Thursday, January 1, 2015

I Am Not A Gentleman pt. 1

This is going to be a bit of a trip, so strap in. Are you satisfied with how the world views men, women, and relationships? I personally am not, and I want to share some thoughts on the issue with you. 

We live in a world where men are highly privileged over women. Some may not see it, others may think that is fine and dandy, but it is nevertheless the case. If you are male, I challenge you to ask several women that you know if they have ever experienced some sort of oppression or prejudice because they are women. Some have been passed up for jobs, others have been viewed as lesser, and still some have experienced absolutely terrible and shocking things, simply because they are women. 

Now, I know what most reading this will be thinking - "I don't treat women that way, I am a gentleman" - but that doesn't mean that there is not a problem or that you don't contribute in some way. So, the first thing that must be done is to realize this and like I said, one of the best ways that I can think of to open your mind to this might just be to interview different people and get their stories. 

Now, for those of you who are genuinely good guys, I still have some thoughts to share. Girls, don't feel like you're excluded from reading the rest of this and getting something from it because honestly, when society tells you something long enough, you may start to believe it, and I don't want you to. 

Now, for my gentleman and ladies out there, I would like you to observe and ponder the following image:

Now, this may offend some for good reason, but I'd like to talk about it in a way that perhaps one might not get at first glance. I personally believe that there is a certain level of expectation in our culture for gentlemanly behavior. I believe there is a subtle, if not sometimes overt, message that in exchange for being a gentleman, I expect to be served. Perhaps the message at other times is "I treat you well, you put out for me" (If you'll allow me to be so crass). 

I know that for most good dudes out there, this is not what is going through your mind consciously, but I still think that the overall message from society is that if a man is a gentleman, the woman will subjugate herself to the man. 

So, what's the cure for this and how do we as people balance this idea while not just becoming jerks with no manners? Let's start at the beginning. I start here because I think we must change the way our minds think about gender in a holistic way. 

In the beginning, there was a garden. Did you know that the Hebrew used in Genesis 1-2 describing man and woman is language of equality? It truly is in stark opposition to the culture that seems to come later. Eve may be called a "helper", but that term has an extremely elevated meaning compared to how our culture often thinks of the word. After the fall of humankind (brought about by Adam and Eve), the world becomes patriarchal. 

This is where I may differentiate myself from some Christian feminist thinkers. And please note, I have not studied this in vivid detail so if you can and would like to contribute to my understanding and knowledge, please do so. I think that how women are viewed in this world is related almost completely to the fall of humankind. With that being said, I think that this will always be the case on some level. So, while some feminist movements seek to bring societal change to how women are viewed, I don't think this will ever be fully realized. 

But, there were beginnings to this. When you look at the Old Testament Law, it is clearly patriarchal and even seems to be a bit on the misogynist side, if not very much on the misogynist side. However, in a way, it is still a small piece in making things better. Understanding this topic means understanding how the Law functioned. It was a mediator. The Law was not God's ideal, but it did move us closer to that ideal. When you look at the Law compared to other ancient law codes and cultures of that time, Israel was pretty grand. It made sincere improvement on things while still allowing for some cultural expectations. This can be seen in how women, slaves, and foreigners were treated, how violence was viewed and used, and a slew of other things. As odd as it may sound, when compared with the surrounding culture, it is almost a piece of feministic literature. It was making improvements while building up to something else, and that something was Jesus. 

One of the interesting things about Jesus is that His primary goal (other than saving humanity) was restoring the Edenic Ideal to the world, namely in the church. This ideal involves shalom, love, relationship that was lost, and if we truly examine the text, I believe it should include the treatment of women. So, while the world will likely always treat women as lesser to some degree or another, the church should be the one place where this is not the case. 

Now, unfortunately, the church has sometimes treated women worse than certain areas of the world, and so for that, I am truly sorry on behalf of the imperfect church that I am a part of. But, I want to change that. I hope that I can be a part of making the church a place where you feel so incredibly valued and loved, and that you are seen equally. 

