When Religious Leaders Sound Like Government Bureaucrats
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:
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:
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.
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).