Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Marketing and Politics in the Promotion of the Mandatory Marriage Movement


Anakin broke some interesting news this morning. Everyone in the Christian community has been raving about the movie Fireproof. My fiance even told me she heard it was excellent. I have yet to see this movie, but would like to as it seems any movie that is an encouragement to struggling married couples, and helps them to avoid divorce is incredibly helpful in the cultural struggle for marriage. Now, I know Focus on the Family probably has a whole lot to do with this, but, apparently, the makers of Fireproof are promoting Debbie Maken's book. At first, I thought "shame on them," but you have to remember the situation in which they are. They are trying to promote a defense of marriage, and Maken makes her book appear to be pro-marriage [even though, as I have argued elsewhere, it is actually anti-marriage, because of the unbiblical misrepresentation of marriage found in the book], and thus, it is easy to see why they would go for it. Also, remember that these people are film makers, not scholars. Hence, it is more than possible that they do not know any better.

However, the marketing and political backing that this movement is getting is just amazing. You have the Albert Mohler program, you have Focus on the Family, you have Mark Driscoll, you have both Moody Publishing, and Crossway Books; you have so many popular names and organizations promoting this, that one wonders how much money is really going behind it. It must be at least a small fortune.

What is annoying about all of this is, with the exception of Ted Slater, the editor of Boundless, these folks are more than willing to say this stuff in public, and yet not interact in cross-examiniation with their critics. In what little interaction time we have had, the results have simply been amazing. Every time Debbie Maken dialogued with me, she had to result to avoiding my direct questions, and engaging in name calling. Albert Mohler, when challenged on his views of marriage relating to sexual purity, ran fast out of the text of Genesis 2-3, and went to a completely different text in 1 Corinthians 7, with a completely different context. Candice Watters will not even interact with me, and the reality is that these folks just seem to not like exegetical criticism of their position. Yet, what is amazing is the marketing power these folks have to keep putting these views out there. They know that Anakin, myself, Andreas Kostenberger, and others have criticized them, and yet, no effort is made to respond to us. It is just more promotion, and more spotlight, and more airtime for them to engage in a monologue.

What is amazing is the marketing job that has gotten Debbie Maken's book associated with Fireproof. Keep in mind, this is the same book that I have compared with Gail Riplinger's New Age Bible Versions. Maken's book is, by far, the worst book I have ever read in English. No one managed to get as many errors onto one page as Maken did, and no one managed to engage in as much ad hominem on one page as Maken did. This is the same woman who attributed an idea to the reformers, when they very source she cited said it was the radical reformers who believed this, and this same source then went on to say that the reformers did not believe this position! This is the same woman who conviniently ignored quotations from Luther, in the very same sermon from which she was quoting, and completely misused the works of John Calvin as well, even paraphrasing a quotation she got second hand, from a quotation that I to this day have not been able to find. This is the same woman who said that, because Malachi 2:15 has the phrase "wife of your youth" that therefore you are to marry in your youth. Keep in mind, this is the kind of material that is being marketed, and held up as honoring to marriage. I have always wondered how honoring you are being to something when you have to engage in dishonesty in order to talk about it.

Not only that, but as I pointed out last summer, Candice Watters does not know how to do exegesis. Her main area of study is public policy, and thus, she makes several simple errors with regards to the exegesis of the text. Now, do you want to see the marketing power of this movement? Even though these errors were readily available to anyone, Candice is coming out with a new book, coauthored with her husband Steve, called Start your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. I hope that I am wrong, but my best guess is that we will see another eisegetical misuse of Genesis 1:28 and Jeremiah 29:6. We will hear about how children are a blessing, and are therefore required. We will likewise hear the fatalistic notion that we need to just simply trust in God, and thus, not use the resources God has given us. We will also no doubt not hear of the influence of gnosticism on this view of marriage and children. Again, I hope I am wrong, and I hope that Candice does take into account some of the things her strongest critics are telling her, but, again, I am not optimistic. This is what happens when marketing takes the place of seeking truth. When you put someone up to writing about what the Bible says, when they are not trained to be in that position of leadership, disaster is bound to follow.

