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importance, Regnerus found that, for example, Evangelicals are less likely than most to perceive marriage as “outdated.”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.

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Why does the Bible place restrictions on sex outside of marriage?

From Evidence Unseen.

Excerpt:

God created marriage to be between one man and one woman. God created us with gender (“male and female” Gen. 1:27), and he designed it so we would “leave our father and mother” (Gen. 2:24—both singular) and become “one” with our spouse. Sex outside of this context goes beyond (or against) God’s design. Jesus affirms God’s original design for sex by quoting these two passages in Matthew 19, and Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 to affirm God’s design for marriage as well (1 Cor. 6:16).

By contrast, the NT speaks against all other forms of sexuality as porneia. This is the Greek root from which we get our modern term “porn.” Paul writes about porneia often and with the strongest possible terms. Thus this isn’t simply a NT teaching, but rather, a NTemphasis:

(1 Cor. 6:13) The body is not for immorality [porneia].

(1 Cor. 6:18) Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

(Gal. 5:19) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality.

(Eph. 5:3) But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

(1 Thess. 4:3) For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.

As those who know Christ, God’s will is to change us into people who have control over our sexuality, yet expressing ourselves regularly and pleasurably in marriage (1 Cor. 7:2). Resisting God’s design will depreciate your life. One author rightly said, “Nobody ever broke the law of God. You break yourself against the law of God… You don’t break the law of gravity. You break your neck.”[1] Of course, God completely forgives believers for our sins (Rom. 8:1), but he doesn’t protect us from their consequences (Gal. 6:7; Heb. 12:14-17). When we live apart from our Creator’s design, we will expect to see negative effects in our lives.

I can certainly vouch for the fact that premarital sex and especially cohabitation does enormous damage to a woman’s ability to be trusting and vulnerable. I find trust and vulnerability very attractive, but the women I know who have mashed themselves up with failed sexual relationships have a greatly diminished capacity for trust and vulnerability.

More:

Secular researchers have noted the ways in which fornication and cohabitation affect us in negative ways. Melina Bersamin (Department of Child Development—California State University) writes,

College students who had recently engaged in casual sex reported lower levels of self-esteem, life-satisfaction, and happiness compared to those students who had not had casual sex in the past 30 days… College students who had recently engaged in casual sex reported higher levels of general anxiety, social anxiety, and depression compared to college students who had not had recent casual sex.[2]

One study found that having sexual intercourse with someone only once or having sexual intercourse with someone known for less than 24 hours was significantly associated with feelings of sexual regret (Eshbaugh & Gute, 2008). Both men and women report sexual regret, albeit for different reasons, following casual sex encounters (Fisher et al., 2012). Feelings of sexual regret, and feelings of regret in general, have been linked to poor psychological out- comes, such as lower life satisfaction, loss of self-worth, depression, and physical health problems.[3]

Likewise, Robert Durant notes that “adolescents who were sexually active had significantly higher depression scores than nonsexually active subjects.” He adds that depression was “positively correlated with the number of partners in the previous 3 months.” He also points out that having a strong sense of “purpose in life” was “significantly negatively correlated with… the number of sexual partners in the previous 3 months.”[4] In other words, people that sleep around are not happier, but sadder. Moreover, people who feel that they have a purpose to their lives don’t feel the strong sense to sleep around.

It’s a question of prudence. If you want to be able to offer your future spouse trust and vulnerability, then you don’t engage in premarital sex, and especially not in cohabitation. Cohabitation basically means you give everything to a person who doesn’t commit to you. When it ends, your trust and vulnerability take a major hit, and you may never recover full function in that capacity. You basically just end up giving less of yourself the next time to the next person, and they are cheated out of the trust and vulnerability they deserve.

