Tag Archives: Self-Centeredness

Fertility and pregnancy: how long can a woman wait before having a baby?

Woman's fertility by age
Woman’s fertility by age

This is from Aeon magazine. The author writes for several ultra-leftist publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Salon and Slate.

She writes:

Many studies show that women are not only woefully ignorant when it comes to fertility, conception and the efficacy of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) – but they overestimate their knowledge about the subject. For instance, a 2011 study in Fertility and Sterility surveyed 3,345 childless women in Canada between the ages of 20 and 50; despite the fact that the women initially assessed their own fertility knowledge as high, the researchers found only half of them answered six of the 16 questions correctly. 72.9 per cent of women thought that: ‘For women over 30, overall health and fitness level is a better indicator of fertility than age.’ (False.) And 90.9 per cent felt that: ‘Prior to menopause, assisted reproductive technologies (such as IVF) can help most women to have a baby using their own eggs.’ (Also false.) Many falsely believed that by not smoking and not being obese they could improve their fertility, rather than the fact that those factors simply negatively affect fertility.

Fertility fog infects cultures and nations worldwide, even those that place more of a premium on reproduction than we do in the West. A global study published for World Fertility Awareness Month in 2006 surveyed 17,500 people (most of childbearing age) from 10 countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America, revealing very poor knowledge about fertility and the biology of reproduction. Take Israel, a country that puts such a premium on children that they offer free IVF to citizens up to age 45 for their first two children. According to a 2011 study in Human Reproduction, which surveyed 410 undergraduate students, most overestimated a women’s chances of spontaneous pregnancy in all age groups, but particularly after receiving IVF beyond age 40. Only 11 per cent of the students knew that genetic motherhood is unlikely to be achieved from the mid-40s onward, unless using oocytes or egg cells frozen in advance. ‘This can be explained by technological “hype” and favourable media coverage of very late pregnancies,’ the authors concluded.

[…]For a woman over 42, there’s only a 3.9 per cent chance that a live birth will result from an IVF cycle using her own, fresh eggs, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). A woman over 44 has just a 1.8 per cent chance of a live birth under the same scenario, according to the US National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Women using fresh donor eggs have about a 56.6 per cent chance of success per round for all ages.

Indeed, according to research from the Fertility Authority in New York, 51 per cent of women aged between 35 and 40 wait a year or more before consulting a specialist, in hopes of conceiving naturally first. ‘It’s ironic, considering that the wait of two years will coincide with diminished fertility,’ the group says.

[…]‘No one talks about fertility,’ said [reproductive endocrinologist Janelle Luk, medical director of Neway Fertility in New York City], who does not believe women are really open to hearing about it. ‘I don’t think women know that there’s a limit: the message is equal, equal, equal. Women say: “We want to go to college, we want to work on our careers, we want to be equal to men.” But our biological clock is not.’

[…]Another way women might even out the fertility playing field is by focussing on the so-called male biological clock. But is there one? Although there have been recent news stories about how advanced age in men (over 40 or 50) increases time to conception and the incidence of autism and schizophrenia, the absolute risk is negligible. ‘When you look at the numbers, you have to separate what the absolute risk and the increased risk is,’ said Natan Bar-Chama, director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. ‘The absolute risk is still really very small.’

I think if I ever have a daughter, I will be sure to urge her to be skeptical of her emotions and intuitions, to learn how to assess probabilities, to disregard exceptional cases when making plans, to resist the feminism in the culture, to get wisdom from older married women with children instead of young unmarried childless women, to accept that she is not so special that laws and rules don’t apply to her, and to accept that the universe is not malleable according to her needs and desires. I hope my wife will see the value of reining our daughter in before the catastrophes like infertility happen.

Where does the organized opposition to educating young women about fertility facts come from?

