Women Who Idolize the Wrong Men

Today’s guest post is written by none other than my awesome cousin, Ryan Goble. Ryan is a recent college graduate and when I asked him to write about some of his observations about young single women and the ways they view men, he didn’t let me down. His thoughts here are insightful, challenging, and, in my opinion, right on. I hope you enjoy!

Lately, I have noticed a trend among college women and especially Christian college women. I see this trend as a cancer in the church that desperately needs to be cut out before it kills a generation of men and women…

For generations it has been expressed that men are the ones who deal with issues of lust and desire. Yet, with the modern day movie and music star, I believe that our women are being greatly affected by society’s lies of what they should be looking for in a man. I believe that this issue has been buried so deep that we often do not even see it as an issue.

Have you ever been with a group of women and listened to them talk about how they are “in love” with their favorite movie star? Or how they are going to watch their “boyfriend” on the big screen? Do you know women who talk non-stop about the men they idolize and how great it would be if they could just be married to them?

Have you ever heard women talk about a man’s abs or his arms in ways that their husband (or future husband) would NOT be happy? If you haven’t heard a woman talk like this, I’m happy for you, because as a man, it sucks.

But here’s the clincher: I believe that modern day romance films and “sexy” actors and musicians are doing the same thing to women that pornography is doing to men. Here’s how…

It is training women to have ridiculous standards for the men in their lives or for the men that “should be” in their lives. This generation has learned about love from Titanic, The Notebook, A Walk To Remember, and Twilight (this one is especially painful), instead of learning about love from the Bible.

This generation’s image of what an ideal man is comes from actors like Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, or from musicians like Justin Beiber or that guy from Maroon 5, instead of from men in the Bible.

So what’s wrong with this? As Christians, we should not form our beliefs and desires from what society tells us we should want and desire, but instead we should actively search out what the Bible has to say on the subject. Then, we see if God would have us view the world in a certain manner first. This means that instead of looking to these superfluous movies as the holy grail of love advice, we look to the Lord.

I, for one, would rather look at how to please my lady in the Bible, instead of from Cosmo or Rolling Stone. Books in the Bible like the Song of Solomon and Ruth offer excellent examples of relationships that should be sought after and praised! These books tell beautiful stories of what men and women of God should look like, as they pursue the opposite in a relationship. Using these books and getting to know them well, will help a person to wait on the Lord for the man or woman He has for you.

Now, you also may be reading this and you may be thinking to yourself that you don’t do this and you use Jesus as the benchmark of whom your spouse should be. But, even looking to Jesus can still be unrealistic because the only person who can be like Jesus is Jesus Himself.  So what we should be looking for is not to marry Jesus but to have Him sanctify our relationships so that our focus is not on each others flaws but on the beauty of Jesus in whom all things are possible.

As a male in the church I am constantly being told  by pastors to grow up, take on more responsibility, and become a man so that I can take care of a woman one day; but I don’t hear the same message being told to women on a large enough scale.

So here it is ladies, I think it’s time to grow up and follow after Jesus instead of pop culture. It’s time to stop idealizing the wrong men or comparing us to famous men. It’s time to let God form your image of the perfect guy, ’cause he’s out there. He just might look a bit differently than you’re expecting.

What kind of man does God say I should look for? What is a man of God and what does he look like? If you are a woman, how are you allowing God to form how you see men?

32 thoughts on “Women Who Idolize the Wrong Men”

  1. idolatry is idolatry and lust is lust, but i find the hollywood/chicklit/romance-as-lady-porn a tremendous and regrettable stretch minimizing the actual degradation and damage of pornography to women and relationships.

    1. Suzannah,
      In Ryan’s defense, the only direct comparison to porn and modern day romance that he makes is this: “It is training women to have ridiculous standards for the men in their lives or for the men that “should be” in their lives.”

      Would you disagree with this statement?

      He doesn’t say women idolizing movie stars is in anyway as harmful, hurtful, prevalent, or serious as pornography.

      But when women read their own versions of porn in the form of trashy romance novels or secretly fantasize about some actor, we as a culture, don’t call it a problem….

      And that’s Ryan’s whole point.

