September 1, 2007

A Response to Thabiti Anyabwile

I wanted to take an opportunity to address Thabiti Anyabwile, who wrote the following in a comment for a previous post of mine:
Pretty spiritual girl, marriage is not merely a "civil institution." It's a creation ordinance. It preceeds every civil organization/government in human history. It's established by God's governance at the beginning of creation. This is why marriage in some form is universal. Which is also why marriage and childrearing are normally associated with adulthood. Gen. 2:24 doesn't explicity state marriage is a marker of adulthood, true. However, the entire creation account establishes marriage and childrearing as typically central to adulthood.
Thabiti goes on to state:
The misleading thing about this conversation is that it focuses squarely on two sentences in an article which majors on most everything except singleness and marriage.
Have I taken something Thabiti said out of context? Let's see what he says ...

One way of honoring our parents as adults is to jettison unbiblical notions of "adulthood" itself. This conversation thread is a helpful discussion about that very process--tossing things that may not be biblical but worldly. One worldly view of adulthood is perpetual adolesence--to be differentiated from long-time or lifelong singleness. One is immaturity, the other arises for a range of reasons. What the sentences in question reject is the former (perpetual or extended adolesence) which generally (though not always) makes claims to adulthood based upon age, living arrangement, salaried independence, etc but leaves off other markers of adult maturity.

One indication that marriage is a marker of "mature adulthood" (by which I don't mean single adults are immature or not adult, but that a person is taken on the fuller responsibilities typically assigned to adulthood) is the pressure to marry that almost all singles face from family and friends. Surely that's a wearisome experience, and many folks who intend to help and encourage end up doing precisely the opposite.

But what is being expressed by this pressure to marry? It's an expression of the normative expectation of marriage in adulthood. It's an expression of the creation ordinance still resounding in the ears of fallen men. Single adulthood is the exception, not the rule, and for a significant number of single folks it's an unwanted, sometimes painful exception.

Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Let's not forget that marriage, by God's design, is a mystery that glorifies Him by picturing Christ's love for the church (Eph. 5). Could it be that the near universal practice of marriage and the near-universal desire for marriage is nothing but the yearning of man to glorify God by picturing Christ's love for the church in this creation ordinance?

I think so. And I think that's partly why marriage and adulthood belong together as a general rule.
I am going to have to disagree with Thabiti. There is no necessary connection between marriage and adulthood. There are plenty of people who are married and yet are caught up in perpetual adolescence. The high rates of divorces, spousal abuse (by both women and men), adultery, lousy parenting, families in debt, and similar maladies that exist among married people are a testimony to this fact. Actually, I'd say that we need to get rid of this idea that marriage makes one an adult--it is a pernicious and destructive myth that creates a false sense of security for some very immature--but married--people. A successful marriage is an indication of maturity, but people have to be mature first if they are going to have a successful marriage, don't they?

What is an indication of adulthood? Simple. Apart from biological maturity, it is simply one's character. Nothing more. It's basically how you handle life's situations when they are thrown at you (whether it be living on your own, living with your parents, having a job, being unemployed, being married, being single, being parents, or being child free).

I fail to see how Thabiti's concept of the "normative expectation" of marriage substantively differs from that of the Marriage Mandate movement. The idea that "God expects most people to marry" is a central tenant of the marriage mandate philosophy. No, most people do not have to marry. I deny any necessity placed on the act of marriage for most people. The statement that "God expects most people to marry" is a statement of presumption and conjecture. There is nothing in the Scripture to indicate that God has marriage in mind for most people today. The matter falls under God's permissive will--what he allows people to do. Since marriage and singleness, per se, are equally valid choices as far the Scriptures are concerned, God can work to his glory through man's exercise of free will in this matter. Maybe most people will choose to marry, but an increasing number of people are not doing so. Specifically, in a crass, anti-male, anti-family, dehumanizing, materialistic society, we should not be surprised when a large number of men decide that marriage offers them little if anything positive. I believe only the future will reveal what will come to pass.

20 Comments:

Blogger chizadek said...

You speak of marriage and singleness both being permitted. I agree. It reminds me somewhat of 1 Cor 10:23,24. Both are permitted, but that does not mean the decision is unimportant. Since there is no biblical mandate, how do you think single Christian men should go about considering marriage? Which issues might they take into account?

9/1/07, 4:37 PM  
Blogger Anakin Niceguy said...

