Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Two Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on love, sex, economics and marriage

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Here’s a quick bio of the person who is in the image above:

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Senior Fellow in Economics at the Acton Institute and regular contributor toNational Review Online and The National Catholic Register, received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester. Until recently, she was a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. She has been on the faculty of Yale University and George Mason University, and is the author of Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family doesn’t work.

And here are two lectures from the great Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse. One of my favorite scholars to listen to, and a great debater, as well.

Lecture one: Love and Economics

(June 13, 2014) Dr J traveled to Phoenix to participate in Alliance Defending Freedom’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship, where she gave two talks. This is the first one, “Love and Economics,” on what marriage is and why we need it–stay tuned for the next one!

The MP3 file is here.

Lecture two: Defending Marriage

(June 13, 2014) Dr J traveled to Phoenix to participate in Alliance Defending Freedom’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship, where she gave two talks. This is the second one, “Defending Marriage,” on why marriage matters and what has happened and will happen as it gets more and more redefined by the progress of the sexual revolution.

The MP3 file is here.

I was listening to these late at night, and when she said “you know Catholics aren’t good with Bible verses” at the beginning of lecture two, I howled with laughter. I’m sure the property manager is going to let me know not to howl with laughter after midnight. Oh well – it was hilarious. She is Catholic. I howled again when made a comment about chaste people over the age of 30, like me. It’s just FUN to listen to, but these are serious subjects.

By the way, she debates on these issues as well. And she’s really good at it.

Or something to read?

For those who prefer to read something, here is an article by marriage-defender Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse about how divorce courts challenge marriage.

Excerpt:

Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen BaskervilleWith penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family in America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

It’s important for people to understand the real reasons why people are not getting married, so that we can do something to encourage them to marry that really fixes the problem. If you don’t understand the threats that men are seeing with respect to marriage, it might be a good idea to take a look at this essay by Stephen Baskerville, hosted by the Christian Touchstone magazine. It’s a summary of the book that Dr. Morse reviewed. I consider that book “Taken Into Custody” to be a must-read for anyone contemplating marriage.

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What difference does the doctrine of humans being in “the image of God” make?

Here’s an article from the leftist The Week about how Christianity transformed our view of the value of children. (H/T Trina)

It says:

We have forgotten just how deep a cultural revolution Christianity wrought. In fact, we forget about it precisely because of how deep it was: There are many ideas that we simply take for granted as natural and obvious, when in fact they didn’t exist until the arrival of Christianity changed things completely. Take, for instance, the idea of children.

Today, it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care. We also romanticize children — their beauty, their joy, their liveliness. Our culture encourages us to let ourselves fall prey to our gooey feelings whenever we look at baby pictures. What could be more natural?

In fact, this view of children is a historical oddity. If you disagree, just go back to the view of children that prevailed in Europe’s ancient pagan world.

As the historian O.M. Bakke points out in his invaluable book When Children Became People, in ancient Greece and Rome, children were considered nonpersons.

Here’s how children were viewed before Christianity:

One of the most notorious ancient practices that Christianity rebelled against was the frequent practice of expositio, basically the abandonment of unwanted infants.

[…]Another notorious practice in the ancient world was the sexual exploitation of children. It is sometimes pointed to paganism’s greater tolerance (though by no means full acceptance) of homosexuality than Christianity as evidence for its higher moral virtue. But this is to look at a very different world through distorting lenses. The key thing to understand about sexuality in the pagan world is the ever-present notion of concentric circles of worth. The ancient world did not have fewer taboos, it had different ones. Namely, most sexual acts were permissible, as long as they involved a person of higher status being active against or dominating a person of lower status. This meant that, according to all the evidence we have, the sexual abuse of children (particularly boys) was rife.

[…]According to our sources, most abandoned children died — but some were “rescued,” almost inevitably into slavery. And the most profitable way for a small child slave to earn money was as a sex slave. Brothels specializing in child sex slaves, particularly boys, were established, legal, and thriving businesses in ancient Rome. One source reports that sex with castrated boys was regarded as a particular delicacy, and that foundlings were castrated as infants for that purpose.

