One of the things I am sick and tired of hearing and reading in “Christian” dating advice books and columns is the whole line of “men want to be respected, women want to be loved” drill. This brand of argumentation (and I do mean brand in every since of the word—complementarian, gender essentialism is a keystone of the Christian publishing market). Because I, for example am male, that does not mean I have some internal and irresistible desire to have power over members of the opposite sex. Patheos blogger and author David Murrow basically claims that women are to blame for men’s sex addictions, for the inability to BUY A BOAT YALL!!!, and being tempted by other women.
These concerns given are not the fault of women at all. If anything, Murrow pointing out the money issues (not being able to buy a boat, starting a new business) is a symptom of an US American consumerism that prioritizes the self over others, and in the process, objectifies persons as things. This objectification is found in one of the other examples Murrow provides, the criticisms about the wife’s weight and her sense of fashion. Rather than view spouses in the Imago Dei, something that is immeasureable and intangible, women are posited as things, objects to be talked AT.
The best response I have read to Murrow’s nonsense has been Bob Edwards’ post,What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You: Is this Book telling women the truth about men?. Here are some of my favorite replies:
If a man is not allowed to be the spiritual leader in his home, he won’t know what role to play because “men are hierarchical thinkers” (p. 152).
This is only true if a man has been exposed to a patriarchal social environment, and has internalized this culture as normative. He may even believe that “his” normal is “God’s” normal. Simply put, this comes across as an egocentric perspective that seems unaware of the dynamics of gender-socialization. Some men are socialized to be hierarchical; others to be egalitarian. Even men who internalize hierarchical norms can learn to be more collaborative. This has more to do with nurture than nature, and it has nothing to do with God’s design.
“Modern Christianity has begun morphing into a ‘woman thing’” (p. 134). “Today’s church offers the things women crave: safety, relationships, nurturing and close-knit community.” Men “feel unneeded, so they go passive or leave the church altogether” (p. 138).
If men do not recognize their emotional and relational needs (for safety, relationships, nurturance and community) and seek to have them met in healthy ways, they are prone to try to get them met in unhealthy ways (e.g. through addiction).
Murrow (makes a number of comments about sex):
Men are like “chocoholics” when it comes to sex. If a man is unable to come home after work and “indulge [his] fantasy,” he will believe his wife is saying, “get your ya-yas somewhere else, buddy.” Wives shouldn’t be surprised to later find their husbands “engaged in masturbation, porn, or an extramarital affair.” Men, according to Murrow, need wives to be “generous with the chocolate” (p. 118).
“Men actually get a cocaine-like shot of pleasure from looking at a beautiful woman. So here’s your assignment: Give your husband as many cocaine shots as possible. Satisfy his addiction by looking your best” (pp. 163-164).
“And why are looks so important to men?” “Men compare. Men compete. Men size each other up by their spouses” (p. 164). “Having a knockout wife raises your social standing at work, among your relatives, and even a bit at church” (p. 165).
“First realize that sex is one of the cornerstones of the male psyche. If a man has a satisfying sex life, everything is right with the world.” “Here’s something else your husband hasn’t told you: It’s his greatest source of comfort. Sometimes it’s the only way he can access the emotions trapped deep in his heart” (p. 167).
“You are competing for your husband’s body. It’s you versus a thousand foes—food, drink, drugs, illicit sex. Fight for his body and you’ll win his heart” (p. 171).
Women are not responsible for their husbands’ behaviour. They are not responsible to give him enough sex so that he won’t fall prey to gluttony, alcoholism, drug abuse or sexual immorality. Men are responsible to regulate their own impulses and manage their own appetites. We are encouraged to “walk in the Spirit” so that we will not fulfill the “lusts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
If sex is the cornerstone of a man’s psyche, if it is his greatest source of comfort, if it is the only way for him to access his emotions, he may have a sexual addiction. He should be assessed by a qualified psychotherapist.
If he has married his wife because he believes her beauty enhances his social standing at church (or anywhere else), he should seek to understand his worth as a loved child of God and friend of Jesus Christ. If he measures his status by comparing his wife to someone else’s, I believe he should prayerfully consider the words of Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).”
For the rest, I would highly recommend you read the rest of Bob’s and Edna’s post.
But back to men and sharing and feeling and loving. Christians affirm that humanity is made in God’s image, MALE and FEMALE, God made us in God’s likeness. Many Christians including myself confess the belief in the Trinity, and that it was in Jesus Christ, in his Life, Death, and Resurrection, that God shared himself with the world in order to save it. Christians are called to be imitators of Christ, sharing and giving of ourselves is a part of our call to discipleship. John 1 claims that Jesus is the Word of the Father, God’s shared self-communication to humanity. Jesus’ tears are God’s tears; Jesus’ joy is God’s joy. In Christ, God provides the model for humanity. Men and women were created for mutual relationship with each other. Dialogue and compassion are some of the markers of YHWH living in covenant with Israel. Women do share feelings because they are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of a personal and loving God. Men do share feelings too because we are also beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of a personal and loving God.