Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How marital affairs can lead to divorce, which harms children

Dina tweeted this article from the UK Daily Mail about affairs and the harm they cause.

Excerpt:

Jean Duncombe, a sociologist who has conducted extensive research on the subject, says: ‘I’m puritanical when someone tells me they’re having an affair — because of the work we’ve done on the impact of divorce on the children.

‘If people say to me that the children don’t know, I say: “Are you sure?” or “Think about what you’re doing to the children” — and I never would have said that 20 years ago.’

For parents who have affairs are not only lying to their partners, they are often deceiving themselves about the impact their infidelity can have on their offspring.

‘The children are too young to understand what’s happening,’ they reason. ‘In any case, it doesn’t concern them. And children are resilient.’

All of the evidence points to the contrary. People don’t just betray their partners when they shatter family life with a serious affair — the sad truth is that their children grow up believing their parents have been unfaithful to them, too.

There is substantial research on the short and long-term effects of divorce if it isn’t handled well.

For children, these include low self-esteem, a sense of being abandoned, poor performance at school, anti-social behaviour and the heartbreak of simply missing the absent parent.

Separations provoked by an affair tend to be the most acrimonious. Each parent shoves the blame for the split on to the other, sometimes forcing the children to take sides by supporting his or her version of events.

By tearing a child’s loyalty in two, parents can inflict profound damage. To make matters worse, research has shown that around half of all fathers lose contact with their offspring within two years of the separation.

An acrimonious divorce, according to research, doesn’t simply hurt children at the time; it can also store up problems for their future.

So, even if their parents separated when they were small, they won’t necessarily suffer the full effects until they become adults themselves.

It can contribute to their own marital problems — including affairs of their own — or hamper their ability to form lasting relationships.

[…] When an affair is discovered, both parents are so anxious, angry and even traumatised that they have limited resources for dealing with more stress from their children, who are likely to be more demanding than usual.

In some families, sons and daughters are sucked into the emotional vortex. In others, they are given little by way of explanation other than: ‘Mummy and Daddy aren’t getting on very well at the moment.’

Lily says her adult children find it hard to trust and respect their father because he lied to them as children and still denies he had an affair with the woman to whom he’s now married.

‘My son went through a very bad time as a teenager, drinking too much and running away,’ she says.

‘Both children mind to this day that my ex has never come clean about what really happened.

‘My daughter hasn’t settled down with anyone yet — she doesn’t trust that it could last.

‘My son, who’s married, once asked me if I thought infidelity might be in his genes because of the fact his father was serially unfaithful.

‘He seriously considered not getting married at all because he didn’t want to risk hurting his girlfriend in the way that he’d been hurt.’

Very interesting read about what it is like to be a child in an environment like that. I think it’s worth it for us to read articles like this so that we take the problem seriously and make plans to avoid it. If we know how hard it is for children to go through something like this, then not only will we be more careful ourselves, but we’ll be more confident when telling other people who ask for our advice on these things. Sometimes, knowing the details of the harm that can be caused helps us to avoid behaviors that lead up to the harm. We have to know the harm, and we have to know the causes of the harm. Affairs cause divorces, and divorces harm children.

So let’s be careful when we choose who to marry. Has this person shown that they can be faithful? Can they control themselves sexually? Are they good at providing for our needs so that we won’t be tempted to have an affair? Are we good at providing for their needs so that they won’t be tempted to have an affair? How serious are they about religion and morality – do they care about moral obligations when they go against their self-interest? How accustomed are they to limiting their own conduct for the good of others, especially children and animals? Those are the questions we should be asking before getting married.

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UK survey finds that men and women expect to have sex after a few dates

Dina sent me this depressing article from the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

Men now expect to sleep with a new partner on their third date – but women typically won’t consider it until the fifth, according to an intriguing new study on dating in the 21st century.

On the first date men are most likely to pay for dinner and drinks, with most couples tending to split the bill from the second date onwards.

But by the third date men expect sex and are willing to splash their cash to hurry the romance along.

[…]Both sexes are now spending small fortunes in a bid to prepare themselves for a date that could end in sex, the study found.

Men typically spend £46.79 on grooming, while women spend £5 less at £41.79.

Women prepare for a first night of passion by waxing their legs (58 per cent), buying new lingerie (32 per cent), and waxing their bikini line (17 per cent).

