Nov 21, 2007

Brothers and Sisters are We (?/!) – Part One: Intro and Background

Hey guys, I posted a note a few weeks back that was intended to set the stage so to speak. It is of the utmost importance to me that those who read this series read this post first. I will not spend any time here discussing why I feel it is important, as I do so in that post. PLEASE take the time to read this post A Confession From the Heart.

Again asking for your prayers for me to handle this well and ultimately for the Glory of Christ on this campus and in our lives!

Thank you very much!

In Christ,

Aaron Hawk
Col. 2:6,7


__________________________





Teaser

Well folks, the first part of the big post I’ve been talking about is finally here. Few of us who have been around the seminary for any length of time, especially the singles, have any doubt that there are some weird dynamics among the men and women of this campus. Let’s just face it, there are a lot of odd tensions here, that don’t seem to exist outside of this societal bubble. So what are these tensions? Where do they come from? Why is it so weird? What can we do (other than pull out our hair)?

Through this series, I will be trying (note the word “trying”) to analyze some of the social dynamics and spiritual issues that contribute to the tensions. I will also be trying (there’s that word again) to see how these things feed off of one another so that we may better understand the triggers and, thus, learn to deactivate them. From there, I will address what I perceive to be the root cause(s). Through this series, I sincerely hope to generate Christ-honoring discussion that would help us to more sincerely reflect Christ’s glory in every aspect of our lives. Thus, please participate.


Preliminary Thoughts / Ground Rules

It is with a heavy and trembling heart that I write this post. Let me begin by saying right up front that I am not claiming to have all the answers or a perfect perception, quite the opposite. Neither is my purpose to provide a step-by-step solution, because I do not have one. Instead, my purpose is to raise the issue for Christ-honoring discussion so that the body of Christ here may be more aware of the problem and thus work toward a solution. So, I will simply try to make some observations and suggestions to get things going.

Please also understand that I do not write this flippantly. I have actually put off and even rewritten it several times (though you may not be able to tell :). Instead, it is with humility and even a little fear that I write this particular post. I write with humility realizing my sin and my limited perspective distort and color my view of things. I write with fear in realizing that I am dealing with a very sensitive subject and with frail human beings such as myself. I pray that my writing will not lack the grace which was so richly bestowed upon me and thereby turn this into a tool for the evil one, rather than a banner for Christ. My greatest fear is to have to answer to my Lord for hurting one of His little ones… I have done that too many times already. My heart’s desire is that Christ would bring about change and repentance on this campus and that we, His children, would genuinely reflect His glory in every aspect of our lives. Whether Christ chooses to use this as a tool in accomplishing this or not, I pray for His glory and His will alone!

Oh yeah, one last thing, please show some grace as there are bound to be some organizational issues. In truth, these are the ramblings of a fool and I am still not sure how best to organize things for maximum efficiency and effectiveness (Prov 30:2-3).


Background

I suppose the first place to start is to address whether or not an issue really exists. In my flawed mind, there is no doubt that one exists between the single men and women on this campus. I have had countless conversations with both male and female friends in which I have heard generalizations about both sides, specifically in terms of how the men and women interact. Both sides seem to have a high degree of frustration and often a rather low view of the other, as a generalization. Below I am going to give a list of some of the male and female perceptions that I have heard in these conversations. Please bear in mind that some of these were spoken out of frustration, while some were stated in more general conversation. I have tried to compile and smooth over them a little, while still leaving the genuine frustration exposed. My point in including the list is to clearly establish the existence of a genuine problem.



