November 19, 2017

Losing The War Part III—Love In The Ruins

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Note from CM: I think our discussion has outgrown its usefulness on this post. Comments are closed.

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I believe in God and the whole business but I love women best, music and science next, whiskey next, God fourth,  and my fellowman hardly at all. Generally I do as I please.  A man, wrote John, who says he believes in God and does  not keep his commandments is a liar. John is right.  I am a liar. Nevertheless, I still believe.

Since I am going to be talking about sex in this post, it is likely to be highly controversial.  Nothing cuts to the quick of our souls like sex.  It is where power, pride, pleasure, and transcendence intersect, and that for a reason.  Because of the controversy inherent in talking about sex, I want to introduce the post with some unrelated, uncontroversial statements before I descend into the trigger-bait.

I am fascinated by the 6th century BC.  This was a time that saw a sort of quantum leap in human consciousness.  Among the many luminaries who lived during this century are included Lao-Tse and Confucius in China, Guatama Buddha and Mahavira Vardhamana in India, Spenta Zarathustra and Deutero-Isaiah in the Near East, and the Pre-Socratic philosophers of Greece.  Before the 6th century BC, the intellectual products of men appeared to have a dreamlike, childlike quality, which erupted into a greater awareness of human freedom and individuality.

What was common to the political environments of all of these men is that they lived during a period of great turmoil and change.  The city-state was the most common form of political entity.  This was the Spring and Autumn period in China, the flowering of the polis in Greece, a time of petty kings and kingdoms on the plain of the Ganges.  It was a time when you could go to sleep one day and awaken to find that the boundary between you and a hostile neighbor had gone over your roof during the night.

We live in just such a time at the present.  Not that most of us live in city-states, but the boundaries that have stood for hundreds, if not thousands, of years have swept over us and left us stranded in unfamiliar territory.

Nowhere is this more apparent, nor more unsettling, than in our current imbroglio concerning relationships between the sexes.

Before anyone comes wandering up with that age-old bon mot, “plus ça change plus ça même”, I would like to point out that some things are just plain gamechangers; the alphabet, the Arabic numbering system, the Scientific Revolution, and modern medicine.  Four such gamechangers have completely changed the playing field for that most primordial of all human games; pairing and reproducing.  Of these four gamechangers, two have been, one is now, and one is yet to come, but is already looming on the horizon.

The two gamechangers that have come are hormonal contraception and feminism, or more narrowly defined for my purposes, the expansion of female sexual choice.  The gamechanger that is currently under development is the replacement of lifelong monogamy as the societal ideal with serial monogamy.   This change is complete in the wider society.  Indeed in some segments, such as African-American society, the societal ideal has moved beyond serial monogamy towards responsible polygyny.  The final gamechanger may yet be the most gamechanging of them all, male disengagement.

The wider Church has, surprise, surprise, not been untouched by these developments.  As far as concerns contraception, Protestantism appears to be quite in favor of contraception.   I know we got a birth control 101 lecture as part of our premarital counseling package prior to our marriage in a PCA church.  Orthodoxy appears to be neutral, and I don’t think we regard contraceptive use as a confessable offense.  I’ve never brought contraception up with my confessor, but my wife and I have done things in that arena that trouble my conscience, so it’s a matter of when, not if.

The Catholic Church still holds the line on artificial birth control, but from what I can see, it has lost the power to alter the behavior of its adherents.  When I was young, most Catholic families were large, noisy, and unruly, compared to our 2.3 well-behaved kids.  <joke> In those days, I thought it was because Italians and Poles were sexier than the Dutch or the Scots, but it sure couldn’t be true of the Irish </joke>.  Nowadays, outside of a few Steubenville neo-Catholic types, these old school Catholic families are sparse on the ground.

I don’t want to descend into arguments about feminism or the quarrels over women’s ordination.  I belong to a communion that will not ordain women any time before the heat death of the Universe.  That said, I notice that official Christianity extends along a spectrum from openly matriarchal through egalitarian through complementarian to openly patriarchal.  I have met committed disciples from every line in the spectrum, so the only remarks I want to make here is first, even before becoming Orthodox I was firmly in the complementarian camp, and I view moderate feminism’s hegemony in Protestantism and Catholicism as almost total.  Orthodoxy, not so much, but then we are still mostly ethnic and former Protestant converts, who are most likely to consider feminism an issue, are still a very small portion of all American Orthodox.

A major effect of feminism, and the one I want to spend time discussing, is that as women have come to be less dependent on men, they are free to choose men based on criteria other than economic survival.  As we will see, this has been a double-edged sword for women.  This reduces the number of men they will consider as marriage partners.  I think it has made the search for acceptable husbands especially onerous for devout Christian girls.  Let’s see how this works.

Follow me here, as I outline the change in the sexual constitution of American society as it has changed over the last fifty years.  Somewhere around 1940, orgasms replaced the Blessed Sacrament as the instrumental means of sanctification, so there are three versions of the sexual constitution I would like to consider – The Old Double Standard, the Interim Compromise, and the New Double Standard.

The Traditional Double Standard was very much in place during my adolescence, despite the swingin’ sixties rhetoric that inundated the movies and television at that time.  It was still very much the job of a man to compromise a woman’s virtue as it was the job of women to preserve it.   Most of the weddings announced in my little midwestern town, a bastion of Christendom in probably the most Protestant area of the country, were the result of an impending little arrival, and nobody was surprised.  At the time the unspoken rule for women was, if you let him sleep with you, he better at least be on the road to matrimony.  For men the unspoken rule was, if you get her pregnant, you do the right thing and marry her.

Then came the Sexual Revolution.  What was revolutionary about the Sexual Revolution was not that it gave men permission to be promiscuous.  Men always had permission from the larger society to be promiscuous.  Giving permission to be promiscuous to women, which is what was truly revolutionary about the Sexual Revolution, had some unintended consequences.

If you give a man permission to sleep around, he wants to sleep with every woman he meets.   Men in their unmortified state tend to want sexual variety.  However, if you give a woman permission to sleep around, she makes a beeline for the same man all the other women want.  What women in their unmortified state want is sexual quality.  Some men unashamedly begin to gather harems.   For the less shameless, serial monogamy becomes the order of the day.  With the advent of no-fault divorce, no one considered it unusual for one man to commandeer the reproductive capacity of more than one woman.

So, the Sexual Revolution actually resulted in less sex, and less quality sex, for the poor chump at the bottom of the Darwinian pecking order than the old Double Standard.  At least under the old regime, because of a survival need that women had for men, any man could expect to be married off at roughly his own level.   Patience and persistence won the day.

Feminism destroyed the old Double Standard and replaced it with what I call The Interim Compromise, which was in place from about the mid seventies until very, very recently.  The Interim Compromise allowed young people to “develop their careers, experiment, and find themselves” in their twenties, then marry later.  What you saw on the ground, though, was young men complaining that young women their age are only attracted to  “edgy, exciting men”, overlooking the traditional sober and sensible (read: boring) potential mate.

Young women, on the other hand, complained that it was nearly impossible to keep their edgy, exciting men from cheating.  Even though they wanted more commitment, other women were “hitting on him constantly”, and how could they be expected to resist so much temptation?   The conventional wisdom given to the young men that the steady, boring guy should wait until a girl  “comes to her senses” and learns to appreciate his sterling qualities over the more exciting, superficial guys she is attracted to now while she is “young and silly”.

The trouble is, it usually the case that the superficial, exciting guys get tired of the now-not-so-young woman before she has any epiphanies about the desirability of boring, everyday, faithful men.  So she grabs herself a pack-animal while she still can.   I wonder how much of evangelical church membership is comprised of these “born-again” ex-virgins and their to-some-degree reluctant mates.

Both the feral male desire for sexual variety and the feral female desire for the best possible man play right into the establishment of Serial Monogamy, usually on the woman’s terms, as the new paradigm for what preachers talk about when they offer Marriage Enrichment Seminars peppered with advice on step-parenting and “blended families”.

When I was on the market for a wife in the late 70s and early 80s, three girls I had dated rejected me (and several of my friends), then married divorced men with children as their first husbands.  The churches didn’t bat an eye.   Thus did serial monogamy become the default setting for the wider Church.

But the Interim Compromise is breaking down.  As internet porn and the glorification of slut-culture lock young women into a biological “arms race” for the gutter in an attempt to snare the flagging attention of the most desirable young men, Christian young women are caught at a true disadvantage.  These days, sex is just currency.  The most desirable young men demand it as payment for their attention, and the less desirable men are, well, less desirable.  That leaves most young Christian women who truly want to be chaste with some very unpalatable alternatives.  They can compete for the most sought after young men who share their values.  Unfortunately, you have to be really up on your girl game to pull this off.  My daughter, unfortunately, is going through this right now.  The really pretty girls are sending out the bridal shower announcements.  The rest find it hard to get so much as a nibble.

They can date outside the church.   This is so common these days nobody bats an eye at it, but it seldom results in a durable marriage.   Sometimes, illegitimate issue ensue and the poor tot is trundled up to the font sans Papá.

They can keep their virtue and remain single.  This happens much more often than it should.  I know churches where never-married women in their late 30s and early 40s are the second largest component in the church.

Or they can pick through the leftovers.   This is what Focus on the Family says about the leftovers:

The single men who survive the screening process generally fit one of the following profiles:

  1. The Bible geeks. Quiet, studious men who love to study theological tomes. Or verbal guys who love to teach.
  2. The musical. They play in the band. Or they stand on the front row raising their hands during the music.
  3. The asexual. Guys who are OK with kissing dating (and kissing) goodbye.
  4. The predators. Guys who know there are plenty of desperate young women in church and enjoy trying to get them in bed.
  5. The social misfits. Strange men who come to church because it’s the only place women will smile at them.

If you’re into these kinds of guys, then the church dating scene isn’t so bad. If not, then you’ll have to fight over the most rare (and for some, the most desirable) category of single churchgoing men: the late converts. These are men who came to Christ in their teens or 20s, bypassing much of the screening process. Many were saved out of terrible sin. They have been forgiven much and love God much. (These guys get snapped up quickly by the best-looking women.)

Not very flattering, is it?  In response, the Church decided that the fault lay with the men, double down on these poor Sad Sacks, and to tried to shame them into Manning Up.  For most single men in the church, the ones who have stuck it out thus far, this is insult to injury.  Add to this a hostile political atmosphere where women have every advantage in an increasingly aggressive “divorce industry”, and it becomes apparent why men are becoming more and more reluctant to step up to the plate.

Add to this an irritating “men’s movement” in Christianity, starting with that awful Promise Keepers and continuing through a mostly professional- sports-based curriculum in the endless men’s groups that sprang up like psilocybin mushrooms in a cow pasture after a spring shower in its wake, it’s no wonder men began bleeding out of the churches like the Grand Armée fleeing Moscow.

We come now to the final gamechanger, and the one that will likely have the most impact; male disengagement from marriage and family.  Young men, one of which I am hoping that my daughter  will marry someday, are quietly checking out of the Matrimony Motel and departing for regions unknown without leaving a forwarding address.  They have been on the receiving end of a lot of heated rhetoric painting them as the bad guys, mostly outside the wider Church but also inside as well.   They have been affected inordinately by the current economic turmoil, and the role of provider and breadwinner, a role which women for the most part still expect them to fulfill, is receding before their eyes like the tide of faith in Matthew Arnold’s poem.

Good Lord have mercy.  When Albert Mohler recognizes there is something wrong, you know there is something wrong.

I’m sorry.   This post has run away from me, and it sure wasn’t Jesus shaped, was it?  With your permission, I’d like to pick up some of these threads next week and see if I can tie them up.

 

Comments

  1. “Indeed in some segments, such as African-American society, the societal ideal has moved beyond serial monogamy towards responsible polygyny.”

    Would you please explain this sentence?

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      I’d like some clarification on this as well.

    • “Responsible polygyny” is when a successful man with an abundance of resources has many women who know about each other . As long as the children are adequately provided for, the women prefer to have a partial interest in the extremely successful man than total ownership in a mediocre man.

      Although tolerance for open polygyny has yet to infiltrate the African-American Church, which is the most estrogenic environment I’ve ever encountered, it’s pretty common in the wider African-American culture. This is important because European American sexual behavior trails African American behavior by about 15 years.

      We are all Norman Mailer’s White Negro. Their present is our future.

      • “European American sexual behavior trails African American behavior by about 15 years.”

        It has recently, but we need to identify the underlying cause (there is not a law that which requires this).

        I’d say that the culture has a direction, and African Americans are simply on the leading edge of the curve.

      • Augustine the Black says:

        That’s a sample size of 1. Hardly makes the case that it is pretty common in AA culture. Also, hardly makes the case that it is usually ‘responsible’.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        Before I begin, I do realize that this is just one sentence out of a much longer post. However, I think there is a dangerous generalization that you are making with that statement, with little to no evidence to support it. Perhaps it was just a fluke, but the link connected with “wider African American culture” took me to a SheKnows Entertainment article that only announced that Oxygen was set to premiere a reality television series based on the exploits of one African American man who fits this definition of “responsible polygyny.” Not only is that not evidence to support your claim, but I tried to think of a single reality television series that was an accurate representation of any type of dynamic within any population whatsoever, and I came up blank. Shows like these only exploit anomalies within certain populations for cheap entertainment value; they are not generalizable, any more than the reality show about the guy with the 132-lb. scrotum can be generalized to all men.

        I think there are some very poignant observances that can be made about the dynamics of sexuality, physical intimacy, and gender roles within the African American community, but those observances are best made using credible evidence. I can guarantee you that you will be hard pressed to find conclusive evidence that responsible polygyny is a dynamic anymore present in the African American community than it is in communities of other racial or ethnic identities. Then again, I could always be wrong. Do you have some scientific (i.e., sociological, anthropological) data that informs your claim?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Shows like these only exploit anomalies within certain populations for cheap entertainment value; they are not generalizable, any more than the reality show about the guy with the 132-lb. scrotum can be generalized to all men.

          132 LB SCROTUM?!?!?!?
          What’s next, the Geek biting the heads off chickens?

          As for “exploiting anomalies” and media coverage, tell me about it.
          D&D gamer, Furry, and Brony.
          All of which have seen extensive media coverage of this sort.

      • Wow, Mule – where are you getting this “information”? I am seeing red, and will probably send this post to a few friends, who are better placed to be able to comment on what you’ve said about *all* black Americans.

        sheesh. I am deeply disappointed in you, bro.

        • I am too, Mule. The Achilles’ heel of this usually insightful and interesting blog is that its perspective is invariably Midwestern white.

          • + 1, Bass, + 1

            Although i would simply say “white.” (Am from the East Coast, and am white myself.)

          • This urbanized, white, east-coast guy agrees as well.

          • Katharina von Bora says:

            YES. And there is not enough acknowledgement that the perspective is limited (not just by race, either). There’s a lot of jumping to universal conclusions based on very specific local experiences.

          • And why wouldn’t it be?
            Is there something wrong with Midwestern males?

            We all have to face our situations in life, our ethnicity, family of origin, gender and religious affiliations…

          • Mule, I think the problem is you shift from global game-changer to local, personal experience. You end up making sweeping generalizations from a myoptic point of view.

            Let me clear up what I mean. You point out birth control is a game-changer. Absolutely, for those who have regular access (unlike billions in the third world who can’t afford it regularly, and particularly with the hormonal variety, can’t afford the medical visits either) birth control is a game changer. It is a game changer for any society that offers it to all its citizens (some well off countries limit its availability to married women or require spousal permission).

            Then, you relay what happened after birth control was universally accessible to a given society – from Male double Standard to some Interm social situation where monogamy is being replaced by serial monogamy. That isn’t a universal application of birth control. It is (possibly, but you offer no proof) a local application – although I fail to see how all this relates to a youth group as I would assume most teens aren’t taking (or, if they are, they aren’t feeling good about taking) the freedom birth control offers to be sexually free from reproductive consequences. Seriously, are you suggesting people were more monogamous when they got their high-school sweet-hearts preggers and married too young for collage? If that is the case, that is a class please connect how that relates to birth control. Are you seriously suggesting forced circumstances (unintended pregnancies) were the glue that held couples together (the promiscuous guys settled down younger with the high-school beauty queen, the truncating themselves out of the race? If not, then what did birth control change?

            See in my view, and I am from a country that gave youth free and easy access to birth control before much of the US did. What birth control was used for was for young people to avoid the consequences of sex (well, this was before most STDs were everywhere), which meant sex younger than before. However, it didn’t change the double standard. Women were still called “sluts” when I was young, but boys weren’t. So, did feminism change the double standard?

            That makes less sense, as second wave feminism was about being over men, not falling for Mr. Popular. Feminism of the seventies meant mothers pushed daughters to ditch Mr. High School sweet-hart for a good collage. It was the mom’s buy birth control for their daughters, so they wouldn’t end up stuck as a mom before being on a career path. In church, I doubt the parents were buying birth control for their daughters, so they were stuck in the old way (which you think is new???) of clamouring for the attention of the “hot” jock and doing whatever it took to attract him – the one who slept with him thought she got him, until he ditched her. Birth control and feminism gave women a way out of that small-town minded mentality (which was probably any sized town mentality), but the way it did it was to make boy-crazy girls seem like imbeciles, or shallow and not going anywhere. The church hated that worldly view (obviously) and created a culture of marry young so you aren’t tempted, with wild stories about collage girls promiscuity. Now, this may be a cultural thing, as Canadian universities are huge (and collages are small and usually were diploma–granting only). In Canada, there aren’t enough residences for all students, so many lived off campus. Some at home, or at a relatives home. In my father’s and mother’s day, they boarded with families off-campus. In my day, we lived with roommates around the university. Since less people lived on campus than off, partying wasn’t any more pronounced than returning to my small hometown in the summer where all my non-uni friends were out at the lakes partying all night (in the northern mid-night sun). It was my stayed-behind working that dead-end job friends who got preggers early (with their common-law spouse) while all my (and lets face it) middle class friends and I went off to higher education that didn’t waste all our time on boys.

            We “screened” men in general, me especially because, being Christian, I wasn’t into pre-marital sex and I didn’t want to marry before my degree, so why would I date? I didn’t chase any air-headed jock (hockey player in my town), I avoided the whole dating scene, interested guys were firmly put in the friend zone, but never because of their looks, just because I needed to do something other than date-to-marry, the only acceptable way to date, my church informed me.

