Even talking about a gender roles in dating can be a bit controversial today – aren’t men and women pretty much the same? Sure, we have some different body parts. But is it not true that men and women are equally responsible for the dating relationship? Do we not have the same roles?
A few years ago a reporter named John Stossel did a fascinating interview dealing with what society really expects in terms of gender roles. While America may claim that virtually every job should be available to folks of either sex, when John asked women who they wanted to be rescued by when trapped in a burning building, they unanimously chose a man.
They even went on to explain themselves. They knew from experience that the average man has significantly greater physical strength than a woman; they wanted to be picked up and carried to safety, not drug by their ankles. A man does have certain capabilities that are uniquely suited for certain roles in dating, and society in general.
Roles in Dating – The Truth
Our Creator did indeed give each sex some peculiar advantages and weaknesses. Our society is horrified when they see a man use his strength to abuse a woman, a child, or an elderly person – something inside us knows that what is happening is absolutely wrong.
Indeed, it is wrong. As we covered in Unit 5 when discussing safe sex, women generally suffer far more grievously when infected by an STI than a man does. Does this mean that women should be more concerned with the issue than a man should?
Also, read the post on Shacking Up, Dating, or What? Women are far more frequently abused, abandoned, infected, neglected and even murdered in a cohabiting relationship than in marriage. Is this primarily a woman’s concern?
Absolutely not. When seen from a perspective of capability and intent and the roles in dating, it is the man who should be most concerned with the his lady’s health.
There is a fascinating account from the history of Israel in the Bible. It was a period when the nation of Israel had lost their way morally and sexual behavior was very depraved. Hosea was a prophet (a man who received words directly from God), and God told Hosea that the women in Israel were “playing the whore” (Engaging in sexual promiscuity, basically). Now God had been very direct in condemning this type of behavior, it indeed is the direct subject of what we know as the seventh Commandment: You shall not commit adultery (having sex with someone who you are not married to).
But it is fascinating what God tells Hosea and the men of Israel: “I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go aside with prostitutes and sacrifice with cult prostitutes, and a people without understanding shall come to ruin. (Hosea 4:14, The English Standard Bible, Crossway Bibles, 2000)
In other words, God holds men responsible to be leaders and protectors of the women in their lives. If you are dating a young lady, it is entirely your responsibility to ensure that she is not harmed in any way while she is in your care. When considering roles in dating- the man is to use his superior strength and courage to defend his lady to the last ounce of his strength. If necessary, you would need to lay down your life to defend her – and it seems to me that most men probably would.
But where we sometimes fail, guys, is in denying our selfish desires in order to further her well-being.
When All Else Fails – Protect Her
Truthfully, women are intoxicatingly wonderful in their ways. They are enchanting physically and the delights of cuddling, kissing, and all other forms of intimacy are just totally wonderful – but as we mentioned in the unit on What Happens During Sex, those goodies need to be restricted to marriage alone.
Do not miss this important truth guys, even if she is begging you to have sex, your duty is to protect her – while she might desire that level of intimacy, it is not in her best interest to give in to this desire at this time. The consequences of sex outside of marriage are too grave. It is time to return her from whence she came until she can cool down a bit.
Guys, you can say no! Even as a married man, I have had several opportunities very blatantly offered to me to have sex with women other than my wife – especially while traveling, I have had some ladies promise me a world of delight with no expectations in return. My answer is always the same: No. You need to go away. This is for their protection as well as my wife’s. That is my job as a man: I am supposed to be a man!
Gentlemen, here is a list of principles to follow in order to protect the lady in your life. If you need some guidance on gender roles in dating, here is the guy’s part:
1. Be Accountable:
The best situation is if your date’s father is still local and in her life. You sit down with him and tell him of your high standards of protecting his daughter and give him your word that you will return his daughter home in as good or better shape than when you leave. You give him your phone number and your complete agenda including the time you will return – and make sure you are back on time or early! Also, look him straight in the eyes and let him know that you will not compromise his daughter’s purity in any way.
If the dad is not in her life, then do this with the mom, or some other caring person in your date’s life. If the lady is out on her own – then you may need to have a trusted, spiritually mature male to play this role, even if he does not know your girlfriend personally.
Here’s the deal, guys, The hormone testosterone which helps make us strong also makes us very prone to pursue sex – and that is all great and fine once we are married. But until that time, you need to protect both yourself and your lady from going too far. This is especially true in our porn-ified culture where sexual intimacy is continually sold to us as just a normal dating activity.
So guys, one of your roles in dating is to ensure that you are accountable.
2. Go Public.
Plan your dates so as to be avoid time alone. Go to a coffee shop, restaurant, work together with others, and do other activities where the two of you are not alone. Do not take this lightly.
In some of my current work, I do some counseling and other work that involves women; but I do not get alone with another woman who is not my wife. Even as I approach the age of 50, I just do not allow the opportunity for something to happen between me and another lady.
Also, if you end up at someone’s house (say a parent, grandparent, or guardian) and are in a room working or playing while others are in the house, leave the door open. Once again, this is a means of being public and accountable.
One of your manly roles in dating is to keep your dates public. The private moments need to wait until the wedding night and beyond.
