December 11, 2006

A Biblical Critique of Debbie Maken's Book "Getting Serious about Getting Married" (part 11)

PART XI: Chapter 10 - "'Single = Celibate'" (The Sex Mandate?)

Imagine a preacher standing up before his congregation on Sunday morning and declaring, "Single people, God commands you to get married and to have sex!" I am certain there are plenty of singles in their late teens and early twenties that would secretly delight for this pronouncement to be made. A young man, with his hormones raging and his frontal lobe not fully developed, can declare, "I have no choice but to fulfill God's mandate and pursue that really good-looking sister in Christ I met in Bible camp last Summer. We'll get married and our ticket to paradise will be punched!" You may think I jest, but in Chapter 10 of Getting Serious About Getting Married, Debbie Maken defends the notion that we are "hardwired by our Creator to want sex and to pursue sexual fulfillment" (p. 128).

Are we really "hardwired" to want and pursue sex? Forgive me for turning on the cold shower, but the idea that we have no choice but to have sex and therefore we should marry is a naive and harmful myth. It is not taught by the Scriptures. I am certain a few jaws will drop at this statement; therefore, permit me to explain why I have come to the conclusions that I have.

Design and "God-Given" Desires

When religious leaders talk about human sexuality and God's design, they often assert that marriage is the proper avenue for the expression of our "God-given desires." The truth, however, is that our desire for sex is not "God-given." How can this be? Simple. We must distinguish between sexual response (which is biological), and desire (which is an act of the will). We make a similar distinction when we consider food. For instance, a woman may notice that someone has brought in some store-bought turtle cheesecake at her workplace. Her mouth may salivate, but if she is on a diet, she may lose her desire after reading the nutrition label and the list of ingredients on the side of the packaging. In this case, we see the desire for food, which is even stronger and more necessary than the desire for sex, can be extinguished by choice.

We need food to survive and sooner or later, we must desire and eat food. The same cannot be said about sex. Paul corrected the Corinthians when he declared:
"All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." (1 Cor. 6:12-13, NKJV)
If there was ever a time for Paul to concede that our reproductive organs had to be used for sex the way our stomach must be used for food, this verse would probably be the place. Paul, however, makes no such concession. He simply tells the Corinthians that the body is "not for sexual immorality." Sexual activity is not an inevitability. Indeed, when we declare that God indiscriminately gives people a desire for sex, then we call into question what the Bible plainly declares about his nature:
"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. " (James 1:13-15, NKJV)

"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13, NJKV)
Remember, that sexual arousal like hunger does not wait on a time table. Your body does not know whether your are married or not. When it responds to stimuli, it is prepared for an act that might as well take place immediately. If we confuse innate sexual responses with "God-given desires," then we are claiming that God hasn't really programmed us to want sex in marriage, per se, as much as he has programmed us to want sex right away.

Debbie Maken says, "There must be hope of a timely marriage for abstinence to be successful" (p. 132). This hope, however, is often dashed by unrealistic demands placed on both sexes (especially demands placed on men). We must also acknowledge that there will be some people who cannot get married under any reasonable circumstances. So how can we say to a single man that he is programmed to want and pursue sex when there is no immediate prospect of him getting married? What "way of escape" does he have from his desires in that case? Sexual activity outside of marriage would most certainly be a problem for him. I cannot but wonder how many Christians have succumbed to this defeatist thinking. Christians might say, "God made me this way. I am so lonely. I have needs and they have to be met." Then they might give themselves permission to get angry at God, use pornography, sleep around, get unscripturally remarried, or commit adultery.

I anticipate someone will point to 2 Thess. 3:10 and claim that just as men have to work in order to eat, so they must work to obtain the favor of godly women in pursuit of marriage. This line of reasoning fails under closer scrutiny, however. We give food to who are starving, disabled, or unable to work, but we don't grant sex to those who will never have a chance to marry through no fault of their own. Is God a respecter of persons that we should supply benevolence for one perceived human need but not for another? The restrictions God places on sexuality are much more stringent than what he places on other biological drives. Moreover, as a man, I realize that finding some sort of employment to secure the basic necessities of life is not as difficult as finding the kind of employment needed to satisfy the demands of many a religious woman in this consumeristic society. We don't tell a male teenager that he has to wait to get out on his own before he can eat, but we say that he must do so if he wants to get married. We don't tell a young man that he has no choice but to buy all of his food from the most expensive grocery store in town, but we declare he has no choice but to embrace the expensive proposition of marriage in order to gratify his sexual desires. If you balk at the idea of equating sex with a cheap commodity like food, then you should not talk about men having to labor as if such were the case.

In short, the desire for sex is not like the desire for food, drink, sleep, etc. When we tell single people that God programmed them to seek out sex, then we set them up for failure. This is why the Marriage Mandate Movement is not a harmless fad. We must stand up and combat any false doctrine that causes Christians to yield to temptation in a fit of helplessness or causes them to question God's justice and love.

Is Marriage the Cure for Being Hot and Bothered?

Debbie Maken claims in Chapter 10 that our sex drive "was designed to find release in marriage" (p. 128). She then references 1 Cor. 7:1-2 as a proof-text for encouraging single people to get married. I have already indicated in Part 3 of my review that an application of 1 Cor 7:1-2 to single people is a violation of the context. Paul was addressing married Christians in that passage.

When I recently pointed out the context of 1 Cor 7:1-2 to some people, one critic wanted to know why Paul would demand married people have sexual relations to address the problem of self-control, but not demand something similar for single people . After all, doesn't sexual temptation affect single people to a greater extent than married people? In answer to this question, let me point out that the being married to someone and yet being forced to go without sex is more frustrating than not being married at all. We kid ourselves if we believe someone who is accustomed to having a physical relationship with another person can continue to live in close quarters with the other person and yet have no problem when the intimacy suddenly stops. In response to this observation, my critic declared my viewpoint to be a "bald assertion." I suppose if we follow my critic's line of reasoning, boyfriends and girlfriends who live together are no more susceptible to sexual tension and temptation than those who live apart. Do we really believe that?

At any rate, Mrs. Maken continues her misapplication of 1 Cor. 7:1-2 by pointing to Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:28: "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (ESV). Mrs. Maken suggests that since a lot of Christians are already guilty of sexual impurity according to Jesus, they need to get married to "avoid fornication," as per Paul's instructions.

Quite frankly, the idea that marriage can prevent people from having impure thoughts about others is downright laughable. There is no strong guarantee that marriage can keep you from falling into sexual sin. If such were the case, then adultery, online affairs, and married men looking at pornography would not be widespread problems. A well-known book among Evangelicals, Every Man's Battle, has this to say about marriage stemming lust:
"That marriage doesn't eliminate sexual impurity comes as no surprise to married men, although it does for teens and young singles ... Young singles believe that marriage creates a state of sexual nirvana.

"If only it were so. First of all, sex has different meanings to men and women. Men primarily receive intimacy just before and during intercourse. Women gain intimacy through touching, sharing, hugging, and communication. Is it any wonder that the frequency of sex is less important to women than to men, as Mark woefully discovered? Because of the differences between men and women, forming a satisfying sex life in marriage is hardly a slam dunk. It's more like making a half-court shot ...

"Your purity must not depend upon your mate's health or desire. God holds you responsible, and if you don't gain control before your wedding day, you can expect it to crop up after the honeymoon. If you're single and watching sensual R-rated movies, wedded bliss won't change this habit. If your eyes lock on passing babes, they'll still roam after you say, 'I do.' You're masturbating now? Putting that ring on your finger won't keep your hands off yourself.

"When marriage doesn't immediately solve our problem, we cling to the hope that, given enough time, marriage may yet free us. Andy told us, 'I once read that a man's sex drive drops in his thirties and forties, while a woman's sex drive reaches its peak during that time. For a while, I thought that Jill and I would meet in some blissful middle ground. It didn't happen.'

"But freedom from sexual sin rarely comes through marriage or the passage of time. (The phrase 'dirty old man' should tell us something about that.) So if you're tired of sexual impurity and of the mediocre, distant relationship with God that results from it, quit waiting for marriage or some hormone drop to save the day."
(Stephen Arterburn et al., Every Man's Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time (Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 2000), 40-41) [emphasis orig.]
Here we have the unglamorous truth about sexuality in marriage. As a man, I cannot depend on any woman to keep me pure. I must do that myself.

With respect to 1 Cor. 7:1-7, we might presume that conjugal duties might offer some insurance against sexual frustration in marriage, but even here there is no guarantee. Apart from the differences between men and women in how sex is viewed, there are the stressors of life to consider such as caring for children, illness, and separation. If a man thinks he can clobber a less than willing spouse into having sex with him by using 1 Cor. 7:1-7, he will find himself disappointed by the half-hearted compliance given to him. Do you know what it is like to embrace someone who is frigid towards you?

Nice Ladies Who Don't (At All)

Debbie Maken says in her book:
"Let me be totally honest with you. Though I got married at age thirty-one, I really could have used a husband at sixteen, seventeen, nineteen, twenty-one, twenty-three, twenty-seven, twenty-nine, thirty. Especially at twenty-five--a year of numerous cold showers. Let's be honest, being single doesn't make you not want sex. Whoever said that age thirty-four is a woman's sexual peak needs to be shot." (p. 127)
I find this confession to be mildly humorous. Quite frankly, as a man, I could have used a wife at age twelve or thirteen if we want look at the matter this way. Where were the Christian women with Debbie Maken's level of desire when I was in my twenties? I suppose that today's Christian woman is more in touch with her sexuality than women of the past, and yet I wonder if Mrs. Maken is an exception to the rule just the same.

There are still probably women who see sex only in terms of having children or something to be bartered for a husband's good behavior. They may otherwise regard the act to be a major inconvenience. Just how understanding can men expect women to be about male sexuality? Consider this quote from Every Man's Battle regarding how women react to the sexual struggles men face:
"Remember, our habits are rooted in our maleness. We understand them. Women don't. Almost without fail, women who hear about your sexual impurity will think of you as a pervert ..."

"I know some men will disagree with me on this point, and that's fine, because you know your own wife better than I do. But most wives react with shock and revulsion rather than mercy and prayer."
(Arterburn et al., 116-117) [emphasis orig.]
Perhaps the authors of the book are basing their observations on what they've experienced with their female contemporaries. Maybe younger religious women have a more sympathetic and long-suffering understanding about male sexuality. Who is to say? Whatever the case, I daresay many young religious men have allowed popular culture to mislead them about what they can expect from women. Most religious women probably do not have the time, inclination, knowledge or stamina to play the part of the full-time seductress for their husbands.

In fact, Christian men have done a disservice to themselves by the swallowing the lie that pretty woman hold the key to sexual nirvana. Commercials, risque movies, and pornography deceives us with the myth of the Sex Goddess. She doesn't exist, or if she does, she'll never sleep with you. Men need to be more discerning with regard to women that they find physically attractive. Such women have probably already had more than their share of attention from suitors. What incentive have they had to develop a personality or make themselves appealing in other ways since men lavish attention on them so freely? Is it any wonder when physically attractive women turn out be utterly ignorant, narcissistic, or both? Do we expect such self-centered creatures to pause a moment and consider to how best satisfy the physical and emotional desires of the men in their lives?

On top of this, consider that our culture in its misguided spirit of chivalry has given deference to female sexuality at the expense of male sexuality. Female sexuality seen as a complex, mysterious thing demanding the unqualified reverence of men. Male sexuality is regarded with exasperated disdain or regarded as a simplistic matter that requires little, if any, attention. Is it any wonder that many men end up sexually frustrated in marriage because their desires are counted as a trivial matter? As Mr. Spock would say, "After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting."

Is That All There Is?

Religious leaders and popular culture have much in common by being guilty of sensationalizing the "first time." Young Christians may foolishly believe their honeymoon will usher in a state of inexplicable marital bliss. In actuality, their first experience with the conjugal act may be a very awkward and disappointing affair. Sex is more than hot bodies and technique. The amount of satisfaction married people get from sex depends upon mutual understanding and respect between the husband and wife. Such mutual understanding and respect takes time and effort. Hence, satisfying sex is the blossom, not the taproot of a good marriage. This is why I take umbrage with the cheery attitude of Evangelical writers who sell some rosy picture of sex in marriage. The humdrum of marriage life is a reality. Habituation and boredom is an ever present threat. Marriage takes hard work. Mrs. Maken's sexually frustrated readers probably haven't thought through these matters, though.

In essence, it is dangerous to base our relationships with the opposite sex on physical attraction. Even in a good marriage, satisfying sex is not always a guarantee. Being trapped in a loveless marriage can be just as destructive in its earthly consequences as having sex outside of marriage. Sex is never safe, even when sanctioned by the church.

When Single People Fail

Debbie Maken writes:
"We are lying to adolescents if we tell them to save themselves for marriage when at the same time we are telling their older siblings stuck in protracted singleness that singleness and celibacy are the same thing. Any fifteen-year-old looking at the average twenty-five-year old single will hardly be inspired to wait for marriage. The sheer hopelessness of seeing that marriage isn't going to come any time soon becomes incentive to pursue immediate gratification. I'll say it again: Why wait for something that may never come?" (p. 130)
Thus, Mrs. Maken's general premise in Chapter 10 is that Christian singles need to hurry up and get married because so many of them are failing to stay sexually pure. I note Mrs. Maken's line of argumentation is inconsistent with something she says later:
"We cannot point to the high divorce rate and say that it's better not to marry. That's like saying you shouldn't go to high school because the dropout rate is increasing. The failure of other people's marriage is no reason to scrap marriage altogether." (p. 138)
Let's be consistent. If we can't point to other people's failures as an excuse not to marry, then we can't point to other people's failures as an excuse to rush into marriage, either. I admit that premarital sex and the divorce rate are both problems. Mrs. Maken's radical pro-marriage agenda doesn't really get to heart of either of these issues, though.

Why do so many religious singles have a difficult time staying pure? The main reason is they have internalized the false notion that human beings are programmed to have sex. This like saying that human beings are programmed to play soccer. We may be biologically equipped to perform both acts, but we have a choice about having sex, just as we do about kicking a ball. I have already refuted the idea that our desires are "God-given." We are human beings, not fish making a salmon run.

It is a mistake to believe that we will necessarily cause ourselves physical or psychological harm if we refrain from sex. Some experts may point to some ways in which sex benefits our bodies, but in terms of physical well-being, I believe good nutrition, adequate rest, and exercise can easily make up for any loss that comes from celibacy. As for psychological well-being, celibacy does not intrinsically pose a threat in this case either. Even Abraham Maslow, the humanist psychologist who formulated the "hierarchy of needs," conceded as much:
"An ever-recurring question is: Does sexual deprivation inevitably give rise to all or any of the many effects of frustration, e.g., aggression, sublimation, etc. It is now well known that many cases are found in which celibacy has no psychopathological effects. In many other cases, however, it has many bad effects. What factor determines which shall be the result? Clinical work with non-neurotic people gives the clear answer that sexual deprivation becomes pathogenic in a severe sense only when it is felt by the individual to represent rejection by the opposite sex, inferiority, lack of worth, lack of respect, or isolation. Sexual deprivation can be borne with relative ease by individuals for whom it has no such implications. (Of course, there will probably be what Rosenzweig calls need-persistive reactions, but these are not necessarily pathological.)" (A. H. Maslow, "Deprivation, Threat, and Frustration," Psychological Review 48 (1941): 365-366.)
While some may not believe that celibacy will cause harm, they still maintain that sex is a transcending event that no average human being should go without. Our popular culture considers the lives of those who don't have sex as being sad and pitiful. However, we don't talk about emotionally empty souls who hop from one bed to another in a string of failed relationships. We don't talk about the sexually addicted who become numb as they fall into a downward spiral of trying to seek out more intense experiences and new highs. We don't talk about people stuck in loveless marriages who have sex in a perfunctory manner, but are intensely unhappy. As Eleanor Daniel writes: "What a single person perceives as sexual needs may, in fact, be desires for companionship, emotional security, closeness, affirmation, love. Very often, a person's specific physical needs are significantly reduced when the other needs are met" (Eleanor Daniel, What the Bible Says About Sexual Identity (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1981), 235). Of course, I would argue that sex is not a "need" at all.

Besides inaccurate beliefs about our biological programming, the second main reason many single people fail to stay pure is that it's hard to resist something if you have already made up your mind that you want it. Again, what does the Bible say we are led away by when we are tempted? Our "own desires!" John Piper puts it another way: "It's a burden to be sexually chaste if you believe the message of the world that fornication or adultery really will give you more satisfaction " (John Piper, "His Commandments Are Not Burdensome," accessed from www.desiringgod.org). If you look at something as forbidden fruit, you are still looking at it as fruit, period. Some fruits, however, are downright poisonous. Many people need to change their desires if they want to stop struggling with staying sexually pure. We need to do some soul-searching and ask ourselves some pointed questions. Why do we want things that we know that we are not allowed to have? What do we expect to get by receiving what we desire? Are our expectations realistic? Have we weighed the costs and benefits? Have we considered what receiving what we desire will do to ourselves, to others, and to our relationship with God? I suspect that many Christians do not go through this type of examination, so they leave themselves unprepared when temptation hits them. In short, a major cure for sexual temptation is deciding that you don't want sex!!

Self-Control and Celibacy

On page 128 of Debbie Maken's book, she tells her readers: "Celibacy and abstinence are not the same. Celibacy and singleness are not the same. Celibacy and self-control are not the same. Celibacy is a gift of God in which he has removed the drive to pursue sex." In contrast to Mrs. Maken, however, the American Heritage Dictionary provides us with a different definition of celibacy: "abstention from sexual intercourse, especially by reason of religious vows" or the "condition of being unmarried" (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 2000)). I daresay our English dictionaries are probably a better guide than Mrs. Maken on understanding what celibacy is. Remember that in Matthew 19 , Jesus said some "made themselves eunuchs." Clearly, celibacy is a matter where one exercises free will. Mrs. Maken seems to confuse celibacy with asexuality, but these two "are not the same."

You may express disbelief at my claim about celibacy and free-will. You may think that very few people have the ability to remain single and chaste indefinitely. Indeed, many people talk about self-control being a gift. Self-control, however, is not a gift. It is a commandment in the Bible. Indeed, some readers may not realize that the terms "sober" and "temperate" in our English Bibles are merely translations of the Greek word for self-control (1 Cor. 9:25; Gal. 5:23; 2 Pet. 1:6).

If They Cannot Contain

What are we to make, then, of 1 Cor. 7:8-9? Here the Apostle Paul says, "But to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (NKJV). Shall we assume from this verse that the Apostle is admonishing sexually frustrated singles to get married (as Debbie Maken asserts in Chapter 10)? I have examined this passage in Part 3 of my critique, and as I noted, this is verse is not addressing the sexual desires of unmarried people, per se, as much as it is addressing those ensnared in illicit relationships. First of all, let us remember that the phrase "cannot contain" is a bad translation; the verse should be rendered "if they will not exercise self-control." Also, we should note that to "burn in passion" is an act that the Apostle casts in a bad light. It cannot be defined as sexual arousal, per se, for the simple fact that married people, like single people, experience this sensation. If we define the phrase "to burn" in 1 Cor. 7:8-9 as sexual arousal, then we are put in the awkward position of demanding that married people be asexual (it would be "better to be married than to have sexual desire")! Yet, the Bible commends sexual arousal for married people (Prov. 5:18-19). The phrase "to burn" must, of necessity, refer to some sinful sexual behavior.