‘We feel that women should be able to talk to their ob/gyn about fertility,’ said Sandra Carson, ACOG’s vice president for education. ‘We certainly want to remind women gently that, as they get older, fertility is compromised, but we don’t want to do it in such a way that they feel that it might interfere with their career plans or make them nervous about losing their fertility.’ In other words, there are no guidelines for talking to a woman about her fertility unless she herself brings it up.

All this talk of ‘gentle’ reminders and ‘appropriate’ counselling has a history – a political one. Back in 2001, the ASRM devoted a six-figure sum to a fertility awareness campaign, whose goal was to show the effects of age, obesity, smoking and sexually transmitted diseases on fertility. Surprisingly, the US National Organization for Women (NOW) came out against it. ‘Certainly women are well aware of the so-called biological clock. And I don’t think that we need any more pressure to have kids,’ said Kim Gandy, then president of NOW. In a 2002 op-ed in USA Today, she wrote that NOW ‘commended’ doctors for ‘attempting’ to educate women about their health, but thought they were going about it the wrong way by making women feel ‘anxious about their bodies and guilty about their choices’.

We don’t want women to feel bad, so it’s best to let them follow their hearts. That view is not helpful to women! If we want to help women, we must tell them the truth, and take the consequences.

All this talk about fertility could be accompanied by a discussion of the hard fact that a woman’s attractiveness will decline as she ages. This is a troubling lesson that countless women have had to learn the hard way. When you are young, you stand a much better chance of finding a successful male with good values and who is willing to commit to marriage and parenting. Many women will testify that, as you get older, this convenience deteriorates quickly. The good men will be claimed by the responsible women who don’t waste their youthful years seeking thrills.  Men who are contemplating marriage value a woman’s appearance, fertility, vulnerability and submissiveness to his leadership. Women need to be careful not to embark on a course that will reduce their ability in any of these areas that are important to men, e.g. – careerism, premarital promiscuity, etc.

Related posts

Survey: women explain why they avoid having children

Is it OK to tell women they are wrong?
Are women today genuinely interested in marriage and children, or do they have other plans?

This article comes from the leftist Huffington Post.

They write:

The Huffington Post and YouGov asked 124 women why they choose to be childfree. Their motivations ranged from preferring their current lifestyles (64 percent) to prioritizing their careers (9 percent) — a.k.a. fairly universal things that have motivated men not to have children for centuries. To give insight into the complex, layered decisions women make, HuffPost asked childfree readers to discuss the reasons they have chosen not to have kids and gathered 270 responses here.

They grouped the responses into 5 categories:

  1. I want to prioritize my career
  2. I don’t like children
  3. I had a bad relationship with my parents
  4. I don’t want the financial responsibility
  5. I like my life as it is

And here are some of the ones that I thought were the most interesting, and pay attention to the ones that include fear-of-missing-out travel, which I blogged about before:

Category 1:

I am a first-generation college graduate in my family. My mother was a single mom my entire childhood, and I was there to see that struggle. Being a parent, for a woman, means for life. Being a parent, for men, seems to be something very different. I understand raising children is a big life change and I don’t want to sell myself short on my potential to become something more and maybe even create change. I am childfree because I want to travel, move, pursue my career wholly and be able to push myself to be an inspiration to other women. If a child comes into my life, it won’t be until I am happy and successful in my work life, and not until I am secure with my finances and a marriage. I don’t want to one day wake up as an old woman wishing I had waited to have children so I could live my own life first, make mistakes, learn new things and find myself. Today kids are not for me.

Category 2:

I’m nearly 47; my boyfriend (domestic partner) of 17 years is nearly 50. I’ve never been pregnant and have taken every precaution to remain childfree. I tolerate other people’s children when I have to. I’m happiest when there are NO children around. I definitely don’t want them in my home. I like my life as it is. My boyfriend and I are both scientists. We also raise snakes and spiders! We like to travel. We travel to ride roller coasters (members of ACE — American Coaster Enthusiasts) and to attend rock concerts. I am also a performer in a senior winter guard. My plate overfloweth! I see no reason to procreate. I would be unhappy. Why be unhappy?

