Friday, March 11, 2011

I Lek You A Lot

Have you ever been tooling around facebook and noticed that young single women seem to love traveling to foreign countries? It seems like half of the girls I meet list traveling as one of their interests, much more than other activities. 
Back in the late 1990’s, some researchers utilized data from social surveys in the United States and Europe to study this phenomenon. Based on the data, they found that single women were more likely to travel internationally than single men, but the difference disappeared for married men and women. 
The researchers suggested that gender differences in determinants of attractiveness may account for this discrepancy. They call it “Lekking,” which is a term from zoology used for how members of one sex “show off.” Specifically, the main determinants of female attractiveness to men appear to be physical and universal. Men from Africa, New Zealand, or Cleveland recognize female physical attractiveness very similarly.
In contrast, the main determinants of male attractiveness to females are much more culturally bound. For example, a woman from another part of the world may not be impressed by the logo on a man’s suit, because she would be less likely to know the meaning of that logo. It seems it may be much harder for a man’s attractiveness symbols to translate, since he is judged more by what resources he has than how he looks.
In light of this research, it seems to me that Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:19 - 24 may be the most counter-cultural teaching in the entire Bible for men today. He says that we should not store for ourselves treasures on earth, or try to serve both God and money. 
This is a tough lesson because we know that people we meet (including prospective female mates and others) will judge us by our lekking (i.e.title, paycheck, or degree). Having material success in life also impresses our families and friends. To discontinue our seeking may appear to others (and ourselves) as a failure or a lack of ability.
I definitely do not have the answer to following Jesus’ teaching and fitting in with the world. However, I think it might involve taking a serious inventory of our strivings and the condition of our hearts.

2 comments:

  1. Biologically those indicators of male attractiveness do translate, just on a more base level. Aren't we looking for someone who can "provide" for us? It's those specifics that differ, culturally. A paycheck and a degree here, a strong back for work in others. The same is true for women's attractiveness. Those traditional indicators that signal to men that we will make good mothers are biologically the same across the board. They are physically based.

    So, if God wants a man to provide for his family, then it seems that you can serve God in that way, right? It seems that it would be possible to serve God, and accumulate wealth, while not being contradictory. Who knows ;)

    I stumbled across your blog in a random way. Just wanted to comment. Your posts are thoughtful and though provoking. Thanks.

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  2. Thanks Brenna, I am sorry it took a few months for me to notice you said something, I think my settings were a little off.

    I do think it is possible to provide for a family and follow God. It requires extraordinary balance. I just think it is extremely difficult to acquire the trappings that impress people, while still keeping focus on God's call in life.

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