Tag Archives: Mental Illness

How does church appear to someone raised in a non-Christian home?

Church sucks, that's why men are bored there

My friend Wes posted an article about how communication is set up in the church, and why it’s not effective at equipping Christians to defend their worldview in hostile environments. The article describes what I encountered in church, after I was raised in a non-Christian home and become a Christian on my own by reading the New Testament. The view presented in the essay is how I viewed the church, and is probably how most outsiders view church. I think it explains why young people leave the church in droves once they move out of their parents’ houses.

The author writes:

On the Internet, one soon discovers that many respected church leaders are quite unable to deal directly with opposing viewpoints. In fact, many of them can’t even manage meaningful engagement with other voices. Their tweets may be entirely one-way conversations. They talk at their audiences. They can talk about other voices, but fail to talk to them, let alone with them. Their representations of opposing viewpoints reveal little direct exposure to the viewpoints in question.

[…]Around this point, it can start to dawn on one that many church leaders have only been trained in forms of discourse such as the sermon and, to a much lesser extent, the essay. Both forms privilege a single voice—their voice—and don’t provide a natural space for response, questioning, and challenge. Their opinions have been assumed to be superior to opposing viewpoints, but have never been demonstrated to be so. While they may have spoken or written about opposing voices, they are quite unaccustomed to speaking or writing to them (not to mention listening to or being cross-examined by them). There are benefits to the fact that the sermon is a form of discourse that doesn’t invite interruption or talking back, but not when this is the only form of discourse its practitioners are adept in.

Many church leaders have been raised and trained in ideologically homogenous cultures or contexts that discouraged oppositional discourse. Many have been protected from hostile perspectives that might unsettle their faith. Throughout, their theological opinions and voices have been given a privileged status, immune from challenge. Nominal challenges could be brushed off by a reassertion of the monologue. They were safe to speak about and habitually misrepresent other voices to their hearers and readers, without needing to worry about those voices ever enjoying the power to answer them back. Many of the more widely read members of their congregations may have had an inkling of the weakness of their positions in the past: the Internet just makes it more apparent.

One of my friends who comments here as “Wintery’s Friend” actually did his M. Div, and I think it was he who told me that his seminary had dropped the lone course in apologetics that had been part of the curriculum. Now seminary grads don’t learn any opposing views. They just pre-suppose that the Bible is true in the same way that Mormons pre-suppose their Bible is true. It’s a Mormon epistemology that’s been adopted by Christian seminarians.

More:

If one’s opinion has never been subjected to and tried by rigorous cross-examination, it probably isn’t worth much. If one lacks the capacity to keep a level head when one’s views are challenged, one’s voice will be of limited use in most real world situations, where dialogue and dispute is the norm and where we have to think in conversation with people who disagree with us.

The teachers of the Church provide the members of the Church with a model for their own thinking. The teacher of the Church does not just teach others what to believe, but also how to believe, and the process by which one arrives at a theological position. This is one reason why it is crucial that teachers ‘show their working’ on a regular basis. When teaching from a biblical text, for instance, the teacher isn’t just teaching the meaning of that particular text, but how Scripture should be approached and interpreted more generally. An essential part of the teaching that the members of any church need is that of dealing with opposing viewpoints. One way or another, every church provides such teaching. However, the lesson conveyed in all too many churches is that opposing voices are to be dismissed, ignored, or ‘answered’ with a reactive reassertion of the dogmatic line, rather than a reasoned response.

You can imagine that the first questions that you’ll be asked by a non-Christian co-worker would be things like “why think God exists?” and “why think the Bible is history rather than legend?”. What I’ve learned from listening to pastors is that very few are equipped to answer those questions. Most just assume that God exists and that the Bible is inerrant. And they don’t show their work, because they haven’t done the work. Moreover, they actively oppose apologetics as “divisive” and “prideful”. And so their flocks can attend church for 20 years and never learn a single useful piece of information that can be used in a real-world discussion. If you’re wondering why kids raised in married Christian homes start getting drunk and shacking up with atheists the minute they hit college, then look at the pastors who mocked their honest questions instead of preparing to answer them with evidence.

