A Foreign Affair

I think a lot of our ideas about attraction and “mating” are very specific to our culture.

Recently, I watched two documentaries on Netflix that gave me some food for thought about how we, as Americans, think about attraction and marriage.

Meet The Patels, centers around an Indian-American actor who is on the cusp of 30. According to his cultural expectations, this situation is unacceptable. So, after some thought, he agrees to let his parents intervene with his love life.  And ultimately, he agrees to a modern-day take on pursuing an arranged marriage.

What I found fascinating about the film was the idea, that marriage is such an important part of his culture and community, that the older generation didn’t leave partnering up to chance.  In addition, there seemed to be an intentional goal of passing on the traditions, morals, and values of previous generations.  It also appeared that this “rite of passage” was/is so important that people created a process to ensure that like-minded individuals could meet and marry each other. I also liked the fact, that the community was vested in making sure that the potential couple was vetted for compatibility, character, interests, etc.

Granted, I say this as an outsider to the Indian/Indian-American community, so I don’t have a grasp on the nuances of reality of this idea. But some of the concepts presented were interesting and compelling.

I grew up in the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” pandemonium, which although good intentioned, brought a lot of confusion and hang-ups to the single, Christian community.

To that end, there is a tendency for many singles to “date in a vacuum”, which is isn’t particularly beneficial.   I think there’s tremendous value in having the previous generation pour into our lives.  And I also think it’s very valuable to have married couples weigh-in on our dating decisions. Through this interaction, there’s an opportunity for people to share their mistakes, successes, and the tips that have helped them weather the storms of life in a partnership.  I feel that we need this knowledge and I wish it was more freely offered and given.

The other film (Love Me), profiled American men, who after various failed attempts at finding love in the States, decide to take a chance on a “mail-order bride” from another country. Yes, this concept is extreme and some of the men are “interesting”.  However, this film made me think.  It made me question the concept of attraction.  In fact, the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” comes to mind.

If we’re honest, there is some level of reciprocity in relationships. The value of  the”goods” is often determined by culture.  Meaning…what we find physically attractive, the amount of value that we place on physical desirability or the ability to provide, etc. is often determined by the society around us.

So, it was interesting to see men, who some would not find desirable in the US, being desired and valued elsewhere. Granted, I realize that the ideas presented in this film are complicated at best. (I am not advocating the mail-order bride arrangement.) However, it did make me think about my American concept of attraction.  Is possible that I, we are missing out on good people because they don’t fit our preconceived notions of what is desirable in our culture.

What are your thoughts?  If you’ve seen the movies, weigh-in.  Even if you haven’t, what do you think about today’s approach to dating and marriage?

Meet The Patels

 

Love Me

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Laws of Attraction: Let’s Get Practical Part 2

BoyMGirl2

Disclaimer: I believe…

  • in the sovereignty of God.
  • that God’s timing is often not our timing.
  • that no one can provide a surefire-money-back-guarantee on how to find the love of your life.

-However

I think that some of us could use some practical advice about attraction and dating. So, if you will indulge me, here are my two cents.

(To read the first part of the series, go here )

5. You Might Have To Be Proactive (especially if you are out of school)

If you’re like me and you grew up in the church, inevitably, someone will tell you that you need to just “wait on God” and when the time is right, God will bring that person into your life.

In all honesty, I think this approach is strange, especially since we seldom apply this kind of logic to other areas of our lives.

If I said that I wanted to find a church, a job, or even a hair dresser (which we all know is hard to find), few people would tell me that I should just pray and wait for God to fulfill my desire in His timing.

Let me say something that bears repeating (or at least needs to be put in bold font 😉 )

Being proactive doesn’t mean you are desperate. 

And for those who are no longer in college, the reality is, there may not be a large pool of potential dating partners in your social settings (work, church, apartment complex, etc.).

In fact, in the book How To Get A Date Worth Keeping, Dr. Henry Cloud remarks that the college experience creates multiple opportunities to meet potential dating partners due to demographics and social activities. But upon graduation, those great demographics and social activities tend to  dry up. Which means if you want to meet like-minded people in a similar age bracket, you might have to be proactive.

