Thursday, March 13, 2008

Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible...Cut From the Same Cloth

Well, I absolutely can't believe it. Debbie Maken has responded to my post on the Boundless Blog about Martin Luther...sort of. All you will find is the same kind of condescending rhetoric, and repitition of the same arguments that have been refuted over and over again.

However, what I find interesting is the last paragraph of Maken's post:

There is no common ground with these rogues because all we will see is lip service to the general rule drowning in an endless sea of exceptions that swallows/undermines the very rule. Boundless should not be an instrument or platform for this kind of sophisticated undermining of marriage in the name of fostering discourse.

So, now, Debbie Maken has joined in the campaign to silence any opposition to her beliefs. What I find so interesting is that this is the same kind of things that cults do. Again, don't the Jehovah's Witnesses have this idea of "apostate literature?" Do they not forbid their readers from reading anything critical of their society? There you go. I think I can now safely include Debbie Maken in the cultic version of this movement.

I posted this on the Boundless Blog, but I figured I would post it here, just to give you the idea that I have answered all of this stuff before, and now, Maken, rather than responding to me, just keeps repeating the same old arguments that I have dealt with a hundred times over.

Debbie Maken,

Ultimately, his words speak for themselves, and they are quite clear. . . . "Apart from these three categories of eunuchs, let no man presume to be without a wife. . . ." To then say, as some have suggested, that Luther says nothing of people being "called to singleness," is intellectually dishonest. The exemptions are clearly outlined. If you don't fall into them, then get married. If Luther says that "not one in a thousand" falls into these exceptions, the emphasis is NOT on the "not" to suggest that Luther perhaps meant "more than one in a thousand." How opinions and tortured conclusions like these continue to receive Ted Slater's warm applause ("well said" of comment #28) baffles me.

What is intellectually dishonest is that you refuse to quote me in context. I said that Luther defined the third category as someone who "willfully refrained from marriage." Please deal with Luther's own discussion of that third category.

This open-ended idea that people are somehow individually "called to singleness," just right up until the time they decide that they are called to marriage, is to give the creature a guilt-free, shame-free, spiritually-unquestionable license of pursuing marriage whenever and without any regard to the cost, either individually, or to the spouse one could have had, to the collective impact on the church and society.

Then why is it that Luther talked about those who "willfully refrain?" Not only that, Debbie, but could you please explain the following quotation from Luther, given your interpretation of him?:

Here I will let the matter rest and leave to others the task of searching out further benefits and advantages of the estate of marriage. My purpose was only to enumerate those which a Christian can have for conducting his married life in a Christian way, so that, as Solomon says, he may find his wife in the sight of God and obtain favour from the Lord [Prov. 18:22]. In saying this I do not wish to disparage virginity, or entice anyone away from virginity into marriageLet each one act as he is able, and as he feels it has been given to him by God.

As I said on my blog, Debbie, your position is a modern invention. It never saw the light of day before the twenty-first century.

There is nothing unusual or new about the marriage mandate position—generally understood, it is one that believes that marriage was instituted by God, is to be honored by all, is expected to be lived in as the norm for adult life, is a sacred duty for those to enter into during the season of youth,

Which, of course, the scriptures never teach.

and the "rare" (to borrow Luther's word) exception is just that, "rare," and not be dwelt upon incessantly since it "rarely" applies, and such musings are only fancy sidetracking attempts to further add confusion to an area already scarred from misinformation.

Ok, and where does Luther every say that it always would be rare?

Consequently, those who choose to be and/or find themselves single without the biblical warrant for exemptions from marriage

Again, where do you get this idea that there must be "Biblical exemptions?" Even Martin Luther allowed for a person to willfully refrain from marriage.

The question is does Scripture mandate marriage for the vast numbers of men and women. And do the creation ordinances of Genesis (and replenishment commands post deluge) mandate marriage in a way that children grow up and assume the mantle of adulthood by marrying a spouse of their youth and siring another generation so that they are counted among those who were told to "be fruitful and multiply"?