Paul is basically putting forth a conditional commandment in a less than ideal circumstance. This is not something unique to Paul; we see the same sort of reasoning employed in 1 Cor. 7:10-11. In v. 10, the ideal circumstance is that people are not to divorce their spouses, but if they do, they are to remain unmarried (v. 11). Likewise, in 1 Cor. 7:8-9, the ideal circumstance is that single Christians will practice self-control (as commanded by the Bible), but if they yield to their lusts, then it is better that they get married instead of continuing in sexual immorality. One individual has mistakenly assumed from my interpretation that I am condoning fornication before one can get married. This is absolute nonsense which arises from the foolish belief that sex is an inevitability. I am not suggesting that one first fall into temptation before considering marriage, nor am I suggesting that Christians seek to avoid marriage at all costs. What I am simply suggesting is that sexual frustration need not be a major reason for getting married (and it shouldn't be).

Celibacy Is Doable

Abstention from illicit sexual activity for an indefinite period of time is doable. Otherwise, the Bible is lying to us. The Apostle John tells us that God's commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). This must, of necessity, include the commandment to be chaste. Those who have no hope of marriage have the promise of 1 John 5:3 or else Christianity doesn't apply to them.

Someone asked me how I account for single Christians who struggle with masturbation. What of it? Christians struggling with masturbation is proof of nothing except that Christians struggle with masturbation. If masturbation is a sin, then single Christians must have the assurance that they can resist it indefinitely without too much effort. If refraining from masturbation is an inherently difficult act that only a few can undertake, then the theology of some religious leaders who forbid masturbation is a sham. We must be consistent, regardless of what our convictions are about this issue.

At any rate, there are some sensible steps a single person can take to avoid sexual arousal and thus the uncomfortable tension that results from such arousal. In the book Every Man's Battle, the authors suggest, among other tactics, that men "bounce" their eyes away from looking at attractive women. They also have the following to say about masturbation, which is worth some consideration:
"Masturbation is a symptom of uncontrolled eyes and free-racing thoughts. When you create the new habits of bouncing your eyes and taking your thoughts captive, masturbation will cease. Until then, it won't. There's no sense in targeting masturbation itself, because you won't be attacking the real source of the problem. Target the eyes and mind instead." (Arterburn et al., 112)
In addition to "bouncing" the eyes, another line of defense is to think realistically about those that we are tempted to lust after. It is all too easy to drift into a fantasy about people that we don't really know. However, when we realize that person we desire is married, has emotional problems, is selfish, or has some other quality that makes a relationship with them an odious proposition, then we are not inclined to pursue them any further.

Regardless of whatever tactics we use to keep ourselves chaste, we must keep in mind that God's commandments are not inherently difficult. God does not set out to doom us to failure. We cause ourselves to fail when we yield to self-deception. The choice is ultimately ours.

Church-Sanctioned Sex - The Flip-Flopping of the Preachers

Religious leaders are oftentimes abysmally inconsistent about sexuality. Somehow many think they can use sexuality as a both a carrot and stick to get people married. All the same, there is no middle ground in the matter of self-control. If we are not predestined to lust or commit fornication, then we are not predestined to marry either.

If sexual desire is biblical proof for the need to get married, then we should demand that boys and girls marry the moment they reach puberty. Yet we don't do this. Somehow we assume that teenaged Christians can stay pure into their mid-twenties but are unable to do so well into their thirties, forties, or fifties. This line of thinking is absurd. Our bodies do not know anything about the socially acceptable time that religious pundits want us to get married. Sexual tension builds up in a matter of days or months, not years. If biology is destiny as Mrs. Maken and others seems to suggest, then teenagers are predestined to have sex sooner, not later.

Yet, as we have noted, the real reason that so many singles fail to be chaste is not because of biology, but because of discouragement, self-deception, or selfishness. Let's face it: The sex drive of older singles does not increase; it tapers off. Hence, the suggestion that older singles have an insurmountable problem controlling themselves in a way that young singles can is nothing short of hilarious. We can't have it both ways. We can't hold up a copy of Every Young Man's Battle and preach "self-control" to teenaged boys, but then turn around, hold up Mrs. Maken's book, and preach about "God-given desires" to thirty-something men. If we say an average man can be chaste in his sexual prime, then logic dictates that he can be chaste for the rest of his life.

There is something else that I find noteworthy about the current emphasis many Evangelicals place on marriage these days. It is that Evangelicals must confront the legacy of their own faith communities about sex. Perhaps preachers have done such an effective job of making young religious people afraid of sex that churches are now paying the price for their "success." For better or for worse, hostile and ambivalent messages about sexuality from our religious leaders are only going to make relationships between the sexes more difficult, not less. Granted, sexual purity is important, but one cannot be anti-sex and pro-marriage at the same time. Marriage and sexual desire stand or fall together.

If we go overboard in maintaining the purity of young people to the extent that we fail to present a positive, balanced, biblical view of sexuality, then we should be prepared to reap the consequences. There have been studies that indicate a correlation between judgmental attitudes towards sexuality and sexual dysfunction. Healthy marriages won't happen in this regard. As it is, I wonder if Mrs. Maken and her allies would really be so upbeat about marriage and sexuality if some conservative pundits weren't so anxious about declining church membership and shifting demographics in our culture.

Furthermore, what shall we do with those single Christians who, because of their ambivalence towards sexuality, find relationships with the opposite sex to be an uncomfortable matter? Shall we belittle them and tell them to just get over the emotional programming that may very well have been the result of their religious upbringing? In our attempt to get these people married, would our disregard for their conscientious scruples be a disregard for the convictions of "weaker" Christians, thus a violation of Romans 14? We need to ask ourselves these questions before corralling single Christians into the institution of marriage.

What Attitude Then?

One may wonder what my own attitude about sex is. I think that while it is an intrinsically positive aspect of God's creation, it is nonetheless overrated. Most of society's obsession with sex probably comes from an unprecedented openness about the subject matter and an unprecedented degree of interaction between men and women in public spaces. Society's obsession with sex is also probably the reason we have so much sin and sorrow in this world. This obsession has lead to the kind of status-seeking behaviors we see in our world today where women base their worth on physical beauty and men based their worth on having a woman. It also probably contributes to bigotry against single people. Just the same, sex only represents one facet of the human experience at best. At worst, it can be destructive, ruining the lives of the unmarried and married alike.

I have no antipathy towards sex, but neither does my happiness depend on it. The notion that men "only think of one thing" is a notion that I personally find insulting as a man. Many seem to think that men will tolerate various forms of mistreatment as long as they are thrown some meager scraps of physical intimacy on the side. I reject this dehumanizing viewpoint. I also reject the naive optimism of those who seek ineffable sexual bliss either beyond or within the confines of the marriage bed. Eleanor Daniel says it best:
"When a person comes to grips with a his sexuality, he is no longer dependent upon his marital status, or lack of it, to give him feelings of worth. He can go right on living with purpose and excitement, regardless of the stereotypes others may hold. He is well aware that he is neither biologically abnormal not totally unattractive if he isn't married. He need not be frustrated sexually--he simply finds creative, moral channels by which to express his sexuality. Self-acceptance is the key." (Daniel, 234-235)
The operative phrase is "self-acceptance." Consider the alternatives. You can heed the message of Debbie Maken, other religionists, and the rest of popular culture and hang your head in shame because you are single. You can allow the devil to discourage you and make you feel less than human because you are not having sex. You can get angry at God when no one accepts you as a mate. You can be a slave to fashion and to the shallow tastes of ignorant and immature souls found among the opposite sex. You can sink into a mire of desperation, enter into ill-advised relationships, and ruin your happiness and peace of mind. You can be married to someone that you should have never married and be trapped in a prison much worse than the prison of loneliness.

I used to balk at the notion of going without sex for the rest of my life. Then I realized how my discontentment was only leaving me vulnerable to bitterness, depression, humiliation at the hands of others, temptation, and sexual sin. One has to learn self-control or end up being controlled by others. Also, a person should realize that the best reason for staying pure is not because one expects to get married, but because one desires to please God.

In short, you can unplug from the ungodly status quo. You can have your sexuality serve you instead of you serving your sexuality. You need not put yourself in a situation where you feel obligated to form an intimate relationship with someone. You can be open to the possibility of marriage; however, you can also defend your principles and say no to the opposite sex, if need be. Again, the choice is yours.

In closing, I like to address something Debbie Maken says in Chapter 10 of her book: "God did not design us to be third wheels to married couples or buddies for other singles" (p. 133). If this statement is true, then I wonder why God even bothered to create the Church. We could all just practice family religion instead. I obviously think Mrs. Maken is incorrect in her assumptions. In our attempt to extol earthly families, let us not denigrate God's family. Marriages, and indeed sexuality, will cease one day, but the kingdom of the Lord will stand forever.

113 Comments:

Blogger wombatty said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/12/06, 10:26 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/12/06, 4:16 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Anakin wrote:
-----------------------------------
When Single People Fail

Debbie Maken writes:

"We are lying to adolescents if we tell them to save themselves for marriage when at the same time we are telling their older siblings stuck in protracted singleness that singleness and celibacy are the same thing. Any fifteen-year-old looking at the average twenty-five-year old single will hardly be inspired to wait for marriage. The sheer hopelessness of seeing that marriage isn't going to come any time soon becomes incentive to pursue immediate gratification. I'll say it again: Why wait for something that may never come?" (p. 130)

Thus, Mrs. Maken's general premise in Chapter 10 is that Christian singles need to hurry up and get married because so many of them are failing to stay sexually pure. I note Mrs. Maken's line of argumentation is inconsistent with something she says later:

"We cannot point to the high divorce rate and say that it's better not to marry. That's like saying you shouldn't go to high school because the dropout rate is increasing. The failure of other people's marriage is no reason to scrap marriage altogether." (p. 138)

>>>>Let's be consistent. If we can't point to other people's failures as an excuse not to marry, then we can't point to other people's failures as an excuse to rush into marriage, either.<<<<
-----------------------------------
You couldn't ask for a better example of Maken's ad hoc, arbitrary theology. Elsewhere in the book, she castigates her detractors for formulating an 'outcome-based' theology to justify protracted singleness. Yet again, Mrs. Maken is weighed on her own scales and found wanting.

Great post Anakin!

p.s. Anakin, the last "can't" in the quote from your post above is actually "can" in your post. You might want to change that. Thought you'd like to know. (sorry about the two screwed-up/deleted posts)

12/12/06, 4:38 PM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...

Heh. Thanks Wombatty. Self-proofreading has its disadvantages and sometimes I have to do editing post-posting. LOL.

12/12/06, 5:39 PM  
Blogger Gordon Hackman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/12/06, 5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For better or for worse, hostile and ambivalent messages about sexuality from our religious leaders are only going to make relationships between the sexes more difficult, not less."

Uh, yeah! But hostility and ambivilence can be communicated by messages about sexuality that are dismissive and sterile, like much of what you've posted here, case in point: "Why do so many religious singles have a difficult time staying pure? The main reason is they have internalized the false notion that human beings are programmed to have sex. This like saying that human beings are programmed to play soccer." Or your outmoded neo-Augustinian contention that "We must distinguish between sexual response (which is biological), and desire (which is an act of the will)"-- do you really think we are so dualistically disenfranchised from nature? And as for Eleanor Daniel, she has an arts and humanities background with no expertise in human sexuality, or anything biological for that matter.

I support your affirmation of the immutable scriptural mandate to abstain from sex outside of marriage. But I get the impression that you are making the typically western mistake of viewing things too individualistically (the feasibility of "protracted purity", perhaps not a problem for you), rather than seeing the greater corporate implications of any mass attempt at protracted "pure" singleness. "Just say no" is one of those things that sounds great on paper, but doesn't really work in practice for very long for the masses-- and Paul taught with this in mind. No society (except the Shakers perhaps, who were very much "self-selected") has ever been able to teach, pursuade, cajol or coerce prolonged abstinence across large numbers of people well into adulthood. And this is why Paul makes it clear to EVERYONE (not just marrieds, who he addresses in verses 3-5) in 1 Cor 7:1-2 "...to avoid sexual immorality (PORNEIA), let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband". It's such a simple message and it's painful to see you complicate it with twaddle like "being married to someone and yet being forced to go without sex is more frustrating than not being married at all". How do you come up with this stuff?? Certainly not from any respectable commentary.

More twaddle: "If we define the phrase 'to burn' in 1 Cor. 7:8-9 as sexual arousal, then we are put in the awkward position of demanding that married people be asexual (it would be 'better to be married than to have sexual desire')! Yet, the Bible commends sexual arousal for married people (Prov. 5:18-19). The phrase 'to burn' must, of necessity, refer to some sinful sexual behavior...Likewise, in 1 Cor. 7:8-9, the ideal circumstance is that single Christians will practice self-control (as commanded by the Bible), but if they yield to their lusts, then it is better that they get married instead of continuing in sexual immorality"

It is SOOOOOOO obvious that Paul, in a certain context, is talking in 1 Cor 7:8-9 about the PERMISSIBILITY of either remaining single or getting married: "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is GOOD (not "better" or "ideal", as you say) for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, LET THEM marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." Do you really think Paul meant for us to split hairs as to whether or not we should define "contain" or "burn" in behavioral vs. sensate terms? Stop agonizing and get married already, he says!

Sure there's "no strong guarantee that marriage can keep you from falling into sexual sin", but no one's talking guarantees, least of all Maken. And the stuff from Arterburn (who acknowledges the role of widespread protracted singleness in fuelling the kinds of sexual sins you're citing) doesn't really help you blandly argue away Paul's obvious endorsement of it as the first line of defense against PORNEIA in 1 Cor 7:2.

"If we can't point to other people's failures as an excuse not to marry, then we can't point to other people's failures as an excuse to rush into marriage, either. I admit that premarital sex and the divorce rate are both problems." Ah, yes, but the low marriage/high premarital sex rates are far more problematic than our high divorce rates. But that's a whole 'nuther post!

12/13/06, 11:00 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Anon wrote:
-----------------------------------
Ah, yes, but the low marriage/high premarital sex rates are far more problematic than our high divorce rates. But that's a whole 'nuther post!
-----------------------------------

And upon what do you base this assertion?

It seems rather simplistic, especially in light of the fact that the huge surge is pre-marital sex is at least in part, and probably largely, the result of the high divorce rate and the fatherless households it has left in its wake.

Further, such broken homes often produce broken people who haven't had proper role models for what a healthy relationship looks like. And given the poor examples they have seen, they are much less likely to value marriage as a life goal.

In any case, there is no doubt that if the divorce rate declined, the frequency of pre-marital sex would plummet along with it.

It believe that you have it upside down - the high divorce rate is the bigger problem.

I think its fairly clear that the high divorce rate is the root and 'low marriage/high premarital sex rates' the blossom of an unfortuntate social 'weed'

12/14/06, 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wombatty,

As for the chicken and egg debate about whether or not the boom in divorce was caused more by premarital sex or vice versa, I think it's a well-established fact that the "sexual revolution" of the 60's (that, along with the pill, made premarital sex commonplace) pre-dated the "divorce boom" of the 70's. On a mass scale, divorce can indeed have a destabilizing effect on the children from those families, but not as much as not having two married parents to being with.

The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed Kay Hymowitz's Marriage and Caste in America, which illustrates the far-reaching effects of single parenthood on society: "the two Americas do not divide between the poor who are supposedly in need of government assistance and the rest of us. The division is best defined in another way: between those who see marriage as an indispensable condition of child-rearing and those who don't."

And there is no reason to believe that lowering the rate of divorce would do much to lower the rates of premarital sex at this point. Nowadays, people from stable, healthy, intact families are just as likely to have premarital sex as those from broken homes (though the latter may be more likely to be promiscuious and experience the disadvantages of premarital sex). Like it or not, in the secular world, it's now considered part of a healthy and essential part of the progression of relationships that proceed into marriage, especially among the most advantaged (financially, educationally, physically) in our society. So there's really not much immediate incentive for advantaged people to give it up, since one group of people rarely gives things up that's an advantage to them but a disadvantage to others. Human selfishness being what it is.

12/14/06, 6:18 PM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...



And the stuff from Arterburn (who acknowledges the role of widespread protracted singleness in fuelling the kinds of sexual sins you're citing) doesn't really help you blandly argue away Paul's obvious endorsement of it as the first line of defense against PORNEIA in 1 Cor 7:2.



If Arterburn believes this and therefore is a marriage mandate proponent, then he is inconsistent. Go ahead and cavil about my points, anonymous, but the bottom line is the Marriage Mandate Movement can't have it both ways -- you can't say to teenagers take cold showers but then try to frighten the older bachelors into ill-advised marriages by saying "God didn't intend for you to be single and you're doomed to fornicate if you don't marry."

12/14/06, 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's nothing inconsistent about teaching individual singles to live chastely through Christ and at the same time acknowledging the fact that the longer the delay of marriage across mass numbers of people, the greater the number of those individuals that will be having premarital sex.

If you teach "no sex before marriage" to the masses, you must also encourage timely marriage-- to both sexes. It's only fair. So in that regard, I agree with you that we can't have it both ways-- we can't preach "family values" out one side of our mouths and then gush about "the gift of singleness" out the other.

12/15/06, 11:56 AM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...



There's nothing inconsistent about teaching individual singles to live chastely through Christ and at the same time acknowledging the fact that the longer the delay of marriage across mass numbers of people, the greater the number of those individuals that will be having premarital sex.



It is inconsistent when you try to pin the failure to remain chaste on some biologically determined level of desire. Again, as I have indicated, the Bible says we are led astray by our OWN DESIRES, not our biology.

It is inconsistent when you try to use biology to SHAME and FRIGHTEN people into marriage. If people don't want to get married, then they don't have to. Period. They have the same capacity for self-control as the hormone-fueled teenger who just can't wait to have physical intimacy. If a man can refrain from Playboy magazine, he can refrain from the women at church, too.

12/15/06, 12:35 PM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...

One more thing ...

Here's a parable for you, Anonymous: A 17 year old boy is basically told to suck it up by the Church. He can't look; he can't touch. He is raging with hormones, but people don't bother themselves too much with his "struggles." Years pass. He's still not married. Now, he gets lectured.

Marriage mandator: "Why aren't you married? Don't you struggle with sexual temptation?"

Guy: "Yeah, some."

Marriage mandator: "See, you HAVE to get mar-ried!!!!!!"

Guy: "Well, I am not really intersted in ..."

Marriage mandator: "YOU ARE FIGHTING AGAINST GOD'S DESIGN!!! YOU ARE SINNING!!! GOD HASN'T GIVEN YOU THE GIFT OF CELIBACY SO YOU HAVE TO GET MARRIED!!!"

Guy: "But I don't want ..."

Marriage mandator: "It's not about what you want. You are a man. You are biologically programmed to seek out a godly woman. You sexual urges mean you have to get married."

Guy: "But why wasn't I allowed to marry at 17 or 14?"

Marriage mandator: "Because you weren't ready to get married."

Guy: "But I had really strong biological urges!"

Marriage mandator: "But you weren't ready then!"

Guy: "Well what makes you think my biological urges makes me ready to get married now?!!!"

