Should I realistially hope to find a quality man?

July 23rd, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 9 comments

I read your books on love and marriage and listened to the audio CD. I hear a common theme on your show and with various pastors saying that a woman should respect her husband or husband to be, and marriage is the ideal situation. My question is what should one make of the marriage statistics of black women versus others (I don’t have the exact numbers- but I hope you are familiar) considering the high incarceration rates of black males.

I would genuinely like to know if your advice applies to black women. Is it possible for most accomplished black women to find a mate they can look up to, respect, and marry?

Finally, I heard you say on your show that any studies ending in the word studies is not worth studying… (such as any cultural studies). My question then is, is it a waste of time to do personal study on Judaic studies or receive a degree in Biblical Studies?

Thank you very much! I value your perspective, and am anxiously awaiting a response. God Bless!

Jessica

Dear Jessica,

We usually discourage those using our “Ask the Rabbi” feature from sneaking in two questions in one letter, but  in your case, we’re happy to make an exception!

Your second question is quicker to answer than your first. In general, we do not recommend Judaic studies or Biblical studies. Instead, we do recommend studying Jewish history, the Bible, and especially, the Bible through the lens of ancient Jewish wisdom. Sometimes the label ‘studies’ is  being used innocuously  or as a marketing ploy, but we start out suspicious and would want to make sure we know who is doing the teaching and what their qualifications are. The word, ‘Studies’ often suggests that there is an agenda that is not conducive to an honest learning environment. 

Now, on to your  harder question.  We are indeed knowledgeable of the sad statistics to which you refer. At the same time, we are not locked into the notion that people must marry spouses of similar skin color.  Similar values are crucial and indeed we have known and been friendly with many so-called interracial (not a term we like) couples that we have met through the many churches at which we have appeared. 

There have been many times and places in the past  when women of marriageable age vastly outnumbered the available  men. One such time was post-Civil War in the New England area of the United States and another was post-World War I in England. Young men had been killed and seriously wounded in tragic numbers and many women realized that not all  of them would be able to marry and build the traditional families they always expected. 

You may be surprised to hear that currently the religious Jewish community also has a demographic problem. For a variety of reasons, there are more high quality young women than young men ready for marriage. We have also  heard from friends in other religious traditions that they are facing similar challenges.

Let us tell you about one adventurous solution to the problem that a number of these post-Civil War New England women adopted. They accepted an invitation  to travel to the Seattle area. That territory, not yet a state, was populated by many lumbermen but had very few  women. Most of these men were not the educated and cultured gentlemen that those New England ladies would have hoped to marry in normal times. Yet, acknowledging their circumstances, they married  decent, hard-working men and many of these couples established the beginnings of Seattle society. Some of their names are still found on streets and neighborhoods in the Emerald City.

After World War I, many women in England embarked on career paths, acknowledging that the path they had hoped for was not available. Like in the post-Civil War era, some women recognized that they needed to change their definition of which men were “marriageable.” Reality has a way of sharpening focus.

We often coach  young women and while we don’t encourage anyone to marry someone they don’t respect, we do encourage these ladies to think outside the box. Maybe they need to travel and think of living in a city that hadn’t crossed their mind; maybe they need to distinguish more carefully between educated vs. intelligent. Maybe they need to look at men who physically look quite different from the picture they always had of a husband.

We don’t know you, but we  urge you to expand your vision. We personally know a number of outstanding black men who, sadly, have spent time in prison. During that time, often through the excellent services of Prison Fellowship, they became Christians and the men they now are have very little in common with  the men they were  back when they were doing drugs or committing the crimes for which they were incarcerated. There are churches and ministries who welcome and guide them. Perhaps you can make connections with pastors from these groups.

Perhaps, you too, need to relocate to an area (maybe even a new country) with a larger population of  suitable men. Maybe you need to let go of the physical picture of the man of your dreams. (Are you committed to not marrying someone who might have a different skin color but with the same values and convictions as you have?)

Although we would never claim that a woman can ‘change’ a man’s nature by marrying him, and she would be foolish to marry on that basis, she can certainly impact his destiny.  A solid man of good character sometimes gains traction by marrying a good wife.