Well, again, if you are saying that this command applies to individuals, then would you not say that every person is under obligation to have a thousand children each year, so at the end of their lives they have "filled the earth?" As I have said before, these imperatives are right next to each other. Whoever is being commanded to be fruitful and multiply is also being commanded to fill the earth. Your exegesis forces you to the absurd conclusion that everyone is obligated to have seven billion children in their lifetime so that they fill the earth

are in a spiritual no man's land and they are going to go without certain blessings because God is not required to bless outside of the boundaries He himself has instituted. If this viewpoint then raises some eyebrows as to why perfectly normal eligible bachelors go year after year being perennially single, it is a logical outflow, a necessary conclusion, and a good in and of itself, for it serves as an additional impetus to push those dragging their feet toward marriage.

And, of course, none of them require marriage.

And if Luther had agreed with the status quo of open-ended reading of I Corinthians 7 and private conscience driven singleness, we would have heard about these Luther sermons long before Getting Serious about Getting Married was published.

We did. In the very sermon you quoted, Luther said "Let each one act as he is able, and as he feels it has been given to him by God." Again, I have to wonder if you even read the resources that you quote, or if you just went through them looking for anything that seemed to support your position.

We certainly did not need a theological giant from Trinity Divinity School (with the deafeningly silent backing of his professors) showing us how to reconstruct very simple words.

Lol, silent backing?????? So, Dr. James Hoffmeier saying that he agreed with me, and Dr. Richard Averbeck telling me that your perspective is a "classic overreaction?" That is hardly silence. It sounds more to me like they think the same thing I do of your position.

We want single people to have accountability of their singleness and the extension of their single years on their own terms without feeling any pinch whatsoever since we cannot know every one's peculiar individual situation. That is not accountability; that is man saying that he rules his life the way he sees fit under some spiritual carte blanche, and how dare others judge him for it.

Well, again, that would require that you show us that there is some obligation from the scriptures in order for you to "hold someone accountable."

Ultimately, there is no reason to castigate "the marriage mandate for the masses" crowd because the contrary position is a giant ball of self-contradiction.

My position has been held by reformed churches for four hundred years? And if my position is so self-contradictory as you say, why is it you have consistently refused to respond to any of your detractors? I mean, if we are so "self-contradictory" as you say, it should be very easy to take on our arguments rather than just repeating the same things over and over again.

The author of the original article regarding Luther did an excellent job appreciating Luther's depth on this subject, and extrapolated exactly what Luther's own writings would indicate.

Then, again, it should be very easy to respond to the things that I have said. However, you seem to have the ability to keep repeating things, and also use condescending language to cover up for the fact that you guys seem to have no answer to the things we are saying.

However, many of your bloggers comments have sought to do the exact opposite in misdirecting the reader from what was actually written by Luther, and have sewn seeds of doubt on writings where there are no doubts.

How can someone be misdirecting the reader from Luther's writings when I am actually quoting him! When I am examining him in the context in which he made these statements. You say that there is no doubts. Again, Debbie, then it should not be too difficult to prove by showing that I have somehow misused Luther in his context.

There is no common ground with these rogues because all we will see is lip service to the general rule drowning in an endless sea of exceptions that swallows/undermines the very rule. Boundless should not be an instrument or platform for this kind of sophisticated undermining of marriage in the name of fostering discourse.

No, actually, I respect Ted Slater and Boundless for being willing to dialogue about this issue. BTW, Debbie, I allow homosexuals, gay marriage proponents, and virtually anyone with any false view of marriage and any false teaching to post on my blog. You know what? I have never had anyone that I am aware of who agrees with my position, and reads my blog ever convert to false teaching. Why? Because I believe that the contrast between the Biblical position and the worldly position is most clearly seen when we place them side by side. That is what makes my wander about Captain Sensible's [and now your] crusade against academic discussion of these matters. If you guys don't have the courage of your convictions, and you have to keep repeating the same arguments that have been refuted a hundered times, keep giving us nothing but dogmatism, and want to silence the opposition, then I really don't know how you can honestly say that you believe your position is rationally defensible.

