To Women Everywhere, Regarding Yoga Pants

Yoga Pants

Dear Women of the World,

Here’s what I have to say about you wearing yoga pants:

Ladies, please, take note. You can wear yoga pants. You can not wear yoga pants. It’s up to you. It’s none of my business. And honestly, I really don’t care.

And yes, I am a male. And yes, I am a Christian male. And I believe that your body is a wonderful and beautiful thing, one that bears the imago dei. And I hope you know that you are wonderful and beautiful as well.

But women don’t cause men to lust. Lust is not forced upon anyone. If you are intentionally trying to seduce me, that’s one thing. But I don’t interpret your ordering a vanilla latte in front of me in Starbucks as an attempt at foreplay.

And it’s not your fault if I see you, in whatever clothes you are or are not wearing, and hold you in my mind as a sexual object the sole purpose of which is fulfilling my desires. None of that = your fault. 

Can I be honest? Sometimes I think men are just jealous. Should I chose to don leggings and stroll through the mall with my buttocks firmly, thinly clothed- the only thing I’d be enticing women into is spluttering giggles. Maybe a few vows of celibacy.

The female body is-generally speaking- more appealing to the eye than the male body. And men are also more visual creatures on a physiological level. That’s not an accident. That’s creative design, God’s design. And I’m frustrated with purity movements that attempt to shroud the beauty of that connection, to stifle it. This is not to say that I- or any other husband- should have eyes for anyone other than my wife. Nothing is further from my point. Rather, I should have eyes for my wife, eyes that behold, eyes that absorb, eyes that witness her beauty in a way that prompts worship of her creator. But those same eyes should be able to look into those of another woman and see her as a woman. Not a sexual object. Not an object of lust. Not a threat. A woman, made in God’s image, made with the intention that one day she and I would live in perfect, heavenly community.

The answer to lust is not unplugging our computers, putting on blinders and demanding that all women wear sweatpants in public. Such denial of beauty is akin to burning poetry and shattering priceless paintings. Nothing could be less Christian. For the only god who demands such things is the one named “Decency.” And he would have felt pretty awkward in Eden.

Rather the answer to lust is looking at women, in whatever they’re wearing, and acknowledging their beauty in an attitude of worship for their Creator. Is this natural? No, because we are fallen creatures. Do most men act as such? Heavens, no. But- going back to my previous analogy- don’t burn the novel because you can’t grasp the plot.

And so I say that we, as Christians, have a higher calling than prudishness, covering and hiding anything our evil nature could possibly corrupt. We have a calling to worship. Within this calling we must learn, accept and believe that the beauty of a female body is not ours to possess (which is what makes pornography so vilely unChristian while nude depictions in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is of the highest art). And sometimes God grants it that one woman’s beauty may be a man’s to behold, intimately and in a wonderfully exclusive and heightened manner. That’s sex. That’s marriage. And it’s the physical foundation for love, love that foreshadows a new creation, a new Eden, in which yoga pants won’t be allowed because of everything they’d hide.

Men need to learn to see that beauty. And we ought to all be striving for the ability to see beauty without lusting for it’s possession. The gospel is not about denial of the goodness around us; it’s about adopting the proper eyes with which to see it.

So women, hear me you, if you want to wear yoga pants then it’s between you and God. Personally, I’ll spare the world. But I don’t care what you wear. What I care about is growing in my ability to see you not as a thing to be owned or possessed, not as an object or means of arousal, but to see you as beautiful, wonderful and sacred.

I hope and pray that Christian communities can focus on exposing beauty, not hiding it. I hope that men pursue the eyes to see the beauty in women. Eyes not for pornography but humanity. Eyes for neither lust or puritanical purity but for the imago dei that’s in all of us. Yoga pants or not. 

