Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: most younger evangelicals hold to Biblical views on sexual issues

This National Review article says that evangelical Protestants, which is the most conservative kind of Christian there is, are sticking with the Bible’s teachings on sex.

Excerpt:

The research, to be fully released in September, was introduced in Mark Regnerus’s presentation “Sex in America: Sociological Trends in American Sexuality,” unveiled at a recent gathering of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s leadership summit. According to Regnerus, when compared with the general population and with their non-observant peers, churchgoing Evangelical Christians are retaining orthodox views on Biblical sexuality, despite the shifts in broader American culture.

Regnerus surveyed 15,378 persons between the ages of 18 and 60, but he focuses in particular on respondents under 40. Significantly, Regnerus did the important work of differentiating between those who identify merely verbally with a particular religious tradition and those who actually attend church weekly. A political poll that didn’t differentiate between likely and unlikely voters wouldn’t be an accurate representation of the electorate, and for the same reasons, a survey should distinguish between someone who says “Catholic” or “Baptist” when asked for a religious identity and someone who actually shows up in the pews.

While support for same-sex marriage characterized a solid majority of those identifying as atheists, agnostics, liberal Catholics, and liberal Protestants, only 11 percent of young Evangelicals actively expressed support for same-sex marriage.

Approximately 6 percent of religiously active Evangelicals expressed support for abortion rights, while over 70 percent of their non-believing peer group said they believed in abortion rights.

While a large cross-section of all Americans believe in marriage’s importance, Regnerus found that, for example, Evangelicals are less likely than most to perceive marriage as “outdated.”

Evangelical Christians were also drastically less likely to believe that cohabitation is a good idea. While upward of 70 percent of those who claim no religious affiliation or those who are “spiritual but not religious” agree that cohabitation is acceptable, approximately 5 percent of Evangelicals agreed that cohabitation is acceptable. “While left-leaning Evangelicals have received considerable media attention lately, it pays to survey the masses and see just what’s going on,” says Regnerus. “These data suggest that while a modest minority of Evangelicals under 40 profess what we might call more sexually liberal attitudes, it’s not a significant minority. Minorities can be vocal. Survey data help us understand just how large or small they really are.”

I am glad that I am an evangelical Protestant Christian. Wherever the battle lines in the culture war are drawn, you can always count on us to be there.

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

New study: cohabitation more likely to dissolve, less likely to lead to marriage

All I have on this is the abstract, but if someone can send me the study, I’d love to see the results section.

Abstract:

Cohabitation is now the modal first union for young adults, and most marriages are preceded by cohabitation even as fewer cohabitations transition to marriage. These contrasting trends may be due to compositional shifts among cohabiting unions, which are increasingly heterogeneous in terms of cohabitation order, engagement, and the presence of children, as well as across socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. The author constructs 5-year cohabitation cohorts for 18- to 34-year-olds from the 2002 and 2006–2010 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (n = 17,890 premarital cohabitations) to examine the outcomes of cohabitations over time. Compared to earlier cohabitations, those formed after 1995 were more likely to dissolve, and those formed after 2000 were less likely to transition to marriage even after accounting for the compositional shifts among individuals in cohabiting unions. Higher instability and decreased chances of marriage occurred among both engaged and non-engaged individuals, suggesting society-wide changes in cohabitation over time.

Evidence Unseen has collected some of the other studies together.

Excerpt

Hall and Zhao (from the University of Western Ontario) studied 8,177 individuals who were ever-married. They write, “Premarital cohabitors in Canada have over twice the risk of divorce in any year of marriage when compared with noncohabitors.”[13]

Manning (et al.) writes, “Over 50% of cohabiting unions in the US, whether or not they are eventually legalized by marriage, end by separation within five years compared to roughly 20% for marriages.”[14]

Daniel Lichter and Zhenchao Qian (from Cornell University and The Ohio State University) write, “If serial cohabitors married, divorce rates were very high—more than twice as high as for women who cohabited only with their eventual husbands.”[15]

And finally, there’s this study from Life Site News.

Excerpt:

Couples who reserve sex for marriage enjoy greater stability and communication in their relationships, say researchers at Brigham Young University.

