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.
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 was just thinking to myself this week about why I keep running into people who identify as Christians who are open and unrepentant about habitual sin. Now, I’m not perfect, but you don’t see me out there in public saying that the Bible is wrong. I would not claim that some behavior that was condemned by all previous generations of Christians is suddenly ok.
So, I thought and thought and thought about it, and here is what I came up with. Somehow, people have come to a view of Christianity that tells them that Christianity is not something that is true about the universe out there. Instead, Christianity is “true” in the sense that it “works for them”.
So they aren’t saying that God actually exists or that Jesus actually rose from the dead, because they don’t know if those things are objectively true. They’re just saying that they like some Christian words and behaviors because those things make them feel good. Christianity is not something they could defend as objectively true to any non-Christian using reason and evidence. They like how the idea of a loving God makes them feel. Or maybe they like invoking the idea of “do not judge” when someone questions their destructive choices or immorality. But they don’t actually submit to these ideas as “true” in the same way that they take the instructions on a medicine bottle as true.
Here’s a post by Aaron Brake at Stand to Reason, that explains three different views of truth. He calls the view that I talked about the “pragmatic view of truth”. He says that the pragmatic view is that things are true if they “work” for the individual. So, in the case of my Christians-who-deny-Jesus-as-Lord, these people pick and choose things that work for them out of Christianity, e.g. – the love of God, the “do not judge” fragment, the women taken in adultery, etc. But they leave out the moral obligations that Christians have believed for thousands of years, e.g. – no sex before marriage, marriage is between a man and woman for life, divorce is pretty much always unjustified, and adultery is never OK under any circumstances.
Here is the view of truth that he thinks is best:
Finally, there is the correspondence theory of truth: truth is when an idea, belief, or statement matches (or corresponds with) the way the world actually is (reality).
This may rightly be labeled the “common sense” view of truth. While not taught explicitly in Scripture, it is assumed throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The correspondence theory of truth states that an idea, belief, or statement is true if it matches, or corresponds with, reality. In this sense, reality is the truth-maker, and the idea, belief, or statement is the truth-bearer. When the truth-bearer (an idea) matches the truth-maker (reality), they are said to stand in an “appropriate correspondence relationship,” and truth obtains.
Consider the following statements:
Donald Trump is the current President of the United States.
The city of Los Angeles is located in California.
Elective abortion kills an innocent human being.
Are these statements true? They are if, in fact, they match reality. Statement number 1 is true if, in reality, Donald Trump is the current President of the United States. Statement 2 is true if, in fact, the city of Los Angeles is located in California. And statement 3 is true if elective abortion really does kill an innocent human being. Easy enough, right? Aristotle put it this way:
To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.
A Case for Correspondence
Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland notes two main arguments which have been advanced in favor of the correspondence theory of truth: the descriptive and the dialectical.
The descriptive argument simply presents specific cases that help illustrate the concept of truth. For example, in Moreland’s bookstore case, an individual named Joe has the thought “Richard Swinburne’s book The Evolution of the Soul is in the bookstore.” When Joe enters the bookstore and sees the book, he actually experiences truth, a correspondence relation between his thought and reality. Again, this is the “common sense” definition of truth since it is the view we all presuppose in our daily actions and speech; i.e., everyone assumes the correspondence theory of truth when reading a medicine label or dialing a phone number.
That theory of truth is the normal theory of truth, and it’s the one used in the Bible, e.g. – Elijah on Mount Carmel, Jesus calling his resurrection the Sign of Jonah. If the Bible teaches something, then that teaching is true, because it conforms to the way the world really is. Objective reality makes the Bible’s statements true or false. It’s true whether people like it or not.
Here’s what I suspect is true of all the liberal Christians that I’ve met. None of them will have looked into things like the existence of God or the resurrection to see if they are objectively true. They’ll not even be interested in lifting a finger to study in order to find out whether those things are true. If they evangelize, they’ll tell stories about their own life experiences and feelings, and try to “sell” Christianity based on felt needs being met. They’ll not waste a second on studying the laws of logic, or science or history in order to demonstrate Christian claims as true – especially the ones that don’t “ring true” to them.
It makes me think of that post that I wrote about John Searle and his suspicion about why people become postmodern relativists. He thinks it’s so that they can deny reality if reality constrains their will to pursue happiness. I’ve actually seen this when people break all the rules in their selfish pursuit of happiness, and then when it all explodes in their face, they claim that life is unpredictable, and it wasn’t their fault. The rejection of the correspondence theory of truth is – I think – rooted in this desire to dismiss anything that could act as a brake on their hedonism. They don’t care that you can produce studies after studies showing that fatherlessness is bad for children. If God didn’t give them a husband, then they are perfectly justified in having children through a sperm donor, and raising the fatherless child with welfare money. The simplest way out of your Bible verses and fatherlessness studies is for them to say that doing wrong “works for them” and so it’s “true for them”.