Be that as it may, I still would like to see a round-table discussion with Anakin, Andreas Kostenburger, and myself engaging in an extended interaction with Debbie Maken, Candice Watters, and Albert Mohler. We could market it, and really get critical thinking going from an exegetical perspective on this issue. Until then, we will just have to keep responding to these folks, and let all of the marketing and political fluff speak for itself.

Finally, I would like to let everyone know that Kuya Kevin, a regular commenter on my blog, has started a new blog for discussing singles issues. He has some good stuff over there, and I will look forward to seeing what he will write.

19 comments:

Kevin said...

More irony--Crossway also published Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye, which is an equally bad book--but on the opposite end of the theological spectrum (McCulley believes in the "gift of singleness").

finn said...

Where does Kostenberger ever *really* criticize Boundless?

Does he know of your little roundtable fantasy, with you, him and Anakin all lined up to fight the mandate menace?

LadyElaine said...

finn:

hate to break it to you, but they are not the only ones who think the marriage mandate movement is off. Simply put, one can be sincere but sincerely wrong.

What kostenberger criticizes is faulty reasoning and false doctrine-both which are components of the marriage mandate movement, and,from time to time has been displayed in several blog posts and articles from blog posts. I am more than happy to email you examples of articles (in context) to highlight EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

my hope is that adam does not respond to your attempts to draw him into debate about this, as all of us can direct our attention to something that deserves our energy and focus(THE GOSPEL!)

finn said...

"What Kostenberger criticizes is faulty reasoning and false doctrine-both which are components of the marriage mandate movement"

So the answer is NO.

Even as Kostenberger critiqued Maken's ideas, you don't know his viewpoint on those of Candice Watters and Boundless.

So it's highly presumptuous of you, Adam, to suggest that he would support what you're doing here.

RedKnight said...

finn said...
"What Kostenberger criticizes is faulty reasoning and false doctrine-both which are components of the marriage mandate movement"

So the answer is NO.

"Even as Kostenberger critiqued Maken's ideas, you don't know his viewpoint on those of Candice Watters and Boundless.

So it's highly presumptuous of you, Adam, to suggest that he would support what you're doing here." Presumptuous maybe, but no unreasonable, given his past statements. Knowing the nature of Mr. Kostenberger's(can we get fries with that?) viewpoints, it is very likely that he would concur with Adam's assessment of Candice Watters(We're getting soaked here!), and/or Boundless(except if you wish to remain puposefuly single, then they're not so boundless.). " LadyElaine said...
finn:

hate to break it to you, but they are not the only ones who think the marriage mandate movement is off. Simply put, one can be sincere but sincerely wrong.

What kostenberger criticizes is faulty reasoning and false doctrine-both which are components of the marriage mandate movement, and,from time to time has been displayed in several blog posts and articles from blog posts. I am more than happy to email you examples of articles (in context) to highlight EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

my hope is that adam does not respond to your attempts to draw him into debate about this, as all of us can direct our attention to something that deserves our energy and focus(THE GOSPEL!)" The Gospel does not deal with human reproduction, but with spiritual regeneration. For the Mandatory Marriage movement to present this as being christian truth is unconsciable. And whenever falsehood is misrepresented as being infallible truth, responsible believers must rebuke it.

finn said...

"Presumptuous maybe, but no unreasonable, given his past statements. Knowing the nature of Mr. Kostenberger's(can we get fries with that?) viewpoints, it is very likely that he would concur with Adam's assessment of Candice Watters"

Whaaaaa??? Kostenberger commented on Maken over TWO YEARS AGO, so you don't even know if his view on her stuff has changed at all, let alone Watters, who he has never commented on.

I'll tell you one thing, and that's that he has linked from his blog to Boundless on a number of occasions, essentially supporting what they are doing.

