Tag Archives: Marriage

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

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.

Are men allowed to have preferences about which women are best for marriage?

So, in a previous post, I explained why men have to be careful about choosing a wife. Men have plans and they need a woman with the right skills to achieve it. Even if a woman genuinely repents her past, she may not have developed the skills for a godly man’s marriage plan. For example, her 50K of student loans makes it harder to afford a stay-at-home homeschooling mother.

But many Christian women feel that there is no such thing as a Christian woman who is a bad candidate for marriage. It doesn’t matter what a Christian woman did in the past. A man should never evaluate her skills for the roles of wife and mother. After all, if God forgives a Christian woman for running up student loan debt for a useless women’s studies degree, or for getting drunk and sleeping around with hawt bad boys in college, then no Christian man should hold her past decisions against her when choosing a wife. Men are obligated to disregard the past anti-marriage decisions made by women. To do anything else is to deny the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So many Christian women say.

What would happen if the shoe were on the other foot? What if it were the MAN who had been selfish, lazy and irresponsible? What if the MAN had made choices that seriously harmed his ability to perform male marriage roles like protecting and providing for his wife and children? Would marriage-ready women be obligated to marry this man as much as a man who had remained chaste, got a good education, built up a gapless resume, saved enough for a downpayment on a house, and taught apologetics in his home church? Is she allowed to prefer a man who has made good decisions to prepare for his marriage roles over a man who has made horrible decisions, but just hollers “grace” when anyone questions his ability to be a husband and father?

This MUST-READ article from The Federalist asks and answers that question.

Do you agree with the author?

I think it’s time for a conversation about another elephant in the room: this idea that women prefer physically fit men with good jobs and no criminal record. It’s incredibly sexist and matriarchal to insist that women have a natural preference for men who have invested time and energy into stewarding their bodies, have shown the capability of earning a living and supporting a family, and have not gone to jail for attempting to grow 452 marijuana plants in their mother’s basement.

I know more than a few men who spent their twenties languishing in their parents’ homes, subsisting on Cheetos and Mountain Dew, playing Xbox, watching pornography, and smoking controlled substances. If one of these men turns his life around, accepts Jesus, and starts fresh, young women have no right to overlook him as a potential mate just because he is 280 pounds, has almost no marketable skills at 30 years old, and cannot vote, serve on a jury, or own a firearm. He is created in the image of God, and accepted by Jesus! Any women who would overlook every other noble quality he possesses for basic financial security and a clean background check (not to mention browsing history) isn’t a woman he should want.

Men like this have often long since repented of their listless and slothful ways. If the lingering consequences of their pasts didn’t stop Christ from living and dying for them, then it shouldn’t stop a Christian woman from loving them, either. Period.

The Federalist article makes it clear that a man’s poor choices about his education, job, obedience to the law, and physical fitness CLEARLY compromise his ability to perform his male duties to protect and provide. What about moral and spiritual leading? Well if he didn’t spent his teens and 20s studying  apologetics, moral issues, etc. then he isn’t going to compare favorably to a man who teaches apologetics in his church, debates atheists, and writes blog posts for the Life Training Institute.

My friend Lee is a superb stay-at-home wife and mother. She says that we shouldn’t accept “Jesus forgives me” as an immediate reversal of past harmful choices:

I would note that there is a difference between just being forgiven of sin and actually repenting of it. Repenting is a turning away from and will manifest in changes; paying down debts, becoming chaste, becoming otherwise responsible and wise. Someone’s past doesn’t have to define their future. But that will manifest in observable and measurable changes.

She’s right.

I knew a Christian woman who had 25,000 worth of student loan debt when she was 29. She wasn’t using her degree, she was just working as a waitress. I found her a job as an IT project manager in an FT100 company, so she could pay off her loans. She declined, because “being a waitress is the easiest job I’ve ever had”. She hasn’t worked full-time as a professional since January 2013. She’ll say “Jesus forgives me!” and “I hate my student loans!”, but the loans are even larger now, and the wasteful spending on fun and thrills hasn’t stopped. Hollering “grace” and saying you hate debt doesn’t make you a good steward – and you’ll need to be a good steward if you are in a marriage. She’s not ready to manage the finances of a household. If she had taken the job, and paid off the loans, then she would have overcome the mistake, and become marriage-ready.

