Tag Archives: Divorce

Don’t dismiss best practices for Christian living as “legalism” and “denying grace”

Telling a woman how to make wise decisions protects her
Telling a woman how to make wise decisions protects her

On Sunday, I listened to a very interesting discussion between Sean McDowell and Jessica van der Wyngaard on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable show. The topic was on the pros and cons of purity culture. I didn’t know a thing about “purity culture”, and had never read any books about it. I didn’t really disagree with anyone on the podcast, but I did want to say something about it in a blog post.

Description:

20 years ago Joshua Harris was the poster boy of the evangelical ‘purity movement’ having authored the bestselling book ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’. Today, Harris regrets writing the book, and has also recently changed his mind about Christianity.

Justin is joined by Jessica van der Wyngaard, director of the documentary film ‘I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye’, and Christian apologist Sean McDowell, to discuss purity culture, singleness and the Joshua Harris story.

The MP3 file is here.

First, here’s a brief summary of what everyone said on the podcast:

  • JW: the book urged people to give up dating in favor of courting and suggested other rules that would guarantee a successful marriage to your soul-mate
  • JW: some of the rules proposed by the book were not Biblical
  • JW: I’m not a virgin and I’m in early-30s, but I accept that we should teach what the Bible says about abstinence
  • SM: purity culture is the idea that if you remain sexually pure, God will give you a spouse and bless you in the future
  • SM: purity culture is the idea that if you have premarital sex, you will be tainted forever
  • SM: I’m afraid that those reacting against purity culture will build a sexual ethic solely based on their shame, their hurt, their concern about legalism, and this will not help the next generation
  • SM: let’s have a balanced Biblical approach to sexuality instead
  • SM: there is scientific data to back up the Bible’s teaching that marriages work better when sex occurs only within a marriage
  • SM: it’s a mistake to define your spiritual standing based on whether you are a virgin or not
  • SM: following the Bible’s rules for sexuality is an important part of discipleship
  • SM: the Bible is replete with examples of people restoring their standing before God through forgiveness and redemption

Right now, we are living in a secular culture where people are hooking up, having premarital sex, living together, and breaking up far more often than in the past. There is this pattern of choosing partners based on secular criteria: outward appearance and ability to entertain. And this approach to dating – choosing people for the wrong reasons, and trying to force a commitment using premarital sex – is now common practice, even among Christians.

I think people should have a plan to counter this trend that’s realistic and guided by studies and evidence. For example, studies show that people who have no sexual partners before marriage are more likely to still be married 10 years later. Studies show that cohabitation negatively impacts the stability of a future marriage. It’s difficult to accept that this is the way the world is, but if a stable marriage is a goal for you, then you should care about the best practices for having a stable marriage.

Take a different example. Suppose you have a lot of shame and bad feelings over having run up $90,000 of student loans. Now your retirement will be much more difficult. The answer to these feelings of shame is not to say that you can invoke “grace” and that will make everything OK. It won’t. It might help you to make better decisions going forward, but that debt is going to affect your future spouse, your future marriage and your future children.

There are real costs to these behaviors for your future, and being forgiven through Jesus’ atonement isn’t going to instantly make the effects of those choices disappear. It’s good to warn young people about these costs. It’s also good to help people who have made mistakes undo the damage by investing in them. I don’t want us to throw out evidence-based best practices as “legalism”, because they help us to reach the discipleship goals specified for us in the Bible.

The goals of the Bible (e.g. – not aborting, not divorcing) are good goals. If we find out from science that premarital promiscuity or cohabitation reduce our odds of achieving that goal, then it’s a mistake to dismiss that evidence because it make us feel bad about our past. It’s not legalism to investigate evidence and consult wise advisors in order to choose how best to achieve goals like marriage. That’s actually being wise.  Making good decisions doesn’t give you the right to be proud and compare yourself to others, but it is good to make good decisions for yourself, and to share your reasoning with those who ask you.

I agree with the speakers that purity culture is wrong to promise people a happy marriage if they only keep their virginity. That’s just the prosperity gospel, and it really is not a Biblical view of the Christian life.