Category 3:

I have a great relationship with my husband. We have the time and money to travel, and that gives us precious memories. I had a bad relationship with my dad, and maybe I’m scared to treat my children like that. I’m very happy with my decision. I have a great relationship with myself too.

Category 4:

My spouse and I have talked in depth about having children. However, we both decided that our desire to travel the world is a financial burden in itself. If we have kids, we will never have the means to travel, and at the end of our life, we would rather be 100 percent committed to fulfilling our own realistic dreams rather than only able to provide a subpar life for a child. Comes down to the fact we are selfish, but at least we recognize this and made the choice early enough to avoid damaging a kid

Category 5:

The thought of having to do kiddie crap every weekend makes me want to shoot myself. I like having the extra money to save for retirement and not worry about braces, summer camp or college tuition. I can travel on a moment’s notice. I can give my all to my job and not have to worry about daycare, sick days, or having to leave my co workers to pick up my slack. I’m the “cool aunt” to all my nieces and nephews. I have more time to do the things that make me happy and productive. My relationship with my guy is not strained due to the constant neediness of children. I don’t want to put my body through pregnancy and childbirth. I can give my dog all the attention he needs and deserves.

If I had to choose one comment to represent the entire survey, it would be this one:

The moment you have children, you’re life ceases to be about yourself. Kids always take priority and I feel like I can do more for this world than just generate offspring.

Or maybe this one:

I honestly feel too lazy. I haven’t achieved enough, and if I had a child I would “just be a mom,” which isn’t enough for me or what I want out of life.

I think this is the real reason why young, unmarried women choose not to prepare or plan for marriage and children . Marriage and children “some day” is like planning for your retirement by winning the lottery. Marriage and children “some day” is an excuse to signal to family and friends that you will eventually want the responsibility of a husband and kids, but that you are justified in being self-centered right now.

We need to move beyond a survey to quantify this, and this U.S. Census data does that:

Childless by choice, not because of men
Childless by choice, not because of men failing to “man up”

These quotations are very troubling if you are a young man who has been serious about obtaining STEM degrees, saving money by not traveling, and making a plan to have a marriage and family that will serve God. I am seeing real hostility in young, unmarried Christian women to the idea that marriage will impose responsibilities, expectations and obligations on them. And their parents, relatives, friends and co-workers are doing nothing to detect and counter this attitude. As Lindsay argued on this blog before, the marriage / children plan is an excellent way for Christians to make a difference. It will take a lot of work, but it makes much more of a difference for the kingdom than just doing whatever makes you feel happy.

A friend of mine named Bee commented on an early version of this post::

Sad to say this but many Christian voices are encouraging Christian women to travel, date around and delay marriage and childbirth. Here are several negative voices:

Mandy Hale is a Christian woman who is mid 30’s, never married and has wasted years in travel and bad relationships. She has a large twitter following. She promotes her travel oriented, feelings oriented lifestyle.

http://thesinglewoman.net/about/

Christian counselor Stephen Arteburn tells of encouraging his daughter to travel and date around and not think about marriage until her late 20’s. Unfortunately, no one can flip a switch on their 28th birthday and quickly get married to a quality guy. Also, late marriage for women means having more than 1 or 2 children is risky.

[…]Bskillet81 found evangelical american princesses (EAP) obsessed with travel, entitlement, feelings, and personal fulfillment.

https://societyofphineas.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/evangelical-american-princess/

I just read some of Mandy’s quotes from GoodReads and she is certifiably nuts.

Bible study: responsibilities and obligations in Philippians 1-4

(Note: this video illustrates an infantry tactic where one group monitors the movement of another group. And then they switch roles. This is called “bounding overwatch”)

Here are some parts of Philippians that speak to an issue that I think is a problem today for many Christians – self-centeredness. I have three parts of Philippians to present below on that topic.

