It started with a whimper (a servant leader is born).

Bdash77 pointed me* to the book Every Man’s Marriage, an Every Man’s Guide to Winning the heart of a woman.  This is the follow up book to the wildly popular Every Man’s Battle, and is by the same authors (Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker).  Given how influential Arterburn and Stoker are in evangelical circles, when I found a used copy of Every Man’s Marriage I bought it.  I haven’t read the entire book yet, but I’ve read enough to know the message of the book.  As the title explains, the book is about teaching husbands to win their wives’ hearts.   How does the book explain a Christian husband should go about winning his wife’s heart?  By submitting to her.  This is a modern Christian staple and is an expression of theological crossdressing.

In the very beginning of the book we learn how both men began their journey to understanding the importance of submitting to their wives.  Arterburn wrote the introduction, titled Have you found the keys to her heart?  In the introduction he describes how he came to marry his current (at the time) wife:

I rushed the relationship because I was acting out of fear that I would go through life unmarried, unloved, and an outcast in the Christian community.  I only divulged the existence of my first marriage and subsequent divorce when I thought Sandy could handle the news, but I never let on regarding the desperation I felt to marry again.  Sandy was a “catch”–bright, attractive, talented, and gracious–and I didn’t want to mess up this courtship.  I would hide who I really was.

Despite his sickening neediness, he tells us he had it all backwards and thought that wives should submit to their husbands and win them over without a word:

But was I so different from most other men?  Rather than connect with women and understand them, most men seem to want to command them.  Many husbands use 1 Peter 3 as their official standard, for it instructs women married to non believers to keep silent and win their husbands over with loving words and actions.  This Scripture passage has given many men free rein in their behavior of leaders, often shattering marital oneness and intimacy to smithereens.

I know of these things because I became one of the worst offenders after I married my first wife…

The introduction is confusing because Arterburn switches fluidly between discussing his first and second wives (he had not yet met his now third wife when he and Stoeker wrote the book**).  However, the important part is that it took two wakeup calls before he decided to radically redefine headship and submission.  The first wakeup call came when his first wife divorced him:

Amazingly, I thought everything was going well until the day she said she was leaving me.

Rather than humble myself to ask what I had done to be hurtful, I pulled out the Bible to prove to her that it was not right for her to go.  I just knew this “scriptural club” would knock some sense into her.  I preached Ephesians 5 at her so often that I had it memorized.  In my narrow view, this passage said that she should submit to me and that God was going to be very upset with her is she did not get in line with what He wanted for His boy Steve.  But my arrogant reaction to her announcement simply proved that she was right.  I was an insensitive, egotistical, self-obsessed, uncaring jerk of a husband who had no idea how to win the heart of a woman.

She left my house for the courthouse and filed for divorce.

He tells us he hadn’t changed when he married his second wife (Sandy), and says that as a result his second marriage was also “dying”.  Finally after going to counseling he learned that he had to win Sandy’s heart:

I limited my travel to two days per week.  I came home from work by 6:00 PM. and left my briefcase at the office so I wouldn’t work at home.  I regularly called Sandy to ask her to join me for lunch.  Most of all, I decided to meet her needs by lavishing thoughtful gifts and getaway weekends on her– and by taking the trash out without being asked and making sure my dirty laundry actually reached the clothes hamper and then by learning how to operate the washing machine.

These seemingly small but dramatic changes revived my dying marriage.  Our relationship improved when we brought our daughter, Madeline, home from the hospital in 1990.

But as Arterburn explains in the introduction, the book focuses on the wakeup call Stoeker received from his wife Brenda.  Chapter 1 is titled In the Beginning:  A Painful Revelation, and opens with:

I sat across the kitchen table from my wife, Brenda, and I could tell she was waiting until she had my undivided attention.

Then she looked intently into my eyes and changed my world.  “I don’t know how else to say this to you, so I’ll say it straight,” she began.  “My feelings for you are dead.”

*It turns out that reader Bee had actually pointed to the same book two years ago, but it escaped my attention at the time.

**According to his bio at Family Life, Arterburn started dating his third wife (Misty) in 2003.  This suggests that something went terribly wrong almost immediately after the publication of the book in October of 2001.

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This entry was posted in Attacking headship, Complementarian, Crossdressing Theology, Disrespecting Respectability, Divorce, Fred Stoeker, Servant Leader, Stephen Arterburn, Traditional Conservatives, Turning a blind eye, Wake-up call. Bookmark the permalink.

89 Responses to It started with a whimper (a servant leader is born).

  1. Pingback: It started with a whimper (a servant leader is born). | @the_arv

  2. Anonymous Reader says:

    Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach obviously write advice books.

    Once again we have a lecture on health that includes the essential “bottle of vodka every day”.

    As a live-long bibliophile it disturb me to have a sudden desire to pile up someone’s books and burn them to ashes.

  3. Anonymous Reader says:

    **According to his bio at Family Life, Arterburn started dating his third wife (Misty) in 2003. This suggests that something went terribly wrong almost immediately after the publication of the book in October of 2001.

    Marrying in desperation on the rebound from divorce didn’t work out? What a surprise!

    One of you more theologically minded men help me out here, how does Arterburn’s serial polygamy fit in with that whole “husband of one wife” concept? I’m just asking, that’s all.

  4. He’s on his 3rd wife but is a teaching pastor at a church and Family Life uses his materials? Yikes. Shame on all of them. That guy needs to find a new line of work.

  5. Jason says:

    I thought God “hated divorce”?????

  6. SnapperTrx says:

    This guy is an example of how to create panic in your life. How else can you explain the feeling of being sucked into a laundry list of “to-do’s” to keep your wife happy? “Oh no! Did I take out the trash?”, “Was our dinner date good enough or is she secretly unhappy?”, “I really need to get this work done at the office, but is ten to six and I need to get home or she’ll be mad!” How can anyone live like that? That’s not just panic, that’s straight up panic and fear! I hope to God that no one follows this mans advice and gets stuck in the terror loop he was in and is probably going to be in again ON HIS THIRD WIFE! Unfortunately I know that there are people who absolutely WILL follow his advice.

    How do we fight back against this mess? This man has an audience seeking his advice out, but if I go to any average church Joe and preach to him headship as the bible prescribes he will be repulsed!

  7. Jonathan Castle says:

    1 Peter 3 unequivocally teaches wives to accept the authority of their husbands.

    Amazing that he could go to the belly of the truth and flip it upside down.

    There will never be peace and harmony and lust! in a marriage if the man submits to the woman.

  8. What does this say about the Gospel?

    Is Jesus supposed to “win my heart”? And if He fails do I get to accuse Him of poor leadership?

    These people are evil.

  9. Anonymous Reader says:

    Arterburn is the founder of the “Women of Faith” conference.
    https://infogalactic.com/info/Women_of_Faith

    The theme for the events is changed yearly. The content includes speakers, comedians, music and drama alongside worship and prayer. The organisation partners with World Vision.

