Love your wives, obey your husbands

Wives and Husbands

Ephesians 5:21-33

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her 26to sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.

28In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29Indeed, no one ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. 30For we are members of His body.

31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This mystery is profound, but I am speaking about Christ and the church. 33Nevertheless, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5 gives us the great, and often controversial, admonition concerning marriage.   Husbands love your wives, wives obey your husbands.

Sometimes the church has used this to encourage men to love their wives, on the premise that this is what they really want/need.  That women want to be worshiped and adored.  The feminist undercurrent has minimized the women obeying their husbands as being patriarchal.   The idea being that the husbands need their ego stroked or something.

But what if our thinking is wrong?  What if these encouragements are actually to benefit the giver and not the recipient?

First, let’s look at the husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church.   While throughout the Bible God has loved his people, many, many times scripture refers to Israel as a harlot. In fact, this is pretty much the premise of the book of Hosea.  A guy marries a prostitute and spends the whole book chasing her around because he loves her.

Women, in general, don’t really want to be loved.  Every woman out there has some creepy dude that idolizes her, adores her, would follow her around like a puppy.  All but the most insecure women reject these kinds of men.

Men want to love.  Men get fixated on one particular thing and will love it for their whole life.   You see this everywhere in culture.  Sports teams, cars, heck even George Clooney chasing down his beloved Dapper Dan in O Brother Where Art Thou.

Guys will be loyal to their sports team through thick and thin, while most women couldn’t care less if the Giants or the Jets are playing.  Guys will drive a Chevy or Ford their whole lives, even if it’s unreliable and they have to spend every weekend working on it.  Women just care if the car starts.  There’s a reason no one has adapted Moby Dick with a woman as Captain Ahab, most women would think chasing a white whale was completely dumb.

So maybe, when Paul says to love your wives like Christ loved the church, he means to love her in spite of the fact that she isn’t going to love you back the same way.  When she’s crazy, or interested in someone else you have to be stalwart and consistent.

In fact, Paul likens the love a man should have for a woman to the love a man has for his own body.  To see what he means by this, let’s look at this passage from Corinthians:

Run Your Race to Win

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. 26Therefore I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight like I am beating the air. 27No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 

You don’t nourish your body with whatever it wants, feed it fatty foods, take drugs, let it sleep til noon and be lazy on the couch.  Not if you love it.  People that really love and cherish their own bodies put their time in at the gym, eat clean, don’t drink excessively or do meth.

Likewise, husbands should challenge their wives, encourage them, not cater to their every whim.

Conversely, women are notorious for wanting powerful men.   The old adage that women love bad boys is so true.  Have a motorcycle and tattoos and a cavalier attitude, you are a chick magnet.  The ladies love it.

This correlates with what every modern site about dating and attracting women will tell you.  Be powerful, make yourself better, don’t chase, tell women what to do.

But what is most men’s natural state?  Many, many men just cave to a woman’s every whim.  This even comes down to all the memes complaining about women deciding where they want to eat.

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Most husbands can’t even decide where to have dinner.  Women hate this.  They want a decisive, in charge man.  Hence Paul’s advice to obey and submit to your husbands.  Is this because men want to be in charge?  No.  It’s because women want a decisive powerful man in their life, so they need to empower this guy.   Let him be in charge, encourage him to be in charge.

The most powerful, independent, strong women I’ve ever met will absolutely cave to a guy that asserts an opinion.  They love it.  Many women I know are opinionated and strong-willed with everyone they meet, except their husband.  A smart woman will listen to Paul and encourage her husband to be that guy because it’s what SHE needs.

Again, if we look at scripture, Christ doesn’t love the church by putting her on a pedestal and catering to her every whim.  No, Christ tells his church she has to give up everything and follow him.

The Rich Young Ruler

Mark 10:17-27

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words a]”>[a]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

Imagine how different your dating life would be guys if you had this attitude.  If you went and told the woman of your dreams she had to give up everything for you.

Women Testing

Women test men to validate their love.   This is commonly referred to as a “shit test”.

‘Shit Tests, in my definition, are her way of finding out whether or not you’re a remarkable Man.

I’m not talking about her finding out if you’re potentially a pro football player here; I’m just talking about a guy who knows what he wants and is willing to go after it.

