Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Jonathan McLatchie: advice to young aspiring apologists

Lots of good advice from someone who I think is the most promising Christian apologist aged 25 and under.

About the writer:

Jonathan has been a Christian since 1996, having had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home. He has become interested in Christian apologetics over the last 4 or 5 years. He holds an honors degree in Forensic Biology, and a Masters (M.Res) degree in Evolutionary Biology. He is a proponent of the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID), about which he has written extensively on Evolution News & Views and Uncommon Descent, in addition to being involved with the Centre for Intelligent Design UK. He is also a contributor to various apologetics websites, including CrossExamined.org, AllAboutGod.com, and GotQuestions.org. He has participated in a number of summer internships: those have been with the Discovery Institute in Seattle, with AllAboutGod in Colorado Springs, and with Frank Turek in Charlotte. He is also a graduate of the CrossExamined Instructor Academy (CIA) and the Discovery Institute’s student summer seminar program. Outside of his academic interests, he is also a tournament chess player, with a FIDE (International Chess Federation) rating of 1855.

The post lists 13 lessons, here is one:

Lesson 1: Be Careful How Early You Enter into the Public Arena

It’s perfectly natural that, when you have a new idea, you want to share it with the world. Over the last decade or so, there has been an explosion in the popularity of online blogging, which has given people the ability to spread ideas and information quickly. This has its obvious advantages, but it also has some significant risk factors and draw-backs, especially for young people. Among these is the fact that what you publish publicly on the internet is effectively public material forever.

Why might that be a risk-factor for young people? When you’re young, your views and ideas are still in the process of crystallising. Being less wedded to a given paradigm than those of the older generation means you are more likely to revise your position or change your mind on certain issues. I, for one, have seen an evolution in my own views and arguments over the past five years. Your arguments also become more refined and sophisticated over time as you learn from the experience of defending them and conversing with people who are better acquainted with a given field than you are. You also become increasingly better informed as you read more and more about a subject. Imagine the frustration, then, when someone Googles your name, and the first hit is to an article you wrote some four or five years ago, articulating views or argumentation which you would no longer defend. You may well have expressed your current views and better refined arguments elsewhere, but that is not necessarily the first thing people will see. Things you said years ago can come back to haunt you for years. So, exercise caution!

A second danger here is that some areas relating to apologetics present particular risk factor when seeking employment in certain professions. For example, in the academic environment in which we currently find ourselves, being overtly public about your views on biological design may land you in seriously hot water when it comes to building a career in that field. The modern formulation of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has become so entrenched in modern academia that people do not want to put their own careers in jeopardy by being associated with someone who has public affiliations to intelligent design. Similarly, as we have seen with increasing frequency, public criticism of same-sex marriage may land you in hot water in certain career paths.

My advice would thus be to give careful consideration to how early you enter into the public arena to express your views. Think about allowing them to crystallise first. Otherwise, a pseudonym or alias may be a relatively safe option.

It’s true for any profession, as this week’s Brendan Eich story proved. I really recommend that younger Christians consider using an alias when writing on controversial topics. You do not want people to search for your name and find Christian views that are no longer popular in the culture as a whole. People do screen you for “fit” with a company. And Christian conservatives do not fit with many companies. Just ask Mozilla. Even giving a donation is now enough to get you labeled.

Sometimes the consequences for speaking out under your real name can be even worse than not getting a job, or getting fired. Some countries have Human Rights Commissions, which are tribunals where groups favored by the left can sue conservative and/or Christian persons for offending them with speech. And if you write about Islam under your real name, you might get a visit from some angry extremists. These are all things to consider before you write under your own name.

Filed under: Mentoring, , ,

When is it appropriate for Christians to start dating?

First, read this article from a Crisis Pregnancy Center worker.

Excerpt:

I have a bone to pick with young, socially conservative Americans, and I know it’s something that will get under your skin. Just sit tight, though, and hear me out, because the elephant in our tidy little room is starting to tear things up. It’s time we acknowledge his existence, and maybe even call in some animal movers to take him back to the zoo.

I currently live in a small community in the Bible-belt of the country and I have been given some opportunities to mentor young people from my area through different venues. I can count on one hand the kids I know from the local high school whose parents have never been divorced.  I’ve witnessed reactions of genuine surprise and envy from students who hear that my parents are still together. In any given conversation with groups of youth, I can expect to hear continual references to step-parents, step-siblings, and half-siblings. Divorce is a way of life down here – albeit one that has taken its toll in the lives of the young people that will make up the next generation.

