Yesterday, an unfortunate conversation ended up giving me more insight on the age-old question about why smart women like bad guys. A female friend of mine had been dating a mutual friend of ours for a few months. She thought that everything had been going well. The two of them even talked about marriage. She realized that things were not as they appeared when he abruptly broke up with her and offered no real explanation. A few weeks later, her now ex-boyfriend announced to all of his friends on Facebook that he was newly engaged to someone else. It turned out that he had been juggling both women at the same time. He married this other girl within a few weeks of his announcement. They eloped.
As I attempted to offer condolences to my female friend, she said something that ended up inspiring this post. After thanking me for my prayers, she went on to say “That’s why so many women of God go after the thug. At least then you know what to expect.” The statement hit me like a ton of bricks, but I understood the logic behind it. The “bad boy” is expected to be bad. If he’s not bad, then he has already exceeded one’s initial expectations of him. Unfortunately, the “good guy” may not actually be good. I could see how an intelligent, risk-averse woman would be leery of the “good guy” after being burned by a few wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The reality is that we as men can be our own worst enemy. A lot of women do not believe that men can actually be monogamous and male ministers haven’t done the greatest of jobs in proving otherwise. The male friend of mine who is central to this conflict happens to be a minister whose dating history can best be described as complicated. While the details of his dating history are irrelevant to this post, I can safely say he is one of my few minister friends who (unintentionally) fits the stereotype of the womanizing minister that makes dating so difficult for the rest of us.
Indeed, there is a lot of hypocrisy within ministry. I was talking to a friend of mine last night and he shared with me how some of his experiences in church led him to become jaded. In his case, he was being chastised for sins that he had confessed while his male leaders were secretly dealing with the same issues. Eventually, the truth came to light, but the blatant hypocrisy messed with his head for a while. Still, even in this story, it is clear that a lot of men in church will settle for maintaining a false image of perfection just because they cannot handle revealing their humanity to those in their surroundings. This problem is often exacerbated by the fact that revealing such humanity can come with its own set of issues–mainly gossip.
The moral of the story is that both men and women long to be around real men of character. Younger men need examples of older men who have actually managed to live as men of integrity, but as my friend’s story pointed out, a lot of these men are frauds. Think about how many powerful men with pristine reputations end up being caught up in some sort of scandal. It’s an epidemic that exists both inside and outside of the church. There are too many negative male role models out there for the few positive ones to be revealed as fake. As for women, many of them desire men of integrity, but have progressively lowered their standards because such men appear to be nonexistent. It’s a sad state of affairs.
I wish I could say that this story has a happy ending, but it doesn’t. My female friend is still trying to understand how her ex could have done this sort of thing to her. Likewise, my male friend is still having issues sorting out his overall feelings about serving in ministry because of the things he has seen. It’s clear that the problem runs much deeper than women’s preferences for dating. Manhood is facing a crisis that is resulting from generations of rampant hypocrisy. Nonetheless, I believe that God is already in the process of raising up a new group of men who will be honest about their struggles while still actively pursuing lives that are pleasing to him. In fact, I know a few guys who fit in this category because they already help to keep me in line on my worst days. That’s what true manhood is supposed to be about–iron sharpening iron.