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Theory on the men bad, women good attitude in churches.

11 Aug

Hi, guys.  Sorry I’ve been sort of out of commission.  I got sucked into the Olympics last week with all the gymnastics and swimming, and then this week has been so incredibly hot that the desire to do much of anything has been zapped from me.  Also, church softball season is underway again, so that takes away another night of my week.

I recently completed the spring/summer “semester” of small groups at my church (the semesters run for ten weeks at a time so you’re not making an indefinite commitment, which is nice), and one of the women attending our group this time around is in the process of divorcing her husband.  In this case, it’s on account of her husband taking up with another woman and walking away from the family.  (Yes, he actually told her that he feels more alive than he ever has and that adultery has been the best thing that ever happened to him.  Okay, maybe not those exact words.  But this is a pretty accurate paraphrase.)  She and her husband are currently selling their house – she has found a smaller one to move into, and their teenage daughters basically hate their dad now and are incredibly bitter that they have to move out of their house.

As far as I can tell, the dad has left the church, which got me thinking that, in addition to the influence of feminism on the church, the fact that it’s typically the women who stick around after a divorce probably abets the image that it’s the men who are always the ones doing wrong.  At its root, it’s selection bias.

Who sticks around after the divorce, because she needs the support more than ever?  The woman.

Who comes to the church after the divorce, because she needs the support more than ever?  The woman.

Who’s more likely to drop out of the church and more likely not to attend in the first place?  The man.

So a pastor, typically a guy who felt “the call” from a fairly young age, and who married his wife at a young age, and hasn’t been in the SMP for years, is going to look at his situation and project.  Well, of COURSE it’s the men who are at fault!  Look at all these women who are seeking the Lord when something bad has happened!  Shame on those men who are abandoning their duties to their wives and children!  It’s just a natural response, and then you add in the feminism, and the guy practically has no chance.

If you’ve been reading manosphere blogs pretty heavily for a while, you might have forgotten that sometimes women DO get blindsided and left by their husbands.  It’s not always, “oh, she must have been a crappy wife and deserved it” or “she really was a horrible woman and deserved it” or “well, DUH, she got FATTTTTTT!”  In the game of no-fault divorce, women can be the losers, too.

My last thought for this post is that divorce SUCKS.  If you have kids, really think twice about pitching your spouse.  You can permanently damage your relationship with your kids, and not just that, but their entire ability to trust, love, and develop healthy relationships with others.  Your legacy rests with your kids, so make sure it’s a good one.

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New Boundless blogger to men: “Yep, still your fault.”

13 Jun

I noticed today that Boundless has a new male blogger this summer named James.  According to his bio on the site, he will be entering his senior year at Liberty University this coming fall and plans to get a Master’s degree for marriage and family counseling.  Now, obviously James is just one person, but being that he seems to be following a very stereotypical Christian path to a profession that will specifically engage Christians, his views are very likely to be widely held by people like him.  So it’s worth paying attention to his viewpoints, because those are the viewpoints that Christians with marital troubles are going to hear.

Based on his most recent (and introductory) post, those viewpoints are pretty standard churchian stuff.  In “One of the Boys,” he relates an email conversation he had with a reader named Jeff.  Jeff was venting about standard church-manosphere complaints:  churches blame the men for everything and don’t support them with camaraderie or encouragement.

James responds:

I wish I could sit down and have a conversation with Jeff. “Jeff”, I’d say, “I completely understand where you are coming from.” I grew up in a church culture where the mindset seemed to be that men were the animals with the problems and all women had to do was not feed the beast inside the man. The women were the innocent victims of man’s inability to “live right.”

I, however, don’t want to deny the truth that God created men to lead and take responsibility of their families. Therefore, changing men’s hearts and lives is the most effective way to shot block our culture’s high divorce rate. Here at Boundless, our passion and dream is to see men rise up to their full potential as leaders, filled with the Spirit, putting aside their own desires, and passionately sacrificing for their families. If men will lead well, women will follow. In trying to communicate this to our readers, however, some guys seem to receive a nagging and condemning rant, rather than an inspiring and encouraging call to arms.

This is where Boundless, and the whole churchosphere of gender relations, just completely misses the boat.

One, if “changing men’s hearts and lives” is the most effective way to reduce divorce, then that effectively means that women are not responsible for their own actions and will justify divorcing their husbands because they don’t have the correct “heart” and “life.”  So James has some sort of cognitive dissonance that he can recognize his own church’s special snowflake stance, yet buys into it at the same time.  This stance ignores or at best downplays the possibility that women have depraved hearts as well, and may choose rebellion against their husbands regardless of the husband’s actions.  Furthermore, look at how many women remain married to awful men, or who won’t leave adulterous or abusive husbands.  It’s pretty obvious that “changing men’s hearts and lives” is not necessarily an effective method of reducing divorce.  Sure, in some cases it will work, but it won’t work as often or as well as Boundless thinks it will.