Shit Tests: Why You Fail Her Shit Tests.

Vulgarities aside, this is a modern way to express a principle as old as the Bible.  The Bible is full of places where people tested God. What did God do? He had zero tolerance for it, which is exactly what guys should do. Don’t cave into a woman’s tests, don’t respond negatively, or at all if you can avoid it – just continue to love her. God is sovereign and cares little about our whining and temper tantrums, He’s still in charge and he knows it. Men should live their lives this way.

One caveat here that I will add, just in case someone reading this is a moron. I am NOT promoting abuse, or just being a jerk all the time in general. God a caring God, he loves us.

Luke 11:9-11

9Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Be good to the women in your life, just don’t be a doormat.   And women, submit to the men in your life, encourage them to lead a little bit.

 

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Women, be more aggressive in dating

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If there is one constant when it comes to dating and women, it’s that men are mystified.  If you are a woman and don’t know why the guy you like doesn’t ask you out, it’s probably because he has no idea if your flirting is really flirting, if you are just being nice, or what.

Every woman should watch this video (it gets a little racy at the end, so don’t be offended), because this is exactly what every man is thinking.

The problem isn’t so much with the men, it’s with the women.   Women will do things all the time that are flirty, either without meaning to, or just so they can get some attention.    This means when a woman is really interested, guys are confused.  In fact, often times (and guys do this too), women will only flirt with guys they AREN’T interested in.  When they are around the guy they are interested in they will ignore him.

This situation is rooted in our modern world, and trying to adjust thousands of years of human behaviour.  From the dawn of history until fairly recently, men and women didn’t interact like they do now.   Men and women didn’t really have casual relationships.  Today, in our modern society, women are free to interact with anyone they want to, and this complicates things.   Watch an old movie or read an old romantic novels.  Women used to do things like drop handkerchiefs to attract a guy’s attention.  Subtlety totally worked.  Now we are in a world where men and women interact all the time, some of them flirt, and it makes it really hard to evaluate the subtlety.

So, bottom line ladies.  If you are interested in a guy, be aggressive.  Don’t quit.   And learn how to establish boundaries when you aren’t.  If you are going to be flirty, make sure that flirting doesn’t go too far because that gets people hurt.

What is a Date?

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One of the trickiest things to navigate in the modern pursuit of romance is defining a “date”.   Many of us have been there, you are out with a woman, and she comments something like “Just to be clear, this isn’t a date”.

I’m here to tell you this is nonsense.  If a man and woman are alone together, it’s a date.  Plain and simple.   You see this all the time in our modern world.  Every married couple I know has a “date night”.  What does it mean?  It means that they are going out without their children.

The problem is, that the term “date” has come to mean a serious thing.   50 years ago people dated.   They went to the movies, they went to dances, they went out for dinner, they could do it with different people on a regular basis and it wasn’t a big deal.   Somewhere along the line, the idea of being on a date became more than just sharing a meal, it became synonymous with a serious relationship.   So what did society do?  It stopped calling dates “dates” and instead referred to it as “hanging out”.

If you are together someone is interested

This comes back to the concept of the Friend Zone.  The idea of the Friend Zone is that a man spends time with a woman, but she only likes him as a friend.    The Friend Zone is largely a myth.   If two people are out together there is some level of attraction on both sides.   Now, it may not be enough to evolve into a romantic relationship, but a woman will not spend time alone with a guy who she isn’t somewhat attracted to.  This is why it’s almost impossible to spend alone time with a woman who is in a relationship.   When is the last time you spent an evening out alone with a married person who wasn’t your spouse.  It just doesn’t happen, and if it does, even under the guise of “just friends”, it typically causes complications.  All too often those “just friends” activities turn romantic.

If a woman is alone with a man, it means she trusts him, and for a woman trust is fundamental to romance.   Men don’t always recognize this, but women are vulnerable.  The average man is bigger and stronger than all but the most athletic of women, so a woman putting herself in a situation where a man can use his size and strength against her is a very vulnerable position.   If she doesn’t trust you, and like you, she will not be alone with you.