    Clearly a labor of love…

    In 2013 Women of Faith was purchased by the William Morris Agency.

    …rather than money.

  10. simonwildcat says:

    This poor chump doesn’t have a clue. Bets are on that Wife V3.0 leaves him too.

  11. thedeti says:

    I had a book of Arterburn’s once in which he described the failure of his second marriage to Sandy. Paraphrasing, he describes a good life in which he and Sandy had adopted a daughter and were chugging along fine. He had been married to Sandy for almost 20 years, when he came home to Sandy saying their marriage was over. She gave Arterburn the same things we often hear about men at the Family Life/FotF sites – you’re not here enough, you work too hard, when you are here you’re not really “here”, you don’t care about me, you don’t love me, I’m not haaaaaaappy, you’ve neglected our marriage for way too long”. Arterburn himself reputedly has stated the marriage ended after “20 difficult years”. ( http://michaeldavidestes.blogspot.com/2006/06/mohler-on-divorce.html)

    I don’t know the circumstances of his first marriage.

    He is married to his third wife, Misty, and she and Arterburn have two young kids of their own. Misty is at least 10 years his junior.

  12. getalonghome says:

    So both of these guys are on their third marriages? And that makes them experts on good marriages? Gosh, I didn’t know it worked that way. I should write books about being rich asks beautiful! Move over, actual rich, beautiful ladies! I’m declaring myself an expert!

  13. This is all very sad, seriously.

    What’s bizarre is how a man on his third wife is now being looked at as some guru for winning women’s hearts. How can someone possibly get fooled by this?

    Weird.

  14. thedeti says:

    On Arterburn’s website, tv.newlife.com, there is a video called “My Apology to Women”. I don’t know what its contents are.

  15. getalonghome says:

    I misread. Just the one guy on his third? The other just almost lost one. Got it. Point stands, though.

  16. coloradomtnman says:

    It says something about the modern churchian crowd that ‘shepherds’ like this are invited to host their seminars and ‘mens pastors’ and ‘christian counselors’ recommend reading their garbage to men as “advice on how to save your marriage.” To save your marriage, do the opposite!

    Listened to the churchians before; didn’t work out too well for me. 🙂

  17. Boxer says:

    Dear Get Along Home:

    I misread. Just the one guy on his third? The other just almost lost one. Got it. Point stands, though.

    Your observation is excellent, and as fair as it is humorous. While it is sensible to learn from the failures of others, it makes no sense to take advice on a process, from the people who fail repeatedly at that process.

    Regards,

    Boxer

  18. earl says:

    I could tell him why the second marriage failed…

    He forgot to read the part in the Bible about divorce and remarriage being adultery. It never had a chance. Has nothing to do with his bad attempt at trying to win over her heart.

    Then she looked intently into my eyes and changed my world. “I don’t know how else to say this to you, so I’ll say it straight,” she began. “My feelings for you are dead.”

    Were they ever ‘alive’ to begin with?

  19. coloradomtnman says:

    @earl

    Her ‘feelz’ were dead! Ha ha

  20. God is too distant. He never helps with the kids and the housework always gets left to me. Doesn’t He realize this is a 50/50 proposition?

  21. earl says:

    I can tell you…it doesn’t matter if you give her everything she wants, ‘find the keys to her heart’ and make her feels all haaaaaaaaaaaapy or not. It’s all Disneyfied rom-com nonsense. It’s her free will choice to blow up the marriage or not. Of course she’ll blame the man because she doesn’t want that pointed out.

  22. earl says:

    I was an insensitive, egotistical, self-obsessed, uncaring jerk of a husband who had no idea how to win the heart of a woman.

    Funny…those traits seem to ‘win the hearts’ of women pretty regularly. It’s almost like the woman makes the decision to be there.

  23. Matt says:

    So both of these guys are on their third marriages? And that makes them experts on good marriages?

    I’m reminded of a quote from Flemming’s Bond novel Goldfinger: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

    Capitalize the E in enemy and I think you’ve got the main beneficiary of this book’s advice.

  24. TMAC says:

    Jason – The only thing God hates more than divorce is a beta who won’t mind his wife.

  25. Jack Russell says:

    I can’t believe these books are “wildly popular”, but what passes for Christianity in the West these days I am not surprised. He is giving the answer as to why he is divorced. Such a pink pill beta. He is still married according to scripture and is a bigamist. Getting advice from him is like getting news from any of the corporate media outlets, not to mention NPR, BBC, and the CBC.

  26. Missa Jim says:

    Oh my goodness, what rubbish! No wonder America is so lost. Men behaving like pansies and women behaving like effeminate men. Ughhhhh!!! This country truly needs a major purging. I can’t help but feel we have been under God’s judgment for a while but few have woken up to that fact.
    Arterburn is such a gamma!

  27. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    Many husbands use 1 Peter 3 as their official standard, for it instructs women married to non believers…

    This must be soundly refuted. The attempt to limit 1 Pe 3 to non-believing husbands is a cavil that finds room for wives to become insubordinate to their believing husbands. In fact it is a slight of hand to negate all of 1 Pe 3’s instructions to wives.

    I must ask are wives must only submit to unbelieving husbands? Or do believing husbands never ever sin, aka obey not the Word? Where else can this canard be applied? Love your enemies unless they are a believer? God loves a woman’s meek and quite heart unless she is married to a believer, then He loves defiance,moxie and insecurity? Can only unbelieving men be swayed by a woman’s respectful and pure conduct? Why are believing husbands to be spared the respect and honor of their wife? Shouldn’t a believing husband be afforded even more respect? Isn’t he a better picture of Christ who knows Christ?

    There is no reason in the grammar or context to suggest Peter had only unbelieving husbands in mind. If one contends that “obeys not the Word” is an idiom for an unbeliever, then they must show where that same idiom is used elsewhere and more clearly or accept its plain and literal meaning. Women of both sexes are uncomfortable with Peter’s instructions so they weasel and warp what is inscripturated.

  28. mike says:

    To be fair, his new wife misty is pretty hot.

  29. Ronin says:

    I don’t think it matters much what you do. I once belonged to a men’s divorce forum whose wives all dumped them, the guys came from all levels of society. The rich guys wives ran off with the guy who installed the cabinets of the Dream kitchen she wanted and the poor guys wives hooked up with their boss at work…. in short they are never happy. Once menopause kicks in you’ll wish they’d leave anyway

  30. Jason says:

    Mike…..he’s a pretty decent looking guy himself. Most men after one divorce are lucky to land a second wife or at least a dating life that would be worth the value of a Looney Tunes cartoon from the 1950’s.

    Truth is, most men are rendered useless after a divorce unless they have “looks” to attarct a second wife

  31. A career in Christian practice doesn’t pay well, if you’re in it for God. It pays really well if you’re in it for yourself. Important thing to always remember.