Of course, the rich didn’t have to bother with brothels — they had all the rights to abuse their slaves (and even their children) as they pleased. And, again, this was perfectly licit. When Suetonius condemns Tiberius because he “taught children of the most tender years, whom he called his little fishes, to play between his legs while he was in his bath” and “those who had not yet been weaned, but were strong and hearty, he set at fellatio,” he is not writing with shock and horror; instead, he is essentially mocking the emperor for his lack of self-restraint and enjoying too much of a good thing.

This is the world into which Christianity came, condemning abortion and infanticide as loudly and as early as it could.

Here are a couple of stories that contrast the Christian view of children as made in the image of God with the secular leftist view that children, unborn and born, are basically just machines made out of meat.

First one from the Washington Times is on a wealthy Democrat donor named Jeffrey Epstein:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is incensed that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has been tied to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who’s also at the heart of an investigation into Prince Andrew’s alleged sexual dalliances with a minor, the New York Post reported.

[…]Court documents related to a suit filed by Virginia Roberts, who allegesMr. Epstein paid her $15,000 to have sex with the prince, also included several references to Mr. Clinton. The documents from 2011 show thatMr. Epstein had 21 different email and telephone numbers for Mr. Clinton and an aide in his directory.

The court documents also show Mr. Clinton “frequently flew” with Mr. Epstein on his private plane between 2002 and 2005. The court documents say that Mr. Clinton “suddenly stopped, raising the suspicion that the friendship abruptly ended, perhaps because of events related to Epstein’s sexual abuse of children,” the Post reported.

Mrs. Clinton, widely considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential bid, is reportedly outraged that her husband’s name has again popped up in a sex scandal.

When I read the story about what allegedly happened to Virginia Roberts, I literally cried my eyes out. But then again, I’m coming at this from a Christian perspective where selfish adults ought to give way to the needs of vulnerable children. Secular leftists don’t have that view, so anything goes.

The second story is from Oregon Live and is about another wealthy Democrat donor:

The former boyfriend of Terrence P. Bean was arrested early Thursday on sex abuse charges stemming from the same alleged 2013 encounter with a 15-year-old boy at a hotel in Eugene.

Kiah Loy Lawson, 25, was arrested at 1:15 a.m. at the Portland Police Bureau’s Central Precinct and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center shortly after 2 a.m.

[…]Detective Jeff Myers from the Portland’s Sex Crimes Unit made the arrest, hours after police took Lawson’s ex-boyfriend, Portland developer Terrence Patrick Bean, into custody Wednesday morning.

Bean, 66, a prominent gay rights activist and major Democratic Party fundraiser, was arrested at his home in Southwest Portland and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 10:12 a.m. Wednesday.

The indictment charges Bean with two counts of third-degree sodomy, a felony, and one count of third-degree sex abuse, a misdemeanor, police said.

[…]Both Bean and Lawson are accused of having a sexual encounter with the same 15-year-old boy in a hotel in Eugene last year. They had arranged the encounter with the teen after meeting him via a website, investigators allege.

[…]Bean has been one of the state’s biggest Democratic donors and an influential figure in gay rights circles in the state. He helped found two major national political groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and has been a major contributor for several Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama. He’s also a close friend of former Gov. Barbara Roberts.

Children are weak and adults are strong. Secular leftists believe that selfish adults should be able to do whatever they want with children in order to gratify their own desires. This is the default “no God” view. I can guarantee you that no one who abuses children, unborn or born, expects to face God and be held accountable for what they did.

The secular left, which does not recognize that children are made in the image of God in order to know God, has discovered that it’s easier to sexually abuse children if you separate them from their biological parents, especially their fathers. That’s one of the reasons why they support no-fault divorce, single mother welfare, and now even same-sex marriage. Children who don’t have biological parents are much easier to exploit sexually. And if the children find anything wrong with being sexualized at an early age and groomed for sexual exploitation, well, we have public schools to teach them that this is all perfectly normal. Public schools that are championed by Democrats, of course.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

Frequent denial of sex breaks the marriage covenant as much as adultery

Let’s start this post by quoting a passage from the Bible.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5:

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

So with that in mind, I want to turn to a well-known Jewish talk show host named Dennis Prager, who is much loved and listened to by Christians. Dennis Prager features a lot of discussions about male-female relationships on his show, particularly during the male-female hour. In this two part series on male sexuality, he explains why women should not deprive their husbands of sex without a good reason.

