Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Should you marry someone who promises you that “there will be no divorce”?

I was having a chat with a friend of mine who just got out of a serious relationship and I was trying to pick his brain to find out everything about the woman he was intending to marry so I could see why things went wrong. He told me that she had told him over and over that “there would be no divorce” and that he found that very convincing, despite very obvious warning signs in the area of respect (which I wrote about yesterday).

Well. I was very surprised to hear this, and so I asked him whether he thought it was enough that this woman told him that “three will be no divorce”. He said yes. This woman had experienced the divorce of her own parents and she was resolved (by act of will) never to let that happen to her. He found that acceptable, but I didn’t because I know the numbers on this, and I know that children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce themselves. So the pain of divorce is no deterrent here.

So should we believe that people can avoid a divorce just by saying they will? I told him no. And for an example, I offered a thought experiment. I said to imagine two runners on a track who are charged with completing 10 laps. One runner is a Navy SEAL like Mike Murphy, who has been trained to run miles and miles carrying a 60 pound load. In the mountains. The other is a 300-lb couch potato whose idea of exercise is reaching for the TV remote control. Suppose I ask both runners: do you intend to finish the 10 laps? Should I believe them if they both say yes?

Look, marriage is like building a house. People can say whatever they want about their prospects for success, but the will doesn’t decide here. You have to certain skills, you have to have a certain amount of money, you have to have a plan, you have to be able to read blueprints, you have to be able to hire specialists, you understand the differences between materials, etc. When you think about it, no long-term enterprise can be accomplished by act of will. Piano recitals, math exams, investing for retirement… nothing can be done by sheer act of will.

Now with that being said, let’s take a look at an example.

An example

I found this article in the Wall Street Journal way back in 2011, but it fits my conversation with my friend.

The author, Susan Gregory Thomas, lists some of the mistakes she made that led her to get a divorce in her first marriage.

This is the first thing I saw that caught my eye:

“Whatever happens, we’re never going to get divorced.” Over the course of 16 years, I said that often to my husband, especially after our children were born.

So she is trying to express an intention here, repeatedly, to her husband. I think the point here is that she did have good intentions but as we shall see that was not enough to prevent the divorce. That’s a warning to others that good intentions are not enough.

Here is the second thing:

I believed that I had married my best friend as fervently as I believed that I’d never get divorced. No marital scenario, I told myself, could become so bleak or hopeless as to compel me to embed my children in the torture of a split family. And I wasn’t the only one with strong personal reasons to make this commitment.

I noticed that a lot of people seem to think that being compatible is very important to marriage. But I don’t think that it is the most important thing. For example, you would not expect two cocaine addicts or two gambling addicts, etc. to have a stable marriage. I think marriage is more like a job interview where there are specific things that each person has to be able to do in order to make it work. So again, she’s giving a warning to others that compatibility is not a guarantee of marriage success.

And there’s more:

My husband and I were as obvious as points on a graph in a Generation X marriage study. We were together for nearly eight years before we got married, and even though statistics show that divorce rates are 48% higher for those who have lived together previously, we paid no heed.

We also paid no heed to his Catholic parents, who comprised one of the rare reassuringly unified couples I’d ever met, when they warned us that we should wait until we were married to live together. As they put it, being pals and roommates is different from being husband and wife. How bizarrely old-fashioned and sexist! We didn’t need anything so naïve or retro as “marriage.” Please. We were best friends.

Sociologists, anthropologists and other cultural observers tell us that members of Generation X are more emotionally invested in our spouses than previous generations were. We are best friends; our marriages are genuine partnerships. Many studies have found that Generation X family men help around the house a good deal more than their forefathers. We depend on each other and work together.

So here I am seeing that she rejected sex roles, parental advice, or the moral guidelines of Christianity. Again, she is discussing some of the factors that I at least think contribute to divorce. I think that she is right to highlight the fact that she was wrong to disregard the statistics on cohabitation.

