Overstretch and Inconsistency at Mars Hill

HT to singleman, who provided a reference to this link.

This account looks particularly troubling on several fronts. Here is the quickie version of my thoughts:

(a) Andrew, to his credit, understands that he has substantial spiritual baggage involved here. If you’re engaged, and you make out with someone else, there’s a serious problem. That will not be resolved in days or even weeks, but rather months and possibly years. That the Mars Hill folks saw a need to address that is not the problem here. One must, however, credit Andrew for being up-front about his issue. Many lesser men would have attempted to sweep this under the rug.

(b) Andrew’s [now former] fiancee was not exactly pristine on this, either: she had been “physically involved” with Andrew. While it is true that the woman is the “weaker vessel”, there is no indicator in Scripture that she is never responsible for her own sexual indiscretions. For Mars Hill to subject him to accountability–for a sin issue that he confessed on his own volition–but not to subject HER to said accountability for a similar sin, is a major inconsistency on the part of Mars Hill. If Driscoll believes that the Scriptures teach such inconsistency, then he needs to go back and read his Bible.

(c) Andrew’s [now former] fiancee has now been set up for future failure, and this is at least as much on Mars Hill as it is on her and Andrew: she has been taught that she can commit egregious sins, and it’s not really her problem. When she eventually marries, her husband is going to be in a major world of hurt.

(d) MrsLarijani and I attend a church that is an Acts 29 affiliate. I can honestly say that the situation there is much more conciliatory and fair. When RL and BW had their affair, the elders did not pile on RL. No; they really were very equitable and even-handed in their assessments of both actors in the affair. BW was not derided as the Jezebel who brought down the pastor; nor was RL derided as the predator who “led poor BW down the path to promiscuity”. Both were confronted for their sin, and both were called to repentance. That is the way it needs to be.

Our church is actually quite laid-back. While the theology is conservative, I can honestly say that the small groups we have been involved with–one led by an Air Force Lietenant Colonel, and the other led by an Army chaplain, both of whom have doctoral degrees and ministry experience–have been anything BUT micromanagy.

For the elders, they have an accountability process to which they subject each other every week. I’ve seen the questionnaire that they use; it’s actually pretty impressive, and does include questions about potential sexual minefields.

Personally, what I would have recommended for Andrew: give him the same questionnaire that the elders use, and invite him to participate in that for a while. By doing this, you are extending him accountability, while at the same time telling him, “We are going to treat you on the same par as we would treat our top leaders here, so don’t be offended.”

Instead, it appears that Mars Hill has punted on a golden opportunity for real restoration.

Murrow: The Men are Screened Out of Church

Dave Murrow–author of Why Men Hate Going to Church–has the following take on the dating scene at the Church. (HT: Lisa Anderson of Boundless.)

I can’t say that my views are completely at odds with Murrow. I’ve long been a critic of children and youth ministry. And I completely agree with his take on female youth leaders. If you want to help boys become men, you need MEN involved in educating them. Otherwise, you are running a greater risk of developing a generation of GIRLY MEN.

Moreover, I also have observed exactly what he describes in the lengthy, intimate praise and worship sessions that drone on ad infinitum. I’ve also been in settings where–if you aren’t worshiping in terms that are satisfactory to the music minister–you end up on the receiving end of a plethora of shaming tactics.

And the teaching? Gooooodddnesssss, he’s right on the money. For one thing, the teaching is topical, with very little in-depth discussion of the Scriptures. As Murrow says, the emphasis is often on the hot moral issues, often involving sexual immorality. (While I’m all for admonishing people to eschew sexual immorality, there’s more to the Christian life than that.)

Sadly, it is in those years that the kids can be gaining great insight into the Scriptures. A good teacher can challenge them, and do this in a way that they would likely enjoy.

As for who ends up left among the adult men, Murrow provides his take on the categories of single men:

1. The Bible geeks. Quiet, studious men who love to study theological tomes. Or verbal guys who love to teach.

2. The musical. They play in the band. Or they stand on the front row raising their hands during the music.

3. The asexual. Guys who are OK with kissing dating (and kissing) goodbye.

4. The predators. Guys who know there are plenty of desperate young women in church and enjoy trying to get them in bed.

5. The social misfits. Strange men who come to church because it’s the only place women will smile at them.

(Hey…what’s so bad about us geeks?)

On a more serious note: the single musical types I saw either (a) got snatched up, or (b) were also in the “predator” category, as they used their musical affinity to attract the ladies, or (c) tended not to date at all.

Murrow also describes something quite interesting:

If you’re into these kinds of guys, then the church dating scene isn’t so bad. If not, then you’ll have to fight over the most rare (and for some, the most desirable) category of single churchgoing men: the late converts. These are men who came to Christ in their teens or 20s, bypassing much of the screening process. Many were saved out of terrible sin. They have been forgiven much and love God much. (These guys get snapped up quickly by the best-looking women.)

Granted, I didn’t see a whole bunch of that after I got out of college, but I did see a little bit of that dynamic during my days at Embry-Riddle, when I attended the Assembly of God church that ran the bus to campus. I knew a few of those guys–former drug/alcohol abusers who had been saved–and they had recently married. And their wives–while not originally members of that particular church–were definitely quite attractive.

I think what Murrow described there is more prevalent in the charismatic/Pentecostal circles. I think that has to do with the fact that charismatics/Pentecostals are a VERY forgiving lot, and are very receptive to people with baggage. Say what you want about some of their doctrinal emphases regarding certain spiritual gifts, but one thing they do that other evangelicals don’t do well: they are very receptive to people with “pasts”.

But here’s where I’m kinda mulling things over, and I’m not sure I’m completely in agreement with Murrow.

