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.
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.
(Image: Husband and wife doing some woodworking together)
Astonishing article from the leftist Huffington Post, of all places. (links removed)
As millennial women, we were groomed for a white knight fantasy. From childhood favorites such as Snow White to adult rom-com staples such as How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days or Sleepless in Seattle, the media perpetuates a romantic storyline in which compatibility and lasting romance is something effortless, built on chance, sustained by good looks, fun dates and electric sexual chemistry. These story lines shape our expectations for romantic happiness. It is not enough to find someone with whom we are mostly compatible, who would make a good parent, with whom we could learn and grow wrinkly; now, we expect a perfect fit and an easy, instantaneous “connection.” In short, we want a soul mate. But it is this desire for a soul mate that is actually the undoing of our happy ending.
A “soul mate” is defined as one who is ideally suited to us, perfectly completes us, one with whom the relationship feels easy and natural. With them, a relationship is just “meant to be”… A survey of young adults conducted by the National Marriage Project found that while 84% of young adults report finding a marriage partner “very important,” a full 94% of young adults say they would like to marry a soul mate, and 73% of people ages 18 – 29 believe that there is a soul mate out there for them.
Wow. That doesn’t sound like a good approach to me. My approach has always been to pick the girl who was most willing to learn new things. And then to explain to her my vision for marriage and see if I could get her to work independently on that plan before I married her. I don’t favor this soul mate approach at all.
Does the “soul mate” approach work?
We heard that those who get married later and possess a college degree have fewer divorces and more stable marriages. So we spend our twenties trying to find ourselves through travel, accumulating degrees and building a career. Marriage will be the capstone of our achievements, and nothing less than tying the knot with a soul mate will suffice. But the tragic irony is that soul mate thinking makes us increasingly likely to divorce. A study of 1,400 married men and women shows that people who hold soul mate orientations are 150% more likely to end up divorced than those who do not.
The widespread cultural belief in “soul mate ideology” undermines our chances at happiness because it makes us passive receivers of idyllic romantic expectations. Further, it fosters self-centeredness; one rarely longs to be a soul mate for someone else, which would require effort. For this reason, believing in soul mates is one of the most dis-empowering belief systems we can adopt. As millennials, we pride ourselves on actively pursuing the life we want to live, rather than simply accepting whatever hand we are dealt. We are innovative, passionate, proactive and not afraid to take risks. Yet, there is a disconnect when it comes to our desire for lasting love. Though there are prospects around us, we forgo taking the concrete steps needed to build happy compatible relationships because we do not “feel a spark.” We are passively waiting on the sidelines for love to “happen,” and then wonder why it is so difficult.
I’ve always felt that the soul mate approach was like the evil villain in opposition to my noble plan-based approach. My approach is to pick a woman who wants to learn and work hard. Explain your marriage plan to her, and how your marriage plan serves God. My marriage plan accomplishes four goals, for example. 1) Influence the university with apologetics, 2) influence the church with apologetics, 3) provide a model of a good marriage to people in the community, including co-workers, college students and neighbors, and 4) raise effective, influential children who will have an impact for God. Now if you are a Christian woman raised in a church that affirms the soul mate / fairy tale view of marriage with this “God has a wonderful plan for your life” stuff, then a specific, non-emotional plan from a man is the last thing you want to hear about.
Their solution is for people to work at compatibility:
Compatibility is something co-created through intentionality and conscious choice. It involves mutual sacrifice, effort and commitment for the sake of the other’s benefit. A recent study found that of the couples who demonstrate above average daily generosity, 50% of them report being “very happy” in marriage; among the low generosity scores, only 14% can say the same. As studies indicate, selflessness is required to create mutual compatibility. It is not instantaneous, nor does it usually begin with true love’s kiss.
We both know from experience that there are some you naturally connect with and others you do not. This is not a call towards forced attraction or companionship. But, our romantic futures should not be placed in the hands of blind chance. It is time we roll up our sleeves and shift our expectations from unattainable perfection to realistic romance, one that accounts for imperfection. We must understand that work in a relationship is a necessary key to success, rather than an indication of imminent failure. We will be letting go of a tired plot line that sets us up for disappointment and embracing an active role in our own unique story.