Second, James’s assertion seems to be that leading well is equivalent to more self-denial, more self-sacrifice, and more appeasement, with no room to say enough.  I feel like the churchosphere’s idea of manly leadership is running yourself ragged for your wife and kids to get them the things they need to feel loved, and if you’re not doing that, you’re an inadequate man whose wife will probably divorce you on account of bad leadership.  In reality, real leadership often boils down to judiciously and firmly saying no, and holding others accountable for their actions.

Third, and this is really mind-boggling – if the readership is continually saying it feels nagged and condemned by all the exhortations to man up, THEN MAYBE YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.  Maybe you are scolding them like a woman, and as a man you should recognize that MEN HATE THAT.  If your “inspiring and encouraging call to arms” comes across like finger-wagging scolding, then maybe you need to change your approach and stop blaming everyone else for being too sensitive or not being submitted to God enough to hear His special message for you or whatever.

Any effective campaign to reduce divorce needs to address BOTH women and men.  You can’t just tell the men to lead and expect the women to follow when there is no concurrent expectation for women to change their behavior and mindsets.  Every time you tell men to man up and lead, you have to tell women to simmer down and submit.  Otherwise, the implicit message is just “you only need to submit if he’s doing an adequate job of leading.”  Which is precisely the attitude that landed us in this too-much-divorce culture in the first place!

I mean, you just can’t have a church culture where the men are constantly called on to be more humble, more sacrificial, more manly, yet the women’s heads are filled with messages that they are Daughters of the King! and special and anointed and powerful and beautiful and shouldn’t settle for less than God’s best.  Can anyone honestly say that this is a recipe for reducing divorces?

Don’t let your wife befriend a firefighter!

4 Jan

Over the holidays, I found out that one of my brother’s longtime friends is getting divorced from his wife (but not until after they file their taxes).  I’m pretty sure everyone could see this coming, since there have been rumblings for a long time that both have been miserable, and basically the wife showed up at my brother’s wedding with her boobs out to there.  The best man also told me that she cheats on her husband all the time and goes out partying a lot.  I don’t know how he would know that, but that’s the hearsay.

Anyhow, this is one of those situations where there was a third party involved.  The wife works across the street from a fire department, and the girls from the office would go over and flirt with the firefighters at lunchtime.  The wife got friendly with a firefighter, and while I don’t know if there was any physical cheating going on, there was definitely a texting relationship, and when the husband told her to ditch the firefighter friend, the wife said no.

This is the second marriage in my brother’s friend circle that has fallen prey to firefighter mojo.  Several years ago one of my brother’s other good friends married his high school sweetheart who also happened to be one of the prettiest girls at school.  Said friend porked out after getting married while the wife, who was a teacher, met the dad of one of her students.  Said dad was a firefighter.  The wife started working out.  Guess what happened.

Also while we’re on the topic of divorce (I know, not a very up way to start the year, but it was on my mind), I have an update on Morf and Bee.  My mom told me that Bee has a new boyfriend already, and that Morf proved his beta-ness once again by HAVING DINNER WITH THEM.  If I were Morf, I would have accidentally set fire to Bee’s residence or unintentionally worn some brass knuckles when I greeted Bee’s face with my fist.  The divorce has hit Morf so badly that he has moved to the West Coast to work for his company out here.

Some food for thought about all of the above scenarios:

  • Divorce-after-taxes couple got married quite young, and I had had the impression that the husband was just desperate to get married at the time and took the first woman who would have him.  This, I think, is part of why mainstream conventional wisdom recommends that people don’t get married until their mid-20s.  But that’s really just a proxy for having the maturity to be proactive and purposeful about finding a mate who is really marriage material.  Age itself isn’t a guarantee of anything.
  • High school sweetheart couple were an instance where they began dating freshman year of high school and didn’t marry until they graduated college.  They had never dated anyone else, and while the husband might have looked like an apex alpha at a small high school, when he got out in the real world, it turns out he wasn’t.  Meanwhile, the wife figured out that she was still cute enough and young enough to get more alpha than she had at home.  Not that I hear that the firefighter has married her yet.
  • Bee hadn’t even graduated from college yet when she married Morf, and I remember remarking at the time that I thought she was too young.  Bee also is an only child of divorced parents and used to getting her own way all the time.  Oh, and Bee and Morf recited their own vows at their wedding, which included a recounting of how Bee “just knew” when she first set eyes on Morf.  DON’T WRITE YOUR OWN VOWS.  They will never be better than traditional vows.

