Tag Archives: Emotional

Marriage advice from Christian philosopher William Lane Craig

Here is a question of the week from Dr. Craig on “Marriage Advice”!

Here’s the question:

Dear Dr. Craig,

Marriage is in the foreseeable future, and I would like to ask you for any advice before it happens. Can we avoid any mistakes? Would it be helpful to meet with a pastor for premarital counseling? Are there any helpful tips you could give from a Christian perspective or from your own experience?

Thank you in advance!

Zareen

Here are the main pieces of advice Dr. Craig gives:

  1. Resolve that there will be no divorce
  2. Delay having children
  3. Confront problems honestly
  4. Seek marital counseling
  5. Take steps to build intimacy in your relationship

And here’s the controversial one (#2):

2. Delay having children. The first years of marriage are difficult enough on their own without introducing the complication of children. Once children come, the wife’s attention is necessarily diverted, and huge stresses come upon you both. Spend the first several years of marriage getting to know each other, working through your issues, having fun together, and enjoying that intimate love relationship between just the two of you. Jan and I waited ten years before having our first child Charity, which allowed me the finish graduate school, get our feet on the ground financially, establish some roots, and enjoy and build our love relationship until we were really ready to take on the responsibilities of parenthood. The qualifier here is that if the wife desperately wants children now, then the husband should accede to her wish to become a mother, rather than withhold that from her. Her verdict should be decisive. But if you both can agree to wait, things will probably be much easier.

I wonder if the married readers agree with him about the “waiting at least a year after marriage bafore having children”?

Mary Jo Sharp asks: what is the solution to the problem of evil?

Hard Questions, Real Answers
Hard Questions, Real Answers

I saw that Roger Sharp had tweeted this post from Confident Christianity on Twitter. It’s Mary Jo’s book review of William Lane Craig’s chapter on the problem of evil, taken from his book “Hard Questions, Real Answers“. I highly recommend that book, even for beginners, and the second edition has chapters on abortion, homosexuality and exclusive salvation.

Excerpt:

In Hard Questions, Real Answers, Craig organizes the problem of evil into two categories: the internal and external problem. The internal problem of evil addresses the premises that are consistent within the Christian worldview; analyzing whether the Christian worldview, itself, is based on inconsistent beliefs. The external problem of evil concentrates on whether or not the Christian worldview is adequate to explain evil; focusing on premises Christians would not necessarily commit to as tenet of Christian theism, but would generally recognize as true. Craig explains, “The first approach tries to expose an inner tension within the Christian worldview itself; the second approach attempts to present evidence against the truth of the Christian worldview.”

Craig further breaks down the internal problem into two areas: the logical problem and the probabilistic problem. The logical problem states that it is illogical for both God and evil to coexist. Craig asserts that this argument is seriously flawed, because there is no reason to think that God and evil are logically incompatible.There are no overt contradictions between them. He demonstrates that it can be proven God and evil are actually logically consistent, “So long as it is even possible that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil, it follows that God and evil are logically consistent.”

The probabilistic argument states that it is highly improbable that both God and evil exist. Craig makes three major points regarding the probabilistic argument. First, relative to the full range of evidence available, God’s existence is probable. The probabilistic argument relies on God’s existence being improbable strictly in relation to evil, which could appear as a solid argument. However, in light of all the evidence for God, the probability of his existence far outweighs the probability against. Second, we are not in the best position to discern whether God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil that occurs. We are finite beings who are attempting to understand an infinite God. Obviously, we will experience some deficiency here. Third, the doctrines of Christianity increase the probability that God and evil coexist. One of the most important areas Craig addresses on this point is, according to Christian doctrine, happiness is not the chief purpose of life; rather, it is the knowledge of God. God’s role is not to provide a comfortable world for his “human pets.” The relationship between humanity and God is much deeper than this surface view of mankind’s happiness. Innocent human suffering can provide a “deeper dependency and trust in God,” which the Bible describes as true fulfillment: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

And more:

