Marriage Isn’t What Makes You Holy

This is my final post in response to Al Mohler’s words about the “sin” of delayed marriage. As I’ve said before, I’m not really singling Mohler out other than that I think his words represent a lot of what Christian leaders think and teach.**  We’ve discussed the nuclear family idol of the Church already, but I want to talk about a part of that idol that is often left out.

Mohler sets this up by basically saying that you are made an adult by getting married and if you wait too long (however long that is) you are going to make it tougher.  He states:

Delaying marriage until the late 20s or beyond often allows a person to develop unhealthy lifestyle patterns that become difficult to break once he or she is married, Mohler said.

“The corruption of delay, the injury that comes by delay, is multiple,” Mohler said.

“If we claim for ourselves, either as men or as women, the right to define ourselves as adults who will get married when we get to it, we’re defining ourselves in pretty specific terms. Let me be clear: The longer you wait to get married, the more habits and lifestyle patterns you will have that will be difficult to handle in marriage.”

Now remember, I’m for marriage.  I’m for getting married sooner than later if you are called to it.  But this crosses the line in several ways.

First, the statistics don’t back this up at all.  In fact the divorce rate of people getting married after 25 and with a college education is ridiculously lower than if you get married younger.  I’m not saying you can’t get married younger but the reality is that our culture has changed.  We’ve lengthened adolescence.  The delay of marriage is both a cause and a result of that, but we have to be careful here and deal with the current reality.

But the bigger issue here is the idea that we can’t be mature if we aren’t married.  The way this usually gets talked about is the idea that Marriage Makes You Holy®.

This is the bell that evangelicals have been ringing lately.  Marriage is hard.  Marriage is not about making you happy it’s about making you holy.  Which is sort of true . . . sort of.

This talking point creates all sorts of weird dichotomies.  Let’s look at the messages we are receiving.  It goes something like this:

Marriage is really hard.  But you should hurry up and get married.  You are able to focus more on Jesus and be less distracted as a single person.  But marriage is how you become more holy.  You need to be a man and get married.  But being married makes you a real man.

Confused yet?

Here’s the thing: Regardless of your marital status you are called to holiness.  We are called to grow and that includes the proverbial “growing up”.  But marriage doesn’t guarantee that. There are lots of immature married people.  For sure there are lots of spiritually immature and unholy married people.  Marriage itself doesn’t make you holy.  Jesus will if you walk with Him.

You see marriage isn’t the answer or the problem.  We’re the problem. Our sin is the problem.  Jesus is the answer.  The context of marriage can indeed lead us to deal with our sins and wounds if we let it.  But if I’m single, I need to deal with those same things, and you know what? –  You can. Right now.

People always told me when I was single that one of the things they learned when they got married was how selfish they were.  But what’s funny about that is that they were already selfish.  They didn’t become selfish when they got married, they just didn’t deal with it until they got married.

In some ways it was an advantage for me when I got married later in that I already knew I was a sinner.  I didn’t need a wife to show me that.  Now I do see it in some new ways to be sure.  But you can’t sit around and wait to get married to deal with sin.  That’s a terrible idea.  And you don’t have to.  You can deal with your sin now.

We don’t need to fear marriage and we need to quit underselling it.  Telling a bunch of people who aren’t getting married how hard marriage is seems to me to be sort of counter productive.  Marriage is good and can be fun.  It actually can make you happier.  I’m happier.

God can indeed use marriage to make you more holy if you let Him.  But He can, and wants to, use your singleness to do the same thing.  God always, every single day, wants to grow us to be more holy.  Regardless of context.

When we count on marriage in and of itself to do that we are adding to the idolization of it.

 

 

**Recently someone has suggested (on social media) that I am unnecessarily picking on Mohler.  They have suggested that Mohler doesn’t actually believe what I’ve attributed to him.  First, I want to be clear that I have nothing personal against Mohler.  However, I in no way feel that I have misrepresented him here.  I have for sure not misquoted or even taken his quotes out of context in any way.  If he doesn’t believe it, then he should think about how he says it.  I think he does believe it, as do most evangelical leaders – not out of malice or ill intent – but out of modern evangelical tradition on the subject of marriage of which I was once beholden to as well.  Their premise is wrong to begin with in this area and it’s killing us.  What they are doing is not working.  At all.

