(Men) Man Up

Die algemene tendens is dat mense op ‘n ouer ouderdom trou. Nog ‘n algemene tendens is dat daar meer dames is, volwasse vir die huwelik, maar hul kry nie die mans (dié nodig vir die instansie) nie. Waar is die knape? Die vraag mag dalk meer van toepassing wees in ons Noord-Amerikaanse vriende, maar ek dink tog ons kultuur neig in daardie rigting.

Kevin DeYoung, skrywer van Just Do Something (sit dit op jou 10-boeke-om-te-lees lys), het onlangs hierdie onderwerp aangespreek op sy blog DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed. Ek dink dit is van waarde om die te lees as jy nie in ‘n verhouding is nie, in ‘n verhouding is, verloof is of getroud is – in kort: mense sal hierby baat.

As I speak at different venues across the country, one of the recurring questions I get comes from women, young women in particular. Their question usually goes something like this: “What is up with men?”

These aren’t angry women. Their question is more plaintive than petulant. I’m not quite sure why they ask me. Maybe because they’ve read Just Do Something and figure I’ll be a sympathetic ear. Or maybe they think I can help. They often follow up their initial question by exhorting me, “Please speak to the men in our generation and tell them to be men.”

They’re talking about marriage. I have met scores of godly young women nearby and far away who wonder “Where have all the marriageable men gone?” More and more commentators–Christian or otherwise–are noticing a trend in young men; namely, that they don’t seem to be growing up. Recently, William Bennett’s CNN article “Why Men Are in Trouble” has garnered widespread attention. The point of the post is summarized in the final line: “It’s time for men to man up.” Sounds almost biblical (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Virtually every single single person I know wants to be married. And yet, it is taking couples longer and longer to get around to marriage. Education patterns have something to do with it. A bad economy doesn’t help either. But there is something even more befuddling going on. Go to almost any church and you’ll meet mature, intelligent, attractive Christian women who want to get married and virtually no men to pursue them. These women are often in graduate programs and may have started a career already. But they aren’t feminists. They are eager to embrace the roles of wife and mother. Most of the women I’ve met don’t object to the being a helpmate. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of mates to go around.

What’s going on here? Why are there so many unmarried, college graduated, serious-about-Christ, committed-to-the-church, put-together young women who haven’t found a groom, and don’t see any possibilities on the horizon?

Maybe women have impossible standards. That is a distinct possibility in some circumstances. I’m sure there are guys reading this thinking to themselves, “I’ve pursued these young women, Kevin! And they pushed me over the edge of the horizon.” Some women may be expecting too much from Mr. Right. But in my experience this is not the main problem. Impossible standards? Not usually. Some standards? Absolutely.

On the other end of the spectrum, some women may be so over-eager to be married they make guys nervous about showing any signs of interest. There is a fine line between anticipation and desperation. Men don’t want to spot the girl they like inside David’s Bridal after their first date. The guy will panic–and be a little creeped out.

This path of prolonged singleness is a two way street. But I think the problem largely resides with men. Or at least as a guy I can identify the problems of men more quickly. I see two issues.

First, the Christian men that are “good guys” could use a little–what’s the word I’m looking for–ambition. Every pastor has railed on video games at some point. But the problem is not really video games, it’s what gaming can (but doesn’t always) represent. It’s the picture of a 20something or 30something guy who doesn’t seem to want anything out of life. He may or may not have a job. He may or may not live with his parents. Those things are sometimes out of our control. There’s a difference between a down-on-his-luck fella charging hard to make something out of himself and a guy who seems content to watch movies, make enough to eat frozen pizzas in a one room apartment, play Madden, watch football 12 hours on Saturday, show up at church for an hour on Sunday and then go home to watch more football.

I don’t think young women are expecting Mr. Right to be a corporate executive with two houses, three cars, and a personality like Dale Carnegie. They just want a guy with some substance. A guy with plans. A guy with some intellectual depth. A guy who can winsomely take initiative and lead a conversation. A guy with consistency. A guy who no longer works at his play and plays with his faith. A guy with a little desire to succeed in life. A guy they can imagine providing for a family, praying with the kids at bedtime, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and being eager to take everyone to church on Sunday. Where are the dudes that will grow into men?

