Archive Page 2

05
May
06

Why Should Christian Men Marry? (Confronting Anti-Male Bigotry in Churches)

Have you ever heard of Carolyn McCulley? Carolyn is an Evangelical commentator who recently wrote a book entitled Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? She also attends the same church where the reputable Evangelical author Joshua Harris preaches. At Carolyn’s website there is a quote from another woman writer, Elisabeth Elliot, that is noteworthy:

“Everywhere my husband and I go we meet lovely Christian women, beautifully dressed, deeply spiritual, thoroughly feminine–and single. They long for marriage and children. But what is it with the men? Are they blind to feminine pulchritude, deaf to God’s call, numb to natural desire? . . . Where are the holy men of God willing to shoulder the full responsibility of manhood, to take the risks and make the sacrifices of courting and winning a wife, marrying her and fathering children in obedience to the command to be fruitful? While the Church has been blessed by men willing to remain single for the sake of the Kingdom (and I do not regard lightly such men who are seriously called), isn’t it obvious that God calls most men to marriage? By not marrying, those whom He calls are disobeying Him, and thus are denying the women He meant for them to marry the privileges of being wife and mother.”

Well, this is a serious charge for someone to be making against religious men. It’s not the first time the charge has been made and it will probably not be the last. Because of its serious nature (accusing men of being disobedient to God), it merits an answer. Here’s the short answer: You are way off base, Mrs. Elliot (as is Ms. McCulley and many others). Why do you and so many other religious pundits wonder aloud about the spirituality of single Christian men? I expect anti-male sexism from feminists, but that it also comes from many so-called “Bible-Believing” religious leaders is mind-blowing. It’s utterly scandalous and a reproach to the name of Jesus. Let’s get a few things straight about the Anti-Bachelor Marriage Craze currently infecting some pundits, shall we?

It’s Not in the Bible

First of all, and most importantly, the idea that God mandates most people to marry (pronuptialism) is a blatantly unscriptural idea. I have already dealt with the exegetical weaknesses behind this doctrine (see the essays “Does God Expect Most Men to Get Married?” and “How the Marriage Movement Misuses 1 Corinthians, Chapter Seven“). Ladies and gentlemen, you can drop James Dobson, Joshua Harris, Albert Mohler, Debbie Maken, every single one of your favorite Evangelical authors, and even John Calvin himself on one end of the scales and the Bible on the other. The Bible wins hands down, every single time. I don’t care how popular someone is. If their exegesis is off, then they aren’t speaking as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11).

It’s Not a Harmless Doctrine

Secondly, I do not believe the doctrine of pronuptialism is a harmless doctrine. I think it has the potential for making a shipwreck of people’s faith. For one thing, imagine a young soul being told he has no control over his sexual desires and therefore he has to marry (a notion based on a popular misreading of 1 Corinthians 7:2, 7:8-9). The problem is that he hasn’t won the obligatory popularity contest with the opposite sex. He remains single and frustrated. He gets angry at God because he assumes his Creator has given him an appetite that he can neither check nor lawfully sate. Robbed of any confidence he might have in controlling himself, he reasons, “I can’t help my feelings therefore I am going to do something illicit.”

Then there is another young man who looks at the onerous burden of marriage, all of the obligatory social expectations, the fallout from failed unions, etc. and shies away from matrimony. But here come the religious leaders to point their fingers at this young man and shame him for his choices. So, he gets bitter and drops out of church, or he ill-advisedly enters into marriage out of obligation to a social custom (not because he has any substantive feelings for his wife). The seeds of an unhappy marriage are thus sown. In short, the idea that most people have no choice but to marry needs to have a spear driven through it Phineas-style.

God created marriage as a gift, not as a requirement. It’s true that human beings were made with reproductive organs, but God gave us mastery over our desires. Thus, it can be said that marriage was made for man but not man for marriage. Evangelicals, like the Pharisees who became legalistic about the Sabbath, have gone overboard with their pro-marriage agenda, falling into a pit of absurdity. The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, not a physical one. We are not under the Old Covenant of Israel anymore, therefore God’s kingdom is not preserved by family lineage (Matthew 3:9; Luke 8:20-21; Luke 12:51-53). That is, the kingdom increases by sharing the Gospel (Matthew 27:19; Romans 1:16-17; James 1:18), not by making babies and filling padded pews with third-generation parishioners. And what if no one gets married and has children? Gasp! Well, do you think the “game of love” is going to go on forever (Psalm 102:25-26; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Mark 12:25)?