On one hand, he is suggesting that the men aren’t in the church, and yet he categorizes the men who are there: geeks, musicians, asexuals, predators, and the socially-challenged.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, but how would it go over if I said that the only single women available were (a) the gravitationally-challenged, (b) the divorcees, (c) the head cases, (d) the sluts, and (e) the basket cases? I didn’t think so.

My point: if Murrow is correct, then the women aren’t really asking, “Where are the men in Church?”

No…they are really asking, “Where are the ALPHA men in Church?”

Now let’s be honest here: we have a plethora of men and women who fall into the “tough to marry” brackets, who are having a hard time finding a mate. Fact is, 50 years ago, even these folks would have had an easier time getting married.

But both sides need to get a grip here: the ladies need to accept that not every gal is going to get an Alpha male; the men who fall into the difficult categories also need to gain better skills to improve their market value.

Still, Murrow is on many right tracks: the Church in the United States has a long way to come before She recovers from the onslaught of the Jesus with No Balls–the variation that has been slammed down the throats of Americans for nearly 150 years.

Leverage, by Karl Denninger

Karl Denninger is no stranger to these pages. With respect to the financial meltdown–and subsequent bailouts–that have crippled our economy, Denninger was one of a handful of commentators and economists who called it.

He has written a book about the conditions that led to the collapse, complete with an assessment of the current situation and what needs to change. That book is called Leverage.

I’ve read a fair share of books about the meltdown, and Denninger’s is probably the most comprehensive assessment of the debt situation in the United States. He leaves no stone unturned: federal spending; the complicity of the Federal Reserve from Volcker to Bernanke; Congress; Presidents from Reagan to Obama; federal regulators whose negligence bordered on criminal; Government-Sponsored Entities (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) whose leaders were grossly corrupt; the OTC derivatives that brought down AIG and other hedge funds; the banksters who got to walk away richer in spite of the financial carnage they caused; the consumer credit industry; the pension system; the health care system; and, of course, the student loan racket.

But Denninger doesn’t just stop there: he describes, in detail, the evolution of the culture of debt, fed by an increasing sense of entitlement by the American people, in coordination with a mother lode of unfulfillable promises made by government at local, state, and federal levels. He could have easily named the book Debt Spiral.

Anyone who thinks we can resolve Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security by making small changes, needs to read Leverage.

Some reviewers contend that Denninger’s nebulous solutions–“we need to have a discussion about X”–weaken his case. Honestly, I think that is a strong suit on his part: there are no pretty answers to our crises, and Americans need to decide, soberly, what the heck it is we want from our government.

Ponzi schemes tend to promise something for nothing. Those who invest early in that scheme will benefit–and many have. Trouble is, if you still are holding the bag when the scheme breaks, you are screwed. And make no mistake, government has run several Ponzi schemes, and the system has run out of suckers. Next to our government, Bernie Madoff looks like an Eagle Scout.

Perhaps Denninger’s most controversial section is his take on our health care system. Liberals–and some conservatives–will cringe when they look at his recommendations. While I have mixed feelings about his solutions for health care, but he does provide a good explication of the problems that exist in our system.

His chapter on energy promotes something that Ticker readers are well-familiar with: the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR). I’m not necessarily on the bandwagon, but–honestly–we need to look at more alternative sources of energy that offer the scale and energy density that we need.

The LFTR reactor could be a potential solution, but we won’t know until we get the government the heck out of the way and allow innovators and developers pursue it. As for the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) folks, I say build it in my back yard. I’m game.

Overall, I give Denninger 4.9 out of 5 stars for this one. I highly recommend it.

What I Would Ask Newt Gingrich

While South Carolina Republicans decided to laud Newt Gingrich’s smackdown of CNN’s John King, I would surmise that King punted on a golden opportunity to ask a question that mattered.

Mr. Gingrich, your most recent marital scandal occurred while you were the #3 man to the White House. Given that you did not allow the fact that you were within one Tom Clancy event of becoming President stop you from engaging in an affair, what would you tell the skeptical voter who is concerned that, if you were President, you may lack the judgment to avoid another such scandal, especially given that such a scandal would cripple your ability to provide Presidential leadership?

Seriously, I have no sympathy for Marianne Gingrich, Newt’s second wife. After all, her marriage to Newt was the product of the affair she was having with him while he was married to his first wife.

Payback, Marianne….

As for Gingrich, if he is the future of the GOP, then the GOP is totally screwed.

Part 3: What Men and Women Can Do (Now the Men)

In this installment, I need to provide some operational stipulations:

(1) This is directed toward those singles who ARE otherwise inclined to marry. I am not in the mandatory marriage crowd, and–if you wish to remain single–that is your call and I am cool with that.

(2) I am not an egalitarian with respect to marital roles. That understanding is nowhere to be found in Scripture.

OTOH, let’s look at the common complaints of the single women in the Church:

(a) The men won’t commit. In my discussions with Debbie Maken, she had seen that dynamic at all of her church experiences: the women outnumbered the men, and the men used that to their advantage.

MrsLarijani–during her time at Covenant College–also tells me that this dynamic was prevalent, as the women outnumbered the men. (Oh, and from what I saw from my few times on the campus, I believe her. There was quite a selection. And those gals are overwhelmingly from conservative Christian backgrounds.)

Right before we got married, MrsLarijani and I were at a singles forum at Covenant. The room was pretty evenly distributed with single men and women. The women ranged from very good looking to moderately attractive. I’ll bet I could have torn a page from Sun Yung Moon and paired every guy with a gal and everyone who wanted to be married could have been married. And yes, everyone in that room wanted marriage. That was obvious. And yet, there was zero pursuit going on, in a forum where the men were expected to be pursuers.

So yes, I do not doubt the accounts where the women complain of men not committing or pursuing.

