Romantic Wisdom for Single Men
Singles, especially men,
Love and blessings.
My single readers wish I would write more on singles issues. I love you guys and gals so much, but the cross-section of my sphere is more diverse than you could imagine!
There is a vast empty wilderness of transformational material and ministry on the unique issues single Christians face. I cannot remember a Bible study or a singles ministry, in any of the many churches I've been a part of, that really touched the nerve centers of singlehood. I've heard all the typical go-to messages and platitudes, especially at pandering Christmas fellowship dinners, but not sensitive and awkward transformational truth on what singles really, really, really need to hear. If you are in a position to do so, stop pampering singles and feeling bad for them and throwing them a bone at Christmastime. Tell them the truth, the truth everyone thinks but no one says. Exhort them towards romantic wisdom, preparation, and personal development. You are not helping by pampering mediocrity. You are being dishonest.
Though I am writing this to born-again men, everything I will say is pertinent to women as well on multiple levels.
Women are not as mysterious as you, single brothers, might think. (Permission granted to seethe at me, sisters.) Yes, they can be exquisite, yes, they can be dreamy, yes, they are many of the wondrous things you imagine them to be. God made them with this distinct element of wonder. But they are not inscrutable goddesses. Timothy Perper, PhD (1939-2014)--biologist, cultural anthropologist, social psychologist, mathematician, historian, and sexologist--researched and recorded in one of the most influential books ever written, Sex Signals: The Biology of Love (1985), that 31 out of 33 men do not know how to read a woman's gestural and linguistic subtleties. That is 93.9%. See why a miniscule group of men, 6%, get all the best romantic options, while the other 94% see untouchable demigods who never come down from Olympus? That 6% has learned, one way or another, through sinister or legitimate means, how to evade and bypass (or shatter altogether) a woman's capricious mystique to create a real connection with her. Or, at the very least, to create a romantic possibility.
To learn that kind of socioromantic acumen, however, you will have to violently throw down your blinding and crippling excuses. Born-again singles love pseudospiritual excuses that keep them mediocre, that keep them about as socially retarded as a winged gargoyle. If that gets you all offended and defensive, good, here's Lesson #1: women tend to be disgusted (usually silently or fake-politely) by men who are hypersensitive manboys, men who cannot take a punch stoically. To them it is a damning revelation of weakness, a revelation of a boy. If you ever hear that supersweet, condescending, kindergarten teacher voice coming from a woman, she sees you as a boy.
"But I'm Waiting On God to Send My Wife!"
Well, you will be waiting alone in the nursing home if you do not do your part. No universe exists where God blesses a Christian who is lazy, non-proactive, unknowing, undisciplined, uninvolved in the blessing process. Proverbs 13:4 (NASB): The soul of the lazy one craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made prosperous. 20:4 (NIV): Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing. In Bible stories where God organized someone's marriage, one or both lovers had preparation and transformation prerequisites before the relationship could happen.
Isaac & Rebekah
Genesis 24 recounts God's pairbonding of Isaac and Rebekah. An angel was sent ahead of Eliezer to organize the meeting between the two (v7,40). Scripture specifically says Rebekah was "appointed for your servant Isaac...the woman whom the LORD has appointed" (v14 NASB). Laban and Bethuel, the guardian men in Rebekah's life, recognized this. In verses 50 and 51 they said (NKJV), "This thing comes from the LORD…the LORD has spoken."
For the moment do not focus on the providence of the marriage, but Rebekah and Isaac's personal responsibility in the process. Read how Rebekah distinguished herself to Eliezer (v18-21), indicating she prepared her personality and habits long before this moment. Read how Isaac, when Rebekah finally arrived into his life, was prayer-walking (v63), indicating his personal preparation too. And perhaps most importantly for singles, notice Isaac lived next to Beer Lahai Roi (v62, 25:11). Beer Lahai Roi means "well of the One who sees me" (16:13,14). You are not ready for a lover to see you--all of you--until you learn to drink everyday from the well where God sees you--all of you.
Samson & His Philistine Wife
Judges 14 recounts God's pairbonding of Samson and his Philistine wife (she is unnamed). In a mindbending statement, Scripture says this (Jdgs 14:4 NKJV): ...his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD--that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines...
The full meaning of this verse is a discussion for another day. Relevant to our topic is the phrase, "...it was of the LORD...". He Himself caused Samson and this woman to be at the right place, at the right time, so they would attract and pair. Notice, however, the metaphorical prerequisites for Samson.
