3 Ways The Church Has Created Passive Men

In Uncategorized by Debra Fileta27 Comments

Q: What’s up with Christian men not making a move?! Why is it that nonbelievers come across as so driven, while Christian men can seem so passive in relationships?

For some time, the female readers of True Love Dates have been asking this question about Christian men. 

In today’s guest post, I invited Justin Megna, a male reader of TrueLoveDates.com and blogger, to offer his perspective on this question. Give it a read! — Debra

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Why is it that many Christian men are hesitant to initiate romance and are bad at it once they do? I’ve come to suspect that perhaps the biggest reason is because, over the last 25 years, the American church has held them back in three significant ways: 

#1: By Eliminating Casual Dating…And Skill Building

In the 1950s, American dating culture was very different than it is today. Going on casual dates with many different people was typical, encouraged, and usually started before high school. In fact, Thomas Umstattd writes, “by the mid-1950s, the cultural standard was that young men ‘earned the right’ to [pursue an exclusive relationship] by going on dates with lots of different women.” (Courtship In Crisis, p. 31) Young people would gain skills for interacting with the opposite sex one-on-one through these casual dates and thus become better prepared for pursuing a long-term relationship.

But the Courtship movement told the church that casual dating was unwise if not outright sinful. Courtship required young people not to touch romance until they were ready to commit to a serious, exclusive relationship for exploring marriage. As a result, young Christian men were obligated to pursue serious romantic relationships from a position of inexperience and lack of skill.

This requirement overlooked one serious problem: for men, being attractive to women isn’t innate. It’s a learned skill. No man is born with the smooth charm of Casanova. A man learns the social skills needed to pursue a woman in a way that’s attractive somewhere between birth and the moment when a woman happily agrees to a date. Some men have an aptitude for learning these skills intuitively and without much need for practice. Other men don’t have it so easy. Many men need to develop their skills for pursuing romance through practice. Courtship took that opportunity away from many young Christian men.

The result is that some Christian men may be hesitant to pursue women because they don’t feel confident. Even when they do, lack of skill can make them come across as corny. It’s not because there’s something innately wrong with them. It’s because they’ve been robbed of the opportunity to develop well the requisite skills. Thus, the first way the church neutered her men was by removing casual dating and, thus, removing the means for her young men to develop the skills necessary for confident, competent, attractive pursuit of women.

#2: By Requiring Friendship To Be The One and Only Path To Romance

Courtship also requires that two people begin a romantic relationship from friendship. In other words, it says two people shouldn’t start a romantic relationship without already knowing each other well as friends. This was intended to prevent strangers from becoming romantically entangled too quickly. However, requiring an established friendship before beginning a romantic relationship tends to squash romantic relationships.

Easily building friendships with many single peer members of the opposite sex is a luxury of high school and college environments. This is because the average adult spends most of his or her time each week at work, home, or church. If you exhaust the pool of romantic candidates in these areas, it becomes difficult to build a friendship leading to romance with someone outside these arenas. That’s because building a friendship takes time. If a person can’t explore romantic potential with someone he or she doesn’t already know well, finding the potential for a lasting romantic relationship becomes very difficult.

Understand clearly, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be friendship between two people in a romantic relationship. My contention is with the claim that a strong friendship MUST be established before going on even a casual date. The truth is that friendship can (and should) grow through casual dating. The church held back her bachelors by preventing them from being men who pursue acquaintances and newly-met women with maturity and competence.

#3: By Requiring Romance To Be Serious

Courtship requires all romantic relationships to be for the express purpose of the couple figuring out whether they’ll marry. This causes the cost in terms of emotional and personal investment to be high from the beginning.

As a result, men become inclined only to pursue a woman they can see themselves marrying. This means ruling out any women who don’t seem to be marriage material from the beginning. This is a shame, because it’s a known phenomenon that attraction to a person can increase simply from getting to know him or her better. A man may discover that a woman he first thinks “isn’t someone I’d want to marry” is an amazing woman once he gets to know her.

Several years ago, there was a bachelorette my age at the church I attended. I knew a bit about her, that she loved Jesus and was attractive, but I just didn’t feel strongly about her. Since I didn’t feel strongly enough about her to pursue a committed relationship, I didn’t pursue her at all. Later, it so happened that I started spending time with her platonically. As I got to know her, my attraction to her skyrocketed. I regretted not getting to know her sooner.

When there’s no opportunity to explore the beginnings of romantic interest in a casual, low-investment way, the cost of initiative is driven up. When the cost of initiative is high, men tend to initiate less frequently. Thus, the church creates passive bachelors by causing them to be men who initiate cautiously and infrequently rather than confidently and regularly.

