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.

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

“The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” is required reading for women who want to marry

Valentine’s Day is approaching fast, so I thought I would post something about the best book you can read on love and marriage.

Sue Bohlin of Probe Ministries read “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands“, and her assessment is here.

Excerpt:

Talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has written a book that is improving thousands of marriages: The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.{1} We need this book because millions of wives either don’t know how to love their husbands wisely and well, or they’re too self-centered to see it as important. Dr. Laura credits this dismal condition to forty years of feminist philosophy, “with its condemnation of just about everything male as evil, stupid, and oppressive, and the denigration of female and male roles in families.”{2} While the women’s movement certainly had a hand to play in the disintegration of relationships and the family, I believe the core cause is our sinful self-centeredness, just as the Bible says.{3}

Which is why we need help, and God instructs older women to train younger women to love their husband and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.{4} The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is a great resource for learning these important values and skills.

She talks about men’s needs for direct communication, respect, appreciation, support, and sex.

And ends with this:

I can’t recommend The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands highly enough. In fact, I gave a copy to my new daughter-in-law! Let me close with one more piece of wisdom from Dr. Laura: “[M]en are simple creatures who come from a woman, are nurtured and brought up by a woman, and yearn for the continued love, admiration and approval of a woman. . . Women need to better appreciate the magnitude of their power and influence over men, and not misuse or abuse it.”{25}

Sue is the husband of famous Christian scholar Ray Bohlin, PhD, and they’ve been married for a very long time.

And here’s another summary of the book that I found.

Full text:

Dr. Laura Schlessinger has written another book that deserves a place on the best seller list with six of her other books, such as Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives and Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess Up Their Lives. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, from this unmarried man’s perspective, is an excellent manual for women on how to get want they want from men and marriage and, generally, how to be happy. Dr. Laura makes a number of important, practical points, based on her experience in private practice, from advising her radio callers, and from literally hundreds of letters and emails she received from men and women while she was writing the book. Here are the points that struck this writer, together with commentary:

1. Men Need Women, and This Need Gives Women Huge Influence. Dr. Laura states the point as follows: “[M]en are simple creatures who come from a woman, are nurtured and brought up by a woman, and yearn for the continued love, admiration, and approval from a woman.” Women have great power and influence over men, and wives in particular have tremendous power over their husbands. How they use this power essentially controls the relationship, because women are the masters of most relationships and marriages. That’s why Dr. Laura says that she probably won’t write The Proper Care and Feeding of Wives: wives already have most of the power and their marriages depend, for the most part, on them.

2. Women Err in Favoring Children Over Husband. A friend once told this writer that once a woman has children, her husband is relegated to the moral equivalence of a piece of furniture. How sad if this is true in many marriages. Here’s how Dr. Laura puts it: “Once wives became mothers, they had no time to be wives. The men would even compliment their wives on being great mothers, but expressed considerable pain over not being shown love, affection, or sexual interest. The typical reply from a wife challenged with this was ‘I only have time to take care of one person, and our child is that person. I’m just too tired for you.’ This puts fathers in the ugly and uncomfortable position of feeling competitive with and resentful of their children, whom they love so much.”

3. Men and Women Are Different. That men and women are deeply different ought not to be notable, but for the fact that it is so often challenged today. Dr. Laura says that society tries to make both men and women “unisex.” But men are happiest being men, and women are happiest being women, with few exceptions. The differences start to manifest themselves very early. In one study Dr. Laura mentions, a barrier was placed between 1 year-old babies and their mothers. What did the little boys do? They attempted to get around the barrier or knock it down. The little girls? They cried until their mothers’ picked them up. Men tend to respond to things physically, women verbally. In fact, the two sexes are just right for each other.

4. Not Every Thought and Feeling Needs to be Said. Women tend to be so verbal, so expressive, that they can tire out men easily unless they exercise some restraint. Dr. Laura reports that wives generally overwhelm their husbands with communication. “Husbands imagine (so foolishly) that their wives are telling them something they actually need to know because they’re supposed to do something about it. Otherwise, men can’t imagine why the ‘communication’ is happening at all. It confuses them, frustrates them, and their response is to turn off. That’s when they unfairly become labeled insensitive.” Husbands and fiances are not girlfriends or psychologists, and women who want attention should adjust their communication style accordingly when speaking with them.

5. Men Are Not Mind-Readers. Most men are not very intuitive compared to most women. Many women “get caught up in the absurdly romanticized notion that ‘if he loved me, he’d just know what I’m thinking, what I’d like, what he should say.'” If a woman wants her man to do something, she should just ask him plainly, without nagging, and show appreciation when he does it. To act otherwise, as many women do, shows arrogance and lack of respect for the husband’s difference, and it leads to unhappiness in the marriage and in the family.