            Which is just my story. Most of my friends and I got married after university. My husband included, in many marriages at that time, one spouse went on (or was in the middle) of post-graduate schooling, and the other of us went to work to support the little family of two. In time, we had kids, but none of my Christian friends divorced. However, let’s go back to my hometown of partying, higher-education avoiding peers. There was a place (much like it was before birth control, I may add) that was into serial monogamy full-swing. Most (not all, but most) of the dads of the kids of my friends/peers were no longer on the scene. My old friends were onto partner #2 or #3, sometimes with kids from each relationship. But, if I remember correctly, that was their mom’s stories as well. I have one friend whose mom had 3 partners and two kids, each with different dads, another whose mother was on her second husband and quite a few whose mothers had a series of step-dads/boyfriends while they grew up, as did some of their grandmothers! Life didn’t change much over the generations. They all had kids young and had those early relationships break down.

            So in my view, the game changer was that women were delaying childbearing, and that is going to bring about a huge (and risky) shift to society like none other in history. Each year, world-wide the average age of first time mothers inches up. Statisticians have been noting this trend for a while. So, while you look at men wanting raunchy fun and girls degrading themselves to get their attention, what you are looking at is increased adolescence, and the longer one is an ‘adolescent’, the more ridiculous their behaviour. A 23 year old adolescent is not shy or intimidated by his/her peer group the way an18 year old is. But, none of those raunchy 20 somethings are looking for permanent pairing. Thirty year old women quit acting that way, they climb higher in their careers, or, nowadays, are just finishing post-docs. They aren’t going to go act like idiots for men’s kicks either. They are now ready to settle down, and they are finding men in the world at large. That is because, adulthood has shifted to thirty something.

            The problems you described are uniquely in the church, not society. It has just moved marriageability up to thirty something. In church, since no one gets (openly) involved in premarital relationships, men marry young (essentially, they marry during “adolescence” despite being in their early twenties). So, in church women who are thirty have a hard time pairing up with men, but if they step outside church, there are men who are now ready to settle down.

            But, how long will it last? Is society going to revert back to early marriages? or is the church going to revert to delayed matrimony. I disagree that we follow behind Africa in marriage trends, but I do agree we lag behind, but still follow, secular societal trends. Even the fact churches today remarry congregants shows the secularization of churches (not divorce, that likely should always have been permitted in cases of abuse, but remarriage is a secular trend later adopted by the church). The bigger deal to me is, divorce is highest among the non-college educated and the poorest people in the US. It is a little higher if your parents divorced, but astronomically higher if you don’t have a post-secondary degree. Will the church figure out that late marriages are what will save the institution just as the wider society realizes marrying late is an infertility nightmare and begin to have kids younger (notice I didn’t say marry, just “have kids” younger)? Or will the church and society settle close to the same cycle and have kids by their late twenties, with churches telling youth to go get educated “for God”?

            I don’t think men are checking out of marriage, but they may be checking out of early marriage. That isn’t all bad, but it will mean Christian men will stand out for their non-partying ways and chaste collage years. Oh well, then there will be a study showing that celibate people are smarter or something to make everyone in Christian culture feel better.

      • … the most estrogenic environment I’ve ever encountered

        Is there some way that you could, err, describe these women in a more respectful manner?

        As someone else mentioned, your cynicism and sarcasm are wrecking whatever points you were originally trying to make.

        It’s painful to read; like having salt rubbed into an open wound.

        • Josh in FW says:

          How is the word “estrogenic” disrespectful?

          • by talking about hormones rather than people, he is reducing the women in black churches to their hormones only.

            It’s very dehumanizing, I think.

          • You’ll have to excuse him: he was in the grip of a testosterone induced delusion when he wrote that.

          • Josh in FW says:

            My life would be so much simpler if I could control by testosterone induced delusions.

        • numo said, “Is there some way that you could, err, describe these women in a more respectful manner?”

          He later uses the phrase “post menopausal” to describe a woman preacher farther down the page, 😆

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Actually, the “most estrogenic environment” I ever encountered was on the Web several years ago, either linked to an article on Christianese Fiction or one on “Why Men Don’t Go for Christianese Media.”

          Someone had posted up book cover designs from Christianese fiction and Christianese best-sellers. All pinks and pastels, with curlicued flourished title fonts and Sweet Winsome titles. I felt my testicles start to shrivel up and disappear just from the visual estrogen overload. Like hormone treatments for prostate cancer and then some.

          • to be fair, HUG, a lot of women don’t like that kind of stuff, either. I never have, and I find the reaonsing behind that kind of marketing not only suspect but profoundly cynical.

  2. Reads article. Reexamines what I’ve seen in the singles groups I’ve been to. Rinse, repeat. I don’t seem to fit in any of those categories… unless I didn’t pass the screening.

    If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over in the corner as I think my incoming cringe will last a few hours….

  3. Thanks Mule.

    And no need to apologise. You’ve knocked another one out of the park.

    • Josh in FW says:

      +1

    • Patrick Kyle says:

      Brilliant post, Mule. Spot on. A brilliant intro to the subject of MGTOW ( men going their own way). That being said, I don’t think the red pill will be received well here. A lot of feminized Christianity shows up in these threads

  4. Mule, keep writing. You are the best thing on the interwebs.

  5. Katharina von Bora says:

    Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in whatever evangelical church culture everyone here seems to come from, but this did not read like an accurate accounting of the world to me. I could see trends that ring true, or tropes that have gotten a lot of panicky attention in the media/Christian blogosphere of late…but there are large swaths of society missing from this portrait, and that makes it sound more like a chicken little attack than a realistic assessment.

    I also think most men who are analyzing things in this way have a huge, rather pathetic blind spot when it comes to the ordinary, perhaps even homely, women who are not looking for the “top level” jocks or whatever high school based stereotype you want to apply, here, but simply for a decent man who has a few things in common with her. You don’t desire us, so you do not see us, so you don’t see our men and our marriages, so there’s a huge hole in your theory.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in whatever evangelical church culture everyone here
      > seems to come from, but this did not read like an accurate accounting of the world to me.

      It certainly is contextual; this rings very true for me. In Evangelical ‘college group’ where pastors [in private!] referred to it as “the meat market”. It pretty much was about females bidding on the choice sirloin. And a lot of hurt and future resentments to go around. It, very sadly, is an culture that really only benefits the predators. It was at least a relief to know that the professional clergy seemed well aware, and it hurt that they would do NOTHING to address it; [1] one had to take the insults and slights – and do the good Christian thing ‘of turning the other cheek’ [a much harder thing to do when you know there would be no such expectation if the insult were in the reverse].

      [1] Probably to this day why I am prejudiced against Protestant clergy as weasily politicians, and more generally, cowards.

      > I also think most men who are analyzing things in this way have a huge, rather pathetic
      > blind spot when it comes to the ordinary, perhaps even homely, women

      I have no doubt it is true. Desire creates blindness, and insult intensifies that blindness.

      > who are not looking for the “top level” jocks or whatever high school based stereotype you
      > want to apply,

      Where I was it was as much that as the old Jewish cliche of every girl wanting to marry ‘the Rabbi’s son’. The good stock went to Christian Colleges. Seculars needed to bring something impressive to the table to overcome their taint; and, well, I’m just wasn’t impressive personally or physically.

      > here, but simply for a decent man who has a few things in common with her. You don’t desire
      > us, so you do not see us, so you don’t see our men and our marriages, so there’s a huge hole
      > in your theory.

      It is sad how cruel the ‘romantic’ situation currently is; some things I see consistently make me so grateful I have neither sons or daughters. Anyone who takes relationships seriously and is in there late teens and 20s today has my deepest and sincerest sympathies.

      Being ‘the invisible’ is a horrible experience.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        I’d like to add, directly to Katherine,

        > so you do not see us

        For whatever scant value it has, as a member of my gender, I’d like to offer my apologies for the certainly many times I was complicit in this blindness. In failing to acknowledge the dignity, or even the mere presence, of my sisters in Christ. I am sorry for that.

        Beyond the specific times I can recall when I was less than I should have been, there are undoubtedly myriad more.

      • Katharina von Bora says:

        Well I know no one asked for advice, but as an outsider I have to say, it sounds like the bubble, not women, is the problem. I probably could not have found a happy marriage in the pool of people I went to high school with, but it literally only took a week of being away at college in a different place to find someone, from another state and another culture, who was compatible. There was some luck involved, yes, but a large part of it was just getting outside that bubble where I was cast into a certain role. I am a “sparrow” I guess (for crying out loud) and I did not marry any kind of “alpha” or whatever. Then again both of us were looking for a companion, not a profile, trophy, or dynasty-making consort. And certainly, our match was not one that some bapti-pente-funda-gelical youth group kid would have found desirable. We are from different religions (that is, different Abrahamic faiths, not different churches), different social classes, different family types, different regions, different worlds.

        Something tells me such a match is not even on the radar of possibility for people who are still compartmentalizing everything according to high school clique hierarchies, but I could be wrong.

    • Dear Mrs Luther –

      Depending on how traditional your church culture is, the Old Regime with its salutatory system of associative pairing has persisted down to the present time. The PCA churches I attended had very good sexual behavior on the part of their young people, but also a lot of older singles, both male and female. There were also a lot of “little brown sparrow” marriages that seemed both deep and enduring, so you’re wrong on that account. I noticed.

      I believe in the Old Regime, but it is no longer with us.

      The Assemblies of God church was a nightclub.

      The Orthodox Church has the ethnic thing going for it. If you’re Greek and not completely hopeless, the yiayias will have you matched in two shakes. To be honest, I’ve seen this in action and I’m very impressed with the old ladies’ acumen in this area.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        There were also a lot of “little brown sparrow” marriages that seemed both deep and enduring, so you’re wrong on that account.

        “Little brown sparrow” marriages?

      • Katharina von Bora says:

        I’m not sure what you mean about the sparrows, and thus I’m not sure how you think I am wrong about them. If you mean that lots of ordinary people have good marriages, yeah, no duh, that is what I was trying to point out to you. But your argument about all humanity has screened out MOST of humanity, aka the “sparrows,” and is focused on the plight of some small, labeled groups. I got the sense from your post that just being a “sparrow” was not good enough, that it was a pitiful consolation prize or something. You haven’t been terribly clear about what you mean by all that though, so by all means, clarify and prove me wrong.

        Again the problem is the bubble. Yes if you are hide-bound to marry someone from within your small social group, your courting life is likely to be disappointing these days. But most people don’t do it that way. For instance the one good Orthodox friend I have married a Catholic. I know some people see this as theologically objectionable, but for those folks, well, you pay a price to keep your ideological purity. No one guaranteed to you that you would get the girl AND the moral high horse as a package deal.

        • “You don’t desire us, so you do not see us, so you don’t see our men and our marriages, so there’s a huge hole in your theory.”

          I meant only that I had noticed the marriages you claimed were invisible to me. I see the men, and the marriages, and am profoundly grateful that they exist. I am myself, in real life, more like a crow than a sparrow, but married to a bird of paradise.

    • That’s in part what I said below in a much longer post: even fat, balding middle aged Christian men (and even ones who are unemployed, weird, socially backwards) typically seek after and feel entitled to a perky, thin, 25 year old Megan Fox look-alike.

      (I happen to be thin and attractive, but I do not fall into the much cherished, sought after 20 – 35 age bracket.)

  6. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    What can I say? Pretty much spot on; the situation is sad and dreary.

    Except maybe …

    > the late converts. These are men who came to Christ in their teens or 20s, bypassing
    > much of the screening process…These guys get snapped up quickly by the best-looking
    > women.

    … being a non-church guy at church, unless you are one winsome sob, you’re treated with suspicion and distance by ‘church girls’. So glad that period of life is well behind me. Ugh.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And who wants Larval Church Ladies anyway? They already have their Edward Cullen; his name is Jesus and he comes with Shekinah Sparkles. Any mortal like me will just be the meal ticket so they can spend 24/7 with their real husband Jesus. And I have other interests and passions than Bible Study and Devotions Devotions Devotions. I can’t spend seven days and nights a week in Church.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Heh. We would have gotten along really well. 🙂 But I got in enough trouble for excessive snark as it was.

        It ended up Ok; I married a long overlooked close friend, also a non-church-person-at-church. We are having a great time, including many non-church related interests.

      • There are the Christian male equivalents who want a Christian woman with the morals of Mother Teresa, the body of model Cindy Crawford, and the face of Angelina Jolie.

  7. Mule, I think this latest trend does go some distance to explain the scene for the 20-30 somethings.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

  8. Mule, I enjoyed this article, even though I feel somewhat isolated from it personally. My sons are in their early thirties, both married, one newly joined to his high school sweetie (after an eight year estrangement ) and the other married almost a decade with two sons…..he had a strong drive to settle down and be a husband and father, he states due to watching his grandfathers and father.

    So, I am too old to be in this fray, and my sons seem to have dodged it, but I DO see this, not in my church but in my classroom of mostly young women. A high number are already single mothers before they can buy a bottle of wine, and the baby-daddies are never involved with the children. I understand that my life choices and experiences as a late-ish Baby Boomer are ancient history…..but I do “get” why a year or two with a male who is bound to impregnate and leave is more desired than being “single”. Seems that even the birds of the air and small animals scurrying around us have females who demand more “proof” of male worthiness to breed than do so many “modern women”. Think God might have been RIGHT about marriage and sex and babies and the order in which they should proceed???

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      >Think God might have been RIGHT about marriage and sex and babies and the order in
      >which they should proceed???

      Where in the post did Mule dispute that ‘rightness’? I don’t see it.

      > have females who demand more “proof” of male worthiness to breed

      I don’t even see that disputed. But a point is that it is no longer about breeding, but SEX [hopefully minus the breeding part]. That changes the “worthiness” calculation. And that leaves a large number of people, both during and after, in [at best] uncomfortable and unsatisfying situations.

      • That was known as a rhetorical question, and/or begging the question….

        And as to the relationship between sex and breeding in humans, let me assure you that I have been a nurse for many decades, and the ineffective or absent use of contraception in causal sexual encounters leads very quickly and logically to pregnancy. My point was not to argue with Mule, who I respect and almost always agree with. I was bemoaning the current state of sexual mores and the poverty and suffering, neglected children who result from these liasons.

        • Christiane says:

          if ‘sin’ can be judged in all this mess, then what we do that leads to those suffering, neglected children is the ‘greater sin’ . . .

          when the consequence of foolish ways is a hurting child, we need to step back and take another look at our ‘modern morality’ and its acceptance

          some countries help women with children, notably the Nordic countries . . . the ‘stigma’ of ‘unmarried’ is disconnected from the welfare of a child and the child’s needs are seen as worthy of socialized protection . . .
          but ALL mothers in the society are treated with the same helps, and some of course may choose to go the private route and pay for their own choices, but no child is neglected there in the way that children in our great wealthy country are deprived, may God forgive us this collective sin

          I taught many, many years, often in the inner city, and I am a witness to the presence of ‘hurting children’ from neglect but also with emotional sadness over the father who won’t visit them, or the father they never knew . . . or a parent incarcerated . . . the old grandmothers, God bless them, do what they can

          I had a sweet eleven year old sixth grader get pregnant and come back to see me at school the following year with her infant . . . I will never forget that as long as I live . . . the twelve year old ‘mother’ still looked at me through a child’s eyes . . . memories . . .

  9. Is there a word missing at the end of “Somewhere around 1940, orgasms replaced the Blessed Sacrament as the instrumental means of?”

    That’s quite a sentence, even without the missing word!

    • The word you are searching for is either “theosis” or “sanctification”. I’m glad you caught that.

      • Fixed. Thanks, Joanie.

      • flatrocker says:

        “Somewhere around 1940, orgasms replaced the Blessed Sacrament as the instrumental means of sanctification”

        Mule, I think this puts you in the running for the quote of the year. Can’t wait to hear your acceptance speech.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Orgasm is overrated. You can achieve orgasm on a regular/frequent basis without the assistance of any other non-virtual life form.

          You can get orgasm everywhere, again without the need for any other meatspace life-form. But WHERE’S THE COMPANIONSHIP? (There’s a reason I got seriously hooked on My LIttle Pony: Friendship is Magic. I want the Companionship those cartoon ponies have.)

  10. It’s cynical, I like it 🙂

    • yes, because cynicism and negative generalizations of other people are so hard to find online…

  11. By far, one of the most profound analyses I’ve read on the anthropology of the Christian subculture in the context of our current societal milieu. This is most definitely a conversation-starter. Keep up the good work.

    With daughters ranging in age from 27-16, I see this played out almost exactly as described. Only my oldest is married and she to a late-comer, as you describe. My 24 year old has no prospects she’s interested in and my 19 year old is just starting college with no serious discussion of matrimony other than, “not until I get my Master’s at least.”

    Keep talking. I’m interested to see where this goes.

    • “Keep talking. I’m interested to see where this goes.”

      It goes right where I am: early 40s, a virgin, still not married, never have been. If you’d like to know more about singleness in Christianity, please get and read a copy of “Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today’s Church” by Colon and Field.

      Most married Christians live in a bubble and are utterly clueless what it’s like to be a never married, celibate adult past one’s mid or late 20s.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I’ve heard that it takes only two years of marriage to completely forget what it’s like to be single.

        Which leads to the Christianese Married trope of “We’ve Always Been Married, We Never Were Single.”

        Ever notice the Born-Agains dispensing all the advice (and anathemas) to Christian Singles all married at 18?

  12. Michael Z says:

    Here is a representative sample of the phrases you used to describe men in this article:

    Poor chump, sober and sensible, steady, boring, everyday, faithful, desirable, unpalatable alternatives, leftovers, quiet, studious, poor Sad Sacks, shame them into Manning Up, painting them as the bad guys, provider and breadwinner.

    And, here is a sample of phrases you applied to women:

    Promiscuous, survival need, only attracted to edgy exciting men, hitting on him constantly, young and silly, grabs herself a pack-animal, born-again ex-virgins and their to-some-degree reluctant mates, on the woman’s terms, slut-culture, up on your girl game, really pretty, illegitimate issue sans Papa, keep their virtue and remain single, best-looking, have every advantage.

