Monday, November 14, 2005

a noble man of intention

“[Mr. Darcy] sat down for a few moments, and then getting up, walked about the room. Elizabeth was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes, he came towards her in an agitated manner, and thus began:

‘In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’"

Jane Austen in “Pride and Prejudice” describes Elizabeth Bennet’s reaction as one of astonishment “beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent.” One can only imagine the inner turmoil erupting inside proud Mr. Darcy as he laid out his intentions. What is this fear … this angst … this extreme vulnerability? Is it part of the curse?

Carolyn McCulley says in her article What Is the Measure of a Man? that this is what being a man is all about: “risk and reward.”

“And we ladies want to encourage the men around us to be men and take risks. That’s how you express trust in God. We express trust in God by waiting on you.”

Waiting.

This period of agonizing waiting allows women, however, to evaluate the men who have captured their interest. Does he sit in the gates (Pr. 31:23)? Does he aspire to obtain the qualities of an overseer and deacon as listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-10? Is he sober-minded, respectable, hospitable, able to teach or lead, not a drunkard, gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, well thought of by outsiders, dignified, not double-tongued, not greedy? Is he a holder of “the mystery of the faith?”

Although we should not expect perfection, we “should look at the trajectory of their lives.” For instance observe his interaction with the church. McCulley asserts that “watching a man’s commitment to the Bride of Christ is going to help us discern how he will interact with an earthly bride. We can evaluate many things about a man’s character through serving together in church before we invest any of our emotions into a relationship with him.”

Once when praying about a man she found herself attracted to, McCulley was directed to read a passage in Isaiah 32. The passage although is chiefly about the Messiah, it also contrasts a man of noble of character with a scoundrel.

A noble man:
Is a shelter from the wind
Is a refuge from the storm
Is streams of water in the desert
The shadow of a great rock
Makes noble plans
Does noble deeds

The scoundrel:
Speaks folly
Mind is busy with evil
Practices ungodliness
Spreads error concerning the Lord
Makes up evil schemes
Does nothing for the hungry, thirsty

Although it is long, I have include here McCulley’s application of that passage:

“A noble man is a hiding place from the rough elements of life, a man who offers protection and shelter. He does not leave you exposed – either to ridicule or to harm. He is refreshment in a dry place, bringing much encouragement. He flows with streams of living water because he is a man of the Word. He is shade in weariness – reflecting the strength of the Rock, Christ. When a man is making noble plans toward you, he wants to offer you covering. He will offer to serve you, help carry your burdens, and pour the Word into your dry soul. His deeds will be noble, not common. He will show evidences of cherishing you, protecting your boundaries and standards. He won’t touch you like a common object, and he will exert himself to care for you and to notice your needs.”

Thank God for the man of noble character that God has placed in your life! But is he being INTENTIONAL toward you. “[A]n intentional man makes his purposes known. He tells you what he’s doing, and where he’s leading. He is clear about where he wants the relationship to go. When he’s not clear, when he’s not saying anything, when he’s enjoying the friendship but not moving forward – he’s not being intentional. Period. You don’t see noble deeds because he’s not making those noble plans. You may have the greatest friendship in the world, but he’s just hanging out in it. In fact, one man called this half-hearted testing of the water ‘the buddy approach.’”

Some women are content with this “part-time boyfriend,” but McCulley is convinced that it is a dangerous place to be.

1. “For one, I find it challenging to guard my heart and keep my peace before God in these ‘hopeful friendships.’ I’m always in danger of closing my fist-of-demand over the friendship, instead of leaving his friendship in open hands before the Lord.

2. Second, it tempts the men to passivity, in my humble observation. It provides them with the out of “Oh, maybe you misunderstood me, we’re just friends.” If we women would be better about guarding the amount of time and attention invested in these close friendships, we might see our reserve rewarded with pursuit instead of passivity.”

“When is a man interested? When he says so, and his actions back up his words. Anything less is at best merely friendly, and possibly even uncertain or inconsiderate. If he’s a noble man who’s made noble plans, one of his noble deeds is letting you know about it!”

McCulley concludes her column by speaking to the men:

“(A shout out to the guys still reading this column. See? It really does come down to those three little words: TALK. TO. HER. I also hope you are not discouraged by the points above. It’s worth stating again: Perfection is not the standard. We only want to see you taking biblical standards seriously and attempting to apply them in your lives. I often receive letters from guys saying there’s not much material out there for cultivating godliness as a single man. Yes, it does seem that most materials are for single women. Though I do not presume to fill that void – it’s better that you are equipped and discipled by other godly men – I do hope that by eavesdropping here you’ve derived some benefit and have some points to discuss with the guys. We women are praying for you!)”

Amen.

30 comments:

CM said...

Thanks Christine. Sometimes we guys need a slap in the face before we realize that our passive natures lead to bad intentions.

CM said...

