Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Is cohabitation a better way to prepare for marriage than courting?

Matt from Well Spent Journey sent me this assessment of cohabitation from the liberal New York Times.

Excerpt:

AT 32, one of my clients (I’ll call her Jennifer) had a lavish wine-country wedding. By then, Jennifer and her boyfriend had lived together for more than four years. The event was attended by the couple’s friends, families and two dogs.

When Jennifer started therapy with me less than a year later, she was looking for a divorce lawyer. “I spent more time planning my wedding than I spent happily married,” she sobbed. Most disheartening to Jennifer was that she’d tried to do everything right. “My parents got married young so, of course, they got divorced. We lived together! How did this happen?”

Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million. The majority of young adults in their 20s will live with a romantic partner at least once, and more than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation. This shift has been attributed to the sexual revolution and the availability of birth control, and in our current economy, sharing the bills makes cohabiting appealing. But when you talk to people in their 20s, you also hear about something else: cohabitation as prophylaxis.

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.

That’s a nice idea – wanting protection against divorce. But I think these hopeful attitudes that young people have about cohabitation and the utility / harmlessness of premarital sex, is so much whistling past the graveyard. The fact is that cohabitation does not improve marital stability. Young people believe it because they want to believe it. Let’s look at the evidence to see why.

Cohabitation is a bad idea because what it says is that sex is not to be confined to marriage, but it is instead for recreational purposes outside of marriage. If men and women cannot demonstrate that they are capable of self-control prior to marrying by functioning in a relationship based on commitment and not based on pleasure, then they are not qualified for marriage. Cohabitation is associated with higher risks of divorce because it works to undermine the need for quality communication during courting and the need for commitment that is based on discipline, instead of pleasure.

Research has shown that pre-marital chastity produces more stable and higher quality marriages. And that’s because chastity helps people to focus on conversations and obligations instead of the recreational sex which clouds the judgment and glosses over the seriousness of marriage. Premarital sex rushes the relationship to the point where it is harder to break it off because of the sunk costs of sex and the pain of the break-up. Courtship is the time to discuss the things that break up marriages, like finances and division of labor. It is also the time to demonstrate self-control and fidelity.

More:

Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.

Researchers originally attributed the cohabitation effect to selection, or the idea that cohabitors were less conventional about marriage and thus more open to divorce. As cohabitation has become a norm, however, studies have shown that the effect is not entirely explained by individual characteristics like religion, education or politics. Research suggests that at least some of the risks may lie in cohabitation itself.

As Jennifer and I worked to answer her question, “How did this happen?” we talked about how she and her boyfriend went from dating to cohabiting. Her response was consistent with studies reporting that most couples say it “just happened.”

“We were sleeping over at each other’s places all the time,” she said. “We liked to be together, so it was cheaper and more convenient. It was a quick decision but if it didn’t work out there was a quick exit.”

She was talking about what researchers call “sliding, not deciding.” Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation. Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean.

The problem with young people today is that they want marriage as “a blissful state where I will get whatever I want without having to do anything, and where I am free from the consequences of my own selfishness”.  They don’t want marriage as commitment, moral obligations, serving others and self-sacrifice. By avoiding conversations about who will do what, and what needs doing, they can fool themselves by thinking that happy sex and happy drinking and happy dancing will naturally turn into happy marriage. But marriage isn’t about feeling happy, it’s about being a sinful person who now has to learn to love another sinful person and has to train and lead selfish, rebellious children so they are able to serve God and others.

If you asked me, I would tell you that courting is protection against a bad marriage. And the aim of courting is to interview the other person so that you can see whether they understand the demands of the marriage and whether they can perform their duties to their spouse and children. In particular, men should investigate whether the woman has prepared (or is willing to prepare now) to perform her roles as wife and mother, and women should investigate whether the man has prepared to perform his roles as protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader (or is willing to prepare now). Courting is not designed to be fun, although it can be fun. It is not meant to make people feel happy, it is mean to prepare them for marriage. And this is because you cannot translate fun and happy into marriage, because marriage is about well-defined roles, self-sacrifice and commitment. Marriage is about following through for the other person, whether you get what you want or not.

And that’s why I encourage men to very gently and subtly guide the relationship in a way that will allow both the woman and himself to practice their expected marital duties, see how they feel about their duties and get better at being able to perform them.

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How to marry a Christian man: a checklist for women to prepare for marriage

Have you ever been in a job interview where the people hiring you just asked you for your opinions instead about your knowledge and experience? Imagine that. I’m a software engineer so in interviews, I get asked software engineering questions about what I know and what I’ve done. Employers never ask me “do you believe in testing your code?” and “do you like continuous integration?” and “how do you feel about design patterns?”. They always ask me about what I know, and what I’ve done with what I know. They ask me what I’ve studied and what skills I’ve put into practice previously. And they call my past employers and make certain that what I’ve told them is true.

Why do they do this? Well, employers do this because they have a specific goal in mind for me – roles that they expect me to fill with specific duties that they need me to help them with. In exchange, they offer me a salary. It would be a very strange thing if they offered me a salary just for having opinions about things that I didn’t know and had never put into practice.

My work consists of creating software for a client. I am used to asking the client about his or her needs are, and helping them to be specific about their needs. I work with the client in order to design a piece of software that will meet their needs. In software engineering, the customer’s needs come first, and the whole process is designed to produce functional code that satisfies the customer. I have a lot of fun working together with people on software and it can be very fulfilling, but the feelings I have about my job don’t matter as much as what I produce for my client. Often, it can mean a lot of self-sacrificial work that is very hard on me. But since the client has paid the bill, I make those sacrifices in order to achieve the client’s goals.

Now consider marriage. In marriage the client of the marriage enterprise is God. His goals are that each of the grown-ups and any children they produce will know him and make him known to others. He expects that the marriage will last a long time and be faithful and loyal. He expects that the marriage will conform to his specifications, not to the specifications on any other ideology – like feminism. He has requirements that are different than any engineer’s desire to be happy. The happiness of the engineers is not God’s primary goal. The happiness that the engineer has comes from achieving the goals of the client. And each engineer does his or her best to make sure other engineers stay focused on those goals and feel good about working for the client. The success of the marriage does not depend primarily on making anyone in the marriage happy, because it is not God’s plan for us to be “happy” in a worldly way. Our model is Jesus, and his example of obedience to God was self-sacrificial love for others, even at the point of suffering and dying for others.

So, when I am considering marriage to a woman, I want to make sure that she understands that the marriage will serve God and to assess how much knowledge and experience she has with the sorts of things that a God-serving marriage will involve. In particular, I am focused on making sure that she knows whether God exists. I want to see whether she has acted on that knowledge in a self-sacrificial, competent way in the past. I want to make sure that she is able to do hard things and bear with evil and suffering while remaining committed to serving God. I want to make sure that she believes in doing her job no matter how hard it gets. I want to see whether she has reasons to believe that morality is real and whether she grounds her convictions about morality in evidence as well as in the Bible. I want to see how much she has been influenced by the society’s descent into postmodernism and moral relativism. I also want her to understand the mechanics of marriage: what are her duties? what are my needs? how do we build faith in children that will last? why do people divorce? why do people cheat? what laws and policies make it easier to do a marriage and to raise Christian children?

