Who Keeps Your Family Safe?

“The war (WWII) will fail to absorb our whole attention because it is a finite object and, therefore, intrinsically unfitted to support the whole attention of a human soul.”
– C. S. Lewis

Late one night I was contemplating the safety of my wife and kids.  I was on a ship somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea.  If you are a thinker, underway on a ship at night can be a lonely place.  I worried about who would check the front door and make sure it was locked.  What if they had a flat tire, who would help them?  What if the baby got sick?  What if someone broke into the house?  What if my wife gets in a wreck?  On and on it went.  My own bad news network broadcasting in my head.  My favorite channels to tune into: doubt, fear, and worry.  There seemed to be no end to the channel surfing.  But I got a break through signal from God.  He walked me through some simple thoughts: what if you weren’t 4000 miles from home right now, you’re on the ship sitting at the pier in homeport…I was liking this channel…now imagine you have to spend the night on the ship because you have duty…ok I may not like this channel so much…but you’re there and your family is at your house about 20 miles away, who is keeping your family safe from the imagesthings you’re worrying about?  I had to say all of my fears could come true even if the ship was in homeport.  Then He asked me if all of them could come true if I was in the house or car with my family.  All of them could.  God revealed to me His constant watchfulness and care was what kept my family safe (and always had been).  What a blow to my ego!  It’s not me who’s been ensuring our well being it is God.  In that moment I didn’t relinquish control of my family, I acknowledged I never had control of my family.  What a relief!

Who is keeping you safe?  If I was depending upon our government to keep us safe I would still be up in the middle of the night, not because it is incompetent, but because the absolute safety of a soul is beyond the reach of any government.  If any government of ours ever sets out to make us each “safe” we should all head for the hills as fast as we can go.  The only way humans know to keep other humans safe is to take away their freedom.  It is only in a sovereign creator God that we find both freedom and safety.  As C.S. Lewis said of World War II, war will fail to absorb our whole attention because it is finite.  We should add fear, worry, doubt…everything else will fail to hold our attention because we have infinite souls.  We have God sized souls.  Rest, peace and hope only come from having God in our souls, and once you’ve recognized and invited infinity into your soul, the finite will have to flee.  When  all the bad news starts again, instead of letting it force you to ask “where is God?” let it remind you that you are not in control, and you need God.  The distance between you and safety is the exact distance between you and God.  How far apart are you?  At Calvary God erased the distance between Himself and us through Christ.  Now, through faith in Him, we can say there is no distance between our souls and God.  That is safety.  No wonder Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in me.”

My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. Ps 131

It is Good to Go to Work with Our Father

Anthony sprays the Windex on each table and wipes it down carefully. He is so thorough you might think he’s a little too careful. We’ve all seen how a busboy or waitress wipes off a table in a restaurant. It isn’t rocket science. Usually it’s done so fast it would make your head spin. Zip, swish, swash, swirl, your table is ready sir.  But Anthony is taking his time. Each table matters to him. He’s seven. The tables in this restaurant belong to his father.

Many years ago I was mowing the grass with a push mower (not my favorite thing in the world) when my boy asked if he could help me. There are moments in parenting when you realize what you are about to say is really important. The haze clears momentarily and you understand what is happening here and now isn’t about here and now; it isn’t about getting the grass mowed. His request presented an immediate challenge. He was too short K_man_0057and not strong enough to push the mower so I couldn’t just show him how and get out of the way. And letting him watch or walk beside me was not going to satisfy him (he really wanted to help and was old enough to see through the fake things you can pawn off on little kids). What could I do? I told him to come on and help, and I put him in front of me. He grabbed the handle with his little hands and I got behind him and put my hands just outside his. We fired up the mower and mowed the grass. I wonder what that must have looked like. It was a bit awkward. We had to learn how to move together and not step on each other. I had to find the pace his shorter legs could handle. The whole mowing experience was uniquely affected by this arrangement. The results where the same. The grass was mowed. I completed the task I set out to complete and could have completed without my son. But something more than grass cutting was happening there. My son was learning something about me. He found out he could participate in my activity. He found out it was fun to be with me. He found out he was at least as important as what I was doing.