So here are some of the mistakes:

  • reject advice from parents
  • avoid chastity
  • cohabitate for EIGHT YEARS
  • embrace feminism, reject complementarian sex roles
  • thinking that good intentions would overcome every challenge

So, what does the research show works to have a stable marriage?

  • chastity
  • rejection of feminism
  • regular church attendance
  • parental involvement in the courting
  • parents of both spouses married
  • no previous divorces

Guess what? You can’t break all the rules and still succeed by sheer force of will.  If you break all the rules like that woman in the story, you can’t have a working marriage. Not without repudiating everything you believed, and taking steps to undo all the damage from everything you’ve done. You can’t keep all the bad beliefs and bad habits you’ve built up and marry them to a marriage that will stand the test of time.

A good marriage is an enterprise, and it requires that your character be changed to fit the requirements. There is no way to short-circuit the preparation / selection processes by act of will. And just because your friends are getting married, that’s no reason for you to rush into it unprepared. The best way to prepare for marriage is pick people of the opposite sex and practice marriage behaviors (e.g. – listening, helping) with them – even with people you don’t intend to marry. Take an interest in their lives and practice denying yourself to help them with their problems. That’s better than making idle promises you’re not able to keep. And this works the same for men and for women. Both people need to get this right.

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

New study: men’s success and well-being determined by relationships with parents and siblings

Astonishing post from the Art of Manliness blog. (H/T Free Northerner)

Excerpt:

Vaillant found that the men who had the best scores in these areas during their youth and mid-life, were the happiest, most successful, and best adjusted in their latter years. This is the finding of the Grant Study that has emerged most prominently: “It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.”

The powerful effect of intimate relationships can be seen in a variety of factors in a man’s life, including their income levels:

  • Men with at least one good relationship with a sibling growing up made $51,000 more per year than men who had poor relationships with their siblings, or no siblings at all
  • Men who grew up in cohesive homes made $66,000 more per year than men from unstable ones
  • Men with warm mothers took home $87,000 more than those men whose mothers were uncaring
  • The 58 men with the best scores for warm relationships made almost $150,000 more per year than the 31 men with the worst scores

[...]When the outcomes of the men’s lives were analyzed, and compared to this set of criteria, it became quite clear that “for good or ill, the effects of childhood last a long time.” A warm childhood proved a much stronger predictor of many aspects of a man’s flourishing later in life, including his overall contentment in his late seventies, than either his parent’s social class or his own income. These effects are particularly striking when the men with the warmest childhoods (who were dubbed “the Cherished”) are compared with those in the bottom tenth (who were called “the Loveless”):

  • The Cherished made 50% more money than the Loveless
  • The Cherished were 5X more likely to enjoy rich friendships and warm social supports at age seventy
  • The Loveless were 3.5X more likely to be diagnosed as mentally ill (which includes serious depression, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and need for extended psychiatric care)
  • The Loveless were 5X more likely to be unusually anxious
  • The Loveless took more prescription drugs of all kinds, and were twice as likely to seek medical attention for minor physical complaints

A loving, supportive upbringing seemed to both bolster a man’s chances for success in his relationships and career, and inoculate him against future psychological distress.

[...]While parenting pundits at various times in our history have worried that a household full of unwavering love and support could turn out a young man who was too coddled and dependent,the Grant Study found that abundant familial love, when coupled with an emphasis on autonomy and initiative, actually produced the most stoical (able to keep a stiff upper lip) and independent men. Such men, Vaillant explains, had learned to be comfortable with their feelings, and “that they could put their trust in life, which gave them courage to go out and face it.” In contrast, the men from the worst childhoods turned out to be the most dependent, and struggled with taking initiative.

And most interestingly:

One of the findings of the study that I personally found most interesting, was that “a mother who could enjoy her son’s initiative and autonomy was a tremendous boon to his future.” Mothers of men who scored highly on the Decathlon of Flourishing admired their sons’ assertiveness, and boasted to researchers that their boys were “fearless to the point of being reckless,” “could fight any kid on the block,” and “is a tyrant in a way that I adore.” In other words, mothers who celebrated their boys’ boyishness bolstered their chances of achieving a successful, mature manhood.