Why Men Aren’t Stepping Up (Like Sheep to the Slaughter)

Why do people keeping ignoring the 300-pound gorillas in the room? Are the pundits clued in to the real reasons why religious men are refusing to marry? For any Christian ladies reading this, let me offer some possible reasons …

Money

It takes money to raise a family, Sherlock. We are not in Kansas anymore, and we don’t grow our own food. Many Christian women expect to stay home, have a brood of children, and yet live quite comfortably. Where do they get the idea that God will necessarily bless us with creature comforts? Don’t parrot the line, “God will provide.” I don’t need the sham promise of a materialistic, prosperity theology. Shall we suppose that godliness is an automatic “means of gain” (1 Timothy 6:3-11)? What on earth are some Christian women thinking? That every Christian man has a shot at a cushy, middle management job in some Silicon Valley outfit?

Let me direct your gaze to the social pyramid that stands before you, ladies. Where is the middle class? Yeah, it’s shrinking isn’t it? Carolyn McCulley points to some guy as the model of what male “servant-leadership looks like in a godly home.” No he isn’t a model. The guy in question has a comfortable position in the upper echelons of our corrupt, bloated government. Forgive me for being blunt, but Carolyn and all her middle-class, yuppie cohorts on the Evangelical writer circuit need to come down to earth where many of us live with low-paying jobs, increased costs of living, and other stressors in our daily lives.

What do the religious pundits expect rank and file men to do? Barely live from paycheck to paycheck just so we have the luxury–yes I said luxury (Luke 12:15; Luke 14:26; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31)–of having a housewife and three kids? Is that the message they preach from the lecterns of their comfortable, posh megachurches? Yep, go ahead and bind heavy burdens on religious men, but refuse to lift a finger to help them. Where have we seen this before (Matthew 23:4)?

Arrogance about Sex Roles

We hear about how men need to take the lead in relationships, need to fill the roll of “the provider,” etc. We read that women should pick men who are “physically, mentally, and spiritually” stronger than they are (Jaye Martin, “The Marks of a Godly Husband,” The Tie, Winter 2005, pg. 17). Hmm. Let’s consider those attributes, shall we? I wonder what happens when a man gets a disability and his wife has to care for him. Does he cease being a man since he is no longer physically strong? What about mental strength? I guess a college-educated woman has to pass up a man with a high school education, even though he’s wonderful in every other way. And spiritual strength? We are all called to be mature in Christ, but don’t tell Jaye Martin that.

Seriously, are we using the same Bible? Where is all of this stuff about “Biblical Manhood” spelled out in the New Testament, the spiritual law under which Christians live (Hebrews 8:1-13)? Let’s see … do you want to sling 1 Timothy 5:8 at me, for instance? That passage is not talking about male breadwinners. The original language, grammar, and context point to those of either sex needing to take care of family members in need. That so many self-appointed experts on “Biblical manhood” rip this and other passages out of context is utterly astounding.

Anyway, if Christian women are so adamant about following traditional roles, why don’t they stay at home with their parents, learn how to cook, clean, etc., instead of going to work and competing with men for scare jobs in a tight job market? I think I know the answer. So many “conservative” women have jumped aboard the neo-traditionalist bandwagon. Do you think I exaggerate? Willard Harley, a popular author among many Evangelicals describes the type of man that women supposedly find “irresistible”:

“He assumes the responsibility to house, feed, and clothe the family. If his income is insufficient to provide essential support, he resolves the problem by upgrading his skills to increase his salary. He does not work long hours, keeping himself from his wife and family, but is able to provide necessary support by working a forty to forty-five-hour week. While he encourages his wife to pursue a career, he does not depend on her salary for family living expenses.”

Ah yes. What’s yours is yours. What’s mine is yours. Here’s the kicker: I know that many of you ladies don’t want to really go back to the time of your grandmothers and have your opportunities limited. You don’t want to make the kind of sacrifices in your personal lives that many women in the past had to make. Yet you want us men to live by the old codes of chivalry. You want to make us lie down in the mire, while you step on our backs to get inside the carriage that summarily rides away from us. You want to have your cake and eat it, too. Bottom line: Your neo-traditionalism is a sick joke, a pathetic double-standard.

Moreover, your views on “Biblical manhood” and romantic relationships are just as unrealistic and demeaning as all the airbrushed, photoshopped images put out by Playboy. In your marriages, you expect some sort of Superman who will make all of the hard decisions for you, read your mind, and somehow arrive at the choices you would pick. He will be emotionally strong, never have any fears, doubts, uncertainties, vulnerabilities, weakness, or (gasp) needs. The husband you want is not human. Indeed, I wonder why so many marriages in the Evangelical community end in divorce. You ladies need to get your head out of your Christian romance novels and deal with life.

Who is the Real Shallow One?