      Thanks for commenting here and sharing your reaction.

  2. Have to tell ya, this has been going on ever since people have had access to tv or movies. I’ve never met a woman who takes actors seriously and relates them to real life. But maybe there are some out there. I admit, I’m not in that age range and I’m married. Things might be dif now, but I’m guessing it’s no dif than when Tiger Beat was popular, or years before when Clark Gable was “it”. Sure we should take our lead from people held up in the Bible. But even those are hard to find who don’t have major flaws.

    I think the reality that we do all come to sooner or later is that you have to look into a man’s heart to find the real person. Some people never do that. Some do it right away.

    Oh, and by the way, leave George Clooney out of this!!!

  3. This is good! Truth is though, do we really want to be with these guys? A man who worships God like David, and is dedicated and faithful to Him like Joshua would be WAY better than any of the men on that list to a woman of God. Any day.
    On that note, I’m going to attempt to stop smiling at all the Ryan Gosling “hey girl” memes on Pintrest.

  4. Oh my word, you just made me stop and think. Yes, it’s like it’s okay for Christian women to have “eye candy,” but if Christian MEN say something about a good-looking actress, WATCH OUT! My hubby and I are pretty honest on this–we know the kind of actors/actresses the other enjoys watching and we’re secure enough to know we love each other far more than some good-looking actor/actress.

    It’s funny, when you think about it. It’s like the world is pushing women to become more visually oriented, too. However, I personally think some Christian fiction is equally “porn” to women–setting up ridiculous EMOTIONAL standards for their husbands to fall short of. NO MAN, no matter how sensitive, knows exactly the right thing to say/do at ALL TIMES. If we fill our minds with stories of men who talk and act like best girlfriends, we’re going to wonder why our hubbies aren’t acting that way.

    I will admit that I enjoy the movie THOR for reasons far beyond the plotline. But my husband and I can joke about this, just like I joke about his enjoyment of the old episodes of Wonder Woman. But in the end, we know that’s not real. And we don’t spend all our time wishing each other looked just like those stars.

    AWESOME post! Just tweeted it!

    1. I think you are right on with the “emotional standards” issue! I think that’s exactly what it is. Most of the men in these movies are really intuitive, do what the girl needs before she asks & seem to just get everything right! On top of that they’re insanely romantic. Now I know some men are intuitive like that, and I know not all women like the romantic mushy-gushy stuff, but I do believe our culture is pushing girls to think that is what they should be looking for- a hopeless romantic who knows what you need even before you do. This is what’s totally unrealistic, and not fair to the men.

      1. Although I agree that some men are painfully behind the 8-ball when it comes to these character ideals, but some of that is cultural. Yes, men are not always going to be romantic or “get” a woman, but that doesn’t mean that some of the movies out there do not encourage women to look for a man who actually appreciates her. This is especially true in the examples Ryan uses in his post! Titanic is about a man who loves and protects Rose. He also shows her that he cherishes her (Proverbs 4:8 and Ephesians 5:25). A Walk to Remember is about a Christian girl that prays for Landon to come to Christ and love her. He changes from a trouble-maker to a man who loves God and shows the same type of acceptance God does to Jamie. (the book, rather than the movie) is a better way to illustrate this). Twilight is about a vampire who has lust towards Bella but he uses self-control (Galatians 5:23) and self-sacrifice to do what he feels is best for her. He also waits until marriage (against her wishes) because he wants to have a pure marriage.

        There are plenty of movies out there (and other influences) that go against biblical principles but some that don’t and it seems that most women respond to the movies that most reflect God’s desire for relationships. I think that nowadays we should be encouraging young girls to read these books or movies that do reflect God’s desires so that they have higher expectations in men. This will encourage men to rise to the occasion and really think about what it means to sacrifice and think of the other person. And before you men start swawking “What about women!!!” all of the above movies showed a reciprocal relationship of love and self-sacrifice, something all marriages should include!

  5. Ha, I love those Ryan Gosling “Hey girl” photos.

    But really, this over romanticized Vision of what your man should be starts from childhood in movies like, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and the list goes on… The cinderella complex.

