Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Michael Lawrence has written an excellent two-part series on the theme of attraction. Here, he addresses issues that deal with some sinful attitudes in my life... really convicting stuff. His introduction to part 1 of the series:
How many times have I talked to a single guy who wants to get married, only to hear him say that he knows lots of great women? He admits these women have godly characters and fantastic personalities. But he's not dating any of them. When I ask why not, the reply comes with a sigh. "I'm just not attracted to them." Pity the single Christian man with high standards and good taste. He can't help it he's single. The godly women he knows just aren't beautiful enough.

This is not just a Christian problem. Debra Dickerson, an African-American writer for Salon magazine, reflected on her sense of sadness after watching the brazenly crude and essentially misogynistic movie, The Wedding Crashers. (It came out a couple of years ago, and I sincerely hope you didn't see it.) Was she depressed at the way women were viewed simply as objects of lust, trophies to be won, conquests to be notched? Unfortunately not. She was depressed because, "by the end of the parade of weddings crashed and women laid, the crashers had seduced their way through every culture and every ethnicity but mine.... Why didn't they want to seduce me, too?" she asks. The answer, left painfully unspoken, was that they didn't find her ethnicity beautiful. While the judgment that black is not beautiful is patently false, that knowledge did not ease Dickerson's pain at being implicitly labeled "undesirable."

The Problem of Attraction

What do immoral wedding crashers, Debra Dickerson, and single Christian men have in common here? They're all operating on the assumption that beauty is altogether in the eye of the beholder. All of us are attracted to beauty. But this assumption says that none of us can help who or what we find beautiful. It's just something that happens. We like what we like, and who's to say why? At a superficial level — the color of hair, the shape of a face — there is some truth to that old adage. One of the reasons that I married my own wife is that I found her beautiful. I didn't need friends or strangers to tell me she was beautiful. I knew she was beautiful and I was attracted to her beauty.

But when we move beyond the accidents of appearance, to the roots of our desire and the motivation for marrying this woman rather than that one, the old adage is both false and dangerous. False, because it defines the beauty of the women around us by the distorted and inadequate measure of our own taste and desires. Dangerous, because it creates in us, as men, a passivity toward beauty. Beauty becomes a thing that the woman we're dating, or thinking about dating, either has or doesn't have. And we are the unimpeachable judge and jury. As long as she is beautiful in our eyes, we appreciate and savor and pursue that beauty. When that beauty fades, our desire slackens and our pursuit turns elsewhere. Like art critics at a gallery, our gaze is captured only until something more interesting appears. We are responders, not producers, without obligation or responsibility. After all, we can't help who we're attracted to. Or can we?
Read the rest here: part 1, part 2