Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What historical evidence is there to support the post-mortem appearances of Jesus?

Eric Chabot of Ratio Christi Ohio State University has a great post up about the post-mortem appearances of Jesus.

The post contains:

  • a list of the post-mortem resurrection appearances
  • quotations by skeptical historians about those appearances
  • alternative naturalistic explanations of the appearances
  • responses to those naturalistic explanations

Although there is a lot of research that went into the post, it’s not very long to read. The majority of scholars accept the appearances, because they appear in so many different sources and because some of those sources are very early, especially Paul’s statement of the early Christian creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, which is from about 1-3 years after Jesus was executed by the Romans. Eric’s post lists out some of the skeptical scholars who the appearances, and you can see how they allude to the historical criteria that they are using. (If you want to sort of double-check the details, I blogged about how historians investigate ancient sources before)

Let’s take a look at some of the names you might recognize:

E.P. Sanders:

That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know. “I do not regard deliberate fraud as a worthwhile explanation. Many of the people in these lists were to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming that they had seen the risen Lord, and several of them would die for their cause. Moreover, a calculated deception should have produced great unanimity. Instead, there seem to have been competitors: ‘I saw him first!’ ‘No! I did.’ Paul’s tradition that 500 people saw Jesus at the same time has led some people to suggest that Jesus’ followers suffered mass hysteria. But mass hysteria does not explain the other traditions.” “Finally we know that after his death his followers experienced what they described as the ‘resurrection’: the appearance of a living but transformed person who had actually died. They believed this, they lived it, and they died for it.”[1]

Bart Ehrman:

It is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution. We know some of these believers by name; one of them, the apostle Paul, claims quite plainly to have seen Jesus alive after his death. Thus, for the historian, Christianity begins after the death of Jesus, not with the resurrection itself, but with the belief in the resurrection.[2]

Ehrman also says:

We can say with complete certainty that some of his disciples at some later time insisted that . . . he soon appeared to them, convincing them that he had been raised from the dead.[3]

 Ehrman also goes onto say:  

Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since this is a matter of public record.[4]

Why, then, did some of the disciples claim to see Jesus alive after his crucifixion? I don’t doubt at all that some disciples claimed this. We don’t have any of their written testimony, but Paul, writing about twenty-five years later, indicates that this is what they claimed, and I don’t think he is making it up. And he knew are least a couple of them, whom he met just three years after the event (Galatians 1:18-19).[5]

Marcus Borg

The historical ground of Easter is very simple: the followers of Jesus, both then and now, continued to experience Jesus as a living reality after his death. In the early Christian community, these experiences included visions or apparitions of Jesus. [8]

The references to Paul are because of the early creed he records in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, and his conversations with the other eyewitnesses in Galatians. Eric has another post where he goes over that early creed, and it is something that every Christian should know about. It’s really kind of surprising that you never hear a sermon on that early creed in church, where they generally sort of assume that you believe everything in the Bible on faith. But skeptical historians don’t believe in the post-mortem appearances by faith – they believe it (in part) because of 1 Corinthians 15:3-7.

If you want to see a Christian scholar make the case for the resurrection appearances in a debate, then here is a post I wrote with the video, audio and summary of the William Lane Craig vs James Crossley debate on the resurrection.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , ,

Michelle Malkin: why do so many women judge men’s character by their appearance?

Michelle Malkin is concerned by women who think that convicted criminals are actually innocent. Why? Because they are HAWT.

She writes:

I would like to declare a war on women — namely, all those cringe-inducing ninnies who lust after every celebrity criminal defendant with big muscles, tattoos, puppy-dog eyes or Hollywood hair.

You know who I’m talking about, right? America’s Bad Boy groupies. They’reon the courthouse steps with their “Free Jahar” signs, cooing over how “hot” and “cute” the bloodstained Boston Marathon bombing suspect is. He “can blow me up with babies,” one moral reprobate quipped shortly after his capture. “I’m not gonna lie, the second bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is hot. #sorrynotsorry,” another young girl boasted.

Among the callous accused killer’s victims, in case you’d forgotten: 8-year-old boy Martin Richard, who had been cheering on his dad and other family friends at the race. But who cares about an innocent dead child blown to bits by pressure cooker bombs in the name of Allah? Jahar is HAWT!