I really recommend that everyone read this post, especially if you know a young man who you want to be influential and effective. And men who are not yet married but want to should understand that who you pick to be the child’s mother is going to have an ENORMOUS effect on their emotional well-being and their ability to succeed and provide. Good men require good mothers.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

Can a Christian woman divorce her husband if she is really, really unhappy?

So, the topic for this post is whether it’s OK to get divorced.

I noticed a lot of people getting divorced these days in the church, and trying to justify why they are allowed to divorce and why they should be allowed to pursue remarriage. So I’m first going to quote from an article from Focus on the Family by Amy Tracy.

She writes:

God is very clear, however, that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). He also says, “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). According to the New Testament, there are two justifications for divorce: infidelity (Matthew 5:32) and desertion (1 Corinthians 7:15).

Now, I had always taken the rule of Dr. Laura for this. She says that you can get divorced for adultery and abandonment (as above), but she allows allows for physical abuse and drug addiction. But it looks like the Bible is more strict than Dr. Laura, even.

Now with that Biblical standard in mind, take a look at this post about a woman who professes to be a Christian who is divorcing her husband for unhappiness, which I found on Sunshine Mary’s blog.

Look:

So how are we to understand women like Jenny Erickson, and the many other Christian women like her, who claim that despite thousands of years of Christian and Jewish tradition, despite the clear commands in Scripture not to separate from one’s husband, despite the commandments against adultery, nevertheless the Lord God Himself has made a special exemption just for her?  Because He wants her to be happy, so if she needs to be a faithless woman who breaks her vows and becomes an adulteress, then hey it’s all good?

[...]After secretly filing for divorce from her husband, Mrs. Erickson’s pastor caught wind of the situation and attempted to discuss it with her.  When she refused, the pastor went to her husband about the situation.  Mrs. Erickson has since railed against her soon-to-be ex-husband and her now ex-Pastor because they actually had the nerve to call what she was doing a sin – which, according to the Bible, is is.  Let’s read through a few quotes from Mrs. Erickson:

Thankfully, my faith in God is stronger than my fear of men, and I feel like I’m finally getting right with Him again after years of wandering in the wilderness.

[...]Here are a few more things that Mrs. Erickson claims:

It’s odd and strangely freeing to not know exactly where I’m going to be a year from now. I’ve always been the girl with The Plan. The Plan has changed every now and then, because hey, life requires adaptation, but right now there is No Plan other than love my girls like crazy, work hard enough to pay the bills, and rely totally and fully on God.  I’m sure His Plan is better than My Plan anyway.

and

I needed a time-out for my marriage — possibly a permanent one. But every person that tells me I’m going against God’s will by separating from my husband drives me further away from wanting to reconcile with him.

Details aren’t needed. Leif is the father of my amazing children, and I want nothing more than to be his friend again someday, regardless of what happens in our marriage. But things have been very broken between us for a very long time, and it took every ounce of courage I had to take the step that went against everything my religious culture told me but somehow I knew God was telling me was right.

and

To be told that this beautiful, wonderful thing I have learned exists in my soul, this thing that gives me the strength to flip my life over when nothing else has worked, this thing that has made me braver than I thought possible, and made me rely on God more than I ever have in my entire life … to be told that this is a perversion of His plan for me?

These points must confuse a lot of women because I have heard these rationalizations used by many Christian women who are leaving or have left their husbands.  Therefore, allow me to clear up the confusion that seems to be rampant (but it really isn’t confusion, it is willful disobedience), lest any of my sisters in Christ are considering following Mrs. Erickson’s example.

God’s plan for you will never include violating anything written in the Bible.

If you hear a voice whispering in your ear, Here’s the plan; what I want you to do is... and the plan includes going against clear commandments in God’s Word, then it is not God who is speaking to you.  God’s plan for your life, sister, never includes you filing for divorce.  Not ever, not under any circumstances, no matter what your husband has or has not done, no matter what you want, no matter what would make you happy.