6. Man Is an Embodied Soul. No, Dr. Laura didn’t put it that way; “embodied soul” is a Catholic concept. But that concept is what underlies her discussion of how important it is to a man that his wife try to keep up her appearance. What does it mean that we are embodied souls? It means that our bodies are integral parts of who we are. We are not just souls. Our bodies are not like clothing that we can take on or off. There was no time during which we had only souls and not bodies, and in eternity as well we will have bodies. It is through our bodies, in fact, that we communicate to our loved ones and to the rest of the world. One thinks of the beautiful line from the old Anglican marriage rite: bride and groom pledge to each other “with my body I thee worship.” It is ironic, but in many cases men–sex-crazed pigs in the minds of many women–actually have a truer understanding of the beauty of the body and the meaning of the marital embrace than their wives do. “Objectification” may come as much or more from the woman’s side as from the husband’s if the woman sees her own body as being separate from rather than an integral part of herself. Dr. Laura writes: “In reading all the letters from men, I was struck by their depth of senstivity about the issue of women’s appearance. It wasn’t an impersonal, animal reaction (as it is with women the men don’t personally know), it was a deeply personal one. The wife’s comfort with and appreciation of her own body and femininity, and her willingness to share that with her husband, actually fed his sense of well-being, his feeling of being loved as a husband and valued as a ‘man.'”

7. Infidelity by Omission. Brides and grooms make a number of vows, not only of sexual fidelity. Marital vows include and imply words like love, honor, protect, and care for. “[W]hen one breaches those vows by neglect, is that also not a form of infidelity? Perhaps we should start looking at the act of intentionally depriving a spouse of legitimate needs as infidelity, too, because it stems from being unfaithful to the intent of the vows.”

8. In the Bedroom. To her credit, Dr. Laura gives due place to the importance for marriage of the marital act: “The bedroom is the foundation of marriage and family.” St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, that supposedly conservative institution within the Church, put it this way: “The marriage bed is an altar.” Enough said?

9. Women Should Appreciate Men’s Masculinity. Dr. Laura relates a trip she made recently to a swimming pool. A mom and a dad were wading with their infant child. Mom held the child against her chest, cooed to him, and swooped him up and down. She passed the baby to dad. He turned the baby’s face outward and swooshed him forward and up into the air. “Mom equals protection and nurturance. Dad equals autonomy and adventure. It is the perfect balance that helps produce a functional, secure human being.” Too many women, though, act like Alice Kramdens, constantly belitting their husbands, shooting down their aspirations, treating them like children. Dr. Laura writes: “When a wife treats her man like he’s one of her children, when she puts him down or thwarts his need for autonomy, adventure, risk, competition, challenge, and conquest, she ends up with a sullen, unooperative, unloving, hostile lump.”

10. Thou Shalt Not Covet. Dr. Laura contributes a novel (to this writer) and insightful contemporary application of the commandment, “thou shal not covet.” Specifically, she understands it as a rebuke to people who want it all, especially feminists. “Perhaps the feminist notions about women having power if they do it all has obstructed too many women’s ability to realize that in real life we all make choices, and that the true joy and meaning of life is not in how many things we have or do, but in the sacrifice and commitment we make to others within the context of the choices we’ve made. The Tenth Commandment, about coveting, reminds us that none of us can have everything there is nor everything we want. Without enjoying and appreciating our gifts and blessings, we create a hell on earth for ourselves and for those who love us.”

PCF Husbands is the best basic book on marriage. Easy to read, tons of wisdom. It’s a great book for women to read to find out what men really want from a wife. Marriage can be a beautiful thing if both people go into the relationship with the view that each person has to put in 100% effort to make it work. Understanding a man’s needs helps a woman to put in her 100%. It would be hard to take care of a parrot or some other strange creature if you didn’t know anything about what their needs and habits were. This book explains a lot of what women need to know about men.

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

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

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

She writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Related posts

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

Pastors vs the Bible: should men be shamed into marrying?

Recently, a book was recommended by Ligonier Ministries that tried to shame men into marrying. Here is a review of that book on Amazon.com – currently rated the “most helpful” review, because it quotes the book and cites the page number, so you know this person actually read the book.

Some quotes from the book, which is written by a pastor:

“it is imperative for your well being that you be married, to move beyond the “not good” status of single adulthood” (pg59).

“And the first step for many of us in becoming the men God wants us to be is to become married, so that we will leave behind our selfish ways and begin fulfilling our masculine calling through our relationship with our wives.” (pg64)

“It does not work very well when a man remains unmarried” (pg57)

“to realize how vitally important it is (in the vast majority of cases) that you become married” (pg59).

“Today, when God looks on single males and says, Not good, He undoubtedly has in mind a long list of truly unfit helpers, among them the pornography, video games, sports obsessions, and empty pizza boxes that are intrinsic to so many young adult male lives, even among Christians” (pg60).

“The best thing a young Christian man can do… is to marry a godly woman” (pg59)

“If you have shied away from marriage, let me urge you to reconsider and (perhaps)
to commit to the necessary growing up” (pg59).

