While on a field trip, following up on a reconciled child for work, I stumbled upon a single copy of this bestseller by Steve Harvey, in a remote town. Having watched the movie, and being more than a little disappointed, I wanted to pass it by. However, realising that it is in fact a sold out #1 Bestseller, remembering that no knowledge is gained in vain and, of course, succumbing to the curiosity of the woman within, I decided that I better take a read and get the full low down myself.
Firstly, I’d have to applaud Steve for his effort, honesty and sincerity. He did a good thing for women, even though men may consider him a traitor. For this, I respect him. I like the frankness of the book, that he saw the seriousness of the issues, even though he is a comedian, and that he expressed real empathy for the women who shared their stories, even though he’s a man. This tells me that he’s a solid man, and his wife is a fortunate woman.
Unfortunately though, after reading the book, I understood why the movie left me desiring more… I had the exact same feeling with the book, even though it had FAR more substance than the movie, which for thrills and profits concluded with happy endings all around, and did not show the cold hard facts of reality dating! Throughout the book, which promoted that women should get some standards, I couldn’t help thinking about the basis for the standards being promoted. They sure weren’t godly or Biblical standards for dating.
Even though Steve espouses that this is the 21st century, and we women ought to, rightly, adapt our thinking to fit that of the 21st century playing field, there are still some old fashioned standards and ideas that he thinks women should subscribe to or re-learn. He says that in the 21st century, women shouldn’t be afraid to make the bold move of giving their man a timeline, and dictating when they expect to get hitched, simply because men have more options now, and will not make that proposal without a push. On the other hand, he insists that women must not bruise men’s egos by taking away roles from them, which prove their manhood (i.e. as provider, protector and, ultimately, professor). So, how does railroading him to marry you not undermine his responsibility and natural manly desire to profess? I am not saying it isn’t a good idea in certain circumstances, but it just seems contradictory in light of the other insights in the book.
I totally get the ‘be a lady’ mantra, and subscribe to it. I want a provider and protector – and a lover (a missing role I’d like to add to his list). I want him to want to look after me, not because I can’t look after myself, but because I love knowing that he wants to and he CAN. And as much as he wants to profess that I am his, I want to be able to profess that he too is mine. Basically, I am all up to fulfilling my side of the bargain, performing my womanly responsibilities and letting him lead and take care of business like a man should. And for that reason, it makes sense to me that a real man will know when he’s got a keeper and seal the deal! According to Steve, since profession is for the man to do, a woman is his only when he says so, and is ready to proclaim it openly. Therefore, ‘the One’ shouldn’t have to trick or persuade him to play this card, and if you have to, doesn’t that mean he really doesn’t see you in the role you’ve carved for yourself?
He also made a distinction between men’s love and women’s love. Whereas men demand loyalty from their women, we cannot reasonably expect the same standard of loyalty (which he often interchanges the word ‘love’ for) from them, because frankly – (according to him again) a man in a relationship cannot endure a month without sexual intimacy with his mate, without cheating! This generalisation, he applies to ALL men, and gives exception only when their partner (wife is not implied) is pregnant. Really?? Of all the men who sign up for better or for worse before God in a Church, none can endure one month? I mean, I have no plans of holding out on my man (consider my addition of lover to my requirements), but any trial can come, which demands that he wait!
It was very clear to me that this isn’t a Christian book, and that it was not written for a Christian audience. The views expressed were very worldly, and though the standards may seem like a tall order for the 21st century male, it presents little challenge to the Christian believer, who already has God clearly in place and centre in his life; rare as they may be. Yes, I am talking about a man (and woman) who practices celibacy (and everybody laughs!). His charge for the 21st century woman to be a lady, like in the days of old – who waited for men to open doors and pick up the cheque – omits the old ways of chastity. In those days, the mark of a lady was in her manners and chastity. I don’t understand why chastity is so unthinkable that we can’t even strive for it as a standard anymore, or expect faithfulness from a husband? The divorce rate hasn’t stopped women from desiring marriage, so why should cheating men stop a woman from aspiring for chastity and desiring faithfulness? After all, as Steve repeatedly said (in regards to his ninety day rule), if waiting scares him off, he’s not the one for you, so let him run!!
I don’t subscribe to a ninety day rule, I subscribe to the higher principle laid out in the Bible for ALL who profess to be Christian – to abstain from sexual immorality (fornication and adultery being chief examples). However, it seems that means something else in present day Christianity. His writing reveals that women can still profess that they are God-fearing, virtuous women and still give it up after 90 days, live with the man outside of marriage, and play happy families with kids and all – just as long as they go to Church every Sunday! Do these believers have their consciences seared with a hot iron? Just because I don’t want to be seen as a self-righteous, judgmental woman, I thought for a moment, not to lay on this point. But my spirit compels me to speak the truth, even if one in the crowd may shout out “HYPOCRITE!!”; because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God – but it shouldn’t stop us from striving for His standard all the same!
*Short pause* for the congregation of readers who can’t stop laughing! You probably want to throw stones at me for judging you. You’re probably screaming out that it’a myth!! That there is no Christian man out there who’s got his ‘thing’ that much under control to wait for marriage and be faithful to you! “Get real!” the masses shout. Are you finished? It was made very clear in Steve’s book that we get what we allow. That we say when, where and how. We just can’t say WHO! That is where faith comes in. As we obey God’s standard, and throw back the cheating dog, the woman basher and all grades of scum, and set our price high, we will get what we settle or strive for.
Love can be likened to a market place, where there are rocks, stones and jewels. The men are buying, the women are the gems. Those who don’t know their real worth will sell themselves short. Even though they may ‘marry’ and get what they think they want, they will probably account for the high divorces or for those ‘unhappily married’ we see everywhere. And ladies, you must know that there are worse things than being single! If you don’t know, ask someone who’s married or suffered a divorce. Know your value, respect yourself, command it – and you’ll be treated in the way you deserve.
So, my final critique is the answer presented to women on how to get the ring. He talked about women who have lived with their partners for years, even having kids with them, and still not getting the ring. I’d hoped that he’d point out the obvious here – that under no circumstance should she move into his house without the ring! I mean, he explained it clearly that for it to get that far, the man must want you, and you’d have had to close the door to all other men – so isn’t that the crucial point that you should let him know he isn’t taking you off the market unless he puts a ring on it? Not after you’ve moved in, done all that a wife will do, and then think he’ll give you what YOU’ve taken for granted? It’s the same with pre-marital sex. What should be a desired treasure and reward after your wedding, is really just the same ol’ same ol’ you’ve been dishing out for months (or even years).
Ladies, please, get some real standards! If you can judge a man by how well he treats his mother, you can judge him also by the honour he shows you and God by respecting and desiring your continued chastity during courtship. Don’t give up ‘the cookie’! And if you have, go to God, ask for forgiveness and start afresh today. If he’s a man who loves God, you should do this together. But if he won’t, you’re better off (Read: ‘He Must Fear God’). Because a man who doesn’t have the spiritual discipline of self-control and celibacy, will certainly be counted among the unfaithful. This is my view, as a single woman still looking, who’s always had standards for her relationships with men. Some may think I am still single because my standards are too high, but my greatest fear is not of remaining single, but that I might settle for a fool – which is anyone short of a man who truly knows and fears God!
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