3. Be Upfront.
Protection goes beyond just the physical arena. We need to ensure that our selfish desires do not result in either emotional or spiritual damage.
If you ask a girl out just because you are lonely or bored, be man enough to tell her that you are just wanting some company – you are not interested in her as a potential long-term girlfriend or wife. You need to have enough love for her (love – seeking what is best for the other person) to tell her what your intentions really are. If you are not interested in a serious relationship and are just wanting some company, let her know.
It just happens far too often that a young lady will go on that very first date wondering if this guy could be “the one.” The whole time that you are just staving off loneliness – she is hoping that you are her knight in shining armor. What is casual and easily ended for you will be a world of emotional hurt for her.
Remember; one of the primary roles in dating for the guy is to prevent any harm from occurring to your lady. That includes emotional suffering caused by dishonesty.
4. Strive For Absolute Integrity.
Integrity means complete or whole. It embodies a truth that you are a person who does not lie or allow yourself to appear to be something that you are not. The integrity of a man is critical to women; in entering relationships with us and engaging in sex they are extremely vulnerable to harm and abuse. A woman’s ability to trust a man absolutely is key for her to truly open up to a man and relate in healthy fashion.
This goes against what our culture promotes. A popular and well accepted adage is “there is no such thing as absolute truth.” You may agree with this statement, but you should not. Do you see the problem with it? If it is true, then it is false. It is a claimed statement of absolute truth! If it is true, it invalidates itself.
Telling a lie, portraying something as true that isn’t, or intentionally deceiving someone is always wrong. There is no wiggle room, there is no “my truth” and “your truth,” there is only the one standard that was set by the One who created you and me.
Now I know the problem here, I have violated another dearly held standard in our society as well: “Every view has equal validity.” But do you see the fallacy in that argument (you should be getting better at this now)? That statement is a view which claims to trump every other view. I know from the evidence that there is only one way to God: Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, The English Standard Bible, Crossway Bibles, 2000) In other words, the statement that claims that all views are equal, claims that my view is not. It is a fallacy. It does not keep its own promise.
So here’s the deal: There will come a day when you will stand before your Creator and answer for how you have behaved in your life; your dating life is part of that. How you have dealt with the women in your life is something you will be held responsible for. So do not lie, deceive, or otherwise mislead anyone in your dating. Be a real man who has the courage to speak the truth. Be who you claim to be. Admit your weaknesses and failings.
5. Do Not Start Something You Cannot Finish.
This is a complicated and unpopular issue. But that which is morally right is not always popular.
We live in a sex-saturated media culture. Television of today is far more sexually open than it was 20 or 30 years ago. The vast majority of sexual encounters on TV are portrayed between people who are not married to one another – which is wrong. The internet provides sexual programming in the privacy of wherever you are at the click of button. In short, nearly all young Americans have been programmed to be sexual prematurely.
So you need to live accordingly. Realize that the temptation, based on the way you have been programmed (and you almost certainly have been), is going to make it very difficult to stay pure until you are married. So the guy’s role in dating is to not start something that will lead to trouble.
For instance; if you are 17 years old and your annual income is less than about $25,000 a year, and probably will not exceed that for a couple of years, dating probably isn’t a good idea. If you start a serious relationship with a sweet gal and you are sexually programmed like most of us are in this country, you have nowhere to go. You can’t afford to get married and yet you are with each day becoming more and more eager to take this relationship to a more intimate level.
This goes against the grain in our culture, but do not set yourself up for hurting some precious gal by dating too young. If you are not within six months to two years of being ready to marry (and her as well), you probably should forgo dating and focus on getting prepared for life. Understand that statistically, the beginning of sexual involvement in dating almost always ushers in the end of the relationship. If not, and you end up getting married, you have greatly increased the likelihood of future infidelity (cheating on one another) and divorce.
So another of your roles in dating is making sure that you do not start something you cannot bring to completion.
6. Get the Right Picture of Your Gal.
You may be wondering about the picture of the guy with the little girl at the top of this page; does it seem out of place in a lesson on dating? Well, that was intentional.
For several years, I carried a picture of my wife in my wallet from when she was in the first or second grade. The picture is precious. She has these ringlets in her hair, her mouth is closed to hide her very crooked teeth (at the time), and she is just as sweet and innocent as can be. I would look at that picture and it would strike me every time; I do not want to harm this sweet little girl.
You see, although these sweet little girls grow up to be what appears to be (in our eyes, guys) sexy and desirable vixens, in reality, a lot of the little girl stays in them for life. They are easily hurt – especially in matters of the heart. They are insecure and fear rejection. They want to be pretty and fear not being so. They see themselves in a very different way than we see them.
Remember that her Father in heaven also values her more than you are capable of; and to hurt her is to hurt Him. You do not want the Father to be angry with you; his righteous anger is more than you can handle.
So understand that although our culture has trained us to see women as sexual things, in reality they are precious and delicate girls – treat them with the tender loving care they deserve. Treasure them and defend them with all the strength that you have. Be honest with them and do not lead them into harm; emotional, spiritual, or physical.
So to summarize our roles in dating, the number one role is this: Be a man, the kind of man you were designed to be.