(b) The men are spending too much time looking at porn. Again, this is not surprising. I could devote several posts to this very topic alone. It is a serious problem, and the men need to face it front and center.

(c) the women complain that the single men aren’t going to church. While I’ve had the opposite experience in my single life, I am seeing more of that dynamic now that I am married. I’m seeing some single women in my church, and there aren’t men for those women at that church. The single men I know in the church are already dating or engaged.

(d) the women complain of the “player” culture among the men. This is a problem, but–sadly–the women are part of it. Still, the men have some soul-searching to do on this one. I’ll address that.

To the men:

ONE ONE HAND, YOU HAVE BEEN SCREWED!!!

If you grew up in the church, you probably have been sold an emasculated Jesus. Your sorry excuse of a pastor was probably a total wuss who doesn’t have the stones to stand up to his own wife, let alone the women whose tushies he kisses, who sit on the committees that can fire him.

You have been taught to be nice Christian boys, who never get into conflicts, are always agreeable, and never fight with anyone. When you deal with the ladies, you are on eggshells, not wanting to disagree in fear that you will lose her. Your idea of “servant leadership” means you do whatever she wants.

If you keep that up, you will either (a) remain single, as no decent gal will be remotely attracted to you; or (b) end up in a very unhappy marriage if not divorced.

(One of our small group leaders–an Army chaplain who has extensive experience in marriage counseling–says that a lot of women, in divorce, have a chief complaint: that their husbands never disagreed or held the line, and merely acquiesced at every turn.)

Just as Adam lacked the stones to contest his wife as she was deceived by the serpent, many men lack the stones to pursue conflict when it is the right thing to do. As a result, they lose any respect they hoped to get from the women before they even get out of the gate.

You can complain of the women being engulfed in feminism. And while that complaint is not without merits, the proper response to feminism is not passive indifference, but rather strength. Fact is, even a panty-waist feminist liberal will otherwise want a strong man in the house.

How do you project strength? That’s easy: show utter contempt for their displays of feminism. Even if you’re not interested in dating them, you’ll gain their respect.

I can vouch for this firsthand. From my days at Southern Seminary, I often went toe to toe with feminists over a variety of issues. What’s funny, though: those feminists knew who to come to when they needed tutoring for their upcoming exams.

Another way to show strength: pursue the gals. Some of you are on eggshells and worry about rejection. In this case, you have two choices: do nothing and be GUARANTEED to remain single, or ask a gal out and have the POSSIBILITY of getting married. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE! If she says no, you’re no worse off. Put off the fear and go with the LOGIC.

What else can you do? Well, many of the things I recommended for the women ALSO APPLY TO THE MEN.

(1) Get involved in a good church, and start building a network of friends. College or no college, you need to do this.

(2) Just as with the ladies, study your Bible often. Especially Proverbs and the Epistles. Many people grow up in the Church, but never get a full look at books like Proverbs, which is a shame because the wisdom literature of Scripture has a treasure trove of practical insights that–heeded–will save you from blunder after blunder.

(3) Be diligent. Get a job, and work at it. Again, it doesn’t matter if you’re flipping burgers, delivering pizzas, or building a company. What matters: earning your keep, being gainfully employed, making an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Much has been said of female hypergamy–their tendency to want to “marry up”. While those asssessments are correct, we must not always count it as a negative thing, although it often is. For example: an aspiring SAHM would be right to want a man who demonstrated the capacity to be hard-working and gainfully employed. That brand of hypergamy is a good thing.

(4) Just as with the ladies, so it is with the guys: make every effort to get and stay out of debt! If you must take out student loans, take a very small amount, something you can pay off within a few months after graduation or–better yet–in the summer in between terms. If you use credit cards, keep them paid off every month.

(5) Even more so for the guys: STAY OFF THE PORN! While its use among women is rising fast, porn still does most of its damage on the men. This is because of the way men are wired: the effect of porn on the brain is similar to that of cocaine. Dr. Judith Reisman has dubbed that the erototoxin effect.

For the men, it is like adding liquid hydrogen to a barbeque grill. The worst case scenarios are nasty: every year, a couple hundred deaths occur due to autoerotic asphyxiation. This is overwhelmingly fueled by pornographic activity.

Even if you aren’t even close to the worst-case, if you’re a user of porn, you need to get out of that culture. I realize that every red-blooded male reading this has had some porn exposure, and I also realize that porn–combined with the hormonal full-court press known as puberty–can have a devastating effect on a guy that can take years to learn to master.

I’m not here to shame you–other evangelical leaders already do plenty of that–but the sooner you learn to master this, the better off you will be. If you are having trouble in this area, please do get some help, sooner rather than later. You’ll be better-off for it, and your future wife will also appreciate that.

(6) I don’t care how much you get razzed, or looked down on, regarding your sexual inactivity, DO NOT PLAY THE FIELD OR ENGAGE IN THE HOOKUP CULTURE! BTW: one way you will know if a Christian gal is a good catch: if you are sexually inexperienced, she will not look down on you for it. Moreover, as Susan Walsh has recently pointed out: male promiscuity is also potentially damaging to a future marriage. (I say this because men often point to female promiscuity as high-risk behavior. While this is true, it is also true that male promiscuity is low-percentage behavior.) So, just as with the ladies, eschew non-marital sex.

(7) Be willing to challenge the women. This is where knowledge of Game can help. Sometimes, women will screen men out–using “tests”, also called other things in less polite company–and this will cause the “nice guys” to move on. In fact, what she is often doing is telling you, “If you have the stones, I’m available!” In that case, she is actually giving you the green light to pursue her!