Sorry, the formatting is kinda messy for the list, not sure how to fix :/




· Male Perceptions
o There simply aren’t enough single ladies here for the number of single guys. If we manage to find someone we’re interested in, competition is so high, we’d better not wait because she’s probably got 10 other guys talking to her this afternoon.
§ This place is a “barren wasteland” when describing “potentials.” How am I going to compete with 3,000 other guys for the same 2 girls (in the middle of work, classes, and church involvement)?
o Due to the unnatural balance, many are simply stuck up and always holding out for someone better (saying they are “Dating Jesus”). They realize that the market is in their favor and they are playing it.
§ Some are searching for Christ himself
o Seminary “messes the girls up” Seminary girls just have an air about them that says back off.
§ When we try to talk to a girl, we are often ignored and usually treated as suspect.
§ Seminary girls are not worth the trouble. They won’t talk to you, they won’t date, what am I supposed to do? I’m going to Southeast, or to this place or that place, or to online dating. At least there, I won’t be treated badly for smiling at a girl and I can just naturally get to know someone.
o We are constantly being told (from administration, peers, etc) that we need to “step up” and be bold, yet when we do, we are shot down time and time again and then told that we are acting like vultures. We have no valid means to get to know girls here, no avenue by which we can get to know someone and not be viewed in that way.
o Feel like the entire thing rests on our shoulders… one way street. Girls here don’t reciprocate anything.
· Female Perceptions
o I hear it all the time… the odds are good, but the goods are odd. Some of the guys here are really creepy
§ Some men here act like stalkers. They won’t leave you alone and when you talk to them, they are watching your mouth, but not listening… I’m not interested!!!
o Some guys treat the women like steak and act like rabid dogs after a cat. Don’t like the word pursue.
§ Women are here for more than having babies
o Guys need to back off… too many asking me out, can’t any just be interested in friendship. I’m tired of guys I don’t even know asking me out… it makes me uncomfortable.
§ Why can’t guys accept common courtesy, like a smile, without thinking I’m interested in them.
o No one ever asks me out… where are they, they need to step up!
§ Guys won’t even talk to me, so I sit with the older married men… at least they will talk and acknowledge that I exist.
o Guys here are too shallow, they are expecting supermodels and need to grow up
o Feel trapped… how can I show a guy I am interested without being too forward / violating the headship thing. Feel we have no “rights” in choosing someone in terms of having to be totally passive until someone asks.

Before I continue, I just want to point out a few things. First, though you cannot really see it very clearly in this condensed list, I have been surprised at how often both sides are saying the same things, just in different ways. This is common in many types of conflict; both sides are saying the same thing, but not understanding the other. For example, both sides resort to simply saying that the other is “messed up.” Both sides feel trapped and confused in one way or the other. Also, in all of my conversations, the majority of both males and females were not happy about being single, but weren’t sure what to do to “fix” things.

Again, I sincerely ask for grace as I attempt this. I am just one person and these are just my musings and my feeble attempts to put things together. Thus, as the series unfolds, I want discussion and other opinions and suggestions that might help “fix” some of this, working toward the glory of Christ. I am going to try to take this from a linear perspective, while admitting to you right up front that these problems are extremely complex and reciprocal in nature. Trying to isolate male / female problems from the rest of life is like trying to figure out which particular snowflake caused the avalanche. The simple fact is that there are other factors (such as sin, family, etc) which further complicate things. Also, I must point out that many of these things are common to all male / female relationships and are not entirely unique to this campus. However, I think they are exacerbated by the unnatural balance here and that there are a few things which are more unique to this setting (and yes, I realize the logical contradiction there :).

As one final thought before I begin, I realize that some of you will not understand what I am talking about at all. As an example, I was speaking to one married couple that I love very much who met here. The wife had been here and single and had been “in the midst” of the weirdness. They met and began dating not long after he arrived. She and I, along with a number of others, have had this conversation on a number of occasions. As he was discussing this with me, specifically in terms of this post, he said that he really didn’t see what I was talking about and thought that it is really not such a big deal. She immediately responded that she had observed these things and that he had been “saved” from them by nature of their relationship. It is my sincere opinion that this problem does exist; I would not be writing and potentially causing harm if I were not convinced. I believe that this problem is similar to an undertow. One person can look out over the water and see everything as normal and relatively calm and admire the beauty of the ocean. Another person can decide to go swimming and get caught by what didn’t appear to exist. At this point, I leave it to you to decide.

I hate to leave you hanging so to speak, but I do not have a choice. In the next part of the series I will be analyzing “the issues,” trying to present what I perceive to be some of the underlying causes behind the perceptions already mentioned. Depending on how I divide it, the next part may be the bulk of the series. I am still trying to decide the best way to really address the individual issues and still really demonstrate the interplay between them. Again, it is a very complex / reciprocal problem (I sincerely think someone could get a PhD studying this dynamic).