Marriage mandator: "La la la I can't hear you!! Blah blah blah!!!!!"

12/15/06, 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anakin,

If you're complaining about the how the church dismisses adolescent sexuality then I agree with you. The infantilization of young Christian adults well into their 20's truly sucks and it's all over the singles self-help lit that you see in any Christian bookstore. But I don't think the problem is solved by dismissing the sexuality of older adults (or anyone else for that matter) by creating false dichotomies between sexual response and desire. We know what happens on a large scale when "purity" is oversold, as you've mentioned yourself "there have been studies that indicate a correlation between judgmental attitudes towards sexuality and sexual dysfunction". Sexuality, being a biological process, does have tremendous potential for going underground. It's not so simple as mind over matter.

But if you're simply showing the ironic juxtaposition between the "pro-marriage but anti-sex" background of the marriage mandate position, then I'm with you on that. And it does make a case for younger marriages, for which if you don't like Maken, you might like Frederica Mathews-Green who wrote the Beliefnet article "More Teenage Sex".

12/15/06, 2:42 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

A bit off-topic, but I couldn't resist:

If anyone wonders why debating this issue with Maken's supporters seems so pointless, check out the comments thread on Maken’s latest post (Stewardship Of Our Bodies). There are a couple of male and female posters that take issue with Maken or her supporters; some mentioning feminism as part of the problem. Then follows the inevitable snarkiness of Maken’s supporters; one claims that to the extent that women are delaying marriage, it is only because men are flaky and not purposeful about pursuing marriage. Another, feeling that others had not been hard enough on a male poster, charges single men with ‘varying degrees of misogyny’ and materialism. She also accuses him of being ‘anti-women in general’ without even attempting to demonstrate it from his post.

Then Mrs. Maken makes an appearance. Since the comments had veered off the topic of her post, her first point is perfectly sound: ‘Can we get back to the main topic-- stewardship of our bodies’. However, it’s all downhill from there; she regrets that she ‘allowed crackpot intellectuals to introduce the favorite bogie-- Feminists-- into the discussion and lead it wayward’, suggesting that posters ‘dismiss with the accusations of tone, lack of having a submissive gentle spirit the moment a woman logically deconstructs an argument posited by a man’ as they are ‘spiritually non-applicable obstacles many Christians are in the habit of raising in order to avoid having a real discussion on the merits.’

This is too much. First of all, the issue of feminism doesn't show up until the fifth comment, at which point, the comments were already off-topic. That happened in the third comment, when a snotty anonymous poster stated that 'men are so flaky and not purposeful about finding a wife'. Further, no man in this thread charged any woman with lacking a submissive and gentle spirit; Maken just attacks a non-existent commenter. If anyone is to blame for the comments veering off-topic, it is Maken’s crowd. Instead she shifts the blame to her opponents. (To be fair, her mention of 'tone' must have been in response to a supporter, who was the only one who mentions 'tone').

I guess it is just fine with Maken when her own 'crackpot intellectuals' smear men by trotting out their favorite bogies (i.e. misogyny, materialism, flakey men etc.) to avoid having a real discussion on the merits, she just don't like it when her opponents voice disagreement.

Incidentally, I think it's fairly clear why some of these women are still single. To see what I mean, here are the second and third posts:
------------------------------------
Jake said...
Thank you [Debbie Maken] for not exclusively blaming men in this entry. Many Christian women are delaying marriage and need to hear this message as well.

Anonymous said...
Yes, Christian women are delaying marriage too.
What choice do they have when the men are so flaky and so not purposeful about finding a wife?
------------------------------------
Here we have Jake thanking Maken for her post and making a relevant and perfectly legitimate point. In response, he gets a nasty, contemptuous smear. And this is all too typical of Maken's supporters, just browse the comments sections of her earlier posts.

How many guys would want t a wife who behaved like this; a woman who responds to respectful comments with contempt and blame? Could you imagine how she would react to the inevitable, and sometimes heated, arguments that come with the territory of marriage?

If this post is any indication of how this woman behaves in general, it's no wonder she can't attract a man.

12/21/06, 4:20 PM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...

Yes, Wombatty,

I noticed her comment, too and honestly, it was quite amusing to me. Pity the women who post at her site. They seem to have bought into the victimology and entitlement mindset of our gynocentric culture.

12/21/06, 9:29 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

It seems that when you boil it down to the essentials, these particular women seek to escape all vestiages of personal responsibilty for this arena of their life. I could just imagine the following conversation:

Pastor: Why do you think you're having such difficulty finding a mate?

Single Christian Woman: Because most Christian bachelors are not agressively pursuing marriage - they won't even date!

Pastor: So you haven't even been asked out on a date?

Single Christian Woman: Well, yeah...

Pastor: So what's the problem?

Single Christian Woman: All the guys who ask me out are flaky, materialistic misogynists!

Pastor: All of them?

Single Christian Woman: Yes.

It's all rather convienient and arbitrary, especially given the fact the Mandators would accept no such excuse from a man:

Mandator: Why are you not married young man?

Bachelor: Most single Christian women are not interested in pursuing marriage, they won't even let me take them out on a date.

Mandator: So every woman you have asked out said no?

Bachelor: No, but...

Mandator: Then what's the problem?

Bachelor: All the girls that do accept are feminist minded, selfish and flakey.

Mandator: That's no excuse! You must be an immature, irresponsible 'kidult' enjoying an extended adolesence. Grow up and pop the question!

12/22/06, 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question?

When was the last time any of you asked a girl out?

12/22/06, 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When was the last time any of you asked a girl out?"

It's been a while, but the last time I actually set up a date I got stood up.

12/22/06, 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They seem to have bought into the victimology and entitlement mindset of our gynocentric culture."


The Estrogen Express -- to disasterville!

She ... She ... She ...

All aboard.

12/22/06, 11:28 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

It's been a long time for me.

Personally, I don't believe I should be dating if I'm not pursuing marriage. And since I'm not, I don't date.

12/23/06, 3:35 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

Anonymous, that's a fair question. I'm 30 years old. The last time I asked a girl out, if you can call it that, was about 2 1/2 years ago when I wrote a letter to my ex-girlfriend, whom I had not been dating for a year, explaining to her that I now had a goal in life and asking her to reconsider being with me. It worked in the sense that she agreed to date me again, but ultimately didn't work in that when I felt the time had come for us to make a decision about marriage, she decided no. It's been a year since that happened and I still am not interested in anyone other than her.

I've always been the kind of guy who latches onto one girl, a "crush" as it were, and as long as that crush lasts has absolutely no interest in any other girls. So, while theoretically I could have asked a few other girls out since then, I really am just not interested in doing so. Realistically, however, I don't know whom I would ask out even if I were "over" her. She is literally the only never-married woman younger than I at my church whom I find at all attractive. I often wonder whether I may not get married until I'm old enough not to care whether my wife is fat or ugly.

My disagreements with the marriage mandators don't seem to be the same as most, and I don't really identify with Anakin et al. that much. I very much want to get married, am not particularly interested in defending biblical singleness, and am not a "men's rights activist" or part of the "marriage strike." I actually agree with Debbie Maken and company that more people should get married and that they should do so at a younger age than they are now doing. I just want to marry a non-divorced, non-overweight, somewhat pretty girl. Finding one who wants to marry me has proved an elusive goal so far. The older I get, the more I realize that they kind of girl I'd really like (excluding my twice-ex-girlfriend for the moment) tends to go to a Christian college and get married off upon graduation. There are a bunch of these types in my church, and they're all married with kids by now.

My main problem with the marriage mandate movement is its blaming the entire problem on men. I'm sure if Debbie Maken read what I just wrote, she'd excoriate me for being too picky, say that I should grow up, stop caring what a girl looks like or whether I have any feelings for her, do my Christian duty and get married. Yet I never hear any criticism of women for doing what my ex-girlfriend did. Certainly I'm good enough--why not marry me? Because she just didn't feel strongly enough about me. Well, if women are within their rights to reject men for that reason, why are men not within ours for rejecting women for the same reason?

12/26/06, 2:05 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

Anonymous,

"When was the last time any of you asked a girl out?"

Talk about question begging. You first must show that we are obligated to do so, and then the question will be relevant. However, that is exactly what we are disputing. Until you can show obligation to marry, the question simply assumes what you need to prove.

12/27/06, 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake..all I can is WOW. You are gonna make some woman very happy.
Clearly, there is no shortage of stupid women (and men), but I am very glad that you are serious about marriage.

12/27/06, 8:44 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

PuritanCalivinist, I don't think you're being fair to Anonymous. Many of us, when challenged with Debbie Maken's, Al Mohler's, et al's denunciation of men for not seeking marriage (with its implicit assumption that women are willing to marry any decent man who comes along), protest in response that we have sought marriage and that women have turned us down. I saw Anonymous as following up on that, trying to see how intently we who have protested in that manner have sought marriage, rather than as implying that all men have a sacred obligation to marry.

wombatty, I am the Jake who posted that comment on Debbie Maken's blog. You pointed out one contradiction found there. In my previous comment, I pointed out another one. Yet I've recently become aware of one that may be even more blatant: that even as these women blame everything on "the lack of male leadership," as one of Maken's chapter titles puts it, they criticize, rebuke, and belittle men. One wonders whether "male leadership" just means "men doing exactly what women want them to do." Unless it does, I can't exactly imagine these women submitting to their husbands' leadership. Heck, they seem to find us so distasteful, it's a wonder they want to marry us at all!

The modern church is in such conflict over women's roles. On the one hand, if you claim to take the Bible seriously, there's no getting around women not being pastors and elders, and having to submit to their husbands, a system that is inexctricably connected to women being in inferior positions in society and generally needing a man to take care of them. On the other hand, we've accepted modern liberalism's belief that all persons are equal, and so women go to college, obtain professional jobs, and are quite capable of supporting and taking care of themselves. Consequently, "submission" becomes merely symbolic. This conflict, it seems to me, is one of the sources of some Christian women's reluctance to get married: she's content with single life, and she know that getting married and following her principles would mean submitting to her husband, so she waits for a guy to come along whose thinking is so in line with hers that every decision he would make is the very same decision she would make. That way, she can rest in the knowledge that she's "submitting" without really having to face the difficulties of actually doing so. If such a man never comes along, she doens't get married.

12/27/06, 1:36 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/28/06, 6:38 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Jake wrote:
-----------------------------------
...even as these women blame everything on "the lack of male leadership," as one of Maken's chapter titles puts it, they criticize, rebuke, and belittle men. One wonders whether "male leadership" just means "men doing exactly what women want them to do."
-----------------------------------
I think you're on target here Jake. Despite their claims that they 'want to respect a man's biblical leadership', their attitude and approach is 'shut up and do as you're told.' I doubt that marriage would change that attitude. Likewise, Anakin pointed out in one of his earlier posts that, given the content of her book, it seems difficult to believe that Maken respects men.

In Maken's world, there seem to be two kinds of 'good men'. The first, of course, is married. The second is a bachelor who is obsessed with getting married and who, despite any external difficulties in reaching that goal, recognizes that it is still HIS fault that he is not married.

Maken should have just titled her book 'It's All His Fault'.

12/29/06, 2:11 AM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...

Wombatty,

I think just about all the relationship books out there (religious or secular) could be titled "It's All His Fault." That's why I had to chuckle when I read some comment on another blog about how it was time for men to read up on relationships like women have been doing.

12/29/06, 6:58 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Anakin:

That little exchange happened (if I am right) between myself and an anonymous commenter in response to Maken's post 'It's A Man's World After All'. She wrote:
-----------------------------------
It just seems like the Christian divorce taboo and the proliferation of mysogynistic "men's movement" websites have bred some incredible hostility towards women and marriage. It's fear mongering and paranoia. But we know the real fear that drives these sites that are hosted and visited by single and newly single men: FEAR OF REJECTION.

The only way this fear of rejection can be dealt with is for men to develop a better understanding of what attracts women and keeps the relationship intact. As women, we have been reading self-help books and sharing wisdom amongst ourselves for eons. Now men are in a situation where they will have to develop their own way of learning and preparing themselves to find love. This has not yet happened.
-----------------------------------
What complete and utter sexist hogwash. Aside from the sheer stupidity of the assertion, if we can take Maken's book as the fruit (or at least a fruit) of this feminine 'wisdom quest', it has been a dismal failure.

Also note the first paragraph smearing 'men's movement' sites and those who frequent them as mysogynistic, hostile, fear-mongering and paranoid. Another commenter (on another of Maken's posts) specifically mentioned this site and another as 'Boo Hoo' sites. This charge is particularly rich, given that most of the women on Maken's site do nothing but whine and complain.

Aside from possible issues of psychological projection on the part of these people, it displays the common response to dissenters.

We are regularly labeled immature, irresponsible, selfish, fearful, mysogynistic, hostile, fear-mongering and paranoid for simply raising objections to the Marriage Mandate thesis. Further, Maken has taken care to label some objections as 'bogies' (feminism, shrill tone, etc.) and thus to be unworthy of addressing.

Also, I think it speaks volumes when your approach to an issue alienates natural allies. Maken's crowd does this consistently; the latest example being Jake. Here's a guy who seems to largely agree with Maken on marriage, but he is snarked at and shouted down because he refused to confess that 'it's always the man's fault'.

12/29/06, 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm that anonymous poster.

The overwhelming majority of Christian books for single women DO NOT bash men. Just one book comes out finally saying what more than a few of us have been dying to say for years and ooooohhhh!! It's man-bashing! It's misandry!! Let's get a bunch of anonymous blogs together and make a huge deal out of it...a whole blog dedicated to critiquing Maken's work!

And as for the lack of information sharing among men about how to attract women, go ahead and show me what you've got! Nada- that's what. Women have been primping and fussing for years about how to attract a fine member of the opposite sex, and now that the bar has been raised somewhat for men and you actually have to get organized and THINK ABOUT IT... listen to the lot of you!

Boo Hoo, indeed!

12/29/06, 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, props to Jake, who does seem to be looking for constructive feedback. Here's your trouble:

"I've always been the kind of guy who latches onto one girl, a "crush" as it were, and as long as that crush lasts has absolutely no interest in any other girls."

This is how a lot of Christian guys (and girls) approach the whole mate-finding thing. And it's wrong, wrong, wrong. But it's not your fault-- you have been taught, perhaps indirectly, that this is the most "godly" and noble way of going about things. To like more than one girl at a time (like most guys do), is to be "a player", in many Christian minds (although this is changing: Dr. Henry Cloud encourages Christians to date a number of people at once).

You need to "widen your love map" and perhaps worry less about what others think. Here's an illustration:

Meet two single Christian guys looking for Christian wives: Nick and Chad.

Nick's criteria for a wife (in order): 1) Attractive, 2) Decent (hasn't "been around" too much, honest), and 3) Good sense of humor ("laughs at my jokes!"). He dates lots, making the chins wag at his church.

...not very godly, huh? We'll see about that...

Chad's priorities: 1) Passionate for God, 2) Vivacious personality, 3) Creative, 4) An inner beauty that matches her outer beauty, 5) Well-informed enough to hold her own with me in a political debate, and make me laugh at the same time, 6) Does what she loves, and loves what she does.

...a really enlightened 21st century Christian guy, right?

Now, who finds his way to timely marriage?

Nick does. Why? Because although he puts physical attraction first, his idea of attractive is somewhere around a "6" (even a "5" will do), because at some level (maybe not consciously) he knows that he is a "6" himself and has a good old-fashioned, flexible and hearty red-blooded male "love map" to go with that, which is why he dates a lot of different kinds of women.

On the other hand, Chad appears to be much more "values based", but can fool himself into thinking that beauty isn't really much of a priority because it's not on the top of his list. Let's say that Chad is a 7. He doesn't have to deal with the fact that nothing less than an 8 has turned his head in years enough to make him take initiative and date, because he can stew over the items on his long list of conscious ideals for years and years, telling himself what a great guy he is for having crushes on only one of these 8s at a time! But what he's actually doing is making the process so much more complicated than it needs to be.

Meanwhile, Nick will have married his foxy "5.5" years ago, loving every curvy inch of her. Before long (esp. after they start filling the church nursery), everyone will have stopped calling him a "player" behind his back!

So this is what I'd say to those prudish chin waggers at church: Who cares if physical attraction is the primary motive for marriage as long as it gets the job done, which is exactly what God designed it to do! It's only a problem when it blinds people to serious character flaws in a potential spouse or is out of scale with reality.

We need to get away from the erroneous notion that Christians are not (or shouldn't be) motivated primarily by physical attraction, and that somehow it's better to "hold a candle" for someone, having unrequited crushes instead of dating until you find that mutual thing. Look around you in church and you will find that couples tend to match on levels of attractiveness (even Neil Clark Warren accepts this phenomena), and few got together by the perfect Josh Harris formula.

Accepting that physical attraction is our primary motivation doesn't mean the mating game has to be a non-stop beauty contest-- not if we are expected to get honest with ourselves about who we are, who we are not, who we can or cannot have.

When you look men our society considers hearty and virile, they have women, and not necessarily the most attractive ones. A guy who's has been a professional hockey player who had a bombshell wife who left him when he got too injured to play and took what was left of his money will go out and find himself another wife. With less cash, less teeth, and more flab from lying around icing bodyparts, he'll settle for the "6" if he has to. Same thing with firefighters and cops-- they almost all get married and remarry if they get divorced.

So here's what you say to yourselves if you haven't yet given up on love: I love women, love all kinds of women...blonds, brunettes, redheads, big ones, small ones, short ones, tall ones!

12/29/06, 10:27 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Anon:

First of all, there's not much new in Maken's book, so it's not as if 'the bar has been suddenly raised' and guys are 'boo hooing' about it.

There are plenty of books on being a 'Christ-built' man (to borrow one phrase) by guys like Stew Webber, Edwin Louis Cole and others. These books contain chapters about how to be Christ-like in romance and marriage and properly relating to women. As far as I have been able to tell, these are pretty good books.
These books do not (as far as I remember) teach that marriage is an obligation and procede to shame single men for 'abandoning' thier Christian sisters, so they probably don't meet with your approval, but they have been out there for a good long time nonetheless.

You might also remember the PromiseKeepers movement. Whatever you might think of it, its main focus was encouraging men to take up their Godly responsibitliies (particularly in relation to family). The movement seems to have run its course, but it attracted millions of men.

There also countless singles groups in churches across the country that single men attend. An interesting insight into part of what might be happening in the church is provided by a Pastor who wrote in to journalist Angela Firori on this topic. She quotes him in her 2001 essay, To Single Men on Today's Women: Caveat Emptor:
------------------------------------
I've been in the ministry for 20 years and can tell you that pursuing jerks is definitely alive and well even among evangelical Christian women. They marry outside the faith about 6 times the rate of men because they think it's their will (not God's) to not only civilize the men but convert them to Christianity as well. No amount of reasoning will sway them. The end result is yet more broken families that the church has to take care of. Hence most 30s Christian singles classes are composed of 5-7 never-been-married men and 15 divorced women, a complete incompatibility. The women usually end up leaving after I point out that the New Testament (Matt 19:9, 1 Cor 7:10-11) forbids re-marriage for anyone divorced for a reason other than adultery and state that I have every intention of honoring this command. The wonderful result is that they burden liberal churches with the fallout of their past misadventures while I'm able to use my limited resources to preach the Word of God to people who are really interested in what it says.
------------------------------------
I don't know how widespread this is, but it no doubt contributes to the 'marriage deficit. I guess some Christian women have been unable to rid themselves of their immature quest for the 'bad boy with a good heart'. So apparently, this 'feminine wisdom quest' hasn't been going so well.