People who choose to have premarital sex haven’t separated themselves from marriage. But studies indicate that they have damaged the stability of their future marriage if they do nothing to counteract the effects of their choices. And I think there is more to counteracting these bad effects than just stating to your partner “Jesus forgives me, so you can’t judge me”. The focus of the “no-rules because I feel ashamed” crowd doesn’t seem to be on taking the damage seriously and fixing it. Their focus seems to be on not being judged.

I don’t think that a cursory response (“don’t judge me!”) is adequate to undo the damage from premarital sex. But if a person is willing to be honest about their past, and put in the work to understand the effects of premarital sex on their future marriage, renew their minds, and re-establishing their bonding ability, then they should be able to fully counteract the damage. I have met people who have done this, and you can see in their choices and lifestyle that there’s been a complete turning against their former use of sex for fun and attention and self-esteem. It’s not “idolizing virginity and idolizing marriage” to look at the data, and make choices that are likely to lead to a stable marriage.

Judge: man must pay support to girlfriend despite living in separate homes

A friend of mine was asking me last night whether I had any regrets about never marrying, especially since I had such awesome Christian female friends like her. I thought about it, and I thought that maybe it is better to not have married, especially when I read stories about how family courts trample over the rights of men to favor women, regardless of what the law says.

The story is from one of Canada’s national newspapers, the National Post:

A wealthy businessman will have to pay more than $50,000 a month in spousal support for 10 years to a woman with whom he had a long-term romantic relationship even though they kept separate homes and had no children together, Ontario’s top court has ruled.

Under Ontario law, an unmarried couple are considered common-law spouses if they have cohabited — lived together in a conjugal relationship — continuously for at least three years. But that doesn’t necessarily mean living in the same home, the court found.

[…]When their 14-year relationship finally broke down in May 2015, Climans asked the courts to recognize her as Latner’s spouse and order him to pay her support. He argued she had been a travel companion and girlfriend, nothing more. As such, he said, they were never legally spouses and he owed no support. An eight-day trial ensued.

In her decision in February 2019, Superior Court Justice Sharon Shore sided with Climans. She ruled they were in fact long-time spouses, finding that despite their separate home, they lived under one roof at Latner’s cottage for part of the summer, and during winter vacations in Florida. Shore ordered him to pay her $53,077 monthly indefinitely.

The judge ordered him to pay her $53,077 per moth, indefinitely. Elsewhere in the article, we learn that he had asked her to sign a pre-nuptial agreement many times, and each time she refused. (Those are not even enforced fairly by the way) She wanted his money, and the judge made sure she got it. Because the law doesn’t matter in a family court.

So, what I wanted to point out about this is the fact that a female judge decided to bend the law in order to favor a woman. And this sort of thing happens A LOT in Canada – where their female judges are notorious for progressive judicial activism, e.g. Beverley Mclachlin, Bertha Wilson, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, etc. Ontario family courts are notoriously anti-male, and men know this.

But it’s not just Ontario. I have two Christian friends who married their Christian wives as virgins, and then their wives divorced them. I heard what happened to them in divorce court. Again, female lawyers and female judges disregarded the law in order to punish the man and favor the woman. And I think most men growing up today have a father or a brother or an uncle or someone who has been a victim of this.

When I talk to women about this, they all say things like this to me: “oh, you worry too much” or “you read too many books about divorce” or especially “when you meet the right girl, you’ll fall in love, and all this concern about atheistic feminist judges in the courts won’t stop you”. That last one is the most popular. And it’s always made me think that if this is how women see commitment – feelings-based – it’s no wonder that women initiate 70% of divorces.

I always thought it was a curse that I grew up poor and could not afford to show off my wealth in order to attract attention from women. Now I see that God actually gave me a great blessing. In order for a man to get married, it takes a lot more than finding the right girl. He needs to live in the right culture – a culture that tries to equip women to be content in committed relationships and treat men fairly.

