Apr 082013 6 Responses

Never Call a Woman Beautiful, Even You Mr. President

On Thursday at a private fundraiser, President Obama referred to California Attorney General Kamala Harris as “by far the best looking attorney general in the country.”

His comments stoked a fire storm of debate with some seeing no problem with comment and others calling him sexist and demanding an apology.

While the debate is primarily a typical political scuffle with each side seeing an opportunity to attack the other based on this current issue, a more important principle is being missed. In the day in which we live, a man, especially a man of power, should never compliment the looks of a woman who is not his wife.

It’s just a no-win situation. Every day in workplaces, restaurants, and a variety of other places, men make small comments which range from benign to all out sexist. These comments, while often tolerated or shrugged off, are ripe with danger. They should not be made. While in a perfect world the comments would be harmless, in our society they carry too much potential for harm.

There are four reasons why a married man should never compliment the looks of another woman:

Because she might get the wrong idea. An innocent comment for one person can be received as a coded message by another person. We never know how another person might feel therefore our comments must be guarded.

Because you might get the wrong idea. Vocalizing an idea can lead to more ideas. One comment can lead to another. Feelings do not come upon us without our control, they are cultivated. Commenting on someone’s looks can begin the process of developing deeper feelings for them. By keeping strong boundaries, feelings are less likely to develop.

Because others might get the wrong idea. Even if both parties know the comment is innocent, it can cause others to wonder. It can cause people to speculate on the state of your marriage. Because so many relationships are broken, people almost expect division between couples. These types of comments can build on their suspicion. A day following the President’s comments, the First Lady accidentally called her self a single mom.

And most importantly, because your wife might get the wrong idea. Even if the above three scenarios aren’t true, this one matters the most. Husbands should do everything in their power to ensure their wives know of their devotion. A comment on another woman’s looks risks doubt in our wife’s mind. It’s not a risk worth taking. The day after the President’s comment, the first lady accidentally called herself a single mom. It seemed like a Freudian slip. With the demands of the office, I can only imagine that at times the First Lady feels alone. No matter how great a husband the President is, he can’t be perfect and his job demands much of him. On top of the natural loneliness that must come with the job and with the knowledge that so many Presidents before have committed adultery, little comments can cause great doubt. It is true of Presidents and it is true of all men.

Every woman desires to be beautiful. Complimenting a woman’s beauty can be a powerful. Yet the risks that come with it for married men is not worth it.

As a pastor, I interact with women on a daily basis who have no one to call them beautiful. It could be a great gift to speak that into their lives, but I cannot do it. I don’t want them to get the wrong idea. I don’t want to give my own mind any room to wander. I don’t want my church confused. But more than anything, I never want my wife to doubt that my affection is solely for her.

The President made a mistake. It shouldn’t be a major story, but it can be a lesson for every man. Compliment the beauty of your wife; find something else to compliment about other women.

 

6 Responses to Never Call a Woman Beautiful, Even You Mr. President
  1. Susan Haines Reply

    Well said! Boundaries are a foreign language in our culture. I’m enjoying your blog, Kevin. Blessings to you and your family.

  2. dennyneff Reply

    Totally Agree… Well written

  3. Katy Reply

    Not just married men, but a single man interacting with a married woman. And resist the temptation to say “Honey” or “Sweetie” (unless of course he’s an elderly butcher at the meat counter, then maybe. . .)

  4. Danise Reply

    I’ve been complimented and insulted about my appearance by men in the presence of my husband. Both situations make me uncomfortable. I’ve asked my husband why he doesn’t step in and he usually says he doesn’t because the man in question “doesn’t mean any harm”. What do you think would be an appropriate way to handle these situations?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I would communicate with him when things make you uncomfortable and brainstorm what might be some things which could be said or done the next time. Then the two of you can try a new approach.

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