Imbalanced market forces

Donal’s post starts to explore this and this is a follow up to my previous post on revisiting the Christian marriage market. To distill the issues down, it usually always comes down to two different things, which are typically categorized as “attractiveness” and “desirability.”

  1. Become more attractive if you’re not getting asked out and/or not able to maintain relationships (aside from developing better people and communication skills).
  2. Cultivate the roles and responsibilities of marriage from the Scripture as well as good character and work ethic.

Neither sex is being told to do either nowadays.

First, let’s address number 1 on attractiveness.

Women have it “easier” for what they need to do for physical beauty but their ceiling is fixed to a certain extent. Wear dresses, get long hair, take care of their bodies with good nutrition and exercise, take care of skin, and use some light flattering makeup if necessary. Facial genetics, body type, and so on can’t change that much which is why the ceiling is fixed. However, the fact that men love all different types of women plays into womens’ favor. Review: feminine beauty is highly controllable. I do think his percentages are off though.

Men tend to have a greater ceiling, but much of it is abstruse. PSALM/LAMPS summarize the various ‘traits’ shall we say which are power, status, athleticism, looks, money. However, most of these things take time to accumulate and/or are difficult to cultivate. How does one necessarily become more ‘powerful’ in personality or more manly? It’s difficult to explain and difficult to teach and inspire in men.

This is also why mens’ attractiveness tends to peak in their 30s while female attractiveness tends to peak in their late teens and early to mid 20s.

In general, women know what will make them more attractive. Their only problem is doing it. Christian women are often persuaded that they shouldn’t do it sadly and to their detriment. In general, men do not know what will make them more attractive. This is part of why the market is imbalanced in favor of women, not to mention the fact that most women tend to find most men unattractive (see: OKCupid statistics).

Second, let’s address number 2 on desirability.

The desirable traits for Christians looking for other Christians are a serious Christian growing in the faith, cultivating good works and the fruits of the Spirit, and building good character, and so on.

Generally speaking, both sexes are being set up to fail, each in different ways. I would not necessarily categorize one sex as having a harder time than the other.

Women will tend to have more trouble in terms of roles and responsibilities because society and even the Church is all about ‘feminist’ and ‘careerist’ views. Submission, respect, homemaking, and kindness are in short supply. When everyone is saying to do something, it’s going to be much more difficult to do the right thing straight out of the Scriptures.

On the flipside, men are still trashed and disrespected to a large extent in both the culture and Church. The blame for everything is placed on them, even when it is not their fault and there is rebellion in the home. The husbands and boyfriends are set up to fail because they believe they should be “nice” rather than masculine and authoritative and kind.

Overall, men tend to be more deceived in terms of what the Scriptures state especially from the Church pulpit, while women tend to be more deceived in terms of falling to worldly values. This is generally a wash.

Other thoughts

One of the things that doesn’t often get enough attention is reciprocality. The essential nature of this concept is the observation of ‘assortive mating’ where generally 10s match up with 10s, 9s match up with 9s, and so on.

Generally, those who consistently exercise and have good nutrition habits — “muscular” for male and “toned” for female — tend to have better prospects in terms of attracting a mate. Those who put some effort into their clothing choices, style, grooming, and so on tend to make better first impressions and have greater prospects. Certainly, there are some exceptions, but it’s a general trend.

Consensus

When you both the concerns of #1 on attractiveness and #2 on desirability together, you see the common trends of the unmasculine nice Christian man who other Christian women see as “just friends” and the typical chasing the attractive bad boys and/or missionary dating.

The Christian women who rightly won’t date bad boys or missionary date tend to feel they’re stuck in a funk of no prospects and/or no dates. The Christian nice guys believe they have decent prospects but can’t get an accepted date or maintain a relationship, or they believe they have no decent prospects given particular criteria.

Most ‘traditional families’ tend to instill desirability traits within their children, but fail to address attraction on the level of its overall importance for marriage. In general, this is why I see the common trend of most 8-10s being married because they simply are attractive to the opposite sex and have many ‘chances’ at marriage, even despite low desirability quotients from some of said spouses. On the other hand, the declining marriage rates among the <=4-7s show that drops in attractiveness make the desirability quotients more applicable to selection.

The most applicable notion for both Christian men and women is to try to boost up their attractiveness to the 7+ range if at all possible and approach marriage seriously from an earlier age, especially the young women. Desirability via growth in the faith and aim toward developing a solid set of abilities to fulfill roles and responsibilities in marriage is still paramount, but attraction should not be neglected as another serious component that plays a significant factor in increasing prospects.

Conclusions

At this juncture, I don’t think it is wise to say whether Christian “women” or “men” have it harder. Both have somewhat terrible to mediocre prospects, if they are blow average to slightly above average. Rather, those who are not more than average attractiveness have it more difficult than those who are conventionally or exceptionally attractive.

I suppose that brings us full circle back to the old SNL sexual harassment skit with Tom Brady:

Be handsome, be attractive, and don’t be unattractive.

Creative, I know. But it accurately describes the issue to a T.

The real question is why Christian men and women still refuse to do anything about improving their prospective odds and hope that someone comes to find them.

Okay, a man might not be overweight or skinny… but he would have better odds if he put on a lot more muscle and lost some fat. Yeah, a woman might not be overweight or she is slim… but she would probably have better odds if she looked closer to a fitness model or toned. That’s simply one area. Clothes, style, hair, grooming, and other things can also factor in as well.

Posted in Godly mindset & lifestyle | Tagged | 5 Comments

Revisiting the Christian marriage market

There’s been some additional good material over at Scott’s post still aside from my post on Make it happen.

Elspeth comments:

4) Out in the *real world*, there are very few men who are overly impressed by virginity. I can see how (after 5+ years of reading “no hymen, no diamond”) one could get that impression, but it’s skewed. That includes men in the church. Look around at the number of men who marry women they have slept with, or knocked up, or whatever, BEFORE the wedding. This includes sincere Christian men. I don’t subscribe to the “no true Christian” trope because all Christians have weaknesses.

