Sex, Marriage, Divorce and God.
—— Draft 3f.5.2019 ——
Back to Part I – Scripture Discussion
DRAFT DOCUMENT – For Internal Discussion Only
Please do not share without permission.
Note: This discussion is not saying that we should gloss over sin. We should not. It is saying that we should look carefully at what God says and follow that as the consequences otherwise, intended or unintended, are not very appealing. Many people have been greatly harmed by human judgementalism and things being called sins that are not. We need to hold ourselves accountable to what God says and we need to tread very carefully when we proclaim something a sin.
Note II: This should not in any way be construed as pro-polygyny. It’s not. It’s more a look at how we may differ from God in our views on marriage, divorce, monogamy, virginity, prostitution and heterosexuality.
Note III: For what it’s worth some of the following sounds kind of nutty to me too. But if we’re afraid to explore what seems nutty we may never get to the truth.
A Hot Mess We’ve Got! – Idealism’s Unintended Consequences?
The past six years have seen a considerable surge in non-marital sex at christian universities such as Moody, Hope and University of Northwestern (and this interestingly as promiscuity in the larger population seems to be somewhat abating). Popular threads among gals on these christian campuses include:
- “I’m empowered to have sex just like guys.”
- “Guys want to have sex and deplete the pool of virgins – but then want to marry a virgin!”
- “We’re all under the exact same purity law so we should be equally able to have as much or as little sex as we want with whomever we want.”
- “If I do something with a guy then why am I a slut and he’s just a guy?”
- “I’ve given up hope of marrying a virgin.”
- “Am I reduced to my virginity?”
- “If it’s OK for guys, then it’s OK for me. We should be treated equally”
Given what she’s been taught in Sunday School the past 17 years these are completely rational.
Guys love this new empowerment deal and are more than happy to comply. As Carrie Pitzulo said about the goals of Playboy Magazine “If women can have consequence-free sex, that helps the guys…”
Hannah Brown put a quite public exclamation point on these ideas with her appearance on The Bachelorette and proclamations that as an committed evangelical christian woman “I am empowered to have pre-marital sex just like guys and Jesus will still love me”.
Along with this is a growing belief that what the Bible says about sex is not realistic for today – it was for another time, another culture. What then does that say about the rest of the Bible? Or even being a bible believer?
Nude selfies is one of the big three most popular categories of porn and U.S. gals overwhelmingly lead in providing it to the world according to PornHub. One noted that a surprising number of images include christian elements in the background such as bible verses, posters for christian bands or items for church youth groups or christian schools.
Even if we think this is all OK and modern, given what we’re learning about the link between her pre-marital sexual activities and the stability of her future marriage and family, should we be concerned anyway? More: Sexual Empowerment
The tighter we make the noose, the more rigid the wineskin, the worse the results?
Was highly celebrated Purity Culture from God or man? Joshua Harris is today one of the more celebrated promotors of LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations (and this is not BTW, any kind of bash of Harris).
If we swing too far in one direction, will we inevitably swing too far to the other?
In Atlanta, March 2021, Robert Aaron Long shot and killed 8 people in massage parlors. His stated reason was that he was addicted to sex, found himself unable to live up to christian expectations of chastity and was trying to eliminate the temptations. He was arrested on his way to Florida to kill people involved in the porn industry.
The list of christian pastors, teachers, evangelists, theologians and others who have had their lives and ministry destroyed and neutralized because of their inability to lead a perfectly chaste and monogamous lifestyle is long …and growing by the day.
The rates of children in the U.S. under 18 experiencing a parent transition or broken families (divorce, separation, breakup of cohab, etc.) has increased fairly steadily and more so among evangelicals. From less than 10% in 1960 to about 48% in 2019. While a few of these children will overcome this difficulty and lead a relatively OK life, the vast majority will be significantly negatively impacted. And they will, fault or no fault, negatively impact the society around them.
A friend’s husband Pete recently shocked she and their three young children by announcing that he was leaving them for someone else. They have all been strong christians and Pete a leader in their church. He’s a successful doctor and they had chosen for her to be a stay-at-home mom. What happened? He saw his friends getting divorced and dating, marrying and having sex with younger and more attractive women. He wanted that too so when a 12-year-younger patient showed interest he went for it. His beliefs wouldn’t allow him to deal with his sexual urges any other way, serial monogamy was at least monogamy. Heading out to the city gate like Judah certainly wasn’t a better option.