More studies:

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]

I think I know why cohabitation causes this higher risk of divorce. When a person cohabitates with another person and gives them everything (including their bodies) and the relationship fails, it makes them much more distrustful and paranoid when dealing with the next person they may like. They become unable to take the other person’s needs seriously and care for them because they are so worried about being hurt after giving up a lot to other people. If the distrustful person senses that they are holding back from the other person, they will often blame the other person for making demands on them – perhaps by imputing false motives to them, in order to justify not having to give anything back. In my experience as a chaste man, I have always felt like I was clear emotionally to give everything in each new relationship, and what I’ve found is that I have been able to easily trust each new person even after a break-up with the previous person. Break-ups don’t hurt much if you don’t get physical, and you’re more likely to stay friends with the person as well.

The really annoying thing about this is that premarital sex is so widespread that most people seem to have had it before their brains are even functioning enough to know what they really want out of life. So, instead of working backwards from the demands of marriage in order to know who to have a relationship with, they are choosing based on appearances and peer-approval far before marriage is even a possibility. By the time they get to an age where they are aware of what kind of woman or man marriage requires, they are already damaged to the point where they cannot give themselves to someone who is a good match. That’s the problem with having sex with someone when you are young – you don’t know what marriage is about, so you don’t know what to look for. It’s especially bad for women, who give away their peak sexual years (teens and 20s) to men who then want nothing to do with them. They’ve been used for sex without commitment by men who were good-looking, but not good.

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

Are biological fathers or unrelated men more dangerous for children?

This article from the Weekly Standard answers the question.

Excerpt:

A March 1996 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics contains some interesting findings that indicate just how widespread the problem may be. In a nationally representative survey of state prisoners jailed for assaults against or murders of children, fully one-half of respondents reported the victim was a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring. (All but 3 percent of those who committed violent crimes against children were men.) A close relationship between victim and victimizer is also suggested by the fact that three-quarters of all the crimes occurred in either the perpetrator’s home or the victim’s.

A 1994 paper published in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies looked at 32,000 documented cases of child abuse. Of the victims, only 28 percent lived with both biological parents (far fewer than the 68 percent of all children who live with both parents); 44 percent lived with their mother only (as do 25 percent of all children); and 18 percent lived with their mother and an unrelated adult (double the 9 percent of all children who live with their mother and an unrelated adult).

These findings mirror a 1993 British study by the Family Education Trust, which meticulously explored the relationship between family structure and child abuse. Using data on documented cases of abuse in Britain between 1982 and 1988, the report found a high correlation between child abuse and the marital status of the parents.

Specifically, the British study found that the incidence of abuse was an astounding 33 times higher in homes where the mother was cohabiting with an unrelated boyfriend than in stable nuclear families. Even when the boyfriend was the children’s biological father, the chances of abuse were twice as high.

These findings are consonant with those published a year earlier by Leslie Margolin of the University of Iowa in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. Prof. Margolin found that boyfriends were 27 times more likely than natural parents to abuse a child. The next-riskiest group, siblings, were only twice as likely as parents to abuse a child.

More recently, a report by Dr. Michael Stiffman presented at the latest meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in October, studied the 175 Missouri children under the age of 5 who were murdered between 1992 and 1994. It found that the risk of a child’s dying at the hands of an adult living in the child’s own household was eight times higher if the adult was biologically unrelated.

The Heritage Foundation’s Patrick Fagan discovered that the number of child-abuse cases appeared to rise in the 1980s along with the general societal acceptance of cohabitation before, or instead of, marriage. That runs counter to the radical-feminist view, which holds that marriage is an oppressive male institution of which violence is an integral feature. If that were true, then child abuse and domestic violence should have decreased along with the rise in cohabitation.

Heritage also found that in the case of very poor children (those in households earning less than $ 15,000 per year), 75 percent lived in a household where the biological father was absent. And 50 percent of adults with less than a high-school education lived in cohabitation arrangements. “This mix — poverty, lack of education, children, and cohabitation — is an incubator for violence,” Fagan says.

Why, then, do we ignore the problem? Fagan has a theory: “It is extremely politically incorrect to suggest that living together might not be the best living arrangement.”