    Girls and young women are conditioned to attain this unrealistic vision of what a relationship looks like from this Hollywood sensation, it becomes an addiction; a cheesy romance story addiction. It’s a form of escape from reality.

    1. Joy,
      You are so right! I blame Disney for most of the distorted thinking women hold.

      Prince Charming might be disguised as a balding, middle-aged, engineer from Connecticut. But we’d never know that because he was missing his trusty steed and flowing head of hair.

  6. I totally agree! Everyone is so easy on women. Then when we do get married and get into situations, it’s completely “shocking.” Thinking … this didn’t happen in (insert movie title.) Such a distorted view of reality. Ryan, great summary on how we really need to get out minds focused!

  7. God brought the same thoughts to me this past semester that Ryan articulated. He’s spot on. Women want love and to be protected. Since it’s easy to be soaked in pop culture just by stepping out your door, it’s easy to learn what that looks like from it. I’m definitely not saying don’t take part in pop culture (I’m a film major), but to be discerning. When thoughts and feelings come around, give them to God. He’ll take care of it all.

    Also, another lie I see is that a young person should be married in/right out of college. This definitely impacts young, Christian women. (It is also an unspoken cultural guideline that needs to be discussed.) We each have a check list that isn’t God’s and want that protection from the get go. We also want to control what ultimately happens. That never works. Look at Jonah, he wanted to go somewhere God didn’t want him. That put him in the stomach of a huge fish.

    God is the one who ultimately protects. He’s got it. He’s planned it. He’ll bring it to fruition at the perfect time.

    Ryan, you are an amazing man of God. Don’t you forget it!

  8. I’ve felt the same, actually.

    It took a good while before I became physically attracted to the godly man I’m dating now and plan to marry. Thankfully, I’m now quite in love with his body in addition to his soul and character, but that admiration is something I seriously protect now. Considering that my eyes had been looking everywhere BUT at the man I love, and realizing that finding him smokin’ hot now is a great gift and an unnatural thing, I do my best to keep up with this eye training that God’s started in me. This means… looking away when this hot guy gets on the subway. Not browsing through certain boards on Pinterest. And working very hard to shut down those idea about how awesome certain actors look.

    As you’ve written, guys crave sexual variety, but, in marriage, they train their impulses to submit and they channel all of themselves to their wives. I, too, want to train myself to be monogamous in every way that matters, and I believe that this matter. After, ideas have consequences.

  9. I dunno, mooning over celebrity guys kind of struck me as sort of a rite of passage (that has to be left behind eventually.)

    Teenage girls (and younger) get attached to celebrity heart-throbs because they’re safe—the clean-cut, hunky guy in Tiger Beat will never tell you that you’re funny-looking or dump you for your best friend. And, at 12 or 13, actual real-live boys are kind of a big unknown–most of them are kind of squirrely and weird at that age and are usually equally as clueless–and the actual mechanics of sex that you learn about in health class still sound more freaky and scary than anything else.

    However, most normal women grow out of that. We learn that “real” men are human beings, just like us, just as full of flaws and ideosyncracies as we are. We learn how to treat them and how we expect them to treat us. We also learn that real-life relationships are never going to resemble hollywood stuff, and that’s perfectly ok.

    While there are some celebrity guys that I still think are pretty easy on the eyes, since I’ve been married I don’t really pay much attention to them. Not because I’m afraid of making my husband jealous (he knows that he has no competition), but because it just strikes me as immature. Wasting the brain space on a fantasy guy is kind of stupid when you’ve got a real live one right next to you. There’s a reason grown women shouldn’t behave like tween girls.

    1. “However, most normal women grow out of that. We learn that “real” men are human beings, just like us, just as full of flaws and ideosyncracies as we are. We learn how to treat them and how we expect them to treat us. We also learn that real-life relationships are never going to resemble hollywood stuff, and that’s perfectly ok.”

      Do they grow out of that though? I have a hard time seeing that. Most of the girls my age (24 and younger) are still having issues with this. Most girls I know are completely invested in the idea of a “Mr. Right” and they won’t rest until they find him. In my opinion, that doesn’t say that we have learned they’re just like us- full of flaws. I see a generation that is looking for someone who we believe to fit some high (unrealistic) standards before we ever invest in an important relationship like marriage.