Another friend, Matt, learned, at 24 and two years in to his marriage, that his wife had MS. He was a wonderful caregiver and not afraid of what was to come, …with one exception. Based on current christian teaching he’d be celibate the rest of his life and was told by his pastor that this was indeed expected of him. Three years later Matt was caught visiting a prostitute, was ostracized by the people in his evangelical church where he’d been a rising lay teacher, his wife divorced him and today he struggles with what christianity really is.
And Karl, who’s wife, three years in to their marriage, was in a car crash. It took 18 months of hard work but for the most part she fully recovered. Any attempts at having sex though were extremely painful for her. After some time and discussions with doctors it became apparent that having sex was at best a long way off and likely never again. Karl said “was I to put my wife, whom I dearly love, through immense pain to get my sexual urges met?” Included in the note he left his pastor after he took his life 22 years later, he said that knowing that the average 15-year-old had more sex in a year than he’d had in the past two decades or could ever expect to have – had become too great a burden.
Katy Perry is one of the more famous children of (overly?) strict evangelical parents. Josh Dugger perhaps the most infamous. Interestingly, for all of the hullabaloo from the christian community about Katy singing that she kissed a girl and liked it, I’m not sure any of that criticism can be supported by God’s Word.
From Abraham and Barnabas Piper to Jerry Falwell Jr. there’s a long list of PK’s, MK’s, TK’s and EK’s who’ve not met the minimum standards of modern christianity.
The sins of the fathers? New wineskins might perhaps have been better than old?
One of the reasons given by Marty Sampson, former worship leader @ Hillsong Church, and a seeming unending tide of others on their deconversions, is the hypocrisy and frequency of apparent moral failings of pastors and other Christian leaders. One deconvert described leading a christian life as ‘hopelessly impossible’, a sentiment frequently expressed by others.
At dinner recently I listened as one evangelical christian after another raked Ravi Zacharias over the coals and went on about what an awful terrible man he is. Though I may not agree with all he says, I’m fairly confident we could plunk his story down in the middle of the Bible and he’d fit right in with all of our revered patriarchs.
And the Catholics and Southern Baptist Convention. And Mars Hill and Hillsong. Is the widespread covering up and harassing of victims a much deeper and wider problem? Or is it largely specific to sexual issues?
And Tavner Smith. And John Lowe. Brian Houston, Carl Lentz, Lysa & Art TerKeurst, Billy Graham’s grandson Tullian and on and on. And these just the few we know about.
If we were to hold everyone in The Bible to today’s standards, how much of a Bible would we have left?
Gen’s X, Millennial, and Z seem to be falling away from following God and Christ at remarkable rates and often leaving Boomer and X parents in shock that their own children are becoming nones and atheists. Two underlying causes for this appear to be the politicization of christianity and the seeming hypocrisy above. We are quick to blame the world around us and perhaps much to slow to look inside.
How many Karl’s are there in our own churches? Katy’s, Robert’s, Hannah’s and others? Do they all just lack faith? Have we created ungodly expectations? Other?
Is what we’ve been increasingly seeing among christian leaders simple human failings? Or do we have stricter expectations than God?
Is our God a god of …gasp… not black and white but mushy grey moderation?
God’s Plan vs Man’s Plan ?
God says that our marriage and family, those relationships, are critically important and he drives that point home very clearly and directly over and over. God leaves no doubt what his thoughts are regarding divorce. On the other hand he doesn’t seem to really care much who men have sex with.
Contemporary christianity and the culture spawned from it teaches the opposite. Monogamy for men is critically important and more important than marriage or family. In practice perhaps more important than our relationship with God. We treat it as nearly an unpardonable sin – if your pastor or elder or husband has sex with anyone other than his one wife – divorce with a side helping of humiliation and denigration is in order. Where does God call for that?
Is christianity setting men up for failure? And therefore their families? Placing an expectation on them that God did not have and from everything I can find does not have today. Are we creating a bunch of unnecessary shame, anger and bitterness in men over their inability to live up to a standard that is stricter and more rigid than any standard from God?