Being proactive can be as simple as joining a co-ed organization (e.g. a sports team or a  meetup group) to something more intentional like going on a blind date or meeting someone online.

However, if you make the decision to try to “put yourself out there”, please remember…

6. Don’t Take Things Too Personally (especially in the “getting to know you stage”)

Just because the object of your affection doesn’t want to sweep you off your feet and ride off into the sunset, doesn’t mean that there’s something horribly wrong with you. Sometimes when romantic opportunities don’t work out, it can be a good thing. You, and the other person, may not be a great fit for each other.

For example, when I was in college, I went on a few dates with a fellow coworker-scandalous…I know. 😉 Although he was cute, friendly,a great guitar player, and really nice, we didn’t share the same convictions about God and other areas of life. Since I was (and am) looking for someone who shares similar values, we didn’t go beyond the friend stage.

And to be honest, when I look back at the other relationships that didn’t pan out too well, I’ve come to realize that it was probably for the best (kind of like the old Garth Brook’s song “Unanswered Prayers”).

It’s been my experience that if we seek God and prayerfully seek His guidance (and listen to the warnings of friends and family), we can spare ourselves a lot of misery and heartache. Sometimes not getting want we want can be a blessing.

And finally, just to clear up any misconceptions…

7. It’s Okay To Be Single

I think that when some people say, “I found love when I wasn’t looking for it”, what they really mean is “I was open…not obsessed.”

From my perspective, it’s perfectly acceptable to put yourself in situations where the odds of finding a match are stacked in your favor. That being said, sometimes, in spite of our best intentions, great haircuts, and witty conversational banter, we still may find ourselves unattached.

This situation can be frustrating, hard, and painful.

My solution is…proactively wait.  Meet other people. Pursue your passions.  Own your feelings and desires.  You may not meet “the one” on the time table that you hoped for, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fulfilling relationships or even learn how to have healthy relationships with the opposite sex. The key is to seek balance. Don’t obsess, but don’t repress.

Hope this information helps. 🙂

-CS Woman

Laws of Attraction: Let’s Get Practical Part 1

BoyMGirl2

Disclaimer: I believe…

  • in the sovereignty of God.
  • that God’s timing is often not our timing.
  • that no one can provide a surefire-money-back-guarantee on how to find the love of your life.

-However

I think that some of us could use some practical advice about attraction and dating. So, if you will indulge me, here are my two cents.

1. You Are Physically Attractive

Everyone may not find you physically attractive, but there is someone who does. In fact there’s probably someone, in your current sphere of influence, who thinks that you’re pretty awesome

But…

2. Sexual Attraction Is NOT Just About Physical Beauty

Despite what reality television would have us believe, not everyone is trying to date the hottest person they can find. To be honest, sure, most people want to date someone they find attractive, but they (we) are usually looking for other qualities too.

Think about it, consciously or unconsciously, we put potential partners through a filter.

Is the object of our affection…

  • single?
  • gainfully employed?
  • emotionally stable…?

Do they…

  • share my religious beliefs?
  • share my values?
  • bathe regularly….?

So here’s the thing, if you’re finding that you are not getting the kind of attention you would like,

Consider the following:

  • Are there any areas of your life that need improvement? If so, it might be time to do a little work.

-However-

  • If after talking to a friend (who’s not afraid to be honest with you) you come to the conclusion that you’ve got your act together. It might be time to take a look at your social environments.

After all…

3. Like Attracts Like

Simply put- We enjoy being around people who are similar to us.

For example:

  1. Healthy people like healthy people.
  2. Ambitious people like ambitious people.
  3. Religious people like religious people.

And so on…

So, as I said, take a look at your social circles.

What do you have in common?

  • Are you around the same age?
  • Do you have similar drives and interests?
  • Do you have similar life goals and values, etc.?

Because if you don’t, the likelihood that there will be a mutual interest for both parties is small.

What I’m not saying is dump all the social activities where you are around people who are “different” than you (e.g. church, small group, volunteer organization, your job).

But, what I am saying is that it would be a good idea to seek out social situations where you are not the proverbial “odd man out”. Because the more you hang out with like-minded people, the more likely it is that you will have positive relational experiences.