Verses 5 and 6 tell us Samson had to kill a young lion on the way to marry the woman. What a revelatory metaphor! What lions in your personality and life are you required to kill before you can make it to Timnah and marry the woman that is of the Lord? The lion was a young lion (v5). Single men, I can assure you that you will have to kill the young lion in yourself--areas where you are still young and childish and boyish. Have you not read Psalm 34:10? It says young lions miss out and suffer hunger. Psalm 34:10 (NASB): The young lions do without and suffer hunger... Brothers, your young lion outlook, personality, habits, even dress code, are causing you to do without and suffer hunger in the romantic dimension. Discern the metaphor in Samson's premarital killing of the teen lion. Depend on the Spirit to come upon you in the same power to kill the teen you may still be.
Verse 7 says (NIV, underline mine), Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her. Seemingly mundane verse, right? Nothing in God's Word is mundane. Samson talked with the woman. Juxtapose this with how the young lion came at Samson roaring (v5). Talking versus roaring. A young lion roars, a man talks. A manboy roars, a man talks.
Talking With a Woman
For many single men, their greatest preparation need is to learn how to talk with a woman. Here is the bottom-line. You have to converse with a woman intuitively and assertively, in ways that bypass that mystical shield around her and penetrate her psychology. You cannot talk in bro code (unless you are being funny or making fun), or condescending patriarchal language (most contemporary women are too independent to tolerate that), or excessive brainy talk (most women prefer feeling and imagination over facts), or talking up to her like she is Aphrodite (telegraphing how pitiful you are), or anything linguistically distant from her core self, and think she will deactivate that shield. You will have to listen extraordinarily well (intuitively) for split-second glimpses into her infrastructure (which she may not be aware of, or may not fully admit). You will then have to subtly steer conversations down those sideroads into her heartland.
Intuitive, assertive, steering the conversation subtly into her heartland...a few starting points for romantically-minded conversation. The other 93.9% of men do not do this. They do not chat intuitively, but interview the woman or talk dry surfacy facts. They are not assertive, but bleed weakness and fear of the woman's rejection. They do not try to subtly steer the conversation into the woman's infrastructure, challenging her to be real and humble, instead they tolerate that condescending fake-polite goddess shield. This level of conversational skill is acutely relevant to your interactions with all people, so practice and harvest sweet returns in all your relationships.
Samson killed a teen lion and conversed with a woman before marrying. Think about it.
Boaz & Ruth, Xerxes & Esther, etc.
A few more examples in brief before we shift gears.
Boaz prepared himself by developing awesome spiritual maturity, financial wealth, and once again, how to talk with a woman (Ruth 2 and 3). Ruth prepared by snuggling up to Naomi's mentorship (1:16-18, 3:1-6), developing work ethic (2:2), spiritual maturity (3:11), and her beauty (3:3). Esther prepared for her providential marriage through twelve months of "beauty treatments" (Est 2:12) and accepting Hegai's coaching (v15). Perceive singles! Perceive what the Word of God is saying!
A Pattern Emerges
A pattern emerges. God's Word reveals--sometimes directly, sometimes metaphorically--that even if He is handpicking your marriage, personal responsibility is still part of the actualization process. If you do not do your preparative and transformative part you will not be at the level the marriage gift requires you to be at, whether spiritually, psychologically, aesthetically, conversationally, financially, or in whatever area. Marriage in God is not an unconditional absolute, it is a conditional co-creation.
What If God is Letting You Choose?
Cue the monkey wrench. All the aforementioned assumes God is handpicking your marriage mate. What if He is not? What if He is letting you choose your own spouse within the parameters of Scripture and other tailored criteria? There are many Bible verses on this too, squeezing us into a seeming philosophical and methodological contradiction on Judeo-Christian pairbonding. How involved...or not involved...is God?
In the incident concerning Zelophehad's daughters, God gave them the freedom to marry whomever they wanted. The parameter was, their selection had to be within their father's tribal clan. The verse is Numbers 36:6 (NIV, underline mine): This is what the LORD commands for Zelophehad's daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within their father's tribal clan.
The Warring Men of Israel
In Deuteronomy 21:10-13, God allowed the warring men of Israel to take wives from the peoples they conquered. He gave them parameters, however. The women were to shave their heads and trim their nails (v12), given entirely new clothes (v13), and allowed to mourn for a full month (v13). Within these guidelines they were allowed to take as wives whomever they desired (v11). Of course the cultural and sociological context is drastically different today, but the core principle is timeless. Pending certain guidelines, God allowed these men the freedom to choose a wife as they desired.
