Category Archives: Polemics

Should Christian men expect a wife / mother candidate to know how to defend the Christian worldview?

C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you
C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you

Over the weekend I debated with Christian feminists about marriage on The Transformed Wife Facebook page. At one point, I asserted that Christian women ought to have some knowledge of how to defend their faith using scientific and historical evidence. Some women asked me: “are you joking?” In this post,  I’ll explain why I’m serious, and then I’ll ask them some questions of my own.

Let’s start with Jesus. Jesus set an example by showing the importance of knowing how to answer questions and challenges from skeptics in the New Testament. His favorite way to answer a challenge was by using evidence to support his truth claims.

So, take this story that’s in Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 9:1-8 and Luke 5:17-26. This story is accepted even by skeptical historians because it’s in three different books, and one of them is early (Mark).

In each version of the story, there are 4 steps:

  1. Jesus forgives the sins of a paralyzed man
  2. The Pharisees say that he doesn’t have authority to forgive sins
  3. Jesus miraculously heals the paralyzed man
  4. Jesus explains the evidence of the healing supports his claim that he has authority to forgive sins

And this is an example that you will find repeated in many places in the life of Jesus. You can see it in the Old Testament as well, where God performs miracles so that people who don’t believe in his existence or respect the Scriptures can still be convinced.

Christian apologetics is the skill of being able to give a defense for the Christian worldview when presented with a challenge from a non-Christian.

So, who has to be ready with a defense?

Look at 1 Peter 3:15-16:

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

This passage applies to every one who claims to be a disciple of Jesus, whether they like to prepare a defense or not. How much work must you put into it? It depends on the sophistication of the challenges you get. In the mountains of Pakistan, you don’t need to know much because there might not be a sophisticated challenge. In an American society filled with college graduates, the challenges are more difficult. So you will need to prepare a lot more, because the challenges will be a lot harder.

Those who take this passage seriously are doing something difficult, and time-consuming, in order to serve Christ. Buying books costs money. Reading books takes time. Debating with non-Christians can make you look bad to others. But the Bible commands us to be ready with answers for the people around us. Sometimes, doing what the Bible says makes us feel bad, or look bad to others. But we have do what the Bible says anyway. Part of being a real Christian is being obedient even if it feels bad or makes you look bad.

William Lane Craig on apologetics and the culture
William Lane Craig on apologetics and the culture

What’s in an apologetics book?

So, with that said, let’s look at the table of contents of my favorite introduction to Christian apologetics, which is “Is God Just a Human Invention?” written by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow.

In that book, you will find 18 topics.

  1. Is Faith Irrational? (Commentary by: Gregory Koukl)
  2. Are Science and Christianity at Odds? (Commentary by: John Warwick Montgomery)
  3. Are Miracles Possible? (Commentary by: Gary R. Habermas)
  4. Is Darwinian Evolution the Only Game in Town? (Commentary by: William A. Dembski)
  5. How Did the Universe Begin? (Commentary by: R. Douglas Geivett)
  6. How Did Life Begin? (Commentary by: Fazale R. Rana)
  7. Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Commentary by: Jay W. Richards)
  8. Has Science Shown There Is No Soul? (Commentary by: Dale Fincher and Jonalyn Fincher)
  9. Is God Just a Human Invention? (Commentary by: Garry DeWeese)
  10. Is Religion Dangerous? (Commentary by: Douglas Groothuis)
  11. Does God Intend for Us to Keep Slaves? (Commentary by: Paul Copan)
  12. Is Hell a Divine Torture Chamber? (Commentary by: Frank Turek)
  13. Is God a Genocidal Bully? (Commentary by: Clay Jones)
  14. Is Christianity the Cause of Dangerous Sexual Repression? (Commentary by: Kerby Anderson)
  15. Can People Be Good Without God? (Commentary by: Mark D. Linville)
  16. Is Evil Only a Problem for Christians? (Commentary by: Randy Alcorn)
  17. What Good Is Christianity? (Commentary by: Glenn S. Sunshine)
  18. Why Jesus Instead of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? (Commentary by: Darrell L. Bock)

Prominent atheist scholars are quoted in each chapter to introduce the challenges, and then scholarly arguments and evidence are presented to defend the Christian worldview. The language is simple enough, but the material is solid enough to use in a real debate. I would say that introductory books like this one are more than enough to equip you for everyone who will challenge you.