Repairing The Damage

We need to repair the damage done by the effect of Courtship ideology over the past 25 years.

Men, practice being a man who pursues Christian women with competence, confidence, and integrity. This means taking initiative. There’s no magic elixir that will make us competent, confident initiators overnight. We build our competence by actually asking for dates ,initiating relationships, and learning through practice. So don’t shy away from the challenge, even if you don’t feel like an elite initiator.

Ladies, encourage the men in your churches to pursue you by fostering a church culture that honors and rewards men who take initiative with confidence and integrity. Since you want men who are confident, capable initiators, be sure you and your church culture tell them so.

Comment below: Do you agree that the Church has played a role in enabling passivity in men? We’d love to hear your feedback below!

Justin Megna is a blogger and speaker on the subject of Christian romance and the creator of thatcrazychristianromance.com. He graduated from University of Valley Forge with a degree in Pastoral Ministry. He currently lives outside Philadelphia as he continues to take the adventures of life and love.

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27 Comments on "3 Ways The Church Has Created Passive Men"

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Gabriel Lopez
Guest
I’d like to start this comment with a “YES Chant”. YES-YES-YES-YES-YES! Thank you for pointing out what a lot of us need to realize already. It is a skill! Most of the time, I’ve been called names by girls, other christians, because I try to do things the way you describe it. I’ve done right, I’ve screwed things up. But I wasn’t afraid to try to know and decide if the lady per se was the one or not. To casual date is not to be a Don Juan. To casual date is not to be an irresponsible. I think… Read more »
Rachel Greer
Guest

I know. It’s even true with online dating. I know, I’ve tried.

Guys, women like it when you show interest. Not in a vulgar way but don’t treat us like we’re invisible. Church, you’re telling us to marry only Christian men. But Christian men aren’t showing interest. Either you encourage them to be, or women are going to go for non-Christian guys who do show interest.

anon
Guest

I don’t believe (at least I don’t see) that “women like it when you show interest”. Not buying that one.
A woman has to be interested FIRST before liking the interest of a guy.
If she isn’t interested…YOU ARE DONE…do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Rachel Greer
Guest

Give me a break, okay? I’m almost 24 and I’ve never dated once, no matter how much interest I may have shown. Then again, it’s hard for your interest to be noticed when you don’t care for traditionally girly things and don’t spend all your time volunteering at church.

Alicia
Guest

I totally agree with Justin and you, Gabriel. There is a lack of confidence running deep through the dating culture on both sides-men and women. Maybe we’re overthinking it?

Mara
Guest
Thanks for sharing, Justin! It strikes a chord, as I recently was asked out on a casual date by a man I’d met a week earlier at church. (Yes, kudos to him for being willing to ask me out.) It surprised me, because as you pointed out, the church has taught us to build friendships first. I had to take a big step back from that paradigm in order to say yes to a casual date. And, somewhat to my surprise, I had fun and it wasn’t awkward. It was simply a casual coffee date, and the freedom in not… Read more »
Sam Rudolph
Guest

Poor Josh Harris. I don’t think he meant to ruin everything.

David W.
Guest

Thanks Justin! A well put article and I definitely agree with your points. Thanks for sharing.

Shay
Guest

Good one! I agree with that. Amen.

Marlene Ross
Guest
It truly seems hopeless to so many good men & women and many are ending up alone & lonely well into their 30s & 40s and giving up on their dreams to have a family. God did not design life to be this way for men & women. THE MAJOR MEDIA NEWS OUTLETS AS WELL AS CHRISTIAN TV NEED TO COVER THIS TOPIC IN A BIG WAY AND THE TALK SHOWS TO FEATURE IT. LET’S SEE DR PHIL, IYANLA AND EVERY OTHER HOST PRESENT THIS CRITICAL TOPIC. IT SHOULD BE EXPLAINED CONSISTENTLY SO THAT MEN & WOMEN CAN BENEFIT AND… Read more »
Tom
Guest
Churches are also full of girls who aren’t doing anything. The courtship/dating culture has affected females in a similar way, if they can’t see themselves with someone, they don’t give it a chance. I know a lot of nice Christian guys who ask girls out, get shot down without even a first date. This certainly plays into guys asking girls out less, because if the Christian guy knows that Christian girls will most likely say no, he’s going to wait until he finds someone that sends better signals, which is super rare. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is… Read more »
T T
Guest
There was a guy at church who definitely acted interested in me but never asked me out. It was pretty annoying because I really wasn’t interested in him and there was no way for me to politely say no when he hadn’t asked me a question even though he was always popping up trying to get my attention and making a pest out of himself (and I caught him spying on me once). Another woman was interested in him, but he wasn’t interested in her and she got the hint pretty quickly and moved on. He ended up leaving that… Read more »
Tom
Guest
You probably know this, but you don’t have to wait until someone asks you out to tell them you’re not interested. You can have a mature conversation and say something like, “I’ve noticed that it seems you’re interested. To be clear, I just want to say I’m not interested in anything romantic. This is probably awkward, but I felt it needed to be said.” I’ve had to do that before with someone that our friends were trying to set us both up. Have to set a baseline sometimes, and there is no way around that conversation being not awkward. But… Read more »
Erich
Guest