A new study from the Mormon college found that those couples who waited until marriage rated their relationship stability 22 percent higher than those who started having sex in the early part of their relationship. The relationship satisfaction was 20 percent higher for those who waited, the sexual quality of the relationship was 5 percent better, and communication was 12 percent better.

The study, published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology, involved 2,035 married individuals who participated in a popular online marital assessment called “RELATE.” From the assessment’s database, researchers selected a sample designed to match the demographics of the married American population. The extensive questionnaire included the question “When did you become sexual in this relationship?”

Couples that became sexually involved later in their relationship – but prior to marriage – reported benefits that were about half as strong as those who waited for marriage.

[...]Sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved in the study, responded to its findings, saying that “couples who hit the honeymoon too early – that is, prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship – often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.” Regnerus is the author of Premarital Sex in America, a book forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Because religious belief often plays a role for couples who choose to wait, Busby and his co-authors controlled for the influence of religious involvement in their analysis.

“Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction,” Busby said.

Young men and women growing up really need to be informed by their parents what they are going to want to be doing long term, and what they should be doing today to accomplish those goals. Young people benefit greatly from the guidance of older and wiser people, but in defining goals and defining the steps to reach those goals. To be a convincing parent, you have to be convinced yourself. And to be convinced yourself, you need to be seen as having knowledge, not just opinions, but knowledge. Having the right peer-reviewed papers at hand will help you to be a better parent.

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

Should Christians “guard their hearts” in relationships? What does that even mean?

Here are my two disagreements with Jonathan’s post on courting that appeared on this blog yesterday.

He writes this:

If you have followed the above procedure and have gotten as far as the relationship stage, I would suggest that there should be an increasingly greater level of commitment as the relationship continues to progress. In my case, I would not terminate a relationship without a very good reason once I have agreed to commit myself to the relationship. Do not take this commitment lightly.

It is important, however, that both parties take care to guard their (and each other’s) hearts, especially during the early days of the relationship, in case the relationship for whatever reason does not work out. This practice ensures that you will both be able to give your heart more completely to your future spouse. If you end up not being the husband of a girl whom you have dated, you want to be able to look that girl’s future husband in the eye and tell him with a clear conscience that you took good care to guard her heart for him.

I would suggest limiting physical contact to holding hands and the occasional hug during the early days of the relationship. Kissing should be reserved for significantly downstream in the relationship, until you have been together for a considerable period of time.

You should also avoid, whenever possible, being left alone together for long periods of time – where temptation may strike you and cause you to fall into sin. Meet together in public places or involve family and friends.

I disagree that the correct interpretation of “guard your heart” (from Proverbs 4:23) means “don’t love someone to the best of your ability until you are sure you won’t get hurt”. The correct thing to do is to love God with everything you have, and then to let that flow to others – especially others you have chosen to court because you see glimpses of who God wants them to be and you want to invest in them to get them there.

Here’s an article from Relevant that makes the point:

Quote:

When it comes to our relationships, I think we’re missing something. Jesus summarizes our highest command as: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

[...]According to Mark 12:30, Jesus wants us to be all in. And when we love Him with our all, it will help shape our perspective of earthly relationships, romantic and otherwise. When we are totally firm and secure in God’s love for us, we will be less worried about “guarding our hearts” from pain and heartbreak as we relate to others.

Jesus is the greatest example of this. He loved His Father so much He was not afraid of getting hurt by loving others. On the contrary, He died for relationships. Jesus sacrificed everything for love. He did this to restore not only our relationship with Him but our relationships with each other. His body was broken for us—not just His heart. Clearly, Jesus wasn’t afraid of a broken heart, mind or body. What would happen if we had the same perspective?

Relationships are risky business, and there’s no guarantee you won’t end up with a broken heart. But because of Christ’s love, the fear of a broken heart no longer has to be the motivating factor. 1 John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” We can fulfill the greatest commandment because of God’s perfect example in the flesh.

Christ’s mission was to leave Paradise and sacrifice Himself on the altar of love. Even when it appears Jesus struggles with going through with this plan, He prays: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:42). His whole life was dedicated to making us whole; He loved us with His mind, body, heart and strength so that we might also be able to love wholly.

