What Do Women Really Want?

Hey guys!

Are you looking for some crazy pickup lines guaranteed to get women into bed?

Or some killer moves in bed that will drive women wild once you get them there?

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

I’m finally going to give you the straight dope:


Stop wasting your time on stupid clickbait gimmicks that don’t work.

What most women want is for you to get out of their face, because you’re not the man they’re looking for. Buuut, if they’re actually looking for a man, then what they’re looking for is quite simple:

The right man for them

And you’re probably not it. Because there are a lot of different women out there, and they’re looking for a lot of different types of men. But don’t give up. You are the right man for some woman, if you’re willing to put some effort into it.

Meanwhile, here are some of the general categories of what women who are seeking a man really want in a man:

  1. Some women want a man who will protect them, provide for them, and tell them what to do. (Sorry, feminists, but it’s true.)
  2. Some women want a man that they can help, take care of, make a home for, and generally wrap their lives around, while still having a say in things.
  3. Some women want a man with whom they can be full equal partners and move forward together on a shared path in life.

That’s what women are really looking for. And your job is to find the right woman for you—and more importantly, to be the right man for her.

Couple walking together

Women who desire a husband who will rule over them

No, this is not just a male fantasy. There are women out there—quite a few women, in fact—who want a strong, dominant male figure who will be the boss, protect them, and provide for them.

Do I recommend this type of relationship?

Not particularly.

But ever since the Fall of Humankind described in Genesis 3 in the Bible, it has been one of the most common types of marriage relationships. And it continues to be common right up to this day, even in liberal Western societies that have made great strides toward gender equality.

Further, it’s a feminist fantasy to think that this arrangement is perpetuated solely by men. The stubborn reality is that there are many “traditional” women who want a “traditional” man who will be the head of the household, making and enforcing the rules while being the breadwinner and protector of the family. For many women, this type of relationship feels comfortable, safe, and secure.

There is even a subculture within conservative Christianity that practices “Christian domestic discipline,” meaning that the husband literally, physically disciplines his wife when she breaks the rules. Its adherents emphasize that this arrangement must be fully consensual on the part of both the wife and the husband. And as strange as it may seem, it is not usually the husband, but is much more often the wife who requests this arrangement in the marriage—and even has to convince her husband that it is okay and that she really wants this from him. (But no, the Bible never says anything about men disciplining their wives.)

This arrangement is by no means limited to conservative Christianity. I once read an interview in a secular magazine in which a woman spoke admiringly of her man: “When I’m bad, he spanks me. When I’m good, he makes me feel like a woman.”

What these women do not want is a man who disrespects and abuses them. Domestic violence is condemned in this “traditional relationship” community just as it is elsewhere.

What these women do want is a strong man who will be the boss, enforce the rules, and make them behave when they get “bratty” or start doing stupid and dangerous things. They want an authority figure who will keep them on a good path. So they want a man who is strong not only physically and psychologically, but morally as well.

In short, in its most positive form (if it can be called that), this type of relationship is appealing to women who want to be good, but who feel that they need an authority figure over them to make them be good. Contemporary psychology might say that it is appealing to women who have never fully grown up. Perhaps a more neutral way of putting it is that these women have an authority-based cultural mindset.

And if these women can find a man who has the moral, psychological, and physical strength to direct their lives, to discipline them when they go wrong, and to reward them when they are good—while being a good protector and provider as well—they will be happy as a clam in the relationship.

Some people, including some women, want to look up to and obey someone with greater power and authority.

Yes, this type of relationship is all about obedience.

(Of course, there are also some women who want to be dominant and have a man who will obey them. Any man who wants that sort of relationship can find a woman who will give it to him.)

Men who want a submissive woman

So, guys, do you really want a woman who vows to “love, cherish, and obey” you?

Once again, I don’t particularly recommend this type of relationship. For one thing, any man in such a relationship will never know what it is like to be with a woman who is fully his equal as a person, and who contributes just as much to the relationship as he does. The relationship will always weigh heavier on his shoulders. Overall, it will be as much a parent/child relationship as a husband/wife relationship. With power comes responsibility. And in this type of relationship, the woman cedes both power and responsibility to the man.

