Tag Archives: Marriage

Ryan T. Anderson lectures on marriage and why it matters

A family praying and reading the Bible
A family praying and reading the Bible

Here’s the lecture:

About the speaker:

Ryan T. Anderson researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He also focuses on justice and moral principles in economic thought, health care and education, and has expertise in bioethics and natural law theory.

Anderson, who joined the leading Washington think tank’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in 2012, also is the editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, N.J.

Anderson’s recent work at Heritage focuses on the constitutional questions surrounding same-sex “marriage.” He is the co-author with Princeton’s Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis of the acclaimed book “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” (Encounter Books, December 2012).

The lecture starts at 7:20 in. The lecture ends at 49:35. There are 32 minutes of Q&A.

Introduction:

  • When talking about marriage in public, we should talk about philosophy, sociology and public policy
  • Gay marriage proponents need to be pressed to define what marriage is, on their view
  • Every definition of marriage is going to include some relationships, and exclude others
  • It’s meaningless to portray one side as nice and the other mean
  • Typically, marriage redefiners view marriage as a more intense emotional relationship
  • Marriage redefiners should be challenged in three ways:
  • 1) Does the redefined version of marriage have a public policy reason to prefer only two people?
  • 2) Does the redefined version of marriage have a reason to prefer permanence?
  • 3) Does the redefined version of marriage have a reason to prefer sexual exclusivity?
  • Also, if marriage is just about romance, then why is the state getting involved in recognizing it?
  • The talk: 1) What marriage is, 2) Why marriage matters, 3) What are the consequences of redefining marriage?

What marriage is:

  • Marriage unites spouses – hearts, minds and bodies
  • Marriage unites spouses to perform a good: creating a human being and raising that human being
  • Marriage is a commitment: permanent and exclusive
  • Male and female natures are distinct and complementary

The public purpose of marriage:

  • to attach men and women to each other
  • to attach mothers and fathers to their children
  • there is no such thing as parenting, there is only mothering and fathering
  • the evidence shows that children benefit from mothering and fathering
  • boys who grow up without fathers are more likely to commit crimes
  • girls who grow up without fathers are more likely to have sex earlier
  • Children benefit from having a mother and a father
  • can’t say that fathers are essential for children if we support gay marriage, which makes fathers optional
  • without marriage: child poverty increases, crime increases, social mobility decreases, welfare spending increases
  • when government encourages marriage, then government has less do to – stays smaller, spends less
  • if we promote marriage as an idea, we are not excluding gay relationships or even partner benefits
  • finally, gay marriage has shown itself to be hostile to religious liberty

Consequences redefining marriage:

  • it undermines the norm in public like that kids deserve a mom and a dad – moms and dads are interchangeable
  • it changes the institution of marriage away from the needs of children, and towards the needs of adults
  • it undermines the norm of permanence
  • we learned what happens when marriage is redefined before: with no-fault divorce
  • no-fault divorce: after this became law, divorce rates doubled – the law changed society
  • gay marriage would teach society that mothers and fathers are optional when raising children
  • if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then how can you rationally limit marriage to only two people?
  • if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then if other people cause intense feelings, there’s no fidelity
  • if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then if the feelings go away, there is no permanence
  • the public policy consequences to undermining the norms of exclusivity and permanence = fatherless children and fragmented families
  • a final consequences is the decline and elimination of religious liberty – e.g. – adoption agencies closing, businesses being sued

We’re doing very well on abortion, but we need to get better at knowing how to discuss marriage. If you’re looking for something short to read, click here. If you want to read a long paper that his book is based on.

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

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

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

You can listen to the episode here.

And it came with a free summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

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

10:45  The Myth of the Deadbeat Dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terrell writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radical feminists explain how feminism prepared them for dating and marriage

These women are very angry, is that why men avoid them?
These women are very angry, is that why men avoid them?

So, quick review. Radical feminism is the view that there are no differences whatsoever between men and women. And the reason why men do better at work is not due to a stronger desire to provide, it’s just caused by sexism in the workplace. Feminists don’t focus on marriage or choose men for marriage ability – that’s “sexist”. So, why don’t men want to date or marry feminists?

I like to read a web site called “Bolde” to find out what feminists are thinking. They have good articles, and even if I disagree with the authors, I do feel sorry for them.