Part 1 is here.

Excerpt:

It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.

First, women need to recognize how a man understands a wife’s refusal to have sex with him: A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him. This is rarely the case for women. Few women know their husband loves them because he gives her his body (the idea sounds almost funny). This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. Many women think men’s natures are similar to theirs, and this is so different from a woman’s nature, that few women know this about men unless told about it.

This is a major reason many husbands clam up. A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex.

When first told this about men, women generally react in one or more of five ways…

He then explains the 5 ways that women respond to this.

Here’s one:

1. You have to be kidding. That certainly isn’t my way of knowing if he loves me. There have to be deeper ways than sex for me to show my husband that I love him.

I think that this is a common mistake that liberal women make because they think that men are just hairy women. But men are not women, we are different and sex means something different to men than it does to women. In the past, most women understood how men are different than women, but younger women have been taught that there are no differences between the sexes. To think any different is “sexism”.

Here’s another from the list:

4. You have it backwards. If he truly loved me, he wouldn’t expect sex when I’m not in the mood.

Again, this is the common mistake that many younger women today make in thinking that love is a one-way street – flowing from men and children to the woman. If men and children DON’T do what the woman wants, or if they make demands on her, then they don’t “love” her and she is justified in ignoring them.

Liberal women have been taught to believe that they are always victims or some group of oppressors, such as men and children or corporations. It makes them rebel against having to do anything for anyone else, because they don’t want to be “oppressed”. That makes them unable to accept that relationships are give-and-take, Once a commitment to love another person permanently has been made, then each person has responsibilities to provide for the needs of the other.

I actually had a conversation with a Christian woman once who said that women should not be obligated to do things that they didn’t feel like doing. I asked her if men were obligated to go to work when they didn’t feel like going. She said yes, and acted as though I were crazy for asking. I just laughed, because she didn’t even see the inconsistency. The truth is that men often don’t feel like working, but they get up and go to work anyway, whether they like it or not (in most cases). Similarly, a women should feel obligated to have sex with her husband, even if she is not in a perfect mood for it (in most cases). Sometimes, a man stays home from work, and it’s OK. And sometimes a woman says no to sex, and it’s OK. But it’s not OK to stop doing it for months and months with no good reason.

Part 2 is here.

Excerpt:

Here are eight reasons for a woman not to allow not being in the mood for sex to determine whether she denies her husband sex.

He then explains the eight reasons.

Here’s one of them:

7. Many contemporary women have an almost exclusively romantic notion of sex: It should always be mutually desired and equally satisfying or one should not engage in it. Therefore, if a couple engages in sexual relations when he wants it and she does not, the act is “dehumanizing” and “mechanical.” Now, ideally, every time a husband and wife have sex, they would equally desire it and equally enjoy it. But, given the different sexual natures of men and women, this cannot always be the case. If it is romance a woman seeks — and she has every reason to seek it — it would help her to realize how much more romantic her husband and her marriage are likely to be if he is not regularly denied sex, even of the non-romantic variety.

Women have to engage their husbands if they expect their husbands to engage in the marriage as a husband and father. Men can’t do their protector, provider and spiritual leader roles forever unless their needs are met at some point. Performance of these male duties is not free. Wives have to love their husbands in the way that men expect to be loved. That’s what they vowed to do in the wedding, isn’t it?

At the end of the article, Prager makes a general point about women that I think needs to be emphasized over and over and over:

That solution is for a wife who loves her husband — if she doesn’t love him, mood is not the problem — to be guided by her mind, not her mood, in deciding whether to deny her husband sex.

This problem of sex-withholding is so widespread, that it really makes me (although I am a virgin) wonder what women think that marriage is about anyway. When a woman vows to love her husband, what do they think that word really means? Why do women think that men marry? What do men want that marriage provides for them? Which of those needs are the women’s responsibility to provide for? I think these are questions that men should ask women. I think women should be prepared to answer them. Men should expect that women be reading books on men and marriage, and that she has relationships with men where she is giving support, respect, affirmation, affection and approval. You can learn a lot about a woman by how she treats her father, for example.