Get Out Of The Friend Zone

friendzone

When I was an teenager in school, one of the things that I heard constantly from girls that I wanted to date was something to the effect of, “You’re a great guy, but I just see you as a friend.”  In other words over and over again, I entered what has become known as the friend zone.

This is a terrible place to be.  We get there a whole lot of different ways.  When I was younger, (at least in my experience)  there were some times when I really was friends with the girl before I decided I wanted to date her.  But as you get older this is less likely.

Many guys when they like a woman start being really nice to her.  We go out and try to meet her needs, help her out with anything she wants, buy her considerate gifts etc.  I once bought a girl a birthday present that I wasn’t even dating.  I was a 30 year old man.  WTH was I thinking?  I liked her.  I should do nice stuff for her right?  Yikes!

Many guys think that this is a way to get in with a woman.  Rather than ask her out, I’ll simply get to know her as a friend.  After all, this is way less threatening.  The idea is to be safe and a friend first.  But this is a terrible strategy and frankly it’s intellectually dishonest anyway.  Friending someone in order to get them to like you is manipulation just as much as any of the “evil” dating game moves.  Just way less effective.

The funny thing is, women know all of this. Some of them are even mad about it.  I saw a blog (which I can’t seem to find or I’d link it) where the women were basically saying, “There is no friend zone.  Guys shouldn’t be mad about this.  You could be my friend or not.  But if I tell you that I don’t want to date you and want to be just friends, take a hint.  I don’t want to date you.”

When a woman says I see you as a friend, 9 times out of 10 it means they don’t want to hang out.  And if they do, it’s for some other reason other than being interested.

So the question is, how do you get the heck out of this cycle.  I want to offer a few frank suggestions.  Some of you won’t like them.  That’s fine.  Do you man, but don’t whine about it.

Stop Using This As Strategy

Just stop!  Now!.  Stop trying to get a woman to like you by being her friend.  Stop it.  And most of all, stop being self righteous about it.  I’m a nice guy and I want to be friends with the girl first.  I care about her and if I can be friends with her with the hope of more, so be it.

It’s totally ridiculous, completely dishonest and chicken.  It’s hiding what you really want behind the guise of platonic friendship or worse in the church – ministering to her.  Ugh that makes me want to vomit.  It won’t help her.  It for sure does not help you.  And it won’t end up with you together.

Quit Agreeing To It

If you want to date someone and they say that they want to be just friends, just say no. Stop feeling like you have some sort of responsibility to be friends with every girl you’ve been on a date with.

A few years ago I went on a few dates with a gal and I actually thought we had some real chemistry.  But when I called her after a date she didn’t call me back.  Now by this point in my life I had learned that there was always someone else and I just sort of moved on.

About three months later she called me.  I was sort of in shock to be honest.  I had written the whole thing off. We were sort of chit chatting and I said, “Look, I enjoyed our dates and I’d be willing to go out again and see where it goes.  I’m totally open to that.”  She then said, I kid you not, “Well I’m not really interested in that, but I thought we could be friends.”

After laughing, I said, “Look, we are friends in the sense that we like each other as people, but I don’t have time to just hang out.  I have friends.  I’m looking for a wife.”

Change Your Mentality

In high school I was always the “friend”.  But when I went to college I made a conscious commitment.  I was not going to seek out girls as friends.  Now this didn’t mean that I had no female friends.  But I was not going to be “that” guy.  And you know what happened?  I had a lot of dates.  Most of them went no where.  In an ironic twist my best female friend in college by far was girl who I met on a date.  We both decided it wasn’t going anywhere.  But you know what? She respected me and our friendship because she knew I wasn’t “just a friend”.

This leads to my final point:

Get Out Of Any Friend Zone Relationships Now

If you are friend zoned with someone, just end it.  Stop being a buddy to the girl you want to date.  It takes way too much of your time, energy, thought life, and heart.  It’s unhealthy, keeps you from pursing other women, and it’s not going to suddenly change.  You’re worth more and frankly so is she.  Move on.