And here’s another support from Mars Hill Church:

Quote:

The first error we can make is to guard our hearts in such a way that there is no possible way we can get hurt. We keep relationships shallow, people at arm’s length, and anyone from getting to know us at the heart level. The Bible is the most honest book ever written—it makes no claim that if we “guard our heart” we will avoid pain and heartache in this life (1 Peter 1:6–7). It is simply not God’s will for us to be isolated, walled off, and invulnerable.

I have heard the “guard your heart” barrier invoked by Christian women who urge me to read the Bible more and be more spiritual, and it makes me suspect that their sexual history is coming into play – they’ve made poor decisions with non-Christian men and now they are misusing the Bible to refuse good things to good men because of their past experience with bad men. When a woman is on a marriage track with a man, she needs to love him like she’s never been hurt.

I do not think that it is fair for bad men to be trusted MORE than good men. Women need to learn to 1) make better decisions when they choose a man (don’t choose an immoral and irreligious man in order to avoid moral/spiritual judgment and/or abandonment), and 2) to love good men as if they have never been hurt, lest those good men get sick and tired of being distrusted and pushed outside barriers, and move on to someone else.

Men like to be trusted. Men like vulnerability. Men like authenticity. Men like engagement. If we are constantly rebuffed even though we are chaste, we do move on to someone who is more lovable. I don’t think that an unchaste man deserves to have access to trust, vulnerability, authenticity and engagement – but a chaste man does. That’s what he is offering, too.

As long as the couple avoids sexual physical contact, then any break up is going to be far less painful than it would be if there were a physical (especially sexual) component. To love someone well, to build them up, to let them go do amazing things for the Lord – this does not hurt. I am still friends with women I’ve courted who hurt me, but it doesn’t last more than a month or two. Then you’re friends again and the friendship lasts.

My second disagreement with Jonathan is about kissing. For me kissing on the cheek or hand is OK, but kissing on the lips should be reserved for the day of engagement. If the man is on his knees with a ring, and she accepts, he should kiss her on the lips to seal the promise. After that, kissing on the lips is fine with me. But not before.

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

Courtship advice for Christians from an influential young Christian apologist

Painting: "Courtship", by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

“Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

The influential young Christian apologist Jonathan McLatchie has written an article on courtship for Christians, and I have posted it below. I have two disagreements, which I will post in the comments below.

A Christian Man’s Philosophy of God-Honoring Courtship

Wintery Knight asked me to contribute a guest post expressing my views on God-honoring courtship and relationship philosophy. I should state upfront that I have only ever been in one relationship, and thus I cannot claim to have a lot of experience. I have, however, given these matters significant thought as I determine in my own head the sort of woman I am looking for and what a God-honoring relationship should look like. I thought that these ideas may be of value to others, and so I am articulating them here.

What Sort Of Woman Should You Be Looking For?

When searching for a potential spouse, it is important to prioritize the traits that you desire your wife to possess: What characteristics are essential and non-negotiable, and which are not? The most important trait is that the woman be a Christian. Marrying a non-Christian is a recipe for disaster, and sooner or later there is bound to be a resultant train crash. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Your life in Christ ought to form such a core component of your identity that it infiltrates the way you live your life at every level – your conversations, the decisions that you make, the people that you hang out with, the activities that you participate in. To not be able to share such a core part of who you are with your spouse is asking for trouble. A non-believing spouse is, moreover, unlikely to have the same values and standards as you do when it comes to maintaining one’s chastity before marriage. Marriage to a non-believer is also likely to lead to conflict further down the road when you are making decisions about how to raise your kids and what values to instil in them. If you marry someone who shares your faith and values, you could be saving yourself a lot of heartache later down the road.

Although sharing your Christian faith is a non-negotiable, it is not enough. Look not simply for a woman who is merely a “Sunday morning Christian”, but one who has demonstrated spiritual maturity and depth. As 1 Peter 3:3-4 says to women,

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

It is one thing for a woman to say that she is a Christian – anybody can do that. But how does it play out in her life in the real world? How does her faith influence the decisions that she makes? Does she live her life in such a way that reflects her Christianity without her having to mention her faith? Is she perpetually going to the Word of God for sustenance? Does she have a proper understanding of basic theological concepts such as the Trinity? What does her prayer life look like? Seek out a woman who is so deeply immersed in Christ that you have to first seek Him in order to find her.

