Real Men Initiate

Dec 10, 2007 |Candice Watters

How can both a man and a woman be equally invested in a relationship if one is taking all the risk?

Why, as we've said repeatedly on Boundless, should men take all the risk? Doesn't it lead to a lopsided participation? One commenter asked, "How can both a man and a woman be equally invested in a relationship if one is taking all the risk?"

I think this question is built on a faulty, modern-day assumption that a relationship requires equal investment from the start. But that's not how investments work — either in the financial world or in godly relationships.

With money, you invest in something you think has the potential to pay off. But you don't know at first if it will. So you risk the possibility of losing it all with the hope that you'll actually make more than you put in.

In a biblical, romantic relationship, it's a similar order of events. The man meets a woman he hopes to win, so he risks the possibility of rejection with the hope that she'll accept him as her mate. If he's a worthy suitor, then it's the woman's turn to decide if she will accept his offer. Her response rightly follows his initiative. Only once they are married are both equally invested. That's the way God designed it.

Up until the wedding, the woman has the option of ending the relationship. After all, as the weaker vessel, the help mate, and bearer of children, she has a tremendous amount at stake. She is in need of protection and he is called to give it. If a man is not willing to recognize his role as protector and take a risk on her behalf before the wedding (when he's presumably on his best behavior), what will he be like after?

I heard the wise, godly author Christopher West speak last night about God's design for marriage. In the meet and greet line after his talk, I overheard him tell the young woman in front of me that she should hold out for a man who is willing to die for her; to literally lay his life down for her if need be. He spoke with such conviction it was hard not to be drawn into their conversation. And he's absolutely right. Ephesians 5 is clear that a man must love his wife as Christ loved the church. It's the ultimate in sacrifice.

Risking rejection is merely a glimpse of a glimpse of a glimpse of that level of sacrifice. Any man unwilling to take it is unworthy of a godly woman's consideration for marriage.

Among the themes among the comments was this one: "If we are meant for marriage, it's going to happen in His timing, no sooner."

I've addressed this sentiment often, in part because it's pervasive and in part because I think it's dangerously misleading. Why? Because it implies that no matter what I do, if it's God's will for me to marry, I can't possibly interfere with God's plan for my future.

The downside of such thinking is two-fold. It doesn't allow for the reality of sin and its consequences. And if, as a result of living in a fallen world, I never get married, I'm likely to end up blaming God for my disappointment.

We already know from God's Word that for most believers, marriage is His will. And in the natural realm, there are things you can do to make it more — or less — likely you'll get married.

And thankfully, there are things women can do to help the process.

Yes, women have a part to play in getting married. And it's a significant part (so much so that I wrote a whole book about it). But being active doesn't mean acting like a man. Male and female have distinct parts to play.

Ruth, for her part, did act. She was certainly not passive. But her actions followed what Boaz had already initiated. She was responding to him, within a certain cultural framework. Her presence at the threshing floor, though not ideal, was still consistent with the courtship norms — the kinsman-redeemer system — of her culture. To try and apply her specific actions to our modern day circumstances is to miss the point. What her story provides is not a step-by-step to-do list for getting a husband, but principles to apply to our lives.

Copyright 2007 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.

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