      1. I don’t know. I kind of hope they do, and I personally think that failure to outgrow that stuff is just plain abnormal.

        In my own experience, I outgrew it around 18. Sure, I think I had a picture of the drummer from the Cranberries taped to the wall in my dorm room because I thought he was kind of dishy, but I certainly didn’t ever entertain thoughts of marrying or even dating the guy. I don’t know if it was maybe because I was always a bit of tomboy and had a lot of male friends (including the one that I ended up marrying)–I was able to recognize that “real” guys were infinitely more interesting and fun than some made-up teenage fantasy.

        I don’t know much about the kids these days, but by 24ish, I’m pretty sure I would’ve considered hanging on to a “Mr. Right” fantasy to be pretty unseemly.

        Maybe you’re just hanging out with the wrong girls?

        1. From what I can tell Abby Normal, many young women today are stuck in the Mr. Right culture deeper and deeper into their twenties. I don’t know your age but it seems that things may have changed a little since you were in your early twenties. I have been hoping and hoping for a long time that the women around me would simply grow out of it (there are pleanty of things I wish the men would grow out of too!) but they just haven’t yet. I believe it comes down to a lack of biblical teaching on this subject from pastors.

          Also labeling someone as abnormal or the lak of growing out of the Mr. Right culture as abnormal may not be too helpful. It seems like its almost an epidemic in this generation that just needs to be addressed.

          Thanks for your thoughts by the way!

          1. Well, if it’s “an epidemic in this generation that just needs to be addressed”, what do you propose to do about it? I do it by calling it what it is (in my opinion)–weird and immature. Although, I suppose if there’s a whole generation of girls that fail to get married because they’re saving themselves for Edward Cullen, the problem should take care of itself, right?

            Meh, just kidding. I know my being judgemental isn’t particularly useful. I do kind of wonder about whether this is truly an “epidemic” or if you’re just hanging around the wrong girls. From my experience, the girls that grew up in really conservative evangelical households that weren’t allowed to date very much tended to do this (spending time with actual guys was frowned upon so they got attached to fantasy guys to make up for it. That and when you’re only allowed to “court” with an eye toward marriage, the pressure for a guy to be “Mr. Right” is that much greater.)

            Incidentally, I’m 34–(I thought the Cranberries reference would date me a little bit)–I’d like to think I’m not THAT far removed from my 20’s!

        2. Abby,
          Ooh, ouch. Maybe Ryan is hanging out with the wrong girls. Although, I will say, I think our culture is doing a great job at perpetuating this type of thinking in young women.

          Maybe you just happen to be more mature and realistic than most young women!

          1. If I’m mature and realistic (which I’m not all the time), I credit it to

            1) my parents (my dad did a great job of treating me with respect and not like a weak little thing; also I never saw my mom engage in groupie/fangirl behavior.)

            2) being a nerd. I was the valedictorian and the class bookworm–while I had plenty of guys clamoring for me to write a book report for them, there was never a boyfriend among them. Turns out high school boys tend to be intimidated by girls with brains (I didn’t know they grow out of it eventually.) By the time I graduated high school I was convinced that I would probably never marry so I made it my goal to find ways to be content without a boyfriend and to have fun on my own. Getting all mushy over non-existent guys just struck me as a waste of mental energy.

  10. i think those Shades of Gray Books that everyone is reading has push this trend even further into the porn/erotica area. The industry has inched closer and closer to this point over the decades and they are winning. we are letting them win over our hearts and thoughts. this was convicting. thanks.

  11. This is so true, and I’m glad someone is finally talking about it!

    Everyone likes or admires certain actors/actresses, everyone has their favorites that they like to go see when a new movie comes out, but many people take it too far. It drives me crazy when other women talk about going to see their boyfriend in a movie. You can’t have a boyfriend that you don’t even know and have never even met. Not to mention that half the time, the guy is already married!