So in view of all of that, I’ve written a list of questions below that are the ones I use to discuss marriage with a woman. My goal here is not to see that she already knows about all of these things. My goal is to know whether she sees marriage as a project to serve God, and whether she takes her obligations to serve God seriously and put her happiness second. Very often, the response I get is to these questions is rebellion and refusal to learn or answer. But people generally agree that these questions do what they are intended to do – they check to make sure that God’s goals will be the focus of the marriage. Women who think that the marriage is there to make them happy will not be interested in learning how to answer these questions and then trying to put what they’ve learned into practice.

QUESTIONS

1. Cosmology

What scientific evidence would you point to to show that God created the universe OR that God fine-tuned the universe, or parts of the universe, for intelligent life?

SAMPLE ANSWER: The big bang theory, the fine-tuning argument, galactic habitability, stellar habitability, or terrestrial habitability.

BONUS POINTS: referencing hard evidence like light element abundances, cosmic microwave background radiation, or specific instances of fine-tuning.

WHY IT MATTERS: She can’t be a Christian unless she knows God exists, and that can’t just be based on feelings and community. An awareness of the scientific evidence shows a seriousness about spiritual things – that her belief is rooted in objective reality, not in subjective feelings, culture, community, etc. It’s not “her truth”, it’s “the truth”. If she doesn’t know why she believes, then she can’t be relied upon to make decisions as a Christian, especially in stressful situations. There is always going to be a conflict between doing what one feels like and doing what is consistent with reality. Having scientific facts helps a person to do what they ought to do.

2. Intelligent Design

Explain the concept of intelligent design and explain how it applies to the i) origin of life OR ii) to the fossil record.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Explain the concept of specified complexity and Dembski’s explanatory filter, then explain how it applies to (i) amino acid sequencing or the double helix, OR (ii) to the sudden origin of animal phyla in the Cambrian explosion.

BONUS POINTS: Ideally, for the origin of life question, she’s going to mention things like UV radiation, chirality, cross-reactions and peptide bonds, then calculate the approximate probabilities for generating a protein by chance. For the Cambrian explosion, she should graph out the introduction of phyla over time, and explain the Ediacaran fauna and why they are not precursors to the Cambrian fauna. Bonus points for bashing theistic evolution, or talking about the early earth environment and the problems with forming amino acids.

WHY IT MATTERS: Darwinian evolution is bad science because it is really just philosophy (naturalism) masquerading as science. You can’t marry anyone who pre-supposes a materialist view of metaphysics like naturalists do, and then allows that philosophical assumption to overrule the scientific evidence. You don’t want to be paired up with someone who lets their prejudices overturn data.

3. The problems of evil and suffering

Assuming that Christianity is true, why do you think that God would allow suffering and evil in the world? Distinguish between human evil and natural evil in your answer. Also explain what role you think God’s permission of evil and suffering has in maturing Christians.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Define the deductive and inductive problems of evil, explains several different responses to them, such as free will, character formation, natural law, the ripple effect, etc. Mention the burden of proof for claims that certain evils are gratuitous, i.e. – noseeums.

BONUS POINTS: explaining how evil relates to Christian theology and God’s purposes for humans being knowledge of him and not just happiness, talking about Jesus’ own suffering and the meaning and purpose of it. More bonus points for pointing out how atheists cannot even complain about evil without assuming objective morality, which requires a moral lawgiver.

WHY IT MATTERS: Lots of nasty things can happen in a marriage. Children can get sick or die, jobs can be lost, and so on. It helps when you are dealing with a person who expects it and will not jettison their responsibilities and belief in Christ in order to pursue happiness unencumbered. The main thing is that the woman thinks that the purpose of life is to know God, and that suffering and evil play a role in gaining knowledge of God. You definitely do not want to marry someone who thinks that the purpose of life is happiness, and that God is some big bearded grandfather in the sky who just wants to hand out goodies to people and make sure they are having a good time regardless of what they choose to do.

4. The moral argument

What is the is-ought fallacy? What is the difference between moral objectivism and moral relativism? Give one reason why moral relativism is false. Give one reason why an atheist cannot rationally ground prescriptive morality. Explain why objective morality relates to God’s existence.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Explain the is-ought fallacy. Explain objective and subjective morality. Discuss the reformer’s dilemma and how it refutes relativism. Explain that atheism requires materialism, and materialism denies free will – so moral choices are impossible. Outline the moral argument.

BONUS POINTS: Give more than one reason where only one was asked for, refute attempts to assert objective morality on atheism, explain how moral obligations are related to God’s design for humans.

WHY IT MATTERS: You can’t marry a person who thinks that the moral law is not a brake on their desire to be happy. There are going to be times in the marriage when self-sacrifice is required by the moral law – either for you, for God, or for the children. It will not be easy to be moral then, so you are looking for someone who thinks that morality is real, and not subject to their feelings and whims. It might be worth asking the person when she has had to do the right thing when it was against her self-interest, like those valedictorians who name Jesus in their speeches and then get censored.

5. The resurrection of Jesus

Assume you are talking to a non-Christian. Explain how you would make a case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus on historical grounds. This person does not accept the Bible as inspired and/or inerrant.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Explain the criteria for establishing minimal facts / historical bedrock, list a set of minimal facts, explain why they pass the criteria, propose at least two naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection, and disprove them. MUST mention 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 in order to pass.

BONUS POINTS: listing atheist scholars who support each minimal fact, discussing N.T. Wright’s work on the Jewish concept of resurrection, referencing Richard Bauckham’s work on the gospels as eyewitness testimony, mentioning the pre-suppositions (naturalism, relativism) of liberal scholars like Crossan and Borg.

WHY IT MATTERS: The resurrection is the cornerstone of Christian belief. A person cannot encounter skeptics and not be able to defend the resurrection on historical grounds to them. The resurrection matters to how people act: they act completely differently depending on whether they believe that this life is all there is, or that this life is just a precursor to eternal life with God. You want someone who takes the long-term perspective.

6. World religions

Name two major world religions and argue against them using either the laws of logic, scientific evidence or historical evidence. Explain the concept of middle knowledge, and why it is relevant to the problem of religious pluralism.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Refute Theravada Buddhism with the big bang, or refute Islam with the crucifixion of Jesus, etc. MUST mention specific beliefs of that religion that are testable, and not just argue that they reject Christianity and are therefore false. Explain how middle knowledge reconciles free will and divine sovereignty, and that it also helps to solve the problem of people who have never heard the gospel.

BONUS POINTS: Using evidence that is universally accepted by people outside of that religion. Using scientific evidence. Referencing Acts 17:27 or other Bible passages when explaining middle knowledge. Mentioning objections to middle knowledge, such as the grounding objection.