1) The importance of fellowship – preparing to work together with other Christians towards some end:

Phil 1:3-11:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Some Christians find it difficult to “participate in the gospel” with anyone because they feel uncomfortable with responsibilities, expectations or obligations to others. In my experience, people who shun responsibilities, obligations and expectations can improve this by taking Paul’s advice – grow in real knowledge and all discernment. In my experience, I have found that people who shy away from responsibilities, expectations and obligations do so because they are afraid of failing. They are proud and don’t want to look bad if they fail to perform something that they are expected to perform. Christians should not shy away from growing though, because growing is what helps us to be better partners in the gospel. We should try to read hard things, study hard things, and take the hardest jobs we can do – so that we build up our tolerance for responsibilities, obligations and expectations. People who do hard jobs like computer programming or nursing know that that you always struggle to learn difficult things and there is always the risk of looking incompetent. But we accept the risk of looking stupid and being judged and this builds a level of comfort with responsibilities, obligations and expectations. That comfort level with responsibilities, obligations and expectations that you get from doing hard things can only help you be a better partner in the gospel.

2) The importance of not being self-centered, but instead being focused on the needs of others:

Phil 2:1-8:

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

And Phil 2:19-23:

19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.

Nothing very complicated here, it’s important to look out for the interests of others and to be concerned about their welfare. I think it’s a good idea to be practical about this, and instead of just expressing opinions like “I care”, try to find out what needs to be done and do it. The important thing is that it’s good to be focused on other people, and not on ourselves, and to think of the interests of others, not our own interests. That point about looking out for other people’s interests is said twice, once in each passage from chapter 2 I quoted above.

3) People who are doing good work for the Lord have needs:

Phil 4:10-18:

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.

I think if you are friends with a person and they are working on some task or other for the gospel, then it’s a good idea to be sensitive to their needs, and be open to caring for those needs. Your goal should not be to make excuses for why you don’t have to do anything to help them. In my case, finances are not a problem, so I don’t have that need. I use money to supply the needs of people that I partner with in the gospel, though. Instead, I have other needs that people can help with – for example, after a stressful day of work, I am always looking for people to play games with me. Some of my friends show an interest in that, and others don’t. The good things that I do for God are not free, and it matters a lot to me whether those who know me want to listen to me and then take responsibility for making sure that I keep functioning and doing the things that I do for God. We have to have an eye out to maintain people who are doing good things for God – not just take it for granted that it will continue. Sometimes, it is not just sending money (gifts), it can be other love languages like touch, service, quality time and words of encouragement. But turning away from the needs of others is not good for us.

Survey: women explain why they avoid having children

Is it OK to tell women they are wrong?
Are women today genuinely interested in marriage and children, or do they have other plans?

This article comes from the leftist Huffington Post.

They write:

The Huffington Post and YouGov asked 124 women why they choose to be childfree. Their motivations ranged from preferring their current lifestyles (64 percent) to prioritizing their careers (9 percent) — a.k.a. fairly universal things that have motivated men not to have children for centuries. To give insight into the complex, layered decisions women make, HuffPost asked childfree readers to discuss the reasons they have chosen not to have kids and gathered 270 responses here.

They grouped the responses into 5 categories:

  1. I want to prioritize my career
  2. I don’t like children
  3. I had a bad relationship with my parents
  4. I don’t want the financial responsibility
  5. I like my life as it is

And here are some of the ones that I thought were the most interesting, and pay attention to the ones that include fear-of-missing-out travel, which I blogged about before:

Category 1:

I am a first-generation college graduate in my family. My mother was a single mom my entire childhood, and I was there to see that struggle. Being a parent, for a woman, means for life. Being a parent, for men, seems to be something very different. I understand raising children is a big life change and I don’t want to sell myself short on my potential to become something more and maybe even create change. I am childfree because I want to travel, move, pursue my career wholly and be able to push myself to be an inspiration to other women. If a child comes into my life, it won’t be until I am happy and successful in my work life, and not until I am secure with my finances and a marriage. I don’t want to one day wake up as an old woman wishing I had waited to have children so I could live my own life first, make mistakes, learn new things and find myself. Today kids are not for me.

