* I first ran across this term, The Earl of Piety, several years ago on the now defunct blog Haley’s Halo. It has been several years since I encountered it but I have never forgotten it because it’s a good encapsulation of what too many Christian women think they want in a mate.
I often refer to my husband as a man who lives on the high road. While not perfect (as if anyone is), he measures his words and considers carefully what he allows himself to think about.
While I know full well that he is a red-blooded man with all that implies, every now and again he does something that reminds me that at his core, even from the high road, he’s still just a guy. This is a good thing because it makes life with him fun more often than it would be if he were an Early of Piety.
When we first ran across the article I posted a link to on last week, he figured that the woman at the center of the controversy had such an unusual name that it should be easy enough to see what she looks like. It was so unlike him that I didn’t know what to make of it, so he broke it down for me:He wanted to see if the woman met his standard of what a woman needed to look like to justify the possibility of one man going to his grave and another spending his life behind bars for putting him there.
In other words, he is still a guy, and no amount of spirituality will extinguish it. That this was the third thought he expressed (after outrage on behalf of the husband and disgust at the so-called preacher) reminded me of that. The exchange reminded again of Haley’s old post, The Quest for the Earl of Piety:
The truth is that many Christian women if they want to marry a man to whom they are attracted, may have to settle for a man who is not as “spiritually advanced” as she is. Just look at the male-female ratios in many churches, and look at the pickings. The ratio is not advantageous to women, especially the ones who aren’t drop-dead gorgeous, or at least reasonably cute and perky and have that future-youth-pastor-wife personality. But just because a man doesn’t say that his first intention is to spiritually lead his family and grow closer to God and provide a safe haven for joy and laughter or whatever DOESN’T mean that he’s not going to grow spiritually.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I married a guy who was, at the time I married him, as far from an Earl of Piety as you could get. Even today, there are things he enjoys that might raise the eyebrow of those who live behind the gates of the Pious Kingdom.
He did, however, raise young women with relatively high standards for what they should look for in a mate. They want someone like him after all, and strong Christian faith is on their list of requirements.
That doesn’t mean, however, that a guy who doesn’t know the books of the Bible in order, doesn’t do regular morning devotions, or can’t quote Jeremiah 29:11 should be disregarded. You want a guy who loves God and His word, but you don’t want a guy so possessed with assurances of his own righteousness that he’s a pain to live with.
You won’t find this in the Bible, and I know full well that marriage is not all about fun. I also know all too well how hard life can be, so it helps to be with someone with whom you can have some fun.
That’s exactly why you don’t want to make the mistake of passing up a good guy for not meeting some arbitrary checklist of outward holiness.Such a checklist isn’t necessarily a good guide to whether man’s faith is authentic anyway.
Don’t Demand an Earl of Piety.