Far from a minuscule fringe, the Ja-harem is a growing social media phenomenon. Its members mimic Justin Bieber’s Beliebers, adopting the last name of their Tiger Beat terrorist and doodling hearts around his mug shot. In heat or in jest, these depraved females continue to spread viral photos, memes and hashtags of their Islamist Idol. One woman showed up at Tsarnaev’s court appearance Wednesday donning a “Free the Lion” T-shirt. Another sported a “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent” tee, while her gal pal shouted, “Exonerate!”

For those ladies who prefer jocks to jihadis, there’s accused murderer/NFL star Aaron Hernandez. He’s “fine as wine,” one woman lusted. He’s “too damned sexy to go to prison,” another lamented. “He can come to jail at my house,” sighed yet another. In response to one of gangsta Hernandez’s Glock-wielding Instagram pics, one sick chick slavered, “Soooo hot with the combination handgun-mirror selfie.”

Fugitive cop-killer Christopher Dorner also had his own fan club. Parked in front of their TV sets, women cheered on the “kinda sexy” homicidal maniac as he terrorized Southern California before perishing in a cabin inferno. “I’d honestly hide Dorner in my house,” one fan girl enthused. Tens of thousands “liked” Dorner’s various support pages on Facebook.

Harmless Internet chitter-chatter? Don’t kid yourselves. While some of the murderers’ panting minions may be joking, it’s irresponsible women like these who end up enabling, marrying and conspiring with public menaces.

They’re your neighbors and relatives, suburban gals like Colleen “Jihad Jane” LaRose and Jamie “Jihad Jamie” Paulin-Ramirez of Colorado, who agreed to wed Muslim terrorists and conspired to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks. Paulin-Ramirez dragged her 6-year-old (whom she renamed “Walid”) to Ireland to assist with the plot. Family members said she was “easily influenced” and that “any man that came along … she kind of followed like a lost puppy.”

There’s a lot more like that in the article. I think that what is happening to women today is that they are convinced that the relationship is for their benefit, not God’s, and not the children’s. They know that being seen with a good looking man makes them happy. They don’t really know much about married life and how much marriage costs. Instead of trying to pick a man with some savings and a good job and a gapless resume, they prefer to choose someone who is “hawt” and who is fun and amusing. There is no other consideration in play – they just want a man to make them happy, and they think that marrying a man will transform him into a happy-feeling making machine. Who cares about mortgages, bills and obligations?

It reminds me of a study I saw a while back, which was discussed in the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

It takes a woman just three minutes to make up her mind about whether she likes a man or not, a study has revealed.

The average female spends the time sizing up looks, physique and dress-sense as well as taking in scent, accent and eloquence of a potential suitor.

Women also quickly judge how he interacts with her friends and whether he is successful or ambitious.

It also emerged most women believe 180 seconds is long enough to gauge whether or not he is Mr Right, or Mr Wrong.

The study also found women rarely change their mind about a man after their initial reaction – and believe they are ‘always right’ in their assumptions and judgments.

The report which was commissioned among 3,000 adults to mark the release of Instinct, a new book by Ben Kay.

Kay said: ‘I think a lot of people believe in trusting their instincts when dating. It makes it seem more magical, like it’s coming from somewhere deeper.

I am not sure if this method of choosing mates should be used by Christian women. If the goal of a relationship is to please God and serve him, then our feelings should not be the guide. God is the customer of the relationship, not the woman, and not the man. The goal of a relationship is not primarily to have happy feelings – because that can lead to being selfish and destructive. It makes no sense to say that you are driving drunk in order to please God, or playing Russian roulette in order to please God – pleasing God needs to be done intelligently, with preparation, and respecting strict moral boundaries, if it is going to stand the chance of being effective at achieving his goals. It’s so easy to think that God is just interested in our happiness, but he isn’t. He is interested in us knowing him, serving him, suffering with him and understanding him.

Also, think of the harm that can be caused if women use emotions to choose men for the role of making them happy, instead of the role of making God happy. Men are designed by God to be protectors, providers and moral/spiritual leaders. According to this study, women are completely disinterested in whether a man can perform these traditional male roles. Because it is clear that nothing at all can be known about a man’s ability to perform these roles by looking at his appearance and style. Even if a man has a confident way of saying what a great provider he is, it doesn’t mean anything – if you want to know how much a man earns, look at his paycheck. I told that to a woman once, and she told me that she would rather use her “intuition” to guess how much a man makes. And to have the “feeling” that he makes a lot, instead of seeing the paycheck. That makes no sense to me, though. The only way to know if a man has savings is to see his investment portfolio. You can’t see the size of his portfolio by looking at his shoes.