How refreshing to know that we do not have to be perfect to be lovable, and that our romantic success is not solely dependent on finding the “right” fit, but instead built through cultivating daily moments of generosity, sacrifice and conscious coupling.
So in my case, I am looking for a woman who listens to the plan, develops the skills for the plan and then independently engages in activities to achieve the goals of the plan. In the past, I have had women listen to the plan carefully, including my motivations and experiences that caused me to choose this plan. And they have been willing to read books, listen to lectures, watch debates, to gain the skills needed to make a difference. And they have even engaged independently with activities like public speaking, teaching classes, and so forth. But none of the women who had done that accepted the soul mate / fairy tale view of marriage. They all wanted to hear a good plan, learn useful skills and then get to work. Big difference.
In previous posts, I’ve described how I tried to keep the male provider role in mind when deciding how hard to study, what to major in, what jobs to choose, and how much to save. I wanted to earn the respect of my future wife, and have leverage to lead the family according to a (known) plan that would produce results for God. But not everyone sees self-sacrificial decisions that produce results as worthy of respect.
Here is a comment from a Christian feminist:
Based on this, and other things you’ve said, I… would frankly consider you ineligible for marriage. I have read some of your blog and it seems to me that you trust in your own earning power, your own planning ability, and haven’t even considered that it’s God who gives you the health and strength to carry out these things. Also, if you’re planning to retire at 50 with this net wealth, then you’re not giving enough money away. I don’t want to marry a dead beat guy who can’t provide. But I don’t want to marry an arrogant guy who thinks he can provide better than God either.
I think what she’s saying here, is that despite the husband’s abilities as a provider, wives are not obligated to respect their husbands. Why not? Because the husband’s preparation and planning to be the main provider was all a gift from God. The husband didn’t sacrifice anything or make good decisions in order to become a good provider. God did that. So, the wife should just give God the respect, not her husband.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
What her view really means, in practice, is that the wife only has to “respect” her husband when she feels like it. And when is that? When he makes her feel happy. By doing what she tells him to do.
And, since provider ability was all God’s doing, the husband didn’t really make good decisions about education, work experience, and finances. God made all those good decisions. The husband doesn’t actually know how to make good decisions, and so he shouldn’t be making the decisions for the family.
In practice, only the wife knows what God has decided for her (and the family). God speaks to her directly, through her feelings. So really, she should just explain to her husband what God is telling her through her feelings, and the husband should submit to her decision-making.
What does the Bible teach about women and marriage?
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Is the woman’s her desire for her husband a romantic or sexual desire? It is not.
Famous evangelical theologian Dr. Wayne Grudem explains in his book “Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood”:
The word translated “desire” is an unusual Hebrew word, teshûqåh. What is the meaning of this word? In this context and in this construction, it probably implies an aggressive desire, perhaps a desire to conquer or rule over, or else an urge or impulse to oppose her husband, an impulse to act “against” him. This sense is seen in the only other occurrence of teshûqåh in all the books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), and the only other occurrence of teshûqåh plus the preposition ’el in the whole Bible. That occurrence of the word is in the very next chapter of Genesis, in 4:7. God says to Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it” ( NASB ). Here the sense is very clear. God pictures sin as a wild animal waiting outside Cain’s door, waiting to attack him, even to pounce on him and overpower him. In that sense, sin’s “desire” or “instinctive urge” is “against” him. 20
The striking thing about that sentence is what a remarkable parallel it is with Genesis 3:16. In the Hebrew text, six words are the same and are found in the same order in both verses. It is almost as if this other usage is put here by the author so that we would know how to understand the meaning of the term in Genesis 3:16. The expression in 4:7 has the sense, “desire, urge, impulse against” (or perhaps “desire to conquer, desire to rule over”). And that sense fits very well in Genesis 3:16 also. 21
Bottom line: not every church-attending woman who paints herself as a “spiritual” Christian (with words) takes the Bible seriously as an authority (in her actions).