    As for the authors, it’s more doubling down on failure, like all blue-pilled & churchian approaches. Like all who lack wisdom, they can see there is a problem, but they have neither insight nor introspection capable of finding a forward-projecting solution.

    It’s an evil thing to do to another person.

  32. feeriker says:

    Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:
    March 3, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    It really is enough to make you want to scourge and crucify these lying, duplicitous, selfish, heretical scumbags.

  33. info says:

    @Jonadab-the-Rechabite
    ”Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,”
    (1 Peter 3 NIV 2011)

    The NIV 2011 instructs wives only to submit to unbelieving husbands. Believing marriages are egalitarian of course.

  34. bdash 77 says:

    Wow you got the book!
    without your blog I would have never realized this and happily lapped up this guy as Gospel

    I went and had a chat with my pastor

    He told me that if a man asks his wife for a drink/food/ to do something for him
    It is a sin
    and all young couples will be taught to avoid that sin
    men are to lead by fulfilling their wive’s desires

    does he not see that his makes the wife the head?

  35. bdash 77 says:

    it does makes sense
    our church loves the Gospel coalition
    this guy is a regular writer there
    he literally tells men to submit to their wives and gets his wife to explain how male submission works and is beneficial…

  36. Ron Tomlinson says:

    One thing I’d agree with the author on is that quoting the bible to a froward wife isn’t likely to help the situation. Rather the biblical standard should be kept in mind by the husband as the private motivation for his actions in taming her. He needs to be sure of his motivation in order to overcome her resistance which will be considerable and requires courage and sharp management to overcome. Maybe later she can preach the passage to her daughters.

  37. Red Pill Latecomer says:

    Cher, age 71, attends a gay pride event: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-5457475/Cher-makes-debut-Sydneys-Gay-Lesbian-Mardi-Gras.html

    It’s an appropriate venue for her. She’s had so much plastic surgery, she looks like a drag queen.

  38. ys says:

    bdash-
    I would be concerned with your loving the Gospel Coalition also. They have many issues, which you may know, that go even beyond their fumbling of the marriage question.

  39. Scott says:

    As for the authors, it’s more doubling down on failure, like all blue-pilled & churchian approaches. Like all who lack wisdom, they can see there is a problem, but they have neither insight nor introspection capable of finding a forward-projecting solution.

    Any time the discussion turns, at least in part, on the issue of previous marriage/divorce as presenting the speaker with a credibility problem, I of course pause. For although I am not trying to portray myself as a guru, I do write about marriage and “success” quite a bit. But I think you have got the main of it here.

    Reading the story of what went wrong in Arterburns first marriage I practically had a flashback. I did all the same stuff. I confronted her with God’s word on the subject. I demonstrated that, on the technical details there were no grounds for divorce– or even separating. (No violence, no addiction, no yelling, nothing like that). I tried to enlist the help of the leadership of the church to show that there was no good reason to do this.

    In desperation, I walked to the front of the church during the invitation song (this is the Church of Christ equivalent of altar call) and openly pleaded for the congregations “help” in making me into the kind of man she would want to stay with.

    And still lost the girl.

    In the marriage itself I was not overbearing nor did I even try to be the leader of anything, except of course the one thing these people say you are allowed to lead in your home–reading Bible verses to my wife.

    I did everything according to the servant-leader-self-depricating-beta-orbiter-of-your-own-wife playbook that these guys implore us to do. I was not a perfect husband, but that is not the point.

    After something like that, one can draw several conclusions:

    1. Next time, do it again, but just try harder (there was something wrong with my character)
    2. She gave up on us (There was something wrong with her character)
    3. Were were “incompatible”
    4. My expectations about marriage were unrealistic
    5. My expectations about marriage were unbiblical (not Christian)
    6. In the cultural context, “marriage” is not marriage at all.
    7. Some combination of these.

    In my current marriage, if I have an urge to do something, (based on church blue-pill conditioning) I try to force myself to do the exact opposite. My marriage has lasted over twice as long as that one. And my wife treats me like a superhero.

    Arterburn drew (and continues to draw) conclusion #1. He is like “Boxer” from “Animal Farm.”

    “Try harder!” Is his only response.

    He does not learn from the past.

  40. earl says:

    Let’s go back to THE model of marriage…Christ and the church.

    Did Christ ever act like a beta orbiter to the church? Did Christ double down on being submissive to the church? From what I read He was more concerned with His Father’s will and doing that. He didn’t try to find the ‘key to the heart of the church’.

    I think the lesson we as men can learn there is we should be more concerned about living a life pleasing to God instead of trying to live a life pleasing to the wife.

  41. thedeti says:

    In my current marriage, if I have an urge to do something, (based on church blue-pill conditioning) I try to force myself to do the exact opposite. My marriage has lasted over twice as long as that one. And my wife treats me like a superhero.

    All true. But one of the primary reasons your marriage works as well as it does is that Mychael was very sexually attracted to you from the get go, from the moment she first laid eyes on you. She has specifically described this in writing elsewhere. The things you describe are very important, but they will not inspire sexual attraction or a good marriage when good, hard, visceral sexual attraction is not present. Every good, durable marriage I’ve seen (IRL and online) is where that hard, visceral sexual attraction was immediately present.

    I really think men need to be trained much better and more on how to recognize signs of a woman’s hard, immediate sexual attraction. It’s a huge problem in marriages now, particularly when the only truly healthy marriages are those where her sexual attraction for him is hard, immediate, durable, and existed from the very beginning of the relationship.

    Can a marriage work without it? Yes. Can it be a good marriage? Sure. But the good sex won’t be there and it will be a constant struggle for her, which will make her uneasy, unhappy, testy, angry, and resentful from time to time.

  42. thedeti says:

    @Jason:

    [Arterburn is] a pretty decent looking guy himself. Most men after one divorce are lucky to land a second wife or at least a dating life that would be worth the value of a Looney Tunes cartoon from the 1950’s.

    Yes. Particularly when most men in the ministry look like Ned Flanders, er… Dennis Rainey:

  43. Opus says:

    That’s a rug

  44. DrTorch says:

    Did Christ ever act like a beta orbiter to the church? Did Christ double down on being submissive to the church? From what I read He was more concerned with His Father’s will and doing that. He didn’t try to find the ‘key to the heart of the church’.

    Well put.

    Men have a mission, the wife is supposed to be a helpmeet to fulfill that mission. Having a mission will be attractive to women, that helps. It helps vet the woman during dating/courtship. It helps keep the focus in marriage. It helps mentors understand.

    He needs to be sure of his motivation in order to overcome her resistance
    True, that’s why husbands are commanded to love their wives as part of their submission. But the motivation is pretty straightforward: he needs her help w/ his mission.

    Not a huge fan of the movie, but it strikes me as funny that the Blues Brothers got it right, we ARE on a mission from God.