So, I think we (men) need to be really careful with spousal candidates (women) who claim to be Christian – we need to make sure that they really are comfortable with being led and with the authority of the Bible to overrule their feelings. In fact, you can check to see if a person takes their faith seriously just by trying to lead them to take the Bible seriously. You just have to read the Bible and think about how to live it out in a marriage, and then talk to your spousal candidate about what you’ve discovered. You want to present to them your plans and your reasons for those plans, and explain what you need them to do in order to make the plan work. This is a great way to see if they know what marriage is really about and how they feel about what’s expected of them if they marry YOU.

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

Woman who had sex with 18 different men shocked that men don’t want to marry her

Does being a virgin before marriage affect marital stabilitity?

Does being a virgin before marriage affect marital stability?

Sunshine Mary linked to a post from Reddit by a 32-year old “progressive” woman who is surprised that 15 years of sleeping around with 18 different guys is not attractive to marriage-minded men.

Excerpt:

My parents are first generation immigrants. I have a younger brother and younger sister. In my family I was always the rebellious one; I would often challenge my parents. My family was very strict, when it came to dating and my siblings usually fell in line. However, I would challenge that norm.

My brother and sister were very repressed with their sexualities as a result, while I lost my virginity at 17 to my then boyfriend. While my brother and followed the traditional Indian path. My brother ended up not having any sexual contact with a girl until he got married at 25 (arranged marriage) and now they have a child together. My sister (too never kissed a boy) has recently gotten married too at 24 with an Indian boy she met at our Temple (both parents approved).

I live in LA, a city where both men and woman tend to marry a bit later in life, and yet I still spent the last years of my 20‘s feeling that somehow, I’d messed up. I had followed the wrong trail and thus, my “important-life-moments” timeline was off. Even with my more progressive friends it began slowly at first, when I was 27 … an engagement post on Facebook, an invite to a wedding—it was happening. People I knew were beginning the next stage of life and saying “I do.”

Throughout my whole life I never really dated any Indian guys; I exclusively dated white guys. However now I realize more than ever that the guys I dated never really took me seriously. They never really viewed me as someone they would eventually marry. I was always just some exotic fun. This part was definitely a realization that has hurt me to the core. I didn’t actually do it to spite Indian men or anything like that. I did what a lot of my white female friends did; I thought I was the same as them, but that could be farther from the truth. Most white guys I ran into wanted white wives.

I am now 32, and seems like everyone in my family has lapped me. I too want a family a marriage. However, now my chance of finding someone is gone. At my age getting an arranged marriage or finding another Indian man to marry me is out of the question. Majority of Indian guys usually get married pretty early. Often either to another Indian girl they meet here, or they go back to India for an arranged marriage. My parents have tried signing me up for a matrimony site, but of the guys I’d meet they would be turned off by my history (drink/eat meat/not a virgin).

[...]Most of my relationships have been long term I have only been with 18 guys and I have been sexually active since I was 17 years old.

She has only had steady sexual relationships with 18 guys in 15 years! That’s not a lot. Is it?

Let’s see what Sunshine Mary says first:

However, the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that articles like hers are a good thing simply because they expose the lie.  Feminists have sold young women a bill of goods, that they can live like men, work like men, have sex like men, and then turn back into women when they feel like it.  We laugh at a woman like this sometimes and make fun of her and say, “Didn’t she know that she’d end up like this?”

No, she didn’t know that.  That’s because when you are 17 years old, you don’t know much, especially in this culture of extended adolescence.  And when you have been told from a very young age that, as a girl, it is your destiny to Have It All exactly When You Want It, I’m sure it is very baffling to find yourself in your thirties with no husband and none in sight, with the dawning realization that your job and lonely apartment are not nearly as fulfilling as being a wife and mother would have been.