(And yes, a woman can do that even if she is not part of the hookup/player culture. This is because women are hard-wired to “test” men: they are in fact trying to make sure that a potential suitor is unflappable.)

How do you know if she is really saying “no”? If you ask her out more than once and she tells you she’s not available at that time, then she’s not interested. Don’t worry about it: just move on. If you ask her out and she says “no”, the it’s no. It’s no skin off your back. Just move on. You’re no worse off than you were before.

You need to adopt the mentality of a top baseball player. The best hitters in the game are those who bat .300 or higher. You know what that means? It means they fail almost 70% of the time! But you have it better than they do: you only have to be successful once to get married.

(8) You need to cultivate your leadership skills. If you aspire to be a husband, you are aspiring to a leadership role. Even if she has feminist leanings, she still will–most of the time–want her man to be strong. Leadership isn’t about being “large and in charge”, but rather about being able to exert influence and persuasion.

Sometimes, that means being able to deal with difficult people, because–women, laugh all you want, but you know I’m right–the gals can be difficult at times. They will get discontent easily; that comes naturally. They will challenge your authority to lead; that comes naturally. They will challenge your knowledge of everything from laundry to Scripture; that comes naturally. They will challenge the wisdom of many decisions; that comes naturally.

If you want to respond to such challenges with a “Screw you, I’m in charge!” type of retort, that will go over like a fart in a church service. (Complementarian does not equal one-way autocracy. She is called to submit to you as to the Lord if she is your wife; that does not, however, make you Omniscient and Omnipotent.)

OTOH, if you respond by asking them why they are questioning this, or asking them what they would recommend–then, after they give their say, discuss the merits of the approaches with them–that is higher-percentage. This gives them at least part-ownership in a decision, and they are going to respect you more.

While there are times where–as a husband, I have to pull rank on my wife and say, “Honey, I’m going to invoke Ephesians 5 on this and you need to trust me”–those times are rare. In a little over two years of marriage, I’ve probably done that fewer than three times.

Think of your potential relationship not so much as General vs. Private, but rather Lieutenant vs. Sergeant. (Any good officer will tell you that, if you want to be a good leader, you had better be ready to take lots of feedback from your sergeants.)

IF YOU HAVE BLUNDERED ON ANY OF THOSE MATTERS:

Like the ladies, all is not lost. Generally speaking, the ladies–ceteris paribus–are going to look for evidence that you are being responsible.

Consider these three things:

(1) If she’s interested in you–and women fall for men with blunders every day–and you are making good progress in cleaning up your messes, then past blunders won’t matter.

(2) If you’re on her bubble, then demonstrating ownership of past junk is higher-percentage.

(3) If you’re not even on her bubble, then keep cleaning your mess up anyway, and don’t worry about her non-interest.

Still, what can a man do, even if he has blundered?

Most of the same advice for the women also apply to the men, especially regarding financial and sexual blunders. I won’t repeat all of those here. Still, there are some things that I’ve observed that men need to keep hearing:

(a) Always maintain a learning disposition. Be willing to accept counsel and feedback. As you read Proverbs, you will find a great emphasis on the value of seeking counsel, making prudent plans, being deliberate in decisions. Seek wisdom and understanding. Learn from your blunders.

(b) Always keep your head. If you are single for any long period of time, you are going to go through periods where it will seem like the whole world is against you. You may find hostility in the Church; certain authors will blame you for the problems of others; certain authors may even call you a “cad”. You are going to be tempted to walk away. That is when you need to fight back and stay the course. The rantings of Debbie Maken aren’t God’s words: those are her opinions. She’s entitled to her opinion, but you can’t let bitter women like her drive you out of the Church. You can’t afford to get rattled by feminist shaming tactics, either.

In the Bible, Abram (later named Abraham) had a major blunder: he got kicked out of Egypt for lying to the Pharaoh. It was his own fault, and he had to own that junk. Did Abram respond to this by wallowing in pity, getting drunk, and doing other stupid things? No. He went back to Bethel and called upon the name of the Lord.

WHAT IF YOU HAVEN’T BLUNDERED ON ANY OF THOSE MATTERS, AND STILL ARE SINGLE?

In that case, I would offer you the same advice as the women, with one exception: don’t quit pursuing.

If there are women in your path, whom you have previously passed over, you may re-assess your reasons. Like the women, this is not about right versus wrong, but about reasonable versus unreasonable. There are no perfect answers here; these are matters for you to asses between yourself and God. I pass no judgments here, but merely call you to examine it for yourself.

Also, you may consider some unconventional means in your search. Toward that end:

(1) Maximize your mobility. If you do this, you can look into moving to other cities. If you find someone, you will be in a better position to relocate if need be. Toward that end, you may want to ensure that you are not too locked down in any particular job, to the extent that this makes sense for you. One thing I wish I had done was not buy a house. That hurt my mobility.

(2) Look outside your denomination. Expand your network to include folks outside your church. Strongly consider other denominations, provided that they are on the reservation.

(3) Don’t be afraid to attempt to hijack a cradle. The available gals in my age group were giving me the short shrift from eHarmony. Well, I killed my eharmony account after that experience in futility. Not too long after that, I took aim at Christina–almost 18 years my junior–who was receptive until she found someone in her ZIP code. After that, I landed MrsLarijani, who is 14 years my junior.

(4) Don’t be afraid to jump from your church. While I hate the “church-hopper” tag, I also believe that, if the people in your church are not helping you find a mate–and the prospects don’t look good where you are–then there is no Biblical rule that says “THOU MUST STAY AT XYZ CHURCH!!!” I’m not saying you HAVE to jump ship; I’m just saying that you may consider doing this if the situation is sufficiently exigent.

