Tuesday, October 03, 2006

it's not about good looks ... it's about the *effort*

Due to the suggestion of a fellow blogger with a similar name to my own (Christina), I decided to share some brief snippits from the section of Shaunti Feldhahn's For Women Only (the Bible study) about the visual nature of men. Quotes pulled from pages 124-129.

"We think that if God does not look on the outward appearance, then neither should our husbands, right? The truth is that because we know 'It's what's inside that counts,' we can easily migrate to the idea that what is outside doesn't matter. It does."

"... 70 percent of men indicated they would be emotionally bothered if their wives let themselves go and didn't seem to want to make the effort to do something about it."

"... ignoring that truth, our men--even godly men who are devoted to us--end up feeling disregarded, disrespected, and hurt."

"Somehow I assumed that if I was out of shape, I was the only person who was negatively affected!"

"If she doesn't take care of herself, dresses sloppily around me all the time, never exercises, and has no energy to go out and do things together, I feel like she's choosing not to do something that she should know is important to me. ... But really, I just want to see that my wife cares enough about me to make an effort."

"Seeing us make the effort to look good makes them feel loved and cared for. It matters to them in the same way it matters to us when we notice our husbands making an effort to do things that make us feel loved--especially those things that are difficult or don't come naturally. If our husband truly puts effort and thought into a romantic event, do you really mind if it's not perfect? Of course not. You feel loved and cared for."

"In a way, this issue for men is like romance for us. Maybe it shouldn't matter whether our husbands ever put one jot of effort into romancing us, but it does. We love him regardless; yet, we still feel that empty wistfulness for what could be."

"'We need to see that you care about keeping our attention on you--and off of other women.'"

Esther 1:11
"To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she [was] fair to look on."

"A man's wife is an extension of himself, just as he is an extension of his wife. Most men know that the appearance of their wives complements them in the presence of other men."

"The way you dress and carry yourself speaks volumes about both you and your husband. You may not like the idea that others are judging your husband on your appearance, but according to the men I spoke with, it happens often."

(Understand that weight or "natural good looks" [whatever *that* is] is beside the point. It's not a 20 year old pin-up girl they're after. However, a man wants a wife who *makes the effort* to be healthy, take care of herself, dress for him, and be confident and comfortable in who she is. This makes him feel cherished and respected. True, I'm not married. Perhaps, I have no place in writing about this so passionately in recent posts. However, I have eyes ... and I have ears. And my own observations have only been confirmed by the hundreds of men [many of whom were regular church-goers] Feldhahn interviewed. Men struggle with visual temptations on a daily basis. Let us aid our brothers and husbands to fight this temptaion by dressing modestly and for our husbands make the effort so that they only have eyes for us.)

44 comments:

CraigS said...

Some good thoughts there Christine.

I can also say (having spoken to a lot of guys over the years) that women who are unhappy with their appearance often become sexually unresponsive to their husbands as well. (There are, of course, exceptions)

That sort of situation can easily lead to infidelity...

sajini said...

Great thoughts Christine... I heard this recently " No sanctified frumpiness please!!!"

Chris said...

*thank* you! it's about time somebody else said it ... Shaunti Feldhan you say? *jots on notepad*

Felicity said...

I just spent the day doing a story on people with disabilities living in poverty because the government gives them 250 bucks a week to live.

Standing there in my expensive suit - holding a glass so a man in a wheelchair could drink out of a straw because he cant do it himself and his carer wasnt there -so we could get a good shot for the nightly news.

Tell you what it brought me way down to earth about what's important in life.....

I'm not saying that christian women need to be dowdy - Im wearing nice clothes and make up right now. But is all this banging on about personal apperance on this blog and other blogs helpful?

Or does it feed vanity?

Or do attractive make-up wearing girls like yourself Christine feel they have to constantly justify themselves?

Donners said...

I read that book, lots of great insights. Believe it girls, it's true!

I recommend reading it. It's very readable and there are plenty more things in that book, based upon shanuti interviewing many men about their perspectives on things...that are extremely valuable for understanding and loving men.