“God says the same thing about single adult men today. He looks into their apartments and refrigerators and sighs, Not good” (pg57)

“But it is especially good to have to rise up in masculine virtue and strength for the sake of my wife, leaving behind a self-focus that was, at best, only intended for a temporary season of singleness” (pg64)

“If you are single, what is keeping you from marriage? Pray for God to enable you to take a wife and for God to provide you with a wife.” (pg158)

Keep in mind that Paul was single. Was he able to obey and serve God while being single? According to this pastor, Paul was a self-centered failure who needed to grow up, man up and get married so he could serve God instead of being an irresponsible, messy, immature loser. Paul needed a godly wife to civilize him, but he failed in life because he stayed single and immature. This view is probably the majority view in churches today, and it probably explains why men can’t be bothered with church. According to most pastors, women are already fully qualified to become wives, it’s only that the lazy, useless men like Paul are not mature enough to abandon their video games and pizza boxes and get civilized by their saintly wives.

But what does the Bible actually say about men and marriage?

Let’s look at this exegesis of the Bible from Unmasking Feminism.

Excerpt:

And then there is this: 1 Corinthians 7:25-27 and 32-38

Now concerningthe betrothed,I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

Some Christians will say the “present distress” cited is not the same distress as our modern times and therefore we can reject this, but yet the bible is suppose to true at all times and all situations. There is and will always be a constant undertone of distress in our fallen world. If there wasn’t, this would be Eden. The distress we are in now, which is clear to any red-pill thinker, is obviously the burden of feminism, liberalism, socialism, et al and the strains it has be put on our society. Under those strains,  is it wise to seek a wife?  Yes, if you have passions that will prevent you from being celibate, but if you can manage that, under the present distress, is there a point in taking a wife? See “Note” below for more on celibacy.  Because there is no going back–these are hardcore, legitimate verses that men need to consider when pondering marriage.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife,34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Again, if you have your passions under control, a life free of the worldly distraction (known as learning/managing/pleasing your wife) is the better, anxiety free route, to living a life that pleases the Lord.  As it is said, “no man can have two masters”.  Either a Christian man is single and devoted to the causes of the Lord or married and devoted to the causes of Lord and wife.  A distraction for sure, but necessary if his passion burns. He will just have to learn how to keep his wife from becoming a second master.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

Those who refrain from marriage with their passions under control will do better. They will be more focused and dedicated on the Lord. That is very clear and Christian men need to hear that in order to weigh marriage properly. There is nothing wrong with marriage, just that it can be burdening. There is nothing wrong with being single, just that you can’t have sex, but as you will see in my “note” below that marriage may entail no sex anyway.

I say all this not to be a downer and to sway men from marriage, but so they can make an informed decision. Wives are not always sunshine and lollipops.  The modern Christian message is to just man-up and marry any Christian looking woman and instantly your life will be transformed into this Garden of Eden haven. Don’t be fooled. There will be no heaven on earth. A wife can be a blessing if she is a good wife, one that does not place undue burden and strain on her husband. One that does not cause anxieties. But, and its a big BUT, there is no guarantee that marriage for the sake of marriage will make a woman a good wife or that any given wife will not be wearing sheep’s clothing. Its a gamble and tolerance for risk should be considered.  A single, celibate life is for those averse to risk. If you can manage yourself, its smooth sailing and a life with minimal anxieties. That is all you have to control.

1 Corinthians 7 is the chapter that many a pastor cannot afford to take seriously. He cannot accept the plain meaning of the text as it is written. If he did, he would offend many people in the church who believe that the primary purpose of men is to please women, not God. In church, a man has no right to evaluate a women for marriage and then decide for himself whether a prospective marriage is worthwhile for God or not. He has no right to ask a woman questions or lead her in order to see whether she can perform what he needs her to perform in order to make the marriage serve God. Many pastors believe that a man exists to serve a woman, and not to serve God.

When these feminist pastors cannot find support in the Bible to make the case for their “blame men” view, then they resort to shaming men without the Bible. “Man Up” they bellow to single guys – as if marrying a woman were something that could be accomplished by spending more time in the weight room. Or that flexing muscles protects a man from the threat of no-fault divorce. “Single guys: don’t overlook the single moms” as one particularly foolish pastor recently advised. It’s very important to understand that many women who attend church today do not look to the Bible as an authority on morality. Many are also not prepared. Men have to be encouraged to select a woman who is ready for marriage, not be forced to rush into marriage with just any women.

According to polls, women are more likely to support gay marriage than men, for example, which shows that many women don’t really understand the need that a child has for a mother and a father. So that needs to be checked. And women are less likely to know how to defend their faith than men, as well. So that needs to be checked. Some Christian women are attacking the Bible’s teaching on fornication, saying that they should be allowed to have premarital sex if they are “in love”. So that needs to be checked, too. Instead of holding them accountable for being wrong on these issues, many pastors just urge men to “man up” and marry women, as is. But not all women are worth marrying, and so it may be better for a man to stay single if he can’t find a good one.

The best thing for a Christian man to do with a woman is to ask her questions to see exactly how she has applied the Bible to her own life, and whether she has taken on obligations and duties in order to serve God that were not easy or pleasing for her. It’s not enough to ask simple questions and await easy answers, you need to see that she has done the work to move from opinions to convictions. If she hasn’t done the work, then it’s better to stay single (and chaste). As 2 Timothy 2:4 says, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”

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

Wintery Tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

RSS Evolution News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 4,340,640 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,048 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,048 other followers

%d bloggers like this: