Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why do some people not move in together before marriage?

I find Lindsay’s blog useful for getting a bird’s eye view of marriage. I like it because she and her husband Doug are running such a tight game plan and it’s clearly working. It makes me feel good about not blindly following the culture’s rules for relationships. One of the cultural norms that’s really popular these days is cohabitation.

Here’s a post by Lindsay about cohabitation.

I’m going to quote some stuff from her post, and you see if you catch sight of something she is talking about that is missing from relationships today:

Marriage is meant to be a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman in which they physically, spiritually, and emotionally bond to become one. This bonding of the entire self only works properly when all other options are permanently rejected. It is the nature of erotic love to include only two people. Each person has only one self and can only give that self wholly to one other. In order to bind oneself so tightly to another, it is necessary to forego binding in that way with any other at any time. Thus true love requires commitment.

[…]A person who is “keeping their options open” is not exhibiting love.

Marriage is designed to be a safe and loving environment for the sharing of self. When two people commit to each other before sexual intimacy, they affirm that their love for the other person is not contingent on bedroom performance (or anything else). True love says “I love you, whatever the cost may be, no matter what I may find out about you in the future, and nothing you do will ever change that.” When two people who have remained sexually pure commit to one another in marriage, they show the ultimate expression of love. They commit to one another without reservation, without exception clauses, without knowing everything, but having decided that whatever they may learn will not induce them to reject the other person. It takes courage and sacrifice to love like that. But anything less than full commitment is not true love. Conversely, cohabitation before marriage is not an environment that builds love and trust. Cohabitation, as a “trial period,” says to the other that they better measure up or else. It is an inherently selfish relationship that objectifies the other person. The emphasis in cohabitation is on getting what you want out of the relationship, which is the exact opposite of the emphasis in marriage, which is giving of yourself for the good of the other person. What is loving about taking pleasure in another’s body with the understanding that you may simply walk away if they don’t please you enough?  Cohabiting couples end up evaluating each other’s merits rather than giving of themselves. Their relationship is based on scrutiny rather than acceptance. Such an environment is not likely to build a healthy and lasting relationship.

Cohabitation before marriage also takes the joy of discovery out of the first part of marriage. The first few months of marriage are meant to have a lot of surprises. The newlyweds should have fun finding out what the other likes and how to please one another in an environment of mutual trust and commitment. There should be an air of excitement as they try new things together for the first time. Experiencing new and intimate things with the other person under the umbrella of a marriage commitment takes much of the performance pressure off and is crucial in building a strong and lasting bond between them. It allows both partners to be themselves without fear of rejection since the other person has already committed to them for life.

Contrary to everything you heard in the culture, romantic love is not about getting your needs met by someone else who is “perfect” for you. It’s about making a selfless commitment to love someone no matter how much he or she changes, no matter how much he or she fails. The point of the relationship is not to have happy feelings, it’s to enjoy building your little castle around this other person who is building his or her castle around you. Marriage is about enjoying the intimacy that you are building up by making an exclusive promise to that one person, instead of being distracted by everyone else, and even your own changing feelings.

People who know me well know that I have a pet bird. His species normally lives 15-20 years with excellent care. Mine is now 26 years old. When I would fly away to interviews in other cities, I would always get emotional when coming home and flying over my home airport – because I knew he was waiting for me to come home. In graduate school, I would call home from the computer lab to see what he was doing. I can completely understand why women hate leaving their children during the day. Now, I always had big plans for him, like teaching him to talk and teaching him to be toilet-trained. And I spent a lot of time with him trying to get him to do those things. Sometimes he learned, but sometimes he didn’t. I see lots of other birds of his kind who are younger on Youtube. Some can talk and do neat tricks. But my bird is my bird, and because he is mine, I am loyal to him. He is the only bird in the world who flies towards me instead of away from me. He is the only bird in the world who sings to me when I come home.

Love isn’t about thinking about what you can get that’s better than what you have. It’s about making commitments and enjoying the experiences you have together, and how you build familiarity and intimacy with this one other person. I really think that what premarital sex and cohabitation teaches people is to enter relationships with one eye on the exit, and sabotage things at the first opportunity. What break-ups teach you is how to prepare for break-ups, how to hold back, how to not trust, how to separate your feelings from touching, how to not be vulnerable, and how to not invest in other people because something is “wrong” with them. It’s sad that it’s come to this. Everyone seems to be jumping straight into sex thinking that this is what relationships are about, and they are ruining their ability to marry and find out what relationships are really about – giving each other a sense of safety and belonging. What’s much more important than compatibility and happy feelings is the ability to make a commitment that survives disappointments.

Filed under: Personal, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Wintery Knight’s favorite Bible verses

I was asked by the Dina to post Bible verses for a week on my Facebook page, so I chose 8 of them.