5) Just thought I would throw that in. In a self-selecting barrage of commentary, and after a long period of time reading said commentary (especially if you’ve been dating from this pool as well), it’s easy to have a skewed perception of things. It’s one of the reasons I am so, so big on sticking our necks out there and developing connections with a wide variety of people. Good, decent, Christian people come from various walks of life.

6) I am not saying you are idolizing your virginity. I believe you understand full well that at 32, you are at a “disadvantage” compared to a 22 year old who may or may not be a virgin. It’s just the reality of things and you don’t strike me as someone out of touch with reality. Fortunately, it only takes one good fit to find someone with whom you can build a life. I believe you will find him, and FWIW, I have met quite a few women who have several babies from their 30’s. I think a lot of the difficulties are overstated because they include women -the majority- who have been on birth control, promiscuous, are unhealthy, etc. All things which are ubiquitous and have effects on fertility.

ys comments:

1) Yes, traditional types are having trouble getting married now, including traditional women. Is it because of fears of divorce? Likely, not. I know a man in Christ (not myself) who was acquainted with a small number of traditional women. Who did he marry? The single mom. Wait, forgot to mention: The California Beach Blonde single mom who is a 9. Yeah, that matters. People here, and in other parts of the manosphere, can opine about what “should be.” End of the day, how many of the ones who say “AWALT” would turn down the 9 who was interested? Would any of them babble, “No Hymen, no Diamond?” Likely not. This is our weakness, as men. We know for women that they make rules for beta, and break them for alpha. Most men, make rules for 5’s and 6’s (be traditional, no college, virgin, etc.) but when the 9 or 10 comes along and wants to settle down, who cares what her N is?

2) Yes, the young traditional men, as in, the ones actually following God and doing what His Word says (no pre-marriage sex) do seem to be having more trouble settling down. I know several men like this IRL, and I wonder to myself if the sex drive is there, or what’s up. I think their parents detested the post 1960’s dating system, but didn’t really set up anything to replace it. Further complicating matters is the need to be financially set upon marriage. That was easy for my parents’ and grandparents’ generations (Dad had mortgage-paying job in manufacturing at age 18, Grandpa, while never wealthy, didn’t even have a high school diploma, but had five kids and a young marriage). All of these factors increase the challenge for today’s young people, no doubt.

3) It is hard to make a consensus of what the manosphere truly believes. The reasons for this seem to be: the manosphere is a mix of true Christians, PUAs, and those who would use the Bible as a club to teach submission to husbands but don’t really believe it otherwise (good grief that last line sounds feminist, but it is true unfortunately).

Generally speaking, these observations are easy to understand.

  • Age and attraction matters. Men will “compromise” on a lot of different things if a woman is young and attractive.

This includes things like virginity, single mom status, character flaws, wishy-washy faith, and so on. Compromising on such things are not a good thing. It almost always comes back to bite people in the long run.

  • The only reason given in the NT to marry is attraction. 1 Corinthians 7:8 Now to the unmarried and widows I say this: It is good for them to remain unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Obviously, attraction is not the only thing, but it is a significant part of why all people — not just Christians — want to marry. If only Christians could just accept this, it would make things a lot easier. No kidding a husband and wife want to be “turned on” with each other.

  • Virginity matters, but not as much as attraction and/or a strong Christian faith.

Whether this is right or wrong I’m not going to speculate. I’m just talking about what “is.”

All things being equal, a man would rather marry a virgin than someone who has slept around a lot. There are a few instances where men are deceived by worldly standards and want their wife to have experience, but I typically have not seen this among Christians.

I’ve also noticed that many of my friends including myself would [have] rather married a devoted Christian with N > 0 than a lukewarm Christian who is a virgin. This is especially true if said pre-marital sex happened before a woman was a Christian, and she has shown a pattern of good behavior and works since becoming a Christian without further slip ups.

On the other side of the coin, you have those who will marry those who will sleep around or single moms. This is to their own detriment that they did not consider virginity important in conjunction with the Christian faith and pursued attraction above all else.

This is something that adds value, but given our culture there are various reasons why someone may not be marrying a virgin.

  • Incentives matter. Everything you see in the so-called “market” is driven by incentives. I listed quite a few of the negative and few positive incentives in my previous post make it happen.

What drives men and women toward marriage are a lot of different things such as biology (sex drive), masculinity/femininity, procreation, companionship, helpmeet, and so on. There are also a lot of things driving people away from marriage negatively like divorce, courts, child support, blowing up marriages, obesity, and so on.

It should be no surprise that marriage rates are declining. In fact, I think they would be declining even without no-fault divorce, screwed up courts, and so on. Over-exposure and the tyranny of choice drive that. People tend not to be as satisfied with their choices if they know there are ‘better options’ even if they can’t obtain such a better option.

  • The more qualifications, the harder it is. It’s simple mathematics.

This should be fairly obvious, but it seems like it’s not. The “true” Christians will have more stringent qualifications on who they marry for good reason. They want someone who is dedicated to their faith in both growing in Jesus and good character. They also want someone who is attractive to them. Such Christians will have a much more difficult time finding someone who is strong in their faith AND simultaneously attractive to them.

Some compromise the wrong way (attraction > faith + character). Some compromise the right way (faith + character > attraction). And some get both… Usually the 8-10s will get both nowadays. The rest will not.

Overall, age and attractiveness are the primary factors that tend to drive male sexuality and hence also marriage. Other factors may include companionship/helpmeet, respect/love (for men and women), wanting to have a family, virginity, and other such things. Age obviously plays a role in attractiveness due to beauty but also in fertility. Worldly things like status and money can be a factor as well.

This is the reason why it is important for women to cultivate their beauty, femininity, and have a mind for marriage at a younger age. It’s a huge leg up in finding suitable candidates that they’re also attracted to. Virginity is more of an “add on bonus” when everything is said and done for most of the population, even serious Christians depending on the circumstance. All things being equal, it is preferable.

Older Christian women who want to marry need to cultivate their beauty and femininity as much as possible as well as a kind, household oriented, and servant hearted demeanor. Age and beauty are not on their side so they may need to compromise in other areas but not faith or character.