I don’t think even women who claim to be pro-male and/or pro-marriage know or care how stories like this affect men. I’m very wealthy. I certainly do look at what is likely to happen if a woman goes to the courts expecting me to give her money. In fact, whenever I post stories on my wall about how the judges legislate from the bench to transfer money from men to women, there’s just silence or sometimes deflection by attacking men (except for my friend Dina who agrees with me). No one dares to speak up for men, it’s just expected that we be robbed by the government in order to make women happy. Because “marriage is for women”.

And as long as the message keeps being sent by judicial activists in the family courts, men will keep adjusting how they treat women. Women appear very unsafe to us, and nothing that’s going on in the courts is changing the trend towards avoidance. Men are very good at calculating risks vs rewards.

Whose job is it to teach young, unmarried women not to delay marriage?

A group of feminists protesting people they disagree with
A group of feminists protesting people they disagree with

I found a very interesting post on a blog called Oz Conservative, which is run by an Australian traditional conservative. In the post, he looks at two women who wasted their 20s on fun and thrills. Both of them are childless and unmarried. And they are complaining that they should be married with children. How did it happen?

Excerpt:

Rachael spent her youth going out with the bad boy type:

relationships have never been my strong point. Historically, I’ve picked good-looking villains and addictive personalities.

I’ve had a ball and many passionate experiences, but nothing functional enough to constitute a long-term future and never anyone ‘normal’ enough to bring home to meet the parents.

Although she puts a positive spin on being single, she admits:

I’m realistic. I’ve probably missed the boat as far as children are concerned, and that is a shame…

[…]Yes, the life I have today is not quite the one I envisaged 20 years ago as a young woman. I foresaw a satisfying career along with 2.4 children and a handsome husband.

Then there is Bibi, now 44. She tells her story this way:

I am staring down the barrel of a lonely future without a man, let alone children.

And how do I find myself in this perilous position? One reason is undoubtedly that men like young women. Yes, I was young once and all that. In my 20s and 30s I wasn’t exactly a supermodel, but I was constantly surrounded by men. The trouble is I wasn’t necessarily looking to settle down back then…

Now that I am, there are very few available men out there and the ones there are would be more interested in my teenage nieces than in me…

[…]Bibi has a lot of friends in exactly the same boat:

In my close circle of friends, there are eight of us who are single and childless. This is a generational phenomenon  –  we are all aged between 37 and 45.

When our mothers were that age, such numbers would be unimaginable.

Like many women writing this kind of literature, when she looks back she recognises the negative influence of feminism on her generation of women:

I think the feminist teachings of the Sixties and Seventies seeped into our brains. My mum couldn’t be called a feminist, but I, too, grew up thinking we could be anything we wanted to be and have a fulfilling career, life and relationship…

[…]What she is trying to say here is that feminism pushed marriage and motherhood down the list of priorities (“there was more to contend with beforehand”). She admits that she was led into the magical kind of thinking I described earlier in which there is nothing in reality to limit having things as you want them to be (“we didn’t realise that men wouldn’t be interested … my generation was spoilt – unrealistic, even”).

The comments to the post are very interesting.

I was thinking about whose job it was to warn young Christian women about these bad choices, and I remembered a passage from the Bible.

Titus 2:3-5 explains:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,

to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

The problem is that many older Christian women made a lot of mistakes in their youth, especially with alcohol and premarital sex. And for most of them, it’s more important that they not feel guilty about it, than that they warn younger women not to make the same mistakes. So, instead of admitting guilt and setting boundaries, they often tell young women that it doesn’t matter what you do in your 20s because God, the cosmic butler, will make everything work out in the end.

We just had a situation where one woman who had a successful marriage tried to give younger women some very basic advice about how to be attractive to marriage-minded men. And what happened was that she was attacked by pretty much everyone. The reaction seemed to be strongest from Christian women, however, who insisted that God’s grace meant that Christian women didn’t have to care what the Bible taught about morality and wisdom. The important thing was that they follow their desires in the moment, because to exercise self-control would be “horrible” and would “send the wrong message”. Telling a woman not to do what she feels like is worse than murder, because women must always do what feels good. Who cares about the words of the Bible, when a woman has feelings that are a direct line to God’s mysterious will for her happiness?