Ask the girl what she feels God’s calling is for her life. Are you in a position to help her grow more to be like Christ and fulfil God’s will for her life? Are you sufficiently mature spiritually that you are able to teach her and lead her spiritually? Are there areas in which you can learn from her? An answer in the affirmative to these questions suggests that she may be someone you could pursue a relationship with.

Integrity is another essential. You want to know that your wife is trustworthy and that you can count on her to be faithful. Ask people who know her well to give you a character assessment of her.

It is important that a girl whom you are seeking to pursue a relationship with value purity and chastity. You don’t want to be in a relationship with a girl who is going to tempt you to compromise on your Christian principles. You also want your wife to be able to give her heart completely to you. If, however, she has already been sexually active outside of wedlock, she has created a strong emotional bond to someone else, and might find it difficult to give all of her heart entirely to her husband. That all said, past mistakes do happen, and I think there is a place for forgiveness – if the girl is sincerely repentant and acknowledges her past sin.

You should also be cautious of women who have been in many past relationships. If a girl has been in several previous relationships, it is not necessarily a make-or-break factor, but you should nonetheless ask them to provide the reasons of why these relationships did not work out. You don’t want to pursue someone who is a relationship hopper, since that raises questions about their ability to remain faithful and committed to you. Related to this, you should also be wary of women who are emotional pendulums when it comes to their commitment to the relationship. If, having entered a relationship, you are unable to predict a girl’s feelings about you from one day to the next, that is a serious red flag.

A girl’s family should also be an important factor in determining marital compatibility. Remember that you are marrying her family as well. You don’t want to marry into a mean family who don’t appreciate the investment you are putting into their daughter’s or sister’s life.

Finally, a further important characteristic in a godly wife is that she be able to look up to and respect you, and be willing to submit to your leading. You don’t want to be in a relationship with a girl who is going to be trying to seize the reins of the relationship. The responsibility for leading relationships falls on the shoulders of the man, not of the woman. Here are a few Bible verses that instruct a woman to submit to her husband:

Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

Colossians 3:18: “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

1 Peter 3:1-2: “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

If your wife is going to respect you and submit to your leading, be sure that you are a man who is worthy of respect and submission. Be a man who is saturated with Scripture and dedicated to the things of God. Only then will you be able to lead a woman spiritually.

Beginning the Relationship

A relationship consists of several phases, which culminate in the final stage: marriage. The first stage is friendship. I am extremely unlikely to pursue someone for a relationship unless we have been friends for a reasonable period of time first – at least a few weeks or so, depending on how much time you are spending with them. During this time, observe them and evaluate their character, personality, and doctrinal compatibility. Take your time with this. Don’t blindly rush into a relationship with someone without taking the time to carefully evaluate them first. That way, you avoid playing with peoples’ hearts and prevent inevitable hurt as a consequence. Before letting the girl know that you are interested, weigh up the pros and cons; and determine (from your limited interaction) whether there are any significant concerns or obvious reasons why the relationship could fail. If you don’t feel that you could see yourself marrying the girl, do not enter a relationship with them.

There is a limit to how much information you can gather by this means, however, and there will come a time when it becomes necessary to move to phase 2. At this stage, you should let the girl know that you are interested in her. Ideally, you should be prepared to articulate the reasons you have for being interested in her – this shows that your motivation for pursuing her is not simply a desire to be in any generic relationship, but that you have already put significant thought into why this girl in particular is a worthy contender. If she rejects you, respect that and move on. If she expresses an interest, tell her that you would like to spend a few weeks getting to know her better in view of determining whether the relationship should proceed beyond friendship. This allows you to both gauge each other’s suitability without the emotional connection that comes along with being in a relationship (again, minimizing the risk of hurting her). It also allows you to evaluate her at a deeper level than you could in the previous phase. During this stage of the relationship, you should ask each other about your theological views, your past relationships, past sins that need to be confessed, what you both wish to get out of a relationship, how you would like to raise children (e.g. public vs. private vs. home schooling), and so on. Be completely transparent and honest with each other. Be sure that you have all your bases covered, and that there are going to be no unpleasant surprises later down the road after you have already developed an emotional connection.

