A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Psalm 127:1 and the Sexes

Over at MarkyMark's blog, there is a post about a show called Jersey Shore that is of particular interest to me. MM writes:
In far too many modern relationships, the only glue holding them together is the physical. There is little or no mental connection made between the man and the woman. There is little or no emotional connection made. Finally, there is little or no spiritual connection made. In order for a relationship to last-REALLY LAST-it has to have all four elements present; there have to be mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical bindings holding it together. Only then will a relationship have what it takes to last. When there's only one binding (especially when it's the physical, as is usually the case in modern relationships) holding it together, the relationship simply doesn't have the strength to withstand any serious stress.
A show like Jersey Shore confirms what MM is saying. The show is sickening and sad, and yet it points to the existence of God. How so? Well, when I read MM's reaction, I notice that he mentions the "spiritual" component. Human beings can't get away from this. Jersey Shore illustrates what happens when God is not present in people's lives. The young people of that show are following verses 20 to 32 of Romans, chapter 1 to the script; and they most likely don't even know it.

God creates human beings. We create things. It's no surprise, then, that in a godless culture, we reduce people to the status of things--from the impersonal, dehumanizing environment of the workplace to the pornification of our sexual relationships. Even "love" becomes a product to be sold, negotiated for, and consumed.

Around Thanksgiving, I said the following at MM's blog in response to a post about "Game" ...
There has been a lot of talk about LTR Game but frankly I think it is overrated. The bottom line is that people are more materialistic, self-centered, into instant gratification, etc. than ever before. Young men may learn about seduction the way young women learn about dressing to the nines. But, today, the youth of either sex have extremely poor relationship skills that doom any chance of monogamy. That's why cohabitation is on the rise and marriage is in decline.

Relationships are just another form of recreation, a hobby, a drug, an appliance, what have you. When people get bored or dissatisfied, they just trade in their partner for a new one. The values of integrity, loyalty, industriousness, sacrifice, compromise, humility, patience, longsuffering, and selflessness that are needed for marriage are nonexistent among a huge swath of young people. That's why LTR Game is a nice theory, but in practice, it has no remedial effect in stemming the mass decay.

When people mention LTR Game, I sometimes think what they are really saying is: "I hope to get a hottie to love me forever" or "I hope to get married one day after I have all my fun." They don't realize that sleeping around is a strong predictor for relationship failures down the road.

The people of today are wanting the quick fix. And I'm afraid they see "Game" as the solution. But secret to relationship success is not "Game" per se. It's a nice component. I certainly am not against men and women making themselves sexier in the eyes of each other (within the bounds of reason, morality, and good taste). But, like I said, "Game" is not the fix.

This is the 300-pound gorilla in the room. This is what some "Game" advocates are failing to address. Relationship success in the past depended not so much on "Game" as it did on character. Today, a lot of people have an insufficient amount of character. They break their promises and think only of themselves.

In terms of male-female relationships, society especially encourages women to be completely devoid of any sense of responsibility for how their relationships turn out. The whole woman=good, man=bad paradigm has resulted in a whole generation of self-absorbed harridans that have no business getting within 100 feet of a bridal shop. So the question needs to be asked by men interested in LTRs and marriage: Why practice "Game" to attract the attention of a female demographic that is pretty sorry in the first place? And if you are a man from one of the more recent Media Saturated Generations, then you may need to consider if you are all that mature and selfless yourself. [quote edited for typos and layout]
Why do I bring up what I wrote? Not to criticize "Game." That's not my point. If a man wants to practice "consergame," there nothing is wrong with that, per se. I suppose it works for some people. Moreover, I am not pinning the blame entirely on women, although I believe society is arguably more lenient about their peccadilloes than those of their male counterparts. What I'm saying is that a lot of people are missing the big picture--the spiritual aspect of relationships, as God intended. When it comes to heterosexual relationships, hookups represent the bottom of the food chain. It's diving for rotting leftovers in a dixie dumpster. A God-honoring marriage is what men and women must pursue if they are thinking about intimate relationships. I do not apologize for saying that.

"Love" is an abused word in this society. I'll tell you what love entails. It entails forgiving the faults and failures of a person because you made a vow "for better or for worse." You see, when you recognize the personhood of another human being, you have to recognize the whole package. You embrace that person, not just what that person can do for you. Love will demand you to sacrifice for that human being even when you are not thanked for it. Love can be a painful, thankless task, and it makes no apologies for that. This kind of love is pretty much impossible without a meaningful relationship with God, who helps us to love others (Galatians 5:22-53). It's no surprise to me. God loves those who have been constantly thankless towards him--that includes you and me (Romans 5:6-8). At some point or another, we have acted or are acting in a thankless manner towards him. So now you know what the scoop is. Read 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 and it will tell you what love is all about. Does that describe your relationships?

