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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should Christian apologists avoid political, moral and cultural issues?

 

The Sexual Revolution and the decline in religious affiliation

The Sexual Revolution and the decline in religious affiliation

Here’s an article from The American Conservative, by moderate conservative Rod Dreher, dated April 2013.

He writes:

Twenty years ago, new president Bill Clinton stepped on a political landmine when he tried to fulfill a campaign promise to permit gay soldiers to serve openly. Same-sex marriage barely registered as a political cause; the country was then three years away from the Defense of Marriage Act and four years from comedian Ellen DeGeneres’s prime-time coming out.

Then came what historians will one day recall as a cultural revolution. Now we’re entering the endgame of the struggle over gay rights and the meaning of homosexuality. Conservatives have been routed, both in court and increasingly in the court of public opinion. It is commonly believed that the only reason to oppose same-sex marriage is rank bigotry or for religious reasons, neither of which—the argument goes—has any place in determining laws or public standards.

The magnitude of the defeat suffered by moral traditionalists will become ever clearer as older Americans pass from the scene. Poll after poll shows that for the young, homosexuality is normal and gay marriage is no big deal—except, of course, if one opposes it, in which case one has the approximate moral status of a segregationist in the late 1960s.

[…]When they were writing the widely acclaimed 2010 book American Grace, a comprehensive study of contemporary religious belief and practice, political scientists Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell noticed two inverse trend lines in social-science measures, both starting around 1990.

They found that young Americans coming into adulthood at that time began to accept homosexuality as morally licit in larger numbers. They also observed that younger Americans began more and more to fall away from organized religion. The evangelical boom of the 1970s and 1980s stopped, and if not for a tsunami of Hispanic immigration the U.S. Catholic church would be losing adherents at the same rate as the long-dwindling Protestant mainline.

Over time, the data showed, attitudes on moral issues proved to be strong predictors of religious engagement. In particular, the more liberal one was on homosexuality, the less likely one was to claim religious affiliation. It’s not that younger Americans were becoming atheists. Rather, most of them identify as “spiritual, but not religious.” Combined with atheists and agnostics, these “Nones”—the term is Putnam’s and Campbell’s—comprise the nation’s fastest-growing faith demographic.

Indeed, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, the Nones comprise one out of three Americans under 30. This is not simply a matter of young people doing what young people tend to do: keep church at arm’s length until they settle down. Pew’s Greg Smith told NPR that this generation is more religiously unaffiliated than any on record. Putnam—the Harvard scholar best known for his best-selling civic culture study Bowling Alone—has said that there’s no reason to think they will return to church in significant numbers as they age.

Putnam and Campbell were careful to say in American Grace that correlation is not causation, but they did point out that as gay activism moved toward center stage in American political life… the vivid public role many Christian leaders took in opposing gay rights alienated young Americans from organized religion.

In a dinner conversation not long after the publication of American Grace, Putnam told me that Christian churches would have to liberalize on sexual teaching if they hoped to retain the loyalty of younger generations. This seems at first like a reasonable conclusion, but the experience of America’s liberal denominations belies that prescription. Mainline Protestant churches, which have been far more accepting of homosexuality and sexual liberation in general, have continued their stark membership decline.

It seems that when people decide that historically normative Christianity is wrong about sex, they typically don’t find a church that endorses their liberal views. They quit going to church altogether.

That’s why I am somewhat underwhelmed with the pure apologetics approach of most apologists.The real reason that drives atheist “apologetics” is, to be frank, the desire to dispense with rules around sexuality. The sexual freedom comes first, and then the speculative smokescreens follow. Close behind the sexual freedom is leftist economic policies (which are seen as more “fair”) and anti-business environmentalist policies. So there’s more turf to defend here than just the existence of God, the resurrection and the reliability of the Bible. That’s not what’s behind the drift of young people away from Christianity.

That’s why on this blog, you get a ton of politics and tons of studies and arguments against premarital sex, no-fault divorce, single motherhood by choice, same-sex marriage, and everything else that comes before traditional apologetics. (And you also get lots of apologetics, too!) We need to get better at defending Christian sexual ethics using purely secular arguments and evidence, e.g. – showing people how premarital sex undermines marital stability or how gay parenting harms the well-being of children. There are reasons for these rules we have, and we have to go beyond “The Bible Says…” if we expect to be convincing to young people.

