We are joined again by guest Matt Chandler. He’s the lead pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, and the author of the new book The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption.
Question #5: This is a very common question from single men: If I am not physically attracted to a godly woman, should I still try to romantically pursue her in order to cultivate those feelings? If so, for how long, until it becomes unwise or even hurtful?
I don’t encourage a young man to pursue a godly woman romantically that he doesn’t feel he is physically attracted to at the time.
But what I do adamantly encourage young single men to do is to pursue godly women for friendships in the hopes that it does grow into more. In fact, I did a wedding this past year of one of the guys that kind of just spent time at my house and has been around Lauren and I a ton, and just really saw this young woman at our church that was so faithful to observe the Lord, and such a godly woman. But that physical piece wasn’t there. But he loved hanging out with her, and so I just encouraged him: “Hey, man, just stay in proximity, grow in your friendship, and let’s hope that something grows from there.”
And so I wouldn’t want him, for her sake, to just go, “Hey, I am going to romantically pursue you in the hopes that one day I am physically attracted to you.” Because I just believe — I keep saying it — that godliness is sexy to godly people. And so get in proximity and you can see the godliness and character of a woman. You begin to take more seriously compatibility and godliness and gospel partnership than just physical attraction.
Physical Attraction Is Fleeting
In the first part of The Mingling of Souls, I really address attraction as a good thing, but not at the level to where our culture has put it, because gravity always wins. I mean, you can be physically attractive, but we are all wrinkling, the nose and the ears never quit growing. I mean, it is only a matter of time till that little component that we are basing so much on starts to vanish and is replaced by an attraction founded on character and covenant.
And so a way that I have tried to help people understand this is that when I got cancer everything that was sexy about me vanished: my strength, my vibrancy, my sense of humor, my creative romantic pursuit of Lauren. All of that was gone for two years. And my hair is out, and I have just become a shriveled-up version of what I was before the cancer. And thank God that Lauren is not going: “Man, I am just not physically attracted to him right now.” But she entered into covenant with me, loved the character that God had formed in my heart, and now my character, my godliness, are what fuel her attraction to me physically.
What Comes First?
And so I think we have got it backwards. I think we have been discipled by the culture that physical sexual attraction is first, and then once that is there, then let’s see if character, godliness and compatibility are there. And I think it is backwards.
I think character, compatibility, godliness — once those are there — I think those fuel attraction in a way that would please God and is much safer for our souls.
But at the same time I want to protect the heart, particularly of young women, from godly men teasing them with pursuit, and so I want to be careful answering this question. So pursue them as friends and hope that it grows into more. And want it to grow into more. And I am confident that over time, character and godliness win the day.