This post was originally featured on the Christianity Today Women’s Blog-Her.meneutics. I am reposting today for those of you who missed it and because I spent all weekend in Gatlinburg for a surprise birthday weekend for my friend Ashley. SO MUCH FUN! Leave your comments below.
“Wanna grab a burrito 2nite?”
The melody of the Atlanta symphony’s instruments flowed through the auditorium. I didn’t have high expectations for dating at 23, but a text containing the word burrito wasn’t exactly what I had in mind (and with 1 hour notice). I liked him, but couldn’t escape the mental picture of showing up in a swanky outfit to an establishment where my entrance would be announced in a jubilee of “Welcome to Moe’s!”
And women are only fueling this behavior by excusing it.
The charged response to my husband’s blog post “Real Men Don’t Text” revealed women’s frustration with text messages, video games, and guys who still act like frat boys. Women posted the link on Facebook and wrote things like “Can I get an a-men?” “Men! Read This!” Others wrote in with stories about men who had asked them out through text, broke up with them through text, and asked them to have sex through text. Men were challenged to “grow a pair, pick up your Bible, turn off the video game, and pursue a woman.” But an interesting perspective arose from the clamor of “Amens!” Several men said that while “real men don’t text,” real women don’t text back. They knew, from experience, that a woman wasn’t worth pursuing if she engaged in a text relationship.
As women, I believe we in part perpetuate the man-boy problem by failing to hold the highest standards for ourselves, standards God desires for us. I recently heard a friend complaining that she couldn’t get Phillip* to call her. Two minutes later, she responded to his text, “Wanna watch a movie at my house?” in the affirmative. I’ve seen it too many times—brilliant, accomplished, God-fearing women making excuses for the players and the deadbeats and the guy who aren’t interested in anything more than sex. A lot of us have been there. We’re strong. We aren’t settling. And then we lose sight of what’s important and start “hanging out with” that guy. If a man can’t call to ask you on a date, he’s certainly not going to man-up and put a ring on your finger.
The arguably most dangerous way women are contributing to the man-boy problem is in regards to sex. Oftentimes, women, including Christians, go further physically than they want to, hoping that their prowess will help them ‘catch a man’ when in fact, the opposite happens. Sex gives men the benefits without the promise of commitment and fidelity. Sure, there won’t be as many guys lining up to date you, but marriage will be a different story. Keeping the highest sexual purity standards will ensure he isn’t dating you just because he likes seeing you naked—and keep his intentions honorable.
Another way women perpetuate the problem comes with the well-at-least-he’s-better-than _____ game. My hairdresser told me yesterday she had a hard time ending a relationship with a non-Christian, because the last Christian she dated had sent her pornographic text messages. Infuriating! However, standards should not be created based on the worst examples but instead on what God deems right.
Many women also fall prey to the lie that dating or hanging out with “that guy” does not hold future implications. I found this especially true in college when friends (and myself, ahem) would date Mr. Text or Mr. I Don’t Believe in Organized Religion believing we could end the relationships as soon as someone better came along. However many of my friends are still entangled with or damaged by these men—especially in cases where sex was involved. By dating or playing around with the wrong men, we are essentially displaying mistrust in God’s plan and harming ourselves when the right man comes along. Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church, challenges singles: “Become the right person the right person is looking for.” A woman who dates placeholder men is most likely not who “Mr. Right” is looking for.
I also must briefly mention the Savior card. “I can change him,” “I can save him,” or “I can help him” used to be my favorite excuse for why I dated the men I dated. However, it took me several failed relationships and many heartbreaks to see how we as humans cannot change people. God is in the business of changing and redeeming men’s hearts. We aren’t. Smothering a man with your prayers and church outings and leading conversations usually needs to stop for God to work. Lowering your standards will never change a man—and almost all of these “I can change him” situations result in him changing you.
The current dating scene is hard—but it is not hopeless. I know many women who waited patiently and are now walking arm in arm with honorable, godly men. In the meantime, keep pursuing your own interests and building God’s kingdom, whether or not a husband is on the horizon. If a man texts you, ask them nicely to call you next time and take you out for dinner.
I told many men I would not go horizontal with them until after the wedding bells. Most couldn’t run away fast enough. But one day, in strength and vulnerability, I explained my standards and asked a man to call me. And he hasn’t stopped since.