Surprise! It’s a Boy! (Who Are They Kidding, Part 2)

Some months ago I wrote about an American couple that decided to raise their child “gender neutral.” Little “Storm” (who looks like a boy to me, unless his parents are particularly broad-featured) doesn’t know if he/she is a boy/girl.

But it turns out that our adventurous couple is behind the times. Five years ago a British couple began raising “Sasha” in the same way. Now they have finally revealed that “Sasha” is a boy.

Sasha, of course, is aware of his personal equipment, and in fact “took to running around their garden naked” in a bid for self-expression. He also has “been banned from sporting combat trousers,” which makes it sound like he asked to wear them. However, his progressive parents make him wear “a blouse with ruched-sleeves and a scalloped collar to school from the girls’ uniform list,” and he is “encouraged to wear flowery tops at weekends.” He is also only allowed to play with gender-neutral toys.

So it sounds like the gender-free experiment is a bit more like a pressured-to-act-at-least-partly-female experiment.

Here the life story of David Reimer might be instructive. When his circumcision as a baby went terribly wrong, destroying his male member, his parents took the advice of a psychologist and decided to raise him as a female, including the use of female hormones and surgery. Reiner rebelled against this in his pre-teens, and came “out” as a male at age 15. Later he let his story be told, to discourage similar gender meddling. The story has a sad ending, as Reiner eventually committed suicide. You can read more on Wikipedia or in the book As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised a Girl.

Our “gender free” pals are missing the point. There’s nothing wrong with little boys acting like little boys. (So far, the “gender free” experiments seem to be carried out on boys; I suspect because of unconsciously accepting the “boys are bad” meme that has infected our society.) If a little boy likes flowers, or playing with dolls, or making clothing, or art — as some of them do — there’s also nothing wrong with that. Some men even grow up to be florists, or screenwriters, or tailors, or artists. Still fine.

But there’s a huge gulf between being cool with a small child’s own (often passing) interests, and forcing him into a feminist mold in which normal boy-like activities and clothing are forbidden. That’s not “gender free.” That’s gender jail.

The Most Dangerous Person in the World

Recently we’ve all been appalled by the London riots and by the “flash mobs” of young folks that come out of nowhere to rob and assault people right here in the good old USA.

What causes this behavior? In the case of London particularly, what would drive young people to literally burn down parts of their own community?

First, it has nothing to do with race. While American flash mobs so far have been black, the looting yobs in England were both black and white.

It also has nothing to do with being “poor” or “oppressed.” As events have shown, many of the British looters were from the comfortable middle class. One of the arrested looters is the daughter of a millionaire!

A somewhat more nuanced analysis claims it’s because these kids have never been held responsible or faced discipline for their bad behavior. That’s true for sure in the UK, but I bet many of the kids in the USA flash mobs have older relatives who go to church and have taught them right from wrong.

Yes, thanks to dreadful economic leadership, many bitter UK kids don’t see opportunity falling into their laps in the forseeable future. Neither do slackers, who are famous for NOT rampaging about destroying things (except in a “Jackass”-y kind of nerdy showing off).

The difference is that slackers are basically content, not bitter. If anything, they are too content. (All moms of slackers know exactly what I mean!) But I’ll bet that if you asked them, barring a few weak-willed kids who got caught up in the group and now regret it, most of the rioters and flash mobbers feel sorry for themselves.

I have always told my children, “The most dangerous person in the world is someone who feels sorry for himself.” When you think of yourself as a victim, you are automatically entitled in your own mind to compensation. Special treatment. Payback. The more you pity yourself, the less mercy you have for others.

A lifetime of being told by schools and the media that “The Man” is the only reason you aren’t rich and famous – it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with your avoidance of study and work or your terrible attitude – leads to festering self-pity. Not that self-pity is confined to the underprivileged. Rich kids can feel sorry for themselves, too, with the same potential for irrational destruction. And since the world “owes” you something, why not strike back? Especially since you think you can get away with it, anonymous in a crowd?

The personal lesson to take away from the riots and flash mobs is the searing visual image of what self-pity creates: attacks on others and mindless destruction. This is why the Bible urges us to beware of the “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15). What a great teachable moment for our kids. What a great teachable moment for us.

Nobody Wants to Walk the Streets

First, I want to reassure anyone reading this that our blog is still alive. I spent half of July in Bolivia on a missions trip and the rest recovering, while my mother has directed all her energies to getting out the latest issue of Practical Homeschooling.