Conclusion: Women your physical beauty will get you in the door, and your personality and spirituality will make him want to keep you. While the latter is the most important, you cannot neglect the former if you want to get married.

Conclusion: Men your masculine personality and confidence will get you in the door, and your ability to lead her spiritually will make her want to keep you. While the latter is the most important, you cannot neglect the former if you want to get married.

To go back to to the analogy I used in my first ever post on this blog, attraction matters as it gets your foot in the door. If you can’t get a foot in the door, you likely aren’t going to get married. Women won’t be asked out. Men won’t be accepted for dates or relationships.

Posted in Godly mindset & lifestyle | Tagged | 6 Comments

Make it happen

Scott has a post named June Cleaver might be unmarriagable right now. It’s likely the largest discussion in the past few years about the factors that go into finding a spouse that is suitable for marriage from the perspective of a woman (and also the factors that go into it for men).

Generally speaking, ever since the rise of no fault divorce and the decoupling of “sex” and “marriage” — at least in culture — via fornication and promiscuity, anyone looking for marriage has suffered extensively. There’s numerous reasons about why this has happened. I’m going to try to summarize many of the factors (not an exhaustive list).

  • Divorce and courts — young men see that wives can blow up their marriages for cash and prizes and they get to keep the children. Significantly decreases mens’ incentive to pursue marriage.
  • Sex without marriage / hook up culture — this is not a concern to serious Christians, but the fact that many people say they’re Christians but advocate pre-marital sex gives somewhat the illusion of Christian piety. There’s numerous cases of men and women who want to wait until marriage but are receiving interest from non-Christian and pseudo-Christians who want to “sample” before “marriage.”
  • Men are less masculine — men are less manly contributes to being shy in asking out women and taking risks. Men who aren’t masculine also tend to put responsibilities before roles, which is bad.
  • Women are less feminine and more masculine — this is obviously an influence from culture. In general, men do not want to marry a business partner. They want to marry a woman.
  • Feminism — although feminism is encompassed in all of these points, there are some that are not covered. No, you can’t “have it all.” It’s a lie. The Scripture tells wives to prioritize their God, husband, children, and the home.
  • Life Scripts — This is one of the biggest large impediments. Women are now expected to complete college and get a career before marrying. Men are expected to complete college, have a good paying career and job before marrying. This pushes marriage upwards of late 20s and early 30s+. The marriages coming out of late teens and early 20s are few.
  • Breakdown in communication — flaking and standing up people is extremely common. Women started it, men continued it, almost everyone does it.
  • Obesity — no real comments are needed. It’s pretty much universally unattractive, except to the few people with fat fetishes.
  • Husbands and fathers are held with contempt — this needs no explanation. Surprise, what men want to be husbands and fathers if they are held with contempt?
  • Fear of disappearing sex — no one wants a frigid and sexless marriage, despite the fact that it has become a relatively common occurrence. Women tend to change on a dime about sex once they’re married. Stats indicate about 2/3rds of marriage husband have dominant sex drive and 1/3rd wives do. It can go both ways.

Christian sub-culture. There’s quite a few sources of rot in Christian sub-culture as well as logistical issues. Aided by Neguy’s post here.

  • Discipleship — The Church does not disciple men and push men into leadership positions. This tends to lead to men just hanging around in singleness. Likewise, women are not taught to be women.
  • Feminization in the Church — sappy love songs about Jesus, feelings over Truth, not teaching the hard parts of Scripture (headship, submission, women no authority over man, etc.). Men who come under this structure end up with a feminized world view where they should be “nice” to attract a woman. Nice never attracted anything but emotional predators.
  • Women cliques — if you try to ask someone out or date them it gets around. Nuclear rejections and ruining of reputation are not uncommon. If you date one, you basically can’t date anyone else in a Church. This has led men to not date women in their own Church and look outside of it.
  • Introversion / quietness — like it or not, those who are introverted and/or quiet tend to have worse prospects. Generally, they’re not as good with conversational skills and being bold enough to go talk to people.
  • Indicators of interest — men and especially women in Church think flirting is the devil. No indicators of interest are really shown.
  • “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” influence — both dating and courtship are not Biblical concepts. Who even knows what they are anyway. Christians should stop taking these things so seriously and just get to know each other.
  • Christianizing and making things overly serious — sort of IKDG influence, but a bit different. Whenever you hear so and so is going out with someone, there’s the expectation that they’re going to get married. People ask when you’re going to get married. Can we just calm down and let young men and young women figure out if who they’re seeing is a good fit before asking them when they’re going to have babies?
  • Denominational differences — obviously a factor in shrinking the pool of candidates. Orthodox and Catholic generally won’t marry out. Protestants have the issue of various denominations falling into apostasy.
  • Obesity — sadly, obesity needs a re-mention on beating the obesity dead horse. Especially with Christians who think like this. My first ever post on this blog was about Practical ways to improve your attractiveness and desirability for a Christian spouse. It was removed by Boundless (Focus on the Family’s singles ministry). When you have supposedly Christian organizations ignoring reality well…  you get the point. Lest we not forget that feminine beauty is highly controllable.
  • Donal has a post up that overlaps some — market is awful, geographical issues, demographical issues, Christian parents are not teaching their children roles and responsibilities, young men are less interested in marriage (for many of the reasons above), and too many people are doing too little.
  • Christian conservative delusion — Delusion that America was Christian and that 1950s were ideal. “Traditional” is held up as some sort of standard, even on par with the Bible. After all, “if we could just go back to how it was… oh, but we should definitely keep this feminism stuff too”
  • Patriarchy = abuse delusion — Christians often buy the lies that there was abuse in Patriarchy in the Bible and that Jesus changed that. Also, that there was some sort of equality between Adam and Eve before the fall. Nothing changed from the Beginning to the OT to the NT —  Husbands and fathers still have authority over their wives and children.
  • White knighting sin — Dalrock has covered this extensively on how “womens’ sin is blamed on men.” Especially from the pulpit. This covers anything from abortion, to temper tantrums, to breaking china, and other “wake up calls.” It’s easy to blame men and hard to call out women. God forbid a man not want to get into a relationship if he’s going to get blamed for the sins of his wife.
  • Lack of respect — the Church and wives often hold husbands in contempt (see reasons above) and don’t give respect where it is due: for the position of the husband. Headship demands respect and submission because it’s headship. “Feelings” are held above “Truth.”
  • Culture of family distrust of suitors — The notion that “good fathers” are out to get any of the potential son in laws.