And when we go against the Sexual Revolution, we have to bring secular arguments and secular evidence and bring it to bear squarely against radical feminism, and the Sexual Revolution. In particular, we have to put the burden of responsibility for poor sexual decisions back on the shoulders of young people. Young men must reject a cultural standard of what a “good” woman is. Young women must reject a cultural standard of what a “good” man is.  Men and women who reject traditional Christianity, traditional morality, and traditional notions of male leadership and male roles are bad people to have relationships with. We have to persuade both men and women about the harm that poor choices cause – abortion,  divorce, fatherlessness, expensive welfare programs. There is no point in blaming bad men and women – they are already bad. We have to teach young people to choose good men and good women. We have to teach them that choosing mates poorly, and making poor sexual choices, is their responsibility. They are not victims! And we shouldn’t be blaming one sex for the others poor choices, i.e. – we should not be blaming bad men when women chose them and make bad choices with the bad men. Those men were bad before the women chose them, and those women are only victims of their own poor choices.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, we have to defend traditional marriage using secular arguments and secular evidence. We have to show how same-sex marriage undermines religious liberty. We have to show how same-sex marriage undermines marital norms like exclusivity and permanence. We have to show how same-sex marriage harms children by depriving them of a mother or a father or both. And so on. We have to defend the goodness of traditional marriage.

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

Is marriage boring? Why are some women bored by marriage?

In this post, when I refer to women, I am referring to young, unmarried women under the age of 35 who have been influenced by feminism to reject goal-directed marriage.

My pastor gave a sermon recently where he talked about 2 Tim 2:3, and he emphasized that in order to be useful for God, you have to be willing to “flee from youthful lusts”.

2 Tim 2:20-23:

20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.

21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

The pastor asked everyone to consider what they were like when they were young, but not to yell it out for everyone to hear. Then he listed out some of the characteristics of youth. They are impractical. They are thrill-seekers. They are self-centered. They want to pursue selfish pleasures. They want to be the center of attention.

My marriage plan is boring

As I was listening to the sermon, it reminded me of my experiences dealing with Christian women in campus clubs and churches. My approach with Christian women was always to lay out my plans, and then explain what I had already done to prepare for those plans, and then ask them to build skills in a mentoring relationship with me, while deciding whether we were compatible for marriage. It’s understood that I am presenting a complementarian plan here, that I would be the leader of the marriage and family. The customer of the marriage would of course be God, and not my wife or I, nor the children.

Let’s just quickly review what I would tell them and see if it’s boring or not.

So here’s the plan:

  1. Influence the church with apologetics (teach apologetics classes, bring in speakers, organize conferences, etc.)
  2. Influence the university with apologetics (support campus clubs, bring in speakers, organize conferences, open house to students, etc.)
  3. Influence the public square (advocate for pro-family policies, lower taxes, smaller government, religious liberty, peace through strength, etc.)
  4. Raise effective and influential children who are excellent students and who are motivated to enter fields that matter and earn PhDs.

And here are some things I learned over the years from presenting this plan to marriage candidates.

Red flags when choosing a candidate

I really recommend that if you are looking for a wife, you should prefer to interview women who did not have a “wild” period of drinking, hooking up and cohabitation with atheists. Chastity really does matter – even if the woman became unchaste as a non-Christian before returning to Christianity, it will affect her ability to trust you, be vulnerable to you, let you lead her, be content with marriage and family, and in some cases to even remain faithful to you. In my experience the damage done from recreational premarital sex is still detectable after the conversion, and the women involved are unable to articulate why what they did was wrong, and what has been lost. In short, they are not remorseful.

Make sure she has done hard things in her life that have taught her that objective reality trumps her feelings and intuitions. You should prefer a woman with a STEM degree or a trade certification, no student loans, a job related to her degree, savings of her own – and someone who is not still living at home at age 30. If you want to put God first in the marriage, then you want to avoid someone who wants to redirect your time and money to fun and thrill-seeking.

You need to find a woman who is not “bored” by the duties and challenges of being a wife and mother. And you need to make sure to stress her with challenges during the courtship to make sure that she understands that marriage is about serving God, not about serving herself. When a woman has made all of her decisions using her emotions, and has achieved nothing, it does not bode well for her ability to make plans, stick to plans and achieve goals. It also does not help her to respect your plans and achievements. She will look at all your strengths (education, profession, savings, Christian influence) and think it is nothing impressive unless she has experienced sacrifice to achieve goals herself.

The main point is that a woman who has never had to do anything hard and achieve goals over the long-term has NO RESPECT for men who have done these things. Respect is what you need in order to lead. And you need to be in the lead in order for the marriage to work.

You want to avoid a woman who complains that home life is boring, that predictability and routine and safety are boring. You want to avoid a woman who disdains the humdrum of day-to-day earning money in an office building and saving money rather than blowing it on expensive things and one-shot thrills. You want to avoid women who rebels just for the sake of rebelling. You want to avoid women who resent anyone who tells them to be prudent, cautious, modest, etc. You want to avoid women who don’t get along with their fathers, who don’t see the value of benevolent authority. You want to avoid women who don’t have a track record of doing the hard work needed to achieve goals (e.g. – women who avoid STEM degrees). You want to prefer a woman who has the desire for achievement in the service of God more than the desire for pleasure or attention. You want to pick someone with a demonstrated ability to care for and nurture others in a goal-directed way, not someone whose relationships are more about getting her needs met.