Compared to God making his views on marriage and divorce exceptionally clear, christians seemingly have to conjure up meaning out of nowhere to come up with ways to support male monogamy.
Worse, the very passages most often used to support the ideal of male monogamy are the exact ones that make it clear how much God hates divorce. Yet these same passages actually make no statements for male monogamy. We then use them for justifying the divorce that destroys the marriages and families that God so loves. Could we twist them anymore backwards?
We’re quick to criticize the turmoil of the polygyny, mistresses and non-monogamy that God appears to allow, and there is a considerable bit, but have we produced anything better? How many pastors and other christian leaders, many exceptionally good men, have been thrown out of their churches, divorced by their wives, separated from their families and emotionally beaten to a pulp? How many divorces and broken families among christians because of men who find that they are not greater men than David or Solomon? What impact on the children and grandchildren and great grandchildren of these men?
And the latter, broken families, is gaining a powerful new advocate if indeed her pre-marital sexual activites result in almost certain destabilization of her family as data indicate.
God’s plan is like a new wine skin – that allows for its contents’ God designed passion, moderates it somewhat, but continues to contain it and nurture it to maturity.
Contemporary Christianity’s teachings are like an old wine skin, restrictive and rigid, unable to contain what it holds so bursts and fails completely.
None of this is to say that every man should have multiple wives or a mistress or visit prostitutes or have multiple sex partners in any other way. God is… a God of moderation. Monogamy is good for those who have that gift and likely better for them than multiple sex partners. But from what I can find in scripture there is no Godly mandate nor perhaps even preference for male monogamy for any man much less every man.
My friend whose doctor husband Pete left her for a younger patient… Prior to a few years ago he would have had other acceptable options. Like Judah he could visit prostitutes? Or like many Godly men in The Bible he could have taken a second wife or a mistress/concubine? Is christianity placing an unrealistic expectation on him? One that God did not?
From God’s standpoint a husband going out for sex is not something to destroy a marriage and family over. Nor even to consider an issue. It does not appear to be an affront to God nor a sin. It doesn’t mean that this man does not love his wife (or wives). He’s different from her. God made him different. Are we OK with that?
Upside Down and Inside Out?
God says that women should remain chaste until marriage and monogamous within. And this does appear, scientifically, to be critical to a strong marriage. On the other hand, God does not appear to care who he has sex with.
Man says that she can have pre-marital sex just as guys do and yet we know that this will weaken her marriage and family. Man says that he cannot have sex with anyone but his wife and yet this unrealistic expectation will weaken his marriage and family.
Families don’t seem to have much of a chance. They’re either weakened by her unGodly pre-marital promiscuity or his Godly sex?
Yeah, this sounds nutty to me as well.
It is perhaps important here to pause and ask a question of fairness. Is God indeed calling for such different expectations for men and women? If so, Why? What about her sexual needs and wants? Why can’t she have multiple husbands or boy toys? Does she want multiple husbands or boy toys? Shouldn’t God treat men and women …equally?
This is a topic that can easily be a lengthy book and perhaps should be. But here, very briefly…
First is scripture. Does God’s word indeed call for different expectations for men and women? Or, similar to contemporary society, does he have the exact same expectations of each? Whatever the case, do these or should these apply today? Should men be held to the stricter virginity+monogamy standard of women as contemporary christianity teaches? Even if it’s contrary to scripture? Or, as contemporary culture and increasingly christianity practices, is it OK for women to live the multiple sex partners standard of men? If guys are not going to be chaste and monogamous then is it or should it be equally OK for gals?
What about biology? There is (or was?) no doubt that male and female biology and neurobiology are quite different. And in far more ways than just Oxytocin and Estrogen. Is it fair that men and women are so different? Why did God make us so different? Should we develop drugs to counteract the problems of oxytocin in women so that they can have pre-marital sex without the anxiety, depression and other issues that currently comes with it for them? Should we begin injecting men with Oxytocin to equalize them with women and so that they will experience the same psychological problems if they have multiple sex partners (actually, it’d likely require creating new receptors in men’s brains – good luck)?
Just how different are men and women? Sexually and otherwise? Do women have the same sexual needs as men? The same emotional needs? Do men and women want the same things in the same measure out of life, marriage and relationships?