Category 2:

I’m nearly 47; my boyfriend (domestic partner) of 17 years is nearly 50. I’ve never been pregnant and have taken every precaution to remain childfree. I tolerate other people’s children when I have to. I’m happiest when there are NO children around. I definitely don’t want them in my home. I like my life as it is. My boyfriend and I are both scientists. We also raise snakes and spiders! We like to travel. We travel to ride roller coasters (members of ACE — American Coaster Enthusiasts) and to attend rock concerts. I am also a performer in a senior winter guard. My plate overfloweth! I see no reason to procreate. I would be unhappy. Why be unhappy?

Category 3:

I have a great relationship with my husband. We have the time and money to travel, and that gives us precious memories. I had a bad relationship with my dad, and maybe I’m scared to treat my children like that. I’m very happy with my decision. I have a great relationship with myself too.

Category 4:

My spouse and I have talked in depth about having children. However, we both decided that our desire to travel the world is a financial burden in itself. If we have kids, we will never have the means to travel, and at the end of our life, we would rather be 100 percent committed to fulfilling our own realistic dreams rather than only able to provide a subpar life for a child. Comes down to the fact we are selfish, but at least we recognize this and made the choice early enough to avoid damaging a kid

Category 5:

The thought of having to do kiddie crap every weekend makes me want to shoot myself. I like having the extra money to save for retirement and not worry about braces, summer camp or college tuition. I can travel on a moment’s notice. I can give my all to my job and not have to worry about daycare, sick days, or having to leave my co workers to pick up my slack. I’m the “cool aunt” to all my nieces and nephews. I have more time to do the things that make me happy and productive. My relationship with my guy is not strained due to the constant neediness of children. I don’t want to put my body through pregnancy and childbirth. I can give my dog all the attention he needs and deserves.

If I had to choose one comment to represent the entire survey, it would be this one:

The moment you have children, you’re life ceases to be about yourself. Kids always take priority and I feel like I can do more for this world than just generate offspring.

Or maybe this one:

I honestly feel too lazy. I haven’t achieved enough, and if I had a child I would “just be a mom,” which isn’t enough for me or what I want out of life.

I think this is the real reason why young, unmarried women choose not to prepare or plan for marriage and children . Marriage and children “some day” is like planning for your retirement by winning the lottery. Marriage and children “some day” is an excuse to signal to family and friends that you will eventually want the responsibility of a husband and kids, but that you are justified in being self-centered right now.

We need to move beyond a survey to quantify this, and this U.S. Census data does that:

Childless by choice, not because of men
Childless by choice, not because of men failing to “man up”

These quotations are very troubling if you are a young man who has been serious about obtaining STEM degrees, saving money by not traveling, and making a plan to have a marriage and family that will serve God. I am seeing real hostility in young, unmarried Christian women to the idea that marriage will impose responsibilities, expectations and obligations on them. And their parents, relatives, friends and co-workers are doing nothing to detect and counter this attitude. As Lindsay argued on this blog before, the marriage / children plan is an excellent way for Christians to make a difference. It will take a lot of work, but it makes much more of a difference for the kingdom than just doing whatever makes you feel happy.