I think we should come to an appreciation of our Father’s work and our part in it. God is going to accomplish his work. He doesn’t need me to do it. He didn’t create me to do it. He invites me into it for one purpose – that I may learn of Him, that I may draw near to Him. DSCN1992Anybody knows one of the best ways to build a relationship with someone is to knock out a project together. To struggle through something together. Just ask Anthony. He isn’t cleaning tables so thoroughly to earn his bag of Skittles pay check. He is there to be near his dad. It is good to work in the Father’s house, but never start thinking you have to work to stay in the Father’s house.

Why Marriage is Better than College

“Most traditional college students are emerging adults—they have adult-style freedoms but lack some or all of the typical adult responsibilities: work, marriage, and children. They can put off those responsibilities for years, never committing, changing jobs and relationships. Some exhibit little interest in stability. That’s why it’s difficult to put age brackets around emerging adulthood; it resists being tied down, because its inhabitants resist settling down.”
(from Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying by Mark Regnerus, Jeremy Uecker

What would you tell your emerging adult child about getting married at age 19 – 23?  Is that too young for marriage?  Old enough to drive, old enough to vote, old enough to drink, old enough to join the military.  Marriage?  Maybe you should wait.  Wait for what?  Stability?  The current cultural script in the West is not one that promotes stability for our children emerging into adulthood; it promotes delayed adolescence.  The pattern set for emerging adults is living in a bubble of irresponsibility funded by “free money” (college loans or parent’s) which allows them to live without engaging the truth of personal fiscal responsibility, and encourages them to practice relationships without regard for responsibility other than reproductive health.  Spending 3-5 years in the responsibility vacuum stunts our growth.  It doesn’t make us better at making choices, it makes us worse.  It doesn’t make us more ready for grown up life, it makes us less ready.  It doesn’t make us more relationally stable, it makes us more prone to relational instability.  This script we lay out for emerging adults means they often reach thirty years of age with habits and beliefs predisposing them to quitting anything that gets hard whether its a dream, or a job, or a marriage.IMG_0027

So we got married young.  I was in my second year of college.  We had a baby during our second year of marriage, and she was born with health issues requiring several corrective surgeries from the time she was 18 months old.  How does that look to the odds makers and pundits today?  A recipe for disaster and failure.  The distraction and pressure of marriage probably meant my grades would suffer.  My wife’s choice to marry early and have children would keep her from reaching her potential.  Our children would be neglected.  Actually my grades began improving from the time we got married to the point that I made the dean’s list my last three semesters whereas I had almost failed out during my first three.  My wife did not pursue a college education but she went into business for herself and built a successful one doing what she loves to do and was a stay at home mom at the same time, which she loved even more.  Both our kids were raised in a two parent home and both graduated from college themselves.  Both are good kids and better people.

Our cultural script is contributing to cultural rot and we could use a rewrite.  If we look at what our colleges produce versus what 5 years of marriage produces there is no comparison in value added.  Marriage is an education in itself.  Marriage teaches lessons no college teaches.  Marriage 101 is what every employer in the nation looks for in any job candidate:  show up every day ready to work.  Communication?  I took my little family to my speech class at Old Dominion U and demonstrated live for them what it takes to communicate in the most important environment they would ever see; not a board room but a living room.  (I got an A on that speech).  Cooperation and Teamwork?  Bring a baby home from the hospital and figure out that no one but you and your spouse are there to get it to stop crying.  A marriage degree is worth much more than any degree offered by any college.  We should stop discouraging our young people about marrying young because “they need to go to college and figure out what they are going to do with their life.”  We should get people ready to marry earlier.  We should tell them the truth about one of the most important things to them:  that if they want to have a lot of very satisfying sex for the longest period of time they should get married because married people all have more and better sex than non-married people (the “marriage kills sex” myth is something to take on in another blog post another day).  We should tell them that getting married creates stability from which they can strive together for their dreams.  We should tell them that being responsible for children and a spouse makes being responsible to a job look easy and makes them more employable.  We should stop valuing education above relationship and financial stability above human community.  I know this isn’t what we hear from our culture.  It is counter-cultural, but when you look at our culture do you want your children to be conformed to it?  Does it look healthy?  What kinds of things are elevated and celebrated?

