Tag Archives: Marriage

Guest post: Some thoughts on marriage, part 2

This is part two of a two-part series of guest posts written by my friend Andrew. My friend Andrew has thought a lot of the issue of marriage and he and his wife have really done an amazing job. I thought we could all benefit by absorbing his tips and experiences.


Some Thoughts on Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Continuing on from my Part 1 post, here are a couple more things that I have learned about marriage that I don’t think I really understood before (at least not to the same extent) I was married:

Men and women are different…and that’s okay!

In general, men are logical and physical, and women are emotional and relational. Taken to the extreme, men can be cold and uncaring, and women can be led purely by their emotions and inappropriately compromising. By coming together in marriage men and women can really work together and learn from each other. In marriage, expect each other to be different, and expect to learn a lot from your spouse.

If I’m very frustrated, my normal reaction as a male is to kick something. Something like a steel door or a brick wall. If my wife is frustrated or overwhelmed, her normal reaction as a female is to cry. As a man, I only cry when something is really wrong…like my both my arms and legs were accidentally amputated. As a woman, my wife would only consider hitting something if the situation was really desperate. God made men and women special, equal, complementary…and very different.

Now that my wife and I have children, I have discovered just how much the difference between the sexes is innate, and not learned. Last week my wife took some food over to a friend of hers who had undergone an operation and was out of commission. She brought our two young sons with her, who played with her friend’s three young daughters. My wife later told me what she had overheard: Girl to her sisters and to my son: “Let’s play princesses. We can dress up in our princess dresses. You [to my son] can pretend to be a prince!”. My son’s reply: “I don’t want to be a prince, I want to be a tiger-shark!”

Two different people = different expectations.

Though it is obvious enough, it helps to realize and acknowledge that in marriage the husband and wife are two different people. Two different sexes. Two different backgrounds and upbringings. Therefore you should expect to have different ideas of what the different aspects of your marriage will be like. One spouse might expect to have three children because they came from a three child family, the other doesn’t want children. One spouse expects to celebrate Christmas Day with their family, the other expects to alternate. And so on.

This brings us back to two things that I have come to realize: One should enter into marriage with an open mind and realize that there are many ways to do things, and often it doesn’t really matter as long as husband and wife can agree on which way works for them. The other thing is premarital counseling – it will help you both to identify your expectations as well as areas that might lead to conflict in your marriage. By the way, it’s never too late to go for premarital counseling, even if you’ve been married for several years. And on that note, a word of caution: if you are having difficulties in your marriage please don’t harden your heart – seek help before it’s too late. Contrary to popular understanding, divorce makes things more difficult, not easier. Many church pastors are professionally trained to provide marriage counseling.

UPDATE: I spotted this related post on the importance of marriage on Hot Air.

Guest post: Some thoughts on marriage, part 1

The following post is a guest post from my friend Andrew, who has the best marriage of anyone I know. The post below is pat one of a two part series. Part two will be out later today.


Some Thoughts on Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

I (Andrew) have been married for 7 years now and thought I would share a couple of things that I’ve learned over this time that I really hadn’t given much thought about before.

Real commitment means no back door!

No one walks down the aisle thinking maybe this marriage will work out okay. Everyone thinks that their marriage will last forever. But with about one third of married couples getting divorced, you need real commitment and a ‘no back door’ policy to make your marriage go the distance.

My wife and I took premarital counseling before we were married. This is something I would highly recommend as it helped us to identify potential stumbling blocks before we actually ran into them. Pre-marital counseling is not about someone telling you what you should do. Rather, it helps you identify and work through things that commonly come between couples and things that might be areas of conflict specifically for you – e.g., finances, expectations, roles, in-laws, etc.

One of the things that my Christian pastor made very sure that my wife and I understood before he would marry us is that marriage is meant to be for life, and if you want it to be for life you have to make sure there is no ‘back door’. You need to both go into marriage with the understanding that this is a permanent arrangement and that there is no way out, no back door.

In my vow I made it clear to my wife that I was ‘in’ for better or for worse. It’s the ‘for worse’ part that you really need to be committed for. Every marriage will eventually experience some difficult times, and it’s during those really challenging times that your marriage will be put to the test, not during the easy times.

Marriage is not about you! But it can help you grow!

Most of us automatically take care of ourselves first, me included. However, I soon came to realize that marriage is in fact about elevating your spouse and putting them first. It’s not giving 50% and getting 50%. It’s about giving 100% and expecting nothing in return. It’s about building your spouse up to be all they can be.