Here are some ideas about what women should be doing to assess men for these roles:

  • protector: does he understand which ideologies and policies oppose marriage, faith and family? is he good at defending his views against secular leftists?
  • provider: what does his balance sheet look like? what does his resume look like? what does his university transcript look like? does he give to charity?
  • moral leader: what has he written or spoken about related to moral issues like abortion, marriage, parental rights, etc.?
  • spiritual leader: what has he written or spoken about related to theology and apologetics? does he have long-term mentoring relationships with other committed Christians?

None of these ways of judging a man can be accomplished in 180 seconds, and probably not even in 180 hours. It takes time to measure a man for marriage. And having fun with him is not the way to measure him.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why do some people disagree with the gay lifestyle?

Here’s an article from the liberal New York Times that explains one practical reason why social conservatives disagree with the gay lifestyle and prefer not to celebrate it. (H/T Neil)

Here’s the set up:

BOB BERGERON was so relentlessly cheery that people sometimes found it off-putting. If you ran into him at the David Barton Gym on West 23rd Street, where he worked out nearly ever morning at 7, and you complained about the rain, he would smile and say you’d be better off focusing on a problem you could fix.

That’s how Mr. Bergeron was as a therapist as well, always upbeat, somewhat less focused on getting to the root of his clients’ feelings than altering behavior patterns that were detrimental to them: therapy from the outside-in.

Over the last decade, he built a thriving private practice, treating well-to-do gay men for everything from anxiety to coping with H.I.V. Mr. Bergeron had also begun work as a motivational speaker, giving talks at gay and lesbian centers in Los Angeles and Chicago. In February, Magnus Books, a publisher specializing in gay literature, was scheduled to print a self-help guide he had written, “The Right Side of Forty: The Complete Guide to Happiness for Gay Men at Midlife and Beyond.”

It was a topic he knew something about. Having come out as gay in the mid-1980s, Mr. Bergeron, 49, had witnessed the worst years of the AIDS epidemic and emerged on the other side. He had also seen how few public examples there were of gay men growing older gracefully.

He resolved to rewrite the script, and provide a toolbox for better living.

“I’ve got a concise picture of what being over 40 is about and it’s a great perspective filled with happiness, feeling sexy, possessing comfort relating to other men and taking good care of ourselves,” Mr. Bergeron said on his Web site.  “This picture will get you results that flourish long-term.”

But right around New Year’s Eve, something went horribly wrong. On Jan. 5, Mr. Bergeron was found dead in his apartment, the result of a suicide that has left his family, his friends and his clients shocked and heartbroken as they attempt to figure out how he could have been so helpful to others and so unable to find help himself.

Look:

To his friends, Mr. Bergeron maintained a positive tone. He went on vacation, dated some, visited museums.

Still, he privately expressed misgivings about what the future held. Olivier Van Doorne, a patient of Mr. Bergeron and the creative director of SelectNY, a fashion advertising firm, recalled Mr. Bergeron telling him that every gay man peaks at one point in his life.

“He said a number of times: ‘I peaked when I was 30 or 35. I was super-successful, everyone looked at me, and I felt extremely cool in my sexuality.’ ”

Mr. Siegel, the therapist who supervised Mr. Bergeron in the early days of his career, said: “Bob was a very beautiful younger man, and we talked a lot about how that shapes and creates a life. The thesis of his book is based very much on his own personal experience with that. And the book also emphasized what to do when you’re not attractive or you no longer have the appeal you once had. The idea was to transcend that and expand your sexual possibilities.”

And:

With the book about to be printed, Mr. Bergeron became convinced that he’d written too much about the shame and isolation involved with hooking up online; that people weren’t even really doing that anymore, now that phone apps like Grindr and Scruff had come along.

His book, he felt, had become antiquated before it even came out.

[...]Though some of his friends, Mr. Rappaport among them, wondered whether drugs were involved, leading to a crash Mr. Bergeron did not anticipate, the suicide seemed to have been carried out with methodical precision. On an island in the kitchen, Mr. Bergeron had meticulously laid out his papers. There was a pile of folders with detailed instructions on top about whom to call regarding his finances and his mortgage. Across from that he placed the title page of his book, on which he also wrote his suicide note. In it he told Mr. Sackheim and Mr. Rappaport that he loved them and his family, but that he was “done.”

