Guest post: Some thoughts on marriage, part 1

The following post is a guest post from my friend Andrew, who has the best marriage of anyone I know. The post below is pat one of a two part series. Part two will be out later today.


Some Thoughts on Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

I (Andrew) have been married for 7 years now and thought I would share a couple of things that I’ve learned over this time that I really hadn’t given much thought about before.

Real commitment means no back door!

No one walks down the aisle thinking maybe this marriage will work out okay. Everyone thinks that their marriage will last forever. But with about one third of married couples getting divorced, you need real commitment and a ‘no back door’ policy to make your marriage go the distance.

My wife and I took premarital counseling before we were married. This is something I would highly recommend as it helped us to identify potential stumbling blocks before we actually ran into them. Pre-marital counseling is not about someone telling you what you should do. Rather, it helps you identify and work through things that commonly come between couples and things that might be areas of conflict specifically for you – e.g., finances, expectations, roles, in-laws, etc.

One of the things that my Christian pastor made very sure that my wife and I understood before he would marry us is that marriage is meant to be for life, and if you want it to be for life you have to make sure there is no ‘back door’. You need to both go into marriage with the understanding that this is a permanent arrangement and that there is no way out, no back door.

In my vow I made it clear to my wife that I was ‘in’ for better or for worse. It’s the ‘for worse’ part that you really need to be committed for. Every marriage will eventually experience some difficult times, and it’s during those really challenging times that your marriage will be put to the test, not during the easy times.

Marriage is not about you! But it can help you grow!

Most of us automatically take care of ourselves first, me included. However, I soon came to realize that marriage is in fact about elevating your spouse and putting them first. It’s not giving 50% and getting 50%. It’s about giving 100% and expecting nothing in return. It’s about building your spouse up to be all they can be.

One of the painful benefits of marriage is that it will make you a better person. I say ‘painful’ because in marriage everything is magnified. If you have a disagreement with a friend you can just put some distance between each other and things will probably work themselves out. In marriage you can’t put distance between you and your spouse because they are always there. You have to deal with things. This is what makes you a better person, because you find out things about yourself that you didn’t realize before and you have an opportunity either to work on these things or to harden your heart.

For example, I always thought of myself as an incredibly patient person, but over time I have found that this is in fact something that I need to work on. In his book “Sacred Marriage”, author Gary Thomas suggests that the purpose of marriage is to make us holy, not (only) happy.

UPDATE: I spotted this related post on the importance of marriage on Hot Air.

Friday night funny: Obama’s plan to undo waterboarding damage

I have a double feature for this week’s Friday Night Funny.

First, Scott Ott writes about Obama’s new interrogation policy for terrorists. (H/T Scrappleface)

Excerpt:

Although aggressive interrogation techniques on three terrorists produced intel that likely prevented major attacks on American cities, most experts agree that there’s no way to know whether less vigorous methods might have produced the same results.

“In hindsight,” the president said, “it might have been better to gain the trust of men like Khalid Sheik Mohammed by speaking gently with them, and offering small gifts like Pop-Tarts, or Nair.”

Next, Frank J. Fleming writes about Obama’s plan to fix the national security mess, (7 years free of terrorist attacks), of the Bush administration.

Excerpt:

“We were shocked when we learned the full extent of the inappropriate techniques approved by the CIA under the previous administration,” White House press secretary Robert L. Gibbs told reporters. “That’s one of the reasons we made the memos public. We want everyone to know what was done, supposedly in our name, and that this administration does not condone such actions.”

The president plans to go even further, Gibbs said.

“It would be unconscionable for this administration to look the other way, just because those tactics achieved results. It was wrong to use them, and we should not benefit from their use,” Gibbs stated. “The president had directed that, since those tactics obtained information that prevented a major attack on Los Angeles, it is only right that we carry out the attack on ourselves.”

Did you miss last week’s Friday Night Funny: Media not sure how to cover Obama’s crime spree.

Happy Friday!

