Thursday, February 2, 2012

Should women pursue?

We were recently speaking at a local high school where time ran short to answer all of the students' questions. I promised to answer as many as possible on the blog in the coming weeks.

So, to begin: "Is it wrong for a woman to take matters into her own hands (in her relationship with a man)?"

I find that many people today don’t understand the concept of receptivity/being pursued, partially because they don’t want to understand it. They aren’t open to even hearing the message because they’ve already decided that receiving is bad and pursuing is all about power and control. So, it’s hard to even begin the conversation!

Hopefully we can all agree that love involves both giving and receiving. And both people have to give and receive. But there is also an “order” to love. If two people are dancing and both are trying to lead, then it’s not going to go so well. It will be a bit messy. So, there is a kind of “priority” to one person giving/leading/pursuing and one person receiving/being pursued. Now for ages and ages, philosophers (and random people) assumed that receiving made someone “less” or inferior. And that’s why for years people thought that women were the “second sex” and were inferior, because they received, so they didn’t have the same “power” and were therefore not as good as men.

Well, then Thomas Aquinas got involved and he noticed something about God. God is a Communion of Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and God is love. If love is giving and receiving, then that means there is both giving and receiving in God. God is perfect. Other theologians since concluded that if there is “receiving” in God, then it can’t be bad or inferior for human persons.

If we look at Christ, and specifically if we look at Philippians 2 (the verses on which Kenosis is based), we see that He “received” Himself from the Father, but He is not “less” than the Father. He is “equally” God. And over time, philosophers and theologians were able to see that if Jesus Christ, who is fully God, could receive Himself from the Father and not be any less than the Father, then receptivity does not make someone less.

So, if we get back to the man/woman thing, we see that a woman receiving/being pursued doesn’t make her inferior. But there has to be an “order” to love, and both giving and receiving. Now, women also give; they don’t just receive. But the way that they receive is also a form of giving. For example, if a man opens a door for a woman, and the woman receives his gift, then she is also giving to the man, by allowing him to give, affirming his masculinity, etc. I think this is a lost art. We tend to want to outgive and never receive, because we are so afraid that if we receive something we are “less,” or it makes us vulnerable or we feel like we “owe” something.

And here’s the really amazing thing … when we ladies allow men to pursue us, instead of pursuing men, the guys respect us more, they cherish us, they really love us, they are willing to sacrifice for us. It invites them to see our value and dignity and to fight for it. It invites them to decide that we are worth the sacrifice and the risk. It enables the man to see that he is really interested in the woman – he is interested in her for who she is, and he is interested himself, instead of feeling pressured into it by her. And a woman allowing herself to be pursued invites the man to grow in masculinity, to take a risk, to initiate a relationship with her. So, it’s a win-win situation because both the woman and the man are invited, challenged and inspired to grow in the gift of their masculinity and femininity.

Now, at the same time, waiting to be pursued is not easy, and I think that’s the other reason why a lot of women give up on the idea. They decide the wait is too long or too difficult, and they decide to start pursuing (grasping) for a guy. But this is lose-lose, because the woman and man switch their “order” or their roles, and they don’t stay too happy where they are. Men may feel discontent or consider that they didn’t initiate the relationship and therefore lose interest. Women are forced to keep grasping in order for the “relationship” to continue.

It brings up another very important point – the purpose of initiating/pursuing is not power but service. If it’s just a power trip or an opportunity to boast about how strong one is, then people are right to be disgusted by the idea. But when men properly understand the idea of pursuing as a matter of love and service, then both the man and the woman are able to thrive.

So, practically speaking the whole pursue/being pursued thing involves giving and receiving from both the man and the woman. The woman has to open a space for the man to be able to pursue (instead of her pursuing/initiating/grasping), and then man has to open a space for the woman to consent to his gift of self by giving herself.

More on this topic soon ...

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog through a friend and am excited to keep reading!