Despite all of these challenges, marriage is still good because God has created it.

1 Timothy 4:But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will [a]fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

Several solutions have been posited, especially including Church events. Fat chance, really.

You’re pretty much on your own. Make it happen, if you want to be married.

I’ve posted on this many times before, such as the the detailed timeline. I’ve posted before for women too including some of the above in obesity. Tons of practice advise in the categorized lists of posts.

The real issue is the same as you’ll see in marriage. You can’t expect the other person to change. You can only control you. Therefore, if YOU want to be married, YOU have to make every concerted effort to make it happen. This is true for both the man and the woman and the husband and the wife.

Seriouslyserving posted about how she did it.

Regarding “flirting”, I didn’t spend very long in the dating market, but I can tell you what worked to get my husband’s attention…

We had the advantage of living together at a church based student accommodation, so we saw each other a lot naturally.

But I had heard that he was into computers and a bit of a tech whizz, so I asked if he would mind helping me install my new printer. He was happy to do so, and this provided the opportunity to then talk a bit more one on one. He then saw my guitar sitting there and asked if I could play something for him, which I did so.

He had no idea until after we’d already been dating for a while that the printer and the guitar “lying around” were strategic moves, but they were effective ways of letting him know I was interested, whilst still being able to claim plausible deniability (as someone mentioned earlier) if nothing came of it.

I’ve posted an example of a “Real life Ruth” with the Part 1 and Part 2 followup. There are ways to make it happen. Women have the great ability to leverage social networks and set up situations that are conducive to success for them.

My story

With all of that said I’ll share my story, since I’m now engaged.

About 2.5 years ago, during an overnight Church event, I was talking with a group of people — men and women — about marriage. We talked about what we were looking for and how it was hard to find. I did this on the off chance that anyone there was something that I was looking for in a prospective wife. None of them met my criteria, and I don’t think I met theirs.

I always follow up on my leads regardless of whether they bear fruit or not. One of my habits was asking family, church members, friends, and others if they spot a woman that they think would be a good match for me to let me know. This is one of the things I listed in the detailed timeline and how-to guide. One of the women said they knew of a girl who went to a similar program at that Church last year, and another of the women knew her name so they gave it to me. I kept that in the back of my mind, as I was exploring other potential leads at the moment.

About 4-5 months later, I added her on Facebook and struck up a conversation as we were interested in mutual things. Honestly, I didn’t expect much of it because she lived on the west coast and I lived on the east coast. I had “dealt” with long distance before and was not a fan already, but I figured why not one last time since she seemed to be what I was looking for. Note that I did my homework first before I added her: checked out her FB and other social media to see if there were any red flags.

We struck it up immediately since we had a lot of things in common. This is where being an wise conversationalist comes in. Learning how to lead a conversation is useful to draw out certain responses. I actually went back through our conversations with her a year or so later, and I showed her where I ‘led’ her to certain topics that I wanted to talk about and/or tease her about. It was pretty fun to go back over what we had talked about early on and see how our relationship had changed as we got to know each other better.

As God would have it, I had actually planned before I messaged her to go on a missions trip prior to me talking with her. Our launch point before leaving was the same city that she lived in. Divine providence? You decide. In any case, I went to meet her and her family, and we decided to try the long distance thing a few weeks later. And the rest is history.

Actually, the rest is not history, haha. Just tried to fool you. Basically, like any relationship you have to continue to work at it and grow. I introduced to her several Biblical concepts that I like to go by in relationships. You can find more about that in my 5 step process to maturity in relationships. Indeed, even when a woman knows what she is supposed to do, learning how to do it is still difficult, even with a strong father figure in her life.

I still had to teach her what it means to respect me. I had to tell her when she was disrespecting me. As the [future] head of the relationship, I had to take the reigns and help teach her more about the Scriptures and what God’s roles and responsibilities for us were from. Some of it was easier. Some of it was harder. This is also vice versa with some of her needs on what it means to love her (cherish and nourish her).

The key is building a pattern of good behavior, patience, and lack of anger in conflict. If people understand that conflict is not something to run from, it is much easier to discuss the difficult aspects of the relationship especially when you disagree. This is the major issue that most relationships run into in conflict. If there are patterns of bad behavior, it’s very difficult to break the negative behavioral cycles. It can only be done through the grace of God and consistently walking by the Spirit.

In any case, once you have begun and consistently applied a pattern of good works within a relationship by walking with the Spirit it becomes much easier. Although there are still bumps in the road here and there, the foundation of trust has already been built. It is important to continue nurturing this foundation of trust and grow it as you grow together. The bond of the Scriptural roles and responsibilities is that foundation, as the way a husband and wife are to act toward each other is fulfilled.

It took a while to meet the rest of her family in another part of the state. Unfortunately, a series of miscommunications made it so that her parents were somewhat negatively predisposed to me in the beginning because of a lot of second hand information. Things have been slowly getting better over time as we’ve talked about it. There have definitely been various conflicts at the hands of what I would call an overprotective father-in-law who seemingly wants my relationship to look like his before I had to permission to marry his daughter. I’ve discussed that with my mentor (and any young men should try to find one!), and it helps to have another ear of a wise married man about things like that.

Overall, for me the whole way is that I’ve had to make things happen on my own. My parents didn’t give me any advice or talk to me about relationships while growing up. I definitely learn some of what to do from them, and I’ve learn some of what not to do from them. I’ve learned most of what I should be doing from the Scriptures themselves.