Men: make sure you evaluate wife-candidates thoroughly, and make sure that they demonstrate the ability to do what the Bible says, especially when it goes against their feelings and desires. Never believe words about the future. Evaluate actions in the past. Your marriage must achieve something for God, and that means you must choose someone with proven character and ability, to help you execute your plan. That is why we evaluate women before proposing. Remember, after you marry her, you will be morally obligated to love her as Christ loved the church. Make sure you pick someone who is easy to love all the way.
If you ask this question theoretically, most people will probably say that it’s the man’s responsibility, especially in the church. Is this because women don’t like the idea of having to plan out and achieve something? Maybe. But what is interesting is that the man-pursues view is very popular in the church, even though it’s not very common in the Bible. Dalrock posted something about this.
One comment I see from fathers with surprising regularity is that their unmarried daughter is in a great position to find a husband because she’s not remotely interested in the kind of men who express interest in her.
I… think this is tied into the erroneous idea that the Bible teaches that men should pursue and women should judge the performance. But it isn’t the Bible that teaches this ethic, it is the religion of Courtly Love that teaches this. Think of the only two women to have books of the Bible named after them. Both Ruth and Esther pursued their eventual husbands. Ruth’s pursuit of Boaz resulted in her being the grandmother of King David, which meant that Christ would come from her line. Esther’s pursuit of Ahasuerus allowed her to save the Jews.
Cane Caldo was actually the first to write about this on his blog:
According to traditionalists (and others): Men are supposed to chase, and women are supposed to be caught. Or they might say: Men are to initiate, and women are to respond.
[…]If you fancy yourself a traditionalist… [s]earch your Bible for a story about a man who woos a woman directly.
So, just consider that for a minute. Ruth is probably the best example of a woman who just makes decisions to get on with life, and happens across a wealthy single man. Then she consults with Naomi and takes action to pursue that man. It works out for her. Where in the Bible does the man pursue the woman?
You can find examples of all cases in the Bible: fully arranged marriages (for Isaac), where the man pursued the woman (Jacob; Hosea), where the woman pursued the man (Ruth; Esther), and where both pursued each other or it wasn’t clearly stated one way or the other (Samson; Solomon). I would argue that pursuit (by either sex) is neither condemned nor encouraged. Each situation is different and there is no rule one way or the other.
I think that Derek wins the argument, here. But I still think that practically speaking, in such a time (of feminism) as this, it’s much much wiser for women to take action to “pursue” men she is interested in. That doesn’t mean asking men out, though.
A man setting his sights on one or two or three women and then pursuing them really hard trying to get on their radar isn’t the best way to find a woman who’s interested in him and who is the best match.
Instead, he should be his best version of himself, and then see which women are tossing subtle signs of interest at him. Which women just kind of show up where he is, which ones make a point to say hi to him, which ones reach out to him, which ones contact him, which ones strike up conversations with him. And then from THOSE women he should select a few he is interested in and then pursue them.
That certainly isn’t what most Christians are teaching their children. I certainly wasn’t taught this.
In the current #MeToo climate, false rape allegations, and sexual harassment’s current definition as “any conduct or words uttered by any man anywhere that any woman within sight or earshot didn’t like”, this model can be downright dangerous for men.
A man can no longer just pick a few girls he’s interested in and pursue them. If he selects some girls who dont’ like him, he’s in for a world of hurt by trying to “perform” for them. If he selects one who kind of likes him, but he makes even one wrong move or says one remotely mildly offensive thing, he’s done. Not only will she know about it, all her friends will know too.
When a woman is very interested and shows it, she’ll be much more forgiving of his expected missteps. That gives him room to run, and gives a budding relationship the space it needs to germinate and grow.
Deti advises women to just show up in places where men they are interested in are, and not actively discourage them. Maybe ask him questions about what he is doing as a Christian, and ask for his advice about something he knows about, etc. And deti warns women to consider that in a culture where false accusations and frivolous no-fault divorces are everywhere, men with good educations, degrees and finances will be very careful about pursuing women.
I was speaking to someone who thinks that she wants to be pursued by a man. I suggested that she read the book of Ruth to counter her view. The first and most important piece of advice I gave her was to “cross the room” for any man she is interested in. Stand up, walk directly at him, and speak right in his face. Maintain eye contact and speak directly to him about things he is interested in. On another day, I told her that the most important thing you can ask a man about is his vision to serve God.