More:

I believe that there are various problems in the Church that are exacerbated by this. Where they are led by voices that can’t cope with difference or challenge, churches will tend to become fissiparous echo chambers, where people are discouraged from thinking critically about what leaders are saying and doing. The integrity of the Church’s theological conversation will not be tested through criticism and challenge. Churches that are led by such leaders will habitually develop polarized oppositions with their critics.

Unfortunately, in conservative churches, pious church leaders like Al Mohler, Russell Moore, Denny Burk, etc. oppose the use of evidence in apologetics, especially scientific and historical evidence. They don’t like the idea that humans can consider evidence rationally, and make a decision – even though Jesus regularly presents evidence to people who don’t believe in him in the Bible, and expects them to respond to it. The approach of pious Christian leaders to Christian teaching is to parrot Bible verses and hope that it has a magical effect of compelling faith in unbelievers. I call this the magic-words view of the Bible. For example, these pastors would not use peer-reviewed evidence from the social sciences when discussing moral issues like premarital sex, they would just cite the Bible’s teaching on it – to non-Christians!

I don’t know about you, but I think that a peer-reviewed paper on the dangers of premarital promiscuity has far more weight than something like this from Denny Burk:

If the Bible is the word of God, then it merely needs to be proclaimed. It has intrinsic power that cannot be nullified by the most hardened of skeptics. For that reason, we can have confidence in proclaiming it to anyone. And we can say “the Bible tells me so” without blushing.

That’s just fideism, and it’s the majority view among conservative church leaders. If you had to pick a single passage that explained the decline of Bible-based Christianity in America, you couldn’t find a better passage. What’s most surprising is that this fideistic view of Christianity is not even Biblical. The Biblical view of faith is that faith is trust in God, based on evidence. This is why Jesus offered his own resurrection as evidence to a generation of unbelievers. His miracles were also evidence offered to unbelievers. And the Old Testament is filled with examples of people like Isaiah presenting evidence to unbelievers. The fideist view sounds more like the Mormon “burning of the bosom” view.

I think the Mormon / fideist camp is just imposing their own man-made views onto the text in order to get out of the hard work of having to actually study and prepare to have debates with non-Christians. The motivation is laziness, and piety is just how they dress up their laziness to make it seem positive. Unfortunately, the product of this pious laziness is ignorance, and ignorance costs young people their faith. It doesn’t seem to bother these pastors at all that they can’t have meaningful engagements with non-Christians, or that they don’t equip young Christians to defend themselves. They’re oblivious to the world outside of the church doors.

In conclusion, we really need to stop giving respect to fideist pastors, if we expect to train up a generation of young Christians who are able to retain their faith and have an influence. We would never accept Mormon fideism as a sign of competence in any other real-world area of our lives, e.g. – auto repair, software engineering, surgery or tax law. We shouldn’t accept Mormon fideism as a sign of competence in teaching the Bible, either.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Can a man marry a woman who thinks that all male leadership is “sexist”?

These days, many people of both sexes graduate college with a lot of student loan debt and no marketable skills at all. What do they learn? Well, they don’t learn anything, but they are brainwashed to believe in secular leftist dogma. And they’re also brainwashed to dismiss all opposition to secular leftist dogma by labeling it as “sexist”, “racist”, “homophobic”, “xenophobic”, etc.

I wrote previously about how men don’t like to marry non-virgins. I argued that women with a lot of sexual experience have proven that they prefer men who have “no-commitment” abilities. And those women also avoid men who have commitment abilities. I argued that if a man marries a woman with a lot of experience of giving no-commitment men sex, then she probably wouldn’t respect and admire his marriage-oriented skills enough to let him lead the home.

I believe that the brainwashing that women get when they do non-STEM degrees in liberal arts programs in college is the cause of their resistance to the leadership of marriage-minded men.

How does a marriage happen? Basically, a marriage-minded man prepares himself for marriage by denying himself “fun” in order to position himself to be a husband and father. He studies hard STEM subjects in order to get good jobs. His resume is gap-free. He started working early, and didn’t take summers off. He saves his money. He understands beliefs that are incompatible with marriage, such as pro-abortion, pro-divorce, etc. and he is able to argue against them. When he meets a woman, he presents his preparations to her, and tries to get her to focus on behaviors that will put her on a path to becoming a wife and mother. If she follows his lead, then she becomes safe for him to marry. He is able to see how she listens to his marriage plan, and adjusts her behavior in order to help him to execute the plan.