People have asked me, how do I get our of the friend zone with this particular person.  My answer every time is simple.  Just stop doing it.  Walk away.  In a sense, break up.  It is the only way.  There’s an outside chance (extremely remote) that it might eventually make you more attractive to her but that can’t even be the goal.  Move on.  Just do it brother.  It’s not complicated.  Do you want her respect or her acceptance?

Do what it takes.  If that means switching community groups do it.  If it means taking her number out of phone or de-freinding her on FB, do it.  If it means not talking to her at all, do it.  Whatever it takes.  Do it and do it now.  You don’t owe her or anyone else the self flagellation.  You really don’t.

Picture from Coloring From Grown Ups

Look For A One, Not The One

I want to continue today to respond to a message from Al Mohler.  I’m using several posts for this because I believe that a lot of what Mohler is saying is representative of the kind of things that church leaders believe and teach.  It’s not a Mohler problem.  It’s our problem. To his credit – at least he flat out says it.

We’ve talked previously of the idea that our walk with Jesus is seen through the lens of marriage mainly and how that makes the nuclear family an idol as well as how using young men as the scapegoat of our society is not right and obviously not working.

Today I want to address a smaller part of Mohler’s statement that leads to total confusion and frustration in the Church’s singles.

Here it is,

“Young men and women should not delay marriage until it is convenient for them to take a spouse but should actively seek the mate God has chosen for them”

Now to be honest, I agree with part of this.  Although I would back up several steps.  The first question needs to be, do I feel like God is calling me to serve him from a context of celibacy or from one of marriage.  I’m not going to say a lot here as this is not a post about celibacy.  But there are those who for various reasons and callings end up following Jesus in a lifetime of being unmarried.  This is a part of the Kingdom and one that should be pursued by those called and honored by the Church at large.

If one is not called to that, then I do agree that sooner rather than later, we should look for a spouse.  This only makes sense.  But here is the problem with the above statement.  The idea that you have to find the one God has for you.

Nowhere in scripture does it say that we have a Christian Soulmate as it were.  In fact the scripture says the opposite.  Jesus says that we will not be married in heaven.  You and I will spend eternity unmarried.  Beyond that, no where does the scripture say to go and find this exact one person that God has for you.

Paul does not say, “Go and find your wife.”  He says “Go get married.”  This idea of “The One God Has For You” is bad on many levels.

First it can be an excuse on our end and a part of the problem of delayed marriage that Molher is complaining about.  “I went out with her for a year but she just wasn’t the one”.  “No one has asked me out, so I guess God just hasn’t sent me the one yet.”  In other words it can lead to inaction.  I don’t have to do anything, after all God has the one for me.

Secondly it’s used as a spiritual platitude to “comfort” people.  “Don’t worry, He wasn’t the one.”  “God is preparing someone just for you.” “God is in charge.  He’ll show you the right one at the exact right time.”  Essentially we take what I would call bad Calvinism combined with Oprah/”help you sleep at night” theology to explain why you aren’t married yet.

Third and maybe worst of all, it puts an inordinate amount of pressure on everyone.  There are some who would basically say don’t go on a date with someone unless you think they could be “the one”.  It can lead to not giving someone a chance.  It can lead to staying in relationships we shouldn’t because we are convinced they are the one, or bailing too early because we can’t be sure that they are.  The idea of the one also creates a sense of the perfect person or at least the perfect one for me.  After all God would want the best for me right?  And He would surely bring the perfect for me person.

The most frustrating thing about this message is that I have to go out and search and work to find this one.  So it’s not enough to go find someone that is godly that I can marry, I’m looking for this Christian Romance Novel person who God has for me.

No where in scripture are we promised The One.  As I’ve said here many times this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t bring people into our lives.  I believe that He does.  I believe that as we walk with Him, He can lead us to someone to marry.  But marriage is a choice.  “The one” is the one that you choose to marry.  We are searching for a one not “the one”.  It’s not just semantics.  How we see this affects how we go about it.