I glean wise advise from other married and unmarried men as necessary. Different perspectives are good, even if they’re giving you some white knight-ized version as there is usually some sort of Truth within what they’re saying (even if it’s to do the opposite). Thankfully, I’ve been at a Church that dwells on what God says about marriage straight up, and the men I’ve discussed it with all have solid experience with it to learn from.

Conclusion

If you want to be married, the odds are against you.

  • You must be extremely proactive about developing your communication and social skills.
  • Study the Scriptures about relationships and marriage. Pray, meditate, and fast on the Word.
  • Be at peace with the season you are in.
  • Look for every opportunity and seize them.
  • Go into everything with eyes wide open. Don’t ignore red or yellow flags. Build your foundation on the Rock.
  • Use the wise advice from blogs such as Dalrock, Scott’s, Donal’s, Cane’s, mine, and so on.
  • It never hurts to ask for help from those who are further along in the journey. You don’t always have to take it, but the perspective of men who have studied the Scriptures and experienced a lot in relationships is useful in most cases. This is community, especially if your real life situation with family, friends, and Church isn’t that great.

May God bless you in your search or marriage!

Posted in Godly mindset & lifestyle | Tagged | 37 Comments

Engagement and marriage

Engagement and marriage are two separately defined concepts in the Scripture which are most interesting to study.

“Dates” and “Dating” and “Courtship” don’t exist. They’re made up. It’s not that these concepts are “bad” in any meaning of the word, but they can become too much of a focus making mountains of nothing, not even molehills. They can become an idol.

The “engagement” of the Church with Jesus is symbolized with the sealing of the Holy Spirit:

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. 17 That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.

2 Corinthians 1:21 God establishes us, together with you, in a relationship with Christ. He has also anointed us. 22 In addition, he has put his seal of ownership on us and has given us the Spirit as his guarantee.

Ephesians 1:13 In [q]Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also [r]believed, you were sealed in [s]Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is [t]given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil [s]an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with [t]one who has need. 29 Let no [u]unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification [v]according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, [w]by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [x]you.

In our culture, a “ring” signifies engagement. Engagement rings have a long history going back to the Greeks.

Although the ancient Egyptians are sometimes credited with having invented the engagement ring,[1] and the ancient Greeks with having adopted the tradition,[2] the history of the engagement ring can only be reliably traced as far back as ancient Rome.[3][4][5] In many countries, engagement rings are placed on the ring finger of the left hand. At one time it was believed that this finger contained a vein (the vena amoris) that led to the heart. This idea was popularized by Henry Swinburne in A treatise of Spousals, or Matrimonial Contracts (1686).[6] The story seems to have its origin in the ancient Roman book Attic Nights by Aulus Gellius quoting Apion’s Aegyptiacorum, where the alleged vein was originally a nervus (a word that can be translated either as “nerve” or “sinew”).[7]

Indeed, throughout history beyond that point, rings were used to show wealthy, publicly advertise that a woman was taken, custom, privilege, and so on.

To Christians, pagan traditions means nothing. 1 Corinthians 8 with food sacrificed to idols and all. We are not defiled by pagan traditions. However, it can be used as a sign as Christians to signal that they are engaged, much like Jesus gives the Church the Holy Spirit. The key is not making it into an idol and having the heart in the right place to honor God.

The marriage of the lamb to his bride happens in Revelation 19 when Christ returns.

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His [b]bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the [c]saints.

9 Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.” 10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he *said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Prior to this, Jesus gives the Church a warning to be faithful to him, especially in Revelation 2 and 3, and also in the gospels with parables and stories about the ten virgins and sheep and the goats.

In general, those who have “true” faith and have received the Holy Spirit will talk the talk and walk the talk through acts of righteousness, which will be the bride’s marriage clothing in her marriage to Jesus.

1 Timothy 1:3 As I urged you [a]upon my departure for Macedonia, [b]remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to [c]pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering [d]the administration of God which is by faith. 5 But the goal of our [e]instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

The period from engagement to marriage is not fulfilled with nothing.

Our transformation from lost to saved to disciple is about engaging the Church to its gifts such as evangelism, teaching, and so on, along with baptism, communion, and good works in preparation for marriage for the Church to be married.

Likewise, so too a man and woman who are engaged should prepared themselves for marriage:

  • A woman must prepare herself to be a wife: to respect and obey her future husband (Eph 5, 1 Pet 3, Col 3, Tit 2), to cultivate chaste and respectful behavior and a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet 3), and to learn to love (philos) their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored (Tit 2).
  • A man must prepare himself to be a husband: headship (Eph 5), a sacrificial love for her sanctification, not feelings — 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph 5), to treat her as he treats himself x3 (Eph 5), to nourish and cherish (Eph 5), not be embittered toward her (Col 3), and to live with her in an understanding way as someone who is weaker, and show her honor as a co-heir in Christ (1 Pet 3).

We honor God by obeying His commands, even when they are not “popular” or not “lauded” or even “despised” by the world. God’s Word does not change with the times. It is eternal, and it shows God’s design for marriage. Marriage is more fulfilling and even more successful when we follow God’s commands for it.

My reflection back on the Scriptures about engagement and marriage again is that much more fulfilling now that I am engaged to my fiancée. It is also a stark reminder that the journey is never over, either for the wife or husband, to grow more like Christ. It is only in Christ that I have full confidence knowing that the road I walk is difficult, especially in our blatantly blasphemous culture.

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Be a wise conversationalist, not an interviewer

Scott recently posted on a comment from Elspeth on how a man came off as “interview-y” when getting to know a woman and on date.

As someone with a decent amount of personal experience in the matter of vetting, there is some general wisdom in doing this. I posted a list of questions quite a few years ago that I’ve used to vet, and you gotta keep in mind no one really likes being interrogated.