That said, I witnessed true poverty for two weeks. My team spent several days at an orphanage in Caranavi and the rest of the time in La Paz, the capital city. La Paz sits at an elevation of 13,000 feet and sprawls out spectacularly across a valley. It is actually two cities now—La Paz in the valley and “El Alto” spilling out at the rim. In an already poor city, El Alto is the slum. And that is where Andy and Andrea Baker work, living near the red light district and ministering to the prostitutes.

Ten years ago, when this American couple moved to Bolivia, they hadn’t yet found their ministry. On a two-year contract with Word Made Flesh, an organization that serves Jesus “among the poorest of the poor,” their job was to expand into this new country. Finding poor people wasn’t any trouble, but the Bakers wanted to serve where God wanted them. They went to one of the most dangerous areas in El Alto, mapped out all the trouble areas, walked into them, and prayed. They visited bars in order to sit and observe.

“We saw loudness and chaos,” says Andrea, “but I remember thinking that our mission was subtler and darker.”

They visited a group of alcoholics living in a sign on the highway, worked with street children, and continued their research. Soon, they realized there were fifteen homes for street boys and only four for girls.

“Girls don’t last long on the street. They disappear, or someone puts them into prostitution,” Andrea shares soberly. “It became clear that if we were to work with anyone, we should work with women.”

An organization that was building a union of prostitutes to fight for their human rights invited anyone who was interested to their meetings, including the Bakers—as Andrea shares, the “only gringos in El Alto.” Little by little, they got to know some of the girls. They walked the streets every week, building relationships and offering help.

But ministering to prostitutes has its challenges. According to the information sheet Andrea handed our team, over 90 percent of women in prostitution show a history of sexual abuse in their childhood. About three-quarters of those in prostitution have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. In El Alto specifically, the majority of women charge between 15-25 Bs. (between $2-$4) per client, with at least ten clients per evening. Many suffer from diseases and addictions. And although 90 percent of the women the Bakers knew said they wanted to leave prostitution immediately, statistics show that it takes a woman about seven tries on average to break successfully with this life.

The night before our team arrived to clean and paint in Casa de Esperanza, a house behind a nondescript door among doors in El Alto, the Bakers had walked the streets as normal. Andrea found that one of her first friends in the brothels, a woman who had learned about Christ and tried unsuccessfully to change, had been found dead in a dirty bathroom. And that’s just one story.

They’ve experienced successes too, however. They met “Ilyana,” now a Christian who lives and works in Casa de Esperanza. Ilyana was trafficked to Bolivia against her knowledge at age 17. Decades later, the Bakers met her and invited her to the house. She served as a housekeeper, but she didn’t talk, so they didn’t know what she was thinking. One day, to their surprise, they overheard her telling another woman that “there wasn’t any other place like this house.”

You can see a bit of Andrea in the four-minute video of our trip below. I share her story to put a face to statistics and suffering. I will never forget this ministry, and I would love to show God’s incarnate love to others in a similar way. We all need to think about how women suffer around the world, and we need to pray. Also, if you would like to give to Word Made Flesh, you can find more information here. As for me, I am still discovering everything I learned from this trip.

“This is not a pretty ministry,” says Andrea. “Everyone wants to work with children. Everyone wants to work with youth. Nobody wants to walk the streets.”

Bolivia 2011

Women “Choose” to Harm Women

You’d think any movement with the label “feminist” would be out for the good of women, wouldn’t you? Not so. I am becoming increasingly more aware of how the sexual promiscuity and other social issues of many vocal feminists stand in direct opposition to one of my life goals — to form and build a strong family with a godly man.

My own prospects for marriage are by far the least important concern, however. In my last post, I referred to the practice of abortion and why feminists promote it so strongly. It is impossible to maintain the delusion that men and women are the same if women must live with the consequences of sex and men do not have to.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal reviewed a new book, Unnatural Selection, that paints an unavoidable picture of the true damage abortion has done to females. I say “females,” because the people most damaged are far too little to be called “women.” It turns out, writes book author Mara Hvistendahl, that in countries like India and China, women who are able to determine their unborn children’s sex before birth are disproportionately aborting their daughters. Worldwide, compared to the proportion of male vs. female births that should occur naturally, approximately 163 million girls are missing.