As his father remembered it, Mr. Bergeron also wrote, “It’s a lie based on bad information.”

An arrow pointed up to the name of the book.

The inference was clear. As Mr. Bergeron saw it at the end of his life, the only right side of 40 was the side that came before it.

What’s the problem?

I think that the problem is that in the gay lifestyle, you have a typically male emphasis on physical appearance, sex and pleasure. There is none of the moderating influence of women, which tends to push men into commitments, responsibility and stability.

According to the research, the gay lifestyle is very different than the traditional heterosexual courting approach:

The 2003-2004 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census surveyed the lifestyles of 7,862 homosexuals. Of those involved in a “current relationship,” only 15 percent describe their current relationship as having lasted twelve years or longer, with five percent lasting more than twenty years.[4]

A study of homosexual men in the Netherlands published in the journal AIDS found that the “duration of steady partnerships” was 1.5 years.[6]

In his study of male homosexuality in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, Pollak found that “few homosexual relationships last longer than two years, with many men reporting hundreds of lifetime partners.”[7]

And:

The Dutch study of partnered homosexuals, which was published in the journal AIDS, found that men with a steady partner had an average of eight sexual partners per year.[12]

In their study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in the Journal of Sex Research, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that “the modal range for number of sexual partners ever [of homosexuals] was 101-500.” In addition, 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent had between 501 and 1,000 partners. A further 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent reported having had more than one thousand lifetime sexual partners.[14]

A survey conducted by the homosexual magazine Genre found that 24 percent of the respondents said they had had more than one hundred sexual partners in their lifetime. The magazine noted that several respondents suggested including a category of those who had more than one thousand sexual partners.[15]

And:

Even in those homosexual relationships in which the partners consider themselves to be in a committed relationship, the meaning of “committed” or “monogamous” typically means something radically different than in heterosexual marriage.

A Canadian study of homosexual men who had been in committed relationships lasting longer than one year found that only 25 percent of those interviewed reported being monogamous.” According to study author Barry Adam, “Gay culture allows men to explore different…forms of relationships besides the monogamy coveted by heterosexuals.”[16]

[...]In their Journal of Sex Research study of the sexual practices of older homosexual men, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that only 2.7 percent of older homosexuals had only one sexual partner in their lifetime.[19]

In the gay lifestyle, men seem to have the most value when they are younger and more good-looking. The whole thing seems to be very much about appearance and sex – having as much sex as possible with as many different men as possible. (See, for example, the popular Grindr application on the iPhone, which allows gays to find other gays for anonymous hook-up sex)

This is really sad, because it means that as the gay men get older and their looks fade, they lose value in the area that counts the most to many of them: sexuality. This is different than in a traditional heterosexual marriage, where the man retains his value longer since he can perform his traditional male roles as a husband and father even after he gets older and loses his looks. In fact, his ability to protect, provide and lead on moral and spiritual issues can actually get better as he gets older – so his self-esteem goes up. Now it’s true that he can get depressed when he retires, but by then he’s probably around 65! And at least he will have a wife there to take care of them, and probably children to support, too. My Dad, for example, does lots of things to help me even though he is retired.

I think this NYT article sheds light on why people with traditional values tend to disagree with homosexuality and also to refrain from celebrating and affirming the gay lifestyle. We treat the gay lifestyle as if it were similar to smoking. It’s permissible, but not to be encouraged. We are not trying to make anyone feel badly just for the sake of being mean to them. If a certain lifestyle is not fulfilling, then it is a good thing to say to people “you should think twice about getting involved in this”. It’s not loving to tell people that harmful things are not really harmful. Telling someone that something unfulfilling or unhealthy is actually good for them doesn’t help them any. It’s not loving to tell a child that touching a hot stove won’t burn them – the loving thing to do is to tell the truth and then let them choose.

Here’s my previous post outlining a secular case against gay marriage.

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

New study finds that women choose mates based on appearance

From the UK Daily Mail. (H/T Vox Day)

Excerpt:

It takes a woman just three minutes to make up her mind about whether she likes a man or not, a study has revealed.

The average female spends the time sizing up looks, physique and dress-sense as well as taking in scent, accent and eloquence of a potential suitor.

Women also quickly judge how he interacts with her friends and whether he is successful or ambitious.

It also emerged most women believe 180 seconds is long enough to gauge whether or not he is Mr Right, or Mr Wrong.

