Life on this side of my decision hasn’t always been easy. It’s been nearly seventeen years since I first trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I still struggle to submit my prideful will to what God would call me to do. Christianity is not easy. It doesn’t always “work” for me. There are times when I think it would be easier to do it the old way; easier to cut a corner or take a short cut. There are many times when doing the right thing means doing the most difficult thing possible. There are also times when it seems like non-Christians have it easier, or seem to be “winning”. It’s in times like these that I have to remind myself that I’m not a Christian because it serves my own selfish purposes. I’m not a Christian because it “works” for me. I had a life prior to Christianity that seemed to be working just fine, and my life as a Christian hasn’t always been easy.
I’m a Christian because it is true. I’m a Christian because I want to live in a way that reflects the truth. I’m a Christian because my high regard for the truth leaves me no alternative.
I think this is important. There are people who I know who claim to be Christian, but they are clearly believing that God is a mystical force who arranges everything in their lives in order to make them happy. They are not Christians because it’s true, but because of things like comfort and community. But people ought to become Christians because they think it’s true. Truth doesn’t necessarily make you happy, though. Truth can impose intellectual obligations and moral obligations on you. Seeing God as he really is doesn’t help us to “win” at life, as the culture defines winning.
Winning in Christianity doesn’t mean making lots of money, or being famous, or winning human competitions, or being approved of by lots of people. Winning for a Christian might involve things like building relationships with people and leading them to know that God exists and who Jesus is. That has no cash value, and it’s not going to make you famous. Actually, it will probably cost you money and time, and make you unpopular with a lot of people.
The Bible doesn’t promise that people who become Christians will be happier. Actually, it promises that Christians will suffer for doing the right things. Their autonomy will suffer, as they sacrifice their own interests and happiness in order to make God happy, by serving his interests. Christianity isn’t something you add on to your before-God life in order to achieve your before-God goals. When you become a Christian, you get a new set of goals, based on God’s character and his design for you. And although you might be very successful in the world as part of serving God, there is no guarantee of that. Christianity is not life enhancement.
Although we live in a culture that is dominated by the thoughts and opinions of secular leftists, science provides useful information for those who want defend Biblical morality. Consider the issue of sexuality and marriage. Secular leftists claim that sex outside of marriage is natural, and produces happiness. Bible believing Christians and Jews say chastity is best. Who is right?
Here is the latest study authored by Dr. Nicholas Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah. His previous book on relationships was published by Oxford University Press. In his analysis of the data, Wolfinger controlled for divorce rates, religiosity, and socioeconomic status.
Here’s the most important graph:
Other factors that increased marital happiness: having a 4-year college degree (5%), having a salary > 78K (5%), regular church attendance (6%). Notice that women are more dissatisfied with marriage (in general) than men are, and they tend to blame the spouse they freely chose for that unhappiness.
The Federalist also reported on previous research relevant to this study:
Psychologists Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley found that women who have had sex with someone other than their husband report statistically significant drops in marital quality over those who don’t. A 2004 study by sociologist Jay Teachman showed that intimate premarital activities such as cohabitation and intercourse increased the rate of marital dissolution by anywhere between 28 and 109 percent, depending on the activity.
Wolfinger also noted in a previous study that only 5% of women were virgins when they married.
Wolfinger noted that a possible explanation for the link between promiscuity and unhappiness is that people look back on their past partners and compare their spouse unfavorably to them. This is especially the case with women. My concern about this is that feminism has taught women to try to increase their social standing by having hook-up sex with attractive bad boys. If those women ever marry, they do it when they are older, less fertile, and less attractive. The husband they eventually “settle” for will (in their minds) always compare unfavorably to the hot bad boys they had sex with when they were younger and prettier. This, I believe, is what leads to their unhappiness with the man they chose to marry.
More partners also means more marital instability
In a previous post, I blogged about several studies linking virginity to marital stability. Couples who don’t have sex before marriage, or even who delayed it, reported better communication, higher satisfaction, better quality sex, and a lower chance of divorce.
