Tag Archives: Happiness

J. Warner Wallace: I am not a Christian because it works for me


Here’s a must-read post from Cold-Case Christianity author J. Warner Wallace.


Life on this side of my decision hasn’t always been easy. It’s been nearly seventeen years since I first trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I still struggle to submit my prideful will to what God would call me to do. Christianity is not easy. It doesn’t always “work” for me. There are times when I think it would be easier to do it the old way; easier to cut a corner or take a short cut. There are many times when doing the right thing means doing the most difficult thing possible. There are also times when it seems like non-Christians have it easier, or seem to be “winning”. It’s in times like these that I have to remind myself that I’m not a Christian because it serves my own selfish purposes. I’m not a Christian because it “works” for me. I had a life prior to Christianity that seemed to be working just fine, and my life as a Christian hasn’t always been easy.

I’m a Christian because it is true. I’m a Christian because I want to live in a way that reflects the truth. I’m a Christian because my high regard for the truth leaves me no alternative.

I think this is important. There are people who I know who claim to be Christian, but they are clearly believing that God is a mystical force who arranges everything in their lives in order to make them happy. They are not Christians because it’s true, but because of things like comfort and community. But people ought to become Christians because they think it’s true. Truth doesn’t necessarily make you happy, though. Truth can impose intellectual obligations and moral obligations on you. Seeing God as he really is doesn’t help us to “win” at life, as the culture defines winning.

Winning in Christianity doesn’t mean making lots of money, or being famous, or winning human competitions, or being approved of by lots of people. Winning for a Christian might involve things like building relationships with people and leading them to know that God exists and who Jesus is. That has no cash value, and it’s not going to make you famous. Actually, it will probably cost you money and time, and make you unpopular with a lot of people.

The Bible doesn’t promise that people who become Christians will be happier. Actually, it promises that Christians will suffer for doing the right things. Their autonomy will suffer, as they sacrifice their own interests and happiness in order to make God happy, by serving his interests. Christianity isn’t something you add on to your before-God life in order to achieve your before-God goals. When you become a Christian, you get a new set of goals, based on God’s character and his design for you. And although you might be very successful in the world as part of serving God, there is no guarantee of that. Christianity is not life enhancement.

New study: parents of four or more kids are happiest

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

When I was planning out my life, I did some research on how many kids I wanted to have. I love to plan and budget things out way in advance, because even if things don’t go as planned, the planning phase helps you to improvise. According to my research, four was the right number. Of course, you can never be sure how many you’ll get, but it doesn’t hurt to make a budget for the number of kids you want and a plan to make them.

Anyway, here’s a new study that says that four or more makes parents the most happy. Now, happiness may not be the goal of a relationship, but it definitely helps the spouses to apply themselves to the real goal of serving God. You can’t get miserable people to achieve anything for God, and you have to be serious about what people need to engage.

Anyway, The Daily Signal reports:

The happiest parents are—drumroll, please—parents with four or more kids.

Parents of large families were found to have the most life satisfaction, according to a study by Australia’s Edith Cowan University. Dr. Bronwyn Harman, of the psychology and social science school at the university, spent five years studying what types of families are most content.

“[The parents] usually say they always wanted a large family, it was planned that way, and it was a lifestyle they’d chosen,” Harman told The Sydney Morning Herald.

During her five-year study, Harman interviewed hundreds of parents from different family makeups. Her findings are based on resilience, social support, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.

Her research points out that parental happiness relates to how much effort has been put into growing the family.

“What is important for kids are things like consistency, boundaries and [to] know that they are loved, no matter what,” Harman tells ABC Australia.

Prior to the study, Harman thought parents with more children would be less happy.

Though larger families may have more chaos and expenses than a smaller family, Harman’s research shows that these issues are balanced by the amount of joy received from having more children.

Her findings show that children who grow up in large families learn independence at a young age and always have someone to play with.

I often get a lot of flak from single women who want to delay marriage, and/or not have so many children. Although many of the “rules” I have about where relationships should be headed seem arbitrary, there is actually data to back it up. I’m not trying to rush into marriage and four children for no reason, but because this is what makes people happiest in the long run. It makes for a better environment for achieving other things for God. I never do anything or ask others for anything without some evidence to back it up.

I think people tend to worry a lot about having kids, and that’s because having kids is expensive. But that can easily be planned out if you earn and save to prepare. My plan was to raise the kids in the country and have a capable homeschooling mom teach them and build their resumes up. Having lots of kids is not a problem if you take care of the money requirement, and don’t let them be spoiled all the time. Sometimes, they will just have to be patient and do things on their own and not be the center of attention. That’s probably good for them in any case.