Considering one example… Women have zero interest in visiting male prostitutes while men have very considerable interest in visiting female prostitutes. Why such a difference? He craves orgasm, is willing to pay a lot for that orgasm and doesn’t much care who it’s with. She may enjoy orgasms and desire them but what she craves is the Oxytocin + Serotonin + Dopamine high that money can’t buy but that sexual stuff with the right guys, through both the direct neurobiological oxytocin release and the attention/feigned-love, can provide, at least temporarily.
Or a more nuanced one… She thinks it’s OK to send a nude selfie to the cute guy she met in her Biblical Survey class because she doesn’t see how it’s any different for guys to see her nude than for gals to see guys nude. What’s the harm? She’d not be very bothered knowing that some gal that they ran in to walking across campus had once seen her future husband nude. Why would her future husband be bothered knowing that some guys on campus have nude photos of her? And this, by the way, is from two separate but real conversations with students at Northwestern and Bethel in Roseville MN.
Is this an issue of our culture being influenced by Christ or our christianity being influenced by culture? Have we tried to socialize some things out?
(Then again, what is this christianity of ours that we’re dealing with here? A man made middle ground between culture and God? A culturally socialized and sanitized version of God’s Word? A picking and choosing of what we do and don’t like about God when?)
Just because we don’t understand why God said something or designed us the way that he did doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t obey both his word and his design?
Just because we disagree or our social justice selves disagree with God doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t obey both his word and his design? (And this for some of us can be rather difficult.)
Of equal importance, sometimes it’s not a question of fairness even when things seem or actually are unfair. There are many times in life when we have to do something that is unfair because doing otherwise could result in our being harmed in some way. While having to choose option B rather than option A might be unfair, the outcome of having chosen option A, and an outcome that we may have no control over, may be grossly more unfair.
Also, one size does not fit all. What is OK for one person may not be OK or best for others. God does seem to provide some wide latitude for this. While her sexual activities may carry some significant downsides for having a stable marriage for her children, what if she’ll not ever have children? Can she then make different choices?
For Hannah Brown and these women at UNW, Bethel, Hope and other christian uni’s it may be a question of what do they want out of life and marriage. It may seem (or maybe even be?) unfair that they have to be more chaste than men but the reality, fair or not, is that her chasteness will have a much greater affect on her life and marriage than his will. We see this over and over in relationship and marital counseling. We see it in the higher levels of anxiety and depression (that we now know is likely at least partially rooted in the neurobiology of Oxytocin) among women who have multiple sexual partners. We see it in statistics. We see it in the more successful and fulfilling marriages (and happier lives overall?) for women who do remain chaste and monogamous.
In the end, God does appear to have very different expectations for men and women. But God also designed each very differently to match those expectations. I have different expectations of a hammer and screwdriver and each was designed differently for those different expectations yet both are of equal value.
From a fairness standpoint perhaps the most unfair and unjust thing we can do is gloss over these differences and pretend that they don’t exist. Are we leaving women exposed and unprepared for realities that, no matter how much we might want it, will not change to match our cultural desires? Are we taking away whatever excuse or permission she had to say no? If it’s OK for him then it’s equally OK for her so what’s her problem? Society is saying that she should have a lot of pre-marital sex, as much as men, and christianity is increasingly not saying anything different. Is that good for her? Fair? She’s told that his sex drive and everything about it is the same as hers. Is that accurate? Is that fair to tell her if it’s not?
When she chooses to do anything sexual is she playing the same game with the same risks and same outcomes as the guy pulling her panties down?
If Not God Then Who?
If God didn’t change his mind then where did the idea that male virginity and monogamy is mandated come from? The following is based on very brief study of this and may be quite inaccurate.
There is perhaps today a greater expectation of male monogamy than at any time in western or western christian history. Polygyny was acceptable throughout christendom in to the 4th century and concubines through at least the 9th. Beyond these times monogamy applied to marriage but not until recently does sexual monogamy appear to be much of an expectation outside of small groups of more strict religious observers.