Men are most likely to buy new underwear (28 per cent), groom their pubic hair (27 per cent), and buy new bed linen (15 per cent).

The money is being spent wisely, as men say their biggest turn-offs are a hairy upper lip, dirty sheets, and hairy legs.

And women are turned off by dirty sheets, untidy nails, and an untidy bedroom.

I’ve posted before about how having a large number of premarital sex partners causes marriages to fail. This finding is true for men who have many partners, and especially true for women. The fun that people have before they are married gets paid for later when they cannot hold the relationship together. Premarital promiscuity teaches you nothing about how to be faithful and self-sacrificial in a marriage. It trains you to think that sex is not something to save for a commitment, but something to be done in order to have “fun”. When people have premarital sex, they are treating sex as a recreational activity. They are not willing to commit to loving and taking care of the person they are having sex with for life, so that the other person will not be harmed if the relationship fails. We shouldn’t be having fun with a person in ways we’re we will be deeply connected to them and then just pull away from them and leave them alone. If that happens to a person enough, it ruins their ability to be trusting and vulnerable. It’s hard to repair the damage once it’s been done.

I think that if we are going to be serious about marriage, then we need to think seriously about rolling back our support for this sort of promiscuity, as well as laws that promote break-ups like no-fault divorce. Instead of encouraging people to think that sex before marriage is normal, we should be encouraging them to look at the data that shows that waiting a long time (or even better, waiting until marriage) before having sex is the right thing to do.

And for Christians, let me just reiterate that premarital sex and adultery are both forbidden. You cannot be a Christian and be having sex outside of marriage. The Bible is very very clear about that. Although people like to think that Christianity is compatible with sex outside of marriage, it’s not. We need to be careful about watering down Christianity in order to avoid the need to bow the knee to God’s authority in sexual areas.

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New study: delaying sexual activity produces improves relationship quality and stability

Dina sent me this article from the UK Daily Mail about a new study showing the importance of chastity for relationship quality and stability.

Excerpt:

New couples who jump into bed together on the first date do not last as long in relationships as those who wait a new study has revealed.

Using a sample of almost 11,000 unmarried people, Brigham Young University discovered a direct correlation between the length and strength of a partnership and the amount of time they took to have first have sex.

The study showed that those who waited to initiate sexual intimacy were found to have longer and more positive outcomes in their relationships while those who couldn’t help themselves reported that their dalliances struggled to last more than two years.

‘Results suggested that waiting to initiate sexual intimacy in unmarried relationships was generally associated with positive outcomes,’ said the report authored published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

‘This effect was strongly moderated by relationship length, with individuals who reported early sexual initiation reporting increasingly lower outcomes in relationships of longer than two years.’

The study examined four sexual-timing patterns: Having sex prior to dating, initiating sex on the first date or shortly after, having sex after a few weeks of dating, and sexual abstinence.

Each one of these fields yielded different results in relationship satisfaction, stability and communication in dating situations.

Should we be telling children moral rules, backed by evidence, so that they will have better lives? Or should we be telling them lies so that they won’t feel bad about behaving immorally? That’s the choice that every grown-up has to make. Are we going to tell the children something that will guide them away from harm? Or are adults going to tell them something that makes them feel better about their own mistakes?

When I see studies like this, it makes me glad that I am still a virgin, and I really recommend that to everyone, especially to men. It’s important to keep a clear head and to protect your ability to make bond to the right woman, should she come along. That’s what gives you the ability to make a tight bond, and helps you to trust women and to believe the best about the good one that you finally decide on. Too much early sex, and seeing women at their worst, and you lose your ability to trust the good ones.

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Miss Marprelate reviews The Shack

If you are like me, then you are probably wondering where all the support for traditional Christian beliefs has gone, especially among Christian women.

Well, do I have a surprise for you! Meet Rebekah from the Miss Marprelate blog.

The Shack

Rebekah starts by talking about William P. Young’s book “The Shack”, which has proven immensely popular (Amazon rank: 7 in Books, 3527 reviews). It has been particularly popular in Christian circles, particularly with those seeking to re-imagine Jesus using their intuitions and emotions instead of performing a rigorous historical and theological analysis of the New Testament.

