I’m going to divert briefly from the typical format of theological reflection so I can rant a little bit on something I’ve had in my craw for sometime. Don’t be scared.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy listening to country music now and then. There was a time when I wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to anything resembling country, but alas times have changed. I enjoy (some artists’) country music because it tends to be heartfelt, nostalgic, and story based. I like a good story, and I like celebrating the ordinary, everyday things in life that give you joy.
In some of the recent songs I have noticed a trend that’s a little troubling (although not really surprising). There seems to be a rise in songs that celebrate men who want a woman to sweep in and lead them, call all the shots, and basically initiate all aspects of the relationship. I won’t give any examples but maybe you’ve heard one or two of these radio hits. Even though these relationships are typically shallow and superficial, this is a troubling shift because it represents an issue that I see spiraling out of control in the wider culture, something I like to call “baby-man syndrome.”
You know you’re getting older when you start looking at the teenagers around you and think “man, they don’t know how good they have it!” This isn’t quite the “back in my day we walked barefoot in the snow” sentiment of yesteryear, but you may be able to relate to your crazy uncle a little better as you age and take a look around. The teens of today are smartphone carrying, new car “owning” wannabe adults, oftentimes with an attitude. All the rights and privileges of adult life are handed to these humans without the mental or emotional capacity to handle them properly. This false sense of maturity is ironic because as a nation we see the age of “growing up” is getting older and older. Kids staying home with mom and dad well into their thirties, unable (or unwilling?) to get jobs, many expecting to have an upper middle-class lifestyle handed to them without doing the work. This plays right into the man in the songs.
I’m not trying to pick on these artists. As I said, the songs only highlight the underlying problem. See, men who want nothing more than for a woman to come in and take them by the hand and sweep them away into some pseudo-romantic sexual fantasy are doing just that–living in a fantasy. These songs make it sound so magical and romantic, but in reality it sounds a lot like a celebration of laziness. I wonder if women are listening to these messages and thinking, “Mmm, that sounds great! I’d love to do all the work!” If I had to guess, I’d say no way. You can call me old fashioned if you want, but I just don’t think that God designed us that way.
My understanding of how God made men is that we are to be leaders. We carry responsibility to make decisions, set vision, be the protectors and leaders of our families. We do the hard things in order to be servants to the ones we love. My (limited) understanding of women is that they want to be led by the right kind of man, to be treasured, loved, and chased. When women do too much of the chasing you sir are in big trouble. This doesn’t mean that men have license to oppress or take advantage or are somehow better than women. But we have a big responsibility to love like Christ loved, which as we know means to give it everything.
Now I don’t plan to boycott the radio or start listening to only instrumental elevator music. I just think it might be helpful for some of us to be aware of the subtle messages that are coming our way and could affect our worldview. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that waiting around for someone else to do all the work for you is a good idea. It’s not.
It doesn’t matter if you are single or married, take my advice: man up and lead. Take that girl on a journey that assures her that you’ve got her best in mind, that you want her and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to win her heart. Then do that over and over again. And please, somebody out there write some songs about being a godly leader. You can still talk about trucks, beer, fields of corn and all the rest if you want, but there’s a lot of people out there who need to know that it’s still ok for a guy to chase a girl. That might just be a little bit closer to what God intended.