The earliest known christian prohibition against polygyny is perhaps in the 5th century when Rome began to weigh in on questions of legitimate heirs and introduced a host of ‘impediments to righteous marriage’ with polygyny and the forbidden degrees of consanguinity (E.G., no marrying 4th or possibly even 7th cousins) the most well known.
Neither these nor others appear to be based on God’s Word but rather perhaps a case of Roman secular culture infecting christianity. Some also believe that these had more to do with power and money as they allowed the church to exercise greater power over people’s affairs and with that power came a consistent flow of money to garner favor in how that power was exercised.
Looking back from our 21st century perch it certainly appears that power was not exercised in the spirit of God, at least if you believe what God’s Word says regarding divorce. While the church said that simultaneous polygyny was no longer acceptable, serial polygyny was and this required favor of the pope along with those great tools of annulments and dispensations.
As many historians have pointed out however, The christian church of this period did not have a unified position on sex and marriage. Beliefs varied considerably across time and communities.
The acceptability of concubines appears to have declined sometime after 900 though we don’t know exactly when and it likely varied considerably by culture. This didn’t change the acceptable sex habits of christian men but only the legal status of women. The concept lived on though with official mistresses.
While the forbidden degrees largely disintegrated with the reformation, prohibitions against polygynous marriage lived on along with a number of things that all appear to be simply vestiges of the medieval church rather than God’s Word.
Over the past 2,000 years there appears to have been a slow but consistent reigning in of what the church considered permissible male sexual activity with increasing prohibitions (and we wonder why Freud …). If this is consistent with God’s Word then that’s good. Otherwise perhaps not.
Interestingly, while christendom increasingly preached male monogamy, there also seemed an element of reality interjected in the real world – guys are not so much made to be monogamous. On the other hand, women, christian or not, historically remained virgins until marriage. This has rather quickly reversed over the past 30 years in the U.S. with women no longer expected to remain virgins until marriage but more than ever in history men are expected to be perfectly monogamous in marriage or cohab.
We’ve also seen a corresponding decline in family stability. Too new of wine in too old of wineskins?
Over the past 100 years we’ve seen a persistent growth in what was formerly illegitimate sex – sex outside of marriage (monogamous or polygynous) , concubines, official mistresses and prostitutes.
this preaching was taken with a few grains of salt. Until very recently male monogamy was not expected so much as it is today.
We are not really talking about polygyny so much as monogamy more generally but it might be worthwhile to look at two of the practical issues frequently raised against polygyny.
- The Numbers Don’t Work. If you have roughly equal numbers of men and women then if some men have multiple wives then others will have none.
- Unmarried Men Are More Likely To Be Criminals. We want men to be married (or at least have a spouse?) to help keep them in line.
These arguments sound good but make some rather big assumptions; That there are equal numbers of men and women, that every man and women equally wants to get married, that across the population every man and every woman will find a suitable spouse at a one to one ratio, that being married will reduce the criminal aspects of men and that all or even just most of these men will be good or at least minimally acceptable husbands and fathers.
Generally there are more male births than female but males are, thanks to a higher tolerance for risk and a lessor immune system, more likely to die sooner rather than later. When it’s time to marry there are somewhere between 0 and 3% more women. So starting off we have some percent of women who will not find a mate in a strict monogamous culture.
There are about two to three times as many strictly homosexual men as women (and being homosexual is not a sin). Women are far more likely to be bisexual (and by some accounts all women are naturally bisexual, at least up to about mid twenties), though women don’t usually view this as a key part of their identity and are likely to want to enter in to a heterosexual marriage. Together this results in a few more women who will not find a mate – or at least a heterosexual mate.
Some men and women (heterosexual/cis), but mostly men, will not marry no matter how strongly coerced. This likely results in another x percent of women unable to find a mate.
Some men (and some women) will marry only under coercion. We’re already somewhat lopsided with a base of more women likely wanting to marry than men so this could get spicy, and then layer on top the improbability of people finding each other – we’ve got some extra gals in Edinburgh and extra guys in Herman MN. Some of these men, once coerced, will be great, good or at least minimally acceptable husbands and fathers. Some or perhaps many not. Many men also marry primarily for sex and this especially in the U.S.