This dynamic is so important, because…

4. Our life experiences tend to have a domino affect on our self-esteem

Most of us don’t like to be repeatedly rejected.  So the more positive experiences (romantic or otherwise) that you have with the opposite sex, the more confident you’ll feel.  In turn, that increased sense of confidence will make it more likely that you’ll be attractive to other  people.

And another thing… (To be continued in Part 2)

 

Whose line is it anyway…

I have to admit that I was a bit of a late bloomer or at the very least I felt somewhat ignored by the male population in my high school days. But after I passed the city limits of my hometown  and set foot on a fairly large university campus 8 hours away from home, something  changed. All of a sudden guys were talking to me. In fact some were even asking me out… on a date. 😉 This new-found attention was mildly shocking, nerve-wracking, and pleasant all at the same time.

It was during this phase of my life that I became acquainted with the time-honored tradition of the “pick up” line. Some of the lines were flattering, creepy, and just plain awkward, but memorable none the less.

So what’s your line?

If you’ve fallen prey to this timeless dating ritual, do you have a favorite one, a memorable story to tell, or perhaps a cautionary tale?

-Or-

Perhaps you were the giver, not the receiver.

Share your story in the comment section below.

One of the pick up lines that sticks out to me, from my college days, was uttered by a white radio television film major with glasses. We had some time to kill before we went on stage for a choral performance. After some mindless banter, he said,”You look like Lauryn Hill and if you told me that you sang like her, I would fall in love with you.”

I’m pretty sure awkward silence ensued, because I’m not particularly gifted in the art of  flirting. And even though I probably managed to say something, a love connection was not made between me and the RTVF guy. But I still remember this scenario and I still admire his guts 10+ years later. 🙂

But I met him (her) at church…

All that glitters isn’t necessarily gold

First things first-You don’t know someone, until you know them. Meaning…you don’t know someone until you’ve spent enough time with a person to see if the values they say they believe, they actually live out in their life.

For some reason the art of discernment is no longer en vogue. Perhaps in an effort to be tolerant, understanding, and non-judgmental, we have forgotten that discernment is not condemnation.

Merriam Webster  defines discernment as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure” or put another way, it’s the ability to size up the character of a person based on details that may not be so obvious.

Have you ever been in a situation where you met someone and something just didn’t feel right? But as days, months, even years pass by that person finally says or does something that confirms your original uneasiness.

When it comes to matters of the heart, if there’s a certain level of attraction towards a person, we have a tendency to disregard signs and clues that a person is not all that they appear to be. And when it comes to meeting someone at church or some other religious function, there’s even more initiative to ignore uneasy feelings or overlook red flags that pop up. After all, how bad could a person be if they’ve gone on missions trips, regularly attend a Bible Study, recite scripture, etc.?

Ever heard of the catchphrase “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven”?

All kinds of people go to church for all kinds of reasons.  Some are seekers. Some are just beginning their faith journey. Some are battling addictions and other unsavory habits, while others are “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.

It may be tempting to assume that the church is a safe place, full of emotionally healthy people. And it may be tempting to quickly chuck your brains and discernment at the door, but that’s a fast track to heartache.

What I’m not saying is be suspicious of everyone you come in contact with. But what I am saying is don’t be so quick to assume that your values and goals are the same as the person that you are getting to know. Remember what I said in the beginning, you don’t know someone until you know them.

One other thing…

Many  of us struggle with trying to discern the will of God-especially when it comes to romance.  The problem is it’s hard to know if that “special feeling” that you’re feeling toward someone is a sign from  God or something else. This is why I am not a fan of the cliché – “you just know”. You just know what?

I think it’s one thing to say that a relationship is a good choice because you aren’t fighting all the time or you became a better person because of the relationship or there is an absence of strife or uneasiness, etc. But telling someone that “you just know” can be confusing especially when you consider how intense sexual desire can be.

Meaning…

You can be extremely attracted to someone who is a poor fit for you.

In fact, it’s easy to say to oneself, how can I have such an intense longing and desire for this person if this attraction is not a sign from God?