Telling people called to marriage to go and seek a spouse is good.  Telling people who are called to marriage to go and find THE ONE™ is counterproductive and confusing at best, and unbiblical and paralyzing at worst.

Avoid The Nice Guy Trap

One of the complaints I hear all the time from men (and that I used to make all the time) is that women, and in our case Christian women, always seem to choose the bad guy over the good guy.  If you are a consistent reader hear then you know that I would say that is the wrong view of a real issue.

Here is what women do – they choose the guy they are attracted to over the one they aren’t.

There are a lot of men who say that women should date them because they can be a great husband, are trying to be godly etc, even though they are not, for whatever reason attractive to women.  I would ask that guy, are you asking out women you know to be godly that you are not attracted to?  I’m guessing no.

So rather than sit around and complain, maybe we should think about what is attractive and work on it.

This leads us right back into something that I’ve written about before but I want to address in a different way.  If “nice” guys are not attractive, why do we continue to be nice and how do we keep getting into that spot.

If we are the nice guy, chances are that we will keep getting friend zoned by women.  Maybe eventually a woman, after being with enough “not nice guys” will decide to choose the nice guy, but usually that leads to a marriage that isn’t super successful either.

Today I want to talk about why we think we should be or need to be nice.  Later I want to talk about how to get out of it.

There are lots of reasons that men, especially Christian men, fall into the “nice” trap.  Here are a few.

We think that if we are nice, that it will be reciprocated.  

This of course isn’t actually being nice for niceness sake.  It’s being a player in it’s own way.  In other words I like the girl so I’ll be really nice.  I’ll meet her needs.  I’ll buy here stuff.  I’ll listen to her problems and “minister” to her.  And if I help her enough, surely she will want to be with me.  Except that she won’t.  And if she does it won’t be because you did those things.  Forgetting the fact that this is just as manipulative as any other “game” move, it is not typically effective.

The Church has taught men that if they are nice (or Godly or servants or . . .), women will be attracted.

Making matters worse is the fact that most in the church teach their men this.  They say, serve the woman, protect the woman, rescue the woman, listen to the woman.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do those things.  But what I am saying is that those things will not make you attractive to her.  And getting mad about it won’t change that.

You cannot serve your way to attraction.  You cannot buy your way to attraction.

I know you’ve seen the romantic movies (made for women) where the guy buys the flowers or rescues the damsel.  But go back and re-watch those movies.  When was the girl attracted?  Seriously.  Think about it.

Often we think that we can “save” the girl and if we do then she will want to be with us.  I know I thought this a lot.  But it just doesn’t work that way.  Look, the hero isn’t attractive because he is nice – he’s attractive because he is strong, brave, and doesn’t need anything back from the person he’s saving.

We equate being nice with being good.

This is a false dichotomy.  Nice does not always equal good.  You see someone doing something wrong.  What’s the nice get along thing to do?  What’s the right thing to do?

Jesus was not nice . . . at all really.  He was for sure good.  He called out stuff.  He was fully confident in who He was.  He didn’t need anything from anyone other than God. Remember in The Chronicles of Narnia? Aslan (the Jesus character) was a lion for heaven’s sake.  Not safe, but good.  There’s a difference.

We are scared.

Finally the reason a lot of guys are nice is because they are afraid.  Afraid of rejection.  Afraid of not being liked.  Afraid of conflict.  Afraid of tension.

This fear causes many men to not approach women at all.  It causes others to do it extremely poorly.  It also causes husbands to not lead their wives.  Avoiding conflict and tension with women is a terrible plan.  I had a mentor who said that most men are afraid of their wives.  Look around you and tell me it’s not true.  Happy wife, happy life right?  Really what we mean is don’t deal with crap and then we won’t fight.

I’m not saying be an a-hole.  What I’m saying is that being nice while expecting reciprocation is not really nice.  Being nice to get the girl is horrible plan.  Being nice and being good are not the same and being nice to avoid “trouble” is not healthy.

