It’s all over twitter. It’s discussed in detail in all the recent dating and relationship books. It screamed at us from reality television. Every successful TV matchmaker demands you live by it. It is woven into the plot of all of our favorite romantic stories.
Men are pursuers. Women are responders.
Patti Stanger, The Millionaire Matchmaker, is famous for berating her girls to “Give him space to chase! Be the hunted!” Steve Ward, VH1’s Tough Love host, explains “Men like a challenge; it’s in their nature. They love the thrill of the hunt. It’s okay to make him earn a relationship with you. If he is really interested he’ll do what it takes to see you.” Popular performer Steve Harvey, in his chapter entitled, ‘Strong, Independent and Lonely Women,’ says “If men can’t exercise two of the major components that make up who we are as men –providing and protecting-then we’re not about to profess our love for you.” He goes on to say that women who don’t need their men to be men (because the women are busy being the male in the relationship) will date perpetual boys who will use them or men who will leave them for women who are the women in relationships. Even reality TV shows like the Bachelor/ette have proven it…. When many men pursue one woman…. There is sometimes a happy ending. But when many women pursue one man…. They breakup within a few months. The entire secular world, feminists included, has come to observe that for a relationship to be successful, the man needs to be the pursuer.
Men are pursuers. Women are responders.
Scripture not only supports this truth, it reveals that God designed men and women this way. God created Adam as protector and provider, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15) Then God created Eve as the helper for Adam, because “for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:18-24) God created man as protector/provider and designed woman to be his helper.
This truth is not confined to Genesis; the entire book of Song of Songs is a beautiful, intimate picture of a bridegroom pursuing his love. He initiates their relationship and she responds to his tender courtship. He pursues, she responds. Another story that reveals this truth (one not so happy or romantic) is that of Hosea and Gomer, the prophet of God who married a prostitute. He went out and found her, rescued her from a life of sin and shame – and he married her. Again and again Gomer returns to her past life, leaving behind the man who gave her everything. He pursues, she responds – although her response is not always positive.
But why? Why are men pursuers and woman responders?
Patti attributes the male hunter behavior to innate masculine energy. “The man is the hunter and the woman is the gatherer, and the man is supposed to provide for the woman. So if she begins to provide for him, she gives off masculine energy, and it throws everything off balance.” Steve Harvey speaks of DNA, “Encoded in the DNA of the male species is that we are to be the provider and the protector of the family.” Matchmaker Steve Ward assumes it has to do with evolution. Men are hunters because somewhere deep down inside is a remnant of their ancestors – the prehistoric cavemen. Supposedly, prehistoric man lived in caves and provided for his family by hunting. Chasing down prey was his first job and first sport. Many believe that this evolutionary instinct is still present in men today. No better picture of the “caveman” behavior than Tarzan. He lived like an animal, surviving off the land. Initially, he was only able to communicate in a series of grunts. Yet, he somehow managed to win the heart of an intelligent woman like Jane, solely through his persistent pursuit.
But why? Why did God create men as pursuers and woman as responders?
Not because deep down there are still remnants of prehistoric caveman ancestors, but because God intentionally designed them that way. God’s design of masculinity as pursuer of femininity directly reflects Christ’s pursuit of his bride, the church. Jesus pursued us, his bride, “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Jesus made the provision for us to have a relationship with him, “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Is. 53:5) His love is unconditional and unfailing, “Nothing will separate us from Christ’s love.” (Rom. 8:38-39)
A man’s pursuit of woman directly reflect Christ’s pursuit of his bride. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:25-32)
Men are pursuers. Women are responders. Why? Because gender is a picture of the gospel. God’s “role assignments” for men and women are a living picture of Christ’s pursuit of and provision for us, the church, his bride. We, the females, are designed to be responders. Not as punishment for being less skilled or weak, but because this is how Jesus asks us to glorify him. Your Savior is asking you to be the responder – in your dating relationships, in your marriage, in your church – so that His redemptive salvation is declared to the world. That way, even if there isn’t a second date, even if your marriage is on the rocks, Jesus is made known through your behavior. By refusing to ‘be the man’ and embracing God’s design for your femininity, He gets glory.
Not because he is a modern-day Tarzan and you are his Jane….
But because, as male and female, you are a reflection of your Savior to the world.