WHY IT MATTERS: Many younger Christians today believe that Christianity is moralistic therapeutic deism. They think that the purpose of religion is to have good feelings and to be nice to other people and to make other people feel good. It’s all about feelings. You need to make sure that she knows how to make people feel bad and is comfortable doing it, with evidence. Middle knowledge also grounds the person’s willingness to see people as being responsible for their acceptance or rejection of Christ. Instead of taking a hands-off fatalistic approach to salvation, someone who accepts middle knowledge is going to take persuasion seriously and expend effort to try to change the people around them.

7. Abortion

How would you establish that the unborn are fully human and deserve protection? Explain three pro-abortion arguments and then show why they are false. Name three incremental pro-life policies that you would introduce if you were a legislator.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Use the SLED test and the law of biogenesis. Talk about the DNA signature of the unborn being distinct from the mother. Explain and refute the back-alley abortions argument, the it’s the woman’s body argument, the Judith Jarvis Thompson violinist argument, etc. Legislation would be parental notification, banning funding for abortion providers, mandatory sonograms, etc.

BONUS POINTS: Refute more pro-abortion arguments, reference specific legislation that is in-flight or was recently signed into law. Experiences protesting abortion or debating abortion with pro-abortionists. Experience counseling a post-abortive or crisis pregnancy woman. Mentioning biological details of foetus development.

WHY IT MATTERS: Basically, because people who think that sex is for recreation, and that it is ok to kill children to avoid any limits on the pursuit of happiness are not qualified for marriage. You can’t enter into an intimate commitment with someone who is willing to commit murder in order to get out of the consequences of their own selfish pursuit of pleasure. That is not going to work in a marriage – you need someone who makes good decisions, avoids harming others, is chaste and self-controlled, and takes responsibility for her actions when they go awry.

8. Marriage

Explain the public purposes of marriage, and then outline three threats to marriage and explain what legislation you would propose to neutralize these threats. What choices should people make before marriage to make sure they will have a stable, loving marriage?

SAMPLE ANSWER: Some public purposes of marriage are i) to force moral constraints on sexual activity, ii) to produce the next generation of humans, iii) to provide children with a stable, loving environment in which to grow up. Three threats to marriage are i) cohabitation, ii) no-fault divorce – which leads to fatherlessness, and iii) same-sex marriage. There are others, too. For legislation, there are things like tax incentives, shared parenting laws, school choice to de-monopolize politicized public schools, etc. Pre-marriage behaviors are things like chastity, experience with children, having lots of savings, being physically fit, etc. Having a degree in experimental science, math or economics is excellent for a woman. Avoid artsy degrees, especially English.

BONUS POINTS: Name more threats to marriage, explain the effects of fatherlessness on children, explain how divorce courts work, explain how socialism impacts the family through taxation and wealth redistribution, explain what happens to women and children after a divorce.

WHY IT MATTERS: It’s important for people who want to get married that they understand that marriage takes time and effort, and it requires both spouses to prepare for marriage, to be diligent at choosing a good spouse, and to understand what spouses and children need in order to stay engaged.

9. Children

Explain a person you admire and then tell me what you would do as a mother in order to produce that person from one of your children. What are some policies and laws that you would change to make your job easier?

SAMPLE ANSWER: Jay Richards. Jay Richards is one of the most well-rounded Christian scholars operating today. He has knowledge of multiple areas, including economics and science. To make a Jay Richards, you need to be very careful about his education – which could mean homeschooling and saving money for later university tuition, as well as exposing him to apologetics and debates at an earlier age. He would need to have the dedicated attention of his mother for the first two years of his life, at least. Some laws that would help would be lower taxes, school choice, and academic freedom laws.

BONUS POINTS: Explaining how different things like day care, public schools, divorce, etc. harm children. Explaining how mother and fathers contribute to the child’s moral, cognitive, spiritual, etc. development at different times. Explain how the child is harmed if both parents are not present and engaged to play these roles.

WHY IT MATTERS: Marriage is an enormous sacrifice for a man. Not only is there the risk of divorce, but wives and children are very expensive. A man can serve God fine as a bachelor. He has to have compelling reasons why getting married would serve God more than staying single. Producing influential children seems to be one of the major reasons for a man to get married, and he needs to see evidence that his wife is on board with that.

10. Husbands

Explain the roles of a man in a marriage, and tell me some of the things you would do in order to help your man to achieve those roles. What groups would oppose your husband from fulfilling those roles, and what have you done in your life to prepare yourself to help your husband in his roles? What are some of the most important things that a man needs from a woman, and what specific things should a wife do to provide them?

SAMPLE ANSWER: Men are supposed to be protectors, providers and moral/spiritual leaders. In order to help men to be protectors, women have to give them time to study to discern truth from lie, and support their ability to be physically strong, and to own firearms. It is also a good idea for women to have a positive view of good men who use force to restrain evil, as with the American military. Women should support the use of force against radical Islam and terrorists, as well. In order to help men to be providers, women have to advocate for fiscal conservatism in the public square. That would mean advocating for lower taxes, less government spending and smaller government. It would also mean being frugal in the home and helping the man to move ahead at work. If the children are up and out of the house, it could mean going back to work or starting a business to help make ends meet – or monitoring investments. For a man to be a moral and spiritual leader, a woman has to be supporting of him making moral judgments in the home, disciplining the children, holding her accountable for moral errors, and for making exclusive truth claims when it comes to spiritual things. She should not censor him when he gets into debates about spiritual things, even if other people who disagree feel bad – so long as he is not being a jerk. Her goal is not to be popular or liked, but to support her husband in his roles. The most important thing a man needs is respect, and that means treating him as important and significant, being grateful for his contributions, soliciting his opinion on things, being mindful of his male nature, which is more visual and sexual.

BONUS POINTS: Having read “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”, “Men and Marriage”, “Love and Economics” and “Taken Into Custody”. More bonus points for having written about what she learned about men and marriage from books like that. The goal here is for her to have a real awareness and sympathy for what men are facing as husbands and fathers, and to have an idea of what women can do to support them in their roles.

WHY IT MATTERS: As a man, you have certain needs – the biggest need is for respect. If you are thinking of marrying a woman who cannot define respect, and doesn’t know how to give you respect, then you are going to be in for a world of hurt. The more she views marriage as a joint project with specific goals and external challenges, the more understanding and support you will get. No one wants to fly a plane with someone who doesn’t know how to fly a plane, fix a plane or navigate a plane. The more she knows about men and marriage, the better it will go for you – and the children.

Parting thoughts

This list is not exhaustive, it’s just to give you an idea of the kinds of things you should be looking for. A lot of it is the attitude. You are looking for a woman who does not shift blame onto you, who takes responsibility when she is wrong, who argues using logic and evidence, who loses arguments gracefully, and wins arguments gracefully, and who loves you and cares for you even if you are fighting. If the woman is resentful and doesn’t want to learn anything to deepen her faith, then drop her and find someone who will learn – it will be much better for you to partner with someone lovable and helpful, instead of a selfish lazy feminist.

