I recently came across Donald Miller’s blog post, “How to Live a Great Love Story, Vol 1 (For the Girls)” and felt confused. I’ve asked for opinions from others. I’ve read the whole thing multiple times. I’ve tried to find a way to justify his words and his tone, but I just can’t get over the fact that I’m offended.
First, let me say that this is going to be a long post, but I do hope that you’ll read the entire thing. I’d love to hear your responses too!
Second, I need to preface this response by saying that I really do believe he had good intentions with this post. He is a talented and wise writer who has transformed the spiritual lives of so many, including myself. So rather than talk about how ridiculous Donald Miller is (because he’s not), I’m going to unpack my thoughts on the content of the post. This is a response about the writing, not the character of the man.
Now that we cleared that up, here are my issues with it…
The first thing that caught me off guard was how much this post deviates from his usual tone and language, which is filled with grace. Instead of offering women encouragement during their season of singleness, his language inflicts feelings of shame, guilt and regret:
“…guys don’t hook up with girls they would marry. They marry the girls they get nervous around and are made to pursue. So, if you become a “hook up” girl you get labeled, in the minds of guys as a girl you really don’t have to fight for. And when your husband finds out you were the “hook up” girl he’s going to have to have a lot of grace, which is fine, it just puts you in the category of “charity” in his mind and not “equal” or “partner.” He may still love you, but he will have serious questions about whether you’re in the kind of shape it takes to [live a great love story with].”
Oh gosh, where do I begin? I have no regrets and have dealt with my past, yet I find myself feeling so ashamed and unworthy after reading that section. Charity? Not an equal or partner? That is harsh beyond harsh, and so untrue. In fact, ladies, if you ever meet a man to puts you in the charity category, he’s not the man to marry–no matter what you’ve done in your past! And regarding the need for a lot of grace…don’t we all need a lot of grace? What about pride, or lust or envy? Don’t those sins require a lot of grace? I can’t help but think of the parable of the adulterous woman in John 8:
At dawn [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery…When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”…
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Yes, we are accountable to our past. And yes, that can be difficult to share with a man who you are going to marry; however, we are all sinners and in desperate need for grace. Some sins are public and some sins are private, but sin is sin. Whether we have been intentionally promiscuous or were victims of sexual abuse, there is never a reason for anyone to throw stones. It’s important to deal with the past, but also to understand that a man worth living a love story with would never make you feel ashamed.
PATHETIC VIEW OF SINGLNESS
According to this post, single women need to “be willing to suffer” in order to live a great love story:
“What this means for you is that your love story needs to have a lot of lonely crying in it. Believe it or not, there will come a day when a man will fall madly in love with you and you will have the honor of sitting down with him one special night to explain that, while you weren’t perfect, you turned down plenty of guys and and cried yourself to sleep hoping somebody would come around and treat you with respect.”
Lonely crying? Is that really the only option for single women who want to experience true love? If so, then I certainly did everything wrong. Yes, some yearn for love more than others, but does that mean that in order to live a real-life love story we need to sit at home and cry about how desperate we are for a man to come rescue us from the pain of being alone? No, not at all.
After all of that nonsense above about how to live a great love story, the blog post then addresses what to do if you’ve “completely screwed this up.”
Be honest about it. Don’t hide it. If you went through a slutty season, don’t act like you were a helpless victim, a sweet girl who got caught up. You probably weren’t…
You shouldn’t share a bunch of details, but you should definitely share you went through a slutty season and have very few, if any, excuses…
You’re going to marry a man, not men. So cut the slutty dresses and Facebook photos…
Is it ever okay for someone to refer to a woman as “slutty,” let alone an influential Christian writer? I didn’t think so, but maybe that became okay language to use in the past few years while I’ve been distracted by my kind, respecting husband Brian. Regardless, it’s not okay in my book and I really don’t appreciate it. How can someone expect women who have already “screwed up” to ever grasp their self-worth when they are referred to with such degrading language?
Did you read Donald Miller’s blog post? What’s your response?
UPDATE (August 12): Shortly after I posted these thoughts, Donald Miller removed the offensive blog post and issued a public apology on his blog in response to the many who sent feedback to him. You can read about his deletion of the original post here.