Two things happened in the last couple of weeks that motivated this post. First, I was awakened at 9:35 last Sunday morning by my cell phone playing the little salsa tune that means Nikki is calling me (personalized rings -- where would my life be without them?). She recently got married, so of course just before we got off the phone, she (being in the throes of newlywed bliss) made an adorable comment about her "hot pastor husband." Aww... It's so great to listen to her talk about him.
The second thing wasn't nearly as delightful. I went to the grocery store the same morning (my church meets at night, people!) to pick up a few things, and as I was standing in the aisle comparing B-complex vitamin prices, I overheard something that made me want to cry and pull my hair out at the same time. In fact, if I pulled my hair out, I'm sure I would cry. Moving on.
A middle aged couple couple was standing in the pharmacy section of Kroger. I probably wouldn't even have noticed them had the woman not begun lecturing her husband loudly and angrily, even going so far as to shake her finger at him! Her eyes were narrowed, her voice pinched and full of disgust, and her body language screamed her distaste for this man. To his credit, he answered her quietly, offering his help. But I could hear the sorrow and fear in his voice. I can only imagine his thoughts -- then again, maybe I don't really want to! Was he thinking back on the woman he fell in love with, wondering where she had gone? Was he calculating how many days it would be before she spoke kindly to him again?
Now, lest you think I'm too quick to judge, let me say that it was probably nothing. For all I know, she just got fired from her job, and suffers from insomnia, and is taking a new medication that makes her irritable. For all I know, this was the first time they've ever fought like that, and she went home and tearfully apologized to her husband, promising never to treat him so abominably again.
But all I could think was, what a contrast! Talking to Nikki, whose genuine respect and admiration for her husband is so apparent, was a testament to the grace of God. I have been so fortunate to be able to listen to her talk about him and hear how deeply she wants to serve, support, and honor him. In every pre-marital disagreement (and they were few and minor), Nikki always expressed her desire to submit to JD and to follow his godly leadership. I can only imagine her horror at the idea of scolding and chastising her husband like a child -- much less in public! Such a thought goes against every godly impulse of a covenant wife, and flies in the face of God's plan for marriage.
And yet so many single Christians are setting themselves up for a relationship just like the grocery store couple's! Single Christian men refuse to become true men of godly boldness and pure character that will let them fulfill their God-given responsibility to someday be the head of a home. Rather than cultivating maturity and leadership, they settle for being "modern men," surrounding themselves with girl friends and believing that being modern means giving her the lead -- nice, supportive, benign boys who will wonder someday why they never made a difference for the Kingdom. Or they live for self, misleading young women with their flirtatiousness, and seeking to satisfy their own pleasures -- boys whose god is their appetite for skin, which must be satisfied.
And single Christian women -- this is a demographic I'm pretty familiar with -- reject the freedom in the path God has made for us and believe the lie of the world that says we have to take the lead, do all the work, make up for the "stupidity" of men! We become the pursuers, lapping up magazine articles that tell us how to perfect the techniques of seduction and manipulation to ensnare men. We buy into the world's pattern for marriage: smart, cute woman marries big dumb animal of a man (who is probably also lazy, clueless, sex-obsessed, and generally a total caveman), henpecks and browbeats him into silent submission, and he whines slightly, making monosyllabic excuses for his idiotic behavior, as he hands over his credit card to the goddess of the house. (See "King of Queens," "According to Jim," "Everybody Loves Raymond," etc., for examples of this pattern.) The only difference in the minds of many Christian girls is that they'll also go to church on Sundays, by golly, even if she has to drag his sorry behind out of bed every week!
I don't want to be the woman who scolds her husband in the aisle of Kroger. I don't want to marry a man who refuses to take the lead. I want to become the kind of woman who someday will admire her husband's godly character, respect his God-given position of leadership, and work hard to support and honor him in everything. And I want to encourage my single brothers in Christ to become the kind of men that God wants them to be, so that someday they can lead their wives and families with boldness and fervor.
So there you have it. I've jumped on the bandwagon and put in my two cents about that blissful state into which Paul encouraged single folks not to venture. And that's all I have to say.