(5) Never forget that you must keep cultivating the qualities that are conducive to a successful marriage, in your singleness. As a single, I studied the Bible more than the average bear: I did a lot of teaching, and was a heavy participant in Awana. But ya know what? As a married man now, I look back and still wish I had studied the Scriptures more.

Part 2: What Men and Women Can Do (Ladies First)

Before we get to the heart of this post, a few stipulations must be made:

(1) I do not support a “marriage mandate”. I totally reject Debbie Maken’s case for it. No offense to Candice Watters, but I can’t even support her lighter version of it, which is framed in terms of “ought” rather than “must”.

(2) I do not support Mohler’s case for marriage as a marker for manhood. While this appeal to a social standard can be attractive, it simply isn’t Biblical.

(3) Your marital status says nothing of your spiritual walk. Good Christians get married all the time, as do bad Christians. There is no small number of bad marriages in the Church, just as there are a large number of good ones. The ranks of singles include many good and bad Christians, of both sexes.

(4) Getting married will not necessarily make you a better Christian. While it CAN facilitate growth, that growth is not a mandatory byproduct of marriage.

(5) While I am all for the Church looking for ways to address the issues of singleness, we must avoid imposing dogmatic, legalistic totalitarian commands that have no Biblical foundation.

(6) I am FOR Christian singles–of both sexes–working to improve their marriageability. That is the point of this post.

When you look at the landscape of singles in general–and even the Church in particular–the situation is bleak.

(a) the hookup culture has resulted in a promiscuity dilemma among women that is particuarly damaging. In fact, in PERCENTAGE terms, the MALE virgins in college OUTNUMBER the FEMALE virgins. This is troubling, as female promiscuity is–even in our “liberated” society–not considered high-percentage behavior. This puts college-educated women behind the 8-ball.

(b) the student loan dilemma is going to cause many college-educated women to put off marrying and “settling down” due to crippling financial obligations. This will also hurt the men, as they will be constrained in the types of jobs they must seek in order to service their own debts. Student loan debt is particularly troubling because it cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy.

(c) obesity is a serious problem in both sexes, with the women (35%) slightly worse than the men (33%). Women complain of men who won’t take care of themselves, and men often complain of women regarding the same. Both sexes are right, but neither–collectively–has room to complain.

(d) the women complain that the single men aren’t going to church, and the men that are in church complain that the only single women who are “available” are (a) the gravitationally challenged and (b) those who are divorced, and (c) those who are otherwise sleazy and high-risk. Both sexes are right.

(e) the women complain of the “player” culture among the men, whereas the men complain that the women are rewarding those who play that game. Both sexes are correct.

(f) the women complain–with plenty of merit–of the male propensity to view porn and engage in activities that are associated with it; the men will–also with merit–point out that porn usage is very much on the rise among women, and that romance novels are fostering a culture that breeds unreasonable expectations of men by the women. Again, both sexes are right.

I think singles of both sexes need to be honest and accept that–fairly or unfairly–the complaints of the other sex have plenty of merit, both statistically and anecdotally. Even when the stats are shady, the prima facie cases of each against the other are troubling.

It’s also possible that you, the single man or woman reading this, falls into one of the groups that men or women are complaining about. So what can you do about this?

This post will focus on the women. My reason for this is not that they are any worse than the men, but rather a mentality of “ladies first”. The next post in this installment will address the men.

IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER YOU GO TO COLLEGE (note: many of these will apply to the guys, but more on them later):

(a) Study your Bible often. Spend lots of time in Proverbs, as well as the Epistles. (Other sections of the Bible are important too, but I think those sections are of particular importance to single men and women.)

(b) Get active in a good church. Pay particular attention to the pastor. Sound doctrine is a must–that goes without saying–but does he have a good family life? Does he love his wife? Are his kids of good repute? Is the church generally healthy? How are the deacons/elders? Are they godly, affable men? Do they, too, love their wives? If the church passes muster, then take steps to establish a circle of friends. They will become the foundation for a network that will hopefully serve you in singleness and marriage alike.

(c) Get a job and be diligent. I don’t care if it’s flipping burgers or starting your own business. Idleness is bad.

(d) Prudence, prudence, prudence! Manage your finances well. If you can demonstrate personal responsibility, that is HUGE! If you drive a beat-up car with zero debt, that is more attractive to a man than driving a Mustang with 5 figures of debt. If you choose to have credit cards, KEEP THEM PAID OFF EVERY MONTH.

(e) As far as it depends on you, take care of yourself. You don’t have to be Bible Belt Barbie, but modest weight control goes a long way.

(f) Farmer Tom will tell the women to grow their hair. I DEFINITELY concur. While some women may look fine with short hair, those are the 1%. Vox Day says that short hair for a woman is tantamount to weighing 30 extra pounds. I never thought in those terms, but–now that I am married, and to a woman who has longer hair–I absolutely agree with Vox.

(g) I don’t give a hairy rat’s rectum how much a guy says he loves you–or how “cool” or “good” he appears–if he tries to entice you to have ANY variation of sex and he is not your husband, DUMP HIM. You won’t enjoy doing that, but the pain of dumping him will pale in comparison to letting the memory of his mounting you cloud your ability to receive the courtship of a Christian man.

(h) Stay away from porn, soap operas, and romance novels. The former is increasingly a problem for women whereas it once was almost exclusively a male vice; romance novels and soap operas foster fantasy insanity for women.

FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO GO TO COLLEGE:

(a) Take on little or no debt! Avoid debt like the plague. When you’re 24 and married and get pregnant, you will be glad you took my advice here.

(b) treat the the hookup culture like a radioactive waste zone and avoid it as such! Not only is it a slutty thing to do, the sex is also a real downer for the women, as–according to a “liberated” source–women only experience orgasm 19% of the time** in hookup situations. [HT Susan Walsh: “The Truth About Hooking Up.” Cosmopolitan. October, 2008: 190-1. England, Paula, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University.)