Gentlemen I get it.  I really do.  I was the nice guy to the women I liked for almost two decades.  What’s funny is that I’m not really that nice.  But I was nice to them.  You know what that did for me?  Nothing.  I honestly don’t think it served those women.  It for sure didn’t help me get married.

Ahh The Man Problem

We have a man problem!  How many times have you heard that in the Church in the last 10 years?

I want to respond some more to a piece from the SBTS that quotes Al Mohler talking about this.  This isn’t personal by the way.  All Mohler is doing is putting words to what so many in the Church think about singleness and marriage.

As Mohler is discussing the “sin” of delaying marriage (what length of delay equals sin is unclear of course) he says,

“This is a problem shared by men and women.  But it is primarily of men.  We have established a boy culture in which boys are not growing up into men.

Guys, the reality is that God has given us a responsibility to lead, to take responsibility as a man, to be the man in every way before God that we are called to be . . . It means taking the leadership to find a godly wife and to marry her and to be faithful to her in every way and to grow up to be a man who is defined as a husband, and by Gods grace we pray eventually, as father.”

I just . . . I mean. . .

First let every man read and understand what I say next.  You are not primarily defined by being a husband or even a father.  You are primarily defined by your relationship with Christ.  Period.  This is vital because if you don’t get this then you won’t be a good husband or father if you get married.

Now if you get married, then there are defined roles and responsibilities (which these same evangelical leaders will be sure to remind you of).  It’s not bad to know what those are because it should impact your decision to get married.  Are there guys slacking off because they don’t want to “man up” as it were?  Sure.  But that is only a part of the issue.

This premise that its all the guys’ fault is a complete failure of the Church to acknowledge the rest of culture and it’s own part in creating it.

The blame the men movement comes up short for lots of reasons –  Just for starters:

  • It fails to address why men are not going to church, getting married, or even finishing college (or other “mature” things).
  • It fails to address women’s sin in any way
  • Completely ignores attraction and choices involving it.
  • It makes women the helpless victims and absolves them of their choices
  • Embarrasses the men in church who women don’t date – of which there are many
  • Doesn’t help any of those men learn anything that will help them get married
  • And most of all, creates more disrespect of men within the body of Christ

Here’s the other funny thing about it.  If all of these Christian men are a bunch of “boys” whose fault is that?  Was there a secret men’s meeting that I missed where we all got together and said, “Let’s not grow up.  Let’s step back from leadership. Screw what the Church teaches.”  Guess who raised us?  Guess who spoke to our parents in the pews?  Guess who taught us how to be nice?  Guess who told us that slogans, rallies and sermons can save us?  

I could handle the “men are the problem” line better if it started with, “We’ve failed our young men.  We help set them up to fail.”  That would maybe lend some sort of credibility.

Mohler and company have this idea that there are all these sinless godly women just sitting around and if only men would act they would say yes and marry them.  They assume that the reason that Christian women don’t get married is that men just aren’t . . . well . . . man enough.  (This idea of men are sinful and weak and women are sinless is everywhere and in everything they talk about – not just singleness.)*

But the truth is that I know a lot of men that want a godly wife.  There are single men in every church looking for that. I was one.  For 20 years. Is Mohler suggesting to the women that they should go out with any of these guys that ask them and become their wife?  Of course not.  Men should go find a wife – really any wife.  They don’t need to be attracted to them and the woman doesn’t have to be that godly.  Just man up and marry a woman – you can help her be godly.  Women on the other hand are taught to be careful.  Don’t settle.  They are told they need protection from all of the not quite godly enough men.  

So according to many of our leaders, the only way to be a godly, mature man is to get married.  But the only men that women should marry are godly, mature men.  Again – whose fault is all of this?

Part of the problem (without getting into this too much here – more later) is that they are asking men to play by the cultural rules from 50 years ago, while not asking the same of women.  They fail to recognize how the culture has reshaped the getting married game.  It’s not just the men that have created this.  There’s plenty of blame to go around.

The bottom line here is that simply saying man up is a non-starter.  It’s not working.  At all.  We have to talk to both sexes and we have to teach them both not only what to do in marriage and that they should get married but also how to go about getting married.

