A World without Grace? This is What It Would Look Like

A World without Grace? This is What It Would Look Like February 16, 2012

What would it look like if the world ran without any grace given to others? It would fit into a pure model of social exchange, where everyone, in every interaction, tries to get the most from others for what they have to give.

Certainly social exchange happens in day-to-day life, as Jeremy Rhodes posted about earlier this week.  But there’s also a lot of grace–unmerited favor–given to others, and for that I’m deeply thankful.

Would you like insight into what a pure social exchange world would look like?  Consider the following exchange posted on a Craig’s List discussion board.


A woman posts:

What am I doing wrong?

Okay, I’m tired of beating around the bush. I’m a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I’m articulate and classy. I’m not from New York . I’m looking to get married to a guy who makes at least half a million a year. I know how that sounds, but keep in mind that a million a year is middle class in New York City, so I don’t think I’m overreaching at all.

Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips? I dated a business man who makes average around 200 – 250. But that’s where I seem to hit a roadblock. 250,000 won’t get me to central park west. I know a woman in my yoga class who was married to an investment banker and lives in Tribeca, and she’s not as pretty as I am, nor is she a great genius. So what is she doing right? How do I get to her level?

Here are my questions specifically:
– Where do you single rich men hang out? Give me specifics- bars, restaurants, gyms
-What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won’t hurt my feelings
-Is there an age range I should be targeting (I’m 25)?
– Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east side so plain? I’ve seen really ‘plain jane’ boring types who have nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I’ve seen drop dead gorgeous girls in singles bars in the east village. What’s the story there?
– Jobs I should look out for? Everyone knows – lawyer, investment banker, doctor. How much do those guys really make? And where do they hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang out?
– How you decide marriage vs. just a girlfriend? I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY

Please hold your insults – I’m putting myself out there in an honest way. Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I’m being up front about it. I wouldn’t be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn’t able to match them – in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth.

A man answers:

I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament. Firstly, I’m not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here’s how I see it.

Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a crappy business deal. Here’s why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But here’s the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity…in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won’t be getting any more beautiful!

So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you’re 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!

So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold…hence the rub…marriage. It doesn’t make good business sense to “buy you” (which is what you’re asking) so I’d rather lease. In case you think I’m being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It’s as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.

Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So, I wonder why a girl as “articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful” as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to believe that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn’t found you, if not only for a tryout.

By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn’t need to have this difficult conversation. With all that said, I must say you’re going about it the right way. Classic “pump and dump.”

I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know.


I’m not sure that I would want to live in such a world, and it makes me all the more thankful by the grace offered and fostered in Christianity.

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  • Pat Pope


  • I love when people are this honest about what they desire and what they believe that they have to offer. The gentleman who answered the young woman’s question answered perfectly and honestly–which is entirely appropriate as a response to the question.

    Is this what I am looking for in a marriage? No. But I also do not really agree with your take on this exchange (which makes sense, as my religious perspective is other-than-Christian). I think that merit is incredibly important for everything, especially marriage–I simply do not have the same priorities as these two individuals. Money and looks are wonderful things, but they are only parts of an individual’s value. I think that sense of humor, personal compatibility, religious and spiritual compatibility, shared interests, relatable intellects, and many more factors are of importance when selecting a mate for life. Not to mention one’s desires when it comes to having a family.

    But for these individuals? I am certain that someone would trade partnership with this woman for just five or ten years of her good looks. There are all sorts of people in this world. I hope that, when she finds the man for whom she is searching, she will not find herself disappointed.

  • I agree with the gracelessness of this situation, I think. To be fair to the guy, I’m not entirely certain he was representing his true values. Rather, he was just responding in kind to what she “suggests,” only he had the proper vocabulary for it. She was looking for a business deal, not a love match, and he did the analysis and exposed the flaws. I’m appalled by her venture, and maybe I’m wrong and he does think in similar terms, but maybe their honesty opened up for her the emptiness of her character and the need for something higher.

    • Yeah, the guy was probably talking talk-in-cheek to make a point. Imagine, though, if all interactions were really like that? Makes me appreciate that they are not.

  • Bill

    You wrote:
    ” I’m not sure that I would want to live in such a world…”

    We already live in such a world. Don’t kid yourself just because you don’t see anyone admit it.

    Just one example is Newt Gingrich, a very serious contender for republican presidential candidate and he abandoned his wife on her death bed. Newt really wanted a lease but he thought that a “buy” would look better for his political career at the time.

    How does the Republican party, the party of FAMILY VALUES, not laugh this guy out of the room? Simple. The story above is more true than you want to admit.

    I could go on and on and on

    Do you remember all the preists who want to “lease” young alter boys in the catholic church. When they took their vows they pretended to buy but they only wanted a lease.

    Yes I could go on and on and on

    Are you getting the idea yet??

    • The fact that we all know the story about Newt, and disapprove of it, suggests that it’s not normative. Ergo it does not define the world.

      I’m not saying that hypocrisy doesn’t exist, rather there’s a lot of grace in the world, and I deeply appreciate the grace dispensed in the Christian church.

  • Do guys who bring home half a million dollars a year really hang out on Craigslist? 🙂

    (just had to ask….)