Where Are the Men?

Wednesday I posted about the lack of qualified husband material for many fine young Christian women today. Half the comments in response were posted here: the other half, on my Facebook page.

I found all your comments very interesting. Cati Stokes, in particular, said, ” I also know a number of single Christian men (who were home schooled) they seem to be very immature boy-men who would rather have an entry level job, play video games, and some sort of instrument.”

First, do you readers agree with Cati?

Second, if you do, to what would you attribute this “Peter Pan”-ishness . . . this lack of desire to become real men who take leadership in their own homes, businesses, and communities?

I have a few theories on this matter.

First, our society has been emasculating men for quite some time. I’m not just talking about the overt feminist “men are bad” propaganda in schools, university, and the family-court system. I’m referring to our “Mother, May I” culture, where kids are brought up to believe that you have to obtain permission for everything, from raising rabbits to putting a shed in your own back yard. Overblown safety consciousness has also crushed many boyhood adventures that we, our parents, and/or our grandparents pursued without a second thought – for example, this last winter, there was a strong push to ban sledding entirely in some locales! (Read the comments after this article to see what folks who grew up in the “old days” think about this.) An overbearing state also puts men in their place; the perfect example is the TSA, who feel free to molest a man’s wife and children right in front of him, knowing any resistance can be met with hefty fines plus up to 20 years in jail.

So, what’s the upside to growing up into a man, if you can’t BE a man?

One response is to drop out. Work as little as possible, play lots of video games.

Another response is to rebel. In part, the felt need to reject overbearing authority has led to the huge popularity of rap music and the gangsta culture. The problem here is that biblical authority is thrown out right along with unbiblical authority. Macho posturing, and the resulting crime, in turn provides an excuse for yet more government overcontrol.

The third response is to see the problem, admit it’s beyond our control, and neither give way to hopelessness and fear (like the slackers) or brash fist-waving and lawbreaking (like gangstas and gangsta wannabes). Be like Davy Crockett and other real men of the past: determine the right thing to do and just do it, trusting God for the results and not fearing the consequences. This means training our sons up to a high level of biblical knowledge and conviction. But it’s possible. As 2 Timothy 1:7 says,

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Great Husbands Wanted for Christian Girls

Back when I wrote The Way Home, 25 years ago, one of the benefits I saw to a biblical family life was the way it would literally “grow” God’s kingdom.

I envisioned godly young men and women getting married, having large families if God so blessed them, and quickly increasing the number of serious Christians in America in just a few generations.

But now that my beautiful daughters are all high-school graduates, and two of them are college grads, I have to ask . . . where are all the future Christian husbands?

It’s not that young men aren’t interested in my daughters. In the case of one in particular, we’ve practically had to beat them off with a stick! But with one notable exception (who sadly has gone to be with the Lord), the young men in question have either been

• Frankly non-Christian, including a smattering of Muslims
• So weakly “Christian” they have no idea of basic doctrines, or
• Talking the Christian talk and doing just the opposite

To this add, in the vast majority of cases

• Not headed in a direction that would provide for a family

BTW, my daughters are church-goers, and three have attended Christian colleges.

I don’t want to give the impression that my daughters spend their days crying into their pillows about their romantic prospects. But judging by what I’m seeing and reading, there are legions of well-trained Christian girls who naturally expected to be married to fine Christian husbands by now . . . and aren’t.

Any thoughts?

Who Are They Kidding?

One of the top stories today is “Parents keep child’s gender secret” Not content with encouraging their two older boys to experiment with “girly” dress and demeanor and to obsess about gender (no six-year-old would, on his own, write a booklet under the pseudonym “The Gender Explorer”), this unschooling family have decided to keep their new baby’s sex a mystery.

Which pretty much guarantees it will be a much bigger topic of discussion.

I, too, read all the literature in the Seventies about how gender is a social construct, meaning that kids come out essentially neutral and only “learn” to be boys or girls. This is true in the sense that kids learn which behaviors in their culture are associated with masculinity or femininity. In Italy, for example, men often walk holding hands, while in America neither men or women do this with their friends except when tugging them to a nearby destination.

However, it is not true in the broader sense. Girls are girls and boys are boys, even if some girls are tomboys and some boys are quiet and timid.

This became blindingly clear to me when I gave birth to my first daughter. Counter to my feminist-trained expectations that “all babies look alike,” little Sarah was different from her brothers. Her features were finer and noticeably feminine. This was also true of my next daughter, a “wild thing” who tried to turn over when she was less than 1 day old!

