July 27, 2007

Shamelessly Borrowing

And now I shall shamelessly borrow links from my readers to some recommended readings:

1. Take a look at this article by "singlechristianman" (who is on my blog roll, by the way).

2. ... And this one, which was mentioned by "HG" in the readers' comments. It links back to www.churchformen.com. If any men here share in the same concerns I have, I suggest that you look at the forum on that site. I think you'll find a sympathetic place to discuss what is so utterly wrong with the way our religious communities (and the larger culture) have been treating men. There is even a discussion on Debbie Maken that might interest you (click here).

Let me know what you think.

July 11, 2007

Lack of Male Leadership Made Me Do It (And Other Good Excuses)

Well, I was going to put off writing about a certain post at certain lady's blog, but the itch is itching and I gotta' scratch. You guys have already been talking about it here in various comments. I have already dealt with one additional comment the lady in question has made on her post. Even so, the drama continues to unfold at her blog. Drop a few oversized pillows before the flat-screen, break out the popcorn, nachos and bean dip. The show has more explosions, twisted metal, and flying bricks than one of those disaster documentaries on the Weather Channel. I really can't add much to the melee at this moment. Triton, an occasional reader of my blog, has his own eyewitness account of what's happening, so I direct your attention to him.

I will touch upon two comments left at the certain lady's blog. First, read this:
I also think it would help if we realized that Mrs. Maken is laying the responsibility for feminism in the broad sense at the feet of men in general. That's not the same as claiming that individual women bear no guilt for their sins in this area, nor that any individual man is responsible for the whole homogenosexist mess in which our culture finds itself. But by saying that men should step up to the plate and turn this ship around (to mix my metaphors), it appears to me that Mrs. Maken is honoring the God-ordained role of male leadership.
And now read this ...
I have a theory regarding this handful of Christian men and why they have such difficulty in attracting women. I think the Christian women they interact with very quickly discover that the fruit these men display is disturbing. Their disrespect of women – which even borders on misogyny at times – soon puts Christian women off them and so they are repeatedly rejected. Of course, given the nonsense teaching in the church regarding singleness and marriage, these men are never challenged as to why they haven’t found a wife, so they are not questioned about their attitude to women, or receive any accountability or pastoral care that would help them address their problems.
Hmmm, that's a peculiar statement. Really, I think it's pretty misogynistic to imply that conservative women are too stupid and gullible to think for themselves and speak out against injustice. What other conclusion can we draw from claiming women are somehow unable to stand up to feminism without "male leadership"? Let me get this straight: Some Christian ladies want to be the "Esther" and "Deborah" when it comes to shaming men into marriage, but sit idly by the sidelines while feminism rolls over men? I ain't buying it. The old saw about feminism being caused by the lack of male leadership is not new. Certain conservative women have flung this lame turkey around more than enough times. Consider this article by Devvy Kidd, but also consider this incisive response to her. The fact of the matter is that men are beginning to exercise "male leadership" by calling misandrists out on their nonsense, whether these misandrists be feminist ... or otherwise.

July 7, 2007

When Religious Leaders Sound Like Government Bureaucrats

Well, I wanted add a bit more to my recent discussion regarding Michael Lawrence's take on male attraction to women. Yes, I may be beating a dead horse, but I suppose I am like Columbo with my false exits and the need to make just one more point. I recently made the following comment on a post at Boundlessline.org:
I'm going to have to dissent in part here. What Michael Lawrence, Suzanne, and others need to remember is that while looks aren't everything--or even the main thing--they are SOMETHING. Yes, if the choice is between the spiritual girl who looks like a 6 and the worldly supermodel who looks like a 9, then go for the 6 girl. Yes, as a relationship deepens, one's attraction to another person deepens. However--I am disturbed by what seems to be the message that guys have the ability--yea, the obligation--to turn their Physical Attraction Switch on or off as religious leaders dictate. There seems to be these politically correct idea that men cannot make ANY assessments about the looks of Christian women. It's unscientific and unscriptural. I have more to say about Michael Lawrence's articles at my own blog.
Well, Boundless.org staff writer Ted Slater took notice and fired back:

Anakin Niceguy -- I'm not sure what you're "dissenting" about.