So what’s really behind the hysteria against men evaluating women for marriage?

Deti nails the real root problem:

Not one person – NOT ONE PERSON – said that nonvirgins with tattoos and debt are bad people; that they are irredeemable, that they’re bad Christians; that they cannot be Christians; that they’re unsalvageable; that they’re ugly; or that they couldn’t and shouldn’t marry. That is NOT what was said.

All that was said was that men prefer tattooless, debtfree virgins for marriage. That’s all.

[…]The bible… teaches repentance is the way to salvation. But repentance does not mean you no longer bear the scars of your past sins in body and mind. You do. Oh yes you do. The effects can be minimized, even overcome. But they’re still there.

And more to the point, what’s really being complained about here is a Christian woman acknowledging that men have preferences and that men are entitled to have preferences. If women want men, then they have to satisfy those preferences or lower their standards until they find men whose preferences they can satisfy.

This can’t be overemphasized – it’s the idea that men have preferences. Its’ the idea that there’s a man that’s one-half of that relationship, and there are things HE wants, and HE needs, and HE desires. Why does it matter what HE wants? Why do we care about him?

Men don’t want to marry high N women. Men don’t want to take on debt and they don’t prefer markedup tatted up women who look and act like men.

What this gets down to is women objecting to men having standards. Because that leads to men judging women. And that leads to men evaluating women. And that leads to men rejecting some women and accepting others. And women hate judgment and rejection, especially when it’s “less than” men who are doing the judging and rejecting.

N refers to the number of sexual partners a person has had.

The reason we discuss best practices for marriage-minded women is so that young women, especially young women who lack a father in the home, can get some kind of guidance about how to resist the culture’s lies about men, sex and marriage. Such a woman has NOWHERE TO GO in this culture in order to learn how to relate to men, and how to marry to a man who will love her faithfully and forever. That’s not fair! We have to help her!

What Christian men are doing by promoting chastity, sobriety, good stewardship and self-control to these young women is protecting them from a culture that lies to them. The well-meaning Christian women who think that talking about moral boundaries and wisdom will hurt the feelings of women who have made mistakes are actually making it harder for young women who have no guidance at all. The most vulnerable ones are the ones who need to hear that chastity is wise. Doing a STEM degree is wise. Getting out of debt by spending less is wise. Not seeking attention with graffiti on your body is wise. That’s what unmarried women need to hear.

It’s amazing to me that so many Christians do not understand the protective value of recommending Biblical morality and Biblical wisdom to young women. They would rather sacrifice these young women to the secular culture than allow older women to feel bad about their past decisions. So many Christians seem to be more concerned about their own feelings than about promoting and defending what the Bible teaches to young people who really need help.

Why don’t men go to church anymore? The decline of male church attendance

I most recently spent half a year at a PCA church, and then another half a year at a Southern Baptist church. I attended Sunday services as well as Wednesday night Bible study. I am now looking for a new church. For now, I just look around for a sermon I like and listen to that. In this post, I’ll explain why I think men don’t like church.

There are three areas where churches fail to attract men:

    1. Apologetics
    2. Feminism, sex and marriage
    3. Policy and current events

Apologetics

The PCA church discouraged me from becoming a member of the church because they said that conversion to Christianity due to reason and evidence was contrary to their teachings, and a “red flag”. Their words. I didn’t try to fight them on it, because they are Reformed Presbyterian, and this is their actual view. Their approach to apologetics was “pre-suppositional”, which is to say, they try to convince people to become Christians by asking them to assume that the Bible is infallible, without any argumentation or evidence. Naturally, this doesn’t work, so they aren’t trained to answer any serious questions from non-Christians. (1 Pet 3:15-16)