However, the good news is that if that is really the type of relationship you want, there are women out there who will gladly have that type of relationship with you.

The bad news is that you’re going to have to work hard for it. Lazy, sloppy, weak-willed, and morally questionable men need not apply.

If you think you’re going to have a woman who will love, cherish, and obey you, financially support you, and put up with your bad temper and your stupidity, then you’re living in a fantasy world. And if you think you’re going to smack a woman around and she’s going to love you for it, you might as well check yourself into losers’ row right now—or better yet, just sign up for your jail time and skip the domestic violence part.

If you want a woman who desires a dominant man and you want your relationship with her to be stable and long-lasting, at minimum you’re going have to:

  • Have a solid, reliable income
  • Work hard at your job, and keep moving upwards in it
  • Do the heavy lifting and the handyman jobs around the house
  • Have a strong moral compass, and consistently live by it yourself
  • Be strong-willed, but also honest, respectful, and fair in your dealings
  • And for a woman who is religious, you must have a strong faith in God

If a woman who wants a strong, dominant man doesn’t see these things in you day in and day out, first she’ll lose respect for you and then she’ll dump you for a man she can respect and look up to.

Do you want a woman who will love, cherish, and obey you as long as you both shall live?

Then you’d better get to work on yourself and become the sort of strong, upstanding man that this kind of woman really wants.

Women who want to be a man’s helper

Conservative Christians and other traditional types often see only two types of marriage relationships:

  1. Traditional marriages in which the man is dominant and the woman is submissive
  2. Non-traditional marriages in which the man and woman are fully equal

See, for example, this article on a conservative Christian website: “Summaries of the Egalitarian and Complementarian Positions.”

However, as with most things in life, marriage relationships do not reduce down to simple blacks and whites. There is a whole spectrum of different kinds of relationships. And between the poles of male dominance and female submission on one end, and full gender equality on the other, there is a large middle position.

That position is expressed in the second Creation story in the Bible, in Genesis 2, where woman is created out of man as “a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

This is probably the most common type of romantic and marriage relationship in the more liberal and westernized cultures all around the world today.

Many women want a relationship in which they can look up to their husband or boyfriend, he’ll generally take the lead, and she’ll generally follow, help, and support him, but in which she can also live her own life, make many of her own choices, and have her own voice in the relationship.

Practically speaking, in this type of relationship the man generally works full-time and makes more money than the woman, but the woman also has a job and her income supplements his. If they move, it’s most likely for him to take advantage of a better job opportunity. And yet, she may have her own career that is perhaps less consuming than his, and may involve only part-time work, but that also gives her a sense of satisfaction and some money of her own.

What these women do not want is a man who will be her boss and tell her what to do with her life. And they certainly don’t want a man who will punish her when she is “bad.”

While generally wrapping their lives around their husband’s more than the other way around, these women still want to feel like their life and choices are their own, and that their voice and viewpoint is heard and respected in the relationship, even if it may not carry quite as much weight as her husband’s voice and viewpoint.

In other words, these relationships are somewhere in between relationships based on obedience and relationships based on full equality.

What these women really want is a man who can take the lead, provide a good, steady income, and generally be strong, thoughtful, and competent, while also respecting her as a woman who has her own skills and abilities, and who can make her own real contribution to the relationship and to the world.

(Of course, there are also some women who want to take the lead, and have a man whose life will revolve around her life and career. And some men are perfectly content with that arrangement.)

Men who want a woman as a helper

So, guys, do you want a woman who can stand on her own two feet and who has her own life, but who will generally wrap her life around yours, loving you, helping you, and supporting you in your life and career?

If so, you’re in luck! There are plenty of women who want this type of relationship.

And yet, you still have work to do.

Once again, if you’re lazy, sloppy, weak-willed, and morally questionable, you’re not going to be able to attract and hold a woman who wants this type of relationship. (Come to think of it, you probably won’t be able to attract and hold any woman.)