If I were making a list for women, I would emphasize different things more centered around the specific roles that men play in the marriage – asking for his resume, work history, savings, investments, past relationships with women, parenting ability, self-defense ability, mentoring ability, and especially on moral issues and Christian truth claims.The most important thing that a woman needs is love, and the man should be ready to speak about love at length, and explain how he is going to provide her with love during the courtship and during the marriage. Women need to know that they are significant and desired by the man.

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How to tell if a woman is ready for the challenges of marriage

A friend of mine sent me this Christian woman’s profile from OKCupid. I think it provides a window into what Christian women think that men and marriage are all about. Count the number of times she says “fit”, “fun” and “cute”. She likes football and Harry Potter books and movies.

Speaking for myself, I would not recommend that a Christian man marry this woman. If you consider all the challenges that married couples will face (see below), then this is not the person you would choose as your ally for life. Note, though, that “blame men” pastors like Mark Driscoll and Kevin DeYoung would tell you that this woman is a desirable catch. She meets all the requirements to be a wife and mother, because she reads the Bible, attends church and has a degree and a job. But is that all that Christian men are looking for in a woman?

I made a list of questions below to address the real concerns that Christian men have about marriage. Does “PackersGirl007″ addresses those male concerns?

QUESTIONS

1. Cosmology

What scientific evidence would you point to to show that God created the universe OR that God fine-tuned the universe, or parts of the universe, for intelligent life?

SAMPLE ANSWER: The big bang theory, the fine-tuning argument, galactic habitability, stellar habitability, or terrestrial habitability.

BONUS POINTS: referencing hard evidence like light element abundances, cosmic microwave background radiation, or specific instances of fine-tuning.

WHY IT MATTERS: She can’t be a Christian unless she knows God exists, and that can’t just be based on feelings and community. An awareness of the scientific evidence shows a seriousness about spiritual things – that her belief is rooted in objective reality, not in subjective feelings, culture, community, etc. It’s not “her truth”, it’s “the truth”. If she doesn’t know why she believes, then she can’t be relied upon to make decisions as a Christian, especially in stressful situations. There is always going to be a conflict between doing what one feels like and doing what is consistent with reality. Having scientific facts helps a person to do what they ought to do.

2. Intelligent Design

Explain the concept of intelligent design and explain how it applies to the i) origin of life OR ii) to the fossil record.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Explain the concept of specified complexity and Dembski’s explanatory filter, then explain how it applies to (i) amino acid sequencing or the double helix, OR (ii) to the sudden origin of animal phyla in the Cambrian explosion.

BONUS POINTS: Ideally, for the origin of life question, she’s going to mention things like UV radiation, chirality, cross-reactions and peptide bonds, then calculate the approximate probabilities for generating a protein by chance. For the Cambrian explosion, she should graph out the introduction of phyla over time, and explain the Ediacaran fauna and why they are not precursors to the Cambrian fauna. Bonus points for bashing theistic evolution, or talking about the early earth environment and the problems with forming amino acids.

WHY IT MATTERS: Darwinian evolution is bad science because it is really just philosophy (naturalism) masquerading as science. You can’t marry anyone who pre-supposes a materialist view of metaphysics like naturalists do, and then allows that philosophical assumption to overrule the scientific evidence. You don’t want to be paired up with someone who lets their prejudices overturn data.

3. The problems of evil and suffering

Assuming that Christianity is true, why do you think that God would allow suffering and evil in the world? Distinguish between human evil and natural evil in your answer. Also explain what role you think God’s permission of evil and suffering has in maturing Christians.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Define the deductive and inductive problems of evil, explains several different responses to them, such as free will, character formation, natural law, the ripple effect, etc. Mention the burden of proof for claims that certain evils are gratuitous, i.e. – noseeums.

BONUS POINTS: explaining how evil relates to Christian theology and God’s purposes for humans being knowledge of him and not just happiness, talking about Jesus’ own suffering and the meaning and purpose of it. More bonus points for pointing out how atheists cannot even complain about evil without assuming objective morality, which requires a moral lawgiver.

WHY IT MATTERS: Lots of nasty things can happen in a marriage. Children can get sick or die, jobs can be lost, and so on. It helps when you are dealing with a person who expects it and will not jettison their responsibilities and belief in Christ in order to pursue happiness unencumbered. The main thing is that the woman thinks that the purpose of life is to know God, and that suffering and evil play a role in gaining knowledge of God. You definitely do not want to marry someone who thinks that the purpose of life is happiness, and that God is some big bearded grandfather in the sky who just wants to hand out goodies to people and make sure they are having a good time regardless of what they choose to do.

4. The moral argument

What is the is-ought fallacy? What is the difference between moral objectivism and moral relativism? Give one reason why moral relativism is false. Give one reason why an atheist cannot rationally ground prescriptive morality. Explain why objective morality relates to God’s existence.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Explain the is-ought fallacy. Explain objective and subjective morality. Discuss the reformer’s dilemma and how it refutes relativism. Explain that atheism requires materialism, and materialism denies free will – so moral choices are impossible. Outline the moral argument.

BONUS POINTS: Give more than one reason where only one was asked for, refute attempts to assert objective morality on atheism, explain how moral obligations are related to God’s design for humans.

WHY IT MATTERS: You can’t marry a person who thinks that the moral law is not a brake on their desire to be happy. There are going to be times in the marriage when self-sacrifice is required by the moral law – either for you, for God, or for the children. It will not be easy to be moral then, so you are looking for someone who thinks that morality is real, and not subject to their feelings and whims. It might be worth asking the person when she has had to do the right thing when it was against her self-interest, like those valedictorians who name Jesus in their speeches and then get censored.

5. The resurrection of Jesus

Assume you are talking to a non-Christian. Explain how you would make a case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus on historical grounds. This person does not accept the Bible as inspired and/or inerrant.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Explain the criteria for establishing minimal facts / historical bedrock, list a set of minimal facts, explain why they pass the criteria, propose at least two naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection, and disprove them. MUST mention 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 in order to pass.

BONUS POINTS: listing atheist scholars who support each minimal fact, discussing N.T. Wright’s work on the Jewish concept of resurrection, referencing Richard Bauckham’s work on the gospels as eyewitness testimony, mentioning the pre-suppositions (naturalism, relativism) of liberal scholars like Crossan and Borg.

WHY IT MATTERS: The resurrection is the cornerstone of Christian belief. A person cannot encounter skeptics and not be able to defend the resurrection on historical grounds to them. The resurrection matters to how people act: they act completely differently depending on whether they believe that this life is all there is, or that this life is just a precursor to eternal life with God. You want someone who takes the long-term perspective.

6. World religions

Name two major world religions and argue against them using either the laws of logic, scientific evidence or historical evidence. Explain the concept of middle knowledge, and why it is relevant to the problem of religious pluralism.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Refute Theravada Buddhism with the big bang, or refute Islam with the crucifixion of Jesus, etc. MUST mention specific beliefs of that religion that are testable, and not just argue that they reject Christianity and are therefore false. Explain how middle knowledge reconciles free will and divine sovereignty, and that it also helps to solve the problem of people who have never heard the gospel.