How the left abandoned argument for coercion and intimidation

Steven Crowder is funny and I hope that his video about bullying from the left this will encourage everyone who disagrees about these issues to be more civil about it instead of calling people names and intimidating one another.

I think it’s wrong to intimidate people who disagree with you, e.g. – by making them lose a beauty contest. Dragging people into court and making them lose their jobs, pay fines or publicly apologize, etc., just because they don’t agree with your view, is WRONG.

Let’s have everybody concentrate on winning arguments about issues, not on coercion, insults and intimidation.

UPDATE: I posted a while back on whether it should be illegal to publicly defend traditional marriage.

How childhood experiences shape our view of economics

Last time, we looked at how childhood experiences influence our views of religion. This time, I want to go over an article from the Cato Institute from the famous Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick. This article will give you insights into why leftist academics are against capitalism, and what specifically causes them to have that belief.

Here’s a blurb about Nozick:

Robert Nozick is Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University and the author of Anarchy, State, and Utopia and other books. This article is excerpted from his essay “Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?” which originally appeared in The Future of Private Enterprise, ed. Craig Aronoff et al. (Georgia State University Business Press, 1986) and is reprinted in Robert Nozick, Socratic Puzzles (Harvard University Press, 1997).

Nozick’s thesis is that the school environment encourages “wordsmith intellectuals” to be hostile to free market capitalism and prefer centralized systems.

First, let’s see what a wordsmith intellectual is:

By intellectuals, I do not mean all people of intelligence or of a certain level of education, but those who, in their vocation, deal with ideas as expressed in words, shaping the word flow others receive. These wordsmiths include poets, novelists, literary critics, newspaper and magazine journalists, and many professors. It does not include those who primarily produce and transmit quantitatively or mathematically formulated information (the numbersmiths) or those working in visual media, painters, sculptors, cameramen. Unlike the wordsmiths, people in these occupations do not disproportionately oppose capitalism. The wordsmiths are concentrated in certain occupational sites: academia, the media, government bureaucracy.

Nozick’s argument is that wordsmiths oppose capitalism because the free market doesn’t provide them with the rewards and adulation from authority figures that they received in their school years.

He writes:

Schools became the major institution outside of the family to shape the attitudes of young people, and almost all those who later became intellectuals went through schools. There they were successful. They were judged against others and deemed superior. They were praised and rewarded, the teacher’s favorites. How could they fail to see themselves as superior? Daily, they experienced differences in facility with ideas, in quick-wittedness. The schools told them, and showed them, they were better.

The schools, too, exhibited and thereby taught the principle of reward in accordance with (intellectual) merit. To the intellectually meritorious went the praise, the teacher’s smiles, and the highest grades. In the currency the schools had to offer, the smartest constituted the upper class. Though not part of the official curricula, in the schools the intellectuals learned the lessons of their own greater value in comparison with the others, and of how this greater value entitled them to greater rewards.

But what happens when these pampered wordsmith intellectuals hit the job market?

The wider market society, however, taught a different lesson. There the greatest rewards did not go to the verbally brightest. There the intellectual skills were not most highly valued. Schooled in the lesson that they were most valuable, the most deserving of reward, the most entitled to reward, how could the intellectuals, by and large, fail to resent the capitalist society which deprived them of the just deserts to which their superiority “entitled” them? Is it surprising that what the schooled intellectuals felt for capitalist society was a deep and sullen animus that, although clothed with various publicly appropriate reasons, continued even when those particular reasons were shown to be inadequate?

So, what economic system do wordsmith intellectuals advocate for instead of capitalism?

The intellectual wants the whole society to be a school writ large, to be like the environment where he did so well and was so well appreciated. By incorporating standards of reward that are different from the wider society, the schools guarantee that some will experience downward mobility later. Those at the top of the school’s hierarchy will feel entitled to a top position, not only in that micro-society but in the wider one, a society whose system they will resent when it fails to treat them according to their self-prescribed wants and entitlements.