Even more telling, as the WSJ writer, Jonathan V. Last, points out:

Ms. Hvistendahl is particularly worried that the “right wing” or the “Christian right” — as she labels those whose politics differ from her own — will use sex-selective abortion as part of a wider war on abortion itself. She believes that something must be done about the purposeful aborting of female babies or it could lead to “feminists’ worst nightmare: a ban on all abortions.” It is telling that Ms. Hvistendahl identifies a ban on abortion — and not the killing of tens of millions of unborn girls — as the “worst nightmare” of feminism.

We women need to open our collective eyes and take note of the genocide we are either perpetrating, allowing, or being forced into. Feminists blame men for violence and war. The fact is that the sexes are equally guilty.

China’s Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong from 1958 to 1962 killed at least 45 million. World War II reported 55 million casualties worldwide. I am saddened beyond belief to compare these numbers to 163 million aborted baby girls. And that’s not even counting the ones killed in equal proportion to the aborted baby boys.

If you find this post discouraging, I do not apologize. This world can be a terrible place; that is why God’s unchanging grace is such good news. If these words motivate you to act or, at some point in your life, hold your hand from doing something you would regret, I am satisfied.

Gender Wars, Part 2: Eternal Value

So much of the gender war in this world is about people trying to prove that we are worth something—to others and to ourselves. The insecurities of the strong cause them to push down the weak, so that they can keep their strength. The insecurities of the weak cause them to undermine the strong, so that their weakness isn’t as evident.

These tactics arise from the logical conclusions of a world that doesn’t believe a loving, all-powerful God is in charge. What sparks my imagination and gives me hope, however, is how often the opposite occurs. Mysteriously, magically, some people rise above the strife.

For several years, for example, struggling to understand human sexuality, I puzzled over why men need women. On first glance, I could find nothing visible to explain it. Men are stronger and bigger. They can do rocking awesome cool stuff. Sure, roll your eyes and explain to me about the birds and the bees. Men need women to have sex. But why not just use ‘em and leave ‘em? Why does society worldwide, as a general rule, bear some semblance of civility? 

Atheists explain all this away as hormones. Bonding hormones, dancing along various mental pathways. Also, they say, the male of the human species has a genetic need to preserve his own line, and so he protects his woman against the encroachment of other males. Under this model, women are valuable as vessels for procreation.

For me, this answer did not suffice. It seemed to me that the logical conclusion of such a philosophy would be worldwide polygamy. On the contrary, monogamy remains the general standard. Sure, the male sex bears a spotted reputation when it comes to overall sexual fidelity, but that does not change the fact that both men and women have an inexplicable habit of falling in love with and marrying one partner at a time.

To put it another way, it was not the sexual predator or the prostitute who struck me as odd, but the average, everyday couple. What was that invisible thing that bound Joe and Susan Smith together?

The answer is mind-bendingly simple. Women are valuable because God said so, and the fact that men need women just is. The holy one whose word creates life spoke and declared that we, both male and female, were good. And when we both fell flat on our face in the Garden of Eden, He stepped in and restated His original purpose through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Our God created us, bought us, and sealed us.

In the evolutionary model mentioned above, a woman’s power comes through controlling her sexuality. This is why the women’s lobby hangs onto the interests of Planned Parenthood by tooth and nail. To a woman who finds her value this way, access to birth control – and abortion – seem as vital as life itself. Also, the social welfare system. It is much better, apparently, to be dependent on the government than on a man.

Jesus met a woman like this at the well in Samaria, in John chapter 4. She had lived with five husbands. No doubt, as a member of a despised ethnicity, she was just trying to survive.  But this man at the well, unlike the others, did not try to use her. He wanted her best:

“Jesus said . . . ‘Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (John 4.13-14, ESV).

More than anything else, I want to tell other women that Christ loves us. He wants to plant His joy deep in the hollow parts of our souls and water us with living water.

The Trusting Husband of Proverbs 31

In an article published in a 2009 issue of Practical Homeschooling, I pointed out that “patriarchy” is a bad word. The Christian home is supposed to revolve around Christ, not around Dad.

However, Dad is a very important part of the Christian home. And we can find out a few forgotten facts about his character from this Bible chapter: Proverbs 31.

Let’s start at the beginning, and see what it says.

1. The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.

2. What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?

3. Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

The “women” here referred to are “that which destroyeth kings,” which clearly does NOT include a man’s proper wife. Even a king, the most privileged of men, should not heap up wives (Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, lost his way because of this) or cheat on his wife. A righteous huband does not stray.

4. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:

5. Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

6. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

7. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Those with power over others should not get “buzzed” or drunk, lest they “forget the law.”

In this context, while I was writing The Child Abuse Industry, I found that the vast majority of horrific child abuse occurs when the man in the house is drunk.

8. Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.

9. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

As we have seen in innumerable Westerns, a real man stands up for the poor and needy. This will be seen more clearly later in the chapter.

10.Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

11. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

12. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

He does not micromanage. He knows she can do her job and that she means him well.

I want to stress this, because some seem to feel that Patriarchy or Quiverfull or whatever they (not I!) have chosen to call their movement means that men have to watch their wives every minute. I wrote and intended nothing of the sort in The Way Home. The point was to help women rediscover the joy and power of our biblical role. This is not possible unless our husbands trust us.

Christian wives should not be relegated to asking permission and coming under judgment in the normal course of their duties. Our relationship with our husbands in this area should be more like Joseph’s with Potiphar. As you recall, Joseph was sold into slavery and Potiphar made him his steward. Recognizing Joseph’s trustworthiness and ability, Potiphar “left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat.” In other words, Potiphar had menu requests, but didn’t hang around the kitchen supervising, or make Joseph beg him for the money to go shopping.

13. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

14. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

15 .She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

16 .She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

17 .She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

18 .She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

19 .She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

20 .She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

21 .She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

We are familiar with the above verses, but may not have considered all the implications.

Please note that the Proverbs 31 woman did not have to ask permission to do any of the above activities. She not only performed her household duties without husbandly micromanaging; she also made a substantial purchase and numerous charitable contributions.

In day-to-day life, I’m sure husband and wife spoke about their plans and activities. Surely the wife had the husband’s blessing to purchase a plot of land (this is the sort of thing couples talk about for a long time before they can afford it) and also to help out the poor. She wasn’t defying him in any way to perform these actions. On the other hand, he wasn’t restricting her to the point where defiance would be a temptation.

23. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

And now the verses addressed to “kings” and “princes” start to make more sense. Her husband is expected to be a leader.

The “gates” were the courtroom and legislative chamber of the ancient Middle East. This is where cases were tried and rules were made. Here is where the poor and needy could find protection from those who would oppress them – provided the “elders of the land” were righteous.

The help and support of his wife has freed up the Proverbs 31 husband enough that he can spend at least some time on church and community leadership of this kind.

Furthermore, he is clearly a wise man, “known in the gates,” which makes his behavior to his wife what theologians call “normative.” This means Christian husbands should follow his example.

24. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

25. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

And there it is, guys and gals – the Bible is in favor of strong women.

26. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

The Bible also is NOT in favor of the silent, squished female. A Proverbs 31 wife is to be heard. (Not to mention that the entire CHAPTER of Proverbs 31 is the words of a God-fearing mom!)

27. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

A summary of the Proverbs 31 wife’s behavior.

28. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

29. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

Notice the spirit of her husband. Not only does he praise her; he recognizes that “many” women are virtuous and outstanding.

The Proverbs 31 husband likes and approves of women. He isn’t a crusty misogynist, looking for reasons to backbite and criticize women in general.

30. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

A man who is OK with his wife getting older . . . I love this guy!

31. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

A virtuous Christian wife’s good work and character should be recognized. Not only should her husband and children praise her, but her good reputation should become known in the church and community at large. How convenient that her husband is right there “in the gates.” The Proverbs 31 husband has a store of “good works” his wife has done, which he extols to his fellow leaders.

So, in summary:

The Proverbs 31 husband:
• Is faithful to his wife
• Stays sober
• Speaks up for the helpless
• Trusts his wife
• Doesn’t make her ask permission or beg for supplies in order to do her work
• Is fine with her making major family purchases and charitable contributions
• Is a church and community leader, respected for his wisdom
• Appreciates the good qualities of women
• Is unthreatened by strong women
• Lets his wife talk and listens to her
• Know what his wife is doing (doesn’t ignore her work)
• Praises her mainly for her deeds, not her physical appearance
• Honors her before other men

We need more men like this.

If Saudi Arabia Was Christian . . .

We would not be reading articles like this one:

Saudi woman ‘raped by chauffeur’ as campaign to let both sexes drive gathers pace

My very first post on this blog was about how Christianity leads to freedom for women – as compared to scenarios like this. Feminists fume about America’s “oppressive patriarchal culture”: welcome to a truly oppressive patriarchal culture.

