Wayne had a good post yesterday on “Ladies Should Respect the Man and Love the Boy”:
I asked her why she didn’t love him very much. She had one main complaint about her boyfriend. She said,
“Sometimes he acts so immature, like a little boy!”
She found this trait to be so ridiculous and annoying, and she talked at some length about how much trouble it is for her to deal with this trait, and the disappointment she feels as a consequence.
After she said this, I recognized that this is a complaint that most women commonly impute on men – that all men have a ‘stupid, selfish little boy’ hiding inside them. Women usually label this incorrectly as ‘immaturity’. It is a misnomer because they are not referring to genuine immaturity, in which a man refuses to get a job and take responsibility for his life, or when he avoids dealing with his problems and blames other people instead, etc. No, they are referring to the way females regard the emotional nature of fully mature men to be as idyllic boys.
In general, this is actually a good trait to have to be a good father. Interacting and playing with kids requires a certain amount of ability to set aside the seriousness of life and just enjoy being silly or crazy.
Also, Michal thought David was being “immature” (or her words: “undignified”) when he was dancing as the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem. Look at how that turned out for her.
The issue is not maturity though. A woman’s preconceived notions of what they think is “mature” or not is their will manifesting as pride: they think they know what is better than the man they are with and are setting themselves up as the judge of that.
This reminds me of one of the big blind spots in marriage counseling. My Church was recently going over Emerson Eggerich’s book Love and Respect on marriage (which is used for marriage counseling in a lot of cases). One of the big things he talks about is “who goes first.”
It is much easier to sit back and say, “Well Emerson, I would be more loving if my wife was more respectful!” Or, “Why should I show my husband respect when he is treating me in an unloving way?”
Of course it is easier to be obedient to God in our marriage when our husband or wife is also being obedient. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
So who goes first?
My answer: the mature one.
How do you know if you are the mature one? Let me put it this way. I can tell you if you are the immature one.
The immature person uses this information not to change themselves, but to try to change their spouse. Their whole mindset is to get their spouse to be more loving or respectful rather than trying to be more loving or respectful themselves. They do not believe that they have the power to influence their spouse, but instead see their spouse as having all the power to influence them. Therefore they must change their spouse in order to be happy.
The immature person lacks obedience to God’s commands. Instead their mission is to get their spouse to obey God’s command toward them. Bottom line, the Lord will not honor that and a spouse is not going to respond to that any more than if the roles were reversed.
The mature person, on the other hand, will do their part to improve the marriage, even if it means putting their own feelings aside. They will choose obedience to God’s commands over their own feelings and over their circumstances. That’s because they understand the nature of God: He is a good God, whose commands are given to help us, not to harm us.
(Eggerich’s emphasis on bolding)
While the content is generally good because it is based on the Bible, using “maturity” as the catalyst actually sets up some blind spots for pride.
For instance, it would be more accurate to use Scripture as a catalyst:
- Take the plank out of your own eye first, so you don’t come off as a hypocrite.
Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
- Humility is required to go first.
The goal is to grow more Christ-like, so the one who can lay down their pride and humble themselves should be the one to go first.
A spouse thinking that they are the “mature one” because they are going first is still going to have issues with pride in the long run, especially if things don’t go their way. If they go first and their “maturity” isn’t working, it’s going to cause more anger than if they were told that they need to fix their own issues first and humble themselves. Likewise, the pride of being mature also inhibits true surrender to the Spirit to work through you.
This is very similar to the subtle rebellion in marriage where a wife “lets her husband lead” rather than “follows his lead.”