Speaking of romance novels–ladies, do you believe us men are the shallower sex? Yes, we are the ones that supposedly don’t accept you because you are morbidly obese. Cry me a river. You want to excoriate us for our physical preferences in women, even thought it’s pretty much proven that men are visually attracted to the opposite sex. Well God made us this way. A lot of young women used to die in childbirth before modern medicine. Did you think God thought it expedient for us to seek out women who don’t physically take care of themselves? Well, at least the answer to this question never got in the way of you seeking out someone taller or “physically stronger” (How many times have I read that your dream man “must be athletic”?). These attributes, while acceptable, have nothing to do with the character of a man. So, why aren’t you accused of being shallow and “hung up on looks”?

And what about judging us by the amount of money we make? I haven’t heard a sermon on how women need to stop objectifying men in this way, lately. Have you? Again, you compete with us for our jobs, but you refuse to marry us when we make less money than you (because your concept of “Biblical manhood” rests on the size of our paycheck, of all things). Then you wonder where all the men are at the end of day. Surprise, surprise. You priced yourselves out of the market, sweeties.

Sex – Yes I Said The Word!

Not too long ago, Stephen Arterburn and two other men wrote a book entitled Every Man’s Battle : Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time. In essence, the book portrays men as wanton beasts and women as passive victims of male lechery (although one Amazon.com review entitled, “A Mixed Bag” has some shocking things to say about the “fairer sex”). This is not the first time men have been harangued for there sexual behavior. Everywhere, Christian men are confronted by the same unflattering stereotypes: Male sexuality is so suspicious. It is so dangerous. People need to rein all our sons and brothers in with stern, Biblical teaching. Really?

Who demeans sex? Is it the male philander? The man who gawks at physically attractive women? What about the wife who uses it for her own ambitions!? Yes, I typed that. It is sad to know that there are religious women who are so conniving in this regard. Ladies, let me inform you of something: Sex isn’t just about having children. Is marriage just the means of getting a trophy husband and trophy children so you could be among the Martha Stewart glitterati at church? Some of you probably want children for the same reason girls go overboard and collect dolls. Human beings in this case just become pawns to boost your ego. Alas, the desire to be a mother isn’t always noble (especially when men get treated as nothing more than glorified sperm donors).

Also, some of you see sex as something to be rationed out for a husband’s good behavior. If he mows the lawn on Thursday, you’ll passively allow yourself to be used on Friday. Utterly sad. Sex is what two married people who love each other do for the sheer intrinsic worth of it (Proverbs 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5). In the Good Book, it says the two shall become one flesh (Matthew 19:4-5). It’s that simple. That means if he wants you to dress up in exotic sleepwear and play Sex Queen from the Planet Venus, then you better drop the hang-ups from your childhood (which are probably the result of listening to too many sermons from old, cornpone preachers). And if you can’t do that, make an appointment with a counselor. It’s your turn to start being “understanding” of “your partner’s needs.”

Oh by way, single men can live without sex. It is ridiculous that so many religious pundits are utterly schizophrenic about male sexuality. Look, either we have the power of self-control or we don’t. Which way is it?? If we don’t have the power of self-control, no one can blame us for being like a bunch of sex-crazed farm animals that seek out porn, prostitution, and whatever else to sate our immediate desires. If, on the other hand, we do have the power of self-control (which I believe we do), then don’t try to frighten us into marriage by saying most people aren’t gifted to handle singleness. And stop your evil surmising about single men.

Even at a young age, some of us are seasoned enough to see through the sham pearls of physical beauty and charm. Ladies, when you smile and fluff your hair, we can just give ourselves peace of mind by looking the other way. We know what physically attracts us, but we are not obligated to pursue it.

If all else were equal, then sexual desire would be a compelling enough motivation to seek out female companionship. But else isn’t equal. There are so many other variables that have bearing upon a man’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being when considering the company of women.

We are Not Your Whipping Boys

Some of you are really like the feminists deep down side. For you, it’s women good, men bad. If something goes wrong in your lives, well, it must be because of something men did or failed to do. Too many churches and ministries have sold out to the spirit of male-bashing. For instance, we have Promise Keepers to keep men on the straight and narrow, but where are the football stadiums full of women promising to be better wives and mothers? Are you women so infallible? Are you so untainted from the ungodliness in this culture?

Men have beaten down too much. We are told that we are insensitive; then we are told we are being too wimpy. We are too told that we need to be industrious and ambitious; then we are old that we work too much and don’t pay enough attention to our families. We were shamed for our desires for women; and now we are shamed for not desiring women. We are getting sick and tired of the blame game.

Why do religious pundits push this nonsense? Is it because of the fact that mostly women fill the pews and someone doesn’t want to offend the core audience? I hazard to guess which sex consults most of the books and media put out by the “relationship experts.” Who wants to bite the hand that feeds them? Really, this all looks like a replay of what the Apostle Paul complained about in 2 Timothy 3:6-7.