Why are these 18 topics important? Because these are the questions that atheists ask. These are the questions that cause Christians to leave the faith. These are the questions that your children will face in high school and college, which might cause them to leave the faith.

Let’s start with chapter one. One of the most prominent arguments by atheists is that faith is irrational. This chapter allows you to define faith using the Bible’s definition of faith, which relies on logic and evidence.

Atheists also say that Christianity is at war with science. In chapter 2, they discuss the history of science and how Christianity provided the framework that allowed scientific method to take root and flourish.

Atheists like to claim that miracles are impossible. Chapter 3 defends the view that God, if he exists, is capable of interacting with his created world.

Atheists love to put forward Darwinism as means to deny that God is the designer of life. Chapter 4 explains the concept of intelligent design, and why intelligent design is a better explanation for the history of life.

Atheists love to talk about how the universe has always existed, and there’s no need for a Creator. Chapter 5 contains a philosophical argument that is supported by mainstream science to argue that the universe had a beginning, just like the Bible says.

Atheists love to argue that life can emerge from non-life, and the process is simple. Chapter 6 is written by a biochemist, and it takes a look at the real complexity of the simplest living cell.

Atheists like to argue that the universe itself is just an accident, and there is no need for a Designer. Chapter 7 introduces the scientific evidence for fine-tuning and habitability.

Atheists like to say that there is no soul and no afterlife. Chapter 8 gives some arguments for the existence of the soul.

Atheists like to argue that Christians invent God because God makes them feel good. But chapter 9 explains that having an all-powerful God who can hold humans accountable is the last thing any human would want to invent.

Atheists like to talk about how religion, with it’s habit of teaching to believe in things that can’t be tested, causes religious people to do a lot of harm. Chapter 10 takes a look at the real record of Christianity as a force for good in the world.

Atheists like to talk about slavery in the Bible. Chapter 11 talks about what the Bible really says, and provides some rational responses to the accusation.

Atheists like to talk about eternal punishment in Hell isn’t a just punishment for just getting a few questions wrong on a theology exam. Chapter 12 provides an explanation and defense of the concept of Hell.

Atheists love to talk about how God commanded the Israelites to attack their enemies in the Bible. Chapter 13 explains who their enemies really were, and what was really happening in those wars.

Atheists feel that unrestricted sexual activity is very healthy and normal, and that the Biblical prohibitions outside of male-female marriage are repressive and unhealthy.  Chapter 14 explains why God has these rules in place, and supports his rules with evidence.

Atheists love to assert that they don’t need God, because they can behave morally on their own. Chapter 15 explains how to answer this claim by talking about how well atheism grounds objective moral values, objective moral duties, free will and moral accountability: the minimum requirements for objective morality.

Atheists think that the mere existence of natural disasters and human immorality are incompatible with the God of the Bible. Chapter 16 explains why this argument doesn’t work, and why even the concept of evil requires God to exist.

I have an atheist friend in my office who can’t defeat my scientific arguments for the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning and the origin of life. But still, he says to me, even if God exists, why would that matter to my life? Chapter 17 explains what difference Christianity makes in a person’s life.

Atheists think that the life of Jesus has no relevance to their life, and that he has nothing to offer them anyway. Chapter 18 explains the uniqueness of Jesus and explains why his resurrection is relevant to our lives today.

It’s important to understand that this book is not on the level of A. W. Tozer, G.K. Chesterton, Francis Chan, John Piper, etc. Those authors write for a Christian audience and therefore they do not equip you to answer realistic challenges from non-Christians. But the apologetics book we looked at actually equips you to answer challenges from non-Christians using logical arguments and evidence from mainstream history and science. You can use the material in that book in discussions outside the confines of your home and your church.

