Wednesday, May 16, 2007

When Emotions Get out of Control

As many of you know, I read the blog over at boundless.org. While I disagree with their position on many issues, they have several very useful articles, and I would, indeed, recommend that my readers read the blog, as it has some useful information on things on which I can agree with Boundless, and, if you agree with my position on Courtship and the Mandatory Marriage Movement, you can see how the polemics of each system are developing.

Yesterday, Motte Brown, one of the contributors, posted an article wherin he linked to this blog entry. My first reaction to the article was, as usual, one of adrenaline pumping. I mean, there is really nothing but nasty anti-male comments in the article, hasty generalizations, and totally irrational thinking. Here is a sample of the tone of the blog post:

Guys, I’m mad at you. And I don’t like being mad. I’m not a bitter, angry single girl. I’m a fun person. And I realize that women have their share of dysfunction, too. Someone else can blog on that at his or her leisure.

But I’ve had it. I’m fed up with guys who are supposedly looking for a relationship that leads to marriage, but they don’t know how to get the job done. I'm more and more convinced that an untold number of Christian men are in this camp.

Ummm, Ok, so, where is the providence of God in all of this? Well, she has an answer to that question.

Many of the men with whom I’ve spoken – and there’s been a legion – still operate within the “God will provide/I’ll just have a feeling/the Lord will point her out to me” framework. In the meantime, they’re getting older, odder and more removed from reality with each mouse click, movie night or 80s party. But they’re still there…ready for the next serial online relationship or opportunity to “hang out” indefinitely with whomever is available.

So, now we have a mockery of the providence of God. Let us set the record straight. No guy thinks that God is just going to "give them a feeling," or that "the Lord will point her out to me." We recognize that God is the one who is soverign over all creation and ordains whatsoever comes to pass [Ephesians 1:11]. While we believe we should, indeed, pursue a spouse and marriage if we so desire, we recognize that it is God who ultimately determines whether or not that pursuit will be successful, and when it will be successful. As King Nebuchadnezzar said:

Daniel 4:35 "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'

Doesn't sound very much like it is all up to the man as to whether or not marriage will happen. It sounds like God's providence plays a part in everything that happens in the world.

What this woman is really upset with is because marriage was not coming according to her timetable. Note this portion of her article:

When will it become so? When we're neighbors in the nursing home? When we're established in the New Jerusalem? Face it: we’re enabling them. We're living in a perpetual church youth group, and no one is going off to college.

One of my best friends has been talking to a guy on eHarmony for three months. You heard right – three months. And yes…they are still on eHarmony. She offered to give him her phone number, but he ignored her suggestion. Yet she likes him, she’s invested in him, so she’s allowing this to continue. She maintains her subscription to stay in touch with him! I understand completely. I’ve been there. But basically, she is paying to email this guy. Does anyone else have a problem with this? She deserves so much better! She and I have been talking recently about the courage it will take for her to call it quits. To put her foot down. It will be hard. As my sister says, “It shouldn’t have to come to this.” But it has.

In other words, guys and gals can just push God around, and demand marriage from him just by doing the right things, and going about it the right way. In other words, marriage is something that is totally in the hands of man, and it is up to man as to whether or not it will happen, and when it will happen. I mean, you can almost hear Pelagius speaking from the grave in this kind of a statement.

Secondly, I have a question for her friend. Instead of writing to this person on the E-mail at E-Harmony, why doesn't she give him her private E-mail address so that they do not have to keep subscribing? That would be a whole lot easier then having to pay money every month to keep this stuff up.

Also, why doesn't the author have a problem with her not doing what I have suggested? You would think that, if the woman could avoid doing this, she would. However, here is a clear way she could easily avoid having to e-mail like this, and she doesn't do it. Why does she have no problem with that?

While she states that women may have something to do with this, it is only mentioned in passing, and only as a way of saying that her post is not entirely anti-male. However, the author does not mention any of these problems, and therefore, her assertion that women have some blame is just that...mere assertion. When someone says that someone has something to blame, but only mentions it in passing, you have to wonder just how serious they are about the claim.

This, however, is not the worst part of her post. Here is, by far, the nastiest part of her entire post:

Ladies, in case you still don’t get it, these "relationships" are going N-O-W-H-E-R-E, and we need to realize this sooner. Maybe it’s time to organize the Million Single Woman March. Let’s start making the signs now. We need to stop the madness! Women, unite! And guys, if you're not "in it to win it," get off the dating sites. Get out of the mixers. Stop messing around. Those of you who are directional and intentional, keep it up...and help your friends, ok? Let's make this a group project.

As I mentioned before, the mandatory marriage movement is all about intimidation. They cannot defend their views from the Bible, and many of their interpretations are simply laughed off by Biblical scholars. Do you really think that this kind of intimidation is going to be a substitute for an argument? You see, when folks dialogue with me, there are pages of the Bible turning, we have Hebrew and Greek texts open, with Grammar books for each on the table, and we are careful to not engage in the formal fallacies of logic. I am not saying we always succeed in being careful, but we try to do our best to honor God in submitting to His word.