If you haven’t seen me posting them this week on my Facebook page, here they are:

Psalm 27:14:

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
12 Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

1 Corinthians 4:2:

1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.

4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

Matthew 5:13:

10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;

15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

2 Timothy 2:4:

1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses,entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.

Daniel 3:18:

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king.

14 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?

15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.

17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire;and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.

18 But even if He does not,let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Esther 4:14:

10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai:

11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.”

12 They related Esther’s words to Mordecai.

13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews.

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Philippians 1:9:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all,

in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.

For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,

10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;

11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Numbers 13:30:

25 When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days,

26 they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land.

27 Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.

28 Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.

29 Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.”

30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”

I know I have some commenters who LOVE to post a million Bible verses in their comments, so if you want to post your favorite Bible verses in the comments, try to be restrained. I’d like to see which ones my readers like best though.

 

Filed under: Personal, , ,

Two kinds of people who have tried to shame me away from Christianity

I recently had two interesting encounters last week, first with a secular Jewish leftist man and second with a New Age prosperity gospel feminist Christian woman. I wasn’t going to say anything about them, except that my pastor was talking this morning about how people often fall away because of the shame and scorn that is heaped on them by non-Christians. So now I’m going to say something.

So let me start with the texts he used:

2 Tim 4:1-5:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

And 1 Peter 3:15-16:

15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Now a quick word about those. I think the real point he was trying to make – and this is what he spoke about eloquently and passionately – is that if you have orthodox theological beliefs in this day and age then you are going to be shamed, humiliated and reviled by people. And I would go further than he did and say that it is not just having an orthodox view of who Jesus is that annoys them (e.g. – deity, exclusivity of salvation, morality, etc.). No, their disapproval spreads on into politics, especially abortion and gay marriage – basically any kind of rules around sexuality. That’s what’s really bugging these people, I think.

So let’s talk about the two people.

The man who thinks that conservative Christians are stupid

The first kind of person who tried to shame me for being a Christian is the person who thinks that Christianity is stupid. This kind of person invokes things that he hears in secular leftist pop culture as if it is common knowledge that theism generally, and Christianity in particular, is false. He’s watched a documentary on the Discovery channel which said that the eternally oscillating cosmology was true. Or maybe he watched a documentary on the History Channel that said that Jesus never presented himself as God stepping into history. He presents these things that he reads in the New York Times, or sees on MSNBC or hears on NPR with the authority that Ben Carson might take when explaining modern medicine to a witch doctor.

I don’t want to get into the details of what happened. Suffice to say that my interlocutor invoked a popular-level authority against me, which I promptly discredited, and then I responded with peer-reviewed studies published by scholars from two prominent universities. He ignored the studies and demanded to know whether I would accept his caricatured, simplistic view of what people who disagree with him believe.

This not the first time he has done this to me, either – it is standard practice apparently, for people on the secular left.

It goes like this:

  • Me: here are two arguments against naturalistic evolution, the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion.
  • Him: but you don’t believe in a young-Earth do you? I mean, you believe in evolution don’t you?
  • Me: let’s talk about how proteins and DNA is sequenced, and the sudden origin of Cambrian body plans
  • Him: (shouting) Do you believe in evolution? Do you believe in evolution?

And this:

  • Me: there hasn’t been any global warming for 18 years, and temperatures were warmer in the Medieval Warming Period
  • Him: but you don’t deny climate change, do you? everyone on NPR agrees that climate change is real
  • Me: let’s talk about the last 18 years of no warming, and the temperatures during the Medieval Warming Period
  • Him: (shouting) Do you believe in climate change? Do you believe in climate change?

He asks these questions so he can either label me as a nut, without having to weigh the evidence I’m presenting, or have me agree with him, without having to weigh the evidence I’m presenting. It’s all about ignoring the evidence, so he can get back to his busy, busy practical life – and get back to feeling smug about being smarter than others. I think a lot of men are like this – they don’t want to waste their valuable time studying, they just want to jump to the right conclusion, then get back to doing whatever they want – like watching sports on ESPN, or working out, etc.

So how do you respond to a man who gets his entire worldview from the culture, but never deals with peer-reviewed evidence? Well, I think you just defeat his arguments with evidence and then present your own (peer-reviewed) evidence, and then leave it at that. Men like this one have this invincible impression that all the smart people agree with them. Carl Sagan proved that the universe oscillated eternally, Bart Ehrman proved that the “huge” number of manuscript variants discredited the reliability of the Bible, Sam Harris disproved the moral argument with utilitarianism, etc. Their heads are filled with conclusions from discredited arguments, but they are certain that all the smart people agree with them. The most important thing about these men is that they have never seen a fair academic debate between two sides. They cannot name a single scholar who disagrees with them. They cannot formulate an argument against their own view without caricaturing the argument, e.g. – intelligent design is identical to young Earth creationism, opposition to gay marriage is “homophobia”. And they are careful to surround themselves ONLY with opinions that reinforce the imagined intellectual superiority of their views.