Dr. William Lane Craig says churches aren't preparing Christians to give an answer
Dr. W. L. Craig: churches don’t prepare Christians to answer skeptics

Wife candidates ought to know apologetics

So, back to my original point about how some Christian feminists responded when I said that during courtship, I ask women questions about how much preparation they have done to answer objections from atheists, like the ones answered in this book. Am I joking?

Well, I think the problem is that Christian feminists don’t understand how Christian men view marriage. Christian men are interested in marriage because they think that their marriage will be an enterprise that produces a return for God. They like the idea of having a clean, comfortable home to host debate viewings and discussions over dessert with skeptics. They like the idea of raising children who will be effective and influential. Men don’t see marriage a means of making us feel better, or having fun, or getting our peers to approve of us. We see it as a way to promote Jesus’ agenda in the world. A Christian man loves his wife precisely because she is his partner in serving God.

So, some questions for all the Christian feminists out there. Are you aware of the actual objections that non-Christians have to the Christian worldview? Have you ever put in any effort to prepare to respond to these objections? Have you trained yourself to be calm and persuasive during discussions about Christianity?

Reading devotions or authors like Rachel Hollis, Beth Moore, and Jen Hatmaker won’t teach a Christian woman anything useful about defending the Christian worldview against atheist objections. And those books also won’t teach you how to evaluate a man to see whether he knows how to defend the Christian worldview, either. You have to study apologetics to know how to evaluate how much a candidate for husband and father roles knows about defending his faith. You have to protect yourself from men who lie about being Christians.

Having a rationally-grounded Christian worldview is essential to the roles of wife and mother. A Christian man cannot be confident about the trustworthiness of a Christian woman’s convictions unless she demonstrates her ability to defend those convictions to non-Christians in the ordinary way that she can surely defend other truth claims in areas where she does have the knowledge. If I ask a Christian nurse to defend the claim that germs are real, she will appeal to logic and evidence. I expect her to have put in as much work into defending the claims of Christianity, and to use the same methods: logic and evidence.

Did “thousands of women” die in “back alley abortions” before Roe v. Wade?

I get into debates about abortion, and sometimes my opponent will complain that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, then thousands of women would die in illegal abortions. Well, if that ever happens to you, this post will help you to know how to respond to it.

First of all, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, then each of the 50 states would pass legislation deciding when abortions would be legal.

Here’s a map taken from the Washington Examiner:

Abortion rights after Roe v. Wade is overturned
Abortion rights after Roe v. Wade is overturned

Red states are more pro-life than blue states in this map. For example, New York is ranked #6, and Tennessee is ranked #45.

So, if a woman did have irresponsible sex with a hot bad boy, then she easily could terminate her child in one of the blue states.

Second, the number thrown around by abortion advocates is not accurate. It’s simply not true that “thousands of women” were dying from poorly-performed abortions when abortion was still illegal. Actually, abortions were performed by trained medical personnel, but it just wasn’t reported to the police.

Here’s a recent article from the radically leftist Washington Post:

Erica Sackin, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, directed us to a 2014 policy statement issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): “It is estimated that before 1973, 1.2 million U.S. women resorted to illegal abortion each year and that unsafe abortions caused as many as 5,000 annual deaths.”

There is no citation in the statement for the estimate of “as many as 5,000 annual deaths,” even though many of the other sentences are carefully documented. None of the citations around this sentence supports the figure, and there is no explanation about how it was calculated.

[…]Meanwhile, Sackin also sent a variety of reports, many of which were referenced in a footnote in a document published by NARAL Pro-Choice America. One of the citations especially caught our eye: Frederick Taussig, “Abortion Spontaneous and Induced: Medical and Social Aspects,” (1936).

Why was a study from 1936 being cited? Because in 1936, we didn’t have antibiotics! People were dying all the time from any kind of surgery – not just abortion.

More:

The advent of antibiotics such as penicillin and improved medical procedures suddenly made abortion less risky. Another prominent researcher, Christopher Tietze, argued in a 1948 paper that the number of deaths from abortion was rapidly declining because of three reasons: contraceptive methods had improved so fewer women were getting pregnant, abortion providers were getting better at avoiding infections, and many lives had been saved because of the introduction of sulfa drugs and penicillin.