I'm not going to go into women's roles in church or anything like that. If you'd like my opinion or resources, I'd be happy to give either, but such is not the purpose of this post. The Bible does have some unique things to say about relationships, men, and women. But, unpacking every nuance or why I choose to interpret in the way I do would take a long time. 

One thing I would like to say outright though is that I do not see many inherent differences between men and women. Obviously there are some physical differences (talk to your moms and dads if you don't know what I'm talking about), but some of the other stuff is made up by us. Our culture usually informs how we think about gender and the roles of such. Now, what's interesting is that these differences that are created by culture are in fact biological on some level. Culture and especially family can create and shape the way our brains function and our neurons fire, and so for some of the common "differences" between men and women, there is a level of biology to it. However, this is not inherent and can indeed be changed with an intentional change of the mind and how we view things. (I could go on for DAYZ on this subject, feel free to ask me about any of this since I have to leave it so short for now). 

What I wish to do now is incredibly cheesy, but it will help illustrate all of this content rather well hopefully - I want to write an open letter to whomever my wife may be, if indeed she exists and such is permitted to me. 

Hello there! Whoever you are, there are a few things you should probably know and expect if you choose to engage in a covenantal relationship with me (your choice, not my coercion). Firstly, I will not treat you like a princess (honestly, how entitled is that?), I will treat you like a child of God. I am not prince charming, in fact, I often feel more like Shrek and connect with him deeply. When you get to know me, you will get to know an incredibly flawed person. For pity's sake, at one point I purposefully decided to look like this: 

But despite my flaws, I am redeemed and have been forever defined by such. I don't know what our life together will look like. I hope we can share as much responsibility as possible, but who knows? Honestly, it's going to be a trip that we're going to have to figure out together. I don't have any preconceived expectations of who will do what, I only ask that you bear with me patiently as we learn the other's strengths and figure out how to not burn down the house. It will be a grand adventure to say the least. 

I'm not the average dude, and for some that is honestly a deterrent (but one that I'm proud of). I don't have a shotgun waiting for intruders and thieves. I fully plan on living in a really cheap yet functional house/apt/some sort of structure so that our money can be diverted to helping those less fortunate and furthering the kingdom of God. In general, I'm an odd duck and I'm proud of it. 

I want to empower you as a person and never treat you as though you are my lesser or in need of me because I am a man (we all need people, that's part of life). I don't really plan on fulfilling one of those odd Christian expectations of the man "pursuing the woman relentlessly" until I eventually wear you down and you concede or realize I'm cool. I fully desire for this empowerment thing to mean that you want a relationship just as bad as I do and are willing to go into it equally with me. Do I know exactly what all this will look like? Nope. But it will be fun living life together and figuring it out. 

Lastly, I am not a gentleman as defined by western society or southern manners, but I have dedicated my life to being a servant and I plan on loving you and everyone else in our lives as Christ loved the church. I will serve you, not because you're a woman, but because you're a child of God and because I love you. I will hold doors open for you, for children, for other men, and I may be stuck at doors for a decent while at times, all because this is how I want to treat other people, not because I think lesser of anyone. 

In all things, I want to treat you very well, but because I am a Christ imitating servant, not because I am a gentleman who expects something in return.  


  1. Spencer, I enjoy reading your blog from time to time. You'll make a wonderful husband. Have you read Francis Chan's book You and Me Forever? I've never read a book on marriage like it. How you plan for your marriage to operate/look reminds me of some of the points Francis brings up. Roles in marriage pale in light of our need to walk in humbleness as Jesus did. I enjoy reading how you are fleshing out your faith. It is inspiring. Renee Green

    1. That means alot Renee! I have not read that book, but I haven't really heard anything from Francis Chan I didn't find sincere truth in, so I bet it really is excellent and I'll have to look into it. Thanks for the support and the recommendation!