However, notice what we have here. We have people engaging in irrational emotionalism. Dr. Andreas Kostenburger, while making a plug for his book, "God, Marriage, and Family," states the following:

Third, if you want to read a fuller account of God’s purposes for marriage and singleness and many other related issues, such as parenting, adoption, abortion, artificial reproductive technologies, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, and so on, read God, Marriage & Family (Crossway). It is much more thorough and wide-ranging than Debbie Maken’s book, which is focused on a fairly narrow topic (and then often argues from experience rather than Scripture).

Isn't that the truth! This is all about emotion, rather than about scripture. It is all about how ones experience makes you feel rather than what the Bible says. That should be obvious from the fact that I have gotten the responses I have from Darren Allen, and from others who are not intrested in a fair exchange.

Finally, the author ends up with another characture of our position:

He wants a relationship that’s easy, convenient, familiar, and requires no cost or concession on his part. He wants it to just “work out,” and he has past patterns to prove it. I wish him the best. Truly. But more than that, I hope – and pray – that God will grab him and show him what’s what. I hope that an older, wiser Christian man will come into his life and give him the facts. I hope he’ll realize that moving toward marriage is more than just “seeing what happens.” I hope that someday he’ll have the opportunity to put this into practice.

The first sentence is patently false. I think it might be more proper to reword it as, "He wants a relationship where he is not forced to give what I in my selfishness demand him to give." As we have seen throughout this article, things didn't go the way she wanted them to go, and therefore, she is now upset. Again, I have to keep pointing out the childish behavior of the marriage mandators who think that men are childish. The hypocracy of this movement is simply unbelievable.

As far as an "older" and "wiser" Christian man grabbing him, I have dialogued with many of these "older" and "wiser" Christian men, and even with folks such as Debbie Maken herself. The results are there to read for yourself. As you can see, far from "giving the facts," most of these folks were simply left to do nothing more than attack my motives, and misrepresent what I said about Hannah. This is not wisdom, folks. The apostle Paul aptly described this stuff in his letter to the Colossians:

Colossians 2:20-23 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Notice, Paul says that there is a set of rules out there which have the appearance of wisdom, but are, in actuality, of no value against sensual indulgence. It is almost as if the apostle Paul is speaking these words to the marriage mandators from heaven. The only law that has any value is what is found in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. To bind laws not found in the Bible upon the contiences of Christians is to deny the sufficiency of the scriptures.

BTW, I should also note that I am all for dating only those you desire to marry, and using that time to get ready for marriage. However, to expect things to go as you want them to go, and not trust in God and his providence because you are afraid you might get hurt is exactly the same outcome based theology of which we are often accused. Where are these people's faith in Christ? Where is their trust that God does things in his time? Were is the trust in the providence of God that, although we have our desires and we pursue them, it is ultimately God who decides whether these pursuits will be successful? The man-centeredness of this position is absolutely sickening.

In the end, I have to ask how accurate Andreas Kostenburger's observations were at the end of his dialogue with Debbie Maken:

In conclusion, I am struck by the man-centered nature and emphasis in Maken’s work. She calls on the unmarried to “get serious about getting married.” Is reality really as simple as this? Is lack of serious pursuit of marriage really and ultimately the most pressing problem, and getting serious about getting married the solution? It seems that Maken’s emphasis is almost unilaterally on man’s (or woman’s) initiative, while God’s providence and the Holy Spirit’s leading are disparaged. Are we not to trust God as to his timing and his way of leading in this intensely personal area of our lives? In the end, one wonders just how Christian Maken’s thinking is and to what extent shallow theology masks a focus on people going out and trying to force the hand of a recalcitrant and ambivalent God who has largely left humans to their own devices.

Indeed, I have often wondered how Christian much of this thinking is. That is why I am currently writing a book which I hope to title The Mandatory Marriage Controversy, in which I will expose some of the fallacious thinking of these folks. That way, if a man who is not trained in the issues involved ever runs into this movement for the first time, he will know how to respond to this movement. I hope it will also be helpful to women who run into advocates of the Mandatory Marriage Movement, in that it will both be a vaccine against their emotive appeals, and also to get women who are already involved in the movement thinking in a clear manner about the issues.

I should, again, make a word of disclaimer. I am not referring to many in the movement who actually are capible of carrying on a calm, well reasoned conversation. I have ran into these folks and, although they are a precious few, I cannot say many of these things that I have said in this post about them. I can only pray that they will realize that the movement is taking on this irrational intimadating character, and try to intellectually save it before it is written off much like radical KJV onlyism is. However, this is what happens when emotions get out of control, and start becoming the foundation of truth. Once you allow your emotions to become the standard, and stop thinking with God and his word as the standard, you will inevitably have these kinds of things happen. The sad thing is, it is happening with the support of men such as Albert Mohler and James Dobson. This is why we need to use discernment even when listening to Christian leaders.

2 comments:

B. said...

I thought your blog was very interesting (if not a little lengthy...). I have been following all of the blogs you reference, and I can't decide if I'd want to enter conversation with you.

then I looked at your blog name. Ironic--I'm pretty sure that the Puritans were quite pro-marriage and would never stand for 30 and 40 somethings to wait around on God's providence to get married.

I had to laugh.

PuritanCalvinist said...

b.,

How many Puritan works have you read?

PuritanCalvinist