[…]The data collected by Tietze showed 2,677 deaths from abortion in 1933, compared with 888 in 1945, with much of the decline in septic cases associated with illegal abortions. (The numbers also include deaths from “therapeutic abortions,” permitted by law, and “spontaneous abortions.”)

By 1959, a leading researcher wrote: “Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians. In 1957, there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind. In New York City in 1921, there were 144 abortion deaths, in 1951 there were only 15.”

The writer was Mary Steichen Calderone, at the time medical director of Planned Parenthood. She attributed the decline in the mortality rate to antibiotics and the fact that 90 percent of illegal abortions were done by trained physicians.

OK, so abortion advocates cite the study from 1936, which already relies on questionable estimates, because they know that the later numbers are far, far lower – thanks to the widespread use of antibiotics. They’re lying, essentially, because lying helps them to persuade people who think with their feelings, and don’t look too closely at facts.

My third point is simple. Even if women hurt themselves during abortions, that wouldn’t be a reason to legalize abortion. Bank robbers hurt themselves during bank robberies, and drug dealers hurt themselves during drug deals. We do not legalize criminal activities just because criminals get hurt during the commission of those activities. So the real question is, what is the unborn? If the unborn is a living human being, then abortion on demand takes the life of an innocent human being without justification, and should therefore be illegal.

UPDATE: My pro-life friend Nathan sent me a fourth response:

There is a difference today that did not exist in 1973. We have a pro-life movement. We have over 2,000 pregnancy care ministries and clinics operating throughout the continental United States. I highly doubt these clinics will just disappear overnight if abortion became illegal nationwide. Women and children will still be in need, and the free market principles that enable charity to flourish will be there to help.

Given this reality, will proponents of abortion now finally step forward to help provide the support to women necessary so they never have to choose a back alley abortion? Given how they have worked themselves into a panic about rusty coat hangers, it seems they would be the most motivated to do so. The fact many don’t seem to want to do so is telling: They just want to justify their own support for abortion, regardless of whether it helps women or not.

Famous pick-up artist Roosh V urges men not to act like clowns for casual sex

Fifty Shades of Grey was very popular with women
Fifty Shades was popular with women, including “Christian” women – why?

Is it meaningful and rewarding for men to spend their time and money pursuing casual sex? I would expect that men who tried and failed to obtain casual sex to say that it’s a waste of time and money. But what about a man who was so successful at obtaining casual sex that he wrote bestselling books about it? Did he find his achievements meaningful in the end?

Roosh V is a well-known pick-up artist who is a master at seducing women. He’s traveled all over the world and seduced many women from many countries.

In a post from April 2019, he reaches a startling conclusion about his success:

I began pursuing women for mostly sexual reasons in 2001. I must’ve logged tens of thousands of hours into the task. I’ve been also traveling or living abroad near continuously since 2007. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to fornicate, fornicating, traveling to more effectively fornicate, and writing over a million words about fornication. What did I learn from all that? It’s an experience that gets more dull with repetition, like any other experience. However, it also leaves you with a massive hangover where you find yourself at a loss. What was the point of all that? Is there anything I’ve truly gained? What lasting glory have I achieved? If I wasn’t a writer, I would have nothing to “show” for my efforts besides memories that are as likely to make me cringe as give me happiness.

If society were healthy, and if women were more traditional, most of my time would have been spent writing different kinds of books, maybe concerning religion or history. I would have a family, and spend much of my time nurturing the love between them without degenerate interference from the government or cultural elites. […]While there is nothing in life that is solid, my family and community would give me a stronger feeling of continuity. Tomorrow, things that are likely to be here would still be there, compared to the easy-come-easy-go modern lifestyle where putting your penis inside a girl is not even close to a guarantee you’ll see her again, and where any job you have, or apartment you live in, is as transitory as the next bus that rolls down the street.