I would definitely agree with this. I have asked or tried to ask out girls at church but was rejected before I could even get a chance. Seems like the women in the church don’t want to give a guy a chance, unless they perceive them to be wealthy, super spiritual or own their own home!

T T
Guest
I also think part of the problem is that there are often few opportunities for singles in a church to get to know each other in a non-pressured environment. There was a young adult group at church when I was younger, but the leaders didn’t reach out to the singles unless they already had a relationship with them so a lot of us weren’t included. There is little opportunity for older singles to connect unless an individual feels comfortable approaching someone, which can be hard if s/he is shy or getting the vibe that no one wants to get to… Read more »
Freddie
Guest
Yes, that’s a great point! Once you’re past 25 or so, it gets really hard to get to know new people, either as friends or potential dates. There are very few opportunities to meet people (single or not) in a relaxed environment where you can get to know them better. Also, while I agree wholeheartedly with the description of the problem here, I think the solution is far from that simple. If practice is all it takes, we’d all get there sooner or later, but that’s hardly the case. I think I’m even further away from getting dates now than… Read more »
Alexis Rosemond
Guest

This is excellent! I truly hope churches everywhere will have a burden for singles ministry in the church and make things right that the culture has negatively impacted. But as the saying goes, “be the change you want to see.” Maybe we can leave this discussion and pray about sharing this burden at each of our church homes.

Dave
Guest
I think you’re overlooking something that has nothing to do with the church. Those of us who work in Corporate America have to rehearse and scrutinize everything we say to female employees so it isn’t misconstrued as sexual harassment. That’s about to get a hundred times worse with what’s happening in the world right now. Remember how easy it is for men to get in trouble at work. I’ve been reprimanded for telling a female co-worker, “your hair looks nice today!” Another guy got an unpaid vacation for asking a woman why she was all dressed up. (She complained that… Read more »
Valerie
Guest

Hello Dave,
Would you please give us ladies some tips on how to give hints?

I’m an example of a woman who can’t read hints (I’ve been ignored as the “ugly sister” for much of my life, so I just automatically assume no male is interested in me, unless he outright tells me).

Thank you,
Valerie

Dave
Guest
Valerie, three things off the top of my head: 1. Be a good listener and remember specific details about whatever he tells you. Ask him about those things later. Nobody else is going to remember specifics, so when a woman does this, it really captures our attention. 2. Take an interest in whatever he does, be it work or hobbies, particularly if anything about it is unusual. Again, nobody else will do this. Cheat if needed and do some research on Google based on what he tells you. =) 3. Don’t be afraid to get his phone number from the… Read more »
Goner
Guest

Meh. Some of us are also just tired of being shot down, and openly mocked by our sisters in Christ. I have given up. It’s not going through that again. I will always be alone and I am going to kill myself tonight.

Matthew
Guest
Not everyone will mock you. Sometimes it’s easy to think that what you’ve gone through in the past will always be your future experience. But that doesn’t have to be the case even with a small amount of reflection, motivation and, for the Christian, much of God’s help. I bet you’ve learned something about dating from this experience. It doesn’t sound like a pleasant way to learn, that’s for sure! I can’t pretend to understand your life situation from this brief comment, but you’ve got to know that even random people on the internet can care about someone who’s hurting.… Read more »
MaybeNotGoner
Guest

Thanks for replying to me. I was in a really dark place when posting that before and should have edited that part about killing myself out. I got through he last few days thanks to calling the suicide hotline a lot lol.

I appreciate hearing that people care. If you would like to chat more, that would be appreciated.

Chavi
Guest

Matthew, have you heard anything from Finer?

Chavi
Guest

I meant Goner, not Finer.

Chavi
Guest

Goner, I am so sorry for your experiences. Do know that not everyone who is a child of the King acts like a brat. If you need to talk to professionals, I have included the National Suicide Prevention number=18002738255.
Remember that suicide isn’t an answer; if God had wanted you to be with Him, he would have already taken you to be with Him. Matthew has also offered to talk to you if you need someone to talk to. Be safe, my sibling in Christ.

Beatrice
Guest

Excellent!!!!!!

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