Well, by slap in the face, I mean a gentle reminder by a woman of noble character. Or something like that. I'm trying to cover up for my bad comment. I think. Uh... so, how you doin'? ;)

Lisa said...

Aah, yes, the classic quote from Jane Austin's "Pride and Prejudice"...a great moment in literary history!

Wonderful post, Christine...thank you for your thoughtful exhortation to be men and women of faith and obedience...whether in the role as pursuer or the pursued.

Christian said...

As a general thought: I've enjoyed the SBTS blogs for a while now. My constant amazement at the colorfulness of the ideas presented, the meek self-loathing, and the faithful attention to detail and constant scrutiny provide my humble existence with a modicum of joy.

That said, I'm all for encouraging one another on in the things of the Lord. Has anyone considered, though, that all this talk is counterproductive?

Honestly, if any major changes were taking place, why do I keep seeing the same topics being posted ad nauseum?

Or, better put, is the experience being sacrificed for the aim of perfection? These great men and women of faith in the Bible who wrote the inspired words of God--how many were lax in their ability to rush in to a situation with unparalleled certainty?

Paul purposed himself to preach, which he was commissioned by Christ to do. So he put himself in situations where he could do just that. He thrust himself into the midst of the people who would probably stone him and told them the good news. Yet he also maintained community and put forth the good news in letter form.

The same could be said of David. Here was a great poet--a man after God's own heart. Yet the moment he saw a giant defy the name of God, he went straight to the king and told him that he'd kill the bugger.

So there's lots of talk on these blogs (I in no way mean to demean the author of this website; it simply was the most recent post on the topic) about dating or singleness or the problems with modern relationships. Great--God's placed a burden on people's hearts to change society. What better way to do that than to DO that.

Get out there. Date around. Court around. Whatever you want to call it--do it. Fall on your face a few times. Get hurt, but don't lose focus (for we are all servants of but one great King).

Often we forget that we have to pick up our crosses in this lifetime and share in the sufferings of Christ--to know humiliation, pain, loneliness, eccentricity--in order to share in the glory of Christ: our eternal crowns.

Have faith that God will work one of His crazy servants in your life in a way that you couldn't imagine.

erin said...

Christine,

Thank you so much for yet another encouraging and heart-awakening post. I know many women, including myself, that need to be reminded about what it means to be pursued and what exactly we should be looking for. And I know many guys that need to be reminded that risks produce faith. My prayer is that women we would truly learn how to not only gaurd our hearts, but encourage our brothers to be intentional.

Thanks for passing on some wisdom.

Jonathan said...

Here's why guys aren't intentional:

Girls want a guy who is "mysterious". You solve that problem and guys will become "intentional".

erin said...

Who said girls want guys that are mysterious? We honestly do desire men that are intentional. You can be intentional and not spill every bit of information about yourself. We should know your intentions and still not know everything about you. We desire to have to wait to know somethings about you. If you tell us everything at once there's no excitement left for the next time we get to see you. So really, you can be intentional about what you want out of a relationship and still be mysterious.

Anonymous said...

Um, forgive me, but I am getting slightly weary of hearing all this. It's almost like this is all your blogs and emails are about anymore, Christine. Forgive me. I want to do what is right, I want to honour God in my relationships, and I want others to as well, but all this talk from someone who has experienced so little is getting exhausting. Is this all you do anymore? Watch people date, read about people who date, and advise people who date on how to date? I know this sounds harsh, although that is not my intention. Why is it that you and so many Christians at the Seminary are so caught up in this topic? Serve God, wait for the right one, and things will work out fine. End of story. You are messing with things that don't need to be messed with. It is not your job to change mankind. In fact, you can't. All those guys out there who act too timid will gain the courage when the right girl comes along. People do not need dating counsel from someone who has not dated or been in love. I agree with much of what you have said, but as christian commented, I feel that all this talk is counterproductive.

ckhnat said...

oddly enough ... i agree. i think i've exhausted the subject. i'm going to get my head out of the books and live life. Serve God, live one day at a time, and drink tea.

Allie Riedy said...

First of all, Anonymous = sketchy. Why don't you just say who you are? Secondly, leave her alone! She can write what she freakin' wants to, it's her freakin' blog!

ckhnat said...

oh, Allie, don't worry about it. It's obviously a friend of mine just working a little needed sanctification in my life. I'm grateful.

... it has crossed my mind that i must be going completely batty to be thinking about this topic so much ... what's going on?!! ... i think it's the environment ... or there was that weird behavior in the birds two weeks ago ... anyway, i looked back at my archives, and I think there's a healthy enough mix of topics so that i don't have to be too concerned about my sanity. i'm really not generally the type to go on obsessively about this sort of thing.

thanks for snapping me out of it, friend.

Donna said...

I tell you - it's the case of the first semester at seminary... for some reason, relationship and wedding talk gets kicked into overdrive.

