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.”
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.
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.
Full time ministry people typically read a lot. Now I’m not talking about seminary classes here, although those are great. What I’m talking about is the books we read beyond that.
Christian leaders around the world have embraced a whole lot of books that aren’t officially (or in some cases even remotely) “Christian”. I see people reading countless books on leadership, team building, good communication and business practices. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Good To Great for sure come to mind. As I was going through leadership stuff with my church, my pastor had me read The Starfish And The Spider. This was a book about decentralization of an organization. All good books. But not exactly theologically profound.
Do you know why all these Christian leaders read all these books? Because they are helpful. Duh.
Running a church or ministry has a business and organizational piece to it. We can wish it didn’t but it does. And while theological training can help with that, it’s not usually enough.
Now there’s some people reading this right now thinking, “Hey wait a minute. Isn’t this part of the problem with the Western Church today? Too much business?” Fair thought, but hear me out.
One of the things I’ve heard over and over in recent years in the Christian circle of singles is, “Why don’t Christian guys ask the Christian girls out?” This can be said several ways but the message is essentially that guys should “man up” and ask out all the Christian girls regardless of who the women are. Some even go so far as to say essentially, “This is why Christian women end up dating non-Chrisitan men.” According to these folks, if all the Christian guys would just ask women on dates then everything would work out.
Back when I was in college the show ER became a sensation. One of the best parts about it was that the characters were believable. One of the intriguing relationships that developed on the show was between Doctor Mark Green (played by Anthony Edwards) and Doctor Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield). They were both sort of the “good guys” in the ER. They also developed a sort of friendship/relationship.
In the third season Susan decided to move away. In her final episode, Mark had to decide if he should (or could) tell her how he feels. They were great friends and had chemistry and it’s been obvious for years. Dr Ross (George Clooney) tells him, “Tell her what you’ve wanted to for years. Tell her how you feel. . . ”
Then comes the scene I’ll always remember. Mark leaves work and goes to her house but he’s too late. Then he goes to the train station. I mean it’s an epic deal. He goes to the wrong place as the train’s leaving point changes. But he makes it just in time. He calls out to her. The train is about to leave.
He tells her that he loves her and should have told her long ago, and he wants her to stay. I’ll never forget her response to that. She says that she knew, he is her best friend, and that she is leaving. Then she gets on the train, waves good by and says, “I do love you.”
I remember watching that scene and just being smacked upside the head. For years I thought about that scene because it pretty much defined me. Always the friend of the girl who I liked. Always carrying some sort of hope that at the right time, if I just shared it in the right way, everything would change. That scene was a picture of how I felt.