So what does this leadership look like? Well, in my case, I’ve tried to get women to switch from non-STEM to STEM degrees. To quit easy jobs like waitress and teacher and get hard jobs like IT Project Manager or Software Engineer. To stop wasting money on thrill-seeking and instead pay off loans, then invest. To stop watching TV and movies, and start reading good non-fiction books about marriage, parenting, apologetics, economics, etc. And to inform themselves about marriage related topics, e.g. – divorce, infertility, child development, homeschooling, daycare, school choice. Basically, getting them to drop childish anti-marriage and anti-family behaviors, and take up mature pro-marriage and pro-family behaviors, so that they become useful partners for a marriage enterprise.

But what about non-STEM college programs? What does college teach young women about this marriage-focused leadership from marriage-minded men? It depends on what she studies. If she does a STEM degree, she’ll have been forced to be accountable to reality in her assignments and exams. She’ll get a decent job and pay off student loans, allowing her husband to quickly buy her a house and give her children to raise while she’s still young. But, if she does a non-STEM degree, then not only will she probably have student loan debt and a useless degree and low-pay jobs, but she’ll also have been brainwashed with all sorts of anti-marriage and anti-family beliefs and behaviors. That’s because non-STEM programs are nothing more than brainwashing in secular leftist dogma. And I have an example of how this works in real life.

Everything too hard for her to learn or do is “sexist”

In the example below, a male expert on climate science corrects a female journalist about climate science. She dismisses his correction (not shown) as sexism.

Feminist journalist shames science expert as "sexist"
Feminist journalist shames science expert as “sexist”

Here is the biography of the male PhD in meteorology:

Ryan Maue is a research meteorologist. He has developed and maintained a popular weather maps and climate data service based on the world’s best numerical weather prediction systems. During his graduate studies at Florida State University, he researched extratropical and tropical cyclones, utilizing mesoscale models and large reanalysis datasets, and published multiple peer-reviewed articles. After his PhD in 2010, Maue was awarded a National Research Council postdoctoral associateship at the Naval Research Lab in Monterey, California where he focused on global weather prediction and verification.

And here is the biography of the female journalist with the BA in journalism:

She has a BA in journalism, and knows literally nothing about climate science, and has achieved literally nothing of value in the field of climate science that anyone would be willing to pay her for.

Crying “sexist” is literally everything that her degree in journalism taught her to do. She has one skill: how to dismiss expertise in reality-based practical disciplines as “sexist”, and therefore inferior to her feelings and intuitions.

Should marriage-minded men marry feminists?

So let’s ask and answer one simple question: should a marriage-minded man marry a woman who dismisses leadership from qualified men as “sexist”?

Let’s review the red flags of secular leftist feminist women:

  • she’s pro-abortion, so she thinks murdering an innocent child is how selfish adults escape the consequences of their own reckless actions
  • she’s pro-divorce, and will not hesitate for a second to break a commitment that makes her unhappy
  • she’s an atheist, so she can’t rationally ground the basic requirements of morality: free will, objective moral laws, etc. and therefore cannot be relied on to behave morally against her own self-interest
  • she’s a socialist, so she views money earned by the husband as the property of the secular left government
  • she’s a feminist, so she believes sex is recreational, and need not be reserved for a husband and wife in a covenant marriage, and she thinks that newborns should be tossed into daycare then public schools
  • she believes in same-sex marriage, so she thinks that children can be deprived of a relationship with their biological mother and/or father, for the benefit of selfish adults
  • etc.

Does this sound like she’s ready for a husband and children?

But more than the worldview issues are the practical issues. A woman with a non-STEM degree didn’t want to study subjects that are accountable to reality. She didn’t want to be a pharmacist, a nurse or a software engineer – those jobs would require her to produce work that corresponds to reality, and has value in the real world. People like her who graduate with non-STEM degrees don’t understand anything about how the world really works. People like her aren’t equipped to earn money in a free market by satisfying customers. They don’t understand basic economics, so they’re socialists. They can’t be reasoned with, because their views are determined by what makes them feel good, look good to peers, and what gives them maximum autonomy to pursue pleasure with minimum accountability. When secular leftists feminists crash and burn at self-sufficiency, they blame everyone else instead of themselves. All of these character traits make them really difficult to get along with in a marriage.