Looking good on the outside is important to a man, as they ARE very visual creatures.
However, spending time with the Lord so that he can count on you to love him and the Lord tuly is very important too.

A gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth to God and your man.

mike said...

Felicity I think that this dicussion is particularly helpful as it doesn't seem to be an issue that is talked about a great deal in any of the circles I move in.

I'd also argue that Chrsitine's blog stats continue to indicate that people are interested in reading about the things she posts on.

With respect if you think that it's just "banging on" don't read.

CraigS said...

Tell you what it brought me way down to earth about what's important in life.....

What's important in life?

jeltzz said...

I think you're on to something with the effort thing. People who make no effort about their physical appearance, and their health, betray an inner vice in their character. Being slothful, unkempt, etc., are not just outwardly ugly, they betray the inner person too. If a person is like that, I will judge their character by it

Anonymous said...

You've raised an interesting issue Christiane. I've been thinking, perhaps there is another way to think through this and add to your thoughts.

Research shows that women feel motivated to be make an effort with their appearance when they feel happy, secure and cherished. This makes sense - low self esteem leads to loss of motivation, which leads to lack of effort, etc. I know that personally, I feel like taking care of myself when I feel positive about my appearance and how people accept me.

While urging women to look beautiful to please their husbands is one method, perhaps another is encouraging men to treat women with respect, love and care. Then they will find the security and safety to take steps to look their best.

However, even this has its limitations. No matter how much a man fulfils a women, He can't be her security totally. Ultimately, this comes from Christ, from knowing that we are loved unconditionally by God - no matter whether I lose my looks or if my boobs grow saggy when I'm old. Rather than teaching women to use beauty as a way to visually tempt their husbands, how about teaching them to find their security in Christ first? Then they will find the hope and security to make changes without fear. Perhaps you agree with me on this already, but still, I don't think it can be said enough:)

As for a wife being an extension of a man, complementing him by her looks - is this right???? It sounds more worldly than biblical or loving to me. I know that I would feel humiliated if Sam's friends saw me in terms of my looks. It may be natural, but that doesn't make it right.

Craig, I don't agree with your train of logic. If a man commits adultery, he commits adultery, period. There is no quibbling over "perhaps the woman wasn't able to fulfill him sexually because she didn't look after her appearance". Also, these things are very complicated. You never know, maybe she isn't responsive because the man has no idea how to bring her to orgasm.

Also, I think Felicity is right to put all of this in perspective. Yes this is an important issue, but we also must be aware that it is a very middle class concern, and may serve in feeding our vanity, not inspiring Christ-likeness.

Chris said...

I dunno, I'm with Mike, I think that we've spent TONS of time talking through the stuff that's important. We get it - love God, love your neighbor.

Now it's on to the HOW and one of the things that's important to Christine (and many of the rest of us) at the moment is how to love her significant other (a neighbor in a global sense, I suppose, but not for too long eh guys?).

Also, Soph, I don't think that Craig was saying that it's the ONLY thing that leads to infidelity - there's never only ONE cause, but you can't just dismiss it, as it can still play a catalytic (and therefore important) role in the process down that dark path.

CraigS said...

Craig, I don't agree with your train of logic. If a man commits adultery, he commits adultery, period.

I completely agree. He is obliged to act righteously even if she completely denies him sex. (I'll ignore the point that such a woman should, really, be placed under discipline)

But that is going to place him in a situation of great temptation. My point was that a man who is getting regular sex from his wife is much less likely to commit adultery than a man who is not.

The scriptures recognise this too - God says that couples are not to deny themselves sex so that they will not be tempted. (1 Co)

There is no quibbling over "perhaps the woman wasn't able to fulfill him sexually because she didn't look after her appearance".

You've totally misread my post if you think I was saying that

Also, these things are very complicated. You never know, maybe she isn't responsive because the man has no idea how to bring her to orgasm.

Quite possibly - but again, I think you misunderstood my point.