As women age and lose their beauty, the only thing that remains is the man’s passion – his plan – and the place of the woman within it. Men stay in love with women who have invested in the plan they made to serve God. Naturally, it’s POINTLESS to choose any man unless he has a plan to serve God effectively that he has demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice for. In my case, writing this blog is a sacrifice, and giving money to Christian apologists and pro-life debaters is a sacrifice. A woman should be skeptical about anything a man says – look at what he has already done for his vision, and whether he is actually practical and determined enough to achieve anything. That’s where you’ll find your place. And that’s what you need to investigate in a husband candidate. Standing back and remaining passive, waiting to be pursued, is just going to attract a lot of non-Christian men who are pursuing you for sex. If the man is pursuing you, and he hasn’t told you his vision (why he needs you as his wife anyway), then he wants sex.
The pursuit of women by non-Christian alpha male bad boys seems to be welcomed, surprisingly, by a lot of passive Christian women who kind of lie back and expect to just acquiesce to experiences that feel good. Women today don’t like to think about marriage in a structured way. And they especially don’t want to be asked by men about past decisions, demonstrated abilities, future wife responsibilities and obligations, etc. (How dare men evaluate them for a marriage plan!) They don’t want marriage, defined as self-sacrificial commitment. They want marriage as constant tingles, supplied by an alpha male bad boy who exists solely to generate feelings of happiness in them, and feelings of envy in their girlfriends. Think about marriage as a plan? That’s boring. Let’s get drunk and hook up with an alpha male bad boy, and see if he calls back after the abortion.
Alpha male bad boys feel good (for a while) and this is how women get trapped into relationships with men who have no reason to commit to them. A much better strategy is to stop being attracted to alpha male bad boys, and deliberately engage in conversations with marriage-ready men. As my friend Lindsay says, you need to learn to become attracted to men who have a vision that will survive the loss of your youth and beauty.
In my own case, I’ll be able to retire at 50 with a net worth well north of 7 figures. Because of this, it would be stupid for me to waste my time pursuing Christian women whose criteria for men has nothing to do with the marriage enterprise, and is INDISTINGUISHABLE from the criteria used by non-Christian women. The ONLY thing that would catch my eye at this point is a woman who is equal to me (chaste, no tattoos, STEM degree(s), debt-free, married parents, house or savings, into apologetics, conservative politics, and between the ages of 23-28). And that’s a minimum. And she can forget about being pursued by me. She’ll have to approach me, and question me about what my plan is, and where she would fit into it.
I’ve often been told by wise female Christian advisors that I need to do a better job of showing off my situation to women. But if I spent the money on sparkly things and fun, I wouldn’t be financially secure, would I? It’s up to women to stop being so shallow and emotional. They need to look beyond appearances and fun. They need to have a marriage focus, and they need to choose men, show up and start investigating and investing. I simply don’t have the time to flail around in a feminist culture where women, including Christian women, are woefully unqualified for the marriage enterprise. It’s not my job, after having made thousands of good decisions, to risk my fortune by pursuing women who have made thousands of bad decisions (promiscuity, debt, useless degrees, etc). The entitled attitudes of women today, including Christian women, is nothing short of astonishing to men like me who have spent a lifetime being careful about being chaste, sober, practical, frugal and effective.
Alistair Begg has a great sermon series on Ruth that emphasizes Ruth’s agency, and her willingness to make decisions that were practical without any sort of being led by feelings or being nudged by God. Christian women, if you want to get married, then get to work on finding a man and making it easy for him to choose you.
A new academic study based on the Canadian census suggests that a married mom and dad matter for children. Children of same-sex coupled households do not fare as well.
There is a new and significant piece of evidence in the social science debate about gay parenting and the unique contributions that mothers and fathers make to their children’s flourishing. A study published last week in the journal Review of the Economics of the Household—analyzing data from a very large, population-based sample—reveals that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples. And gender matters, too: girls are more apt to struggle than boys, with daughters of gay parents displaying dramatically low graduation rates.