Simple…

  1. You may be projecting onto this person attributes and qualities that they don’t really have.
  2. You may be consciously or subconsciously ignoring red flags about this person’s character.
  3. You may be more lonely than you are admitting to yourself. (Denial has a way of coming out in subtle,destructive ways.)
  4. If you are able to acknowledge this person’s flaws and short comings, you may believe that you can “fix the person” or pray them into fixture of godliness. (See Chris Cornell* below)
  5. You may be blinded by sexual desire. At some point you will find yourself in the presence of someone who is the physical embodiment of what you find extremely attractive. But…

You can be extremely attracted to someone who is a poor fit for you.

It may be tempting  to justify your desire for someone by trying to fit that person into a mold that they don’t really fit in. But if the image that’s in your head isn’t syncing up with reality, it’s better  to cut your losses and move on.

Navigating attraction isn’t always easy, but if you learn how to  practice discernment by being able to recognize the characteristics of a healthy person and a potentially great relationship, you’ll learn how to avoid unnecessary heartache.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


*Can’t Change Me-Chris Cornell

She can do anything at all/Have anything she pleases
The power to change what she thinks is wrong/So what could she want with me?

But wait just one minute here/I can see that she’s trying to read me
Suddenly I know

Shes going to change the world/But she can’t change me
No she can’t change me…

Chronicles of a single Christian Man Part 2

Guest Blogger: Chris

To read the first part of the series, go here Chronicles of a single Christian Man Part 1

And don’t forget to check out his blog –Ramblings of a Seminary Student 


Alright, here we are, post number two.  I admit, I put this one off for a while.  The questions that follow are very opinion-based and very specific to each guy you may encounter.  So, please keep my disclaimer, in post one, in mind as you read.

Disclaimer: I am not every Christian man in existence.  I do not know everything on their minds.  These are only my feelings and observations and some of them are generalizations.

Q3Besides physical beauty, what’s a turn off to guys? (What other factors would keep a guy from being attracted?)

Now, you may remember that I promised to get into the maturity topic more on question three.  Well, ladies (and gentlemen?), the rover has landed.  You wouldn’t think maturity would have much to do with attraction, but for some guys it’s a big factor.

Now, don’t think I mean that you have to walk around with a pole up your back and never let out your inner child, because a playful personality can be attractive. For example, one thing I love about my fiancée is that she can be childish sometimes, but in a good way.  She gets excited over some of the most mundane things, *jokingly* pouts when we have to go our separate ways, and makes me hand-drawn birthday cards with things like the Socially Awkward Penguin on it.  These are all qualities that attract me to her, but they aren’t excessively childish.

However, sometimes, in an effort to attract a guy, girls will go into “little girl mode.”  While this may attract some guys, like Barney Stinson or Ted Mosby, a guy who is really ready to be with someone probably won’t like that mode.

One other thing about maturity…

I noticed in the second part to question 2, the asker assumed that guys her age would be immature.  Sorry to say, but that’s a turn off.  If you go into an encounter with someone and assume they will act immature, you’re probably going to do something that will let them know that you think they’re childish  Now, if they actually act immature, feel free to kick them to the curb and let them know how childish they are acting!  Maybe that’ll help them grow up.  However, treating someone as if you’re above them is a sure-fire way to turn them off.

Other than maturity, there are a slew of attraction factors that are going to vary from guy to guy.

Here is a brief list:

  • Passion for a particular ministry
  • Commitment to Christ
  • Knowledge about finances and the ability to manage it
  • Hobbies that you share and even what you do for a living

Now you can’t change (nor should you) all of these for a guy, but they’re factors nonetheless.

My advice?  Just be yourself.  Don’t try to change anything about who you are deep down.  But that doesn’t mean don’t improve. If you don’t know much about finances, take a class and learn, figure out what ministry gets you excited, keep exploring new hobbies, and then keep an eye out for someone who shares these things with you.

Q4. What’s it like being a single Christian guy? Women have unique frustrations like not being pursued. What are some of the frustrations of the single male?

Being a single Christian guy is a terrifying thing.  No kidding.  There is this intense pressure on us to pursue women and do it perfectly.  For example, on my first date with my fiancée, we got coffee and went to a local park to just walk and talk.  As we were walking, I spilled coffee on myself (because I apparently can’t do anything and walk at the same time).  I was pretty sure my life was about to end.  Now, it wasn’t down my whole shirt or anything, just a little stain, but it completely threw me off for a good two minutes.  The thoughts going through my head were, “Oh no!  She’s going to think I’m a slob.  I’ve ruined my chances before we’ve hung out for more than 30 minutes!”  To her credit, she soothed my fears and waved it off as nothing.