 

 

*Examples – If Husbands will lead the right way then women would not try to take over the lead.  If more men would sign up for combat duty then women wouldn’t feel the need to. Etc.  H/T Dalrock

 

You Can Be A Single Saint

I’ll be honest.  When I started writing this blog four years ago, I thought I would share some thoughts about my experience as a single for over 20 years of adulthood and specifically in the Church culture.  Somehow in my mid thirties I had a sort of awakening that a whole lot of what I thought I knew about singleness, what I’d be taught and even what I had taught others was wrong.  But I had no idea how wrong we were.

This is why now and then I’m responding to some posts from prominent leaders in our church culture.  They represent what we teach and when it comes to this context, they come up almost unbelievably short.  It’s astounding really.

In a post on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Page, they share from a speech from Al Molher (whom Time called the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.” – Yikes) in which he addresses the “sin” of delayed marriage.  I know you’re getting excited already. . .

There are some amazingly bad assumptions going on here.  There are three main things that need to be addressed as they are three staples of the Church’s response to increased singleness.  They are 1. The idol of the nuclear family, 2. It’s all the men’s fault, and 3. God has chosen someone for you.  You can’t make this stuff up.

First let me say that I’m for more marriage.  This situational singleness that our culture has created is not a helpful trend.  Calling it a sin is a stretch, but if you are called to marriage, then I do think you should pursue it, not just wait around for it to happen.

But if we go about that the wrong way, or with the wrong understanding, we are setting up both the unmarried and the married to fail.

For today, let’s focus on point 1.  Mohler and company have a serious idol in their culture and it’s called the nuclear family.  In addressing that people are trying to build careers first, Mohler states,

“What is the ultimate priority God has called us to? In heaven, is the crucible of our saint-making going to have been done through our jobs? I don’t think so. The Scripture makes clear that it will be done largely through our marriages.”

Oh.My.Gosh!  Where does scripture say this?  1st Families chapter 3?  Wow.  Just wow.

I’m going to be honest here.  I don’t know how else to say this.  This is wrong.  It’s completely wrong.  It’s so completely wrong that it is borderline heresy.  I’ve never used that word here, but I don’t know what else to call it. If he meant it the way he’s says it. . .

Let me be absolutely clear.  Your identity is not in your marital status!  It is not!  The Kingdom of God is not about being married with 2.5 children.  When you get to the gates God will not decide what kind of saint you are based on whether or not you were married here on earth.

Here are some results of this sort of teaching.

Unmarried people of all kinds, the divorced, the widowed, the not yet married, those who are celibate by gifting, calling or fall of man, end up excluded from the family of God on earth.  It turns what should be the most inclusive, welcoming place on the planet into a club for a few.  It helped create same sex marriage (more soon) and it stands completely counter to what the New Testament teaches.

But not only that.  It keeps married people from being missional, keeps their children from seeing a missional life style and creates the bubble that is whats left of the Christian Culture™ today.

Unless Mohler and the evangelical movement is suggesting we go back to the pre-Jesus method of Kingdom advancement and God’s pre-Jesus faithfulness, it is completely wrong.

Jesus says this, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  And again, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”  Pointing to his disciples he said, “here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus is saying this because he is creating the new family . . . the family of God.  Jesus is constantly pointing out that God’s favor is not on the people who have the most or who have the perfect family scenario but instead upon those who respond to Him.  He is throwing open the Kingdom (and therefore the sainthood) to all who would come to Him. In fact He is saying that if you don’t have Him first none of the rest of it matters much.

We are not going to be married in heaven and being married on earth will not earn you extra points when you get there.  Our identity is to be in Him.  Our calling is to follow Him. He is the way.  Not marriage, not childbearing, not success, not earthly riches, not cultural standing.  This is the scandal of the gospel.  The marginalized have just as much access as everyone else.  You will be judged on how you responded to that, and on how you loved others, not just your spouse. That has to be our starting point every time.

Unless that is our starting point, anything else we teach about singleness, marriage, and frankly everything else, will be a counterfeit.  Putting an over emphasis on the nuclear family screws up everything . . . including the nuclear family.

