Monday, January 12, 2015

I Am Not A Gentleman pt. 2

I would like to expound on my last post in this one…and I’m going to do that using none other than the expert on love herself – Taylor Swift.

A buddy of mine and I were listening to Blank Space on the radio (because it was on, ok, we didn’t geek out or anything…or did we?) and we came across that infamous line – “Boys only want love if it’s torture.” Now, I don’t know what ole T-Swift meant by that from her own perspective, but my friend and I discussed what it might possibly mean and I offered this thought.

It is the age old story of rescuing the damsel in distress. If there is a dragon to slay, a tower to scale, or a molten lava moat to cross, that somehow makes it more fun for the prince and more meaningful for the princess. 

Imagine though, the princess fighting her way out of the castle while the prince was on route and doing half the work, teaming up with the prince’s efforts. Does that sound like any story ever? Nope. Why? Because it’s not as “romantic” or fun for the prince and it’s definitely a lot harder for the princess.

Now think about our own society. We have bought into this idea quite a bit. The man pursues the woman relentlessly and surely is the first person to initiate anything (lest the woman be too “forward”). The girl plays hard to get but the man doesn’t give up, he offers gesture after gesture to prove his affection. Eventually the man proves himself, the girl falls in love, and then she subjugates herself for the next 70 years and makes sandwiches on the daily.

There is a power switch that seems to go on. For some time, it seems as though the woman holds the power in “courting” as she creates the boundaries, doesn’t make it too easy, and so on and so forth. Then, whenever the final task of a ring and a question is completed, the chase is over and the man has his “prize.” He then assumes power in the relationship completely. Now, this initial power being in the woman’s hands is rather artificial and really just shows other facets of male power, but it nevertheless at least appears to exist as the man courts her.

What do I mean by artificial power? Think of it this way. In our society, the guy is expected to ask the girl out for the most part (at least the “official” date, she may suggest coffee or the like, but the man usually initiates a “date”). Now, if a girl likes a guy but the guy does not have such feelings, really, all he has to do is…nothing. So, there is apparent power in being pursued by a man, but that power still ends up in the man’s hands if you think about it.

A relationship where both parties went into the process equally would not be nearly as riveting of a read, and it also would not necessarily lead to the inevitable power shift to sandwich making. “Boys only want love if it’s torture” because it means they get to be in control of the relationship later on down the road.  

Although it may not be very Disney, I think an equal relationship from the get-go creates far healthier scenarios for both parties throughout the course of that relationship.

Now remember, from my last post, this does not mean we go around acting like jerks. It instead frees us up to be mutual servants to each other, continually seeking to put the other’s needs above our own. When both partners do this, it embodies the agape style of love that Christ showed to us. We talk about being servants to spouses all the time, but do we really have the fairy tale scenario in mind when we think of such?

Fairy tales are fairy tales for a reason, they aren’t real life and we don’t get to see years down the road. Cinderella marries the prince after one night of dancing and some diligent seeking on the prince’s part? What if the prince has some pretty janky expectations of her? What if they aren’t very compatible in their personalities? What if he likes Nickelback? These are all distinct possibilities that the fairy tale doesn’t get into. Do they truly live happily ever after? I would suggest that it is unlikely.

There may not be a happily ever after, but there is certainly joy in mutually submitting to another person in humble servanthood and seeing an equal in your partner. That is Eden. That is how Jesus saw other people. He came not to be served, but to serve.

We take the few verses containing household codes in the Bible that mention wives submitting to husbands and we skew this to refer to power. Those verses are not about power; they are about mutual service and respect. Jesus was not a power guy; He was a servant. 

Some of the most joyful marriages are ones where there is such deep respect and love for the other person that neither sees the other as lesser. Unload the dishwasher together. Cook dinner together. Decide to have mutually fulfilling sex together. Basically, share as much responsibility, pain, and joy as equally as you can.

But, for this to be the case, I think we have to start this togetherness from the start. What starts in equality can stay in equality. Fellas, don’t offer countless gestures of chivalry and affection simply so that you can claim your prize and “call her yours,” serve her and see her as your equal. Ladies, when you are being swooned by gestures of affection and chocolate, ask what is expected in return and if you are truly viewed as an equal. Don’t let love be torture, make it mutual service and respect.

Donnn’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t, warn yaaaaa!

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