How to behave on a date

The best thing to do, as a man, is to treat every time alone with a woman as a date, and no, that doesn’t mean you should try to kiss every woman at the end of the night.   If you are out with a woman, be charming, funny, talk to her, get to know her.  Be polite, open the door for her, stand when she comes to the table, walk her to her car, etc…   but don’t go over the top, don’t be creepy.   Here are a few things that are problematic.

  1. Opening the car door for her  Opening a car door is a weird thing.  It’s a minor inconvenience, I mean really, who can’t open their own car door.  Thing is, if you do it, it has to be very intentional.   Back in the day before automatic door locks it kind of made more sense.  You could use the key to unlock her door first.  Now you just hit a button, so if you are going around the car and opening her door it’s obvious what you are doing.  Kind of goes beyond politeness.
  2. Making plans/Ordering for her Women like decisive men.  I think this is why there is a perpetual “where do you want to eat”  “where do you want to go” battle with most couples.    It’s good to be decisive, make the plans, women will typically go along with your ideas in the dating phase, but don’t be a jerk about it.  Don’t just order for her or try to boss her around, unless you can do it without being creepy.  There’s a fine line to walk there.
  3. Paying This is a big one.  Buying someone dinner is a big deal.  I’ve noticed this even out with my guy friends.  If someone picks up the tab it really changes the dynamic of the interaction.   If you try to pay for a woman and she’s not interested, or not interested enough to move forward with the relationship, it gets really awkward.  The initial “dating” or “hanging out” really should be about getting to know each other, if it inject awkwardness it’s a problem.  Also paying can be a strong signal to a woman that’s interested that this is moving forward.   Not paying is a good way to set a boundary and indicate that the man doesn’t want to be more the friends, at least not yet.
  4. Kissing  Getting physical, kissing, holding hands, or just touching is a strong signal that there is more going on.   If you kiss her it’s definitely going to the next level and becomes a “real date”.   Don’t be touchy if you don’t want to move forward.

Every man should treat every woman like they are on a date, even if it’s your Mom or sister, or daughter, or niece, or even your wife.   Be polite, take charge, (no, don’t kiss your Mom, at least not like that).  It’s good practice, and when you are in a romantic relationship those types of things will just come naturally.

What to be careful of when dating

Two points I would like to make here, both vitally important.  First, don’t be afraid to date.   Personally I have a policy, I will go out with anyone once.   You don’t really know someone until you’ve been alone with them.  Maybe you will have great chemistry, maybe they are super fun with the pressure of having their friends around is gone.   I would encourage everyone to spend time with others unless you are truly uncomfortable around them.  Dating is about getting to know people.

Second, don’t date once you KNOW you aren’t interested.   I’m a big believer that guys and girls can’t just be friends.  One of the parties ALWAYS wants more.   Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but we all want something out of a relationship.  Maybe she just likes the free meals, maybe he just likes the attention of a pretty girl, but you don’t make time for people in your life if you don’t have an interest.  I’ve seen situations where women are totally head over heels with a guy and he spends time with her.   That’s just wrong, and is going to lead to problems.

If you do go out with someone you have no interest in, use it as an opportunity to set boundaries.  If you like and care about the person, but don’t want to be romantic, it’s much less painful for everyone to go out with them and treat the situation as completely plantonic, than it is to freak out and be offended because they even asked.  Life is about relationships.  Flat out rejecting someone is more about fear, creating distance and control, than it is about love and kindness and respect.   If you are struggling with this I would recommend Danny Silk’s excellent book Keeping Your Love On.   It has great ideas for building relationships, communication and setting boundaries.

How Fast Should We Move In a Relationship

DCIM101GOPROG0011716.JPGMost non-church dating advice says that the best way to get a date is to be aggressive.  Attraction has to be immediate and if a man doesn’t move immediately his opportunity is lost.    In fact many sites will go so far as to say that the only way to have success is to have sex as quickly as possible.

Those of us in the church don’t believe this.   Our society, both in and out of the Christian community, is much less conservative on sex than it used to be.  30 years ago couples living together couldn’t darken the door of a church, not it’s mostly just ignored.   But fundamentally, I think we can all agree, that casual sex is definitely not OK.