One of the commenters on this blog put it this way:

I’ve been observing this phenomenon among so-called “Christians” for well over a decade. Concepts like “tolerance” and not being “judgmental” took hold in our culture and many Christians absorbed the mindset completely. If you point out that what someone is doing is sinful or might potentially lead to sinful behavior, they act defensive or turn the tables on you and say “well, you’re not perfect either!” Some even say that they do certain things for the express purpose of not being “legalistic,” because clearly, legalism is far worse than compromising one’s witness. Jesus has become a postmodern hippie whose primary message is “let’s all be cool to each other.” The only sins left are transgressions against the belief that everyone is equal and worthy of acceptance.

In reading the responses to Lori Alexander’s article, my greatest takeaway is that people are rationalization machines. If they’ve made mistakes, they won’t humbly acknowledge them and use the wisdom of their experience to guide others in the right direction. Instead, they’ll try to find a way to argue that their mistakes weren’t mistakes at all, and that the real sinner is the person who’s judging them for what they did. It’s a deceitful, selfish game, and anyone who plays it is an enemy of the Gospel. Their argument essentially boils down to “every woman, regardless of whatever bad decisions she’s made in life, is entitled to a loving husband who’ll provide for her.” Same way everyone’s entitled to free health care, regardless of whether sufficient medical resources exist, I suppose. It doesn’t work that way, ladies.

And they use this feminist scare word “shaming.” How dare you “shame” me? I would go so far as to say that shaming is a good thing, because it incentivizes proper behavior. Men have good reasons for wanting their wives to be virgins, and if you remove the stigma against premarital sex, a lot of women are going to take Biblical teaching on the subject less seriously. If Christian men as a whole agreed that they would only marry virgins, I guarantee you that a lot of women would think twice about what kind of men they associated with. If you feel “shamed,” it’s probably a sign that you haven’t truly repented of your sins. Sin separates us from God, and if you see your sins for what they are, you should have no problem condemning the sins that you yourself have committed and discouraging them in others.

I’m sorry for this long-winded ramble, but it disgusts me how much politically correct rot has infested the churches, and this entire incident just confirms that Paul was correct to forbid women teaching. When everyone is afraid of upsetting women, we get false teachers popping up everywhere spreading a destructive message with nothing but rhetoric behind it. The end result? Fewer marriages, fewer children, fewer people taking Christian teachings seriously, and more people being miserable and lonely. Once you start ceding ground to liberalism, the whole thing eventually unravels. Lots of good Christian men and women can’t find a spouse anymore, because their society has lied to them and they don’t realize it until it’s too late. Did their churches stand against the world? Did their churches provide them the guidance they needed? Or were their churches too afraid to be seen as “out of touch,” and did they prioritize numbers over holiness and correct teaching? If we are sincere believers, it should be obvious which is more important.

Many of the women who chose to delay marriage for fun and thrills with the bad boys grew up in married Christian homes. Parents and pastors have, for one reason or another, decided that it is too unpleasant to warn young Christian women that their behavior may involve some costs in the long term. They don’t want to make them feel bad, and women’s feelings are so very much more important than what the Bible says, or even what peer-reviewed research on marriage best practices says. Even theologically conservative pastors just don’t have the courage to address the influence that feminism has had on the goal-setting and decision-making of young, unmarried women. It’s much easier to blame men when the woman’s fun and thrills plan doesn’t work out.

Suzanne Venker interviews Dr. Stephen Baskerville about divorce and its beneficiaries

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

I am just LOVING the Suzanne Venker podcast. You should subscribe if you like discussions with experts about marriage, divorce, feminism, sex and relationships. Recent guests: Christina Hoff Sommers, Rollo Tomassi, Janice Fiamengo, Denise McAllister, Katy Faust, Helen Smith, Joy Pullmann, Heather Mac Donald, Mona Charen, Dr. Laura, Dennis Prager, Allison Armstrong, etc.

