A Texas dad wanted to take his daughter, who has special needs, somewhere she could feel included while having fun. When Gordon Hartman realized a place like that didn’t exist, he decided to build an amusement park for her in San Antonio, Texas.
Gordon recounts watching his then-12-year-old daughter, Morgan, who is on the autism spectrum, try to play with a group of children who were swimming in a hotel pool where they were vacationing. But the kids ran away from her, likely because they didn’t know how to interact with someone with special needs.
The interaction broke Gordon’s heart and later inspired him to sell his homebuilding business to set up a nonprofit, The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, which provides grants and sponsorships to local charities that serve the special-needs community.
He then worked with a team of doctors, engineers, and special needs experts to create Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park tailored to accommodate visitors with special needs. More than one million people have visited the $34 million park since its opening in 2010. Last month, Gordon opened an adjacent waterpark, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, to the tune of $17 million.
“When [Morgan] comes here she’s a rock star! Lots of people want to talk to her and take her picture, she’s very good with it,” Hartman told BBC.”Morgan knows the park is named after her, but I don’t think she understands the magnitude of what it represents and how it’s changed lives.”
The nice thing about this story is that it really shows what the design for fathers should be. This is what young single women should be looking for in a man. This pattern of behavior where the man is not greedy about money, but is instead able to take an interest in the lives of others who need help in order to grow, and then investing in them using money that he has earned by working. We can measure this father on a moral scale and say that he is a good father.
Many people seem to take pride these days in not judging men on moral grounds any more. Everything is feelings about surface-level concerns. Men are praised for offering fun and thrills right now, but not for what they do in a family unit as husband and father. There is no concept of a design for men that allows them to be graded out on the criteria that really matter. Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, etc. all seem to be viewed by many as very desirable. I read women on the left who say that they will not even go out with a man who isn’t pro-abortion. Being pro-abortion basically means that you think sex is about recreation, not about something a husband and wife do in the context of marriage. And it also means that taking the life of an innocent person is a good way to avoid taking responsibility for your own choices. But this is exactly the opposite of what makes a good husband and a good father! Why would anyone choose that over this father in the story?
I can tell you one thing about this story. That little girl’s mother chose well. She didn’t let the culture sway her away from picking a man who majored in character. And now her daughter is getting the benefit of her good decision-making. A woman’s taking care of her children starts with making good decisions about men. And good decisions about men means deciding on men who are hard workers, good earners, sensitive to others, protectors of the weak, and generous givers. Good men let other people impose on them. Good men invest in the people around them. We need teach young women to remember what it is that men are designed to do.
One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.
Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ. By presenting rational arguments and historical evidences for the truth of the Gospel, by appealing to the mind as well as the heart, we can bring a great influx of men into the Kingdom. I’m so pleased that the church in Canada seems to be awakening to this challenge! I’m convinced that we have the opportunity to revolutionize Western Christianity by reclaiming our intellectual heritage.
Now, I hear a lot of complaints from women in the church and pastors in the church about men not being interested in going to church. I think that the problem is that church is hostile to men’s natures. Men thrive on conflict and competition. Men prefer strict rules and moral judgments. Men prefer to shame people who underperform, rather than coddle them. Men are practical and results focused. So how should the church accommodate the different nature that men have? Apologetics is one way to appeal to the male nature.
Let’s take a look at it.
Pastors: church as it is now is abrasive to men’s male nature
In a recent William Lane Craig podcast, at time 8:47, the WLC tells Kevin Harris about how he and his wife Jan asked about six of the young men who attend his “Defenders” apologetics class which morning service they attended: traditional or contemporary. ALL of the young men said that they attended neither service, because they go to church to learn something and the service has no educational value to them. The only attend the Defenders class. The apologetics class taught them things they could actually use – things they could actually use to think better, and fight better. This is my experience as well, although I am looking for a better church that does have some appeal to men. I might even have to move to find a decent church that has apologetics.