Here are some excerpts. (Quotes are from the book)

Part 1 of 6:

One of the first problems that people have with the book is it’s portrayal of the Trinity. God the Father is portrayed as a black woman, Jesus as a middle-eastern man, and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman.

…On the gender issue. We are not called to be creative and inventive when it comes to the worship and understanding of God. Our duty is to live out what He has revealed in the Bible which is our source for truth. God is not masculine or feminine to be sure, but God is not a goddess. He reveals himself in the masculine and I don’t think redefining God for shock value is a good idea.

Part 2 of 6:

“God’s voice, had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners’ access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges…” pg. 65-66

I think that any orthodox Christian would have to say that even if God does communicate on some level with people today, He does not contridict the Bible. If you claim to have some new revelation that contradicts a proper interpretation of the Bible, we call that a cult, not God’s voice.

Part 3 of 6:

“The Bible doesn’t teach you to follow rules” referring to things like “doing good things and avoiding evil, being kind to the poor, reading your Bible, praying, and going to church.” pg. 197

…Maybe I am too cynical but I think that if a man who was caught in adultery later writes a book in which he says that marriage is not an institution, there is no law, responsibilities and expectations ruin relationships, and no one is allowed to judge anyone else, well, I would just call it very convenient. I would not however want any prospective husband to think that way.

William P. Young cheated on his wife with one of her best friends. Do you think that had anything to do with his dismissal of the moral demands of Christianity? No one is perfect, but we ought not try to justify our sins by saying there are no moral standards. How is it possible that Christians just love this book? Is it because they don’t want moral standards to apply to their conduct? Why admire and patronize an unrepentant adulterer when you could be reading Lee Strobel or Bill Craig, instead? Where are our priorities?

Part 4 of 6:

“Are there any (People) who you are not especially fond of?” Mack asks Papa. “Nope”.

“I [God] am not who you think I am, Mackenzie. I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

I’m no Biblical scholar but I am sure that there are bits of the Bible which reveal God’s wrath and judgment on people that He is not especially pleased with or fond of. Psalms 2, 5, and 58 to name a few from off the top of my head. Unless you want to say that abhor, destroy, cast out, derision, displeasure, vex, break them, dash them to pieces, perish, wrath, break their teeth, cut in pieces, vengeance, are terms of endearment.

Part 5 of 6:

There is nothing evil, there is nothing even close-minded about defaulting to a traditional way of understanding until you are obliged by overwhelming evidence to see that you need to change. To stand by what always has been is to acknowledge that you are not smarter than thousands of years of scholars and theologians. It is to acknowledge that seemingly small changes in doctrine or practice can have implications that we may not see for a hundred years.

Part 6 of 6 just contains links to podcasts and other resources.

My take on this (not endorsed by Rebekah!)

As Christians, we need to recognize that there are a lot of people who do not study apologetics. No matter what these people say, it will be harder for them to act like a Christian when they are tempted – because they do not know in the same way that they know other things for which they have evidence.

William P. Young has probably never even read the Narnia stories, far less for some of our top scholars. Therefore, to is going to be harder for him to avoid sinning because he simply doesn’t know whether Christianity is real. He’s never studied any evidence nor has he ever see the evidence debated, in my opinion.

This mistrust of evidence is standard operating procedure in the church. Christians spend years singing songs and then something bad happens and they dump their faith because no one ever told them how to defend against the problem of evil, (or any other commonplace objection to Christianity). Instead of becoming informed about the truth of Christianity, we emphasize emotional satisfaction. You can’t survive temptation and doubt like that.

The purpose of apologetics is not just to persuade non-Christians of the truth of Christianity, it’s also to persuade Christians of the truth of Christianity. How can Christians be expected to do the right thing when they spend no time at all deciding whether God is real, by studying and hearing both sides debate these issues. Our beliefs are not under the control of our wills – they change naturally when we spend time studying arguments, evidence and debates.

Christianity is a matter of trusting in what you know to be true, based on reason and evidence. Christianity is not squinting your eyes, clenching your fists and trying real hard to squeeze out some blind faith.

We need to get with the program. I recommend evidential, old-earth apologetics taught by Christian scholars from the pulpit in the main church service of every church, at least once a quarter. You may not listen to me now, but as more and more people leave the church, you’ll start to listen.

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