This past year, a friend of mine, David, debated an atheist on the intellectual problem of evil. David answered nearly every single philosophical argument the atheist offered; however, the end result was not what I expected. Instead of conceding any of the philosophical arguments (intellectual problem of evil), the atheist began to singularly argue from the emotional problem of evil. From the review on the Answering Infidelswebsite,

Throughout the debate, David Wood and John Loftus approached the problem of evil from two different aspects. Wood adhered to the formal argument and explained that an argument from animal and human suffering cannot negate the theistic worldview. Loftus, however, kept reverting back to examples of suffering, almost as if he expected Wood to give an explanation for each instance of suffering. However, the argument from evil, to be an argument, must include adherence to the formal argument: otherwise, the experiential side, which is subjective to each person, will just create a convoluted mess of argumentation. On several occasions, Loftus had to avert the original question just to continue to argue against Wood.

The intellectual problem, once answered, did not negate the atheist’s commitment to the emotional problem of evil. David’s debate was a poignant illustration of how the emotional problem can be the root of skepticism; a point we, as Christians, must be sensitive to when dealing with objections from evil. And if we find the skeptic at this point, we “must proceed very cautiously” with the person who is experiencing the emotional problem of evil.

Very good post. A lot of people get disappointed with God because of evil, and sometimes it’s just simple stuff like expecting God to help them to find their cricket bat or something silly like that. Just keep this in mind. Don’t just answer the problem, be aware of the mistaken view of God as Happy-Clappy Santa Claus that is lurking under the surface of the objection.

Rejecting God because he doesn’t make us happy

Often, when people say “God doesn’t prevent suffering”, what they really mean is that God didn’t meet their personal expectations for making them happy. Atheist Lewis Wolpert said in his debate with William Lane Craig that God didn’t help him find his cricket bat so he became an atheist.

Other atheists say , “God doesn’t prevent poverty”, but what they really mean is that God didn’t give them an emergency bailout when they acted irresponsibly. Just read my post on Dan Barker: this is not at all out of the ordinary. Other people dump God when they rush a romantic relationship forward on feelings with a non-Christian and it fails. Bye-bye God.

I just think that this is something we should be aware of when people push the problem of evil. You just have to tell them that God is not their butler or their mommy. Life isn’t like that. And if we knew God, and reflected on the suffering of Jesus in obedience, we wouldn’t expect life to be Heaven on Earth. If it wasn’t for Jesus, then it won’t be for us, either. I am not sure exactly how to respond to this caricature of God, but telling the story of Jesus and how teh Father let Jesus suffer in order to do good things and to learn obedience and endurance is good.

Does anyone have a really good story about a Christian who persisted through suffering and came to know God more fully, and serve him better? That would be a good response to this. Craig has one in the book chapter about the woman who is sick. There is evidential value for apologetics in someone who has suffered but who has nevertheless managed to keep their faith intact. If anyone has a good story I can link to on this, send it to me.

Learn more

I’ve written a comprehensive post on the problem of evil here, in case you guys want to learn more about it. And you can listen to a good debate on the problem of evil here, between William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, who is a VERY good atheist and knows what he is talking about. Their debate was made into a book published by Oxford University Press. I don’t rally recommend BUYING it because it is expensive, for a paperback. But you can read this debate between William Lane Craig and Kai Nielsen FOR FREE instead.

MUST-READ: Why women today are refusing to have children

This article from Maclean’s magazine, (Canada’s most popular magazine), has about 400 comments right now. (H/T Andrew)

The article explains why people, especially women, are refusing to have children.The entire tone of the article is extremely narcissistic, which is exactly what I have argued follows from the denial of God. If there is no God, there are no objective moral values, no moral obligations and no human rights. The purpose of life is to have happy feelings, and to force others to give you happy feelings. Survival of the fittest.

The facts:

“Are you planning to have children?” is a question Statistics Canada has asked since 1990. In 2006, 17.1 per cent of women aged 30 to 34 said “no,” as did 18.3 per cent of men in the same category. The U.S. National Center of Health Statistics reports that the number of American women of childbearing age who define themselves as “child-free” rose sharply in the past generation: 6.2 per cent of women in 2002 between the ages of 15 and 44 reported that they don’t expect to have children in their lifetime, up from 4.9 per cent in 1982.

