“I hope there’s still some coffee,” I said to Asher as we crossed the street, fashionably late for service. “Is it too much for a girl to expect to get a cup of coffee at church?”

“No,” he quipped, “some expect to get a husband.”

When a female friend recently brought up how dissatisfied single women in the church are with the action or, rather, the perceived inaction, of single men in church, I couldn’t help but flash back to that brief exchange from oh-so-long-ago.

Sadly, it’s a tune women in the church screech like a broken record: single guys not asking single girls out on dates. As a woman, I’ve felt that frustration and have been involved in my share of disgruntled conversations…especially about the “hang” phoneme. Hell, I even wrote a post about it (which, in case it wasn’t clear, was meant to be a call to women to chill the peace out and stop trying to step into men’s roles in an attempt to fulfill their own presumed destinies).

Then, I got the slightest glimpse of the frustrations of men. I am not into myself enough to presume that I fully understand, but, from what I have seen and heard, I honestly believe it’s time for us ladies to “woman up;” accept responsibility where responsibility is due; respect men, especially for discerning who to and who not to ask out; and edify them in glorifying God in those decisions.

To paraphrase one man, “Two-thirds of the church body is female, and it’s going to stay that way as long as churches keep telling the men who do show up that they are not man enough.”

Wow.

In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul charges husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church—a pure and sacrificial love. Likewise, he charges wives to submit to their husbands as the church is to submit Christ—a deferent and respectful love. Keep in mind that, even though these are commands to husbands and wives who have agreed to enter into a covenant relationship with each other and God, not to all men and women who pass each other on paved or information highways, the husband/wife qualifiers do not exempt men and women from loving and respecting each other in general. After all, Jesus, Himself, told us that the greatest commandment of all is to love the Lord, your God, with all your soul, followed closely by the command to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:38-39).

Undermining the manliness or quality of the men in our community is neither submissive nor respectful (which, if your goal in relating to males is marriage*, are best attributed from the start). More importantly, it is incredibly unloving, which some might rightly consider as contempt or hatred. Women moan about the church emasculating men, but those utterances do nothing but likewise insult them. After all, I would look for a man to be a strong leader, and what strong, leading man would turn around and court a woman who has publicly debased him as a pansy? A gracious and merciful one, that’s who. I know I wouldn’t be so gracious as to respect a man who thought so lowly of me, vocalized or not, so why expect a man love a woman who has already publicly disrespected his entire gender and, by default, him?

For all those concerned with single men not asking out single women, let me posit this: my church’s young couples and children’s ministries are bursting at the seams. Clearly, there is no shortage of masculinity. Just because a man hasn’t asked a woman out doesn’t mean that he’s unmanly or that she’s unworthy. A man and a woman can both be great people and still not be great together. Trust me, it’s better to recognize that sooner than later.

*Finally, and quite possibly most importantly, ladies (and gents), going back to the initial flashback, the next time you lament about the prospects at your church, do us all a favor and reflect on Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Where is your hope? What is your longing? Where are you looking for life? If your heart is sick, if you are not being filled with life, consider, evaluate, pray. Chances are, the root of the problem isn’t everyone else.

As for me, I leave you with a sincere apology for the wrongs I have committed along with a prayer and petition in the form of a quote from one of my favorite literary scenes:

It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that “from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.” To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.
~ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis