Let No Man Pull It Asunder

So I had a delightful day of reading and thinking and mulling and brainstorming and all the other things I’d like to have on my job description instead of what is currently there. “Manipulation”, “Guilting”, “Proselytising”, “Coercing”, “Boring” and then towards the bottom in capitals repeated sixteen times, “RANTING”. My wife-unit has gone out to some big important life changing event. The intern who lives with us is off talking to an old friend with a comedy name. Now I have pizza and beer and good music and a dimly lit room in which to go head to head with you, the reader, and stun you with my verbal gymnastics.

An example of said gymstunningness? Print that first paragraph out, put it up against a mirror and it will read as the first four verses of John’s Gospel. In Danish.

Male And Female
Although I have to admit that I know more than one key figure featured in the book, I would have read Revleations Of A Single Woman even if it hadn’t been written by my good friend’s sister. Neuro really liked it and it is very rare for her to be able to deal with a Christian book without wanting to stomp on it, chew it to pieces and chuck it out the window. It deals with an issue that is a big deal for Christians, especially women. On a very base level, it is hard to stay celibate. Or so people tell me. Its not like I was a titan of success in that area. But on a profound (but still related to the celibacy issue) level, Christians believe we were made for communion with God and other people and a central cog in this is marriage to someone. The Christian enters into a covenant with another and commits to love them come hell or non-stop re-runs of celebrities-trapped-in-houses shows. This covenant is not based on whether they deserve it or not. It is not affected by difficulty. It is a covenant, not a contract. And this mirrors how God treats us and in the process, Christians believe, you can come to really understand God’s struggle and desire for you and create a space to learn about yourself by learning about the other. Oh! And kids too. They get raised well when the two parents are doing the whole Christian marriage deal well.

One interesting question we are asking is whether or not singleness is an issue for non-Christians in any similar way. As Neuro put it, non-Christians don’t have to deal with the celibacy thing. Without going into details and freaking you out at your desk at work while you eat your morning pastry, before I was married I managed to trample over pretty much every sex thingy you could name. (See how I subtly communicated that common lie that sex-shambles don’t happen in marriage? I am devious.) I don’t think it is religious psychosis that leaves me working through that mess. So I I have my reasons for feeling that sex outside of marriage leaves more debris clogging up our lives than we are really permitted or capable of speaking about.

But even if I am way off base there, there is still no language to talk about any sense of longing that might possibly come with what Gilliam calls “unexpected singleness”. If a woman who was not a Christian felt a desire for marriage that couldn’t be met by all the un-marriable men who came her way, her worldview has no way to express that angst. As I write, Sinéad O’Connor is singing at me about being a “strong independent pagan woman”. The woman who can have everything and doesn’t need a man has no way to vocalise it if she suddenly at 28, or 34, or 41, develops an aching need for a husband.

Maybe that is all balderdash and Gilliam is only speaking to Christians. But if she is, she does a superb job of it. The book has been marketed widely in America, outside of standard Christianville but she makes no fuss about declaring herself a Christian. She does however discuss the painful journey that has brought her to where she is without annoying you with her Christianity. Christianity is not something she is hiding but it is not some tool she is using either. I would love to be able to write as fortrightly about how God influences my life without it ending up sounding like a televangelist with a laptop.

She also passes the test of being able to write about relationships while being fortright and upfront about the reality that sexuality plays in that. You would be amazed at how shy Christians are to actually discuss this. Gilliam deals with masturbation and lesbianism and infidelity and random hook ups the way they should be dealt with- as real things that happen every day and that need to be addressed. Darn her for getting to publish before Neuro gets around to writing her Big Book Of Facts where she explains how the independent woman should respond in every way.

As refreshing as it is to read her deal with themes of an adult nature, it is even better that she speaks honestly about being a woman without subscribing to the frankly preposterous gender stereotypes advanced by Christians. If you are not one of the God-bothering readers you will have to forgive me but there are crazy ideas about male and female floating around the church. The Catholics are the royalty of crazy with their male priesthood but us evangelical/reformed/whatever groups are no better. Women may be equal, but according to the vogue in Churchland, they are so different as to be practically a different species from men. Thus we have Eldredge and Eldredge telling us men should go run naked around the forests and kill deer and drink their blood and women should set the table and await their return, occupying their time with child rearing and some cross-stitch. I may be parodying a little but Mark Driscoll actually went so far as to equate the belief that men and women were equally gifted and capable with a “gay Jesus”. Indeed. Top mark point for argumentation there.

Gilliam skips all this silly “crisis in masculinity” talk but she is honest about how as a woman, she does view the world differently from most men. Different doesn’t mean Venus and Mars or any other such crap. It doesn’t mean there are jobs she can’t do or tasks she should leave to men. It just means different.

Different means touchy-feely. I’m cool with that. Ann-Dee and I were out last Friday night (without my wife) and he was helping me brush up on my cruising skills. The key today seems to be the same as when I first met Neuro. Walk up to the girl. Politely interrupt her. Then early on in the conversation let her know that there is nothing in the world you like more than changing yourself and talking about your feelings.

Your Correspondent, La la la la la! Holy Crap! Here comes Jesus!

2 Responses to “Let No Man Pull It Asunder”

  1. Dude, I think Andy might be playing with you. Chicks don’t dig guys in nappies, even if you DO change them yourself. Learn from my experience.

  2. I’m delighted to hear you, too, are still holding a torch for Sinead. In my humble opinion Faith and Courage is one of the most underrated albums of the last decade. I also like the fact that she considers journalists worthy of marriage rather than carpet-bombing.

    What are the odds Dr Dawkins is at this very minute think, “That thing the Irish guy said… Well I never!”