Amir said...

finn: That's a non sequitur. I link to Boundless all the time, and agree with them on a number of issues.

On the other hand, on the mandatory marriage issue, Maken, Watters, Brown, et al., are wrong.

On many social issues, Maken and myself are probably fairly close. Truth be told, there was a time when we would have been allies, as I was a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center--and a leader in several pro-life organizations--whereas Maken was an attorney who represented many conservative causes.

Still, on the marriage mandate issue, I'd say she is off the Biblical reservation, and a substantial portion of Boundless probably is too.

My point: that Kostenberger opposes them on that matter does not require him to castigate Boundless on other matters where he otherwise may be in agreement.

RedKnight said...

Also not everyone at Focus on the Family, who own Boundless.org, agrees with mandatory marriage either. Susie Shellenberger,the editor of Brio magazine, I know does not agree that marriage is required of christians, and as a matter of fact is single herself. I feel that mandatory marriage is more charectoristic of Islam than Christianity. The muslims tend to believe in having many children. And even believe that, for those who can afford it, a man may have up to four wives. Because if children, and/or wives, are a blessing from God, then the more the better. Also, as Adam has mentioned, Debbie Maken is originally from India. Now Adam feels that Hinduism might be responsible for influencing her to believe as she does. But I however suspect that she might have a muslim background instead, because I happen to personally know firsthand that muslims teach that it is a sacred duty to be married. You see I used to have a positive interest in the Islamic faith, so I know all about there ways. I also know that some muslims think that apostates may be killed, for betraying the religion. So we probally will never know whether or not Debbie Maken was ever muslim. But I wouldn't be surprised if she were.

finn said...

Even if Boundless was wrong to support Maken, that doesn't make it right for Adam to broadcast his assumption that Kostenberger agrees with him about Watter's writings, or would align with him in a debate against her.

As for Maken having a Muslim background, that's just wacky rumor-mongering.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Finn,

Were are you getting this idea that Debbie Maken and Candice Watters disagree on this issue? I have documented over and over again where they say exactly the same things, and, in many cases, use exactly the same Biblical texts. The burden of proof would be upon you to show that they hold opposing perspectives. Keep in mind, not only did Candice Watters support Debbie Maken's book, but Debbie Maken also endorsed Candice Watters' book.

Hence, if Kostenberger disagrees with what Debbie Maken is saying, he must disagree with what Candice is saying, since they are saying the same thing.

He may agree with Candice on some points [I even agree with her on some points], but the issue is the fact that she is picking up the torch for Debbie Maken.

So, again, the issue is not everything Candice says. There are some things on which even I agree with her. The issue is the fact that she is holding to the same position as Debbie Maken. As long as she does that, I don't think it is illigitimate to ask them to defend their stance on this against someone who has already publically criticized their position.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

finn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
finn said...

"Hence, if Kostenberger disagrees with what Debbie Maken is saying, he must disagree with what Candice is saying, since they are saying the same thing....I don't think it is illigitimate to ask them to defend their stance on this against someone who has already publically criticized their position."

Before you ask Candice to defend herself against Kostenberger, Adam, you might want to ask HIM! lol

You are seeing opposition where none exists. You haven't shown us where any of Candice's writings actually conflict with anything that Kostenberger has actually said.

You are deluding yourself, Adam. Andreas Kostenberger will join forces with you the day hell freezes over. You and your blog are like a car driven by drunken teenagers. Outta control.

PuritanCalvinist said...

finn,

I already have shown opposition. I have already shown that Candice holds the same position as Debbie Maken. It is simple logic:

1. Dr. Kostenberger has come out opposing Debbie Maken's position.

2. Candice Watters holds the same position as Debbie Maken's.

3. Therefore, Dr. Kostenberger has come out opposing Candice Watters' position.

If that isn't showing that there is opposition, then I would invite you to show me where I made a mistake in my logic. The fact of the matter is, all of the laws of logic I used are laws of first order predicate logic. If you want to give up first order predicate logic, then that speaks volumes.