BONUS POINTS: Using evidence that is universally accepted by people outside of that religion. Using scientific evidence. Referencing Acts 17:27 or other Bible passages when explaining middle knowledge. Mentioning objections to middle knowledge, such as the grounding objection.

WHY IT MATTERS: Many younger Christians today believe that Christianity is moralistic therapeutic deism. They think that the purpose of religion is to have good feelings and to be nice to other people and to make other people feel good. It’s all about feelings. You need to make sure that she knows how to make people feel bad and is comfortable doing it, with evidence. Middle knowledge also grounds the person’s willingness to see people as being responsible for their acceptance or rejection of Christ. Instead of taking a hands-off fatalistic approach to salvation, someone who accepts middle knowledge is going to take persuasion seriously and expend effort to try to change the people around them.

7. Abortion

How would you establish that the unborn are fully human and deserve protection? Explain three pro-abortion arguments and then show why they are false. Name three incremental pro-life policies that you would introduce if you were a legislator.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Use the SLED test and the law of biogenesis. Talk about the DNA signature of the unborn being distinct from the mother. Explain and refute the back-alley abortions argument, the it’s the woman’s body argument, the Judith Jarvis Thompson violinist argument, etc. Legislation would be parental notification, banning funding for abortion providers, mandatory sonograms, etc.

BONUS POINTS: Refute more pro-abortion arguments, reference specific legislation that is in-flight or was recently signed into law. Experiences protesting abortion or debating abortion with pro-abortionists. Experience counseling a post-abortive or crisis pregnancy woman. Mentioning biological details of foetus development.

WHY IT MATTERS: Basically, because people who think that sex is for recreation, and that it is ok to kill children to avoid any limits on the pursuit of happiness are not qualified for marriage. You can’t enter into an intimate commitment with someone who is willing to commit murder in order to get out of the consequences of their own selfish pursuit of pleasure. That is not going to work in a marriage – you need someone who makes good decisions, avoids harming others, is chaste and self-controlled, and takes responsibility for her actions when they go awry.

8. Marriage

Explain the public purposes of marriage, and then outline three threats to marriage and explain what legislation you would propose to neutralize these threats. What choices should people make before marriage to make sure they will have a stable, loving marriage?

SAMPLE ANSWER: Some public purposes of marriage are i) to force moral constraints on sexual activity, ii) to produce the next generation of humans, iii) to provide children with a stable, loving environment in which to grow up. Three threats to marriage are i) cohabitation, ii) no-fault divorce – which leads to fatherlessness, and iii) same-sex marriage. There are others, too. For legislation, there are things like tax incentives, shared parenting laws, school choice to de-monopolize politicized public schools, etc. Pre-marriage behaviors are things like chastity, experience with children, having lots of savings, being physically fit, etc. Having a degree in experimental science, math or economics is excellent for a woman. Avoid artsy degrees, especially English.

BONUS POINTS: Name more threats to marriage, explain the effects of fatherlessness on children, explain how divorce courts work, explain how socialism impacts the family through taxation and wealth redistribution, explain what happens to women and children after a divorce.

WHY IT MATTERS: It’s important for people who want to get married that they understand that marriage takes time and effort, and it requires both spouses to prepare for marriage, to be diligent at choosing a good spouse, and to understand what spouses and children need in order to stay engaged.

9. Children

Explain a person you admire and then tell me what you would do as a mother in order to produce that person from one of your children. What are some people and laws that you would change to make your job easier?

SAMPLE ANSWER: Jay Richards. Jay Richards is one of the most well-rounded Christian scholars operating today. He has knowledge of multiple areas, including economics and science. To make a Jay Richards, you need to be very careful about his education – which could mean homeschooling and saving money for later university tuition, as well as exposing him to apologetics and debates at an earlier age. He would need to have the dedicated attention of his mother for the first two years of his life, at least. Some laws that would help would be lower taxes, school choice, and academic freedom laws.

BONUS POINTS: Explaining how different things like day care, public schools, divorce, etc. harm children. Explaining how mother and fathers contribute to the child’s moral, cognitive, spiritual, etc. development at different times. Explain how the child is harmed if both parents are not present and engaged to play these roles.

WHY IT MATTERS: Marriage is an enormous sacrifice for a man. Not only is there the risk of divorce, but wives and children are very expensive. A man can serve God fine as a bachelor. He has to have compelling reasons why getting married would serve God more than staying single. Producing influential children seems to be one of the major reasons for a man to get married, and he needs to see evidence that his wife is on board with that.

10. Husbands

Explain the roles of a man in a marriage, and tell me some of the things you would do in order to help your man to achieve those roles. What groups would oppose your husband from fulfilling those roles, and what have you done in your life to prepare yourself to help your husband in his roles? What are some of the most important things that a man needs from a woman, and what specific things should a wife do to provide them?

SAMPLE ANSWER: Men are supposed to be protectors, providers and moral/spiritual leaders. In order to help men to be protectors, women have to give them time to study to discern truth from lie, and support their ability to be physically strong, and to own firearms. It is also a good idea for women to have a positive view of good men who use force to restrain evil, as with the American military. Women should support the use of force against radical Islam and terrorists, as well. In order to help men to be providers, women have to advocate for fiscal conservatism in the public square. That would mean advocating for lower taxes, less government spending and smaller government. It would also mean being frugal in the home and helping the man to move ahead at work. If the children are up and out of the house, it could mean going back to work or starting a business to help make ends meet – or monitoring investments. For a man to be a moral and spiritual leader, a woman has to be supporting of him making moral judgments in the home, disciplining the children, holding her accountable for moral errors, and for making exclusive truth claims when it comes to spiritual things. She should not censor him when he gets into debates about spiritual things, even if other people who disagree feel bad – so long as he is not being a jerk. Her goal is not to be popular or liked, but to support her husband in his roles. The most important thing a man needs is respect, and that means treating him as important and significant, being grateful for his contributions, soliciting his opinion on things, being mindful of his male nature, which is more visual and sexual.

BONUS POINTS: Having read “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”, “Men and Marriage”, “Love and Economics” and “Taken Into Custody”. More bonus points for having written about what she learned about men and marriage from books like that. The goal here is for her to have a real awareness and sympathy for what men are facing as husbands and fathers, and to have an idea of what women can do to support them in their roles.

WHY IT MATTERS: As a man, you have certain needs – the biggest need is for respect. If you are thinking of marrying a woman who cannot define respect, and doesn’t know how to give you respect, then you are going to be in for a world of hurt. The more she views marriage as a joint project with specific goals and external challenges, the more understanding and support you will get. No one wants to fly a plane with someone who doesn’t know how to fly a plane, fix a plane or navigate a plane. The more she knows about men and marriage, the better it will go for you – and the children.

