[—————————Begin my email to Nathan—————————]
4. What does a man need to do to live a satisfying and productive life in today’s culture?
5. What does a woman need to do to live a satisfying and productive life in today’s culture?
6. How do these answers relate to God and the Bible?
I’ll also share some thoughts related to your previous question:
What are the problems facing men today?
Answering questions 4 and 5 would take the wisdom of Solomon, which I don’t possess. What we have in the temporal world is vanity compared to the eternal, and yet we should live our lives under the sun with wisdom. Luckily I do have access to Solomon’s wisdom on the subject along with the rest of the Bible.
With the exception of a few men with the gift the Apostle Paul describes in 1 Cor 7, God’s plan is for men to marry. Ecclesiastes tells us to rejoice in our work, our food, our drink, and our wives, as these are our portion in this world (Ecc 9:9, ESV):
Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.
God’s plan for us hasn’t changed just because we have decided that Christian marriage should only be for the elite. However, there is a common perspective of Christian married men today towards unmarried men which I reject, and it goes something like: “If I had to marry then you should have to marry too!” I think this is precisely backwards. I see marriage not as a punishment or burden, but as something truly wonderful. I understand that I’ve been profoundly fortunate, but I still see it as a gift from God, not a curse*. I want marriage for men not because I object to men remaining single, but because for a Christian man eschewing marriage means foregoing sex, romantic love, and children–for life.
When you think about it that way, what we’ve done to marriage is unconscionable. We took a gift from God, something profoundly beautiful, and mangled it to suit our own perverse tastes. In the process we’ve ground up innocent men, women, and children. Think of the magnitude of the evil that our current and recent generations have done. We inherited a flawed implementation of Christian marriage, where marriage for life was by far the norm and was the recognized family model. We rejected that model and replaced it with the child support model (keeping legal marriage around as a purely ceremonial relic). If our consciences weren’t so thoroughly seared we would be like King Josia in 2 Kings 22:11-13 (ESV):
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
We’ve weaponized marriage as a tool for women to steal from men. The goals are to both facilitate sexual liberation & single motherhood and to provide a threatpoint to dis-empower husbands (destroy headship) within marriage. Economists Stevenson and Wolfers describe the threatpoint of divorce in their paper Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress (emphasis mine).
In the literature on the economics of the family there has been growing consensus on the need to take bargaining and distribution within marriage seriously. Such models of the family rely on a threat point to determine distribution within the household. The switch to a unilateral divorce regime redistributes power in a marriage, giving power to the person who wants out, and reducing the power previously held by the partner interested in preserving the marriage.
But while the goals are feminist goals and the intent is to merely destroy respectable men, the changes are unintentionally cruel to women as well. Offering women cash and prizes to betray their marriage vows is cruelty to them, not kindness. This isn’t just true spiritually. It is true temporally too. All of the women married to loser husbands married the best man they could attract for marriage. The idea that women can (generally) find a better husband once they are older, have a history of divorce, and another man’s children is absurd on the face of it. Real life isn’t like the movies.
The other thing that we’ve done is labor to remove a path to respectability for men. Our culture has a deep seated contempt for married fathers, and Christian culture outdoes secular culture in this regard. This is why Christian movies so regularly express contempt for married men and (especially) married fathers. It is also why Christians have taken a day secular culture set aside to honor fathers and have instead made it into a day to denigrate fathers. The feeble defense for things like the ritual of tearing into fathers in Father’s Day sermons is that the goal is to make terrible fathers better. The lie of this is proven by the lengths Christian films like Courageous go to show that faithful hard working churchgoing fathers are failing miserably. Society is telling young men that married fathers are either villains or buffoons, and modern Christians are all too eager to reinforce this message. Imagine a young man who watches the Christian movie Mom’s Night Out. What kind of man does he want to be? Does he want to be the sexy badboy biker tatoo artist, or the married Christian fathers?
Ironically, the very people we claim to be helping by making a habit of denigrating married fathers are the ones we are harming most. Wives with good husbands can most easily overcome the temptation we dangle to not respect and submit to them. Likewise for children of good fathers. It is the wives and children of marginal and failing fathers who will be most susceptible to the temptation we gleefully and consistently put in front of them.
For women specifically, just as with men I believe that marriage is the blessing God intends for nearly all. One of the cruel things we do to women in this regard is discourage them from seeking a husband when they are young and most attractive. We fear that if they marry young they might submit to their husband. So we urge them to delay marriage while pretending we aren’t sending them out for an extended ride on the cock carousel**. Not only does this make it harder for them to be satisfied later in life in Christian marriage, but it makes it harder for women to understand what their “marriage market value” (MMV) is. In the past when the bulk of women married around the same age, women could much more easily understand what their real options for marriage were. When the clear goal is marriage, women compete for signs of commitment from men who (generally speaking) have good qualities for marriage. This means the AF/BB (sex with alphas, marry a beta) strategy isn’t in play, so the marriage minded woman has access to much more information as her peers start to make their selections. Now we have delayed marriage for women so that AF/BB is the predominant strategy, and we have also greatly spread out the process. This both confuses marriage minded women and greatly dilutes the information they have available.
*I don’t think Paul is contradicting this in 1 Cor 7:6-9. I think he is saying that he views his gift as a different kind of blessing.
**The term is vulgar but it expresses a vulgar truth that no other term quite captures.
Thanks for continuing to work through my questions. You do a great job of thoroughly articulating your viewpoint. And thank you for providing links for further reading—I’ve followed more than one of them. I don’t think I have many follow-up questions on this particular email. The brunt of our response of course will come in the podcast, so right now I’m just trying to get a clear picture of what you believe.
[——————————My Reply to Nathan——————————]
Here are a couple of old posts that show the cruelty of selling women divorce: