Remember the scene from the 2011 romcom, ‘Jumping The Broom’, where career girl, Sabrina, makes a pact with God that she won’t share her ‘cookies’ anymore, if He shows her a sign and sends her the man of her dreams? Well, an answered prayer and two scenes later, we see Sabrina standing in shock, as new boyfriend, Jason – aka ‘man of her dreams’ – kneels down and proposes, declaring his love and commitment to her. Like most romcoms, this film ends with a ‘happily ever after’, just before the italicised phrase ‘The End’ appears, leaving us to imagine the wonderful life they’ll live together. Every Christian woman hopes to one day meet the man of her dreams, marry him and live happily ever after. This has been the case for some and, for others, well, they’ve come across a growing population of men called Commitment-phobic Christians.
Despite the term being both a juxtaposition and somewhat contrary to Scripture, it’s an all-too-common issue that many Christian women have first-hand experience of. You may be able to identify with situations where you’ve been prayerfully getting to know a Christian guy, things are going well, and it looks like marriage is a strong possibility. You’re on the same wavelength, share the same values, and he ticks all of your boxes. Forward some weeks, months and even years later, you quickly begin to notice that he’s backing up faster than Tyrese Gibson in a scene of ‘Too Fast Too Furious’; he’s acting awkwardly; communicating with you less, and all of a sudden calling you ‘sis’ or ‘dear’. Sounds familiar? This frequently recurring situation indicates that the word ‘commitment’ has been lost somewhere in the Christian community, and those of us who want it can’t seem to find it, because Christian men are running from it as though it were Ebola personified.
So, “Why can’t men desire commitment like Jason?” I hear you ask. Well, that was my question too. Although half of me asked this in rhetoric, the other half really wanted to know the answer. Author of ‘Where is my Boaz?’ and relationships coach, Stephan Labossiere (aka Stephan Speaks), has a few things to say about the reason for men’s lack of commitment: “I believe that it’s an issue, partly because the Church doesn’t address relationships in a way that connects with what people are facing nowadays.” Though there is more ‘openness’ in discussing relationships within church, in a manner that single men and women can relate to, there is not as much discussion about the reality of Christians not wanting to commit and where this reality hails from.
Recognising the root of the problem, Stephan says, “It stems from fear, and a lack of healing that exists in people. Fears of getting hurt and never getting married. Fears of a marriage ending in a messy divorce, or being locked into a miserable one. It’s rooted in what people have seen, for example, too many bad examples of relationships, and not enough conversations that expose why these relationships have failed.” So, are commitment-phobic Christians products of their environments?
Former member of The Wade Gospel Group, Denis Wade, is the Founding Pastor of Micah Community Church, and has been married for 30 years. As a marriage preparation counsellor, he has observed that the commitment-phobic Christian man’s main issue is pressure. “Men feel pressured from society’s (and women’s) expectations to ‘have it all together’ before committing.” Coming from a different generation, Denis recalls his experience of building a future with his wife after they got married, and the long-term positive impact the decision had on their relationship. “In my generation, we got married with nothing. Men (nowadays) should appreciate that most women will be happy to work with them to build a future together.”
A 2013 article in Relevant magazine, entitled ‘The Secret Sexual Revolution’, supports the idea that other pressures affect a Christian’s attitude to marriage, such as peer pressure and the media. Stephan agrees with this notion and says, “Many Christians have adopted a worldly approach, and believe they have to be boyfriend and girlfriend – a union not recognised. They are navigating through love and marriage based on their own logic or on what someone else says, instead of seeking God’s guidance.”
I bet you’re asking, ‘So, what am I meant to do about this?’ The answer lies in the Christian body having a collective responsibility in creating more dialogue and awareness in the area, which would break down the issue in a way that connects with people (especially men). “People have to be more honest about their mistakes, so that others can learn from them. We should explain the issue and the solution in a practical manner; just quoting Scripture is not going to get it done,” says Stephan.
Though some of us may have met more commitment phobes than potential lifelong partners, one of the beauties of life is that it is unscripted and full of surprises. Like Sabrina, you never know what is around the corner, and commitment might just find you.