    Why is it that women can get away with certain stuff that men can’t? I’ve found that odd in certain aspects, and this is definitely one of them. Like you said, men can’t even call an actress beautiful without getting in trouble, but some women carry on way too far.
    Yes, the first thing we notice about a person is their looks. But that’s not what we’re supposed to hold as the most important thing. The most important thing is what’s inside that person – their character, their relationship with God, etc. “The more you get to know a person, the more attractive they become to you. Because everything beautiful you see on the inside of them, suddenly you’re able to see on the outside of them, too.”

    Just like Hollywood sets unrealistic expectations for how women should look, they set unrealistic expectations for how men should look. Almost NO ONE looks like the people in the movies.

  12. As a guy dating a Awesome woman that I Love her not being into the trashy romance novels or magazine’s that set a standard that I will never meet. She demands that I follow Christ in everything that I do first and foremost and she trusts Chirst to make the needed changes. I know that I am very lucky in this area as there are virtually no women that I know that have these same standards and attitude. Great post.

    1. Vagabon,

      You said:
      “As a guy dating a Awesome woman that I Love her not being into the trashy romance novels or magazine’s that set a standard that I will never meet. She demands that I follow Christ in everything that I do first and foremost and she trusts Chirst to make the needed changes.”

      It seems to me that her demands of you to follow Christ in everything is a standard you will never meet. And she is trusting Jesus to change you how, exactly? It sounds as if she is trusting Jesus to change you into what she wants. Be careful, there.

      1. I am sorry if I did not make it clear. It is not that she is expecting a specific change she loves me for who I am. But with the realistic expectation that as my relationship with Lord continues to grow that my relationship with her does as well.
        As you spend time seeking the Lord he has a way of fixing issues that you may not even know were broken. We are called as Christians to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This happens on a daily basis for those seeking the Lord. I am not a project that needs fixing in her eyes but a man seeking the Lord in all that I do and by that action he will continue to make me a better man. My actions to continue to seek the Lord on a daily basis is irrespective of any relationship that I have and comes from my deep desire to continue to know my Lord and Savior more and more each day. I hope that this more clearly defines what I was trying to say. Thanks for asking for clarification.

        1Ch 16:11 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

  13. Great post! As a young 20-something in the 90’s, I had developed quite an extensive list of qualities that I wanted in a man, some of which were based on characteristics my ex-boyfriends exhibited that I DIDN’T want and part of it from the romantic movies I had been watching. At some point, I gave God that list and asked Him to find me a husband and He led me almost immediately to my future husband, who has ended up being even better than my dream man because he is perfectly matched to me. And God has created some amazing love stories that are SOOOO much better than anything Hollywood can imagine.

  14. Ryan, good article & I appreciate your perspective.

    I’d like to address this from your essay:

    ” It’s time to let God form your image of the perfect guy, ’cause he’s out there. He just might look a bit differently than you’re expecting”

    I would say this works the other way, too. Don’t discard the women who aren’t supermodels or a size 2. I’m a heavier woman (working on being healthier) and I can’t fully describe how disheartening & sad it is feel invisible to men. I feel I’m a loving & good person, and to be judged by your exterior is very sad. We as women may look different, too. We’re not all Heidi Klum (or insert fav female eye-candy here).

    I’m not disagreeing with your essay, just wanted to present my perspective.

  15. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing Ryan! Love so many of the points you make. I shared with some of the younger girls in the high school ministry at SBC and they loved having a guy’s perspective on this.

  16. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This article was absolute confirmation from the Lord!

    My best friend and I were just now discussing a similar issue we are dealing with in a Christian girl’s group on Facebook. I found myself caught up in the pictures that were being posted of famous actors and athletes (some of them not even fully dressed). We’re only teenagers, and it seemed fairly innocent, but as I discussed it with my friend, we came to the same conclusion: it was sin. Big time. These pictures and group discussions, though on the surface they seemed fine, were (and are!) destroying the way we look at men, destroying our future relationships with our husbands, and really destroying the way we look at ourselves.

    In regards to our issue, we found that the thing we as Christians must focus on is this: Finally brothers (and sisters!) whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

    So thank you, for giving us direction and confirming our convictions! This was an immediate answer to prayer.


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