Intellectuals can’t make money degreez in Marxist Studies, Peace Studies, or <Insert_Victim_Group_Here> Studies. And yet, they feel entitled because of their classroom experiences. So, the answer is to confiscate the wealth of the productive entrepreneurs and redistribute them to the intellectuals.

But there are further unrelated points I must add to this article.

What makes people less religious the more educated they become?

OK, if you watch the debate between Peter Atkins and Bill Craig, or Lewis Wolpert and Bill Craig, etc. then it’s pretty clear that these “intellectuals” have not rejected God for intellectual reasons. On the contrary, they rejected God based on the reasoning of a 12 year old and never bothered to look for answers since they were 12.

The real reason that more educated people reject God is due to pride. Specifically, they do not want to be identified as believing the same spiritual things as the masses. Their great education makes them feel pressure to please their colleagues by embracing views that are different from the benighted masses.

So, it comes down to peer-pressure. They simply don’t want to be different from their colleagues. They want to be able to look down at the benighted masses.

What makes researchers support socialist dogma and pseudoscience?

Researchers are funded by government grants. Grants proposals have to get the attention of government bureaucrats. Bureaucrats are always looking for a crisis that they can sell to the public in order to increase the size of government and regulate the free market.

Therefore, researchers tend to embrace whatever the latest Chicken Little crisis is, be it global cooling, global warming, or unsafe consumer products, etc. Grant proposals that open up opportunities for government to control the free market will get the most funding.

What makes government-run schools and media support socialism?

Again, government-run schools and media receive funds based on the size of government. NPR, PBS and the whole public school system can never be objective about anything. They must always side with government and against individual liberty. They also oppose competition from private alternatives like Fox News and vouchers.

How childhood experiences shape our view of religion

I have a very good friend named Rick Heller who blogs at several places, including Transparent Eye. Rick is not a Christian, but he is fairly familiar with the relevant evidence pro and con, except on the resurrection of Jesus. I was browsing on Transparent Eye the other day and I found this post about a childhood experience that turned Rick away from religion.

Excerpt:

Even when I was religious, I always found the glorification of God to be a lesser form of spirituality. As an Orthodox Jew, I disliked the text of the Yishtabach prayer (though I liked the tune)

May your Name be praised, our King, the God, the great and holy King, in heaven and on Earth. Because, our God and God of our forefathers, you deserve song and praise, lauding and hymns, power and dominion, triumph, greatness and strength, praise and splendor, holiness and kingship, blessing and thanksgivings now and forever.

It seemed to me that the Rabbis thought that God had a self-esteem problem, and His ego needed massaging. Even as a religious person, I thought these prayers were inferior to the Psalms, which often expressed delight and gratitude rather than the obsequious praise of the courtier.

In life, I can think of two reasons why you might flatter someone. First, the person might be insecure, and out of compassion you might say a little white lie that makes them feel better. Second, the person might have power over you, and you tell a lie in order to elevate them in the hopes of reciprocity, that they will elevate you, or at least not punish you.

This sucking up to God seems to me like the flattery of the poweful. The extravagent praise of the Yishtabach prayer strikes me as something done to propitiate a powerful and potentially dangerous Being that could destroy you.

Does God need our glorification? A mature person does not need constant praise (though a heartfelt thank-you every once in a while is appreciated).

Let’s take a look at his concern and see if we can find a solution.

The problem of forcing religion on children

Now, I have a different view of worship than many Christians. I think it’s better to worship God in the public square, not just in church. I believe in worshiping with theological truths and with publicly available knowledge, such as describing the scientific discoveries that led to our knowledge of God’s role in creating the universe. And I believe in talking about God’s worth to non-Christians, not just Christians.

Surprising as it may be to many Christians, as someone who was not raised in a Christian home, I really struggle with the church. Unlike Rick, I enjoy ascribing worth to God. I think that voluntary worship is best, because you make your own case based on what you know about God from your own study. But I also think a prayer like Rick’s may be appropriate, but only after you convince yourself it is true.

I want to go on to make a general point about the way religion is presented to young people.

