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

Why should Christians embrace chastity?

Christians should be chaste because research shows that sex before marriage decreases marital stability.

Story from Life Site News. (H/T Mary)

Excerpt:

Couples who reserve sex for marriage enjoy greater stability and communication in their relationships, say researchers at Brigham Young University.

A new study from the Mormon college found that those couples who waited until marriage rated their relationship stability 22 percent higher than those who started having sex in the early part of their relationship. The relationship satisfaction was 20 percent higher for those who waited, the sexual quality of the relationship was 5 percent better, and communication was 12 percent better.

The study, published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology, involved 2,035 married individuals who participated in a popular online marital assessment called “RELATE.” From the assessment’s database, researchers selected a sample designed to match the demographics of the married American population. The extensive questionnaire included the question “When did you become sexual in this relationship?”

Couples that became sexually involved later in their relationship – but prior to marriage – reported benefits that were about half as strong as those who waited for marriage.

[…]Sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved in the study, responded to its findings, saying that “couples who hit the honeymoon too early – that is, prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship – often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.” Regnerus is the author of Premarital Sex in America, a book forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Because religious belief often plays a role for couples who choose to wait, Busby and his co-authors controlled for the influence of religious involvement in their analysis.

“Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction,” Busby said.

Research matters when discussing morality

Young men and women growing up really need to be informed by their parents what they are going to want to be doing long term, and what they should be doing today to accomplish those goals. Young people benefit greatly from the guidance of older and wiser people, but in defining goals and defining the steps to reach those goals. To be a convincing parent, you have to be convinced yourself. And to be convinced yourself, you need to be seen as having knowledge, not just opinions, but knowledge. Having the right peer-reviewed papers at hand will help you to be a better parent.

My previous post on research showing how sex before marriage greatly reduces the stability of marriage. That post contains even more research showing that having even ONE pre-marital sex partner can GREATLY reduce the probability that the marriage will last. And it gets worse as you add more partners.

Christians and chastity

What should Christians know about the purpose of chastity?

1. Chastity is not just abstinence

Chastity is not just abstaining from sex. Chastity is the Christian virtue by which Christians take God’s character and goals into account in their relationships with the opposite sex. Probably about 99.9% of the people in the world look at members of the opposite sex and think “what’s in it for me?”. Chastity allows you to look at members the opposite sex, even the unattractive ones, and ask “what’s in it for God?”.

I’ve written about how the goal of life on atheism is to be happy. One of the consequences of this is that atheists look at other people as objects that can make them happy or not, depending on how resistant they are to sticks and carrots. In Christianity, chastity is the gift that allows you to look at people you are not attracted to in the least and to love them enough to help them grow in the knowledge of God.

2. Physical contact clouds the judgment

Chastity allows you to make a better decision about who you are going to marry. When you are desperate to be loved (women) or desperate for physical intimacy (men) it’s easy to hide the bad parts of yourself and to overlook the flaws of others. Physical contact leads to rushed commitments and emotions that are difficult to undo later once you learn more about the other person’s moral and spiritual beliefs.

Chastity allows you to keep God in the picture as you evaluate prospective mates. Instead of looking at candidates who will fulfill your needs, you look for candidates who benefit God, perhaps because they are skilled at explaining Christianity to your future children. Without chastity, women choose men who are amoral, to avoid being judged, and men choose women solely on appearance, who are unqualified for married life.

3. Sex without commitment destroys the capacity for trust and vulnerability

When persons have sex outside of a lifelong commitment, they have to make an effort to separate their emotions from the physical activity. This leads to a kind of “guarded” condition where a person is no longer free to be really engaged emotionally in a relationship. For example, women lose feminine qualities like trust and vulnerability, which are necessary to attract good men without using sex appeal. (Men can tell)

In addition, I would say that when a relationship is kept platonic, the break-ups are going to be a lot less damaging emotionally. All my relationships have been platonic, so even when the break-ups occurred, there was never any physical element to add to the pain. It is important for people to go after the best spousal candidate they can find, not to settle for some amoral loser just to avoid the pain of rejection.

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