[…]As I approach 40 years of age, I see most of my hedonistic and travel pursuits as expensive life lessons than a source of meaning. My nature, and I believe the nature of most masculine men I meet, is one of creation, strength, and provision for family, things we’re increasingly not allowed to do, or allowed to do only at impossible cost.

Indeed. Speaking for myself, one of the main reasons that I’ve avoided casual sex (or premarital sex of any kind) is because from earliest days, I could not stomach the idea of a woman that I had sex with walking away. So, my education, career and finance decisions were oriented to winning the heart of one woman who would commit to me for life, so that we could built something nice for the Lord together.

In another post, from March 2014, Roosh explains why casual sex didn’t provide him with validation:

There is definitely not a single woman alive in the Western world who needs a man. While in the past a woman had to put forth effort to obtain a husband who would help her survive, today she is protected by a welfare state that ensures she will never go hungry or spend one night on the street.

[…]From a young age, girls are brainwashed to believe that they don’t need men and that the key to their happiness is self-empowerment by sleeping around and becoming a corporate wage slave. It’s hard to dispute the notion that a woman who believes she doesn’t need a man won’t make as good of a relationship partner as one who does. She will treat you as a distraction to her more important job, girls’ nights out, and social networking validation happy time. Men have become an utterly replaceable and expendable commodity in a girl’s life. Her interest in a man is not unlike her interest in a new television show or Apple product, and your only hope is to have sex with her as many times as possible until her attraction diminishes and she moves on to the next guy in line.

Women don’t seek out comfort or stability in men anymore—they seek entertainment. They seek distraction. They seek hedonistic pleasure. […]Once the entertainment or novelty you provide her declines—and it inevitably will—she moves on to something or someone else. In essence, the only way you can keep a girl is if you adopt the mentality of a soap opera writer, adding a cliffhanger to the end of each episode that keeps a woman interested when being a good man no longer does.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a man who has improved himself over the years to be the best that his genes allow—I see a glittery skirt that a girl encounters in the mall. Is the skirt too expensive or is it on sale? Is there only one left of her size or is the rack full of them? Does she already have something similar or is it totally novel? Does her friends think it’s cute or just alright? After trying it on, does it flatter her body or make her look fat? Either she makes the impulsive decision to buy the skirt or not, because odds are she won’t come back for it. There are so many stores with so many skirts that she will soon forget it, forever. We are like glittery pieces of fashion to women—items that she truly doesn’t need. Not only has she already collected so many of them, but she can easily obtain more within walking distance from where she lives. She can even browse online from home while in her pajamas through a nearly unlimited selection.

We are not men in the traditional sense—we are clowns.

Well, I’m a virgin who never spent money or time pursuing casual sex, and precisely because I refuse to be any woman’s clown. It’s very easy for a man to not be a woman’s clown. All he has to do is choose a woman who will let him lead her, instead of a woman who wants him to entertain her. Women use the offer of premarital sex in order to get men to stop trying to lead them. Men who don’t mind acting like clowns in order to get sex will take this bargain. Men who expect women to rise up to the roles of wife and mother will reject the bargain. A Christian man’s goal is to lead a woman away from her self-centeredness, feelings, desires and need for peer-approval, so that she can perform the roles of wife and mother.

How to avoid becoming a clown for casual sex

So, let me give some advice for men about how to get into relationships where they can lead a woman upward, and avoid becoming her clown. It begins and ends with the woman you choose, because some women will let you lead, while others will not.

Research (here, here) shows that women who are virgins are more likely to be content in their marriages, and therefore less likely to financially ruin you with a frivolous divorce. Therefore, women who are virgins are to be preferred. Women who abstain from alcohol, drugs and tattoos should be preferred. Women who have a conservative father who they have respected should be preferred. Women who have STEM degrees should be preferred. Women who are debt-free should be preferred. Women who have challenging STEM careers in the private sector should be preferred. Women who don’t want to outsource the education of their children to daycare, public schools, etc. should be preferred. Women who want three or more children should be preferred. Women who think that a man’s earnings should not be taxed to pay for husband-substitute social programs should be preferred. Women who have demonstrated public opposition to no-fault divorce, premarital sex, abortion and same-sex marriage should be preferred. Women who blame and shame other women for choosing hot bad boys should be preferred. Women who can demonstrate knowledge of intermediate-level science apologetics (e.g. Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, Hugh Ross, etc.) should be preferred. (Philosophical and historical apologetics are useful, but are not forceful enough in a debate). Women who avoid fun and thrills (beaches, FOMO travel, reading fiction, thrill-seeking, etc.) should be preferred. Women who serve others (elderly, disabled, etc.) should be preferred.

