What to do if your husband has lost interest in going to church

Theology that hits the spot
Theology that hits the spot

Lindsay, from Lindsay’s Logic, has written a fine post on how to get men interested in the church.

She writes:

Many Christian wives with Christian husbands are concerned because their husbands are withdrawing from church and refusing to attend or to be involved. The number one reason that men are becoming disillusioned with church is that the church has become highly feminized. Worship services often focus on emotional things like singing praise songs and sermons are often more of a pep talk or Christian psychology instead of deep doctrine. And, above all, faith is very commonly spoken of in terms of how you feel rather than reasons and evidence.

Most men instinctively withdraw from Christianity that is focused on feelings. They don’t want Jesus to be their boyfriend. They don’t want to sing mushy love songs to Jesus or talk about their feelings about God. So a worship service that seems like just feeling happy thoughts about Jesus is going to grate and, over time, push them away.

The answer to getting men involved and passionate about church is apologetics. Apologetics is the study of the reasons and evidence for the Christian faith. It’s based on facts, not feelings. And men will engage with a Christianity focused on believing something they have evidence for and then going on a mission to change the world (or at least their corner of it).

The rest of her post deals with specific recommendations, and I will only excerpt one below:

4) Stop talking about church and Christianity in terms of feelings. Talk about what God’s word says. Talk about what’s right and wrong. Talk about how we know the Bible is true and about the evidence for the resurrection. Talk about the history of the church and the persecution that people have withstood in order to hold on to what they knew to be true. But stop talking about how church makes you feel good or how much you “love” Jesus. No doubt church does make you feel good and no doubt you do love Jesus, but talking about Christianity in those terms will not help with your husband.

The most important thing to understand about getting men interested in the church is that men are men. We are not interested in most of the things that women go to church for. We don’t like singing much, we don’t like praying as much (we would rather fix everything ourselves, and so praying is like a last resort), and we mostly read the Bible to find out who God is, so that we can make practical plans in real life to achieve real-world results. We don’t read it to feel anything, we just want to find something useful to do from it. Sometimes, Christians want to make Christianity about happy feelings and getting along. Men aren’t like that. We actually like confronting people and debating with them. If you look at Jesus in the temple, or Paul going to synagogues and marketplaces to debate with people, that’s what men want to do. Don’t try to make us go to churches where debates about moral issues, politics and apologetics are not happening, we don’t want to go.

We don’t want to be preached at by fideists, we want everything presented to us as a set of alternatives to debate about. We don’t want to be told what to believe, we want to be told what reasons and evidence there is to think that certain beliefs are true. We don’t want you to wallow around crying about losers, we want to be presented with winners, people who made a difference by achieving something heroic through adversity. And we don’t want to think of God as our creepy stalker / lover, we want to think about God as our battle-hardened commanding officer. We want to know how we can sacrifice our self-interest in order to achieve practical results. We want to train for battle, and then win. So stop trying to make us into girls, and then maybe we’ll be interested in church. This isn’t hard to understand, muppets, you just have to think of things from a perspective other than your own.

By the way, if you are a man reading this, for goodness sake, start learning apologetics and listen to Wayne Grudem lectures on ethics and public policy. You have been greatly mistreated by the church, it turns out that Christianity is not boring or impractical at all, it is only like that in feminized churches, where emotional nonsense dominates.

ADF offers advice on SCOTUS marriage redefinition ruling

States with non-discrimination laws
States with non-discrimination laws

(Source: ACLU)

Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom offers advice to churches on how to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage to remove the gender requirement.

He says:

[…][T]he greatest threat for churches lies in the application of the Court’s decision to believers who live in jurisdictions covered by so-called “non-discrimination” laws and ordinances. Everywhere that marriage has been redefined in the last several years has seen an awakening of non-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, or places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. These laws are peppered throughout the states and local governments and are a linchpin of the sexual revolution’s broader legal and political strategy: to establish non-discrimination laws at all levels throughout the country and to to “ensure that religion is not used as an excuse to discriminate.”