New study: conservatives are more likely to be happily married than progressives

If you want a very happy marriage, don't be a progressive
If you want a very happy marriage, don’t be a progressive

New study from social science researchers W. Bradford Wilcox and Nicholas Wolfinger.

It’s written up in The Federalist.


In the General Social Survey (GSS), one of the best barometers of American society, ideology is measured by asking respondents to rate their political attitudes on a liberal-conservative continuum (1 = extremely liberal, 7 = extremely conservative). We coded those men and women answering 1 to 3 as “liberal,” those answering with a 4 as “moderate,” and those answering 5 to 7 as “conservative.”

Figure 1 indicates that conservatives are significantly more likely to be married than are moderates and liberals. In fact, they are about 15 percentage points more likely to be married than their liberal fellow citizens. Moreover, this relationship remains strong after controlling for race or ethnicity, age, sex, and… income and education.

[…]Figure 3 examines the effects of political ideology on the chances of being in a very happy marriage among all Americans, not just those who are currently married, as Figure 2 depicted. Figure 3 shows that in the baseline model, conservatives are 12 percentage points more likely to be in happy marriages than are liberals. This gap persists, albeit to a diminished extent, after controlling for race or ethnicity, age, sex, income, and education. After adjusting for these differences between General Social Survey respondents, conservatives are about eight percentage points more likely than liberals to be in a happy marriage.

So basically, if you are a leftist, then you are much less likely to be happily married. And if you are a conservative, then you are much more likely to be happily married.


The answer lies in the design of marriage. Marriage is not about two people moving in together so that they can feel good about doing whatever they want to do. Marriage is a design that works best with a man and a women who are equipped at the worldview level with the capacity for resilient, self-sacrifice love.

Progressives are not equipped for the kind of self-denial, self-control, and self-sacrifice that marriage requires. They don’t believe in God, generally, so they don’t believe in objective morality. And if you don’t believe in objective morality, then there is no foundation there for self-sacrificial love, and honoring moral obligations when it goes against your self-interest. Atheism as a worldview doesn’t have the foundation for the kinds of behaviors that marriage entails. And that’s why you see Peter Atkins, Richard Dawkins, Richard Carrier, Michael Shermer, etc. divorcing their wives. The atheist worldview and the atheist community do not enable the sort of character that is suited for the design of marriage.

In contrast, conservatives typically do have a rationally-grounded morality. They tend to believe in God, and so the rightness of following the moral law when it goes against their self-interest makes sense to them. They think that there is a design to marriage, and design for the flourishing of children. They are more likely to be able to compromise and solve problems in order to keep a commitment going. There is an “ought to do” there in the conservative worldview that is objective – it exists independent of their feelings. The obligations to override selfishness is there regardless of how unfair life seems – it is resilient to challenges.

One of the ways you can tell how serious someone is about their religion, and therefore their morality, is by looking at the person’s church attendance. Church attendance is typically not as fun as other things you can do in life. So people who go are indicating that they put their relationship with God and their dedication to following the moral law above their own self-interest. So does that tendency help religious people to stay married?

Yes it does:

Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35% less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Nominal conservative Protestants, on the other hand, were 20% more likely to divorce than the religiously unaffiliated.

“There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life,” Wilcox said.

So the bottom line is that marriage is a moral enterprise. It works better when each spouse has a worldview and a community that recognizes objective, prescriptive morality. And objective, prescriptive morality has no rational foundation in a non-theistic worldview. Progressives tend to be non-theists, so of course they are going to struggle with any enterprise that requires them to set aside their natural self-centeredness in order to honor moral obligations to another person.

Andy Bannister and Michael Ruse discuss how atheists find meaning in life

Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!
Two horses fight it out, and may the best horse win!

I’m summarizing the most recent episode of the Unbelievable show.


Atheist philosopher Michael Ruse joins Justin as we spend a second week looking at Andy Bannister’s new book ‘The atheist who didn’t exist’.

Its amusingly titled chapters include ‘The Peculiar Case of the Postmodern Penguin (or: Why Life without God is Meaningless). Michael and Andy debate whether it’s a problem that atheists can’t have meaning with a ‘capital M’.

I think this discussion is a nice follow-up to a recent post, in which Neil Shenvi gave a scientist’s assessment of meaning and purpose in the naturalistic worldview, and explained by people should consider Christian theism instead.

Anyway, here is a summary of the discussion between Ruse and Bannister, and my comments below the summary.