So the question I pose today is, what should a Christian dating relationship look like.  Sure, there are times when that initial attraction is there, but many Christian women, specifically Christian women that are 30+ are hesitant to jump into a dating relationship immediately upon meeting someone.    If a man joins a church or church related group and immediately asks a woman out, he will probably be seen as a predator or outcast.

But, if you don’t immediately go there, you get put in what is commonly called the “friend zone”

Here is a great article about the Friend Zone and it’s impact on modern society.

Now what I have noticed personally over the last couple years in my social interactions with church singles is that slower interactions seem to work.  One of my failures may have been due to moving too slow, but the others have primarily been due to moving too fast.

Also, this may be due to the demographic.  Most of the women I have interacted with have been in their 30s.  Either never been married or divorced, often ugly divorces.  The church is a place of healing and tends to attract broken people.  It takes time to build trust and move to a place where they are ready to have a relationship.

So, if there are any women out there that stumble across this, I would love to get some ideas of how fast things should move.  Would you be more likely to date a new guy, or want to build a relationship over time with someone you can trust?   And please, be honest, sure building a friendship sounds like a grand idea, but seems like it rarely works.

Being Selective With Your Friends

Church singles groups, when they do have them, typically seem to be filled with some non-desirable people.   I’m not sure why this is, I guess it stems from a couple things.

First off, if you are over 30 and single, there is probably something just inherently wrong with you.  Either your divorced, which may or may not be your fault, or you are weird, ugly, fat, poor, smelly, whatever.   Creepers

Second, it seems like in most larger social groups, the datable people pair off fairly quickly, maybe within a year or two, or leave since there are no prospects in the group.   So what remains are those that can’t find anything else.

Ultimately it ends up being a group of weird, creepy people, which then can’t attract new interesting people. This analysis isn’t scientific, just something seen by observation.

The bigger question is, as a Christian, what kind of social group should you put yourself in.   Should you surround yourself with just the cool kids, or should you reach out to those less fortunate?   Christ preached extensively on loving your fellow man, ministering to the “least of these” and yet he surrounded himself with a hand picked group of his best buddies.

The Bible talks often of choosing your company wisely.

Proverbs 13:20
He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

So, what does a singles group look like?  What should it’s goal be?  Does it make sense to try and minister to single people?  Can a group exist that doesn’t devolve down to social misfits?  Is there a better way to get Christian people married so they fit into a group?

Part of the problem is most other ministries in the Church are segregated by sex.  This kinda makes sense.   Mingling men and women does tend to increase the chances for hanky panky and when most of your people are married, this gets really ugly fast, but makes it tough for singles to engage with other singles.

The problem and the social dynamics are interesting.  Can an environment be created that moves people through from being single to being married, while continually bringing in new people and keeping things interesting, with minimal drama?

I would love to hear your comments and ideas.

Girls, Yes You Are a Distraction

sexy legsSeems like everyday you see an article like this one:

INVITATION FOR PRINCIPAL TO TAKE MY DAUGHTER SHOPPING

A young girl, or the parent of a young girl are complaining about school dress codes that limit what they can wear.   They complain that boys aren’t subject to the same rules, and complain that fashionable clothes and line up to the dress code are hard to find and most of all accuse the male, patriarchal system of body shaming.

Oh, and they also accuse the boys of being out of control.

 

Girls Distract Boys

I had written a longer thing, but it felt like mansplaining, even to me, so I’ll just keep this short.

Yes, Boys like to look at Girls.  I’m not sure most women can understand how huge of a thing that is for guys, but pure and simple it is not something that can be controlled outside of some scary medical treatment to suppress hormones.

Many men, school administrators, whatever, don’t want to shame anyone or make them feel bad, but at the end of the day long legs, tight yoga pants and bare shoulders are going to distract boys.  This is a good thing in general,  keeps new human babies being born, but not so great when you are trying to learn maths.

Don’t hate, just love and try to help your middle school teachers out by trying to abide by the dress code.   They have enough trouble trying to keep teenage boys focused even when there aren’t pretty girls around.

 

Millenials leaving the Church

loneliness-2308923_640Someone on my Facebook feed shared this article recently entitled WHY 99 OUT OF 10 MILLENNIALS LEAVE THE CHURCH?

While there are numerous articles trying to explain the mass exodus of the Millennials from the church, this one points at sex.