What I was saying was that women who aren't happy with their appearance are often uninterested in sex. And a guy who is not getting sexual release is much more at risk of infidelity than a guy who is. As I said above, scripture acknowledges this fact.

You are thinking "Well, the guy has to 100% faithful, even if his wife never sleeps with him!" And you are right - but it is difficult and sin is likely. It is like saying to a woman "You have to respect your husband, even if he comes home every day and spits on you." It would be very hard for a woman to respect her husband in such circumstances.

I applaud Christine for this series because she is being real. I feel very uncomfortable with girls saying "externals aren't important" - then you see them do their hair and makeup, spend hours in the gym, and dress up nice.

It is much better to be honest and say "I want to look nice for my husband/boyfriend." That doesn't diminish the importance of inner beauty of course. They are not exclusive.

Of course we want to encourage inner beauty (in guys and girls) first and foremost. But I also think there is a place to say "You can't find a husband? Well, it wouldn't hurt to lose a few kilos, brush your hair, and gargle some Listerine."

Of course, it would take great courage to say the latter comment...

Martha said...

Hmmm... do I want to be me when I respond or should I pick a psuedonym?

There is no doubt in my mind that whether I like it or not, I am an extension of my family. How I look, how I act, who I am, and what I say will have an effect on them. Out of love (for Christ, for my husband, for my children) I should be doing my best to be the person God intended me to be. Reading Shaunti's book (along with a few others) was an answer to years of prayer. God made men and women different. In our humanity we keep forgetting that fact. Women expect their men to understand why they feel hurt and men expect their women to automatically understand why they feel disrespected. I think Christine is desparately trying to help all of us understand some of the things about relationships that most of us would just as soon overlook or ignore. Unfortunately, overlooking and ignoring truth doesn't make it go away.

Soph, I don't think Craig was trying to defend infidelity, but rather trying to help us women understand something that men automatically understand about men.

ckhnat said...

Good points, Soph, about bringing up the issue from the other perspective of men needing to take care of themselves and romance their wives. In relationships there are ALWAYS two sides of a coin. However, on this blog, I like to focus on addressing the women, generally. No pointing fingers without analyzing one's self, eh? If one of the men folk would like to take up the challenge and discuss what men can do to romance their wives and make them feel loved and respected and cherished ... GO FOR IT! it would be a fascinating read, as well as, enlightening.

Just remember tho, if he doesn't show his love/respect to you ... that doesn't mean you don't love/respect him.

Dani said...

Thanks for those quotes from Feldhahn Christine. I haven't read the book (might try to get my hands on it over summer) so perhaps my following comment is a bit presumptious since I can only go from what you have posted here... but my concern still is that this whole discussion is revolving around our 'experience' (eg. 'And my own observations have only been confirmed by the hundreds of men [many of whom were regular church-goers] Feldhahn interviewed') rather than trying to understand a biblical theology of beauty/appearance/attractiveness and working out how we are meant to approach the idea from there.

We are fallen and corrupted by sin. Our relationships are messed up as a result. So arguing that something is good or right because that's the way we as humans operate here and now doesn't necessarily equate with how we should operate. To pinch Soph's words, I think there is a danger that we can become 'more worldly than biblical' when we argue from experience and not Scripture.

Don't get me wrong- I appreciate the thought you are putting into this topic (which is why I keep coming back to read!). But I just wanted to suggest the possibility of working out a biblical theology of beauty and using that as a starting point rather than observing the way relationships seem to work in our fallen world. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

To Craig,
Sorry I misunderstood you, I see what you are saying now, and I respect that.

I'm not trying to point the finger at men, analysing them and saying it's their responsibility. I'm really sorry if I came across that way. I think I am also trying to look at the facts and the truth, which is that self esteem plays a huge role in how a woman percieves her physical appearance. I'm not saying that it's men's responsibility to make her feel good (maybe that's a way they can help her, this is a suggestion, not a finger pointing accusation!), maybe its her own responsibility, but the reality is that when she feels good, she looks good. That's all.