  45. Jason says:

    For unexplainable reasons last night at my comfortable apartment……three men showed up to “hang out” while I was on call. One was my first roommate in Fresno. Agnostic, but not hostile to the Christian faith, single and never married like me. Owns a house and his own business…..one bachelor from my Corps who is about 27……….solid man, but didn’t win in the looks department (like most men btw). The last guy is a dance instructor who is gay, aged thirty but not ‘flaming’ and is tired of teaching dance to “angry women”. I met him at Fresno’s monthly Motwon / Soul Night a year or so ago. We chat here anmd there. Meet up for coffee. Nice guy.

    Guess who came knocking! All showed up my place on a Saturday night. Well, we busted out the Atari, had a general bull session, and ended up staying up late listening to 45rpms, coffee and tea made, the cat actually got a ton of attention. We kept politics “lite” (we’re a bunch of varying political ideas / beliefs) and had a really good time. Someone called for Chinese……it was on!

    Goodbyes made well after midnight while a mid-sixties Henry Mancini lp was playing……..I got into bed and realized that this “men going their own way” and this “where are the men” and “what’s up with the men today” really made me just realize that we are indeed finding other things to do.

    It didn’t turn into four men having a “he-man-women-haters-club” we were having too much fun for that. My old roommate made a comment at one point “why bother when a below average looking girl still thinks you don’t measure up? Expecations are sky high and what they bring is really sub-par.”

    I chimed in “Most expect Tiffany’s at a Woolworth price” which caused our gay friend to almost spit up his coffee with laughter.

    Before we did leave, I offered a prayer, and all took it up, even my old roommate removed his baseball ballcap.

    You just never know. I was told by an old Salvationist man when I enlisted that “A Christian walk truly obeyed and lived is the most unexpected journey you will ever have!”

    So true. So true! Have a blessed Sunday all and KTF

  46. purge187 says:

    Wasn’t this the same Arterburn who suggested that young men should go so far as to confess every wet dream to an accountability partner? I don’t think even Joshua Harris was that much of a Puritan. I won’t be paying him much mind.

  47. Gary Eden says:

    If you dominate your woman you don’t need to appeal to the authority of a book to get her to do your will. If you don’t, well appealing to a book just demonstrates how weak (read; unattractive) you are.

    So first things first, conquer her. And you don’t accomplish that by being a better, more supplicating servant than before.

  48. Hose_B says:

    @anonymous reader
    how does Arterburn’s serial polygamy fit in with that whole “husband of one wife” concept

    Divorcing a wife and taking another is nowhere near “polygamy”. And I have no clue what “serial polygamy” would be. polygamy is a man married to more than one woman and comes with all the obligations and rules a singular marriage would. Just look anywhere in the OT.

  49. Boxer says:

    OT but here’s what I did today

    I don’t dare comment over there, lest I draw the wrong sort of crowd along with me, but congratulations. Your wife and kid are both beautiful.

  50. Mike says:

    The problem with the whole helpmate thing, is that most young men no longer have an apparent head of household status due to lower incomes and the dual income household. It’s hard for a women to see herself as a helpmate when she makes just as much money as her husband. If your wife’s income is equal to yours or pretty much equal, that is antithetical to submissiveness. Very few men can “afford” to have a stay at home wife.

    Rollo has mentioned before that a key aspect of his mission, his “frame” is based upon the apparent fact that he is the breadwinner. And, if he needs to go to Florida for a career move, then they damn well will. Most men don’t have this clear line in their marriage. Sure, there are outliers, but I think 80% of “frame” and having a mission in a marriage are based on the income differential being large for the husband.

  51. Anonymous Reader says:

    Hose_B
    Divorcing a wife and taking another is nowhere near “polygamy”.

    Ok. Is it anywhere near “adultery”?

    And I have no clue what “serial polygamy” would be.

    Perhaps if you think about it…

    polygamy is a man married to more than one woman

    Married to more than one woman at the same time. “Wives in parallel” in a sense. So having a series of wives would be….what?

    and comes with all the obligations and rules a singular marriage would. Just look anywhere in the OT.

    So what?
    Could you try answering my rhetorical question in a less spergy manner?

  52. Anonymous Reader says:

    Mike
    I think 80% of “frame” and having a mission in a marriage are based on the income differential being large for the husband.

    Yes, but that is gone for a collection of reasons that we don’t need to rehash. A lot of couples are going to be dual-earner, and a plurality of those will entail “her” earning more net than “him”. In that situation his frame must come from inner strength rather than externals such as earning. Hence Game as a necessity in modern marriage, even when a 1.0 family structure (SAHM) exists. Because of The Whispers, etc.

    Just to be clear, I’m in agreement with your observation. The over-40 men don’t seem to get this, though, that younger men are likely to wind up as “house-husbands” for economic reasons as much as being “peterpan manboy slacker dudes”. As a culture we have tied much weight onto our boys (K – 12) and young men (college, etc.) but still hold them to standards of performance from the 1950’s. It’s like putting cement-filled combat boots on a man then demanding he compete in the 100 meter dash, and berating him when he doesn’t succeed.

  53. earl says:

    It’s like putting cement-filled combat boots on a man then demanding he compete in the 100 meter dash, and berating him when he doesn’t succeed.

    Yeah I don’t think most older folks get how modern feminism has screwed up men’s roles as much as women’s. The women want a man but they don’t want a man.

  54. Pingback: Her soul essence is your master, and sets the terms for oneness. | Dalrock

  55. earl says:

    It’s hard for a women to see herself as a helpmate when she makes just as much money as her husband. If your wife’s income is equal to yours or pretty much equal, that is antithetical to submissiveness.

    True…but last I checked ‘a wife is to submit to her husband unless she makes as much or more money’ isn’t in the Bible.

    I mean Churchians might think that’s in there, but not Christians.

  56. Scott says:

    And, if he needs to go to Florida for a career move, then they damn well will. Most men don’t have this clear line in their marriage.

    Agreed. This is how mine works. My mission is the driver behind everything we do. When we move, what we spend money on, etc. This was clear from the very first date. It was a conversation that went kind of like this:

    “I am in graduate school. I will be going on internship as an active duty officer soon. That internship will be in whatever place they send me. Then I will continue to move a round multiple times for things that are good for my career until I decide to retire. There are also a bunch of things I want to accomplish in retirement. I’m not changing any of those plans. If that works for you, lets have a second date.”

    We were engaged within four months of that conversation.

    This strikes most men today as either impossible or boorish, because of all the cultural (and other) forces you describe. I wish I knew what to do about it.

  57. It reminds me– and has for years– of the fable of the man and his son carrying their donkey to market: this is the last in a string of increasingly absurd demands they’re obeying from hecklers beside the road. But the donkey dislikes being carried and kicks both guys into the river before trotting back home, and NOBODY gets to market that day.

    Thus “carrying the donkey:” an apt metaphor for making an ass of one’s self in the frantic and futile attempts to please everyone, or to meet every demand of fickle tyrants.

  58. Kevin says:

    Don’t take marriage advice from people on their third marriage.