You don’t have to be a dominant macho man to have a good relationship with a woman who wants this middle type of relationship. But you still have to:

  • Work hard at your job and have a solid, reliable income
  • Help out around the house and do some heavy-lifting
  • Have a good moral compass, and live by it yourself
  • Be honest, respectful, and fair in your dealings with people
  • Respect and honor your wife, and listen to her views and her wishes
  • And for a woman who is religious, you should ideally be religious also

In one way, the demands of this relationship are not quite as high on you if you are the man. You don’t have to always run the show, and you don’t have to be responsible for both your own behavior and your wife’s behavior. Her contributions to the relationship are greater financially, morally, and socially. She really is a help and support to you rather than being a dependent that you must support.

And yet, the psychological and spiritual requirements on you as a person are higher. You can’t just lay down the law and expect your wife to listen and obey. You must work things out with her, and consider her viewpoint, her needs, and her understanding of things whenever there are major decisions to be made. There is more give and take in this type of relationship, which means that you must be more willing and able to adapt, grow, and change within the relationship.

And that, I believe, is a good thing. This type of more equal relationship is a better forum for psychological and spiritual growth than relationships in which the man is dominant and the woman is submissive to him. It requires more human interaction and mutual understanding, and therefore brings about greater spiritual growth and maturity in both partners day by day.

In short, this type of relationship is not about obedience, but about mutual understanding that grows and deepens over the years.

The original ideal of marriage

So far we’ve covered two types of marriage relationships:

  1. Relationships in which one partner (usually the man) is dominant, and the other (usually the woman) is submissive
  2. Relationships in which one partner’s life (usually the woman’s) revolves around the other partner’s life (usually the man’s)

Throughout the vast bulk of recorded human history, these two types of relationships were, for all practical purposes, the only types of marriages that existed.

And yet, the very beginning of the Bible suggests the possibility of a third type of marriage relationship. In the first Creation story, in Genesis 1:26–27, we read:

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Here, unlike in the second Creation story in Genesis 2, there is no creating of woman out of man, and no designating of woman as a helper for man. Still less is there any hint of husbands ruling over their wives, which happened as a result of the Fall narrated in Genesis 3.

Instead, man and woman are created together, both in the image and likeness of God, and both are given the task together of having dominion over everything on earth.

Yes, the original ideal of man, woman, and their relationship to one another was of full equality with each other and of shared dominion over the rest of creation. (But for those of you who don’t like the idea of humans ruling nature, you can also read the story metaphorically to mean taking control of and being responsible for our own emotions, thoughts, and actions, represented symbolically by the animals and plants in the Creation story.)

I am happy to say that this type of marriage relationship has finally begun to re-emerge into human society in recent times.

Women who want an equal partnership with a man

Today, more and more women want an equal partnership with a man, in which neither is dominant, neither is the leader, but both move forward together on a shared path in life.

Of the three general types of marriage relationships covered here, this one is the most difficult to achieve—but also the deepest and most rewarding.

It is difficult to achieve for both social and psychological reasons.

Socially, there is little precedent for this sort of marriage. For thousands of years human society has been built around unequal marriage relationships. This gender inequality has been seen not only as normal and natural, but as established by God to be the proper form of marriage. As a result, there are very few examples of this fully equal type of marriage relationship to look to as models. And the social and legal structures of society have only very recently begun to recognize and support this type of marriage.

Psychologically and spiritually, this type of relationship is difficult to achieve because it requires the deepest and fullest level of motivation, commitment, and drive from both partners. Both must be 100% dedicated to the relationship—heart, head, and hands—for it to work. Neither can lean on the other to control or even lead the relationship, and to pick up the slack. Both must be fully mature and self-responsible adults contributing equally to the relationship in love, in thoughtfulness, and in active service to one another and to their common goals and ideals.

In other words, being in a fully equal relationship requires two mature and spiritually growing adults who do not measure or direct their lives by external social standards or expectations, but who are both motivated by an inner love and integrity of character that drives and shapes everything they think, feel, and do.

That’s not easy to achieve even for one person, let alone for two people together.