Men ought to be aware of this research when they are choosing a spouse. Obviously, you want a virgin, for the increased happiness and increased stability. For marriage-friendly character, you want to avoid women who are promiscuous thrill-seekers. You want to avoid women who run up debt doing easy non-STEM degrees and traveling. You want to avoid women who hook up with hot bad boys aren’t serious about commitment. Women who choose fun and thrills in their teens and 20s are setting a pattern of using sex as a way to get happiness in the moment. Later on, they’ll continue that pattern of seeing relationships as commodities that are designed to make them feel good, moment by moment. They’ll look at marriage as a way to fulfill their needs. They’ll have internalized the view that relationships are not commitments to invest in self-sacrificially. The pattern will be: “if it doesn’t make me feel happy right now, then it should be ended”. Men who aren’t serious about evaluating the character of the women for the marriage enterprise are running the risk of divorce, it’s that simple.
The best way to make sure that you have a clear head when evaluating a woman is to stay sober, and keep her hands off of you. When a man refuses to let a woman cloud his judgment with sex, then she is forced to learn how to love him, help him, and submit to his leadership. Male chastity encourages women who have been influenced by feminism to abandon selfishness, fun-seeking, and thrill-seeking, so that they learn to care for others. Male chastity also helps a man to resist older women who chose bad boys in their teens and 20s and want to get married to a good provider in their 30s. The studies discussed above clearly show that such women are more likely to be unhappy, and their future marriages are more likely to be unstable. Avoid them.
This is a wonderful, wonderful post from Amy Hall, who writes for the Stand to Reason blog.
I had a brief interaction with an atheist on Twitter a couple of weeks ago that unexpectedly turned to the issue of suffering when she said:
You clearly never had a time you were hurt. I don’t mean sick. I don’t mean heart broken. I mean literally a near death experience or rape or abusive relationship…. You can keep floating on a [expletive] cloud thinking Jesus will do everything for you but it’s a lie. What makes you so special?
That surprised me at first because it didn’t seem to have anything to do with the tweet she was responding to, and I was confused as to why she would assume I’d never been through anything traumatic. But then in subsequent tweets, when she revealed she had been raped, it became clear that her trauma had played a central role in her becoming an outspoken, obviously angry “antitheist.” She’s a self-described antitheist now because she thinks Christianity teaches Jesus “will do everything for you” to give you a perfect life, and now she knows that’s a lie. The rape proved her understanding of Christianity false.
So it made sense for her to reason that since I believe Christianity is true, I must still be under the delusion that Jesus is making my life special, which means I obviously never encountered any evil or suffering to shake that delusion.
All right, readers. I don’t want any of you to be thinking that if you become a Christian that these things should be expected to happen:
you will feel happy all the time
you will be able to sense God’s secret plan for your life through your feelings
God’s secret plan for your life will automatically work, even though it’s crazy
God will give you a perfect spouse and lots of money without you having to study anything hard, or do any hard work
you get permission to do things that that make you happy, even if they are expressly forbidden by the Bible
you don’t have to do anything that makes you feel bad (e.g. – talk to non-Christians about Christian truth claims), because God wants you to be happy
No! Where do people get this idea that if they convert to Christianity, then God will become their cosmic butler?
Amy has the answer: (emphasis mine)
Hear me, everyone: This is a failure of the church.
A friend of mine who was deeply suffering once said to me that many Christians are in for “an epic letdown” when they realize their preconceived notions about what God is expected to do for us are false. Pastors who preach a life-improvement Jesus are leading people down this precarious path to disillusionment.
If suffering disproves your Christianity, you’ve missed Christianity. The Bible is filled with the suffering of those whom God loves. The central event of the Bible is one of suffering. Love involves suffering. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” That means suffering.
It’s the church. It’s the focus on happy things and having of happy feelings and happy songs and preaching designed to make us feel good. I would say the comforting devotional reading doesn’t help to make us any tougher or more practical, either. That happy-clappy stuff just gives you a false sense of safety about your precarious situation. God’s job is not to prevent you from suffering. In fact, even if you make really smart, practical decisions, you can expect to get creamed anyway.