Guys have this fear that everything has to be perfect, or the woman he’s pursuing will turn him away.  So, help a brother out, let any guy you’re seeing know that everything doesn’t have to be perfect.  It may take a few times (I’m still working on it), but eventually it relieves a lot of that pressure.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “I wish I had a guy pursuing me that I could tell not to be perfect!”  Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you.  As I said in the first post, men can’t read minds.  If you’re interested in a guy, LET HIM KNOW.  This is not the same as pursuing him, let him do that.  But, part of being terrified means that guys don’t want to do something wrong or think a woman is interested in him, but she isn’t.  By letting him know you’re interested it breaks that ice and gives him the chance to pursue you without worrying about messing up a friendship.  It could be as simple as, “I think we get along really well and I’d like to hang out and get to know you better.”  Boom, man alerted.

Q5. Aside from physical attraction, why would a guy choose to be friends with a girl, but not ask her out?

Ah, my good old buddy, the Friend Zone.  Honestly, this question frightened me the most.  It’s drawing a huge conclusion on something that is likely different for each guy out there.  However, there seems to be a different perception by each gender on this topic.  Take a look at this video.

Guys in general aren’t going to happy in the Friend Zone.  As one guy put it, “…we can be silent regarding those feelings, but we’re going to have them.”  Now, that’s not to say some guys can’t just be friends.  I do have female friends where it is completely platonic, but it wasn’t always that way.  In fact, I can pretty safely say that I had feelings for a large number of my female friends at one point or another.

So, with that knowledge, why would a guy not ask a girl out that he’s interested in?  If my glaring neon signs on the other questions weren’t enough, I’ll say it again.  Maybe he just doesn’t know you’re interested.  But also, he could just be shy or have been hurt in the past by taking that first step.  It’s still the same answer though, if you’re interested, let him know.  Maybe he has feelings for someone else right now and he’s trying to see how that goes.  Or maybe he had feelings for you at one point, but they’ve faded and he decided just being friends would be better.  Since I think it’s healthy to have both male and female friends, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing.

Conclusion

Now that I have successfully tiptoed my way through the mine field that were your questions (just kidding, they weren’t that bad) and explored the scary world of a man’s mind, I hope to leave you with some practical advice on top of what I’ve already talked about.  This may seem cliché, but it’s true nonetheless.  If God has someone out there for you (because some are called to singleness), He is bringing them to you in His timing.  I’ve learned through my life that His timing is better than mine.

Maybe you’re like Lindsey (another guest poster) and your future husband is traveling his own journey to being ready.  Maybe you’re not ready yet, maybe there’s something in you that needs to change before God can bring them into your life.  I know that if I had met my girlfriend just a year before I did, we probably wouldn’t have dated.  And if we did, it may not have lasted, because I just wasn’t in a place to have a healthy relationship (even though I thought I was).

Do some self-examining. Pray for your future spouse, and ask God to change what needs to be changed so that they are ready.  Find places to invest yourself and pour out into others instead of just sitting around and waiting for someone to “step up.”  Then watch as God works.

Neither my girlfriend nor I imagined we would be in a relationship at any time this year.  She was graduating from college and preparing to possibly move wherever there was a job.  I was starting seminary and my candidacy process to become a United Methodist pastor.  And it was precisely then, when we weren’t looking, that He made His move.  Not to say God won’t bring you someone if you’re looking, but it sure seems to come a lot faster when we stop staring at our watch wondering “When?”  So, maybe you need to stop looking and focus on living the life He has for you.  The way it should happen is, as two people pursue Christ and God’s will for their lives, they meet under His wing and grow together in Him.

“Sex Is Sexist”

“American society… has torn down [the] hedge of protection [of cultural norms]. In doing so, we have left our adolescents and young women naked, uncovered, and unprotected.”[1]

The dating landscape has changed. Back in my parent’s day, there were subtle (and not so subtle) cultural expectations  for how a man and a woman were supposed to relate to one another in regards to romance, dating, and sex.  But today, the argument can be made, that those expectations are all but non-existent.