UPDATE: Commenter Bee comments below:

Sad to say this but many Christian voices are encouraging Christian women to travel, date around and delay marriage and childbirth. Here are several negative voices:

Mandy Hale is a Christian woman who is mid 30’s, never married and has wasted years in travel and bad relationships. She has a large twitter following. She promotes her travel oriented, feelings oriented lifestyle.

http://thesinglewoman.net/about/

Christian counselor Stephen Arteburn tells of encouraging his daughter to travel and date around and not think about marriage until her late 20’s. Unfortunately, no one can flip a switch on their 28th birthday and quickly get married to a quality guy. Also, late marriage for women means having more than 1 or 2 children is risky.

http://www.amazon.com/This-One-Simple-Dates-Finding-ebook/dp/B006BEETVK/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1436189794&sr=8-5&keywords=steve+arterburn&pebp=1436189798009&perid=07F1AJ7WTWBV04G0N41V

Bskillet81 found evangelical american princesses (EAP) obsessed with travel, entitlement, feelings, and personal fulfillment.

https://societyofphineas.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/evangelical-american-princess/

I just read some of Mandy’s quotes from GoodReads and she is certifiably nuts.

Are pastors and churches doing a good job of preparing women for marriage?

Disclaimer: This post mostly targets young, unmarried women.

Let’s start with famous pastor Mark Driscoll explaining how men are to blame for single motherhood:

Part of it is the unintended consequences of divorce. Forty percent of kids go to bed at night without a father. Not to be disparaging toward single moms, but if you’re a single mom and you’re working 60 hours a week, and you’ve got a boy, and he’s home all by himself with no parents and no dad, he’s just going to be hanging out with his buddies, feeding himself pizza rolls.

The number one consumer of online pornography is 12- to 17-year-old boys. What that means is he’s home eating junk food, drinking Monster energy drinks, downloading porn, masturbating and screwing around with his friends. That really doesn’t prepare you for responsible adulthood. That’s a really sad picture, especially if you’re a single gal hoping to get married someday. You’re like: “Seriously, that’s the candidate pool? You’ve got to be kidding me.” That’s why 41 percent of births right now are to unmarried women. A lot of women have decided: “I’m never going to find a guy who is actually dependable and responsible to have a life with. So I’ll just get a career and have a baby and just intentionally be a single mother because there are no guys worth spending life with.”

First, notice how Driscoll is apparently clueless about the fact that many single mothers have lots of children precisely so that they don’t have to work, and can just live off of welfare. But that doesn’t fit his narrative.

My main point, though, is that the Bible says that premarital sex is wrong for men and women, but Mark Driscoll knows better – he thinks that it is only wrong for men. And that the consequences of it can all be blamed on men. Driscoll also says that Christian women who choose to have recreational premarital sex with non-Christian men should expect those men to commit to them. He also has said men should not pass over single mothers, although the sociological data shows that single mothers are more likely to divorce if they do marry, which is bad for men financially. The same is true for women who cohabitate – there’s a higher risk of divorce if they do eventually marry the person they are cohabitating with.

If you look at the sociological data, single motherhood by choice is extremely harmful to the child- we should not be condoning this by telling women “it’s not your fault, it’s the fault of bad men, so just go on and keep choosing bad men!” As my friend and fellow woman-blamer Dina would say, “No, Baby, No!”

To respond to this problem, here is a post was written by Lindsay.

First the picture she posted:

Focus on the Family says: blame the man
Focus on the Family: blame the man for what the woman does

Now here is what Lindsay says about the image above:

Focus on the Family recently posted this meme on their page.

At first glance, many people might be tempted to agree with it. But the statement in the poster is actually false.

The truth is that there are plenty of loving, gentle men who are worthy of respect but whose wives are not responding properly to their love and gentleness. Plenty of women have fallen for the feminist ideas that they should never submit or let a man lead them and will be difficult to live with, no matter how wonderful their man is. Even among women who are not feminists, it’s difficult for many women to follow a husband’s leadership because our sinful nature is in rebellion against God’s plan.

Submission and following our husbands is something that must be learned, not something we’re born with or develop naturally. Women aren’t naturally good and kind any more than men are. We’re all fallen. We have to work to develop good habits and learn to do what God wants of us.