I appreciate you approach to the anonymous blogger, but I have historically thought that one should ascribe one's own name to comments, PARTICULARLY when they are less than gracious.

I am so glad that you posted what you did - coming from someone who spent too much of her high school/college existence obsessed with serial dating, these are all truths that I have come to after many many mistakes. Good for you to post your conviction, especially when it is Biblical AND helpful to those who may not have exposure to this stance.

Your post also makes me more grateful for the man of noble character that God has placed in my life -his intentionality and desire to serve, exhort, and respect deeply touches me every day. Guys - it is possible to do this, and women who love the Lord respect and cherish men who do.

I am so glad that you brought this up, Christine - we need to be reminded of what a man of noble character looks like!

Bobby said...

Actually I think these last couple of posts have been very interesting. I gave you a plug on my blog and offered a bit of a male perspective.

Nice blog!

Laura said...

Christine, without minimizing your incredibly gracious response to "anonymous," I have to side with Allie. It is unkind to post a confrontational comment while hiding behind anonymity. If someone really believes your post is a matter of concern, and that someone is a friend, he or she needs to pick up the phone or shoot you an email. To do otherwise is neither appropriate nor Biblical.

That being said, you handled the comment with amazing diplomacy, and I'm sure I couldn't have done the same.

But boy, that dog adventure was pretty wild, wasn't it? ;)

Laura said...

And, girl, I haven't said this before, but that picture of you is Amazing. Dark hair is fun.

Jonathan said...

Christine, don't let anonymous show up and be accusational to discourage you from something you enjoy posting about. Like allie said, it's your blog, post whatever you want. Your posts have been both enlightening and challenging to our community here, and I'm willing to bet that "anonymous" is probably not anywhere around here, so who cares what he/she thinks?

Apparently anonymous is someone who has been abused in relationships and is bitter about them still, which is why he/she takes the approach that your inexperience leaves you less than knowledgeable.

I agree with Donna - own up to your words, anonymous. Don't be a sissy. If you're gonna stir up controversy, be respectable enough to stand behind it.

ckhnat said...

If I was certain that I didn't already know Anonymous ... alright ... I would be a bit annoyed. But you forget ... I know this person ... this person gets emails from me ... and don't you think in a sense that Anonymous is correct. Shouldn't we practice what we preach? Shouldn't we live each day for the glory of God and not just talk about living it?! I'd agree with Anonymous on that point.

But I have seen a need that needs to be addressed in our community. I don't think my two recent blogs were written from a needy position. They were merely matter-of-fact. Men be intentional in your relationships. Women don't date in your mind.

I thank everyone for sticking up for me. But Anonymous is a friend. He/she was concerned about what he/she thought was an "obsession" in my life and was merely trying to spur me on towards godly living. I'd like to think, however, that if Anonymous were here, he/she would see that I'm living a perfectly healthy, happy life. I just let my mind wander sometimes.

And as for Anonymous being abused or bitter ... ha ... that's quite an assumption ... it could also mean that Anonymous has found love and has discovered that all the worry, all the talk, isn't worth it. Just don't forget where you were a year ago, Anonymous. Have a little grace with those of us who long for love.

pink said...

i can't wait until your mr. darcy sweeps you off your feet, blue. you're in for a wonderful surprise!

ckhnat said...

Me have a Mr. Darcy? Ha ... that would be my perfect punishment ... like Elizabeth, I'd deserve it.

ckhnat said...

Everything Means Nothing
~Late Tuesday

At the drop of a hat I would say yes to your questions
And I would think it great to be your friend
And not only that, I would love to hear your stories always
And hear your laughter from the phone line's other end

It's simply marvelous what I know of you
And of the things I've heard, I like you that much more
And more time with you makes my heart grow fonder
But there's just one small thing that I think I should know

What are you thinking of me?
I haven't figured it out - not yet - not specifically
And everything means nothing, until you put into your words
What you are thinking when you think of me

And I could sure make more guesses than the ways you make me laugh
As to your intentions with me
But all my guesses add up to a whole lot of nothing
So I'll wait for you to divulge to me

What are you thinking of me?
I haven't figured it out - not yet - not specifically
And everything means nothing, until you put into your words
What you are thinking when you think of me

N said...

come now M'lady, i daresay it has become quite clear from your chosen studies and consequent blogging that you, Christine, are most primarily in pursuit of a very wealthy and arrogant man who at the very least owns a large plantation if not a plantation *and* a fried chicken restaurant establishment. why else wouldst thou go to a southern seminary but to find your "Mr. Darcy" whom you could love to hate... and love his money.

ckhnat said...

My dear, Mr. N ... if you only knew how much I dislike this Southern cuisine. But I must bear it ... if, like you said, I am ever to snag myself a thoroughbred raising, horse racing, tobacco growing, biscuits and gravy eating, wealthy, arrogant man. But alas ... I fear my quest will come to nought. Alak and alas.

