GOING PRO IN AN AMATEUR WORLD Now, you didn’t think that your favorite syndicated columnist would let 2002 end without a little commentary on ‘The Bachelor’ and its rise to power on the TV airwaves. Yes, brothers, this is what we in the journalism game call the ‘year ender’. That last ode to the old year, and a tip off as to what may be coming in the year ahead. Frankly, the premise of that show is rather noble, and traditional when you get to the bottom line. A man has a desire to get married. He has more than a few women to select from to be his mate. He begins the weeding process, taking the time to get to know those women whom cross his path. Of course, the sisters ALL want to be number one on his hit parade, and they do what they can to become a Mrs. However, when the smoke clears, and he makes a decision as to who his wife will be, he picks THE one, puts a ring on her finger, and the two ride off into the sunset of wedded bliss. Brothers, let me say up front. SHE does not do the asking, when it comes to marriage. WE are supposed to do the asking. Marriage is the ultimate act of accepting responsibility. It is also the maximum indicator of a man’s ability to make a decision. If you PICK right, the marriage will BE right. However, to all the newlyweds--or soon-to-be newlyweds--in the house, let me hasten to add that marriage is NOT the end, but the beginning. As the two become one, HE discovers that he must continue to love and understand his wife, and SHE discovers that she must love and submit to her husband. That is, IF the two truly want to be ONE, as God intended. IN THE SPORTS WORLD: If I may use a sports analogy, everyone gets excited when a hot amateur athlete gets ready to go pro. Up to that point, the athlete is still ‘in training’, preparing for that day when they can reap financial compensation for years of preparation. Scouts swarm about. The press and the media are hoping for comments from coaches, trainers, and the like. When that athlete announces that he is going pro, and is going to sign with one team, all the other teams back off, and respect the decision that the athlete has made. The same can be said for marriage. It is a formal march into out of the amateur ranks of dating and courtship, and into the professional ranks adulthood. One MAN and one WOMAN for life IS the standard, the ultimate, and the objective. Anything else, no matter what society may say, your friends may say, or what the two of you may feel is NOT a real, legitimate, or professional approach to the marriage relationship. CLIMBING THE MARRIAGE MOUNTAIN: Brothers, stay with me, because now we start to climb the mountain. When an amateur athlete announces their intention to become a professional, they are making a formal commitment to ‘rise above’ one standard of performance, and embrace the duties, responsibilities, and rules of a higher level of performance. Good or bad. Giving their all whether hurt, injured, or not. In victory or defeat. The athlete is taking a stand that will mark them above the other amateurs in their vocation. Marriage is the same way. For, when our ‘Bachelor’ friend gets married, HE is saying, in a public fashion, that HE is ready to embrace the duties, responsibilities, and commitment to being married. He puts away his little black book and weekends on the golf course. When the woman he has chosen accepts being his wife, she is also coming out of the amateur ranks. She puts away running the clubs and endless hours on the phone with girlfriends. SHE is ready to embrace the duties, responsibilities, and commitment to being married. Which also means pre-marital counseling to ensure a happy marriage. The two no longer are amateurs in the relationship arena. They become one. SAYING GOODBYE TO THE AMATEUR RANKS: As any ‘pro’ knows, once the commitment is made, the real work begins, not ends! More time is spent ‘learning’ the game. Following the advice of coaches, trainers, and other pros on the team. More time is spent learning the playbook. More time is spent on the field of battle in preparation for their chosen vocation. In short, for every one NBA player, or one CEO over a major corporation, there are at least one million amateurs who, for one reason or another, didn’t make the professional grade. One reason can be tagged selfishness. One reason can be tagged laziness. One reason can be tagged fear. Marriage is the mark of two people who want to be adults. They no longer want to be considered amateurs in life. Say what you may, but dating and courtship are the amateur ranks. That means living together; that means having children out of wedlock; that means being engaged for years, and years, and years is not the mark of a person who is serious about marriage. It is the mark of one who is NOT ready for the ‘big decision’. Can I get an AMEN from the bleachers? THE SUBMISSION AND LOVE ISSUES: There are two requirements in the bedrock of marriage. Two marks of those ready to move from the amateur ranks to the professional ranks. The requirements are submission and love. For the wife, she must submit to, line up under the authority, and respect her OWN husband. If she has made the commitment to being a Christian woman, then she must submit to, line up under the authority, and respect her OWN husband as unto the Lord. This is the professional requirement for a wife. Over the years I have heard some women--even Christian women--say that they ‘can’t’ submit to their husbands. It’s been said on talk shows, spouted in newspaper articles, and written about in books. But I find it interesting that some of these same women will kill themselves for their college degree, obey bosses they don’t like for a paycheck, go to clubs with their friends, and migrate home every year when their families call. If a woman can submit to, line up under and respect friends, strangers, and acquaintances, and NOT do the same for a husband, then she should remain single, and stop crying about: “I can’t find a good man!” Marriage is reserved for those women who want to rise above being amateurs. Brothers, we are next on the examining table. There is a requirement for the husband also. He is to love ONLY his wife unconditionally, above everything--and everyone else. If a man has made the commitment to being a Christian man, then he is to love ONLY his wife unconditionally, above everything--and everyone else, as Christ loves the church and gave himself for it. Over the years I have heard some men--even Christian men--say that they ‘can’t’ love their wives. They love sports. They love their little black book. They love the good life. They love their mothers. They love their careers. They love pleasure, and spend weekends at the club. Brothers, if a man can love everything--and everyone else, and not love their wife, then they should remain single, and stop crying about: “I can’t find a good woman.” Marriage is reserved for those men who want to rise above being amateurs. Yes, the old year is soon going to be gone. But the New Year is going to force some men and women to make a hard decision, as ‘The Bachelor’ has already left a mark on our social consciousness, as well as the TV ratings. Either go through life as a relationship amateur, or step up to the professional ranks and get married--IF you BOTH are ready for it, BOTH are going the same direction, and BOTH accept the requirements. And have a truly Happy New Year! MIKE RAMEY is the author of THE MANHOOD LINE. A monthly, syndicated column written for men, from a biblical, business, and common sense perspective. To correspond, drop email to [email protected]. ©2003 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications (2).