Gender Tendency, The Harlequin Effect

The unfolding American drama manifests in the slow erosion of the nuclear family; there are few voices willing to tackle the issues head on. We only speak our own truths to others who share them, and even then only after a quick look around, a wink, and a lowering of our voices. We got circular in our thinking. We got circular in our fears.


Once upon a time men feared beasts, other men, armies, guns, bad guys, and the like. Women harbored the same fears. Mostly both genders could address their fears the same way. Men got tough. Little space remained for men who didn’t get tough, or at least join a collective that together was a tough bunch. It was defense and sustenance. Women were safer when the collective grunt went about watching for harmful things, and bringing other things bountiful.


Fast-forward… really fast, because there would be books on books to chronicle the transition in any detail. Ignore causation, as there is huge disparity of opinion. Did men get lazy? Did men seek woman’s role? Did women demand that men negotiate with tears on their face instead of tears in their uniforms? Who cares?


Well the Christian church is supposed to care. The church has the Bible and the Bible has something to say about everything. There are things unessential in uniformity like worship formats and whether to use a crushed velvet blanket over a woman’s legs when she is slain in the spirit. There are things essential like Jesus as Savior and the path to salvation. Roles of priests and elders are described and qualifications outlined. But wait; already we arrive at contested ground.


What about women? The church certainly does not have uniformity of belief and practice on women’s role in ministry. The machinations of reason and rationalization on both sides could use a quantum physicist to unravel them. To follow these debates takes one on a path that resembles a pretzel in three dimensions. I leave it alone.


What about husbands and wives? Here is where it gets really interesting. We all like conditional things; if then situations. We use the scales of justice to measure things that were not intended to have a counterweight. Little Jimmy broke the window in the front door with a baseball, but Bobby burned the kitchen while making popcorn. I guess the broken window is ok. Jimmy should thank Bobby. We like it this way. That’s why we cannot accept the roles of husbands and wives in the Bible as prescribed independently. The issue is between the individual and God. There should be no situation where Fred’s affair overshadows Betty’s neglect. It cuts both ways. It’s all bad.


Two occasions arise with opportunity for preachers to address gender roles. Most churches have a series of topical messages, and often they address man and women’s role in marriage, dedicating separate days to each gender. The other times are Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.



Summarizing these is easy. Man is stupid and bad, he is not present in his children’s lives, he is a workaholic, and he is emotionally inept. In fact more sensitivity on his part would solve many problems. Woman is under appreciated; she is to be respected and protected, and indulged the relentless desire to emote. Men complaining about a lack of intimacy need only see that they are not sensitive to the delicate nuances of the day, and if he could relate more like a girlfriend to her, she would be the wife he wants. It’s in there. Did you catch it, the if-then? We love it. Someone is guiltier. We are allowed to judge. Judging is fun.


I wouldn’t dare open the Pandora’s box of the concept of submission. Watch a pastor speak on it and you will soon see that a pretzel in three dimensions is simple. He delves into the fourth dimension where Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Schrodinger’s Cat and Laplace’s Demon reside. I asked a pastor once why he danced like that. He told me it was because his wife was sitting close by.


I said earlier causation is not my thing. I can see an analogy though. Pornography exploits women and feeds man’s desire to view unclothed flesh, yes? Physical intimacy is a strong drive in men, maybe the strongest need men have. Alternatively intimate communication, sensitivity, and romance are purported to be powerful needs of women. A fast couple of clicks online and a man can be looking at a virtual world that speaks directly to that powerful drive. Men are often caught in its simplicity of access and change their focus to virtual. Their marriage is harmed, and they are rightly scorned.


But what of Harlequin? Aside from the fact that romance novels can have titillating intimate scenes written for female consumption, even the “innocent” books provide a compelling vicarious remedy for the daily frustration of not “getting it” at home, it being the frequency and form of communication sought. Is this OK? Well I would say not, but I might get a snicker and little else if I attempted to put the porn of romance novels on the radar screen of family problems that church could address…and that we can (he he he) judge!


Regardless your perspective on Biblical marriage roles, the only absolute claim I can make is that the prescription, if you accept it, is not conditional. That does not go down well. But I believe if the prescription was adopted from that viewpoint by more people, cause and effect, or if then would manifest, not in failures, but in successes in marriage.

The INS reports a 19% divorce rate between American men and women from certain parts of the world where Biblical marriage roles result from culture and not religion. Most are not even Christian nations.


The difference between 19% and our domestic bliss of 51% can be closed a bit. Sure there are “factors” where desperate subservient women come here and tolerate dominant husbands and all sorts of bad things just to become Americans. You cannot close the gap enough though with these “factors” to discount the impact of appropriate marital roles regardless why they are adopted. I submit the Bible has it right.


As an aside, these men look at less porn and these women read less Harlequin. Why?


One thought on “Gender Tendency, The Harlequin Effect

  1. I agree with your thoughts however your delivery will no doubt be cast aside early as a close minded religious fanatic,whis if they read it open minded they would see that what you say is not hurting anyone and is from a sourse many are fearful of and shun because of this,however ,one point.
    Men do have a strong instinct to sex because of what we see,,but I ask you,woman at least some of them do as well,woman allot of time are forced into this action of disply in the nude(woman that have a choice dont misread this),not because of men,thats like saying well they will look or buy it so ive got no choice,no woman are raised seeing beautiful bodies and told that she is beautiful and thats what men want,well girls listen,when we are 16-25 yea thats what we think we want,now what we do with it if we do get that lucky we think,probably show you why allot of woman grow to dislike sex,and remember woman also are just as shy to get what they want as well,we are people,we do want to be appealing to the other sex and guys want to show as stronger in the group and woman dress up as much to wow other woman into bailing as it is for men,the bible puts it in what seems to be a very harsh one sided light,untill you reaLLY LOOK into it’s meaning of the love needed by all,just respect of ability of protection and the respect of nurturing resides as stronger in one or the other and rightfully so.
    I believe it was said not to be ashamed of your body,but we were any way,we can see the people that show their bodies in a beautiful way of their own free will and say,they are proud of this gift that god or whatever universal truth you believe in gave you,and I have no right to judge you,if offended I simply dont include it in my life,but I shall not impose my self apointed restrictions on others until it interfears with my ability to not be effected,and right now I believe I can remove myself and not be bothered in any way with these peoples god given right to do as they feel they need to.
    Just don’t show your body out of protest,doing so shows that you know it would bother others and in doing so,affirm that they think what the see is crude and ugly and by knowing and ignoring that fact you show no respect for them yourself or your beliefs.
    Trying to show pride to people that dislike the very idea of an act let alone doing it to them in spite of their wishes,will never sway anyone to open eyes or ears,respect shown pays respect recieved.

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