Hi Chizadek,

I do not claim to be an authority or expert on this matter but will give my "IMHO" ...

There are probably many ways to go about addressing the questions you raise. Perhaps one good way is for a man to answer the following questions in their respective order:

1. Do I want to get married?
2. Am I authorized by God to get married? (scripturally divorced, single, or widowed)
3. Is it personally worth it for me to get married?
4. Do I still want to get married?
5. If I answered yes to all four questions above, then what steps do I need to take to get married?

Here is something to consider ...

One may come to the conclusion that marriage is worthwhile matter, but if one is not able to meet a compatible person, then that puts a damper on things. I suspect that even if God has no objection to a man getting married, God will not override the free will of the women around him and force them to love him (or vice versa). One could make a "good husband" and still end up being single for the rest of his life.

Therefore a man needs to realize that he should not pin his happiness and self-worth on his marital status. Don't wait until marriage to begin "living life." Every current second that passes by is all you are guaranteed.

Another way to put it is like this: We tell people who aspire to be actors or musicians to not "quit their day job." Why? Because they don't know if they will make it or not. They need a back-up plan. The same goes for single men. Sure, if they want to pursue marriage, more power to them. But a pursuit of marriage shouldn't overshadow a single man's life in terms of time, money, emotional investment, attention, etc. His primary focus should be serving God, self-improvement, and living an abundant life in the here and now. He needs to be prepared for the possibility that he might be single for the rest of his life--because he does not know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:13-16).

I could say much more, I guess but I'll leave it at that for now.

9/1/07, 6:49 PM  
Anonymous singlechristianman said...

Chizadek: Do you mean to say, as you have said, that there is no biblical mandate; or is this something put forward as an arguendo point, that is, something put forward as a point for discussion, for the sake of discussion?

Thank you for your consideration in coming to speak here.

9/1/07, 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...in a crass, anti-male, anti-family, dehumanizing, materialistic society, we should not be surprised when a large number of men decide that marriage offers them little if anything positive."

Indeed.

9/4/07, 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...anti-male, dehumanizing, materialistic...describes the Maken view well.

9/4/07, 8:44 AM  
Anonymous pretty spiritual girl said...

The absurdity of linking adulthood with marriage:
are child brides of 8, 9, 10 or 12 years old then "adults?"
This gentleman's logic is faulty. And as has already been pointed out, there is no Biblical support for tying the term "adult" to the estate of marriage.

I have known many "adult" never-married folks. I have known many adolescent married folks. If you want people to marry because you think it is good for them, good for society, good for the church (more Christian babies), then let that be your argument. Do not try to redefine adulthood by exegetical contortions, as it only weakens the case for marriage. Let us not add to the marriage crisis by foolish reasoning. Marriage needs no extra apology beyond that it is a good and holy estate instituted by God (but administered by man). It is man's administration (both governmental and by less "official" channels such as societal pressure) that has led to the problems we see today: the single parent family, rampant illegitimacy, divorce, spinsterhood, etc.

9/4/07, 10:31 AM  
Blogger Hermes said...

I have a friend who works for a small, family-owned company. He has been friends with the owner's son since grade school. The father has given his son a sinecure at the company, where, my friend tells me, the son gets paid for sitting at a desk all day browsing websites about motorcycles, car modifications, gaming, etc. This guy is married, his wife also works at the company as a secretary, and is also into such things. I have met this couple and heard them joke about how they're nowhere near mature enough to have kids, despite now being 30. Last I heard, they had gotten into World of Warcraft; apparently "quests" in that game take a long time to complete, so they have recently taken to leaving work early so they can meet their "guild" online promptly at 5 and spend the entire evening playing the game. By the way, this husband and wife are both professing Christians.

Those are the people I think of every time I hear the assertion that marriage is necessary for adulthood or promotes "Biblical maturity." Or, for that matter, that women don't want their men to play video games.

9/4/07, 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women wanted education and careers. They put off marriage during the years when men have the highest sex drive and strongest willingness to commit. Then they reach age 40 completely self-sufficient and wonder where the men are?

Now we have Debbie Maken saying only rich, attractive metrosexuals are acceptable men.

Christianity doesn't matter to these women. Only the ability to provide "many luxury vacations" proves your worth as a human being.

For more madness, see the latest installment of male-bashing on the Captain Sensible blog. Isn't it sad how stupid and lonely men are? They get sick and die early, with no partner or helper...