    This post honestly felt like it was describing an entirely different world than the one I live in. The women at my church (including my fiancee who, by the way, is ordained, and is a far better pastor than I could ever be) are not promiscuous or calculating or manipulative. The attitude toward women that your word choices above reflect is rather shocking to me.

    • I’m glad you live in a different world. Maybe you can help the rest of us get there.

      I mean this sincerely, especially if it comes wrapped in something besides “be upper-middle class.”

      • Michael Z says:

        Well, I think the way to “get there” is going to have to involve the one class of people that, for some reason, is completely absent from that Focus on the Family list: 6. people who actually know and experience God as a reality in their lives and are doing their best to listen to and follow God’s guidance. My fiancee and I are both in our 30s and have managed to “keep our virtue” up to this point in our lives not by being any of those other five types of people on that list, but simply by being unable to escape from God’s grasp. There have been times when I desperately wanted to go in a different direction, and God simply would not let me.

        I understand that in this article you’re only trying to describe a problem and not to point to a solution, but I find it interesting that aside from the paragraph on adult converts, there is no hint in this entire article of the presence of God in our churches or the people in them – it’s all written from the perspective of a social structure challenged by cultural forces. I really don’t buy into the “culture war” mindset – to me, it’s much more important to see people come to know Christ and to have their lives shaped by God’s presence within them, than to try to shape the culture around me into what I want it to look like.

        My church is not “upper-middle class” – we’re an inner city church, one of the most diverse churches I’ve been in, and on the progressive end of the evangelical spectrum. But the one advantage we have is that we’re in New England, where people don’t go to church unless they have a darn good reason for it. Your article might make a lot more sense in a “culturally Christian” setting or in a megachurch, but I’m very thankful that that’s not the culture I live in or grew up in.

        • At last. A breath of fresh air, Michael. Kudos to you.

          Maybe my opinion doesn’t really count, though. I’m 72 and a grandfather six times over. and married to my sparrow for over 50 years.

        • Michael Z,

          Kudos to you and your fiancee working to keep your virtue. My oldest daughter is in a struggle right now and is losing frinds over this because she won’t become part of the crowd. Additionally she is finding it hard to date since hanging onto virtue doesn’t seem to be popular these days….

        • Josh in FW says:

          “But the one advantage we have is that we’re in New England, where people don’t go to church unless they have a darn good reason for it.”
          I think this is a big part of the difference between your experience and the one Mule describes in his post. I’ve always lived in an Evangelical dominated culture so Mule’s post matched my life experience.

      • Ali Griffiths says:

        Mule Chewing Briars: What do you mean by ‘upper middle class’? And why would it be a bad thing to be? I ask this in all sincerity – I’m from the UK and your cultural analysis is interesting (although very depressing) but describes a very different culture to my own.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          Class in America is very hard to define, even apart from any cultural taboos about admitting that it exists. At best we can aim for typical traits. If we define it in terms of finances, someone in the upper middle class probably owns a large house and at least two nice cars. He or she probably employs a cleaning and a yard service for some household tasks, but does not directly employ servants. He or she is likely a professional, and if married so is the spouse. They can afford nice vacations. They might own a boat, if they are into that sort of thing. But they do not consider themselves rich, meaning that they can’t afford the most expensive cars, much less airplanes or yachts, even though in fact they are in a very high percentile of household incomes.

          For cultural discussions, a more useful, in my opinion, approach is educational outlook. There are many people who are very educated and have the accompanying worldview, but who for whatever reason cannot or choose not to translate that into income. They often share many cultural traits with the upper middle class. You can see the two groups mingling comfortably in the lobby of the symphony concert hall at intermission, before separating again to their less or more expensive seats for the second half.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > especially if it comes wrapped in something besides “be upper-middle class.”

        There is a huge issue of class here; but one cannot discuss class in America.

        The classes almost never interact, except by worried glances on the bus/train [and only then if you live in a place where middle/upper class people actually use public transit; many of my colleagues wouldn’t step foot on a city bus, with those ‘dangerous’ people (which I can’t help think at the time… “includes me???”].

        Living a desperate/worried life effects ones decision making in innumerable ways. Class and sexuality are so interlaced as to be inseparable issues. An unstable situation, absence of parental figures, even effects the *biology* of sexual maturation – so the two issues are in many ways one issue.

        • There is a huge issue of class here; but one cannot discuss class in America.

          Yes – this is true… I mentioned in a longer comment I made below that seems to be hung up in moderation at the moment.

      • i think you have it all wrong, dude (Mule, that is). Really, seriously, profoundly wrong – I think I would like to see someone like Rachel held Evans’ response to this post.

        I concur with Michael Z’s observations on your word choices, btw.

        • I would be very glad to be taken to the woodshed. Writing an article like this is lot like betting $250 that your wife is cheating on you.
          If your wife is cheating on you, you win $250 but guess what? Your wife is cheating on you.
          If your wife is faithful, you lose $250.

          i would love to find out that I am merely an old codger upset at losing my privileges, and that everything is rosy in RHE’s egalitarian companionate marriage land. Convince me.

          @MichaelZ –

          Of course the answer to our current discontent is a deeper commitment to discipleship. It is very sad that
          a serious desire to follow Christ makes you statistically invisible.

          • This may also be a case of older participants here having something to compare to and younger participants who are among the trees. Or not….

          • I’m not married, so I can’t speak to that

            But your characterization of women as *all* being X or Y is SO, SO profoundly wrong. I can offer up evidence from my own life and that of others I know, but I will not do so in an open forum.

            Chaplain Mike and jeff have my email, though.

          • Michael Z says:

            > “It is very sad that a serious desire to follow Christ makes you statistically invisible.”

            Did anyone ever promise you that following Jesus would be anything but a handicap for you or for your children in the dating game?

            Has there ever been a time in history when following Jesus was _not_ a liability when it came to seeking marriage or wealth or any other worldly pursuit? None of these complaints you are raising are new or unique to modern times.

            When we agreed to follow Christ, we were doing so with no guarantees. It’s no good putting your hands to the plow and then turning back and saying, “Wait, I thought being a good Christian was going to make me a more desirable spouse! Wait, I picked up this cross, but now it’s _hurting_ me!” Jesus said following him would mean leaving behind “houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields” (Mt 19:29). Instead of basing this conversation on the worldly perspective where true love is more important than anything else, it should be based on the Christian perspective where we take it as a given that faith can cost us everything.

          • In any attempt to understand inexact things — people, cultures, worldviews, etc. — there is a spectrum along which we can make a claim. On the one hand there is personal, then anecdotal evidence — I have/haven’t experienced this myself or I do/don’t know people who have. Covering the middle ground of the spectrum is some kind of consensus about insight into general trends. At the opposite extreme is hard statistical data — as hard as it ever gets for inexact things. Conclusions get stronger and more convincing as they move along the spectrum from personal to statistical.

            Numo, your comment — “But your characterization of women as *all* being X or Y is SO, SO profoundly wrong. I can offer up evidence from my own life and that of others I know” — represents the personal and anecdotal viewpoint. What Mule is offering here is insight into trends that many people in addition to him have noticed — not as convincing as statistical analysis, but still farther along the spectrum than personal experience and worth being listened to. Of course he is generalizing: when people are talking about trends, they necessarily generalize — that’s what a trend is.

            We know that everyone is unique; no one is perfectly represented by statistics or trend analysis, but Mule isn’t trying to represent everyone. He is allowed, in doing what he’s doing, to make statements that might be offensive to individuals but might also be true in a general way. At the very least, we can learn from him that there are some people who think certain things about our culture — a worthwhile goal. We shouldn’t ask him not to say something general just because it isn’t nice to or accurate for a particular individual.

            (Numo, I apologize for picking you as an example — I don’t mean to come across as personally critical. I do think that all of us need to be reminded of our epistemology every now and again.)

          • Damaris – if Mule had said “in my experience” and/or “this is what I’ve seen where I’ve lived” instead of generalizing to all of society – and all churches – I think his post would be better and of more value.

            I was specific for a reason.

          • Dana Ames says:

            “Instead of basing this conversation on the worldly perspective where true love is more important than anything else, it should be based on the Christian perspective where we take it as a given that faith can cost us everything.”

            Well Michael, one of the things Mule is saying, if I understand correctly, is that the worldly perspective has become, among at least some significant numbers of Christians, the Christian perspective.

            Dana

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Michael Z, can you describe the location of the portal to the Alternate Universe you live in?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        If you need to ask you cannot afford to get there.

      • Michael Z says:

        Of the women that I’ve actually known well as friends over the last 15 years or so, there are literally _none_ who fit Mule’s profile: promiscuous, seductive, drawn to edgy men, looking for economic benefit, etc. Maybe that’s just because of the type of people I tend to be drawn to as friends. I’ll grant that there are people out there who do seem to fit that profile. But I wonder if, once I got to know them, I would still describe them that way.

        So it’s not so much that I live in an alternative universe, as that I’m seeing from an alternative perspective: thinking of women in terms of individuals who I’ve actually spent the time to get to know and understand, rather than grouping all women on the opposite side of an us-vs-them divide and then painting them all with broad and caricatured strokes.

        • Reminds me of this classic from The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/articles/where-are-all-these-loose-women-my-pastor-keeps-wa,11190/

          I’ve lived in Clearburg my whole life, and I’ve been attending services at Holy Christ Almighty Lutheran Church for about as long as I can remember. I know my Bible stories, because Mom and Dad saw to it that they raised me right. I figure I’m about as faithful of a 17-year-old high-school kid as there ever was. There’s one thing I don’t understand, though: It seems like practically every week, Pastor Clayman goes off again about the dangers of harlots and jezebels, and how I shouldn’t allow them to tempt me away from the path of the righteous. But as far as I can tell, I’ve never met a so-called “loose woman.” I’m starting to get really curious about where they’re all supposed to be.

        • Michael said,
          Of the women that I’ve actually known well as friends over the last 15 years or so, there are literally _none_ who fit Mule’s profile: promiscuous, seductive, drawn to edgy men, looking for economic benefit, etc.

          Michael, I agree with you. I’m not like the women described in Mr. Mule’s post. I am not controlling, was not holding out for Mr. Perfect, was not seeking out “Mr. Hip Edgy Cool” guy.

          I would have been happy with Mr. Average, but never met Mr. Average. (I was engaged to a “Mr A Bit Below Average” for awhile but had to break up with him over numerous reasons).

          If anything, now that I am in my early 40s (and by the time I got to my mid 30s) I began noticing men my age, even Christian ones, (and I would prefer to date guys my age, not a guy much older/younger than me) seem to be too picky: even men age 40 and up will only date/marry women ages 20 – 35, and usually only if she is a blonde or a Barbie doll.

          • But isn’t that part of what Mule is saying? That both men and women seem to have high (unrealistic) expectations? And that this is something that the church has inherited from the surrounding culture, adding the ‘he/she must be a good Christian too’ to make things even worse.

            I know there are singles in our church who ‘seem’ compatible from the outside, but then I have to admit to myself that when I was single, I’m not sure I’d have ‘lowered my standards’ to marry any of them.

            The irony of course is that whoever you marry, you’re up for some unpleasant surprises (about them, and about yourself!)

            I just wish the Christian families (including mine) could find more creative ways to integrate singles into their lives. As HUG says, sex is overrated, but companionship is vital.

      • For what it’s worth, Michael’s description seems a LOT closer to the churches I know than Mule’s.

        Mule is a good writer and thinker, but his thought here seems poisoned by cynicism and bitterness. And yes, I know cynicism and bitterness are rather celebrated in these comments, but they are blinders still.

        • Daniel – very, very much agreed.

          The “old system” that Mule describes was suffocating for women, imo. (Speaking for myself; and no, I’m not exactly into serial monogamy. I’ve been celibate for more decades than I care to enumerate.)

          Mule – you need to get out more.

        • I’m going to try really hard not to be a troll in this response, so bear with me…

          The first thing (after the eyeroll) that came to mind after reading this comment and going back to examine MZ’s comments is: just because it’s not in your little corner of the world, doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. I can remember back to my not-so-far-in-the-past Evangelical days and how narrow a slice of the world I saw and understood, which is not to say that my estimation and experience of the world is somehow amazing and complete NOW, but my life during and after my exit have shown me (by blinder-removal and general experience) a lot more than I would have admitted to in the past.

          Secondly, and here is where this comment got my feathers ruffled, is the old Evangelical song-and-dance of discounting someone’s observations/feelings/analyses that fall into the “Negative” category. My Terrible Last Pastor ™ used that tactic to shut people down, and I see old friends of mine shutting out feelings and thoughts that are very legitimate and should be addressed because they are ‘being too negative’ or some other excuse that has been drilled into them by even well-meaning churchpeople and pastors. Just because Mule’s analysis of the situation is “negative” or “cynical” (though I think the air of abject cynicism comes from the fact that Mule hasn’t gotten to “tying it all up” as he puts it, for there isn’t a next step/solution/what now? for this article) doesn’t make him wrong or make it that he should keep his dark passengers to himself.

          I’m glad positive people exist; I’m not one of them. And to me, it seems like there are many more issues in American Christian society that need some tough criticism to diagnose the problem and formulate a treatment.

          Grump now over.

          • “just because it’s not in your little corner of the world, doesn’t mean it isn’t out there.”

            The converse is that just because you’ve had experiences, doesn’t mean it’s universal to everywhere (and I’m not saying contemporary sexual politics are healthy). Mule is the one who’s operating off a gender warfare thesis and making huge generalizations about groups of people.

          • The converse is that just because you’ve had experiences, doesn’t mean it’s universal to everywhere (and I’m not saying contemporary sexual politics are healthy). Mule is the one who’s operating off a gender warfare thesis and making huge generalizations about groups of people.

            Yep! And just because X is the norm in one kind of church does NOT mean that it’s the norm in ALL churches.

            As for the sweeping – and painful – generalizations about black Americans, I just don’t even know where to begin.

          • Joel (and Numo), when you have the chance, go to EBSCO host and research anthropology and psychology journals regarding sexuality in modern American culture. I found that just about every relevant source seems to be saying the same thing as Mule. Even the “sweeping generalizations” about African-Americans. You are entitled to your opinions, but it is interesting that people who are paid professionals categorize sexuality in America in very much similar terms to Mule.

          • Fundystan – I do wonder whether the people in their studies were from urban, suburban or rural areas – and whether the people who did the studies were black, white, Asian, etc. etc.?

            Plus, see my comments downthread about the prevalence of this exact same phenomenon among certain folks in the almost entirely white population in my neck of the (very rural) woods.

            Equally, it’s easy to say that “Those people” (whoever “They” happen to be) are heroin and crack addicts. But guess what? In my neck of the woods (and in this region of my home state) the heroin, crack and meth addicts are – again – almost all white, though of varying social/economic status. (Those who started out with heroin 20+ years ago have probably slid from middle/upper-middle class income brackets to poverty level.)

            But then, rural poverty – like urban poverty – is no respecter of persons.

          • Fwiw, numo, it is much more common in current discussions to divide people based on socio-economic status as opposed to race. That being said, it is something of a mission among anthropologists to point out how our past sins of slavery and Jim Crow have led to a disproportionate amount of African-Americans in poor socio-economic condition.

          • how our past sins of slavery and Jim Crow have led to a disproportionate amount of African-Americans in poor socio-economic condition.

            How ironic that you would write that just as the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington was commemorated!

    • + 1, Michael Z

    • Katharina von Bora says:

      Yes. About halfway through, I realized I was reading a typical “why do all the girls* go for a-holes and not Nice Guys like me?” rant. *where “all the girls” equals “all the super hot girls I notice.”

      • Katharina – indeed!

      • Katharina von Bora said, Yes. About halfway through, I realized I was reading a typical “why do all the girls* go for a-holes and not Nice Guys like me?” rant. *where “all the girls” equals “all the super hot girls I notice.”

        That crossed my mind too. I wrote my post at the bottom of this thread before seeing yours here.

        This is definitely a problem with younger males (teens or 20 somethings) and middle aged, never married / divorced guys who cannot get dates. But, they want dates with 25 year old Cindy Crawford fashion models. They try to get dates with these sorts of women by being really, really nice to them.

        When they get shot down, and said fashion model does not date them or hop in the sack, they become angry or bitter, and go on the internet to complain how horrible women are, that all women really want jerks.

        This sort of thinking is common on “Men’s Rights” or “PUA” (pick up artist) forums, too.

        This guy wrote a page about it: The Problem With “Nice Guys”

      • Patrick Kyle says:

        KvB Hate to break it to you but the penchant for many girls to compete for the same a-holes is true. I had a full dating life (much fuller than it should have been) and have been married twice, both times to well above average looking women I used the detached a-hole ploy to land more than a few dates, and lost a couple of really beautiful women to more ‘edge-y’ bad boys.

        • Katharina von Bora says:

          I of course know too little to say with any certainty, but I can’t help but connect the dots between “married twice” and “used a…ploy” here.

          Of course relationships founded on schemes, gimmicks, and ploys are going to run aground. Your ” pick up game” pals have lied to you. Try reading some Martin Buber.

  13. I’ve read this post twice, and I still don’t get what the point is really… Sorry, but I suppose I’m dense. Was it a good thing that women had to be dependent on men? I have a hard time believing that the case. If I had a daughter, I can’t imagine I’d want her to be in that position. It’s interesting you mention the African American community because after being a member of a predominantly African American church for a while, it seems to me that they probably realize the value of women being smart and educated more than other people. They realize that they simply can’t be in a place where they have to depend on men.

    I really do not blame the sexual revolution for many of the issue in this post. I blame larger economic conditions in the US beyond that. It used to be that a guy could graduate high school, skip college, and go work at the local factory and essentially be set for life. He would get good pay, benefits, and could expect a pension even. Well, now those jobs are simply gone. A guy who doesn’t go to college will be lucky to be able to support himself not to mention a wife and kids. Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart does a good job of going into detail about this. The problem is that America is becoming more bifurcated between those who have a marketable skill and those who don’t.

    • It’s interesting you mention the African American community because after being a member of a predominantly African American church for a while, it seems to me that they probably realize the value of women being smart and educated more than other people. They realize that they simply can’t be in a place where they have to depend on men.

      Exactly!

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Men in their unmortified state tend to want sexual variety. However, if you give a woman permission to sleep around, she makes a beeline for the same man all the other women want. What women in their unmortified state want is sexual quality. Some men unashamedly begin to gather harems.