It is very important that during this time there is a centrality of prayer about the future direction of the relationship. Seek the Lord’s will diligently. Deciding about relationships takes a lot of wisdom, and God has promised us in Scripture that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

After a few weeks, discuss with your prospective girlfriend what the way forward should be for your relationship and whether there is a mutual desire to proceed and what you feel God is calling you to.

Guarding Your Hearts and Upholding Chastity

If you have followed the above procedure and have gotten as far as the relationship stage, I would suggest that there should be an increasingly greater level of commitment as the relationship continues to progress. In my case, I would not terminate a relationship without a very good reason once I have agreed to commit myself to the relationship. Do not take this commitment lightly.

It is important, however, that both parties take care to guard their (and each other’s) hearts, especially during the early days of the relationship, in case the relationship for whatever reason does not work out. This practice ensures that you will both be able to give your heart more completely to your future spouse. If you end up not being the husband of a girl whom you have dated, you want to be able to look that girl’s future husband in the eye and tell him with a clear conscience that you took good care to guard her heart for him.

I would suggest limiting physical contact to holding hands and the occasional hug during the early days of the relationship. Kissing should be reserved for significantly downstream in the relationship, until you have been together for a considerable period of time.

You should also avoid, whenever possible, being left alone together for long periods of time – where temptation may strike you and cause you to fall into sin. Meet together in public places or involve family and friends.

Making Christ the Cornerstone of Your Relationship

There is no other cornerstone for a God-honoring relationship besides that of Christ. Meditation upon Scripture and time spent together in prayer should form the bedrock of any relationship. I suggest working through a book of the Bible together, expositing the Scriptures verse by verse. This will inevitably lead to mutual edification and also offers some accountability for regular study of Scripture. I would also recommend working together through some classic Christian writings such as those of the puritans. There is a goldmine of nuggets to be found among such literature.

Conclusion

I trust that some will find the above perspectives of value as they look for a spouse and develop relationships which eventually will lead into marriage. These are only a few short thoughts, and there is much more that could be written on this subject. There will of course be other considerations that are specific to the interests and personality of the individual. For example, I very much enjoy intellectual conversation topics, particularly those relating to science, theology and apologetics. And so I look for someone who is similarly interested in discussing those areas and who can relate to me at an intellectual level.

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

Study shows that children of divorce twice as likely to have a stroke

Science Daily reports on a peer-reviewed Canadian study that links an increased risk of stroke to divorce.

Excerpt:

“We were very surprised that the association between parental divorce and stroke remained so strong even after we had adjusted for smoking, obesity, exercise and alcohol consumption,” said [study leader Esme] Fuller-Thomson.

[...]Of the 13,134 total study respondents, 10.4 percent had experienced parental divorce during their childhood, and 1.9 percent reported that they had been diagnosed with a stroke at some point in their lives. When adjusting for age, race and gender, the odds of stroke were approximately 2.2 times higher for those who had experienced parental divorce.

When other risk factors — including socioeconomic status, health behaviors, mental health, and other adverse childhood experiences — were controlled in a logistic regression analysis, the odds ratio of stroke for those who had experienced parental divorce remained significantly elevated.

One of the reasons that we have so much divorce is because feminists and trial lawyers lobbied to relax divorce laws – this was the first redefinition of marriage. In this redefinition, we lost the stability and permanence of marriage. Now marriage just means a temporary relationship for people to have feelings of being “happy” and “in love”. It never used to mean that – it used to mean a promise to love another person regardless of how you felt.

Look at this 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.

Look at these old-fashioned wedding vows – they reflected the view that marriage was permanent, and that it was meant to persist through hardships and trials:

______, I love you. I prayed that God would lead me to his choice. I praise Him that tonight His will is being fulfilled. Through the pressures of the present and uncertainties of the future I promise my faithfulness, to follow you through all of life’s experiences as you follow God, that together we may grow in the likeness of Christ and our home be a praise to Him.

______, I give you this ring, wear it with love and joy. I choose you to be my husband: to have and to hold, from this day forward. For better, for worse, for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health; to have and to cherish, as long as we both shall live. And hereto, I pledge you my faithfulness to show to you the same kind of love as Christ showed the Church when He died for her, and to love you as a part of myself because in His sight we shall be one.