There is absolutely nothing going on in most churches that is valuable to a man. Men, by and large, only pray as a last resort, after we have done everything we can to solve the problem ourselves. We pay the most attention to the parts of the Bible that help us debate with non-Christians, or that give us things to do. We like to find evidence in the real world that connects with what the Bible is saying. We are interested in planning, execution and results. We are not very interested in feelings, singing, devotions, or bending the rules to make people doing bad things feel good. Now that’s not necessarily true for all men, but it is true for the majority of men.
And lest some people worry that fighting makes enemies, it doesn’t. Fighting with non-Christians has two effects: 1) they respect Christianity more, and 2) they want to be your friends and talk to you about spiritual things. Atheists see your standing up for what you believe in and living consistently with it indicative of authenticity. That is not the exception, Christian women and pastors – that is the rule. Atheists don’t think that standing up for what you believe in makes Christianity look fake, they think it makes Christianity look authentic. Well, at least the ones who are worth talking to think that.
Wives: don’t choose men who had no interest in advocating for Christianity before you married them
A related problem I see is the problem of wives marrying the wrong men then complaining that the men they freely chose to marry are not interested in church. This is actually the woman’s fault. Most women don’t think about what is best for God when they think about who to marry and have children with, they think about what makes them feel good. They don’t have any kind of plan where they match the man’s ability to the roles he will play as husband and father – they just pick who makes them feel good. This works about as well as buying and selling stocks based on which make you feel good, or choosing electronics and computers based on the color, or choosing a job or a church based on what the building looks like. The Bible lays out a few minimal requirements for a man: chastity, self-sacrificial love, providing for family, leading on moral and spiritual issues. Most young, unmarried women don’t value those things. If a woman picks a man who doesn’t make any demands on them, and who doesn’t judge them, then she cannot depend on him to show spiritual and moral leadership later on in the marriage. So don’t pick a man like that.
Wives: men respond to attention, recognition and approval from women
The reason that most husbands don’t engage in Christianity is because most wives (not my married friends of course) haven’t approached Christianity as something that is objectively true. Men don’t create illusions for themselves in order to feel better – they are more practical than that. Men only invest in things that they think are true, and where they can see that their practical efforts will make a difference. Men are turned off by the view that Christianity is just something that helps families and communities bond, and makes people feel comfort. We think that’s weakness, and we abhor weakness. Once men get the idea that a woman thinks of Christianity as feelings-fulfillment, we stop trying to achieve anything for the Kingdom of God. Men don’t want to be roped into Christianity if all it means is helping people get along and feel good. But they very much want to be roped into a demanding relationship with God where their efforts to achieve results count with God and gets them recognition and approval from their wives.
So how do wives learn to recognize and approve of what men do as Christians? Well, women need to learn apologetics and they need to practice debating with non-Christians. That will teach them to value conflict and competition, and to see how engagement and authenticity drives relationships with non-Christians forward. If women show an interest in objective truth, moral goodness and theological correctness, then men will become interested in these things, too. They will do it because men are addicted to pleasing women, and they want to help women more than anything in the world, second only to pleasing God. Men will enthusiastically engage in whatever will get them praise and recognition from women, and that means that women have to care about Christianity beyond their personal emotional experience of it and beyond their social cohesion experience of it. Initially, wives must be ready to praise and encourage their husbands, and then once the husbands get it, then they will be self-motivated and move out on their own. It will be self-sustaining.
An Ada man was shot and killed by a neighbor Friday after he tried drowning twin babies.
“It’s awful because I’ve held the babies and, like, I’ve played with them and I just gave them clothes yesterday,” said neighbor Summer Pierce.
Officials say Leland Foster was allegedly threatening the mother of the children with a knife during the ordeal.
A 12-year-old girl who was in the home ran to a neighbor’s house for help.
The neighbor, Cash Freeman, rushed back over to the home to find Foster trying to drown the 3-month-old twins, a boy and a girl, in the bathtub.
