Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sex and the City (of God)

By Jenny Senour

What’s a single gal to do in times like these, when the only available men seem to be somewhat -ahem - overly available, and the competition amongst females has reached a level of ferocity rivalling finals week on American Idol?

My girlfriends and I were pondering this idly at happy hour one evening, wondering aloud over the curious phenomenon of man-hunting, immortalized on the small screen by NYC’s “fab four.” We came to the conclusion that although the culture might be insistent that we “stake our claims” early and often, the truly feminine (read: more challenging) response to romantic pursuit is to allow oneself to be pursued.

So the idea then is that we don’t participate in the thrill of the chase, at least not as the pursuer. Seems totally counter-intuitive to a woman of my generation. We’ve been carefully groomed to aggressively pursue excellence in every field, from academics to athletics, from motherhood to Master’s degrees. Quite naturally, we expect to enter into the arena of opposite sex relations with similar gusto. We have been instructed in the ways of excellence, taught from toddler hood that we can do anything we put our minds to.

And it’s true. By God’s grace and His perfect design, all things are possible for those who love Him. But do our ways always look like His?

Hear me out, girls. It’s not a matter of passivity or powerlessness, or simply allowing men to “call the shots” and “run the show;” it is a matter of receptivity, or the ability to patiently and peacefully allow oneself to receive. This is no easy task; just ask Eve.

Receptivity speaks to the very soul of a woman, revealing and engaging her innate nature both physically and spiritually. Our Lady was able to “conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit” because of her active receptivity, not by some means of passive surrender. She gave God permission. Think of that, giving the Creator of the Universe liberty to “do unto me according to thy word.” Now that’s hot.

It is in our nature as women to bring forth new life, receiving the sincere and total self-gift of the masculine person and from that donation, creating something new. This is cooperation and complementarity. It is not competition.

And isn’t that comforting, knowing that rather than having to compete for and secure the attention of a potential date, we can surrender our desire to control this area of our lives to the Author of life, confident in His plan and His timing? It’s easier said than done, and believe me when I say I speak from experience. But it’s also our means to sanctification, this learning how to trust and receive God’s best rather than submitting to the desire to hunt and grasp. And growing in holiness is anything but easy.

And it’s not just about us as women. The men in our lives, by fault of Adam’s sin, are inclined to passivity just as we are tempted to take control. We do them no favors by our participation in the culture’s version of the dating game, and in fact do our brother’s a grave disservice by making it so ridiculously easy for them to remain in passivity. There are boys who’ve yet to become men, largely thanks to the influence of the women in their lives who refuse to call them to greatness.

This isn’t always played out in some profound, Herculean moment, but rather in the seemingly insignificant details of daily life, everything from letting him get the door to allowing him to make the first move by picking up the phone.

This careful balance, this age old dance between the sexes is actually a part of God’s plan. You might even say it is the plan, and it’s illustrated on every page of JPII’s Theology of the Body. Man initiates and donates, woman accepts and receives, each doing their part to imitate the Trinitarian model of love. It’s beautiful, but it’s not easy.

So I leave you with this challenge, asking both sexes to consider what comes naturally and what comes with just a bit of sweat and tears, and to perhaps pursue the latter in matters of the heart. Hard work, in the boardroom and on the gridiron, generally pays off at game time, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this might just as easily hold true on any given Saturday night.