The study also found women rarely change their mind about a man after their initial reaction – and believe they are ‘always right’ in their assumptions and judgments.

The report which was commissioned among 3,000 adults to mark the release of Instinct, a new book by Ben Kay.

Kay said: ‘I think a lot of people believe in trusting their instincts when dating. It makes it seem more magical, like it’s coming from somewhere deeper.

I am not sure if this method of choosing mates should be used by Christian women. If the goal of a relationship is to please God and serve him, then our feelings should not be the guide. God is the customer of the relationship, not the woman, and not the man. The goal of a relationship is not primarily to have happy feelings – because that can lead to being selfish and destructive. It makes no sense to say that you are driving drunk in order to please God, or playing Russian roulette in order to please God – pleasing God needs to be done intelligently, with preparation, and respecting strict moral boundaries, if it is going to stand the chance of being effective at achieving his goals. It’s so easy to think that God is just interested in our happiness, but he isn’t. He is interested in us knowing him, serving him, suffering with him and understanding him.

Also, think of the harm that can be caused if women use emotions to choose men for the role of making them happy, instead of the role of making God happy. Men are designed by God to be protectors, providers and moral/spiritual leaders. According to this study, women are completely disinterested in whether a man can perform these traditional male roles. Because it is clear that nothing at all can be known about a man’s ability to perform these roles by looking at his appearance and style. Even if a man has a confident way of saying what a great provider he is, it doesn’t mean anything – he could be lying. The only way to know for sure is to see his investment portfolio. You can’t see the size of his portfolio by looking at his shoes.

Here are some ideas about what women should be doing to assess men for these roles:

  • protector: does he understand which ideologies and policies oppose marriage, faith and family? is he good at defending his views against secular leftists?
  • provider: what does his balance sheet look like? what does his resume look like? what does his university transcript look like? does he give to charity?
  • moral leader: what has he written or spoken about related to moral issues like abortion, marriage, parental rights, etc.?
  • spiritual leader: what has he written or spoken about related to theology and apologetics? does he have long-term mentoring relationships with other committed Christians?

None of these ways of judging a man can be accomplished in 180 seconds, and probably not even in 180 hours. It takes time.

Related posts on sex and feminism

Related posts on courting

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What does the Bible say about judging others and Hell?

UPDATE: I thought I’d better explain what’s in this post at the top. First, I show where Hell is mentioned in the gospels. Second, I talk about whether can Christians should judge non-Christians. Finally, I talk about why judging can actually be the loving thing to do.

Where is Hell in the New Testament?

Here’s a few Bible verses where Jesus talks about Hell.

  1. Matthew 5:22
    But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
  2. Matthew 5:29
    If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
  3. Matthew 5:30
    And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
  4. Matthew 10:28
    Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
  5. Matthew 18:9
    And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
  6. Matthew 23:33
    “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
  7. Mark 9:43
    If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
  8. Mark 9:45
    And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.
  9. Mark 9:47
    And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,
  10. Luke 12:5
    But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
  11. Luke 16:23
    In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side

I don’t mind if people disagree with those verses on historical grounds – maybe because they are not early enough or not multiply attested enough, although I think they are historically reliable. What bothers me is when a person throws verses out because they just don’t like them, because of intuitions and emotions.

Who to judge and how to judge

Did you know that it is forbidden to judge non-Christians on Christian moral standards?

1 Cor 5:9-13:

9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—

10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.

11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

I think this text explains what judging is. If you “judge” someone, it seems to mean disagreeing with them or it could even mean avoiding them. For example, I often speak against single motherhood and day care in front of people who are single mothers and who use day care, for example.

I think that Christians can vote for political candidates who are pro-life and pro-marriage and pro-liberty. But the verse above says that but you can’t force individual non-Christians to act like Christians against their own free will. You can judge other Christians, but be careful how you do that if you actually want them to listen to you. Have a relationship with them first, and then talk about moral issues in the abstract. People get defensive unless you make the discussion about the evidence, not about their personal lives.

And of course you can disagree with people of other religions about which religion is true when tested against history and the external world, but again, it’s best to appeal to logic and evidence. E.g. – the big bang, which falsifies a whole stack of world religions and cults, and is testable scientifically.

Why judging is wonderful and you should do it, too

I wonder if you all remember a while back when I linked to all the chapters of Theodore Dalrymple’s famous book “Life at the Bottom”, which is about the worldview of the British lower class. It’s also about how rich, well-meaning secular leftists hurt the poor by enacting public policies that reward bad behavior and punish good behavior. Dalrymple is a psychiatrist in a hospital, so he sees it all firsthand.