If only these stupid fools were wealthy and attractive. They they could win a 40+ spinster with an entitlement complex and sky-high expectations.

And women wonder why they are being ignored and avoided?

I think the whole Marriage Mandate discussion will simply die on the vine. Nobody cares about the Makenites. Let Prophet Debbie soothe their pain; the rest of us should ignore these women.

9/4/07, 11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sadly, churchgoing has become a pink armband for many men. It’s a sign of weakness, childishness and femininity."

- latest article on churchformen.com

Even more tragic is the fact that most Christian women want their churches to be MORE feminine and more women-centered. In the UK, the men are virtually being pushed out. According to most UK Christian single women, this is a very good thing, but they still miss true masculinity. Sadly, they no longer know what masculinity is; and when they do experience it, they find they don't like it one bit.

9/4/07, 11:51 AM  
Blogger Captain Singleness said...

God doesn't demand anyone marry. It's quite amazing that this meaning can be teased from scriptures; and the person doing this could be taken seriously.

9/5/07, 11:39 AM  
Blogger Ted Slater said...

"Captain Singleness" (who apparently is afraid of revealing his/her real name) wrote:

"God doesn't demand anyone marry."

Let me ask you a question, CS: Does God command anyone do anything anymore? Does He demand anything? Or has He backed down from His old ways, now simply offering suggestions or making gentle requests?

I'm not saying that God "demands" *you* to marry. I am saying, though, that He does "demand" that certain people get married. He "demanded" (in His naturally loving way) that I get married nearly five years ago. And I'm glad that I submitted to His command.

What are your concerns about God "demanding" anything? His burden is light....

9/6/07, 8:11 AM  
Blogger wombatty said...

Ted:

Captain Singleness can speak for himself, but I have a question: Your challenge to Captain Singleness seems to imply that a belief that God doesn't demand marriage carries with it a belief that God doesn't demand anything. Is this what you are implying?

Second, I'm curious as to your continually making an issue out of the use of pseudonyms. A good argument is good no matter who offers it; whether it is put forward under a real or assumed name. What it would it add to this debate if you knew his, my or Anakin's real name? Would our points suddenly become more worthy of considerations? What would you do with such info? Look us up? And what would that add to the discussion?

IMHO, making this an issue is simply a distraction from the substance of the discussion. Besides, the use pseudonyms has an honorable tradtion, at least in part. Consider, for instance, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay who published the venerable Federalist Papers under the pseudonym Publius. (I'm not comparing anyone here to the Founding Fathers, just making the point about pseudonyms.

9/6/07, 8:53 AM  
Blogger Captain Singleness said...

"Let me ask you a question, CS: Does God command anyone do anything anymore? Does He demand anything? Or has He backed down from His old ways, now simply offering suggestions or making gentle requests?"

Ted,

Give me a break? You have to be kidding. Of course God commands us to follow His law and directives. All of us who consider ourselves dedicated Christians know how God has moved us in certain directions in our lives.

Marriage and community can be profoundly impacted by political and social trends. I'm astounded that many Christian women vote for leftist candidates that consistently support social legislation that undermines the family. On the other end of the spectrum, we have right-wing prosperity theology repackagers like Debbie Maken insisting that women only marry perfect men.

There is way too much inference and addition to the basic messages of Christianity. Simply because society and the Church have gone stupid in their approaches to marriage and family doesn't mean we can create new doctrines to "right" the problem.

I also have a special contempt for those who feel God commands men to over-achieve, marry early, serve a wife as a subordinate, and provide her with "many luxury vacations" at the local Ritz-Carlton.

God does demand many things of us, but also rewards us in many ways. However, if one does not feel moved to marry or enter into courtship, I hardly think God is gritting His teeth in anger.

My issue is with Debbie Maken. There is no biblical mandate to marry, though it is the norm for most people. Maken feels it is the norm for men to be high earners, marry young, get facials, support a family on one income, provide many luxuries, and be submitted to a wife.

I disagree. Nowhere in scripture does God reveal that his will is for older, bitter singles to be awarded rich, handsome, devout men who are ready to spend big bucks on regular luxury vacations.

Maken is selling some very unrealistic and very un-Biblical poison to lots of women past their prime and with no chance of finding a husband. That's the painful truth.

I'm not claiming anyone should stay single regardless of how moved they are to marry; only that there is no marriage mandate and Maken's message is doing more harm than good.