    So, the Sexual Revolution actually resulted in less sex, and less quality sex, for the poor chump at the bottom of the Darwinian pecking order than the old Double Standard.

    This is ANIMAL herd-harem behavior. The alpha males/herd bulls take all the females in the herd for their harems, and force the beta- to omega-males to do without. Or drive the betas-to-omegas from the herd, where their only option is to invade and overthrow another herd’s alpha male and take his harem for themselves by Right of Conquest. (Raid the next tribe over, kill the men, take the women for your own harem.)

    A corollary (from high school football jocks to gigachurch pastors) is for the alpha male to parade his trophy mate(s) before the beta- to omega-males, rubbing his sexual success in their faces. “SEE WHAT I HAVE THAT YOU CAN’T HAVE?”

    I speak from experience; I’ve been an omega male my entire life.

    • Sometimes the sought after women turn down the Alphas – as well as the Betas they are not interested in. I have turned down both types of males.

      (I don’t like the terms Alphas or Betas, btw – those terms tend to be used by PUA groups, who tend to be very sexist, who treat women like pieces of meat.)

      • Point taken….but since the use of Alpha males, etc., is standard in describing herd or pack animals, the terms have leaked into human discussions of social rank. I have trained dogs and horses my whole life, and these shorthand labels for personality and rank in the pecking order are pretty easy to use, for dogs with two or four legs!!!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “PUA groups”?

        Is that another acronym for Male Supremacist Horndogs?

  15. Outside of the Christian Bubble I believe what Mule writes to be the case (I believe you wrote an abridged version of this some months back and I have paraphrased it in some recent conversations outside the blog world). I tend to think I live outside of the bubble since I live in a dominantly Catholic area and we tend not to be like the congregations on Footloose, the movie. Thanks Mule for the Stuebenville shoutout which is only about an hour away and has some influence here… lots of orthodox Catholic and families competing to see who can have the most kids….

    I am in the thick of what Mule talks about with two boys in college and three more girls in or approaching high school (and a couple younger still). It has been hard for my oldest boy, my second seems to have latched onto a girl who has some scrupples, while my oldest daughter is in the midst of traversing the garbage the other girls are spewing (have sex join the club etc). In fact her best friend, raised in the Catholic school environment (to her detrement?) went out and became sexually active with a guy she kept secret, no dating just sex, sex and more sex until he moved on… and now chastizes my daughter because she is not “in the club”.

    These days it seems a large portion of the girls are the aggressors, activites happen that were just dreams thought up in Penthouse forum in my day, yeah I see alot going on right now. The lifecycle is… meet, have sex and then maybe get to know each other. Interesting times we live in… and anyway, the get-to-know part might get in the way of time spent facebooking/instagramming/tweeting/texting…

    So I agree that men are appearing to become more irrelevant. The guys who are the dogs, out there scoring and moving on seem to be sought after even by the “good” girls. Media has been portraying us first as overbearing cavemen, to now being rather stupid, man-child, and irrelavent. Even on shows focusing on areas traditionally strenghths for men, the men have been replaced by or are lead by a strong “Tomb-Raider” woman, who has to deal with their foolishness. As I said before media shapes….

    My thoughts…

    And by the way… as I have gotten older I will take a smart engaging woman over a trophy anytime… oh wait, I have both … my wife… hi honey…..

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Even on shows focusing on areas traditionally strenghths for men, the men have been replaced by or are lead by a strong “Tomb-Raider” woman, who has to deal with their foolishness.

      Said “strong Tomb-Raider woman” also having Supermodel looks, big bazongas (hence the Tomb-Raider nickname “Boob-Raider”), hypercompetent in everything to the point she outclasses all the males in the show combined in every way — oh, yeah, and at the end she winds up in bed with the nerdy nebbish audience self-insert type (talk about fanboy fanservice…)

      • Dana Ames says:

        Not to mention the significant lack of clothing on such “Tomb-Raiding” women.

        I remember pointing this out to my son when he was in high school. He got it, God bless him.

        Dana

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I’m an old D*Der. Are you familiar with the terms “Chanimail Bikini” and “Boob-barian”?

          (Never mind that any D&D female character would probably dress more like Eowyn on the ride to Minas Tirith — leather breastplate over hauberk, spagenhelm with aventail; when you know you’re going into a serious fight, you dress for it. No chainmail bikinis!)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Here’s the online article that first tipped me off to the “strong Tomb-Raider Woman” archetype shtick:
        http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters

    • Radagst said, “The guys who are the dogs, out there scoring and moving on seem to be sought after even by the “good” girls.”

      No, they’re not, the “good girls” don’t chase after “the dogs.” That is a common assumption put out by PUAs and bitter, nice guys who are upset that they can’t get a date using their “nice boy” routine.

      I’m a 40-something year old virgin, thin, attractive female – and I never went after ‘Mr. Cool Guy’ (but he’s a jerk, only wants sex, etc).

      • Daisy,

        That line was more directed at what I am seeing in younger girls (son and daughter’s age) and those I teach, due more to immaturity. May not apply as much to older age groups. I am ranting about what I can observe at the moment (and what my daughters are filling me in on).

        • @ Radagast
          But that was true when I was a teen, 20 something, in my 30s. I was smart as a whip, nice, funny, very pretty teen/ 20 something – and would not date jerky guys, no matter how cute, cool, rich they were.

          I did not get tons and tons of date offers, but some guys here and there would flirt, and some of them were cool, rich cutie pies – but they were arrogant, rude, mean, into drugs or whatever, so I did not date them, and I was a “good girl.” I was looking for a “good guy.”

          I was a teen in the 1980s and college gal in the 1990s, which was not all that long ago.

          It simply is not true that “good girls” chase after “bad boys.” Not all or even most of them.

          • Your experience is valid, but so is mine (and it was sadly common in a women’s college in the 70’s)…..I broke things off with my HS boyfriend my freshman year of college to date a “bad boy” until his mental health issues became scary. Blessedly my HS boyfriend was forgiving and has been my husband for over 30 years……but even then there was the aura around a certain type of male.

            Of course, now all I see are JERKS, but maybe that is age and maturity…

          • Hi Daisy,

            The other thing is that sometimes guys need refined. I am who I am today partly because of my mate, who helped me to think in ways not natural to me as a single guy. That is partly why sometimes it seems like all the good guys are taken (the analogy can work both ways I think) because some woman helped to smooth the rough edges.

            The other thing is that guys, at least in my experience, gain confidence as they gain some life experience and wisdom… meaning that many were probably attracted to you from afar (looks, wit and intelligence) yet felt that you were out of their league. Or maybe I am wrong because that is my view of things.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The other thing is that guys, at least in my experience, gain confidence as they gain some life experience and wisdom…

            From someone who’s been there: When all you’ve experienced is rejection (as in No, No, and HELL NO!) you have zero confidence left.

            I was also a very late bloomer (side effect of growing up a kid genius in a bubble); didn’t actually go on my first date until I was 26. Which means I started out 10-12 years behind everyone else emotionally and in experience, and was never able to catch up.

  16. Great stuff, Mule. As a continuation and supplement to everything you say, I recommend the book Enemies of Eros, by Maggie Gallagher. It’s a clear-eyed and unsentimental view of the sexual revolution. It was written in the 80s and manages to be both accurate and prophetic.

    And I second Phil M.’s point about the economic roots of changing relationships between the sexes — not alone, but a big part of the larger picture.

  17. I really thought you were going to quote Heartiste and his horsemen of the apocalypse there… Anyhow, delighted to find manosphere themes coming into more mainstream theological conversations (I’m starting to write on the topics myself) but surely a link to one or two of the key writers on this would have been polite/helpful? eg Dalrock?

  18. I’m just shocked Mule got to publish this here. Good post.

    • Why is that Austin? Because the rest of us are theological-cultural-political liberals who are sexual libertines?

      • No Chap, more along the lines that most of you are too busy drinking the RHE Kool-aid.

        • Austin, whether you realize it or not, I was one who bought and mixed the Kool-Aid RHE is now serving. The reason I like much of what she says is that she confirms and writes so well about what I have already believed and taught for years. Not everything. But certainly when it comes to mutual submission vs. patriarchy.

        • I was surprised too. A long time ago I realized that RHE was to this place as the blessed virgin is to the Catholic church, so was surprised that the Mule got in the door!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          No Chap, more along the lines that most of you are too busy drinking the RHE Kool-aid.

          So Rachel Held Evans is the latest Antichrist?
          Or the successor to Jim Jones?
          Are we all in a South Park episode or something?

  19. Stunningly good post. As someone above said, Mule is really the best thing going on the interwebs…

    I’ve been married for a little over 6 years now. Prior to that, I most definitely lived–and suffered–in the sub-culture Mule describes here. Making single Christian men into scape goats and whipping posts is definitely a favorite past-time for many pastors and leaders of the Boomer demographic, particularly in those churches infected by Driscoll-ism…

    And yes, I’ve watched the disengagement unfold before my eyes, in the lives of my friends: young men who, in their late twenties or early thirties, with little or no chance of success in the marriage game, slowly walk away to destinations unknown.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Mule is really the best thing going on the interwebs…

      In the top 10, IMNSHO

      > Prior to that, I most definitely lived–and suffered–in the sub-culture Mule describes here.

      Yep, ugh. Glad that is other.

      > And yes, I’ve watched the disengagement unfold before my eyes, in the lives of my friends:
      > young men who, in their late twenties or early thirties, with little or no chance of success in
      > the marriage game, slowly walk away to destinations unknow

      Ditto. You might as well spend your nights in the basement playing WoW. Because nobody gives a warm crap what becomes of you. If you aren’t someone motivated by $$$ [or just the thrill of conquest] the over culture doesn’t have much of a place for you. It is a bit of a lie, you can make a great place for yourself; but it looks sooooo uphill and there is such a lack of encouragement that I can’t help but have sympathy for the son-living-in-the-parents-basement.

      Hopefully something new comes along. I have no idea what that would be.

  20. Michael Z says:

    I’m finding it hard to wrap my head around all the cultural perspectives in these comments. The “imbroglio concerning relationships between the sexes” that Mule describes is not a part of the world I live in. I tend to view the breakdown of traditional sexual ethics as a matter of lonely or immature people making stupid choices, but it sounds like some people view that as a matter of one gender, as a whole, preying on the other.

    Would I be correct in observing that many of you experience yourselves to be in a world where men as a whole and women as a whole are considered to be in conflict with each other? That is, where you’re frequently hearing comments belittling or denigrating men (or women)? Or where it is commonly believed that men (or women) as a whole are attempting to control or manipulate or coerce members of the opposite sex? Or where the social issues involving the breakdown of healthy families are predominately blamed on one gender rather than on both equally? Or where men and women tend to have an us-vs-them mentality toward each other?

    If so, what part of the country do you live in? What age and gender are you? Do you have friends predominately of your own gender, or a somewhat even mix of both? Are you married? And what sort of church do you attend?

    (Male, engaged, 30-something progressive evangelical New-Englander who’s equally comfortable making friends of either gender and who’s experiencing culture shock while reading this page.)

    • ok… if you spend a lot of time in a church community or a small town understandibly you may not see this….

      I am married, not in the dating scene, yet I see this at the gym, in the work environment, in the changing dating rituals of my kids, kids I teach….

      I’ve got no skin in this game since I am not a player, yet I am an observer. And I have some history to compare the current situation with the recent past.

      I am not a cynic but niether am I living life with blinders on. But I concede that this is probably not happening eveywhere. By the way do you watch any TV, prime time shows?

      Also… I don’t believe any one gender is being blamed here… it is what it is. And I have a few workplace stories that would support some of the points in this article.

      Regards….

      • By the way do you watch any TV, prime time shows?

        TV is TV, not real life, even if the shows one watches are supposedly “reality.” They have scripts and directors who push people to do/say certain kinds of things, and those people are often *not* representative of others from their background (a prime example: “Jersey Shore,” where the participants made all NJ/NY/CT Italian Americans look like bimbos and fools).

        I used to live in a big city, too, and what I saw around me was *not* what is being described as the norm. As another commenter said, those who did live that way were, for the most part, young people making bad choices, and by no means representative of *all* young people.

        The War Between Men and Women feel of this post is galling, too – because for a lot of us, it’s just not *like* that At all. (I’m a woman, btw, in my late 50s, still single after all these years, and the life that I’ve lived – and that many of my peers have lived – is most emphatically *not* what’s portrayed in Mule’s post.)

        • Unfortunately, media is a caricature of the culture it is pandering to, and the culture often absorbs that caricature and turns it into reality. TV takes a once shocking behavior and normalizes it.

          I don’t think people who are agreeing with Mule’s assessment are saying that this is going on for every single person everywhere in the nation, but that it’s a disturbing trend that warrants examination.

          • I think it also depends on what TV programs you watch, if you watch

            this year, on a few season – or series – finales:

            30 Rock – Liz Lemon got married

            The Office – Dwight and Angela got married; Jim and Pam resolve some longstanding – and very serious – problems in their marriage (an d/or they’ve definitely turned a corner with those problems)

            Parks and Recreation – near the end of the season, Ben and Leslie got married

            There are likely other shows where this kind of plot development occurred, but I don’t watch much TV. The Office and parks and Rec were/are favorites of mine, and even though they’re comedies, there’s some real depth to the way the leads are written (or were written, re. The Office and 30 Rock, since their runs ended).

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Unfortunately, media is a caricature of the culture it is pandering to, and the culture often absorbs that caricature and turns it into reality. TV takes a once shocking behavior and normalizes it.

            In the words of the prophet Weird Al Yankovic:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EIQzxq6Dek

        • Comments understood Numo… but in my neck of the woods and from my view of younger folks, including teens and 20 somethings I am seeing this. I live in the suburbs where it is porbably more applicable, maybe urban not so much.

          Ido agree with Umi’s assessment though on media. The stuff does not come up out of thin air, and I have observed how in particular middle schoolers have been influenced over the years by media in a huge way (I run a religious education program as my second job and also have taught in it, done a ton of coaching – baseball, softball and soccer – and scouts too… and have a number of kids of my own – I like to watch changes in culture) and it is really accelerating on certain issues.

          I didn’t see this post as war so much as some things changing… maybe we balance it out with… no… the next comment is going to get me in trouble from the other side…

          Peace….

          • Oh, I see these things – in broadcast media and IRL – too, but that does not by any means = the whole picture. there are lots of people who do *not* live like this, and even some popular TV shows (see my reply to Umi, just above) that took a different direction just recently.

      • Michael Z says:

        Nope, I don’t own a TV. Is that where this gender war thing is coming from?

        • No TV… Well then you should be thankful for not having to view what is called entertainment these days…. no, not gender wars… maybe more like young cultural thoughts Michael… and more just a trend I see. And if and when you and you future wife have a slew (sp) of daughters come look me up when they reach dating age… its a whole new set of “fun”.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > but it sounds like some people view that as a matter of one gender, as a whole, preying on the other.

      I do not see that in Mule’s post at all. Both gender’s prey on each other [humans are generally not puppies, they are mean and calculating, especially during youth]; that seemed clear in the article to me. The issue is that this predatory behavior is culturally acceptable on all sides A small group of men flourish in that environment [at least in the short term], many many others are just left out. I really do not see how that isn’t clear. Nobody “wins” [well, maybe a select few, in general the most-everybody looses out].

      That a male author writes for a male perspective – of course.

      > the breakdown of healthy families are predominately blamed on one gender rather than on both equally

      I don’t see that in the article.

      > Or where men and women tend to have an us-vs-them mentality toward each other?

      Sadly, that is a common conception and feeling.

      >And what sort of church do you attend?

      NOT THAT ONE! Not anymore. That doesn’t mean it has ceased to exist.

      > (Male, engaged, 30-something progressive evangelical New-Englander who’s equally
      > comfortable making friends of either gender and who’s experiencing culture shock while reading this page.

      Male, married, 40, Socialist, former-Evangelical now unofficial Catholic, best friend in high-school was female, i eventually married one of my best college-age friends, and I recognize the culture described – it sounds familiar to me. Brings back all kinds of horrible feelings. My wife would describe the culture in almost the same terms, and describe the females in equally aggressive terms [my wife went to that same church].

      • Josh in FW says:

        I’m a married male, 36, raised SBC and PCA in both Texas and Tennessee. I’m an advocate for free-market economics, currently am a member of an evangelical church and Mule’s post describes well my high school and college experience. I self selected out of this craziness post college and caught a “sparrow”, but the culture described by Mule is very real and causes much pain even now that I’m married to a wonderful Godly woman.

        • As may have been addressed, there seem to be an equal number of externally beautiful girls with no compassion or morals and room-temperature IQ’s who are marketing their “product” for as long as they can, just like the hyper-sexual and irresponsible young men who see bedding women as a numbers game. And while men insult and accost those beneath them on the social ladder, girls use words and slander to ruin the lives of other females….for position or just for fun.

          BUT……is any of this really new, or is it just that parents, schools, and general society no longer frowns on these behaviors and reels them in, but instead gives a wink and a nod and more air time on the media that is everywhere!

          • “BUT……is any of this really new, or is it just that parents, schools, and general society no longer frowns on these behaviors and reels them in, but instead gives a wink and a nod and more air time on the media that is everywhere!”

            +1

          • I agree Pattie, how does Mule’s experience square with the advent of birth control, or more perplexing, feminism? He seems to miss that neither of those “game-changers” are effecting his youth group experience.

            If you want to talk about reproductive upheavals in history try:

            1) agricultural revolution – family size increased considerably, as mom had a constant food supply and could wean baby much earlier, and didn’t have to carry baby on her back for hours each day, allowing her to care and feed for 2 or even 3 children under 4 at once – something that rarely occurred in Neolithic times. (aka Bible times)

            2) industrial revolution (Urbanization) – parents now worked away from the home and people left family settlements for jobs in far-off urban settings, uprooting the support extended families provided. The struggle to raise kids and work away from homes, never mind crowded conditions in urban settings, meant family size dropped (many developing countries are going through this phase now – India, for example)

            3) technology revolution – the one we are currently in – here, urbanized families now must attain many years of education to be able to manage in the work force, education is encroaching well into the reproductively optimal years. This is “extending” adolescence, delaying child bearing or leaving many young people unable to succeed in the job market due to lack of post-graduate education or secure jobs. This is overthrowing the middle class as middle-earning jobs require upper-class level educational attainment.