It probably won’t happen in this life. But hey, a guy can dream.

a

Sincerely,

The man in the Starbucks line

a

 

 

5 Things Every Married Man Should Do Around Single Women- The Smackdown

I read this article yesterday and at first glance I was so frustrated I nearly ripped out half of my hair. Then I read the comments thread beneath it and just about lost hope for all of Christendom. And we can’t let that happen. So a rebuttal seemed in order. Of course, no decently articulate rebuttal is complete without memes and footnotes[1]. Ergo:

rebuttals

If you haven’t read said article go ahead and take five minutes to peruse the contents by clicking on these words. If you’re too rushed to do so, I totally understand which is why I will give you my summary of the contents here:

  1. This writer is concerned about Christian men preserving their marriages
  2. So he comes up with five things men should always (his words) do around single women to safeguard said marriages
  3. He then lists his five things men should always do, which are (again in his words): keep your ring on, hang up pictures of your wife at work, keep eye contact simple and short, keep conversation general and professional, talk about your wife and family often.

Let me start with the good aspects of this article[2]:

1.)  The writer is concerned about men maintaining healthy marriages. Wonderful. So am I.

2.)  He mentions men should wear their wedding rings and he alludes to the fact that this is a sign of the covenant between a man and woman. Which is good. Kudos.

3.)  The writer calls on men to lead in relationships, however vague a notion that may be…. okay, okay. Ephesians 5, I see you.

4.)  I really appreciated his tip about having a photo in one’s work space, which is of a “happy” time. Find your happy place with your wife, good stuff.

5.)  No typos. I respect that. Seeing as a majority of the things I post often times luuk lyke dizZzz (but more commas).

6.)  Oh, the name of the blog it was originally posted on is called “Manturity”. I like it. I’m always up for a pun.

7.)  Lastly, he listed some Bible verses to “support” his points. Scratch that, they were all out of context.

Annnndddd that just about sums it up. I’m sure the article was written with the best of intentions but there’s a lot of roads to Florida, I mean- hell, paved with those. Good intentions don’t excuse awful theology. [3]

care to explain?

Certainly. But rather than just launch on a rabbit trail of disorganized objections let me present you with three (semi)coherent objections.

1)   The Attack on Single Women 

Let’s start with the title shall we? The fact that this author singles out “single” women

pun
Two can play this game…

starts him off on the wrong foot. If women are a threat to one’s marriage (which they aren’t) then it’s not just single women. In fact according to recent studies married women are just as likely to have an affair as married men.[4] Even if statistics didn’t back up that point[5] the logic behind single women being the primary threat is just plain void. If men are in danger of cheating so much that such drastic measures have to be taken, then so are married women. And thus any author of an article such as this one should at least have the decency to remove “single” from the title.

harsh

No, not at all. Because the point of this article was incredibly dehumanizing and (I’m just going to say it) sexist. What this article does is play right into the pornographic culture that claims everyone is a sexual being first and foremost and, ergo, every single woman who isn’t reigned in by a husband is probably on the prowl and going to vault herself onto the first man who seems willing.

If the author was truly convinced that single woman in his office are automatically a threat to one’s marriage, then he should have the wherewithal to take his head out of the ground and realize that succumbing to this type of logic requires that one’s guard be up against all women, not just single women.

Then again, such logic leads straight to:

2 ) The Objectification/Dehumanization Of Women

This builds of my previous point that the author seems to have a general distrust of women and views them entirely as sexual threats.[6] But his advice in this article is astoundingly atrocious:

  • “keep eye contact simple and short”
  • “keep conversation professional and general”

Yes, because heaven forbid you realize the woman you are talking to has feelings. Heaven forbid you realize the women you are talking to has needs for friendship and community. Heaven forbid you actually ask your co-worker something about how you can be praying for them, how their day is going or- I dunno- something beyond “do you have the 1059A report!?” (eyes downcast). And by all means, heaven forbid you realize that your co-worker is anything other than a sexual deviant who can’t wait for the chance to rip your clothes off and your marriage in two.

sarcastic

And what about the line: “The single women you engage with each day, if you have to…[7]. Oh, yea. If you have to speak to these sub-human beings…then here’s how you handle it. If you have to go out of your way and address them, if you absolutely, no f%$&# way around it, must talk to a single woman, spray yourself down with Lysol, don your chastity belt and then go in. What the hell, better yet, I think I can get you that suit from The Hurt Locker:

hurt locker 

Yep, you’re set. But heaven help you if you look them in eye. They can sense weakness. And fear.

