I continue with part 2 of The Irresistible Man. Folks who followed the link, I’m sure, read both parts.
Recall, the three things Rainy was talking about for relationship were security, acceptance, and emotional connection. I touched on them in Part 1 but wanted to parse Rainy’s second post more thoroughly.
Regarding acceptance, if you read the intermission piece I wrote about the Stepping Up blog and the comments I left there you will have seen that I took issue with the fact that the principle concern, with regard to outreach to women by the church and ministry, is about her self esteem. I gave them the link to this anecdotal study, which I’ve posted here before. The author writes:
In a spiritual formation class we work on how Christians can get victory over sin as a part of their spiritual growth. To start the unit I ask students to list the sins Christians face most today. They list four sins immediately:
We could argue the margins but it is beside the point. The point is that he gets the males and females to assign gender to these sins. Are they more male or female proclivities, then he asks them to list the predominant male sins and those for females. The outcome is still surprising to me, and Ive know about this for a few years.
The four sins above were men’s sins. Period. He then asked the women to write down four sins that they feel are predominantly female sins. Pasting the rest of his comments below is more illustrative than any paraphrase I could make.
Silence. Furrowed brows. Thinking… [long pause]
Really! Each time the women who (along with the men) had quickly offered the “foul four” are at a loss to quickly add “besetting sins” that women seem more inclined toward. And now for the part that got me to write on this subject.
The last two times I did this activity the women unanimously agreed on what they considered the chief besetting sin of women:
- Lack of self esteem
I’m serious. So were they. The last two times I did this when a women offered “Self esteem” the entire group of women audibly responded, “Yeah—that’s it!”
You see where I’m headed? Lack of self esteem? To the men in the class these co-eds were saying, “While you men struggle with pornography, lust, pride and anger we women struggle with not thinking highly enough of ourselves.” (Several men in the class always visibly roll their eyes.)
It intersects with Rainy’s stated female need for acceptance. If Rainy is not enough to convince you, have a look at this article from Patheos titled (How) Do women sin?
Matt Jensen, the writer, speaks to pride being the root of male sin, and how the churches approach to that sort of sin is to press men to humble themselves (Men Stepping Up?). Then he asks ,regarding women:
What happens, though, if your problem is not one of self-exaltation but rather one of self-denigration? If a woman struggles with self-hatred, then think how easily the prescription of humility can simply further her project of self-destruction. Think, too, of how many Christian men have used this kind of logic to justify abusive, or at least manipulative, relationships with their wives, men who strangely seem to forget the application of humility in their own lives. Rather than swelling up to fill the room and dominating a relationship (the familiar pride of men), women tend to shrink to a point, to lose themselves in their relationships.
If this diagnosis of sin is true, so the argument runs, a differing remedy will be called for. Where proud men need to be humbled, to be broken on the rock of Christ, to be crucified with Christ, women who have lost themselves need to be healed, to be encouraged to speak again, to be urged to live the lives God has called them to in Christ. The danger of applying the remedy of humility to slothful women is that it will actually underwrite their own sinning.
Men are exploiting women’s low self esteem. If the church were to prescribe humility to women, they are already so humble (insecure….not accepted) that their very own efforts to humble themselves would make their sin of low self esteem grow.
He has the solution.
A proud man needs humbling. Thatâ€™s [sic] pretty clear. And a slothful woman needs to be given back her voice.
[they tossed in the symbol for the Euro, revelatory?]
That short article is yet more source text for the approach Family Life and the evangelical church and her diaspora accept as curative.
Along these lines, Rainy asks:
Does she feel good about the way she looks? Her hair? Her clothes and shoes? Her weight? Her skin tone? Her body image? Her teeth? Her overall attractiveness? Chances are good that she compares herself to the airbrushed models of perfection she sees every day. From the covers of the magazines in the checkout line to the advertisements she watches on television, your wife is constantly made to feel inferior, unworthy, and unacceptable.
I hear pastors preach on the sufficiency of God. They preach on persecution from the world. They preach on healing from God. Then they tell men, tacitly and by omission, that all that makes up a wife’s self image flows from them, the husbands. Not in this piece, but these pastors and ministries generally blame men for all of the input that is so damaging to women. The magazines in the checkout line and the actresses on television. Meanwhile, marketing to women is done BY women.
The fault is irrelevant. Leaving God out of the fix is relevant. The man living in the sexual desert is told that his need for sex can be sated by prayer. OK. How much, then, of a woman’s need for acceptance can be met similarly, and why are they not told that parallel to being told that their husband is responsible also? God does not literally meet a sexual need, but indeed He does literally meet the need for acceptance.
Finally he gets to emotional connection and I get confused. The example he chooses is about helping around the house.
Did you know that when you participate in family life by sharing in some of the daily duties, you connect with your wife on an emotional level? Men spell romance s-e-x, but women spell romance r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p. Working together around the house or in the yard (Barbara’s other domain) is a great way to communicate your love for your wife.
He goes on to write about conversation as a means to connection. This is an area where, lacking any guardrails placed on the woman by scripture (for example to take thoughts captive and how the heart is deceitful etc.), the advice Rainy gives is just more bricks on the man’s load…bricks that proper contextual teaching could have the woman volunteer to remove. Both things are spelled out; s-e-x and r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p. Sex ass a one way thing, man wants woman gives, and relationship similarly as a one way thing, woman wants man gives. Both points of view are problematic. A relationship is bi-directional, yet it is assumed that women are so good at relationship they need no pointers on how to relate to men.
See how Rainy suggests a man work on this.
Here are some more questions to help you make the connection:
What is one of your earliest childhood memories?
What is one thing from your past that you struggle with?
What was one of your proudest achievements before we met?
What was your relationship with your dad like? How about your mom?
At what did you place your faith in Christ as your Savior; what were the circumstances?
What would you say was our best family vacation, and why?
What is your favorite book in the Bible? Hymn? Why?
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live?
What dreams do you have for our children?
What do you long to experience with me in our marriage?
What do you want to accomplish after the kids are grown?
If most men asked those types of questions they would eventually end up in an argument. These are doorways to her finding ways to control him, to criticize him, or to hold him as an emotional hostage. I know the Men Stepping Up blog is for men, but you will not find much emphasis on how women handle men anywhere in evangelical Christiandom. These are tickets to emotional whimsy. They help the woman wallow in her low self esteem. And, lets be honest, those questions are a little campy.
When you come home from work, here are four of the most romantic words to say to your wife: How can I help?
I wonder if the woman took any breaks during the day. Wait. let me answer. YES. In fact the day was a litany of indecision, lack of focus, useless stress, and finally exasperation at how little was achieved. This is widely applicable, not universally, but widely enough so as to not be off limits in these comprehensive relational ministry offerings.
The man, however, has been gone from home for 10 hours, some time commuting, some time working, lots of stress and bosses who are not spouses. For him to walk in the door and say “how can I help?” is absolutely a kind and wonderful thing to do, and he should. But failing to note that the help meet could offer the man a break is irresponsible and builds false expectations in women.
That sets up the close. Someone at another blog said that my responses to the Men Stepping Up blog did not flow from what they actually said. He was sort of correct. I was explicit in stating that teaching men biblical manhood is fine, that admonishing men for male proclivities is fine. The issue is more complicated. Women read these blogs, whether they are written for men or not. There are no similar blogs for women outside the manosphere. Therefore women develop high expectations of men based on these types of ministries, yet have no counterbalancing expectations of themselves. How could they given that its a settled evangelical position that women sin by not thinking highly enough of themselves?
There is a book for expectant moms called “What to expect when you are expecting”. I recommend one for engaged men called “What to expect from her expectations”.