“Maturity” is a blind spot for pride

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.”

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6 Responses to “Maturity” is a blind spot for pride

  1. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    It is not who goes first, but who will obey the Lord. Will a wife honor and submit as to the Lord even when doing so takes additional faith and will a husband love his wife when she is far from lovely; will he love like Christ. If a Christian is faithful to their marriage calling the actions of the other person are not prerequisites for fulfilling their covenant obligations. Who goes first is a transactional frame rather than a covenantal frame; if you do this I will do that. Such negotiations model a works based relationship rather than a grace based relationship. The Christian loves because they were loved while they were yet sinners, they submit because all authority in heaven and on earth is given to Christ. A wife who does not honor her husband and submit to him is rejecting the authority of Christ to appoint her husband as her authority and head. Likewise a husband who does not love his wife is demonstrating that he is ungrateful for the grace shown to him by Christ. But the real rub is how does a husband’s love manifest itself. Christ loves His church by teaching, correcting, admonishing, rebuking and when appropriate disciplining, should a husband do less? Christ does not operate on the happy church happy savior principle so neither should happy wife happy life be a guiding principle in marriage. Christ cares far more about making His bride holy than happy, the mature man of God will have the same mind. Christ will not allow the church to compete for His authority, so also no husband should allow his wife to compete for his authority. In a dysfunctional marriage, the remedy is not a question of who goes first, but who will obey, not who is more mature but who knows that they are not their own, but bought with a price.

  2. Bee says:

    Jonadab-

    “Christ does not operate on the happy church happy savior principle ….”

    Great comment.

  3. Wayne says:

    DS, What I hear you saying, is that pride introduces what I like to call a “deception of perception”, meaning that the woman, in this case, imagines herself to be more mature than the male, whom she sees as an “immature boy”, while in fact, the “immature boy” she speaks of may indeed be more spiritually advanced than the prideful wife who condemns said behaviors.

  4. earl says:

    ‘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.’

    It’s also where a person find wisdom.

    http://biblehub.com/proverbs/9-10.htm

  5. @ Wayne

    Correct.

    Once anyone sets themselves up as ‘superior’ to someone else they have already fallen into sin because with it comes discontent, contempt, disdain, and so on.

  6. Paul says:

    The one big underlying thought that pervades many thinking and discussion in our modern culture, and in Church too: “authority is bad and should be avoided at all cost”. It’s a rebellious spirit. It does not tolerate confrontation by authority.

    “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.”

    Well, really? How do you call it when someone lacks obedience to God’s commands? In many cases it can be classified as ‘sin’, the other cases probably as ‘ignorance’, and sometimes it can be because of spiritual immaturity. Of course (“splinter and plank”) it is mature to live obedient to God’s commands, but it also is MATURE to lovingly confront people with their sin towards their repentance.

    Telling that “the Lord will not honor that and a spouse is not going to respond to that” is grossly misleading for the general situation.

    An exception might be the situation of an unbelieving husband with a believing wife:

    “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

    Note that the symmetrical command for believing husbands towards their unbelieving wives is NOT given! Instead they’re called to be considerate and respectful towards their wives.

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