calm down

Maybe I should apologize for being so rash. But this is the thing that really gets me. I mean for heavens sake, treat women, treat everyone, like human beings.

please

Unless you have Bible verses to back it up….which…oh! here we go:

3) The Egregious Use of Bible Verses to Support Said Points

So confession. I wasn’t quite sure what “egregious” meant but I was pretty sure it fit the context. In case you’re in the same boat as me, here’s the definition:

e·gre·gious

iˈgrējəs/

adjective

1.outstandingly bad; shocking.

“egregious abuses of verses like Matthew 5:28”

synonyms:

shockingappallingterribleawfulhorrendous,abominable,

Yep. It fits the context.

Speaking of “context”, that’s another word this author probably should understand before he uses Bible verses to support his claims.

For instance, to support his point that men “should keep eye contact short and simple” he pointed readers to Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. Okay, uh, I get it if your point is “keep your practice runs of x-ray vision to a minimum with women other than your wife”.

But it’s not.

He’s saying avoid eye contact, which has absolutely nothing to do with lusting. In fact, if you want to realize the humanity of another person, if you want to enable yourself to see them as a human being with a soul, then eye contact is probably the best thing you can do.

Furthermore, this passage falls in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. And what does he sum up this teaching with?

“So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12)

“As you would have them do unto you”. You know…like treat them like human beings. Look ‘em in the eye. Ask ‘em about their day. Stuff like that. I dunno. Whatever.

suggestions

But okay. Maybe that was just a slip up. Maybe he had a deadline and wanted to support his points with Biblical data like a good evangelical so he grabbed a Concordance, flipped to “Lust” and wa-la! We’ll give him that.

But then under his point “keep conversation short and professional” he cited:

‘Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” (Romans 6:13)

Again, this is so blatantly out of context I’m not even sure where to begin. And this article is long enough as it is. But let me just say this: Paul is writing about life in Christ as opposed to death in Adam (synonymous for sin). Leading up to this verse he is appealing to the Romans to pursue a life that isn’t controlled by sin…which this author somehow equates with asking a single woman in the office if she had a good weekend. Furthermore, when viewed in context and when the audience of this letter is taken into consideration one would learn that Roman Christians were actually counter-cultural for the way they valued singleness and single women, an ironic oversight on this author’s part.[8]

The point is, I am not the only person who (though I am now married) can remember at some point in my single life being treated like a fencepost by married Christian couples. There were moments in my interactions with married people that I literally wanted to scream:

i'm not trying

human And I’m a male. And I can pull my head out of the ground long enough to realize there are some double standards in the church: one of them being the disregard we tend to have for single females.[9] 

Members of the church, how can such actions be justified?

Look, I’m a married man. I get it. Protecting my marriage is a high priority and I am all for someone who is helping other men do as much. And it isn’t easy in today’s society. To clear up any misconceptions please let me make this clear: I am not attempting to demonize the writer of this article, and I am sorry if any of my comments have come across as vicious.[10]

But my marriage is supposed to be reflective of Christ and the church; my marriage is supposed to make single people feel welcomed into a community that has historically embraced celibacy and singleness, not felt threatened by it. Furthermore, if you treat other humans like objects in your own mind that’s quickly what they will become; and don’t think your objectification of women will not affect your relationship with your wife.

Do I have long dinner conversations with women (single or married)? No. Do I have women over to my apartment when my wife isn’t home? Yea…uh…no. Do I flirt with women? Absolutely not. Do I take off my wedding ring? Only when rock climbing (have you ever caught your ring in a finger hold? #hurtslikehell) and water-tubing (because that’s how everyone loses it). And only with my wife’s knowledge and permission.

But do I look women in the eye and treat them, if Christians, like sisters in an eternal kingdom and family and if not with the warm and accepting nature of Christ towards the woman at the well? Yes, or at least I try.