  • Have fun. Getting to know someone shouldn’t be a bore or an interview. This is generally also why I prefer activity dates as opposed to sitting down and eating.
  • Start with the her, not her history. Get to know who she is now first. Then delve into the past, and see how it has affected her in the present. No one, not even you, wants to be judged on their past without someone knowing who you are now. All of us make mistakes, to some degree or another.
  • General conservation. Don’t throw out questions one after the other. That’s an interview. You throw in a question here and there interspersed with general conversation. If you’re talking about your family, you can throw in a transition to an “interview” question about family. An example of this would be you’re chatting about your background and how you were raised (e.g. the past), then you can throw in a question about how she would like to raise her family, if and when (e.g. the future). As you can see, talking about your past can be transitioned to a question about how she sees the future playing out.
  • Framing. Sometimes throwing out questions is fine like the past-to-future type of conservation on how she would raise her family. However, value statements and stories are good too. For instance, if we were talking about family, you could comment on something that worked effectively for your parents when they were raising you. That allows her to transition the conversation to how her parents raised her, how she wants to raise her kids, or see if she’s interested in knowing more about you.
  • Ask about current events. There’s so much feminism, divorce, sex change, homosexuality, and so on prevalent in the media nowadays that it’s not hard to solicit an opinion (not even in the form of a question) on how you can learn about her values. One way to do this is to just go along the lines of… “Oh, did you hear the story on the news about ___?” […] “No? Well, it was about ___ and so and so things happened. It’s crazy.” Then she will usually want to insert her opinion on such and such matter and it can lead to a discussion about said topic.
  • Generally speaking, going with the list that I wrote in the link above, you want to start with less intimate topics and work toward there. Delving into family divorce history on a first date is generally not a wise idea.

These are all good examples of how to lead a conversation well to where it doesn’t seem like an interview.

I personally like starting with her hopes and dreams, her relationship with God, what she values, and who she wants to be in the future. You can tell a lot about someone and their identity (in Christ or not in Christ) from these few things. Also, pretty easy to throw some teasing around too.

It takes practice to pull off effectively, but it also teaches you how to be a good conversationalist and lead the interaction the way you want.

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Sexless marriage and other relationship statistics

Dalrock’s recent post on Wilcox motivated me to dredge this up from my drafts folder about 8 months ago.

According to Nicholas B Wolfinger, one of the authors:

Approximately 85 percent of Americans will marry in their lifetimes. Most will stay married, and most of these marriages will be happy. These are incontrovertible facts backed by survey after survey.

We already know that 40-50% of marriages end in divorce, depending on who you get your statistics from. I don’t see how that is a happy outcome in most cases. Of course, this is too common, so lets look at some other factors.

Statistics

A few years back, some of us as SSM’s were speculating how many marriages were actually sexless and/or unhappy even though they stayed together. I found some stats after stumbling onto a wiki about it.

A sexless marriage is a marriage in which little or no sexual activity occurs between the two spouses. The US National Health and Social Life Survey in 1994 (Laumann et al. 1994) found that 2% of the married respondents reported no sexual intimacy in the past year. The definition of a non-sexual marriage is often broadened to include those where sexual intimacy occurs fewer than ten times per year, in which case 20 percent of the couples in the National Health and Social Life Survey would be in the category. Newsweek magazine estimates that 15 to 20 percent of couples are in a sexless relationship.[1] Studies show that 10% or less of the married population below age 50 have not had sex in the past year. In addition less than 20% report having sex a few times per year, or even monthly, under the age 40.[2]

It appears that ~20% of marriages are what we would call sexless (<10 times per year) or about once a month.

We don’t know how many of these marriages are going to end up in divorce. Some of these are headed for divorce for whatever reason. We don’t really know how much adultery or other factors are going on either.

Other data show similar qualities:

More than 7 times a week: 3%
7 times a week: 1%
6 times a week: 3%
5 times a week: 9%
4 times a week: 11%
3 times a week: 13%
2 times a week: 21%
once a week: 25%
once a month: 8%
less than once a month: 9%

Approximately 17% (once a month to less than once a month) are sexless. I would assume that most “once a weekers” are probably unhappy with that. The sex drive of men is typically higher than that of women, but women can become dissatisfied with lack of frequency as well.

We know that at the lowest 40% of marriages end in divorce. So if we assume that most of the sexless ~20% of marriages end in divorce, a large portion of those in the 25% once a week range are going to divorce as well. This doesn’t take into account the potential dissolution of marriages with more frequency sex that have other problems.

I would suspect many of the cases with the approximate “once a week” don’t actually do it “once a week” but are rather clustered together around a woman’s ovulation cycle. So maybe the week when said wife was ovulating. Otherwise, it’d just be another sexless marriage.

If you take the “once a weekers” with the sexless marriager, you get approximately 43% low sex marriages and 57% higher sex marriages. Not too far off from the regularly quoted divorce statistics.

More interesting is this:

How is your marriage set up?

Husband leads/in control: 22%
Equal, but husband is “more equal”: 33%
Egalitarian: 27%
Equal, but wife is “more equal”: 13%
Wife leads/in control: 4%

We know that sex is commanded by the Scriptures in 1 Cor 7, but headship-submission and love-respect is also commanded.

The interesting split between the husband or “more husband led” marriages to the egalitarian and wife run marriages are 55% to 45%. The fact that the 45% of egalitarian or wife run marriages mirrors the divorce statistics isn’t exactly that surprising to me.

Do you find your sex life fulfilling?

Yes: 53%
No: 47%

The fact that it mirrors the divorce statistics is not at all surprising either.

longitudinalmarriageresearch

Some longitudinal research on marriage indicates that the greatest predictors of marital stability are:

  • For both: the highest are Marital satisfaction and Sexual satisfaction
  • Husband/family Income and masculinity for men
  • Age, age at marriage, education, and Husband/family income for women
  • For couples: positive behavior and attitude homogeny

The Scriptures are indeed wise ranking sexual satisfaction and specific roles and responsibilities high on the lists.

Of course, negative indicators are:

  • For both: Depression, negative reciprocal [behavior], stress, parental divorce, couple negative behavior, and positive reciprocity.
  • For women: Receiving welfare, unhappy childhood, premarital cohabitation, openness, parental divorce, premarital pregnancy, and neuroticism.
  • For men: extraversion, unhappy childhood, (lack of) employment, neuroticism, and parental divorce.

In general, it looks like a list of things the Bible says to avoid, barring a few.