For two people together, an equal partnership means that each partner is already driven by loves and goals in life that she or he would pursue regardless of whether anyone shared that path. And it means that the two must be of one mind in those loves and goals, so that neither is following the other, but both are pressing forward strongly together on the same shared path.

If it were up to us human beings, I doubt that such a fantastically unlikely relationship would ever exist.

But I believe that God is at work in the souls of men and women today, shaping their hearts and minds for each other from an early age, and bringing them together when the time is right. For those women and men who long for a fully equal, fully mutual, and fully committed and loving relationship with a true partner in marriage, and who are willing to do the hard personal work required to achieve it, I believe God makes such marriage relationships possible.

And of all these three general types of marriage relationships, this one requires the most commitment and the most work. It is not held together by social structures and the outside world. It requires us to delve deep into our own mind and heart to face and overcome all of the physical, social, psychological, and spiritual barriers that stand in the way of achieving such a deep union with another human being.

What does an equal partnership look like?

If this type of marriage is difficult to achieve, it is also difficult to describe.

That’s because while the other two types of relationships follow fairly standard patterns based on traditional social norms of marriage, marriages of full equality are highly varied and individual to the particular couples.

In these relationships one partner may make more money than the other, but that will not be seen as a reason for one to be dominant or take the lead over the other. Rather, it will be seen as a division of labor in the relationship.

Sometimes these marriages may look just like traditional marriages from the outside. The man supports the family while the woman raises the children. But the woman’s work in raising the children will be seen as equally important to the shared goals of the couple as the man’s earning a living. And sometimes the traditional roles will reverse, the woman earning the living and the man raising the children. But once again, both together will be pursuing common goals, only with a non-traditional division of labor.

Sometimes these marriages will involve one partner making the bulk of the income in order to support the other partner in pursuing goals or ideals that the two share in common, such as bringing about political, social, or spiritual change in the world, or doing charitable work that expresses the ideals of the couple for creating a better society.

Sometimes both will contribute equally to the finances, each pursuing a distinct career that both are equally enthusiastic about.

Sometimes the two will be business partners, working together to build, direct, and nurture a company, whether for-profit or non-profit, that they believe is accomplishing some good in the world.

And these are just some of the financial variations in these equal partnership marriages. If we started to explore their psychological, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual variations, there would not be enough time in the day—or even in a year—to describe them all.

When man and woman are fully equal, fully committed, and fully loving partners as God originally created them to be, the variations in their marriage relationships are as endless as the variety in human beings themselves.

Men and women who want equal partnerships

As I said earlier, this type of relationship requires 100% commitment from both partners.

But it also requires something more than the other two types of relationships.

It requires both the man and the woman to center their lives around love. And in its fullest expression, it requires them both to center their lives around God.

In traditional religious and social thinking, the woman represents the love and emotion side of a relationship, while the man represents the truth and intellect side. And one of the core reasons humanity has not achieved gender equality, or even attempted to achieve it until very recently, is that in previous ages we have valued truth, intellect, and law over love, emotion, and relationship. The truth, and learning, following, and being obedient to the truth, was considered the primary goal of a God-fearing human being, and of human society generally. Love and emotion were seen as pleasant add-ons.

But Jesus Christ laid the foundation for a whole different—and distinctly higher—type of society in this exchange with the religious authorities of his day:

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34–40)

In contrast to the millions of pages that have been written about truth, faith, the law, and so on, Jesus said that true religion, and true spirituality, is centered on love: love for God and love for our fellow human beings.

Only when we believe that love, not truth (as important as it is), is the center and soul of everything, and the most important quality in a human being and in human society, can we see women’s character and contributions as being equally vital and important to society and to our marriage relationships as men’s character and contributions.

Truth, you see, distinguishes and divides, and creates hierarchies in which one person, belief, or ideal is superior to another.

But love unifies and brings together, and values each and every person and group as essential to the full variety, harmony, and power of the community and of human society as a whole.

When mutual love is at the center of our life, it eliminates the need for hierarchies, dominance, submission, leaders, and followers, and seeks to unite all together in a common and equal bond of unity.

Marriages based on the oneness of spiritual love

Realistically speaking, that’s not going to happen in the broader society here on earth any time soon.