Purpose of Writing: 1 Peter is a letter from Peter to the believers who had been dispersed throughout the ancient world and were under intense persecution. If anyone understood persecution, it was Peter. He was beaten, threatened, punished and jailed for preaching the Word of God. He knew what it took to endure without bitterness, without losing hope and in great faith living an obedient, victorious life. This knowledge of living hope in Jesus was the message and Christ’s example was the one to follow.
Brief Summary: Though this time of persecution was desperate, Peter reveals that it was actually a time to rejoice. He says to count it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ, as their Savior suffered for them. This letter makes reference to Peter’s personal experiences with Jesus and his sermons from the book of Acts. Peter confirms Satan as the great enemy of every Christian but the assurance of Christ’s future return gives the incentive of hope.
Practical Application: The assurance of eternal life is given to all Christians. One way to identify with Christ is to share in His suffering. To us that would be to endure insults and slurs from those who call us “goodie two shoes” or “holier than thou.” This is so minor compared to what Christ suffered for us on the Cross. Stand up for what you know and believe is right and rejoice when the world and Satan aim to hurt you.
Recently, I blogged about how suffering is compatible with an all-powerful God, so you might want to read that too if you missed it.
I’m summarizing the most recent episode of the Unbelievable show.
Atheist philosopher Michael Ruse joins Justin as we spend a second week looking at Andy Bannister’s new book ‘The atheist who didn’t exist’.
Its amusingly titled chapters include ‘The Peculiar Case of the Postmodern Penguin (or: Why Life without God is Meaningless). Michael and Andy debate whether it’s a problem that atheists can’t have meaning with a ‘capital M’.
Here is a summary of the discussion between Ruse and Bannister, and my comments below the summary.
Ruse: ultimate questions are serious questions, and some religions are attempting to provide serious answers to those questions
Ruse: there is a psychological element to belief in God but it’s not a complete explanation, but it can apply to non-belief as well
Bannister: there are psychological reasons why people would prefer unbelief (quotes Thomas Nagel and Aldous Huxley)
Bannister: (to Ruse) what do you think would follow next if you got new information that caused you to believe in God?
Ruse: I’d feel scared, I’d think of all the reasons that God would dislike me, rather than any reasons why God would save me
Bannister: according to the Bible, God is not so much interested in mere belief, but in active trust in him
Ruse: without being smug, I just completed 50 years as a college professor of philosophy, and I have a sense of worth from that
Ruse: if God turns up, and says that 50 years of being a professor is not good enough, well, I don’t know God, I’m sorry, I did my best
Brierley: Andy, explain to us this story of how a penguin explained to you how he invented a subjective meaning in life for himself?
Brierley: (reads the story)
Bannister: when it comes to reading a book, the real meaning is the meaning the author intended the book to have
Bannister: readers can inject their own meaning into the book that has nothing to do with it, but the author gives the real meaning
Bannister: meaning in life is like reading a book – you can make up your own meaning, but the author’s meaning is the real meaning
Brierley: (to Ruse) on atheism, is there any objective meaning?
Ruse: “obviously, someone like myself cannot have meaning with a capital M in that sense”
Ruse: the real question is and atheist can find a sense of self-worth, “I find that I’m happier within myself, I can find meaning”
Bannister: what would you say to someone who drinks away the family inheritance and gets the same sense of happiness you have?
Bannister: what would you say to all the people who are unable to get “a sense of self-worth” from their career, because of where they are born, sickness, etc.
Ruse: I have nothing to offer them, some people are born into such awful situations that they are bound to be bad people
Ruse: these unfair accidents of birth, etc., fits with atheism better
Ruse: what we should do is change society so that more people can build a sense of self-worth through achievements
Ruse: that way, they can say to God “I used my talents” so they can create feelings of self-worth and happiness (apart from God)
Bannister: meaning in life cannot be answered without answering questions related to identity, value, which are rooted in the overall worldview
Bannister: on the Christian worldview, you have an infinite worth, your value isn’t determined by circumstances, earnings, friends, etc.
Bannister: your value comes from what Jesus was willing to pay to save you, namely, giving his own life for you
Bannister: when I travel to meet other Christians in other parts of the world, they have a happiness that should not be there if they are getting happiness from wealth, fame, achievements, etc.