The Reformed Baptist SBC church is led by people like Russell Moore and Al Mohler, who take the “magic words” approach to evangelism. I.e. – they think that people become Christians just by speaking Bible verses out of context to them. So, when the atheist asks “do you have any evidence for God’s existence?” or “do you have any evidence for Jesus’ resurrection?”, their response is to quote Bible verses to the atheist, which have nothing to do with those topics. Christianity has lost so much influence in the culture under their approach, which is not even Biblical. (Mat 12:38–41)

These approaches to evangelism are not used in any other area of human endeavor. No one replies to questions about auto mechanics, or software engineering, or gardening, or cooking, by spouting Bible verses. In literally every other area of human endeavor, the laws of logic and supporting evidence are seen as assets when making claims to know something about the world to someone who disagrees with you.

Feminism, Sex and Marriage

First wave feminism simply asked for women to be given the same liberty and opportunity as men. That was good. But later versions of destroyed all distinctions between men and women. By destroying femininity, feminism directed women away from the traditional life plan of marriage, children and home-making.

Feminism changed how women voted. Today, about 75% of young, unmarried women vote for policies like taxpayer-funded birth control, taxpayer-funded abortion, no-fault divorce, affirmative action for women in schools and in the workplace, taxpayer-funded daycare, public schools, single-mother welfare, social security, etc. These policies and programs raised tax rates, and grew government, making it easier for women to have children without having to choose a marriage-ready man she wasn’t attracted to. Instead, she could choose men she was attracted to, and just use government programs as a substitute provider if it didn’t “work out”. Thanks to feminism, we have a 42% out-of-wedlock birth rate, and it’s rising. Few female college graduates are debt-free. About 5% of women emerge from college as virgins.

Under feminism, the traditional male roles and virtues were deemed “sexist”. Women were shamed for choosing early marriage, large families, and stable men who were good at being husbands and fathers. Instead, women today chose men based on appearance. They spend their 20s and early 30s giving men who will not commit to them premarital sex. The men who are getting sex thrown at them have no interest in Judeo-Christian values, chastity, fidelity, commitment or raising children. Women mistake the men’s willingness to have sex and cohabitate as signs that they are close to marriage. But in fact, chasing the hot bad boys just eats up the chastity, youth and beauty that could have made them interesting to the marriage-minded men they scorned. Later on, they realize that they’ve wasted their 20s on bad boys, but by then they are not attractive for marriage.

What has the response been to feminism from pastors and churches? They accept the anti-male, anti-marriage policies, that came out of feminism. They accept the promiscuity, and the marriage-delaying that came from feminism. Today, pastors just try to bully the men who were passed over to marry the women who had previously rejected them, despite the higher risk of divorce caused by the women’s past behavior.

Policy and current events

Most pastors are anti-intellectual, and they believe that this is a virtue, since they are focused narrowly on what the Bible explicitly says. Because of this, they aren’t able to understand which laws and policies allow Christianity and Christian families to flourish. I agree that what the Bible speaks about is of the highest importance. But we need to understand how to achieve the goals that the Bible states, as well as how to counter the forces that threaten the achievement of those goals.

For example, Christianity thrives when marriage thrives. Christianity is passed on from parents to children. Anything that threatens marriage, or interferes with parental authority, weakens the influence of Christianity. So, policies like higher taxes, no-fault divorce, SOGI laws, all harm the Christian family, while policies like lower taxes, protections for Christian businesses, protection for Christian schools (statements of faith, moral codes), etc. are all good for Christian families. But most pastors never talk about policies or laws, because they don’t think about how to defend the Christian worldview, how to educate Christian children, how to promote marriage, how promote Christian moral values in the public square. Even protecting the right to life of unborn children is ignored.

As the churches lose relevance, it becomes tempting for pastors to accept what the secular left promotes as good and true and beautiful. The big one is pastors pushing for redistribution of wealth by the secular government as a solution to “poverty”, even though the Bible only sanctions voluntary charity. This diminishes the cultural relevance of the church and elevates the secular government. SBC leaders like Russell Moore champion amnesty for refugees and unskilled illegal immigrants, not realizing how it will harm Christian institutions and values down the road to import large numbers of people who will eventually vote for policies like higher taxes, bigger government, etc.