    Either he is terrible at picking partners or something else about his personality is toxic and he can not discern what it is. His advice is worthless and apparently does not work.

  59. Kevin says:

    Now reading all the posts I see that Scott more thoughtful explored the issues for why a marriage ends.

    Some are certainly just doomed.

    Also his second marriage was childless. That’s hard on people and deep biological impulses will often push those people apart. Death a child is also hard to survive. But those are relatively rare things compared to the more common she was just not happy enough anymore.

    @Mike
    If your marriage is important don’t let your wife work. Have her stay home with the kids. Go on less vacations, live in a worse house, drive older cars. If the husband can make the median income in America (around 50k) your family will be fine. The top 5% is mostly 2 income professional families (or in the US even a teacher and firefighter both working). But it’s all about trade offs. Of course if you have no kids then never mind. No reason for your wife to sit at home for nothing.

  60. “Confess every wet dream…,” now? Really? What a joke! Even masturbation *without* lust is more open to moral interpretation because it is, for better or worse, a VOLUNTARY activity. What kind of shame-fest demands that guys seek penance for an involuntary biological function?

  61. Glory hallelujah!

    Now THAT’S how to set the terms!

  62. MikeJJ says:

    thedeti says: “On Arterburn’s website, tv.newlife.com, there is a video called “My Apology to Women”. I don’t know what its contents are.” You HAVE to watch it.

  63. Dead-on with the “Animal Farm” analogy. The difficulty of MOST Official-Christian-Men’s-Ministry counsel IS that Rev. Boxer is usually giving every sermon and pep-talk.

  64. Mitch says:

    @ MikeJJ

    Just watched the video (https://tv.newlife.com/videos/my_apology_to_women-417). Just hurled.

  65. earl says:

    ‘What kind of shame-fest demands that guys seek penance for an involuntary biological function?’

    I farted this morning.

  66. BillyS says:

    JJ,

    I don’t think you can have masturbation without lust, however much some claim that.

    Earl and AR,

    A serious flaw in your argument is that you condemn the divorced, including those who were divorced outside their own actions, to a status God doesn’t require. Remarriage may still be worth avoiding, but it is not a requirement or Jesus would have banned it, not just covered one specific case.

    Note that Jesus considered all the marriages of the woman at the well as marriages. He didn’t claim only one was valid.

    It is quite likely I will end up staying single, for a variety of reasons, but I am not condemned to that merely because I married an unfaithful woman years ago.

  67. BillyS says:

    Scott,

    2. She gave up on us (There was something wrong with her character)

    This was the root cause in my marriage. Nothing I could do about it, even if I had acted differently at a few points. The modern State puts too much power in the hands of woman to destroy and many churches unfortunately support it, even if claiming to oppose divorce.

    I do pray your own marriage continues the good trend, but I would encourage you to be cautious to not fall into pride thinking all its success is your own efforts. The NT talks about taking heed lest we fall. We need to watch out to realize that sometimes our success is not all because of our own actions.

  68. OKRickety says:

    BillyS said: “I don’t think you can have masturbation without lust, however much some claim that.”

    I do think most masturbation involves lust, but I think it is possible it can be done without it. I’d be interested if readers think it is a sin to lust after one’s own wife, and is it a sin to masturbate while lusting for one’s own wife if she is unwilling or unable to have sex with you? I think a husband should lust for his wife, and, while not ideal, masturbating while thinking of her is not sinning.

  69. BillyS says:

    That would be a different issue OKR, especially if you can even lust after a wife that is yours. Though that should not be the normal approach in marriage even if it isn’t lust since it would not build the bonding achieved by sex.

    I don’t know that I have read of anyone talking about masturbation focusing on a spouse. I haven’t read of many claiming it can be a purely mechanical act either, except in the context of claiming it really isn’t bad.

  70. Paul says:

    I’d be interested if readers think it is a sin to lust after one’s own wife

    WTF? Have you been reading too much Augustine lately?

    1 Co 7
    But SINCE sexual immorality is occurring, each man SHOULD HAVE sexual relations with his own wife … likewise the wife [SHOULD FULFILL HER MARITAL DUTY] to her husband … The wife does NOT HAVE AUTHORITY over her own body but YIELDS it to her husband

    Your wife is given to you for YOUR sexual pleasure if YOU desire her, what else do you need to know?

  71. Anonymous Reader says:

    BillyS
    Earl and AR,

    A serious flaw in your argument is that you condemn the divorced, including those who were divorced outside their own actions, to a status God doesn’t require.

    Can’t speak for Earl, but I’m asking how Arterburn can be a minister/preacher/pastor when he’s had more than one wife. It’s mostly a rhetorical question that wasn’t intended to refer to you in any way. Unless you’re taking up preaching, I guess.

    But now that I think about it, a local church split some years back when the pastor and his wife divorced, then he remarried[1]. Church leadership let him keep right on being top preacher, and then about half of the membership left for other churches.

    [1] Interestingly his second wife looked a lot like his first wife.

  72. OKRickety says:

    BillyS,

    You said: “That would be a different issue OKR, especially if you can even lust after a wife that is yours.”

    I made the assumption that lust means strong sexual desire and it is not inherently sinful. From that perspective, it would be acceptable to lust after one’s own wife, but sinful to lust after another. However, to rephrase the question, would it be okay to masturbate while having strong sexual desire for your wife?

  73. OKRickety says:

    Paul,

    You said: “Your wife is given to you for YOUR sexual pleasure if YOU desire her, what else do you need to know?”

    Well, I don’t think your statement is a good paraphrase of that scripture, but it does say a husband and wife should be having sex. However, as you are no doubt aware, there are many “Christian” wives who do not do what they “SHOULD” do. In that situation, would you force her to have sex?

    Alternatively, suppose a wife is completely unavailable for any kind of sex for a valid reason (travel, medical reason [short-term or long-term]), would masturbation while thinking of her be acceptable?

  74. earl says:

    A serious flaw in your argument is that you condemn the divorced, including those who were divorced outside their own actions, to a status God doesn’t require.

    Well I know how you feel when I bring up the Catechism…but it does point out that difference.

    2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

  75. earl says:

    There was however something he did that wasn’t a good sign or a shake foundation going into both of his previous marriages.

    As Kirn later relates, Arterburn was divorced from his (second) wife after “twenty difficult years” of marriage. Kirn also states that Arterburn was afraid that he might lose his evangelical readership over the (second) divorce, but that apparently has not happened. He then went on to marry Misty, pledging that he did wait until they were married to have sex — something he did not do in his first two marriages.

    http://michaeldavidestes.blogspot.com/2006/06/mohler-on-divorce.html

  76. BillyS says:

    OKR,

    However, to rephrase the question, would it be okay to masturbate while having strong sexual desire for your wife?

    I would tend to say that is morally allowed, though under limited circumstances. (Say a solider is deployed overseas.) I don’t face that issue, so I doubt I will spend much time thinking further on it either way.