Women Behaving Badly

Men are beginning to understand that having relationships with women is a high-risk activity of uncertain benefit. Which sex initiates the most no-fault divorces? Which sex often gets bankrupted by court-ordered alimony and child support settlements of astronomical proportions? Which sex gets custody of the children most of the time? Which sex is often the target of false charges of spousal abuse (even though many studies prove that both sexes initiate spousal abuse at comparable rates)? Who often gets removed from their property and thrown in jail merely because of an unproven allegation by the other spouse? Which sex is often forced to pay child support for offspring who are not even related to the one paying that support? Simply put, the family laws on the books are decidedly stacked against men.

Courting among a religious group is no protection for a man, either. Christian women can break up families just like their secular counterparts. Divorce statistics among Evangelicals are scandalous. Too many churches have a lax attitude towards the practice of divorce and serial monogamy. So, where are the cries of reform from the marriage mafia?

But that’s not all. So many of you ladies used to chase the “bad boys” and the guys who were exciting and attractive by the world’s standards (or even by the church’s standards) but who weren’t really spiritual. In your youth, you snubbed many of us who dreamed of being married to a godly woman. Now the chickens have come home to roost. Your biological clocks are ticking. All of a sudden, Christian men that were formerly invisible to you somehow have the responsibility to line up and submit a job application to you for the position of Hubby. Give. Me. A. Break.

It’s All About You, Snookums

In short, too many conservative women have only cared about restricting sex, shaming bachelors into marriage, shaming men into old restrictive sex roles, and pretty much preserving the sex cartel and system of male wage slavery. Being a responsible husband to one of these women would be nice if they (a) stopped playing the hypocrite with regard to honoring traditional sex roles (e.g., they compete with us for our jobs, but they still expect us to make more than them); (b) realized that Corporate America no longer pays hubby well for the financing of their Cinderella dreams; (c) stopped treating us like walking ATMs; (d) realized that sex isn’t just for having children; (e) realized sex is something to be enjoyed, not something to be rationed out only when men perform certain tasks; (f) repented of putting down men; (g) repented of their crypto-feminism; and (h) appreciated what Men’s Rights Activists fight for. The ugly truth no one wants to face is this: Religious and politically conservative women in English-speaking countries have, in many cases, imbibed the sentiments of female entitlement, professional victimhood, and anti-male sexism found in the larger culture. So, it’s not enough to be just anti-feminist. You must be for men. You are either with us or against us, ladies. If you are not fully with us, stay out of lives, so that we can stay free from the leaven of your self-centeredness and malice.

Conclusion

Now what will be the reaction to what I said just far? Forget about the threats and shaming tactics, ladies. Too many women dismiss men’s problems with the attitude that we should “stop being so bitter,” “stop whining,” “get over it,” “show initiative,” “keep trying,” and “suck it up.” Women who voice these sentiments tell us all we need to know about them. As long as everything is going well in their little world, they don’t care about what’s going on in ours. If these women are not willing to listen to our concerns before we marry them, they are probably not willing to do so afterwards. They have nothing to offer us in the way of emotional support.

Ladies, stop and consider: Wanting you is not the same as needing you. That many of you wrap so much of your expectations into the institution of marriage is pathetic. You treat it as some sort of spiritual nirvana that will provide the answers to just about all of life’s problems. But for many of us men, God has carried us thus far through loneliness, social ostracization, and unrequited desire. He is able of carrying us much further (Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 6:6). He gives us a genuine choice about pursuing marriage (1 Corinthians 7:37-38). We can find our happiness and self-worth without you.

As for the religious pundits that speak soothing things into the ears of women, I call all religious men to stand up and recognize these spin doctors for the spiritual Philistines that they are. I hope that us men will turn against the ungodly ministries of these people and check their influence. Our worth as men is God-given, not derived from fulfilling some religious chick’s dreams.

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22
Apr
06

How the Marriage Movement Misuses 1 Corinthians, Chapter Seven

When a discussion of marriage and celibacy is taken up by Evangelical pundits, some of them would have you believe that God expects most people to marry in order “to avoid fornication.” The Bible proof-text most quoted for this idea is 1 Corinthians 7:1-2:

“Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me. It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” (NKJV)

A lot of people assume that this passage means that most people just don’t have the self-control to stay single. But in actuality, the verse is not talking about single people; it’s talking about married people. Consider what Gordon Fee has to say in his commentary on 1 Corinthians regarding v. 2:

“His [Paul’s] response to their slogan—and remedy for the cause of porneia—is (literally): ‘Let each man be having his own wife, and each woman be having her own husband.’ This sentence in particular presents considerable difficulties for the traditional view. First, it does not say that people should get married, a verb Paul is obviously willing to use in this section when he intends that (v. 9). Second, there is no known evidence that the idiom ‘to have a wife’ means ‘to take a wife.’ In fact this idiom is common in biblical Greek and usually means either to ‘have sexually’ (Exod. 2:1; Deut. 28:30; Isa. 13:16) or simply to be married or to be in continuing sexual relations with a man or woman (see esp. 5:1 and 7:29; cf. Mark 6:18; John 4:18). Third, the terms ‘each man/woman’ and ‘his/her own’ should mean that Paul intends everyone in the community to get married. Since the rest of the chapter contradicts that, this is read in other ways: to ‘imply monogamy’ or to mean ‘as a general rule.’