The second issue is that we may simply not have enough men in the church. Maybe the biggest problem isn’t with nice Christian guys who lack ambition, maturity, and commitment. Maybe we have lots of these men in the church, but they’re all married and there aren’t enough of their brethren to go around. I don’t know which is the bigger problem, the lack of good men or the lack of men in general. It’s probably a combination of both. The church needs to train up the guys it has. And by “training” I don’t mean “clean ‘em up, plug ‘em in the singles ministry and start matching them up with a spouse.” I don’t believe most unmarried Christians are looking for a church community full of Yentas. But a church full of godly, involved, respectable, respected, grown up men? That’s a project worth undertaking.

So, what can be done about the growing tribe of unmarried women? Four things come to mind.

Everyone, pray. Pray for a joyful accepting of God’s providential care, believing that godliness with contentment is great gain.  If you are single, pray more for the sort of spouse you should be than for the sort of spouse you want. Pray also for the married couples and families in your church. If you are married, pray for the single people in your church, for those never married and those divorced or widowed. All people everywhere, pray for ways to start serving the Lord now, no matter what stage of life you are in or wish you were in.

Women, don’t settle and don’t ever compromise on requiring solid Christian commitment in a husband, but make sure your list of non-negotiables doesn’t effectively exclude everyone outside of Mr. Darcy.

Churches, don’t make church one giant man cave or machismo, but think about whether your church has been unnecessarily emasculated. Do you challenge and exhort? Do you sing songs to Jesus that men can sing with a straight face? Does “fellowship” at your church always focus on activities men don’t typically excel at, like sitting around and talking about how you feel? Does your church specifically target the discipling of men–particularly young men in high school and college? Grab them young and get them growing up in their teens instead of their twenties.

Men, you don’t have to be rich and you don’t have to climb corporate ladders. You don’t have to fix cars and grow a beard. But it’s time to take a little initiative–in the church, with your career, and with women. Stop circling around and start going somewhere. It’s probably a good idea to be more like your grandpa and less like Captain Jack Sparrow. Even less like Peter Pan. Show some godly ambition. Take some risks. Stop looking for play dates and–unless God is calling you to greater service through singleness–start looking for a wife.

– Dude Where’s you Bride? Kevin DeYoung

Maak ook ‘n punt daarvan om na “Singleness” ‘n preek deur Johan Verster te luister.

Morele Evolusie?

Vervang die “n”-woord met die “k”-woord, “Clinton” met “Zuma” (ens.) en vra jouself af: Wat is dit waaroor ons kinders se kinders na ons gaan vinger wys…

I wondered if President Clinton would be defended with relativism if he had done what, according to gossip, Eisenhower was said to have done.

Suppose that in a light moment he had slipped into a parody of an old Arkansas buddy from childhood and, to get the voice right, used the word “n-” a few times. Suppose further that a tape of this came to light so that all day long in the media—from the unctuous morning shows to the freewheeling late-night shows to the news every half hour on radio—we would hear the unmistakable presidential voice saying, “Take your average n- . . . .”

Today in America there is no moral relativism around racism, no sophisticated public sentiment that recasts racism a mere quirk of character. Today America is puritanical rather than relativistic around racism, and if Clinton had been caught in this way, it is very likely that nothing would have saved him. . . .

The point is that President Clinton survived what would certainly have destroyed President Eisenhower, and Eisenhower could easily have survived what would almost certainly have destroyed Clinton. Each man, finally, was no more than indiscreet within the moral landscape of his era (again, Eisenhower’s indiscretion is hypothetical here for purposes of discussion).

Neither racism in the fifties nor womanizing in the nineties was a profound enough sin to undermine completely the moral authority of a president. So it was the good luck of each president to sin into the moral relativism of his era rather than into its Puritanism.

And, interestingly, the moral relativism of one era was the Puritanism of the other. Race simply replaced sex as the primary focus of America’s moral seriousness.
(Shelby Steele, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era [New York: HarperCollins, 2006], pp. 5–6)

Afgekyk by DG

Pretoria Kort Die Boodskap

In die wêreld is daar 400 stede wat se populasie hoër is as 1 miljoen mense (Pretoria se populasie in 2007 was 2.346mil). Meer as helfde van die mense op aarde bly huidiglik in stede. Stede is die kern, die sentrums van die ekonomie, gee pas aan met kultuur en beinvloed die rigting van ‘n land. Wat beter plek is daar as stede om God te deel met ander, dis ‘n enorme sending veld.