Parting thoughts

This list is not exhaustive, it’s just to give you an idea of the kinds of things you should be looking for. A lot of it is the attitude. You are looking for a woman who does not shift blame onto you, who takes responsibility when she is wrong, who argues using logic and evidence, who loses arguments gracefully, and wins arguments gracefully, and who loves you and cares for you even if you are fighting. If the woman is resentful and doesn’t want to learn anything to deepen her faith, then drop her and find someone who will learn – it will be much better for you to partner with someone lovable and helpful, instead of a selfish lazy feminist.

If I were making a list for women, I would emphasize different things more centered around the specific roles that men play in the marriage – asking for his resume, work history, savings, investments, past relationships with women, parenting ability, self-defense ability, mentoring ability, and especially on moral issues and Christian truth claims.The most important thing that a woman needs is love, and the man should be ready to speak about love at length, and explain how he is going to provide her with love during the courtship and during the marriage. Women need to know that they are significant and desired by the man.

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Where are all the Christian women? Are Christian women ready for marriage?

I have noticed some very alarming things about single Christian women lately, and I want to write about some of them.

I think that the main thrust of courting from the man’s perspective is that you want to 1) communicate your plan to make the marriage and the children have a positive impact for Christ and his kingdom, 2) you want to demonstrate that you understand the needs of women and that you are capable of meeting those needs, especially the needs for love and companionship, 3) that you understand the roles of a man and you have made preparations and decisions to be ready to fulfill those roles, and 4) you want to ask the kinds of questions that will allow you to ensure that the woman you are courting is ready to fulfill her roles – because she has also made preparations and good decisions.

Well, the problem I wanted to talk about has to do with objective 1). I have communicated my plan to many women and I find that there are particular parts where they resist. The main thing I would like to do is to have four children who all go into different interesting fields and make an impact for Christ. Here are some of the areas I think would be most useful:

  • cosmologist or astrophysicist
  • biochemist/bioinformatics
  • economist to research marriage and parenting
  • lawyer to join the Alliance Defense Fund

The goal here is that the children will be able to pursue their field of study without being persecuted by secular leftists, and be able to earn a living, and be able to make a contribution in an area that matters.

So what I normally do is lay out this plan to the woman and then see if she is supportive and helpful and starts to take action to help with that. But I have had some alarming reactions and I want to talk about some of those below.

1) Several women have told me that children can have as much impact for Christ as a ballet dancer or poet as they could as a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or as a President. The part of this objection that I find most alarming is not that it is obviously false, but that my authority to lead, which is secured by my role as provider and saver of money, is being denied. I am still expected to bring savings and income into the family, but without any of the decision making authority about how hard the children should study and what fields they should be steered towards.

For me, the whole point of getting married is to serve the Lord – and if my plans to serve are threatened by marriage, then I will not do it. I would rather use the fortune I have to make donations to individual events than to be married and have those resources wasted on ballet dancers and poets. Further on this point about education and careers, I feel that one of the things that a man struggles with is the fear that his children will not be able to grow up and be prosperous and independent in the world. I especially worry that they will feel pressure to compromise their faith because of financial concerns.

Many people think that there is this Santa Claus in the sky who will magically provide money no matter how reckless they are – but I don’t think God is like that. I think he values stewardship, wisdom and prudence – and that’s what I intend to teach my children. I want my children to have enough money so that they can be independent of the state, and resilient against peer pressure. I see many many people who get degrees in fields where they fall under pressure to adopt viewpoints that are non-Christian simply because of financial concerns. Money matters a lot to keeping your convictions, especially when you get married and have children – it’s something that needs to be planned for.

I am afraid of getting overruled by someone who thinks that the world is a safe place for Christians, or that any field is as good as any other for serving Christ. There is a reason why people know who William Lane Craig and Michele Bachmann are – they have the skills. But what I am seeing from Christian women is that Christianity can be reduced to just reading the Bible, singing in church and praying to hear the voice of their emotions. (Which they call the voice of God) There is no thought being put into how to make children achieve at a high level by setting goals and funneling them into areas that matter.

It’s like Christian women think that the children’s happiness is more authoritative in the family than my knowledge and experience about how to build up children who will retain their faith, maintain their financial independence and have an influence in the world. Often, the women who tell me that the choice of career doesn’t matter are themselves riddled with credit card debt. And the ones who tell me that science apologetics doesn’t matter are the ones whose parents and siblings are becoming apostates after reading Richard Dawkins books. If I am the one who is earning the money and providing the savings up front, then I am the one who should be leading on things like education, careers, jobs and so forth. If I was smart enough to study the right things, to work and to save before I got married, then I shouldn’t be overloaded after the marriage by someone else’s feelings, emotions and desire to be her children’s “friend”.

2) Another concern I have is about how these Christian women are moved by liberal sob stories so that they vote against a strong foreign policy, self-defense, deterrence, capital punishment, and men using force to punish evildoers in general. On the foreign policy front, one woman complained to me that American helicopter gunships had used excessive force by attacking Islamic terrorist infantry with the gunship’s machine gun. Now some of you will have caught on that military issues and platforms are an interest of mine because I am a war gamer. I play military simulations ranging from squad-level infantry combat right up to full-scale carrier strike groups. So I am informed about tactics, strategy, weapons, vehicles and so on.

Anyway, I took a look at the full guncam footage she linked me and read the AARs and noticed that there was a convoy of BLUFOR Humvees coming into range of the OPFOR infantry, and that the OPFOR infantry was armed with RPGs. I asked her to tell me what she thought an RPG could do to a Humvee. She had no idea what an RPG was or what it could do to a Humvee. I explained that RPGs are ROCKETS that explode and it would kill all the occupants of Humvees. It seemed to me that her only reason for complaining about it was that her friends had sent it to her, and she felt pressured to agree with them. She had no understanding of the capabilities of the arms and vehicles at all, yet she felt qualified to make judgments about unnecessary violence. In fact, it became clear that she was taking this position because she thought that it made her look morally superior. She felt “compassion” for the poor Islamic terrorists. It’s so easy to second guess American military forces when you know nothing at all about war in general, or Islamic extremism in the Middle East in particular.

This terrifies me. I do not want to be overruled by someone who makes decisions based on ignorance, emotions, intuitions and peer pressure. This person went on to assure me that shooting terrorists was the same as blowing up busloads of children, and that killing convicted serial killers was the same as killing unborn babies. Because killing is killing, right? That scares me. Who would want to be a passenger in a car with someone who was drunk and color-blind? Not me. It’s hard to consider someone for marriage who can’t see the difference between good and evil or guilt and innocence, but instead tries to lift up evil and bash down good. (Not only was she anti-capital punishment but also anti-self-defense – all without having done a moment’s worth of research on the peer-reviewed studies showing how capital punishment deters crime, and how concealed-carry laws reduce rates of violent crime).

Should I marry someone who is uncomfortable with the male role of making moral judgments and exercising force against evil? Someone who takes positions without knowing anything about the details of what she is talking about? Of course not. No one can be happy married to someone who takes positions on moral issues based on ignorance, emotions, vanity and peer pressure. And some Christian women are unwilling to learn anything about war, or even to come to the firing range to fire a handgun. They have opinions, they make pronouncements about how they will overrule you if you get married to them, they vote to undermine national security and world peace by emboldening aggressors and then they refuse to learn anything about the issues. All they need to know are their feelings. And they vote based on those feelings, not based on studies or history or anything factual.