Proverbs 18:22, Searching & Finding a Mate
In Proverbs 18:22, Solomon says this (NASB, underline mine): He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD. Notice the key word appears twice: finds. Finding assumes searching, and searching assumes the exercise of intelligence and freewill. God's favor is even promised to the one who successfully does so.
Paul on Christian Pairbonding & Marriage
In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul reiterates the freewill track in choosing a mate. He says in 1Corinthians 7:39 (NIV): …she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. Notice the wording: free to marry anyone she wishes. The guideline is that the candidate "must belong to the Lord"; he must be born-again and living under God's daily ownership.
In verse 36, Paul says the same to the guys (NIV, underline added): If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. Notice again the wording: he should do as he wants. In all of 1Corinthians 7 Paul never once says or implies, "Make sure it is God's preordained, handpicked mate." He is not negating that option, he is simply emphasizing the freewill track.
Making Sense of The Dual Tracks
What we see is the emergence of dual romantic tracks. Even more verses could be cited for both tracks, (1) God handpicking a person's mate versus (2) God allowing a person to choose their own mate within Biblical parameters and tailored criteria. How do we make sense of this?
The prima facie explanation is that God does not work the exact same way in every person's life. We have to have a close enough daily experience with Him to recognize our own personal romantic path in Him. Do not let well-meaning (or ill-meaning) Christians impose their personal experience or legalistic rules on you. Also, do not assume your romantic path is this or that without consistent illuminations from the Lord over time. We all probably prefer one path over another, but your preference is not the final word. Die to your assumptions, biases, and preferences and let the Lord illuminate your romantic path as you stay very, very, very close to Him every day.
Romantic Wisdom for Single Men
While this section addresses single men most directly, it no doubt teaches and admonishes women also. This is in no way exhaustive, nor is it a technical how-to list. I am brushing with broad strokes of sociosexual wisdom the Spirit is anointing my mind to present.
Understand today's female landscape. Know what you are dealing with.
Relating with women today (in contemporary secular countries) is chasmically different than relating with women pre-1964. The societal, technological, scientific, and economic changes of that time gave women new powers in every dimension of life. That is a fantastic thing on certain levels (getting us closer to that Genesis 1:26-28 ideal), but it transmogrified male-female dynamics into an entirely new sport. It gave women great power in the overall sociosexual climate (the macro) and great power in the one-on-one pairbonding process (the micro). What does this mean for single men?
It means the typical woman you might desire will be more independent, more assertive, more selective. And, many men discover this one too late: she will be far less tolerant of mistakes, weaknesses, and turnoffs. This is true of Christian women too. In fact, it is more slippery with Christian women because they will hide behind spiritual language to justify hyperindependence (which is actually a fear of vulnerability, or running from things in themselves), or impatience (being unrealistic, looking for a unicorn), or being serial breakup artists (always the one to end courtships or relationships, the idolatry of control, avoiding rejection no matter what).
Do not misunderstand, I am in no way picking on contemporary women. I am simply cattle-prodding starry-eyed single men to fully understand today's female landscape. Know unequivocally, with brutal realism, exactly what you are dealing with. Discern accurately the tendencies and extremes of post-1960's women. In general, you are not dealing with women who will be easily wooed. In general, you are not dealing with women sympathetic to the idea of submissiveness. This reality is even more intense the more beautiful, talented, and financially independent she is. She has tasted power and constant attention and she will not abdicate it or share it easily. You will have to be a high-enough caliber man that she thinks the tradeoff will be worth it. That is today's reality single brothers, especially in America. You can fight it, hate it, become misogynistic, rapid-fire patriarchal scriptures...or you can become a high-enough caliber man that rebalances the script organically.
Do not tolerate the following types. Prove to God, yourself, others, and the entire cosmos that you are worth a great woman, a Ruth.
How can the Lord gift you with a great woman, or, how can you position yourself to find a great woman yourself, if you are willing to tolerate toxic femininity? I see many single men (even coupled and married men) behaving like eunuchs toward the women around them.
Do you let a woman take advantage of you for free meals, outings, and gifts? Do you spend way too much money on dates or "friends" you hope to court? Are you a lapdog for her emotional support? Do you let women scream at you? Hang up on you? Walk out the door in the middle of a difficult conversation? Suddenly freeze you out with no explanation? If the answer to one or more of these types of questions is Yes, then you need a season alone with a male mentor to rediscover the two things God uniquely designed your body with: testicles.