But within a marriage relationship between two people, it can happen.

And it can happen for men and women who are moved from the heart to love one another, their fellow human beings, and God as the primary purpose of their existence.

Although traditional gender roles assign love and emotion to women, and truth and intellect to men—and that’s not entirely wrong—it is also true that men have hearts of love just as women do, and women have thinking minds just as men do. And when we each focus our life on what our heart of love prompts us to feel, think, and do, we bind ourselves closely together with one another in love and understanding.

That’s why a marriage that is an equal partnership must be based on a shared love deep in the hearts of both partners that prompts them to live, work, and travel together to accomplish shared goals in life, guided by a shared perspective on God, spirit, human society, and the universe in general.

Marriage in the truest and deepest sense is a full union of hearts and minds that brings two people together physically as well. It is a relationship in which two people walk together side by side toward common goals and ideals. The strengths of one complement the weaknesses of the other so that together they have greater strength and effectiveness in following their loves, putting their skills and experience to use, and achieving their goals in life.

In true spiritual marriages, neither partner has to rule or lead the other because both together are moved from within by united hearts and minds that seek the same goals and travel the same path.

In marriages like these, though there are two people, really they are one.

For further reading:


Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships
26 comments on “What Do Women Really Want?
  1. Wow, that’s a very kind and spiritual piece, Lee, which I really enjoyed reading. I must say I started to read because of your cleverly opening with lines that can be commonly read on the internet, and which one doesn’t expect of you. I love that you start out about relationships and turn the reading into a piece on spirituality/religion, and let one subject enlighten the other. Just this one thing: you could have added some lines for those brothers and sisters who do not want to or are not made to live in a man-woman relationship at all? I know you have written on that earlier though. Great reading!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Angela,

      Good to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece!

      I do occasionally derive a little too much pleasure from writing a bit of provocative parody of Internet memes and traditional beliefs and attitudes—as you can also see in a few of my previous articles, such as: “How to Attract the Opposite Sex—and Keep ’Em” and “Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?

      Thanks also for your suggestion. I’ve tweaked the opening of this article a bit to make it somewhat clearer that it is primarily about women and men who are seeking a relationship. Does that help? (I don’t like to weigh down my writing with too many disclaimers and exceptions.)

      While I’ve got your attention, would you be willing to give a read to my recent article, “God: Puppetmaster or Manager of the Universe?” I would be interested in your thoughts and reactions—and especially in whether you have encountered elsewhere in your varied readings in philosophy and religion similar ideas about God purposefully creating a universe that has some level of autonomy while still remaining in close relationship with God.

  2. larryzb says:

    Great analysis. Yes, men and women each have strengths that the other needs. Thus, the sexes complement each other and that is good.

    Sorry to say, but the course that feminism has taken since the 1960s has made this third type of marriage very difficult to achieve. Yet, there are married couples who do approach this ideal.

    • Lee says:

      Hi larryzb,

      Thanks. Glad you liked the article. And sure, some parts of the feminist movement have gone to untenable extremes. But in the main, it seems to me, the feminist movement is simply trying to balance the scales. Life and society do not go forward in a smooth forward motion, but in spirals and pendulum swings. And I believe that in Western society the pendulum is already beginning to swing back toward once again appreciating and valuing men’s contributions to the world, and to relationships.

  3. Tony says:

    hi lee

    nice article by the way you seemed to bring feminists out in the article why would you mention them what do they have to do with trying to get a relationship?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tony,

      Feminists are people, too. And they have relationships, also. Even relationships with men. But mainly, I recognize that many feminists would strenuously object to the first type of relationship, and to the idea that any women would actually want such a relationship.

  4. Gail says:

    Not your usual mode of ‘speaking’…caught us off guard! Actually, my husband and I are a team…so we would fall under #3 on the list. Sharing expenses, working together, traveling together, shouldering life’s burdens…and then some.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Gail,

      Haha! Gotcha!

