One For The Ladies: Advice on Dudes!

FIRST: Don’t call them “dudes.” They hate…wait, no they don’t. “Dude” is totally cool. So is “Man.” And “chucklehead.” Guys really don’t care all that much. We call each other really creative, disgusting, and generally quite endearing terms like, “Spud,” “Buttface,” and “Goober” all the time. So call us whatever you want.

Oorrrrr…maybe not. So, hold up. Let’s back things up a bit. I maayyy be a little off base on this one. And here’s why.

Ladies, what you think, and what you say…(hold on…write this one down)…really does matter to him.  How you see him, what he sees reflected in your eyes when you look at him has a powerful impact.  You have a level of power and influence over the heart of your big, strong man that defies all reason.  If a man has given his heart to you, he has shown a level of vulnerability and trust to you that he has very likely shown no other human being on this planet. And that’s something you reaaaally need to think about.

It’s a lot of responsibility. Wait…what?! That’s right. Your husband, your father, even your son has made a choice, taken a step to entrust to you his most valuable and guarded possession: his heart.

And For The Record: men do not do this easily. They do not do it lightly. They do not do it for just anyone. Why?  Because it is dangerous for us. That’s right.  Dangerous.  And it’s a scary thing.

Ladies, you are emotional creatures. By God’s wonderful design you see things and feel things and intuit things that leave a man scratching his head in wonder.  You’ve done it your whole life.  You’ve dealt with the highs and the lows and the aches and the joys of life with an openness and readiness and simple awareness that in most cases just isn’t part of the experience of the average dude out there. Not to say that he can’t see these things, can’t experience them the way you do, but it doesn’t have the same sense of something-come-naturally that it does to you. So, here’s the thing…

Guys don’t operate in the realm of the emotional on a day-to-day basis like you do.  This does not make them broken, this does not make them defective…it makes them “men.”

This does NOT, however, mean that men don’t actually feel these things. But if you hear nothing else, if you retain nothing else I say here, hear this: Men simply do not allow themselves to reveal that aspect of who and what they are to the world because…IT  IS  NOT SAFE for them to do so!

We live in a world that will chew you up and spit you out sometimes. Men are shown how to achieve, how to build. It is our nature. We are drawn to it.  We want to climb it, to build it, to shape it and mold it and exert dominion over it. It’s how we are wired.

And it comes with a cost. Most men are not cruel. Most men are not evil. But most men live in a world that requires a kind of strength and drive and self-possession that has little room for softness, for indecision, for anything that doesn’t involve moving on to the next task to complete, the next obstacle to overcome. And, sometimes, it just really sucks.

But here’s the caveat: we are men…but we are also still God’s creations. We are still emotional beings with every aspect of who and what God is written into our very DNA.  We still need to feel it. We still need to experience it, to share it, and to confide in someone those struggles that we face every. single. day, but can’t allow ourselves to show to anyone else.

To anyone else, except…for you.

You are our refuge. You are the place to which we retreat from a world that demands so much of us that it takes every ounce of what we have to face it all. And when we run out of gas, when we’ve given it all and have nothing left…we come home to you.

So..the question then becomes….what do we come home…to?

Is it a safe place? Is it a place that says, lay down your armor, lay down your sword, for a while the battle is over, and you have come home to a place of comfort and of refuge?

Or…is it something else?

Ladies, I tell you this with the utmost confidence, and with the utmost sincerity, and with all the fervent prayer I can muster, that your man, your husband, your father, your brother, whoever he is, he will move heaven and earth for you…if you give him a safe place to come home to afterwards.

Men are simple creatures. We really aren’t that complex. We want such simple things.

We want your respect. We want your admiration. We want your trust. And more than anything else…we want to know that what we do for you matters.  Even if we do it wrong.