            The church has just recently caught up with the Urbanized-style family and can’t wrap its head around the new-world family dynamics – long adult single-hood (to obtain education or secure job), late to no child bearing among the middle class, while younger, and younger child bearing among lower income children (a great article in England about youth who no longer feel they can make it, so they are dropping out of school and having kids extremely young, for “free” benefits).

            That is the world we live in now, birth control is just a logical outcome of the desire for smaller families, not the cause of it. Feminism was done in waves – women’s right to vote, women’s right to work, etc. But again, that all fits the paradigm of a post-industrial urbanized society where work done outside the home is the real source on income. In the 1600s in England, for example, manufactured clothing was a fortune, even bolts of wool was expensive, so families raised a few sheep, spun wool and weaved it together on a loom. Then it was knitted or sewn into garments. It would have been economic suicide for most families to have the wife go off and sew other people’s garments, as she would earn less doing that than she would save making her own, any extra tasks she took on would help the family, but never replace the work done at home. The industrial revolution turned that system on its head. Suddenly, cloth and clothes were cheaper to buy than the money saved working at home. The money made working outside the home went farther than tasks done to save money in the home. That has been going on for centuries in the industrial revolution/urbanization era. Blaming or assuming birth control and feminism brought about these changes is mistaken, urbanization and money being available by working outside the home is what brought about the advent of inventions like birth control and movements like feminism.

  21. Mule,
    Interesting post. When I finished I kind of went ‘huh’. But then I remembered that this is the middle of a series, so I am looking toward then final post when you finish your, what shall we call it, mind experiment. You are letting us follow along as you reach your conclusions and I am enjoying it even if it makes my mind hurt at times.
    Thanks

  22. This was a sad article. I’m in my 30’s, have saved myself for marriage, love Jesus, and have had the absolute worse *luck* with men. I tried online dating three separate times and all three times the guys who seemed promising at the beginning ended up admitting being in the midst of major pornography addictions {not simply a “struggle” with but an admitted daily intake of pornography they said they had no control over}. The senior pastor I was so head over heels for and almost married, to the absolute shock of everyone, turned out to be gay. The worship leader I dated, whose best friend told me was of the utmost character and loved God with all his heart, was sleeping with men while he was courting me.

    I don’t have a long ridiculous list of requirements when it comes to a man. I just want him to truly love Jesus and live his life as a reflection of his devotion to Him and to be financially responsible regardless of his income level. ALL the single men I’ve met in the last couple of years {since I last went on a date and I’m not exaggerating when I say ALL} are either immature and irresponsible, sexually active/addicted to porn, or they aren’t truly interested in the things of God. I am so discouraged by this! I am not perfect by any means and am not by any means expecting perfection. But I don’t know of one single man I have any respect for and that makes me so sad! I pray all the time for the Lord to help me not become cynical or angry because I know not all men are like the guys I’ve come across. And let’s face it, an angry/bitter 30-something woman {on top of being such a cliché} is grossly unattractive. I want my heart to remain soft in spite of the horrendous experiences I’ve had.

    Anyway, I’m sorry to ramble but there is so much truth in this article and as much as I desire to be married and make a wonderful home, cook for, support and lavish my love on a husband, I fear that may never come to pass. I’m in a place I never thought I’d be. And yet I know God is in control, I know that if I am to be single, His grace is sufficient. In the meantime, I will continue to pray, not only for the person God may have for me, but for all men to become, through the grace of God, all He has created them to be. I look forward to reading more on this topic!

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I want to offer some encouraging words, but I’ve never been much good at that. That sounds like it just sucks.

      I offer a virtual hug. 🙂

      > In the meantime, I will continue to pray, not only for the person God may have for me, but for all
      > men to become, through the grace of God, all He has created them to be.

      You’re prayers are appreciated, and much needed.

      • Thanks Adam! I should also mention that God’s grace has already been sufficient. I’ve been single pretty much my entire life and have wonderful family, friends and church I’m able to pour myself into. I’m blessed beyond measure and in light of what so many people in the world are going through right now, have NOTHING to complain about. And yet God knows the desire in my heart. Thanks again for your encouragement 🙂

    • Your post made my heart hurt. We live in such a broken world (not that it ever wasn’t); oftentimes it feels like dumb luck that any of us have found healthy relationships. Your honesty and attitude are inspiring and beautiful, and a blessing.

  23. Let me remind our dear readers of what I wrote in the second paragraph of this post:

    Since I am going to be talking about sex in this post, it is likely to be highly controversial. Nothing cuts to the quick of our souls like sex. It is where power, pride, pleasure, and transcendence intersect, and that for a reason.

    I will apologize for what I said about African Americans and polygyny. It has been 15 years since I have been involved with African Americans on a daily basis more intimately than as workplace acquaintances, and it shows. I apologize.

    That said, I do not believe that I have unfairly broadstroked either men or women. Some generalization has to be made or you will be hamstrung by the tyranny of the particular, especially when you are dealing with 3.5 * 10^9 people on either side of the divide. I have a son and a daughter. I want healthy, happy grandchildren. I have skin in this game.

    • Perhaps you could edit your post with that apology? I think it would work better than putting it way down here in the comments.

      As for polygyny, I now live in a rural area where the population is overwhelmingly white, and guess what? There are people who do what you characterized as exclusive to black American culture. there have been white people who engaged in this kind of behavior her for as long as I can remember (am revealing my own roots in saying so). A pat of *any* population will – does – engage in certain behaviors, but that does not mean *all* of the people of a certain skin color do it, or conversely, that people of other skin colors *never do it.

      Fact is, human behavior is pretty much all over the place – and skin color distinctions kind of go out the window with this. (Am not meaning to throw anthropology and sociology out the window here, either, just trying to say that oversimplification is not a good thing.)

      • P.S.: there is a *lot* of rural poverty – here and elsewhere.

        Sadly, many of the people who have a lot of kids and no stable marriages/common-law partnerships are poor, and the cycle of poverty is being perpetuated.

        • OK, that looks weird on its own. Hopefully, the comment it’s a P.S. to will make it through the spam filters soon…

    • “I have skin in this game”

      ^this.

      I have a little toddler daughter, and I’m already worrying about this sort of stuff.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        My daughters are five and three. While I don’t doubt that there will be endless things to worry about in society of some fifteen or twenty years from now, it is hopeless to try to figure out what they will be so that I might worry about them now. And it is always worth remembering that there was no golden age. They just had different things to worry about. How much is it worth to not have to worry about–just to pick an example–my kids getting polio? Quite a lot, I should think.

    • Katharina von Bora says:

      Well I have “skln in this game” too, for crying out loud, and I still think this whole thing is incredibly out of line. For one thing, I have daughters to raise who are each a different person, who are serious, real people. Who ALREADY are reduced down to some stupid, flippant caricatures by bitter dudes like you. They already have to deal with not being seen as human beings. That’s something they have to learn to cope with. But it’s not unreasonable for me to expect better than that objectifying cynicism from men professing to be Christians.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Who ALREADY are reduced down to some stupid, flippant caricatures by bitter dudes like you.

        Perhaps there is a bit of bitterness and caricature here too?

        • Nah, the whole thing reads like … I was ignored by the girls I noticed in youth, I was left while the “hot” dudes married at, oh, 19, I finally got one of those girls to look at me, after she had been dumped by hot dude – but woe is me, she wasn’t a virgin anymore.

          Frankly, here is the likely truth for guys being described. First they weren’t attractive enough nor were they, later, successful enough to land the “hot babe” they felt they “deserved”. Looks or coolness didn’t make the marriages they longed for last, note Mule says these women were divorced by their thirties, so the men should be grateful God protected them form those marriages, but no, they act bitter, or cheated somehow. They finally realized what anyone else would have seen all along, the hot/cool babes were way above their pay grade so they learned they had to settle for a) someone not in the cool crowd or b) someone who was in, but, via divorce, fell out of the cool crowd.

          But here is what irks me about his attitude. It is that he believes feminism (women with power) are somehow to blame for this reality and if we could just get rid of it, that wouldn’t have been his ( or his peers) experience. That is BS.

          Here is what Jesus and Paul ( both celibate) would have to say about it. It is better to remain celibate. Marriage brings trouble and we wish to spare you some of that.

          I find it amazing Mule switched from an evangelical church to an Eastern Orthodox church yet hasn’t realized, in Christian tradition, marriage is always second-best. If churches would tell young adults to take the time between high school and joining the work force – made longer every generation – to remain celibate and focus on life-path (careers, skills and so on) and devote that time to God, then the young starlets and jocks wouldn’t even be in the church any more, they would flee for earthly pleasures. That would leave those who want God and want to honour him by getting a job that could, someday, be of use (tent making) to do that. That period of celibacy between high school and post-grad would be character building and offer great experiences with God (it sure ends once you marry).

          That was my experience, I avoided the whole guy-chasing, got a degree and a job, went on a mission to Asia for a year, returned, worked and married. It opened doors for me (mission, going to places with great churches, etc.) that my friends who married young lacked. The experiences I had with God in those times, when I could dedicate my time to God like that, were worth more than gold to me, and have allowed me to keep my faith while many, many perceived notions about what is important to believe have changed. My faith is stronger than many, many others, and I give those years of pursuing God, not marriage, credit. Like Paul said many centuries ago, I wish all could be like me… (except I married an amazing guy, who had also seen through the high-school meat market and left to get a PhD., avoiding early marriage to do so). So, I am everything Mule says I cannot be – a product of Christian youth group AND feminism (and thankful for feminism, esp. after living in India), who loves God, and married late by choice.

      • I don’t know… I did not read the article like that Katherine…. I have four daughters ranging from 18 down to 10 (sons too) and I really work hard to let them know they are loved and valued, and that they are not just an object, or a conquest, or that they all have to go after the same guy, that there are other qualities to consider besides looks… I observe guys in the gym every day and many, not all, are incredibly immature. So I’m not sure I understand your anger on this, because I have observed some of this change, but that does not exclude that there has also been change focused soley on the guy – it just was not mentioned in this article. And I could go on a long rant about that as well.

        Peace

      • Caricaturing folks like Mule as ‘bitter dudes’ (and the way you misread Mike’s comment, not to mention wondering whether so and so is really a Christian) makes you sound very bitter. I think there’s a lot of bitterness to go around, as the fall wounds us all in different ways… Mule thank you for the post. REading all these comments I’m so impressed by all the different voices, what a great group…

      • I don’t know Katharina.
        Take a deep breath, relax and recognize that the Mule represents a certain constituency. You may not like what he has to say, but it is a view that many may recognize and agree with.
        You almost seem to be taking it personally.

        I have three daughters as well who have been raised to be independent and are their own people. But that does not mean that there are not those out there as Mule describes. In my day of early adulthood (early 80s) in my evangelical church I saw some of what Mule speaks of. In those days we were not as overtly sexual, although I my best friend and I had to say no to women. But the games, and politics he speaks of I recognize.

        In my experience in Canada I have seen increasing matriarchization of the society, all of our major political parties are enthralled to feminism in an unhealthy way. And our education system has been failing boys in a major way. Whereas in my day they realised we had failed girls in the sciences the pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction. Our society has changed and many young men who previously would have been able to go out and work with their hands or at a trade and earn enough to live on are now unable because the society has changed.

        I think eventually we are headed for a crisis. My view in all this is that a correction was needed, the feminist critique pointed out many injustices that heeded correction. But now that they have much power, what I see is that women can be as twisted as men, only it manifests itself differently.

        • Katharina von Bora says:

          Oh I am very familiar with his “constituency” and what they think.

          Women do indeed abuse power, being human, but this talk of matriarchy is ridiculous. For instance, claims being made about mainline Protestant groups being matriarchal–less than a quarter of the clergy in my mainline denomination is female. So essentially the argument is that men appear to be in charge, but they are “whipped” behind the scenes. Which is the very definition of a puerile whine.

          The real problem is not gender based, but wealth disparity. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened by astonishing spans in the last 40 years. The amount of wealth held by a smaller and smaller elite few is stunning. Most men and women outside that elite group are utterly powerless over most of the things that could bring about actual social change. For instance, right now our leadership wants to get involved in a war less than 10% of the population supports. They don’t care because they don’t need to–they now hold all the cards.

          You want to work with your hands, don’t blame feminism. Blame the wealthy people who would rather see you poor and emasculated than give up even one day at the golf course.

  24. Richard Hershberger says:

    “I notice that official Christianity extends along a spectrum from openly matriarchal through egalitarian through complementarian to openly patriarchal.”

    If I might be forgiven for latching onto an incidental point, what Christian church is openly matriarchal? I find this assertion quite mysterious.

    • Katharina von Bora says:

      Right? Even the mainlines that aggressively push gender neutral stuff have been lead there in great part by white-haired old men–over the objections of a not insignificant number of women who object to it. My denomination certainly included.

    • You have to get well within range of the boundary between Trinitarian Christianity and heterodoxy over on the progressive side, but my wife and I spent a fascinating afternoon with a lady UMC pastor who explained to me the the emerging Christianity of the future would be matriarchal and female-driven. Her hypothesis was that the preceding 7000 years since the Neolithic had been patriarchal and male-driven, allowing man to exteriorize himself and gain mastery over the physical universe. We had now reached a sort of point of diminishing returns in our mastery of the physical universe, and any continued progress along these lines was not likely to bring us any closer to Christ, but only result in more damage and exploitation.

      It was now time for men to step aside and allow the women to take the lead in integrating that mastery into a more holistic and intuitive system, one based on empathy and relationship that would lead us the rest of the way to Christ. She made her case winsomely and persuasively, and it didn’t hurt that she was entirely charming and very, very feminine in the traditional sense, albeit post-menopausal.

      This will likely drive the final nail into my coffin as far as some of you are concerned, but she affected me like the figure of the High Priestess in the Tarot deck, and I was more than a little afraid of her for that reason. She is also the only person, Christian or otherwise, who warned me against female evil.

      So yeah, the singular of data. Sorry.

      • Allow me to express my singular experience as a minister for over 30 years. I’ve never known a Christianity that wasn’t essentially matriarchal, albeit that was usually covert. The most patriarchal, male-dominated church I ever served, with its board of male elders, never gave credit to the women who truly set the agenda and ran the church. The men got the applause, but the women were much more influential.

        • Katharina von Bora says:

          As an ELCA pew-sitter, it’s fun to know this is what at least some men in leadership are thinking about us annoying church ladies who run ourselves ragged trying to fill in for the infrastructure you all are too busy and/or important to provide. Not that I am really THAT surprised.

          • On the contrary, Katharina. I don’t find women’s influence annoying at all. What I have always found annoying is the male tendency to discount it and to puff out our chests as we spout nonsense about male authority.

        • + 1 Mike. I was talking earlier to someone who was raised (partly) Orthodox, and they told me that even though the priest was “in charge,” it was the women who really ran the church – and the priest knew it and was glad for it. They were his allies and friends.

          • In the local Catholic parishes around here its pretty much the same thing… whether its a volunteer, finance council or business manager….

        • I have to agree with you.
          My experience has been that the church is very matriarchal as well. So often behind the scenes it has been a few strong individuals who essentially call the shots with men standing as figureheads.

          The last place I was at (over 500 people) it took me 8 years to find out that it was mostly a few ladies who ran things.

          • But God forbid one of us should be, you know, in the pulpit, or serving communion!

            or even – as at John Piper’s very own Bethlehem Baptist – reading Scripture aloud in church.

            silly (Lutheran) me; I thought women being lay lectors was a done deal.

          • My church was liberated. There were women in the pulpit! It just was surprising how some in the background controlled things. What bothered me is that it was hidden, not official.

        • There are also quite a few orders of religious sisters who have created a matriarchal subset within the Catholic church — who will not allow the use of the male pronoun for God, for example. A member of one such order gave my daughter a — ahem — delightful little book of poems and meditations called “Whooping Crones.”

          • I have run into these groups… some go as far as to go through scripture and cross out all the male references… too extreme for me (some are into crystals too but thats a story for another day)…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Sounds like Female Supremacists.

        • Patrick Kyle says:

          Exactly, CM, that’s why many men have left the church, and many more will not darken the door.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        I don’t even see one datum here. You have one person speculating–however enthusiastically–about the future. The UMC has more female clergy than most. I don’t have actual numbers, but I would guess that it is about fifty-fifty between men and women. A matriarchy that ain’t.

        A mention this because nowadays we tend to favor a perception of even-handedness, however forced. If there are churches which are openly patriarchal, then we want there also to be churches which are openly matriarchal. It balances things out and is elegant. But it isn’t true. (OK, there is the sense Chaplain Mike discusses, but that is something different.)

        • the UMC is not some kind of New Age-y, airy-fairy denom, either. (Contrary to the impression that Mule gave in his comment above.)

          yes, there are a lot of women clergy, but there always *were* women preachers in Methodism, and if anything, the UMC churches in areas like the one where I live are pretty conservative. (Not fundy-ish, but conservative.)

          The UMC has people of all sorts under its umbrella, as does the ELCA, the Episcopal church, etc. etc.

      • “albeit post-menopausal”

        Sigh. That sounds a bit ageist and sexist in and of itself or maybe in how it’s not very relevant to the rest of the post.

        I can’t picture anyone making a similar comment:
        “We were talking to a charming male preacher, albeit one who is Low T…” (low testosterone)

        Or, “We were talking to a charming male preacher, albeit one who is in the era of life of Viagra / early stages of Depend or Men undergarments…”

  25. Dana Ames says:

    Well, Mule, you’ve gone and done it – written something at least parts of which tweak everyone….

    Which to me means that there is some truth in there…

    As to the overall big picture, my experience leads me to concur. (Some of your turns of phrase, though…) I think that men and women are still at least as much “at war” as they have ever been. What is held up as ideal by mass entertainment, including prime-time TV, is painful proof of that.

    The Traditional Double Standard carried with it a lot of pain and instability, too. Porn was as rampant as the technology and non-anonymity allowed. But, in those times, a marriage that was affectionate and companionable as well as faithful, rather than simply utilitarian, even with activities defined by gender, paid enormously large dividends in terms of reasonably grounded people. Not saying everyone or even the majority was like that, and not advocating for gender-based “roles”. But at least functional egalitarianism, such as my devoutly Catholic parents had in their relationship, protected against many ills. I think Protestant complementarianism is trying to accomplish something good (patriarchy is not good, but peace is) in a really incredibly messed-up way.

