The unique fallacy and why judgments matter

Andy Stanley (pastor) had a very interesting quote that reveals wisdom, even though he believes in the “mutual submission” heresy in marriage. I came across it when reviewing one of his singles and relationship lectures a few months ago. I think it’s also in one of his books.

Do you know why people are prone to make such foolish moral decisions? Because something always whispers to us that our situations are unique: Nobody has ever felt this way before.

But there is nothing unique about your circumstances, your emotions, your desires, and your passions. And as long as you deceive yourself into thinking that you are the first to feel what you are feeling, you will chase those feelings to the neglect of wisdom.

In my opinion, Andy doesn’t take the quote to its full logical conclusion.

The reason why broad sweeping generalizations can be made that are true in most circumstances is because behavior is predictable. Why is human behavior predictable? Although each human is unique, our God-embodied creation is virtually similar. This means that when we revert to base behavior that trends come out of the woodwork, especially over a large sample size of the population.

For example, humans are driven by incentives and disincentives. When incentives are destroyed and disincentives rise, a population trend occurs. Divorce is one such example. Incentives to marry are virtually nil for men. Husbands are scorned publicly. Fathers are not respected. Men are the butt of jokes. Disincentives have risen sharply. No fault divorce. Wife custody of children. Men can be made a hostage in their own home. Is there any other reason why divorce rates soar, and many men feel that marriage is a bad choice even though they are all unique? No.

Character is consistent behavior rooted in a moral or immoral foundation. If you know the character of any person, you can reliably  and accurately predict what type of behavior when placed any random circumstances. After all, there is nothing new under the sun.

These generalizations that we use are judgments. This includes different types of profiling and bias. None of these are bad things in themselves. After all, context matters.

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Jesus does not say don’t judge. Jesus says to judge by these standards:

  • Use the same measure by which you are judging on yourself.
  • Don’t be a hypocrite. Look at your own faults first.

Of course, these standards are consistent with the overarching theme of the Law which Jesus expounds upon:

Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Now, it’s important to understand that the judgments we use in certain situations are not always going to be the same. Granting grace and mercy to those who have wronged you is much different than in choosing a spouse.

To those we desire to marry, we hold to a higher standard. For example, what I look for in evaluating a potential wife Part 2 discuss various Scriptural, character, and behavior concerns that culminate in a wife preparing herself for or not for marriage. In order to adhere to the teachings of Jesus, it is important to realize that you too should obey to the Scripture, cultivate good character, and good behavior. However, this is quite obvious.

Women are generally unhappy when men employ ‘standards’ for a wife for marriage because it feels judgmental and/or it removes them from consideration. The same is true of male white knights. This is simply blustering that you should ignore. A potential wife is literally part of yourself, and it deserves amply consideration of you and your mission because she is going to be your helpmeet. Anyone that tells you otherwise does not have your interests in Christ in mind.

If you hold yourself to high standards in Christ you should also be looking for a spouse who holds themselves to high standards in Christ. It’s prudent. Its discerning. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, or you will probably pay the price down the road.

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2 Responses to The unique fallacy and why judgments matter

  1. donalgraeme says:

    This means that when we revert to base behavior that trends come out of the woodwork, especially over a large sample size of the population

    Exactly. Our appetites are universal, although how we express them might differ somewhat. But taken as a whole general patterns can be observed.

  2. Moi says:

    The best indicator of future behavior, is past behavior.

    Don’t ignore the red flags.

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