As I was doing some blog surfing during fall break, I discovered a site dedicated to righting the skewed views women get about themselves and the realm of dating, marriage, and sex. It’s especially insightful for ladies who have only heard the “save sex until marriage” speech on marriage and dating. They’re short and sweet, so good for first thoughts to start dialogue.
But one article in particular summarized a bit of my experiences in the past with relationships or non-relationships. The post is titled “Christian Man = Future Husband” (it’s a good read). Although the post talks mostly about not equating a guy’s “Christian-ness” with his maturity for a relationship, there’s something else in the anecdote which the writer includes that I want to take in a different direction:
” ‘Perfect Christian man’ mistake number one happened in college. He was an officer of our college Christian organization, he was attractive, funny, smart, and *gasp* seemingly interested in me. We went to a few dinners and shows together, hung out with our Christian friends, watched movies and cuddled. He even took me to the top of our football stadium (which is not allowed, ps – what is it about breaking the rules that makes good men even more attractive??) to watch the sunset while we ate ice cream.
Pretty promising, huh? I certainly thought so. This was in the time span of about a month. So why, when we were having the DTR (define the relationship) talk a few months later, was I so heartbroken to not be walking away with a boyfriend (slash fiancé’, slash perfect Christian husband)?
Probably because I had let my imagination – my hopes, dreams, expectations – run away with me. I had planned out our wedding, future mission trips and babies.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN, GOD, THAT THIS GREAT CHRISTIAN GUY ISN’T THE MAN I’M SUPPOSED TO MARRY? It hurt. It hurt bad.”
It’s funny how, especially as women, when we encounter a potential “prospective” our imagination takes off on its own…or maybe it’s just me? But there’s something about that daydreaming that crosses the line and becomes consuming. The Good and Beautiful Life put it this way:
“The word that is used for lust in this passage (Matthew 5:27-20) is epithumia. The word had a very specific meaning. It does not refer to ordinary sexual attraction but to intentionally objectifying another person for one’s own gratification…Epithumia usually involves objectifying a body. But it can also involve objectifying a persona. While some women do not struggle with objectifying male bodies, they do struggle with objectifying a man’s persona. Take, for example, romance novels or chick flicks…The man whispers into her ear that she is the woman of his dreams and he will love, care for and protect her forever. Women are fulfilling emotional needs -to feel loved and valued, to feel special and sacred…There is no interaction, no intimacy, no relationship, no mutual enhancement” (88-90).
Having good hopes for a potential person is healthy, but idealizing the “ideal boyfriend or husband” (or girlfriend and wife) can often lead to lusting – a desire to fill ourselves for the sake of feeling fulfilled. I think a good indicator is if we go back to the same daydream of someone or some ideal figure more than once: “Epithumia is not referring to the first look but to the second” (90).
This is probably the best depiction I’ve encountered of what lusting looks like with a more “female” perspective. Obviously I must put a disclaimer that this type of lusting is not exclusive to women and not all women lust in this way – overt things like pornography are still a struggle for women. Although it might seem unseemly for me to post about this I think the lack of acknowledging it to “save face” would be equivalent to ignoring that this is a struggle. Consequently, the more we hide things the more we miss out on the saving grace already granted by Jesus.