A lot of people who have religion crammed down their throats at a young age end up either rebelling or just going through the motions until they leave home. What I noticed about Rick’s post is that sounds like he was being made to do things that he didn’t want to do. Can you imagine what would have happened if he told the church elders or his parents that he was uncomfortable mouthing these parrot-praises?

This is the problem. Church elders and parents are long on ordering people around, and short on answering questions. They don’t try to convince you of anything, they just demand visible behaviors. Rick might be willing to say that prayer, but first he deserves to be convinced. It is not enough to just pressure him into mouthing the words. He needs to persuade himself that the words are true, by studying the facts!

The problem is that parents and the church won’t lift a finger to present religious truth claims the same way as truth is presented in the classroom, the lab or the workplace. Children know when they are being told fairy tales. We need to give them public knowledge! Show them some debates! We need to put in the same effort into persuading people about religion as we do about any other area of knowledge.

I once exchanged e-mails with a fundamentalist Christian who explained to me how her approach to atheist’s questions was to quote the Bible to them. I asked her whether it might not be better to appeal to scientific or historical evidence, instead, since atheists don’t believe the Bible. Naturally she cited a Bible verse to me, in order to justify her not having to answer anyone’s questions.

A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. (Matthew 16:4)

Now the thing is, this woman had no idea what this verse was saying. She was just trying to justify being lazy. But every serious Christian knows that Jesus is predicting his own resurrection in that verse! That is what the sign of Jonah is: 3 days in the tomb and then out of it. So Jesus is saying, you guys are going to get a historical event, and it’s going to be done right in front of you as a sign to prove my claims.

This is exactly how the early church presented the resurrection (e.g. Peter in Acts 2:14-41). Non-Christians were supposed to form their opinion of whether Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, or not, based on a historical event. The whole Bible is chock-full of examples of faith founded on fact! But you would never, ever know that by watching parents and churches present religion to children.

I hereby apologize to sincere atheists, agnostics and deists for these experiences. But guess what? Authentic Christians like William Wilberforce agree with me on this.

What would William Wilberforce think?

Well, take a look for yourself, from his own writings:

Look at the facts. Do cultural Christians view Christian faith as important enough to make it a priority when teaching their children what they believe and why they believe it? Or do they place greater emphasis on their children getting a good education than on learning about the things of God? Would they be embarrassed if their children did not possess the former while basically being indifferent about the latter? If their children have any understanding of Christian faith at all, they probably have acquired it on their own. If the children view themselves as Christians, it is probably not because they have studied the facts and come to a point of intellectual conviction but because their family is Christian, so they believe they must be Christians also.

The problem with this way of thinking is that authentic faith cannot be inherited. When Christianity is viewed in this way, intelligent and energetic young men and women will undoubtedly reach a point where they question the truth of Christianity and, when challenged, will abandon this “inherited” faith that they cannot defend. They might begin to associate with peers who are unbelievers. In this company, they will find themselves unable to intelligently respond to objections to Christianity with which they are confronted. Had they really known what they believe and why they believe it, these kinds of encounters would not shake their faith one bit.

I fear for the future of authentic faith in our country. We live in a time when the common man in our country is thoroughly influenced by the current climate in which the cultural and educational elite propagates an anti-Christian message. We should take a look at what has happened in France and learn a lesson from it. In that country, Christianity has been successfully attacked and marginalized by these same groups because those who professed belief were unable to defend the faith from attack, even though its attackers’ arguments were deeply flawed. We should be alarmed that instruction in authentic faith has been neglected, if not altogether eliminated, in our schools and universities.

Is it any wonder then that the spiritual condition of our country is of little concern to those who don’t even educate their own children about true Christianity?  Their conduct reflects their absence of concern, not only for the state of Christianity in our own country, but also for the need to communicate the message of Christ to those in other parts of the world who have not heard this truth.

This is the guy who stopped slavery in the UK, folks. My advice: let’s do whatever Wilber says.

In a forthcoming post, I’ll look at another childhood experience that causes problems for people. It turns out that bad views of economics can be traced to childhood experiences, just like bad views of religion.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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