One of the painful benefits of marriage is that it will make you a better person. I say ‘painful’ because in marriage everything is magnified. If you have a disagreement with a friend you can just put some distance between each other and things will probably work themselves out. In marriage you can’t put distance between you and your spouse because they are always there. You have to deal with things. This is what makes you a better person, because you find out things about yourself that you didn’t realize before and you have an opportunity either to work on these things or to harden your heart.

For example, I always thought of myself as an incredibly patient person, but over time I have found that this is in fact something that I need to work on. In his book “Sacred Marriage”, author Gary Thomas suggests that the purpose of marriage is to make us holy, not (only) happy.

UPDATE: I spotted this related post on the importance of marriage on Hot Air.

Is it OK for Christians to marry non-Christians?

I want to draw your attention to a talk given by William Lane Craig. Bill is the ablest defender of the Christian faith operating today. You may remember Bill from such famous debates as “Does God Exist?” with Austin Dacey, “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” with Bart Ehrman, or “Is Goodness Without God Good Enough?” with Paul Kurtz.

The 32-minute talk is in MP3 format and is available on his web site Reasonable Faith, here. This was Bill’s chapel address to Biola University students, and he is introduced by his son, John, a Biola grad. As you listen to the talk, and reflect on the quotations that I will reproduce below from his writings, the question “is it OK to marry a non-Christian?” will be answered.

In the talk, it becomes clear that Bill’s wife Jan plays an enormous role in his success. Indeed, you will see that if it were not for her, he never would have gotten either of his doctorates, or even his second Masters degree. Just imagine: Bill Craig with one M.Div pastoring a seeker-sensitive church, instead having 2 MAs and 2 Ph.Ds and stomping Christopher Hitchens with both feet! What a loss!

Here is a quotation that occurs about 11 minutes into the talk, as Bill describes the completion of his Bachelor’s degree at Wheaton:

And it was at Wheaton that my vision began to focus on presenting the gospel in the context of giving an intellectual defense of the faith, to appeal not only to the heart but also to the head, as well. And so I determined that I would go on to seminary for further training.

But, my senior year, in chapel, we heard a speaker who challenged us, before going on to further education, to take a couple of years out, and to wring out the sponge, so to speak, that had been soaking up all that knowledge, and to work with university students while we were still about the same age.

And so I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 2 years, and was assigned to Northern Illinois University. And that was where I met my wife Jan. She was a graduate of the University of North Dakota where she had come to faith in Christ. And she had a similar vision for her life of evangelism and discipleship.

And as we worked at NIU together, she with gals and I with the guys, leading students to Christ and discipling them to walk with the Lord, we fell in love. And we decided that we would be more effective if we joined forces and became a team.

It is at this point in the talk where Bill begins to explain just how Jan molded him into the lean, mean debating machine that travels the world striking terror into the hearts of atheists today.

Bill’s first story about Jan occurs early after their marriage while he is working on his first Masters degree at Trinity:

And it was also at that time that I began to see what an invaluable asset the Lord had given me in Jan. I remember I came home from classes one day, and found her at the kitchen table with all the catalogs and schedules and papers spread out in front of her and she said, “look! I’ve figured out how you can get two Masters degrees at the same time that it would normally take to get one! All you have to do is take overloads every semester, go to all full-time summer school and do all these other things, and you can do two MAs in the time it takes to do one!”

And I thought, whoa! Are you sure you really want to make the commitment it takes to do this kind of thing? And she said, “Yeah! Go for it!” And it was then I began to see that God had given me a very special woman who was my supporter – my cheerleader – and who really believed in me. And as long as she believed in me, that gave me the confidence to dream bigger dreams, and to take on challenges that I had never thought of before.

In an article on his web site, he talks about how Jan encouraged him to do his first PhD:

As graduation from Trinity neared, Jan and I were sitting one evening at the supper table in our little campus apartment, talking about what to do after graduation. Neither of us had any clear leading or inclination of what we should do next.

So Jan said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I replied, “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to England and do a doctorate under John Hick.”

“Who’s he?” she asked.

“Oh, he’s this famous British philosopher who’s written extensively on arguments for the existence of God,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a cosmological argument for God’s existence.”

But it hardly seemed a realistic idea.

The next evening at supper Jan handed me a slip of paper with John Hick’s address on it. “I went to the library today and found out that he’s at the University of Birmingham in England,” she said. “Why don’t you write him a letter and ask him if you can do a doctoral thesis under him on the cosmological argument?”

What a woman! So I did, and to our amazement and delight Professor Hick wrote back saying he’d be very pleased to supervise my doctoral work on that subject. So it was an open door!

And in the same article, he explains how Jan encouraged him to get his second Ph.D:

As Jan and I neared the completion of my doctoral studies in Birmingham, our future path was again unclear to us. I had sent out a number of applications for teaching positions in philosophy at American universities but had received no bites. We didn’t know what to do.