I'm sure that Maken would say that 1) it was men's fault that better and more worthy men did not marry these women; and 2) that it was the man's fault they got divorced.

Regarding the bachelors, it might just be that men have surveyed their options in church and haven't found anything worth their time.And you shouldn't be shocked or offended at that possibilty. After all, I can't count how many times a woman has cast all men in the Church in just such a negative light over at Maken's blog.

12/30/06, 8:32 AM  
Anonymous other said...

anonymous 10:27 PM said...
"So here's what you say to yourselves if you haven't yet given up on love: I love women, love all kinds of women...blonds, brunettes, redheads, big ones, small ones, short ones, tall ones!"

As well as being condescending and overly simplistic, this is a recipe for disaster (for the man anyway).

Why are women so blinkered about this issue? Is it some sort of genetic template that lurks beneath whatever women claim their beliefs as?

Feminists regularly put down Christian Women as "fundy nutjobs", "throwbacks" and so forth.

Christian Women try to claim the huge impact of feminism on society is of no relevance to Christians despite the fact that the state now controls every aspect of marriage and divorce instead of the Church. And the state controls are very anti-male.

But both groups act the same.

Capitalizing on their perceived "victim" status (whilst strangely claiming to be "strong and empowered" at the same time) and aggressively and unfairly blaming men for everything.

12/30/06, 10:21 AM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

Jake,

I guess I interpreted anon's comments differently. I would be willing to take that as a possible interpretation.

However, I think it is giving too much ground to start saying "I would like to be married but..." without first making it perfectly clear that the Bible nowhere commands people to get married. Hence, it is like asking why you didn't have pizza for lunch yesterday.

However, that is exactly what we are talking about. I guess I have seen that circular argument thrown up by these people before, and it is utter nonsense.

12/30/06, 1:23 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

anon,

We need to get away from the erroneous notion that Christians are not (or shouldn't be) motivated primarily by physical attraction, and that somehow it's better to "hold a candle" for someone, having unrequited crushes instead of dating until you find that mutual thing. Look around you in church and you will find that couples tend to match on levels of attractiveness (even Neil Clark Warren accepts this phenomena),

And yet, when Adam was first brought to Eve, what was said? Was it not her physical appearance that he first noticed? Was Adam somehow being "worldly" there in the garden of Eden? How could God then say it is "very good?"

The reality is that, all of these things are important, and there is nothing wrong with a man wanting a woman that he is attracted to. However, if that becomes the focus, that is, you start going out with girls you are attracted to without any regard for any other principles, then you have a problem. These things must be thought of together as a package, and when you evaluate whether or not you like someone, each thing must be taken together.

and few got together by the perfect Josh Harris formula.

LOL, Josh Harris' formula is FAR from perfect. I mentioned in one of my blog entries that it has many elements of gnosticism, and, unintentionally, denies the sufficiency of the scriptures. In fact, Josh Harris misrepresents the dating position so bad in his book, that I almost couldn't recognize my own position. Anyone who has read books by Jeremy Clarke, Cloud and Townsend, and any other dating author will be suprized that Josh didn't do his homework.

12/30/06, 1:49 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

wombatty, that's a good point. To Maken, it seems, it's not enough that I seek marriage. No matter if a girlfriend turns me down when I suggest we get married, no matter how many Christian women turn me down for dates, no matter how many online matches close communication with me because I'm more than 3 years older than they or because I'm planning to go back to school, I must continue to beat myself up for allegedly causing woe among Christian women by refusing to marry them. If I do not do this, I am part of the problem.

Anonymous of 10:27PM (it's not that hard to sign up for a Blogger account, people), I think you totally misunderstand me. I hate to accuse you of poor reading comprehension, but I can't believe my expression of myself was so poor. I completely agree that Nick is going about it better than Chad. But this isn't about how I "approach the whole mate-finding thing," it's about my extremely powerful feelings. Didn't you read what I wrote about crushes? I certainly haven't been taught that this is the most Godly and noble way of doing things! How on earth could people be taught to have crushes? You don't choose to have a crush. I don't tell myself I'm a great guy for having a crush on one 8 at a time. The problem has nothing to do with my being extremely picky about personal characteristics a la Chad. The problem is that I'm infatuated. I don't have a long list of qualities I'm looking for at all. I'm completely irrationally head over heels for this one girl, and I can't explain why. As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with how passionate for God she is, how much inner beauty she has, whether she can make me laugh or engage in political debate, whether she loves what she does and does what she loves, nor even how she rates on the 1-10 scale of physical appearance (though of course, as long as she's my crush, I think she's the most beautiful girl in the world). It's the fact that she is she, and all of the other women on earth are not, and that's all I can say about it. I've always been this way, ever since I started liking girls in early puberty. Most crushes, though, would last 6 months or less, and I would get over each one by developing a new one. This one, however, has lasted 6 years and has not yet gone away.

Now, I have to admit, I've often thought that if anything could break this infatuation, it would be an extremely physically attractive girl. But in general, objectively speaking, barring my ex-girlfriend for the moment, my standards are closer to Nick's than to Chad's. If a really pretty girl took an interest in me, all that I would care about is that she's a Christian and I feel I can trust her to try to be a good wife.

P.S.: Every time I have seen a woman use the word "curvy" it has turned out to be code for a defense of fatness. Half the single women in the church could double their appeal to men by watching what they eat.

12/30/06, 9:26 PM  
Blogger KnightWatch said...

>>> Every time I have seen a woman use the word "curvy" it has turned out to be code for a defense of fatness. Half the single women in the church could double their appeal to men by watching what they eat. <<<

LOL. You might get toasted on this one.

By the way, I believe the one element that's lacking in many Christian women is their sense of humor, the ability to laugh at themselves.

Selwyn Duke wrote a column once about using the litmus test regarding the female ego in mate selection. He said:

"It occurred to me a while back, as I thought about my chauvinistic teasing of a woman who is very close to my heart, that I had stumbled into genius. For if you're looking for a litmus test for a prospective wife there's none better then that of the tweaking of the modern female ego. All you need do is utter words such as "You do that very well . . . for a girl" with a twinkle in your eye and a boyish smirk on your face, and observe what ensues."

"Her reaction will tell you more about her than any computer dating service or impromtu little encounter session ever could. For as sure as night follows day, the degree to which her reaction is negative will be directly proportional to the degree to which she's been inculcated with feminism."


I've found this to be quite true in my own personal experiences. One can chuck the rest of Mr. Duke's article and keep just the excerpt I've posted.

Angela Fiori got it right when she stated:

"[ ... ] What I wrote last month never elicits any objection in countless off-the-record conversations I've had with women. It seems my capital crime was to air the sisterhood's dirty laundry in a mixed venue where many male eyes saw it and voiced agreement.

Reeeeoowww! Out came the cat claws!

I so detest hypocritical victimology, and this reminded me so much of the "principled" black people who refer to each other with the N-word like it is going out of style, and then flare their nostrils in umbrage the instant a white person uses the epithet.

(It's a measure of how far political correctness has gained ground in our culture that men who make even playful, joking generalizations about women are quickly savaged by women (if not men first) for "sexism" and "misogyny."

And yet I hear women constantly make the ugliest, broad-brush generalizations about men [either in front of them or behind closed doors] and yet it's seldom that either men or women will speak up to challenge them. This is exactly why sexual and racial hypocrisies and the double standards that emanate from them will get worse before getting better, guys.)

The dominant theme of the Angry White Females (after perfunctorily admitting that maybe a few women long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away made some mistakes) is that it's all men's fault, it's all men's fault, it's all men's fault."

1/1/07, 9:57 AM  
Blogger d~nice said...

i'm not sure how to articulate the various streams of thoughts running through my mind at the moment, as there is so much to take in from these posts, as well as the many viewpoints on this particular area.

i'll start with saying that one of the difficult things about having these kinds of conversations is that it's so hard to do so without playing a blame game. Men are dealing with being single and look to women as being at fault, i.e. women are angry, bitter, man-hating, don't eat right, marrying non-christians, etc. Women are dealing with being single and look at men as being at fault, i.e. lack of leadership, peter pan syndrome, sexual addiction, etc.

I'm not saying that any of the above named issues for each gender are true or untrue - just naming things that have come up in the comment strain.

Here's the deal though ~ we are broken people. The root of sin is deep in each of us, no matter what our gender. Each of us has fallen short in serving and loving those of the oppositte sex. I read through the comments and see true things spoken - deep-rooted sins in the church and in our way of thinking/percieving.

And I don't want to negate the issues being brought up - because it's important to dialogue and name the things hurting our ability to love each other and form healthy, intimate connections with each other.

I guess what I want to encourage each of us to do is that as we name these issues - as we ask questions of each other and ask them of God as well - that we would be mindful of how this entire process is all about being reconciled to each other and to Him through Him.

Confession - repentence - forgiveness. Those words kept running through me as I read through the comments.

Men - would you forgive us women for the ways we have not loved you and served you as Christ calls us to? would you forgive us for holding up high expectations and then keeping you from reaching them with our broken ways of interacting, of manipulating and degrading? would you pray for us, for our healing and cleansing, that we would be made complete in Jesus and therefore be able to love you in healthy, whole ways not asking you to fill places only He was meant to fill? Would you pray for restoration of feminitity, of a reclamation of our identity in Christ, one that is not founded in being victim or oppressor but that of His daughter, empowered to serve and love? and finally, would you also go before Him as well, be willing to be molded and perfected by Him, for His glory and for His kingdom?

Women - will you forgive men for not loving you as christ called them to? will you forgive them for the ways, in their brokenness, they have objectified you, used you, shamed you and robbed you of your innocence? will you pray for their healing and restoration, for their empowerment to serve and love boldly, to live out their calling humbly and righteously? will you take your hurt, pain and suffering to the cross and let His wounds be the source to healing, hope and life in Him? will you encourage and serve your brothers, letting Jesus use all the spiritual gifts He's given you to bring, restoration to His people, new life in Him? will you come to Him and repent of the ways you have taken when you should have recieved, pushed when you should have given?

Lord - I pray for all of us - we are a body that is broken - our hands have turned against our feet and wreaked wounds and pain not meant for us. I praise you Lord that you knew us before we were here - that you created us, male and female, in your image - that both genders are a reflection of who You are. But we see this reflection dimly Lord ~ so I pray for healing in this body. I thank you and praise you that you aren't about to cast the body out - that you are a healer, our divine physician and You have come so that we might have life more abundantly. So bring it Lord! We need you, we need your grace so that we may come into your presence with all our stuff and we need your forgiveness to be cleansed of it. We need your presence, we need your spirit, we need you. Help us to walk this narrow road and to not fear the path of reconciliation as it seems like a really hard one most of the time. Break down the dividing walls, bind the hostility between us. I ask this in Jesus name ~ amen.

1/2/07, 11:01 AM  
Blogger d~nice said...

as i was thinking about my post, i realized that it could be taken as simplistic and not really taking time to hear and understand the deep problems discussed here.

that was not my intention in any way at all ~ i don't know who that post was for, but i was feeling hurt/pain in the midst of the discussion and felt some words come up in response to it. thanks for letting me share and peace be with you.

1/2/07, 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uhhh...I hate to break the news to Wombatty and Knightwatch, but "Angela Fiori" doesn't exist--so much for her stats! "Her" article, supposedly an insider's view of feminism, was written by someone promoting some kind of investment site. Check your sources.

As for the writings of Stew Webber and Edwin Louis Cole, they're not exactly run-away bestsellers but it's a start. You should also know that most of the Christian relationship books for men are actually purchased by women. Bottom line-- when it comes to educating themselves on how to attract members of the opposite sex, men have a lot of catching up to do (btw- Promisekeepers has been great at telling single men what they shouldn't do, but they've never done much to help those who are struggling to find someone to keep a promise to in the first place, they'd say it's not their mission).

Jake,

Face it, dude: YOU'RE A CHAD!!! And your gonna be stuck there if you keep believing that you are so much at the mercy of your feelings that it would take "an extremely physically attractive girl" to break you of this infatuation to your ex-girlfriend. I'm not saying that you should "beat yourself up" for being single, especially since you are trying. But getting no-go's from most of the women on the internet that you're asking is no different than you not being interested in most of the women in your church. Most people aren't interested in most people-- it is a bit of a numbers thing, and unfortunately, men have to deal with more up-front rejection. Again that's the cost of having first refusal in terms of asking or not asking.

And as for the nutritional suggestion, "fatness" is hardly the exclusive domain of women!! lol

d-nice,

I'm loath to say anything negative to anyone who ends off with a prayer, but then again, I've heard a few sermons that we're completely out to lunch that ended off with prayer. As admirable as you're good intentions may be in trying to be a mediator, I think you made an error common in that position: "the two-way street fallacy", which is the assumption that if two parties are in dispute, they are equally at fault. This is not always the case, but if you assume it to be, you could be doing an injustice to one side and enabling the other.

No doubt about it, feminism happened for a reason. There were some serious inequities that had to fixed-- especially in terms of employment, and those here who keep bemoaning that women aren't financially dependent on men anymore are basically revealing their sour grapes that are truly about their inability to attract women (I mean, wouldn't you prefer that a woman be with you because she's attracted to you, rather than because she "has to" be with you?).

But I do agree with those here who say that feminism has impacted men and the church. But the bogeys that keeps coming up, like the anxiety about "gold digging divorcees" (by never-married guys, no less!) and "women became promiscuious and that's where it all fell apart", are so useless because we're talking here largely about people who have a hard time getting their dating lives off the ground (let alone being too loose with it). It is true that the emancipation of women has made it more challenging for men to attract a mate. The shoe's now on the other foot and you guys have a ways to go!

1/2/07, 12:50 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

Anonymous,

No, I am not a Chad. You describe Chad as being extremely picky about matters of character, spirituality, and personality. I'm not. That doesn't make me a Nick, but it doesn't make me a Chad either.

When you say "that's the cost of having first refusal in terms of asking or not asking," I'm not sure why the onus of asking first is considered a privilege. Why can't women ask men out? It's really not off-putting to men; if you think it's so wonderful to be the one doing the asking, why don't you go ahead and do it?

Yes, there are many fat men, but in my experience most fat men are older; single twentysomething men are usually thin while single twentysomething women have more than their fair share of fat people. More to the point, however, I don't usually hear men complaining about how women don't like fat men, or blasting women for being superficial and unrealistic for not liking fat men, or claiming that women are hewing to Hollywood's unrealistic standards of masculine beauty, or that real men have beer guts and if women don't like it they need to get over it.

If you're a Christian, how do you justify thinking that there were serious inequities that needed to be fixed with regard to employment? Don't you believe that God made women to be the primary caregivers of their children? Why should women pursue professional careers if they are going to have children? Incidentally, yes, I would prefer that a woman be attracted to me, but you've set up a false dichotomy: in a society where men truly occupied a superior position to women, women were attracted to men in part because of their superior position and particularly their ability to be financial caregivers. We can still see this today, when even professional women want to marry a man who makes more than they do.

I will agree with you on one point: that the issues raised by the "men's rights activism" movement, especially when raised by Christians, are red herrings. I was at one point tempted to identify with these guys just because I'm frustrated by my inability to attract women, but I realized it would be a complete joke for me to claim that I was choosing not to get married because of a fear of being financially ruined in divorce court. It's not like I'm beating 'em off with a stick. I suspect the same is true of many men making these claims. Especially Christian men, who presumably aren't having sex and would do just about anything to get it short of marrying a girl who really seemed untrustyworthy, 50% divorce rate be damned. It's like an Ethopian announcing he's going on a hunger strike.

1/2/07, 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chad, um, I mean JAKE (just kidding..don't get mad! ;))...maybe you're somewhere in between a Chad and a Nick: a "NAD" perhaps!!!...lol...,

"Why can't women ask men out? It's really not off-putting to men; if you think it's so wonderful to be the one doing the asking, why don't you go ahead and do it?" Ah-HA! Thanks for asking that, it gives me the opportunity to point out a common male blindspot: most men, especially single ones who haven't dating in awhile (or ever) think they'd be grateful for almost any woman to spare them the trouble and do the asking. But here's typically what happens when they get their wish: they might initially feels flattered, but curiously lose interest.

Why? Because most men have a need to be the pursuers, and once they've got what they want (especially if it comes too easy to them), they don't want it anymore! Even very shy, very desperate guys are surprised to find themselves having this reaction in response to female pursuit. Kind of like being hungry and longing to gorge yourself, then after going to a restaurant and doing it, seeing a waiter bring a platter of food to the table next to you and wondering why they ordered so much!

And this is why there's been a boom in books like "The Rules" and "He's Just Not That Into You". Unisex dating concepts of the last century really didn't work out. Guys need to remember this when they find themselves frustrated because women aren't picking to their subtle overtures. A woman needs to be ASKED out, not hinted at, since going along with a guy's lukewarm effort is a good way of setting herself up for getting stood up later on. So don't blame thems for what you may be tempted to interpret as "gameplaying"-- women aren't so gamesy when men are clear about their intentions.

These employment issues are bogeys (just like the weight issue, which even among twenty-somethings males and females are pretty much at par) and I shouldn't bother, nevertheless, I'll bite:

"If you're a Christian, how do you justify thinking that there were serious inequities that needed to be fixed with regard to employment? Don't you believe that God made women to be the primary caregivers of their children?" First of all, there's nothing "unchristian" about women working. Actually, women (particularly poor women) have always worked, even in Biblical times. Besides, what's a single woman to do? Spunge off her parents until they find a suitable husband for her?

"Why should women pursue professional careers if they are going to have children?...professional women want to marry a man who makes more than they do." Actually the overwhelming majority of professional women would just like to find someone who's their equal, or close to it. Anything beyond that is a bonus. And I don't see how women in professional careers (who are actually a privileged minority) really influence the availability of spouses for either sex. The larger number of women in non-professional jobs represent an even larger percentage of single women who don't have to marry someone they don't love and/or trust thanks to their to their financial independence. But ironically, it's the professionals who will be more likely to stay home with their kids, since they can afford to do so.

"in a society where men truly occupied a superior position to women, women were attracted to men in part because of their superior position and particularly their ability to be financial caregivers". Another blindspot, and this is something you don't ever want to lose sight of: if a man makes a lot of money, he might be good to have as a spouse, if his lifestyle is something that she wants. But just because a woman wants the lifestyle a man can afford for her, doesn't mean that she's going to be physically attractive to him. A lot of professional guys make the mistake of assuming their money or prestige should afford them a more attractive spouse-- those are the ones who are behind all those mysogynistic "divorce phobia" sites!

Word to the wise: seek out and marry your physical equal as nature (God) intended!

1/2/07, 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoops! I wrote: "But just because a woman wants the lifestyle a man can afford for her, doesn't mean that she's going to be physically attractive to him" but I meant to write: it doesn't mean that he's going to be physically attractive to HER. There's a difference. Bottom line- sometimes women marry men they're not all that attracted to, because they want the lifestyle the guy can provide (and there are situation where that works quite well), and also, sometimes women marry men they're not that attracted to because no one else is asking and they decide to give the guy a chance.

