Voices

Rigamarole

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, why bother?

Issue: "Broken promises," March 25, 2006

Insight from the horse's mouth. A friend of a friend crowed over drinks about his gay lifestyle: "all the sex you want without any of the male-female rigamarole."

It's an "aha" moment for me. Like when you've long suspected someone of pinching the silver and finally catch him at it. There are the things gay organizations say in public pronouncements, and then there is the guard letdown over a bottle of Heineken.

The party guest's candid admission turns on the lights more than a hundred bogus Bible studies by the Dallas "Cathedral of Hope" church with its proof texts for why Sodom's main sin was inhospitality and not buggery.

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You might call off-the-shelf sex, with no muss and no fuss, the Enronization (or end-run-ization) of America-the short-circuiting of annoying intermediate steps to achieving desired ends by simply going straight to the desired ends.

Why conquer Wall Street the old-fashioned way when you can set up phony offshore partnerships and pretend your stock is worth something? Why let a little protoplasm in the uterus get in the way of a promising career? Why a months-long regimen of curtailing caloric intake that has bloated you into a size 18 when you can pop "Ultra Carb" and fool your body out of absorbing carbs? Why commit to marriage when you can have friends "with benefits"? Why settle for the normal sexual prowess nature gave you when with "TestPro-Alpha" sex gel you can become a bedroom übermensch?

Our species is allegedly evolving. But is it evolution or devolution when humans mate with all the protocol of woodchucks, inserting "tab A into tab B," as Garrison Keillor put it? Scripture describes such practitioners as "unreasoning animals" (Jude 10).

A recent stage production of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (David Foster Wallace) gets as close as you can get to saying the "S" word (Sin, of course) without crying uncle and throwing yourself on God's mercy. The subject matter is this business of the objectification of the sexual partner-how to get what you want while minimizing the male-female "rigamarole." The play floats penetrating questions such as "What do women want anyway?" as a prelude to "How can I figure out what they want so I can get what I want?"

This is the "rigamarole"-the hassle of having to listen, to deal with, to work through the Venus-Mars thing (Scripture calls it complementarity). "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" as Henry Higgins said. It's the hassle of getting to know someone, of courting, of give-and-take, of marrying and staying married, "for better or for worse." (Do they still say that in the ceremony?)

Excerpt from Christian stand-up comic Brad Stine: "Guys want to marry other guys?" (Drumbeat) "Cowards!"

Christian counselor Larry Crabb's The Marriage Builder describes only two possible modes of living with your spouse: "ministry" or "manipulation." The male manipulator's m.o. is whatever it takes to let him read the sports page in peace at dinner and get what he wants at bedtime. The distaff version is nagging the husband into an "extreme makeover" in line with her taste. The Bible has counsel for both, bidding the husband live with his wife "in an understanding way" (1 Peter 3:7), and the wife employ "a gentle and quiet spirit" (1 Peter 3:4). But you can see the problem: Both of these take time to pay off. No "Ultra Carb" mindset there. Welcome to the rigamarole.

The supreme expression of embracing the rigamarole is the Cross. Include also the wooing and pleading and forgiving that preceded it-the servants sent patiently one at a time to the stiff-necked vineyard tenants; the tireless love that seeks the perfecting of the beloved; the King of heaven, who knows no needs, allowing Himself to know yearning for a worthless trollop: "How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?" (Hosea 11:8).

So let's do rigamarole. Because we know that rigamarole "produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3-4), so "that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:4).

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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