Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ask the Men, part 2

Teachers of Good things is a series of interviews we will be conducting on Tuesdays and Thursdays here at Ruby in the Rough. It is our goal with these interviews to follow the instructions found in Titus 2:3-5 for the "older women" to teach the younger women good things such as: loving their husbands, keeping their home, and conducting themselves with all purity both before and after marriage.  

Most of the interview questions for Teachers of Good Things came from conversations and emails between myself and the young ladies at my church. As we talked I realized that there were a few questions that could only be answered by men. So, in a slight departure from our norm, this week and last week I had two men who agreed to share their thoughts on these questions.

This week Been Feehan will be joining us. Ben is a close friend of my husband's, and a regular contributor to my husbands website The Gentleman Adventurer.  He and his wife are expecting their first little one, Erin Elisabeth, in early April.

Ben and Jessica
What was the first thing that attracted your attention to your future wife?

The thing that attracted me to the Jess was hands down, her wholesome simplicity. When she ate out with the team she ate as much as she wanted. When she went to events she wore little make up and she wore her hair simply. When we did things together she worked hard, and she never complained.  When we talked she was genuine and guileless.  Jessica was real and to me, in a world deluged in the artificial beauty of entertainment and fashion, it was precious and rare.

Don't get me wrong. My girl is not plain.  My girl is like a wild rose.  She's like that and nobody touched her.  She's gorgeous and, like that wild rose, part of that beauty is born of the fact that it is in fact wild.  

What are the main things that you see lacking in single girls today?

Probably the biggest thing lacking in the Christian young women I meet on a daily basis is an awareness of how their behavior and dress effects the young men they call friends.  I don't expect or want girls to wear long sleeves and full length dresses so much as to understand that whether they like it or not, modern fashion is designed to make them desirable to men in general.  There is a balance and honestly the world isn't all that interested in modesty.  These are choices you are going to have to make for yourself.

Secondly, in behavior, many young women send the wrong signals to their guy friends.  God's primary advice regarding platonic guy/girl relationships is to treat each other like siblings.  Sadly, as with most things God asks us to do, that's not the natural response.  While many young ladies may be happy with a wide pool of friends of all ages and genders, guys were, by design, born to love and pursue the One.  Your attention, concern, and willingness to listen is frequently setting that young man up for heartbreak when it turns out you're not at all interested in being the One.  Chances are, by allowing him to talk to you about the things on his heart, he's actually giving you part of his heart as well.

This isn't true for all guys of course, but on the flip side, a guy who has a small army of female friends should be raising all kinds of red flags.  This young man should be preparing for marriage and that includes in his relationships.  In the world, a young man like him would be considered a "player" or a homosexual.  In the Christian context, he's considered friendly, since, after all, he's not actually sleeping with any of them.  This is non-sense.  This guy is an emotional player.  Being a nice guy or funny or cool is not a reason to be his friend. Don't facilitate his future marital difficulties.

How would you define a woman who is "prepared" to be married?

I think I can say the biggest things you can do to be prepare for marriage is to deal with sin.  For guys, this can be a pornography addiction, a selfish viewpoint on his time and resources, or maybe a prideful inability to be corrected by God or others.  As a girl, its quite possibly more subtle. Pride might come out in how you expect to be treated.  It might be a selfish use of time spent on activities that ultimately only benefit you.

Lastly, and deeply tied to the sin issues above, be secure in your identity in Christ first, and then yourself.  Nothing will test you more than the first time your guy, intentionally or not, betrays you.  He's human and you will inevitably do the same to him.  Standing in the deep seated promises of God will help you survive.  Remember and believe that you are a righteous child of God, that your sins are forgiven, that you are beautiful both physically and spiritually.  Your ability to support your husband and children when the time comes depends on it.

 If you could say one thing to your sisters in Christ about their single years, what would it be?

If I'm limited to only one thing, it would be this: guard your heart.  It's a Christian cliche, but one which, like many Christian catch-phrases, we don't see a lot of people actually taking it to heart.  To guard something means you pre-emptively protect it. A sign of a failed guard is someone who is constantly chasing thieves to get back what they've lost. So often I see the young ladies around me stumbling out of perfectly avoidable tragedy.  While obviously there is no simple answer, there is nearly always at least one fatal flaw one can identify through the haze of tears.

Culture today, as enlightened and empowered as it claims to be toward women, tends to engender a spirit of self-loathing in our young ladies. You are never as good looking as the women in the magazines, the movies, on TV.  The army of highly trained professionals who paint, trim, edit, and squeeze these women into their thoroughly unreal, goddess like condition notwithstanding, a single glance into the mirror is enough to demolish an entire childhood worth of self-confidence.  Throw in the fact that our ideal women are also independent, successful, intelligent, athletic, cultured, and sexually liberated and it's little wonder tiny heads explode when girls wander out of adolescence.

All that is to say, your ability to protect your heart depends entirely upon what you allow into your heart.  Whether we recognize it or not, the vast majority of us have allowed ourselves to adopt the world's priorities, and usually without even realizing it.  Guarding your heart starts by making sure you aren't holding the door open and looking the other way.

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