Basically, you’re looking for someone who is comfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations. You’re looking for someone who respects your demonstrated ability in areas like education, career and finance. (You have led other people to do well in education, career, finances, ministry, etc. right?) You’re looking for someone who lets her logical reasoning override her feelings and intuitions when she makes decisions.

The retreat from male leadership

It used to be the case that you could count on pastors to warn Christian men about wasting their time and money on women who wanted them to be clowns instead of leaders. Even the progressive fideist John Piper wrote against women rebelling against male leadership way back in 1983. Men used to be wary of this desire of women to usurp the leadership role from men. But today, it seems like men are anxious to dance to a woman’s tune – reducing themselves to spineless commodities, like a pair of shoes or a handbag. But men were not designed to be women’s accessories, men were designed to lead. When you tell a woman no to premarital sex, there is the possibility of leading her out of the pig sty of feminism and socialism. But if you say yes to her, you become her clown. If you waste all your 20s and 30s clowning for casual sex, you will have no meaningful legacy.  To any man who works for the Lord, this is unacceptable. Christian men, you were bought at a price, and you are expected to produce a return.

Therefore, focus your attention on an early marriage to a good woman, and avoid the hot bad girls who just want to pump and dump you for their own pointless entertainment. If you can’t find a decent wife, then it’s better to remain a virgin and put points on the board some other way.

William Lane Craig: was Jesus crucified for being a political threat to the Romans?

Let's investigate the historical facts
Let’s investigate the historical facts

I blogged previously about William Lane Craig’s appearance on the Ben Shapiro show. One thing that didn’t seem to come up was Ben’s own explanation for the rapid belief among the followers of Jesus in his bodily resurrection, and his identity as the Jewish Messiah. I guess Dr. Craig did some digging and found out Ben’s view, because he posted a response to Ben on Facebook.

Here it is:

NOTE ON THE BEN SHAPIRO INTERVIEW

I’m grateful to Ben Shapiro for inviting me to appear on his program and for his excellent interview. Prior to going on the show, I prepared a brief on his view that Jesus was a political revolutionary who got himself crucified. As it turned out, the issue never came up, and the brief, like most of them I prepare, remained unused. But I share it here with you in case this issue ever comes up in your conversations.

Jesus as a Violent Revolutionary

This view was suggested by SGF Brandon back in the 1960s but has been virtually universally rejected by scholars. Why?

Four reasons:

1. It would require us to regard as inauthentic all of Jesus’ moral teachings concerning non-violence, turning the other cheek, loving one’s enemies, etc.

John Meier, A Marginal Jew, vol. 3, pp. 566-67:
“Jesus’ inclusive outreach to all of Israel in the end time, his emphasis on mercy and forgiveness, his rejection of retaliation, and his exhortation to love even one’s enemies lay at the opposite end of the Palestinian-Jewish spectrum from violence-prone zealotry.”

2. Roman authorities never regarded Jesus or his followers as enemies.
When Messianic pretenders or prophets arose, the Roman authorities acted pre-emptively, decisively, and ruthlessly to destroy them. For example,
A.D. 36 a Samaritan prophet led people up Mt. Gerizim. Pilate immediately sent cavalry and infantry to attack them and destroy them.
A.D. 45 a man named Theudas led people to the Jordan River to part the waters. Fadus sent cavalry in a surprise attack and killed and captured many.
A.D. 50s a prophet called the Egyptian led followers to the Mt. of Olives to watch the walls of Jerusalem fall. Felix sent Roman troops to slaughter all of them.
But Roman troops were never sent to attack the followers of Jesus, either during his lifetime or after his death.

