Once upon a time I had a fairy-tale perspective of romance. I believed in meeting the “right one” then “falling in love” and then living “happily ever after.”
This is the Disney kind of love that keeps many young women bogged down in princess syndrome because they’re waiting for a knight in shining armor. It is also why young men only pursue their ideals.
It is totally faithless.
Instead of loving a person, we are caught up in our unspoken lists of attributes and unrealistic ideals. Those who do find what they want will likely be disappointed once they marry and find out that not everything is as it appeared.
We might claim to love unconditionally and yet anyone claiming to be totally altruistic is a liar. We love for what we get or what we hope to get and might as well be honest about it. Much of what gets us hooked then hitched is superficial and our secret judgement probably should be openly examined.
I’ve decided to come up with a scorecard—both for fun and for introspection about the items listed. How do you rate against ideals of the Mennonite culture? Have you ever judged anyone based on any of the things mentioned below?
So, anyhow, without further ado, here’s a marriageability rating scorecard for conservative Mennonites.
1) Appearance: Be cute or go home!
God may judge by the heart, but we tend to judge by appearance. Many confuse outward beauty with virtue and stature with strength of character. Being overweight, poorly dressed or unkempt will certainly count against you. Sorry if you are not naturally stunning, but take solace in the fact that most of us aren’t and it hasn’t killed us yet.
- +15 if you are a girl of average height and size to petite.
- +15 if you are a guy over 5′-10″ tall and don’t look gawky.
- +15 if you are a guy described as “handsome” by someone other than your mom or sisters.
- +15 if you are physically fit or considered well-proportioned according to prevailing cultural standards.
- +15 if you are a girl who gets more than 75 likes when you update your profile picture.
- +5 if you are a guy with a pickup truck or Jeep.
- -10 if you have been turned down or have never been asked for a date.
2) Ability: Wow! Did you see that?
We might claim to value things like character and integrity over athleticism or charisma. Unfortunately we don’t really have a way to quantify abstractions (like courage or perseverance against the odds) and yet do take notice of something we see clearly like a volleyball spike or a great singing voice. There are no participation awards and moral victories in this category; it is win or lose, all of nothing, etc.
- +15 if you have ever been picked to sing a solo.
- +15 if you articulate well, make people laugh and people seek you out or gather around you.
- +15 if you have ever played on a championship team and made a solid contribution.
- +15 if you can play an instrument well enough to keep an audience.
- +10 for going on a chorus tour more than once or being asked to sing at a wedding.
- +5 if you are a notable artist, writer, etc.
- +5 if you are a girl and bagged a buck. (-10 if you are a guy who has not)
- +5 if you can sincerely parrot accepted Mennonite ideas.
- -5 for actual intelligence.
3) Ancestory: Who are your parents again?
One thing off the radar is the importance of pedigree. Being from the right family can cover over a multitude of sins and being from the wrong family can mean nothing you do is ever going to be good enough. There is a Mennonite pecking order, there are various tiers we can be classified in, and people rarely marry outside of their own family caste.
- +20 if you are a pastor or missionary kid.
- +15 if your dad is a successful businessman.
- +15 if your mom was asked out by five or more guys before settling on your dad.
- +10 if you have a common Mennonite surname.
- +5 if you can play the Mennonite game.
- -5 if your parents aren’t Mennonite.
- -10 if you aren’t Mennonite.
4) Ambitions: God has led me to be important…
The Millennial generation is said to value traveling and experiences. One of the privileges of American affluence is the lack of concern about things like shelter, clothing or food. It took actual faith for those truly called to go out in the past. However, today it only takes a fat wallet or an adventure seeking heart. You can go for a few years and then come back to be knighted as a pastor or regarded as someone special.
- +15 if you have the luxury of world travel without needing to truly count the cost.
- +10 if your ambitions make you popular in the Mennonite religious culture.
- +10 if you describe what you want to do as God’s leading.
- +5 if your dad is a college graduate or taught a Bible school/seminar class.
- +5 if you have over a half dozen siblings.
- +5 if you or your dad is a pilot.
5) Activities: Doing the cool things that people notice.
I had thought it would be wrong to go to Bible school or a missionary trip in order to find a spouse and it would be taboo to admit that you did. But the correlation is real. Many conservative Mennonites *do* find their spouse this way and then use some kind of convoluted logic that assumes people who do these kinds of activities are more sincere because they do—never mind that the real reason many of them do these things is to be more marketable.
- +15 if you regularly play Rook and Settlers of Catan or think Spike Ball is awesome.
- +10 if you have convinced yourself that short-term missionary trips and going to Bible school is a sign of spiritual depth.
- +10 if you homeschooled and somehow avoided social awkwardness.
- +5 if you think Christian schooling helped you be a better person.
- +5 if your face was ever on a prayer card.
- -5 for every break up.
6) Age: Over thirty? Forgetaboutit…
It is no big secret that the American culture is youth obsessed. Mennonites are no exception to this and are perhaps even more guilty of ageism than their secular counterparts. There are many who might even be so bold (or arrogant) as to tell older singles that it might be God’s will that they remain single. Nevermind the Bible would indicate age as an asset rather than a liability—that is one part of the book that is dismissed as irrelevant in our times.
- +5 if you are between the age of 18-25
- -10 if you are single by the age of thirty and not a sought-after person.
- -1 for every additional year you are over thirty.
Can you outrank the writer?
Add up your totals and then comment your Mennonite marriageability rating if you dare.
I come out around 20 points and expect to be easily surpassed by most of my conservative Mennonite peers.
Of course this is not scientific or based in surveys, so don’t take it too seriously.
However, I’m guessing that you will be more successful in getting hitched if you find a person at your eligibility rating level.
Props to those of you who are able to overachieve.