In die berig, Cities Need The Gospel: Why Renewing Your City Matters deur Jonathan Dodson, verduidelik hy hoekom hy voel dat dit van belang is om besorg te wees oor jou stad se welvaart.

Sosiale digtheid en diverse kulture skep ‘n ideale omgewing om die kerk te groei. Mense van verskillende herkoms bly naby/by mekaar en die brug wat die kulture en groepe kan verbind is die Evangelie. Die wêreld word spreekwoordelik kleiner en die invloed van die stede gee die pas aan met, onder andere, die integrasie van kulture.

Stede is gevul met ‘n siel(e) wat die stad maak wat dit is. Alle stede het n persoonlikheid, ‘n siel. Kaapstad is mooi en ruik soos die see en voel soos klein Europa. Kimberly het ‘n gat. Durban is warm en het lang strande met baie surfers. Pretoria hou van die bulle en het Hatfield square. Dit is nou miskien bietjie tong in die kies, maar die idee word oorgedra dat ‘n stad ‘n spesifieke identiteit het. Die punt is dat dit nie die infrastruktuur of die ligging is wat dit aan die stad gee nie, dis die mense. Moet ons nie dus die siel van die stad wees nie? Hoe sal dit lyk?

Wat gee jy vir die stad? Gee jy geld en tyd? Vat jy meer as wat jy gee? Byt jy die stad en sy mense uit, gebruik die eetplekke en winkelsentrums, maar bou nooit tuine vir die wat een kort? Om ‘n stad lief te hê is meer as net om van Tafelberg te hou of van die Unie Gebou, dit is om die mense lief te hê. Dit is om die ewige siele in die stad lief te hê.

Die Evangelie & Kultuur

In die boek, The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in Transmission of Faith, deur Jonathan Parnell word beginsels in verband met kultuur en die Bybel aangespreek. Die beginsel van swerwer wees en die beginsel van inboorling/deel wees. Dis twee beginsels wat uniek is en moet omhels word – dis deel van die wonder van die Boodskap.

Die neigings is albei gegrond uit idees vanuit die Evangelie.

Om tuis te wees. Om deel te wees van die wêreld (jou omgewing) kom vanaf die verstaan dat God ons gered het nie oor wat ons gedoen het nie, maar eerder oor wat Jesus vir ons gedoen het. Ons is aanvaar soos wat ons is en hoe God ons geskape het. God was in beheer toe hy ons laat groot word het in daai skool en ons in daardie universiteit laat studeer het. Ons ouers is nie per toeval wie hulle is en ons vriende wie hulle is. So as God ons nuut maak doen Hy dit nie in ‘n vakuum nie, ons is tog in ons identieit gevorm deur ons omgewing leef steeds in daardie kultuur.

Om ‘n swerwer te wees. Om te glo in ‘n God wat ons vat en dan vorm soos klei in Sy hande soos wat Hy ons wil hê. Hy sê dat ons moet verstaan dat ons nie deel is van die wêreld nie en dat ons hier geen tuiste het. Soos wat die “tuis wees” beginsel ons vereenselwig met ons omgewing so skep die swerwer beginsel ‘n verhouding met die buite ons gemeenskap. Ons is verbind aan die mense van ander kulture en groepe. Om aageneem te word in die Evangelie verbind mense wat die selfde erfenis het.

Justin Taylor lys verse waar die beginsels voorkom (sien Two Essential Gospel Impulses):

Pilgrim Principle Indigenous Principle
But Not of the World—and Be In It “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15)
Separate—and Participate “Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing” (2 Cor. 6:17). “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world . . . since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 5:9),
Confront—and Adapt “The wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them. . . . Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph. 5:6-11). “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands . . . so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thess. 4:11-12). “[I pray] that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:2).
Refuse Conformity—and Contextualize “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2) “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). “Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:32-33).