When In Doubt, Blame The Men

One of the problems in our evangelical culture today when it comes to singleness and marriage is the message that is sent over and over again that men are less spiritual, more sinful, and less mature than women.  It is said from pulpits, in interviews on tv, and of course in books.  It’s all part of the Christian “Man Up” industry.  It assumes women are innocent and men are not.

In case you don’t believe me read the following quote from one of the biggest names in evangelical culture today.  At the end of a blog post to single women he writes,

To my single sisters wanting to marry, I do not want to discourage you in any way. But, the truth is that it is harder to be a single woman than a single man as a Christian. Every poll I have ever seen says that single women are generally more mature and responsible than single men. Men are waiting until around 30 years old to marry for the first time, if they ever do. And, they are going for younger women, according to the statistics. Across Christianity, there are far more single women than single men, which means that the odds are not in the favor of godly single women. In addition, for theological reasons, many Christian women do not want to be the dating initiator, asking guys out and taking the lead in the relationship.

All of this together means that godly single women live in a complex world that is increasingly more difficult for those who want to marry and have children with a godly man. Love, prayer, friendship, support, counsel, and community are needed more than ever.

This is complete and total nonsense.

First of all, let me be honest in the interest of full disclosure.  There was a time where I would have agreed with this statement.  I would have said that if men did what they were supposed to do then women would be set.  I was a part of the “man up” group.  But I was wrong.

Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are a lot of men that need to step up and become better men.  Are there men that need to learn to lead, initiate and get past their own selfishness, idols, and insecurities?  Uh. . . yeah. . . all of us, including me.  But to lay the problem of increased singleness in the church at the feet of men and say, “hey it’s all your fault” is extremely short sighted, only addresses half the equation and does both men and women a lot of harm.

There are three main ideas that I believe are completely false and/or overblown.

For starters the idea that there are more Christian women than men is complete garbage.  I’ve been working in full time ministry for the last 20 years mainly with people aged 15-35.  I’ve worked with literally thousands of people in that age range.  I’ve been in church that whole time, have helped lead small groups, and even helped plant a church. Here’s what I would say.  There are indeed more women who go to church.  There may be more women who say they want a godly marriage. But that means about jack squat when it comes to how people act and what they do with their lives.

Which leads into the second idea that women in their twenties are more “mature” than men.  What exactly constitutes this maturity?  I know that the statistics on college and church attendance lean female.  But I’m not so sure that equals maturity. Been on a college campus lately?

But most egregious to me is the idea that men are more sinful.  Especially when it comes to sex, dating and marriage.  This idea that men are just about sex and women are some sort of “victims” is wrong.  Women are obviously having sex.  How do I know? Because men are.  It takes two to tango so to speak.   Amazingly, women also sin.

This whole line of thinking has a profound effect on singles in our churches (and frankly marriages).  For starters (the list is much longer and deeper):

  • 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.

Think you aren’t affected by this?  When a man says he can’t meet a Christian woman what do you think vs. what you think if a woman says the same thing?  What’s the first thing you think when you meet a divorced woman vs man?  When you see an unwed mom – whose fault is it?  When a woman can’t get a date vs when a man can’t?

I’m not suggesting we switch gears and put all the blame on women. The truth is there are a lot of reasons for the rise in singleness and the decline of marriage. But it’s everybody’s fault – not just men’s.  Plenty of blame to go around.

I’m also not saying any of this from some sort of whiny, mad place.  It’s just a fact.  If you keep telling men it’s all their fault, you’re sending the wrong message to everybody.  Maybe some nice men who your women won’t date will jump on board.  Maybe women will cheer you and feel better that Sunday.  Maybe you will be the hero to women in your congregation.  But mostly it will just create more of the same and we can’t afford that.

 

Do You Want To Have Sex With Her?

Starting in middle school I always had what I’ll call a target girl.  This was the girl that I thought was “THE ONE“.  She was basically the girl that I thought was the most attractive and if I could somehow get her, then everything in my world would be right.  This became a pattern for a long time.  This idea that a particular girl who was “hot” was the answer to my love life.

What’s really interesting is that these girls I liked weren’t necessarily more attractive than many other girls.  Grab an old yearbook and find pictures of the girl that you were obsessed with.  Compare her to a bunch of other girls in the book.  My bet is she’ll be attractive but not way more attractive than others.  It’s crazy.  There were girls I could have pursued, who maybe would have gone out with me, who are just as attractive.

Our society has a standard of beauty.  This is not actually real of course.  We all know the photos of women we see in magazines are doctored etc.  Yet we are constantly comparing.  I remember one time sitting at Sonic (taking a break from cruising North Oak) with a friend of mine and a cute server came out.  My friend said, “She’s cute but I don’t like her calves.”  Really?!  But as a teenager, inundated with a constant stream of the cultural standard it’s not a surprising statement.

The problem is that we think if we could get the perfect looking woman then we would be validated as a man.

This isn’t just the idea that we would always be attracted to this person (which is a lie) but also it’s an ego thing.  We want everyone to look at our girl and think that we have arrived because we have her.  We are looking for the perfect beauty and comparing everything against it.  This imaginary beauty becomes our standard.

My pastor has shared from the pulpit many times (borrowing from Driscoll) that when you are married, your wife is to be your standard of beauty.  I think that is an incredibly right and profound truth.  When you are married she is THE ONE.

But here is what we don’t talk about.  As a single person, what the heck is my standard of beauty supposed to be?  Answer from the pulpit, “Cricket, cricket, cricket.”

I know of no guy who married someone that he wasn’t attracted to physically.  To pretend otherwise is a joke.  Now back in the day of arranged marriages you got married and that became your standard (biblically, although obviously not always in practice).  But here in the now, you choose who to pursue and physical attraction is a part of it.

So what should be our standard of beauty?

For starters, hot does not always equal beauty.  If you’ve dated at all you know this is true. Beauty is more than physical.  It has to do with who a person is.  We’ve all met the hot girl who got less attractive as we got to know her.  We’ve also had women who as we talked with them and saw them in action, we saw them as more beautiful.  This is one of the reasons that we HAVE to move from looking at women to talking to them.  Being physically attracted is just a starting point to a deeper attraction.

Our standard has to be more than is she the hottest person in the room because there will always be another hot person.  Always!  You have to get beyond this.

At the same time I would say that you need to be physically attracted or you are not going to pursue.  I think you have to have what I’m going to call physical chemistry.  For lack of a better way of saying it, you need to want to have sex with this person.  Now the good and bad news about this is that as guys we can see having sex with a lot of people, so it’s not a stand alone criteria for marriage.  But realizing this can free us up to pursue someone instead of waiting for an imaginary woman.

You also need to get over what anyone else thinks about how attractive she is.  This is so stupid.  I can’t think of one guy I respect more or less because of how “hot” his wife is. What matters is are you attracted to her.  And no woman no matter how “perfect” is going to validate you – only God can do that.

We have to stop comparing women to the world’s standard and allow ourselves to become and stay attracted to someone.

So here’s my question to you – What is your standard of beauty?