    AR,

    I doubt I will ever be a traditional preacher, but I could easily start teaching on different areas, as I have already done tiny bit of in my blog. I would seek to tie to the Scriptures however, so I see no way I would come up with a lot of this foolishness, though I am sure some would disagree with many points I make even so.

    I do think the divorced need to be cautious, but I no longer see it as something to completely ban someone from ministry forever. We do (as Christians) treat it far too lightly now however, and that would be my takeaway.

  77. Paul says:

    @OKR : In that situation, would you force her to have sex?

    No of course not. But you have to address it as it is : a sin. Unfortunately most churches will give you no support there.

    As for masturbation; especially the RCC has very strict guidelines on sex, inspired by Augustine, to which I do not adhere, because I think it is not in line with biblical teachings.

    As for my interpretation of 1 Co 7, Why do you I did not give a good paraphrase?

  78. Pingback: You Are Probably Alone at Church | Things that We have Heard and Known

  79. OKRickety says:

    Paul,

    You said: “Your wife is given to you for YOUR sexual pleasure if YOU desire her, what else do you need to know?”

    It is important to recognize that marriage is a relationship reflecting the relationship of Christ and the Church, based on love, respect, and submission. I don’t see that attitude in your statement.

  80. ““On Arterburn’s website, tv.newlife.com, there is a video called “My Apology to Women”.”

    That video is an official substitute for Syrup of Ipecac. What a virtue-signaling weasel, “apologizing” on behalf of those “other” bad men for something he didn’t do.

  81. Paul says:

    @OKR : love and submission are part of marriage, ‘respect’ is elsewhere used as ‘fear’, as in ‘fear of the Lord’. Still I do not see how what I describe does not involve any of these three components. Still, it IS the message of 1 Co 7:1-5. I know you won’t hear that in many churches, but read it carefully, and you will see.

  82. Pingback: The thought of holding hands with him made her sick, but fortunately he convinced her to marry him. | Dalrock

  83. Luke says:

    Paul says:
    March 5, 2018 at 9:50 pm
    “@OKR : In that situation, would you force her to have sex?”

    No, of course not. I didn’t force my wife to marry me, where she voluntarily agreed to be my sexual partner, a commitment that lasts as long as does the marriage. The moral right to financial support from me would of course end with her violating her part of that contract. Now, in a just and moral country, her failing to come through on what she agreed to, would be a society where that malfeasance would come with various ever-stronger negative reinforcements, to the point she either complied, or was forever in shame, poverty, and isolation, dying early, alone, and unmourned. We hardly live in such a society, though, sad to say.

  84. Jason says:

    Lol “confess every wet dream” now she’s the “high priestess” of the household too. I forget that women behave and act for the most part today as if they never go to the bathroom. Better confess everytime you take a dump too. Heck……..lets put Terry Jacks in the rock n roll hall of fame for “seasons in the sun”

  85. Joseph V. Barruso says:

    Fools! These authors and anyone who practices the Christian religion are liars and hypocrites made in the image of their father the Devil! Could it be more obvious! And this is who Christians go to for advice on how to be godly husbands? The blind are leading the blind and the emperor isn’t wearing new clothes! If you open your eyes you’ll see he’s wearing nothing! But you can’t see because the blind can’t see and the deaf can’t hear!

  86. Joseph V. Barruso says:

    Ghandi said it best when he said; “I like your Christ but I don’t like your Christians.”

  87. Dale says:

    A review of the “Every Man’s Battle” book, mentioned in the original post.

    This author has read the book, “Every Man’s Battle”. This essay presents the opinions of this author, demonstrating why this author is convinced the authors of “Every Man’s Battle” made fundamental errors in their attitudes and handling of Scripture, and that these mistakes undermined the good intentions they may have had when writing their book.

    On page 66, the authors, apparently in this passage led by Fred Stoeker, make reference to Ezekiel 23:3. The full prophecy from God runs from Ezekiel 23:1 to 23:49. The full prophecy itself makes clear that God is speaking of northern Israel and of Judea (verse 4), rather than two actual sisters.
    God is addressing the spiritual (religious) unfaithfulness of his people. Consider these two passages:
    – “with all their idols she defiled herself” (verse 7, NIV).
    – “They shall repay you for your lewdness, and you shall pay for your idolatrous sins.” (verse 49, NIV). God speaks very strongly against the adultery of his people.
    God is thinking of their spiritual adultery, not physical adultery.

    A person may think God is also condemning physical adultery, as he speaks of their lewdness and adulteries with the men of the surrounding nations. It is obviously wrong however to think God is addressing physical, sexual adultery, since God uses the terms “virgin” and “virginity” to describe the sisters (verses 3, 8, etc.). The act of physical adultery precludes the possibility of a woman’s virginity.
    A person might think God is addressing not only their spiritual unfaithfulness, but also, as a second topic, their lust for foreign men. If so, this portion is addressed to Israelite women, not the Israelite men. The passage mentions adultery with foreign men, but not foreign women.

    In Titus 1:5-9 we see mandatory requirements for those who are to be spiritual leaders (elders and overseers). One of the requirements is that, “he must hold firmly to the trustworthy message, as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine, and refute those who oppose it”. Spiritual leaders are to preach the message that God did in fact give. They are not to take words from God, twist them into a new meaning God did not intend, and then preach that new meaning instead.

    Although the authors acknowledge that this Ezekiel 23 passage speaks of the “waywardness and apostasy of His chosen people”, they nevertheless claim this passage teaches “God views foreplay outside marriage as wrong”. God may hold this view, but this passage says nothing of the kind. The authors show no respect to God’s word (Isa 66:2) by claiming this passage of his word supports their views when it does not.
    Similarly, they claim this picture of spiritual adultery is somehow a condemnation of sexual “petting” (pg 66). Again, God may very well have views on this action outside of marriage, but this passage does not teach anything on that action. Again, I show contempt for God when I use his words to teach my message, instead of letting God’s words form and direct my words so that I teach only his message (Titus 1:5-9).