Marriage is a good thing.  It is better than college and it is more effective than college at producing a better community.  I’m not suggesting we all run out and begin setting up arranged marriages for our kids.  I am saying we should spend more time helping our kids study for marriage than studying for the SAT.

The Best Thing Your Kids Can Know About You

Tina and I got married young, 18 and 21.  We had two babies by the time most people graduate college.  Tina cried when we found out we were expecting our first child.  It was scary.  We did not know much about raising children; at least we didn’t think we knew very much, but it turns out we knew enough.  We knew we had to work together,  We knew we had to be a couple before we were parents or we wouldn’t be good parents.  We knew the world didn’t revolve around these little people and that they were going to adjust to us, not the other way around.  But the best thing we knew, and the best thing our kids came to know about us was the most simple thing of all.  It was that we wanted to be where they were and we wanted them to be where we were.  Together.  We learned that it was good to be together.

IMG_0027I didn’t think about this until years later, when my kids were mostly grown, but I learned this from my Dad.  Wherever my Dad went I went with him.  He was a football coach so I was there for two-a-days.  He was a life guard at the pool, so I was there getting a tan.  He taught drivers ed classes and I was at the driving range.  This was normal.  This was what we did.  This was good.  It was good to be where my Dad was.  It was good to be where my Mom was too.  My kids grew up knowing that wherever Tina and I went, they could come with us.  Of course there were exceptions, but the normal order of business of our family was together.  There is nothing better our kids can know about us than this:  they are welcome;  they belong with us.  Our kids need this more than they need a new pair of Nikes or to be on the travel softball team.  They need confidence there is a place they belong and we can create it for them.  It doesn’t take money or social status to do it.  It takes relationship space; it takes room in your heart that makes room in your thinking and room in your schedule.  It doesn’t take as much effort as you might think.  It doesn’t take much more than putting your kid in the seat with you and going to Target instead of going by yourself.  It takes longer, but what are you really trying to accomplish with your life?  More efficiency or a family legacy of belonging? It’s a good thing to set this habit in place when our kids are younger so they grow up knowing they are welcome, but it is never too late to start.  Make a space for them now.  Even if they don’t fill it or appear disinterested (yes I know what teenagers are like) the consistent offering of place in your life impacts their minds and hearts.

How to Get that Bad Smell Out of Your Marriage

Our first apartment was in Ocean View.  The day I went to see it was a hot one.  The power was off and had been since the previous tenants moved out several weeks before we rented the place.  When I got to the kitchen and opened the fridge I got a rude surprise. Someone left a box of frozen chopped broccoli in the freezer.  It was not frozen anymore.  It was a pile of rotten green goop.  The smell was like a punch in the face.  One minute I was enjoying my new place and imagining how fun it would be to get married and move in, the next minute I was gagging.  It took hours of scrubbing, a bottle of bleach, and a week with all the windows open to get rid of the stench.  I was so glad I opened that freezer before Tina moved in with me.

If your marriage stinks it’s probably because you or you spouse never looked in the childflowersfreezer.  Or maybe you did but you weren’t willing to do the work to clean up the rotten stuff in there.  It could also be you’d rather keep it to yourself.  Listen, there is no such thing as being in a fully committed marriage relationship where you can’t or won’t take out each other’s trash.  The rotten broccoli belongs to both of you.  Open the freezer and admit it is there.  Help each other clean it out.  If you don’t clean it out you are going to end up with a bigger problem in the end.  You’ll end up with a smell that is overwhelming.  A smell that gets into every nook and cranny of your life.  It will make your spouse stink and your kids stink and everything else stink.