However, while I could certainly write extensively on my experience with the negative effects of divorce on children and on society at large, I actually want to address something else entirely.  I have concerns about the number one way that our culture chooses to perpetuate the cancer of broken marriages and failed relationships– underage dating.

You can follow them on Facebook – the failed attempts at love, I mean. Somebody is always changing their status from “in a relationship” to “single.” Unfortunately, a huge number of these disappointed lovers are too young to be legally married. I wonder sometimes if I am the only one who winces to hear a thirteen-year old speak with cavalier abandon of his or her “ex?”  Since when is it considered healthy and acceptable for underage people to be in “relationships?” Just what do parents and educators expect to be the result of the romantic conquests of these middle-school children and young high school students? The results I’ve witnessed personally are beyond disturbing; they are downright sinister, and have caused me to question whether or not those who claim to champion marital fidelity and family values are paying any attention at all to the standards we are passing to our children.

The trouble with underage dating is that it presents an entirely faulty view of what interaction with the opposite gender should be about. Rather than placing emphasis on building one strong relationship with one person at a stage of life when a marital commitment is feasible, dating encourages young people to pour their energies into consistently seducing other young people at a time when neither of them are capable of making any long-term commitments. Their “relationships” are destined to fail from the get-go because they are founded on unhealthy perceptions of love and not backed by any real necessity to stick it out.

The beauty of marriage, as it was intended to be, is that it teaches two people of opposite genders to learn to work through incompatibilities and give of themselves. In the same way, the great ugliness of dating as it is practiced by our culture and portrayed by our media, is that it teaches two people of opposite genders to be selfish by giving them an easy “out” when things don’t go according to their initial feelings. I believe it is fair to say that this form of dating is a training manual for divorce, because it encourages young people to grow accustomed to giving their hearts away and then taking them back.

Sadly, parents who should know better continue to display shocking naïveté regarding the absurd practices of driving their twelve year olds out on a “date,” or purchasing provocative clothing for their sixteen-year-olds, or sympathizing with their broken-hearted fourteen-year-olds by assuring them that they’ll “find someone better.” “They’re just having fun,” they’ll tell us, rolling their eyes at what they consider to be our tightly wound principles. I work a volunteer shift at Crisis Pregnancy Clinic where I witness every week the ruined lives and broken dreams that “fun” has left with our youth.

And now here’s my take.

Basically, you can start dating as a prelude to courting when the woman and man are able to demonstrate to the other person that they are ready to fulfill their roles in the marriage.

For example, the woman should be able to show that she has been able to maintain commitments to caring for others through some period of time, maybe with small children or pets. She should be voluntarily entering into relationships and responsibilities with other people where she is giving of herself – like volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center or caring for an ailing or elderly relative. That shows potential suitors that she has the right attitude to relationships – serving others self-sacrificially, and not looking for tingles and amusement. She should be able to show that she is good at making commitments and solving problems by studying hard subjects in school like nursing, economics, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering or computer science. That shows that she is able to do hard things that she doesn’t feel like doing, and apply herself over time until she has a degree. Obviously being conservative politically and being good at apologetics are also important if she intends to raise children.

And for the man, he should be able to show that he is able to do his roles – protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader. He should be able to prove that he is able to mentor and guide other people to learn things and do things that will make them more effective Christians. That’s moral and spiritual leadership. He should have studied a subject that is going to allow him to find work. If he is committed to going to graduate school, then he can study philosophy and law and other “world-changing” subjects, like a William Lane Craig or a Ryan Anderson. Otherwise, he should study things like petroleum engineering, computer science, or other fields that will allow him to be stable and secure. It’s not enough to be a hard worker, you have to be able to pull in the money and save it and still have time left over to care for your wife and lead the children. Again, conservative politics and apologetics are a must.