Michael Lawrence seems to agree with your points. He writes, among other things, "There's nothing wrong with having physical and personality traits on your list of what makes a woman attractive. In fact, you need to be physically and personally attracted to the woman you marry." He continues, "No one in his right mind ever marries a woman he doesn't find beautiful."

Surely you don't dissent from that position.

You know that you don't *have* to disagree with Boundless articles. Instead of seeing this blog as an opportunity to practice contentiousness, sometimes consider just agreeing with something, and then contributing some additional insights.

I tried to respond to Ted, but my response did not show up on Boundless. To be fair to Ted and the Boundless.org staff, I honestly don't know whether the omission of my response was an accident or not. Nonetheless, the point I wish to make is this: I do not think I am in fundamental agreement with Michael Lawrence. Sure, Michael Lawrence acknowledges that a man should be physically attracted to the woman he marries. However, Michael Lawrence seems to reserve the right to decide what a man should find physically attractive. Note what he has said:
After all, none of us can escape our culture and constant barrage of media images that reinforce our worldly desires. On the other hand, as I've said before it's important you're physically and emotionally attracted to the woman you marry. So here at the beginning of summer, when both men and women are displaying more of what our culture says attraction is all about, I want to offer four steps to recalibrate your sense of beauty.
You see, it seems like Michael and Ted are conceding something when, in fact, there is not much of a concession. Why should a man's sense of beauty be "recalibrated"? Instead of being straightforward and demanding that men ignore physical attractiveness, what we have here is an Orwellian reinterpretation of physical beauty.

Are we really to believe that spirituality trumps all other considerations of external appearances and expediency? I wonder if Michael Lawrence and the other leaders at Capitol Hill Baptist Church would allow a young boy with body piercings, green hair, ripped clothing, and a deadpan look on his face to give their Sunday morning sermon. Would they want their daughters to date and marry this young man, given the way he looks? What thoughts do you suppose religious leaders might have about the spiritual maturity of this guy? Oh, but don't judge by appearances! Do you want some Elmer's glue with that beam in your eye, gents? The fact of the matter is that many men are not even making judgments about the spiritual maturity of plain-looking women. Yet, we are led to believe these men are sinning just because they acknowledge that the realities of the marriage bed demand a modicum of sexual appeal.

Since when do religious leaders get to decide what men find physically attractive? This question leads to me to the major point I made in my unpublished response to Ted Slater: Religious pundits are increasingly formulating doctrine on the basis of what some squeaky-wheel contingency finds a nuisance. Too many discontented single women in the church? No problem. Accuse men of the sin of "delaying marriage." Too many overweight women passed up for skinnier women? No problem. Accuse men of the sin of not cultivating God's idea of what they should find physically attractive. No sound Biblical exegesis is needed for this way of doing theology--just misapplied proof-texts, question begging, and guilt tripping.

I wonder how many Evangelicals today are that much different from the legalistic Pharisees and Judaizers of Jesus' and Paul's time? I see a fundamental failure of the part of many Evangelical writers to distinguish between that which is truly sinful (a breaking of divine law that separates us from God) and that which is merely stupid or unwise. It may be stupid or unwise for a man to have standards for beauty that are so high that he excludes many godly women who could be compatible with him. But is it sinful? Where in the Bible does it say that a man must be willing to date or pursue marriage with a certain class of women? I had a Christian woman turn me down one time for what I thought were some silly reasons, but you don't see me condemning the poor girl to hell for it.

