Attraction Before Rescue

Back in 2001 there was a book called Wild at Heart by John Eldredge.  It was a book that sort of came out of left field for me and there was so much in it that as a man I resonated with.  In it, Eldredge talks about many things but one of the key premises that he shares is that men are tying to answer the question, “Do I have what it takes?”

I really do believe that in some form every guy is asking that.  It’s a value question.  In other words, as a man, I get my value from the answer to that question.  The book goes much deeper into that question and how it was or wasn’t answered by our fathers.

As Eldredge dives into that question he further shares that men desire three main things.  A battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. It’s this last desire that I want to talk about today.  As with all of these desires – there’s a lot of ways to mess this one up.

When I read that book, I was 29 years old and single.  I was going after my full time ministry work hard.  I was living the adventure and fighting the battle.  No doubt about it.  But as a single guy, I thought, “What do I do with that last desire?”

I think the desire is real.  I say that because it’s ingrained everywhere.  It’s in movie after movie, story after story.  Hero guy sees girl in distress.  Hero rescues girl.  Hero gets girl. But like most things in life, it’s not quite as simple as a 90 minute movie.

In real life, not every girl in distress wants to be rescued.  Not every girl in distress should be rescued by you.  And, just because you rescue the girl (or have a part in it) doesn’t have much to do with getting the girl.

Right now a lot of good, nice guys are thinking, “Damn straight!” I hear you.  I lived it for far too long.

Here’s how it works.  You are attracted to a girl.  You see her beauty and you see that she needs rescued – usually from dating someone other than you – the “bad for her” guy.  You are there for her, listen to her, give her advice, and in the Christian world “minister” to her. You of course tell her how great she is and that she deserves better.  She’s not into you, but you want her to be and if you can just “rescue her” she would be.  In some circles this is called The White Knight Syndrome.

But it gets worse.  “Christian” dating advice to men just exasperates the situation.  You’re trying to be a Godly man and do things right.  So what do they tell you?  To man up of course.  Be a good guy.  It’s your job to protect women even from yourself.  Guard her heart.  Be clear about your intentions.  Be nice.  She’s the victim of the last bad guy she dated (or in some circles the guy she was married to).

No where are we called to do this in the Bible by the way.  I’ve heard people say (and I’ve said) that wives submit to your husband does not mean girlfriend submit to your boyfriend. Fair enough.  But neither does it say, boyfriend love your girlfriend as Christ loves the church . . .

We teach people who they should marry but not how to meet them. We tell people what not to with their date, but not how to get a date. We tell men to man up and women to dress up without explaining why that matters. We can help you break up with the wrong person, but we can’t seem to help you learn how to approach the right one. We tell men to guard girls’s without telling them how to win them to begin with.

Here’s the reality.  The desire is good, but there are only two ways you can help rescue a girl so speak.  The first is if you don’t want to date her and you just want to help her. Sometimes in ministry this actually happens.  As a strong male leader, you can have impact in women’s lives.  Nothing wrong with that.

The second way is to get the girl and then rescue her.  This is what Eldredge, and for that matter Ephesians 5 is referencing.  It assumes you are married to the beauty – and for that matter that the one you are married to is the beauty.

We don’t rescue the girl to get the girl.  We get the girl to rescue her.  And then you fight for her the rest of your life.  Sometimes that fighting for her will mean fighting with her and you can’t do that if you are constantly trying to get her to like you.  And get this, sometimes you’ll have to do it even when you don’t feel like it.  Crazy.

Here’s what we need to get a hold of.  Attracting the girl and rescuing her are not the same thing.  They aren’t even in the same sphere.  Learn to do the first, and you’ll have a chance at the latter.  You don’t rescue her with the goal of getting her because then what?  Get her and then spend the rest of your days trying to figure out how to love/rescue her.

The thing about the hero in the movie – the girl already liked him.





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?