When someone belittles a single man as a loser, etc., the charge is usually hollow and effete. Why? Because the ones who sleep around, get into shallow relationships primarily based on status or infatuation, etc. can be just as relationship-starved and deprived of love as the man sitting at home alone on a Saturday night eating cold pizza. Don't tell me how well-fed you are if your idea of nourishment is eating Skittles all day long. Day after day, socially unattractive people fall in love and have deeper relationships than the Hollywood celebs that hop from one bed to another. Why do we envy the latter group's sad existence, then?

I daresay the kind of love I've been talking about is the kind most of my readers want, regardless of their background or whether or not they agree with my posts. But it costs something--your selfishness and your ego. When I hear the talk of some people who fancy themselves as winners in the relationship game, I can tell they are not ready for love and that they are doomed to failure if they don't clean up their act. The men and women who have been consistent, who have stuck with it for the long haul, who have gone through the peaks and valleys with their spouses, etc. do not talk so loud about their conquests. They do not gloat so much in front of others who have been unlucky in love. They usually don't yammer on about "losers who can't get laid." These men and women who have stuck it out understand the price. Love has humbled them. It makes them thankful, not arrogant. As for the ones who continue to be arrogant about their social value in eyes of the opposite sex, poetic justice will find them out and kick them in the posterior (Proverbs 16:18).

Is the heterosexual love I'm talking about worth it? Sure it is (Proverbs 18:22). Furthermore, if you are trying to live up to the vows you have taken before the Lord even when it gives no paybacks, it is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). But having said that, you should think before you leap in the first place. That's my take, folks. This culture has all sorts of ideas about love and how to get it, but like Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it" (NASB).

17 comments:

Hestia said...

Well said!

CS said...

Quite possibly the best commentary you've ever posted, at least in my opinion, Anakin. There is hope out there but many in our culture do not wish to take the actions and make the changes you mentioned to ensure or improve the likelihood of relational success. Selfishness is too seductive in the immediate term.

Learner said...

That is a fantastic post Anakin! Bravo!

LadyElaine said...

well said, Anakin. Thank you for making it plain.

Kathy Farrelly said...

I felt like jumping up and wildly clapping and cheering after reading this!

Awesome post Anakin.

Such insight.

If only MORE people could read your wise words.

Talleyrand said...

The problem with the the love you describe, is so many people are "unequally yoked" so to speak.

It is all well and good to suffer for love, but so often that suffering in this culture turns into degradation.

There is a place where someone's worse is too much and the love is sundered.

As for the long term relationship game, I daresay that many of the men that turn to it do so AFTER they bought off on the lies of our society that marriage is the be all, end all for men and they discover they are in deep trouble because if they don't game their wife, they are going to lose everything and are already well on their way.

That is the thing that may have escaped you. Many men using LTR game feel they are in a corner, it isn't a proactive, when I snag a hottie, but a reactive I've made my pact and now I realize that it was a Devil's bargain I made.

I personally believe that the kind of love you describe is so rare in western society that it is virtually nonexistent. 99% of the men will never experience this kind of love. Ever.

Wanting it, and being able to find it are two very different things. And pursuing it serves women's interests and not a men's.

wombatty said...

Excellent post, Anakin. I basically agree with you about LTR Game; I think it’s a good thing and can be very effective provided you’re in a relationship with a woman of character. In my opinion, Game (including LTR) is ‘played’ in the arena of personality, it does not address character at all. So while you might achieve some short term success with women using Game, character is essential to long term success. Pinning your hopes on Game to secure a good LTR is like mowing the lawn with a snowblower – you’re using the wrong tool and it’s not going to work.

Your comments on the limitations of Game calls to mind some in the Church (e.g. Maken, Motte Brown, Doug Wilson, Mohler, etc.) who seem to think that, if only men would exhibit ‘proper biblical leadership’, then women will simply ‘follow his lead’ and find herself hopelessly devoted to him. In other words, men must have character; women not so much. After all, if he would only ‘lead’, she will, perforce, follow; her ‘character’ will magically appear when he demonstrates his.

For such people, ‘proper biblical leadership’ is apparently the evangelical equivalent of Game, and it suffers a similar, but worse, shortcoming as that above. While ‘secular game’ doesn’t address character at all, ‘evangelical Game’ makes it all about his character while downplaying the importance of hers. In other words, ‘evangelical Game’ employs a double-standard whereas ‘secular game’ is at least consistent; imagine that.