I hope everyone had a terrific Christmas and New Year’s Day.  It’s good to be back.

Character matters: Morf and Bee edition.

26 May

Yesterday my mom told me that Morf, the son of one of her best friends, is definitely splitting up with his wife Bee after four years of a marriage that, as far as I can tell, never really took off.  There’s a “for sale” sign in their yard, and Bee has apparently already moved out.  Again.

Morf is a pastor’s son and attended Christian school all his life, including college.  He was popular, good-looking, and athletic, and seems to be a romantic.  (He gave his college girlfriend a promise ring.  I remember groaning when my mom told me.)  After college, Morf found some success as a salesman in the Chicago area, and it was during this time that he met Bee in (of all places) an internet chat room.  In a stroke of fate, Bee turned out to be a hometown girl who had attended the same high school that Morf did, only she was four or five years younger.  Bee had actually seen Morf way back when and immediately knew he would be her future husband.  Morf and Bee began dating and married when Bee was 20 in a ceremony where they had written their own vows.  The only thing keeping their story from being a Nicholas Sparks novel was that no one was terminally ill or in the military.

Unfortunately, the wedding was the pinnacle of their relationship.  About a year or so later, my mom told me that Bee had moved back in with her mom and wanted out of the marriage.  Morf tried to reason with her, explaining that they had entered into marriage for life, especially as Christians, but Bee flat-0ut told him that those rules didn’t apply to her.  Eventually, Morf was able to convince Bee to come back, and for a while it seemed that things were back on track.

Except, obviously, they weren’t.  Morf and Bee went to marriage counseling, but Bee had already checked out of the relationship.  Her friends were still in school or starting jobs, living it up in Wrigleyville (the fashionable young people’s neighborhood in Chicago), while she was stuck in podunk town married to a guy who now was working for his dad’s ministry, a.k.a. not a road to riches and earthly glory.  It seems pretty obvious that Bee had decided that a better life, free of the constraints of Morf, was out there waiting for her.

My mom is quite grieved that Morf and Bee’s relationship cratered, but in retrospect, the warning signs had always been there.  For starters, Bee was an only child of divorce and was used to getting her own way all the time.  She lived with her mom, and if her mom wouldn’t get her something she wanted, she would just turn around and get it from her dad.  The fact that her mother allowed her to move back in the first time Bee left was a bad sign as well.  Instead of telling her that she’d made her bed and now she had to sleep in it, Bee’s mother enabled Bee’s selfish behavior.  But it’s not Bee’s fault alone:  I suspect that Morf acted like a big, fat beta during their marriage.  Even before Morf and Bee got married, Morf’s mom had mentioned that Morf could never say no to Bee.  (Of course he couldn’t; he was the kind of guy who goes around buying promise rings.)  When I spoke to my mom, she said that when Bee came back to Morf, Morf acquiesced to every single thing that Bee demanded.  Which, as those of us steeped in manosphere principles know, NEVER WORKS.  By trying to make Bee happy, Morf just confirmed to Bee that he was not the man she had signed up to marry.

I suppose the golden lining is that Morf and Bee’s marriage is a classic “starter marriage,” which means that other than any emotional lumps they’ve taken through this whole thing, they’ll pretty much be right back where they started.  Not being rich, they have no significant assets to split.  They have no children.  And each is good-looking enough to attract a new spouse easily; Bee is cute, young, and vivacious, which is enough to make many men ignore all the warning signs, and women LOVE taking care of the good-looking, vulnerable men that other women abandon (it’s always a competition with women:  “I won’t treat you like dirt the way she did!”).  I expect both to be remarried within a few years, tops.

I could say that we should learn some very obvious lessons from Morf and Bee, but being human, we probably won’t.  No one wants to believe that their beloved is a statistic, rather than the exception.  Still, I believe Morf could have saved himself a lot of grief if he had more closely examined Bee’s character while they dated.  Her cuteness, along with his general desire and readiness to Be Married, probably blinded him to her shortcomings, and now he’s paying the price for that.  So, readers, choose carefully and look at the details as well as the whole picture.  Being a Christian isn’t in and of itself enough to save a marriage, nor is being cute, or young, or popular, or nice, or “having good values.”  You really have to get to the root of someone’s convictions.

P.S.  As far as I know, there is no third party involved in this split.