Tons of research has been done which continues to show boys and girls are different. (For those who are inclined to demand proof, see for example Boys and Girls Learn Differently! A Guide for Teachers and Parents: Revised 10th Anniversary Edition by Michael Gurian.) Most of us with several children know this from experience. Just one example: if without prompting your preteen child draws a picture of planes dropping bombs with lots of explosions, he’s a boy. Endless drawings of ponies mean she’s a girl.

But we don’t need secular research to make this point. From Genesis 1:27:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

One of the pictures in the photo gallery associated with this story has six-year-old “Jazz” staring mournfully at us in front of a page he wrote that says, “let your kid be whoever they are.”

How about “whoever they are created to be”?

The irony here is so thick you could slice it with a knife.

Gender Wars (part 1)

This is a note I posted on Facebook some months ago. It sparked some good conversation, so I post it here. ~ Sarah

A chiseled-faced young man stands in the center of a basement room that is heavy with testosterone and sweat. The others around him wear suits by day, as they wander purposelessly among their cubicles. Tonight they have stripped to their undershirts, and they are alive.

Tyler Durden opens his mouth:

Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. [Blast] it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy [junk] we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very [teed] off.

I cannot recommend the book or movie The Fight Club to the casual consumer, since they are full of some remarkably foul language and imagery, but that one scene plows to the roots of an ill that is choking the life out of many Western young men.

They have no wars.

On a homestead on the great midwestern prairies in the 19th century, there was little time to talk about men’s and women’s roles. The man, being much the strongest, did the lion’s share of work uprooting stumps and plowing fields from dawn to dusk. The woman also worked long days, turning produce and animal products into food and clothing for her family. Both jobs were absolutely crucial, and the division of labor made sense on the earthiest level.

By 1890, the American frontier had reached the Pacific coast, and lawmakers followed in its passing. Thus the lore of the cowboy movie, the genre in which the solitary figure steps into chaos and works justice, only to pass on into the sunset. This wild man cannot live in the domestication that follows—symbolic of the overall movement of the society of the time.

World wars in the early and mid-20th century focused generations of men at the same time as they tore them apart. But afterwards, a restlessness started to settle in. While the men had gone to war, the women had gone to work, and the women saw no pragmatic reason to put everything back the way it had been. A man’s strength was not as necessary for factory work. And the products made by the factories eliminated much of the heavy home labor that had made a woman’s presence there so crucial to a family’s survival.

Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq have drawn some men since, but it is not the same. The ones that go do not receive a hero’s laud on return. They are often ignored entirely and left to nurse their wounds in solitude.

In the domesticated American culture of the 21st century, on first appearances, I can see little that would tickle the imagination of a man. Even if he has been granted the now-rare gift of visualizing manhood in the life of a strong father, men today do not feel the weight of the plow on their shoulders, and theirs alone.

Of course, the initial look is deceptive. Outside our shores, powerful enemies who would love to destroy us are gathering their forces. Men need to be ready; their time may well come, to the horror and sorrow of us all.

But meanwhile, in the case of peacetime, what now? How to live in the pragmatic everyday?

In the need to maintain godly male leadership in the family and in the church, I believe that some elements of Christian culture have overreacted. They mix components of 1950s America, Victorian-era England, and the era of Romantic chivalry into a law-based stricture that defines exactly how they think men and women should be. Boys hunt. Girls sew. Even though, in our Western day and age, we technically need neither hunting nor sewing in our daily lives.

The truth is that a spiritual war wages all around us. It is a war in which love has already conquered death, but in which each and every Christian must strive by grace to image that victory every single day. In this spiritual realm, just like on the prairies of the 19th century, both men and women face a real struggle for survival, side by side.

Right now, while we are fussing over whether God wants little boys or little girls to take out the trash, we live among millions—billions—of people in our generation who do not know Jesus Christ. Since Jesus has not defined in His holy Scripture exactly how a husband and wife’s leadership and submission will look in their relationship, anything we add on to His Word will not reveal Christ to the world around us. Carefully whitewashing the outside of our relationships will only distract us from what God actually cares about.

God cares that the Goth kids hanging out on the street corner are enslaved to Wicca and cutting themselves to let out the pain of their abusive or neglectful families. God cares that Korean women who flee a Communist tyrant find only lives of near-slavery in China. God cares that small boys are kidnapped and forced to kill other small boys in Africa as the pawns of cruel men. God cares very, very much that husbands and wives who claim His name will declare His holy covenant in their marriage null and void.