The MP3 file is here.


  • Ruse: ultimate questions are serious questions, and some religions are attempting to provide serious answers to those questions
  • Ruse: there is a psychological element to belief in God but it’s not a complete explanation, but it can apply to non-belief as well
  • Bannister: there are psychological reasons why people would prefer unbelief (quotes Thomas Nagel and Aldous Huxley)
  • Bannister: (to Ruse) what do you think would follow next if you got new information that caused you to believe in God?
  • Ruse: I’d feel scared, I’d think of all the reasons that God would dislike me, rather than any reasons why God would save me
  • Bannister: according to the Bible, God is not so much interested in mere belief, but in active trust in him
  • Ruse: without being smug, I just completed 50 years as a college professor of philosophy, and I have a sense of worth from that
  • Ruse: if God turns up, and says that 50 years of being a professor is not good enough, well, I don’t know God, I’m sorry, I did my best
  • Brierley: Andy, explain to us this story of how a penguin explained to you how he invented a subjective meaning in life for himself?
  • Brierley: (reads the story)
  • Bannister: when it comes to reading a book, the real meaning is the meaning the author intended the book to have
  • Bannister: readers can inject their own meaning into the book that has nothing to do with it, but the author gives the real meaning
  • Bannister: meaning in life is like reading a book – you can make up your own meaning, but the author’s meaning is the real meaning
  • Brierley: (to Ruse) on atheism, is there any objective meaning?
  • Ruse: “obviously, someone like myself cannot have meaning with a capital M in that sense”
  • Ruse: the real question is and atheist can find a sense of self-worth, “I find that I’m happier within myself, I can find meaning”
  • Bannister: what would you say to someone who drinks away the family inheritance and gets the same sense of happiness you have?
  • Bannister: what would you say to all the people who are unable to get “a sense of self-worth” from their career, because of where they are born, sickness, etc.
  • Ruse: I have nothing to offer them, some people are born into such awful situations that they are bound to be bad people
  • Ruse: these unfair accidents of birth, etc.,  fits with atheism better
  • Ruse: what we should do is change society so that more people can build a sense of self-worth through achievements
  • Ruse: that way, they can say to God “I used my talents” so they can create feelings of self-worth and happiness (apart from God)
  • Bannister: meaning in life cannot be answered without answering questions related to identity, value, which are rooted in the overall worldview
  • Bannister: on the Christian worldview, you have an infinite worth, your value isn’t determined by circumstances, earnings, friends, etc.
  • Bannister: your value comes from what Jesus was willing to pay to save you, namely, giving his own life for you
  • Bannister: when I travel to meet other Christians in other parts of the world, they have a happiness that should not be there if they are getting happiness from wealth, fame, achievements, etc.
  • Bannister: but when you come to the West, many people who have wealth, fame, achievement, etc. are unhappy
  • Ruse: well maybe who look after a flock of sheep every day may get a sense of self-worth from that, or from other jobs
  • Ruse: I do take Christianity very seriously, it is a grown-up proposal to answer grown-up questions – it works if it is true
  • Ruse: we don’t have to follow Nietzche’s statement that if there is no God, there is no meaning in life – we can find a middle way, we can achieve meaning in life by using our talents to achieve things
  • Bannister: I disagree with Michael, I don’t think that the meaning you invent for yourself is authentic meaning
  • Bannister: distracting yourself with amusing things and happiness is not an answer to the problem
  • Brierley: (to Ruse) are you saying that you have searched for ultimate meaning, and you are settling for subjective meaning?
  • Ruse: my subjective meaning is not second class to objective meaning, “I feel a real deep sense of achievement, of meaning, of self-worth, of having used my talents properly, and I don’t feel in any sense a sense of regret” (what matters to him is how he feels)
  • Bannister: notice how Michael keeps bringing in value judgments. e.g. – “use my talents well”, that implies that there is a right way and a wrong to use your talents, which assumes an objective scale of right and wrong, which makes no sense in atheism
  • Bannister: an atheist can sit in a sun room and enjoy the feelings of happiness generated by the light and heat of the Sun, without asking whether there is a Sun out there
  • Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, my concern is not whether something makes me happy or makes me feel fulfilled
  • Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, I think there is only one real reason to wrestle with these questions of meaning, and that is to find truth
  • Ruse: sometimes we reach a point where we cannot get to true answers to some questions, sometimes we look for truth, but then give up and confess “I cannot find it” and then move on from there

Is it possible to dispense with God’s advice on your decision-making and achieve something that affects a lot of people, or makes people like you, or makes you famous, etc., and then have that please God? “Look, God, I did something I liked that affected a lot of people, and made them feel happy as they were on their way to Hell because they rejected you”. Will rap musicians answer God by pointing to 50 years of leading people away from chastity with godless music? A lot of people went to see the “NWA” movie that celebrated musicians who have an anti-Christian view of women and violence. Can NWA present their “artistic work” to God and claim that God should be pleased with their successful efforts to get rich and famous? Having feelings of achievement doesn’t mean anything to God.