3. During Jesus’ ministry Palestine was at relative peace.
All of the above examples occurred after Jesus’ death. During Jesus’ lifetime Palestine was basically at peace.

John Meier: “the fatal flaw of this approach is its presupposition that there was one or more organized and armed groups of Jewish revolutionaries active in Palestine c.a. A.D. 28-30. . . . But, as far as the historical record permits us to judge, there were no organized, armed groups of Jewish revolutionaries active during Jesus’ public ministry.”

So obviously Jesus did not lead such a group.

4. The evidence is that Jesus rejected being the Messiah in a militaristic sense.
I agree that Jesus thought of himself as the Messiah, but not in the military sense of a warrior-king.

James D.G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, p. 653: Jesus ignored or refused or rejected the dominant current understanding of the Messiah as a royal and military power like Herod the Great.

Jesus ran contrary to the chief priests’ and the people’s expectations. Mk 15.31-2: “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”

Most Jewish people I talk to don’t really have a thought out explanation for the basic historic facts about Christianity. They tend to treat the New Testament as forbidden, and just keep the bare historical facts about Christianity at arm’s length. So, even if I put forward a minimal facts case for the resurrection, for example, they tend to not want to engage with it. They won’t deny facts, and they won’t put up an alternative explanation. The best response I’ve heard is the one Ben gave: Jesus didn’t achieve the things that Jews expected the Messiah to achieve, so we’re still waiting on the real Messiah. And Dr. Craig’s response to that was, well if Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, and God raised him from the dead, then God thinks that he’s the Messiah.

What I’ve noticed in listening to my favorite Jewish conservatives like Dennis Prager, Ben Shapiro, etc. is that Jews don’t put as much emphasis on testing religious claims as evangelical Protestants do. I have had evangelical Prostestants write to me about all kinds of scientific breakthroughs and historical discoveries, asking me what impact this or that has on the truth of Christianity. In my opinion, even conservative Jews don’t invest as much time into that sort of thing. They seem to be respectful of all religions that produce people who keep to the general moral teachings of the Old Testament. This is nice for me, because I do take those moral teachings seriously. But I remember someone asking Dennis Prager how to choose a religion, and his first rule was not to disrupt your family or community. That is something that no Christian like me could say.

After all, we have this from the founder of Christianity:

Matthew 10:34-38:

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 

35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 

38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Just to be clear, that sword is meant to divide, not do violence, OK? I actually told that verse to my mother when I was breaking with the Islamic religion she was trying to push me into when I was young. She did not like it!

Also, Christians have this:

John 18:36-37:

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

So, Christianity is a truth-centered religion. Getting the beliefs correct comes first, and the good actions follow from that. It’s not primarily about feeling good, about family acceptance, not about community cohesion, or even being a “good person”. It’s about recognizing Jesus for who he is – Lord and Savior – and giving Jesus acknowledgement and respect in your priorities and actions.

Study: couples that delay sexual activity experience higher quality relationships

Relationship stability, quality, communication, satisfaction
Relationship stability, quality, communication, satisfaction

From Family Studies, news about TWO new studies.

Excerpt: (links removed)

[T]wo recently published studies call into question the validity of testing sexual chemistry early in dating.

My colleagues and I published the first study a few years ago in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology. This study involved a national sample of 2,035 married individuals who participated in the popular online couple assessment survey called “RELATE.” We found that the longer a dating couple waits to have sex, the better their relationship is after marriage. In fact, couples who wait until marriage to have sex report higher relationship satisfaction (20% higher), better communication patterns (12% better), less consideration of divorce (22% lower), and better sexual quality (15% better) than those who started having sex early in their dating (see Figure 2). For couples in between—those that became sexually involved later in their dating, but prior to marriage—the benefits were about half as strong.

[…]These patterns were statistically significant even when controlling for a variety of other variables such as respondents’ number of prior sexual partners, education levels, religiosity, and relationship length.

