Mirror, Mirror #2 is due out this weekend, but before I post that, I thought it would be a good idea to provide some background for the series and kind of set the stage for what is going on. Context always aids the task of understanding, so I’m a’pilin’ it on in this post.
Who I am (or at least the things about me I’ve deemed may be pertinent to the discussion at hand):
I am a painfully average, run-of-the-mill, standard Christian guy.
I consider myself well-grounded, and pretty darn solid in issues of basic theology – my co-workers, family, and members of my Church would and have vouched for this, and I’m taking their word.
I have a brother, who wrestles out the hard things in life with me, and a sister, who schools me in all the multitudinous areas sisters are prone to do.
I am not married and never have been.
I live in Oklahoma – not East Coast or West Coast, where the culture is so decidedly different that the people there probably think every other post is the work of a madman. Or worse (to them), a taxi driver.
I generally approach tricky issues from a perspective of logic and consistency – I let the evidence inform me and tend to base conclusions on an inductive pattern of reasoning.
What this series aims to be:
Mirror, Mirror is a 4 part series directed towards the goal of informing women and girls about what I, personally, find attractive on a variety of topics loosely categorized as “female beauty”, for your consideration. Be warned: it will rarely conform with what the world these days tells us beauty is, and I fully expect that some feathers will be ruffled as people’s world-views are challenged.
It is worth noting that my firm conviction is that I am not alone in the opinions I share on this subject – decidedly not. Rather, of the men I have had the pleasure of having any discussion with on the relevant issues, I have found that my “instincts”, if you will call them that, are not by any stretch of the imagination “rare”.
Thus, this series aims at airing these subjects in what is hopefully a lighthearted and easy-going manner for due consideration by all parties. I realize that I may at times fail and seem judgmental or condemning towards certain practices or otherwise – but please know that this is not my intention, nor is it my position.
Why I write this:
So what is my intention, if not to judge or criticize?
Well, for starters, I do see Christian women asking questions like, “How do I attract a Godly guy?” “How do I make sure I do not cause my brother to stumble with his eyes or otherwise because of the way I dress? And why should how I dress cause him to stumble anyway – shouldn’t he just get over it? Isn’t it his problem, not mine?” “Why can’t I chase after the world’s definition of beauty AND God’s definition of beauty at the same time? Is it really one or the other?” And the like.
Here’s the deal: from my observations, they tend to ask these questions of other women. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself – other women can definitely be a good source of wisdom and information. However, it’s a myopic approach. That is to say: men have a unique and needed perspective on these issues, and to not seek their counsel is to needlessly deprive yourself of a wealth of information and understanding.
My goal here is really to challenge you to think outside of the culturally conditioned box for a little while. Too often we take for granted that we don’t have all the answers – so much so that we take for granted that there are questions that need to be asked. I mean, if you believe you’re doing everything right, it’s never going to occur to you to ask what you’re doing wrong, is it?
In the end, I simply want to put a stone in your shoe and give you something to think about as a woman (since that is the primary audience this is directed towards), so that as you go forwards and make choices about how you present yourself to the world, you at least go equipped with some basic understanding of where at least some (I would argue most) Christian men fall on any of these issues. Whether or not you choose to alter anything in your approach as a result is entirely up to you, but at the very least you will no longer be able to plead ignorance.
What I expect of those who read Mirror, Mirror:
I am not asking you to give me a standing ovation, or even to agree with me at all. Heck, I’m not even asking you to read past this line if it doesn’t suit you. All I’m asking is that you consider the points I raise with all due fairness, making your best attempt at leaving any defensive tendencies at the door (again, I’m not judging you!), and seriously evaluating the merits of my suggestions with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
Now, if you take away nothing else from this post, then understand this:
Let me explain something by way of an example here, which I think will be helpful as you progress in reading these things.
Remember when you were a kid? Remember how being separated from mommy and daddy was always a fear in public places? Remember what they taught you to do? Among other things, I bet money one of them was: find a police officer. Right?
So imagine you are a kid again, and mommy and daddy are nowhere to be seen. So what do you do? You look for a police officer. Soon you spot a towering figure with dark slacks, a deep blue shirt, a badge, a gun, and a stern look about him.
Aha! A police officer! You go up to him, tell him your woes, and he helps you get where you need to go.
Now, what you have just done is called “profiling”. That is, you noticed a specific set of characteristics about someone (in this case, clothes and a badge) and based on previous knowledge and experience were able to identify those characteristics as most likely belonging to a police man, because these characteristics are common to that specific subset of the population.
You do this all the time. You assume that because someone in a restaurant carries plates and wears a uniform that they are a waiter. You assume that because someone is rippling with muscles and quaffing a high protein shake, they must be a body-builder (amateur or otherwise). You assume that someone wearing a cast is doing so because they have a broken bone.
In other words, you take observable characteristics and run them through your mental database of what people who match those characteristics tend to be. This is a vital tool in life, because without this ability you would constantly be asking officers of the law to bring you another basket of chips (and keep the salsa coming), and begging waiters to let you off with a warning. That is: you would have no frame of reference to guide you as to the appropriate types of interactions to have with different people.
In the same way, when I say (as I have in Mirror, Mirror #1 and following comments) that I stay away from dating women who dress with no attention to modesty, I do not do so out of a spiteful or judgmental spirit. Rather, I simply recognize that the observable characteristic of immodesty tends to match up well (that is, to a high degree of accuracy) with the following personality traits: materialistic; party-person; vain; out-for-a-good-time; attention seeking; “easy”; and so on. Given that these are not personality traits I find at all compatible with who I am, and that I can not see myself in a lasting romantic relationship with someone who embodies them, I do not needlessly spend quality time with those folks my God-given internal profiler deems to fall into this category.
Just like you do not needlessly spend time with a someone dressed like a waiter when what you are really looking for is an officer of the law. It’s not because you have something against waiters, it’s just that they’re not policemen.
Finally, if any of the above needs clarification, let me know and I’ll do my best to iron it out. I consider this post to be fairly random in appearance (especially for me), but it was my goal to use the scattergun approach to cover as many bases as possible before we move on so as to eliminate the risk of misunderstanding.