Do not tolerate the Mother Hen. This is Sarai in Genesis 16 and Jezebel in 1Kings 21. This type is controlling and aggressive, kinda manly, quick to bit and quick to fight. She is almost always surrounded by weak men (which she calls "friends"), while shying away from, even hating, strong men who talk, walk, and stand like steel. Mother-henning is one of the greatest complaints and locker room jokes I hear from men about their female friends, girlfriends, or wives.
Do not tolerate the Man-Eater. This is Potiphar's wife (Gen 39:7-12), the Proverbs 7 woman (Pr 7:10-15), and possibly Bathsheba (2Sam 11:2-4), depending on how her naked public shower in the daytime is interpreted. This type is an egomaniac, not a sex or romance or money addict, which are merely side-benefits. The actual addiction is that monstrous craving for attention and validation, which usually traces back to a father who did not give it to her on some level or not at all.
Do not tolerate the Man-Hoarder. Why would Jezebel surrounded herself with 850 weak men? See 1Kings 18:19. This type keeps multiple men around as emotional insurance (to never be alone, never without male attention, and have to face herself and her past). She collects or "hoards" male friends and acquaintances, keeping them close enough so they stay interested romantically, yet at arms distance to avoid commitment. This type is warm and inviting, happily accepting any male attention. She will usually give her number, text, call, email, and respond faithfully. She will say/do things that hint at a romantic dynamic. Then, when the man moves in for commitment, she plays ignorant and innocent. And she is doing this same bouncing string act with several men simultaneously. But she swears they are just friends. But she swears she is not leading them on. Single men, run!
Intelligent and attractive single women never tolerate certain types of men. Their social media is filled with articles, videos, and podcasts about "avoiding these types of men". Single fellas, where is that same sense of personal majesty and boundaried self-esteem? In today's contemporary world of empowered women, many will take that power way too far, for whatever reason. If you tolerate them you do not deserve a Ruth. Prove to God, yourself, others, the entire cosmos, that you deserve Ruth.
Become the highest caliber man possible through merciless self-evaluation, developing a variety of desirable qualities, and developing female-minded social skills.
There is a time to be merciful and gentle with yourself, but that time is not when something has been broken or unproductive for too long. Fellas, if you have gone years without meaningful romantic possibilities, you need to get merciless with yourself. Stop saying it is women's fault, feminism's fault, other guys' fault, not enough money's fault, alopecia's fault, your height's fault, a demon's fault, or God's fault. Your Creator gave you a freewill and a brain, what does that say? That you possess intrinsic multipotentiality. The potential for know-how and personal evolution is yours and yours alone. The Spirit of God is willing and eager to be a paraclete alongside you in that evolution, but He will never usurp that freewill and do it all for you. Be a man, take responsibility for yourself, take responsibility for your caliber in the sociosexual biome, regardless of which one of the two Biblical tracks you are on. Proverbs is true for either and both tracks. Proverbs 12:24 (NKJV): The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor. 13:4 (NASB): The soul of the lazy one craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made prosperous. 20:4 (NIV): Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
By developing an assortment of desirable qualities your romantic caliber will rise, absolutely, but most importantly, it will make you more like your Lord Jesus. Jesus was the most desirable, attractive, well-rounded, layered, yes perfect, man. The attraction arithmetic is that the more we become like Jesus the more we become desirable on numerous levels to numerous types of people, not only female romantic candidates. The problem is, many Christian men have a self-indulgent view of Jesus. They see the qualities they want to see, while ignoring the qualities they do not necessarily want or understand or think they need. For example, many Christians see Jesus as the super kind, emotionally intelligent man. Okay. But they hurry past the man that seems insane by vandalizing the temple twice or that seems sociopathic by calling certain people "pigs" and "dogs" (Mt 7:6) or that seems recalcitrant by picking nasty fights with the religious bureaucracy (Mt 23). Or, they see Jesus as the healthy, secure man who relates well with other men (the Twelve), but not the man who is best friends with a former prostitute and who enjoys dinner parties with prostitutes, all the while remaining sexually pure.
The parts of your personality that are the hardest to change are the very things turning off women, one of whom could be your divinely-haloed wife, or could have been had you done your part and had been ready. The larger truth is, those very things diminish the maximum desirability of Jesus Himself in you. 2Corinthians 3:18 (NIV): And we all...are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory...
Have you ever studied Jesus' female-minded social skills? Have you ever studied how He related with Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman at the well, Martha, Mary sister of Lazarus, even Mary His mother, after He became a grown independent man? Have you ever studied how Yahweh Elohim, the pre-incarnate Christ, talked to Hagar? Have you ever studied how Solomon related with the Shulamite in Song of Songs? Men, do not ever say God did not try to give you romantic wisdom.