Here’s an article called “I’m All For Feminism, But It’s Kinda Making It Harder To Date” that says:

It doesn’t take much for me to overanalyze a guy’s intentions nowadays. I used to see a guy opening a door for me as nice and polite, but lately, gestures like this have been making me angry. I know the guys offering these acts of chivalry have no intention to make me feel small or lesser than, but now that my eyes have been opened to feminist theory, it’s all I’m able to think about.

[…]When I’m out with a guy and he says one thing that’s even REMOTELY offensive towards women, I find it really hard to recover. I instantly write guys off if they aren’t “woke” to the current social mindset towards gender politics and can’t let it go. Let’s just say I’ve gone on A LOT of first dates that never go anywhere.

[…]All it takes is one quick scroll down my newsfeed and I have enough feminist rants to last me several winters. I think I’ve almost trained my brain to assume ALL men are here to try to put me down and dominate me when that’s far from the truth. I’ve made it kind of an automatic reflex at this point, though.

She actually says in her article that she’s been “brainwashed”. And that’s basically the case. Before feminism, women used to evaluate men for traditional male roles: protector, provider, moral and spiritual leader. They looked for evidence of moral convictions, mentoring, charity, kindness, etc. After feminism, women are more likely to get the tingles for a guy who is tall, pierced and tattooed. To look for husband qualities in a man is “sexist”. Early marriage is “boring”. Having lots of children is “wasting your education”.

It’s pretty clear from reading her article that she would not be a good partner. Men are looking for a woman who will listen to their life plan, and give up the pursuit of fun, thrills and travel in order to help them achieve it. Although it should be obvious, we aren’t going to commit to a woman who is seeking to grab the reins from us, and tear us down. Men tend to be more focused than women on reason and practicality. That’s good, but it’s a very cold existence. We want a woman to be caring and helpful, not a snarky competitor.

Here’s another one from Bolde entitled: “I Say I Want A Good Man But The Idea Of Dating A Mature Guy Scares Me“:

I’ve dated very few men in my life and a whole lot of boys.

[…]I think that I have a need to feel like I’m in charge of romantic situations. It dates back to my childhood issues, I guess. I want to keep the upper hand.

[…] I’m very honest, yes, but I’m emotionally closed-off. There is a definite distinction between the two. There are certain places that I simply don’t (or can’t) go with most people. When I’m confronted with a man who is open with his feelings, it freaks me out.

[…][M]ost of the men I’ve met who are emotionally developed also have the rest of their act together, and it makes me feel like maybe I don’t.

[…]I get paranoid because I hate being at a disadvantage.

[…]I’m not that different from the rest of my generation in some ways. I’m used to the ease of being single, and while ideally I’d like a deep and loving adult relationship, I also know that it takes time and energy that I’m not sure I’m willing to give up.

[…]I’m always falling for men who are unavailable in some way or another. I hate that I’m like this and I know that I operate this way because it feels safer than engaging in risky vulnerability with someone who truly wants to be with me.

[…]I’ve not had many mature relationships in my life. I’ve been in love and I’ve had serious boyfriends, but there was often an element of childishness to our interactions. We never really discussed our futures together or acted… adult. Now I feel like I don’t even know how to begin.

I’ve had experiences with women like this who smashed themselves up on the rocks of bad boys over and over. I think she really explains why it is that so many women are attracted to younger bad boys who don’t want to commit. The truth is that women are scared of commitment. They don’t want to give up their free and easy single lives in order to have to put effort into making a relationship work. They want husbands and homes, but without expectations, responsibilities, or obligations. And the better a man is at manly traits like protecting, providing, and leading on moral and spiritual issues, the less they like him. It’s even worse if he has a good STEM education, a good resume, and a good balance sheet. They deliberately bypass commitment-ready men because they don’t want to be led – even by a good leader.

By the way, in my experience, what she describes above is the natural outworking of being promiscuous with hot bad boys. Women who do that lose trust for men, and they lose their confidence dealing with good men who want to marry them. And naturally all that sex with attractive men makes the woman less content with the one she has to “settle” for – since she didn’t respect men who were good at commitment in the first place. Promiscuity trains people to pre-emptively nuke relationships rather than invest effort into making them work.

The most important thing Christian parents need to focus on with their children

A family praying and reading the Bible
A family praying and reading the Bible

I know what you’re thinking – I’m going to say apologetics. But I was actually having a talk with a young women who found the arguments for God convincing, but wasn’t sure whether she was ready for a personal relationship with the God of the Bible. It got me thinking about my past and what it was about the God of the Bible that caused me to make a commitment.