9/6/07, 10:13 AM  
Anonymous KNIGHTWATCH said...

Marriage and community can be profoundly impacted by political and social trends. I'm astounded that many Christian women vote for leftist candidates that consistently support social legislation that undermines the family. On the other end of the spectrum, we have right-wing prosperity theology repackagers like Debbie Maken insisting that women only marry perfect men.

I believe the legitimate word is ... ALPHA ... MALE.

I do find it interesting that the further this country creeps toward socialism, the less optimistic people are of marriage. (I wonder ... does God demand we marry EVEN unto socialistic laws/ tyranny?)

Alas, I fear this culture will continue its totalitarian flavor until folks remove their blinders and decide to free our institutions from the chains that bind them.

9/6/07, 11:27 AM  
Blogger Captain Singleness said...

KNIGHTWATCH,

I've heard the argument before that when both men and women are equalized (both are simply workers in a workers state), men lose hope and motivation - and women fall into bitterness and promiscuity because there is no individual man for her.

According to Maken, "a little competition never hurt anyone". Sure, okay. But now you have lots of Alpha Males and Alpha Females marrying - and thus lots and lots of Alpha and Beta females being left behind.

Beta males are invisible to women and have nothing to offer Beta (or lesser) women, so these men marry less often.

An Alpha "class" is created which looks down it's snobby nose at ordinary folks.

The message seems to be: if you are a single guy, you had better be a very devout Christian, very successful and very marriage minded - and willing to marry on a woman's timetable. If not, you are a buffoon, a fool, a child - and not worthy of respect as a human being.

That's the opinion of many women in this discussion and it is very revealing. It is also why I no longer date Christian women who follow this load of horsefeathers.

Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, but believing a very confused and anti-marriage culture and legal system can be overcome by shaming men into marriage?

I have this image in my mind of 90+ year old English ladies sitting around complaining about how they never got to marry because men wouldn't grow up. Yet, these same women were able to hold great jobs, get fantastic educations and avoid all that messy stuff like sex and children.

Maken and her harpies seem to be creating an US against THEM scenario between Christian singles. The women are all perfected creatures and the men are video game playing children.

Maken could settle this discussion for everyone right now. Just tell your many loyal supporters where all the single millionaires are. If most single Christian guys are such losers (pizza delivery guys, blue collar workers, company owners), then please tell all these single gals where the rich boys are.

9/6/07, 11:58 AM  
Anonymous youngbeliever said...

Anonymous posting on internet forums is widely practiced and accepted for various reasons. AFAIK, no-one posting here has ever met me or knows me, and I am not a celebrity or famous person, so how would posting my "real" name help the discussion?

Ted seems to be very open with his name and picture, but other than the context of this forum, I don't know him, so it really doesn't matter to me.

Peace,
yp

9/6/07, 1:22 PM  
Blogger Triton said...

I would just like to add my opinion to the others' regarding pseudonyms. Your hostility to them, Ted, is a bit bewildering. I've seen folks on the internet get upbraided for posting anonymously, but never for using a pseudonym.

And the logic behind it should be obvious: I don't want some psychotic Makenite showing up on my doorstep with a shotgun and a "marry me or else" ultimatum. This goes for other kinds of psychotics, too, who may or may not have their own ultimatums. This is the internet, you know, and a little prudence goes a long way.

9/6/07, 8:31 PM  
Anonymous knightwatch said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/7/07, 8:24 AM  
Anonymous KNIGHTWATCH said...

(Anakin, please delete the previous post above.)

A few things to share:

The blog Waging War ... Against Tyranny has his take on Debbie Maken.

And for those of you who have never heard Debbie speak, go to the GodTube. I suppose anything's possible, yet after watching her on video ... well, um ... you decide for yourself. I kept thinking:

She's an attorney? She's been to the Carlton Ritz? She wrote a book? She insulted redneck wannabes and men in overalls?

No wonder she believes if she can do it ... a man ought to be able to quit his pizza delivery job and do it, too.**

** Sponsored by Nike ... Just do it!

Lastly, SpiralUniverse, not too long back had an interview with Mrs. Maken. Needless to say ...

I laughed, I cried, I yawned.

9/7/07, 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Knightwatch said...

It appears that the link I provided to the GodTube video doesn't work now. Imagine that. Here's another link. There are two vids with Maken. Carefully scroll down to about the middle of the page, and everyone should see it.

9/7/07, 8:43 AM  

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