    It’s interesting that class lines – and propensity to marry – in the US are now more defined by education level than they used to be.

    Adam Tauno Williams and Radagast – appreciate your comments. I’ll be 58 in January.

    Looking forward to next Wednesday.

    Dana

  26. My observation, having read the article twice and read through the comments once – most of the contention is over the how this larger cultural trend plays out in the the local church culture. As a general cultural trend, the description of old double standard, to interim compromise, to new double standard, is spot-on. And it received the least amount of debate. I have been is churches where I observed some of what is described play out. But my current church (10 years) has another problem entirely – there is almost no singles at all. Specifically, I refer to the graduation exodus from church, which is is a different issue altogether.

    • But my current church (10 years) has another problem entirely – there is almost no singles at all. Specifically, I refer to the graduation exodus from church, which is is a different issue altogether.

      I think this is probably the case in many churches. I think that the further a person gets away from college, the harder it is for them to find a mate. It is an irony in the US right now. We have all sorts of people telling kids they should wait to get married, but generally the longer one waits, the harder it is to find someone to marry. In a lot of things I suppose I am relatively liberal (more libertarian than anything, I guess), but on the issue of marriage I’m actually quite conservative. I think people are much better off getting married sooner rather than later. I have never understood the concept of “well, you need to take your 20s to find and establish yourself, than get married”. If you haven’t “found yourself” by than in some way, than I don’t know how much more luck you’ll have.

      Of course I’m biased, though. My wife and I were both 23 when we married. I actually had one more semester of college left to finish my Masters and she was still finishing her undergrad. Her family was not happy we were getting married, but I’m so thankful we did. I can’t imagine “establishing myself” without her all those years since.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        I think people are much better off getting married sooner rather than later.

        Agree, completely.

        >I have never understood the concept of “well, you need to take your 20s to find and establish
        > yourself, than get married”. If you haven’t “found yourself” by than in some way, than I don’t
        >know how much more luck you’ll have.

        Ditto, again.

        And I do not like the subtle passivity in those phrases. You do not “find yourself”, you “define yourself”.

        • My wife “added a component to me that I probably would not have found on my own… in fact I think she continues to do that….

          • Josh in FW says:

            +1

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Same here, I am certainly a better person and have had a better life very much in thanks to my partner [wife].

            We had the opportunity to build our lives together.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Spend too much time Finding Yourself(TM) and you won’t have the time to HAVE a Self to find.

      • Phil said, “I’m actually quite conservative. I think people are much better off getting married sooner rather than later.”

        I believe it’s a mistake to push people to marry fresh out of high school or in their early 20s if they don’t feel it is the right choice for them.

        Also, this mandatory “early marriage” nonsense shames older singles, or it leads focus right back on the 20 somethings, who don’t need help finding mates, it’s the singles over 30 who need the consideration in this area, but churches won’t lift a finger to help.

        We singles who are over age 30 who want marriage get “beat up” by Christian talking heads Al Mohlers and Debbie Makens for being never married into our mid 30s and later. We get told “it’s too late for you/ you are a loser/ you are to blame/ you are too old don’t deserve a spouse at mid life.” (Yes, they have made such comments in their books and blogs about singleness and marriage.)

        I honestly did not expect to be single this long, but I was not ready for marriage in my early or mid 20s, either. I thought I’d be married by 29 or 35. I also did not have tons of men begging for dates or making marriage proposals… you cannot get married if you get no proposals. I did not get my first boyfriend until my late 20s.

        I did not stay single this long because I was trying to “find myself” or anything like that. I was assured by Christian leaders, preachers, parents if I waited on the Lord and prayed to Him about it, that he would send me a spouse, but I never got married.

        A Case Against Early Marriage by A. Moore

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > I believe it’s a mistake to push people to marry fresh out of high school or in their early 20s
          > if they don’t feel it is the right choice for them.

          There is a leap here “I think people are much better off getting married sooner rather than later” to ***pushing*** people to marry “fresh out of high school”.

          > Also, this mandatory “early marriage” nonsense shames older singles,

          And now we get to “mandatory”.

          Nobody said either of those things.

          > I was assured by Christian leaders, preachers, parents if I waited on the Lord and prayed to
          > Him about it, that he would send me a spouse

          I do not mean this in any harsh way, but if they assured you of that – they lied to you. They had no reasonable way to offer that assurance, it was dishonest on their part. That annoys me; generally we should be more aggressive about taking clergy to task over the blatantly stupid things they feel they are entitled to say.

          Nothing casts blame on you in not getting married.

        • I didn’t see this comment until just now. I’m not trying to shame anyone or say that anyone should feel pressured into anything. My comment is based mainly on my experience in college ministry. I have seen quite a few parents try to pressure kids to put off marriage far past graduation. It’s like they want kids to be established in a career, settled down. etc. until even thinking about marriage. If people are in a stable relationship when they graduate, I just don’t see the good in putting off marriage indefinitely. I’ve known women who have been strung along for years by guys who refused to marry for whatever reason. If I guy can’t decide he wants to be committed after a few years in a relationship he’s pretty much decided already – he doesn’t want to be committed.

          Again, my comment isn’t really directed at people who are single so much. We can’t force relationships to happen. I have a very good friend who just got married for the first this past March. She was 38, and she had waited for a long time to meet the right guy. But even if she hadn’t gotten married, I wouldn’t have thought less of her in any way. I think that churches do make something of an idol of the nuclear family. It’s a holdover from the idea of the Father Knows Best family as the perfect ideal.

    • Singles over the age of 30 do not go to church anymore because most churches either ignore singles past their late 20s/ 30s and older, some churches treat us like slaves to do drudge work (singles are not allowed into positions of authority or influence – not that singles seek these out, but it’s glaring how only married people are seen fit for these roles), or we are subjected to suspicions and negative stereotyping. So it’s easier to just stay at home.

      Also, we singles find it annoying how in (evangelical and Baptist) churches everything is about marriage and kids.

      The biggest mistake I see today are (evangelical and Baptist) Christians past 40 (married ones) who only see that 20 somethings are dropping out of church. The older, married Christians are too blind, apathetic, or ignorant to notice or care that singles over age of 30, 40, and older are also dropping out.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        >Also, we singles find it annoying how in (evangelical and Baptist) churches everything is about marriage and kids.

        I am married, no kinds. And I say the EXACT same thing.

        I no longer go to an Evangelical/Baptist church. That is a problem with a narrow spectrum of the Christian community; but it is *intense* there.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Liturgical church traditions have their own problems, but that isn’t one of them.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The older, married Christians are too blind, apathetic, or ignorant to notice or care that singles over age of 30, 40, and older are also dropping out.

        They don’t count. They can all go to hell. They’ve obviously already turned their backs on Bedroom Evangelism(TM) and Focusing on the Family(TM). In Rebellion against Salvation by Marriage Alone(TM).

        I am so glad I swam the Tiber years ago.

  27. All I’m going to say is that once you are in your mid 20s or later expecting a prospective partner to not be sexually active is extremely unrealistic, and to agree to marry you, with out having had sex with you, only marginally less so. My guess is that this was true in the past too just more people were willing to lie about. I of course view this as an overwhelmingly positive devolopement.

    • Vega Magnus says:

      You’re probably right. I do not have a source for this in hand, but I read somewhere that it was not uncommon for engaged couples to have sex before marriage going back even to colonial times. I for one do not really view that as necessarily being horrible.

      • But did they subsequently decide the sex was bad and thus break of the engagement? That’s the real question.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Obviously you don’t bear the carrion stench of virginity like me.

      • Vega Magnus says:

        Actually, I do. I just have difficulty finger wagging at couples who were legit in love and had sex before marriage. For example, I’ve read many people on Christian sex advice websites talk about how tempted they are to have sex with their fiancee (A feature of these posts that is also common is a year or more length between engagement and marriage.) and they are always very upset and stressed by this attraction, a situation that I feel is unnecessary. I feel that people in those situations should just take a weekend and spend it in bed together. It may technically be no different than the exploits of a man or woman who has a different partner every Friday/Saturday night of every week, but I don’t find it to be sinful in my opinion. Heck, realistically, that could very well be the situation I find myself in. Say for example that I began dating someone now and dated for over a year and became engaged to her. That would still leave me with at least two years of college left before graduation at that point, making marriage likely infeasible at that moment, especially since I live with my parents. Simply put, I’d ask my parents to take a vacation to the beach one weekend and then I’d invite her over. There is no logical reason to wait two or more years on someone I love enough to want to marry just because proper marriage isn’t doable at the time. (For the record, I’m nineteen, so I’m probably the youngest person here by a few decades.)

        • Welcome – and don’t be scared off by us more traditional types.

          • Vega Magnus says:

            Thanks! I’m not really sure if I’m traditional or not. I was raised pretty conservative, albeit mostly outside the “evangelical ghetto” and am generally unaffiliated theologically. I’m not sure if I’m in Mr. Spencer’s wilderness or not, but I am certainly trying to form my own beliefs after recovering from mostly self-inflicted gnosticism that pushed me into pretty bad depression last year. I’ll admit to not being nearly as knowledgeable about the Bible as I should be and I’ll also admit that I haven’t done much to remedy that, but I am trying to learn. (And yes, I am one of those ever so talked about Millennials, which apparently means I’m a horrible person, at least according to some journalists and bloggers. :D)

          • Vega,

            At your age you are in sponge mode, soaking up everything around you… keep soaking and look at as many points of view as you can… it will help with all the compare and contrast….

            When I was your age I was full of doubt, completely unsure of myself and too quiet to share opinions… so you are off to a good start!

        • Michael Z says:

          I agree with you partially. I recently got engaged, and it’s been an interesting experience to slowly transition from seeing sex as a temptation to be worried about, to seeing it as a good thing that I can look forward to enjoying soon. Part of that transition has been from viewing my sexual desires and impulses as something, at best, to be deeply suspicious of, into viewing them as something good, something I can actually listen to and trust to guide me.

          But on the other hand, at least for me, when I listen to what my heart tells me is most appropriate and loving and respectful at this stage, what feels right to me is to wait until marriage for sex in any form. It’s actually kind of a shock to me to feel like my body and my emotions are actually telling me exactly the same thing that I believe on a theological level is right, rather than trying to lead me astray. But I wonder if that’s actually more generally true – if perhaps the guilt that evangelicals like myself feel when relationships get too physical too fast is not so much about internalized sexual taboos as it is about our hearts just telling us slow down, I’m not ready for this sort of emotional load yet, even though the culture around you is telling you to go there.

          • Vega Magnus says:

            Good for you dude. I too would be totally alright with waiting until marriage proper to have sex and I think that is absolutely something worth striving to do. I was just saying that I can see times where that does not happen but the resulting sexual aren’t sinful. My issue with that whole situation is more one of utterly despising the modern wedding culture. I think year long engagements and huge expensive weddings that take forever to plan are stupid. As I said above, most of the people I have read who were feeling tempted to have sex with their fiancees before marriage had obscenely long periods of time between the engagement and wedding. I am of the opinion that if you decide you want to get married and your situation is such that it can happen, (Housing arrangements and employment set up, etc.) then go ahead and get it done. If a big wedding is desired and that will take time to set up, go get a marriage license at the local justice of the peace and have the big ceremony later.

        • My wife and I waited, and we are glad. And it was hard. It was like coming up to a red light and knowing it will be green in a few moments. We were tempted to do a rolling stop.

          The difficulty I see in sex before marriage is that our sexuality is like glue and helps to cement us together and become one in a very deep, and at times mysterious way. I think that we are designed that once we start we should not stop. We have a very shallow view of marriage and I was greatly challenged by reading a book
          ‘What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense’

          When our lives are cemented together when you pull them apart pieces break off and it can be painful. I think that waiting is the better part of wisdom.

          We are in year 29. And unlike the Mule, my marriage is more like me the magpie and the bird of paradise…

      • I think you smell fine HUG I hope you get good news on your test.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          All biopsy cores negative. Prostate enlarged at 63g (four/five times normal size). No abnormalities detectable on greyscale ultrasound. My PSA and Free PSA Ratio are still suspicious, so my urologist has me on active surveillance, being retested every six months. (Which probably means the next Prostate Panic Party will probably be next Feb/Mar.)

          • Prayers for you HUG. This is one of these things (enlarged prostate) we have to deal with as we get older. I get tested once a year as well. It is god news though that the biopsy is negative.

          • Thanks for the update HUG. I’ve been (and will continue) praying for you.

    • @Witten
      Well goodness knows that evangelical, fundamentalist, and Baptist churches do nothing to provide community for older virgins.

      I know, because I’m in my early 40s and still a virgin and am invisible in most churches or even online communities. (I was engaged in my early 30s but broke things off.)

      I cannot agree with the Rachel Held Evans (and those of her type – I do like her but disagree with her here) of the blog-o-sphere that supposedly all of conservative Christianity “worships” virginity (for women), when in fact it does no such thing. She and those like her regularly publish these “anti sexual purity” posts insisting that Christians “idolize” virginity – really?, because I’ve seen no such thing, I see the opposite, in fact.

      Older Christian virgins are shunned, insulted, treated like freaks (or else ignored in some churches) by the Christian community, while typically, those who have pre-marital sex get reassured that Jesus loves them and forgives them, now all they must do is forgive themselves and think of themselves as “secondary / spiritual virgins” or “born again virgins.”

      Russel Moore (of the SBC) and Christian blogger Tim Challies have in effect attacked virginity (they claim to support it but do not), Challies in a recent blog post of about a month ago.

      Nobody says boo about that, but the minute that Gospel Coaltion guy (Thabiti Anyabwile) said in a post last week that homosexual acts are “icky,” the Christian blogsohere imploded and people wanted his head on a platter for it. Interesting that Christians don’t mind attacks on virginity among hetero people but pitch a fit if a Christian blogger is less than “P.C.” about discussing homosexuality.

      • I wouldn’t accuse conservative Christianity of worshipping virginity, I’d accuse them of hating female sexuality. Treating people badly because of their sex life, or lack there-of, is gross.

      • Cedric Klein says:

        How could I find what Moore and Challies said on virginity?

  28. Since most (not all) of the men posting seem to feel you, Mule, are right on target, I must conclude you are accurately representing male *feelings* on sex, whether or not they correspond to anything in social reality. The fact that most males feel this way is sad indeed. It isn’t new, of course; back in my youth (I’m an old woman), Philip Wylie’s attack on females in Generation of Vipers had the same effect: men cheered; women — not so much. Actually, your words about females and their (our) exploitation of males would fit comfortably into any medieval churchman’s homily (Chaucer’s Wife of Bath describes the readings of her fifth husband, a cleric):

    Of wives of later date he also read,
    How some had slain their husbands in their bed
    And let their lovers shag them all the night
    While corpses lay upon the floor upright.
    And some had driven nails into the brain
    While husbands slept and in such wise were slain.
    And some had given them poison in their drink.
    He told more evil than the mind can think.
    And therewithal he knew of more proverbs
    Than in this world there grows of grass or herbs.
    “Better,” he said, “your habitation be
    With lion wild or dragon foul,’ said he,
    “Than with a woman who will nag and chide.”
    “Better,” he said, “on the housetop abide
    Than with a brawling wife down in the house;
    Such are so wicked and contrarious
    They hate the thing their husband loves, for aye.”
    He said, “a woman throws her shame away
    When she throws off her smock,” and further, too:
    “A woman fair, save she be chaste also,
    Is like a ring of gold in a sow’s nose.”

    Michael’s partial summary of your words on women — Promiscuous, survival need, only attracted to edgy exciting men, hitting on him constantly, young and silly, grabs herself a pack-animal, born-again ex-virgins and their to-some-degree reluctant mates, on the woman’s terms, slut-culture — illustrates the same theme that Chaucer brilliantly outlined (and laughed at); Women are grasping and evil; men are poor put-upon souls that can’t get a break.

    I found your posting corrosively cynical (= “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”), and certainly far from spiritual, let alone “Jesus-shaped.” But it obviously met a felt need.

    • Katharina von Bora says:

      Very well said. And again I have to note, there is something of a “men of a certain age” (not to say good ole boys) club dynamic going on around here lately. Maybe it has been here forever and I only noticed since I stopped lurking, I don’t know. But at any rate, the theme continues of men being the speakers and analysts and women being the problem or object to observe.

      That list of terms used makes me cringe so much. Definitely not “Jesus shaped.”

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        >But at any rate, the theme continues of men being the speakers and analysts and women being
        >the problem or object to observe.

        In neither the article nor any of the comments I’ve read has anyone suggested any such thing.

        The article specifically does NOT identify anyone as THE PROBLEM.

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          It doesn’t identify women or men as “the problem,” but it does draw conclusions about men and women based on some very inappropriate generalizations. With all due respect to the author, he has not demonstrated that he has either the authority or the evidence to make those assumptions.

      • Vega Magnus says:

        I have to agree. Quite a few of the articles posted recently have been based on discomfort the author has with some type of modern aspect of society and how they wish things were more like they used to be years ago.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Years ago as in The Nifty Fifties, Little House on the Prairie, or the Antebellum South?

      • Katharina, I’m pretty happy to see that there’s a fair amount of pushback on this thread – now – from men, and think others might be joining the fray later on.

        so yeah, it does sometimes feel like a boys’ club here – and on most xtian blogs, to tell the truth – but not every man here is saying the same thing. There seems to be a pretty sharp division (imo) between those who agree with Mule and those who disagree

        • On this particular subject maybe…. for instance I am probably a bit more conservative morally, socially and politically than most here (and I’m a Catholic)…. here’s a generalization that I’ve made here before… purely subjective and only gathered from the IMonk subset…. the closer a person gravitates to high liturgical form of worship, the more liberal the outlook (ducks behind a wall anticipating bricks flying)….but then as I said before, if we all thought the same what a boring site this would be….

          It could also be that some of the older gents gravitate one way and others gravitate the other but we would have to poll on that one… could be fun….