In coming days, the threat from these non-discrimination laws will materialize in numerous ways as same-sex couples marry. But there are proactive steps your church can take to protect itself.

I put the map from the ACLU above. I think that’s what he is talking about when he says non-discrimination states. Keep in mind that the ACLU supported redefining marriage, and opposes religious liberty.

Erik’s article covers 3 areas:

  1. Church’s statement of faith
  2. Pastors officiating same-sex marriage ceremonies
  3. Church’s facility usage policy

Part 3) was the most interesting to me:

3. Churches should ensure their facilities usage policies are revised to allow only uses consistent with the church’s religious beliefs.

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, some churches may be approached by same-sex couples seeking to be married in the church facility. Churches should not feel as if they have to close their doors to the community just to prevent wedding ceremonies with which they disagree. Churches must continue to be a welcoming presence in the community and can do so through updating or revising their facility usage policy. The key point is to tie usage of the church’s facility to the statement of faith and religious beliefs of the church. And then to make clear that uses inconsistent with those religious beliefs will not be allowed. Alliance Defending Freedom has a sample facilities usage policy available in our Protecting Your Ministry manual.

So you update your statement of faith, and then tie usage of the the facility to that statement of faith. Simple.

I took a quick look at the booklet, and it also talked about tying employment within the church and church membership to the statement of faith.

Denny Burk summarizes those:

2. Religious Employment Criteria

Your church can best avail itself of the First Amendment’s protection in employee disputes if you create and faithfully enforce religious employment criteria for every employee. That requires churches to do at least two things: (1) require all employees and volunteers to sign a statement affirming the church’s statement of faith and standards of conduct, and (2) create written job descriptions for every employee and volunteer position.

 

4. Formal Membership Policy

If your church does not have a membership policy, you need to change that. Biblically, this should already be a priority for your church. You need to specify what the requirements for membership are, how one joins, how one resigns, and the procedures for church discipline. If all of this isn’t spelled out up front, your church could be exposed (see ADF guide pp. 17-18).

So what to make of this? Well, the ADF is an organization that I admire and trust. I cannot abide Christians who do not want to understand the details of what is happening with religious liberty in their country. The ADF has first class lawyers from the top law schools, and they defend religious liberty at every level of our justice system, up to and including the Supreme Court. If you want to help your church protect itself from prosecution, then you must point them to the ADF booklet linked above.

And this is especially true if you are in one of those states in the map above. In looking over the map, I noticed that much of the trouble we have been having with Christian businesses getting sued are in states that have these laws… Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, New York, and so on. Pay attention to that map and make decisions about where to live accordingly.

MIT physicist Alan Lightman on fine-tuning and the multiverse

Apologetics and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

Here’s the article from Harper’s magazine.

The MIT physicist says that the fine-tuning is real, and is best explained by positing the existence of an infinite number of universes that are not fine-tuned – the so-called multiverse.

Excerpt:

While challenging the Platonic dream of theoretical physicists, the multiverse idea does explain one aspect of our universe that has unsettled some scientists for years: according to various calculations, if the values of some of the fundamental parameters of our universe were a little larger or a little smaller, life could not have arisen. For example, if the nuclear force were a few percentage points stronger than it actually is, then all the hydrogen atoms in the infant universe would have fused with other hydrogen atoms to make helium, and there would be no hydrogen left. No hydrogen means no water. Although we are far from certain about what conditions are necessary for life, most biologists believe that water is necessary. On the other hand, if the nuclear force were substantially weaker than what it actually is, then the complex atoms needed for biology could not hold together. As another example, if the relationship between the strengths of the gravitational force and the electromagnetic force were not close to what it is, then the cosmos would not harbor any stars that explode and spew out life-supporting chemical elements into space or any other stars that form planets. Both kinds of stars are required for the emergence of life. The strengths of the basic forces and certain other fundamental parameters in our universe appear to be “fine-tuned” to allow the existence of life. The recognition of this fine-­tuning led British physicist Brandon Carter to articulate what he called the anthropic principle, which states that the universe must have the parameters it does because we are here to observe it. Actually, the word anthropic, from the Greek for “man,” is a misnomer: if these fundamental parameters were much different from what they are, it is not only human beings who would not exist. No life of any kind would exist.