For the men in the Church of this mind (Brown, Wilson, Mohler, et al.), I think it’s a manifestation of self-absorption; it’s all about them. It could be that they are thinking

It’s all my fault, I suck so much because I’m a man. If only I could display proper biblical leadership all would be well in my relationship/marriage

…or

I’m so great because I’m a man; everything depends on me. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault; it something goes right, I am responsible. By simply wielding proper biblical leadership, women will become putty in my hands and become hopelessly devoted to me in perfect submission.

Either way, it’s self-centeredness; two sides of the same coin.

As for the women who buy into this pious bilge (e.g. Maken & her disciples), it's all about avoiding accountability and responsibility for their own behavior.

That’s the best sense I can make of it anyway.

Will S. said...

Ugh, Doug Wilson. Another 'quiverfull' type who preaches heresy (paedo-communion; Federal Vision), and whose 'Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals' won't even take a firm stand one way or the other on infant baptism, trying to hold the mushy middle. I don't know why so many of my fellow Reformed hold him in such high regard; it bugs me to no end...

Anonymous said...

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Uh, that would be the latter. Otherwise, what's the point? This is why chivalry exists - to justify an inflated sense of self and entitlement to call the shots. It's also why women try to outdo each other in the Martha Stewart dept. at Christmas - the more responsibility they take on with the meal, the decorations, etc., the more glory they get (not to mention the power to "pull in markers" later on).

vysota said...

The fact that you're assuming that "Jersey Shore" is any more reflective of the "godless culture" than the Westboro Baptist Church is reflective of mainstream Christianity indicates that, as usual, you have very little idea what you're talking about. Sorry, Ani, I know I'm the only one on this blog who's not here to lick your derriere, but your analysis is spot off. Again.

Anakin Niceguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Great post.

"When someone belittles a single man as a loser.....losers who can't get laid."

I often wonder how early Christians felt (when chastity was normative behavior) in a Roman world ruled by sexual hedonism.

Will S. said...

In response to the removed post, a good question; why is such tolerated here? Why not enable comment moderation?

Novaseeker said...

I often wonder how early Christians felt (when chastity was normative behavior) in a Roman world ruled by sexual hedonism.

Indeed. This is the place of transition that Christianity finds itself in today -- transitioning away from being the mainstream cultural influence that it was for ~1500 years towards being a counter-cultural force that exists *in* the culture but is deadset *against* that culture -- as was the case for the early church. This transition involves some difficulty, but it is the way we must proceed, and in the long run it will be better for the church to purge itself of the false "christians" and become more focused on what the church is supposed to be. This will be somewhat traumatic, I think, because quite a few Christians will try to hang on to the what cultural influence they have in the current culture -- which is understandable. But the train has already left the station -- this culture is going neo-pagan, and there does not seem to be much that can be done to stop that. The key insight, however, is that the church does not need *this* culture in order to be the church -- that is, it does not need to be a part of the mainstream culture to be the church, it simply needs to be true to itself. And in this day and age that means back to the future for the church -- which is not something to be lamented, really, but something to be celebrated.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Vysota said

The fact that you're assuming that "Jersey Shore" is any more reflective of the "godless culture" than the Westboro Baptist Church is reflective of mainstream Christianity indicates that, as usual, you have very little idea what you're talking about.

The fact that Vysota compares the prevalence of promiscuity in our secularized to prevalence of Fred Phelps-like extremism among Christians is downright laughable. No further comment is needed on that.

Sorry, Ani, I know I'm the only one on this blog who's not here to lick your derriere, but your analysis is spot off. Again.

The "only one"? You know a new low is reached when a heckler not only insults me and my favorable readers, but also my other critics. Anyway, for Vysota to assert that my "analysis is spot off" belies his earlier ruse that I have no points to address.

I have warned Vysota about his nastiness and other troll behavior. He will no longer be welcomed here.

Will S. said...

Even Niceguys have their limits, as the troll now knows, and I know I'm not the only one pleased to see that.

Anonymous said...

You are so right. The kind of love you describe is the kind that is worth living for. Of course, it is hard to have it because it implies sacrifice.

But there is something harder than this kind of love: finding a woman who is as willing of practicing it as oneself.

In my first relationship, I was willing to sacrifice, give up my ego and self-interest to an amazing extent. After years of practicing that, I realized that my girlfriend was not willing to do that. She was OK when I sacrificed for her, but she was not willing to sacrifice one inch for me.

The following relationships followed the same pattern. I think modern women believe that love requires self-sacrifice (only on the man's behalf, of course).

After some broken hearts, you end up becoming cynic and entering relationships telling yourself "OK. This woman wants to get the most benefit from me while giving me the less benefit. I will try to do the same".

And this is the fate of nice guys in this society. That they stop being nice guys and become selfish bastards like me.