I think there are other ways for men and women to show that they are ready for marriage, but those are some ways. The key thing is that people shouldn’t be dating until they are able to show that they know the roles that they are expected to fill in marriage as men and women. They should also be looking for the right things in others. They can’t be looking for the shallow things that give them tingles, like looks, athleticism, etc. They can’t be looking for sexual attraction, primarily. Marriage requires specific behaviors from men and women, which are derived from what men and women do in marriage. Before men and women start dating, they have to be able to show that they are working on being able to handle their responsibilities, and they have to show that their selection criteria for the opposite sex are at least partly based on the responsibilities that the opposite sex has in a marriage. Otherwise they are just training to be governed by their tingles and to be selfish and to break up when all that falls apart.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Advice for single women struggling to get a man to commit

Here’s Cassy writing about it at PJ Media.

Excerpt:

So every single guy you start dating ends up being a jerk, huh? They cheat on you, they cut and run after just a few weeks, or after a few promising months they announce that they’re not ready for a relationship. So you sit there and bemoan your poor, pitiful dating life and wonder why – why? – you can’t meet any good guys.

Well, here’s the thing: you do meet good guys. And then you go on to ignore them in favor of the bad boy who has a reputation, because you just know that the magic of your love will change him. Or you refuse to take a look in the mirror to figure out why every guy you date runs away as fast as his feet can take him. You come on too strong, you’re too clingy, you’re too needy. Heck, maybe it’s all of the above.

If every single guy that you date ends up being someone that you label as a jerk and a heartbreaker, well, the problem isn’t everybody else. You can lie to yourself and say that you just can’t meet any good guys, but they’re out there all right. You just ignore them, put them in the “friend zone,” or scare them away with your psychotic, desperate behavior.

And more:

Guy and girl meet. They exchange numbers, go on a date or two, and really hit it off. Sparks are flying, guy says all the right things, and girl thinks he might be the one. So what does she do? She hops into bed with him, thinking that sex will seal the deal… and their budding romance will turn into a full-blown exclusive relationship. Unfortunately for girl, guy is just happy to score, and that magical night of passion will do absolutely nothing to convince guy to stick around. Now he’s even more likely to bolt, having already gotten what he wants out of her. Meanwhile, she’s telling herself that having sex with him after two dates was totally a good idea, because he liked her so much.

In reality, having sex with a guy right away is never a good idea. You don’t need to sleep with someone in order to make your bond stronger. If you do have this amazing connection, then you don’t need sex to solidify it. And if he’s any kind of decent man who is actually interested in you, then he’ll wait anyway.

Stuart Schneiderman adds this:

Fiano’s advice might seem redundant, but as long as so many women get hurt in bad relationships, it’s worth examining her observations.

Given the anguish that attends a failed relationship, it makes sense that women have devised a series of face-saving explanations.

All begin with the staple: all men are jerks.

Fiano responds that perhaps all the men you are choosing are jerks, but if that is the case, then you are choosing the wrong men.

There are good men out there. Unfortunately, women who have followed the modern dating plan are more likely to go with their hearts and guts than with their heads.

If they have involved themselves in hookups or friends with benefits relationships they have been traumatized to the point where they continue to be attracted to the same kind of man, over and over again.

Women who have suffered a series of relationship failures have learned how to deal with relationship failure. They have not, however, learned how to conduct a successful relationship.

Women rationalize their bad decision by saying, Fiano suggests, that their love can transform a man from a frog into a prince.

It cannot.

Get over yourself.

I’ve blogged before about how many single women choose men based on shallow criteria, especially appearance – and also about how many single women rely too much on their emotions instead of studying male roles and choosing the right man for the job. Single women often believe that they can change a bad, but attractive, man into a good man by giving him recreational premarital sex. They actually think that it is easier to convert a bad man with sex than to pick a good man and give him respect – but it doesn’t work, as I explained before. They are looking to control a man without having to respect him or serve him. This early sex practice does not work: early sex ruins the quality of the relationship.

Stuart ends his post with this:

Women should ask themselves how they could have believed that men would find them more attractive if they were strong, independent feminists.
Women should ask themselves who told them. 
It wasn’t men. In fact, today’s modern woman has been trained not to listen to men or to respect men.
They reaping what they and their feminist handlers sowed.

Men love to have someone intelligent and experienced as a companion, but that woman has to be willing to help them achieve their goals by following the man’s lead. Men have a need to lead. They absolutely need to be respected as leaders. What I have found is that you cannot even get most single women today to read anything harder than C.S. Lewis these days – they are not willing to follow you even when you are grooming them to be effective wives and mothers – to raise quality children and to impact the university, the church and the public square.