The second study, by Sharon Sassler and her colleagues at Cornell University, also found that rapid sexual involvement has adverse long-term implications for relationship quality. Using data from the Marital and Relationship Survey, which provides information on nearly 600 low- to moderate-income couples living with minor children, their study examined the tempo of sexual intimacy and subsequent relationship quality in a sample of married and cohabiting men and women. Their analyses also suggest that delaying sexual involvement is associated with higher relationship quality across several dimensions.

They discovered that the negative association between sexual timing and relationship quality is largely driven by a link between early sex and cohabitation. Specifically, sexual involvement early in a romantic relationship is associated with an increased likelihood of moving more quickly into living together, which in turn is associated with lower relationship quality. This finding supports Norval Glenn’s hypothesis that sexual involvement may lead to unhealthy emotional entanglements that make ending a bad relationship difficult. As Sassler and her colleagues concluded, “Adequate time is required for romantic relationships to develop in a healthy way. In contrast, relationships that move too quickly, without adequate discussion of the goals and long-term desires of each partner, may be insufficiently committed and therefore result in relationship distress, especially if one partner is more committed than the other” (p. 710).

The rest of the post talks about two reasons why this works: improved partner selection and prioritizing communication and commitment. Improved partner selection occurs because you haven’t committed too much too soon (sexually) and you have time to let things play out to see if you really fit with the other person. And if you take sex off the table, then you have to use other means in order to build emotional intimacy – communication, service, support, etc.

That’s two studies, and there’s a third. Dina sent me this article from the UK Daily Mail about a new study showing the importance of chastity for relationship quality and stability.

Excerpt:

New couples who jump into bed together on the first date do not last as long in relationships as those who wait a new study has revealed.

Using a sample of almost 11,000 unmarried people, Brigham Young University discovered a direct correlation between the length and strength of a partnership and the amount of time they took to have first have sex.

The study showed that those who waited to initiate sexual intimacy were found to have longer and more positive outcomes in their relationships while those who couldn’t help themselves reported that their dalliances struggled to last more than two years.

‘Results suggested that waiting to initiate sexual intimacy in unmarried relationships was generally associated with positive outcomes,’ said the report authored published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

‘This effect was strongly moderated by relationship length, with individuals who reported early sexual initiation reporting increasingly lower outcomes in relationships of longer than two years.’

The study examined four sexual-timing patterns: Having sex prior to dating, initiating sex on the first date or shortly after, having sex after a few weeks of dating, and sexual abstinence.

Each one of these fields yielded different results in relationship satisfaction, stability and communication in dating situations.

Here’s another recent study that shows that if a woman has more than her husband as a premarital sex partner, her risk of divorce increases.

His findings:

Using nationally representative data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, I estimate the association between intimate premarital relationships (premarital sex and premarital cohabitation) and subsequent marital dissolution. I extend previous research by considering relationship histories pertaining to both premarital sex and premarital cohabitation. I find that premarital sex or premarital cohabitation that is limited to a woman’s husband is not associated with an elevated risk of marital disruption.However, women who have more than one intimate premarital relationship have an increased risk of marital dissolution.

Here’s another study that makes it even more clear.

Findings:

Data from the 1988 US National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) were utilized to assess the impact of premarital sexual activity on subsequent marital stability. Among white NSFG subjects first married in 1965-85, virgin brides were significantly less to have become separated or divorced (25%) than women who had not been virgins at marriage (35%).

[…]The lower risk of divorce on the part of white women with no premarital sexual experience persisted even after numerous intervening and background variables were controlled.

If you’re going to talk to a young person about sex, it’s a good idea to use these studies to explain what you lose by having sex too early in the relationship. Although they may respond with anecdotes to refute studies, studies are important because they represent LOTS of data points, not just one or two cherry-picked cases. My view on all this is the Bible’s view – no sex before marriage. But when talking to people about this issue, I find it useful to have evidence ready in order to be convincing in every way possible.

Previously, I blogged on studies that showed that the number of premarital sex partners increases unhappiness in the marriage, which raises the risk of divorce. Read and be wise about sexuality!