If such conclusions are correct, the great question, of course, is why these fundamental parameters happen to lie within the range needed for life. Does the universe care about life? Intelligent design is one answer. Indeed, a fair number of theologians, philosophers, and even some scientists have used fine-tuning and the anthropic principle as evidence of the existence of God. For example, at the 2011 Christian Scholars’ Conference at Pepperdine University, Francis Collins, a leading geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health, said, “To get our universe, with all of its potential for complexities or any kind of potential for any kind of life-form, everything has to be precisely defined on this knife edge of improbability…. [Y]ou have to see the hands of a creator who set the parameters to be just so because the creator was interested in something a little more complicated than random particles.”

Intelligent design, however, is an answer to fine-tuning that does not appeal to most scientists. The multiverse offers another explanation. If there are countless different universes with different properties—for example, some with nuclear forces much stronger than in our universe and some with nuclear forces much weaker—then some of those universes will allow the emergence of life and some will not. Some of those universes will be dead, lifeless hulks of matter and energy, and others will permit the emergence of cells, plants and animals, minds. From the huge range of possible universes predicted by the theories, the fraction of universes with life is undoubtedly small. But that doesn’t matter. We live in one of the universes that permits life because otherwise we wouldn’t be here to ask the question.

I thought I was going to have to go outside this article to refute the multiverse, but Lightman is honest enough to refute it himself:

The… conjecture that there are many other worlds… [T]here is no way they can prove this conjecture. That same uncertainty disturbs many physicists who are adjusting to the idea of the multiverse. Not only must we accept that basic properties of our universe are accidental and uncalculable. In addition, we must believe in the existence of many other universes. But we have no conceivable way of observing these other universes and cannot prove their existence. Thus, to explain what we see in the world and in our mental deductions, we must believe in what we cannot prove.

Sound familiar? Theologians are accustomed to taking some beliefs on faith. Scientists are not. All we can do is hope that the same theories that predict the multiverse also produce many other predictions that we can test here in our own universe. But the other universes themselves will almost certainly remain a conjecture.

The multiverse is not pure nonsense, it is theoretically possible. The problem is that the multiverse generator itself would require fine-tuning, so the multiverse doesn’t get rid of the problem. And, as Lightman indicates, we have no independent experimental evidence for the existence of the multiverse in any case. Atheists just have to take it on faith, and hope that their speculations will be proved right. Meanwhile, the fine-tuning is just as easily explained by postulating God, and we have independent evidence for God’s existence, like the the origin of biological information, the sudden appearance of animal body plans, the argument from consciousness, and so on. Even if the naturalists could explain the fine-tuning, they would still have a lot of explaining to do. Theism (intelligent causation) is the simplest explanation for all of the things we learn from the progress of science.

We need to be frank about atheists and their objections to the progress of science. Within the last 100 years, we have discovered that the physical universe came into being out of nothing 15 billion years ago, and we have discovered that this one universe is fine-tuned for intelligent life. I don’t think it’s like that the last 100 years of scientific progress on the origins question are going to be overturned so that science once again affirms what atheists believe about the universe. Things are going the wrong way for atheists – at least with respect to science.

