freedom is found in Christ not in money”

    Preach it brother, preach it!

    Yet, I want to throw a ball. Just an observation. So readers of this blog, don’t take it personally. I’ve heard almost to the point of exhaustion people quoting that verse in Galatians:
    “it is by freedom that you’ve been set free”
    and many people remember that verse because it is quoted in a very popular christian song, whose chorus goes:
    “it is for freedom you set us free..
    I’m free…
    I’m free..”

    Ok, I am free. Yes! But -and here is the question- do we regularly think of ‘what have we been set free from?’ and ‘what have we been set free for?’ I fear that many don’t even reflect upon that. And I think this is relevant, because then it is easy for someone to come to you and tell you that:
    “…freedom inevitable involves money. It involves money.”

    Oh, Lord come quickly.

  7. David Riggins

    I have a problem with what Dr. Lewis said. A way-down-deep-in-the-soul kind of problem. Perhaps it’s my basic dislike of Family Life (due to their unrelenting fund raising) or perhaps it’s the Spirit tweaking my soul and telling me “That is just soooo wrong”. I’ll have to spend some time in meditation and prayer before I sort this one out, but just off the top of my head:

    “Show me the money” has been used for laughs since the movie came out. Doubtless, Dr. Lewis was going for laughs when he used the phrase, but underlying that phrase is a philosophy that goes back to Dr. Lewis’ business background: Success is primarily measurable in physical terms.

    I would hope that my wife values me for the spiritual freedom I give her through my obedience to Christ more than the size of the paycheck I bring home. More money may provide freedom to do things, but since when is spiritual freedom encouraged by worldly things? My freedom comes from Christ, and even bound by chains as Paul was, my spiritual freedom is limitless. If my wife and I are bound by poverty, we are unshackled through faith in Christ.

    I could go on, but I won’t, because I’m beginning to sputter indignantly, and that’s a bad sign…

    • David,

      Like I mentioned above, I didn’t catch that the title of Lewis’s message used the phrase “best practices” in the title. That’s your clue right there that this is as much about bringing business management techniques into the church as it is about anything else.

      As far as indignation goes, you should have seen how angry I was after hearing that message.

  8. I really appreciated how you juxtaposed the commodification of women (only valuable if young and beautiful) with the commodification of men (only valuable if wealthy). Both are so utterly dishonoring and degrading. Having been made in God’s image, men and women should never be evaluated through such a lense!

  9. Jeff

    What is the measure of a man?

    When are we going to stop looking at men and women from the world’s perspective? How do you feel when being introduced to somebody new and you find out that they have some menial job (in the world’s view)? I find myself wondering what happened to them, what caused to set the bar so low.

    And then as I look in the mirror, why am I pushing myself to achieve more at the expense of teaching and nurturing my children. Am I just here to provide for them? or is there something else that I should be doing….

    I pray that this topic will open our eyes to the fact that we are “free” from looking at the measure of people through the lens of the world. Free to stop worrying about am I measuring up to what Smith/Jones/etc. says is the worth of a man. I am free to be the man God has called me to be. Now if I can just grasp that freedom.

    Great post Dan. Very thought provoking as always.

    • Jeff,

      What bothers me is that we’re upholding an ideal that essentially doesn’t have its roots in the Bible. Plus, we’re adding an uncritical societal veneer over the top.

      In neither case is this real scholarship. Convenient, yes, but ultimately dishonest. In a way, it’s promulgating the same historical vacuum that gives us Holocaust denials. Somehow we looked at Leave It to Beaver and decided that it’s the prototype for all time when it comes to sex and work roles. But that’s a lie. I wish we had a collective memory of more than a few months, otherwise we’d see we’re revisioning history in our own era’s image.

  10. Peyton


    With regard to the Family Life broadcast, why am I thinking of Matthew 23, especially verse 4?

    For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

    I’ve basically given up on “Christian” radio (never did watch TV) — it is toxic for me. It seems so often to come down to “We’ll tell you how to be rich (the WORLD) and happy (the FLESH) if you but do what we say (the DEVIL).”

    Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.


    • David Riggins

      Amazing. I was thinking of the same thing…a friend of mine and I have been looking at those verses in Jude (in relation to the actions of the church in the so-called “culture war”) and doing a detailed study of the three examples given; Korah, Cain, and Balaam:

      Cain: Worshipping God my way (and getting angry when confronted with error). It’s almost as though what God desires doesn’t count, as long as it pleases me.
      Korah: I know better than God what is best. Authority is determined by man, not God.
      Balaam: Obedience is transitory, and seeking after money trumps the will of God. Balaam started out well, where did he fail?

      The words that come to mind are “expediency” and “compromise”.

  11. I must’ve lived a sheltered life, dear Dire Dan, for I’ve never heard of Family Life until now.

    But thanks for the head’s up. Yikes! If this is what they’re preaching, I’ll be sure to avoid them like the Plague.

