In my last few posts I’ve been talking about how we publicly shame men, even the good ones, from the pulpit and on the internet. Note that I’m talking here about how Christian men shame other men. This doesn’t include all the other people doing it.
Before I say any more, I want to say that I’m not bringing all this up to play some sort of men are the victim card. I’m mainly bringing it up because it’s not effective in any way. Frankly its part of the reason guys don’t go to church. (There are other reasons, but that’s for a different day).
Today I want to venture deeper into the other side of this whole deal. How does the way that Christian men call out good men impact Christian women. While I’ll touch on some ways it affects marriages, my main focus will be for the unmarried.
I’ve shared a lot of things on here about what I’ve seen done wrong in how we talk to/about men – single and married. Let me share about one of the best events I’ve ever been to and why it stood out.
A group held a special event a couple of years ago in a community near me. They hosted a “Father’s Night”. They invited the people from the community to come to the school auditorium to honor some fathers from the community. They first had three very different speakers talk about fatherhood and what it means. Then, get this, they actually honored some fathers with fatherhood awards.
One of the amazing things about Jesus is that no matter where we are, what we are doing, what our story is, He loves us. In the famous hymn’s words he loves me Just As I Am. I can come to know Him just as I am, receive His grace as I am and start to follow Him right from where I am now. I don’t earn it. In fact I can’t earn it. God loves you and me right now, no matter what.
The truth is that we all long for that. We long to be fully known and fully loved. We look for it everywhere. As a believer we realize at least intellectually and theologically that God is really the only person who can fulfill that in our lives. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to experience that with another person or people. It also doesn’t stop us from feeling hurt when we don’t experience it with other people even though again, we know intellectually that no one else can do that perfectly.
What’s really interesting is how this gets twisted up when we think about looking for a spouse and frankly later in marriage itself if we get married.
I have a confession. For a long time, I thought the way to fix things was simply fix the men. In fact I remember a meeting where another guy and I were planning a men’s retreat. We said basically that if we could just fix the men, then the rest would fall in line.
This is the general consensus of a lot of evangelical leaders today. I’ve talked about this ad nauseam here. I’ve talked about blaming men, the man problem, the idea that if only men would ask women out, and on and on.
While I think that there are a few people waking up to this complete over simplification of the problems in our culture, it’s still rampant.
Over the last three posts we’ve been talking about Servant Leading, what serving has to do with attraction, and the fact that in marriage the man is the head which has many responsibilities including loving (serving and leading would be a part of doing that well). You may want to read those before you dive in here.
Today I want to talk about as a single man, knowing the previous thoughts, how should that affect how you go about things in terms of dating and looking for a wife. There are at least two parts here: How we prepare ourselves and who we seek to marry.
One of the most overused, misunderstood, and confusing things in the church is the idea of leadership. This is especially true when it comes to men in relation to women. It’s my hope today to make that even more confusing. Just kidding. Maybe.
I was recently at a conference where we spent some time talking about leadership. The conversation was centered around what makes a good leader and how do we be good leaders to others. One of the interesting things that was said was something to the effect of the only way to be a good leader was to be a servant. This is of course a common theme in Christian culture. And like a lot of themes in Christian culture it’s only sort of true.
I’ve been giving the idea of leadership a lot of thought lately – both in the context of my job and in the context of singleness and marriage. You can see some of my thoughts about leading while dating here.
I think in our context as a Christian man, be it single or married, this idea is very confusing. Partly because we use a lot of words like servant and leader interchangeably and I’m not so sure that’s helpful.
Most of my usual readers know that this blog is written mainly for men. Lots of ladies read this and probably 70% of what I write here is pretty applicable to both sexes. This is especially true of all that I’ve said theologically about celibacy, family and the Church. It’s mostly true of the things we discuss having to do with living in the context of being unmarried including things like dealing with sexual desire, community, touch, money, dealing with loss, etc.
However most of what I’ve offered here in terms of what to do with attraction, how to attract people, how to get a date and how to date, have been very guy centered. I’ve had several requests from female readers at different times for thoughts on what they can do in those areas. So I want to offer some thoughts today.
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!
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.