I’ve mentioned Glenn T. Stanton, Director of Family Formation Studies for Focus On The Family before in this blog. As you might recall he has bragged that the most faithful Christians only divorce 38% of the time. You have also heard him call unwed mothers heroic. In the latter link I mentioned a bizarre passage from his book Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity. In the passage he explains that he and his wife try to watch the movie As Good As It Gets once a year. He uses this movie as an example of the goodness of womanhood. In the section titled Girls Need To Know They Can Call Out The Best In Others, he tells us how the unwed mother in the story demonstrates this:
She is a confident and attractive young single mother, Carol Connelly, (Helen Hunt). Even as they grow closer, he is helpless to keep from insulting her regularly.
In one scene, they find themselves out for a nice evening at a fancy restaurant. When Melvin criticizes Carol’s dress, she tells him he has no idea how much his words hurt her and that he’d better come up with a compliment pretty quick. She even reminds him that a compliment is something nice that one person says to another.
As I have mentioned before I haven’t watched the movie in question. However, from the plot summary on Wikipedia I understand that the movie is about how the love of an unwed mother and the wisdom of a homosexual redeem a manchild. As Pastor Driscoll might say:
Melvin will drive straighter once he is carrying the load of an unwed mother and another man’s child.
Poorly thought out pickup truck metaphors aside, the moral lesson Mr. Stanton draws for girls from this exchange is startlingly bad. Here we have a woman who already failed her child by failing to provide a father. Now she finds herself attracted to another man who by all accounts isn’t interested in either marriage or fatherhood. Mr. Stanton doesn’t see this as a warning for young women that following their animal side will lead to disaster for themselves and their children. He doesn’t see it as a moral reminder for women to focus first on finding a worthy man to marry before having sex and children, a man they can remain married to, a man they are willing to submit to and whose leadership they can follow. No, the Director of Family Formation Studies at Focus On The Family sees this scenario as an opportunity to teach wayward young women that they can tame the bad boy they are attracted to if they only tell him his negs hurt their feelings.
I haven’t read all of Mr. Stanton’s wisdom in the book, but from skimming the pages available on the Amazon.com preview feature I did notice some more gems.
Chapters 5 and 6 focus on the process of boys and girls becoming adults. In chapter 6 Metamorphosis to Womanhood: Making Healthy Women out of Healthy Girls he explains that women are essentially innately good, and any deviations from this are due to society pushing them away from their natural state of goodness (emphasis mine):
We should appreciate what a profound life transition takes place when a girl becomes a woman…
A good woman is the more intricate of the species, for while both men and women are complex and profound, women universally have more interesting layers to their femininity than men have to their masculinity….
As parents guide their girls into the complex and wonderful world of healthy womanhood, what do they need to be aware of?
What are the essential qualities that transform our daughters into mature, secure women?
As you read through the qualities described below, please keep in mind that much of this is innate, but because our culture seems to fight so hard to suppress certain natural tendencies, it’s our privilege and responsibility as parents to watch out for opportunities to nurture and guide in these areas.
In Chapter 5 he takes a very different tack when explaining the process of growing up for boys. While girls naturally metamorphosize into women so long as society doesn’t trip them up, boys have to complete a journey to manhood. Here is a segment from The Journey to Manhood: Making Healthy Men out of Healthy Boys (emphasis mine):
In the amazing project of creating men from boys, we do well to recognize a curious fact about every single boy who has ever come forth into the world, including your own: not one of them has ever been a man before! As a rule, people who have never done something before need some help and direction in learning how to do it. Few pick it up all by themselves.
Who will help your little boy become a man? How will this be achieved?
These are profound parenting questions that demand great and long reflection. Note that I wasn’t entirely correct earlier. Each conveyor belt leads not necessarily to manhood but to male aging, because that’s what the mere passage of time produces. But good men don’t just happen. Good men are most often created in good families, and great intention needs to be put into the process. Fathers and other men play a key role!
A bit later he explains that the current epidemic of women having children out of wedlock and/or kicking the father out of the home after marriage is due to a lack of good men (emphasis mine):
…Marriage and family are declining so badly in nearly all American communities because, as a society, we have forgotten how to manufacture good men. Good men do what’s right, and they respect and care for the women in their lives. They work hard, they don’t make excuses, they know what their duties are, and they do them without complaining. They fight for what is right and hold accountable those who do wrong, including themselves.
If women can’t find good men to marry, they will instead compromise themselves by merely living with a make-do man or getting babies from him without marriage. Unfortunately, this describes exactly the new shape of family growth in Western nations by exploding margins…
Women want to marry and have daddies for their babies. But if they can’t find good men to commit themselves to, well… Our most pressing social problem today is a man deficit.
There is a special kind of irony in him lecturing about how good men hold those who do wrong accountable just before he goes on to not hold women accountable for having children out of wedlock, frivolously divorcing, and for choosing cads over dads. In Mr. Stanton’s defense, his view that men are to blame for women choosing to make babies with cads fits closely with Pastor Driscoll’s assessment of the situation as I have shown here, and as Laura Grace Robins has shown here. Neither of these men appear to be aware that young women are being taught to delay marriage as long as possible and that this message is enthusiastically received. They are apparently blissfully unaware that even Christian women passionately defend frivolous divorce. Likewise, neither man seems aware that young women are openly embracing the hookup culture, a culture which they often find addictive.
But just because Messrs. Driscoll and Stanton are Christian leaders, don’t assume that their foolishness is either kind or Biblically based. While modern Christians often struggle with the concept that women like men do in fact sin, the Bible is filled with lessons in this regard. Teaching men to look to women for moral guidance is if anything an inversion of Biblical teaching. These men received their foolishness not from the Bible but from the culture at large (which they then proceeded to reinforce in the name of Christianity).