          • I understand what you are saying, Radagast, and perhaps there is a correlation. When I was in non-liturgical evangelicalism/fundamentalism, it was about sin and salvation, moralism and judgment. The services were heavy on preaching or teaching, and the emphasis was either on filling our minds with correct doctrine or exhorting us to personal holiness in our behavior. It was decision-oriented and heavy on “transformation” — that is, challenging people to change. For Christians, the message was basically: Jesus did it all for your salvation, now what are you doing for him?

            This “gospel” led me into the wilderness, and it has been the consistent testimony of this blog that the wilderness is the natural result of this approach.

            On the other hand, those of us who have fled to liturgical settings did so because we found that the gospel was not about sin management, but about God’s grace toward his fallen creation from beginning to end. The liturgy dramatizes that every week. Furthermore, in our regular acts of confession and absolution, in our emphasis upon the down-to-earth stories in the Gospels, and in our emphasis on community rather than individualism, we recognize our ongoing status as sinner-saints until the day of redemption. The personal holiness project is no longer the focus but following Jesus in laying down our lives for the life of the world.

            If that makes me a liberal, so be it.

          • Mike – thanks for your eloquent explanation of what (generally) happens in liturgical churches, which – imo – are far more (on the whole) aware of what it is to be human than are the hell-bent-on-perfectionism and damn the human costs kind of evangelical/charismatic churches that I was in for so many years. (Mistakenly thinking that they had more of Christ and the Gospel than did the church where I grew up, which is ELCA.)

            it’s nice to be back on the liturgical side; I feel like I can breathe again and no longer fear that a wrathful, furious Father is about to kick me out the back door for imaginary sins. (and I do mean “imaginary”; when you’re being constantly told that you Are Not Good Enough, you start to believe it.)

            btw, by no means do I think that all evangelical/charismatic churches are of this ilk, but a lot are. (Nor do I think that liturgical churches are magically problem-free.)

            • Your last statement is important for everyone to hear. Generalizations rarely help. Nevertheless, the liturgical tradition is at least time-tested over centuries.

          • CM,

            I too like the emphasis on community and am a high Church nut.

            The point I am making in a round about way (in this instance to numo) is this… sometimes things written here will isolate one group or individual over another. For me it is conservative versus liberal viewpoint or, more concisely absolutism over relativism. Today this article about sex or sexes or relationships or complimentarianism (depending on how one read it through their own filters) broke us into factions, but my point is that sometimes that causes us to think outside ourselves. It’s why I keep coming back, different points of view from folks who can put thought on paper (or blog as the case may be) far more eloquently than I and articulate a position that may cause me to say huh, or huh?

            So if we don’t agree – good… put down your thoughts. But come back tomorrow, otherwise it will get boring.

            My thoughts….

          • Mike – I’ll admit to having a huge soft spot for the way in which Scripture is folded into liturgical-type services, not to mention the music (in many Lutheran and Anglican churches, at elast – for us, all those wonderful German chorales!)

            Spending a year living in a small RC convent while in college, I also came to deeply appreciate praying through some of the canonical hours with the sisters. There’s a richness in that whole more-or-less unbroken lineage of praying the Psalter that just satisfies in a way that I have not encountered elsewhere. (Though I say this with caveats; some of the evangelical/charismatic churches I was in started out with strong points, but, coming from the discipleship movement, they were, ultimately “xtian” cults, which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish – rotten fish at that.)

            Enough said.

          • A tag on my last post: y’know, I might still be evangelical if I’d somehow ended up attending at a good “low” (broad church) Anglican parish church…

            but as it is, I’m very grateful for my Lutheran background and some of the very good things I learned while living with the nuns. Now that I’m middle-aged (as most of them were at the time), I’m seeing reflections of their lives in mine.

            Which is Very Good Stuff.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      I’m digging both H. Lee and Katharina’s statements here. I would also add that, before we can have a real conversation about sexual responsibility, we have to first acknowledge that we live in a male-dominant society, and then confront and reconcile some of the presumptions that we have been free to generate about gender roles. That gross privilege is the lens by which we have been accustomed to view Scripture, and it has distorted the way we view gender.

    • “Since most (not all) of the men posting seem to feel you, Mule, are right on target, I must conclude you are accurately representing male *feelings* on sex, whether or not they correspond to anything in social reality. The fact that most males feel this way is sad indeed. It isn’t new, of course; back in my youth (I’m an old woman), Philip Wylie’s attack on females in Generation of Vipers had the same effect: men cheered; women — not so much. Actually, your words about females and their (our) exploitation of males would fit comfortably into any medieval churchman’s homily ”
      H. Lee, There may be a difference between how women and men at this site react to Mule’s words, but I think you confuse an observation with a feeling.
      I did not perceive Mule’s comments (or most others) to be any more negative about women than men. I do not think he or anyone else was saying or even implying that women are exploiting men. And I don’t hear anyone cheering.

    • H.Lee, Katerina — I can’t always tell commenters’ genders, but there seem to be a good number of women, myself included, who see insight in what Mule’s saying. Should I get offended at being generalized? 🙂 I think I won’t.

  29. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    Where is the stats?

    Where is the comparison to the sexual behaviour of different cultures across the ages?

    Personal anecdotes is one thing. Generalized statements require adequate factual backup.

  30. I am struck by the title: “Losing the War — Love in the Ruins.” It saddens me that the Christian Right waged a war instead of proclaiming a gospel, but a war was fought, and lost, and love in the ruins of that war are profoundly affected.

    The war as I understand it was over the cultural acceptance of traditional Christian morality, and that has been largely lost. Just because the Christian Right was wrong to “wage a war” does not mean that the culture will be better off with the new paradigm. I see a future of heartache, loneliness, and severe depression and anger for many people.

    To introduce the idea of a “Jesus-shaped” response to sexuality, I would offer this observation. I am not aware of any occurrence in the four Gospels where Jesus was rejected by a woman. Exceptions might include occasions where the multitudes rejected Him, but where individual women are concerned, there is never a rejection of our Lord. Perhaps women simply could not resist following the truly perfect man?

    As I have pondered the incarnation, I have often wondered how Jesus handled the powerful sex drive that is common to most men. As a product of this age I have been bombarded with sexual messages contrary to the Christian ethic, and this has been an important question for me personally. I am persuaded that it was not willpower that won the day for Jesus, but the law of love. Sexual transgressions, IMHO, hurt people, even if it is only slight or temporary. I imagine that Jesus viewed women as people: someone’s sister, daughter, mother, aunt, wife or future wife. Perhaps that is where Jesus won sexual victory; through His concern for the well-being of others.

    Most of the problems I see within marriage are problems of sheer insensitivity to the needs of the other person. I am 50 years old, and the children born to my generation have experienced serial monogamy to the point that they cannot trust relationships (that’s what it is like in my bubble). Maybe Mule did not get it all right, but this much is true, the war for sexual purity has been lost for now, and love in the ruins will suffer terribly for it. All Christians, on the right and the left, would do well to seriously reacquaint themselves with the “royal law” of love, beginning with their own spouse, if they would bring any kind of sanity back to the culture. Looking at Jesus is the best way to make that a reality.

    • Not to minimize your portrayal of Jesus, which I think is spot on, but Jesus also lived in a much less sexualized culture than ours. Until his ministry began, he had probably only rarely even interacted with women who weren’t in his immediate family, and beyond that, women had to jealously guard their purity for fear of violence (which is a whole nother issue). Perhaps the inadequate nutrition of the day also affected sexual behavior – the average man was 5’2″ or so with the average woman not even 5′, so it’s entirely possible that sexual hormones, feelings, etc. would have been less.

      • I agree and disagree…..there was no internet porn or cleavage showing in the marketplace, but the hormones that keep the human race alive were flowing in the desert 2000 years ago as well. When the visual temptations are less obvious, a lock of free flowing hair or a well-shaped ankle can be arousing to a healthy young man!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Or even the glint of an eye coming from within the chadoor.
          Why do you think the burka has a screen over the eyeslot?
          (And males in Islamic Republics consume more internet porn per capita than anyone else in the world. They have become so sensitized to the Forbidden Fruit that anything sets them off.)

  31. Josh in FW says:

    I still haven’t been able to read all the great comments. Thank you for the post Mule. At this point I’m most surprised at how different so many of our life experiences and perspectives are.

  32. Kyle In Japan says:

    I think Mule nailed it with this post. I’m impressed the IM would publish something like this in the first place, but not surprised that a few people who need not be named are emotionally reacting against it.

    All I can say is that as a single, twenty-five year old male, all this rings quite true. Of course, in my case the circumstances are a bit different since I live in Japan where there aren’t a lot of Christian girls to choose from.

    • Katharina von Bora says:

      So you are rational, and the people who see things differently are “reacting emotionally.”

      Can you see a problem with viewing the world that way? A problem far greater than the problems presented by simply thinking “I am right and they are wrong”?

    • Kyle – you might as well have gone ahead and named names; I think we can easily guess them.

      I wish you well and hope that you’ll keep the nice young women who are Buddhist/Shinto in mind. Must admit that I’d probably be married myself if I had not felt constrained to only look within the very small confines of the evangelical/charismatic subculture i was part of for so long.

      Live and learn.

  33. Mule Chewing Briars,

    Your argument, as I understand it, seems to be that women having more freedom to choose with respect to men has had all manner of bad (unexpected?) consequences, and there’s worse to come as men check out. Doesn’t this strike you as odd? We normally think of freedom as being a good. How can it go so terribly wrong? Your argument has the same form as one lamenting the loss of slavery because of all of the hardships freedom has created for former slaves. I don’t think you’re advocating that we go back to the days of less freedom for women.

    Perhaps a line of thought along the lines of Charles Taylor would be helpful here. The problem isn’t freedom but how we (men and women) make our identity in this modern world. Maybe you’ll get to that or something better in your next post.

    • “Perhaps a line of thought along the lines of Charles Taylor would be helpful here. The problem isn’t freedom but how we (men and women) make our identity in this modern world.”

      That is the $10k question. The world has changed so dramatically so many times in the past few hundred years that those who lived before would little recognize the challenges and opportunities we face in our day. As long as we have advancing technology, nearly unlimited freedom to make life choices (which is true, at least where I live), and a level of affluence that enables us to participate actively in the modern world, we will have to deal with more rapidly occurring identity crises and changing ways of relating to each other.

      The biblicists would insist that our gender roles are set from creation. They ignore the fact that they have never been set and never will be. And the faster the world changes, the more they will change.

      • …nearly unlimited freedom to make life choices

        While that might be true for people from a certain social stratum (and above), it’s most emphatically not true for an awful lot of people who are not in that kind of income bracket, and whose parents, grandparents (et. al.) likely weren’t, either.

        For a lot of folks, being able to get a GED is a huge thing. And that’s a choice – the hours of study – that comes on top of full work weeks, often being a single parent, and so on. And – all too often – others around you who expect you to fail.

        • On a certain level, I agree numo. Nevertheless, the amount of choices available to even the poorest among us far exceeds the options available to those in earlier times.

          • yes, but… we’re dealing with now. The choices for those who live in dire poverty are still very limited, imo – and for most people in this world, the range of choices available is far narrower than for those of us who live in countries like the US and Canada; also for most folks in Western Europe.

          • Nearly unlimited? That seems like an overstatement, CM. We certainly have historically unprecedented freedom to make life choices, and the pattern and progression is continuing, although there have been some rolling and stalled blackouts due to the economic travails that have overtaken us these last years.

            Funny thing, even though there continue to be extraordinary levels of intractable unemployment and growing lines at the food-banks and many people falling out of the middle-class (myself and wife included), there is also a large swath of society that so far has been insulated from the suffering. This swath continues on its merry, blithe way as if the next economic dislocation couldn’t possibly touch them, and as if endless economic growth is a sure thing, albeit with a few hiccups here and there.

            The addict is back on the nod, but it’s a junkie’s fantasy; our economy, and the lifestyle of exponentially expanding choices that seems unstoppable, are in fact very fragile and dependent on so many different kinds of unguaranteed continuity it’s downright scary.

            Our options may be running out.

          • Robert F – good points.

            For some of us, there *are* barriers that limit life choices to a greater or lesser degree – physical illnesses and disabilities, for example. Or caring for aging parents, or… [you guys can fill in the blanks].

  34. There were a few good points on the page, but I don’t know if I’m in total agreement with everything.

    This comment:
    “he wants to sleep with every woman he meets. Men in their unmortified state tend to want sexual variety.”

    No, most men, even fat, balding 50 year old (Christian) ones, still feel entitled to a blonde, thin, 25 year old Jayne Mansfield look-alike, or brunette Megan Fox look-alike. There’s not much variety there; they all want the girls young and skinny.

    Ladies, while being visually oriented (we appreciate good looking men), are willing to bend a little in the looks department. Most men, though, not so much.

    This comment: “What you saw on the ground, though, was young men complaining that young women their age are only attracted to “edgy, exciting men”, overlooking the traditional sober and sensible (read: boring) potential mate… now-not-so-young woman before she has any epiphanies about the desirability of boring, everyday, faithful men”

    This sounds like the typical whiny complaint of “Nice Guys,” either young ones in their 20s who can’t get dates or middle aged never married or divorced ones who (are unemployed, overweight, socially backwards) are upset they can’t bed 21 year old Megan Fox clones.

    But by golly, the mid-aged, chunky, balding ones do feel entitled to Megan Fox and won’t consider dating a woman their own age. They complain they are “nice” and don’t understand why they can’t get dates. (The answer is that they are not nice, they are passive aggressive and only using “niceness” to get sex from a woman.)

    I’m also afraid that aspects of this make a lot of generalizations about both genders that I’m not sure are true. I never wanted a “bad boy” or “Mr Edgy.”

    I was truly holding out for a compassionate, mature guy who really cared about me. Unfortunately, there are no such Christian guys to be found anywhere, especially when you are past your mid 30s.

    I’m in my early 40s, still a virgin, was waiting for marriage for sex, Mr Right never showed up.

    Pages like this tend to assume the reason women my age are still single is that we were seeking after “Mr. Cool and Edgy,” when that is not so. I also was not holding out for “Mr. Perfect,” or “Mr Multi Millionaire,” nor did I put career before marriage (another false assumption many Christians make about older single females).

    On the contrary, I did what standard Christian advice (in Baptist circles) says: prayed for a spouse, waited on God’s timing for one, etc, and it never happened.

    This comment: “they can date outside the church. This is so common these days nobody bats an eye at it, but it seldom results in a durable marriage. ”

    Being Christian does not guarantee a rock solid marriage, though. Divorce rates are high with Christian couples, too. There are many stories on Christian sites and news of married Christians sleeping around on each other, many married Christian guys using dirty web sites, etc.

    There are more single Christian women than men.

    At my age (40s), I am willing to date and marry a Non Christian at this point, where as in my 20s and 30s, I would have said “No way.” There are no single Christian guys my age.

    It’s either open up my options to marry a Non Christian now or live alone, and I’d rather have companionship, regardless of the guy’s religious beliefs.

    Regarding the Focus on the Family quotes. They are a detestable group. They are very heavily marriage centric, but only for people under the age of 25. They don’t care a squat about people late 20s or older who want to be married but find themselves single. They make all sorts of negative assumptions about people who don’t marry by 25, as the list of quotes show.

    Albert Mohler is no friend of singles. He and other well known Christians have said some very derogatory or blaming things to and about older singles and singles, and there is no respect for the single Christians who have stayed virgins into their 30s and older. We get told we are selfish, we should be making babies, etc. They assume we are all still single because we hate marriage and prefer the single life. The truth is a lot of us want marriage but there are no guys our age to marry.

    Single Christian women have their own set of problems and nastiness from Christians and churches that we put up with. Most Christians view unmarried Christian women over the age of 25 with suspicion, as though all of us want to sleep with married Christian men.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Regarding the Focus on the Family quotes. They are a detestable group. They are very heavily marriage centric, but only for people under the age of 25. They don’t care a squat about people late 20s or older who want to be married but find themselves single.

      Because once you’re over 25, you’re a writeoff.
      At that age, it’s too late to start Outbreeding Those Heathens.

  35. 1) This series is far from over, “For I am full of words, and my spirit within me compels me”

    2) You should all know me by now – “the way back is never the way forward”.

    3) The last post, on hope, was very much on my heart as I wrote this.

    4) These are blog posts, not sermons, nor are they social science abstracts submitted for peer review. If Jeff and Chappy require more documentary stringency of me, I’ll gladly comply.

    5) Those guys are worth a dozen of me. You don’t know how lucky you are to have them in your lives, even online.

    6) I got some of you, at least, angry at me instead of at Mark Driscoll, John Piper, or the Pyromaniacs guys. That is a step in the right direction.

  36. First of all, I love the cover art for this post. It says it all.

    Second, I see my daughter’s struggle with boys in the church youth group is a lack of father figures raising those boys to be men. Before I sound too Driscoll-esque, what I mean is most of these boys don’t have the guts to tell her they like her, but expect her to open up to them. They don’t have a clue on how to initiate and participate in a relationship, let alone a friendship. Dating is what they do when they are temporarily bored with video games.

    But I also discovered the church is at fault here, too. In reverse of how I grew up, where a boy and girl would be “going out” or “going steady” and actually learn commitment, conflict resolution, and intimacy, churches tell kids to stay away from serious, emotional relationships but merely participate in group activities involving the opposite sex. Despite the intent to teach kids to avoid emotional scars and falling into temptation, it has taught church kids to be casual about relationships, even enforcing the “friends with benefits” mentality. There is a balance that has been missed once again.

    • @ dumb ox,
      everything you said is true for women of my time, not just kids today (teens and 20 somethings).

      I’m in my early 40s now and grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. This stuff was in Christian material and sermons and Sunday School lessons back then, too not just recently. The “true love waits” stuff started some time in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and Christian teens and college aged kids were getting messages that neither gender should trust the other one.

      The Harris book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” came out some time in the late 1990s, and that messed up a lot of Christian singles.

      So you have a lot of women in their 20s and 40s now who wanted to get married but never did, in part because of these idiotic teachings about sex, dating and marriage that is rife in Christian circles.

      You said, “is most of these boys don’t have the guts to tell her they like her, but expect her to open up to them.”

      Yes, this is a huge problem, even now, as an adult. Men will not just ask you out.

      I found it especially bewildering when I was a teen and college student. Christian adults in the 1980s and ’90s kept telling us Christian females back then that men like to lead and pursue, that we should wait for the guy to approach us, so I was thinking I was going to get lots of dates and boyfriends in college, but it never happened.

