For some reason, Don Miller decided that he needed two lists in order to clarify for us womenfolk how we should live a great love story. I’m not entirely sure why, as the lists are so similar in content and instruction as to be redundant. The bonus of the second list, however, is that you get to feel even worse about your sexual history! Yaaaaaay.
Also: Apologies for the length of today's post. I wanted to get this all done in one go. Reading for the weekend, anyone?
This second list is titled “So, what do you do if you’ve completely screwed this up?” As it’s a vague pronoun, I have to assume that he is referring to your chaste virginity, which, as I’ve already stated, is unlikely to be still intact after your 25th birthday, for better or worse.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Be honest about it. Don’t hide it. If you went through a slutty season, don’t act like you were a helpless victim, a sweet girl who got caught up. You probably weren’t. …you were caught up in a selfish search for validation and pleasure. … No good man is going to marry a woman with multiple personalities. ….You should definitely share that you went through a slutty season and have very few, if any, excuses. But now you want more. …If you play the victim, he’s going to walk away. And he should. A victim is great material for a counselor, but not for a husband.
Here I’d like to point everyone to a certain tenet of feminism that most current new wave feminists fight against: Slut-shaming.
I’d like you to do an exercise right now. Pull out a piece of paper and write down what defines a slut. Better yet, sit down with your significant other, best friend, brother, sister, family member, whatever, and play a small game of “define what a slut is.”
I’d honestly like to see your responses, so leave them in the comments.
What do you have?
How many men must a woman sleep with? (How many roads must a man walk down, anyway?)
Some non-prime number?
Does it have to include actual penetrative sex or can she just be a “make out whore” to be a slut?
Does the hooking-up have to occur in a non-committal relationship, a friends with benefits thing?
What if the girl is 30 years old, has had three serious relationships, all of which did not end well, and she slept with each of those men? Does that count as a slutty season, Mr. Miller?
I think if you compare definitions with friends (which is why I want to see commentary), you’ll find that every single person’s definition of “slut” is different. It’s a very slippery term, one that has no applicable, realistic definition.
Therefore, the counter-argument that “He’s just talking to the sluts” doesn’t really apply – because he could be talking to any woman who has had some indiscretions in her past. It could apply to the woman who thought she was going to marry her first boyfriend, slept with him, and then the wedding was called off for some reason or the other. It could apply to the woman who, because of sexual assault in her past, doesn’t necessarily esteem sex and therefore hasn’t been the most “pure” of women. It could refer to the numerous women who felt pressured to have sex early in life, who thought it was a good way to keep their boyfriend around. It could also refer to the woman who gets drunk each weekend and has one-night stands.
“Slutty season” could mean any of these things, so, no, Miller’s not just talking to the sluts.
He is saying, no matter the circumstances in which your “indiscretions” occurred, no matter how you personally feel about them, you must ask for forgiveness from your husband, no matter how he feels about it, either. There is a middle ground between groveling remorse and making excuses as though things didn’t matter.
And this leads me onto the second point of Miller’s list:
Find out why you did why you did. Why are you capable of having sex without love or commitment? What are you using sex to accomplish? When those questions are a mystery to you, you aren’t healthy enough to get married and no good man should marry you.
First, I’m super glad that Dr. Donald Miller, PysD, is able to diagnose whether or not a woman is healthy enough for marriage! All my problems are solved! I’ll just send him an email whenever I’m about to get married with a yes or no question!
In all seriousness, though, there’s a difficult problem with the framing of this question. It implies that women are incapable of merely having sex for the enjoyment and pleasure, but rather must have it with some sort of love and commitment in order for it to be “okay.” And I understand that this is not the traditional Christian interpretation of sex, which is why Miller and I disagree so heartily. But it is well worth noting here that Miller does not frame the question in the same way for men – you can see this directly in his two blog posts up currently asking for men and women to explain why they hook up.
For men, he characterizes the question as a straightforward: “What are the reasons you have brief sexual encounters that don’t involve an ongoing relationship?” For women, the question is, for some reason, more intricate, and it’s better to just reproduce it in full:
A question for the girls:
So I caused a bit of a stir a while back by writing an article about relationships. It’s a topic I don’t give much time to, to be honest. And yet, as I’m preparing an article, I’m curious about why some girls give up sex easily and whether or not they view their sexuality as a commodity. In other words, do you use sex for some kind of social power or to make yourself feel good?
This consideration may sound naive (and indeed may be naive) coming from a guy, but I’m interested in your response.
So, you meet a guy, you have sex after a couple interactions, and you walk away. What did you gain from the experience and what, if anything, did you you lose?
Did it make you feel powerful? Did it make you feel beautiful?
Some of these responses may end up in an article without your name or any form of identity, so if you respond, just know I might use a quote but won’t be using your name. Thanks!
The very phrasing of the term suggests that women are “giving up” something by having sex, that they must have some sort of ulterior motive, which is, quite frankly, not always the case.