The Bible most assuredly makes a distinction between what is unwise and what is sinful. The Apostle Paul counseled the unmarried Corinthians that it would be wise for them to remain unmarried, but he explicitly stated that they did not sin if they did not take his advice (1 Cor. 7:27-28). We do a lot of stupid and shortsighted things in our lives, but such things do not necessarily separate us from God or jeopardize our spiritual walk with him. Some religious leaders apparently fail to understand this. They remind me of government bureaucrats who want to regulate what we eat, what we choose to do with the seat belts in our car, etc. Essentially, it's the trampling of our liberties in the name of our "best interests." First delayed marriage gets called sinful, then it will be the sin of eating too many sweets--soon, we will probably see articles on men failing to put the toilet seat down for their wives. Where does the lunacy end? Bottom line: the Bible does not condone this type of judging (James 4:11-12).

July 3, 2007

Watch as Debbie Maken Shoots Herself in the Foot

1. First there is this decisively humiliating piece by Puritan Calvinist, wherein he exposes Debbie Maken's claim to the mantle of Reformed tradition as an ahistorical sham.

2. Now Debbie Maken says this:
I have no sympathy for those pushing churches to cater to the unregenerate man as a way of drawing him in. The fact that a beer guzzling, Nascar watching, porn-viewing, minimum-wage earning loser thinks that church is not for him; well, he is right.
I thank one of my posters for bringing this to my attention. Wonders never cease. Notice, dear readers, what Debbie Maken has done. She has mentioned earning a minimum-wage and watching NASCAR in the same breath as ... what? Yep, drinking alcohol and viewing pornography. I think Maken's remark reveals more about her social prejudices with regards to men than it does her standards of purity. How can one improve on this? We have been privy to a brief glimpse behind the mask of the Marriage Mandate Movement.

In my best James Earl Jones voice: "Mrs. Maken's feelings have betrayed her. Now her failure is complete. If nothing else turns Christian men to the Bachelor Side, then perhaps she will."

July 1, 2007

Cinderella Theology (Addendum)

Boundless.org write Suzanne Hadley has just wrote something about Michael Lawrence's theory on physical attraction (a matter I addressed in a previous post). From the comments in my previous post, I fear that some may misunderstand my views on physical attraction, so let me boil it down as best I can:

Physical attraction isn't everything--it's not even the main thing--but it's something. Yes, if the choice is between a spiritual girl who looks like a 5 and a worldly girl who looks like a 9, then I would go for the girl who is a 5. However, in real life, the choice is not so simple. There are plenty of worldly girls who are controlling, mean-spirited ... and are plain looking. There are some girls who are spiritually-minded, have great personalities ... and are drop-dead gorgeous. It doesn't take a rocket-scientist to figure out who is going to get asked out for dates. We would like to believe that there are plenty of super-spiritual women out there that make up in piety what they lack in body shape. But I don't think they are any more common than the bombshells. I go into churches and I see that the both the average-looking and stunning women have pretty much the same degree of religious devotion. Go figure. Sure, good looks are not an indicator of spirituality, but neither are average to below-average looks. The same goes for men.

I agree that getting to know someone will affect how you view their attractiveness. I don't think men should write off women just because they aren't fashion model material. However, there has to be at least some degree of physical attractiveness present (at least the outset of the relationship). If a woman looks unfeminine or looks like she doesn't care about her health, she shouldn't expect that men will date her just because she's active teaching bible classes to the 5 year olds. Simply put, I reject the politically correct idea that men can just turn on or turn off the Physical Attraction Switch as religious leaders dictate. I have shown it to be unscriptural and unscientific.

One more thing: I wonder if some religious leaders are confused about what men are saying. When a man says, "I'm not just attracted to her," it could mean that he has some unrealistic standards about how a woman should look. Yet, it can also be the case that when a man meets a woman, he finds nothing significant about her personally that inspires him to pursue her at that given time in his life. This could be the case even though the man might fall head over heels for a more average-looking woman down the road. I think woman fail to realize that men are not some monolithic class of simple-minded creatures that can be easily enticed (or shamed) into pursuing women with a few pat techniques. One of my readers told me that attraction is subjective, and indeed, that's why I take issue with folks like Michael Lawrence, Suzanne Hadley, and others who seem to want to lay down one-size-fits-all, hard-and-fast, extrabiblical rules for what physically attracts us. That old duck won't hunt.