I was once told – by a man – that if a man didn’t treat me like a queen, I should kick him to the curb. As well meaning as this advice was, not every man is going to treat me like a queen; most men are going to treat me like a sister and a friend. So either I kick a lot of men to the curb, or I had better come up with a plan for how I treat all the men I don’t marry.

Ironically, it was a man who showed me how. Years ago, I was critically evaluating another man in a conversation with my friend and small-group leader, Doug. I explained the cryptic actions of this other man, which I then pronounced as “creeping me out.” I thoroughly expected Doug to agree, and even to laugh with me. But when I finished my long tale, there was a customary pause on the other end of the telephone.

I waited, my smile fading.

“I’m wondering,” he said kindly, “how you would define ‘creeping me out’ in biblical terms.”

“Ummm…” I replied, cautiously. “I guess I mean I’m irritated by him. I don’t understand his actions or his motives.”

“Uh, huh,” he said, waiting for me to put two and two together.

“I’m not the only one who feels this way, though,” I added. “A lot of other women feel this pressure from him, too.”

Hellloooo! Now you’ve added gossip to self-righteous criticism!

“Uh, huh,” he repeated.

I had better shut up.

I was digging myself into a hole in this conversation. As always happens, whenever we sinfully judge others, we end up condemning ourselves. After Doug patiently revealed to me my self-righteous attitude (and I repented of it), he asked me one more, memorable question. 

“One more thing – I’m not hearing where you are concerned about this brother being conformed to the image of Christ,” he said gently. “Have you thought about that? If he is offending you or these other women, why hasn’t anyone kindly brought that to his attention so that he can grow and change?”

Too Many Categories

Doug has always been good at asking me the tough questions! During our conversation, he not only helped me see my sinful, critical attitude, he also revealed to me my worldly way of thinking about single men. His question ultimately revealed that I was thinking of single men in three categories:  Potentials, Just Buddies, and No Ways, with each meriting different treatment. That’s too many categories. There’s just one for believing single men: Brothers, and consequently they all deserve the same treatment. Maybe one day a Brother will initiate a relationship to find out if the Lord would be moving him into the Husband slot. But until the words “I do” ring out from the wedding altar, he’s still my Brother and potentially someone else’s Husband. 

My job as their sister in the Lord is to encourage and support these men, not to categorize them and treat them as such. James 2:2-4 reveals our tendency to show partiality: “For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” 

My paraphrase is, “For if a fine-looking man without a wedding ring comes into your assembly, and an awkward, plainer man in outdated clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the good-looking man and say, ‘You sit here in a good place, right here by me, sweetie’ while you say nothing to or cut short the conversation with the less attractive man, have you not then made distinctions among them and become proud women with self-centered ambitions?”