I remember it like yesterday. We were sitting at the supper table in our little house outside Birmingham, and Jan suddenly said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I laughed because I remembered how the Lord had used her question to guide us in the past. I had no trouble answering the question. “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to Germany and study under Wolfhart Pannenberg.”

“Who’s he?”

“Oh, he’s this famous German theologian who’s defended the resurrection of Christ historically,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a historical apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus.”

Our conversation drifted to other subjects, but Jan later told me that my remark had just lit a fire under her. The next day while I was at the university, she slipped away to the library and began to research grants-in-aid for study at German universities. Most of the leads proved to be defunct or otherwise inapplicable to our situation. But there were two grants she found that were possibilities. You can imagine how surprised I was when she sprung them on me!

Both of these Ph.D experiences are also described in the talk. And the talk concludes as follows:

I am so thankful to be married to a woman who is tremendously resourceful, tremendously talented and energetic, who could have pursued an independent career in any number of areas, but instead, she has chose to wed her aspirations to mine, and to make it her goal to make me the most effective person I can be, for Christ. And she has been like my right arm in ministry over these many years. And it is a tremendous privilege to be a team with a person like that.

And you young men, I would encourage you, if you marry, to find a gal who shares your vision, not some independent vision, but who is interested in aligning herself with you, and pursuing together a common vision and goal that will draw you [together], so that you will avoid the growing separateness that so often creeps into marriages.

And now you know the rest of Bill’s story. The person you marry will have an enormous influence on the impact you will have for Christ and his Kingdom. It is up to you to decide whether that influence is going to be positive or negative, by deciding if you will marry, and if you do marry, by deciding whom you will marry.

Conclusion

The level of influence of a significant other in a non-platonic relationship greatly impacts your ability to achieve the vocational task that the Lord has set for you. My recommendation is to avoid engaging in any romantic relationship in which self-sacrificial service to the Lord is not the main focus. And remember, physical contact greatly reduces your ability to make objective evaluations.

Today, Christians treat the Christian life as a hobby that we engage in for our benefit. And this includes romantic relationships. One way of screening prospective mates is by assessing how well prepared they are to defend the Lord’s reputation, when it is called into question. An authentic Christian should care enough to have prepared to defend God’s existence and character in public.

UPDATE: New William Lane Craig lecture specifically on the topic of Christian marriage:

  • Healthy Relationships (National Faculty Leadership Conf. 2008) (audio here)

Related posts

Should it be legal to publicly support traditional marriage?

The Washington Post reports: (H/T The Heritage Foundation)

Faith organizations and individuals who view homosexuality as sinful and refuse to provide services to gay people are losing a growing number of legal battles that they say are costing them their religious freedom.

The lawsuits have resulted from states and communities that have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those laws have created a clash between the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of religion, religious groups said, with faith losing. They point to what they say are ominous recent examples:

– A Christian photographer was forced by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission to pay $6,637 in attorney’s costs after she refused to photograph a gay couple’s commitment ceremony.

– A psychologist in Georgia was fired after she declined for religious reasons to counsel a lesbian about her relationship.

– Christian fertility doctors in California who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian patient were barred by the state Supreme Court from invoking their religious beliefs in refusing treatment.

– A Christian student group was not recognized at a University of California law school because it denies membership to anyone practicing sex outside of traditional marriage.

The Heritage Foundation adds a couple more examples:

The post left out a Los Angeles City College student whose professor called him a “fascist bastard” and refused to let him finish his speech against same-sex marriage and Methodist ministry in New Jersey forced to end performing wedding ceremonies because they did not allow a same-sex union to be performed on their campground.

How does government endorsement same-sex marriage hurt those who believe in traditional marriage?

According to Heritage fellow Thomas Messner, it hurts us in 3 ways:

Excerpt:

Specifically, in a society that redefines marriage to include same–sex unions, those who continue to believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman can expect to face three types of bur­dens. First, institutions that support the traditional understanding of marriage may be denied access to several types of government benefits, and individ­uals who work in the public sector may face cen­sorship, disciplinary action, and even loss of employment. Second, those who support the tradi­tional understanding of marriage will be subject to even greater civil liability under nondiscrimination laws that prohibit private discrimination based on sexual orientation, marital status, and gender. Third, the existence of nondiscrimination laws, combined with state administrative policies, can invite private forms of discrimination against reli­gious individuals who believe that marriage involves a man and a woman and foster a climate of contempt for the public expression of their views.

Don’t believe that it could happen here? Take a look at what is happening in the UK schools according to this Telegraph article, or what is happening in Canadian schools.

