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.