(c) Stay away from booze! Irrespective of what you think of the drinking age of 21, it’s the law. Also, remember that your ability to practice discernment is inversely proportional to the square of your blood alcohol level. If you get drunk, you run the risk of doing very stupid things–even slutty things–that you might not do if sober. I’ve known otherwise good people who got killed–or contracted diseases–due to alcohol-induced stupidity while in college. Even if you believe–as I do–that an occasional beer is ok, (1) wait until you are of legal drinking age, and (2) be very wary of the party scene. Otherwise, you may end up with your picture on Tucker Max’s web site. And remember…the Internet is forever…

(d) choose an academic path that allows for flexibility; consider a 2-year degree rather than a 4-year. Given uncertainties about our health care system, you may wish to reconsider if you are thinking about medical school. If you are thinking engineering, go electrical with robotics. Or agricultural engineering.

(e) if you go to college away from home, start networking sooner rather than later. See above note about getting involved in a church. Some of the good churches in those college towns have solid campus ministry groups. First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach has TOTALLY revamped their student ministry. Embry-Riddle students now have a WONDERFUL opportunity for good mentorship. If you live down there, I’m giving them a shout-out.

(f) Allow men to pursue you, but let your network get to know them, too. If they raise any red flags, listen attentively.

(g) If you wind up in a different city after you graduate, see above note about getting involved in a church and establishing your network.

IF YOU HAVE BLUNDERED ON A FEW OF THOSE POINTS:

All is not lost. Christian men tend to be a generous lot. Some are more hardcore than others, but most of us are wanting to see proof that–if you have certain baggages–that they are in your PAST. Toward that end:

(a) If you are in the hookup culture, you need to get out of it yesterday! Continuing on that path is surefire disaster, even worse than a non-married monogamous relationship. When men see “hookup culture”, they are going to think SLUT! If you quit NOW, you can recover. Men will be forgiving of past stupidity, but if you perpetuate it, that will be a real downer.

(b) If you have debts, work hard to pay them off to the extent that it depends on you. Cut up credit cards if you must. If you must file bankruptcy, make sure you learn your lesson and ensure that you do not take on frivolous debts. Do not spend money frivolously. While past debts are a red flag, demonstration of prudence and responsibility are are green flag. Do the Dave Ramsey thing if you must, but eschew future debts.

(c) If you have a past sexual relationship–even if you were not in the hookup culture–you need to repent of that and not get into any new ones. Serial monogamy will send your marriageability downhill fast. One past indiscretion is one thing, but if you continue that pattern, it’s very bad news.

(d) If you have ever been divorced, you need to be very honest with yourself about what went wrong. If you were just in an unhappy marriage and are spinning that into a tale of abuse in order to sanctify your filing divorce, you are engaging in deception and that will rear its ugly head sooner or later. Also, if you are engaging in that deception, you are making matters WORSE for those who REALLY ARE divorced due to such exigent circumstances.

While I tend to err on the side of grace on the issue of remarriage, keep in mind that single men are going to be skeptical for any number of reasons, some of them Biblical. It doesn’t make these men evil; many are just trying to be prudent in the face of a large set of risks that are very serious. But don’t take offense when they ask hard questions. They don’t romanticize the Eat-Pray-Love divorce; in fact, they do not wish to be on the receiving end of one.

At the same time, being honest and open about lessons learned–not just about him, but about YOU–is VERY important.

(e) If you have personal control issues, get some help. If you have a weight problem, see a doctor and get a referral to a nutritionist and/or a personal trainer. Do Weight Watchers if you must. But no matter what you do here, make sure you establish a foundation not just for weight loss but also long-term health.

And personal control is not merely about food and exercise. If you are not a good housekeeper, then get some ladies in the church to advise you on how to do it better. If you have issues with drinking, or porn, get some counsel, preferably from folks in your network.

(f) If you don’t have a network, then start looking to establish one now. If you’re out of church, get into a good one.

WHAT IF YOU HAVE NOT BLUNDERED, BUT YOU ARE STILL HAVING A HARD TIME FINDING A MAN?

At this point, you need to be honest with yourself: are there men available in your church? Have you rebuffed them in the past? Why did you do this? Were the reasons due to shady character? Was he just not attractive to you? If not, what was so unattractive about him? Was he too short? Bald? Fat? Did he come across as a Beta? Are they Aspies?

We all have to decide for ourselves what our preferences are. This is not about good versus evil, but rather (a) establishing what our preferences are, and (b) whether those preferences are reasonable or less than reasonable, and/or (c) making adjustments as the situation may demand.

(For example: A catastrophically obese man has every right to insist on only dating super-hotties; that said, his demand is very likely quite unreasonable unless his bank account is sufficiently large. Assuming he has not the latter, I would advise him to reconsider his demand. Either way, I’d advise him to get his weight down!)

You have to be very honest with yourself here, and there is no perfect answer. If there’s an otherwise decent guy in the pews who comes off as a Beta, that may not be the guy of your dreams, but, without further information, you can’t tell me he’s not a godly man. (An Alpha male is not necessarily a godly man; nor is a smoking hot female necessarily a godly one.) You have every right to leave him be, and hope you can find better.

But, ten years from now, if you find yourself still single–and he’s married–you’re going to be quite miserable. (Just ask Kate Bolick.)

In my current church, we had a gal–BW. She had decent men in her path over the years. She turned them down, because none of them were as captivating as the pastor (RL), who she pedestaled. Eventually, she and the pastor would embark on an affair. When confronted, they each refused to repent.