But there’s a flip side to this argument. Guys who want to marry MAY feel greater pressure to better themselves to be more attractive mates and in the process be better citizens. However, something we’ve seen very clearly over the past 15 years is the exact opposite. Guys are getting sex and, far better, variety of sex partners – all for free. Why grow up and get married so that you’re limited to only one sex partner?
So everybody is standing on opposite sides of the dance floor with 95 women choosing their mates from the 78 guys on the other side. Likely the guys who will be the best husbands and fathers get chosen first (yep I know, bare with me) and the women slowly work their way down. Eventually we’ve got 36 women wanting husbands and 19 guys who if they don’t get married will certainly be criminals and cause all kinds of societal problems. This is all these women have to choose from.
How’s this going to work? 44% of men entering prison are married. Marriage does not seem to be keeping them on the straight and narrow. (Though in fairness some chunk of those are heading to prison for possession of pot or other activities that should not be criminal.) While some men are less likely to be criminals if married (and some likely even good husbands and fathers), it’s far from a guarantee. Some chunk of those 19 men above are going to be criminals no matter what.
The problem with this line of thinking then… How good of husbands and fathers will these 19 guys be? Will marriage tame them as many proclaim? Or are we simply creating single-parent homes. Personally I’d rather have 19 criminals who don’t have children than 10 criminals who do – and who they will pass their criminal views on to. Is it better to have a criminal problem or a criminal problem, single-parent problems and a follow-on generation of criminal problems?
Would we be better off if these 26 women could choose from among all of the men rather than the bottom of the bucket 19? Some will still choose from the 19 bad boys, but some will likely choose a better husband and father. We may still have some guys who want to marry left out but possibly a better community overall.
And finally there’s economics. Very likely the benefits of a third (or 4th or …) adult in the family significantly outweigh the costs. My wife and I have had a running joke for much of our marriage when we’re both stressed with too much to do that a second wife would certainly come in handy.
Sex, Divorce and Tradition
Is there any doubt that God has an extremely strong dislike of divorce – for any reason? Including adultery in any form? God’s views on divorce include perhaps the only bit in the Bible where I would consider God unreasonable – if he truly says that a woman who is unjustly divorced by her husband cannot remarry. God really really really hates divorce. And for good reason.
Christianity’s view of divorce then is interesting. While God quite clearly and frequently states how much he hates divorce, we seemingly do our best to minimize what God says and figure out ways around it. Culture demands it? Christianity will fail if we don’t give in to societies whims?
On the other hand, if male monogamy is indeed not a thing for God, then we’ve placed something that God at best doesn’t care about on a high pedestal and made it more important than divorce and family stability – something that God clearly cares very much about.
Are we making our christianity more important than God?
Perhaps worse, we use men’s failing to live up to human christianity’s expectations of idealistic male monogamy as an excuse for the very divorce and destruction of marriages and families that God hates. We seem to be quite backwards from God who doesn’t much care how many sex partners men have but hates divorce with passion. And we use the very verses that talk about how much God hates divorce and that say nothing against multiple sex partners to justify divorce because of multiple sex partners. But hey – tradition.
God says to go ahead and have sex with whomever but whatever you do, do not get divorced and destroy your family. We say if you have sex with whomever then get divorced and destroy your family.
Is male monogamy even a realistic expectation? Something that all men can be reasonably expected to live up to? Did God design men to be monogamous?
Christianity teaches that the only way you can have sex is to find someone to marry and then have sex only with them. That leaves a lot of people out – those who are not physically or socially attractive enough to find a mate, those whose mate is unable to have sex, those who don’t otherwise want to get married and those for whom the numbers simply don’t work. Christianity (as opposed to God?) creates winners and losers. Loser? Tough luck, better luck next life!
This teaching also makes marriage, for many men, largely about sex. Or only about sex. Is that a recipe for a solid family?
Are women going in to marriage with an unrealistic expectation, an ideal, of male monogamy and sexuality (and their being the same as hers) that will harm her, her marriage and her children when shattered? Are men attempting to attain and expected by christianity to attain something that may be impossible for some? Or most? And that God does not expect and did not design men for? Are men failures when they fail to live up to that idealistic expectation?