      Speaking of teams, I ran an earlier, much more abstract and theoretical draft of this article’s idea by Annette, and her reaction was, “Well . . . that’s . . . interesting . . . .” And I thought to myself, “Back to the drawing board.” So I came up with the intro to this version, and she said, “That’s different! That’ll get their attention!” 😀 Once the article was finished, she even thought it should run as a single longer article and not two shorter ones. That’s when I knew I’d nailed it. 🙂

      • Gail says:

        You nailed it all right! Exciting and different…as women we still want to be ‘caught’…like a butterfly in a net.

  5. Rohan Pereira says:

    Great post Lee! I understand marriage better now because of your explaination on love and wisdom (truth).

    I really liked you what you wrote about God shaping people’s hearts.

    >> But I believe that God is at work in the souls of men and women today, shaping their hearts and minds for each other from an early age, and bringing them together when the time is right

  6. U says:

    Idk where else to say this, you are good with these things so I will release my rage:

    Nothing bothers me like the popular idea that men cannot be raped by women. It is outdated because historically, only men have seemed to rape women, but today men are weak enough to be raped by both men and women.

    What is so hard to understand!?!?
    – If a male gets an erection, a female can rape him. No, an erection does not mean he wants to have sex.
    – If a female gets “lubricated”, then it is easier for her her to be raped. No, it does not mean she wants sex.

    Unless you give FULL, rational consent to sex and you’re thinking “Yeah, I want to have sex!” then it isn’t consensual. Ask any religious person who’s tried to be abstinent, the difficult of it is huge, you CANNOT avoid temptation if you’re a healthy human but you can choose not to follow the desire.

    I think this VERY popular irrational idea comes from atheists who ignorantly assume we’re just animals, just bodies, so if a “body/animal” gets an erection they want sex… No, it’s literally a struggle between the body, mind and heart/soul – even God doesn’t see it as a sin to get an erection, it’s only sinful when you consent to it. Yet influential organizations like “Stanford university” and the media all promote rape as a strictly female problem.

    We cannot control our bodies, only saints can, even angels are different degrees of purity. Consent cannot be told by “he got an erection”, e.g. if someone is attractive to you and you “like” them, it doesn’t mean you consent to them having sex.

    • Lee says:

      Hi U,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Yes, as you say, woman-on-man rape is a real thing, and it deserves more attention. See: Rape of males -> Female-on-male rape at Wikipedia. And see also: “The Hidden Epidemic of Men Who Are Raped by Women,” by Steven Blum. It is heavily underreported for many reasons. However, it is finally starting to get some attention and be taken seriously.

      I would, however, say that female-on-male rape is not because men are “weak,” but because women can be sexual predators or sexual opportunists just as men can, and women can be just as deceptive, devious, and violent in getting what they want as men can. Plenty of big, strong men have been tricked or forced into sex by women against their will, and have been physically abused and injured in the process. And the trauma for men and boys raped by women and girls is just as severe as it is for women raped by men, or in male-on-male and female-on-female rape and sexual abuse.

      I also don’t think that the common denial of the fact that men can be raped by women is particularly due to atheists. But it does draw on deep-seated and very old cultural attitudes holding that “sex” means someone with a penis penetrating someone else, whether male or female, and that the one penetrating is dominant, aggressive, and superior, while the one who is penetrated is submissive, passive, and inferior. There is more about this cultural attitude in my article, “Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity,” under the heading, “Why was man-with-man sex considered ritually unclean?” and its various subheadings.

      Rape is a terrible and terribly destructive crime, no matter what the gender of the perpetrator or the victim. For a somewhat related article, see: “What is the Sin of Sodom?” which discusses the crime of rape.

  7. K says:

    Sometimes seems that in the West, the “politically correct” thing to do is to eliminate the distinction of sex entirely, and make it “sexist” to make _any_ distinction based on sex. Meanwhile at the other extreme — in conservative traditional societies — women can be brutally oppressed as a second class. Such as they can’t get an education, can’t vote, can’t inherit property, etc.

    I imagine the way of Heaven is different. Women there act feminine and men masculine. Female sexuality works one way, male sexuality another. Neither are demonized like they can be on Earth. And yet, both are equal partners.

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      I would say that in heaven, one person won’t try to control another person.