It takes courage to open up places we’ve never opened or opened and then slammed shut and threw away the key, but it is better than rotting from the inside out and taking your family into the rottenness with you.  How bad can it be?  In the Navy we have a saying about bad days.  We’d say to each other, “They can’t take away your birthday.”  Right.  It was a way of reminding ourselves that the Navy had limits to its power.  Whatever bad things are inside of us or our marriages have limits.  The gospel speaks of being “born again” and that “the old has passed away and the new has come.”  If this is true it is comprehensive.  It is a new that comes from beyond our abilities and delivers a re-creation that cannot be taken from us.  When things stink don’t run away from them, go after them together with your spouse, but do it in light of what God has done for you.  He cleans us so that we are clean and can only be dirty if we insist we are dirty in spite of all the evidence he gives us to the contrary.  If your spouse seems hesitant to go there, you go first.  Show that you believe the gospel first.  Show that you have a clean that is really clean.  Gospel clean can’t rub off because its rubbed all the way into us; to our very core.

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
(2 Corinthians 2:14-16 The Message)

The Number One Predictor of Divorce (and how to get rid of it)

Is there something in your relationship that predisposes you to divorce?  According to studies conducted by John Gottman, a professor and head of The Relationship Research Institute, the leading indicator of potential for divorce is found in the way a couple communicates.  The presence of criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt are all bad signs, but contempt is the worst.  Gottman claims that when he and his imagesresearchers discern contempt between couples it is an 85% plus indicator that divorce is imminent.  Malcolm Gladwell detailed the method Gottman uses in a book titled Blink.  The method is simple; a couple sits together and discusses whatever they like; whatever is on their mind. Researchers measure their body language.  Facial expressions. Posture.  Body and hand movements.  They dissect a video of this exchange and categorize what they see.  And they can see contempt.  Is that hard to believe?  Not for me it isn’t.  I don’t need a super slo-mo break down of someone’s body language or facial expressions to detect contempt. It is hard to define contempt, but I know it when I see it, and I know something else; I know when I am showing it.  How about you?  Can you feel it when you are receiving or giving contempt?  I can understand why it is a predictor of divorce.  It is belittling.  It is discounting.  It is placing someone below you and acting as if who they are and what they think are of no consequence.  It is relationally corrosive whether you give it or take it.  Contempt is relational rust, and it will disable not only our marriages, but our friendships, our families – anything it touches.

According to the research I should be divorced.  Not only have I dished out a heap of contempt upon my wife, but I have done plenty of things worthy of her contempt.  But there is a secret to disinfecting our marriages.  There is a way to stop the rust in its tracks, and to restore and renew the metal underneath.  It isn’t painting over it.  Some years ago the Secretary of Defense came to visit our ship during a Fleet Exercise off Puerto Rico.  The Captain ordered us to paint the bridge wings even though we didn’t have time to properly prepare the surfaces.  We painted right over the rust.  The Secretary came and walked around our great looking bridge wings.  He came and went in an hour.  A week later we had all the rust plus paint peeling all over the place. The bridge wings looked worse than than ever.  You can’t paint over rust.  You have to acknowledge it and take a grinder after it until the metal shines.  And this is how you survive contempt.  Acknowledge it, and grind it out.  This is simple, but it isn’t easy.  The way we discovered it was the way most of us survivors discover it; we got married to a person who we never thought we’d hold in contempt and ran right into the fact that both of us were contemptible.  This was a shock to our system, so we did what most people do; we glossed over it.  We pretended it just wasn’t there.  After a few cycles of shocking ourselves and covering it over, we had a real mess on our hands.  We had contempt popping out from under our paint and we couldn’t ignore it any more.  We had to face the fact we married someone contemptible, and then we had to decide to grind it out.  Getting down to bare metal is not comfortable.  It hurts.

The truth is that it takes more than just you or your spouse to get it done.  We are not contemptible people because our spouse says so – marriage didn’t make us that way, it only revealed what was already there.  It revealed the true and deeper relational rust.  There is corrosion at a much more profound level; between us and God.  What God did to save us from this was truly amazing, and it was what saved my marriage.  The gospel is that God who could belittle us and count our opinions and lives as meaningless, demonstrates through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that he does not hold us in contempt.  God allows himself to be held in contempt so that we don’t have to be.  Do you see the practical application of this?  How can my wife hold me in contempt when God doesn’t??  She can’t keep me there!  If God says I am beyond contempt, I am beyond contempt and no one can hold me there but me.  And when I try to arrest my wife and throw her into my own little holding cell, I realize how ridiculous it is to try keeping her there.  This is the grind; the gospel meeting contemptible people day after day, knocking off the real cosmic rust and taking us back to a true view of ourselves.  My wife and I live with this grinding as a reality.  It keeps us shiny and new looking through the harsh environments we’ve sailed through in our marriage.