Interesting how parental divorce more negatively affects men than women, but it affects men more so. This is also why vetting for background and character is important.

It’s interesting that lots of the indicators on headship-submission, masculinity, roles of the husband and wife, and sexual frequency all come out to the 40-50% range which actually represents the approximate amount of divorces. It’s almost as if the One who inspired the Scriptures who was also the author of marriage knew what He was talking about.

Even the “secular” marriages tend to follow the natural law that was created by God.

Other statistics

I’m some others from Kinsey’s FAQ.

Median number of opposite-sex partners in lifetime among U.S. men and women aged 25-44 years of age is 6.6 for men and 4.3 for women. (National Center for Health Statistics, 2015)

Men lie by overinflating. Women lie by underinflating. Since it a man and a woman for every sexual encounter, the true rate is somewhere between them.

Percentage of men and women aged 15-44 years of age who have had 15 or more opposite-sex sexual partners in their lifetime is 21.8% for men, and 10.6% for women. (National Center for Health Statistics, 2015)

20% rule anyone? Although, we can’t tell if said men were overinflating. I would be interested to see the full stats on partner breakdown.

Over 50% of respondents ages 18-24 indicated that their most recent sexual partner was a casual or dating partner. For all other age groups, the majority of study participants indicated that their most recent sexual partner was a relationship partner. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010).

Hookup culture is real. For every relationship you see, there are as many hookups.

Men and women both were likely to report sexual satisfaction if they also reported frequent kissing and cuddling, sexual caressing by the partner, higher sexual functioning, and if they had sex more frequently. On the other hand, for men, having had more sex partners in their lifetime was a predictor of less sexual satisfaction.

Men become jaded to sex too. The so-called ‘player burnout.’

[KI] Frequent kissing or cuddling predicted happiness in the relationship for men, but not for women. Both men and women reported more happiness the longer they had been together.

Surprise, men are the real romantics.

In any case, there’s lots of conclusions to be had here, and they all align with the Scriptures.

  • Frigidity in marriage is a sin. Have lots of sex.
  • Husband led marriages are more successful.
  • Men are providers and masculine. Women ages and age at marriage are important and value of men’s provision. Education may correlate with better self control and long term planning in women.
  • Positive behavior and attitudes are important. (Rather, godly attitudes and behavior).
  • Vet for divorce risk via factors such as depression, negative reciprocal [behavior], stress, parental divorce, couple negative behavior, positive reciprocity. For women: receiving welfare, unhappy childhood, premarital cohabitation, openness, parental divorce, premarital pregnancy, and neuroticism. For men: extraversion, unhappy childhood, (lack of) employment, neuroticism, and parental divorce.
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Insecurity underlies the human condition and reveals our need for a Savior

I wanted to expand on Donal’s post Tissue Paper Walls.

“Much of this insecurity comes from the gap in physical prowess between men and women. We men are much more capable of defending ourselves and imposing our will on our environment than women are- at least at the individual level. But whatever its source, it has a profound effect on female behavior. Women are constantly, and often at an unconscious or subconscious level, trying to alter their environment to make it feel more secure.”

Having thought about it more, I can think of additional reasons for female insecurity.  One of them is that women know (mostly at an unconscious level) how vulnerable pregnancy and child-raising makes them. Another is that women, again unconsciously, realize how limited their peak fertility and SMV window is. They worry about optimizing that time, and covering for when they are no longer at their peak. There is plenty of room for speculation there, and my commenters can feel free to contribute.

However, I want talk about how the insecurity should be handled. One of the problems with that insecurity is that ill-intentioned men can exploit it. Often times quite easily. And course, it usually isn’t entirely unwillingly. But exploitable it still remains.

At the same time, I think that this insecurity is something that good men can relieve or buttress. They can, in the right scenario, build up women’s confidence in a positive way. This can help women resist that lure of exploitation or build up a wall against it. Men can supplement the tissue paper or paper mache walls that women may have with walls of stone and gates of iron.

There has been many a pastor nowadays who say that “insecurity is a sin” or in other words “a lack of self esteem is a woman’s greatest sin.” After all, insecurity supposedly leads to low self worth. Men, of course, are parroted with the typical sins of pride, lust, greed, and so on. However, the source of womens’ greatest sin issue is a lack of self esteem generated from insecurity.

Of course, all this is bunk.

Insecurity is simply a source of temptation.

God created man to dwell with Him in the garden:

Genesis 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

God also created man with the ability to be tempted, and to make free will choices regarding temptation:

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

The reality is that temptation has always existed, and men and women are given the choice to fall into temptation or not. Insecurity is simply one form of temptation.

You could argue that Eve was “insecure” in herself and thus desired to be like God to feel un-insecure. You could also argue that Adam was “insecure” without Eve and thus followed her into temptation rather than trusting in God. Both of these are the Truth.

Distinguishing what occurred “before the fall” and “after the fall” is important because it leads to numerous conclusions we can draw on in pursuit of Jesus. For example, unlike the egalitarian argument on marriage, there is ample evidence to suggest that headship existed prior to the fall. Indeed, there was a structure of authority prior to the fall with the husband as the head of the wife. This completely destroys the egalitarian argument that men and women were somehow “equal” prior to the fall, which, according to them, nullifies the statements of headship-submission between the husband and wife in the NT.

Given how Genesis 3 plays out, insecurity existed well before the fall. God created such an attribute within man as an interaction with free will. Since God was dwelling with men, the righteous action in the garden would have been to flee from temptation to the Creator. This “insecurity” was meant to be a free will choice between “sin” and “relationship with God.” We should should seek refuge in the Lord in our insecurity.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

It is no mistake that it was this way in the beginning, and that it is the same way after Jesus has redeemed us.

Insecurity reveals our need for a Savior.

In regard to Donal’s post, Christians are to build up other Christian’s faith and also act as earthly models of Christ. It is not so much that we should focus building up security out of insecurity, but that we should focus on kingdom principles and covenants. Marriage is one of those. Seeking God in insecurity is another. A husband modeling Christ-Church relationship when his wife or kids are insecure is another.