      Whether it’s saying that women have to be and act a certain way or that they shouldn’t be or act in a certain way, that’s not how people operate in heaven. Women will be just as free as men to act the way they want to act.

      Of course, women in heaven have chosen the way of love for God and the neighbor, so they won’t act in wrong and destructive ways, just as men in heaven won’t. Or if they do, they’ll want to fix it and act better, not because someone told them to, but because they want to be a good, thoughtful, and loving person.

      Yes, I tend to think that women will act “feminine.” But that will be for women themselves to decide. Ditto for men acting “masculine.” I put those in quotes because the attitudes of any particular culture about what is “feminine” and what is “masculine” may be as much cultural constructs as actual expressions of female and male souls.

      Another important point is that even in heaven, people will act in ways shaped by their particular culture. That’s because our character is shaped by our culture, and when we die and go to the spiritual world, we are the same person we were here on earth. Any external affectations we put on that weren’t congruent with our true inner character will be shed, so that what we say and do exactly reflects what we think and feel. But this still means that for women whose character was formed in patriarchal cultures, they’ll continue to have that imprint even in their life in heaven.

      It is true that in many cultures even today women are made second class citizens and even oppressed. On the other hand, while Westerners might think it is oppressive, for example, for women to have to wear a veil, or even a head scarf, many of the women themselves want to wear the veil. It has become part of who they are. I don’t think they should be forced not to wear a veil any more than they should be forced to wear a veil.

      It is not “inclusive” to accept everyone except people from cultures that have gender roles and practices that we don’t like. The people, and the women, of those cultures themselves are the ones who should be making those decisions. Thinking that we have to intervene and “fix” other cultures seems to me to be just another form of patriarchy and condescension. The women of those cultures can fight their own fight if they want to. And then it will be their own accomplishment when they achieve what they want, rather than a colonialism in which outsiders’ values are imposed upon them whether they want them or not.

      This is not to say that we can’t help people, and women, of other cultures who are asking for our help and support. But once again, the key point is that people must be allowed to make their own decisions and determine the direction of their own lives rather than having it imposed upon them by someone else, or by an outside culture and nation.

      I do think that men and women are distinctly different psychologically and spiritually as well as physically. And I have some theories of what those differences are. But more than that, I believe in achieving and maintaining an atmosphere of freedom in which, as long as a person’s actions aren’t causing damage to the people around them, and violating fundamental ethical rules, they can freely act according to their own character and their own decisions. Only in such an atmosphere of freedom, without compulsion, will we truly learn what it is to be a woman and what it is to be a man. That’s because women are women and men are men, and when they are free to act according to their own character and choices, women will act like women, and men will act like men—whatever that happens to mean.

      I also think that we have to shake the common notion that reason is superior to emotion. If anything, emotion is a much stronger determinant than reason of who we are as people. Ideally, the two would be in balance. But as long as we think that “men are rational” and “women are emotional,” and that means men are better than women, we’re going to be stuck in the old inequality and lack of respect across gender lines. Even if men are rational and women are emotional (which is really only a partial and superficial view of men and women), that still doesn’t mean that men are better than women, and should be in charge of women. Especially not in today’s day and age.

      The ideal is a balance of reason and emotion. And as we work toward that balance, I believe that the old sexism and inequality will fade away in favor of the equal partnership that you mention.

      • K says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        You mention after death that people ditch stuff not consistent with their inner nature. I suppose such stuff could also include cultural behaviors rooted in falsity they were conditioned to accept (that aren’t too ingrained)?

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          This is a complicated subject. I don’t think there’s any simple answer. Heaven thrives on variety, and also on freedom of expression.

          Also, though we tend to focus on the higher and more enlightened angels, there are many spirits who are good at heart, but quite external and simplistic in their thinking. Such spirits inhabit the lowest levels of heaven, even if some of their practices might not look very heavenly to others. For example, Swedenborg speaks of some upright Muslims who continue to practice polygamy, and who therefore inhabit a very low-level heaven; and of a community of good spirits who are basically idol-worshipers, and have to be reminded periodically that those statues are not gods to be worshiped, but are only meant to remind them of God’s attributes as they worship. Based on these descriptions and others, I don’t think we can assume that people will automatically become enlightened and leave behind cultural practices that we may find objectionable or “based on falsity.”

