by Drew Dyck
Have you ever heard the fairytale about the princess in shining armor? You know the story. She crosses an ocean, slays a dragon and rescues the man she loves?
Wait. You’ve never heard that one?
OK, neither have I.
Why? Because fairytales are always the other way around — the man fights for the woman. He takes the risks. He battles the beast. He pursues her.
Now I realize that fairytales are stereotypical, admittedly even a little sexist. But they do contain a measure of truth. These whimsical tales we learn as children mirror a deep-seated longing in the soul of every man and woman.
This article isn’t about fairytales. I bring them up only to highlight what I see as a growing problem in the church: young Christian men unable (or unwilling) to actively pursue a potential spouse. Rather than saddling up the proverbial steed, many guys seem to be languishing in the tower, waiting for their princesses to stumble upon them.
If that’s you, then I have some no-nonsense advice: It’s time to man-up and take the lead in the romance department. And don’t hide behind the whole too-holy-for-love façade. When you meet “the one,” pursuing her with all your heart is the most spiritual thing you can possibly do.
Let me explain.
Recently I was talking to a godly, attractive and single woman. She was exasperated.
"What’s wrong with Christian guys?" she asked me. "They never go after you!"
She was getting plenty of attention from men outside the church, yet the guys at her congregation seemed reluctant to be much more than friends.
A few weeks earlier I had received an email from a young man looking for advice. His questions echoed the problem I’d heard lamented from the other side of the gender divide. My interlocutor was plagued with, what seemed to him, insoluble questions: Should he date a woman from church? If so, how could he be sure he was going for God and not girls? And what if things didn’t work out? Would he be able to go back?
Talk about over thinking it!
Those are just two anecdotes, but they reflect a larger trend. In her new book Where Have All The Good Men Gone? A.J. Kiesling reports her findings from an in-depth survey of 120 single Christian women. What was their most common complaint about men? Kiesling reports: “Over and over I heard the words, ‘I wish men would step up to the plate and take a risk in asking me out.’”
Here is feedback that Kiesling received directly from real-world single Christian women about Christian men.
“God didn’t create you to be passive. Pursuit seems to be obsolete, but we still want to be pursued.”
“It seems like men aren’t willing to take the risk of asking a woman out, since they don’t have to anymore. There are plenty of women who will chase them, yet I won’t. I want them to pursue me.”
“Quit saying, ‘I’m waiting on God to bring me my future mate.’ What a cop-out! You’re scared, and you’re afraid of being hurt or rejected and — gasp! — you might be tempted to have sex!”
So why are Christian men not stepping up to the plate? What’s behind this trend? I think there are at least a couple of factors.
First, our increasingly politically correct culture tells guys that women have equal responsibility when it comes to initiating the relationship. These days women are encouraged to be more aggressive while men risk appearing domineering if they get the ball rolling.
But here’s the rub. While such political correctness is peddled in higher education and the media, it usually doesn’t apply in the real world, where women still appreciate a man with the gumption and guts to make the first move. Kiesling writes, “The world may have moved on, become hip and high-tech and politically correct, but old-fashioned values persist in our very make-up.” Part of that make-up is a desire to be pursued. There are ways that women can encourage men to initiate a relationship, but that’s a topic that the highly skilled Boundless regulars have covered well.
The second factor is even more pervasive and hazardous to single Christian guys. An exaggerated sense of spiritual propriety can also prevent relationships from forming. I’ve met a lot of guys who seem to equate romantic passivity with spiritual superiority. In these cases the thinking goes something like this: If I wait and pray patiently, God will drop a woman right into my lap.
Such guys could use some advice from my 88-year-old grandfather. He might seem like an unlikely source of dating wisdom, but he gave me a talk during my single days that I think every Christian guy needs to hear.
My grandfather is a retired pastor. Most of his time he spends deep in prayer with a huge King James Bible splayed open on his lap. When he broached the topic of women with me, I wasn’t sure where he’d go. Would he urge caution? Exhort purity? Instead he pointed to a verse that I knew well, Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”
I knew finding a wife was a good thing. Was he trying to rub it in that I was still single?
No, he was pointing out that the verse implied that I had a responsibility in making it happen.
His mouth turned up at one edge.
"Find," he pointed out, "is a verb."
When I met my future wife, I knew it was my responsibility to initiate the relationship even though I was scared to death to make the first move. I still remember showing up at her doorstep with flowers in my trembling hands.
I believe it’s the man’s responsibility to initiate the relationship. But that statement comes with some serious qualifiers. Though it is the guy’s job to pursue, that does not negate God’s role. God is still the best matchmaker. We should never rush into relationships by running roughshod over the leading of His Spirit. Only after prayer and careful consideration should we proceed.
It’s equally important that we be sensitive in reading women’s signals. Women want us to be proactive, but when the romantic feelings are not mutual, being aggressive is not cool — it’s creepy. If your advances receive chilly receptions, do not soldier on. Doing so will likely only fortify — not wear down — her defenses. Back off and behave like a brother. Once you’ve made your intentions clear, the ball is in her court. She’ll let you know if her feelings change.
But if you’re one of the myriad men sitting on the fence too scared or too “spiritual” to pursue a woman, it may be time to man-up and make a move. I know taking risks can be daunting. But often the most rewarding journeys begin with uneasy and faltering steps.
God created you to be a pursuer. So next time God brings a godly woman into your life, don’t sit around twiddling your thumbs. The love of your life could be passing you by.