The claim in the headline isn’t actually the worst thing about this article. We have no way of knowing if a rape occurred. However, we do know that a Facebook campaign was launched encouraging men to beat women drivers with their headdress cords.

I searched Facebook for this “Iqal campaign” (named after the headdress cord), which according to Breitbart.com, had garnered 6,000 Likes, but happily in response to public pressure it had been removed by the time I started looking for it. You can see a cached version of the original Arabic page here.

(BTW, if you ever want to know what they are saying on one of those Arabic pages, or pages in any other language, for that matter, Google Translator works great! You just dump the text you want translated into the left-hand box, and it will even detect the language for you, while popping out an English (or whatever language you request) translation in the right-hand box. It might sound a bit odd, but you can generally get the sense.)

The Facebook campaign in support of the woman driver challenging the law, “We are all Manal al-Sharif,” had also been removed, after gaining at least 24,000 Likes. A page with a more lively name, “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,” popped up in its place, gaining 12,000 Likes (according to Fox News) before someone took that page down and replaced it with an identical page, which had to start again from scratch. Which fits in oddly well with the premise of this WorldNetDaily article. Go ahead: click it!

So the next time you ladies find yourself casually directing 1.5 to 5.0 tons of steel-encased transportation where you want it to go, without worrying about being beaten or attacked just for daring to drive, thank God. Literally.

Keep in mind that, as my original blog post states, women were free to drive in America from the moment cars were invented, when America was a far more Christian nation than now. It didn’t require any help from suffragettes and feminists – and anyone who suggested whipping women drivers would have garnered brickbats, not kudos.

How about this for a bumper sticker: “If you’re a woman and can read this from your car, thank the Bible.” What do you think?

Please “Like” Mary Pride on Facebook & the Web

Even if you just came here from Facebook, please read this post, as you may find we offer more there for you than you might think!

First, I just launched a “Mary Pride Author” page. It’s for those who are fans of my books and writing. There I will post news about reissues of past books, plans for new ones, and requests for you to share experiences and feedback that might make it into one of my books someday! It literally launched 2 days ago, so has only 70 Likes so far. Since it’s been a while since I wrote a book, it would help a lot to convince publishers there still is interest in my writing if tons of you would Like my Author page. Please do . . . I’ll appreciate it!

Second, there’s my regular “Mary Pride” page. It has more general comments on issues of the day, including a semi-regular “Today’s reason to homeschool” feature.

Third, don’t miss the Facebook page for Practical Homeschooling magazine. It’s where we post useful and timely info we can’t squeeze into the regular print magazine. It’s also a great place for PHS readers to give us quick feedback. If you’re a PHS reader, be sure to click on the “Discussions” link in the left-hand margin and leave your thoughts!

And though this isn’t on Facebook, please do visit my website, Homeschool World. There you can find:

• A huge number of helpful Articles from over 70 past issues of Practical Homeschooling, our print magazine
• A very active Forum where you can share questions and answers (including our Used Curriculum Buy-Sell thread!) with over 5,300 other active homeschoolers
• Our Mall area, where you can find links to many cool, new, and unusual educational products for homeschoolers
• A listing of upcoming homeschool Events
• An up-to-date list of homeschool Groups in every state, US territory, and many foreign countries
• A list of upcoming Contests homeschoolers can enter
• A Catalog where you can find some of my books (it’s OK to request autographed copies – no extra charge!), some other helpful books for homeschooling and family life, QuickStudy Guides to tons of academic subjects, and where you can subscribe to Practical Homeschooling

As one of the first homeschooling websites, we have millions of visitors . . . and are grateful for every one. Tell your friends about us. We have all sorts of great plans, as we come up on Practical Homeschooling‘s 100th issue, and we want to share them with as many people as possible!

“I Kissed Marriage Goodbye” – Rescuing the Frozen People

Many years ago, my magazine, Practical Homeschooling, featured a column by a teen homeschooler named Joshua Harris.

Joshua went on to write a best-selling book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which he followed with a number of other titles on courtship, sexual purity, and church life.

In I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua confirmed what I and others had said for some time, that modern “dating” – meaning boy and girl hanging out alone, testing the boundaries and usually going too far – was unbiblical. He promoted in its place the idea of treating young Christian women like sisters.