You might say that adults who will depend on the taxes paid by other people’s children for their retirement and health care are not just selfish and narcissistic, but also morally evil. But they don’t agree.

See, their narcissism is actually virtuous because we need to save the planet!

In a culture in which Jennifer Aniston’s childlessness provides weekly tabloid lamentations, a female star who goes public with a decision to remain so demonstrates courage. In a recent interview in U.K. Cosmopolitan, the 36-year-old actress Cameron Diaz, who is childless, expressed a disinclination to have children, citing environmental reasons: “We don’t need any more kids. We have plenty of people on this planet.”

Selfishness is morally good! And you know what else is good? Viewing children as parasites who disrupt your selfish hedonism.

Now the childless in North America have their most defiant advocate in a mother of two: Corinne Maier, a 45-year-old French psychotherapist whose manifesto, No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children, created a furor when published in France last year. Count on the same happening when it’s released here this week. Among Maier’s hard-won advice: “If you really want to be host to a parasite, get a gigolo.”

One woman laments the fact that you can’t abort children after they are born, in case you don’t like them.

The American author Lionel Shriver, who never wanted children, writes in “Separation From Birth” that her greatest fear “was of the ambivalence itself”: “Imagine bearing a child and then realizing, with this helpless, irrevocable little person squalling in its crib, that you’d made a mistake. Who really, in that instance, would pay the price?”

And women who choose not to have children are victims of mean, judgmental people!

Speaking from her home in Brussels, Maier says she was prompted to write No Kids by a conversation she had with two female friends in their 30s who told her they felt like social deviants because they didn’t want children. That perception is well-founded, she writes: “To be childless is considered a defect; irrevocably judged, those who just don’t want children are also the objects of pity.” But Maier believes “conscientious objectors to this fertility mythology” should be rewarded, not stigmatized. “To have a kid in a rich country is not the act of a citizen,” she writes. “The state should be helping those who decide not to have children: less unemployment, less congestion, fewer wars.”

But it goes much further:

Maier doesn’t mince words, calling labour “torture,” and breastfeeding “slavery.” The idea that children offer fulfillment is also dismantled: “Your kid will inevitably disappoint you” is reason No. 19 not to have them. Much of what she has to say won’t be breaking news to most parents: children kill desire in a marriage and can be demanding money pits. Without them, you can keep up with your friends and enjoy your independence.

Research backs Maier’s assertions. Daniel Gilbert, who holds a chair in psychology at Harvard and is the author of the 2006 best-seller Stumbling on Happiness, reports that childless marriages are far happier. He also reports researchers have found that people derive more satisfaction from eating, exercising, shopping, napping, or watching television than taking care of their kids: “Indeed, looking after the kids appears to be only slightly more pleasant than doing housework,” he writes in Stumbling on Happiness.

[…]Over-attentive focus on children saps cultural creativity, she argues: “Children are often used as an excuse for giving up on life without really trying. It takes real courage to say ‘Me first.’ ”

And look how wisely Canadian taxpayer dollars are being spent.

Ingrid Connidis, a sociologist at the University of Western Ontario and the author of Family Ties and Aging, has conducted pioneering studies among people 55 and over that distinguish between those who are childless by choice and those who are childless by circumstance. All have adapted, she says: “But the childless by choice are more content, have higher levels of well-being and are less depressed.”

And Canada also spends taxpayer money on studies (conducted by feminist academics) to demonstrate the need for polygamy. Well, what else is the Justice Department and the commission on the Status of Women supposed to do with all the money they collect from working families? Give it back to the families? Families are just going to spend their own money on beer and popcorn! What we really need is taxpayer-funded day care!

What I learned from this article

The point of this article for me is that some women (and men!) are just blundering their way through life grasping at pleasure wherever they can find it, and justifying their narcissism with a lot of lies. They don’t want to commit. They don’t want to love. They don’t want to be responsible for other people who need them. A man would have to be supremely ignorant to get married and have children in this environment.