[...]Personally, I feel no joy in this woman’s pain.  I don’t think a White Knight should ride in to save her because I think she should suffer the natural consequences of her decisions so that other young women may see and learn from her errors, but I take no pleasure in the fact that she will have this lot in life.  However, what most of us don’t seem to understand is that young women make the terrible choices that they are making because they are told from an early age that these are actually good choices.  Some girls are able to resist that message, which saturates every aspect of the media and schools, but most girls aren’t, and they don’t develop the necessary wisdom until it is too late.

Emphasis hers. And now my turn.

Let me tell you what I think awaits a man who marries a woman like that, who spent her 20s hooking up with hot guys who had no interest in marriage and no demonstrated ability to protect, provide and lead on moral/spiritual issues. She will have convinced herself that she is more attractive than she really is because in her mind she deserves a man as attractive as these men. What other criteria is there for a man? It’s all appearances. I therefore do not recommend that any man marry this woman as she is now. What men need in marriage is respect, affection, affirmation and approval. A woman with a background like this will not have the trust and vulnerability that a marriage-minded man wants. The only way to fix this shattered trust is a long period of chastity. She must choose to form relationships with good protector / provider / moral leader / spiritual leader men and to support those men. That is the only way to fix the damage of promiscuity, if it even can be fixed.

A man can sense how trusting and vulnerable a woman is by how much she trusts and encourages him in his plans. If a woman is constantly putting him down, calling him names, and making excuses for why she doesn’t have to care about his needs and feelings, then that’s just her past promiscuity showing itself. Virgins with good relationships with their fathers don’t put men down like that – they choose good men who are doing good things and they build them up. My recommendation for women who realize that they are making bad choices with men and being negative about the men they choose is to look in the mirror and acknowledge that they are the problem. The solution, then, is to find a good man and work hard at being submissive and supportive, but chastely. Stop choosing men with motorcycles. Stop choosing atheists. Stop choosing drunkards. Stop choosing men who are pro-abortion and pro-gay-marriage. Stop choosing men who want bigger government. Just stop it.

That’s the advice I would give this woman. Choose men who can do the work that men do in a marriage. Find out what a man’s plan is. Build the skills he needs for his plan. Marry him.

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

J. Warner Wallace explains and defends the doctrine of Hell in five podcasts

Straight talk on the doctrine of Hell from cold case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace.

Number 1:

In the wake of Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins,” many people are beginning to question the nature and existence of Hell and how exactly God decides who must go there. For many, the idea that our temporal, finite sin on earth should deserve an eternal punishment of infinite torment in hell is ridiculously inequitable. Why would God torture infinitely those who have only sinned finitely? Jim addresses this objection and answers listener email.

The MP3 file is here.

Number 2:

A loving God would never create a place like Hell, would He? Any God that would send people to a place of punishment and torment is unloving by definition, right? In this podcast, Jim responds to these foundational objections to the existence of Hell. In addition, Jim comments on the Harris / Craig debate and answers listener email related to hearing God’s voice.

The MP3 file is here.

Number 3:

In this podcast, Jim answers the objection that God would send people like Gandhi to Hell (simply because they are not Christians) alongside people like Hitler (who have committed unspeakable atrocities). How can a reasonable and just God be the source of such inequitable punishment? Also Jim answers listener email related to the power of prayer, the importance of evidential apologetics and the grounding for objective morality.

The MP3 file is here.

Number 4:

Isn’t it unfair for God to penalize people who are otherwise good, just because they haven’t heard about Jesus? A good God would not send good people to Hell. Jim responds to this objection and answers listener email related to the Craig/Harris debate, pre-existing mythologies that are similar to Jesus, and the difficult, exclusive nature of “election”.

The MP3 file is here.

Number 5:

If God is all-loving, why doesn’t he “reform” people rather than simply “punish” them in Hell? Skeptics sometimes argue that a God who simply punishes his children in Hell is a sadistic and vengeful God, unworthy of our worship. Jim responds to this objection and answers listener email related to the nature of “election”, the evidence for “annihilationism”, and a political quote related to same sex marriage.

The MP3 file is here.

Good listening to help you defend a doctrine that is very unpopular with people who think God should be their cosmic butler.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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