Thursday, May 25, 2006

She's Asking the Wrong Question

"Men, who needs them?" That's the question author and single woman, Connally Gilliam, poses in an excerpt from her book, Revelations of a Single Woman. (The excerpt is running this week on

What a question. I'd say it's the wrong question. It makes me wonder, what's a woman who professes Christ doing asking a question that feminists ask rhetorically?

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of Scripture knows that as women, we owe our very existence to the fact that Adam was lonely. God, in His love for Adam, formed a helper from Adam's side: another human, but different from Adam. Because of man, God made woman.

And it's not just husbands we need.

We need our dads. Without them we literally wouldn't be here. Hopefully they were the source of provision and protection God designed them to be.

She spends a lot of words disclaiming her assertion that we do need men, focusing on their fallenness. As in, "men – like women – are fallen image bearers and can be schmucks as fathers, brothers, colleagues, friends, or husbands, and more often than not as strangers. They can spark deep, angry breaths and elicit sad, weary sighs." Though she mentions in passing that women are fallen, she repeatedly reminds readers that men are. It's as if she assumes women are redeemed but is afraid to suggest, or doesn't really believe, that men can be.

And as the great granddaughter of an Orthodox cantor in the Jewish synagogue, I learned at a young age that the word "schmuck" is not to be used in polite company. Either Gilliam doesn't know what the word means or she does and knew her Christian publisher would never run the English equivalent.

In the end, hers is an anemic vision of why women need men (because a compliment sounds better coming from the lips of a guy than a girlfriend). It left little doubt as to why I found her book so discouraging and lacking in practical, biblical wisdom for single women who desire marriage.

This chapter bothered me when I read it in Gilliam's book and it's still bothering me now that I've read it again online. I think I know why. She's asking the wrong question. If I were doing the asking, my question would be, "Since we as women need men so much, what can we do to encourage their biblical masculinity?"


At 11:52 AM, Blogger Elena said...

Omigoodnessgracious!!! I didn't know that about the word... Wow. Found this interesting definition over at Webster's: s*****k

We Gentiles obviouslyneed some education on the Yiddish that has been assimilated into English!

At 12:28 PM, Blogger A. LaLande said...

After years of reading Boundless articles and gaining encouragement time and time again, I am finally coming out of secure anonymity (!) to say: Thank you. Every posting on your blog has resonated deeply with me and I thank God for your writing.

It is people like Gilliam that “spark deep, angry breaths and elicit sad, weary sighs” from ME! I have five brothers (ages ranging from 3 to 21) and it is extremely important to me that they grow up to be strong, manly husbands and fathers that love the Lord. It is anti-male propaganda like this as well the singleness mentality that makes it very difficult for the young people who do want to follow God’s will for marriage and family.

I should mention, too, that Steve’s series on Why Family for men was especially good. It isn’t that we needed to be persuaded, but to hear another voice saying what we have always believed, but couldn’t frame into words, was incredibly heartening.

I am looking forward to your answer to that question that you ended your posting with!

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Elena said...

Have you read the entire book? I have. And she does talk about her relationship with her dad. I don't remember exactly everything she says in every chapter, of course, but here's my impression:

I think she is describing the phenomenon that is occurring. I don't think she's saying that women don't need men. I think she's saying that in the world there is an assumption that, since the word need has SO taken on the connotation of desperate, cloying, life-sucking neediness, women shouldn't say that they need men...even if they are thinking, I need a man. And then--since women aren't not supposed to say it, well, gee whiz, they're not really supposed to think it...or believe it. See?

I think what you have discovered underneath the stone you've turned over, is how much even Christian women have been influenced by secular worldviews. We need MAJOR overhauling in our mental wallpaper. You can't just decide, Hey, I'll get a Christian worldview and download it into your brain like the latest version of Windows or OS. We need to learn more about the Truth...and not just be surfacey about our Bible reading but really delve into the deep discipleship kinds of studies (faves of mine are Beth Moore's Bible studies) and seek understanding as to how each particular truth (rhema) affects various aspects of our lives. Folks may need some help really getting the applications of and implications of Scripture's truths. That's where some good teaching and good curriculum can come in. (But it also takes people wanting it for themselves. Wanting God more, wanting wisdom more, wanting to obey Him more and more [and to do it as a love response, not merely as a duty].)

About men:
We do need more than sperm donors and lifters-of-all-things-heavy and squashers-of-nasty-six-legged-ickinesses and reachers-of-stuff-way-up-on-top-shelves. But many of us women haven't always understood why we're wired to need men so much. And Scripture tells us many things about our needing men---but it doesn't explain our emotions and psychology. That's where I find books by Christians who are experts in such things, to be extremely helpful. And I line up what they write, with Scripture; and I observe the men I know to see if what the experts say manifests itself in real life. (And often, it does.) I get a fuller picture, and I think, You know, this phenomenon with guys really makes sense now. I didn't know they thought that way. And I can see why God made men the way they are and women the way they are. And too, how the fall has affected men's and women's relating with each other. We can't assume that folks are getting such information from their parents or in Sunday School. Some churches do a good job offering seminars and things that help men and women understand each other better; other churches don't have a clue that there's more to the relationships problem than the fact that there is a problem; and still other churches haven't recognized that there's a problem.

I think Gilliam's books is more reflective and confessional and observational than it is trying to offer practical suggestions.

And yes, you are right. The wrong questions are being asked. And I point a finger even more at Christian publishers--->Why aren't they seeking books that offer practical advice to women as to how to encourage biblical masculinity? Why aren't they publishing books that, from a biblical worldview, help men deal with more issues than just pornography addiction and politics and handling money? Why aren't there books out there that help single guys prepare to be husbands and help them understand women? Why are there SO many more books that are geared towards single Christian women than those geared towards single Christian men?

Maybe those of us who "get it"---that is, realize what the really important questions are---should start beating down the doors of the publishing houses and get the message out there. At least blogging is a pretty good start! :o)

Thanks for getting the discussion rolling, Candice!

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Elena said...

Just wanted to add a link to another excerpt from the book. It's not the chapter about Gilliam's relationship with her father (and I wish it was), but it's another peep into what's going on with this young woman...and it's not unlike what is going on with lots of us Christian female singletons:
So, Why Aren't You Married?

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Tidy Bowl said...

I haven't read this book, so I cannot comment relative to that. However, I know this much:

I am a 23 year old graduate with my bachelor's degree. My older sister is 29 years old, with her bachelor's and master's degrees. Neither of us is married; neither of us has a boyfriend. I cannot count the number of times I have been asked why I am not married or why I do not have a boyfriend. I recently left a church because of the constant pressure I received there to just "do it". According to the pastor there, at the age of 23, I was very close to "expiring"; that is, being destined to be an old maid for the rest of my life. And being an old maid, they implied, was the most miserable existance imaginable.

But I'm tired of the number of Christians who overlook all the things I am able to do for Christ as a single Christian, thing that would be infinitely more difficult as a married Christian. Soon, I am going to move overseas for two to three years as a missionary of the Gospel. This would be much harder if I had to consider a husband, children, maybe even a house, etc. My older sister has already lived overseas for 3 years, is just finishing her master's degree at a seminary in Texas, and will soon move to Boston to support a church plant there.

The pastor at the church which I have just left refuses to recommend me to go overseas because I am not married. I want to understand, what is lacking in a woman, that makes her less of a woman (at least among the Christian church) if she is not married? Because I am not married, am I somehow incapable of spreading the Gospel? I do not believe so. I am certain that this is what God wants for me.

Lord willing, I hope that someday I will be married. But right now, I am single. What is so wrong with that?


Post a Comment

<< Home