Is this different for Christians? It depends on who you ask. I know Christian women who are upstanding members of their community, some of the most loving people I know, and who have had more than one sex partner (each in different situations). What’s more is that while they don’t apologize for their past, they also don’t make excuses for it (they don’t “play the victim”).
Miller’s position, even in his follow-up “researching” questions, lacks a lot of nuance about women who have sex and why they have sex and that is ultimately problematic because it serves to shame women no matter how pure or right with God they felt previously. Even as a virgin, I felt dirty when reading Miller’s slut-shaming.
Onto point three:
Start training for the freaking marathon. Marriage is the hardest job you’ll ever have…
You know what. I’m just going to stop him there. This entire paragraph is full of thoughts about what marriage is like…written by a man WHO HAS NEVER BEEN MARRIED. I’m just BAFFLED about how he can talk about what it’s like to be married to the same woman for 20 years when he has never been in such a relationship. It’s like hearing a lecture on deep-sea fishing from a South Dakotan who doesn't know how to swim. It’s almost not worth responding.
I do, however, love how he manages to connect body policing (the man who “didn’t care that you got fat”) with sluttiness in the line: “Why not give yourself to the one who didn’t care whether you got fat than give yourself to the one who makes you feel like you’ve got to throw up after eating a lolly-pop?”
[Editor’s note: HOW HOW HOW HOW DO YOU MISSPELL LOLLIPOP? IT IS ONE OF THE EASIEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.]
Work through your need to be validated by men. You’re going to marry a man, not men. So cut the slutty dresses and facebook photos. Start acting like a woman a man can partner with to build a family, not a woman who would make a great romp on a drunk and emotional foggy Friday night. And stop using alcohol as an excuse. Nobody gets drunk and accidentally sleeps with a hamster.
“Nobody gets drunk and accidentally sleeps with a hamster.”
Sleep with. A hamster.
I just wanted to point out the complete absurdity of that analogy.
I’d also like to point out the absurdity of the idea that a woman who is hooking up must be doing so under the influence of alcohol. I get the image that Miller is going for, but it characterizes women as a whole in such a negative light – equating “slutty” dress (again, a poorly defined term, as, according to some people, my current outfit could be considered slutty) with alcohol-fueled weekend binges of sex. Dress is not an indicator of behavior and it is not an excuse to shame women. Sex outside of marriage does not mean alcohol induced one night stands. Heck, even a one night stand doesn’t necessarily mean alcohol was involved.
More and more, Miller is convincing me that he doesn’t actually KNOW any women, at least not any who fit the definition of a “hook up girl” that he’s got going here. Let me tell you – I know these girls, I know their lives, and spending your time shaming them for such decisions is not a constructive way to go about changing their decisions. Neither is characterizing them in such blatantly negative terms. Come on, Don, where’s the grace? Not all women who have sex outside of a traditional marriage relationship do so because they feel the need to be validated. Why don’t you get to know some ladies and actually learn their motives before accusing them of alcohol-fueled orgies?
POINT FIVE (the last one!).
Don’t act. Don’t pretend. Don't pretend to be a wholesome girl who is starting over when you’re secretly still wanting to hook up. These changes need to be internal and they need to be real. You are going to have to through the withdrawal of using guys for validation. If it helps, just know you’ll stand before God one day and you want him to be proud of you. That’s the only thing that helped me stop validating myself with woman. I couldn’t do it for Paige [his fiancée], but I could do it for God. Turns out God loves Paige more than I do. Go figure. Anyway, get over the acting part and start doing the real living part. Every great story demands enormous sacrifice. Start sacrificing your validation with other men to make a real love story happen.
Finally. We get some clues as to his motivations and his reasons for being so against slutty women – he’s a slutty man! It sounds like what’s happened throughout this blog entry that he is ascribing his motivations for illicit sex onto all women who have sex outside of marriage. He is, in other words, unable to see past the end of his own penis nose. His own bias, and his own history clouds the judgment, and instead of owning up and saying, based on personal testimony (aside from this one half of a paragraph), how he dealt with sexual sin issues in his own life and how he felt the need to be validated by women. We get considerably more testimony in the guy’s section, but it is less helpful as he is still casting the blame for his decisions on those “slutty seductive women.”
As Christians (and as human beings), testimony of personal experience is extremely powerful. The lack of willingness to use his own personal testimony in explaining to women why he feels the way he does about sex outside of marriage smacks of a still problematic level of immaturity. He would rather shame women than let us know that he shares in our shame. He would rather place women in a position where they are owned by their future husband than admit his own indiscretion and insecurity upfront.
And yes, it can be an extremely hard thing to admit those sins, but if you are going to speak so publicly about a sin that you, yourself, have had problems with, you’d better be prepared to be upfront about your own struggles. That will prevent your audience from (mistakenly) casting you in the role of pure authority and then feeling blindsided when you admit that you are not perfect.
There’s still a lot of work to be done here, Mr. Miller.