12 comments:

Drew said...

As a single guy (I am currently dating but not yet married or engaged) at SBTS, I just want to affirm you in your conviction to write about singleness at Seminary. I think you are right, this is a problem. I have heard similar complaints from guys and girls on campus--in fact just about everything you listed I have heard.

I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed and I appreciate your conviction to do so.

As Christians we have a different view of "dating" than most but it is very easy to become prideful in the process of being "different from the world." Thus I also appreciate your humility in breaching the subject. I have many single friends on campus and I know that this is something that a lot of people on campus are concerned about. I'll be tunning in and telling others to do the same.

A-Hawk said...

My brother, thank you very much for your encouragement. It truly means a lot to me!

Brother Hank said...

Keep writing brother, because we're reading and listening...and thinking.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on the ideal that some may have of Southern being a "closed eco-system", if you will. I know for me, just coming to terms with the fact that my 'pursuit' isn't confined to a few acres of a seminary campus really gave me a peaceable excitement that had been lacking before. But I know that some of us get the mindset that may cause us to wonder how preachers ever found their wives before Southern seminary came around.

A-Hawk said...

Brother Hank, thank you too for your encouragement. It seems like that is in there in one way or another, but I can certainly address it a little more knowing it is something someone would like to hear about. That is also the beauty of doing the series :) (ha ha). I hope to have the next installment within the next few days, but with exams and papers, it may have to wait until the latter part (or even the beginning of next, at the latest). Not sure if I timed this well, but oh well :)

The rambling fool,

Aaron Hawk

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Ok, I can't say I know the specific cases you're talking about, but I'm a single girl outside of seminary situations, and I see these things in the Christian world in general. I feel sorry for the mixed messages guys are getting from the girl collective and vice versa.

What I've come to personally is that getting out of singleness starts with caring about someone else more than yourself. No one should take the majority consensus and apply it to the one person they might be interested in. Get to know the one person, and react to them as a human being, not as a member of the "group." But it's hard. For one thing, half of me is always pushing to just be romantic and not focused on caring about other people at all.

Thanks for addressing this. It's really interesting, and I hope that maybe you'll hit upon some good solutions.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

A-Hawk said...

@ Lisa,

Thank you so much for your comments. Outside perspective is GREATLY appreciated. You are right that it is a problem we all face. Some of it is just general male / female problems, the result of our sinful, fallen nature; some is made worse in certain situations. I think you are hitting the nail on the head. All things in life come down to putting others first for the sake of Christ, but all too often we fail. I will definitely attempt to give solutions, but heart issues are not easy fixes (can you tell I’m just “itching” to write the rest :). Thanks again!

In Christ,

Aaron

A-Hawk said...

Oh yeah, update for all… this is exam week here at Southern, so please bear with me. I hope to have the next part of the series posted no later than this coming Monday. I just haven’t had the time to spend on it this week so I am still not sure the best way to organize the remaining material. That said, PLEASE continue to pray for me to handle this in a way that honors Christ and that will build up His body!

... and keep the comments coming!

Lisa of Longbourn said...

This post reminded me of a series on Boundless, especially this article: http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001475.cfm

Looking forward to your next post.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

A-Hawk said...

@ Lisa, thanks I will check those out (and I look forward to writing it :)

A-Hawk said...

@ Brother Hank,

Hey, just to let you know… I (literally) just finished the “final” organization / outlining of the series. I am hoping to have the next installment done tonight (latest tomorrow). That said, as tempting as it is to try to address your question in this next post (b/c it could easily fit there), I think it fits better two posts after this next one. The title of that one will be (if all remains the same) “Brothers and Sisters are We (?/!) – Part Four: Are They Serious?!” Thanks again for your comments and encouragement :)

A-Hawk said...

Yeesh I’m conversational… 5 to 4 (and there I go again… 6 to 4 ;)

A-Hawk said...

Hey guys… I am tired of saying sorry, but sorry it is taking so long. I tried to finish tonight, but have to be up in time for church in the morning. That said, the post is 90-95% written. So, unless the Lord prevents me, it will be published tomorrow!!! Sorry again for taking so long :)