Bannister: but when you come to the West, many people who have wealth, fame, achievement, etc. are unhappy
Ruse: well maybe who look after a flock of sheep every day may get a sense of self-worth from that, or from other jobs
Ruse: I do take Christianity very seriously, it is a grown-up proposal to answer grown-up questions – it works if it is true
Ruse: we don’t have to follow Nietzche’s statement that if there is no God, there is no meaning in life – we can find a middle way, we can achieve meaning in life by using our talents to achieve things
Bannister: I disagree with Michael, I don’t think that the meaning you invent for yourself is authentic meaning
Bannister: distracting yourself with amusing things and happiness is not an answer to the problem
Brierley: (to Ruse) are you saying that you have searched for ultimate meaning, and you are settling for subjective meaning?
Ruse: my subjective meaning is not second class to objective meaning, “I feel a real deep sense of achievement, of meaning, of self-worth, of having used my talents properly, and I don’t feel in any sense a sense of regret” (what matters to him is how he feels)
Bannister: notice how Michael keeps bringing in value judgments. e.g. – “use my talents well”, that implies that there is a right way and a wrong to use your talents, which assumes an objective scale of right and wrong, which makes no sense in atheism
Bannister: an atheist can sit in a sun room and enjoy the feelings of happiness generated by the light and heat of the Sun, without asking whether there is a Sun out there
Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, my concern is not whether something makes me happy or makes me feel fulfilled
Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, I think there is only one real reason to wrestle with these questions of meaning, and that is to find truth
Ruse: sometimes we reach a point where we cannot get to true answers to some questions, sometimes we look for truth, but then give up and confess “I cannot find it” and then move on from there
Is it possible to dispense with God’s advice on your decision-making and achieve something that affects a lot of people, or makes people like you, or makes you famous, etc., and then have that please God? “Look, God, I did something I liked that affected a lot of people, and made them feel happy as they were on their way to Hell because they rejected you”. Will rap musicians answer God by pointing to 50 years of leading people away from chastity with godless music? A lot of people went to see the “NWA” movie that celebrated musicians who have an anti-Christian view of women and violence. Can NWA present their “artistic work” to God and claim that God should be pleased with their successful efforts to get rich and famous? Having feelings of achievement doesn’t mean anything to God.
So what is the standard? How you imitate Jesus – self-control, self-denial and self-sacrifice to honor God – that is the standard. If I had to choose between giving up two hours of my life to summarize this discussion for my readers, and all the fame and fortune that people who make godless TV shows, movies and music have, I would choose to make this debate summary. My goal in life is not to have fun, thrills, travel and feel happy in this world. I have a Boss. Doing without fun, thrills, travel and happy feelings in order to put points on the board for my Boss is objectively meaningful. It’s may not seem like much compared to what James Bond does in million-dollar movies, but at least I am wearing the right uniform, and playing for the right team.
I was telling Dina recently, isn’t it remarkable how rarely in our culture that people actually talk about the big questions? If you look out at the culture, everything seems to be about feeling good, having fun, being liked by others. Not much about ultimate questions, and certainly not a truth-based assessment of the alternatives. .
In preparation for this blog post, I read an article from a far-left source about the decline of women’s happiness.
As women gain political, economic and social freedoms, one would expect that they should feel even more contented relative to men. But this isn’t so.
The “paradox of declining female happiness” was pointed out by economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, who also happen to share a house and kids. They analyzed the happiness trends of US citizens between 1970 and 2005 and found a surprising result.
Stevenson and Wolfers discovered that American women rated their overall life satisfaction higher than men in the 1970s. Thereafter, women’s happiness scores decreased while men’s scores stayed roughly stable. By the 1990s, women were less happy than men. This relative unhappiness softened after the turn of the century, but men continue to enjoy a higher sense of subjective wellbeing that is at least as high — if not higher — than women’s.
Those 35 years saw advances in American women’s rights and financial power.
