Every Tuesday we’ll post something to do with strengthening marriages. Hope it helps.
He’s Just Not That Into Him
A book and subsequent film titled “He’s Just Not That Into You” looked at the phenomena of single women who find it hard to accept the fact that when a man doesn’t return phone calls, breaks promises to get in touch, or keeps making excuses for not getting together, it doesn’t mean he had a car accident. Nor was he kidnapped, drugged, or overcome with the flu. It simply means he’s not that into you. Brutal fact, but there it is, and it’s better faced than avoided.
Male behavior can seem inexplicable, especially when it’s selfish, or wildly inconsiderate. So to the woman navigating the maze of dating, the concept of a seemingly nice guy showing brief interest (Great meeting you! Sure, I’ll call) then disappearing, two-timing, lying, or making promises he never keeps makes no sense. “I really liked him”, she muses, “and I was so sure he liked me! There must be something deeper, some hidden reason for his actions.” The simplest answers can be the hardest to face: he’s self-centered; his relational attention span is seven minutes long; he pretended to be more into you than he is. That’s not only hurtful, but downright bewildering to a lady who wouldn’t dream of behaving that way towards someone who liked her.
But if that’s true of single women, it can be doubly true of Christian wives. They make sacred vows at the altar convinced, with good reason, that God put their union together. They’ve taken time beforehand to know their mate, and based on all they’ve seen and experienced with him they’re convinced he’s their divinely provided partner with whom they’ll share life, create and raise a family, and, to the bitter end, love and nurture each other in caring fidelity. And with that assurance they step in Christian marriage.
Sometimes it goes as planned; sometimes not. And sometimes the “not” shows itself in inexplicable behavior, carnal betrayals that are selfish and wildly inconsiderate. After a few years a porn habit gets discovered, or an affair, or a fetish, or worse. To the woman navigating the maze of her Christian man’s adulterous behavior, the concept of a seemingly godly guy sneaking into dark places, lying, and covering up his indulgences makes no sense. “I really love him”, she muses, “and I was so sure he loved me! There must be something deeper, some hidden reason for his actions. After all, he’s a Christian!” And yet again, the simplest answer can be the hardest to face: He’s a believer, yes, but sometimes what can be said of a non-believing jerk can be said in modified form of a born again husband as well: he’s just not that into Him.
It would be unfair and inaccurate, of course, to say any Christian husband who sexually sins is therefore “not into God.” King David was quite into Him, and also quite capable or horrific deeds. I’ve walked alongside plenty of David’s who’ve deliberately and wrongfully sinned, shown remorse and proven their repentance, and I don’t call a guy like that indifferent to God. But there are other husbands whose ongoing sins display not only a lack of sexual control, but a broader lack of a disciple’s zeal. They had it once, then went lukewarm. They don’t invest in intimacy with Him through prayer, scripture reading, or fellowship. They show little interest for spiritual things in general, and if it weren’t for their occasional church attendance or grace before meals, there’d be no evidence of faith in their private or public lifestyle. They’re just not that into Him.
Which matters, and hugely. Because if you take God out of the equation, Biblical morality can seem not only unattractive but downright unreasonable to a man with a sensual appetite. In an age of easily accessed porn and open celebrations of virtually every sexual variation, why say no? One could argue that a husband might lose his marriage if he doesn’t behave, or could catch a disease, or see his reputation shot. But all of that only encourages a man to be more careful when he sins; it hardly convinces him the sin needs to be abandoned. It’s the intrinsic, not the extrinsic motivation that compels, and the intrinsic comes when a man’s heart is softened towards His maker and savior, reducing him to David’s simple but profound admission upon his own repentance: “Against Thee, and Thee only, have I sinned.” (Psalm 51:4)
Plenty of elements can factor into a man’s immoral behavior. Some of them constitute what’s often called “brokenness” – childhood pain, deep rooted neurosis – while others include wrong decisions, rebellion, or attempts to medicate discomfort. All of these require attention; all should be matters of prayer and concern. But above all, if I were a wife hurting over her husband’s wrongdoing, I’d be praying for God to soften the man’s heart towards Him, wooing him into a deeper communion, convicting him and converting his sin from something pleasurable into something intolerable. And above all, I’d be praying for the man to be brought into a deeper love for God, one that motivates him to say no to something everything in his body wants to consent to.
Because ultimately, whatever else contributed to the problem, when a man is essentially into himself the prognosis is grim. But when a man is into Him, then there’s always real, and realistic, hope.