    A similar distortion of Scripture is shown on page 67. In the sermon on the mount, Matt 5:1-7:29, Jesus repeatedly calls his followers to a higher standard than the minimum standard of merely meeting the law that God gave in Old Testament times. For example, in Matt 5:21-26, Jesus addresses murder. Jesus teaches that merely refraining from murder itself is inadequate to avoid judgement. Jesus calls us to not even be angry with our brother, or we will be similarly subject to judgement.
    Further, he teaches, “If your brother has something against you … Go and be reconcilled to your brother” (NIV). This, even though it is your brother who has the problem, not you. And this is to be done, even at the cost of delaying the giving of a gift to God (Matt 5:21-26).
    Does Jesus say that anger is murder or the same as murder? No. They are both subject to judgement for their actions or thoughts however. Merely avoiding the outward action of murder is inadequate for a follower of Jesus.
    The punishment for murder is death. Jesus makes no demand that a man who has once been angry with his brother be put to death. But one who has murdered, even just once, is to be put to death. (Lev 20:1-2 is one example of this.)
    Similarly, in the very next passage, Matt 5:27-28, Jesus shows that merely avoiding physical adultery is not adequate; a person is to not “look lustfully at a woman”. Doing so is “adultery of the heart”. As with the preceding passage, Jesus does not make these two actions equal. He does call us to a higher standard; we are to obey both of these separate and different restrictions. (The pattern of referring to the Old Testament law, and then calling his followers to a higher standard, is repeated in verses 31-32, 33-37 and 38-42. 43-47 is also similar, but starts with a saying not found in Scripture.)
    The authors however are not careful to avoid putting words into Jesus’ mouth. They write, ‘Masturbation while fantasizing about another woman besides your wife or “fantasy intercourse” while dreaming is the same as doing it’ (emphasis added). This is not at all what Scripture says. If the authors had written only that it is wrong to choose to fantasize about committing adultery with another man’s wife, I believe this would be valid. They state these actions are “the same” however.
    If a person truly believes that fantasizing about committing adultery with another man’s wife is the same as adultery, then if they had any intellectual and spiritual honesty, they would be consistent and also believe that being angry with their brother is the same as committing murder. After all, the passage Matt 5:27-28 immediately follows Matt 5:21-26; they are together in the same sermon and should be consistently interpreted.
    Suppose a person, such as the authors, claim that these pairs of a thought and an outward action are the same — having angry thoughts or attitudes and committing murder, and looking lustfully at a woman and committing actual adultery. Since the punishment for murder is death, we should invite these people to lead by example, and to kill themselves, since they have surely been angry with someone at least once in their life. This is the punishment that would be required if Jesus said anger is the same as murder and looking lustfully at a woman is the same as physical adultery.
    By their refusal to kill themselves, as would be required if they truly believed Jesus was equating these pairs of a thought (anger and impure thoughts) and an outward action (murder and adultery), we will clearly know they want to apply their own standard only to others and not to themselves. Such people should consider Jesus’ harsh words to the religious leaders of his day in Matt 23 and Matt 7:1-5.

    There is an additional problem with the authors’ claim, ‘”fantasy intercourse” while dreaming is the same as doing it’.
    Adultery is sin. I have no direct or conscious control over what I dream. It may be true that a man is more likely to dream about things of which he regularly thinks or does. At least I however sometimes have dreams that have no relation to my conscious life; either fantasies or actual events.
    Scripture says in 1 Cor 10:12-13:
    12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
    13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV)
    I have no ability to refuse to dream about a certain topic or situation. My conscious mind is asleep. Therefore, claiming that a man commits a sin while he dreams is contrary to what Scripture says about God being faithful to provide a way out so we can chose not to sin. Any teaching that is contrary to what Scripture teaches is not of God; it is of Satan. Similarly, arrogantly and forcefully demanding that others accept my additions to Scripture is blasphemous and Satanic.
    The authors may have intended to do good, but, at best, they are in need of “repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth”; we should pray they will “come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim 2:22-26.)

    One important problem with the book that I perceive is an inability on the part of the authors to accept that not everyone suffers from the same temptations as they. For example, I personally lack self-control with respect to cookies or cake. It would be better if I had the self-control demanded by Titus 2:1-8, but I am not perfect. I therefore rarely choose to buy cookies for myself, to remove from myself the opportunity to act without the self-control required by Scripture (Titus 2:1-2).
    This rule, “thou shalt not buy cookies”, is an important rule I have made up for myself. I find it far easier to choose not to bring the cookies into my house, than to choose not to excessively eat them once they are present.
    It is good for me to be aware of my own short-comings and seek to remove sin from my life, even if doing so requires a radical act to cut off the possibility of sin from myself (Matt 5:29-30). We must understand however, that it is not acceptable for me to insist that everyone else must have the same problems I do, and to furthermore demand that everyone else also obey all the rules I have made up for myself as I seek to deal with my own particular temptations and sins.
    On page 87 the authors write, “Admit it: You love your sexual highs… Is stopping short of God’s standards right? … Are you proud of your sexual fantasizing? … Sexually speaking, you have a low-grade sexual fever.” Similarly, on page 22 the authors write about the movie “Forrest Gump”:
    “But you got more than entertainment, didn’t you? Remember the grunting and panting between Sally Field and the principal? And how when Sally Field next appeared on the screen, you briefly looked her up and down and wondered what it might be like to have her under the sheets? You had your arm around your wife while you were thinking it. Then later, after you retired to bed for a “bit of sport” with your wife, you replaced your wife’s face with Sally Field’s, and you wondered why she couldn’t make you grunt and pant like the principal.”
    It may be true that the authors responded in the way they describe. And it may be true that some other men did also. But these assumptions and condemnations from the authors to every person who is reading are foolish and arrogant. Just as you may not lack the self-control toward cookies that I lack, not every person will have fantasized about committing adultery with another man’s wife while or after watching the “Forrest Gump” movie, as the authors appear to have done.
    It is important for teachers to accept that God knows the heart and thoughts; man does not (1 Samuel 16:7). I show foolishness and arrogance when I insist that you must have the same lack of self control, or the same lust-filled thought life, as I.

    On page 114, the authors assert the following statement is false: “Masturbation can exist in a man even though he has no impurity of the eyes and mind.” The preceding section above mentioned the virtual guarantee that my possession of cookies will be accompanied by the sin of me failing to demonstrate the self-control commanded in Titus 2:1-2. The consistency of my failings does not guarantee the same sin will be present in you, should you find yourself in a similar situation. Similarly, the authors may not be able to masturbate without also fantasizing about committing adultery with another man’s wife, but this is not true of everyone.
    If I try to add commands to Scripture, I am committing the sin of blasphemy, by doing what only God has the right to do. Only God, through the Holy Spirit, has the authority to add words to the word of God. See 2 Peter 1:20-21. Just as it would be the sin of blasphemy for me to try to add “sins” to Scripture with respect to the possession of cookies, so it is sinful for the authors to arrogantly add sexual sins to Scripture.

    Lest you think the authors were unaware they were equating their own views with the word of God, consider this quote from pages 136-137:
    I guarantee you won’t feel cheated. With your whole sexual being now focused upon your wife, sex with her will be so transformed that your satisfaction will explode off any known scale. Yes, even whole consuming fewer bowls. It’s a personal guarantee, backed by the full faith, credit, and authority of the Word of God.” (emphasis added)
    A man choosing to think sexually about only his own wife may very well be a great idea. Matt 5:27-28 speaks against thinking about committing adultery. Proverbs 5 speaks against adultery, and includes the desire that a man be satisfied always by the breasts of his (own) wife (Prov 5:18-19).
    The authors start the passage above with the claim that this restriction in thoughts will lead to the man having satisfaction with his own wife that will “explode off any known scale”. This seems an arrogant claim to made for every married man in the world, regardless of how lazy, selfish, overweight and masculine his wife may choose to be. So far however, the authors have only shown stupidity, not blasphemy. But they then add “It’s a personal guarantee, backed by the full faith, credit, and authority of the Word of God.” The word of God makes no such claim about the man’s satisfaction exploding. Unless the authors can give the reference from the Scriptures where God makes this guarantee, they are committing the sin of blasphemy in this also.