Let’s take a look at a recent study that the Daily Wire reported on, to see what really makes women happy:
Despite the onslaught of propaganda telling young girls otherwise, a recent research paper distilling data from over 30 European countries concluded that mothers find homemaking preferable to working full-time.
Doc. PhDr. Dana Hamplová, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Institute of Sociology, ASCR, and a current representative of the Czech Republic in the International Social Science Program, authored the paper. Addressing Betty Friedan’s narrative in the book The Feminine Mystique, which claims that women are happiest and most fulfilled at work, Hamplová “explores the link between employment and subjective well-being among mothers with children under 3 years of age,” reads the paper’s abstract.
“Analyzing multiple measures of subjective well-being, the paper shows that homemakers are generally happier than full-time workers,” the scientist found.
“Contrary to our expectations, homemaking was positively associated with happiness particularly among mothers who left higher quality employment for childcare. Though some variation across countries exists, it is not linked to the provision of formal childcare, duration of parental leave, or tax system,” Hamplová explains.
[…]”Thus, similarly to several other studies, the ESS [European Social Survey] data do not corroborate Betty Friedan’s idea that domesticity and housekeeping leaves women unhappy and unsatisfied,” she writes. “As all 12 measures of happiness/satisfaction point to the same direction, the conclusion that mothers with younger children tend to be better off if they are not engaged in paid employment seems to be robust.”
We’ve had lots of advancements in women’s power, often coming at the expense of men (i.e. – husband candidates). For example, anti-male schools staffed by feminist administrators and feminist teachers might be great for women, but they don’t produce high-earning men for women to marry. And when women vote to expand government, taxes must increase to pay for all the spending. This reduces even further the pool of men who can take on a wife and family shrinks even more because of the increased tax burden.
In the view that has prevailed in American education over the past decade, boys are resented, both as the unfairly privileged sex and as obstacles on the path to gender justice for girls. This perspective is promoted in schools of education, and many a teacher now feels that girls need and deserve special indemnifying consideration.
[…]A review of the facts shows boys, not girls, on the weak side of an education gender gap. The typical boy is a year and a half behind the typical girl in reading and writing; he is less committed to school and less likely to go to college. In 1997 college full-time enrollments were 45 percent male and 55 percent female. The Department of Education predicts that the proportion of boys in college classes will continue to shrink.
Data from the U.S. Department of Education and from several recent university studies show that far from being shy and demoralized, today’s girls outshine boys. They get better grades. They have higher educational aspirations. They follow more-rigorous academic programs and participate in advanced-placement classes at higher rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, slightly more girls than boys enroll in high-level math and science courses. Girls, allegedly timorous and lacking in confidence, now outnumber boys in student government, in honor societies, on school newspapers, and in debating clubs. Only in sports are boys ahead, and women’s groups are targeting the sports gap with a vengeance. Girls read more books. They outperform boys on tests for artistic and musical ability. More girls than boys study abroad. More join the Peace Corps. At the same time, more boys than girls are suspended from school. More are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol, and drugs. Girls attempt suicide more often than boys, but it is boys who more often succeed. In 1997, a typical year, 4,483 young people aged five to twenty-four committed suicide: 701 females and 3,782 males.
It’s important to note that women are not victims here, they are actually the ones who created the shortage of men who could earn enough money to support a family, and allow them to stay home with their children. Their “advancements in power” came at a cost: they undermined the system that produced men who were capable of handling the financial demands of a family where the wife can raise her own children.
Look at this study of how women have voted to expand government and therefore raise taxes on working men for social programs that replace husbands:
This paper examines the growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote. Using cross‐sectional time‐series data for 1870–1940, we examine state government expenditures and revenue as well as voting by U.S. House and Senate state delegations and the passage of a wide range of different state laws. Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government expenditures and revenue and more liberal voting patterns for federal representatives, and these effects continued growing over time as more women took advantage of the franchise. Contrary to many recent suggestions, the gender gap is not something that has arisen since the 1970s, and it helps explain why American government started growing when it did.
Bigger government means higher taxes means men earn less money, after taxes. How are you supposed to keep your wife home to watch over the little ones when taxes are higher? You can’t.