“When the clauses are taken at face value, however, giving all the words their normal usage, then Paul is saying No to their slogan as far as married partners are concerned. Thus he means: ‘Let each man who is already married continue in relations with his own wife, and each wife likewise.'” (Fee, Epistle to the First Corinthians (NICNT), pp. 278-279)

Some, mistakenly believing v. 2 applies to single people, want to make the instructions in that verse the “concession” that Paul speaks of in v.6 (see John Macarthur, 1 Corinthians), but Fee rightly comments on v. 6:

“As throughout the paragraph, the ordinary sense of words in their immediate context offers the best understanding of the sentence. Their [the Corinthian’s] letter has argued for abstinence from sexual relations within marriage, to which Paul in vv. 2-5a has responded with an empathic No. That leads to incontinence, he says in 5c, and the cases of sexual immorality that already are a plague on your house. So stop defrauding one another in this matter, he commands, unless perhaps there is temporary abstinence by mutual consent at set times for prayer. But this is a concession for you; you are not to take it as a command. Thus even such a good thing as temporary abstinence for prayer will not be raised to the level of command, precisely because of (1) the difficulties that already persist in the church over this matter, and (2) that fact that such matters belong to the category of “gift” not requirement, as he will go on to say in v. 7.” (Ibid, 283-284)

As with a lot of commentators, Fee suggests that celibacy is the gift of God that Paul mentions some have (v. 7). Fee takes celibacy to mean the “singular freedom from the desire or need of sexual fulfillment” (Ibid., 284). However, even if one grants this interpretation, it is a leap of logic to assume that other people who do have normal sexual desire are required to get married. Some would like to suggest that vv. 8-9 teaches this:

“But I say 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)

But, again, let’s consider Fee for some commentary on this passage:

“For many later Christians this has been the troubling verse. Paul is seen to be arguing in v. 8 for all singles to stay that way, then as making allowance for marriage for those who cannot remain continent, for it is better to be married than to be consumed with sexual passion. But it is doubtful whether Paul’s point is quite so stark. In the first place, Paul does not say (as the NIV), ‘if they cannot control themselves.’ Rather he says, ‘if they do not, or are not practicing continence (or exercising self-control).’ The implication is that some of these people are doing the same as some of the married in vv. 1-7, practicing ‘sexual immorality,’ that is, probably also going to prostitutes. The antidote for such sin is to get married instead.

“With an explanatory ‘for’ Paul appends a reason: ‘It is better to marry (or to be married) than to burn.’ This final word is the difficult one. The usage is clearly metaphorical, but it could refer either to burning with desire or burning in judgment (cf. 3:15). Since both of these can be supported from Jewish sources, that evidence is not decisive. The question must finally be decided contextually, and by Paul’s usage in 2 Cor. 11:29, which is almost certainly a metaphor for inner passion. Even though the larger context, including the warning in 6:9-10, could be argued to support the judgment metaphor, such an idea is missing from the immediate context altogether. It seems more likely, therefore, that Paul intended that those who are committing sexual sins should rather marry than be consumed by the passions of their sins.

“In this case, then, Paul is not so much offering marriage as the remedy for the sexual desire of ‘enflamed youth,’ which is the most common way of viewing the text, but as the proper alternative for those who are already consumed by that desire and are sinning.” (Fee, 288-289)

The bottom line is that Paul never commanded single people who have normal sexual desires to get married, per se. His exhortation to marry was for people already committing fornication and were thereby burning in unrestrained passions. Fornication is never acceptable, so somene who refuses to practice self-control is better off getting married than continuing in sin.

On the other hand, to claim that most people must choose between marriage or fornication is to pose a false dilemma. Average single people can choose a third way: practice self-control. They do not have to marry if they really don’t want to. It is true that people who have the rare trait (gift?) of being asexual have an easier time than single people who do have sexual desires but are trying to remain chaste. Yet it is also true that single people who have sexual desires but are trying to remain chaste have an easier time than people in lousy marriages. Sex, then, is not a compelling enough reason to browbeat people (especially men) into walking down the aisle! In conclusion, if single people want to get married, it is permissible but it is not required. That some Evangelical commentators are currently trying force single people into marriage using passages such as 1 Corinthians 7 is sad indeed.

Works mentioned:

Fee, Gordon. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987.

Macarthur, John. 1 Corinthians. Macarthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody, 1984.