Today, RL and BW live together. She turned down decent men over the years, so she could steal another woman’s husband, and deprive a girl of her father’s presence in the home.

I’m not saying that ALL women who shoot down decent folks in their churches will go on to mount the pastor; I AM, however, suggesting that a sense of entitlement can lead you to do some very bad things.

Even then, a good gal–with few or no blunders–can still fall through the cracks. It happens. Toward that end, I suggest leaning on your network. Be willing to look in other ZIP codes. Be mobile. The men are out there, but it may take some unconventional efforts.

**With numbers that dismal–the same study indicates that men achieve orgasm ONLY 44% OF THE TIME in those cases–one ought to be able to conclude that, given the stigma that accompanies the hookup culture, there is plenty of marginal incentive not to participate in it. Waiting for marriage absolutely translates to better sex. Especially for those married, conservative Protestant women: They REALLY enjoy it.

“Dude, Where’s Your Brain?” My Answer to Kevin DeYoung, Part 1. . .

Kevin DeYoung has decided to pull a page from the Mohler-Maken playbook and take aim at the men over the complex issue of protracted singleness.

As a result, what we get is not only nothing new, but rather a recycled, regurgitated variation of an argument that is even LESS compelling than those offered by Mohler or Maken.

First, a few disclaimers, though:

(1) I am married. Happily. For a little over 2 years now.

(2) Before I got married, I was single. For almost 43 years. Doing the math, that adds up to almost a quarter-century of single adulthood.

(3) During my single years, I was (a) VERY involved in the Church, (b) gainfully employed for all but 15 months, (c) did not shy away from the women who were in my venues, and (d) cast a very wide net in my choices of women. In other words: I did not exclude divorced women, or women who had varying forms of baggage. I merely excluded those who were proven to be unstable or catastrophically overweight.

(4) I did not “play the field” during my single days.

(5) I was involved in a variety of churches–both small and large, including the largest Baptist church in Kentucky, where Al Mohler serves as a “Teaching Pastor”.

(6) I served as a teacher in various capacities: including children, youth, young adults, singles, and couples. I had a chance to see–firsthand–what goes on among the various groups.

Ergo, I think I’m qualified to speak to the issues here.

First off, we need to deal with the sterotypes that each sex has of the other.

The women often complain–not without merit–about three types of men: (a) the schlub who plays video games and downloads porn, and otherwise lacks ambition; and (b) the really cool “Alpha male” who won’t commit; and (c) the nice, quiet guy in the pews who “doesn’t take enough initiative”.

The men, in turn, will complain–again, not without merit–of three types of single women they observe in the Church: (a) the overweight gal who eats like a pig at those potluck events, (b) the pretty 24-year-old gal who will tell you how spiritual she wants her man, and yet changes boyfriends every proverbial five minutes, and (c) the otherwise cute, “Biblically divorced” 24-year-old gal with two kids.

While these are serious problems–and I’ll get to them later–they don’t fully account for the problem of protracted singleness. Yes, those are deep-rooted problems that are prevalent in the ugly, dirty world of Christian singles; and yes, those need to be addressed. But they are only part of the story. That is why I am going to start with the OTHER part, which has no simple answers.

With that, back to DeYoung.

In building his thoughts on the matter of protracted singleness, Kevin DeYoung has fallen for what is best-described as a false dichotomy. He looks at this exclusively in terms of single men versus single women.

While his treatment of THAT dichotomy–false as it is–has problems, he leaves out at least two key players here: (a) families that raise these men and women, (b) the Church culture that nurtures their views in childhood, youth, and adulthood, and unwittingly makes it MORE–not less–difficult for men and women to get married.

Moreover, he totally ignores demographic factors that work against singles in a way that they did not 50 years ago, and which are exacerbated by the fragmentation of the Church.

If there is a place where a Christian–male or female–ought to be able to go, express a desire to be married, and be encouraged rather than discouraged in that pursuit, it ought to be the Church. And yet, that is not the situation on the ground.

Contrast that with the Jewish community. If I am a Rabbi in Philadelphia, and a young single gal comes into my office, all I have to do is make a call to a Rabbi in Newark or Cherry Hill or New York, get the families together, and we’ll be having a wedding within 15 months. Jews are not the most resilient people in the world by accident: their networking skills are the stuff of legend.

Ditto for the Indian community. As an IT professional, I’ve known many Indians over the years. I’ve worked with them; I’ve played sports with them. When it comes to networking, and setting people up to get married, the Indians are up there with the Jews.

But Christians aren’t so good at this, and the reason for that can be summed up in one word: FRAGMENTATION. The Body is fragmented badly. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, and God-only-knows-how-many denominations, the vast majority of which are non-cooperative.

What that means: you may have a couple of good, upstanding Christian gals at First Baptist Church in Anytown; you may have a couple of upstanding Christian guys at Reformed Presbyterian Church in a nearby city; and those guys and gals will never meet, unless they manage to connect through other social circles or online venues.

I’ve been in several churches in which I was the only single adult–of either sex–in the building. Did those pastors lift a finger to help in the networking capacity? Nope. Did any of them know of a pastor who knew a gal who was marriageable? Nope. And yet, we seem to have no small number of marriageable Christian gals who can’t seem to find a guy.

Distance is also a factor. MrsLarijani and I know some marriageable Christian gals. One is in her 40s–divorced with a 5 year old–in the Cincy area; two are in the Louisville area, both in their 20s and never married; one–in her 20s and never married–is in the Chattanooga area; one is 40–never married–in central Kentucky; another is 26–and never married–and goes to our church. Each of these gals ranges from reasonably attractive to very attractive. Each would probably make a nice match for someone. While each has baggage of some sort, those are not irresolvable.