1/2/07, 6:13 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

But I do agree with those here who say that feminism has impacted men and the church. But the bogeys that keeps coming up, like the anxiety about "gold digging divorcees" (by never-married guys, no less!) and "women became promiscuious and that's where it all fell apart", are so useless because we're talking here largely about people who have a hard time getting their dating lives off the ground (let alone being too loose with it). It is true that the emancipation of women has made it more challenging for men to attract a mate. The shoe's now on the other foot and you guys have a ways to go!

"Bogeys," LOL!!!!!!

You can tell that this person is relying on Maken!!!!

Anyway, this is my whole point. If you start out "I would like to be married, but..." without first forcing the mandator to prove that marriage is necessary, they are going to be operating under the presupposition that it is necessary.

The bottom line is that the mandator bears the burden of proof. They are making the positive assertion that marriage is mandatory. Hence, you have to force them to prove that. If marriage is not mandatory, then it is no one's fault, and we can stop the bickering.

1/2/07, 7:08 PM  
Blogger KnightWatch said...

ANON 12:50 said

>>> Uhhh...I hate to break the news to Wombatty and Knightwatch, but "Angela Fiori" doesn't exist--so much for her stats!<<<

Stats???


Try LewRockwell.com


-- and look for her picture at the bottom. Send her email if you like.

>>>"Her" article, supposedly an insider's view of feminism, was written by someone promoting some kind of investment site.<<<

Umm, where you're going with this correlation is only my guess.

1/2/07, 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Puritancalvinist,

Did I say that marriage necessary for all? Nope. Not even once, in any of my posts.

Just because I think Maken has some good points, that doesn't mean that I'm a "marriage mandator".

1/2/07, 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knightwatch,

So if it comes with a picture, IT'S GOTTA BE TRUE!! Yeah, we all know that photos on the internet represent all that is authentic and real.

Show us some geniune email correspondence from her and then we'll hear you out.

1/2/07, 7:36 PM  
Blogger KnightWatch said...

Yeah, you're right ANON, Lew Rockwell's site couldn't possibly be legit. Now we can all sit back AND agree with your opinion. After all, there's only one truth: Yours.

1/2/07, 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go ahead, Knightwatch. Prove to us that "Angela Fiore" is an actual person. You can't. There is no proof of her existence other than Rockwell's site, which includes a lot of wacky stuff. She's written no books, no articles on any other site or publication. "againstthecrowd.com" is a bogus newletter that's a front for hokey investment schemes.

Gotcha!

1/2/07, 8:37 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

anon,

How in the world are you going to avoid that conclusion? All of the arguments Debbie Maken uses are directed to that conclusion.

For instance, you ask why it is that men do not go out on dates. What is the purpose of dates in the first place? Marriage, is it not? So, I how is it you can accept Maken's arguments on specific things, and yet not come to her conclusions?

In fact, what you are addressing is not even an issue unless marriage is mandatory. If men do not ask as many women out...so what! It only is a problem if they *have* to do so.

1/2/07, 10:11 PM  
Blogger KnightWatch said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/2/07, 10:12 PM  
Blogger KnightWatch said...

You're right, Anon. I cannot prove it. But let's be practical, the weight of opinions expressed from those columns are just as relevant as the opinions you uphold under your own "anonymous" identity here in this forum.

"Neither face can I see, but they all have something to say."

1/2/07, 10:17 PM  
Blogger d~nice said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/3/07, 7:50 AM  
Blogger d~nice said...

anon ~

wow - i'm surprised that my post was compared to something being preached from the pulpit that's clearly not scriptural or part of God's heart. again, i knew my words did not encompass the serverity and depths of problems spoken, which is why i know it was going to come off sounding simplistic, so you clearly got the reaction i feared, but that's okay.

i purposefully didn't give a lot of my background or what i believe - maybe i should have.

i'm a woman and perhaps best fit Alice Walker's definition of "womanist" as opposed to feminisit. I agree with you that the feminist movement has been insanely helpful for women in that it's brought out the misogyny in our culture and helped give voice and articulate issues women are facing with tangible results ~ as well as encourage women who benefit from it to speak up for others around the world who are still enduring the affects of misogyny.

I personally still see a lot of sin, in the church specifically, that degrades women, belittles them, opresses them and I believe Jesus wants to see that end and for us to be a part of making that happen. I love that women are finding more stability in terms of work, finances, etc. My heart's desire is for equal partnerships between men and women. i don't think i said anywhere in my post that i disagreed with feminism or wanted women to not be treated equally or anything of the kind. I believe and live the contrary! Love is a choice and should not be forced on anyone ~ hence why we have free will, it sucks to be a robot ~ there's no joy in that. So women having the freedom to choose into relationships is a great thing, and i'm all for the continuation of building us up cause in all honesty, it means we bring that much more to the table to bring glory to God.

I guess my desire is to be a peacemaker ~ i fully believe in the concept of shalom - a wholistic peace - that if one of us is not at peace, none of us are. in terms of there being "two parties at fault" - i don't think i was laying blame on any party - in fact was trying to get away from saying - he did it or she did it or this shouldn't have happened or this should have happened. i think the only "two-party" line i was advocating was that clearly two parties are hurt and continue to suffer. We could argue all day on who is suffering more than the other, who is to be blamed ~ and i actually agree that it's really important to name the injustice and oppression and be active in speaking truth against evil, changing systems that propogate it, etc. But the purpose for my post was more about naming the hurt people are feeling - both men and women.

yes - women have gone through hell and back and we continue to go through hell - and we are thankful for the ways freedom has come, but know it's only in part and we need MORE! but in order to get to that point, we gotta forgive, we gotta find healing, we gotta get strength and courage to enter into these conversations and have grace and mercy so that they can lead to building each other up.

and yes - men have been benefiting from misogyny for ages - they still are having issues seeing the ways they've played into oppression because it's hard to see when you are getting the good end of the lollipop. but we know that it isn't actually good for them, it's not what God intended - and that they need Him in order to have their eyes opened and in order to get the strength and courage and endurance needed to begin humbling themselves and to act on those changes. And there also needs to be recognition of the ways they are seeking to love and build healthy relationships and be encouraged in that process.

seriously - women AND men are hurting - that's the "two-way" reality and we can't ignore that. and if we want others to see the ways they have hurt us, to be changed and begin to live lives that don't oppress or enslave - then i feel like we have to take the route jesus calls us to. how did he reconcile himself to us? that's something i'd love to discuss as well.

i guess i'm still trying to figure out how to have these conversations in a way that give each person the space to be who they are without judging and causing more hurt or since that is probably inevitable, how to create a posture of pressing through it with grace and repentence and all that good stuff. when some of the men on this post were real about how many times they've asked out women or were worried about rejection - in the midst of saying what they felt, they have also said some things that i think aren't jesus-like as well - so my question is how to respond in a way that gives them space to be real, to see things in a new light, how do we invite each other in to process through our stuff?

and i do think women have things to learn and grow in - it's totally not scriptural to assume that we are perfect and do nothing and just sit back and wait for guys to get it together (not that you were saying that, but just wanted to be clear) We as children of God are called to serve and love others, that includes men. We can't sit back and only love a half of the population.

so maybe in the end i do think it's two party. we each have a call to step up - to follow Him, which means growing in Him.

anyway - these are thoughts bouncing around my head, still haven't really figured out any answers but i'm thankful that we all can keep asking questions.

sorry for the insanely long posts ~ i'm an extrovert so I'm processing while i'm writing and hopefully i'll come to some more conclusions soon!

1/3/07, 8:05 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Anon wrote:
-----------------------------------
As for the writings of Stew Webber and Edwin Louis Cole, they're not exactly run-away bestsellers but it's a start. You should also know that most of the Christian relationship books for men are actually purchased by women. Bottom line-- when it comes to educating themselves on how to attract members of the opposite sex, men have a lot of catching up to do (btw- Promisekeepers has been great at telling single men what they shouldn't do, but they've never done much to help those who are struggling to find someone to keep a promise to in the first place, they'd say it's not their mission).
-----------------------------------

And what, pray tell, are the run-away best sellers on this subject for women? And how do those sales compare to those of trashy romance novels?

PromiseKeepers was about helping men become godly men, whatever their station in life. Apparently, though, they didn't push 'marriage mandate theology' and can thus be dismissed.

So, women have been 'learning for eons' about how to become more attractive to the opposite sex? How is that going for you guys? Apparently not so well or we wouldn't hear so much caterwauling about not being able to attract a man. But I forget myself, that's men's fault.

I like how Maken and her followers respond to disagreement. First, if a man expresses disagreement with Maken, he is whining or 'boo-hooing' or 'actually having to get organized and THINK ABOUT IT.' I guess men should just shut their mouths and listen to their 'female betters' (unless they agree, of course.)

By the way Anon, isn't 'getting organized and thinking about it' just what you are demanding of us men - so we can catch up to your eons of 'feminine wisdom'? Indeed, that is exactly what you are demanding of us. And looky here; we did it! And your reaction? Whining and complaining. Why? Because we didn't come to the 'approved conclusion'. Boo Hoo indeed!

Then, when a man does speak up and raise particular points, those points are dispensed with by calling them 'bogies'.

As for Fiori; let's say she is a phantom. Do you deny the points made by the 'pastor'? I can't count how many times I see a nice girl with her arm around a trashy loser, despite the fact he treats her like dirt. And it's not because no good guys are asking them out. Plenty of good guys get passed over for losers all the time. Why don't you ladies apply your eons of wisdom to that bit of female studity? (No I am not saying women are more studid than men. We just seem more willing than the Maken crowd to own or flaws).

1/3/07, 9:35 AM  
Blogger d~nice said...

a) don't think Maken speaks for all women or even the majority of women in evangelical circles. i would say i personally know at least 50 single women from the evangelical world and none of them would ascribe to Maken's theology or "mandate". I would say that Maken falls into an extreme corner - sort of like Pat Robertson doesn't speak for any christian i know and I work with a lot of churches and ministries across the country.

b) Men - you really think the reason there aren't more healthy relationships is because women are ugly and not "taking care of themselves"? really? I just find that hard to believe ~ it sounds more like a knee-jerk reaction to the confusion over why things aren't working out the way we planned. Yes - there are women out there who have unhealthy eating habits, don't excercise, etc. And yes, there are plenty of men out there with the same issues. Let's find some stats on heart disease and whether its more men or women that die from that each year. Either way, I feel like if it were that simple of a solution - "look better" - we'd have solved the problem ages ago.

Instead, I'd like to point out that we are chilling in a culture that idolizes image and looks in a really unhealthy manner. It's one thing to be healthy, quite another to have unreal expectations on both men and women in regards to their looks. There's a reason women are struggling with eating disorders - men with popping steroids - both genders seeking out plastic surgery in alarmingly high rates. We have placed the body on a pedastool that only creates the possibility of not having our expectations fulfilled.

Women are seriously struggling with whether or not they are beautiful. You may look at them and have a negative thought about their weight, but let me tell you, you have NO idea how many knives of negative thoughts they have thrust into themselves. This keeps women from getting healthy - we want to know that we are beautiful no matter what, no matter if our skin starts to droop with age, if we lose a breast due to cancer, if we get disfigured in a car wreck, if it takes two years to get rid of the baby weight - we want to know you'll stand by us for who we are and that gives us courage to take steps to health and wholeness with diet and excercise. We as women will not get there without your encouragement. But you also need to realize we are not going to look like Jessica Simpson or Angelina Jolie - we are not going to get plastic surgery to correct what God gave us and we will not starve ourselves so that you will appreciate us.

Physical attraction is important, i'm not knocking that - but i feel like there is a way to talk about it without feeding into the self-hatred women have already.

1/3/07, 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lew Rockwell is a well-known Libertarian website. There is no reason to believe Angela Fiori is fictitious. To suggest such is equivalent to the practice infants have of closing their eyes and believing the people in front of them have disappeared.

1/3/07, 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. So many of you are arguing against things I didn't even say (or believe), I don't know where to begin. I think there may be a mixing up of the anonymouses (and btw,"knightwatch": you're using an alias too, so spare us the high horse, will ya), so to make things clearer, I'm the anonymous that jumped in at the point of "Hello, I'm that anonymous poster. The overwhelming majority of Christian books for single women DO NOT bash men" and NO, Wombatty, I'm not going back there, comparing book sales between the sexes, since it's so well-established. And as for how many women buy self-help books as compared to romance novels? I hope you realize that as soon as you start talking about women and romance novels, you've gotta look at men and porn, and somehow, I don't think you want to do that!

Puritancalvinist,

You said: "So, I how is it you can accept Maken's arguments on specific things, and yet not come to her conclusions?...what you are addressing is not even an issue unless marriage is mandatory. If men do not ask as many women out...so what! It only is a problem if they *have* to do so."

Put it this way: I can believe that motorcyclists should wear helmets and fully acknowledge the consequences of not doing so WITHOUT believing that helmets should be mandatory by law. Likewise, I don't necessarily agree with the extent to which Maken mandates marriage (or all her rationale and solutions), but I think she raises some excellent points about why we have this problem and what the consequences have been. But not all arguments lead to the same conclusions. As for the "men asking women out", (and vice versa), I addressed that because one guy admitted he was struggling with that and seemed to be inviting feedback. As for those of you "on strike" about marriage, I don't really care.

d-nice,

I don't think it really cuts it to cover issues all under the blanket of "hurt feelings", since it's not always about hurt. Sometimes it's about anger, and btw- not all anger is hurt in disguise, as many of us have been told by the touchy-feely set: it's more often about frustration in response to an obstructed goal. In other words, it's about power. And there is certainly a power struggle going on between the sexes: as women press for change, men resist because, as you said yourself, "it's hard to see when you are getting the good end of the lollipop." And that's what this is about. Look through the posts: these guys think it's their entitlement that they should have a submissive woman coming to them, and that if it doesn't happen, well, it's the fault of feminism. But they forget that the more a woman's expected to submit, the greater the expectations that places on the man.

Back to Wombatty, about "caterwauling about not being able to attract a man": actually there is a shortage of never-married men in the church that even Candice Watters in her "plenty of men to go around" article had to concede to (and since "Angela Fiore's" articles link only to the "investment newsletter" of someone called "Rich Tejidor", I suspect the quote from the pastor, like Miss Fiore herself, is also fabricated). Since your so "much more willing than the Maken crowd to own or flaws", what's YOUR excuse for not being able to attract someone of the opposite sex in this sea of plenty, despite your obvious and apparent goodness not to mention enthusiasm for catching up on, unprompted, "feminine wisdom"?

1/3/07, 7:40 PM  
Blogger KnightWatch said...

>>>(and btw,"knightwatch": you're using an alias too, so spare us the high horse, will ya)<<<

Keep working on that reading comprehension thing; you'll figure it out eventually.


At any rate, here are a couple of entries from two blogs concerning the matter of women and self improvement books. The first is from Dr. Helen Smith, and the last is from Vox Day.

1/3/07, 10:21 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Anon wrote:
------------------------------------
And as for how many women buy self-help books as compared to romance novels? I hope you realize that as soon as you start talking about women and romance novels, you've gotta look at men and porn, and somehow, I don't think you want to do that!
------------------------------------
Oh, but I do. My point was that just because alot of self-help books are sold doesn't mean much by itself.

As for porn and men, I'm not the one riding the 'my sex knows better' high horse. I admit there is a problem with men and porn. There is also a problem with 'female porn' - trashy romance novels and sappy chic-flicks. I've only seen one Christian publication acknowledge this - the book Marriable. While 'male porn' is no doubt morally worse, both cultivate unrealistic expectations of the opposite sex.. When was the last time a pastor came down on women for wallowing in such crap?

Anon wrote:
------------------------------------
Since your so "much more willing than the Maken crowd to own or flaws", what's YOUR excuse for not being able to attract someone of the opposite sex in this sea of plenty, despite your obvious and apparent goodness not to mention enthusiasm for catching up on, unprompted, "feminine wisdom"?
------------------------------------
As for being unprompted; you're the one who lamented that us men had yet to 'share wisdom for eons' as you women have done - I was just playing off that.

As for why I have failed to attract a woman, I suppose it's pretty simple: I haven't tried in a long time. It's possible I have attracted a woman or two in the recent past, but since I'm terrible at 'reading' women, I might not have picked up on it. In any case, since I'm not pursuing marriage, I don't date. That being the case, I probably wouldn't have asked them out if I did pick up on it (as I've said before, I don't believe I have any business daitng if I am not seeking marriage). Also, I don't view my decision not to date as a 'flaw'. I'm just declining to exercise my 'prerogative of pursuit'.

1/4/07, 1:41 AM  
Blogger d~nice said...

Anon wrote:

"I don't think it really cuts it to cover issues all under the blanket of "hurt feelings", since it's not always about hurt. Sometimes it's about anger, and btw- not all anger is hurt in disguise, as many of us have been told by the touchy-feely set: it's more often about frustration in response to an obstructed goal. In other words, it's about power. And there is certainly a power struggle going on between the sexes: as women press for change, men resist because, as you said yourself, "it's hard to see when you are getting the good end of the lollipop." And that's what this is about. Look through the posts: these guys think it's their entitlement that they should have a submissive woman coming to them, and that if it doesn't happen, well, it's the fault of feminism. But they forget that the more a woman's expected to submit, the greater the expectations that places on the man."

Anon - in anyway did i say that i was covering all the issues? in fact, did i not explicitly state that i could not and would not attempt to do that but wanted to address one thing i was noticing? there's nothing wrong with that, and like i've said before, i feel like those words needed to come out for a reason and i stand by that. i don't think it's touchy feely to be real about people's hurt - in fact, i think the touchy feely crowd you refer to have been ineffective and trite due to the fact that they avoid the realness of suffering and instead to try to cover stuff up. go to my blog, you'll see more discussion of what i'm talking about.

you are upset with these guys and false expectations on women - for being a part of the problem not the solution - is that true? am i getting that right? and there is a power struggle alright, that's what your trying to point out? just want to be clear i'm hearing you accurately.

anon - i'm assuming you follow jesus right? i'd love to talk with you about how scripture has us respond to injustice, to power being abused, how jesus responds to it. these are discussions, prayers, dialogues i have'cause i walk with people who come from all kinds of disadvantaged backgrounds and we want to have a response that is biblical - an Isaiah 58 type response.

yes - there is a problem - i'm not trying to sugarcoat it or say it will be solved overnight, in no way shape or form have i said that.

but i won't choose sides. i won't say all men are wrong and all women are right - i won't do it. i won't say that all men are causing all the problems and keeping all women down. i honestly think that's going to keep men from coming to the table and owning up to what they are doing. that's the way i see it - you see it differently - but that's cool, i'm not going to say that's better or worse than the way i see it.

1/4/07, 6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lew Rockwell is a well-known Libertarian website. There is no reason to believe Angela Fiori is fictitious.

It's called the logical fallacy of “sweeping presumptions”. Obviously, she's created a rule so general about internet psychosis and who to trust, that she admits no exceptions to that rule.

Additionally, this leads the intellectual superstar into another logical fallacy. Because Ms. Fiori has contributed to a newsletter (a baaad newsletter), this makes for "guilt by association" or the "bad company fallacy".

Therefore, based on a self-serving bias, any site, no matter how well-known, and its columnists, are quickly and conveniently discarded as either "bogus, fabricated, or wacko".

