[I really think I’m going to have to start issuing ruffle warnings. As in, your feathers are about to be ruffled. Consider yourself warned. Ruffle, ruffle.]
I do not exist for you. I do not exist to satisfy your desires or to cater to your whims. I am not obligated to respect you, like you, befriend you, be attracted to you, date you, marry you or sleep with you. There is nothing wrong with me if I am not drawn to you (and not necessarily anything wrong with you, either, I must add); I am just not here – living this life at this point in time and space – for you.
As the Westminster Confession of Faith says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” That is, the divinely-appointed purpose of humanity, of any life, of my life “is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.”
My life is not now and never will be about your needs.
Yet I’m told it should be. And I’m not just hearing it from secular culture, I hear it from the Church.
I will never forget a conversation I had with a godly, older married friend a number of years ago. We were discussing whether or not it was right or okay to have something you would leave your husband over when entering marriage. She maintained that it was not right or okay, that a woman who had such a contingency was not fully committed. I admitted that I felt I would leave my husband if he was ever unfaithful to me, because I didn’t think I could recover from that. She returned with, “If a man’s needs are being met in marriage, he won’t ever go outside of it to fulfill them.”
That scared me off of marriage for a long time after that, because what the mess kind of standard is that? I’ve been asked many times about my singleness: did I struggle with my sexuality? Was I a commitment-phobe? Was it because I had a front row seat to a messy divorce? Nope. It was because for many years I was deathly afraid of marrying the wrong man; I mean, the really wrong man. I was afraid I’d end up loving and marrying a black hole of need that I would never be able to satisfy. Maybe I’d be sick, or upset, or otherwise just not feel like “it” and he’d take his needs somewhere else. And of course, because for whatever reason I wasn’t up to giving him what he needed (forget my needs), his infidelity would be my fault.
I reject that now. I reject that my actions ever FORCE someone to sin. I reject it because I am not now and never will be held accountable for someone else’s sin. God is never, ever, EVER going to ask me if it ever happens, “Lydia, why was your husband unfaithful?” In my feelings of betrayal, should I ever encounter infidelity in my marriage, God’s not going to say, “Okay, but Lydia, what could YOU have done better?” That is NOT how God operates: “A bruised reed He shall not break” (Isaiah 42:3a).
And in case you’re wondering, I now also desire a healthy, Christ-focused (not husband- or wife-focused) marriage.
Where I am now in my attitude is unfortunately not the point, however; the fact that I was ever terrified of marriage because of being blamed for someone else’s sin is a problem. And it’s not a problem because my attitude toward marriage was wrong; it’s a problem because someone placed (or at any rate, tried to place) a burden on me that God never intended.
This burden is not rare in the church; in fact, it’s all over the place, anytime a husband is unfaithful to his wife. And it all boils down to this: the wife is spending too much time on things other than her husband.
Every time I encounter this attitude, the old fear in me rises up, and I spend days and weeks vanquishing it again. I have to re-remember that I am not living this life for the pleasure of any man; I’m living to glorify and enjoy God. I have to re-remember that any man who stands in the way of that is not worthy of my respect, good feelings, friendship, attraction, time, commitment, or body. And since I am having to re-remember it, I am re-reminding you, dear men: I do not exist for you.
It’s ironic. The Field contains this sort of romantic subplot, and I was really conflicted about whether to leave it in or take it out. I left it in because it’s so personal, but until today I hadn’t been able to formulate why it was so personal. It’s only sort of romantic because the heroine doesn’t choose her love interest; she chooses her purpose. And that’s what I’ve had to do a time or two.
Because I don’t exist for men.