3) A final example has to do with Christian women embracing socialism because it is “compassionate”. Believe it or not, some women do not really understand the effect of having the government spend more and more money equalizing life outcomes. Most of the Christian women I spoke to had enormous difficulty understanding how single motherhood by choice creates child poverty. They wanted to believe that child poverty was just spilled milk – it just happened, and wasn’t anyone’s fault, and that subsidizing it wouldn’t create more of it.

One Christian pro-life activist wrote to me that she was “great with kids” and was going to have one out of wedlock and raise it with money from the government. This woman never finished college and had not held any sort of serious job. She complained that no men were marrying her (note: this woman was completely irresponsible and penniless and unsuitable for marriage) and blamed the men. I told her that the reason why men were not marrying her was because they were paying a third of their income in taxes and looking at the 1.65 trillion deficits and 14.5 trillion national debt. She said that men didn’t really care about money and numbers and that if they loved her, they would marry her anyway, but they were just selfish lazy cowards. She was willing to inflict fatherlessness and day care on a child, but she was “great with kids”.

Another Christian woman told me that the government should provide free meals to children so that they were all equal regardless of whether their mothers had married or not. I explained that every time that government takes a responsibility away from men, that our household income would go down because of higher taxes, and my job would be put in jeopardy because of government debt. I also explained that the more government does, the less control there is inside the family – like when Christians have to pay for public schools so that all the children will be equal. Equally illiterate and innumerate. Instead of proposing free market solutions to poverty that retain family integrity – like school voucher programs – they always seem to leap to the big government solutions first.

But you can see how this idea of economic equality captures the emotions of some Christian women and they don’t even realize how they are undermining men’s desire and ability to achieve their goals for the marriage. They don’t read economics and they don’t realize that Christian marriage plans cost money. Men need money in order to put their own children through college. Men need money for homeschooling, stay-at-home moms and private schools. And men need money for apologetics books and to take children to apologetics conferences. It’s amazing because this woman expected me to keep her at home as a stay-at-home mom, but she wanted my salary to go to subsidize the single mothers by choice in the next neighborhood over.

That is the level of self-destructive economic ignorance I am seeing from some Christian women. They look at social problems like child poverty, and the only solution they can come up with to these problems is government-controlled redistribution of wealth by a secular government. (Together with all the high unemployment that this deficit spending creates). Why are they so opposed to men and marriage and family? Because they have never taken the time to read even a basic book on economics. Newsflash: free market capitalism is better for the poor than socialism – that’s why the poor are wealthier in the United States than in any other country, and their standard of living has gone up over time.

For example, take health care. I know another Christian woman who complained to me about some poor child of a single mother who could not get treatment for some condition or other. Notice how there was no emphasis on what this single mother chose to study, whether she chose to work, whether she chose to save, or whether she married a good provider. No. The problem is taken as is – as a case of spilled milk and all questions of responsibility and accountability are dismissed. I was asked how capitalism can solve the problem.

Well the first thing to point out is that her solution is to defund the family, grow government, reward irresponsibility, undermine my plan by diminishing the earnings I save that fund my plan. And why? So that she could feel better and see God’s aim of making us all happy achieved. It is very important to understand this point. Women who claim to be Christians may not actually be Christians. If a woman thinks that God’s job is to make his human pets happy, then she is not a Christian at all, but a socialist-to-be, with an unnecessary Santa Claus riding on top of her emotional delusions. These are the people who claim to be opposed to abortion and then vote for single-payer health care which provides… taxpayer-funded abortion. Don’t believe a word of it. No one can be a Christian who is a socialist, and if they don’t know anything about economics, that’s what they are. No matter what a woman says, if her solution to poverty is the secular government taxing your family and your employer, and reducing the family’s earnings and destabilizing the family’s revenue stream, then she does not have a Christian view of family, government and charity. She will undermine your role as provider because she values socialism MORE than she values marriage and family.

Secondly, there are solutions to poverty that are compatible with the Bible and capitalism that she ought to know about, if she had actually done any reading about it. The first thing that should have come into her mind is private charity. If the government has any role at all, it should be to provide tax credits for private charity. It is important for government not to crowd out the virtuous character of the people by taking over the job of helping neighbors. But even more than that, every Christian woman should be familiar with the horrors of socialized medicine in countries like Canada and the UK, and the alternative to socialized medicine – consumer-driven health care. If a woman is not well-read on consumer-driven health care policy, then she is at risk for being taken in by this socialist undermining of the family. Real Christian women choose policy based on economics, not based on their emotions and their ridiculous theology of God making his human pets happy regardless of what they believe about him. Our job as Christians is not primarily to make people have equal net worths regardless of their personal decisions. Our job is to make them know about God’s existence and character, and we can do that better with private charity – certainly better than any secular government can. Your money is your voice. Don’t give it to a SECULAR government that will turn around and enact taxpayer-funded abortion, taxpayer-funded IVF, taxpayer-funded day care, taxpayer-funded fatherlessness welfare, and so on.

And more

I’m going to stop now, but I could go on and on about how some Christian women neglect to study Christian apologetics or theology, but instead learn about trendy secular practices like yoga, vegetarianism, recycling, etc. Or how they think there is no Hell. Or how they think that the Bible was written by men and that they can just pick the verses they like. Or how they think that science is not worth studying to confirm the Bible. Or how they know nothing at all about how premarital sex and cohabitation decrease the stability of marriage. Or how they think that same-sex unions are no different than married couples when comparing stability, domestic violence, promiscuity, and so on. Or how they want to subsidize single motherhood by choice because fathers are not really important to children and can easily be replaced by taxpayer-funded welfare and taxpayer-funded IVF. Or how they think that single-payer payer health care is good, even though it means taxpayer-funded abortion, in practice. Or how they think that taxpayer-funded day care is good for children. Or how they think that public schools need to be funded with more family money, so that all children will be “equal”.

I could go on forever with examples of how woefully unprepared some single Christian women are for marriage. But I’m going to end by explaining what the underlying problem for all of these symptoms is, and then you can leave your comments.

Conclusion

Basically the underlying problem is this: when some Christian women say they want marriage, they actually don’t want marriage at all – not a marriage to a man who is going to take on the traditional male roles anyway. The reason why men work is so that they are the sole or primary breadwinners – so that they have the authority to make decisions and lead in the home. Men want to have children who are self-sufficient and morally upright, and who can have an influence for Christ and his Kingdom. And they know that although the compassion of their wives is useful in the early years of a child’s development, that moral responsibility and accountability are needed later on to change children into adults.

Men need to be providers SO THAT they can be respected as protectors, when they set out moral boundaries and push their children to know truth from lie, right from wrong, and practical from impractical. Men also need to be able to make arguments about theology and apologetics using evidence, and not to be overruled by emotions, intuitions, and even e-mails that are debunked on snopes.com (yes, one woman told me that Splenda was not safe – I sent her 100 peer-reviewed studies from the NCI web site and she responded with a CONSPIRACY E-MAIL that was debunked on snopes.com).

So the real problem is that some Christian women say they want marriage, but what they actually want is a Stepford husband who will perform none of the traditional roles of a man, which they find icky and mean. They want the money to be brought into the home and the wedding to be photographed and the babies to play with, but they don’t want the men to act in the traditional male role of protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader. It is very important for men to get this out there and in the clear during the courting process. And I also really recommend that men avoid sex before marriage, because sex makes you stop caring about male roles and serving God. If you want to serve God by executing a plan, then stay away from premarital sex. I have had to play defense against women trying to push me too far physically when I was not satisfied with them from a Christian point of view. Just say NO.

Please see this post for questions you can ask a woman to verify whether a woman is an authentic Christian. And the most important thing to do is to give her books to read and tasks to perform to see if she is willing to follow your lead. Science apologetics and fiscal conservativism are key. If the person is not talking about the Big Bang, the fine-tuning and biological information, you cannot even be sure she is a Christian – it could all just be emotions and youth. Some women I know just give the name “Christianity” to their feelings of happiness and goodness and pacifism and postmodernism and relativism and socialism and universalism. They do not actually KNOW that there is a Creator and Designer of the universe who raised Jesus from the dead independent of their feelings of happiness and goodness and pacifism and postmodernism and relativism and socialism and universalism. They just think that the world is a place where people feel good and only good things ever happen and they agree with everyone else’s religion so that more people will like them. The thing about Christian women that you need to fear most is this emotional happy-clappy intuition they have that the world is a happy, safe place and that people can do whatever they want and that God’s job, (and later government, as they drift into atheism), is to make everyone happy and prosperous. That is completely incompatible with a marriage designed to serve God.

Note: for those who think I am too critical of Christian women, Michele Bachmann has none of these flaws and I am backing her to be President. So there are Christian women who do know what they are doing, and I would like them to run for President and win. There is nothing in what I wrote that opposes smart, strong women being in control at the very top.

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Is cohabitation a better way to prepare for marriage compared than courting?

Matt from Well Spent Journey sent me this assessment of cohabitation from the liberal New York Times.

Excerpt:

AT 32, one of my clients (I’ll call her Jennifer) had a lavish wine-country wedding. By then, Jennifer and her boyfriend had lived together for more than four years. The event was attended by the couple’s friends, families and two dogs.

When Jennifer started therapy with me less than a year later, she was looking for a divorce lawyer. “I spent more time planning my wedding than I spent happily married,” she sobbed. Most disheartening to Jennifer was that she’d tried to do everything right. “My parents got married young so, of course, they got divorced. We lived together! How did this happen?”

Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million. The majority of young adults in their 20s will live with a romantic partner at least once, and more than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation. This shift has been attributed to the sexual revolution and the availability of birth control, and in our current economy, sharing the bills makes cohabiting appealing. But when you talk to people in their 20s, you also hear about something else: cohabitation as prophylaxis.

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.

That’s a nice idea – wanting protection against divorce. If you asked me, I would tell you that courting is protection against a bad marriage. And the aim of courting is to interrogate and stress the other person so that you can see whether they understand the demands of the marriage and their duties to their spouse and children. In particular, men should investigate whether the woman has prepared to perform her roles as wife and mother, and women should investigate whether the man has prepared to perform his roles as protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader. Courting is not fun. It is not meant to make people feel happy. And this is because you cannot translate fun and happy into marriage, because marriage is about well-defined roles, self-sacrifice and commitment. Marriage is about following through for the other person, whether you get what you want or not.

Cohabitation is particularly stupid because what it says is that sex is not to be confined to marriage, but it is instead for recreational purposes outside of marriage. If men and women cannot demonstrate that they are capable of self-control prior to marrying by functioning in a relationship based on commitment and not based on pleasure, then they are not qualified for marriage. And that’s why cohabitation is associated with higher risks of divorce – because thinking that relationships are recreational is inconsistent with a life-long self-sacrificial commitment. Research has shown that pre-marital chastity produces more stable and higher quality marriages. And that’s because chastity helps people to focus on conversations and obligations instead of recreational sex which clouds the judgment and glosses over the seriousness of marriage.

Now look, the key to the difference between courtship and cohabitation is right in the article. You guys know about my evil ten questions to scare fake Christian women away ten questions to test Christian women for marriage, right? Those questions are designed to weed out women who are not interested in marriage as a commitment to serve God, regardless of whether it makes them happy or not. By making the woman work to prove herself in the courtship, the man is able to lead her to see that marriage is not some fairy tale of bliss where she will get her own way all the time. Those ten questions, if acted on by the woman, will clearly drive into her mind the idea that marriage is about her caring about her husband and children as a way of serving God. This sort of deliberate questioning is a reality check to women who think that peer-approval of the boyfriend and great sex and happy feelings and a big expensive wedding are all predictors of marital stability. That’s a popular delusion that is unsupported by research.

More:

Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.

Researchers originally attributed the cohabitation effect to selection, or the idea that cohabitors were less conventional about marriage and thus more open to divorce. As cohabitation has become a norm, however, studies have shown that the effect is not entirely explained by individual characteristics like religion, education or politics. Research suggests that at least some of the risks may lie in cohabitation itself.

As Jennifer and I worked to answer her question, “How did this happen?” we talked about how she and her boyfriend went from dating to cohabiting. Her response was consistent with studies reporting that most couples say it “just happened.”

“We were sleeping over at each other’s places all the time,” she said. “We liked to be together, so it was cheaper and more convenient. It was a quick decision but if it didn’t work out there was a quick exit.”

She was talking about what researchers call “sliding, not deciding.” Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation. Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean.

The problem with young people today is that they want marriage as “a blissful state where I will get whatever I want without having to do anything, and where I am free from the consequences of my own selfishness”.  They don’t want marriage as commitment, moral obligations, serving others and self-sacrifice. By avoiding conversations about who will do what, and what needs doing, they can fool themselves by thinking that happy sex and happy drinking and happy dancing will naturally turn into happy marriage. As if marriage is just an extension of drinking, friends and dancing, and nothing more. I once asked a woman to give me her vision of marriage and she literally said that it would be having her friends over to drink wine and dance around. They want happiness, they think marriage is a path to happiness, and that cohabitation will lead to marriage without the nasty work of having to answer questions and perform duties during a formal courtship. They don’t want the work. They don’t want the questions. They don’t want the obligations. They don’t want the self-sacrifice.

And that’s why I encourage men to very gently and subtly guide the relationship in a way that will allow the woman to demonstrate her seriousness about marriage as marriage – the real marriage of self-sacrifice and commitment and serving God – instead of letting the relationship be about avoiding difficult conversations and just drifting from fun to happy and back again.  Marriage is a job, and you need to be prepared to hold up your end of it, and to make sure that your partner is able to hold up their end.

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