This post is a response to When NCB Meets NCG.
I thought it would be appropriate for an actual Good Catholic Man (father of five, husband of one, provider, dater-of-wife, and one who is approaching 10 years of marriage this December) to respond to what one seraphic writer described as “a bull in the china shop of the heart.”
Before I begin, let me remind my emotive readers that I already wrote on the topic of marriage, and the role of men today. Yesterday, in fact, I told men to take up their diapers and follow me. If you read those two articles (and a few others), you might notice a trend in my thought. I believe that men find themselves in a really awkward place in the modern world. This place simultaneously emasculates them and then gives them the worst examples of machismo manhood imaginable. In turn, modern man is weak, even with a bowie knife and flannel shirt on, dancing around in the image of Men’s Health — abs and all. It’s awkward, for women, and nothing makes this reality more apparent when some average looking dude walks down the street sporting some miss-USA bride.
“Why not me?” modern man bemoans, not realizing that women want men and what modern man has become is something far less than really manly. Even if we grant that it is man’s primal instinct to reproduce, then it is woman’s instinct to care for that reproduction. Therefore, a Nice Catholic Girl (NCG) might be cautious about who she is going to share the cave with. Let’s consider the author’s proposed dilemma for NCG:
The trouble is, however, that if you look around the venues in which one is likely to meet an NCG, you are likely to find that there is a decided shortage of Nice Catholic Boys (NCB). In other words, the girls outnumber the boys. The NCB’s on their part, generally fall into three categories:
1) The Seminarian. Definitely the smallest category, and correlatively the most awesome.
2) The Taken Guys. These are either married (almost as rare as the seminarians. They tend to get whisked off to other realms.) Or the guys with girlfriends.
3) The Unattached. These are the guys who are the enigma of the group. They seem to be NCB’s. At least they are showing up to Mass or Bible study, or that Catholic group (or maybe they are only showing up to Mass and leaving immediately afterwards. But that’s something isn’t it?)…
The author then goes on to say:
Men just aren’t as anxious as women usually are to get married and start a family, but in other ages this didn’t seem to be much of an obstacle. If the only way a young man is going to have sex is to marry, this becomes a powerful incentive towards marriage. But in our present age we have the phenomenon of a whole generation of men who are (apparently) living the Church’s teaching in this regard, but without the incentive to seek out a Catholic woman to marry. Why?
1. Wants to play on the internet
2. Lack of maturity
3. The amount of time, energy, and money it takes to get a career started
All of this amounts to a lack of prioritization. The author wants us to believe that the problem is that NCG’s aren’t ready for Good Catholic Men (GCM). However, I reject this premise. In fact, this premise seems more like one postulated by one of The Unattached, and that modern manhood has told him that because he shoots a bow, has big biceps, and a good job, HE IS MAN. Watch him roar! Rarrr!!!!!!!!! (which might not be the case, but I’m just relaying my impression)
And so, the little lioness, only ever playing with the lion cubs, is scared to death that big, strong, Lion-man will rip her to pieces. He is so untamable, so not-into-you-and-your-girly-stuff, and so the stand-off persists. Now, to be fair, the author made a great observation. A real GCM will be a real man. I believe the Catholic faith opens men up to the possibility of being a real man, despite everything our culture is telling them. The culture, of course, proposes two extremes: doormat or deadbolt. On the former, man clips his wife’s toenails while reading Danielle Steel, meeting his guy friends for a play-date, and checking out the latest sale on avocado cargo shorts at Express for Men. On the latter, man is spilling beer all over his wife-#9!*x-tee, on his way to the mailbox to pick up this month’s Field & Stream — all the while stepping over piles of unfolded laundry and dirty kid or two (he’s not sure exactly how many he has).
Depending on which lie you have bought, one of those two caricatures will actually bring a smile to your face. And, if you examine your heart, one will foster affection. The affection you have for one of those two scenarios directly represents the way in which “the pattern of the world” has shaped your heart. In those areas, we must be transformed by “the renewing of our mind”. Which means, men, we must repent.
Moreover, the author’s definition of a GCM fails to appreciate his vocation. If you are a man, you are either called to be single or married. If single, you are called to be celibate — either priest or lay. If married, you are called to be one with your spouse. So, a definition that says:
A true GCM is never going to belong entirely to his wife. He will have another life outside. He will have a vocation that is not you, and it will be his life’s work.
is so utterly lacking in proper connection to one’s vocation, I barely need to critique it. My work is never done in isolation from my wife. I work for my family. That is what a GCM called to marriage does. It is why I must be very cautious around single women at work. My dedication to my family — not my biceps, brains, or defined jaw — is the most attractive thing imaginable. Home-wreckers, check yourself before you wreck yourself. All that semi-silliness aside, the modern dead-bolt man works for himself, because although he thinks he is different than self-obsessed metro-man, he is just like him. His obsession with his work as an end for itself — divorced from its proper relationship to family (aghast!) — is a true sign that modern man is no more man then he is a thing, on object. For, it is precisely man’s relationship to that defines the unique creature God made him. We are not islands: men included.
The fact that he is striving to be a true man of God does not guarantee that he won’t leave the toilet seat up. It does not mean that he won’t find fart jokes hilarious. Some interpersonal drama that upsets your entire day may seem comically petty to him.
Sure, but that would just mean that he is not striving enough. That would mean that he fell short. Toilet seat? That’s an honest mistake and one that his mother should likely take the blame for either way. But, being inconsiderate to your spouse is unacceptable. If interpersonal drama is “comically petty” then so is Notre Dame football — and no man would appreciate constant belittlement over every little cheer that rises up from the living room on Saturday afternoons in October.
The point of my little rant here is I want GCG’s to be of good cheer. There are men out there. There are. They realize that the fulfillment of their vocation of marriage terminates in you. Wait for that one. Some people think men should not “need” you, but that is wrong. Adam needed Eve. He was incomplete because his vocational calling was not yet realized. So too, the GCM called to marriage. Don’t settle for a boy, I agree, but also don’t settle for some dude who’s just “not that into you”.