Lie #1: "Let's get lunch" = "let's reproduce one day!"
I dislike the book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" in much the same way that I abhor the phrase "intentional dating." Their continual use in Christian culture has programmed everyone to think all women want is marriage, and that until mens' desires finally catch up, there is absolutely no point in interacting with women beyond a casual, "how are you?"
The collateral damage of this lie has been staggering. I feel as though I am surrounded by guys that are, for the most part, scared of having mature, one-on-one conversations with other women. In the same vein, I feel as though I am surrounded by girls (myself included) who are constantly fighting a battle against discontentment and self-consciousness, wondering when it'll be their turn to feel noticed. (And since it hasn't happened yet, what's wrong with us?!)
Furthermore, the sexual tension that pervades even the simplest campus ministry meeting is a pungent and thick as smoke. I can't help but think that these problems wouldn't be problems if we were OK with casual mingling.
Gentlemen, it's what girls want to do. Hang out! Go to the movies. Dance at the Court. Laugh over chicken parm at Commons. Get pretty for you because frankly we think you're cute! Ultimately, we just want to get to know you beyond the fact that you're a Christian and a male. Contrary to popular belief, as much as we may want to get married eventually, no one is really truly biting at the bit to do it now. After all, we have to get into grad school and write a thesis and do everything else that we do. When we say "let's get lunch," that's really all we mean.
Lie #2: Just because us ladies are slightly more assertive these days, it must mean that we want to be treated like robots.
Go my gender. We can vote, we can have jobs, we can be President. Yaaaaaaaay us. Why does this scare you? A lot of us still believe that women are programmed to be pursued by men [translated: We like when you initiate things]. The ball is in your court! We can be patient, but take note: We won't wait forever. "Mario Kart" will not be going anywhere, but this girl and many others like her will if you don't speak up. With words.
Lie #3: Being friendly equals "leading us on." Therefore, in the interest of protecting us from thinking you want to pursue us romantically, acknowledge us as little as possible.
It's sweet that you're trying to guard our hearts. Really. But much like we can't own your libido when we dress, you can't own our emotions when you engage us in conversation. So, engage us in conversation. I don't get why guys think it's OK to be rude and standoffish during social occasions. It sucks to be ignored! Pleasantries are pleasant! Say hello when we're standing three feet away from you; chat about the weather, ask about classes, work, whatever -- we're friends, so let's act like it.
Believe it or not, we are not 12-year-old-girls at a sixth grade dance; if you acknowledge us in public, we will not be writing our first names with y'all's surnames in Hello Kitty journals after recess.
Lie #4: Dates mean high costs and expectations.
Do I have standards for a guy? Yes. But if we're just getting to know each other, I'm not expecting an all-expense trip to Santorini here, nor Pride and Prejudice theatrics. Let's just chat! Laugh. I might even split the check. If conversation makes you nervous, let's ease into it by going to a movie. No. Pressure.
Lie #5: It's OK that we don't socialize or interact with the opposite sex, because my spouse will fall out of the sky.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn, because I have struggled for a long time with a false sense of introvertism (is this a word?). But God got my attention. How? Because He reminded me with that I cannot love Him well in a vacuum.
Do I believe that God has someone planned for me? Yes. But do I believe that the TV will turn on by itself? Nope. I have to get up and turn it on. In the same vein, I've got to meet Jesus [and people] halfway! I need to develop the characteristics of the woman who will one day be a good wife. And how do I do that? By meeting people, interacting with people, serving people. I've got to leave my dorm room occasionally. When Jesus said, "go out and make disciples of all men," he didn't indicate that we were to Facebook stalk them into submission, but instead to go out. One cannot say "I'm focusing on my relationship with Christ right now!" and then go into a hole. We are a social creations, of whom God said, "it is not good for man to be alone."
This means that the sexes will have to mingle if we are to be a functioning, vibrant, Jesus-centered community. We might as well enjoy each others' company! Does that mean that we are to serial-date and turn into some absurd lady killer or Scarlett woman? Nah. Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Conversely, I think a lot of us are waiting for it to rain when God's saying, "I invented hoses for a reason!" Check out Acts 1:11: "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky?" We are constantly called to action, to do things that make us uncomfortable so that we grow.
Lie #6: My decision to ignore the opposite sex doesn't hurt anyone.
False. Do you know how many crying-conversations I've been a part of because of the passivity and indecision of Christian men?
This is best evidenced by a conversation I had about dating with a guy friend of mine. I discussed how a lot of girls are frustrated with the disinterest of the great guys around them, and they are caught in a spiral of self-doubt. Guy doesn't ask me out, there's something wrong with me, I'm not pretty enough, I'm not skanky enough, I need to change, or be more aggressive. This is coming from girls who love Jesus and are otherwise incredibly confident. This was/is me! My friend was astonished that the non-initiative of Christian men was causing a loss of confidence in these awesome girls, which sucks, because men SEE the loss of confidence, and then don't like it!
Lie #7: Women just want romance and have a minimal sex drive.
We are sexual creatures and have sexual desires. All of us. While I acknowledge that men may be wired in different ways, it's frustrating and disillusioning to suppose that guys are alone in the fight against lust, fantasies, the objectification of the opposite sex, and pure thoughts on the beach. I and many women like me experience these things, too.
Lie #8: I don't need to interact with real women, because porn is more interesting, or safer. I don't have to try, and there are no strings attached.
I would wager that if men and women spent more time interacting in a low-pressure environment with the opposite sex, the desire to rely on pornography as a source of relief would decrease. Is it a scientific fact? I don't know. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying. But from my perspective, it seems as though we're getting more and more uncomfortable with each other while the percentage of pornography users in the Church grows. This problem is an essay for another day, but essentially, porn is crippling men and women, stunting their relational abilities while placing incredible pressures on the opposite sex.
Lie #9: Non-Christian girls have a more low-key approach to relationships, so it's a good idea to pursue them instead of the Christian crazies who want to marry me after the first date.
No. No no no. This one makes me mad. Why? Because I've lived it. I've faced the judgment of high-and-mighty brothers in Christ, who made me feel like crap because my evangelistic strategies were not as militant as theirs, because I liked to wear bikinis in the summer, and because I thought their concepts of submission were delusional. Yet the girls they dated were the girls we "good Christian girls" were to never act like. Double standard?
This is not a judgment call on any women, nor is it saying I am a saint. It's just a call for consistency between words and actions of Christian guys.
Lie #10: Submission is a divine right that all men receive from their ladies, either girlfriends or wife.
Submission is a good thing. But when Paul talks about wives submitting to their husbands in Ephesians 5, he states that men are supposed to love their wives as Jesus loved everyone. That's incredible love!
I will most certainly submit to my husband -- I'll make him sandwiches everyday for the rest of his life if it'll make him happy -- but this will be after he's proven to me he tries to love me unconditionally. If not? Well, then have a nice day. I won't be marrying you and we won't have any issues.
Some people see this verse as a mandate used to justify misogyny in all types of male-female relationships. Submission should never be used as tool for enslavement. Paul uses states submission is for "husbands and wives." Not boyfriends and girlfriends. Not friends. It comes with marriage.
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Guys: The awesome girls around you are sick and tired of this relational confusion. We want to be your friends! We want to get to know you! We want to spend time with you! Zetus lepidus, we want to encourage you! Show us how to do this. Meet us halfway. Stop being scared or indecisive or lazy or whatever it is that is holding you back from being the men we know you are capable of being.
Written by Courtney Gabrielson for GoodWomenProject.com, originally published here.
Photo credit: BrandenHarvey.com