The previous posts in this series focused on:
Behavior cycles and Identity — Understanding how we the interactions between our identity, experiences, and behavior.
Identity Part 1 — Foundations of how we identify with certain values and tenants of this life and how they affect us and what we should look for instead.
Identity Part 2 — Understanding rebellion against what our Identity should be in Christ.
Identity Part 3 — Internal and external aspects of identity, the differences, and the recalibration of their facets.
Identity Part 4 — Understanding that loving God -> loving yourself -> loving others, and that to truly understand the responsibility of others you have to love yourself.
Identity Part 5 — Knowing the roots and heresies that develop out of a wrong sense of identity.
Today I’ll be discussing the difference between performance and desire.
Understanding performance and desire in the context of being a Christian
Understanding the difference between performance and desire is critical to understanding the difference between how the kingdom of heaven works. There was a great post recently on the orthosphere about a father’s advice to his son on becoming a man. h/t Free Northerner.
To run through this very briefly, what we understand of salvation is that we are saved solely by grace, but good works are a result of that salvation:
Romans 3:23 for all [m]have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a [n]propitiation [o]in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, [p]because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who [q]has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.
James 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can [n]that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [o]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is [p]dead, being by itself.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [h]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Titus 3:4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs [a]according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
Often it is said that James is contradictory to the rest of the Scriptures. However, this is false. The key point to remember is that there are two states here. The heart and what comes out the heart. Thus, there are four possible combinations:
- A bad heart, and bad works. A bad heart with bad works is all of us prior to coming to the knowlege of the saving grace of God and accepting that gift.
- A bad heart, and good works. Those with a bad heart, and doing good works do good works for selfish reasons. Maybe they are doing it because they receive self worth gratification from being a people pleaser. Maybe they are doing it because they believe in karma. Maybe that are doing it because they think that good works will save them or get them to other religion’s equivalent of heaven.
- A good heart, and bad works. James 2, in particular, discusses a supposedly good heart with bad works. If you read the passage it specifically says that people were saying they were Christians with faith but had no works. We know this contradicts other parts of Scripture, especially to what Jesus has said: Trees are known by their fruit. Thus, the James passage specifically refutes the idea that there is such a thing as a good heart with no works or bad works.
- A good heart, and good works. Thus, we come to the last one where a good heart produces good works. I think Ephesians 2 typically explains it best: we’re saved through our faith alone and created in Jesus for good works that God has prepared for us. The Titus 3 passage clarifies it further, which says that the good works in particular are profitable for men. This makes sense because good works do not profit God: if we choose not to do them He can always use another Christian to do them.
Our hearts receive His grace (charis), are forgiven (charizomai), and we receive His joy (chara) through the Holy Spirit that we desire to serve Him. This is important to understand because Christians have the propensity to use works or lack of sin as a gauge of our devotion to God. By using works as a measuring stick, we inadvertently place a limitation on the Father’s love for us. He only loves us if we are not sinning and/or doing good.
Unfortunately, this mindset tunnels us into not sinning which often leaves us feeling trapped in sin because it’s on our mind all the time. Is it a good idea to focus on the guard rails while driving or would it be better to be looking ahead on the journey ahead? Likewise, it tunnels us in onto performing good works when in reality our goal is not good works rather to use good works to be profitable unto men: to build relationships with others, direc them towards God, and make disciples.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 4:19 We love because He first loved us.
Our relationship is ultimately one of desire for Him because of His desire for us. His love is unconditional, and therefore our love should be unconditional toward others. It carries no burden of performance.
Tying performance and desire to attraction in personality/power
Now, having been rooted in the proper identity within us as Christians, it is a good idea to understanding attraction in the context of performance and desire. I explored attraction in a Christian understanding of attraction as well as in Dominion and Dominion 2, and I think Donal’s PSALM/LAMPS empirically fits what is best observed. This will tie in nicely to some of the more foundational concepts that I discussed earlier. From A Christian understanding of attraction:
- Power/Personality — A man that has dominion over his person and thus power/personality is not needy or have any deficiencies. He does not have anything to prove. If he needs something instead of begging others for it, he goes out and accomplishes it.
- Status — Status is an indicator of man’s dominion over social situations or social groups.
- Athleticism — Athleticism is a man’s dominion over his body primarily physically but also psychologically and emotionally in action.
- Looks — While men cannot change what they are born with, they can exert dominion over how they look and how they appear by taking care of themselves with proper grooming, smell, clothes, etc.
- Money — Money is a dominion in itself because it can be exchanged for needs, goods, and services. It is literally a means by which a man can access that which he desires.
This is where the Christian manosphere diverges extensively from the secular manosphere. There is an imputed burden of performance upon men in maintaining attributes that would make them attractive in order to keep a woman. I assert that this is false.