  12. Wolfgang Amadeus

    I found your prose very interesting, for I firmly believe that todays family structure is failing the children as well as the family itself. Because of the advent of ERA and women working in the home and out, the market has taken advantage of it, and made it so that housing is terribly expensive, as well as the cost of living. Its a market based society now, not a farm society. Frankly, I don’t know how a young, newly married family can survive without both parties working in solid jobs.

    I know people who have homes where the wife stays and fulfills the traditional role without working, but her husband, is a professional, and they tithe, have more than five children, go to church every Sunday, and other related activities. I also know women who own their own companies, and still maintain a good home for their families-immaculate in every respect. They too go to the same church incidently, and tithe more than 10%.

    Still- there is a majority out there, that don’t live that way, and choose not to do anything about it too. I see so much sadness, dysfunction in the family, laziness, and out right stubborness in those situations. The only people who really suffer in that scenario, is the children in the end. They end up carrying so much emotional baggage, its a wonder they can function at all as adults.

    And, another thing that I see now, especially among the middle class, is the undeserving middle class attitude that was common in nineteenth century England. These people will not marry- but live with each other in a Common situation -have children, and when the fancy moves them, separate. They have no intention of every marrying – and are perfectly content that way.

    This seems to me the new modus operendi in modern households. Frankly, it scares me.

    I have never lived with someone unless I was married to them. Just something implanted in me as a child. Goes up there with not getting a women pregnant unless you intend to marry her. That is something that just isn’t taught today, unless you happen to be churched.

    Oh well..interesting as well as enlightening.

    Pax Christie

  13. Cheryl

    “..underemployed or unemployed man out there and have him talk about it.” concerning employment with parachurches. Thanks for having the courage to say that. I’ve noticed that for awhile now.
    It can be especially daunting for both young men and women when they finally leave and have no education or job skills. It doesn’t seem right to me. Sometimes I think ministry is overated and their is alot of the pride of life in it.
    As I remain single and a woman I’m not sure anymore about the prospect about marrying someone in ministry and it’s not because of lack of finances either.
    In defense of us women… I hope for women who marry and are relatively mature in their faith they won’t put that type of pressure on their husband to make big bucks. It’s not right. Single men, find a woman who has learned contentment in whatever state she is in. You will be better off. Women can also get ‘on a role’ so to speak in this regard but it’s usually because of the pastor/teacher harping about servant leadership and to keep the wife happy and at home just make money. I don’t know about that kind of thinking. It can turn some men into sugar daddy’s or assume a parental role with their wife. Since women are sinners many might just lap it up sorry to say.

  14. Don Costello

    Dan, I’m glad the Word of God gives the correct definition of manhood. The sad part is I wonder how many men not grounded in Scripture will take the radio minister’s definition of manhood and do more harm to his marriage. American Christianity at its worst.

  15. Leta


    Thank you so much for this post and the comments following it up. Just thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

    It’s good to know that there are other, thoughtful, decent people who have just had it with “christian” (yes, the little c is there on purpose) media and other organizations. I am really grossed out by people who worship money.

    Jesus managed to squeeze in to Matthew and to Mark: “It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into Heaven.”

    Guess some folks don’t really pay attention to those silly old Gospels.

  16. The descriptions of male and female sounds like what evolutionary biologists are expounding: the hereditary instincts of men looking for a mate and the hereditary instincts of a woman looking for a mate. They claim men seek a healthy woman with whom to deposit their DNA, while a woman seeks a man with resources capable of building a protective nest for her eggs to mature and grow.

    The secularists, of course, see this as fleshly human beauty on one side and the world’s money on the other.

    Christians, I think, should see Christ as the only “pearl of great price” worth seeking, and our new life in Christ as all the health we need. So the Christian male should seek a woman in Christ and the Christian woman should seek a man in Christ, because Christ is all sufficient.

    • David Riggins

      I see the “pearl of great price” a little differently: We are the pearl the man sold everything for, we are the treasure in the field. God gave up His greatest possession, His Son, for us. If we would only look at one another in the same way that God sees us, I think we would make vastly different decisions regarding our relationships with one another.

  17. Wolfgang Amadeus

    Men and women are sealed together as one during their Nuptuals. In some cases, depending on faith discipline its eternal. Whatever the case, they become one in a Christian marriage.

    The home becomes their temple, and should be thought of as such by all in the family. Its an extentsion of the Chapel and the Temple that they participate in weekly, albeit daily. The Father in the Home, becomes the High Priest, and the table the alter. All come together as a unit. Each meal is a gift from the Heavenly father, and a blessing, as well as a sacrifice.

    Its not a matter of money here, or who should stay at home, but what is considered the tabernacle of the family, and whom they let through their door. If its the Savior, then peace will reign. He is the cornerstone, and the stranger that we should love.

    Families that belive in Christ, live it daily, everywhere they go. They walk their talk.

    Even those whom may marry out of their faith, can, with example, bring the other party around. With love all is possible.

    Afterall- isn’t Christianity about Love?


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