24
Feb
06

Follow-Up to “An Open Post to the Harris Brothers”

And now my response to Alex Harris’ answer to my last post:

Impressive. Most impressive. You have learned much … but you are are not a Jedi yet …

You write …

“Our article was targeted at young adults who plan to get married someday, but who are not adequately preparing for it. Furthermore, our use of Genesis 2:24 was only to prelude the disclaimer that, for such young adults, “living with your parents before you get married can be a very good thing.” It was not used to argue that it is God’s plan for everyone to get married.

“We have no problem with young people who feel called to forego marriage in order to better serve God. They are not outcasts or oddballs. Obviously, the Apostle Paul didn’t think so. However, we do have a problem with young people who delay marriage out of self-indulgence and sloth [emphasis mine], or because they think they can get the sexual benefits from a relationship without the responsibilities that accompany the commitment of marriage.

Because we felt your post distracted from the message of the article by addressing what we view as an entirely different issue (a straw man, if you will), it failed to meet the second criterion.”

I respond: I understand that you don’t believe everyone is required to marry, but apparently you and many others in certain Evangelical circles believe some are. I did address this mindset in my original article. To wit, I wrote:

“In particular, I note that several Evangelical commentators believe God ordains a minority of souls to be single. Everyone else, on the other hand, is supposed to get married. In fact, some pundits now talk about the ‘sin of delaying marriage.'”

I am addressing your position, here, not a straw man, as you suggest. After all, if it was just self-indulgence and sloth that was the problem of young people, then why the need to interject a discussion of marriage? As it is, not only do I believe that not everyone is required to marry, I believe no one is required to marry. If a young man’s excuse for foregoing marriage is as trivial as he doesn’t want to mow the lawn, well guess what? That’s his decision. He’s not necessarily sinning. One doesn’t need a “special calling” to refuse marriage. The state of marriage is a gift, not a requirement. One should get married because he wants to, not out of some sense of obligation to a religious tradition. That is what I addressed in my article that I linked to your website. In the New Testament age, there is no requirement to marry under any circumstances. The closest one gets to a requirement is a concession for people who refuse to practice self-control (1 Cor. 7:9). In short, you failed to address a very serious challenge to your theological presuppositions.

Alex continues …

“Many of our readers are on the younger side. They are allowed and encouraged to visit our blog by their parents because the message it promotes is one that is consistent with their family’s values. It is our policy to remove links to sites that are not in line with those values, or which include content (or links to other sites) that we deem to be inappropriate for our younger readers.

“Because we felt that your post and blog is inconsistent with the values of our reader’s families and the purpose of our blog, and because of concerns over the appropriateness of several websites linked to on your sidebar, it failed to meet this third and final criterion.”

Inconsistent with the values of your reader’s families? You certainly didn’t mean to suggest that Faith and Society is incongruent with Biblical Christianity, did you? I hope you are not confusing holiness with sectarian dogma. You know, if a non-religious liberal did what you did, would you call it “political correctness”?

It is true that I cannot control all of the content to which I link and, yes, it is true that some writers say things that I would not. But this blog is not an echo chamber or an electronic hermitage. So, if you expect your teenaged audience to move beyond the “kidult” phase, then perhaps you should be consistent: trust them to think for themselves and to engage opposing viewpoints. What will they do when they get out in the real world, away from their hermetically sealed existence of home-schooling, community churches, accountability groups, and pop evangelicalism?

I tell you truly: (1) It was Christians that led me to my libertarian philosophy. (2) It is my Christianity that leads me to oppose feminism. (3) It was Christians who taught me to reject denominationalism and to make the Bible my only rule of faith. That means I must reject what is being taught by so many Evangelicals. It is unfortunate that I must be direct in my tone, but those of your persuasion have been less than charitable in your characterization of young men who find marriage unpalatable.

Remember, you may delete links to my blog, but many people have access to Google.

20
Feb
06

An Open Post to the Harris Brothers

I recently came across a post on Rebelution, a blog hosted by Alex and Brett Harris (younger brothers of the Evangelical writer Joshua Harris). It adjured young people to grow up and take responsibility for themselves. I have no problem with that message (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). What I do have a problem with is the presumptuous notion that growing up includes the obligatory embrace of matrimony. Single men, except for a few oddballs, must get married, donch’a know? Uh, no. Sorry. I think Alex and Brett are misusing the Scriptures on that point. It’s that simple.

So, in light of this, I posted a TrackBack from a recent post here (“Does God Expect Most Men to Get Married?“) to their respective post. What they do? Did they defend their teachings? Did they come over here and challenge mine? Nope. They deleted my TrackBack. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am disappointed. What is the matter with so many Evangelicals these days? For all their talk about being brave and standing for the truth of God’s word, they seem to resort to drastic measures when another Bible-believer points out their misapplication of Scriptures.