The woman who thinks Christianity is life-enhancement

This one is especially difficult when you are a young man, especially if you are rejected by your mother, and especially if you are rejected by your mother for your Christian faith. You find yourself sitting in church or youth group, hoping for the approval and affection of the Christian women for your sound theology and effective apologetics. Little do you know that many Christian women understand Christianity entirely in self-centered, subjective terms. Many women see Christianity as life-enhancement, designed to produce happy feelings. God is their cosmic butler whose main responsibility is to meet their needs and make their plans work out. Many women have learned to water down every part of Christianity that offends their family and friends, or puts the brakes on their plan to be happy in this life.

I have met Christian women in churches and campus clubs who were communists, Darwinists, pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage, universalists, and pretty much every other kind of secular leftist ideology that is dominant in our culture. When probed, their reason for holding to these views is always a mix of emotions, intuitions,  family-approval or peer-approval. It’s like this subset of Christian women has no independent ability to drive at the truth for themselves through study, but instead they merely adopt whatever feels good from whatever is on offer in their social or cultural environment – like going to a buffet. When they change locations, (e.g. – going off to college), they gravitate to a new set of pleasurable beliefs which earn them peer-acceptance and peer-approval. But the common thread is that they disapprove of any attempt to defend the truth of Christianity objectively with apologetics, and they disapprove of defending (with evidence) the Bible’s teachings if it goes against their feelings and/or against family/peer approval.

So how to respond to women who understand Christianity as life enhancement instead of as responsibilities, obligations and expectations?

First thing, be careful that you don’t attend a feminized church where the pastor in preaching and picking hymns that give you the idea that God is your cosmic butler. Second, read the Bible very carefully, and understand that with respect to God’s purposes for you in this world, your happiness is expendable. You cannot be looking to attractive Christian women that you happen to meet in church to support you, as many of them have long-since sold out to the culture. They are not interested in learning evidential apologetics to defend God’s reputation, or in defending the unborn, or in defending natural marriage, or in defending the free enterprise system that supports family autonomy from the state, etc. Those things are hard and unpopular, especially for those women who were raised to think that Christianity is about life enhancement and peer-approval.

In my case, the woman who tried to shame me has a Bible verse on her Facebook cover photo, and “likes” the Bible on Facebook, and her favorite preacher is Joel Osteen. She’s very beautiful, athletic and attractive. But you cannot be seeking approval and affection from women like that – you must make the choice to do without it. And most important of all, you must accept that beautiful, athletic attractive women can be fundamentally unserious about Christianity. This is “working as designed”,  as we say in the software engineering business. Nothing that most pastors say to women during church is going to fix this problem, because most pastors don’t see this as a problem. Pastors mostly think that women are naturally good, and that they don’t need to know apologetics or integrate with faith with politics, economics, etc.

Here’s 1 Cor 4:1-5 to make the point:

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.

For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

And 2 Tim 2:4:

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Or, since I like Ronald Speirs so much:

This is the situation in which we find ourselves, so get used to it. And believe me, I have to deal with this, too. So I have all the sympathy in the world for you. Resign yourself to the fact that no one is going to approve of you for being faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ; not secular men, not Christian women. There is no cavalry coming to rescue you.

Filed under: Personal, , , , , , , , , ,

How much affection and approval should come from God vs from a woman

Let’s start with a quote from the introduction to Dr. Laura’s “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”:

I have never gotten a complaint from a male listener in twenty-five years on the radio over my assertion that men are very simple creatures. They agree. I have explained time and again on my radio program that men are borne of women and spend the rest of their lives yearning for a woman’s acceptance and approval. Unless you’ve got a man with a frank mental or personality disorder (the exception, not the rule), men admittedly are putty in the hands of a woman they love. Give him direct communication, respect, appreciation, food, and good lovin’, and he’ll do just about anything you wish — foolish or not.

Out of all the men in the world, I am probably the one whose life experiences most incline him to appreciate receiving approval, attention and affection from a woman. I was stuck in daycare after 6 weeks with a relative, never had any sisters, and my mother was entirely focused on her career and making money. She remained distant or even antagonistic to everyone in our home until the day she retired from work. The shouting and abusive language stopped almost overnight, but by then it was too late for any of us kids. So I never had the affection, approval and attention from my mother that most people just take for granted.

I always felt that the Holy Grail of my childhood was to get affection from one of these apparently unattainable women. It did not help that I was colored, growing up in neighborhoods that were mostly white – that just seemed to me to make the women even more unattainable. And in my case, it could never be just any woman who would give me these things – it had to be one who had listened to my plan to serve God and who was giving me these things because of what I was doing as a Christian. And unfortunately, there are precious few Christian women who have come along to give me what any man needs from a woman just because of who I am in Christ – forgiven, and dedicated to serving him effectively with apologetics and charity.