Whaaaaat?!Wait..WHAAAAT?!?! Yes. You heard me. Even if we did it wrong.  You sent us to the store for milk. And we got whole milk instead of skim. Should we have listened better to the instructions? Sure. (see previous post, guys). But we got you MILK!! Ha HAAA! VIC-TO-RY! (this is the part where you swoon and toss us your handkerchief).

And so now you face…The Decision®.  Your girlfriend would have known what you wanted, right? Heck, she can all but read your mind.  She would just know, and she would get it right AND remember the two other things you forgot to ask her to get as well!  Hmmph!

So do you let him have it with both barrels because he FORGOT! And how hard could it BE?! He NEVER listens and you ALWAYS have to……

See where this is going?  Now instead of lacy hankies and batted eyelashes he gets…the business end of the dragon.

So here’s the newsflash, ladies: MEN.  CAN.  NOT.  READ.  YOUR.  MIND.  No, I mean it. Stop laughing. I’m being serious here. No, this is not a joke. Guys will get you exactly what you asked for. Usually. Mostly. And that’s it. We are task oriented. We fulfill requirements. That intuition thing? Wroooong set of chromosomes.

You have to actually tell us things. Sometimes more than once. Especially if the TV is on. It’s just the way things are.  This is not a defect, though it may seem that way.  And you need to plan accordingly.

And that’s where the safety part comes in, where you make the choice to make it safe, and KEEP it safe. He has to be allowed to fail. He has to be allowed to be human. And vulnerable. And imperfect. Because if he can’t do it with you, it’s entirely possible that there’s nowhere else in the world that he can.  And that’s a tough situation for anyone to face.

Here’s another newsflash: it’s hard for men to feel vulnerable. I know, shocking, right?! It runs counter to everything we see and hear and face, every day. So we want to know that we can trust you with our heart, and that you will love us enough to let us be less than perfect.

I know it’s hard. I know that it can take everything you have to step back, take that deep breath….aaaand another deep breath, aaaand maybe even another one…and then make the choice to love him enough to let his heart be more important than your agenda. Your plan.

So you smile, you kiss him, you say thank you, and you put whole milk in the recipe and pick up the skim milk on the way home from dropping the kids off at daycare tomorrow.

Why? Because — and listen closely here — he didn’t do it on purpose. Yes, he could have done it better.  Yes, he could have listened more closely, and maybe it feels to you like he just didn’t care. But ladies, I am here to tell you, it just isn’t true.

His failure to perform the task you wanted in the manner you expected has no bearing on his love for you.

Let me say that again: His failure to perform the task you wanted in the manner you expected has no bearing on his love for you.

And so….it should have no bearing on your love for him.  Men make mistakes. Women make mistakes. But we can make a choice, every day, minute by minute, situation by situation, victory by victory, mistake by mistake…to love the person anyway.

To realize that that may very well be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. And then to do it anyway. Again. And again. And again. Because folks, ladies, gents, when it really comes down to it, that’s what love is.

A choice.

There Is No “Sorta” With Sin

During a recent perusal of various Christian blogs on my reading list, I stumbled across this article from Britain on how to deal with the rise of cohabitating couples, many of whom are in long-term partnerships which include shared assets and property, as well as children.

How should the church approach cohabiting couples? Two perspectives

It speaks of the struggles a partner may face, especially the female, if the cohabitees split up.

How should a Christian organisation, devoted to supporting marriage and family life, approach cohabitation? There is a juxtaposition between advocating strongly, and singularly for marriage, and supporting the millions of children in this country whose parents cohabit, and who could be left vulnerable to financial insecurity and homelessness should the relationship break down.

Though the articles purports to be from a Christian/Church perspective, there is no mention of the Biblical prohibition against adultery.  No mention of sin, or of the inevitable consequences of willful sin.  No, it’s all about how to best address the problems of this demographic by both providing for their needs, while gently suggesting that those in married relationships are more stable and secure.  About how we need a more “enlightened” policy with regards to our cohabitating brethren.