He then shot Foster twice in the back with a gun.
The babies survived. But because so many people in America view the use of force by legal handgun owners (especially men) with suspicion, the hero was afraid of what the lawyers would do to him.
We spoke to Freeman off camera and he told us when he saw what was happening in the bathroom, he did what he had to do to save the babies. However, he told us he was concerned that he could be in trouble.
That was his feeling after he saved the babies. He did the right thing, but in America, land of the Second Amendment, he was afraid of the lawyers who might try to punish him for being a man, and doing what men do: protect children from danger.
What a world.
I’m thankful that this happened in Oklahoma, though, and so there was a happy conclusion.
Police questioned and released Freeman, but the district attorney was tasked with determining if the shooting was a criminal act.
[…]A little more than a month after the shooting, officials say the case is closed.
On Thursday, the Pontotoc County District Attorney announced that the shooting was a ‘justifiable use of deadly force under Oklahoma Law.’
The decision to not prosecute this man apparently came out a month later than his interrogation by police. Imagine what that month must have been like for him. Is this the way that want men to feel when they do the right thing? And is it wise to attack and punish men who use force for self-defense and for defense of others? If I were in a position to use deadly force to protect someone else, the first thing on my mind would be what the police and the lawyers and the government would do to me. And that is just sad. But that’s the world we live in, where so many people who are afraid of guns (while knowing nothing at all about them). I think many people would blame this man for being “violent” without caring about the context for his actions.
Why do progressives oppose guns? I think because they hate conservatives in a way that is not reciprocated. Progressives think that conservatives are evil, whereas conservatives think that progressives are merely wrong. Progressives don’t like guns, because if they had them, they feel that they could not stop themselves from killing. There are many examples of this: the Bernie Sanders supporter who shot at Republican legislators, or the gay activist who opened fire in the Family Research Council building. Progressives project their own lack of self-control onto conservatives, and that’s why they want to ban guns and criminalize self-defense. But conservatives use guns for good, not evil.
A while back, I wrote a post that I really enjoyed writing about the movie High Noon. In it, I talked about the conflict between Marshal Will Kane and his new wife. He wanted to stay and protect his home town against outlaws who are coming to kill him and raze the town. His new wife cannot understand why he has to stand and fight, she wants him to run away with her. In the end, she helps him to defeat the outlaws, saving his life.
That post was inspired by something I heard Dennis Prager talking about on his radio show. He was talking about a survey of boys and girls done by the toy company Mattel. Well, I wanted to blog about his comments, so I ended up writing the High Noon post. But then Dina found an article about the Mattel survey on National Review. I think this is one of the wisest and most perceptive articles I have ever read, and it will really help you to understand what has happened in the last 50 years to this country.
Last week the New York Times published an article, “Sweeping Away Gender-Specific Toys and Labels,” that contained three sentences that explain one of the most important phenomena in American life. In discussing the increasing move to do away with gender-specific toys — something the New York Times approves of — the article quoted Tania Missad, the “director of global consumer insights” at one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers, Mattel:
Mattel’s research showed some differences in what girls and boys wanted in their action figures, Ms. Missad said. “For boys it’s very much about telling a story of the good guy killing the villain. . . . [Girls] would tell us: ‘Why does the good girl have to kill the villain? Can’t they be friends in the end?’”
Prager comments on the part in red:
This difference may be the most important of all the sex differences. Indeed, it can actually shape the future of America and of the world.
Of course, there are women who want evil destroyed — the late Margaret Thatcher, for example. And there are men who oppose confronting evil — the men who lead the modern Democratic party, for example. (One such man is the president of the United States, who has a feminized view of those who do evil — talk to them, but don’t confront them, label them, or fight them.) But these exceptions happen in large numbers under two circumstances: when women get married and when men are feminized.
When women get married, they are often influenced by their husbands with regard to political and moral issues, just as married men are influenced by their wives on a whole host of micro issues. As a result, married women are more likely than single women to prefer to fight villains than to befriend them. Unfortunately, more and more American women are single.
