One reader asks, in response to the Jump-In-The-Lake post, “How can I say “no” to a man asking me out in a way that does not crush, but rather encourages, his masculinity?”
I could think of no better person to answer this than one of the world’s leading experts in encouraging masculinity: Mary K. Andreades. So I asked her and here was her answer:
Consider Song of Solomon 8:8-9:
“What shall we do for our sister
on the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall,
we will build on her a battlement of silver,
but if she is a door,
we will enclose her with boards of cedar.”
First of all, a woman has to see how necessary it is to be able to say “no” to advances. She must have a sense of the holiness of her person. In this passage, the woman of dignity is compared to castle with glittering silver fortifications. A man cannot just saunter through the gate. That is something that has to be granted.
Saying “no” to Mr. Wrong is a crucial step of spiritual maturity for a woman. Every woman has her Jane Eyre moment. Recall that Jane, a lonely friendless governess falls for her smoldering wealthy employer. When she finds out that he is married already, she gives up all chance of happiness in order to do what is right. Alone on the moor, she then experiences the presence of God. In my case, giving up the relationship with Mr. Wrong was the last temptation before I was able to fully trust in Christ.
It is tempting to idolize the boyfriend. It is righteous to be a wall, and some of us need to repent of being doors. Other women are coerced into letting an unworthy man in. Whatever has happened to you, as the speaker in the Song of Songs suggests, it is not too late to enclose the door with boards of cedar and restore respect for the sacredness of the female person.
Sigfried needs to ride through the flickering flames to reach Brynhild. A man has to be ready to love a woman as a whole person. He needs to brave her family, her flaws and be prepared to be financially and legally vulnerable in marriage before he and she make themselves spiritually and physically vulnerable. There may be other reasons an intergendered relationship is inappropriate. And a woman needs to be able to clearly articulate why.
So yes, to honor the holiness of the image of God in her person, the sacredness of marriage, and the discipleship of the man, a woman must understand the rightness of saying “no,” “not yet” or “not like this.”
But some of us feel terrible saying “no.” “Won’t I hurt him?” you think. You can certainly do it, though, in an un-hurtful way. You can praise what is good in a suitor and spend time noting what you appreciate about him. It is best then to be direct in your refusal. Most importantly, express hope for his life, faith in God about him. This is not insincere if you really do believe that God has a better plan for your lives. Spend some time living in that dream before the conversation.
Recently a friend had to turn down advances of a man for religious reasons. In the refusal, she even suggested another friend with whom there would not be that incompatibility. Those two are now dating.
Will you crush him? Only if he is idolizing you. You cannot take responsibility for that. You are not Jesus. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Even if they send that friend into a lake. After all, that is how I got Sam. Thank you Linda Hubka!
Do you have advice on letting a guy down?