I totally agree that we ought to love/respect our husbands regardless of whether they love/respect us back. No questions there. I guess I also want to draw attention to the fact that when you get married, you are one. Roles and advice can be helpful, but ultiamtely, each couple will have their own context and way of doing things.

Something helpful I learnt at pre-marital counselling was that the context of everything we do in a marriage is love. It is possible for two couples to perform exactly the same acts, yet one to do so dutifully, the other out of love and a desire to serve the other. We commit to a person, not a relationship. I don't that contradicts anything you've written, but just something to think about I guess...

Felicity said...

"Felicity I think that this dicussion is particularly helpful as it doesn't seem to be an issue that is talked about a great deal in any of the circles I move in."

Well Mike after spending years having several close friends who struggle with eating disorders, vanity, and constant worries about how other christians judge them for the way the look I've had too much discussion.........In fact it pushed me to the point where I thought am I normal not to hate my body? Because all my girlfriends were - and many still are -insecure.

Personally I don't see what point there is in fretting about the way you look. God knits us together in our mothers wombs - when you look in the mirror you see his creation.

As for what's important in life:

Most of the activities and stuff we fill our lives with on this earth are meaningless. The only conclusion to the matter is to fear and obey God. Because God's going to judge us.

"Don't read" is a fair call. But then again I think the word "vanity" is also fair because how can filling your conversation with talk about external appearence not encourage people to become obsessed with the way they look?

Anonymous said...

"But I just wanted to suggest the possibility of working out a biblical theology of beauty and using that as a starting point rather than observing the way relationships seem to work in our fallen world."

Totally agree, Dani....

"arguing that something is good or right because that's the way we as humans operate here and now doesn't necessarily equate with how we should operate"

And I agree with that even more. I think this is at the heart of what I was trying to say.

As an example, this point:

"A man's wife is an extension of himself, just as he is an extension of his wife. Most men know that the appearance of their wives complements them in the presence of other men."

I'm not trying to argue that a wife is not an extension of her husband. Surely, if the two are one flesh, then we are extensions of each other:)

I want to have a think about that last sentence though - "the appearance of wives complements them in the presence of other men." This may be true and what happens everyday, but is that right? I believe we should serve men and help them, but should we uphold as righteous behaviour that, while not completely wrong, does in some way contradict how women of the past clothed themselves and brought praise to their husbands (re. noble wife), simply because, well, it's natural?

I'm not using that example to try and "blame" men for being the way they are. As Christine rightly said, that's none of my business, nor is it loving to guys. Rather, I want to question our premise that "natural" means that's how God intended us to operate.

From my experience as a woman, it is natural for me to do a lot of things, but that doesn't mean these behaviours are best for Sam. It's natural for my friends to think better of me if my fiance has a white collar job, but that doesn't mean that this thinking is right. It's natural for me to get emotional when we fight because it touches his soft spots, but that is manipulative, and I want to serve my fiance.

I hope that makes sense:)

ckhnat said...

seriously, Felicity ... these are blog posts ... articles, if you will. Do you seriously believe that I am consumed with this topic to the extent that it "fills my conversation"? You need to take what I've written in the wider context of the rest of my writing. I'm not going to take offense because you do not know me personally, but i'm sorry you have that impression of me.

vanity - The quality or condition of being vain;
Excessive pride in one's appearance or accomplishments; conceit. Lack of usefulness, worth, or effect; worthlessness. Something that is vain, futile, or worthless. Something about which one is vain or conceited.

Soph - LOVED your illustration of doing everything out of love!

I'd rather laugh than cry: the games we play

Dani - your interaction through all this has really spurred me on to think this through from a Biblical/theological perspective. Theology of Beauty ... interesting ... I've come across a couple of articles recently ... might share them later.

Priscilla said...

Felicity, All Christine is saying is that it is important for women to try to look their best for their husbands.