If he does ever cross my path, however, goodness knows, I would never even look at him. (Who's arrogant now?!!) I'm just odd that way. No, I shall find myself, instead a friend. A friend who needs me and I will find myself, at last, in such a state, that I find myself needing him. And together we shall live and work together for the rest of our lives to the glory of God.

N said...

friends are about as romantic as fried chicken. and you know it.

i'm not sure whether to take your less sarcastic statement seriously or if it's simply less obvious sarcasm. wasn't the original post here all about guys being intentional and noble and not 'just buddies' getting to know a woman and then maybe later starting a serious pursuit?

i keep having to remember this is research for your book... so i'll power through my brain telling me it might be 1:50am and type a bit more...


so maybe this "friends first" philosphy has stuck with the church and seems a likely option as a result of so many people who "marry their best friend" and then we hear these nice little stories about their lives being nice and stable and...little.

when in fact maybe they could have married someone who had some SPARK and who they would become good friends with *as* they engaged in a romantic courtship.

sure, it's riskier, and will likely have more tension and challenge... but isn't that what God wants marriage to be anyway? challenging and pushing each other on to better and better things/life/love/theology/faith/works...?

or just a 'nice little couple'? i want to puke when i see couples return from their honeymoon and become about the most boring and uninteresting folks i know! what is that all about? shouldn't they be MORE effective for God's Kingdom now that they are united in a cause? shouldn't they be MORE alive?


i don't claim to have it figured out (ie. i'm single too) but this whole friendship thing just doesn't seem to work too well.

cheers,

-Nathan

p.s. I don't really think Kentucky qualifies as the south. calling the school "southern" is catchy but come on... look a freakin map. nashville aint even the south in my book!


p.s.s. this is totally unrelated to this post... but related to another one on here somewhere... May I be so bold as to ask just how tall you are Christine? i'm just curious what "tall girl" means in Kentucky. mainly i just need to know what size polka dot vespa to send you anonymously via ebay.

ckhnat said...

to answer your postscripts, Nathan,

1. Southern is actually the name of the seminary. it's short for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. and no, i wouldn't consider it South, either. I've come across very few Southern drawls and I find that sweet iced tea isn't as plentiful to come by as in the Deep South.

2. just a tad over 6 ft. tall. so you might as well order the large. but PLEASE ... no orange polka dots!

...

and to answer another inquiry you had ...

the picture to the right of me and starry night ... ha, i wish i had the time to rig a backdrop like that. no, it's a page from one of my Antrhropologie catalogs.

ckhnat said...

http://christinehnat.blogspot.com/2005/10/i-am-not-fascist-feminist.html

in this post, i reflect in some of my comments of my desire for passionate living as you have suggested. Whether you meet your wife in a spontaneous, passionate, sweep-her-off-her feet way ... or if you have developed a trusting friendship ... either way, it is a choice to live passionately. Are you living passionately before you have met her? If so it will be easier to maintain that passion for God, her, and life. But if you find yourself caught up in a whirlwind of emotional passion upon the romantic pursuit of a woman who walked by you at Walmart and expect that passion to carry on through marriage ... good luck.

ckhnat said...

so ... you're on the west coast, eh?

N said...

yep. you've found me out. i work at walmart on the west coast. that's all i do. i just stand there and say 'welcome to walmart' over and over and over. it's really exciting and fulfilling work.

when you rich smart ladies come into my store to buy something cheap and mingle midst us common folk... wow... it's pretty durn amazin' if i don't say so m'self. how can i help myself but to propose to all of them, whenever one comes into the garden department at least.


right... so anyway,

that whole image at the top right is out of a catalog? i'm confused. that girl on the painting looks an awful lot like you.

anyway... i probably won't be around or commenting much anymore... the mystery must end i'm afraid. i would send you an email but don't see an address anywere. so drop me a line sometime if you want to hear a funny/encouraging story on my experience finding and reading this blog. thanks for your good words and questions.

cheers,

-Nathan

ckhnat said...

oh ... how sad, Nathan. well, you're welcome to visit the blog anytime you wish and leave any insightful, edifying comments. the face in the picture is me, indeed. however, the woman who appears to be holding the picture is from the Anthropologie catalog. i'd be fascinated to hear how you came across my blog. i've been curious.

G. F. McDowell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
G. F. McDowell said...

When a man takes his rightful risk in being intentional, rejection is something he is all too aware of, and it is the woman's right to reject him. What is completely unfair is when a woman rejects the noble man with a noble plan, but tries to find a third way whereby she may still enjoy the benefits of his friendship. It is a relationally heinous act to demand friendship on the heels of rejecting a man's pursuit. The sword cuts both ways, and there are consequences of intentionality for women, too.

[corrected typo]