So what is the standard? How you imitate Jesus – self-control, self-denial and self-sacrifice to honor God – that is the standard. If I had to choose between giving up two hours of my life to summarize this discussion for my readers, and all the fame and fortune that people who make godless TV shows, movies and music have, I would choose to make this debate summary. My goal in life is not to have fun, thrills, travel and feel happy in this world. I have a Boss. Doing without fun, thrills, travel and happy feelings in order to put points on the board for my Boss is objectively meaningful. It’s may not seem like much compared to what James Bond does in million-dollar movies, but at least I am wearing the right uniform, and playing for the right team.

I was telling Dina recently, isn’t it remarkable how rarely in our culture that people actually talk about the big questions? If you look out at the culture, everything seems to be about feeling good, having fun, being liked by others. Not much about ultimate questions, and certainly not a truth-based assessment of the alternatives. .

The top 7 things a wife needs to be happy in her marriage

Do women have a plan for marriage?
Do women influenced by feminism understand marriage?

From MercatorNet.

Here’s the list, in order of importance:

  1. A husband’s emotional engagement
  2. Fairness
  3. A breadwinning husband
  4. A commitment to marriage
  5. Staying at home
  6. Shared religious attendance
  7. Traditional gender attitudes

I want to highlight #3, because it’s the one I most frequently find missing in younger, unmarried Christian women.

Here’s number three:

American wives, even wives who hold more feminist views about working women and the division of household tasks, are typically happier when their husband earns 68% or more of the household income. Husbands who are successful breadwinners probably give their wives the opportunity to make choices about work and family—e.g., working part-time, staying home, or pursuing a meaningful but not particularly remunerative job—that allow them to best respond to their own needs, and the needs of their children.

The reason I have found that the young, unmarried Christian women oppose this is because it negates the “follow your heart” Disney princess mentality that they are often raised on. They don’t want to be practical, and some of them even go so far as to shun the good advice of other married women. Women should be able to count the costs of a marriage and understand that handsomeness and confidence does not pay the considerable bills that married couples incur, especially when they have children. I think a good basic education in business, finance and/or economics for this “follow your heart”, “have no fear” women would be beneficial. It’s very important that women learn to value a man’s ability to make decisions that allow him to find work that pays well.

It’s getting common now for men to be in their late 20s and yet never have had a job that earns money. Women should not be relying on penniless students younger than they are – men who have not proved (from their past) that they can fulfill the demands of the provider role. Women should not be resting their hopes on men who have no proven record of work experience. They should not hope that things will get better in the future. Future wishes are not evidence of the ability to provide, only past performance at providing is evidence of the ability to provide. What is needed is a record of earning money, of showing up to work on time, of getting promotions, of steady long-term employment (not jumping around to different jobs), and being good at saving money that is earned.

I also liked #4:

Wives who share a strong commitment to the norm of lifelong marriage with their husband—e.g., who both believe that even unhappily married couples should stay together for the sake of their children—are more likely to have a happy marriage than couples who do not share this commitment to marriage. Shared commitment seems to generate a sense of trust, emotional security, and a willingness to sacrifice for one’s spouse—all of which lead to happier marriages for women. This shared commitment also provides women with a long-term view of their marriage that helps them negotiate the inevitable difficulties that confront any marriage.

I think the commitment ideal is something that is now very much against the grain in our culture. We want to have relationships that make us happy all the time. We don’t want to make commitments that will force us to confront the needs of that other person. We don’t want to have to deal with expectations, responsibilities and obligations, especially when they conflict with our pursuit of self-fulfillment and fun. But commitment is the opposite of pursuing fun. Commitment is about making a promise to another person to care for their needs. If caring for someone else’s needs scares you, then naturally, you’ll want to avoid commitment as much as you can.

Unfortunately, marriage isn’t compatible with obligation avoidance. Commitment is the very center of it, and if you want a good marriage, then you’d better get used to making and keeping commitments. If you are good at sensing and caring for the needs of others, and putting others above yourself, and enduring hardships and difficulties to keep your commitments, then you’re ready for marriage.