She wasn't talking about the extremes of fretting that brings about eating disorders, vanity, and constant worries about the way they look. She is not encouraging people to become obsessed with the way they look.

All she's saying is this: Take care of yourself. Men appreciate this.

ckhnat said...

All things in moderation, Felicity. Of course, extremes are disasterous.

Drinking alcohol ... drunkeness ... or completely abstaining.

Eating food ... gluttony ... or anorexia.

Exercise ... unhealthy obsession ... or slothfulness.

Appearance ... plastic surgery/immodesty/eating disorder/fear-of-men ... or burkahs (sp?)

ckhnat said...

OnlineSoph has a well-written/thought-out post on what God looks at.

CraigS said...

All she's saying is this: Take care of yourself. Men appreciate this.

That's right - and it's the truth. It will be no less true if we don't talk about it.

No-one is talking about extremes of vanity here I think. An no-one is talking about eating disorders either. (Gluttony is an eating disorder too, as well as a sin).

Sexual attraction was designed by God, so it can't be a bad thing. Saying "I want to look nice for hubby" is obviously a godly thing, by implication.

Regarding the biblical passages, Christine has quoted plenty where physical attraction between a couple is celebrated, including "enhancements" like perfume.

Soph, I totally agree that a husband should nurture his wife's self-esteem. She should have total confidence in his love.

While I'm on a rant, I'll say a couple of more things...

- The most unattractive thing in a woman, from a guys perspective, is a harsh, critical, argumentative spirit. When God told women to develop a "gentle and quiet" spirit, He was actually dispensing dating advice. The girls who marry young are inevitably those who are happy, supportive, smile a lot, gentle etc.

- Single women should not idolise marriage. I've noticed that women get to a certain age and, if they are single, become obsessed about getting married. I worry that they will be very disappointed when they do get married - it ain't all beer and skittles. I don't pretend to understand why women want to marry - it's a mystery to my male brain.

- The context of the discussion was being attractive for your boyfriend/husband. For those girls who aren't married or interested in marriage, you can safely ignore.

- Yes, Christian guys *are* attracted to godly character - but there are plenty of girls out there of godly character who also dress nice and watch what they eat. So it's not an either/or.

- What's good for the goose is good for the gander, and I've had very frank discussions challenging guys on their behaviour/appearance over the years, with respect to securing a spouse. Things I've said to mates over the years include -

"You need to lose the beer gut"
"You need to stop acting like a wimp"
"You need to get a job"
"You need to develop some confidence"
"You need to deal with your porn addiction"
etc

Anonymous said...

I have to say I agree with Felicity. Sure this is a blog but you have to admit that there is a strong emphasis on marriage and singleness as issues that are discussed. I wonder whether if the author was spending her days working with homeless people would change her subject matter?

Jesus chose not to speak about appearences...

CraigS said...

I wonder whether if the author was spending her days working with homeless people would change her subject matter?

Is that how you spend your days anon?

If you disagree, then disagree. But don't say "You shouldn't even be writing this." That is just manipulative, and attempt to shut down the debate.

And to do it anonymously - it is not commendable.

Priscilla said...

I just don't get what the "debate" is about.

jess said...

Hey

Christine, I've been reading your blog for awhile, and this is my first comment! I'm finding it interesting and thought provoking to think about this stuff, and I see lots of different perspectives on what it means to be "beautiful" and how as women we should present to the world (both Christian and non Christian people).

I'm compelled to comment though out of concern for something that Craig said (Craig, generally I'm all good with what you say) However, when you say

"The girls who marry young are inevitably those who are happy, supportive, smile a lot, gentle etc."

what are you actually suggesting? To me, it sounds like your suggesting that there's a direct correlation between marrying young (which is quite common in lots of Christian circles) and being a worthy and godly wife.

I'm 25 years old and have been dating a sensational, godly guy for a little over a year. While I've had other serious relationships in the past, none of them have ended in marriage. I believe really strongly that God has guided me in the area of relationships, and if he had wanted me to marry the guys I've dated in the past, he would have led me into that.