          Of course, if a particular practice violates universal moral law, involving killing, theft, deception, adultery, and so on, it will have to be left behind. But there are many practices that some cultures find perfectly acceptable, whereas others do not. In general, people will be held to their own culture’s moral code, and that will not be violated in the spiritual world unless a particular practice has seriously damaging and destructive effects. Just being low-level, unenlightened, and not very good is not enough to cause a practice to have to be abandoned.

          For example, we may think that requiring women to obey their husbands is a terrible thing, and insist that it must be abandoned. But in many cultures for thousands of years, this was the norm. And as long as the husband was a good-hearted and fair man, and didn’t oppress, abuse, and humiliate his wife, it was a working, if low-level, pattern of gender relations. I don’t think people from such cultures will be required to adopt full gender equality as a precondition for entering heaven.

          Of course, if a particular woman did not find such an arrangement acceptable, she won’t be required to conform to it in the spiritual world, and will find a husband who will accept her as an equal, or at least not as an underling. But women who come from such cultures, are used to it, and find it acceptable and even comfortable will have no particular reason to want that patriarchal pattern to change. As pointed out in the above article, no matter how much it may gall feminists and progressives, even today there are many women who are perfectly comfortable and happy with such an arrangement as long as they have a good and fair husband.

          For another example, I find the harsh initiation rituals of some traditional tribal cultures to be rather barbaric. But within those cultures, they serve an important purpose. Who am I to say that if children from those cultures are raised by people of their culture in heaven, they won’t still go through such initiation rituals as part of their upbringing?

          So I think we have to be careful about pronouncing that people from certain cultures will have to cease various practices that we find objectionable or “based on falsity” when they enter the spiritual world and find their homes in heaven. Mostly, to be in heaven they will have to be people of good intentions and good lives within the context of their own culture. And if their values are highly objectionable to certain other residents of heaven, that’s not a problem. Heaven is a big place. People are sorted out according to their character and culture. People who are very different from one another live at a great (spiritual) distance from one another, and rarely if ever encounter one another. So everyone can live in peace within their own communities, together with others who share their beliefs, values, and practices.

          However, people who hold only lightly to the beliefs and practices of their culture may indeed abandon them for something higher level and more enlightened as they go through the process of preparation for heaven in the world of spirits after they die. Swedenborg speaks of many non-Christians accepting Jesus as God and Lord before entering heaven. These are people who did not “confirm” the doctrines of their church in their minds, but held to them simply just because that’s what their religious leaders told them.

        • K says:

          Thanks again for replying.

          Either way, I assume death can still change a person’s cultural values as their circumstances can be — sometimes even radically — altered by leaving this world of time and space where suffering is possible? Even here on Earth, I find that a change in location or environment can change my outlook.

          (btw I hope the falsity thing wasn’t offensive)

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          Yes, dying and moving on to the spiritual world can change people’s perspective. Whether it changes their cultural values has a lot to do with whether they are fully engaged in those values or whether they are ready and willing to move on to something else. In any community and culture, there are some people who feel very much a part of that culture, and others who gaze with longing across the fence where the grass looks greener. Those who long for something different, but feel stuck in their current situation, will be freed to move on to a community and culture that better fits their ideals and values.

          About “cultural behaviors based on falsity,” it is true that some practices are based on mistaken and false beliefs. It’s just that some of our own practices may also be based on mistaken and false beliefs. So it’s always good to have some humility when we’re looking at other cultures that are very different from our own. Until we have lived in those cultures, we don’t necessarily understand practices that look very foreign to us due to our own cultural patterns.

  8. Sebastian Howard says:

    Well thanks for telling me that if you’re broke you can’t have a relationship.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sebastian,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. You can have a relationship if you’re broke, but it’s gonna be a whole lot harder to make it last.

  9. K says:

    So if I understand right, true marriage in Heaven is essentially a relationship of BFF: best friends forever?

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

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