Editorials by Stephen Baskerville, John Lott, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams

I thought I would throw out a variety of recent editorials from some of my favorite economists and public policy experts. Economist Robert P. Murphy isn’t featured today, because I wrote an entire post about his excellent article on energy policy recently.

Does the government discourage marriage and family?

Patrick Henry College economist Stephen Baskerville wrote an article about the government’s role decline of marriage and the family.

He writes:

…80 percent of divorces are unilateral. Under “no-fault,” divorce becomes a power grab by one spouse, assisted by judicial officials who profit from the ensuing litigation: judges, lawyers, psychotherapists, and social workers. Involuntary divorce involves government agents forcibly removing innocent people from their homes, seizing their property, and separating them from their children. It requires long-term supervision over private life by state functionaries, including police and jails.

…Invariably the first action in a divorce is to separate the children from one parent, usually the father. Even if he is innocent of any legal wrongdoing and does not agree to the divorce, the state seizes his children with no burden of proof to justify why. The burden of proof–and financial burden–falls on him to demonstrate why they should be returned.

A legally unimpeachable parent can thus be arrested for seeing his own children without government authorization. He can be arrested through additional judicial directives that apply to no one but him. He can be arrested for domestic violence or child abuse, even without evidence that he has committed any. He can be arrested for not paying child support, regardless of the amount demanded. He can even be arrested for not paying an attorney or psychotherapist. There is no formal charge, no jury, no trial, and no record.

If these statements surprise you, I recommend you read the whole article to find out how this is done. You will never see anything like this reported in the mainstream media. They have an agenda that forbids telling the truth about this issue.

Do gun-free zones discourage multiple victim public shootings?

University of Maryland economist John R. Lott writes about gun-free zones and their effect on MVPS incidents in this Fox News article.

He writes:

Time after time multiple- victim public shootings occur in “gun free zones” — public places where citizens are not legally able to carry guns. The horrible attack today in Binghamton, New York is no different. Every multiple-victim public shooting that I have studied, where more than three people have been killed, has taken place where guns are banned.

You would think that it would be an important part of the news stories for a simple reason: Gun-free zones are a magnet for these attacks. Extensive discussions of these attacks can be found here and here. We want to keep people safe, but the problem is that it is the law-abiding good citizens, not the criminals, who obey these laws. We end up disarming the potential victims and not the criminals. Rather than making places safe for victims, we unintentionally make them safe for the criminal.

Lott is the author of “More Guns, Less Crime”, a study, published by University of Chicago Press, that shows how concealed-carry laws drastically reduce crime in every state in which these laws were enacted. Surprising? Take a second look.

Is moral equivalence good foreign policy?

Hoover Institute (Stanford University) economist Thomas Sowell writes about the danger of electing a president with no executive experience at any level. Especially one who believes, as Evan Sayet says, that evil is good, and good is evil.

Sowell writes about Obama’s affection for Iran and Russia:

What did his televised overture to the Iranians accomplish, except to reassure them that he was not going to do a damn thing to stop them from getting a nuclear bomb? It is a mistake that can go ringing down the corridors of history.

…This year, President Obama’s attempt to make a backdoor deal with the Russians, behind the backs of the NATO countries, was not only rejected but made public by the Russians– a sign of contempt and a warning to our allies not to put too much trust in the United States.

And his hostility for Israel and Britain:

However much Barack Obama has proclaimed his support for Israel, his first phone call as President of the United States was to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to whom he has given hundreds of millions of dollars, which can buy a lot of rockets to fire into Israel.

Our oldest and staunchest ally, Britain, has been downgraded by President Obama’s visibly less impressive reception of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, compared to the way that previous Presidents over the past two generations have received British Prime Ministers.

You can find a lot more about the kind of foreign policy threats we face at The Western Experience. The world is not a safe place, Bush just made it look that way by keeping our enemies in check, in exactly the way Obama won’t.

Is wealth redistribution morally justified?

Finally, let’s see what George Mason University economist Walter Williams has to say about the morality of wealth redistribution.

Excerpt:

The reason is that now that the U.S. Congress has established the principle that one American has a right to live at the expense of another American, it no longer pays to be moral. People who choose to be moral and refuse congressional handouts will find themselves losers. They’ll be paying higher and higher taxes to support increasing numbers of those paying lower and lower taxes. As it stands now, close to 50 percent of income earners have no federal income tax liability and as such, what do they care about rising income taxes? In other words, once legalized theft begins, it becomes too costly to remain moral and self-sufficient.

I recommend clicking on whichever of these stories strikes you as the most wrong or unfamiliar, and see if reading the whole thing changes your mind at all. I think it’s a fun experience to become more aware and tolerant of different views by learning about them. You can still disagree, but you’ll have more understanding.