When you were born, I held you in my arms and made these promises to you:
I will teach you how to regard the bodies of women.
I will teach you how to listen carefully to women and hear what they mean .
I will teach you how to treat all women, so they will know you are a man of good intentions.
Now, that you are becoming a young man your body can generate new life. Yes! You can now be a father. So, it is time for me to teach you all you want to know and all you need to know about this powerful new dimension of being alive.
Over the next few years we will talk about these issues at different times. But the next lesson I want you to learn is that the world of women is both wonderful and dangerous and that you need to learn how to live in that world and assess these women. They — like men — can be angels or devils (most are somewhere in between). However, in our times, the number of dangerous women has grown, so you have to be wise or you will suffer much if you make the wrong choice.
Most women are attractive, physically. Furthermore, God also made it part of their nature that they devote time and attention to being so. Finding a physically attractive woman is easy and the woman you will marry will likely be quite beautiful. The much more important form of attractiveness takes real practice to spot, and getting there is not easy for most men.
By contrast, women, starting in their teens, seem to enjoy exchanging their assessment of males and, even though their criteria as teenagers are limited they become more serious as they mature, for they begin to realize that much depends on their ability to assess a man’s capacity to work and provide for them and their future children, and the level of respect he has not only for them, but for other women. Men don’t share comparisons of women this way. They more easily judge women by their looks. That takes no training, nor great intelligence.
Because you have to acquire this capacity it is time for you to start, first by assessing the sisters of your friends and the friends of your sisters. You can begin to spot and appreciate their virtues: who is kind; who is hard working; who is always cheerful; who takes care of her siblings; who honors her father; who is close to her mother; who is prayerful (though that is hard to observe); who is modest in the way she dresses; who is even-tempered; who is punctual; who is prepared. As you assess them you will notice weaknesses. However, you have to simultaneously learn to see the good in every young woman. No matter what weaknesses you spot, you realize that every young woman is the apple of her parent’s eye and especially of God’s eye: He has known each intimately even before they came into existence, and continues to hold each one in the palm of His hand. In other words, even as you develop the capacity to spot their virtues you also develop the capacity to see them as God’s beloved daughters. This is a sure-fire way to learn to respect every woman.
The effect of developing this capacity to spot the virtues in a girl is that you will become more motivated about developing your own. The woman you set your heart on will likely have been observing the brothers of her friends and the friends of her brothers. It would be a pity if you were to lose the girl of your dreams because you failed to turn a significant weakness into a strength.
One man I know was lucky. In college he fell for a girl and asked her out on a date. She – remarkably – told him to “Forget it. You arrive late to class, skip some of them, and, I am told, you lie in many mornings. If I were to fall for you and marry you, ten years from now I would be pulling you out of bed to get you to work. No way I’m going out with you.” He changed quickly and had enough time (he was a sophomore) to convince her. Now they are happily married. Most men never get such a chance —nor such an informed turn-down. But such turndowns happen all the time, silently.
Developing your capacity to assess the virtues of young women should motivate you to develop those capacities you need to replace the bad habits your brothers and sisters complain about, if you are to become a man pleasant enough to be with —- for a lifetime.
We will talk about this from time to time.