The moral of the story is that it is a lot safer for children if we promote marriage as a way of attaching mothers and fathers to their children. Fathers who have a biological connection to children are a lot less likely to harm them. And a lot of social problems like child poverty, promiscuity and violence cannot be solved by replacing a father with a check from the government. We need to support fathers by empowering them in their traditional roles. Let the men lead.

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

Three cases where liberal tinkering with sexual ethics and marriage hurt children

This post by “Jane Galt” on Right Wing News highlights three cases where social liberals change the cultural rules around sex and marriage, and it ended up back-firing to hurt children. I will talk about one case below.

The case I want to talk about is the case of changing welfare laws.

Excerpt:

To sketch a brief history of welfare, it emerged in the nineteenth century as “Widows and orphans pensions”, which were paid by the state to destitute families whose breadwinner had passed away. They were often not available to blacks; they were never available to unwed mothers. Though public services expanded in the first half of the twentieth century, that mentality was very much the same: public services were about supporting unfortunate families, not unwed mothers. Unwed mothers could not, in most cases, obtain welfare; they were not allowed in public housing (which was supposed to be–and was–a way station for young, struggling families on the way to homeownership, not a permanent abode); they were otherwise discriminated against by social services. The help you could expect from society was a home for wayward girls, in which you would give birth and then put the baby up for adoption.

[...]Now, in the late fifties, a debate began over whether to extend benefits to the unmarried. It was unfair to stigmatise unwed mothers. Why shouldn’t they be able to avail themselves of the benefits available to other citizens? The brutal societal prejudice against illegitimacy was old fashioned, bigoted, irrational.

But if you give unmarried mothers money, said the critics, you will get more unmarried mothers.

“Ridiculous”, said the proponents of the change. “Being an unmarried mother is a brutal, thankless task. What kind of idiot would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state was willing to give her paltry welfare benefits?”

People do all sorts of idiotic things, said the critics. If you pay for something, you usually get more of it.

“C’mon” said the activists. “That’s just silly. I just can’t imagine anyone deciding to get pregnant out of wedlock simply because there are welfare benefits available.”

Oooops.

Of course, change didn’t happen overnight. But the marginal cases did have children out of wedlock, which made it more acceptable for the next marginal case to do so. Meanwhile, women who wanted to get married essentially found themselves in competition for young men with women who were willing to have sex, and bear children, without forcing the men to take any responsibility. This is a pretty attractive proposition for most young men. So despite the fact that the sixties brought us the biggest advance in birth control ever, illegitimacy exploded. In the early 1960s, a black illegitimacy rate of roughly 25 percent caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to write a tract warning of a crisis in “the negro family” (a tract for which he was eviscerated by many of those selfsame activists.)

By 1990, that rate was over 70 percent. This, despite the fact that the inner city, where the illegitimacy problem was biggest, only accounts for a fraction of the black population.

But in that inner city, marriage had been destroyed. It had literally ceased to exist in any meaningful way.

So what went wrong? Why did people with some good intentions achieve such bad results?

This went wrong:

Why would a woman choose such a hard road? It seemed self-evident that the only unwed mothers claiming benefits would be the ones pushed there by terrible circumstance.

This argument is compelling and logical. I would never become an unwed welfare mother, even if benefits were a great deal higher than they are now. It seems crazy to even suggest that one would bear a child out of wedlock for $567 a month. Indeed, to this day, I find the reformist side much more persuasive than the conservative side, except for one thing, which is that the conservatives turned out to be right. In fact, they turned out to be even more right than they suspected; they were predicting upticks in illegitimacy that were much more modest than what actually occurred–they expected marriage rates to suffer, not collapse.

How did people go so badly wrong? Well, to start with, they fell into the basic fallacy that economists are so well acquainted with: they thought about themselves instead of the marginal case. For another, they completely failed to realise that each additional illegitimate birth would, in effect, slightly destigmatise the next one. They assigned men very little agency, failing to predict that women willing to forgo marriage would essentially become unwelcome competition for women who weren’t, and that as the numbers changed, that competition might push the marriage market towards unwelcome outcomes. They failed to forsee the confounding effect that the birth control pill would have on sexual mores.