See it in action

To see these arguments examined in a debate with a famous atheist, simply watch the debate between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens, and judge which debater is willing to form his beliefs on scientific progress, and which debater is forming his beliefs against the science we have today, and hoping that the good science we have today based on experiments will be overturned by speculative theories at some point in the future. When you watch that debate, it becomes very clear that Christian theists are interested in conforming their beliefs to science, and atheists are very interested in speculating against what science has shown in order to maintain their current pre-scientific view. That’s not what rational people ought to do when confronted with evidence.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

How will gay marriage affect my marriage?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

In this post, I will get 500 words to summarize why pro-marriage men will be less likely to marry because of the successes of the gay rights movement. Then super-wife Lindsay from Lindsay’s Logic gets 500 words to respond to me.

First, I’ll quote from Robert Gagnon to set up the problem:

Unless this decision can be reversed soon through the next two presidential elections and the retirement/replacement of renegade SCOTUS judges (Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are the first up), this will turn out to be the greatest American tragedy for the civil liberties of persons of faith, for the cause of sexual purity in the United States, and for the lives of persons struggling with same-sex attraction. Prepare for a reign of persecution and abuse of people of faith as hateful, ignorant, and discriminatory “bigots” and the moral equivalent of racists in every area of life in which people of faith intersect with the secular realm, individually and in their religious institutions, with a profound negative impact as well within most mainline denominations.

As individuals, people of faith will be aggressively indoctrinated, fined, denied advancement, fired, intimidated, and subjected to ceaseless verbal abuse in public and private schools, at institutions of higher learning, at places of employment in public and private sectors, and throughout the main communication organs of the media and entertainment industry. Their institutions and businesses will be set on a collision course with the state: denied government funding, contracts, and loans; denied accreditation and tax-exempt status; and subjected to government harassment.

Here’s why Christian men should be cautious about marrying after the SCOTUS ruling:

  1. Qualified professionals are losing their jobs, and are unable to find work, after being “outed” to their employers for making pro-marriage donations or by writing pro-marriage books, or by just expressing disagreement with homosexuality, even with NO evidence of any actual discrimination in the workplace.
  2. Donation records are being used to punish pro-marriage people. Remember how a gay activist within the IRS leaked all the names of pro-marriage donors to the Huffington Post? The IRS admitted fault, but pro-marriage donors could be exposed to severe consequences, including boycotts, coercion, business closures, death threatsvandalism, beatings and even domestic terrorism. Mark Steyn is not accepting donations for his own legal defense because of the IRS leak of pro-marriage donors. Maine is also seeking the names of pro-marriage donors. There’s a definite effort to punish people who donate to pro-marriage causes.
  3. Christian-owned businesses who decline to participate in same-sex weddings are being punished by state attorney generals with lengthy trials and six-figure fines.
  4. Powerful gay rights organizations continue to attack people who support marriage, e.g. – Human Rights Campaign, ACLU, etc. The arrest of the co-founder of the HRC shows where these groups might be headed next.
  5. According to exit polls, unmarried women voted for Obama by a margin of 70%-29% in 2008. Young, unmarried women were 77% in favor of Obama, according to exit polls. This indicates support for Democrat positions like no-fault divorce and gay marriage. It indicates opposition to free speech, conscience protections and religious liberty. Men see traditional marriage as an exclusive commitment with obligations, and favor moral boundaries to protect children, so they vote Republican.
  6. Most young, unmarried Christian women I talk to are not studying to learn how to defend marriage on their own, or speaking out about it. They are not able to help you defend marriage, it’s not important to them.
  7. Young, unmarried women do not want the responsibility of having to produce children who will grow up to be ADF lawyers or Supreme Court Justices, who could do something about gay marriage. They want the marriage to be fun and to make them feel happy.
  8. I am actually seeing young, unmarried Christian women dating non-Christians, having premarital sex with non-Christians, co-habitating with non-Christians, marrying non-Christians, having abortions from non-Christians, and even having out-of-wedlock children with non-Christians. If a woman cannot control her own feelings, she will not be able to help you defend marriage as a permanent commitment that overrides ever-changing feelings.
  9. The national debt has more than doubled since the Democrats took over the House and Senate in 2007 – from 8 to 18.5 trillion. Debt means higher taxes, inflation, or both. Either way, marriage and children are going to be much harder to support financially in the future. You can do more to defend marriage by concentrating your money on defending marriage, rather than splitting  your money between marriage expenses and defending marriage.
  10. Bigger government undermines men as leaders of the home. For example, a judge overruled a father for grounding his daughter for posting sexy photos online. And again, another judge ruled a man as an unfit parent for denying his son fast food. Bigger government means more intrusion into the home, which undermines the transmission of Christian values and disciplining of children.  You won’t have the freedom to lead your family to do pro-marriage things. It’s better to just defend marriage on your own, instead of getting married and having kids to model marriage to others.

