The Great Husband War

For the first time (in my memory), my church did an entire afternoon programme focusing on singleness. Four people from the congregation sat on a panel and were asked questions about their life as a single person in the church. We then had a bigger discussion, in which people spoke about their experiences of trying to find a mate in church.

Whenever courtship and dating or topics surrounding it are discussed in church, it usually leads onto the same thing: the male: female ratio in our churches. There are roughly ten women to one man in church, and this leads to a lot of problems. Heartbreak is a major one. There are a small group of women who are evidently bitter that they’ve never been able to find a husband, even though they’ve been in the church for over ten years. It’s an inevitable problem: if there are so many women and so few men, the majority of the women are going to be left out. I suppose the realisation of this also worried me a little the other day. It has crossed my thoughts in the past that there may not be anyone there for me, even if I wanted there to be.

This struggle to find someone before all the eggs start vanishing can lead onto desperation, where a woman becomes infatuated with the first person who shows her attention (my friend mentioned this during the discussion in a not-so PC way and it caused a bit of upset).

There’s another problem that arises out of this imbalance, something much more sinister (in my opinion). Whenever what I’m about to say is mentioned, a lot of the men get upset, but I think this is because they don’t want to realise the truth. I speak of this “Sweet Shop” mentality that a lot of the “lucky few” have when it comes to women. They know they’re in a privileged position; they know there are women looking for a mate and they know they have plenty to choose from, so they exploit the system, damaging the outlook women have on men. I don’t know of any woman in church who hasn’t felt manipulated by a brother; he gives her all the attention and speaks to her about things that are inappropriate for friends and she finds out that she was one of many.

Amongst the youth, I’ve noticed guys do this a lot. Because everyone wants to be in a relationship, young men keep talking to young women about relationships in general and it gives the wrong impression. Nowadays I’m so weary whenever I meet a guy for the first time because they only ever want to talk about relationships. What do I want in a husband? What kind of family do I want? How do I feel when men do this or that? When this first happened to me, I generally thought the man in question was interested in me, before I happened to see on Facebook that he was with someone. Well that was good news.

Some of these guys lead women on unintentionally, but others are well aware of what they are doing; it’s fairly simple to guess how such questions will come across to the opposite sex. My friend’s mum warned me of these guys; she said that some of them do it because they want a general idea of what women want/like, and they’re simply phishing for information until they meet the woman they “really” want to be with.

This is a real shame, you know. Imagine how it looks. There are women, young and old, thinking: “if even the men in church are like this, is there any hope? Because they’re no different from the wastes out in the world.”

I’ll close with a quote from my girl Ellen:

To trifle with hearts is a crime of no small magnitude in the sight of a holy God. And yet some will show preference for young ladies and call out their affections, and then go their way and forget all about the words they have spoken and their effect. A new face attracts them, and they repeat the same words, devote to another the same attentions.

This disposition will reveal itself in the married life. The marriage relation does not always make the fickle mind firm, the wavering steadfast and true to principle. They tire of constancy, and unholy thoughts will manifest themselves in unholy actions. How essential it is, then, that the youth so gird up the loins of their mind and guard their conduct that Satan cannot beguile them from the path of uprightness.

The Adventist Home, pg 57

Just a little something to chew on. I really need to be wiser, before I get manipulated again. The person I spoke about the other day has really shown me that I need to slow down.

And think. I keep saying this but it’s true: God will provide (and gosh I’m so young, why am I worrying about this anyway???).

I don’t plan to join the Husband War any time soon—or ever.

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The Boardroom

 

There were five members on the panel. Each man stood for an invaluable asset to the company; their strengths were envied by some and revered by others. Walking into the boardroom, I felt nervous but I knew that I had a chance. The director of the group, Lay Preacher, inclined his head as I sat down to face them.

“Morning,” said Evangelist. “God’s greetings.”

“Hey,” I said with a smile.