William Lane Craig explains how to have a great marriage

I just noticed that Bill’s latest question of the week is on “Marriage Advice”!

Here are the main pieces of advice:

  1. Resolve that there will be no divorce
  2. Delay having children
  3. Confront problems honestly
  4. Seek marital counseling
  5. Take steps to build intimacy in your relationship

Well, I recommend clicking through to read this! It’s answer #120.

I command all you married readers to give me your honest assessment of his advice!

Is he as good at advice as he is at Christian scholarship and debate?

Further study

Drew explains what the church needs to do to reverse its decline, and I disagree

UPDATE: Everyone go look at Rebekah’s cute summary of the debate that Drew and I are having. It’s filled with adorable pictures that will make you smile!

Drew, who operates his own blog and also blogs at Laura’s blog Pursuing Holiness, comments on his own experiences in the church.

He writes:

But whereas Wintery Knight emphasizes the lack of apologetics in churches, I think the real problem is an overall lack of substance. In many churches, both the sermons and the music lack substance. And you have a better chance of winning the lottery than of finding a Sunday School class with meaty, intellectual teaching.

One problem is that lots of churches have given into the “seeker-sensitive” movement. This movement constitutes a corroding influence in Christianity akin to John McCain’s and Lindsay Graham’s influence within the Republican Party. That is, the movement tries so hard to please potential converts that it forgets to please God, and thereby cripples Christian churches from the inside. (In the long run, this dumbing down actually results in fewer converts.) The church where I officially hold membership, for example, has largely given way to this movement – to the point that it recently abolished Sunday School for all high schoolers. Apparently, learning is not a priority anymore!

Meanwhile, the simplistic worship music of the modern era often tends to lack any real doctrinal substance. Or worse, sometimes the lyrics are so poorly thought-out that they actually promote false doctrines.

The reason I emphasize apologetics is because it addresses the question “is Christianity true?”. To me, even if you go into a church that emphasizes sound doctrine in the sermon and in the singing, it’s still doctrine. And doctrine that cannot be tested cannot be believed in. At least, that’s my view! So I don’t doctrine is the whole story, but it’s part of the story.

And as soon as young people who have been raised on doctrine alone go out in the real world and it may be as useful as apologetics when are tempted to jettison their beliefs in order to be happy. I think our beliefs needed to be grounded on evidence to help us to hold up under fire. Without an emphasis on truth, these sound doctrines are just our community’s preference claims, like flavors of ice cream! They are not regarded as true objectively unless they can be tested against the laws of logic and the external world.

When they get out into the real world and feel pressured to dump their beliefs to fit in or to be happy, they are not going to constrain their actions based on the preferences claims of a bunch of church people. If you teach them preference claims, then watch out when they leave you – they will develop new preferences in a new community. Like binge drinking and hook-up sex.

The only way that a person can constrain their behavior under fire is when they actually believe that they are rationally compelled to constrain their behavior. And rational compulsion is not under the control of your will. The only way to be rationally compelled is by taking time to study issues like the existence of God and the historicity of the resurrection. Then watch some debates. That’s how you determine what is true. And you will always act on what you really believe is true. NOT just what you have been taught is true, and not what you say is true when asked.

Drew continues:

But even mainstream churches that have resisted these movements often tend to suffer from non-intellectualism. For example, most pastors have gotten into the habit of preaching three-point sermons. I’m not going to declare myself the voice of God and suggest that three-point sermons are sinful, but they do create the opportunity for pastoral laziness. I think pastors frequently take advantage of this opportunity, and wind up presenting watered-down sermons filled with extrabiblical philosophy.

I know what Drew means here, but I wish that pastors did bring in professional philosophers to discuss issues such as:

  • the problems of evil and suffering
  • the problem of the unevangelized
  • the problem of religious pluralism
  • the problem of the justice of Hell
  • the problem of hiddenness of God
  • the problem of free will vs divine foreknowledge
  • the problem of moral relativism
  • the problem of consciousness, free will and rationality
  • etc.