Also, I would rethink your last comments. Remember, Dr. Averbeck, Dr. Hoffmeier, and other professors here at Trinity already *have* come out and told me that they agree with me. Also, within the academic realm this is not even an issue. The reason why I deal with this topic is because there are many men who will get this kind of teaching at their church, and will not know how to respond in a Biblical fashion. My goal is to provide men with such a response on this blog.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

finn said...

Candice Watters differs from Debbie Maken on a number of counts. She doesn't put so much blame on male leadership for the problem of protracted singleness in women. Kostenberger objected to the blame being put on women (and perhaps singles in general), but he never expressed support for the men's rights angle. Besides, Watter's standpoint could better be described as "marriage imperative", rather than "marriage mandate" which overshoots the mark.

PuritanCalvinist said...

finn,

Candice Watters differs from Debbie Maken on a number of counts. She doesn't put so much blame on male leadership for the problem of protracted singleness in women.

However, she does agree with Debbie Maken on male leadership and "unproductive" dating methodologies being the problem. In fact, here is an entire article where she endorses virtually all of Maken's assessments of the problem:

http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001254.cfm

There were only a few disagreements with Maken, but nothing essential to the problems or solutions of Debbie Maken. In fact, what is interesting is that Debbie Maken endorsed Candice Watters' book. If there is any substantial differences between the two, then why would Debbie Maken endorse Candice Watters' book, and why would Candice Watters write an entire article like that endorsing the substantive points of Debbie Maken's book? It doesn't make any sense.

Kostenberger objected to the blame being put on women (and perhaps singles in general), but he never expressed support for the men's rights angle.

I have never gone at it from a men's rights angle either. I have always argued that the consistent exegesis of the text of scripture shows that these claims are totally extrabiblical. Anakin, I know, likes to get into that angle, but my whole argument is to let scripture speak for itself, and it will be shown that a whole bunch of things must be read into the text in order for this claim to be substanitated. That is exactly what Kostenberger did in his responses.

Besides, Watter's standpoint could better be described as "marriage imperative", rather than "marriage mandate" which overshoots the mark.

Then how come Candice fought for the usage of the word "mandate" in the following post?:

http://www.boundlessline.org/2008/03/love-and-marria.html#comment-106794928

I distinctly remember that, because in my second dialogue with Debbie Maken, Candice slipped in to defend the usage of this terminology.

So, again, finn, I am still waiting for disagreements between Candice Watters and Debbie Maken with regards to the premises and solutions of Debbie Maken's book which Andreas Kostenberger addressed in his dialogue with Debbie Maken. With regards to these things, they hold exactly the same position. I like the way Amir Larjani but it. He said that Candice's position is "a slightly toned-down version" Debbie Maken's position. Until that can be proven wrong, the unanimity of these two with regards to the thesis and solutions of Debbie Maken's book is established.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

finn said...

Candice called Maken's approach "a frontal assault on unmotivated men", which sounds like a pretty significant departure to me.

Why would Debbie Maken endorse Candice Watters' book? Probably because it was the only one up to that point that dared to challenge the status quo on teachings that were causing many singles doubts about whether or not it's okay to pursue marriage.

"I have never gone at it from a men's rights angle either.... Anakin, I know, likes to get into that angle"

Right! And that's why Kostenberger wouldn't touch you guys with a ten foot pole.

"Then how come Candice fought for the usage of the word "mandate" in the following post?http://www.boundlessline.org/2008/03/love-and-marria.html#comment-106794928"

I looked for her in that post and could find nothing. Although Ted, who wrote it, mentions marriage as mandated "for the vast number of men and women". Even the most ardent of Maken's detractors will admit that God wants "the masses" of believers to marry. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that where most of you guys part company is in how this gets communicated to the individual believer.