In a situation where it is harder to find quality men, women do have to work harder. That includes recognizing that what deserves our respect may not always be what society respects. It means really taking stock of what is most important and being able to abandon ideas of perfection. It means being flexible and creative and, of course, keeping those prayers coming. With six daughters of our own and their numerous friends, your plea strikes a chord with us.

Wishing you a bright future,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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9 comments

From an Interracial Couple says:

Friends of ours, A couple very dear to each other, who raised a family of three beautiful young women was visually “incompatible” to the average eye. She, taller by 6inches, and much darker than her petite husband comes from a Caribbean nation, while he is from Central American one. Because we know them both so well, their personalities are what we gravitate to , and their visual appearance no longer makes an impact upon us.(We must admit we were startled by the height difference upon first meeting them…but that was quickly forgotten, once we knew them as friends.) He met her while vacationing in her country. They married and raised their family here. And we are going to their eldest daughter’s wedding in September. Interestingly, both the bride and groom favor the wife. But who knows what choices the younger 2 girls will make …

Duane says:

This statement (below) is ridiculous….Rarely any criminals (especially violent ones) are ever reformed no matter… (offensive language removed).
“We don’t know you, but we urge you to expand your vision. We personally know a number of outstanding black men who, sadly, have spent time in prison. During that time, often through the excellent services of Prison Fellowship, they became Christians and the men they now are have very little in common with the men they were back when they were doing drugs or committing the crimes for which they were incarcerated.”

Susan Lapin says:

Duane, we are going to assume that you are speaking out of personal hurt and anger resulting from someone’s criminal behavior. Perhaps it was from someone who was paroled or released when he shouldn’t have been. However, your view that man cannot grow and change is a pessimistic one that doesn’t recognize man’s spiritual potential. We personally know pastors who rose from the depths to become men of God. We certainly would not urge anyone to naively believe that quoting a Bible verse or going to church a few times is proof of change, but years of changed action and the friendship and guidance of good men can attest to someone’s repentance and growth. The world would be a dismal place indeed if we could not change.
You might want to read the story of John Newton and others for examples of what bringing God into your life can do for a person.

Kevin B. says:

I would just like to second what Susan has replied to Duane. I know a man, once a gang member, drug user, and tattoos galore, that was changed by the love of God in prison. He has been out for more than twenty years now and been quite faithful in bringing many to worship God almighty and change their lives too. He works as a community minister for a church in my city and has married a lovely woman that labors by his side. He has been able to reach a segment of society that no church pastor seems to ever have been able to reach and helps them turn their life around and become men of character, honor, honesty, and faithfulness. Thank God that people can change with His help!

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you for sharing, Kevin. Your story is amazing and ones like it are not unfamiliar to us.

Hope Rich says:

I am a black woman from the Caribbean and I have noticed that black Americans seem to want to only marry other blacks that are born in this country. Well my first choice would be someone from the Caribbean but I also know that I cannot limit God. I also know that I have to have things in common with my partner than just being Christians. Truthfully I would not want a person who has been imprisoned, a drug user or alcoholic. I know God can do anything but I prefer a person who has not done the “horrific crime.”

Susan Lapin says:

We each should set our own parameters, Hope. I wish you well.

Ron Stewart says:

Hello, You may enjoy knowing that as a older gentleman I have found a serious lack of Godly virtuous women in this day and time. Color is NOT an issue, true Worshipers who are Loyal to God’s Word is the issue at hand. As Israel makes Aliyah to Jesus Amazing Grace, we must en-devour to do God’s will and mates will just appear ready for us and sanctified to the cause. The closer I walk with God and learn to pray like Daniel, the more silly women try to lead me captive to foolish procreation. “Here O Israel, the Lord our God is ONE”…. Use your energies for Jesus Christ and He as your husband will supply all your need according to His riches in Glory.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks for writing, Ron,
For the record, I must say that I don’t agree with most of your comment. For instance, the notion that ‘mates will just appear’ is, in my view, misleading. Also, your proclivity for attracting ‘silly women’ is probably not all attributable to you praying like Daniel. Lastly, we endeavour to provide crucially important and powerfully practical ancient solutions for modern problems. Telling a young woman hurting in her loneliness, that religious fervor will supply all her needs is not part of ancient Jewish wisdom. So we publish your letter because your heart is obviously in the right place but I place on record that Susan and I don’t agree. But we do appreciate you writing.
Cordially
RDL

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