In the line of my two most recent posts on attitude and Donal’s division of PSALM characteristics into APE (appearance, personality, externalities) this makes more sense. Personality/power and to some extent status is about how you act, how you approach life, and how you interact with other people. In the totality of understanding “alpha” versus “beta” we can sum this up into attitude.
Terms such as “outcome independence”, “confidence and assertiveness”, and “mastery” are entirely rooted in a firm identity. In other words, being rooted in an identity in Christ means that I don’t have to perform for God for His love. Likewise, this should spill over into personal life and interactions with others: you’re not performing for them. If they reject you then so what? Does the Father love you any less? A firm identity in Christ essentially eliminates fear of man.
Rollo is fond of the phrase that “desire cannot be negotiated.” This is true. This is one of the fallacies of the 5 love languages: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. None of these love language negotiate desire; rather, they are rooted in performance. A husband who tries to learn his wife’s love language to buy or curry her favor will inevitably fail because he is attempting to perform for her. You can’t buy love or respect. It must be freely given by the other spouse. Attempting to do so is manipulation and performance oriented.
Ironically, eliminating this burden of performance is exactly what is attractive. If a husbands and wives stop trying to perform for each other and rather seek to please God the majority of the time it will lead to the change they are looking for. This is why the commands of the Bible to the husbands and wives are not “if” commands. Husbands have the command to love and honor their wives irrespective of how their wife is treating them. Likewise, wives have the commands to respect and submit to their husbands irrespective of how their husband is treating them. Ultimately, it comes down to desire and not performance.
Thus, personality/power attractiveness facets are directly related to your identity. Do you truly understand and feel what the Scriptures speak to you as a son or daughter of God? If so then your identity is firmly grounded, and you know that performance is an enticing but false illusion. You can never perform enough to get others to like you more or love you or respect you. This is the reverse of what I discussed in your attitude tells me everything I need to know. In fact, your own attitude toward yourself and others tells YOU what you need to know about your identity in Christ.
Tying performance and desire to attraction in appearance and externalities
It easy to say that most of the rest of the categories are directly tied to performance. For example, money is gained by performance at work. Likewise, performance with appearance such as lifting, buying well fitting clothes, and taking care of your body are the ways to be attractive to the opposite sex. Right?
Actually, this is wrong. Ironically, desire is strong than performance. Those that desire to do well in their job go well beyond performance. Desire can be equated to not just doing your job, but doing it with excellence. Likewise, those who desire to look good will because they will be disciplined to do well with lifting, taking care of themselves with good nutrition and sleep, and even in their daily devotions.
When you’re performing for yourself it’s just that. Some people have more will power than others, but at the end of the day does performance buy you happiness/joy or satisfaction? Nope, it surely does not. This is why chasing attraction for Christian men is a false idol: is your goal to please God or is it to get a wife? Again, another part of the irony of chasing attraction is that it puts you in the performance mindset: if I can only become more attractive I can attract the woman I want or deserve. Likewise, this is unattractive because it destroys your attitude toward life. There is no “outcome indepedence” when your attitude is tied to performance. And your confidence is tied to success rather than because of your identity in Christ.
It is also within this understanding that we see the difference between agape love and good works. Desire to serve God leads to submission to the Holy Spirit which allows God to work fully through us and unconditionally love those around us. However, good works are limited solely to our performance of them. This is what leads to burn out in many Christians. If they try to perform for God with their gifts and talents then they will eventually reach a point of burnout. God may still do great things through them, but they will not have the unending capacity and fullness of His love moving through all that they do.
A desire to please God in all and through all leads to “outcome independence” from women. Women are not placed as an idol above God, and thus you become more attractive for it. The way the secular manosphere has co-opted this is that they say that you should do everything for yourself not for women. In other words, you should be more selfish.
Framing this correctly always matters. I desire to perform successfully at my job because I do all things for the glory of God. But I can also use the money gained from my job to tithe more, and do more for the kingdom, Yes, money is also required to support a family, but this is only one of many things that money can be used for and it’s not guarateed that I will marry anyway. I desire to look my best, workout, and eat healthy because I want to steward the temple of the Holy Spirit. Looking good for the opposite sex is a nice side effect and definitely appreciated.
I think I made these points clear enough with multiple lines of logic. It should be clear that desire is ultimately the driving force that puts you in the right attitude and mindset as a Christian. Not in what you can do and how you perform for others.
Salvation and thus identity in Christ must be firmly rooted in desire over performance.
This will change your attitude toward God which will set you on the right track away from sinful behavior and performaing for God. It will base you in the correct mindset of desire toward God to be excellent in all you do.
Desire in the context of being Christian roots you correctly away from performing for women in your personality, interacting with others, and in various social situations. Likewise, desire over performance will drive you to do well in everything that the Father has set before you. It will drive you to be excellent. And by those measures eventually attractive to women. It will also keep you away from the poisonous mindset that you need to somehow perform for women in order to attract them.