1/4/07, 7:12 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

d~nice wrote:
-----------------------------------
Look through the posts: these guys think it's their entitlement that they should have a submissive woman coming to them, and that if it doesn't happen, well, it's the fault of feminism. But they forget that the more a woman's expected to submit, the greater the expectations that places on the man."
-----------------------------------
Just to be clear, for my own part, I don't think that I am entitled to 'submissive women coming to me' if by that you mean I think women should be asking me out and otherwise pursue me. I'm more traditional in that I think the guy should do the pursuing, if he wants to date etc. My disagreement with Maken et al is on the question of whether marriage is a matter obligation or one of liberty.

BTW, I don't think that lets women off the hook in terms of any uniquely female contributions to the decline in young marriages.

1/4/07, 8:48 AM  
Blogger d~nice said...

wombatty - you quoted me as saying the submissive part - i didn't write that - that was anonymous.

1/4/07, 10:34 AM  
Blogger d~nice said...

anonymous ~

just read this quote from another blog and thought it really summed up what i've been trying to say a lot more succinctly!

"I was reminded afresh that there may be justified anger, but there's no justified unforgiveness. Yes, Jesus got angry in the face of injustice and legalism—but he held these people accountable, not in a grudge. He also called us to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22) and to do all we can to live at peace with others (Hebrews 12:14). Surely that was to avoid the poison of bitterness—and ultimately to point us to our own need for forgiveness." ~ camerin courtney

1/4/07, 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

d-nice,

I didn't think that you were claiming to be "covering all the issues", I said you were covering up the issues. Case in point: you were wanting us to "get away from saying - he did it or she did it or this shouldn't have happened or this should have happened". You don't want people to talk about FACTS, you'd rather they talk about FEELINGS (but only the ones you're comfortable with: "hurt", "pain", "upset", but not frustration or anger, of course, which makes you no better than the touchy-feely folks, if anything, it makes you one of them!).

"you are upset with these guys and false expectations on women - for being a part of the problem not the solution - is that true?" No. You've gotten none of it right, perhaps because you're trying too hard to find opportunities to preach to us (as if none of those things, like forgiveness, would have possibly occurred to anyone here). What we are all doing here is calling each other on things that aren't being owned up to, which is the essence of any intellectual debate- it may not always sound "nice", but it's a lot more honest.

Wombatty,

"As for porn and men, I'm not the one riding the 'my sex knows better' high horse." But you keep defeating yourself by making comparisons where men inevitably come off worse! And when this is pointed out, you (and others here) have the same reaction that always spells defeat, the one that sounds like, "oh, so it's all our fault, is it? or the classic "I guess we should just shut our mouths and listen to our female betters". But you really haven't been able to come up with any "uniquely female contributions to the decline in young marriages", at least among church folk, have you?

I'm not saying that men are worse people, as a matter of fact, I have even defended here a certain level of masculine perogative for a guy being able to do what a guy's gotta do, even if it disappoints the righteous expectations of some church ladies (and men, if they think they have "no business" dating until shopping for a spouse). I have also acknowledged that there have been some impacts of feminism on the church, even if I didn't jump on the bandwagon and support the usual bogies, like loose women and golddigging divorcees. Nevertheless, I have been given the business usually reserved for harsh feminists while at the same time being accused of being "marriage mandate". You once said that Maken's supporters take an approach to an issue that alienates natural allies, well, the same could be said of you guys here.

I'm glad that you're not one of those sulking that among today's women "submission is merely symbolic", at the same time valuing the traditional role of male as pursuer. But when you say "It's possible I have attracted a woman or two in the recent past, but since I'm terrible at 'reading' women, I might not have picked up on it", that suggests you were waiting for the woman to do something, instead of just going ahead and asking. It's your business if you want to stay single and be an anti-marriage mandate gadfly, but if your reason for being single is that you haven't tried in awhile, then it's kind of lame to be pointing fingers at "uunrealistic expectations of the opposite sex" (which by the way, romance novels have not been proven to cause).

I'm also boggled as to how you (and others) could be so "terrible at 'reading' women", if there really has been some big united effort on the part of men to understand women. "We did it"? Did what? Perhaps you as an individual deigned to make some gesture to improve your understanding of women on occasion, but didn't get the results you wanted. That's not necessarily OUR fault. Did your father, or his father or whatever male leadership you were raised under ever attempt to teach you what you needed to know specifically about how to attract women? There is a bit of an art and a science to the various things that go into it. You don't walk into a corral and complain that the horse doesn't walk right up to you, or try to "catch" the horse and then conclude that horses don't want to be caught. Some men are better attraction than others (and a certain amount of it comes down to things like looks and affluence), but perhaps due to the competitive nature of men (and resistance to getting female input on the fine points) few are willing to share their insights. Of course, this may change someday-- the day that Angela Fiori emerges as an actual woman somewhere other than Lew Rockwell's site and "her" links that go nowhere!

1/4/07, 6:56 PM  
Anonymous someone said...

I've come to the conclusion that this whole debate is a huge waste of time. It's just a continual back and forth that generates far more heat than light. I think the best thing those of us who disagree with Maken can do is to ignore her and get on with our lives. Continually attempting to argue with her and her supporters only feeds the frenzy and grants their views a greater sense of legitimacy. Simply refusing to respond to them robs them of a great deal of their power.

Unless your life is somehow being directly and negatively affected by what Maken teaches, it seems to me that her views are not really that relevant to most of us. I never even heard of, or cared about, the "gift of singleness," or "mandatory marriage," or any of the rest of this stuff before encountering Maken's views online and after wasting numerous hours and a lot of emotional and mental energy on this topic I've come to realize that it's really just a distraction from my living my life well and pursuing the things that are important.

I don't mean to suggest that a systematic, detailed, seriously researched and thought out response to views like Maken's might not be in order, but the continual, pedantic back and forth sniping between supporters and detractors, as well as the general ongoing obsession with this topic strike me as a huge waste of time and energy that could be focused on much better activities. Let's all get on with our lives.

1/4/07, 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who made YOU the whip for this discussion?

1/4/07, 7:11 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

anon,

I am not "on strike" about marriage. I am simply wondering how logically you can avoid Debbie Maken's conclusions. There is nothing logically necessary about a biker wearing a helmet. It seems to me that, if you accept the premises Maken lays down, it would be hard to not come to her conclusions.

BTW, I am willing to acknowledge that you do not hold Mrs. Maken's viewpoints, and I do apologize for misrepresenting you.

1/4/07, 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PC,

I don't see what's so confusing about some people having similar, but less extreme views than others, but let me spell it out: Some people, seeing the potential for injury, may see a helmet as necessary, and may even be quite outspoken in saying that it's stupid not to wear a helmet, without actually believing that it's necessary to have it mandatory by law. Others may not only see the potential for injury, but believe that because of that potential for injury, you must have a law requiring everyone to wear a helmet.

Likewise, you might not think that the bible verses used by Maken truly "mandate marriage" per se, but you might think that they do suggest that marriage is the biblical norm and that the kind of protacted singleness we see on a widescale today is not validated by scripture. Even people who dispute the biblical basis of the "marriage mandate" might still agree that widespread protracted singleness has consequences for many individuals and for the church, perhaps because of their own observations of society. Or they might disagree with her "courtship" model, but agree with her "rethinking the gift of singleness". There have been a variety of responses to Maken's work-- not everyone is terrified that it's all going to turn into a mass Moonie wedding!

Does that clarify things? I hope so. No apology necessary-- all's fair in love and blogging!

1/4/07, 8:58 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Anon wrote:
-----------------------------------
As for porn and men, I'm not the one riding the 'my sex knows better' high horse." But you keep defeating yourself by making comparisons where men inevitably come off worse! And when this is pointed out, you (and others here) have the same reaction that always spells defeat, the one that sounds like, "oh, so it's all our fault, is it? or the classic "I guess we should just shut our mouths and listen to our female betters". But you really haven't been able to come up with any "uniquely female contributions to the decline in young marriages", at least among church folk, have you?
-----------------------------------
First, just because men might be worse on particular an issue doesn't mean women are blameless on that issue. The "I guess we should just shut our mouths and listen to our female betters" line isn't deflection. Whenever men raise this or that issue, Maken and some of her followers inevitably dismiss it as a 'bogie' and insist that 'it's all men's fault'. That is deflection.

As for uniquely female contributions to the problem in the Church; how about the fact that the divorce rate in the Church is the same or higher than elsewhere? Take a look a Jake's first comment on Maken's latest post for some of the stuff he has dealt with. Further, women usually prefer to 'marry up the income ladder' - which I think is perfectly fine. The problem? The more women that make more money, the less men there will be that make more than they do. This effectively limits the pool of bachelors women are willing to consider for marriage. Now I don't have a problem with women making lots of money, but if they do so they need to recognize that they might need to adjust their expectations of men in that regard.

Anon wrote:
-----------------------------------
But when you say "It's possible I have attracted a woman or two in the recent past, but since I'm terrible at 'reading' women, I might not have picked up on it", that suggests you were waiting for the woman to do something, instead of just going ahead and asking.
-----------------------------------
If I were interested in a girl and was considering asking her out, I would look for some indication that the interest is mutual. People (even women) usually indicate such interest by flirting. If I didn't get any positive signals, I would probably just move on. There are thousands of women out there in that 'sea of plenty'; no sense in getting hung up on a girl I haven't even been on a date with. You write as though women just sit there like a sack of potatoes and don't respond to guys who talk and flirt with them.

Anon wrote:
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[...] if your reason for being single is that you haven't tried in awhile, then it's kind of lame to be pointing fingers at "uunrealistic expectations of the opposite sex" (which by the way, romance novels have not been proven to cause).
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My reason for being single is because I'm not pursuing marriage. I haven't tried in a while because I'm not pursuing marriage. Why would I engage in activity that leads to a goal that I'm not pursuing?

If you can't see how wallowing in romance novels, written mostly by women, that portray men as idealized, studly romantics who always say and do the things women want them to do creates unrealistic expectations then I don't know what to say. I've heard women talk about this stuff so it's not just men.

Anon wrote:
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I'm also boggled as to how you (and others) could be so "terrible at 'reading' women", if there really has been some big united effort on the part of men to understand women. "We did it"? Did what? Perhaps you as an individual deigned to make some gesture to improve your understanding of women on occasion, but didn't get the results you wanted. That's not necessarily OUR fault.
---------------------------------------------------

First, if deftness in reading the opposite sex were the result of a 'big united effort' then you women, after your eons of sharing wisdom, should understand men. Yet I hear women express frustration with not understanding men as often as the other way around.

I'm not blaming women for my inability to read them, I merely mentioned that I'm not good at doing it. And that's NOT why I am still single. I'm single because I'm content being single; if it's not broken, don't fix it (though you might disagree as to whether I'm 'broken')

1/5/07, 4:17 AM  
Blogger d~nice said...

anon ~

a) i'm pretty sure i said that I wanted to get away from the said/she said - not get all of you away from it. I didn't want my response to be like that, and i don't think there's anything wrong with me wanting MY post to be like that. not once did i say everyone else should be like that.

b) neither did i say folks shouldn't talk about the realities facing women today - in fact, i said the contrary and merely said i wasn't going to use my voice at that moment in time to do so.

c) is it possible, from your point of view, to talk about God and Jesus and scripture AND the facts? do the two conversations have to be mutually exclusive? if so, can you say more about why that is?

i hear you when you're saying people who've talked about God and all that "touchy-feely" stuff of forgiveness have ended up using it to cover up the situation - but could that be due to human error and manipulation not that forgiveness in itself is bad or harmful to a conversation?

d) the same abuse can come from talking about facts and having a purely "intellectual" debate that negates the fact that there ARE feelings involved. You said you are angry - that this issue brings to light anger - that's a feeling - not wanting to negate it at all. Swinging from one extreme to the other feels like going backwards ~ so my question, again for you, is how do we have a conversation where folks can just bring to the table what they have?

i brought my piece of seeing the piece of hurt - but you see that piece as something "covering up the issues". so do i stay at home? not speak?

I guess my question is who gets to have this conversation with you? what are the rules? what are the parameters? what do you define as "touchy-feely" and what do you define as "facts"? that should help, at least me, get a clearer picture of what you expect the conversation to include.

i'm not going to apologize for sounding "preachy" - i can't control how folks read what i write and i know i'm probably in hyper-jesus mode at the moment ~ just came back from urbana! i'm aware of that and am okay with that - there's grace in this conversation.

1/5/07, 6:54 AM  
Blogger d~nice said...

anon ~

i also have no problems being real - that's what i've really enjoyed about the comments - it's good to see people be honest about this topic since i think we lie a lot to cover up.

and anon ~ it's semi-funny that you would talk about this being a conversation of honesty and realness when, well, you've stayed pretty much anonymous the whole time!

so if you hear my words as being fake or misguided or empty - then take the extra step of grace and ask me to go deeper, ask if my words are coming from paper and or experience. ask - don't assume. maybe i'm a misguided fool who has believed wrongly all these years ~ call it out! ~ speak the truth, the facts as you see it. i got no problems with that, it's what i would do. ;)

1/5/07, 7:08 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Just stumbled across an interesting article by Selwyn Duke that has some relevance to this debate. The theme of the article is the modern phenomenon of regarding female behavioral characteristics as the norm; the standard by which even men should be measured.
___________________________________
A long time ago I read a short online piece about how women could get their men to put the toilet seat down. Inherent in it was the idea that this was an example of men’s lack of consideration and that the task at hand was one of disciplining these bad boys. I don’t know, my attitude is that if women can leave a toilet seat down, men can leave it up.

Of course, this is just a silly, pebble-in-the-shoe issue, but I see it as a metaphor for a modern phenomenon: The casting of women’s characteristic behaviors as the norm and men’s as dysfunctional deviations.

[...]

What bothers me, though, is the knee-jerk assumption here that more [communication] is better, a conclusion that most of the same researchers take great pains to forestall when the issue is, oh, let’s say, the greater size of the male brain. But this is a principle of sex differences research: When men have more, more is less. When women have less, less is more.
___________________________________
I think you see this modern phenomenon in spades with Debbie Maken and her acolytes. Female desires, wishes, hopes and dreams (of marriage and children) seem to be regarded almost as the sine qua non of a biblically legitimate lifestyle; and of biblical manhood in particular. Not only must men strive for this ideal, they must succeed at it regardless of circumstance; and if they fail, they must confess that it was all their fault.

All of this is not to come down on women; there are plenty of men who guilty of this as well.

The article can be found at

www.americanthinker.com/2006/12/
extolling_the_female_tongue.html

1/5/07, 9:47 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Of course, the one caveat to the above is that Maken et al acknowledge that men are designed as the pursuers and women the pursued; but this seems as much a ‘means to an end [fulfillment of women’s desires]’ as a recognition of legitimate sex differences. The simply demand that men conform their dreams and hopes to those of women. Men can have no justifiable desires[with rare exception] in this realm other than those sanctioned by women.

1/5/07, 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wombatty,

As for the toilet seat thing, lol, the universal household consideration principle of "leave things as you find them" applies here!

"just because men might be worse on particular an issue doesn't mean women are blameless on that issue." But Wombatty, you seem to require equal time discussing the female side of problems that are mostly predicated by men. What if you never get as much ownership from women as you think they should take? Then what?

Even if most divorces are initiated by women, that doesn't mean that women are more to blame for the divorce rate. If you really want the most sound information about divorce, you've got to consider the work of John Gottman, the U of Wash prof who's the foremost researcher on marriage and divorce in the world. He's discovered the reasons why more women divorce their husbands than the other way around. He does not advocate the notion of "turning men into women", but he does point to a need for men to catch up on relationship skills (since those are the ones least likely to divorce). At the same time, he also identified some immutable male characteristics that women must inevitably work around (such as the fact that men "heat up" more quickly during conflict). AND, you going to hate this, but about romantic expectations, he said that high expectations do yield better results! So it may seem like women are always after men with their high expectations, but this is, and always has been, the way of civilization! That is not to say that there aren't some women out there with unrealistic ideas, and certainly Gottman does make recommendations, but more about how expectations get communicated than the expectations themselves.

"The more women that make more money, the less men there will be that make more than they do. This effectively limits the pool of bachelors women are willing to consider for marriage" I see your demographic observation here--'tho I would tweak it and say that women want men to make as much as them (not nec. more, 'tho men who make more are proportionately "rewarded" with more options). What you're missing is that when a woman can support herself at all (whether she's well-off or not), she can turn down suitors she feels no attaction to (most women seem wired to not be attracted to most men from the get-go. It's this phenomena that's changed things for men. And I don't see how you can get around it without either going backwards and turning women back into chattels without their own means of support, sold by their families into marriage to those who bid highest for their beauty, that being a man they may never love, OR to move forward (men realizing that they can't get around this situation without also accepting that love and attraction are also important to women, and that there's more to it that simply being a good provider and "nice").

"If deftness in reading the opposite sex were the result of a 'big united effort' then you women, after your eons of sharing wisdom, should understand men. Yet I hear women express frustration with not understanding men as often as the other way around." I think the difference here is that the women are at least trying to understand the men. I don't hear any willingness to do that on your part-- just "I'm not good at it, oh well..." or accusations of your ideas being dismissed whenever they are challenged or tweaked in any way. For example, when you brought up Promisekeepers and I pointed out that they're great at telling single men what they shouldn't do, but not at helping them with mate finding, you accused me of dismissing them because "they didn't push 'marriage mandate theology'", even though I don't even take a marriage mandate stance!

d-nice,

"is it possible, from your point of view, to talk about God and Jesus and scripture AND the facts?...i hear you when you're saying people who've talked about God and all that "touchy-feely" stuff of forgiveness have ended up using it to cover up the situation - but could that be due to human error and manipulation not that forgiveness in itself is bad or harmful to a conversation?

First of all, I never said that forgiveness is bad or harmful to a conversation. But I do think that introducing it too soon can be manipulative.

You say "the same abuse can come from talking about facts and having a purely "intellectual" debate that negates the fact that there ARE feelings involved. You said you are angry..." Actually, I didn't say I was angry, you said I was angry (actually, "upset" was the word you used). And then you go on to say "ask- don't assume"! You want some rules? Here are some rules: if you want people to trust you with their feelings (rather than come across as preachy and thus manipulative), then don't TELL people how they feel, ASK them! Or better yet, respond in such a way that suggests that you have some clue about what they said. What makes you think anyone here wants your hybrid brand of psychoanalysis with Godspeak anyways??

"it's semi-funny that you would talk about this being a conversation of honesty and realness when, well, you've stayed pretty much anonymous the whole time!" This is just about the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time-- especially from someone who uses an alias herself. Ever heard of Alcoholics Anonymous?? Why is it anonymous? So people there can be honest and real!

1/5/07, 2:10 PM  
Blogger d~nice said...

"First of all, I never said that forgiveness is bad or harmful to a conversation. But I do think that introducing it too soon can be manipulative."

I guess i took manipulative to mean harmful, which is why i said something about why I believe forgivenness to be important...