But the fact remains that I'm 25 (fairly old in Christian chick terms) unmarried and not engaged. Does that mean that I'm in some way different or less Christ-like than some of my other friends that married when they were 21?

PS Christine your blog really rocks :) thanks for your honesty and clear desire to be faithful to God

Priscilla said...

I noticed his generalization too and didn't quite agree. But...I figured everyone else would jump all over it. Why should I?

I know girls who were married later and still are happy, supportive, smile a lot, etc. I'd like to think that I am one of them. And some girls who have never married, but are still that way. I know...hard to believe.

But...I'm giving Craig the benefit of the doubt that he doesn't really mean it the way it came off.

(I've always been a peace maker)

CraigS said...

Yeah - don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with marrying later. Or not marrying at all. One of my comments was "don't idolise marriage".

I guess I was trying to emphasise the positive there rather than the negative - ie, guys like to marry positive, non-judgemental, supportive girls. If a girl is harsh and critical guys notice it and "word goes around". Seriously.

And "marrying young" - I was kinda thinking mid-20s anyway. It's all relative!

Anonymous said...

Craigs you make me laugh!

sajini said...

"The girls who marry young are inevitably those who are happy, supportive, smile a lot, gentle etc."

WHAT KIND OF CRAP IS THAT??? WHEre's BEthy????

CraigS said...

WHAT KIND OF CRAP IS THAT??? WHEre's BEthy????

It's a generalisation. Chill out.

Dani said...

Regarding the biblical passages, Christine has quoted plenty where physical attraction between a couple is celebrated, including "enhancements" like perfume.

Craig, a few verses mentioned at various points in a very lengthy discussion does not a biblical theology make. I’m not suggesting Christine has ignored Scripture in her thoughts on all of this. I am suggesting, however, that thus far the argument (as it has been presented here) by both Christine and most of the commentators has been based primarily on experience and observation of the way a sinful humanity relates to each other. All I am suggesting is that the starting point should be a biblical theology on beauty and the importance of physical appearance rather than the premise that ‘This is how guys/girls think and (to quote you) That's right - and it's the truth. It will be no less true if we don't talk about it. ’. A lot of the observations which have been made are of course true to the way we relate. My question is should they be the way in which we relate and the only way we can answer that is by starting with Scripture to build our agrument rather than support it.

The girls who marry young are inevitably those who are happy, supportive, smile a lot, gentle etc.
I see others have already noted your gross generalisation on this front.

I've noticed that women get to a certain age and, if they are single, become obsessed about getting married... I don't pretend to understand why women want to marry - it's a mystery to my male brain.
Maybe one of the reasons might be because often men make thoughtless comments such as ‘The girls who marry young are inevitably those who are happy, supportive, smile a lot, gentle etc’ which leaves many godly, happy, supportive, gentle, smiling and wonderful ummarried christian women thinking there must be something wrong with them that they are not married yet.

Yes, Christian guys *are* attracted to godly character - but there are plenty of girls out there of godly character who also dress nice and watch what they eat. So it's not an either/or.

Which brings me back to my first point. Does the Bible tell us to evaluate external appearance when choosing a marriage partner? Maybe it does say/imply that. Maybe it doesn't. But so far your argument hasn’t been based on Scripture. It’s been based on the way guys (and girls) operate as sinful people in a fallen world.

sajini said...

Nice generalisation Craig!! Oh, I am chill, just dissapointed in your words!!

CraigS said...

Maybe one of the reasons might be because often men make thoughtless comments such as

Nice

which leaves many godly, happy, supportive, gentle, smiling and wonderful ummarried christian women thinking there must be something wrong with them that they are not married yet.

The implication is false.

But so far your argument hasn’t been based on Scripture. It’s been based on the way guys (and girls) operate as sinful people in a fallen world.

Which suggests that it is sinful for physical attraction to play a part in the mating process. Get real.

CraigS said...

Oh, I am chill, just dissapointed in your words!!

I totally don't understand why that statement struck a nerve.