We often see questions like this: How should we approach this or that demographic within our church?  How do we “deal” with cohabiting couples, teen promiscuity or alternative lifestyles? More and more as homosexuality becomes mainstream, churches are faced with the same question of how to approach the issue of homosexuality? How do we treat or respond to homosexuals and homosexuality if we want to be seen as a more approachable, enlightened church?

Answer:  We treat them the same as everybody else.

There are no special categories of sinners.  With apologies to my Catholic brethren, there aren’t categories of sin. It’s not venial or mortal:  ALL sins are mortal.  It’s an all or nothing relationship. Sin is binary. 0 or 1. On or off. Yes or no. It is, or it isn’t. There is no “sorta” with sin.

So, when viewed in that context, homosexual sin is no different, no better, no worse, no more or less under condemnation than heterosexual sin.  Sin is sin.  We don’t get to ignore the ones that make us uncomfortable.

If I’m a man, chilling at the beach, ogling women in bikinis, I’m in exactly the same category as if I’m man, chilling at the beach, ogling guys in their speedos:  Sinner.

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman{or man} with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her{him} in his heart.” Matt 5:28

If a church is conflicted about how to address the problem of cohabiting couples, teen sex, or homosexuality, then it definitely has a problem; but perhaps a far bigger problem than how to tune their outreach ministries to appeal to these seeker-groups.

It’s actually pretty cut and dried.  Reeeeeal basic.  If you are going to preach the Word, then be true to the Word.   The Bible is full of examples, both metaphorical and actual, of people being forced to choose between what they want, and what the Word of God says is permissible; the two being almost universally at odds.

If you have couples living together, sleeping together, outside of marriage,  then they are in sexual sin.  Sounds archaic and overly simplistic in today’s more enlightened, liberated society, but that’s the simple truth.   If we are more worried about keeping people happy (as society defines it), than about teaching them to be obedient to the word of God, than we risk loving them to death.  We are, in the long run, not doing them any favors.  Too often today it comes down to being true to the word of God OR preaching a squishy gospel that soft coats the hard edges of truth in order to be more palatable, more “relevant,” more inclusive.

When faced with the problem of how to deal with sexual sin, whether homosexual or heterosexual, the conversation should go something like this:  If you people want to call yourselves Christians, then you need to live according to Christian principles.  What that means is that you move out, find your own places, and stop having pre-marital sex {{insert shocked gasps, I know}}.

If you are teens experimenting with sex: stop.  Plain and simple.  You don’t just cut back — you cut it out.  If you are cruising YouTube for the sexy videos or Webshots for the drunken Spring Break candids…STOP.  Alcoholics cannot afford to just cut back on their drinking, they need to stop, because there is no middle ground.  You are either drinking, or you’re not.  You are either sleeping with your girlfriend, or you’re not.  You are either engaging in homosexual acts…or you’re not.

Binary. Either/or.   Yes or no.  Do, or do not.  There is no try.

There’s no easy answer for the “issue” of homosexuality.  So much of our culture these days is so affirming, and tolerant, and supportive, and all be-true-to-who-you-are.  “Baby, I was born this way!” sings Lady Gaga.

Except that, the practice of homosexuality is quite simply forbidden by the Bible.   So where does that leave you? The same place as everybody else:  with a decision to make.

Do you be true to yourself, or true to God?  If God doesn’t allow promiscuity or adultery between heterosexual couples, do you think that homosexuals get a “bye” because they’re special?  A highly vocal chunk of society would have you think that, but it’s simply not true.

The Body of Christ should respond in love to those struggling with sin of any kind, but a love based on the truth of the Scriptures.  Granted, we risk being branded “intolerant” or “haters” if we do, but the truth is that there is no one more intolerant of sin than God.  God HATES sin.  But he loves us enough that he sent Christ to die in our place, that we might have a way out of the sin and death towards which our earthly wants and desires will inevitably lead us.

~ Steve Berven