The perception of “spiritual maturity”

Many Christian women who have been raised in a Christian home, who have prayed, done Bible studies, read A.W. Tozer, listened to sermons, and gone to AWANA and Sunday school have a very warped view of spiritual maturity. What the Christian home and the church teaches young women is that religion should be about their feelings. Private devotional reading and Bible study are much better (in their eyes) than preparing for public debates or sponsoring public lectures at a university. This is the feminized view of spiritual maturity that you find in the church, and this is how many Christian women judge the spiritual maturity of men.

I recommend that you find a woman who has an outward-focused practical view of Christianity and who respects action and results, not private piety and feelings. A great test for “outward-focusedness” in a woman is whether she has ability in evidential apologetics, especially science and to a lesser degree, history. Apologetics has value in Christianity because it is the thing that makes you resistant to suffering and disappointment with God. And the more evidence-based it is, the better. Reading “Signature in the Cell” is millions of times more effective than anything written by people like C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton.

Is marriage primarily about the woman’s happiness?

Here is my list of courting questions that I use to detect women who will be bored by marriage. If you suspect that a woman is more focused on her own happiness than making the marriage count for God, then you just have to ask her these questions. If she gets angry and refuses to answer or learn how to answer them, then she’s self-centered and wants fun and thrills. Move on to the next one.

Understand that some young, unmarried women today who identify as Christian have these fun-seeking, thrill-seeking skeletons in their closets and that it seriously undermines their ability to perform “boring” marriage and parenting roles. Do not listen to them when they say they want to be married “some day” when all they are doing now is seeking pleasure apart from marriage and family as their fertility clock ticks away. Then they don’t really want it. Women say “some day” because they want to present themselves to others a certain way, but some women say that while really just wanting to indulge their emotions, have a good time, and never sacrifice for the future.

Many Christian women tend to draw their their standards for what will make them happy from the culture and from their peers. Whatever they claim to believe on Sunday, their actions the rest of the time are going to be inline with the culture and their peers. So pay attention to their actions, not their words. The words are designed to paint a picture for others to think well of them, but the actions show what their priorities really are.

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How secular leftists misuse science to normalize sexual anarchy

Jay Richards tweeted this article Touchstone magazine.

Here’s part of it:

Here is how the Mead Method works. It has four easily memorized steps. You begin by proving that some behavior is natural, in the sense of being enjoyed by primitive people, who are assumed to be far closer to the basic human realities than we are. As the Chronicle’s writer put it:

Less than 50 years ago, Canela women, who live in Amazonian Brazil, enjoyed the delights of as many as 40 men one after another in festive rituals. When it was time to have a child, they’d select their favorite dozen or so lovers to help their husband with the all-important task. Even today, when the dalliances of married Bar ladies in Colombia and Venezuela result in a child, they proudly announce the long list of probable fathers.

Then you find some way to show that the behavior works. If to our overdeveloped modern eyes it looks like self-indulgence or sluttishness, it is actually a rational and effective way of living. An anthropologist quoted in the article claims that the more possible fathers a child has, the more men will take care of him and his mother. As the writer put it, “Fooling around appears to have helped our ancestral mothers equip their little ones for success—the sexual equivalent of reading to them every night or enrolling in the after-school chess club.”

Having established to your satisfaction that the behavior is not only natural but effective, you then declare that all such behaviors are just social constructions anyway and ours (the modern, still sort of Christian way) is really not nearly so common as we would like to think. To do this the writer quotes an anthropologist who studied tribes in Paraguay and Tanzania, who said, “This model of the death-do-us-part, missionary-position couple is just a tiny part of human history. The patterns of human sexuality are so much more variable.”

At this point, the case is often strengthened by caricaturing the present. That “missionary-position couple” is supposed, I think, to suggest “dull.” It can be strengthened even more by not stopping to ask what the patterns found in history might actually be. Perhaps there are only a few patterns, and contemporary marriage an expression (as it seems to be) of a dominant mode by which human societies try to restrain the destructive effects of human sexual desire and direct it to social ends.

Finally, you imply, without quite saying it, that the primitive behavior would work just as well for us, it being (though a social construction) more natural and all. The writer does this with quotes, like this one from a William Crocker of the Smithsonian Institution: “Multiple lovers, that’s just part of the life. It’s recreation, just like races and running. It’s all done in the spirit of joy and fun.”

The Margaret Mead Method, in either its original or modified form, is a very useful method . . . if you’re a creep. It proves—to the standard of the man with his pants halfway off and the woman who has gotten a better offer than her husband the couch potato will make, anyway—that sexual libertinism is natural and sexual restraint unnatural, and since being natural is always good, you ought to let go and have fun, just like the jolly party girls of the South American tribes.

This is why Coming of Age in Samoa made Mead famous. You want to have an affair with the babe next door? Well, those darling little Samoans living in a state of nature are doing it all the time, and look how happy and fulfilled and innocent they are. Margaret Mead said so. It’s scientific. You feel guilty? You’re a modern man afflicted with Judeo-Christian guilt, but just ignore it—socially constructed and unnatural as it is—and enjoy the pleasures nature and evolution have provided for you.

I am afraid this is the idea these stories almost always promote, whatever insights into the nature of a fallen creation they provide. They begin with reports of young Samoans having free and joyful sex among the palm trees, and end with middle-aged Barney desperately betraying his wife at the Hampton Inn.

Now this is supposed to be a hopeful, helpful blog post, so let me give you some advice.

There are things you can do to get around the older people who try to sell you this in school and in the culture. You have to do your own research, and learn the consequences of getting rid of the rules around sexual conduct before you break them.

First, read Romans 1, and understand that people who are doing evil things feel better about what they are doing if they can get you to approve of it, celebrate it, and subsidize it. So keep that in mind when people are telling you that something wrong is “right”.

Second, understand that people who are teaching you in school often portray themselves one way in class, but in actual fact, their private lives are totally messed up. It’s tempting to give them more respect than they deserve.

Third, it’s good to be think critically about what you see in the culture, and to read history in order to gain a perspective that allows you to judge what is seen as normal in your own time.

Fourth, it’s good to read studies to find out what happens next, should you take some course of action that is “normal”. For example, it’s a very good idea to research the link between the number of premarital sexual partners and divorce rate.

Fifth, you should be skeptical of people who misuse science in order to push an agenda. Just understand where they are going and then see if they might not be abusing science to get there. It happens all the time – just look at how global cooling / global warming has been used to justify increased control of energy development and consumption by government.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , ,

How much do we pay as a society for removing the rules around love and marriage?

Dina sent me this UK Daily Mail article.

It says:

The cost of family breakdown to the country has shot up by more than £10 billion a year since 2009, a study found yesterday.

It put the price to taxpayers in 2015 of clearing up the damage after families fail and looking after the separated adults and children at £47.31 billion.

The bill takes in the cost of benefits, health and social care, housing, policing and the courts, and the price of failure in the education system of children hurt by divorce or the parting of their parents.

The Relationships Foundation think tank said that the money spent because of family breakdown amounts to three per cent of the economic product of the country and each taxpayer will have to contribute £1,546.

The bill has risen from £37.03 billion since the costs were first calculated in 2009. Over the past year alone, despite falling costs for policing, vandalism and disciplinary problems in schools attributable to family breakdown, the cost has risen by £1.55 billion.

Now the further along we go into the sexual revolution, the more the rules slip off and the more the costs go up. But don’t try to tell any secular leftists that marriage is necessary to keep government small and tax bills low – they are so committed to “anything goes” moral relativism when it comes to sex that no restrictions of any kind are acceptable to them.

Let’s see some more numbers from the United States.

Divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing cost U.S. taxpayers more than $112 billion a year, according to a study commissioned by four groups advocating more government action to bolster marriages.

Sponsors say the study is the first of its kind and hope it will prompt lawmakers to invest more money in programs aimed at strengthening marriages. Two experts not connected to the study said such programs are of dubious merit and suggested that other investments — notably job creation — would be more effective in aiding all types of needy families.

There have been previous attempts to calculate the cost of divorce in America. But the sponsors of the new study, being released Tuesday, said theirs is the first to gauge the broader cost of “family fragmentation” — both divorce and unwed childbearing.

The study was conducted by Georgia State University economist Ben Scafidi. His work was sponsored by four groups who consider themselves part of a nationwide “marriage movement” — the New York-based Institute for American Values, the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, Families Northwest of Redmond, Wash., and the Georgia Family Council, an ally of the conservative ministry Focus on the Family.

[…]Scafidi’s calculations were based on the assumption that households headed by a single female have relatively high poverty rates, leading to higher spending on welfare, health care, criminal justice and education for those raised in the disadvantaged homes. The $112 billion estimate includes the cost of federal, state and local government programs, and lost tax revenue at all levels of government.

Now I blog a lot about the kinds of behaviors that cause marriages to break down – all of which are pushed by radical feminists. We have the sexual revolution, recreational premarital sex, no fault divorce, single mother welfare, and so on – all of these things make it easier for people to break up and harder for them to see relationships as self-sacrificial and permanent. Opening the door to gay marriage is just another redefinition that will remove marital norms like permanence and exclusivity. The more unstable marriage is, the more it creates expensive litigation. The more children grow up without fathers and/or mothers, the more we have to pay in social programs.

Love is a serious business.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

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