So for these reasons, it’s best for a man to not marry, and remain free to defend marriage on his own instead. Being responsible for a wife and children puts pressure on a man to keep silent, because he is always thinking that he could lose his job, his business, or worse. Better to stay single, and be free to speak out without fear of failing to provide for his family.

Here is Lindsay’s response:

If all a man can find are the kind of women that Wintery Knight describes – self-focused, voting for liberals, thinking marriage places no obligations upon them, wishing to pursue fun and thrills, etc. – then men should not marry them. However, not all women are like that. With churches becoming ever more feelings-based and feminized, it is difficult to find a good woman (or man) to marry. I do not contest that. But difficult and impossible are not the same thing.

Marriage, even in our evil times, remains a wonderful gift from God and one of the best ways to influence our culture through the ability to work as a team for the kingdom of God and through having and raising children who will make a difference. One of the main ways we are called to grow the church is through biological growth. Christians should be having and raising children in the faith. We cannot let the evils in our culture make us retreat from the work of raising godly children to further the kingdom of God and to move Christianity forward into the next generation. If we stop marrying and having children, we will seriously hinder God’s work here on earth and Christianity will die out apart from the converts we can make. But making converts, though important, is often far more difficult than raising one’s own children to know what is right from the start.

I think a lot of people underestimate the difference that can be made by having children and raising them in one’s faith. Take a look at the Muslims to see how effective this can be. Muslims do make converts, but the bulk of Islam’s political and religious influence is made by Muslims outbreeding their opponents and raising children who firmly adhere to Islamic faith. Europeans are suffering a dearth of babies, with fertility well below replacement value. Meanwhile, Muslims are rapidly multiplying. The Muslims in Europe are quickly taking over the culture – primarily by having at least double the number of children that native Europeans do.

What if Christians would stop falling for the lies of the world that children are a burden and a liability and see children as the blessings and assets that the Bible teaches they are? What if Christians would have twice as many children as the godless liberals and raise them with a rigorous and comprehensive Biblical worldview that they could defend with reason and evidence? If we did that, we would change our culture and the world.

The church has gotten too soft. We’ve let a little opposition shut us up. We’ve allowed the values of the world for money and power and convenience and fitting in to strip us of our influence and voice. We’ve tried to be like the world, just with Jesus added in. And that’s precisely why we are failing to make a difference. We need a renewal of our thinking to value what God values and to live counter-culturally. Seeking a good marriage and raising godly children is an important part of making a difference for Christ, and one we cannot neglect if we hope to spread Christianity and influence our culture.

Of course, it is vitally important that, if we marry, we marry well. If a Christian marries someone who cares more for the world and its values than pleasing God and advancing the Christian faith, that is a bad choice. If there are no good spousal candidates available, the best choice is serving God through celibacy and making a difference in other ways. But we should not give up on God’s institution of marriage simply because it is difficult and because the world is now against us. It has been far harder on Christians in the past and they still managed to marry and raise children, even in the face of dire persecution and sometimes death. If we give up at the mere threat of losing a job or being mocked, we let the opposition win without even a fight.

Let us know who is more convincing in the comments.

This woman’s husband left her for his business partner and took her kids

A striking story from the Public Discourse.

