What if the boy is not too cute?

We’ve covered some good moral, ethical and spiritual ground in figuring out the “qualifications” of a young suitor. These are by far the most pressing issues especially in light of the culture where cranking out solid young men is not too highly esteemed (just read “Guyland” by Michael Kimmel.  Yikes.).  We must give ourselves to these things.

But we also “sort” ourselves in other ways that aren’t too savory and mostly secret like looks.  Not you?  So, there’s never been a time in your life when you turned down an offer on the basis of looks?  “Posh!  That was college when I was young and stuck-up!” OK, fine.  Why did you do it then?  And, you’re positive you wouldn’t do it vicariously through your daughter or son?  Hmm.

It is not as if “ugly” is a fictitious category.  The Fall has caused physical disfigurement: hair cowlicks, acne, big noses, spots, missing limbs, compressed spines, crooked fingers or toes.  Do these amount to “ugly”?  Answer that by asking if these things will be present in heaven?  But, more importantly, the Fall has caused a natural propensity towards ungodly sorting and categorization.  We secretly expect the pretty people to marry each other and hope the ugly ones marry each other without transgressing this boundary.  It’s terrible and it’s true (even Jane Austen thought so).

In the end, we’re not the ones who choose for our daughters and sons.  The issue is will our sons and daughters sort their suitors on the basis of looks and should they?  You and I did: what will keep them from not doing it?  This discussion borders the preposterous.  We just don’t think that poorly of ourselves that WE would be the ones to advise our children against marrying for things other than looks.  Assume for a minute that you might…

First, ugly is a part of life.  Try as we might to rationalize that ugly actually isn’t, it will still hold to be true.  Perhaps, ugly will always be with us so that we will remember that there’s a time coming when it will be no more.  In one sense, without “ugly” we’d forget about heaven.

Second, God doesn’t really care about ugly so we shouldn’t either.  Here’s a short sample:

6When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.” 7But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16)

1My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,”while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?  6But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?  (James 2)

1Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  (1 Peter 3)

Third, ugly saves and so we really can’t always judge that “ugly = bad.”  No one would say that the Cross upon which Christ died was anything but ugly.  I suppose it would be functionally equivalent to us calling a firing squad or an electric chair something other than ugly.  Yet, the work of Christ upon that Cross when united in us with faith saves to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).  That is hardly ugly.

Fourth, our children will naturally sort against ugly.  You did it.  The Bible warns against it.  They will do it.  Unless you teach them not to.  Of course, that would assume that you have modified your own views that sorting on the basis of looks isn’t appropriate.  If we work to inoculate our children against the fear of “ugly” in this way, then, in life when cancer or accident strikes, love will not find any obstacles to expression.

Would you really have “pretty” instead of “godly” if it came to it?

The boy…fights against temptation

Recently, I was in a meeting with a group of men and we were talking about how Christ resisted temptation when He was walking the earth. “Resist temptation” how often do we put those words together!?  We were reading Hebrews 4:15:

For we do not have a high priest  who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Amazing. This says He experienced every temptation we could ever face, “in every respect has been tempted as we are” and He never caved in once.  One of the brothers said we think we’re doing well to resist for 90 seconds and then give in!  In fact, most of us in honest moments would say that we’ve caved far more than we haven’t.  If our experience is common (likely), then it is a sad commentary on the state of Christian men today.

So what of the boys? Two things.

First, if our men won’t stand against temptation, then their sons will not likely learn to do so either.  This is the intergenerational specter associated with sin: if I do, my son likely will.  “Do as I say and not as I do” will last only as long as someone has to help him finish his duty in the bathroom.  Then, the hypocrite dad is sunk.  No sons?  Well, you’re not off the hook either: you will be watched by your daughters and they will grow up thinking a weak-willed, fleshly-motivated and minimally self-controlled man is normal.  I’ve seen these girls dating and marrying these men and then finding their ship-of-marriage has holes in the hull!

An Aside: We Don’t Have to Cave, Men.  Remember Hebrews 4:15?  We have a high priest who advocates for us with the Father who Himself has made a promise to us regarding temptation:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.

God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.

That’s 1 Corinthians 10:13.  It tells us two things.  Other men have the temptation, you’re not alone so quit being tempted in the “dark” of isolation.  Open up to a trusted man so he can join in the fight.  It also tells us that in the end, God makes a way for us to resist every single temptation.  Every one.  In Christ, there are no temptations that are too strong for us.  If we give in to lust or drunkenness, that’s our choice.  Everytime.  God stands, as it were, on the inside of the ring, with one foot on the lower rope and one hand on the upper rope pulling them apart and telling you to get out of the ring before its too late.  If only you would listen.