Should I Give That Guy One More Date?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about chasing vs. pursuing.  I’ve already decided we need some new language to make all of that more clear, but that is not the topic for today.

I received a note from one of my female leaders asking a good question in response to that post.  In actuality she asks a much more important question, perhaps without knowing it.  I don’t typically write specifically to women here because, well I’m not one, and I don’t come from that experience.  But I think this is important and merits an post.

Her question

In follow up to the post on chasing vs pursing, may you write a refresher on how women should appropriately response to being chased or pursed? I think that for the well liked, popular Christian single lady, it may be easier to differentiate the two and act accordingly, perhaps due to exposure or experience. For other women, especially when requests and invitations are few and far in between, or even non existent, it can be hard to tell what is a good and noble pursuit versus what is simply a chase because we are a woman. Sadly, I have fallen for this one, and I would appreciate insight on how a woman should respond to such encounters in the future.

This question brings up a few very important points that we need to consider.  So let me take a crack at them here, while hopefully helping answer the intent of her question.

I think what she is really asking is not so much how to understand the difference between knowing when guy is chasing vs pursuing, but instead how to know who to respond to. How do you know who is noble regardless of their approach?

This is a vitally important thing for women to get a hold of.  Because here is a gigantic truth.  Ok ready?  Both noble and ignoble men can be chasers and both noble and ignoble men can be pursuers.

This is what I’ve been telling men here for four years.  Being a good Christian guy or even being a guy who would make a great Christian husband does not necessarily help you attract the girl you want.  It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not typically what causes or doesn’t cause attraction.  It doesn’t get you in the door – it should help you seal the deal.  It’s the difference between marketing and managing.   Two totally different skill sets.

In the Church we only teach one skill set – that’s being a married person. It’s killing us.

So let me actually answer the question as best I can for the ladies that are interested out there.

First, you need to understand that initial attraction, while nice should always be checked with some qualifiers.  Now that doesn’t mean you have to figure out all the qualifiers before you go on a date.  But it does mean you are looking for some things. And you are looking for them quickly.

I say quickly because if you let attraction grow with someone who isn’t qualified you can end up in a bad spot in a hurry.  Pretty soon you are saying things like, “I know he’s not a Christian but I can’t help what I feel“.  Bad.

What you need to have clear in your head is that for most women, what is attractive about a guy initially is how he carries himself, how he talks to you, how he “makes you feel”. Again there is nothing wrong with feeling attracted, even to the “wrong” person.  But that attraction does not make the guy noble or not.

There are a lot of guys who would make great husbands who come off less attractive at first.  But if you want a good marriage, then you need to think about not just how you feel, but what kind of man this guy is.  Is he deep?  Does he lead others?  Is anyone following him?  Do people respect him?  How does he treat people?  What does he do with his time and money?  Is he a hard worker?  These are all good questions that show you more about him.

A great example happened recently to a gal I know pretty well.  She came to me after being on a few online dates. She said that one of the guys seemed like a really good guy, with a really good background.  She “wanted to like him” but she didn’t “feel” that attraction.  Now realize this is after one, maybe two dates.  She asked me what I thought.

I said, if you want to get married then I would maybe give this guy another couple of dates.  The truth is that a lot of Christian guys aren’t super comfortable and confident right out of the box.  There are many reasons for this (which we’ve talked about ad nauseam here) but if you think he is a high quality guy, then I’d give it another go.

She did and they are well on their way to marriage.  As they dated more, he got more comfortable and therefore she grew more attracted.

Now that won’t happen every time.  I’m not suggesting here that you marry someone you aren’t attracted to – although you could.  What I’m saying is that how someone pursues you has to do with attraction, not how noble they are.

Bottom line, if a good guy seems awkward at first, I’d give him another chance.  See if after a couple of dates you feel different. If he stays weird then yeah, maybe you bolt.  And if a guy charms you and you are paying attention and figure out that he isn’t a good guy, forget what you “feel” and bolt.  In a dream world, you are instantly attracted to a good guy.  But we live in the real world.