There’s something I’ve noticed about many popular Christian marriage books and speakers.
They don’t seem to have a very high opinion of men.
Oh, they think that men should be “in charge.” But often, it is implied that women should just wink and nod knowingly at one another, that although everyone knows women are the responsible grown ups in the relationship, their appeasing submission is necessary to prevent a meltdown of two-year-old proportions. As if our husbands were pouting, screaming, red-faced little boys incapable of conducting themselves appropriately if we’re not there to pacify them, to stroke their egos and provide sex-on-demand.
Just put the sugar puffs in the shopping cart, ladies, and social order will be maintained.
While I will readily acknowledge that I have been incredibly blessed by the men in my life, by a husband, father, and grandfather of incredible character, I refuse to believe that they are such an exception to the rule.
Men are strong, good, gracious and intelligent, driven to protect the more vulnerable members of their “tribe.” Men want the best for the people they love, and will make incredible sacrifices to provide it.
They’re startlingly like women that way.
Not all men, all the time, of course. (Or all women, all the time, for that matter.) But I do expect a base-level of decency, and usually, that foundation holds.
So when I read that when your husband suggests something, the first thing out of your mouth should be a chirpy “sure!”, because questioning him might wound his ego?
When I hear a Christian speaker talking about how you should use sweet words and physical affection to basically “condition” your husband, as if he was a puppy? (And no, I am not making the puppy analogy up!)
When people try to shame women out of participating in church, because “men won’t take up their rightful position of leadership” if we pray over the communion elements or read scripture up front? (Translation–boys won’t play with girls, so the girls should sit quietly on the edges of the playground, doing Cat’s Cradle or something.)
When it is suggested that wearing a skirt that reveals your knees will automatically turn every male in the vicinity into a slobbering, rapacious beast?
I have to arch my eyebrow and wonder what the speaker is angling at, what their real agenda is.
Because seriously? I have WAY more faith in and respect for the men in my life than that.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe we should be incredibly supportive of our spouse, sacrificially supportive of their hopes and dreams and ideas. I believe we should bite back bitter, discouraging words and speak only what is beneficial for the building up of those around us. I believe we should conscientiously make room for everyone to serve in the way that best suits their God-given gifts and passions. And I believe we should all dress modestly.
But I believe we should do that because we are cultivating godly character, not because we think men lack it.
And if the men in your life DO lack character? Well, that’s probably not going to be improved by enabling them, by acting like the intimidated au pair of a tyrannical toddler.
I’m tired of teachings that make sweeping generalizations, of gender stereotypes that belittle, limit, and box in both men and women.
I’m weary of followers of Jesus feeling like they have to perform intellectual, emotional, and spiritual contortions to squeeze themselves into those boxes the church built for their gender.
And I’m sick to death of Christians–CHRISTIANS!–giving advice that appeals to the worst in human character, instead of calling out the best.
We were created in the image of GOD, all–not June Cleaver, not Homer Simpson, not Elle from Legally Blonde, not John Wayne.
Let’s start acting like it.