Meanwhile American boys are increasingly raised by single women and taught almost only by female teachers. In addition, they are often taught to be ashamed of their masculine natures and to reject traditional masculine virtues.
As a result of the above two trends, the amount spent on national defense will continue to decline (while the amount spent on welfare will continue to increase), and America will confront the world’s evils less and less. The consequences will be disastrous for millions of people around the globe.
When America retreats from killing bad guys, bad guys kill more innocent people. We are witnessing this right now as a consequence of America’s abandoning Iraq and retreating from the world generally. Islamic State took over more and more territories as America abandoned them. Ironically, therefore, as American foreign policy becomes feminized, more Middle East females are raped.
Whenever I see on a car the liberal bumper sticker “War Is Not the Answer,” I look to see who is driving. In years of looking, I have seen one male driver.
Both women and men have flawed natures. They share human nature, which is deeply flawed, and the sexes have their own particular natures, which are also flawed. That is one reason men need women and women need men. Men need women to soften their intrinsic aggressive nature and to help them control their predatory sexuality; and women need men to, among other things, better understand that evil people and regimes must be fought, not nurtured.
So, there is something in male nature that thinks that it is acceptable to use violence as a last resort in order to defeat evil. Evil might be things like criminals, terrorists… even wolves and bears, if they attacked innocent people.
So what are the solutions?
Here’s what we should do:
We should stop paying women money to have children before they are married, so that boys have fathers to raise them who have made a commitment before they got handed free sex.
We should rollback no-fault divorce, which leads to fatherless children. People should be less emotional about who they marry, and not think “there’s an escape hatch if I feel unhappy”.
We should try to get more male teachers into classrooms, and maybe allow parents to pull boys out of failing schools and put them into all-male schools if they think those work better.
We should try to vote for policies that empower law enforcement, national security, and our armed forces to detect, attack and defeat evil. For example, we invest in defense spending, and avoid undermining the morale of police and armed forces with political correctness.
I guess the list could be longer, but that’s a start for the issues that Prager raised.
We need to work against the forces that demean male nature and male roles, and work to promote male nature and male roles.
So, I have about a half-dozen older and/or experienced Christian women who advise me and assist me in various ways. The wisest and most experienced is calm and thoughtful Dina. She has a very stressful job dealing with demanding women, and what she admires most in men is “masculinity”, which she defines as a man’s ability to tell a woman what is right and wrong, what God expects from her, what she should be doing with her life, and guiding her and providing for her through the steps to get there.
What makes Dina angry is when a man makes a fool of himself for youth and beauty, abdicating his role as moral and spiritual leader because of attraction / lust. According to Dina, men who have self-control think about what a woman should do that is morally right, with the goal of her producing a return for God. Men who are swayed by youth and beauty are willing to give up that leadership role in exchange for attention and/or sex.
So, with that said, Dina asked me to watch a recently-made movie called “Far From the Madding Crowd“, based on a novel by Thomas Hardy. I immediately said “no” because I know about Thomas Hardy from Tess of the D’Urbervilles, where he presents Tess as the helpless victim of Providence. I really hate that view of women, where they can do reckless, selfish things and then blame everyone but themselves for the destructive consequences of their own free-will decisions. But Dina said “wasn’t I right about the debate between David Robertson and Matt Dillahunty?” I said yes, and watched the movie. And of course, she was right, as she almost always is. This movie is a punch in the face to the radical feminism that seems to have infected so many young women, even in the church.
What does this 19th century tale offer to modern audiences? This latest rendering emphasizes something actually surprising and unexpected given that it is made in our age of radical feminism. It is Gabriel Oak’s character that shines the most, not the proto-feminist Bathsheba. […]In Bathsheba and Gabriel we see how men and women support one another in such a way as to ensure a flourishing in any role that fate might thrust on them.