Some would say that this freedom from cultural “rules” has liberated us from our hang-ups and has created an equal playing ground for the sexes.  However, others, such as the authors from Girls Uncovered, would disagree.

Girls Uncovered: New Research on What America’s Sexual Culture Does to Young Women by M.D. Joe S. McIlhaney Jr MD ,  M.D. Freda McKissi Bush MD and Stan Guthrie

This is a book written by doctors (obstetricians/gynecologists) who have treated numerous women during their active years of medical practice. From their first-hand accounts they have seen how “sex is sexist”.[2]  Meaning, oftentimes it’s the women who bear the consequences of premarital/extramarital sexual activity via unplanned pregnancy, sexual transmitted infections (STIs), and emotional fall-out.

I realize that when it comes to negative statistics about non-marital sexual activity, there are more than a few skeptics.  But I found this book to be eye opening. The authors do a good job of laying a case for why casual sex and non-committed relationships may have farther reaching consequences than many people (certainly youth) realize.

In a day and age, where we have the freedom to do whatever we want (especially in the bedroom), we are not free from the consequences1 Corinthians 10:23.

All in all, this book is a reminder to me that there is great value in choosing to submit one’s sexuality to the authority of Christ. In my opinion, this book is a good read.


[1] McIlhaney Jr., Joe S., Freda McKissic Bush, and Stan Guthrie, Girls Uncovered: new research on what America’s sexual culture does to young women (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2011),19.

[2] McIlhaney Jr., Joe S., Freda McKissic Bush, and Stan Guthrie, Girls Uncovered: new research on what America’s sexual culture does to young women (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2011), 49.

Image credit: Girls Uncovered

Chronicles of a single Christian Man Part 1

Guest Blogger: Chris

Since starting this blog, I’ve been able to talk to a number of people about their experiences with dating and marriage. Many of the people I’ve talked to have been women, but I thought it’d be really interesting to get a guy’s point of view about relationships.  So I approached my friend Chris about doing a guest post. He readily agreed. Then I quickly polled some of my friends to come up with some questions for him to answer.

So… let’s begin.

But don’t forget to check out his blog –Ramblings of a Seminary Student 


When I first got the questions on the minds of CS Woman’s curious readers, I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed.  I mean, who am I to answer for Christian men everywhere on such deeply personal topics?  Then I realized, I could just put a disclaimer up here and be safe!

Disclaimer: I am not every Christian man in existence.  I do not know everything on their minds.  These are only my feelings and observations and some of them are generalizations.

Ah!  Now that that’s out of the way, let me introduce myself.

Meet Chris

I was born in Austin, TX. But because my dad used to work for a large candy company (think “melts in your mouth, not in your hand”), I ended up moving around a lot.  I lived in a few cities in TX-Buda & Waco TX; Recife, Brazil; Brea, CA; Dublin, OH; and Chicago, IL.

I grew up “holiday catholic,” as I like to describe it. Basically, we went to church on Christmas and Easter. However, when I lived in Ohio, we attended more frequently because the church was only 2 blocks away from our house.  That’s where my interest in Christianity began.

Through high school I tried to impress a few girls with my “Christian-ness,” and God completely used it to draw me to Him.  In fact during my senior year of high school, I was saved through a close friend.  After a few years of volunteering in Youth Ministry, I realized it was my calling.  And that brings us to today, where I am a Youth Director for a medium-sized United Methodist Church and in Seminary studying to eventually become a Methodist Pastor.

All that to say, I didn’t grow up Christian and didn’t have Biblical values placed into me from a young age.  So once I became a Christian, I began voraciously reading everything I could on Christian dating/courting (whatever the popular term is now). In all, there was some good advice, but there was some advice that leads to problems I’m seeing in the questions that were sent my way.

For a while, I swung way too far towards the courtship model and then swung way too far towards the secular dating one. Now, I like to think that I’ve found a good resting place between “don’t touch a woman unless you’re going to marry her” versus “your body is a wonderland I want to explore”.