When we see how God sees, there are more than enough wars to enliven both men and women in our generation.

Long-lasting marriages are NOT extinct

Here’s a bit of good news! According to an article in today’s Washington Post, “[The] Number of long-lasting marriages in U.S. has risen, Census Bureau reports.”

We’ve been told forever that half of all marriages end in divorce. This is still sadly true for black women, half of whose first marriages end in divorce.

But three in four couples overall who married after 1990 stayed together for at least 10 years, according to the WaPo story.

And while college women might feel that their chances of getting married have declined, once they do get married, they’re three times more likely to stay married than couples without college degrees. That’s one point in favor of the “Lady College Grads” that Sarah is writing about!

Of course, staying married is not just a matter of the odds. No human being has a boundless supply of love . . . that’s why we all should occasionally pray for MORE love for our spouses, kids, neighbors, and so on.

It also helps if we know what our part is in the marriage – our own distinct role. Most marriages today end because fussing, fuming wives decide to flounce off, knowing the government will require their husbands to keep paying, and that the government itself will pay the freight for single moms, in many cases. Read Stephen Baskerville’s book Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family for all the shocking facts. (Dr. Baskerville is an Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College, BTW, so he writes from the point of view of a serious researcher, though his book is VERY readable.)

Part of the solution has to be knowing the purpose of marriage and what each of us is supposed to do. A lot of the answers for women can be found in The Way Home, because the book is all about what the Bible says to married Christian women. Bill says it wouldn’t hurt for their husbands to read it, too!

If we all understood how important marriage is to God’s plan, we’d all do more to make sure our marriages last.

What’s Next for You, Lady College Grads?

This last weekend at Patrick Henry College, where I work, we graduated 58 bright new alumni. My heart goes with them, because I remember my own difficult transition from a safe and loving environment into the carelessness of the wider world. Before my last year of college, I had spent nine months at home helping my family. I had not had enough time in either Missouri or Virginia to develop solid community, so I graduated rootless.

This is a blog for Christian women, so I will write here about the most challenging aspect of this life milestone as a woman. I grew up in a demographic counter-cultural to the rest of America. I found that, by graduating college as an unmarried woman, I stepped out of the life script of that counter-culture and into the Gaza Strip between cultures. Nobody, least of all myself, was quite sure what to do about me.

Frankly, that question is why this blog exists. What next, single ladies? What principles are you standing on as you make your next life choices? What choices are you making?

I expect that I will offer up my own answers in many of my next posts. I will also be addressing some of the heartbreaking lies that pull women in many different directions.

How Christianity Empowers Women

A typical modern talking point is that biblical Christianity holds women back.

As I explained in The Way Home, this is simply not true.

Non-Christian societies throughout history have made women into beasts of burden, while simultaneously restricting their freedom.

We don’t have to look back in time to see this, either.

Consider this article, published today:

“A Few Brave Women Dare Take Wheel in Defiance of Saudi Law Against Driving”

If biblical Christianity had been all about repression, then American women wouldn’t have been driving since . . . well, since the auto was invented.

As they did. And do.

Or flying planes, like Amelia Earheart and the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII).

Yes, the Bible gives women roots . . . and wings!

Grateful for My Mom

I realize I cannot let Mother’s Day slip by without a note here — both since my mom and I created this blog together and since it is laid on the foundation of a book that inspired many to have more children. I just want to say a little bit about Mary Pride and her legacy.

Growing up, I spent many hours answering the phones for my parents’ mail-order and magazine publishing business. More often than I can recount, I found myself in lengthy conversation with a homeschool mother who told me about her family and the children she would never have had if she had not read The Way Home. I admit that I didn’t really appreciate this properly at the time, but one phone call stands out in my memory nonetheless. One lady said that my mom wouldn’t even know the impact her life had made until one day in Heaven, when she met all the children who would never have existed, were it not for God working through her book. I like to think of that — meeting many friends and finding out my own mother was used in their lives.

One of the professors at Patrick Henry College who mentored me during my time there as a student had read my mother’s book when he and his wife were younger, and they then reversed the procedure that would keep them from having more children. They now have a joyful, rollicking family. One of his sons is now finishing up his freshman year at PHC; he has an infectious grin unlike any other and an impish personality. Every time I see this young man, I am filled with a sense of the miraculous.