You can listen to the episode here.

And it came with a free summary:

Children of divorce are in desperate need of a relationship with both their parents. Sadly, far too many are reduced to having a relationship with only one parent: the mother.

Citing a principle called the “best interest of the child,” family courts award sole or primary custody of most children of divorced parents to mothers, thereby reducing fathers to occasional visitation and zero authority.

The silence on this issue is deafening, and this silence comes just as much from the right as it does from the left. It even comes from churches.

Making matters worse is that divorce is no longer fault-based. Unilateral divorce is now the law of the land, and three-fourths of divorces are initiated by wives. Women don’t have to allege any fault by the husband, and he has no right to oppose the divorce.

To address this monstrous social travesty, I could think of no one better than Stephen Baskerville, former Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College. Stephen is widely recognized as a leading authority on fatherhood, family policy, and sexual politics. He holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and writes on political ideologies with an emphasis on religion, family policy, and sexuality. His books include The New Politics of Sex and Taken Into Custody: The War against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family.

Stephen serves on advisory boards to the Ruth Institute, the Men’s Health Network and other organizations. His website is http://www.stephenbaskerville.com.

IN THIS EPISODE:

5:00-8:00 How Stephen began writing on the “divorce industry,” the political dynamics involved and about no-fault divorce: why it disproportionately affects fathers.

8:00 How women are encouraged to get divorced and take the children, make false accusations against fathers etc.

10:24 How men are less likely to use children as weapons against the other spouse

10:45  The Myth of the Deadbeat Dad

14:00 What is no-fault divorce and why is it wrong, why is it a system of “chaos” and why we need to “enforce the constitution” when it comes to divorce

11:40 – 16:00  How the Bill of Rights is violated in many divorce cases and how basic constitutional rights are being violated.

17:00  How political correctness keeps ups from being able to address it and solve the problems with no-fault divorce and how both the left and right wing media both ignore it

19:00  How even Ronald Reagan admits he was deceived when he signed the first No Fault divorce legislation into action in CA. How there was also no public debate or discussion at the time it was enacted and throughout the years until now

19:45 How these laws have affected the social structure, including crime, fatherlessness in homes, etc.

20:49-22:50  What does Stephen tell and recommend for fathers as recourse for these issues?

24:35-30:30  Why the effects of the sexual revolution have led to the the West to brink of social and economic ruin (this includes sexual chaos, domestic violence, sexual harassment, etc.)

30:45 – Why feminism has not created a “utopia” for a women

33:00 – Stephen discusses single parent homes and the breakdown of the family

36:20 How the church not being involved in marriage has created a vacuum for the lawyers, social workers, judges and therapists to step in

37:45 Stephen talks about the idea of being “offended” and why men are responsible for stepping up and being leaders

For a virgin who has not and probably never will marry, I have had a lifelong interest in how to date and marry the right way – in order to get results and leave a legacy. So I know all these speakers, and have books my many of them (Dr. Laura, Janice Fiamengo, Helen Smith, Dr. Laura, Christina Hoff Sommers, Stephen Baskerville, etc.) in my house. I’m fascinated by these issues and know very much about what does and does not work in a marriage.

Men on strike: the social changes that caused men to opt out of marriage

Painting: "Courtship", by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)
Painting: “Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

I read and enjoyed Dr. Helen Smith’s book “Men on Strike” a few years back. The book explains a few of the developments that have led to men underperforming in school and in the workplace, and opting out of marriage and fatherhood.

Dr. Helen comes to this problem as a secular libertarian, not as a Christian conservative.

A review of Dr. Helen’s book appeared in Salvo magazine. The review is written by Terrell Clemmons, who has the best Christian worldview of any woman I know – I frequently rely on her advice.

Terrell writes:

While the feminist movement may originally have been about equal respect for both sexes, what it has morphed into, she argues, is female privilege. From rape laws that empower women but not the men they may falsely accuse, to divorce laws tilted in favor of the wife, to the feminization of the U.S. education system, men have become the sex under the gun, while women enjoy the status of a protected class.