Does Your Spouse Admire You Enough?

download (2)Who do you admire?  What if they were to call you and ask to have lunch this week?  Would you rearrange your schedule to meet them?  Would your priorities stack up differently?  What would it do to you if you discovered they admired you?  That they rearranged their whole schedule to spend time with you?  It would radically change the way you looked at yourself to discover you were admired by the admirable.

Many of us forget that our spouses admired us so much that they rescheduled their whole lives around us – that’s called marriage.  Your spouse does admire you that much.  How does it feel?  Fulfilling?  Sometimes it is.  Sometimes the spouse we admire admires us and makes us feel so full we can’t imagine being more full.  But this doesn’t always work and it never lasts.  We need more admiration than anyone is capable of giving, even if that person gave us the promise of a lifetime.  We need more. Our spouse needs more.

At the root of the word admire is the an old Latin word meaning “miracle.”  There was a time we thought it was miraculous to have the admiration of our spouse.  I thought it was at the time.  And still do most days.  But there is something more miraculous about the story of the gospel, and it carries both me and my wife when we don’t have enough admiration for each other.  Here is the most admirable person who ever lived making the promise of not just one lifetime given to us, but an eternal lifetime given to us.  Bending the schedule of eternity around me. When I see this – really see it for what it is – I am admired enough to last when my spouse doesn’t admire me, or just as significantly, when I don’t admire myself anymore.  There is a way through.  There is a way up.  Does my spouse admire me enough?  No.  But miraculously, God does.

admiration (n.) early 15c., “wonder,” from Middle French admiration (14c.) or directly from Latin admirationem (nominative admiratio) “a wondering at, admiration,” noun of state from past participle stem of admirari “admire,” from ad- “at” (see ad-) + mirari “to wonder,” from mirus “wonderful” (see miracle). The sense has weakened steadily since 16c.

What My Wife Likes to Wear

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There is a perfume my wife wears that makes me nuts.  Its called Pleasures…yeah.  She wears it well.  But there is no perfume that can make a woman smell so good as the compliments of her husband.  The scent of a well loved woman is obvious to anyone around her.  A man who takes out a bottle of the finest praise and pours it all over his wife will fill his home with the fragrance of life.  And thats really what we want more of right?  Just life.  None of us is too poor to afford the most expensive and desirable cologne.  We should use it lavishly.  Does your home, your marriage smell like a locker room?  Full of competition and clashes and cutting words?  Mine has.  Plenty of times.  Its usually because I’ve treated my wife like one of the guys instead of treating her like she is a woman, The woman.  The one I chose and the one who chose me.  Competition is over.  We won.  Cutting words are really putting down my own self, belittling my own choosing.  Calling myself a loser.  Cutting my self down.  The reason we don’t have enough compliments to pour out on our wives isn’t that they are not worthy of them, its because we lost sight of who we are.  The world takes it out of us.  The world gives us nothing if we con’t pay for it in sweat and blood and time.  Compliments?  Did we earn them??  More than that the constant pressure of bosses and banks and brothers pushing us out of shape, putting us down so they can go up on our backs.  It is hard.  Very hard to see ourselves rightly.  Listen carefully.  The reason you don’t give compliments to your wife any more isn’t that she “lost it” some where, its because you lost it.  You stopped seeing yourself for what you are; a man.  A man who lives before the eyes of God.  What does God think of you?  If his eyes condemn who can stand up?  Who can fight back?  Who can wrestle against that power and win?  But if that God renders and opinion about you, if He compliments you, who will contradict it?  Who will take it from you?  If only you could know what He thinks of you.  Does he render a good opinion?  Does He compliment?  The gospel says yes.  He gives an opinion.  He offers his praise.  You are worthy of it.  We are worthy of it.  He heaps praises upon us through the gospel.  He thinks so highly of us that we are stamped with it.  Complimentary.  Free.  Given without asking a price.  Paying the price so that it can be given.  Look at you.  Man before God.  God looks upon you with favor.  Do you believe it?  Do you accept this opinion?  This compliment?  Now look at your wife.  Pour out life in your home.