This is from the introduction to the book:

The disastrous pattern of human relationships that exists in the underclass is also becoming common higher up the social scale. With increasing frequency I am consulted by nurses, who for the most part come from and were themselves traditionally members of (at least after Florence Nightingale) the respectable lower middle class, who have illegitimate children by men who first abuse and then abandon them. This abuse and later abandonment is usually all too predictable from the man’s previous history and character; but the nurses who have been treated in this way say they refrained from making a judgment about him because it is wrong to make judgments. But if they do not make a judgment about the man with whom they are going to live and by whom they are going to have a child, about what are they ever going to make a judgment?

“It just didn’t work out,” they say, the “it” in question being the relationship that they conceive of having an existence independent of the two people who form it, and that exerts an influence on their on their lives rather like an astral projection. Life is fate.

I think that young people today prefer moral relativists as mates, because they are afraid of being judged and rejected by people who are too serious about religion and morality, especially the old kind of morality that was focused on chastity, sobriety, worship, charity, etc. The problem is that if a young person chooses someone who doesn’t take religion and morality seriously, then that person can’t rely on their partner to behave morally and to exercise moral leadership in the home.

Here’s another one of my favorite passages from the “Tough Love” chapter, in which he describes how he easily he can detect whether a particular male patient has violent tendencies or not, on sight. But female victims of domestic violence – and even the hospital nurses – cannot or will not recognize the signs that a man is violent.

All the more surprising is it to me, therefore, that the nurses perceive things differently. They do not see a man’s violence in his face, his gestures, his deportment, and his bodily adornments, even though they have the same experience of the patients as I. They hear the same stories, they see the same signs, but they do not make the same judgments. What’s more, they seem never to learn; for experience—like chance, in the famous dictum of Louis Pasteur—favors only the mind prepared. And when I guess at a glance that a man is an inveterate wife beater (I use the term “wife” loosely), they are appalled at the harshness of my judgment, even when it proves right once more.

This is not a matter of merely theoretical interest to the nurses, for many of them in their private lives have themselves been the compliant victims of violent men. For example, the lover of one of the senior nurses, an attractive and lively young woman, recently held her at gunpoint and threatened her with death, after having repeatedly blacked her eye during the previous months. I met him once when he came looking for her in the hospital: he was just the kind of ferocious young egotist to whom I would give a wide berth in the broadest daylight.

Why are the nurses so reluctant to come to the most inescapable of conclusions? Their training tells them, quite rightly, that it is their duty to care for everyone without regard for personal merit or deserts; but for them, there is no difference between suspending judgment for certain restricted purposes and making no judgment at all in any circumstances whatsoever. It is as if they were more afraid of passing an adverse verdict on someone than of getting a punch in the face—a likely enough consequence, incidentally, of their failure of discernment. Since it is scarcely possible to recognize a wife beater without inwardly condemning him, it is safer not to recognize him as one in the first place.

This failure of recognition is almost universal among my violently abused women patients, but its function for them is somewhat different from what it is for the nurses. The nurses need to retain a certain positive regard for their patients in order to do their job. But for the abused women, the failure to perceive in advance the violence of their chosen men serves to absolve them of all responsibility for whatever happens thereafter, allowing them to think of themselves as victims alone rather than the victims and accomplices they are. Moreover, it licenses them to obey their impulses and whims, allowing them to suppose that sexual attractiveness is the measure of all things and that prudence in the selection of a male companion is neither possible nor desirable.

Often, their imprudence would be laughable, were it not tragic: many times in my ward I’ve watched liaisons form between an abused female patient and an abusing male patient within half an hour of their striking up an acquaintance. By now, I can often predict the formation of such a liaison—and predict that it will as certainly end in violence as that the sun will rise tomorrow.

At first, of course, my female patients deny that the violence of their men was foreseeable. But when I ask them whether they think I would have recognized it in advance, the great majority—nine out of ten—reply, yes, of course. And when asked how they think I would have done so, they enumerate precisely the factors that would have led me to that conclusion. So their blindness is willful.

Just remember not to judge people for the purpose of hurting them. Judge others for the purpose of helping them to set up boundaries that will protect them from actions that might hurt them or those around them, and impose costs on the whole society to repair the damage. The best thing to do is to discuss moral issues in the abstract.

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