But unlike their mothers or grandmothers, men today are not taking to the streets burning their undergarments and shrieking demands (thank God). They’re doing just the opposite, which is far worse. They’re going on strike. The strike zones are manifold:

Higher Education.In addition to the enrollment imbalance, which is approaching a 60/40 ratio of women to men, college has become, in the words of one professor, “a hostile working environment [in which] males increasingly feel emasculated.” Smith quotes a student named John, who had this to say about his college experience: “I had already been cautious around women, having grown up with Tawana Brawley in my backyard and daily stories of sexual harassment; I played it safe and passive every time. But it doesn’t matter. The only way not to lose is to not play. So I’m out.”

Work,including community involvement. With higher female graduation rates and salaries, men today are falling behind their fathers economically and professionally. Consequently, their efforts to prove themselves worthy mates through hard work and higher earnings don’t win female attention the way they used to. Discouraged, too many retreat to a man cave, and inertia sets in from there.

Marriage.Marriage rates are down, and honest men opting out will tell you why. Smith cites a Rutgers University study of single heterosexual men which turned up the top reasons they hadn’t married. They can get sex and the companionship of cohabitation without marriage more easily than in times past, and they don’t want to open themselves up to the risk of divorce and financial loss. It really isn’t that complicated a decision. In fact, it’s often not an actual decision at all. It just happens.

The simplest explanation for the difficulties that boys face in an education system that is dominated by women (teachers and administrators) is discrimination. And in the workplace, the government requires employers to report on male and female head counts, and promote women who are not qualified. I have seen receptionists with tattoos and no college degrees promoted to six-figure manager jobs in companies where I worked.

There is one more which to me was the most surprising one in the book – paternity fraud, and the laws that support paternity fraud:

Take the following cases of nonconsensual insemination: Nathaniel from California, age 15, had sex with 34-year-old Ricci, which, due to his age, was legally considered nonconsensual. Emile from Louisiana was visiting his parents in the hospital when a nurse offered him oral sex, if he wore a condom, which she conveniently offered to dispose of for him afterward. S. F. from Alabama passed out drunk at the home of a female friend and awoke undressed the following morning. In all three cases, including the one involving the minor, a woman got sperm and, nine months later, a child, and the man got ordered by a court of law to pay support for eighteen years.

Less devious, but similarly amiss, are those cases in which a man, having been betrayed by his wife or girlfriend, was nevertheless held financially responsible for a child genetically proven to be another man’s offspring. While not as sensational as sperm-jacking, it is another form of paternity extortion.

In each of those cases, the man was found liable to pay child support – including the case of the 15-year-old boy, who was forced to pay child support to his statutory rapist when he turned 18. This is how the court system works, and more and more men are understanding the risks.

I often encounter “pro-marriage” people while gathering stories for the blog. These pro-marriage people come in two varieties.

On the one end of the spectrum are people like Terrell Clemmons and Jennifer Roback Morse, who understand marriage, but who also understand the social changes that have made marriage unattractive for men. Both Clemmons and Morse have a background in STEM fields, so they are able to understand incentives and tradeoffs. They understand that society has to rollback the changes to education, divorce laws, etc. if they expect men to be interested in marriage again. They understand that men are not just accessories of women, but instead have their own desires, feelings and reasons for marrying.

On the other end of the spectrum are feminist men, who are not able to understand the changing incentives that face men in a world that has evolved under the influence of radical feminism. It is just simpler (less thinking) for these men to accept the radical feminism as a given, and then urge men to “man up”. I think a much better idea would be for the “man up” crowd to realize how marriage has changed, and how the schools and the workplace have changed, then make all of these things more attractive to men. It doesn’t do any good to try to “dare” men into jumping off a cliff. Men aren’t stupid, and they do what is in their own best interests. If the man-up crowd wants younger men to marry, then they need to change the incentives offered to men. And that means changing women first.