Why Women Settle for Less (and what to do about it)

An article titled “A Gentleman’s Take On Why Women Should Never Settle For Less Than They Deserve” showed up in my Facebook feed today.  I don’t know what is more funny/sad; the article itself or the commentary it is accumulating.  Go read it for yourself ladies and see what it makes you feel.  Guys go and read it too and ask yourself if you downloadwant this man around your wife, sister, daughter, grandmother…any female you actually love and respect.  Does this sound like a gentleman?  The author obviously believes he is a gentleman, many of the commenters agree, both male and female, and over 40k people shared it so far.  Why is this getting so much traction?  This article’s take on women is so demeaning as to be a bad joke; a parody I’d expect out of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.  The author unknowingly illustrates his own point.  The reason so many women lower their standards is that the standard is so low that he can seriously pass off patronizing womanization as gentlemanly!  The question is, how did the standard get so low??

Earlier this week I wrote an article about the effect of more and more men using pornography.  Ultimately that effect is the objectification of women; reducing women to things rather than beings.  A Gentleman’s Take shows you the result of a porn saturated male mentality.  Not that the author himself is a porn user, I have no idea about that, but he writes from a culture where porn has dumbed down both men and women to the point where a man can assign himself not only the title of gentleman, but can purport to speak for all gentlemen on a web site that calls itself “The Voice of Generation Y,” in an article so silly, immature, and condescending as to be written by any horny 13 year old boy in a high school freshman english class.  The picture accompanying the article itself contains specifically pornographic elements intended to do what porn does; titillate and attract.  The content reveals that gentlemen read poetry, roll their r’s, and like to get a few vodkas into a woman before they gently and oh-so-politely invite her into their bedroom (which is probably in their parent’s basement).  Evidently gentlemen are not very humble because other men are just “losers” who are “not worth the squeeze.”  The author ends by suggesting that women go out there and find a hopeless romantic (like him) because they are men not boys.

To the porn saturated mind, women are primarily objects of desire.  Men and women alike adjust to this reality.  Men maneuver to obtain the object and women maneuver to become more desirable.  Men who lack one tool to obtain their desired objects will find others (like vodka and rolled r’s).  The same with women.  The interplay between the sexes has always operated like this to one extent or another, but porn amplifies it by making sexual satisfaction of desire so readily images (1)obtainable that men can get whatever they want out of a digital woman without opening a door, buying a dinner, or meeting her mother.  Women are competing with cheap digital hookers for the attention of men.  This is how an article written by an obvious womanizer gets widespread acceptance.

How can we all, men and women, escape the pornographic distortion and lowering of standards?  Go on a war against pornography?  Root it out of popular culture?  This is treating the symptom and leaving the disease.  Men need to become men and women need to become women, not within the confines of a romantic relationship, but before the eyes of God.  Kierkegaard said there was only one “sin unto death” – one sin that would kill us as dead as dead can be – and that it was trying to become a self outside the presence of God.  Ladies, if you try to become your self merely in the presence of a man, even the best man, a true gentleman, you will never be all you were meant to be.  Your standard is too low.  Gentlemen, if you try to shape your self in a way that makes you acceptable to a woman, even the most lovely and worthy lady, you will not become all you were meant to be.  Your standard is too low.  God’s opinion of us is so high that every other opinion is not only a low opinion, it is a life-stealing opinion; it is death unless it is taken in relation to his opinion.  Don’t think so?  Try consoling your daughter when the boy she is dating decides someone else is better than she is.  Watch her wither.  What will you do for her?  Tell her another boy will come along?  His opinion will restore her to life?  For how long?  The best boy may grow into a man and give his whole life to her, but there is a helping-handsday coming when sweet lips cease to speak and a gentleman’s touch is cooled by death.  And that opinion is forever lost.  She must have a higher opinion and truer opinion, a permanent opinion.  There is only one man who gives this and gave it and promises to keep giving it.  The gospel is God’s opinion of us.  It is the promise not to hold us to a higher standard, but to lift us to an impossible standard.  This is the answer to our pornographically broken world; to accept his elevation.