I know some marriageable Christian guys. One–50, never married–is in the Louisville area. One–37, never married–is in the Nashville area. One–a 48-year-old retired Air Force pilot, whose wife left him after 16 years–is in the Memphis area; one–in his 20s, never married, and is in the Army–in the Louisville area.

But each of these guys and gals comes from various Christian backgrounds: some are Baptist; some have Acts 29 backgrounds; some are Pentecostal; one is with a Vineyard church; one is a PCA Presbyterian; one is an evangelical with Reform leanings; one has Catholic leanings.

And that doesn’t account for the folks we know online. There are Christian ladies scattered across the country–Lisa Anderson and Martha Krienke of Boundless are in Colorado; S/C is in Cincinnati; Savvy is in California; Catwoman is in Canada; LadyElaine is in DC (I think); Renee (who blogs at Boundless) is in California.

Single Christians are scattered geographically and denominationally.

Even worse, with the job market being what it is, mobility–or, shall we say–the lack of it, can be a serious issue.

(Let’s say, for example, a good guy–John Doe–was interested in Lisa Anderson, whom I’ve encouraged guys to pursue at Boundless. But let’s say his financial and job situation made relocation prohibitively difficult for him, and he lived in Florida. Would Lisa be able to uproot herself, leave a good job at FotF, sell her house, move to Florida, and marry John Doe? Maybe…maybe not. Only Lisa can answer that one. Jack and Renee–bloggers whom I hoped I could connect–were unable to make the pursuit because of their distance from each other.)

Why do I spend such time on these matters? DeYoung does NOTHING to address those issues, and yet they are very real ones for singles who wish to traverse the logistics of meeting, getting to know each other, doing due diligence, and–ultimately–getting married. Addressing them requires more than the stupid, pat answers like, “if only men would be men…”

And so far, I have only addressed logistical, circumstantial, and denomination issues that impede singles. While those are huge, there is a very large internal problem within the Church.

That is where we come to the Church culture, and the families.

The Church is locked in a very difficult battle over what real masculinity is and is not. This goes to the heart of who Jesus is according to Scripture, contrasted with the modern understanding of Jesus as presented in seminaries and pulpits. This also extends to how the Gospel is preached and fleshed out in the Apostles, in how they lived and admonished men and women in the Early Church. Men and women are in the crossfire in this battle, as a very false presentation of the Biblical Jesus–and the Apostles–has been prevalent for over a hundred years.

That false Jesus is known by the moniker “Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild”, or–as I call him–the “Metrosexual Jesus”. Here is how it goes:

Jesus was this really gentle man who called everyone to be nice and kind, never get involved in conflicts, never argue or contend about anything, never get angry, do lots of kind things for your community, be cheerful in church even if your life is falling apart, and never take any form of self-interest.

What this ends up producing: men who (a) lack a backbone, (b) lack the ability to negotiate basic things such as salary with an employer, (c) refuse to intervene in exigent circumstances, (d) avoid conflict even when moral duty requires engaging it directly, and (e) exude character that–rather than attracts women–actually drives women away. Moreover, this culture drives men away from the Church because the Church is utterly disconnected from men due to their jaded understanding of masculinity.

What this also ends up producing: pastors who have not the first foggiest clue how to counsel men or women, because (a) they don’t understand the masculinity of Jesus, (b) they don’t understand the masculinity of Paul, (c) they have no backbone of their own because they are products of the jaded understanding of masculinity, and (d) they refuse to stand up to their wives as well as those women who dominate the committees in the Church.

The end-result: their children often grow up and RUN–NOT WALK–from the Church. Everyone here knows a few pastor’s daughters who want nothing to do with the Church today. This is because they grew up in families that everyone else looked up to, only to see that their families were rife with hypocrisy.

Now, does any of this excuse single men or women for their sins?

Not by a long shot.

At the same time, for the Church to provide an effective answer, the Church is going to have to get dirty and engage the cesspool that is the world of Christian singles. That means addressing the vices of men and women.

The hookup culture–which is sullied both sexes–is a serious issue.

Serial monogamy–a polished variation of promiscuity–is a serious issue.

Game–or, more accurately, the abuse of it for the purposes of sexual conquest–is a serious issue.

Pornography–the use of which is on the rise among women whereas it was once exclusively a male vice–is a serious issue.

Addictions–from food to alcohol to porn to romance novels–are very serious matters.

Prudence and diligence–or the lacks thereof–are very serious matters.

Addressing them is not simply a matter of preaching hard sermons, although I’ll not discourage that. It requires getting to know these men and women, fostering the relationships that allow you to get into their business without being a Gestapo agent, and helping them make high-percentage decisions that allow them to pursue, in Godly fashion, the desires of their hearts.

It requires men to man up, but also for women to put on their big girl panties.

It does not require men to get married in order to prove masculinity, but rather that those who wish to marry should act that out in Biblical masculinity, and for those inclined to remain single to do so likewise.

Cruise Ship Captain Has Bright Future

Much has been made of Capt. Francesco Schettino–captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground after he made an unauthorized deviation from his programmed course–and his abandonment of ship as passengers remained on the ship, struggling to get to safety. Vox Day–who is fluent in Italian–has a nice take on the dialogue between Schettino and the Coast Guard, whose commander ORDERED Schettino to get back on the ship.

Still, what is missing here is that while Schettino’s career in the maritime industry is done, he can look forward to a bright career with the banking industry, if he wants it.

At Goldman Sachs, he can market toxic securities to hedge funds and pensions–selling them as investment-grade securities–and then, when everything goes to shit, he can get out with a huge bonus and government protection. Heck, he can even go on from there to a career on K Street as a lobbyist.

With his penchant for creating disasters and fleeing while leaving victims to fend for themselves, he would fit right in with the banksters.