Unfortunately, many men today haven’t thought through what they need from wives in a marriage. They spend their young years chasing women who are fun and sexually permissive. Every husband I asked about what they need has told me that respect, affirmation, affection and regular sex are more important than appearance and fun. Pre-marital sex, having fun, getting drunk, and going out, etc. are not the right foundation for marriage – which requires mutual self-sacrifice in order to work.

Another point: I have a friend who is very concerned that men are breaking sexual rules, but he seems oblivious to 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. I asked him privately what he thought about sex-withholding, and whether this might cause husbands to turn to pornography and even affairs, and I mentioned 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. He said: “no, it’s not something I take much interest in”. I was tempted to ask him if the Bible was something that he does not take much interest in.

I think he misreads 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 so that it could only be used to condemn men. If that were his view, then it actually worries me if well-meaning men are actually undermining marriage, by teaching women that they have no responsibilities to keep the marriage going, and helping them to feel like victims when their marriages fall apart. Sometimes even people who claim to be pro-marriage can undermine marriage practically-speaking, because of their unBiblical belief that women are “naturally good” and should not have any responsibilities in a marriage.

I thought this attitude was so interesting in view of what I read in the Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. In that book, Dr. Laura urges women to be sensitive to their husbands’ different male natures in order to avoid them looking at pornography and having affairs. Withholding sex from a man is the equivalent of a man withholding conversation to a woman. Sex is how a man feels loved! What’s remarkable is how female callers on her show are shocked that men react badly to being deprived of sex.

I do think that some men will look at porn and cheat regardless of what their wife does sexually, but then it again falls to the woman to choose a man who has demonstrated that he has self-control – i.e., a virgin who has remained chaste with her throughout the courtship and protected her from doing sexual things outside of the covenant context. Chastity is hard, but it is how a man loves his wife self-sacrificially, before he even meets her. It should be a trait much sought after and respected by women. Basically, women need to be led by their minds, not by their feelings, when choosing a husband.

A man has to get up and go to work every day for his family, regardless of whether he feels like it or not. In fact, the many decisions he has made before getting married are also made not because they make him happy, but because he needs to be responsible to his future wife and children. The decision to study science? Loving obligation. The decision to go to grad school in science? Loving obligation. The decision to work in a demanding, risky career? Loving obligation. The decision to save money and eat instant oatmeal for dinner? Loving obligation. Men don’t do these things because we enjoy them. We do it because we love our wives and children self-sacrificially, before we ever even meet them. I think that women need to do the same.

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Why do famous atheists believe that God does not exist?

Here’s a lecture by New York University professor Paul Vitz to explain a connection between atheism and fatherlessness:

Here’s an article by Paul Copan (related to the lecture) which points out how father presence/absence and father quality affects belief and disbelief in God.

Excerpt:

Seventh, the attempt to psychologize believers applies more readily to the hardened atheist.It is interesting that while atheists and skeptics often psychoanalyze the religious believer, they regularly fail to psychoanalyze their ownrejection of God. Why are believers subject to such scrutiny and not atheists? Remember another feature of Freud’s psychoanalysis — namely, an underlying resentment that desires to kill the father figure.

Why presume atheism is the rational, psychologically sound, and default position while theism is somehow psychologically deficient? New York University psychology professor Paul Vitz turns the tables on such thinking. He essentially says, “Let’s look into the lives of leading atheists and skeptics in the past. What do they have in common?” The result is interesting: virtually all of these leading figures lacked a positive fatherly role model — or had no father at all.11

Let’s look at some of them.