BTW, for those of you who want to see just how bad Debbie Maken's scholarship is with regards to Calvin and the reformers, here is an article I published wherein I documented several academically dishonest uses of the reformers and works about the reformed views of marriage:

Again, I would ask anyone to go read Luther's sermon, as well as his other works on marriage [His commentary on Genesis, his Commentary on 1 Corinthians, and his other sermon entitled "The Estate of Marriage" and come to your own conclusions. I can confidently say that I believe, when the two are put side by side, that it is very clear who is accurately representing the reformers.

God Bless,

Well, I just leave it to the reader to decide about the integrity and credibility of Debbie Maken.

What I also find interesting is that this is the only topic I have ever seen Debbie Maken address at an academic level. I just got done doing a presentation on Proverbs 2:1-10, and doing work in Paleo-Hebrew on the West Semitic inscriptions that mention the "house of the Lord." Not only that, but I have been taking a class in Hermeneutics, which is a class on the entire theory of Biblical interpretation. One of the values that I am finding in studying all of these topics is that it helps keep me focused on proper interpretational methods in texts that have nothing to do with this issue so that, when I address it, I am able to be more Biblically faithful in doing so. To my knowledge, Maken has not done exegetical work in an academic setting outside of this area, and thus, I think that this might be contributing to the problem.

However, again, I wonder how anyone could support a position in which there is a conscious effort to silence any opposition to what they are saying. In fact, Ted Slater said that he thought that my post was well said. I hope that means that we are getting closer in our respective beliefs about this topic, and I look forward to continuing the conversation. Of course, if Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible get their way, then that will be impossible. Then, I guess, I will have to rely on their inability to handle cross examination of their position as the final nail in the coffin of their position.

Again, I respect the Boundless Blog for their commitment to allowing both sides to speak, and I have attempted to model my blog after the same manner. In fact, I read several articles on the Boundless Blog that have nothing whatsoever to do with this topic. Hence, with all of this stuff going on with Captain Sensible and Debbie Maken, I would just like to applaud Boundless for their commitment to integrity, and open, honest discussion of in house debates such as this, and even things like atheism, abortion, pornography, etc. that we all agree is wrong. I can only pray that one day Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible will learn the same.


wombatty said...

The fact that Maken has refused to engage the arguments that both Anakin and yourself has made speaks volumes.

If you remember, she opened her blog on August 24, 2006 (A Response to a Worthy Critic) by responding to Kostenberger saying:

I have finally joined the blogosphere, and it only took one article from an actual theologian to draw me out. While it is not my normal custom to comment on blogs or put forward a defense of my position to all of the other personalities out there discussing my book, Getting Serious About Getting Married: Rethinking the Gift of Singleness, I now realize that I have started a debate in which I should participate. At the very least, I should rise to my defense.

I have followed this debate closely from the beginning and other than a substanceless & dismissive comment on a reivew of her book in Christianity Today, this is the only time I can actually recall Maken responding to her critics.

I think Maken's utter unwillingness to engage substantive critiques of her work is hinted at in this passage from her blog. She says, first, that she does not customarily:

...comment on blogs or put forward a defense of my position to all of the other personalities out there discussing my book...


I now realize that I have started a debate in which I should participate. At the very least, I should rise to my defense.

Putting these two points together, we get Maken's strategy for debate:

'Rising to her own defense' while at the same time refusing to 'put forward a defense of her position'.

In other words, Maken will defend herself, but not her position - thus the lack of engagement of substantive criticism.

In other news, Captain Clueless is excited over an article in the UK magazine 'Keep Faith' wherein a Pastor Dave Daniels refers to singleness as a curse. She offers some excerpts and urges us to read the whole thing.

In the short article is this little tidbit:

If a person chooses to remain single that's OK, but singleness should never be forced on a person because of their environment. This cannot be God's will.