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.
When females were the main breadwinner in the family, they were discovered to report more symptoms of depression.
However, the opposite effect was found in men: Their psychological well-being was highest when they were the primary wage-earners.
Researchers at the University of Illinois examined data on nearly 1,500 men and 1,800 women, aged between 52 and 60. Their well-being was evaluated through surveys.
The researchers first found that men’s well-being decreased once they had exited the workforce to become home-makers.
Meanwhile, the inverse was not so for women: Women’s psychological well-being was not affected by leaving their jobs to become stay-at-home mothers.
‘We observed a statistically significant and substantial difference in depressive symptoms between men and women in our study,’ says lead researcher Karen Kramer.
‘The results supported the overarching hypothesis: well-being was lower for mothers and fathers who violated gendered expectations about the division of paid labor, and higher for parents who conformed to these expectations.’
If you don’t like the UK Daily Mail, CNN reported on a similar study back in 2014.
Indeed. The trouble is this: who can afford to provide for a stay-at-home wife on one salary, in a country where 30% of your income is taxed, and many things (e.g. – health care, college tuition, etc.) are way more expensive because of socialist welfare state policies? We have a $20 trillion dollar debt, and taxes are only going to go higher, making it that much harder for a working man to provide for a family – no matter how diligent he is about getting STEM degree(s) and working full time, non-stop. Marriages where the woman stays home with the children are happiest for everyone, but thanks to the voting patterns of radical feminists, husbands have been replaced by government programs, and those cost taxpayer money. You can either have a big government welfare state or you can have a stay-at-home wife. You can’t have both.
I’ll now await your follow-up article on the divorce rate for couples where the wife works full-time outside of the home and how men should choose a woman who has demonstrated an ability to do marriage tasks – like taking care of the household full time, raising and nuturing children, being loving and supportive of a husband when times are tough (especially if, God forbid, he should ever find himself unemployed and thus no longer a provider, in which case most wives’ base and visceral impulse is to abandon him), not wanting “a career,” and not insisting that her husband waste all his earnings on fun and thrills for her.
Well, I’m blogging about it again today, but if the commenter were very clever, then he would have found this post from June of 2013 entitled “STUDY SHOWS THAT FEMALE-BREADWINNER MARRIAGES ARE LESS HAPPY AND LESS STABLE”.
Given these findings, it isn’t surprising that when a wife earns more than her husband, the risk of divorce rises, too. To study this, the authors used a survey conducted in two waves, 1987-88 and 1992-93. (There were no more recent data available for this particular test.) Then they investigated the likelihood of a divorce in the five-year interval. For this sample, some 12 percent of all couples were divorced during this period — a sobering fact about the stability of marriages in general. But the divorce rate rose by half, to about 18 percent, for couples in which the wife earned more than the husband.
When I was a high school student, I can remember trying to decide between being an English teacher, being a prosecuting attorney, or being a software engineer. It was my Dad who pointed me towards software engineering. As an avid stock picker, my Dad was seeing tech stocks exploding in value, and he knew that I would be able to find work even if I was laid off during tough times. I am glad that I listened to his advice, although my career still has not been easy, which is why I saved money for the two times where I was laid off (both times my subsidiary was folded by the parent company!). My reason for going into a field where I could earn more money was because I wanted to get married, have 4 children, and “heal” the experience of being neglected by my mother (who stuck me in day care after 6 weeks and worked full-time until she retired) by watching her parent my kids as a stay-at-home mom. I knew enough to know that marriage works better when the man provides and the woman focuses on the children – at least until they are 6 years old. Since then, I’ve discovered homeschooling, and I would definitely have done that. It’s not that I am opposed to women working, it’s that I am opposed to children not being raised by their mother.
Regarding tough times, I think that the situation for men right now is horrible with respect to marriage and children. $20 trillion debt and a generation of unskilled snowflake millenials voting for socialism in droves. I also think that co-ed schools where teachers and administrators are 80% females produce lousy outcomes for boys (read Christina Hoff Sommers’ “The War on Boys”, 2nd edition). Affirmative action in higher education and in the workplace for women doesn’t help men become providers, either. Men also pay the same premiums for health care as women, and yet they use far less health care: more tilting the field against men. And so on, don’t even get me started on divorce courts and child custody.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve blogged on studies about male and female roles in marriage. If you want to get good results from your marriage, you definitely want to follow the studies below.