[…]The relationship between Gabriel and Bathsheba, though unequal in earthly terms of authority and wealth, is one of mutual dependence. We see Oak taking on a role of both counselor and conscience with Bathsheba – roles that in her striving towards independence she struggles to admit her need for. She is not unlike the modern feminist in this regard, nor is she unlike all of us in our relationship with the Lord. Her struggle is best seen in the various times she repels Gabriel only to find herself in desperate situations in which only he can help. The filmmakers’ clever use of a recurring theme of Bathsheba galloping after Gabriel on a horse when he is needed is particularly moving (and surprising) here. In the end, the film resists the urge to pander to our more extreme modern views on what women require to thrive.
Gabriel Oak also seems to be an embodiment of the biblical virtue of selflessness. We see in his actions towards Bathsheba the Philippians admonition to refrain from “being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity,” but rather “in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.” Indeed, vanity itself can be seen as a fateful character flaw of every major character apart from Gabriel. He alone is able to move past rejection and carry on. In fact, he is required to go so far as to be under the authority of the very woman who rejected his offer of marriage and, despite his continuing affections for her, witness her being courted and then married by another far less worthy man, Frank Troy. No other major character is able to accomplish this challenge to their pride. Though Bathsheba does eventually overcome the rejection of her husband, she only does so after tremendous tragedy and with the selfless and steady support of Gabriel.
Gabriel respects her independence, but, like a good shepherd, stays close by to protect and guide her. Though he cannot protect her from her free-will choices, he does warn her. He then remains faithful to her in the midst of the trouble she brings upon herself. In this, he is not unlike our God, for he allows her to stray, all the while letting her know of a better course when asked. And, she does ask.
In an important scene at a party, where Bathsheba must decide whether or not to marry a particularly obsessive suitor, when she asks, “Tell me what to do, Gabriel,” he simply tells her to “Do what is right.” Is that not like our Lord? Gentle shepherd, indeed, for our wild, independent hearts. In this, I see Gabriel as most suitable for the role as the husband written of in the epistle to the Ephesians. He loves Bathsheba “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her…”
Men and women both struggle with self-centeredness, but men usually work themselves out of it by studying hard things in school, and doing hard work that pays. Men have a natural desire to provide for others, and it is actually a duty laid out for them in the Bible. As a result of studying and working at things they don’t like, men typically are better at resisting their feelings and desires. In fact, if you ever want to make a woman less self-centered and emotional, leading her to study STEM and work a demanding job is a good plan. Dina has multiple STEM degrees, and a very difficult, challenging work history.
I would be suspicious of men who don’t prioritize providing, (as in 1 Tim 5:8), because working and saving gives a man practical experience at self-denial. When a man gets accustomed to working to share with others, it helps helps him to lead a woman to do the same: deny her feelings and desires, and make prudent decisions that will allow her to love and serve others – including God – in a sustainable way. Over the long-term, this practice of effective, self-sacrificial love will be worth more to the woman than the short-term pursuit of fun and thrills. To provide for a woman means to look into her future, and make a decision today to set aside something that will help her to deal with what the future has in store for her.
Dina’s advice to young women
I asked Dina to take a look at the draft of this post before I hit “Schedule” and Dina said:
What I would advise to all young women is not to expect a Gabriel Oak to be waiting for you at the end of your reckless years of hooking up, partying and wasting your youth on fun and men who have no desire to lead you to God or guide you to goodness. Don’t expect the hot stud that your friends approve of to turn into someone with the character of Oak with the magic powers of your premarital sex life. Find a man who doesn’t give in to your every whim, because if he does, you will only resent him for it, and blame him, for being what you thought you wanted him to be. Find a man who leads, one who demonstrates self control, self denial, who can provide and protect. And most importantly, respect him for doing it.
Sound advice from the Dina, young ladies. By the way, Dina’s favorite drama is the BBC production of “North and South” from 2004. I also give it a 10/10.