But I think the core problems are two. The first is that they looked only at individuals, and took instititutions as a given. That is, they looked at all the cultural pressure to marry, and assumed that that would be a countervailing force powerful enough to overcome the new financial incentives for out-of-wedlock births. They failed to see the institution as dynamic. It wasn’t a simple matter of two forces: cultural pressure to marry, financial freedom not to, arrayed against eachother; those forces had a complex interplay, and when you changed one, you changed the other.

The second is that they didn’t assign any cultural reason for, or value to, the stigma on illegitimacy. They saw it as an outmoded vestige of a repressive Victorial values system, based on an unnatural fear of sexuality. But the stigma attached to unwed motherhood has quite logical, and important, foundations: having a child without a husband is bad for children, and bad for mothers, and thus bad for the rest of us. So our culture made it very costly for the mother to do. Lower the cost, and you raise the incidence. As an economist would say, incentives matter.

Incentives matter. We don’t want to encourage people to do harmful, costly things and hurt children in the name of “compassion”.

But let’s get back to the bigger issue.

When you hear a person arguing for “compassion” for people who make immoral decisions, you should understand that they are arguing that moral boundaries on costly behavior be lifted. The costs that result from bad behavior are shifted from those who sin to those who don’t. The compassion crowd likes to cite one or two cases where someone is a genuine victim – but that is not the issue. The issue is the general case, and the incentives created that cause people on the margins to change their behavior. The word compassion should really be understood to mean “the act of saying that wrong is right, and covering up the damage for wrong actions with someone else’s money, taken from them by force”. That’s compassion, and it is celebrated in the feminized church as very Biblical. It’s nothing of the kind. This is not about judging people, it’s about helping people to avoid making mistakes that impoverish us all and harm the most vulnerable among us. We should not be encouraging irresponsible, selfish, immoral behavior and calling it “compassion”.

Marriage is a good thing that protects children, who are very much in need of protection. We shouldn’t be messing with it just so that we grown-ups can do things that make us feel good. Children are more important, because they are more vulnerable.

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Why should a man refuse a woman’s offer of casual sex?

I’ve been having some conversations recently with a good male friend of mine who is not a Christian. I like to talk to him about women because we disagree about women, and Lord knows I love to disagree with people. Anyway, he’s read my rules for chastity, courtship, etc., and he considers them, and me, quite weird. He is coming from the position of having a great deal of sexual experience with women, whereas I strictly avoid sexual activity for a variety of reasons. And what we disagree about is this: I think it’s wrong to have casual sex with women who offer themselves to a man before marriage, and he thinks it’s permissible as long as he warns them that the relationship is going nowhere afterwards.

First, let me talk about where we agree. Both of us agree that most women today have lost the art of making a man like them without using sex appeal. We are in broad agreement that the right way for a woman to make a man like her is by being feminine. And we agree on what that means – showing the ability to be a wife and mother. If a woman talks to a man about his day at work, studies hard things to be more skilled, listens to his life plan, and tries to contribute to the causes he cares about, then he will like her (because he needs her and appreciates her).  Also, it’s important that she have a plan of her own that he can help with, and she should let him help. Men like to give gifts to women, and we like to see how our gifts help women grow.

Now where do we disagree? Well, I think it’s a bad idea for a man to submit to casual sex with a woman who is unable or unwilling to set boundaries and have a Christian goal for the relationship. I think that casual sex is an inappropriate technique that a woman uses to make a man love her without demonstrating that she really understands him or wants to help him. Sometimes this is done inadvertently because the woman has never learned how to deal with men appropriately, but sometimes it’s done deliberately in order to get attention without have to care about or help the man.