  • Voltaire(1694–1778): This biting critic of religion, though not an atheist, strongly rejected his father and rejected his birth name of Francois-Marie Arouet.
  • David Hume(1711–76): The father of this Scottish skeptic died when Hume was only 2 years old. Hume’s biographers mention no relatives or family friends who could have served as father figures.
  • Baron d’Holbach(1723–89): This French atheist became an orphan at age 13 and lived with his uncle.
  • Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–72): At age 13, his father left his family and took up living with another woman in a different town.
  • Karl Marx(1818–83): Marx’s father, a Jew, converted to being a Lutheran under pressure — not out of any religious conviction. Marx, therefore, did not respect his father.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche(1844–1900): He was 4 when he lost his father.
  • Sigmund Freud(1856–1939): His father, Jacob, was a great disappointment to him; his father was passive and weak. Freud also mentioned that his father was a sexual pervert and that his children suffered for it.
  • Bertrand Russell(1872–1970): His father died when he was 4.
  • Albert Camus(1913–60): His father died when he was 1 year old, and in his autobiographical novel The First Man, his father is the central figure preoccupation of his work.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre(1905–80): The famous existentialist’s father died before he was born.12
  • Madeleine Murray-O’Hair (1919–95): She hated her father and even tried to kill him with a butcher knife.
  • We could throw in a few more prominent contemporary atheists not mentioned by Vitz with similar childhood challenges:
  • Daniel Dennett (1942–): His father died when he was 5 years of age and had little influence on Dennett.13
  • Christopher Hitchens (1949–): His father (“the Commander”) was a good man, according to Hitchens, but he and Hitchens “didn’t hold much converse.” Once having “a respectful distance,” their relationship took on a “definite coolness” with an “occasional thaw.” Hitchens adds: “I am rather barren of paternal recollections.”14
  • Richard Dawkins (1941–): Though encouraged by his parents to study science, he mentions being molested as a child — no insignificant event, though Dawkins dismisses it as merely embarrassing.15

Moreover, Vitz’s study notes how many prominent theists in the past — such as Blaise Pascal, G.K. Chesterton, Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer — have had in common a loving, caring father in their lives.16

Here are some corrections to the list:

1) Voltaire was not an atheist but a deist who rejected claims of the Bible’s inspiration, like Paine. Voltaire’s aphorism, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him,” far from being the cynical remark it is often taken for, it was meant as a retort to the atheistic clique of d’Holbach, Grimm, and others.

2) David Hume’s religious views remain uncertain. He never said he was an atheist. A gentle skeptic suits him more.

3) Bertrand Russell was an agnostic.

Not only is there that anecdotal evidence of a psychological explanation for atheism, but there is also statistical evidence.

Excerpt:

In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey that the researchers for our masters in Europe (I write from England) were happy to record. The question was asked to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.

If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.

If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church.

Let us look at the figures the other way round. What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goesupfrom 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing, as if loyalty to father’s commitment grows in proportion to mother’s laxity, indifference, or hostility.

[…]In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.

A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure rises to 80 percent!

The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father’s influence, from the determination of a child’s sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society.

Basically, anyone who doesn’t have a benevolent, involved father is going to have an enormously difficult time believing that moral boundaries set by an authority are for the benefit of the person who is being bounded. The best way to make moral boundaries stick is to see that they apply to the person making the boundaries as well – and that these moral boundaries are rational, evidentially-grounded and not arbitrary.

By the way, isn’t it interesting to note that Barack Obama also grew up fatherless and has issues with God and morality.

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

What can we do to have the perfect marriage?

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

Painting: “Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

I’m finding it hard to convince young feminists that marriage is worthwhile, but here is something that might work.

This is from chapter 1 of the book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Is there really ever such a thing as a perfect marriage? The answer to that question is, “YES.” I know you’re stunned. Stay with me here: “perfect” doesn’t mean that everything goes right, or your way for that matter, or that you’re feeling romantically perky all the time. There are just too many unpredictable events, challenges, and tragedies in life for any of us to feel content and satisfied for any prolonged period of time. Yet, even in the midst of misery, you can still feel and believe that your marriage is perfect if you have the right attitude; and I don’t mean that you think positively – I do mean that you think outwardly. When you do so, married life becomes perfect no matter what difficulties you’re going through.

I took a call from Michelle, a seventeen-year-old high-school student, which will clarify:

Michelle: Hi, Dr. Laura! It’s a pleasure to speak with you. My question is this: this Saturday is my boyfriend’s and mine senior prom. As it turns out, we have a conflict because it is also his championship lacrosse game, at the same time as the dance. He has told me that I could decide which one we should do.