Oxytocin appears to have three different and distinct functional modes; 1) Bonding, 2) Transactional and 3) Violated. We’ve discussed pair-bonding. Transactional mode appears to be something like off, when her actions are consensual yet purely for transactional purposes and with no desire for her partner whatsoever. Violated is somewhat the opposite of pair-bonding mode. Just as it’s difficult to control who we fall in love with, she appears to have no ability to control who she forms pair bonds with and who not. These modes appear to be much closer to on/off rather than proportional. Much more research is needed with this.
New Wine, Old Wineskins and Old Beelzebub
When a reasonable option is not provided then people, humans, will take a less reasonable course if necessary. And once coloring outside the lines, the lines no longer apply.
We see this in numerous areas of everyday life from traffic obedience to underage drinking. A reasonable line will guide people, unreasonable will cause them to step over it – and once over the line then a whole new world becomes acceptable.
In the U.S. we learn to be criminals at an early age. Parents not stopping at stop signs, we ourselves having an illegal beer when we’re in high school or university. We’ve made so many things illegal that several cop friends have told me that they know that everyone is a criminal, they’re just not sure how much of one.
We’ve watered down the meanings of our laws. We’re no longer a law abiding people. It’s no longer a question of obeying or not obeying laws but which laws do we obey? We need a common consensus on which laws we should obey and which not!
Idealism is great… if it worked.
Likewise, when people don’t see a reasonable option for doing life in a Godly way they give up. We then don’t often do much of a close-but-not-quite but instead go all out – the line has been crossed, the wineskin has broken, what’s to stop us now? If we can’t be Godly then why be psuedo-Godly? If we’re going to be ostracized by everyone at church for our behavior then why try?
God knows this.
And so does Satan.
If part I about the differences in God’s and Christianity’s views of virginity, monogamy and divorce is accurate then perhaps we should consider something deeper and more sinister. Could it have come from Satan?
Or is it all man’s doing? Well intentioned – we’ll have guys live up to the higher standard of gals – but ultimately an idealistic failure?
Satan – Raising The Bar
‘Never forget, when you hear people boast of our progress of enlightenment, that the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist!’—C. P. Baudelaire, “The Generous Gambler”
God does not create unreasonable expectations. He may set some high expectations, but not unreasonably overly idealistically high. He knows that unreasonably high expectations, like new wine in old wine skins, will only lead to failure. His goal for us is not failure but achievement.
Satan knows this as well. What better way to get people to stop following God than to make them failures in doing so? Make following God so difficult as to be impossible? It worked so well with the Pharisees.
Imagine a high jump with all of us eventually making it over. Some may miss once or twice but eventually we do it. Our brothers and sisters and God are cheering us on and celebrating with us.
Then Satan comes along and raises the bar. Raising the bar is a good thing he says. We’ll be better for it. Suddenly many of us can no longer make it over. We try and try and fail and fail over and over again. Our attempts get worse and our discouragement grows …until we totally give up. We were not designed to jump that high but we’re told that it’s a requirement anyway. People start to look at us with condemnation because we can’t live up to the new standard.
God set the bar and said that these are things that we can do. These are things that we can achieve. Satan raised the bar. Now we fail. We stumble and fall. And satan sits and smiles at what he’s accomplished.
Just as he did with Eve, did Satan whisper in to some peoples ears and say that men, regardless of their very different God given body and emotions and biology and neurobiology and sex drive – need to live the same standard of virginity and monogamy as women? The two different sexes need to be… equal!
Despite God’s various provisions for men meeting their sexual needs Satan said no more. Men need to raise the bar. They must remain virgins until marriage and be perfectly monogamous in marriage. Men must get all of their sexual needs met from one single woman just as she from one single man. Regardless of what God says, regardless of anything short of her death. And even this assuming that he can find such a woman. If not then it’s a life of celibacy for him.
And what a brilliant plan it’s turned out to be.
How people have stopped following Christ because they can’t live up to the standards promoted by contemporary christianity? That Satan has conned us in to believing? Because they can’t live up to standards much higher than God has ever expected of any man including a long list of Biblical Patriarchs.
How many marriages and families of Christ followers have been destroyed primarily or solely because a man could not live up to a standard higher than that expected of Solomon? Or Judah? Because we’ve taught people, women included, to expect men to live up to that standard and that any man who does not, any man not better than Solomon and Judah, is not worthy?