Can women like this be fixed up for marriage and motherhood? Well, that would require them to be open to marriage-minded men who would be able to lead them towards marriage and motherhood behaviors. But how did Emily respond to leadership from a male with real-world demonstrated ability in a practical area? She called his attempt to lead her “sexist”. And that is the standard response of secular leftist feminist women to male leadership. If you tell them to study computer science, you’re “sexist”. If you tell them to stop wasting money, you’re “sexist”. If you tell them to stop getting drunk, you’re “sexist”. If you tell them to read a book on economics, you’re “sexist”. If you tell them to watch a William Lane Craig debate, you’re “sexist”. If you tell them to eat healthy and lift weights, you’re “sexist”. If you tell them to get a challenging job, you’re “sexist”. If you tell them to stop having recreational sex with bad boys, you’re “sexist”. Every attempt to focus a secular leftist feminist woman on preparing for marriage and motherhood is called “sexist”.

If women would only listen to what men ask of them as future wives and future mothers, and build themselves up for wife and mother roles, then women would never struggle to find husbands. No man in his right mind can risk marriage to a secular leftist feminist. There is no “secular leftist feminist” path to marriage. No amount of immodesty and premarital sex from a secular leftist feminist is enough to trick a man into marrying her. That might work on some men to get sex, but it’s not going to work to get her to marriage and children.

How to avoid choosing a charming, deceitful narcissist for a spouse

Here's some helpful advice for women about choosing a man
Here’s some helpful advice for women about choosing a man

For fun, I’ve decided to publish the 2000-word first draft that I normally send to my 6 female editors, because sometimes it’s fun to let people know what I *really* think about things before my editors force me to make it more palatable.

We got a comment a while back that I thought was worth a response.

Let’s start with the comment:

My husband was a Narcissist. He slept all over the county and never worked a day in this marriage. Plus, He couldn’t decide if he was straight or gay. After my son finally left home I filed for divorce. I wish I did it sooner. Now he claims to be born again and wants to stay together. When is enough, enough?

We don’t know if this woman was a Christian, was chaste, and whether the man she chose was Christian or was chaste. All we know is that the man she chose was attractive enough to easily find other women who would have sex with him despite the fact that he was married. Whatever he has, it’s something that causes women who are not married to him to have sex with him. That’s who the divorced woman chose to marry. His “charm” wasn’t from his moral character or his deep knowledge of Christian theology and apologetics.

My first response to this was to put the responsibility on the person who had chosen the bad husband. After all, I reasoned, everyone who takes a massive step like marriage is obligated to investigate who it is they are marrying.

But when I said that, I got some responses from women that said that she wasn’t responsible for her poor choice of man, and that she was an innocent victim of his magical charming powers.

Here’s Lee:

A lot of time people don’t show their worst qualities until the relationship is firmly in place, and it starts coming out slowly. It’s not always as clear cut as a woman stupidly choosing an unsuitable husband who acted unsuitable from the get-go. I mean yeah, sometimes it’s obvious early on and the woman is just stupid/ blind/broken/other. But we should be careful to not assume, and careful to not make harsh judgments from our ignorance.

If dangers like infidelity are not “obvious” then it’s not the woman’s fault that she didn’t detect it. Apparently there is no way for the woman to detect it if it’s not obvious, so she’s not responsible.

And Mary:

Narcissists are skilled at charming and persuading people that they’re really great. And they’re skilled at convincing others that their misgivings are irrational fears. Unfortunately,there are a lot of people like that. Not saying that people (men AND women, btw!) don’t just sometimes choose stupidly, for bad reasons like “hotness” and excitement. But narcissists are a whole other kettle of fish. They can come out with a completely different personality once they’ve snagged their prey.

If a bad person is “skilled at charming”, then their victim has no way of evaluating them accurately. Basically, deciding who to marry is just an activity where you talk, and decide how you feel about that person’s talk. If the person is charming, then they make you feel good, and it’s rational to marry them. A lot of women express this as “I want a man who is confident”. It’s never been explained to me how “confidence” is any evidence that the man has an ability and a past pattern of self-control and fidelity.

And Sara:

Probably because narcissists can be very charming at first and easily win people over.