As for me, I have not always gotten along with my mom. Like many daughters, I have feared growing into my mother’s flaws and have let my fear overcome my love for her more than I care to admit. I have learned to enjoy my mom and her unique personality much more as God has graciously allowed me to fail in many ways. I am so grateful for the tireless love and support of both my parents, and for every iota of hard and practical work they led us through as a family as they and other first-generation homeschoolers strove to honor God.

More on the Osama Woman

Over the last few days, the accounts of a dead woman in Osama bin Laden’s house have quickly taken on the aspects of any good rumor. When I wrote my last post, supposedly she had died in passing, used by someone as a human shield. The next news stories circulated that bin Laden himself had used her as a shield — and then, that she was his very own wife! This quickly proved incorrect; his fifth wife is still alive, albeit wounded in an ankle.

Now it seems that possibly bin Laden was not armed at all when he was executed. Tomorrow, I’m sure they’ll be saying something else.

I post this update to note that my former observations are most likely more simple than the situation deserves. According to CNN, two of bin Laden’s previous wives left or divorced him, and two haven’t been seen since the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. His first wife actually helped bring the third marriage together, and then the first, third, and fourth wives “lived in harmony in the same house.” He had 20 children.

All this to say that to step into the shoes of another woman who lives across the world is difficult, if not impossible. I am still grateful for my freedoms, for the ability to think, to write, and to glorify God as best as I can. But the story He has written for my life is not anything like the script He laid out for a woman in the first-century church — or for a Middle Eastern woman who converts to Christianity. Things I consider normative may easily apply to my own culture.

This reminds me to look more deeply into any story, and to approach the task of writing for this blog carefully.

Death of Osama — and an Anonymous Woman

I woke up this morning to find that Osama Bin Laden is dead. Navy SEALs stormed his mansion and then killed him when he fired a weapon and refused to surrender. Since then, nearby Washington, D.C. has erupted in jubilation, as has the Internet.

I observe the excitement carefully, aware how many people – quite possibly the same people now dancing in the streets – have criticized our involvement in the Middle East over the last nine and a half years. But one item in particular in the ABC news story I read stood out: “Two Bin Laden couriers were killed, as was one of Osama Bin Laden’s sons and a woman reportedly used as a shield by one of the men” (emphasis mine).

When I read about this woman, I feel both sorrow and gratefulness. I am sad she died so easily, as though she was worth nothing. And I am thankful for the laws of God and of man that protect me in the United States of America.

This morning, I drove myself to work in a car that I own. I live in a townhouse with three other single women. I practice Tae Kwon Do, and I am hoping to study a Master’s in Latin and Greek. My freedom as a single woman allows me to make good and fruitful use of my time.

But when I look at the rest of the world, I realize my freedom is terribly fragile. Former foreign and senior correspondent for TIME magazine Dr. David Aikman recently wrote that:

When Egyptian women protested in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for better political and human rights for women, they were outnumbered and shouted down by belligerent men. Oh, and a statistic worth knowing — especially for women tourists to Egypt — is that 93 percent of Egyptian women report having been manhandled in public settings; and 98 percent — can you imagine, 98 percent? — of foreign women have reported the same thing in Egypt.

And I think of Afghanistan when the Taliban took over, an event chronicled in Khaled Hosseini’s bestseller, A Thousand Splendid Suns. In a heartbeat, women’s relative freedom transformed into brutal oppression, enforced by law.

Some will say I should not be grateful, that my ability as a woman to own property and hold down a job is a right. We women should not be grateful, they say, for getting what is due us.

To these people I ask, who owes us this freedom? Muslim extremists obey a law that denies women have rights. And to an atheist, behaving under the structure of evolution, the physically weaker women should merely be sexual prey, if he can get away with it.

No, it is the Christian God who states that men and women are created equal in value, because we are all made in His image. He built a universe with this law embedded. While many, no matter their worldview, understand instinctively that it is moral and right to respect women, the logic of Christianity explains why.

In short, I shake my head when I see any of my fellow women deny the Christian God and His law, claiming our own strength and self-reliance. They deny our strongest protector. Without a God whose law governs both men and women, many women across the world are left without any defense at all.

I think it is much better to learn God’s law, seek to uphold it, and appreciate the men and women who are working to do the same. So right now I am grateful, particularly to the men – and women – who have given their lives to defend a set of morals and laws that is still based on a common grace understanding of the justice God demands.