“Excuse my boldness, but I think the leading factor in why millennials are leaving the church is sexual sin.”

“The norm for youth groups across the country is to have all of their upperclassmen actively engaged in sex, or pornography, or both. It is rare, youth ministers tell me, to find a male high school student that has not had sex or been exposed to pornography. And it is nearly as rare to find a female upperclassmen that is still a virgin or abstaining from “not all the way” sexual activity. The message youth ministers want parents to hear is that they need to assume that their sons and daughters are playing with sex because they all are. In a culture that praises the self and is drowning in sexual sin, it is easy to see why millennials have lost the wonder of God and grown tired of His church.”

The author  hits the nail on the head, but doesn’t have any solutions.  We should love them, embrace them and help them not sin?

“Let us gently invade their lives. They are a passionate army ready to change the world. They are not apathetic as many were in the previous generation.”

What does that even mean?

Interfaith Marriages on the Rise

According to this research on marriage trends, 41% of Protestants are marrying outside of their faith, while Hindus, Muslims and Mormans largely marry within their faith.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a good way to ensure the long term viability of a community is to encourage it’s members to marry and have families.    The Church is actively NOT doing this.

In fact, singles are largely ignored in the Church.  Yes, there are youth programs, that routinely teach boys and girls to avoid each other.  Then there are college aged programs that age out by the late 20s.  At that point the Church seems to think everyone should be happily married, while at no point have the done anything more than keep everyone separated.

Singleness has Increased

Singleness in general is also increasing.

“There is little debate that American adults are far less likely to be married than they were two generations ago. In 1950, married couples represented 78 percent of households in the United States. In 2011, the US Census Bureau reported, that percentage had dropped to 48 percent. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 124.6 million Americans 16 years and older were single, or 50.2 percent of the population, compared with 37.4 percent of the population in 1976. ”

So ultimately the Church needs to reach out to single people and figure out how to either get people married or exist in a culture where single people meet their sexual needs outside of marriage.

Dating Right

We live in a world without rules… no, that’s not quite true.  We live in a world without set rules.  Rules are arbitrary, change with a whim, and almost impossible to understand in our society.  This is true in nearly every circumstance,  business, taxes, real estate, but worst of all love.

Modern America is a world full of promiscuity, divorce, where traditional values are not appreciated.   Unfortunately, the one place where those of a Christian Faith should be able to go to connect and find a mate, the modern church, has become the most difficult place to navigate when it comes to romance.

Why are church girls hard to date?

The modern evangelical church has a strong bias against any kind of dating, romance, whatever.  This seems to have come in response to the Sexual Revolution that started in the 1960s.

While the rest of the world got much more casual about sex, the Church became increasingly negative about any activity that might lead to sex.   This cumulated in the 90s with the purity movement and works like I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

 

I Kissed Dating Goodbye wasn’t just a book people read; it was a book they obeyed. It prompted some people to marry the first person they dated, even if they were unhappy together; to view the opposite sex with fear and suspicion; or to be afraid of starting any relationships at all. Others have struggled with viewing sexual abuse as evidence they were tainted. As one recent response on Harris’ site put it, “I feel the only man I deserve is one who is broken like me.”
Christian BrideEven though much of this thought is now rejected, people in the church in their 30s and 40s grew up with this.   If they are single, they are still dealing with this thought process, if they are leading children’s groups, they are still sharing some of these deeply ingrained ideas.

Things like courting, purity rings, waiting on God are all very romantic and beautiful, but do they work?   Are they effective?

On top of these ideas, there is also a huge amount of pressure on anyone trying to date in a church community.  You have coffee with a woman and suddenly there are wedding planners chasing you down.

These things are 100% contrary to what goes on outside of the church walls.  Online dating has made it easy to date multiple people, have lots of sex and never commit.   Most people don’t even “date”  they just hang out and hook up.

What should the modern Christian man do?

So what should the modern Christian man do?  Should we attempt to date church girls?  Should we go online?   What would God want us to do?

That is the point of this site.  Those are the questions that need answers.   We need to find a balance between the no-dating position of the church and the PUA and Dating Gurus.   There has to be a better way to find someone.

Any comments, feedback or ideas are appreciated!