When Anon wrote:
"(but only the ones you're comfortable with: "hurt", "pain", "upset", but not frustration or anger, of course, which makes you no better than the touchy-feely folks, if anything, it makes you one of them!)."

and

"don't think it really cuts it to cover issues all under the blanket of "hurt feelings", since it's not always about hurt. Sometimes it's about anger, and btw- not all anger is hurt in disguise, as many of us have been told by the touchy-feely set: it's more often about frustration in response to an obstructed goal."

i extrapolated that you were angry from these comments - as i look back now, i see that you weren't saying that you were angry yourself. i see that and am glad i asked about if i was right in seeing that - clearly i wasn't.

i also thought that you were saying that i was somehow not giving anger a rightful place and the things i was talking about were not helpful. would you say that is true?

"if you want people to trust you with their feelings (rather than come across as preachy and thus manipulative)"

does preachy equal manipulative for you? just wanting to clarify.

"then don't TELL people how they feel, ASK them! Or better yet, respond in such a way that suggests that you have some clue about what they said. What makes you think anyone here wants your hybrid brand of psychoanalysis with Godspeak anyways??"

i did read through what people wrote - if my comments didn't seem like "i have a clue" about what was being talked about, i can't help that - i'm trying to learn and keep explicitly stating so. i heard what i could and continue to ask questions to try and go deeper which i don't think is wrong. i can't help but ask - who do you want in this conversation?

maybe the "telling people how they feel" part is coming from me stating that you were angry? I apologize for stating such, i had thought i had phrased that as a question - i wasn't sure if you were angry or not.

"This is just about the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time-- especially from someone who uses an alias herself. Ever heard of Alcoholics Anonymous?? Why is it anonymous? So people there can be honest and real!"

You can go to my blog via the link on my name. the alias leads to a whole lot about me, my thoughts, stories, random musings, etc. i am actually pretty un-anonymous for most online folks! I definitely get the need to remain anonymous so that folks can be real and honest. Good point.

I want to add though that as people don't share as much about themselves, that one shouldn't jump to conclusions about what they believe or where they are coming from or if their viewpoint is valid. who knows what people have walked through. If i have done that, I apologize and will continue to try and learn how to be more open.

in terms of asking questions about how people feel - i have asked - i have asked a lot of questions, most of which you have not responded to. maybe they weren't the right questions to ask though.

I do think that's a great point - asking others how they feel. I would love to hear how folks are feeling about this topic. Anon - what are your feelings in this matter?

the last part was hard to read ~ "what makes you think anyone wants you here?" ~ wow. that's all i can say to that one. thank you for being honest. this may be more "Godspeak or psychobabble" but i would think from that statement it's best to finish off with one final comment and leave the conversation to those who have been invited and welcomed.

Again - I merely shared what I thought about the matter. It seems that my words are seen as being unreal, dishonest, preachy, manipulative, disregarding other's feelings and experiences, the list goes on. That was not my intention and I will be sure not to post again.

I do wish you all the best as you continue your dialogue.

1/5/07, 3:07 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/5/07, 3:32 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

Wombatty

Of course, this is just a silly, pebble-in-the-shoe issue, but I see it as a metaphor for a modern phenomenon: The casting of women’s characteristic behaviors as the norm and men’s as dysfunctional deviations.

This is something I have seen in my conversation with Mrs. Maken on her blog. She has not posted my latest response, but it seems to me that she thinks that men are the lazy ones, and the women, while they may have a few things wrong, are not mostly to blame for it.

I pointed out that the reason for laziness in both sexes is the sin of gluttony. I pointed out that the solution for that is a love for God and a love for his word. I also was careful to point out that this does not mean that marriage is the solution to laziness. The solution to laziness comes through a love of God's law, but it does not come through marriage.

Thanks for the read, though. What is so sad is this idolatrious treatment of marriage that causes people to start pointing the finger when it doesn't happen the way you want it to happen. I think we need to get back to basics. We need to remember that loving God, having faith in him, and being obedient to him are the three cornerstones of the Christian life. When this happens, I hope that problems will be fixed so the blame game stops. As Jesus says:

Matthew 6:25-34 "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' 32 "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I pray, then, that we will learn to do this with even things we may deem as essential. We are not to start worrying or fretting when we don't get things that we want. We are to trust in God that he will give us the things that we need.

1/5/07, 3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The solution to laziness comes through a love of God's law, but it does not come through marriage...We need to remember that loving God, having faith in him, and being obedient to him are the three cornerstones of the Christian life."

I would agree with that PC, but the problem we've had over the past several decades is the overemphasis on abstract ideas about loving God and having faith, without much obedient action to show for it (John 14:21). And no, I'm not saying that marriage equals obedience, I'm saying that we've been caught up in too much magical thinking that marriage either comes to us, and if not, then that means that God doesn't want it for us. Boundless has some good stuff this week about those kinds of distorted ideas about sovereignty.

1/5/07, 5:03 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

wombatty, you're right that the notion that women's desires are right and men's wrong is common in the church. It's one I've heard criticized many times before, including by the leader of the men's bible study I used to go to, who was anything but an anti-woman, men's rights activist, marriage-strike type. However, I don't think it's quite the same as Maken's argument. The "women are normative" argument as it applies to this subject could be stated like this:

1. Whatever women want is good.
2. Women want marriage and babies.
3. Therefore, marriage and babies are good.

From what I've read of Maken (and those who support her, like Al Mohler and the staff of Boundless), her argument goes more like this:

1. Marriage and babies are good.
2. Women want marriage and babies, and men don't.
3. Therefore, women are right and men are wrong.

Now, the thing is, I actually agree with #1. The problem with Maken, Mohler, et al. is that, as I keep saying everywhere I post, #2 is factually incorrect. This man very much wants marriage and babies, and has encountered women who would put them off indefinitely, forever if necessary, unless they felt especially called by God to marry a particular man in a particular place at a particular time. Furthermore, I know no one like the characters who populate the kinds of anecdotes Boundless is always referring to: dating couples in which the woman desperately wants to press forward with marriage, but is being kept in a holding pattern by a noncommittal man. I would love to know where these Christians are, because I'm just not seeing them.

The point is that #2 is a premise on which the mandators' entire argument rests, and if they admitted its falsity they would have to rework their entire philosophy from the ground up.

Anonymous, you said:
What you're missing is that when a woman can support herself at all (whether she's well-off or not), she can turn down suitors she feels no attaction to (most women seem wired to not be attracted to most men from the get-go. It's this phenomena that's changed things for men. And I don't see how you can get around it without either going backwards and turning women back into chattels without their own means of support, sold by their families into marriage to those who bid highest for their beauty, that being a man they may never love, OR to move forward (men realizing that they can't get around this situation without also accepting that love and attraction are also important to women, and that there's more to it that simply being a good provider and "nice").

I don't think you're understanding what's being said about female attraction and interest in men. Women's attraction to men is very much status-based. That's why in high school the star athletes, and in real life the successful businessmen, are appealing to women. When we say that women "want" a man who makes more money than they do, we do not mean that they are consciously, rationally seeking out this quality, as though they were evaluating each man they met on this criterion and either crossing him off their list or giving him a pass based on it. What we're saying is that women (generally) are attracted to men who make more than they do, and not to men who make less. That is what has changed for men. It's not like a particular girl is "wired" to be attracted to me based on my DNA. A girl who isn't attracted to me in today's society where she is merely my equal, might well have been attracted to me in a different time and place, where my status was higher than hers. That is what makes this so difficult. Women, Christian ones included, are pricing themselves out of the market in terms of their own desires, without even realizing they're doing it. They've always known that when the time is right, they'll meet the man God has for them, the man of their dreams, and they'll know it's him by the way they feel about him--they'll feel in love. Then they remain single year after year, not meeting any such man they feel that way about, wondering why God isn't sending their husband when He sent their grandmothers their husbands right out of high school. They don't realize that their grandmothers were attracted to, and thus easily able to fall in love with, their grandfathers because of the mere fact that they were men and had jobs--jobs, how exciting!--lined up as plumbers upon graduation from high school, while today's women have college educations, jobs, advanced degrees, fiscal independence, and their own condos, and simply don't come across many men who are "above" them in that way.

1/5/07, 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we are discussing toliet seats. HOLY CRAP. No wonder you guys don't have high paying jobs and can't attract a woman to save your life.

1/5/07, 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Gottman?!? LOL John Gottman's advice is the last thing a Christian man needs.



The major lesson was spelt out clearly by John Gottman, a leading US researcher on marriage and relationships. He had tracked 130 newlyweds, observing their interactions and then following them for six years to see which marriages were happy and stable and which ended in divorce.

Gottman's advice to men was as follows: "If you want your marriage to last for a long time, just do what your wife says. Go ahead, give in to her . . . The marriages that did work all had one thing in common - the husband was willing to give in to the wife."

Other researchers have reached similar conclusions - that the key to a lasting marriage today is the man's willingness to accept influence from his mate.


Let's see, if a man cannot in some way entertain his "bored wife" 24/7 and live up to her ongoing pursuit of happiness, this could be grounds for divorce.

" .... eight times more women who have been divorced cite the cause as “my partner had become boring to me ” than was true for their male counterparts."

This behavior and attitude is similar to the "Happiness Scam" that Nick Gillespie reports on in his column of the same title:

It turns out that our "pleasure system" and our "system of desire" often work at cross-purposes, either leading us to pursue the wrong things or leaving us unsatisfied if we attain them.

I am so tired of hearing how bored to tears women are of their husbands.

Take it from two particularly misguided women (as for an example) who had become bored with their husbands (naturally), and now they must be re-educated by a "Dear Abby" type:

"Feelings wax and wane. Marriages do not stay eternally fresh and new, lusty and ideal. Every marriage goes through tough, boring, stressful times. This is true for your current marriage, it would be true if you had married a different man, and it will remain true if you shuck your husband for someone else.

The first reader muses about marrying the right or wrong man. Certainly, you need to marry a man suitable for you. Once you do, the future of your marriage is up to you — meaning both of you — and not to some kind of cosmic fate."

" [ ... ] Certainly, there is an undeniable thrill to a new relationship. This rush simply cannot be replicated by an existing relationship. That’s not how the human brain works. But newness wears off. The brain chemicals involved in the addictive quality of new love eventually calm down.

If you did remain involved with these new men, at some point the mundane would take over. You would get sick of the new guy, too. If you have a personality type that needs to continually succumb to this kind of excitement, you will have trouble sustaining a marriage.

Marriage is not about newness. It is about having an intact family and a stable relationship with someone compatible who shares your life history. That means, yes, forgoing some of the thrill of the new.

When you marry, you give up one thing for another. There’s an opportunity cost to marriage, as for many things in life. The choice of one man as your husband closes the door on the choice of another man. Being married takes maturity, awareness and, sometimes, self-discipline."


Now tell me, is it really necessary to tell the population at large that marriage is hard work? Is it possible to get across that love/ romance is not the continuous mad rush of newness and excitement 24 hours a day that many women make it out to be for whatever selfish reasons?

There's this common belief out there today that "romance" is something always rapturous, exciting, and blissful to body, mind and spirit. Such love is blind and doomed to die, because it is unrealistic.

Romance was an invention of medieval poets. It put women on a pedestal and told men the meaning of your life is to find a woman and make her feel worshipped.

That is idolatry. And it plays right into the fallen personalities of men and women who want to find their significance apart from God.

It's also a lie about how we are made, who we were made for, and what life is all about. The church of romance comes blaring at us from all around us in music, movies and pop culture. It is a killer of relationships. When a person is "looking for romance" they are in a dangerous place.

The chemistry that makes "romance" will not always be there. Christian love can always be there. Romance is the idol worshiped by millions and millions of women in America, and it is an idol they bring into their homes and ask [demand] their marriages to honor. It is a seductive lie for all sorts of people with emotional and relational vacuums left over from the brokenness of this world.

1/5/07, 10:54 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

anon,

Interestingly enough, I agree with that. You are talking about a philosophy known as fatalism. It is absolute nonsense. The reformed-Calvinistic position is that God ordains and uses means, but that he can ordain a means, and not necessarily use it for what we think he should. That is, God might ordain that we go out looking for a wife. However, he may decide to ordain that those searches will fail.

When they fail, we have to keep trusting in God that it wasn't the right time. I am not saying that we give up, but we certainly don't get depressed and upset like some of the people Debbie Maken sites in her book! We trust God that he is in control of our lives, and if he decided not to give us what we seek, then he must have had a good reason. We therefore trust in him, and follow his guidance.

1/6/07, 3:21 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Anon wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
But Wombatty, you seem to require equal time discussing the female side of problems that are mostly predicated by men. What if you never get as much ownership from women as you think they should take? Then what?
-------------------------------------------------------
It's not that I think 'equal time' is necessary. It's just that, in this debate, Maken and company don't not seem to want any discussion at all of the female side of this equation or they simply deny that there are unique 'female factors' in this respect. And I think that if only part of the problem is acknowledged and dealt with, only part of the problem will be solved.

As for the ownership question, I guess it depends on whether my girlfriend (should I have one in the future) is willing to 'own' her shortcomings in this area (to the extent that she has them). If she's not, she might not be marriage material. The same would be true of me.

Anon wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
[...] AND, you going to hate this, but about romantic expectations, he said that high expectations do yield better results! So it may seem like women are always after men with their high expectations, but this is, and always has been, the way of civilization! That is not to say that there aren't some women out there with unrealistic ideas, and certainly Gottman does make recommendations, but more about how expectations get communicated than the expectations themselves.
-------------------------------------------------------
I don't hate the idea that women have expectations of men (even high ones) that they should be romantic. As for high expectations yielding better results, that's just human nature (in general) and it applies equally to men and women. My issue was not high expectations, just unrealistic ones. And as I said, this applies equally to both sexes.

I believe men should strive to fulfill their woman's romantic hopes. This is how God 'wired' women and men who do not recognize that and work to adapt to that are inconsiderate. On the other hand, women should recognize [legitimate] 'male nature' and strive to adapt to it. For instance, God 'wired' men to visually oriented. Women should thus make reasonable efforts to be physically attractive for their men. This includes 'keeping oneself up' in general and that includes taking reasonable measures to stay fit. Here also, higher expectations (expressed in a sensitive and caring manner) should yield better results as opposed to a negative response on her part. To be clear I am not saying that women need to be Barbie Dolls, that would be entirely unreasonable on the man's part. I am saying both men and women need to recognize the natural desires planted in them by God and try to fulfill them.

Anon wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
I think the difference here is that the women are at least trying to understand the men. I don't hear any willingness to do that on your part-- just "I'm not good at it, oh well..."
-------------------------------------------------------
As for my willingness to to understand women, maybe you've misunderstood me. My 'I'm not good at it' comment in regard to 'reading women was a simple statement of fact - I'm just not good at it. For that reason, over the past year or so, I have been doing alot of reading on this and related subjects (hence my reading of Maken's book and participation in this debate). The best books I've read so far on this are Shaunti Feldhan's 'For Women Only' and 'For Men Only'. Each book explains to opposite sex to the other and 'For Men Only' has really opened my eyes (in a positive way). I also have Emerson Eggerichs new book on a similar theme, Cracking the Communication Code, on order. I've been doing this also because I'm in the process of reconsidering my decision to remain single and thought it'd be a good idea to 'get some wisdom'. As an aside, if anyone is interested in understanding the opposite sex, I can't recommend Feldhan's books more highly.

Anon wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
[...]or accusations of your ideas being dismissed whenever they are challenged or tweaked in any way. For example, when you brought up Promisekeepers and I pointed out that they're great at telling single men what they shouldn't do, but not at helping them with mate finding, you accused me of dismissing them because "they didn't push 'marriage mandate theology'", even though I don't even take a marriage mandate stance!
-------------------------------------------------------
Here, I think I have misunderstood you. You commented that 'Promisekeepers has been great at telling single men what they shouldn't do, but they've never done much to help those who are struggling to find someone to keep a promise to in the first place'. I misunderstood you to be saying that they should be helping all men 'find a promise to keep', as though there's something wrong if they don't. I agree that it would be good goal to help men who are struggling to find someone, but, as you said, they'd say it's not really their mission. It is, after all, PromiseKeepers, not PromiseSeekers. Now that you mention it though, I do think that a PromiseSeekers movement would be a good idea, as long as they didn't go down the Mandate Road.
I also assumed, wrongly, that you agreed with Maken on the mandate issue. I apologize for that; you know what they say about assuming... ;-)

1/7/07, 3:23 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Jake:
I think, by and large, you’re right about the difference between Maken’s argument and that discussed in the article I quoted; thanks for making that clarification. However, Maken also seems to think to the extent that a single man’s dreams and goals don’t reflect those of women, he is wrong and sinful. This attitude has shades of a ‘woman is the measure of all things’ attitude.

Anon (10:54 PM) quoted:
-----------------------------------
" .... eight times more women who have been divorced cite the cause as “my partner had become boring to me ” than was true for their male counterparts."
-----------------------------------
That’s nice, isn’t it? I’ve seen this kind of thing since I was in high school; women dumping boyfriends because they’re too nice, too boring, too agreeable, etc. Such women often seem to prefer jerks and losers that treat them like crap to guys that treat them right but are ‘too [fill in the blank]’. I didn’t know it was such a problem in marriage though.

So guys have to take into account that they might lose custody and/or contact with their children, a good bit of what they own and much of what they have saved simply because their wives are bored with marriage. The disparity between men and women in this statistic, and much of your post, indicates that there are specifically female factors in this equation (no surprise there) like wildly unrealistic expectations. To be clear, I am not denying that many men have problems of their own in this regard.

The first article you cite (Listen up, boys. Do as you're told!) seems to be right up Maken’s ally. The only caveat that I would stress (which is only hinted at in the article) is that compromise is essential and there is nothing wrong, per se, with accepting influence from your wife (as long as you’re not a doormat) and a man should be sensitive to his wife’s needs (husbands are commanded to seek to understand their wives).

The irony for these women (and I think Maken is squarely in this camp) is this: it takes a proactive man to initiate a marriage but it apparently it takes a passive man to maintain such a marriage. As I’ve written before, Maken et al talk a lot about valuing biblical male leadership, but their attitude indicates otherwise. There is no reason to believe that marriage would change this.

Gott’s advice to men that "If you want your marriage to last for a long time, just do what your wife says. Go ahead, give in to her . . . The marriages that did work all had one thing in common - the husband was willing to give in to the wife", is not only bad, but an indication that many women have indeed cultivated outlandish expectations of marriage in general and their husbands in particular. Regarding this, women would be better advised to bring their expectations more in line with reality.

I think the last sentence of the article underlines the severity of the problem:
-----------------------------------
Now it is the male who faces a lifetime of carefully tiptoeing, perhaps even groveling, with radar finely tuned to women's whims.
-----------------------------------
It’s not right when either sex lords such power over the other. It’s made worse when the power of the state is so overwhelmingly on one side or the other. And what makes it especially disgusting is when Christians (women, with the current state of divorce law; men in the past) are so quick to enlist the power of the State to bludgeon their partner.