Not to mention the evidential arguments from science and history! And all should be capped by showing or hosting public debates to the entire church. Sound teaching alone is not sufficient to reverse the slide of the church into postmodern relativist universalist feminization. Without assessing whether these sound teachings are true, you are again just sharing your preferences in a community whose purpose is happiness, not truth.

I’ll bet Drew will oppose me here. Do your worst, Drew. You can’t beat me up any worse than Rich and Rebekah have already!

I have found is that although apologetics-oriented issues that challenge faith are popular in the culture in books by New Atheists, Bart Ehrman and even fictional authors like Dan Brown or William P. Young, the church is not interested in addressing them. And the reason is simple: we think church is about fulfilling our needs, not about truth. We would never be so dismissive of truth concerns in any other area of life that mattered.

While the entire culture is being confronted by popular challenges from apostates and atheists, we just keep quoting the Bible to our congregations so that they can be really really clear on our spiritual preferences. But as soon as they step out of the church, they will be facing actual arguments in their workplaces, and classrooms. And you know what they’ll do? They will go silent. And God is not served by that silence.

Either we are going to put public, effective evangelism using apologetics first, or we are going to put our personal feelings and self-esteem first. Either we are going to drip tears onto our apologetics textbooks because studying is hard work, or we are going to make excuses that allow us to continue business as usual at church. The dimension that is never raised in these discussions is that people don’t want to do the most effective thing to defend God’s honor. Getting preached at on Sunday with sound doctrine is easy. Singing songs is easy. But engaging your co-workers with science, philosophy and history is hard. Which one has the most impact on the non-Christian culture? I say it’s engagement.

Drew, I want you to watch this debate online, if you haven’t already:

This debate was held at Purdue University in front over 3000 university students. It is a close debate – this was no blow-out for Craig.

Now I want you to leave me a comment telling me what would happen if every Christian who goes to church were to see this debate in their main Sunday sermon. What would happen if every Christian could defend their faith like William Lane Craig? Would God benefit from it? I don’t care how many people’s pride and self-esteem would be damaged by someone smarter than they are talking. Would God benefit from it?

What does Peter say in 1 Peter 3:15?

15But in your hearts set apart 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…

With respect to God’s purposes in the world, our happiness is expendable.

Watching debates is not even about who wins and who loses. It’s about whether Christian claims can be defended using public evidence in the real world. And if we don’t have confidence that the churchgoers should be made aware of the arguments for and against Christianity, (because we are afraid they will lose their “faith”), then we should just drop Christianity entirely.

Christianity is a fighting faith. The purpose of it is not to make people have happy feelings and community so they, (and everyone they should be evangelizing), can be comfortable on their way to Hell. It’s either true or it isn’t. And if it isn’t then we shouldn’t waste another second on it. Period.

What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19?

12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
14
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
15
More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.
16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
19
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Do the feminized churches believe that? THEY DO NOT BELIEVE THAT. No matter what they say, they do not really believe that at all. They may teach it as “sound doctrine”. But they do not believe that it matters whether the resurrection really happened. They don’t know or care to know if it really happened. And we know this by watching how little emphasis is put on the historical evidence for the resurrection in the church today.

Have you EVER in your entire life seen anyone speak from the pulpit about whether the evidence is good for the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead? Ever? Anyone reading this – have you ever heard the resurrection addressed using mainstream historical approaches? A talk that DID NOT assume the inerrancy of the Bible, and that could have been delivered in a university classroom or in the workplace?

What are we even doing in church if not teaching Christians how to confidently defend the belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus?

Am I asking too much?

Sorry to be so insistent and passionate, I hope you will take time before replying to be calm and realize that this is the passion talking, and maybe a little emotional distress, as well. I have been hurt by the church opposing me on this many, many, many times. And so have all my friends.

Please try to be charitable. I am not blaming you for this mess, but I don’t think sound doctrine alone is the answer.

Further study