I love you, ______, and I thank the Lord for the love that has bound our hearts and lives together in spiritual fellowship of marriage. I will love, honor, cherish and obey you always. As we enter upon the privileges and joys of life’s most holy relationship and begin together the great adventure of building a Christian home, I will look to you as head of our home as I have looked to Christ as Head of the Church. I will love you in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in sorrow as in joy, and will be true to you by God’s grace, trusting in Him, so long as we both shall live.

The reason we cry when we read those vows (well, at least I do) is because we know that loving someone as an obligation is an enormous responsibility and sacrifice of our own selfish needs. That’s what marriage USED to mean, before no-fault divorce laws. But today people on the left and the right seem to be perfectly fine with them! Even many “Christians” seem to be fine with them.

I also noticed that Stephen Baskerville has an article on no-fault divorce up in the American Conservative. (Note: I do not endorse paleo-conservatism)

Excerpt:

First: Marriage exists primarily to cement the father to the family. This fact is politically incorrect but undeniable. The breakdown of marriage produces widespread fatherlessness, not motherlessness. As Margaret Mead pointed out long ago—yes, leftist Margaret Mead was correct about this—motherhood is a biological certainty whereas fatherhood is socially constructed. The father is the weakest link in the family bond, and without the institution of marriage he is easily discarded.

[...]The notion that marriage exists for love or “to express and safeguard an emotional union of adults,” as one proponent puts it, is cant. Many loving and emotional human relationships do not involve marriage. Even the conservative argument that marriage exists to rear children is too imprecise: marriage creates fatherhood. No marriage, no fathers.

[...]Here is the second unpleasant truth: homosexuals did not destroy marriage, heterosexuals did. The demand for same-sex marriage is a symptom, not a cause, of the deterioration of marriage. By far the most direct threat to the family is heterosexual divorce. “Commentators miss the point when they oppose homosexual marriage on the grounds that it would undermine traditional understandings of marriage,” writes family scholar Bryce Christensen. “It is only because traditional understandings of marriage have already been severely undermined that homosexuals are now laying claim to it.”

[..]Thus the third inconvenient fact: divorce is a political problem. It is not a private matter, and it does not come from impersonal forces of moral and cultural decay. It is driven by complex and lucrative government machinery operating in our names and funded by our taxes. It is imposed upon unwilling people, whose children, homes, and property may be confiscated. It generates the social ills that rationalize almost all domestic government spending. And it is promoted ideologically by the same sexual radicals who now champion same-sex marriage. Homosexuals may be correct that heterosexuals destroyed marriage, but the heterosexuals were their fellow sexual ideologues.

Conservatives have completely misunderstood the significance of the divorce revolution. While they lament mass divorce, they refuse to confront its politics. Maggie Gallagher attributes this silence to “political cowardice”: “Opposing gay marriage or gays in the military is for Republicans an easy, juicy, risk-free issue,” she wrote in 1996. “The message [is] that at all costs we should keep divorce off the political agenda.”

No American politician of national stature has seriously challenged unilateral divorce. “Democrats did not want to anger their large constituency among women who saw easy divorce as a hard-won freedom and prerogative,” writes Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. “Republicans did not want to alienate their upscale constituents or their libertarian wing, both of whom tended to favor easy divorce, nor did they want to call attention to the divorces among their own leadership.”

If we social conservatives care about children, then we need to be opposed to no-fault divorce. We need to be more careful about who we choose to marry, and not choose mates because of “chemistry” or “hotness” or because our friends approve of them based on arbitrary cultural standards. There are defined roles for the participants to a marriage, and there is a design for marriage, and there are specific tasks that need to get done. Marriage is a job, and it requires skills to execute difficult tasks that are morally obligatory. It’s not about immature selfish adults pursuing happiness at the expense of their children. It’s not about feelings. It’s not about sentimentality. It’s not about fun.

Divorce causes damage to the health and well-being of children, resulting in behaviors that will give us less liberty (greater intervention of government) and higher taxes (for social welfare programs) later on. There are consequences to selfishness and irresponsibility in relationships. Other people do not exist to entertain you. Relationships are not a form of recreational activity. At least they should not be for Christians. For Christians, the goal of relationships is to get the other person to have a closer relationship with God and to be equipped to serve God better. If children are the result, then the same obligation applies to them. That is the purpose of relationships in Christianity.

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

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