Boys say when. Girls say why.
Boys get mad. Girls they cry.
The words are the chorus of an old song by a band called The Producers that I listened to in high school. Although then too young to understand what the words meant, I did wonder at their meaning. Now, having lived longer and seen more, and particularly having been married for a while, the words are not quite as mysterious to me, even as they remain poignant. Men’s sexuality differs from women’s sexuality. Yes, I know that not all men are the same and not all women are the same, but generally speaking, men and women see and experience sex differently. In short (and, again, generally), men are more apt to emphasize the sex, women more the relationship. In my years as a husband, as pastor, a friend, a reader, or a movie watcher, I have rarely heard of or seen a woman seeking to coerce an unwilling man into sex. I know it happens, and I suspect it will happen more frequently as our world seeks to erase differences between sexes. But I doubt it happens much. Ours is not a world where women are exposed as sexual predators. Nor will it ever be.
Women’s sexuality is a God-given gift to men. On the surface, it may not appear so, for many men would wish that women were just like them, and just as eager for sex as they are. What has been called the “hook-up” culture—supported by contraception and abortion which seek to eliminate the unwelcome (yet entirely natural) consequence of pregnancy—is a boon to men, allowing men to get what they want, without requiring them to invest deeply in a woman. In other words, men can get what they want without learning how to love.
Herein lies the gift to men. A woman’s sexuality pushes a man to become what he too often is not but keenly needs to become. Men need to learn to love. A man needs to learn to invest deeply in a woman, for her sake and not for what he can get from her. Men who are able to get sex apart from love simply confirm themselves in a selfishness that pervades all areas of life. It is interesting to me that our cultural conversation concerning sex speaks much of rights, but little of love. Rights are about what I am entitled to. Love is about what I give for another.
Nowhere is this written more clearly or beautifully than in the Scriptures:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:25-33).
In the end, men are called to love, because that is what Christ does. As Christ gives himself up for his bride, the Church, so a husband gives himself up for his wife. That happens in a thousand little and not-so-little ways. But one of the cardinal ways it happens is by refusing to seek sex before its time. A man who loves a woman will never ask her to be vulnerable and give herself to him apart from the protection of marriage—the commitment that he will love her and serve her for better or for worse, and until death. Of course, a woman may willingly sleep with a man, but it is usually because she desires relationship. The man who puts her desires ahead of his own is a man who is learning to love.
I believe in and am thankful for the efforts many make to protect women, men, and (particularly unborn) children from abortion. But even more than changing laws or providing abortion alternatives, the world needs men—men who have learned to love and therefore put others before themselves. Especially women.
Written by the Rev. Dr. W. Ross Blackburn. Rev. Blackburn is the Rector of Christ the King, an Anglican Fellowship in Boone, NC and an Anglicans for Life’s Board Member.