So here we go, marching into the dangerous land that is a man’s mind…

The Questions

Q1Why are there so many Christian women over 30? What’s happening to men? I’ve heard that it has been prophesied that God is raising up Christian women to do his work because men aren’t stepping up. Why are men not stepping up? Are men happy being single past 30? Why are they not maturing as Christians or as real men?

Whew!  Loaded question from the start.  Honestly, I think there are so many single Christian women over 30 precisely because there are so many single Christian men over 30.  Yes, I realize that was implied, but let me explain before the pitchforks come out.

I’m not sure about the whole “Christian men aren’t doing God’s work” concept.  I think it may be more that as a whole, it is more culturally acceptable for women to be doing this work than ever before in history.  This means God can more easily work through women than in the past.  Not to say He hasn’t done it before, it’s just easier now.  There’s plenty of His work to go around, trust me.

Now, as a Christian man who is not over 30, this is a subject I have to draw from other men.  I have a friend (who shall remain nameless to protect his identity) who turns 31 this year.  He has gone through cycles where he desperately wants to get married and then he goes through cycles where he is glad that he isn’t.  He even had a relationship recently where he could have proposed and been married by now, but it wasn’t right. He had to do the Godly thing and back out.

In this case, God just hasn’t put him and his bride together yet.  I know a previous guest poster touched on that. (Chronicles of a Newlywed Part 1 & Part 2)  So, sometimes, it’s just a timing thing.

However, sometimes there’s some spiritual and/or emotional maturing that needs to take place first.  In this case, part of the trouble is the culture that young men were raised in.  There’s a phenomenon going on right now where young men simply aren’t growing up, a la Ryan Lochte (Warning: Crude Language).

Society has created this “extended teenager syndrome” amongst young men where it is perfectly acceptable to sit around all day playing video games in your underwear eating two-day old pizza. Plus, as kids many of us were handed things and now we expect the same as adults.  Even employers have even commented on this.  Some have said that they don’t want to hire anyone from our generation because we feel entitled.

Seeing as young Christian men are still young men, they are not exempt from this epidemic.  Believe it or not, I was even captive to it for a while.  I still struggle with relapsing into “MommasBoyitis”.  So, how does that affect relationships?  Well, relationships take work and aren’t generally handed to us.  This leads men to be terrified even by the concept of asking a woman out.  It seems like a daunting task to pursue a woman, especially when there’s a risk of rejection.

And that leads us to our second question…

Q2. Men appear to be terrified to date Christian women. Are they intimidated by us, or are they not on the same maturity level? (Maybe because I’m 20, the guys in my age group are immature solely because of their age). In addition, what does he think is the cause of the gender imbalance in the church? There always seems to be more women than men.

Well, I can tell you that for a while, I was terrified to date a Christian woman.  After reading all the books out there that I could find, I had this perception that unless God literally dropped her in front of me wearing her Everlast chastity belt and the key appeared in my hand, it wasn’t meant to be.

I felt intimidated by the prospect of possibly hurting a child of God.  I didn’t want to offend Him by doing anything wrong. But what that really meant was… doing nothing was the best solution!  Right?!

Well, I now know that I had the wrong perception, but it’s the one I got from all that literature out there.  As I said in my introduction section, the books have a lot of great things to offer, but a good chunk of it may not apply to everyone. But it’s presented as if everyone should follow their model.

I also didn’t want to be “that guy”.  You know, the one who dates all the women in his church and pits them against each other.  I specifically avoided dating within my church. Because I didn’t want to be seen as a “player” if it didn’t work out with one woman and I started seeing another one.

So what can you do about it?  Let men know you’re interested!  I’ll get into this more with our fourth question, but men can’t read minds.  He may be very interested in you, but be terrified that you aren’t. So, he does nothing.

If not for two friends who pushed me, I wouldn’t be with the wonderful woman of God I am with now.  One of them literally almost hit the “send” button on a message that my other friend helped me write!

As far as maturity level, that’s a pretty established scientific fact.  Women just mature faster than men, especially emotionally.  Couple that with the culture I talked about before, we have the disparity present now.  I know that my 22-year-old girlfriend is just as mature, if not more so, than I am in many areas of life. (I’m 25.) That being said, the reverse is also true.  But we’ll get into that on question three.