PuritanCalvinist:

Something occurred to me about Maken’s rejection of the distinction between descriptive and prescriptive passages of the Bible. If she is to be consistent, would she not have to regard the account of Ruth as prescriptive and therefore binding on all women? Therefore, shouldn’t she be demanding that women pursue men, at least to the extent that Ruth did? After all, Maken has said that one mention from God in the Bible should be enough to get our attention. For some reason, I think Maken would find a way around her principals at this point. ;-)

Anon:
One more thing about understanding between the sexes: Feldhan’s books, especially the interview included on the second audiobook (For Men Only) about her thoughts on the reaction to the first book are revealing. She was asked if she was surprised by its success. She said no; because in her discussions with the women at her church, focus groups and conferences the women were consistently amazed at the revelations of Feldhan’s research. They would ask their husbands to confirm or deny Feldhan’s findings. To the astonishment of their wives, their husbands generally confirmed Feldhan. The husbands’ reactions were usually along the lines of ‘You mean you didn’t know that about men?’ This same phenomenon is reflected in the reviews (both positive and negative) at Amazon.com. All of this indicates that women do not understand men nearly as well as you seem to think they do. This is also certainly true of men’s understanding of women.

The only drawback (if one can call it that) of Feldhan’s books is that they are largely couched in terms of marriage; thus they have the same ‘deficiency’ you pointed out about PK (though she does have a book specifically for teen girls on understanding guys). What I mean is that there is a difference between what it takes to ‘get a girl’ and what it takes to maintain a relationship. Are you aware of any good Christian books that address the issue of ‘how to get a girl’ (to use somewhat crude terminology)? I have read some material from the secular world on this subject and though some of it is helpful, you have to wade through a lot of worldly muck in the process. This is a sincere question, and I would trust your judgment on this question more than say, Maken’s, since you don’t take a side on the ‘marriage mandate’ issue.

1/8/07, 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake,

Isn't it an assumption on your part to say that "This man very much wants marriage and babies, and has encountered women who would put them off indefinitely, forever if necessary", if you've only made this attempt with one woman (since the others in your church are too fat and unattractive)?? I acknowledge that most men want marriage and babies, but what I think is their blindspot is refusing to see how many times their masculine pursuit mechanism has thrown them off course (meeting someone who initially piques their interest and losing interest once they've "got" her). Even guys with the best of intentions get run aground on this one, without even knowing that's what's happening. They meet a girl they like, and after awhile without even realizing it, start acting like a jerk or just plain carelessly as if it doesn't matter what happens to the relationship, so they end up sabotaging things without knowing why (or knowing why but not having the jam to own up to it).

I hear what you're saying about women without jobs feeling more physically attracted to men with jobs (and thus status), but again, I think there's a bit of male illusion still at work, one that's been eroded by the divorce boom of the 70's (perhaps some of our grandmothers weren't as attracted to our grandfathers as we had thought!)-- remove the element of female dependency from the marital equation and you find out what women really want in a marriage (which is not only financial security and status, but to also be physically attracted to their husbands-- which is determined not only by the physical qualities of the husband but by the quality of the relationship). And so for now, I suppose that you're right that women's increased economic power and thus expectations have resulted in many of them being "priced out of the market" to some extent, and at the same time making it harder for many of men to find mates. I happen to believe that God is using this to transform the world. Which leads me to...

To the Anonymous Gottman critic:

That quote you posted "If you want your marriage to last for a long time, just do what your wife says. Go ahead, give in to her" was NOT attributed to Gottman, it was another writer's bad and inaccurate editoral paraphrasing. What Gottman actually said about the THOUSANDS (not hundreds) of couples he studied is this:

"the husband is really critical in this equation because women are doing a lot of accepting influence in their interaction. That's what we find and it doesn't predict anything, because many women are doing it at such a high level. But there's more variability in guys. Some guys are really in there and these are the masters. They're not saying: "Yes, dear." What they're really saying is: "You know, I can see some points in what you're saying make sense to me. And there's other stuff you're saying I just don't agree with. Let's talk about it." Now that husband is a different husband from the husband who says: "No. I'm not buying any of this!" Then the husband becomes an obstacle. If you don't accept some influence, then you become an obstacle and people find a way around you and you have no power"

OK? So, according to Gottman there is a fair range in being aggressive and being passive, between resisting influence and having none. Those guys who are slated for healthy relationships are neither brutes nor whining doormats. They don't spend all their time complaining about how hard it is today, glorifying the past, when women were so much more passive. They welcome the challenges these changes present and see the opportunities in them to be better people. Because this whole "women get to have it all their way" thing has never really existed, even now, it's nowhere near 50-50. Men may have lost some ground, but they are still dominant-- but to give up any ground is agony, right?

And Wombatty, as for your question,
"Are you aware of any good Christian books that address the issue of ‘how to get a girl’ (to use somewhat crude terminology)?" NO! That was my whole point over the last several posts!

1/8/07, 12:17 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Anon wrote:
--------------------------
And Wombatty, as for your question,
"Are you aware of any good Christian books that address the issue of ‘how to get a girl’ (to use somewhat crude terminology)?" NO! That was my whole point over the last several posts!
--------------------------
To be precise, your point is that men have not been engaging in 'wisdom sharing' for eons and tha women have. Granting this (dubious, imho) assessment, women have failed in their quest to understand men.

Maken is a good example. She misunderstands men to the point that she thinks heaping contempt and condescension on them (and that's exactly what she does) and casting any and all critical responses by them as illegitimate (with the rare exception of Kostenburger) will motivate them to seek marriage. Despite the men she has in her corner, she desperately needs to do some work to understand men and should have done so before writing her book. (I think she also misunderstand Scripture, but that's another issue).

I think it's pretty clear that, to the extent that the current situation is a crisis, both sexes have failed to adequetly address it.

If things are this bad for women, it seems to me it would manifest itself in ways more productive than bitter complaints and intemperate demamds ala Maken.

Why aren't women writing books that help explain themselves to men; if for no other reason than out of sheer desperation? And don't tell me that this is 'the men's job'. They should no doubt participate more than they are, but so should women. After all, who know what women are looking for than women?

There is nothing wrong with women writing such books aimed at a male audience; and men who are looking for a promise to keep would snap such books up. Feldhan has recieved overwhelmingly positive reactions from both men and women about her books. That such books are in short supply is a failure of both sexes, not just men.

It wouldn't make sense for men to seek wisdom concerning the opposite sex soley amongst themselves. Such an approach will also fail (and apparently has failed) women. Preaching to the choir isn't going to make much progress for anyone.

1/8/07, 8:19 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

Wombatty,

She cannot even interpret the scriptures herself without using the prescriptive-descriptive distinction. Note what she says in her book:

Since Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are in the Bible, what do we learn from them? First, while it does mention the fact that these three siblings lived together, Scripture doesn't exalt it. Their ages are not given, and the most we can assume is that their parents were deceased. Their status isn't highlighted in the Bible as an example to follow-it's just a statement of how it was. It can no more be used as a pattern to justify singleness than it can be used to deny they benifits of marriage [Getting Serious about Getting Married p.35]

You are right that she would have to say that the story of Ruth is prescriptive, but worse than that, she would have to reject her argument that she makes in her book about Mary, Martha, and Lazarus!

As I said, when you interpret the scriptures, you cannot survive unless you have the prescriptive-descriptive distinction. Even Debbie Maken has to use it herself.

1/9/07, 1:32 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

PuritanCalvinist:

LOL...yet again (and again...and again...) Maken is weighed on her own scales and found wanting. It's been awhile since I read the book - good catch.

1/9/07, 5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wombatty, you said:

"your point is that men have not been engaging in 'wisdom sharing' for eons and tha women have. Granting this (dubious, imho) assessment, women have failed in their quest to understand men...Why aren't women writing books that help explain themselves to men; if for no other reason than out of sheer desperation?"

I think it's pretty lame to conclude that women have the problems that they do with men just because "they don't understand them", especially considering that Gottman has scientifically demonstrated that women as a group understand men better than men understand women AND especially considering how his research demonstrates the extent to which men are resistant to female influence. We haven't had the power to make men change, we had to go to greater lengths to understand men out of necessity. Perhaps men who are still single (or who have had the mixed blessing of marrying "out of their league" who then has the upper hand in the relationship) have a hard time appreciating those very real inequities that have existed for eons (and still haven't really gone away, lest you think we have actually achieved equality).

So that is why women don't write books for men to help them understand women-- there are some but naturally, they're not exactly best sellers, not only because men resist female influence, but they also seem to more resistant to influence in general (particularly when it comes to "unimportant subjects", such as what women think). And I think the resistance even my most sympathetic posts have been met with are a prime example. If you have made a study of understanding women, Wombatty, you need to know that you are an exception (not that that gives you instant results or a medal!)

The only way women have ever had influence is when the most influential among them are able to wrangle an ear with the most influential men, who then attempt to influence the masses. And that is why I keep saying that men need to make "the attraction issue" a priority, because we have found by experience that there's far too much resistance when it comes from us directly (and that's why we give up). And it does need to be a priority, not only for women, but for the men who are struggling in isolation and too often end up discouraged and then angry.

On that last point, if you are sincerely wanting to understand women, I'd really suggest that you stay away from those sites for bitter divorced guys that have a distinctly misogynistic tone and check out John Gottman's stuff at gottman.com. Feldhan's stuff sounds good...I'll have to take more of a look at it. Good luck, Wombatty and DON'T GIVE UP!!

1/9/07, 5:58 PM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...

Puritan Calvinist,

Debbie Maken's last response to you on her blog really is a piece of work. She says you are neither "Puritan" nor "Calvinist." So there you have it, PC. In response to your incisive textual criticism, she responds with Ad Hominem and the No True Scotsman Fallacy. LOL. I am certain that the Boundless crew, Maken, and others would like for you to disappear along with those inconvenient truths that you keep bringing up.

1/9/07, 7:46 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

Anakin,

She must have never posted my last response to her. Anyway, I sorta got myself into a weird situation.

I merely wanted to write to point her to my blog, and show let her know I was responding to her. Anyway, then I get this long thing back in response that never addresses anything I wrote. I responded to it anyway, but she must have never posted my response.

Anyway, in the meantime I something weird happened over at the boundless blog. Candace Watters [who I have responded to before] started a blog article on this very topic. As it turns out, Debbie Maken commented on the boundless blog. For whatever reason, the people who run that blog decided they needed to start a separate blog entry to discuss her comments on the topic. I just figured I would make a few comments correcting her views on the soverignty of God, and pointing out that there is a difference between the reformed view and the fatalistic view she was refuting.

Anyway, to make a long story short, Debbie Maken responded to me. It was very charitable, and so I decided, in light of the fact that I didn't like how nasty the other discussion was getting, that I would pursue this conversation instead. It was more philosophical than exegetical in character as well, and would give people a variety of ways of looking at the topic.

Anyway, the niceness ended after a few posts. Her last post to me was so filled with ad hominem and misrepresentations that one of her supporters wrote and told her she was being unfair.

To make matters worse, she attacked Dr. Greg Bahnsen. I did not even quote him on the specific topic under discussion. I merely pointed out that I consider him to be my intellectual mentor, and that he always says in his lectures that the facts don't speak for themselves. That a person can give facts, but then they must be interpreted. That happened throughout the discussion, as she would present facts, and then I would interpret them through my presuppositions, and make them consistent with my position.

She apparently didn't like that I kept on doing this, and therefore went on, not only to attack me, but to attack Greg Bahnsen calling me a "Bahnsenite," and then attacking "Bahnsenites" for not agreeing with her.

Anyway, it was an experience. You can read the full dialogue here:

http://www.boundlessline.org/2007/01/debbie_maken_on.html#comments

1/10/07, 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

would you like some cheese with your whine?

1/10/07, 4:27 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

anon,

I am not complaining, but giving Anakin some background information. Debbie Maken and her supporters behaved very poorly in this discussion as any sane person can see.

Anyway, I am happy about the way it turned out, because that just shows you that Debbie Maken has no argument against those who criticize her. She can only engage in ad hominem and misrepresentation. I now have something to which I can point people when I am asked about how to deal with these people in dialogue.

1/10/07, 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"ad hominem"

Now is that a word you read somewhere or did you get from those little white Bahnsen tapes?

1/10/07, 7:37 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

Actually, I learned that as a sophomore in logic class. Here it is from my logic textbook:

The phrase Ad Hominem translates into "against the person." It names a fallacious attack in which the thrust is directed, not at a conclusion, but at the person who asserts or defends it [Copi and Cohen Introduction to Logic p.143]

Which is exactly what Debbie Maken did in the entire last half of the discussion. It was all about me and my modivations rather than addressing the arguments I brought up.

Greg's tapes are incredible, though. I have learned so much from him, and continue to learn more and more. Everyone would do well to at least listen to his philosophy of religion tapes once in their life!

1/10/07, 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd really suggest that you stay away from those sites for bitter divorced guys that have a distinctly misogynistic tone and ...

and the bitter female sites that have a distinctly misandristic tone

Thankfully, there's women like Teri Stoddard.

1/11/07, 7:25 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/12/07, 6:31 PM  
Blogger wombatty said...

I do not believe that the problems women have with men are solely due to their misunderstanding them, though I think it would be foolish to deny that it is part of the equation. While women certainly have more experience finding ways around and means to compromise with the seemingly intractable difficulties of the male persona (out of necessity), that does not mean that they understand those issues or what lies beneath them. You continue to over-estimate women's understanding of men.

For the record, I was not seeking any praise for my efforts to understand women. Since I am in the process of re-evaluating my decision to remain single, it seems a good idea to inform myself so as to make an intelligent decision. Further, if I should decide to change course, I will be better prepared for what lies ahead. Ironically, I think Maken's book may even help here. Should I start dating again, I will have my atennae up for, among other things, 'Maken-esque' attitudes and opinions. If I see them, I will quickly move on to more promising prospects. And this has nothing to do with resistance to a woman's influence or discomfort with confident, self-possessed women. It has everything to do with avoiding bitter, entitlement-minded women who will likely display just as much contempt and condescension in marriage as before.

As for the divorce sites for bitter men, I know of none nor would they interest me. However, I will not dismiss the unreasonable difficulties the divorce industry (of which feminism and our government are key players) have imposed on men. I have seen enough of it first hand, and learned of credible accounts of the same, to chalk it up to bitter story-telling. Women have historically been on the short end of this stick, but that does not justify much of what goes on with divorce today. Two wrongs do not make a right. To pretend that this is just alot of whining, bitter men is, to use your word, lame.

On this same point, I doubt Maken's book (or site) will do any women seeking help much good. While she makes many good points regarding the GoS issue, her prescriptions are either unrealistic and irresponsible pipe-dreams (e.g. suggesting that a grown woman move back home and saddle her parents with the task of managing her personal life) or conclusions that depend far more on her own thesis than on any texts that she appeals to for support. Also, Maken's book displays a dismal understanding of men (while giving a scriptural gloss to that misunderstanding) and I seriously doubt that a woman following Maken's lead on this issue is going to have much success attracting a man - which will lead to more bitterness and blame.

Thanks for the encouragment, I have no plans to give up.

1/13/07, 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

spoken like a true idiot. Keep up the good work.

1/13/07, 2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:
Spoken like a true idiot. Keep up the good work.


Spoken in true Christian love. Keep up the good work.

Listen, Anon, Deanna, or whatever you call yourself,
Cut out the cheap shots and personal attacks and make a coherent argument, or go away.

C.S.

1/15/07, 7:37 AM  
Anonymous otter said...

Anonymous 2:27 PM said...
"spoken like a true idiot. Keep up the good work."

Translation: "I can't argue with your facts so I'll attack you personally".

1/20/07, 3:45 AM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

anon,

You said:
spoken like a true idiot. Keep up the good work.

With all do respect, that isn't an argument. Can't you deal with what Wombatty is saying without this kind of rhetoric?

1/20/07, 11:17 AM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

Hey Everyone!

It is amazing the nastiness that goes on in these discussions. People are always blaming one another left and right.

What I don't get is why people cannot just dialogue about the facts. Why must we throw all of this dust in the air, and keep blaming each other for things when, in most cases, no one has proven that there is anything to put blame on anyone. Remember, if you resort to personal attacks, it shows you are unwilling and probably unable to deal with what the other side is saying.

1/22/07, 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shall we debate about how being barren and childless is the same as being a nerd in school?

1/23/07, 7:10 AM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

anon,

You said:
shall we debate about how being barren and childless is the same as being a nerd in school?

Lol, again, another example of how people cannot argue against people fairly. That misrepresentation of me is proof that people who hold Debbie Maken's position cannot engage in scholarly dialogue. Apparently, neither can you.

One side wants a dialogue here. The other side does not. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror in the morning if I knew I couldn't deal with what someone else said, and had to resort to a childish misrepresentation.

As long as these people continue to do this, they are only proving our point.

1/23/07, 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"misrepresentation"

Perhaps you ought to reread what YOU wrote on boundless.

It doesn't help your "side" when you call truth misrepresentation.

1/24/07, 11:29 AM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/24/07, 3:12 PM  
Blogger PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon, here is what I wrote:

-----------------------------------

With regards to Hanna, it is more than likely that Hanna was weeping over not having a child mostly because, at that time, being barren was as bad as being a nerd in school. You were often the subject of immense ridicule and that may be what Hanna is upset about.

-----------------------------------

I was talking about why Hanna was weeping before God in the temple. I was referring to the reality that, AT THE TIME 1 SAMUEL WAS WRITTEN people were often ridiculed if they were barren. That is a historical fact. I was not, nor have I ever said that this should happen today. So, let me ask you to substantiate your claim. Quote from my post where I say that we should ridicule people who are barren. It simply isn't there.

As I said, keep up your misrepresentation. You are only proving my point. This kind of redicious, inane, and desperate misrepresentation shows that you can't defend your position. Now it is posted for everyone on here to see.

1/24/07, 3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pain of being childless CANNOT COMPARE to the pain of being ridiculed. You are clearly very prideful, but it seems to me you have NO understanding of human nature or for that matter, pain.

1/24/07, 4:48 PM  
Blogger Philippa said...

Puritan Calvinist,

You and the Anonymous are talking past each other. Being bullied at school can certainly be an extremely traumatic experience. However, when you said:

With regards to Hanna, it is more than likely that Hanna was weeping over not having a child mostly because, at that time, being barren was as bad as being a nerd in school

it sounds as if you are trivialising Hannah's suffering, and that's the point Anon is making. Being a barren woman in Hannah's day was considerably more serious than 'being a nerd in school'.

I was referring to the reality that, AT THE TIME 1 SAMUEL WAS WRITTEN people were often ridiculed if they were barren.

No, not people, PC. Women. The husband was NEVER blamed for the barren-ness, even if he might have been the one who was infertile! (Remember that those ancient peoples didn't have the scientific means to show which party was the infertile one). Although the husband shared in the pain and disgrace (particularly if he was a loving and sympathetic man, as Elkanah was, and not a callous man who would divorce his wife or treat her cruelly because she hadn't given him children) it was the wife who bore the brunt of it.

You were often the subject of immense ridicule and that may be what Hanna is upset about.

'May be'? The Scriptures make her agony pretty plain. And although Elkanah was a loving husband, even he didn't really understand the depths of Hannah's anguish.

1/26/07, 2:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, philippa, I can't believe that you shut down puritan cal.

I am surprised he did not respond to your comment citing his clearly superior education, knowledge, sense of history, sense of context and grasp of all cultural nuances and a complete understanding of ancient greek, hebrew and aramaic.

1/30/07, 8:45 AM  
Blogger Steve C. said...

Debbie Maken is unbiblical because "Getting Serious About Getting Married" was written in clear violation of 1 Timothy 2:11-12. No further Biblical critique is needed in this case.

8/24/11, 10:03 PM  

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