[…] What I was trying to say and the article pointed out is the power of narcissists is they can put people, especially women, under a spell of sorts. They are just so slick and charming that common sense goes right out the window. They don’t think to verify all these things that seem obvious because they are so captivated.

All that’s necessary to detect a charming narcissist is “common sense”. His suitability to do husband and father roles should be “obvious” from what he says and how he makes her feel.

So, let’s take a look at some tips for avoiding these charming narcissists who can convince you to marry them just with their words and the feelings they cause.

How to avoid marrying a charming narcissist who cheats on you

Here is some advice on how to avoid marrying a charming narcissist.

1. Evaluate a person based on objective evidence instead of how they make you feel with their words

There are a lot of lies coming out of the artists, actors, celebrities, etc. in this secular leftist culture that basically say that marriage is all about you and your feelings. If you prepared for marriage by watching movies made by pedophiles in Hollywood, and listening to music made by promiscuous musicians, and reading self-help fiction written by divorced spinsters, then you are not ready to detect a charming narcissist. Marriage is a practical enterprise, with distinct roles for husbands and wives that must be performed regardless of how either spouse feels. You need to understand and evaluate what behaviors are expected of husbands and wives in a marriage, and then look for evidence that the person you want to marry can perform those behaviors.

For example, if the behavior is fidelity, then the person should be able to demonstrate chastity and self-control during the courtship, and produce references from past girlfriends / boyfriends, and have written about chastity and self-control using research sources to explain the connection between premarital sex and marital instability. If you’re choosing with your feelings, and you haven’t done an analysis of marriage roles, and partner abilities, you’re headed for a disaster.

Just so you know, when I said this to some of the pro-irresponsibility, non-judgemental women I know, their response was to laugh in my face at the idea of asking someone’s previous partners about whether they were chaste and self-controlled. And this is why people are taken by surprise by the charming talk of narcissists. Feelings-oriented people today laugh at the idea of doing any evaluation, preferring to rely on their feelings. A lot of the failure to choose wisely is just down to people not understanding how the world works, then trying to manufacture a psycho-babble rationalization of why they screwed up.

When you’re hiring someone, you do a job interview, you test their skills, you contact their references, you do a drug test, a credit check, a criminal record check. And you have other skilled people sit in on the interviews and tests, in order to make sure that the person can really do the job they are being interviewed for. The marriage evaluation should include everything that the job interview includes as a minimum. Marriage is at least as complicated as choosing to hire someone for a job. If you aren’t doing the bare minimum of evaluating their education, career and finances, then you are setting yourself up for failure.

2. Learn what it takes to make morality rational, and then determine if your candidate is capable of being moral

Because marriage deals so much with moral obligations, it’s incumbent on you to read extensively on moral issues. You yourself should have developed worldview (through study and debate) that rationally grounds the minimum requirements for moral values and duties: 1) free will, 2) consciousness, 3) objective moral values, 4) objective moral duties, 5) a divine judge, 6) life after death. Why? Because doing the right thing isn’t something that you always feel like doing. When doing the right thing goes against your feelings, you will need to have a reason to act against your own self-interest. And that reason is going to be because the world is the sort of place where morality is real, and independent of your feelings, where you are a free moral agent, and where is a divine judge and an afterlife.

At the center of the ability to rationally ground morality is the ability to know God is real rationally, and to defend his existence using objective evidence and logical arguments. If you don’t know whether God exists based on logic and evidence, how will you evaluate whether someone else knows it? If you can’t rationally ground doing the right thing when it goes against your interest, then you won’t be able to know how to ask questions and investigate in order to decide whether someone else is moral or not.  Marrying someone who doesn’t believe in a moral lawgiver and a moral judge after death is as prudent to going into a city dump eating all your meals from what you find there.

In the specific case of fidelity, it’s important to remember that some people have goals and an understanding about how poor choices right now will make those goals more difficult to obtain. It’s easy to say that you want your spouse to be faithful. But what’s really needed is to measure what they are really trying to achieve in life, and whether they understand how infidelity would affect those plans. If you can’t see from their past decisions that they KNOW that 1) marriage and family are important enough to sacrifice for and 2) that they understand and apply the research that shows what decisions helps to make a marriage last (e.g. – no premarital sex), then, they don’t really have the goals and the information that you want in a marriage partner.