Those women that do come along sometimes find that my desire for approval, affection and attention can be overwhelming at times. On the surface, I function great as a Christian. Work gets done, money gets saved, chastity and chivalry, million page views per year on the blog, and lots of donations to Christian scholars and apologetics events. But that’s because everything emotional is turned off inside – it has to be, in order for me to function like this. But when a woman comes along who values what I have done, and what I am doing, that’s when the vulnerability comes out. I am going to look to her for attention, affection and approval.

This New Year, my friends Blake and Dina decided that I was going to not just go to church almost every week like I am already, but that I was also going to do daily prayer, Bible reading, Psalm reading, meditation on the meaning of what I read, and praise hymns. They know I don’t like taking time away from work or apologetics or blogging for any of those things, but they think I need to come back to the things I used to do, in order to be more balanced. And since they are my friends, I really cannot say no to them, because we all have the same Boss.

Dina has asked me to read a chapter out of Paul Tripp’s “New Morning Mercies” every day, and here is today’s very relevant devotion:

JANUARY 11

If you have been freed from needing success and acclaim to feel good about yourself, you know grace has visited you.

It is an intensely human endeavor. It is the quest we all pursue. We all want to feel good about ourselves. We all want to think that we are okay. It is a fearful and anxious quest from which only grace can free you. Here’s what happens to us all—we seek horizontally for the personal rest that we are to find vertically, and it never works. Looking to others for your inner sense of well-being is pointless. First, you will never be good enough, consistently enough, to get the regular praise of others that you are seeking. You’re going to mess up. You’re bound to disappoint. You will have a bad day. You’ll lose your way. At some point, you’ll say or do things that you shouldn’t. Add to this the fact that the people around you aren’t typically interested in taking on the burden of being your personal messiah. They don’t want to live with the responsibility of having your identity in their hands. Looking to people for your inner self-worth never works. The peace that success gives is unreliable as well. Since you are less than perfect, whatever success you are able to achieve will soon be followed by failure of some kind. Then there is the fact that the buzz of success is short-lived. It isn’t long before you’re searching for the next success to keep you going. That’s why the reality that Jesus has become your righteousness is so precious. His grace has forever freed us from needing to prove our righteousness and our worth. So we remind ourselves every day not to search horizontally for what we’ve already been given vertically. “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever” (Isa. 32:3.7). That righteousness is found in Christ alone.

For further study and encouragement: 2 Corinthians 6:3-10

What I got out of this devotion is that I should try to remember what my primary source of attention, affection and approval should be, and then it would be easier to treat a Christian woman’s affection, attention and approval as extra – sort of like dessert after the main course.

Filed under: Personal, , , , , , ,

My recommended charity for 2012: Life Training Institute

Unborn baby scheming about what to get WK for Christmas

Unborn baby scheming about what to get WK for Christmas

Scott Klusendorf, the best and most experienced pro-life debater in the United States, wrote this on Facebook:

Life Training Institute just received a $45,000 gift toward helping us reach 20,000 additional students next year! That’s half of what we need to complete the project!

The other half ($45,000) must come from concerned donors like you. Would you consider helping us get there?

We’ll use the money to get our speaking team into more schools than any year previous.

Excited to see our work growing,
Scott Klusendorf

Donate on-line at: https://www.prolifetraining.com/donate_general.asp

Scott is one of my favorite Christians, and I fully endorse his pro-life ministry. Some of you have asked how you could help me with the blog or donate. I am fully supplied already, so if you really want to send me a present, please consider making a donation to Scott’s pro-life ministry. They are absolutely solid in their use of evidence as well as in their theology. You couldn’t find a better group to support.

If you are more the kind of person who likes to buy books, then you can do that as well. Scott is the author of the #1 pro-life book at the popular level. It is call “The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture”.

And he has a new book out as well, called “Stand for Life: Answering the Call, Making the Case, Saving Lives”:

And if you want to see Scott in action, here is a recent debate he did with Nadine Strossen:

Abortion can be a complicated issue, but the nice thing about Scott is that he cuts right to the core of the debate and makes sure to clarify what each side is saying. He strips away the rhetoric and gets down to the real arguments on each side and  the pro-life side comes out on top.

Recently, Scott taught two classes on the techniques that he uses when debating abortion.

The first talk was on Tactics. Here is the PDF. In the handout, Scott explains how to use questions to make your opponent give reasons for their views instead of just asserting them.

The second talk was on Relativism. Here is the PDF. In the handout, Scott explains what moral relativism is, and some of the problems with the view.

Filed under: Personal, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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