Gender imbalance is a constant problem in the church.  I’ve been taught that some of it traces back to how worship was performed in Monasteries (for men) and Convents (for women).  When the “modern” form of worship was brought into being (and I use modern loosely as it’s now thought of as “traditional”), it was essentially a modified version of what was done in the Convents. So, women naturally connect with it more than men.

That’s why, on any given Sunday morning, a man is more likely to think of church as “boring” than a woman.  This isn’t to say that men can’t connect, as they certainly do, it’s just more work for them (and as we established before, “work” is a four letter word to men in our generation).  I’m not trying to give men a copout or anything, but it’s true.  I searched for a direct reference to this, but couldn’t find it. But regardless of how the current style of worship came to be, the style of worships matters (just look at age ranges in your typical “traditional” church versus “contemporary” church) and it doesn’t always connect with men very well.

However, it’s not just the style of worship, especially with the more contemporary styles out there now, men simply tend to bond more over sports and games than potlucks and bible studies (though we love the free food).  Often, women view church as a social place, as well as a place of worship.  Meanwhile, men can’t wait to get back to their football game with their buddies.

Think about it, do you know of any men who’ve expressed an intense desire to join a book club instead of watching the latest sports event (and if they did, was a woman involved)?  It’s partly hardwired into us and it’s a problem the church needs to address (and is doing better at).

So yes, there are more women than men in the church. And yes, the men that are there may be as meek as a church mouse.  I think the best way we can overcome gender imbalance in the church and dating scene is to break free from misconceptions and bad ideas.  We also need to find ways to engage men and let women be more vocal about what they want instead of waiting for the man to “step up”.

*Stayed tuned for questions 3 & 4 in the Chronicles of a single Christian Man Part 2

Debunking The Myth of Signs & Wonders

If you ask enough married people to tell you their story of how they met “the one”, sooner or later you will come across the old adage “you just know”.

My question is did you “just know” or is “hindsight 20/20”?

I have a sneaking suspicion that if more people were honest, it’d be the latter.  How many married people, before they met their intended, thought they would marry a previous boyfriend/girlfriend/crush? Is it possible that with the passing of time it became obvious as to why a former flame was not destined to be “the one”?

Are people doing singles a disservice by encouraging us to rely on a funny feeling before we take a walk down the aisle (or even ask someone on a date/accept a date)?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that God isn’t big enough, mysterious enough,  or whatever enough to provide a sign. But, perhaps by giving vague directives, singles are being led off course.

Perhaps it’s better to give practical advice and guidelines instead of encouraging the notions of “let your heart be your guide”.  (Jeremiah 17:9)

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Zac Efron* And The Rise Of The Cougar

Been There Done That: Dating A Younger Man

Verdict: Is age nothing but a number? It depends.

Even though I’ve essentially watched all of the High School Musical movies and I do enjoy the occasional Justin Bieber/Selena Gomez tune, I am not in denial about my age.

Before I turned 30, most of the men that I took interest in and the ones who seemed interested in me, tended to be older.  However, at times, the script has flipped.

Some of it makes sense, the older you get, the more likely it is that your peers are already married. So the people who share the same stage of life tend to be younger.

The Good:

  1. Being open to a younger man may give you more dating options.  Besides, it’s not completely fair to shut someone down just because of their age.
  2. You might meet a really good guy.

Although things did not work out with me and my younger guy, it was a pretty positive dating experience.

The Bad:

  1. Depending on how big the age gap is and where you are in life, you may be navigating two different life stages and possibly two different levels of maturity. Unfortunately, those differences can and may drive the two of you apart.
  2. He may still live at home.

If your boyfriend still lives at home, it can be hard to judge his character and/or life management skills. After all, how do you know if he can successfully take care of a future family, if he’s not currently managing his own household?

Disclaimer-There are valid reasons for why a man may be living at home. (e.g. taking care of a sick parent, saving money while trying to pay off student loans, temporarily unemployed, etc.) However, for some men, it’s a sign of arrested development.

So what say you?  Have you done it? If not, why not?

* Why Mr. Efron in the title? His post Musical work seems to consistently pair him with leading ladies who are some years his senior. (e.g. Me and Orson Welles, Lucky One, etc.)