I don't think it an unwarranted extrapolation to infer that Pastor Daniels would also agree that

but marriage should never be forced on a person because of their environment.

After all, he refers to singleness as an individual, personal choice.

I was actually surprised that the good captain didn't dish up some of the steaming contempt she usually reserves for such 'heresy'. Perhaps she simply missed it...

Luke said...

Hi Adam,
This entire argument is fascinating to me, simply because, in my observation, it has been blown so wildly out of proportion. Debbie Maken says that “all we will see is lip service to the general rule drowning in an endless sea of exceptions that swallows/undermines the very rule” Actually, the general rule is that a vast majority of Christian men and women still get married. And, based on what I’ve seen, it’s still in a timely fashion, even as defined by Maken. So, the way I see it, both sides are arguing “the exception” (those marrying later, or not at all), only from opposing views.

Anyway, I’d like to stand with you in defending Ted Slater. I frequently disagree with him, but that doesn’t mean he’s doing a bad job. And Captain Sensible calling for his termination because she disagrees with his position, is ludicrous. I posted a comment on CS’s blog saying that Boundless Line has as its subtitle “Extreme Conversation Starters for 20somethings”. Conversation in its simplest form has two sides, so allowing an opposing view point is just part of the deal. I tried to explain to CS that regardless of which truth is argued, an opposing view does not detract from it. Truth is still truth. I went on to say that her complete dismissal of Ted was unwarranted, he was simply (here it is, are you ready?) fostering discourse. By the way, CS did not allow my comment.

Adam, I’ll admit that I don’t always agree with you, but I am glad that you are around to methodically, logically, and reasonably stand in opposition to some of the “mandatory” crowd. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that your argument is doing any good. Their position is not based on method, logic or reason, it is based on emotion. This is why they don’t address any of your points, they only attack your credentials and your spelling. The root of their argument is something along the lines of “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” So, what’s the easiest solution? Blame somebody else! Unfortunately, this attitude makes them less appealing to their target audience, which leads to more singleness, which leads to more bitterness, and so on.

Given that this issue is, in the big scheme, pretty minor; and given that Maken is already married, I don’t know why she felt it necessary to write her book. Perhaps she knew someone who was struggling with being single later than “normal” and felt it was a problem worth writing a book about. Who knows? What I do know is that I’ve been in church all my life, been part of a singles group ever since I graduated from college, and what I see is people still marrying and being given in marriage. Yes, there are some “leftovers”, but they are a fraction of the whole. Should they be forgotten about? Of course not. But demonizing the men in that group does not make the women more appealing. This brings up another point that never seems to be talked about. Some unmarried Christian women, who desire to be married, are currently unfit for it. Immaturity, awkwardness and/or weirdness are not exclusively male characteristics.

PuritanCalvinist said...


I agree about Debbie Maken. I just have to keep pointing out the fact that they are more than willing to call me stupid, and call my position "incoherent," and yet they refuse to answer anything I say. You would think that, if I were so "stupid" and my position really was that "incoherent," that they would jump at the ability to answer me, and make me look foolish. I just let the fact that they do not speaks for itself.


Ya, I have recognized the problem of emotionalism with them. I think that their recent attack upon Ted Slater is just another example of this. They cannot rationally dialogue with the opposition, so they have to call us names like "dumb and dumber."

I am not suprised that Captain Sensible did not allow your comment. Her main position is that we are all deceivers, and we are going to burn forever for holding to this "false teaching." Not only that, but she wants to keep as much of this "false teaching" from floating around on her blog as she can. When you have that kind of mindset, you are going to be unable to allow any criticism of yourself. She thinks that she must be right, and everyone else is just plain stupid.

As far as the article, while I haven't read it yet, what you say would not suprise me. I remember when I started checking Debbie Maken's scholarship with regards to the reformers, I was just amazed how that woman can see on a page only what she wants to see on a page.

God Bless,