      The guys are not brave enough to approach a girl and say, “Can I take you out to a movie this Saturday night.”

      I see a lot of younger Christian single men online admit to feeling too afraid to approach females and ask them out, a lot of them prefer the woman to initiate flirting. I’ve told several of them, you’re not dealing with reality because the females have usually been taught (even in secular dating advice) never ask a guy out because guys like to pursue. Christian females get a double heap of that view point in Christian sermons/ dating books.

      The ones who are too afraid to just ask a woman out will put on the “nice guy” act, and most of us women are not mind readers. If you are being “nice” to us, we don’t know if you are romantically interested or not, we just think you are being nice and there is no ulterior motive. Then the nice guys get angry when the woman doesn’t open up to them romantically. They blame women for their own shortcomings in the dating department.

      • P.S. where I said “in their 20s and 40s” that should be “30s and 40s”
        and that post is still sitting in moderation

      • I did not grow up in the evangelical Christian culture and it does seem, from the writings I have seen over the number of years I have been at IMonk that there was a lot of guilt placed on everyone… to rival even the traditional Catholic guilt that my tradition supposedly subjects us to.

        A fungelical aquaintance of mine once gave me a self help book on how men of God should act (or not act) around women. When it got to the part that I was not suppose to enter a single or even a married woman’s house to speak with her (if the married woman’s husband wasn’t home) – less I be tempted, I threw the book in the garbage. The premise of the book was that I do not have control over my own self and that any perceived temptation whether it be a married woman, nun, a bottle of wiskey on the shelf, fritos, could cause me to fall.

        I know in my younger days I scared off many prospective dates from first look because I resembeld a long-haired, bearded biker type… boy was I a ding dong back then : )

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          The premise of the book was that I do not have control over my own self and that any perceived temptation whether it be a married woman, nun, a bottle of wiskey on the shelf, fritos, could cause me to fall.

          Ah, the same rationale Extreme Islam uses to justify the burka.

      • If you are being “nice” to us, we don’t know if you are romantically interested or not, we just think you are being nice and there is no ulterior motive.

        Here’s a free piece of advice. I don’t think there’s ever been a case in history where a single man is simply being nice without having some sort of ulterior motive (I don’t really like that term because it makes it sound sinister – I don’t think it always is). Even if it’s a girl he’s genuinely not interested in, he’s being nice to impress her pretty friend. It’s been a while since I had to worry about dating, but I was involved with campus ministry for quite a while, and that part has not changed.

        I mean no one said relationships were easy. Although, I do have to say that reading this thread makes me appreciate my wife all the more. We actually did meet through a campus ministry, but the thing that drew me to my wife is that she didn’t fit the stereotype of the typical Christian woman. She’s strong, independent, and didn’t need a man to validate her.

        • My wife and I met in a non-traditional place. We both had our “baggage”. At the time I was Agnostic-lite. Somehow we grew together, worked through our baggage together, developed our faith together. When putting around so many constraints finding a mate gets tougher.

          Relationships are definitely not easy. In fact they are hard and sometime impossible. Our irrational selves get in the way.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        You said, “is most of these boys don’t have the guts to tell her they like her, but expect her to open up to them.”

        Yes, this is a huge problem, even now, as an adult. Men will not just ask you out.

        How many of them tried long ago in the past but got shot down by an IKDG-Courtship-based girl afraid of “emotional fornication” or “staying pure” or “Jesus is all the boyfriend you’ll ever need, anything else is Idolatry”?

        How many of them got their head messed up by IKDG-based Purity Culture until they don’t dare ask/tell her for fear of “Lust(TM)”? Or have been beaten down by their Spiritual Betters? You hear a lot of horror stories like that on various spiritual abuse sites.

        And the Purity Culture pressure that the only reason you even talk to a girl is to frog-march into Christianese Marriage — I’ve heard accounts where you’d better bring a ring and have a date set if you’re just going to walk up and say “Hi”.

        Oh, and IKDG? Turns out the guy who wrote it was molested as a kid; how much baggage from that got into IKDG (which itself became yet another 67th book of the Bible, i.e. SCRIPTURE)?

    • I think the same thing happens with women in the church – a lot of them seem really reluctant to actually go on a date even as they really want a relationship. I go to a pretty large church, and every woman I’ve asked out there has turned me down. And every one I’ve shown a little interest in less directly has kept her distance. I haven’t really asked that many out, but when most of them turn me down it’s hard to get the encouragement to do it repeatedly.

      I’m not sure if it’s because of my natural social awkwardness (I have Asperger’s Syndrome, though a mild version) that turns women off or my church’s culture in general. I think my church’s size has something to do with it – people generally don’t know each that well outside of their social groups. Women don’t seem to really want to try to date someone at the church if they only know them casually. And no, I don’t see them all flocking around the “alpha males” either.

      People do date and get married in my church, but when they do it usually grows out of spending a lot of time together in a small group or something and a relationship grows out of that. Which is fine when it works, but you can’t really count on meeting someone that way. And a lot of the men in these relationships I just mentioned aren’t your typical “alpha male” at all, more like mild-mannered (sometimes slightly effeminate) hipsters.

      So I don’t really get it. I overhear the women at my church complaining about how they can’t get dates, but then when asked out they’re very likely to say no. At the same time, though, things don’t really match the typical men’s-rights version of things.

      Meanwhile, the women who do show interest in me, usually outside the church, are always the wrong ones. In the past year I’ve had a girl who was coming on scarily strong thirty minutes into a blind date, a woman in at least her 40s buying me drinks (I’m 26), and a married woman at a film screening.

  37. I love the cover art for this post. It says it all.

    Really? I’m feeling cantankerous, maybe, but that poster is -a s I’m sure you know – Rosie the Riveter. You know, the poster gal for all the women who went into factories to feed their kids *and* help The War Effort during the 40s.

    Who were also told to go back home after V-E and V-J Days, to give place to the men.

    To quote a song from the teens, How do you keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?

    hmm.

    • numo,
      The net result of the socio/sexual changes that the last five decades have wrought, at least in the West, is that women are less obliged than they have ever been to put up with men’s crap. To put it bluntly.

      And, generally speaking, men don’t like it.

      But it’s no longer just about what men like.

      Short of some nightmarish “Handmaiden’s Tale” dystopic development, men are going to have to learn to come out of their man caves (that’s what’s driving whatever development of “responsible polygyny” that might actually be occurring, sullen males resentfully retreating to their male enclaves) and deal with it.

      • Robert F – :applause: [loud at that!]

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Amen to that!

      • Patrick Kyle says:

        Ahhh yes, the old ‘grow up and man up’ lecture. Always popular among those who think the situation is the guy’s fault, and not near so drastic as it really is.

        • Well, I don’t know about the “man up” part as I tend to find most “manly” activities pretty boring myself, but growing up is probably not bad advice. I think if people insist on thinking of themselves as victims than that’s what they’ll probably be.

          • Phil M. – I think “grow up” is good advice for all human beings, along with Robert F’s “human up.”

        • Human up will do, thank you; manning up has been the problem.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Short of some nightmarish “Handmaiden’s Tale” dystopic development…

        That can be arranged. Christian Reconstructionism is VERY popular among the Comp/Patrio crowd. Quiverfull is basically a Lebensborn program to Outbreed the Heathen, and once outbred the Heathen can be overwhelmed and a Truly Christian Nation established. (Like Geneva under Calvin; come to think of it, Hyper-Calvinists are jumping aboard the Reconstructionist bandwagon.)

  38. Wow, you may be a mule, but that’s quite a man cave you’ve built for yourself there.

  39. Note: it’s plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (“the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing”)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “…And the Hand just rearranges
      The players in the game.”
      — Al Stewart, “Nostradamus”

      • “In its anxiety to combat pantheism, the early church effectively banished the spirit from the phenomenal world. So modern science is doomed, accordingly, to see all change as mere substitution or recombination of constituent parts, where as what must be recognised and explained, and entreated, is change under the aspect of transformation.”

        Emile Capouta commenting on Owen Barfield

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Not just “banished the spirit from the phenomenal world” but exiled it to Fluffy Cloud Heaven, completely ephemeral, completely unreal.

  40. The central conceit of a sermon is that the sermonizer’s opinion is better than yours, and indeed, a worthy object of reflection and meditation. Internet blogposts often assume the same sort of pseudo-authoritative tone. Even when the commenters criticize the blogger, they acknowledge his right to the soapbox.

    Whose opinion deserves to be heard, or singled out for attention above the masses, is a difficult question which each of us must answer as best we can. I frankly cannot fathom how the Internet Monk website makes these decisions, and suppose the process must involve personal connections and theological agendas. This post by Mule illustrates the essential bankruptcy of the process.

    Rather than illuminate social issues, Mule ties together a chain of superficialities into what amounts to a complaint that feminism and the sexual revolution have turned Christians into losers. It is one of many blogposts from this site (and not only by Mule) calculated to paint the values of earlier eras as preferable–a project which I find extremely dishonest. If this is all that Christianity has to offer the world, then modernity is well rid of it. (There is a positive side of Christianity as well, but one wouldn’t likely encounter it here.)

    But my point is not just that the website promotes perverse beliefs–there are many worse ones. Rather, your pretentions to make pronouncements on behalf of Christianity are a charade. None of you represent anything, least of all Christianity. So whenever one of you goes off on gender relations (invariably charting some sort of middle ground between the current “received” opinion and a more regressive “Christian” stance, represented here by Mule’s Orthodoxy), I worry that even to acknowledge the discussion only compounds the problem.

    Much the same could be said of the various self-appointed Evangelical spokespeople you seemingly cannot help discussing. (Mule’s view of gender relations reminds me of several.) They do not deserve the respect of honest people, and only warrant our attention insofar as they command a certain amount of influence in the world. None of you are so formidable, so why should your opinions enjoy any special dignity? This is like a college bull session.

    • Wexel, since you have not provided a legitimate email address I cannot answer you personally. I also think your comment and a response to it would be worthy of a wide readership.

      May I have permission to answer you in a blog post?

    • Wexel,

      Keep in mind that this is a blog, which in itself is the sharing of opinions of whoever is authoring said article. We have the choice to read it, and comment if we agree or not. And as we well know even facts can be shaped to support whatever position we are currently taking.

      As seen in the comments, some folks related to what was said due to personal experience. Some did not witness it at all. Some took it as a degrading a particular group. Some did not like genralizations as a whole. We even got a pretty good sampling in the responses, older men and women, married, single, younger men and women, even some self identified as a specific race.

      But keep in mind its still opinion. Some here might want to censure that. I believe we let it play out, and the comments will be the judge of whether any of it bears fruit.

      You may also note that Michael Spencer, the original IMonk wrote on some topics in the early days of this site that would seem offensive to many here today. But what he was really doing was getting the conversation started.

      So maybe Mule is getting the conversation started, by risking, by not choosing safe topics, by giving opinions that make sense to his brain from the time period he has grown up in…. we shall see ….

      Peace….

    • “…paint the values of earlier eras as preferable–a project which I find extremely dishonest.”

      I don’t know why preferring the values of earlier eras is ‘dishonest’. It may be wrong-minded but I certainly never intended to deceive anyone. I have some honest misgivings about the whole project of “modernity”.

      Jeff and Chap. Mike, better men than I, asked if I would submit an essay each week. They don’t edit me. That is either brave or foolhardy, especially since Chap. Mike and I don’t see eye to eye on sexual essentialism. if you want a go at it, I’ll gladly surrender one of my slots.

      • There is an old saying: “If the two of us agreed on everything, one of us would be unnecessary.”

        One of the vital characteristics of Internet Monk has always been to encourage conversations among people who have different perspectives. I, for one, am glad to have you writing with us, Mule. You have a strong voice and one that prompts good discussions.

        Hey, we could be one of those blogs that cuts off discussion when it gets uncomfortable. What fun would that be?

  41. “The central conceit of a sermon is that the sermonizer’s opinion is better than yours, and indeed, a worthy object of reflection and meditation. Internet blogposts often assume the same sort of pseudo-authoritative tone. Even when the commenters criticize the blogger, they acknowledge his right to the soapbox.”

    Uh, no. The point of the sermon is to listen to God. Since He has chosen to reveal Himself through writings which are both complex and foreign to our language and culture, the church asks some of its members to take a course of training to draw out and explain the meaning of those writings. Obviously, his or her opinions will get in the way sometimes, but that is a failure of the idea of a sermon, not its essence.

    In the same way, people come to this blog not because we feel our opinion is somehow beneath the writers. Rather it is because the blog respects our opinions enough to encourage constructive disagreement. Is it like a college bull session? Well, perhaps, if your college bull session was populated by intelligent people from around the world, and from different backgrounds, talking respectfully about issues they found important. I don’t see why this is a bad thing.

    “Rather, your pretentions to make pronouncements on behalf of Christianity are a charade. None of you represent anything, least of all Christianity.”

    Wessel, you tend to make broad generalizations like “none of you represent anything”. I’m not sure what this means. Do we have to have some sort of official post in order to comment? I am a Pastor. Is that good enough? And what do you represent that qualifies you to make these comments? I’m a little lost here.

    I will tell you why I come to imonk, though I don’t have time to comment much. I come because of two things. First, most of the posts help me by opening my eyes to a new way of thinking about an issue. Why should I care about whether the person posting “represents” anything if I can learn from him or her. Second, I come here because I find spirited, intelligent and uncensored debate from an intelligent community of diverse people. THAT is VERY hard to find on the web.

  42. Over the last day I’ve tried to pin down exactly what troubles me about this post. It’s not the content, per se. Many of the observations are accurate, though overly broad and generalized and lending far too much credit for social change to human sexuality alone. I think I finally figured it out. It’s the fact that the post lacks charity and empathy for the people of whom it speaks, it sounds a little proud and pontificating, and uses more than a few rather demeaning characterizations of people who bear no fault but are caught in the situations it describes.

    I know Michael Spenser was not shy about using strong language, but it was generally directed at people who were creators of real problems in the church, and Michael generally clearly explained those problems. Also, in my experience, he always came back in the end to a creative and thus constructive call for a Jesus-shaped approach.

    I didn’t see that here, and I can’t help the feeling that IM has strayed a bit.

    As Mule said himself: I’m sorry. This post has run away from me, and it sure wasn’t Jesus shaped, was it?,/I>

    Everyone needs an editor. Precisely because it tackles the powerful theme of human sexuality, this post is one of those pieces that would have been better set aside for a bit, then come back to with some incisive editing, particularly for tone.

    • Sorry, I messed up the html tags. Last paragraph is mine and should not be italicized.

      • Perhaps I could have edited this piece to tighten it up some, but editing requires time, something I don’t have much of these days. So any editing/non-editing gaffs are my fault.

        Mule is going to address this again next week and hopefully tie some knots in what many see as loose ends…

    • There is wisdom here

    • John – very much agreed, and your practical advice about setting a piece aside for a while (if possible) and then coming back to it fresh is a *very* good suggestion.

      I know that approach was extremely helpful for me, back when I was doing a little bit of writing for publication (nothing big, believe me – short album reviews, for the most part).

    • I am going to be the odd man out and say that because this is a series the conversation is not yet finished, so I see some over reaction going on here.

      There are a few of you who really don’t agree with what was written, that is fine.

      One thing that keeps me coming back is the diversity of intelligent discussion here. I can’t count the number of times I have been offended or bothered by some of what I have seen here. But I don’t try to shut down discussion or suggest that our hosts go in and edit.

      Now most of the people here may have arrived already, but I for one need to be offended once in a while.

      Keep up the good writing gang.

      • “But I don’t try to shut down discussion or suggest that our hosts go in and edit.”

        Too right, Ken. From where I sit, it looks like the Thought Police are contemplating the nuclear option.

    • Katharina von Bora says:

      This is also well-said. I keep coming back to this post because I am troubled by the objectifying language. Not just for women, though the language used for women is much more negative in balance than the objectifying language used for men, here. It troubles me that even ordinary, happy people must be referred to with a somewhat derogatory and objectifying label like “little brown sparrows.” All the talk about women based on their hormones. I really feel like somewhere in the writing of this piece, the author completely lost sight of the fact that all these estrogen-containers and ugly birds are human beings. We are seen as problems or rewards. And it’s really hurtful. And what on earth does it have to do with Christianity?

      • Katharina – yes indeed.

        Mule, I don’t understand why this piece contains so much objetcifying language; ditto for many of your comments.

        Re. the UMC minister, you could ahve said she was in late middle age, or in her 60s, or something unconnected with her anatomy/physiology.

        That came across to me as demeaning – I mean, would you talk in a similar way about a man? My guess is that it wouldn’t occur to you to do so.

        And that’s one of the big problems with your piece and – imo – your whole approach when it comes to men, women, sexual attraction, etc. etc. etc.

        • Maybe my stuff contains a lot of objectifying language because I objectify. It’s a way of keeping some really scary stuff at arm’s length.

          Keep your eye on the UMC ministress. She’ll be back. She was female power incarnate. I’m glad I met her after she had gone through menopause. I don’t think I’d have been able to endure her in the full flower of her womanhood. I think if she had lived 400 years ago, she’d have had to worry about the stake.

          Well, I made it to 300 comments, even if I had to resort to the digital equivalent of playground pigtail pulling to do it.

          • So maybe… deal with the scary stuff, or scary people, instead of blaming and belitling women.

          • err.. “belittling.”

            I have to put a lot of writing aside for a while just so I can catch my typos!

          • So… Dalrock and Heartiste.

            I am saddened by you and the company you keep there and at similar sites, Mr. Mule.

          • I have a very omnivorous browser history. I enjoy navigating waters that are very far the approved intellectual shipping lanes, from Daily Kos to Mencius Moldbug, Roissy to XOJane, Democratic Underground to Free Republic.

            You can’t belittle anybody without their complicity.

  43. (Thanks, Mule and Jeff, for providing the missing word at the end of the following sentence.)

    “Somewhere around 1940, orgasms replaced the Blessed Sacrament as the instrumental means of sanctification.”

    That really has to be one of the most provocative statements made on internetmonk. Can anyone beat that? Maybe it’s not wise to ask that!

    Hey, unless my comment gets caught up in needing to be approved, which happens most of the time lately, I may be the 300th comment. Wowza!