I had dinner recently with a group of friends from church. Mostly single men, and the conversation, as it’s want to do, turned to marriage and women and dating. Someone made the comment, “Women at our church put a one-carat minimum on engagement rings. They won’t accept anything smaller than that.
“And single women always ask their engaged friends how big their rings are,” he added.
His comment shocked us. We hadn’t heard of this requirement. I couldn’t imagine being a newly engaged woman and having a friend ask me that question. What if the ring didn’t measure up? Would it diminish the glow of the engagement? The conversation ended when one man noted, “Meanwhile, we’re raping the poorest countries in the world to feed our greed and materialism.” There was nothing to say after that. He had spoken the truth—a sad truth—and no Lakers game on TV could lift the mood again.
My church has become very affluent. The parking lot of cars has become unrecognizable from what it once was. Some of the diamonds I see being worn make me do a double-take. I need to clarify: There’s nothing wrong with that. We should aspire to grow in our jobs and vocations, to make more money and support our families. But there’s a balance one needs to find. I worry, as the church grows, it will resemble other megachurches around the city—or country, for that matter. Cheesy stage decorations, twenty foot crosses, see-through pulpits. Preachers who put hairspray on their heads.
It’s been my experience, attending numerous churches for the past seventeen years, that preachers don’t hesitate to come down hard upon men. For being passive and shallow, immature and hesitant to grow up…looking at porn. Men rarely get a free pass, and that’s a good thing because those charges are true. I’ve seen men reject women for the silliest and shallowest of reasons: nails being clipped too short; wearing unflattering shoes; ear lobes that were too small. We are overly picky when it comes to dating—and need to be called out on it.
What I’ve also noticed is that preachers are far less likely to criticize women for their issues. Maybe it’s because there are few women pastors and men feel bad for picking on a woman. I don’t know why. But so many times I’ve heard women complaining about men, how they won’t date a woman unless she meets certain weight and breast size requirements, yet some of those women remain stuck in their own superficiality. Ring sizes, breast sizes…what’s the difference? It’s all the same sin.
A friend of mine (female) recently said, “I’m selling out my sex, but I’ll tell you two horrible stories. I have a friend who slightly upgraded her ring without telling her husband (actually, he was a fiance at the time). Another friend hasn’t worn her ring since the engagement night, saying she just wanted a band. But really, the diamond on the engagement ring was so small she was embarrassed.
“When you sit and think about it,” she added, “it is just embarrassing for both sexes…to make judgments based on such shallow things (breast size, ring size). And that it has become acceptable.”
I agree with her. It’s shameful for both sides. I feel for the man who has worked his butt off to buy his girlfriend an (if slightly smaller) engagement ring, only to have its worth cut down by the judgment of his fiancé’s friends. And I feel for the woman who has known rejection because her nails were clipped too short, or because her ear lobes didn’t quite meet the standard.
My God, how did we get to this point?