With all due respect to you, fellas, I believe that you and your famous brother Joshua Harris are incorrect in your understanding of courtship, sex roles, etc. Don’t take this personally. If you want to presume to tell other people what to do with their lives, you better have a “thus saith the Lord” (1 Peter 4:11). Indeed, the Scriptures state that very few should be teachers (James 3:1).

So, if you are really men for God, gird up thy loins, and make answer to me. Defend your application of Genesis 2:24. I daresay it is not a biding commandment on us today. What do you say? Point out the error of my ways. If I am in error, do you think the God wants me to stay there?

Or may you should accept that fact that you have been defeated by the very truths of the Book you claim to follow. If you cannot defend your teachings, you need to hold your tongue, lest the word of God make you out to be a liar (Proverbs 30:6). If the task is too great a task for you, get your brother Josh over here. In fact, get Albert Mohler or John Piper. Have they built upon their foundations with straw or stone? Can their works stand the test of fire? Are their foundations even of stone? Or sand?

Perhaps you are annoyed at such a challenge and are purposing in your heart not to dignify my words with a response. Very well, but remember that I have a wide audience, too … of indignant men who are tired of being pushed around by the Status Quo. I have no desire to impugn your motives. Let me just say this: Like the Pharisees of old, today’s cultural conservatives want to tie burdens on the back of the common man. I’m not putting up with it anymore. Those who push man-made, culture-bound, traditionalist teachings can run away from a challenge, but they can’t hide. If it is the Lord’s will, I will continue my expose of the anti-single bigotry and misandry that is prevalent among Evangelicals.

18
Feb
06

Does God Expect Most Men to Get Married? (Introducing the PMV Bible)

Marriage SignI have read a lot of commentary from religious leaders about single people. In particular, I note that several Evangelical commentators believe God ordains a minority of souls to be single. Everyone else, on the other hand, is supposed to get married. In fact, some pundits now talk about the “sin of delaying marriage.”

Until now, I could never figure out where some people were getting the notion that God expects most people to marry. How could they deal with the Apostle Paul’s clear teachings on singleness? Then it occurred to me. These religious leaders must have a different Bible than I do! I guess my mistake was in using texts such as the King James Version, New King James Version, and yes, even the fourth edition of the UBS Greek New Testament. But don’t worry. I think I tracked down the version these people are using. I refer to none other than the newly published Pro-Marriage Version of the Bible (PMV), released by the Familianity International Institute of Evangelical Eisegesis. To get an idea of the scholarship that lies behind the celebrated PMV, I want to show you how so many scriptures read in this version of the Bible when compared to, say, the King James Version (KJV):

Genesis 1:27-28

(KJV): So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish and the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

(PMV): So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them. Then it was commanded you, having been said to you, dear reader, “Keep multiplying, whether the earth is full or not.”

Genesis 2:18

(KJV): And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.”

(PMV): And then it was said, “Not only is it bad for Adam to be alone, but it is bad for other men to be alone, too! Women are made for all of them.” And, lo it was reckoned that all women are God’s gift to men, or at least many act like they are.

Genesis 2:24

(KJV): Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.

(PMV): Therefore let us move beyond mere explanations for why a man seeks out a woman. Let’s go on to say that all men must do this. It so decreed! End of discussion.

Proverbs 18:22

(KJV): Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor from the Lord.

(PMV): Only those who findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor from the Lord. Every else lives the desperate life of a sad loser. Ignore other passages in Proverbs about contentious women, women who make their husbands ashamed, and hateful women who get married. Of course, one wonders about a woman who seeketh a husband. What does she findeth? “A meal ticket,” sayeth an ornery, old man. May someone maketh the old man shut up.

Proverbs 19:14

(KJV): Houses and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.

(PMV): House and riches are what you get when you become a Dad, and a prudent wife is from the Lord. So what are you waiting for? You’re commanded to enjoy the Good Life! Oh, by the way, peanuts and wheat are also from the Lord, so you better partake of these blessings whether you have allergies or not! Why? Because if it is good and if it is from the Lord, you are commanded to partake of it! You are not allowed to question the basis of our interpretation! We find your lack of faith disturbing! By the way, ignore other passages in Proverbs about contentious women, women who make their husbands ashamed, and hateful women who get married.

Ecclesiastes 9:9

(KJV): Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity …

(PMV): Live with a wife, joyfully or not, all of the days of the life of thy vanity …

Malachi 2:15

(KJV): And did not He make one? Yet had He the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a godly seed …

(PMV): And did not He make one? Yet had He the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a godly seed. And who are the godly seed? Why Christian families! Surely they must be same the “holy seed” of Ezra 9:2. You know, since Christian families are the “holy seed” by birthright, not only do they refuse to marry foreigners, but they also sacrifice bulls and goats and stay away from pork!

