Sunday, November 15, 2009

What if I don't want to?

According to the marketing copy on an extremely popular Christian self-help book, all women have a God-given longing to be loved, taken care of, and treated like princesses; they want a man to provide these things for them, and that's good and natural, so they get married. 

But what if it's not like that?  What if it's not absolute?  How does such an absolute statement affect people for whom it's not true?

Mostly, it just irritates me, to be honest.  I have no idea how it affects anyone else who it shuts out for whatever reasons. 

I suppose that since I love words and meanings, I just get a bit hot under the collar about absolutes that aren't true, especially when they're flung around by people who are invested in absolute truth.

I'm sure it's true that many women have these innate desires.  I guess I'm just not sure why we can't say it that way instead of insisting that something is true of all women.  Am I splitting hairs?  Just being surly and rebellious because I like defying absolutes?  I don't know.  Maybe.

Or maybe I'm just being honest about the power words have to hurt even (especially) if they're not true.  What this book seems to be telling me is that there is something wrong with me if this absolute does not apply to me.  I've been wondering if there was something wrong with me for years; I don't really need any encouragement to feel left out. 

I'm just glad I had already figured out what's "wrong" with me before I saw this book.  I guess those with the gift of celibacy will always be outside, in a way, and that is a blessing that sometimes feels like a curse.  I wonder what I can do to help the next generation of kids growing up feeling ostracized by the spiritual gift of celibacy to help them not overcompensate like I think a lot of them do.

Any thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. I have very mixed feelings in response to this.

    About the absolutes: as a philosopher I use words like "all" and "necessary" with great care, because as one of my logic professors was fond of pointing out, all it takes to falsify statements with those words is a single counterexample. As a Christian with a healthy respect for God's creativity, I really hesitate to apply those words to people, because while there are some things that are true of all of us (having sinned, for example), we aren't a batch of clones. Remember that scene from "A Wrinkle in Time" where all the kids come out and bounce their balls at the exact same time? Ugh, it still creeps me out. Part of the point of the body of Christ is that you get more accomplished with unique/specialized individuals working together in harmony. Why should we all be knees? (Especially if they're like my knees.)

    About the feminine gender: granted, I'm only working with the implied concept as presented in your summary, and maybe the author does a better job in the book, but if that's what being a woman is about, can I be a guy instead? It's pathetic and derivative. Treated like a princess, my butt. Sitting around in a tower waiting for somebody to do a whole story's worth of interesting things so I can be his reward isn't my cup of tea. Your Proverbs 31 woman runs a business, has a family, and shares a healthy amount of mutual respect with her husband.

    About why I got married: I wish to be valued for things like my intelligence, my sense of humor, my taste in literature and music, heck, my ability in real-time-strategy video games. I'm also vain to some degree, not prone to Manichaeism, and sexually attracted to men, so I want to be valued for the way I look/act, both Platonically and in terms of my sex appeal. Multiple friendships or love affairs could theoretically meet the needs/desires mentioned so far. But I'm married because I wanted even more than that: life-long, close companionship where you know someone so well that your souls are practically mixed up in one another's, there's a mutual affirmation of each other's value and worth as beings, and a commitment to work towards the other person's whole well-being.

    As far as your situation goes, I don't know. I wouldn't dare say that you are *absolutely* right that you are, and were meant to be, now and forever celibate, because for all I know you may decide you just needed some psychological sorting out, or the right person, or a non-trivialized idea of marriage with which to work- I'm very cautious about absolutes. But you say you're celibate and happy, and as far as I know that's a perfectly acceptable option for Christians. Relationally speaking, your life is morally upright, and no one has the right to question your humanity, gender, or conduct because of celibacy.

    And it gets my hackles up when people make money off books that oversimplify things and carelessly guilt-trip or otherwise hurt healthy, morally upright people.