Here are three reasons why men should not accept an offer of casual sex:

Reduced courting capability

A lot of men spend a lot of time and money and the best years of their lives pursuing a lot of different women for sexual gratification. But the pursuit of casual sex takes away from the goal of having a helpful wife and effective Christian children, (e.g. – children like Stephen C. Meyer, Jay Richards or WLC). It takes up time and resources that are better spent on building up teachable responsive girl friends. Chasing non-marriageable women also detracts from learning apologetics and theology, which are needed in order to impress the tiny minority of women who want a man who can be an involved, nurturing provider and mentor. There is no way to assess a woman’s fitness for marriage and mothering through casual sex. It has no value whatsoever when it comes to courting, because it removes the self-control needed for objective evaluation. Casual sex doesn’t show women that you can lead your future children, either.

Reduced vulnerability and romantic capability

I would not be able have sex and break up with that person without suffering serious emotional damage. I subscribe to the velcro theory of sexuality – the more you attach and separate, the less well you can attach the next time. I simply do not believe that men who do intimate physical things with women can be as vulnerable and susceptible as when they remain chaste. Casual sex kills the man’s ability to love a woman as if he has never been hurt before. If you want to be a knight, you have to be capable of chivalry and romance. If a man has casual sex with enough women, he will likely develop a low opinion of of the trustworthiness, wife-capability and mother-capability of women. He becomes cynical and predatorial. The binge-drinking hook-up culture does not build up faith in the opposite sex.

Causes women to doubt God’s existence

Every woman was made for a relationship with God. When a woman uses sex to try to get a man to pay attention to her, to love her and to commit to her long-term, it usually fails, causing her pain and suffering. Sex doesn’t make a man who doesn’t want to marry suddenly want to marry. Without a Christian worldview, the woman may not realize how to tell a good man from a bad man, and how to drive a relationship through to marriage. If a woman has sex with enough men, she may develop a low opinion of the goodness and reliability of men. She may think that she is handling men correctly and that the relationship should work out. But the trauma from failed relationships with unreliable men can cause her to suffer emotionally, and even to doubt God’s existence or goodness.  Christian men should therefore avoid casual sex so that they don’t push women away from relationships with God. Don’t be part of a process that drags women away from God. We need women to serve God, and we are not so long on resources that we can just throw them away to the other side. Every single one counts.

Conclusion

Now I haven’t actually experienced this problem of women throwing themselves at me to make me “love” them, but if someone finally did offer me drunken hook-up sex, I hope that I would remember my little list.

But I might also remember something else.

Consider this passage from “A Man For All Seasons“, a play by Robert Bolt. The lead character Sir Thomas More has refused to compromise with King Henry VIII over the legality of divorce, and now the King wants to have his head chopped off. More’s daughter Meg tries to convince to take the oath supporting the divorce in order to save his own life.

Meg: Then say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise.

More: What is an oath then, but words we say to God? Listen, Meg.
When a man takes an oath, he’s holding his own self in his own hands… …like water.
And if he opens his fingers then, he needn’t hope to find himself again.
Some men aren’t capable of this, but I’d be loathed to think your father one of them.

That’s how men should try to be with their chastity. I agree that it is almost impossible not to see things and to think things that are unchaste – but I am talking about doing something unchaste. Men need to avoid that, at least. The problem is that men don’t realize what they are giving up by being unchaste, because they don’t study these issues to know the costs, the lost capabilities to love unselfishly, or the virtues that give them honor with God. No one tells us. Instead of reading “A Man for All Seasons” or “The Faerie Queene”, we pick our role models off the bottom shelf of Hollywood or other crap in the culture. The schools are no help at all, most parents are busy, and the church just orders people around without any arguments or evidence. We are on our own, and by the time we realize who we want to be to a woman, we are often already in a hole.

But my main point is that even if there wasn’t a woman left in the world who believed in chastity, courting, marriage and family, that would still not be a justification for a Christian man to give up on his ideal of chastity. It’s better to be a hero and be alone than to make peace with the world as it is. Go down fighting, never give in just to fit in.

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