Matthew 19:10-11

(KJV): His disciples say unto Him, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it not good to marry.” But He [Jesus] said to unto them, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.”

(PMV): His disciples say unto Him, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it not good to marry.” But the reply was given, “Most men cannot receive the saying, ‘It is good to be single.'” And the disciples were amazed because that wasn’t quite what they said.

1 Corinthians 7:2

(KJV): Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

(PMV): Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have a wife, whether she be his own or not, and let every woman have a husband, whether he be her own or not! Yea, every man and woman must do this, except for a few oddballs, and even though I am going to turn around and say something on behalf of singleness! Do I contradict myself? I speak in clever Parables!

1 Corinthians 7:7

(KJV): For I wish that all men were even as I myself, but every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

(PMV): For I wish that a few oddballs could be as I myself, but as for others who are like myself, they may not have the wonderful Gift of Singleness. Only a mysterious, select few have the vaunted Gift of Singleness. Now how can a Christian be simultaneously single and not yet have the Gift of Singleness is beyond me. I guess that if you are currently blessed with singleness and yet, don’t have the wonderful Gift of Singleness, then the singleness you are experiencing is a clever illusion. Therefore, you must stop being single because you really are not having the gift, even though it appears that you are. Enough! My head hurts. Don’t bother me with hard questions, you silly Corinthians!

1 Corinthians 7:8-9

(KJV): I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good 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.

(PMV): I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good 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.

—–

Wait a minute! That last verse looks the same in both versions! Yep. And too bad they are not the same as what is written in the original language. The phrase “cannot contain” is not in the Greek manuscripts, folks. It should be translated as “will not contain.” Yes, dear reader. We can claim that the Word of God is inerrant, but our English translations are a different story altogether.

Now you can tell that I used some sarcasm in most of the verses above to make a point. But let us not stop just yet. Here are some verses that are not in the Pro-Marriage Version of the Bible:

Proverbs 12:4

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 21:9

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

Proverbs 30:21-23

For three things the earth is disquieted and for four it cannot bear: for a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat; for an odious woman when she is married; and a handmaid that is heir to her mistress.

1 Corinthians 7:36-38

But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

—–

Oh boy, that last verse seems to put a nail in the coffin of the idea that God mandates most people to get married. That also puts the kibosh on telling people to “be fruitful and multiply” and to have “godly seed.” After all, it looks like God has given some people a genuine choice in the matter and He doesn’t seem think His sovereignty has been compromised by human beings exercising free will. Are there any Reformed Protestant theologians squirming in their seats because I said that? Tough.

Now let me say something in particular to any religious men that may be reading this. The idea that God wants most men to get married cannot be proven from the Scriptures. Someone might say that marriage is the norm in the Bible. Folks, agriculture is a norm in the Bible, too. Big, hairy deal. Anybody that tries to shame you into thinking that you need to get married and have children so that you can “grow up” and fulfill the “pattern of Biblical manhood” is selling you a Sam’s Club-sized vat of snake oil. Ignore such a person, and go your own way in this matter.

14
Jan
06

Who’s Afraid of Not Getting Laid?

Male feminists are a curious bunch. They want the rest of us men to believe that they can liberate us from the prisons of our own device. They say we are slaves to old stereotypes about masculinity. And yet some of these fellows make much ado about the sex lives of MRAs. Sigh. I guess some people still think manhood is dependent upon copulation with women. Consider this recent quip from Hugo Schwyzer:

“On the other hand, MRAs are angry because they feel that men are being manipulated and ‘used’ by ‘scheming women’; they are frustrated, I suspect, both by their own inability to gain access to women and by their own vulnerability to flirtation and arousal. They become enraged by what they desire but generally cannot have.”

Ah, yes, the old “bitter men who can’t get laid” shtick. This wouldn’t be like men calling feminists “bitter, fat women who can’t get laid,” now would it? The feminists regard this charge against them as being utterly stupid and besides the point in their great battle against sexist double-standards. Yes, I said sexist double-standards (which obviously doesn’t cover the realm of cheap shots that feminists employ).

But anyway, just what kind of women should I see as desirable? Third wave feminists? Ah, those women! Gen-X fem grrls! They seem to differ from the second wavers in that they openly admit that they would like to have sex with men. Oh, well. I guess they are not going to follow through with their separatism and leave their “oppressors” alone in peace, after all.

So, I ask, who’s worried about getting laid, these days? Well, this week Hugo has pointed us all to a feminist man who is worried about getting laid. I will not cut-n-paste; let me merely direct you to the post. I think it speaks volumes about male feminists. By the way, you lurkers can tell ol’ Jedmunds that turn about is fair play.

02
Dec
05

You Have Been Warned

Do not go to Amanda Marcotte\'s blog.

(Do not go to Amanda Marcotte’s blog under any circumstance.)