CraigS said...

thinking there must be something wrong with them that they are not married yet

I continually say, and have said so on this thread, that there is nothing wrong with someone who is not married.

One of you girls be honest with me - what is the real reason behind the fear women have about singleness? I just don't get it.

jess said...

Craigs, it's an amazingly complex question - why are females so often scared of being single? I'd be lying if I said that I'm comfortable with the thought of being single forever. However, I'm certaintly not paralysed with the fear that I will be...or that that would be a bad thing.

But as for reasons why such fear exists? Maybe
1. security - physical, emotional... Sometimes it's tough to consider the future if you're worried about being without support
2. wanting to have children
3. wanting companionship
4. people feeling sorry for you if you're single (they can do it even without meaning to)

Whether we like it or not, our society promotes relationships (not necessarily marriage) as a good thing. As Christians we need to have God's perspective on this - but that's not always easy. While I can know all of the reasons why it's fine to be single (either for a season, or permanently) that doesn't eliminate a degree of anxiety about it.

That said - we are called as Christians to trust God. Full stop. We aren't promised a marriage partner, but we are promised an amazingly huge eternity with the creator of the universe

CraigS said...

Thanks for your honesty Jess.

I think your reasons 1-3 are fair enough. Reason 4 is a problem, and we have to train ourselves not to worry about other people's perception of us.

There is nothing wrong with being single. Marriage does not validate ones existence.

Listen to the following, it is the truth. The loneliest, saddest people in the world are not singles, they are people in bad marriages. Talk to anyone who is a counsellor and they will confirm that. You are much better off single than badly married.

Anonymous said...

No Craigs I have to disagree, those who are 'worse off' are those who are not trusting in God and his plan for their life. An unhappy married person is not 'worse off' when despite the state of their marriage they trust in God and find contentment and hapiness and direction in having faith in God. (I'm not saying that a person should stay in an unhappy marriage but I am saying that your relationship with God is MORE important than your married or single status in terms of being content.)
I have known thoes who have grown closer to god though a hard divorce, I have known poeple who have grown closer to God through sitting out a rocky-patch in a marriage and I have known many a single to grow closer to God through sheer trusting.

This is what counts!

Dani said...

The implication is false

You might think the implication is false but it is very real for a lot of women. Making comments which imply that unmarried women are in that situation because they are either not godly enough or because ‘word has gotten around’ that they are too argumentative, critical and harsh can be hugely destructive to them.

Which suggests that it is sinful for physical attraction to play a part in the mating process. Get real.
No it doesn’t Craig. I never suggested it was sinful for physical attraction to play a part in the mating process. Physical attraction in a marriage context is a great gift from God. What I’m wondering is what importance Scripture gives that physical attraction in finding a marriage partner and choosing to love them. I’m concerned that we as Christians have bought into the vital importance that our society places on it, rather than looking to Scripture to determine how important God says it should be in finding someone to marry and in the choice and action of loving that person.

That concern is illustrated by the refrain in these comments that ‘this is just how things are’. Are they? Does Scripture say they should be that way? Does Scripture say that if you come across two godly wonderful christian women that the one who will be a more appropriate marriage partner for you is the one who is more physically attractive (which is the position you seem to hold judging by some of your comments). If it does then where? And if it doesn’t then what does that say to us? I’m not suggesting we can all just snap our fingers and be free of the deep-seated influence our society has had on us in this respect. But neither does that mean we should just shrug our shoulders and say it’s all too hard.

One of you girls be honest with me - what is the real reason behind the fear women have about singleness? I just don't get it.
That’s another generalisation Craig. Not all girls want to be married. Not all women have a fear about singleness.