It certainly is easier for women to follow a loving, gentle man, but the poster is wrong in assuming that the only barriers to a woman following her man are his flaws. That simply isn’t true. Women also have to overcome their own flaws that stand in the way of the proper relationship they were meant to have.

Unfortunately, this attitude that women are naturally good and that men are the flawed ones that need to change is very prevalent, even among Christians. Imagine the outrage people would have if the scenario was reversed and the poster said something like this:

“Men are usually comfortable being kind and loving to their wives if their wives are submissive, keep up their appearance, and respect them.”

People would be up in arms over such a statement that assumes that men are always wonderful if women will just behave as they should. Why is it any different if the assumption is that women are always wonderful if men are behaving properly? Both are wrong. Both sexes are responsible for their own actions, regardless of what the other person in the marriage does.

Note that the Bible does not qualify the command in Ephesians 5 that women should submit to their husbands by making it conditional on anything that a man has to do. A man has separate duties, and those are not conditional on anything a woman has to do, either. He has to get up and go to work to provide for the family, whether she does what she is supposed to do or not. It’s a moral obligation. The command to not deny each other sex except temporarily and by mutual consent is not conditional on anyone’s behavior. NO SEX-WITHHOLDING, if you believe the Bible. It doesn’t matter if you are feel happy or unhappy, you are obligated. That’s what it means to take responsibility to perform an obligation!

What I have been seeing lately is older Christian women telling younger Christian women not to take seriously the obligations of complementarianism, but to instead make sure they choose a man who will let their desires rule. As someone who is used to not getting my own way, but instead putting God first, I find the idea that my resources will be redirected to making my wife feel good rather than serving God as a team to be absolutely horrifying and unacceptable. I have been entrusted with significant resources by God, and much is expected of me and my marriage. I really wish women would understand this – I have a Boss and my purpose in life is to serve him effectively. We are in a battle here in this culture, and there is a lot I want to do. I want a wife who will sacrifice her own happiness and needs as much as I have, and help me to serve my Boss. She needs to have experiences that prepare her character for that role. I am not asking for any more self-denial and self-sacrifice than I am willing to do myself, and I am not asking for her to do these things for me, but for our Boss.

As someone who has made sacrifices to prepare for marriage in areas like chastity, education, career, savings, apologetics ministry, etc., I am often shocked when I meet women who have – throughout their entire lives – always done what felt good to them. And yet many of those women tell me what a great Christian wife and mother they would make. I often find a huge mismatch of education, career, financial assets and chastity between men and women in relationships, and I believe that much of it results from pastors and church leaders giving Christian women this implicit green light to let their feelings and desires override the plain meaning of the Bible. Christian women need to understand that doing whatever feels good to you over and over is not consistent with the example of Jesus, nor moral teachings of the New Testament as a wholeMarriage is hard work, and you need to train yourself to get used to it by repeated exposure to experiences of self-denial, self-sacrifice and self-control. If your preparation for marriage is studying what feels good, working wherever feels good, spending money in order to feel good, etc. you are not preparing for marriage. There is no “happy path” to a great marriage.

Greg Koukl has a wonderful line: “the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle”. That’s right. Lindsay and her husband have been married for five years*, and they have never shouted at one another once. That takes wisdom. We ought to be listening to people like Lindsay and her husband about marriage. I know I listen to them. If you want to know what to do to have a good marriage, why don’t you just ask Lindsay? Similarly, my best friend Dina has an extremely stressful job dealing with difficult customers and life-or-death situations every day. She has so much responsibility at work that she makes my job look like a boiling an egg. And yet whenever I ask her for anything, e.g. – “play a game of Memoir ’44 with me”, she almost always does it, even when she doesn’t feel like it. I ask her why, and she says “because although you are very demanding, your needs are easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy compared to what I had to deal with today at work!” That’s why I encourage women to do hard things.

*=Today is their 5-year anniversary! Congratulations, Doug and Lindsay! I admire you both so much, and you make me feel validated about my vision for marriage, and my high standards.