Most single women want happiness – they don’t want a man to lead them – not even to lead them into effective influence for the Lord Jesus’ sake. It’s amazing. 20 years of church, and few Christian women (in my experience) have the desire to let a man lead them to serve God more effectively. They just don’t care. They just read Harry Potter. They just want to travel. They just want to have a good time. The pastors never tell single women anything to counteract the feminism.

Send Cassy’s article far and wide! Maybe we’ll save the culture from the ravages of radical feminism. Maybe more children will grow up with a mother and a father.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Elusive Wapiti updates his “Marry a Zealot” post

The Elusive Wapiti updates his marital advice for young Christian men.

He begins like tis:

Ten months ago, I published the second installment in the ‘Advice to My Sons’ series, titled “Marry a Zealot“, in which I exhort them and others to become fervent Believers–and seek out other Believers as mates–to best insure them against the ravages of divorce should they marry.

The point of that post was to highlight the additional protection that serious religious conviction, as indicated by active religious attendance, provides them against divorce, an important consideration for men in the post-Christian West nowadays. By way of contrast, a secondary point of that post was to show that mere self-identification or occasional participation in religious services exposed a fellow of the marrying kind to greater risk of marital disruption than if he and/or his wife had no religious affiliation at all.

Since the link to the pdf that supported that post has since disappeared, I did some spadework to recover the data that supports this advice.  I was able to locate it here, on page 9 of the scholarly article Bad News about the Good News–The Construction of the Christian-Failure NarrativeJournal of Religion & Society, volume 14.  The article drew the data shown in the following tables from the General Social Survey, 1980-2009.

His main concern is how religious belief correlates with divorce.

Here shows the evidence then says this:

When one takes one’s faith seriously enough to put it into action, as measured in this case by attending church at least once per week, this behavior appears to yield anti-divorce benefits.  Yet I am thoroughly unimpressed with a 38% divorce rate for Evangelicals, a group whose noisy claims to family values are belied by their itchy dissolutive trigger fingers. Moreover, the picture for active black Protestants remains dark and grim; their marriages garner no protection whatsoever from church attendance.  The data for Roman Catholics is much more encouraging, and it seems that the RCC has been more effective than Protestant denominations at countering the scourge of divorce. Perhaps the theological rigidity and hierarchical structure associated with Marianism makes it less vulnerable to socio-political contagions like feminism and divorce, while the, ahem, diversity, of Protestantism makes it more prone to worldly influences.

I think that it is a good idea in general for young men to not leave marriage at the level of feelings. I have posted before a list of questions to find out if a woman is a zealot. I think that young Christian men should read Wapiti’s post and then my post and then act accordingly.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , ,

Marriage advice from Christian philosopher William Lane Craig

Here is a question of the week from Dr. Craig on “Marriage Advice”!

Here’s the question:

Dear Dr. Craig,

Marriage is in the foreseeable future, and I would like to ask you for any advice before it happens. Can we avoid any mistakes? Would it be helpful to meet with a pastor for premarital counseling? Are there any helpful tips you could give from a Christian perspective or from your own experience?

Thank you in advance!

Zareen

Here are the main pieces of advice Dr. Craig gives:

  1. Resolve that there will be no divorce
  2. Delay having children
  3. Confront problems honestly
  4. Seek marital counseling
  5. Take steps to build intimacy in your relationship

And here’s the controversial one (#2):

2. Delay having children. The first years of marriage are difficult enough on their own without introducing the complication of children. Once children come, the wife’s attention is necessarily diverted, and huge stresses come upon you both. Spend the first several years of marriage getting to know each other, working through your issues, having fun together, and enjoying that intimate love relationship between just the two of you. Jan and I waited ten years before having our first child Charity, which allowed me the finish graduate school, get our feet on the ground financially, establish some roots, and enjoy and build our love relationship until we were really ready to take on the responsibilities of parenthood. The qualifier here is that if the wife desperately wants children now, then the husband should accede to her wish to become a mother, rather than withhold that from her. Her verdict should be decisive. But if you both can agree to wait, things will probably be much easier.

I wonder if the married readers agree with him about the “waiting at least a year after marriage bafore having children”?

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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