How many Godly pastors and other leaders have been tossed in the trash by their families and the entirety of the church because they are not better men than King David? What could make Satan happier? These men, a pain in his rump, now neutralized.
And what is Satan whispering in all of these men’s ears? And in to the ears of their wives and children? And people at church? What Godly men they are?
How often is his temperament and attitude negatively affected by a bad sex life? How often might other areas of his life, marriage and family be improved if he was not constantly sexually frustrated? What about the same for women?
How many 20 somethings today have one or more of these men in their ancestry? How many would be followers of Christ today if it were not for some man in their ancestry, a father, grandfather, great-grandfather, who failed to meet Satan’s higher bar? The very bar that we’ve embraced as our own bit of Christianity?
Does God think it reasonable to expect men to be perfectly monogamous? If not, should we?
And Sowing Discontent and Dissension Since 40,000 BC
Satan seems to have brewed up pots of devilish equality success for himself. If guys can’t live up to this ideal, this tradition that Christianity has been teaching applies equally to men and women, then why should women be expected to do so? It’s OK for him so it’s OK for me?
God may have had different expectations for guys and gals, appropriate to each and how he designed us, but we christians know better?
When in the heat of passion, unmarried guys and gals are playing very different games by very different rules for very different outcomes. But despite this and what God said, we have taught her otherwise.
She thinks that she’s playing by the same rules for the same outcome as he is – after all, christianity says so. They both are, according to christianity, under the same equal mandate of virginity until marriage and monogamy for life ever after – they are, she thinks, following God’s advice equally. She thinks that the stakes for her are the same as for him, but – there are no stakes for him, there is no risk for him – the downside and risks are all completely on her. It’s her mental and physical health, her future marriage, her happiness and her children that are negatively affected, not his. And this is largely rooted in their biology so we’re not likely to change it with social convention.
As well, do guys know all of this? Do they know the risk that she’s taking with her future marriage, family and children and so this why she’s still viewed as a slut and he’s not? He’ll certainly not let this stand in the way of sex with her though. Is this just a social construct that will eventually change with time and generations?
Rather than men living up to God’s stricter expections of women, women have lowered themselves to the expectation God has for men. But, equality.
The result is not only what is likely the most promiscuous culture in history with the host of marital, family instability and other problems that follow, but also a mass turning away from God and his Word.
Consider… Satan had christians howl about a bunch of fairly minor moral stuff for a few decades. They got beaten badly. Now with real stuff christians are afraid to say anything. Satan has artfully used culture and media to normalize divorce and failed families.
Is it Satan who has women believing that male monogamy is important and more important than family. That his having sex with anyone but her is worth destroying a marriage and family over. And there’s a bonus because when men can’t live up to this expectation they lie about it and that itself grows in to a fracture in their relationship.
And to go out on a theoretical limb, could this be a key bit that underlay the rise of totalitarianism in the U.S.? The breakdown of the family is believed by scholars such as Hannah Arendt and Robert Putnam to be a key element necessary for any kind of totalitarianism. Strong families and totalitarianism are not compatible. For totalitarianism to succeed, families must be weakened. Is Satan using this?
I’m not sure that’s the outcome that the folks who decided to promote this equal treatment hoped for. Except Satan?
A final thought. Throughout most of history, unmarried guys had to work for sex – convincing gals to give it to them, paying the prostitute at the city gate or making themselves worthy of marriage. That’s not so much the case in the U.S. today. Where once marriage provided an improved sex life for guys, today it’s more of a straight jacket compared to the variety sex life before marriage. For many guys today ‘the ‘ol ball & chain’ is not at all figurative, at least if they’ll remain monogamous. Interestingly, in asserting their empowered sexual equality and providing guys with free sex and free selfie porn women have relinquished a key element that provided them with more substantial equality. Perhaps with women’s achievements in the workplace they no longer have need of that?
Satan whispered, we listened?
For more read; Mark Regnerus’ ‘Cheap Sex’, Ashley McGuire’s ‘Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female’, and David Barash & Judith Lipton’s ‘Gender Gap’.
Sometime an analysis of Joshua Harris’ ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ and the fallout from it might be interesting. Did he invent sins? Raise the bar too high? Higher than God intended?