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Thoughts on wisdom and omniscience

One thing I’ve been mulling over more recently is human behavior and statistical probability. I’ve written on vetting and statistics before, so this was going more deeply into it.

  • Statistical models tell us the probability that any random person exhibiting certain characteristics or behavior will have a particular outcome.
  • In the same way, our world is also probabilistic if you’ve studied quantum mechanics at all.
  • Likewise, I can take a glance at any random relationship, and tell if they are more or less likely to break up in the future based on certain attitudes, behaviors, and trends.

Prediction of human behavior is not all that complex when you see the patterns behind their interactions. We can say for certain that those who have previously been in violent relationships will most likely get themselves again into violent relationships. Cheaters will cheat again. Those who have had pre-marital sex have the highest risk of divorce. Those who smoke have an inflated risk of lung cancer. And so on.

This is is also why it is true that only through Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit can we make any change that goes against a probabilistic and therefore deterministic future. Materialism, without the metaphysical, is bound to determinism. The divine nature changes the material.

Thus, free will allows us the foresight to examine the future. Wisdom is foresight into the statistical patterning of creation that allows one to choose righteousness — or insert other characteristic here — for any particular situation. In effect, it is limited omniscience to be able to see the consequences of future possibilities and change/choose our behavior to do the right thing.

A divine being, who knows the hearts and minds of all, necessarily has omniscience due to unlimited foresight into statistical patterning and behavior into the future (otherwise known as cause and effect). This should be no surprise to us as we are created in God’s image and have the capacity for the qualities of God to a very limited extent.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

When we exercise our ability to “see the future” according to wisdom, we choose what is right and thus fear the Lord.

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Destructive tendencies

I was mulling over how everything that goes against God’s Word is destructive. What brought this up was a review over the times I’ve been to churches with female pastors. Unsurprisingly, they’re all small, waning in attendance, or dying off completely.

  • Female pastors? The ‘Church’ doesn’t flourish and eventually dies.
  • Feminism? Leads to no marriage, no children, abortion, and children become deceived
  • Male led marriages flourish, egalitarian and women led marriages experience discontent and destruction.
  • Frigidity in marriage? Leads to no children, dissension, marital strife, and divorce
  • Heck, go through the list in Galatians 5:19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Everything that is of God is protective of Christians, the Church, and relationships. It’s never solely beneficial for one party. It’s mutually beneficial for all parties. Even if it’s “hard,” “uncomfortable,” or “goes against common worldly wisdom.”

The obvious is not exactly obvious to many Christians until they examine it further.

If the tree is rotten, the fruits are rotten, and the tree eventually dies. If the tree is good, the fruits are good, and it flourishes.

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The relationship issues that get in the way of following Christ

Still quite busy with RL work which is why I haven’t been posting much.

Snapper has touched on a couple posts recently such as Belief versus Scripture.

A while back, when I was going through the issues with my pastor, I had a conversation with my daughter about her, my youngest son and myself doing an at home bible study, to which she informed me she didn’t want to take part in because she “didn’t believe what I believed about the bible”. Now, the more and more I think about this the more and more irritated I become. I think some Christians need to make a determination about what people “believe” and what the bible actually says.

Case in point: The bible says Jesus is the son of God. If you are a Christian there is no “what you believe” or “what I believe” about the statement. If you believe the bible, then you believe this to be true. You cannot say to another Christian, “Yeah, well, I don’t really believe that way”, unless by that statement you mean, “I am not a Christian and I don’t believe in the bible”.

[…]

I mean, the only other explanation is that a person simply wants to have the appearance of being an obedient follower of Christ, but in reality has no interest in being obedient. By doing this they give themselves the appearance of being so, but also give themselves an escape route, just in case.

Don’t be that kind of Christian. Though it may fool those around you, your ruse is not very effective on the one who can see the heart, and knows your every thought. When a verse is clear, it would be wise to take its meaning as such.

Lots of things “get in the way” of the Truth. In fact, the Bible is quite clear of many such things that get in the way. Pride is usually the main one, but it can be other temptations like the other deadly sins of Envy, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, and Greed. Some others are wolves in sheep’s clothing, but we are warned about that too.

In general, even those who are trying to be followers of Christ tend to slip up because we cling to our past more than the hope of Christ for the future. What I mean by this is that we tend to be shaped by our past experiences.

For example, a child that grew up with his father absent may often feel like God the Father is not there for him. His experience(s) shape the way he views God, rather than the other way around. Another example of this is a mother who is abusive to her children. Children coming to our heavenly father may get stuck in the mindset of being unworthy of forgiveness, feel that it’s right that authority is abusive, and so on.

Both past experiences and the feelings associated with them tend to shape our thinking and beliefs rather than the other way around. This should not be a surprise, and biologically it makes sense. When we are placed in stressful situations, we often have very strong feelings associated with it, and that is how the strongest memories in our brains are formed. This is precisely why we tend to remember hurts rather than joys and evil rather than good.

In Snapper’s example of his daughter, the problem is that his daughter had certain behavior modeled to her for a long time. This includes the unsubmissive and unrepentant attitudes and actions of his wife. It really should not be a surprise that she is going to feel a certain way and react to a changing situation negatively, as she had viewed the previous situation as normal. This type of thing is a huge problem.

The longer the past experiences have gone on, the harder it is to change the acquired momentum the impression of past experiences on a relationship.

This is generally why if you’re in a ‘newer dating relationship,’ and things go south and stay south it’s generally better to move on rather than try to fix things. Relationship dynamics, especially Biblical Christian principles, that are already screwed up are tough to fix and in many cases not worth it. Of course, this is not possible with all relationships, especially marriage.

Change, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can right the ship. Or maybe it will never right the ship. But we change to be Christ followers not because we have the answers, but because we honor the One who has saved us.

Realistically, through the power of the Holy Spirit, all Christians have to consistently model Christ-like behavior until it becomes the new normal for those around us. Change is a funny thing, and people always think that those who are being “good” are doing it because they want something from you or are trying to manipulate you. The only thing that can dispel that notion is Christ working through us consistently, over short or long periods of time.

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