    The authors have incorrectly decided that it is impossible to masturbate without that action also being accompanied by the sin of looking lustfully at another man’s wife. As admitted above, this may be true for them, but it is not true for all men in the world.
    This incorrect understanding leads to advice in about half of their book that is on a faulty foundation, and thus similarly incorrect.
    Consider Lev 15. Read it for yourself, and then continue with this essay.
    Do you think, based on the words in Lev 15, that a man having an emission of semen is a sin? The Bible says he will be “unclean”.
    A critical part of accurate interpretation of Scripture is intellectual honesty and integrity, consistently applying whatever interpretive rules you have for all Scripture. If you decided that it means the man who had an emission of semen has sinned, when the Bible says he is unclean, consider what the same chapter says about other situations. The same chapter says a man is unclean until nightfall after having sex with his wife. Is sex with his own wife always a sin?
    The same chapter says a woman is unclean while she is menstruating. A woman has no direct control over whether she menstruates. And for an unmarried woman, she lacks any ability whatsoever to prevent her regular menstruation. As discussed above, 1 Cor 10:12-13 says:
    12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
    13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV)
    Since a woman can no more choose to not menstruate than a man can choose not to dream a sexual dream, and since Scripture says God is faithful to provide us a way out when we are tempted, it is impossible for menstruation to be a sin. It is not possible that being “unclean”, as described in Lev 15, is the result of sin.
    This should have been obvious however. Sin is not removed by the arrival of nightfall, as repeatedly mentioned in Lev. 15. Forgiveness of sin is by the shedding of blood; see the words of Heb 9:22: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (NIV)
    Just as the uncleanness of the menstruating woman and the uncleanness of the married man who had sex with his wife is not the result of sin, so also the uncleanness of the man who had an emission of semen is not the result of sin. This is required by consistently handling and interpreting the verses of this chapter.
    Certainly, a woman who is menstruating may also choose to sin; perhaps she disobeys her husband. And the man who has sex with his wife may choose to also sin while doing so; perhaps he lies to his wife. And the man who has an emission of semen may choose to sin; perhaps he looks lustfully at another man’s wife. In all these three cases however, the situation that gives a state of uncleanness is completely separate from the action that is sin.

    The authors do not stop their distortion of Scripture with Matt 5. They continue with 1 Corinthians 7. On page 149 they write:
    The Bible says you should not withhold sex for long periods of time, but men love to interpret that Scripture incorrectly by saying they have the right to intercourse as often as the want.
    Contrary to the lies of the authors, the Bible does not say “you should not withhold sex for long periods of time”. The NIV text is below.
    1 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”
    2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.
    3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.
    4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.
    5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
    6 I say this as a concession, not as a command.
    7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
    8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.
    9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

    What does the Bible say? “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time”. A spouse can only deprive their spouse for “a time” but only if they also have mutual consent. The “for a time” is a second restriction, limiting the length of the mutually-agreed-upon deprivation. The first restriction, that both have agreed to go without sex, is also required. If one spouse wants sex and is asking for it, then obviously there is no “mutual consent” to refrain. The Bible actually teaches exactly what the authors deny. Both spouses do have the right to demand sex from the other; if there is no mutual consent to deprive themselves of sex, then they are not to deprive the other. In my view the authors demonstrate natural or willful stupidity when they claim men “interpret that Scripture incorrectly by saying they have the right to intercoures as often as they want” (pg 149, emphasis added).
    The problem with the 1 Cor 7 passage is not that it is difficult to understand the words “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent”. The problem is that people are rebellious and lazy, and choose to look for a rationalization to ignore the commands of God.
    The authors continue on page 149 with the statement:
    We’ve heard stories about some husbands who coerced their wives into sexual intercourse one, two, and sometimes three times a day!
    The authors do not prove with this alleged claim that the interpretation of Scripture they do not like, discussed above, is wrong. All they do is show their own foolishness. Yes, it may very well be true that, for men of their own desires, sex one or two times a day would be very high. God did not give us all the same desires or level of desires however. One man may desire sex only 4 times a week. His friend may desire sex 8 times a week. Provided neither are disobeying a command that is in Scripture, neither sin by having sex as often as they desire with their own wife.
    The man who has sex 8 times should not condemn the man who has sex only 4 times, provided the man having sex less often is not depriving his wife. The man who has lower desires should not condemn the man who has sex twice as often, provided the man having sex more often always has sex with his own wife. Consider the words in Rom 14:1-4.
    The authors invented the supposed problem of a man excessively wanting sex with his own wife, but ignored the real problem of a man’s wife choosing to sin by depriving her husband. It should not have been necessary that husbands “coerced their wives into sexual intercourse”. Without mutual consent, a wife is commanded by Scripture to not deprive him. Therefore, the wife that attempts to deprive him is sinning. This is the real sin in this situation, and this sinful, selfish deprivation is where the authors should have focused.

    The authors continue their foolishness on page 149 with this judgement: “If your husband is demanding sex more than once a day, he likely has a lust problem that needs to be dealt with or he’s a borderline sex addict who needs therapy.”
    How foolish these authors show themselves to be! How arrogant! Are they actually able to “think” that they are able to diagnose millions of men across the world who desire sex far more often than they?
    Certainly, it is possible that some men who desire sex once a day also have problems with lust. A man’s lustful thoughts may even lead to an increased desire for sex. But a higher level of desire is no proof, in and of itself, of lustful thoughts.
    It is also strange that the authors would describe a man who has sex only with his own wife as an “addict” of any kind, or to assert that this man who limits his sexual experiences to his own wife needs therapy. The self-controlled man who always goes to his own wife for sexual fulfillment should be commended; he should be held up in our congregations as an example for the other men to follow! This man is living out obedience to Scripture, in a culture with extra-marital temptations.
    The wife who never succumbs to the temptation to be sinful, lazy and selfish by denying her own husband should similarly be held up as a good example, rather than be treated as a person who enables the supposed “addiction” of her husband.

    The errors discussed in the attitudes and handling of Scripture of the authors are significant. The contrary-to-Scripture teachings make “Every Man’s Battle” completely inappropriate for teaching, especially by those who lack a strong grasp of Scripture and a willingness to confront and refute false teaching (Titus 1:5-9).
    This book may be a good resource to use when teaching hermenuetics, as an example of how men can misuse and abuse Scripture, but is not appropriate for the purpose for which the book was written.

    ————–
    Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey, Every Man’s Battle, (Colorada Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2000).

    New International Version abbreviated as NIV

  88. Pingback: Headship is unchivalrous. | Dalrock

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