This all sounded OK. My Hungarian grandmother had told me how, in her generation, teens and young adults typically hung out together in large co-ed groups. Only later did they pair off as couples, under the eagle eyes of their families.

However, Joshua’s book went a bit further. The message many received was that young men were supposed to remain aloof right up until the point where they decided a particular girl was “the one” they hoped to marry. Then, and only then, would they ask permission to court her.

Thanks to this belief, in the words of an upcoming World magazine article, “many young men seem frozen” and many young men and women both “think we should never hang out unless we want to marry.”

When my daughter Sarah was a student at Patrick Henry College, this definitely was the mainstream view. In practice, it led to the female students endlessly agonizing over whether young men they liked returned their interest – as there was literally no way to know! A girl couldn’t ask a guy if he liked her without seeming forward. Relationships were either totally casual (in a brother-sister sense) or verging on total commitment, with no range in between.

I believe the Song of Solomon holds the key to unlocking these frozen relationships. In Song of Solomon 4:9, 4:10, 4:12, and 5:1, the author uses the phrase “my sister, my spouse.” I always secretly thought that sounded rather creepy, but now I get it. The Bible is making the point that a “sister in Christ” can also be the object of love and affection – treating “the young women like sisters” doesn’t have to mean “treating them like brothers.” Example, from Song of Solomon chapter 4:

9. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.

10. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!

This indicates that it’s possible to progress romantically with a Christian “sister” without falling into lust. In other words, a young man doesn’t have to go from carefully neutral brotherly thoughts to proposing without any steps of increasing affection along the way. He can tell the girl he likes her . . . he likes her very much . . . he wants to get to know her better . . . and so forth, without embarking on all the trappings of either dating or a formal courtship, and without expecting her to immediately start considering him husband material.

In fact, I would submit that it is uncharitable and unbrotherly for young men to keep girls in the dark, without a clue as to whether they are attracting romantic attention or not. In the absence of any information, girls will naturally overreact to the tiniest signs, which is great if you’re writing Jane Austen novels or drawing-room farces, but not so wonderful otherwise. The other possible overreaction is to close off all emotion entirely, for fear of being mistaken, which is great if you’re trying out for the part of Mr. Spock on Star Trek, but not so wonderful otherwise.

This “all or nothing” approach is also hard on the young men, who (knowing the young women are watching closely for signs of affection) naturally tend to feel wary and hunted.

The bottom line for young Christian men and women: It’s OK to express growing affection (just not alone in dark corners!). The truth will set the frozen people free.

Humility for Young Women

Yes. So. As my mom and a lot of other moms have been discussing in the last few posts, many Christian women are having trouble finding a spouse who is passionately committed to God and shares a vision for homeschooling, world impact, or what-have-you. In fact, a great many cannot find (or be found by) any sort of spouse at all.

This issue comes up all the time on another blog I read regularly, Boundless.org from Focus on the Family. I have had the opportunity to see into many men’s hearts over the last several years through their posts there, and I have learned that it does not help them to hear the constant call from women to “man up.” The fact is that we women have plenty of issues to work out as well, being fallen creatures just like the men. I have read stories of men rejected over and over again and then laughed at and  gossiped entirely out of a church. My own brother has undergone a terribly painful relationship experience.

It’s like a formal dance. While the young man is initially responsible for asking a girl to dance, much of the responsibility for what happens afterwards falls to the young woman as well. She can follow gracefully and give him room to fail, encouraging him for trying, and enjoying the experience thoroughly when all finally goes right. Or she can hold a sense of entitlement that only skilled dancers need apply for her time, even though she herself wouldn’t know how to execute the part she is asking from the man.

That said, one of the most important character qualities we young women must develop is humility. We have to learn that our judgment may be flawed, and that we may not see clearly what makes a real man. Are we looking for an outer image or for character qualities such as perseverance, faithfulness, kindness, temperance, solid judgment, and intelligence? Must we have an exciting story of romance to share?

Put another way, would you rather marry a youth minister or a plumber? I ask because, although there is nothing wrong with marrying a youth minister, there simply are not enough of them to go around. Lots of men do not compose ballads, write beautiful letters by hand, or even talk very much at all. There is nothing wrong with them, particularly. It’s just that they are men, not women.

Over the last few years, I’ve been asking God to change the way I see, so that I can understand better what makes a man. I’ve prayed that He will change my future husband as well, so that he will be able to see me when the time comes. I think these are good prayers.