Unlike US-based studies, this one evaluates a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census, where same-sex couples have had access to all taxation and government benefits since 1997 and to marriage since 2005.
While in the US Census same-sex households have to be guessed at based on the gender and number of self-reported heads-of-household, young adults in the Canadian census were asked, “Are you the child of a male or female same-sex married or common law couple?” While study author and economist Douglas Allen noted that very many children in Canada who live with a gay or lesbian parent are actually living with a single mother—a finding consonant with that detected in the 2012 New Family Structures Study—he was able to isolate and analyze hundreds of children living with a gay or lesbian couple (either married or in a “common law” relationship akin to cohabitation).
So the study is able to compare—side by side—the young-adult children of same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples, as well as children growing up in single-parent homes and other types of households. Three key findings stood out to Allen:
children of married opposite-sex families have a high graduation rate compared to the others; children of lesbian families have a very low graduation rate compared to the others; and the other four types [common law, gay, single mother, single father] are similar to each other and lie in between the married/lesbian extremes.
Employing regression models and series of control variables, Allen concludes that the substandard performance cannot be attributed to lower school attendance or the more modest education of gay or lesbian parents. Indeed, same-sex parents were characterized by higher levels of education, and their children were more likely to be enrolled in school than even those of married, opposite-sex couples. And yet their children are notably more likely to lag in finishing their own schooling.
[…]The truly unique aspect of Allen’s study, however, may be its ability to distinguish gender-specific effects of same-sex households on children. He writes:
the particular gender mix of a same-sex household has a dramatic difference in the association with child graduation. Consider the case of girls. . . . Regardless of the controls and whether or not girls are currently living in a gay or lesbian household, the odds of graduating from high school are considerably lower than any other household type. Indeed, girls living in gay households are only 15 percent as likely to graduate compared to girls from opposite sex married homes.
Thus although the children of same-sex couples fare worse overall, the disparity is unequally shared, but is instead based on the combination of the gender of child and gender of parents. Boys fare better—that is, they’re more likely to have finished high school—in gay households than in lesbian households. For girls, the opposite is true. Thus the study undermines not only claims about “no differences” but also assertions that moms and dads are interchangeable. They’re not.
With a little digging, I found the abstract of the study:
Almost all studies of same-sex parenting have concluded there is “no difference” in a range of outcome measures for children who live in a household with same-sex parents compared to children living with married opposite-sex parents. Recently, some work based on the US census has suggested otherwise, but those studies have considerable drawbacks. Here, a 20% sample of the 2006 Canada census is used to identify self-reported children living with same-sex parents, and to examine the association of household type with children’s high school graduation rates. This large random sample allows for control of parental marital status, distinguishes between gay and lesbian families, and is large enough to evaluate differences in gender between parents and children. Children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65 % as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families. Daughters of same-sex parents do considerably worse than sons.
The author of the study is a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. His PhD in economics is from the University of Washington. A previous study had shown that gay relationships typically have far more instability (they last for more shorter times). That’s not good for children either. Another study featured in the Atlantic talked about how gay relationships have much higher rates of domestic violence. That’s not good for children either. So we have three reasons to think that normalizing gay relationships as “marriage” would not be good for children.
The reason I am posting this is because I want people to understand why social conservatives like me propose these laws defining and promoting marriage. We do favor natural marriage for the same reason that we oppose no-fault divorce, and for the same reason why we oppose welfare for single mothers (it encourages single motherhood). We don’t want to encourage people to deprive children of their mother or their father. We look at the research, and we decide that children need their mother and father. Given the choice between the needs of the child and restraining the freedom of the adults, we prefer the child’s need for her mother and father. It’s not just arbitrary rules, there is a reason behind the rules.
But children are not commodities. They have certain needs right out of the box. Adults should NOT be thinking about how to duct-tape a child onto any old relationship that doesn’t offer the same safety and stability that opposite sex marriage offers. We should be passing laws to strengthen marriage in order to protect children, not to weaken it. Libertarians don’t want to do that, because they want adults to be free to do as they please, at the expense of children. Libertarians think that the adults should be able to negotiate private contracts and have no obligations to any children who are present, or who may be present later.