Bible Worker tutted. I heard him mutter “that won’t do” and I immediately questioned his utterance.

“You see, Miss Phoenix,” said Missionary, “we’re looking for something special. At the moment, we’re not too sure about you.”

“What’s wrong?” I said.

“Your skirt for a start,” said Elder. “Where is it? Knee length is too high!”

I squirmed against their admonishing glare. This wasn’t an interview; it was a trial, spot lights and all.

“The thing is,miss,” said Lay Preacher, “we like humble women. A Proverbs thirty-one woman. We’re not sure you’re the one for us.”

There’s a lot of relationship advice circling the internet these days. There’s even more in church. I’m not sure what’s happened, but the recent church trend is an early marriage—I heard of one second-year university student tying the knot the other day. It’s like a mating season; everyone wants to get with someone and with it comes relationship books, DVDs, CDs and seminars. Then people start making their “list of standards”. Standards are fine, but there’s a problem when your standards make you come across as spiritually superior.

Both men and women in church have a habit of looking for their partner, rather than allowing God to choose for them. We’re limited by what we can see, so our requirements can at times be silly and superficial. There are girls out there looking for their “men of God”, always chasing after the guys who preach and do missionary work in their droves. My nature causes me to be healthily suspicious of such people, not because preaching and missionary work is wrong, but because those things are very much outward displays of piety. What are these men like on their “off” days, when no one is looking to praise them?

I have a friend who is one of those guys. He does a lot of work in church, eldering and whatnot, and he has caught the attention of a few people. When we were talking about relationships and our personal preferences, he kept on referring to himself in the plural.

“What we like is … What we’re looking for is girls who are…”

It took me almost a week to process that his usage of “we” was strange, arrogant almost. It gave the impression he was talking on behalf of an elite, exclusive company; drawing up a checklist of all the traits a Godly woman must have and screening the cream of of the crop in church. It confirmed my suspicions. When people compare their potential mate to their own spirituality i.e., looking at the situation on the surface, a problem is bound to occur.

Remember, folks:

But the LORD said unto Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”*

Shouldn’t that be proof enough to let God take control of everything? I don’t actually mind relationship advice; I like talking to my elders at church, older people who I respect and whose marriages are still intact and asking them how they would go about seeking a partner; I like talking about it with my dad, who always has something interesting to say; I don’t even mind a study on it every now and then, but this sudden onslaught of information is madness.

(Does this blog post ironically count as dating advice as well???)

So anyway, I’ve decided not to concern myself too much with all this stuff. I’m sure once you get into the right relationship it’s great, and I can’t wait for that experience, but at the moment, I’m going to take my time with it—I’m still young, after all.

So it looks like I’ll have to step out of the boardroom. It’s pretty brutal in there.

xXx

*1 Samuel 16:7

A Text for Sabbath.

 

Don’t, by the way, read too much into the differences here between men and women. Neither man nor woman can go it alone or claim priority. Man was created first, as a beautiful shining reflection of God—that is true. But the head on a woman’s body clearly outshines in beauty the head of her “head,” her husband. The first woman came from man, true—but ever since then, every man comes from a woman! And since virtually everything comes from God anyway, let’s quit going through these “who’s first” routines.

1 Corinthians 11:10-12, The Message.

 

A text I really need after how I felt yesterday. I know that I create a lot of the gender politics in my head and I’m always on the defensive. Sometimes, though, you don’t know who to trust. It seems as though to be a Godly woman is to be a woman of the 1950s. It makes me irrational, I guess. I told my brother that I wasn’t going to get married because I don’t think I’d like it. He said ‘you can’t tar everyone with the same brush’. So I guess I’m also guilty of generalising men sometimes. They’re obviously not all bad.

At the end of the day, though, these things aren’t important. My salvation means more to me. For now, I’ll concentrate on my marriage with Jesus—because I honestly can’t be asked for all this gender hype.

I’m tired.