Excerpt:

In the fall of 2007, my husband of almost ten years told me that he was gay and that he wanted a divorce. In an instant, the world that I had known and loved—the life we had built together—was shattered.

I tried to convince him to stay, to stick it out and fight to save our marriage. But my voice, my desires, my needs—and those of our two young children—no longer mattered to him. We had become disposable, because he had embraced one tiny word that had become his entire identity. Being gay trumped commitment, vows, responsibility, faith, fatherhood, marriage, friendships, and community. All of this was thrown away for the sake of his new identity.

Try as I might to save our marriage, there was no stopping my husband. Our divorce was not settled in mediation or with lawyers. No, it went all the way to trial. My husband wanted primary custody of our children. His entire case can be summed up in one sentence: “I am gay, and I deserve my rights.” It worked: the judge gave him practically everything he wanted. At one point, he even told my husband, “If you had asked for more, I would have given it to you.”

I truly believe that judge was legislating from the bench, disregarding the facts of our particular case and simply using us—using our children— to help influence future cases. In our society, LGBT citizens are seen as marginalized victims who must be protected at all costs, even if it means stripping rights from others. By ignoring the injustice committed against me and my children, the judge seemed to think that he was correcting a larger injustice.

[…]At the time of the first ceremony, the marriage was not recognized by our state, our nation, or our church. And my ex-husband’s new marriage, like the majority of male-male relationships, is an “open,” non-exclusive relationship. This sends a clear message to our children: what you feel trumps all laws, promises, and higher authorities. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want—and it doesn’t matter who you hurt along the way.

[…]Our two young children were willfully and intentionally thrust into a world of strife and combative beliefs, lifestyles, and values, all in the name of “gay rights.” Their father moved into his new partner’s condo, which is in a complex inhabited by sixteen gay men. One of the men has a 19-year-old male prostitute who comes to service him. Another man, who functions as the father figure of this community, is in his late sixties and has a boyfriend in his twenties. My children are brought to gay parties where they are the only children and where only alcoholic beverages are served. They are taken to transgender baseball games, gay rights fundraisers, and LGBT film festivals.

Both of my children face identity issues, just like other children. Yet there are certain deep and unique problems that they will face as a direct result of my former husband’s actions. My son is now a maturing teen, and he is very interested in girls. But how will he learn how to deal with that interest when he is surrounded by men who seek sexual gratification from other men? How will he learn to treat girls with care and respect when his father has rejected them and devalues them? How will he embrace his developing masculinity without seeing his father live out authentic manhood by treating his wife and family with love, honoring his marriage vows even when it’s hard?

My daughter suffers too. She needs a dad who will encourage her to embrace her femininity and beauty, but these qualities are parodied and distorted in her father’s world. Her dad wears make-up and sex bondage straps for Halloween. She is often exposed to men dressing as women. The walls in his condo are adorned with large framed pictures of women in provocative positions. What is my little girl to believe about her own femininity and beauty? Her father should be protecting her sexuality. Instead, he is warping it.

Without the guidance of both their mother and their father, how can my children navigate their developing identities and sexuality? I ache to see my children struggle, desperately trying to make sense of their world.

When I was younger and considering marriage, I thought a lot about no-fault divorce and how I would feel about my wife leaving me because she wanted to find herself in Europe, or something. I thought about the feminist judge who would give her custody of our children, and force me to pay alimony and child support. Marriage did not seem like a good risk to me then. I guess part of me always thought that feminists would be the only bad guys in this sexual revolution, and men and children were the victims of feminist selfishness. But this woman’s story really makes me realize how women can be just as much the victims of judicial activism as any man was under no-fault divorce laws. That story she told about the activist judge just made my blood run cold. What must that have been like for her, to lose custody of her kids and have them put into the “gay lifestyle” Grindr-style environment? My heart goes out to her.

Previously, I blogged about Dawn Stefanowicz‘s story of growing up with a gay father.

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