What of the boys?  Second, I have to prepare myself for an encounter with a young man that includes a rehearsal of the ways in which he has yielded to temptation.  Oh, you bet I’m going to ask him about his besetting sins!  You bet I’m going to ask him about his computer usage, magazine choice, movie storehouse, etc.  But, I’m going to ask him how he deals with temptation when it comes.  Fools numbered among Christian men (and their wives) believe temptation is illusory.  Or, perhaps that’s the cover of darkness that men use when their wives ask them “have you lusted after another woman?”  Or, “are you looking at internet porn?”  If a wife is inclined to ask at all.

The boys worthy of my daughters are not the ones who never struggle with sin (those doesn’t exist except in lies).  But, the ones who regularly do battle with the temptation in Christ and find that they love to fight for the victory.  This young man’s battle record will be pockmarked with losses, but there’s only been one war ever fought where there were no losses and only one Man who never lost.  And, by grace and goodness, He gives to us the strength to walk that same victory road.

Choose the path, young man.  In Christ, you can do it.

The Boy is…kind to his mother

We have all seen him.  Today, he has most of his hair hanging down crossways over his face draping over him like a valance as he leans against the wall.  He has developed an involuntary twitch that tosses that hair out of his eyes for a brief moment only to see it return (he doesn’t seem to grow weary of it).  He clearly thinks black skinny jeans are suitable to wear with oversized Vans shoes sporting off-colored laces and the tongue flopped way over.  (The potential message in all that apparel is another post.) The other involuntary twitch developed by him is his hand reaching for his phone so he can be ready at a moment’s notice to text that ALL important sonnet to his adoring followers.

In walks his mother.  Like a silent movie, you see her speak to him.  He hardly moves, his hand and face in close communion as he reads an ALL important text just received.  Even without making eye contact with her we see in his facial contortions that he’s heard her words.  Once his fuzzy chin returns to rest, his eyes roll over and you wonder if he’s going to through them at her.  She persists and so does he.  Her facial features harden and his become more sullen.  She raises her hand to gesticulate for effect, he turns briskly and returns to his face and phone-in-hand close communion.  She takes one or two steps as if to follow, then stops.  He does not.

Sad picture?  It is.  I wonder how often it is repeated in the homes of our child-obsessed culture.  Strange isn’t it?  That we create and maintain this culture that turns its head towards us in disdain?  Who’s to blame: the parents or the children?  The culture?  The media?  Engaging in the blame game is a waste.  This boy is wrong for treating his mother this way and I don’t have to point to anything other than him.  Sure this is a potential problem for parent-child relational development; no one wants to be estranged from his son into adulthood!

Yet this is about bigger things.  This series is about the kind of man who may lead and love my daughters in marriage.  So, the real question is at what point did I learn that I needed to be kind to my wife?  How are these things related?  Think about it: where do I meet my first woman?  When?  When, first, do I have to have meaningful communication with a member of the opposite sex?  Where do I learn that men and women are different and that plays out practically?  Where and how may I “practice” living as a man with a woman in honor and dignity?

  • At home with mom.

Fast forward 8 years and what will this young man likely be doing around women?  Will it look differently than when he stood before his mom?  Not likely.  If little changes, it isn’t likely that he’ll have become a man of honor, decorum, attention, love or respect.  He won’t likely have learned to be selfless and giving, kind and patient, reflective and courageous.  It is possible of course, miracles of that order happen all the time (thank God).  Yet, as a parent, am I missing the opportunity to teach my son how to live with a wife because I don’t see his interaction with his mom in that light?  By allowing him to live with his mama in any old way chalking it up to “being a boy”?  Is my “training” only erecting fences around him that say, “Honor your father and mother!” and say no more?  Is parenting only about protection or is there more?

There IS more!  God has given us a great advantage in the presence of a godly, mature, visionary, loving and faithful woman – my wife – in the training of my son.  His wife will reap the fruit of what my dear wife, his mom, is sowing.  Mom’s and Dad’s have to see in their homes the training ground for marriage.  In my home I have daughters who will at some point (Lord willing) be sought as wives.

What do I do when that time comes?  I plan to say, “Honey, if he’s rough with his mom, stay away from him.  He’ll be rough with you.”  “If he’s disrespectful to his mom, he’ll be disrespectful to you.”  “If he mocks his mom, he’ll scorn you.”  “If he lies to his mom, he’ll cheat on you.”  “If he steals from his mom, he’ll manipulate you.”

Boy, learn to be kind to your mother.  Your marriage might depend on it.