Dr L: Really? So, what’s your decision?

Michelle: Well, personally, I want to go to the prom because it’s our senior prom and it’s our last dance together, it’s meaningful, you know? But it’s also his major opportunity because scouts will be at this game for college recruitment. So, for him the best choice would be for the game but I want to go to prom… selfishly.

Dr L: Do you love him?

Michelle: Of course. Yes.

Dr L: Do you imagine you’re going to marry him? I’m asking you that because I just want to know the depth of your compassion and caring for him.

Michelle: I can see it. I can definitely see it working, but I’m only seventeen… Yes, I care for him a lot.

Dr L: Well then, I guess he’s going to his lacrosse tournament.

Michelle: (sounding deflated) Okay.

Dr L: Because that’s what we do when we’re in love – we give them gifts… that doesn’t mean you go to the store and buy something. It means you give up something that’s very important to you to give them something that’s very important to them. O’Henry wrote a short story called, The Gift of the Magi. There was a young couple, very poor, married, and very much in love with each other. Christmas is coming and there is no money to buy gifts for one another. Her prized possession was her long, lovely hair which she had grown since childhood. His prized possession was his solid gold pocket watch – an heirloom, passed down from generation to generation.

Come Christmas morning, she hands her beloved a package. It is a solid gold chain for his pocket watch. He hands his beloved a package. It is a bejeweled comb to hold her beautiful hair in a bun on top of her head. They both cried with joy… even though… he no longer had the pocket watch, as he had sold it to buy her the jeweled comb… and she no longer had long hair, as she had sold it to buy him the gold chain.

Neither could use the gift the other had given them from a store – but look at the gift they truly got from the other.

Michelle: WOW!

Dr L: So, when you love somebody you give them what they really need – and your boyfriend needs you to be supportive of the fact that this game is important to his college career – for scholarships. If you do get married, you’ll be dancing together for the rest of your lives.

Michelle: That’s true. Well, I guess he’ll be playing this game and I’ll be sitting on the sidelines cheering.

Dr L: Good for you! That’s the kind of woman a man should marry.

Michelle: Thank you so much, Dr. Laura.

Oh, wait a minute, friends! The story does not end there. A few days later I received this email from Michelle:

“A few days ago I called in with a dilemma I had with prom because my boyfriend’s championship lacrosse game (with college scouts) was the same night. You told me the story of the Gift of the Magi, and that if you really loved someone you would be willing to give up whatever was most important to you – which for me was the prom. I took your advice and called up my boyfriend telling him that we would be going to his lacrosse game instead of senior prom. He explained to me that he knew I would decide to go to his game, so he went ahead and bought our prom tickets so we would go to the prom.

So, basically, I was willing to give up senior prom for him, and he was willing to give up what was most important to him, his championship game – proving the story of the Gift of the Magi…

But hold on! The story gets better! Yesterday we found out that because of some unknown factor, his championship game was changed from 7 o’clock to 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Is this a God thing? I think so! Now we not only get to go to prom and his lacrosse game, but we have the knowledge that we are both willing to sacrifice what is most important to us because our love is stronger.

I know that I am only 17, but I think I found a keeper!! Thank you so much for your wonderful advice to let my MAN know how important he is to me. This experience not only made me grow as a person, but is strengthening our relationship as well.”

Now, dear friends, even some seventeen year olds can understand the beauty and meaning of having somebody care enough about you to put themselves aside for you – that beats every prom and game imaginable. And when you are living this scenario, no matter what grunge is going on in your life, your marriage is PERFECT!

Emphasis mine. The point of getting married is to give self-sacrificially to someone else. Just like Jesus. Instead of being annoyed by other people’s needs, we should be happy that there is something there for us to do. And of course, the right person for you will be looking at you and thinking the same thing – how can I help you by giving self-sacrificially to you? I’m not sure what is scaring women away from marriage, but if I had to guess, it’s this fear of losing their autonomy and having the moral obligation to care for the needs of other people – even if those other people are strong in other areas and able to care for them.

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