If I had to say what it is that cause me to take Christianity seriously, including accepting Jesus as my Leader (more than just as my Savior), it would be the conviction that God was lining things up in my life to show himself to me. This was particularly welcome because I could see that I had not been blessed with the best situation in life to start out with.

Sean McDowell has a recent post about it, and since he is an expert in apologetics, I’m inclined to agree with him.

He writes:

In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis makes a distinction between “Gift-love” and “Need-love.” As for Gift-love, he gives the example of a father who works and plans for the future well being of his family, even though he will die without seeing them benefit. As for Need-love, Lewis gives the example of a lonely and frightened child who comes to its mother’s arms for comfort and protection. Such love is neither selfish nor improper, because children are intended to have nurturing mothers, and mothers are intended to care for their kids.

According to Lewis, God’s love for mankind is entirely Gift-love: “The Father gives all He is and has to the Son. The Son gives Himself back to the Father, and gives Himself to the world, and for the world to the Father, and thus gives the world (in Himself) back to the Father too.” God does not need our love or worship. Rather, He freely loves us as an extension of His grace.

But our love for God is different. While we may be able to offer God Gift-love, our love is primarily need based. Lewis explains: “But man’s love for God, from the very nature of the case, must always be very largely, and must often be entirely, a Need-love.” We desperately need God in both this world and the next.

And then Lewis makes an additional (and helpful) distinction—while our objective need for God will never change, our awareness of that need can. And if our awareness of the need for God fades, then so may our faith. Thus, Lewis says:

There seems no reason for describing as hypocritical the short-lived piety of those whose religion fades away once they have emerged from “danger, necessity or tribulation.” Why should they not have been sincere? They were desperate and howled for help. Who wouldn’t?

In other words, if someone believes in God because of an immediate need for safety or comfort, then as soon as the danger or pain ends, so may the faith. How does this relate to students? Think about it. If a young person believes in God for social or relational needs in the family, church, or school, then when those needs fade, so will his or her faith. If belief in God fulfills some external need, then as soon as that need fades, or another venue provides satisfaction of that need, the student will likely abandon his or her faith (or minimally, have a marginalized faith).

The whole post is worth reading, because no less than Sean McDowell himself had a moment like this where he realized his own sinfulness and had to rely on Jesus for his forgiveness.

Judging from his tweets, I know that Sean is obsessed with super-heroes like Spider-Man, and so he would not be comparing himself to his peers in terms of righteousness. That sort of distance between you and Spider-Man can be really grating for boys. Inside, we feel like we are meant to be super-heroes. Many young men go into apologetics because they see it as a super-power. The problem of not measuring up is very strong for us, because we see the demands of Christianity as much greater than mere church attendance. I imagine that as Sean engaged with people using his apologetics super-power, he probably realized how difficult it was to know everything and give an answer to everyone. That’s above and beyond the standard shortcomings or pride, anger, hatred, and so on that are inside of every person.

We are not super-heroes but we need to have super-human righteousness (that is, perfect righteousness) in order to stand before our Creator and Designer. The only solution is to rely on the imputed righteousness of Jesus for our super-hero status. It is a good and healthy thing to take on Jesus as King, and to imitate him. But when we fail, we must also rely on him as Savior. And thank God the Father for that provision of salvation. And indeed, I myself think of Jesus as Savior in the moments where I am conscious of my own sin. But I need to think about him more than that, and I’ll explain how next.

In my case, I wanted to be a super hero growing up, but I knew I wasn’t coming from a family or a background that made super-heroes. I was saved in a non-Christian home where, thanks to my hands-off “parents”, I was on a very dark path to failure. In fact, I can see where I would have ended up by just looking at where my older brother is now. That disaster is what my parents, my schools, my culture, etc. produced in him, and it would have been me except for God stepping in to make himself known. I get excited about God as initiator and architect of salvation (not without my free will to trust). When God architects a divine appointment for me to use my prepared abilities in his defense or in mentoring little ones, I praise God as author of salvation. But I forget that Christ is the one who allows me to be clean enough to participate in this plan.

My ambition from small was to be a super-hero, and this later turned into great respect for people in the military, especially those who are awarded the Medal of Honor, like Michael Murphy. I want God to give me the Medal of Honor, too. But sin ruins my ambition every day. When I am called out to serve and am found faithful and competent, I need to remember that what makes me fit for service is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. His shed blood is the cape that I put on when it is my turn to come off the bench and be who I was designed to be. It is very important to me that the God I serve is the kind of God who won’t turn away from me when I fall short.