Do I acknowledge that I am a brother and a co-heir in the kingdom of Christ, that Christian is my primary identity and husband falls within that not above it? Most certainly.

Do I acknowledge that marriage is a temporary and worldly institution, one that ends with death and that if I shun and treat every single woman I encounter day-to-day like the Samaritan on the side of the road, then I could have some potentially awkward and “shoot I’m sorry” reunions for, uh, all eternity in heaven? Absolutely. Whole heartedly:[11]

yea i do

There are different ways to make single women feel valued and none of them, I guarantee you, require breaking up your marriage. Talk with your spouse and see what they’re comfortable with. If I know of a single woman at work that I want to reach out to, I often tell my wife about her and we (note the emphasis) have her over for coffee. Pretty soon she’s talking more to my wife than she is to me. But she knows that I don’t treat her like a threat. She knows that in me she has a brother in the kingdom of Christ. If she’s not a Christian, she knows there’s something different about me because I’ve allowed her into our home to see the way I value my wife up close and personal. If I treat my wife like a human being too, then this woman will see and respect the boundaries we have in our marriage and value us for them.

You can be on your guard without dehumanizing other people and playing into the lie of our overly sexualized society. The answer is not sequestering single woman but establishing a marriage that reflects the kingdom of God in every day and age. The answer is not exclusion but inclusion. The answer is one that values everyone no matter their walk of life and meets them there.

The answer is in our calling as Christians first and foremost and the blessed calling as husbands and wives we find within that.

 


[1] Which, like any half decent graduate student, I will use to make comments I simply couldn’t excuse including in the rebuttal.

[2] Despite my potentially deceptive tone, I’m not being sarcastic here. I truly thought these were good aspects of the article. All six of ‘em.

[3] DISCLAIMER: I bear no ill will or grudge towards the author of this article. I’m sure he’s a good guy with a good heart. The pacifist in me felt the need to say that.

[4] This is based on a recent study from Indiana University reported in this news story: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/women-cheating-men-study/story?id=13885519#.UENkZ1QcAi4

[5] Which…by the way, they do. See above^

[6] Though, to be fair, maybe its emotional affairs he’s concerned about. But from the tone of the article there is no reason to see it that way.

[7] I realize I just broke the cardinal rule of writing and used emphatic amounts of bolding and type adjustment to enhance my point. Please forgive me.

[8] Ready for the longest footnote ever? Here it goes:

In the ancient world, women had very limited power over their own well-being. They couldn’t inherit estates, own wealth and often times were unemployable. Their value depended on their fathers and then on their husbands and, as a last resort, on their sons. A single woman with no sons was in big trouble; this is what makes the story of Ruth such a powerful one. Ruth chose poverty and almost certain death to remain loyal to her mother in law; as a result she was not only provided for but found a place in the lineage of Christ.

Ergo, early Christians were a threat to the Roman Empire because of many things, one of which being the fact that they valued singleness; women didn’t have to be married to participate, live and thrive in their communities. This led to a breakdown in family structure and a lack of trust placed in the empire and worldly security. Instead, trust was placed in Christ. They were counter cultural in their love and acceptance of single woman and the way they treated them not as merely objects or wives but as valuable participants in the kingdom of Heaven.

Contrary to this today, articles like this sequester singles and label them as threats to our the sanctity of marriage, which suddenly has a higher importance than the God-given role of the Church. The author of this article sounds more like the Roman culture than the Roman Christians he associates himself with in citing Paul’s letter.

For more on this: see S.K. Johnson’s pending thesis: Singleness and the Early Church. I can get you a copy if needed.

[9] If you don’t believe me. Read the comment thread on this article. A single female raised similar objections to mine and was told, rather abrasively, that she was taking this “too personally”. They might as well have attempted to cite the Biblical passage “speak only when spoken too” (note: not actually in the Bible, more sarcasm)

[10] I mean it. Truly. If my sarcasm denotes anything other than sincere critique, I apologize.

[11] Do I take excessive liberty in the realm of run-on sentences? Yes.