“And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.” – Soren Kierkegaard

(this is a repost of an earlier blog by a different title)

A Man’s Take on a “Gentleman’s” Take

An article titled “A Gentleman’s Take On Why Women Should Never Settle For Less Than They Deserve” showed up in my Facebook feed today.  I don’t know what is more funny/sad; the article itself or the commentary it is accumulating.  Go read it for yourself ladies and see what it makes you feel.  Guys go and read it too and ask yourself if you downloadwant this man around your wife, sister, daughter, grandmother…any female you actually love and respect.  Does this sound like a gentleman?  The author obviously believes he is a gentleman, many of the commenters agree, both male and female, and over 27k people shared it so far.  Why is this getting so much traction?  This article’s take on women is so demeaning as to be a bad joke; a parody I’d expect out of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.  The author unknowingly illustrates his own point.  The reason so many women lower their standards is that the standard is so low that he can seriously pass off patronizing womanization as gentlemanly!

Earlier this week I wrote an article about the effect of more and more men using pornography.  Ultimately that effect is the objectification of women; reducing women to things rather than beings.  A Gentleman’s Take shows you the result of a porn saturated male mentality.  Not that the author himself is a porn user, I have no idea about that, but he writes from a culture where porn has dumbed down both men and women to the point where a man can assign himself not only the title of gentleman, but can purport to speak for all gentlemen on a web site that calls itself “The Voice of Generation Y,” in an article so silly, immature, and condescending as to be written by a horny 13 year old boy in any high school freshman english class.  The picture accompanying the article itself contains specifically pornographic elements intended to do what porn does; titillate and attract.  And the content reveals that gentlemen read poetry, roll their r’s, and like to get a few vodkas into a woman before they gently and oh-so-politely invite her into their bedroom (which is probably in his parent’s basement).  Evidently gentlemen are not very humble because other men are just “losers” who are “not worth the squeeze.”  The author ends by suggesting that women go out there and find a hopeless romantic (like him) because they are men not boys.

To the porn saturated mind, women are primarily objects of desire.  Men and women alike adjust to this reality.  Men maneuver to obtain the object and women maneuver to become more desirable.  Men who lack one tool to obtain their desired objects will find others.  The same with women.  The interplay between the sexes has always operated like this to one extent or another, but porn amplifies it by making sexual satisfaction of desire so readily images (1)obtainable that men can get whatever they want out of a digital woman without opening a door, buying a dinner, or meeting her mother.  Women are competing with cheap digital hookers for the attention of men.  This is how an article written by an obvious womanizer gets widespread acceptance.

How can we all, men and women, escape the lowering standards?  Go on a war against pornography?  Root it out of popular culture?  Men need to become men and women need to become women, not within the confines of a romantic relationship, but before the eyes of God.  Kierkegaard said there was only one “sin unto death” – one sin that would kill us as dead as dead can be – and that it was trying to become a self outside the presence of God.  Ladies, if you try to become your self merely in the presence of a man, even the best man, a true gentleman, you will never be all you were meant to be.  Your standard is too low.  Gentlemen, if you try to shape your self in a way that makes you acceptable to a woman, even the most lovely and worthy lady, you will not become all you were meant to be.  Your standard is too low.  God’s opinion of us is so high that every other opinion is not only a low opinion, it is a life-stealing opinion; it is death unless it is taken in relation to his opinion.  Don’t think so?  Try consoling your daughter when the boy she is dating decides someone else is better than she is.  Watch her wither.  What will you do for her?  Tell her another boy will come along?  His opinion will restore her to life?  For how long?  The best boy may grow into a man and give his whole life to her, but there is a helping-handsday coming when sweet lips cease to speak and a gentleman’s touch is cooled by death.  And that opinion is forever lost.  She must have a higher opinion and truer opinion, a permanent opinion.  There is only one man who gives this and gave it and promises to keep giving it.  The gospel is God’s opinion of us.  It is the promise not to hold us to a higher standard, but to lift us to an impossible standard.  This is the answer to our pornographically broken world; to accept his elevation.

“And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.” – Soren Kierkegaard