PuritanCalvinist said...

finn,

Candice called Maken's approach "a frontal assault on unmotivated men", which sounds like a pretty significant departure to me.

Not sure I follow you here. It sounds to me like she speaks approvingly about this very concept.

Why would Debbie Maken endorse Candice Watters' book? Probably because it was the only one up to that point that dared to challenge the status quo on teachings that were causing many singles doubts about whether or not it's okay to pursue marriage.

Ok, then why would Candice endorse Debbie Maken's book with that article? Again, this doesn't make any sense. They have mutually endorsed each other. Why do they do that if they hold differing positions on the core issues?

Right! And that's why Kostenberger wouldn't touch you guys with a ten foot pole.

You mean he wouldn't touch Anakin with a ten foot pole. As I said, I don't approach it from that angle, and you know it. All of my posts have attempted to show that the only way to get this position is to abuse scripture, and that always will be the way I argue against this position.

I looked for her in that post and could find nothing. Although Ted, who wrote it, mentions marriage as mandated "for the vast number of men and women",

Actually, I was referring to comment #103 where Candice writes:

Why are some words so troublesome? We don't like the "oughts" anymore, it seems.

I like the definition of mandate that reads "an official order or commission to do something." We are commissioned to marry. It's clear from Scripture that unless we have the God-given ability to live without the sex, intimate companionship, and the children that marriage was designed to include, we are supposed to marry. It's something we ought to do.

Like the creation mandate--"be fruitful and multiply"--it's lately come under fire for being too controversial and at odds with the notion that we get to design our own purpose and existence.

Controversial, but no less true
.

I don't know how to take that other than the fact that getting married and having children is something that is mandated.

Again, finn, I am trying to figure out how you are going to separate these two. Candice and Debbie both believe that early marriage is required, and that it is required for virtually everyone, and it is likewise required that you have children after you get married. Again, I don't see any way around it.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Amir said...

PuritanCalvinist: Keep in mind who "Finn" is. She is just GortexGrrl, kt, and "Anonymous". I verified this in the logs of the comments on my blog space.

She thinks she's being clever, but it's only shaping up to be the mother of all entertaining shows, at her expense.

finn said...

"Ok, then why would Candice endorse Debbie Maken's book with that article? Again, this doesn't make any sense. They have mutually endorsed each other. Why do they do that if they hold differing positions on the core issues?"

Plenty of authors endorse each other, even if they differ to some degree on certain issues. Kostenberger might use less expressive language than Watters, but I would wager that he would agree with much of what she has to say. Look through his book on God, Marriage and Family, particularly sections on contraception. It actually quotes the same Genesis passages to say that over the course of their marriage "a couple OUGHT to seek to have children" (p 135)

"You mean he wouldn't touch Anakin with a ten foot pole. As I said, I don't approach it from that angle, and you know it."

lol. Go ahead and take him on yourself then. Be the dynamic duo: "Adam and Andreas"

"All of my posts have attempted to show that the only way to get this position is to abuse scripture, and that always will be the way I argue against this position."

And while you're at it, keep accusing Al Mohler too, of abusing scripture.

Candice wrote: "I like the definition of mandate that reads "an official order or commission to do something." We are commissioned to marry. It's clear from Scripture that unless we have the God-given ability to live without the sex, intimate companionship, and the children that marriage was designed to include, we are supposed to marry. It's something we ought to do...Like the creation mandate--"be fruitful and multiply"--it's lately come under fire for being too controversial and at odds with the notion that we get to design our own purpose and existence."

I honestly don't know why you would find this statement offensive. Almost all Christian leaders would tell you the same thing. That generally speaking, marriage is normative and couples ought to have children. Does this mean that a person who absolutely doesn't want to get married and/or have children should? I doubt that Watters, Mohler or Maken would want to see an individual who is absolutely resistant to the idea be railroaded into it. But they are offering a much needed challenge to a culture that has become complacent to it. As such, the whole "scripturally single" resistance movement seems very much an overreaction.