But you are right, there are women who do want to be married and who don’t want to be single. Jess has touched on a few of the reasons why. Many women want to feel secure. They want to feel like they are wanted. They want to feel like they belong somewhere. They want children to love and they want to be loved by their children. They want to feel that they themselves are unique and special enough to be chosen to be the wife of X, to be the beloved mother of Y & Z. And they want to feel that because of the person they are, their character, their personality, their efforts to strive for godliness, their essential nature that makes then who they are as an individual. Another reason (for christians) is at times it can be tough because our community is so based around the family unit and single people often feel like they don’t belong in that unit or don’t really understand their place in it, or the way they are meant to relate to the family at large.

Of course not all of these reasons exist for all single women who want to be married. But it’s a good idea of the spectrum. I’m also not saying that its a good thing for them to feel all of these things (because our identity and thus contentment is found in Christ, not in our marital state). But they are very real nonetheless and though they need to be addressed they are not easily changed (I actually wonder if some of them come as a result of Eve being made as a 'helper' for man- but that's another post for another day).

And so effectively saying ‘Get over your fear of singleness/desire to be married because your life doesn’t suck that much as it is’ (even though it is a helpful reminder not to idolise marriage) is not exactly a caring pastoral response.

PS. Sorry Christine- I know we are getting off the topic of your post!

CraigS said...

Making comments which imply that unmarried women are in that situation because they are either not godly enough or because ‘word has gotten around’ that they are too argumentative, critical and harsh can be hugely destructive to them.

I was being honest - that is exactly what happens. If you want pious platitudes like "Just pray about it, God has a plan for you" you should read someone else's comments.

As far as it being destructive... well, I guess suggesting that cigarettes cause lung cancer hurts the self-esteem of smokers. Let's tell them warm cuddly messages instead.

Bottom line - girls, if your nature is "argumentative, critical and harsh" you may have a problem attracting a mate. Guys don't dig that, they really do not.

Does Scripture say that if you come across two godly wonderful christian women that the one who will be a more appropriate marriage partner for you is the one who is more physically attractive

Scripture leaves us a lot of scope here. As far as I can discern from scripture, the only boundaries are -

* Female
* Christian
* Not already married

If I meet 2 girls who satisfy those requirements, and I'm attracted to 1 and not the other, I'll pursue the one I'm attracted to. So will everyone else on this thread (I guess excepting you).

Are there other biblical requirements? Where? How about you provide some answers?

That’s another generalisation Craig. Not all girls want to be married. Not all women have a fear about singleness.

Notice how Jess answered my question without having a dig at me first?

And so effectively saying ‘Get over your fear of singleness/desire to be married because your life doesn’t suck that much as it is’ (even though it is a helpful reminder not to idolise marriage) is not exactly a caring pastoral response.

Everyone else on this thread knows I wrote what I wrote to encourage singles. And, I suspect, everyone else took it in that spirit.

Except for you.

Ok, what *is* a caring pastoral response? Since you have criticised my response, provide one of your own.

mq2 said...

Craig,

Of course some single people desire to be married.

Marriage is a good thing. An incredible relationship designed by God.
So much so, that God designed it as an image of how Christ relates to the church.

Does this mean marriage is better than being single?
No. Paul says clearly no.

But of course for some (and logically so), it is a very desirable relationship to have.

Does this mean it should be an idol? something to spend your life chasing after? No.

But it is important to recognise that for some it is a very real and deep desire.
And a "caring pastoral response" is to allow people to share that burden. To pray with one another. To push one another on to seeking first the kingdom of God. But this doesn't mean it won't be painful or without tears.
We need to listen to and care for one another in whatever stage of life/ desires/ struggles we are facing-and from there- encourage one another fix our eyes on Jesus so that we might run the race.

CraigS said...

And a "caring pastoral response" is to allow people to share that burden. To pray with one another. To push one another on to seeking first the kingdom of God. But this doesn't mean it won't be painful or without tears.

Liz, that is a helpful thought. You have had much more experience ministering to women than I have, so I respect that.

It still troubles me a bit though.

Whenever I read history I keep getting reminded how abundantly God has blessed us in this age and place with good things. Surely we should focus on the good gifts we have, rather than the gifts we don't have?

ckhnat said...

I'd rather laugh than cry: the games we play