Feminism

"Real Marriage" review: 19-41, "Friends with Benefits"

When I was in graduate school, one of the books I had to read was The Power of Words and the Wonder of God, and one of the chapters was written by Mark Driscoll– unsurprisingly, it was on swearing. I didn’t know anything about Mark Driscoll at the time, but I figured out quick that he was a pretty big fan of Martin Luther. As I’ve come to know more about Mark, that he sees himself as a “Martin Luther 2.0” should surprise absolutely no one, and that comes across pretty clearly in this chapter. The first five pages are dedicated to Martin Luther’s marriage to Katherine von Bora, and Mark cannot even begin to contain his enthusiasm:

Their marriage was a public scandal and arguably the most significant marriage outside the Bible in the history of the world.

Just … sigh.

In the rest of the chapter, Mark is going to spend a lot of time trying to convince us that he isn’t a raving misogynistic chauvinistic pig and that complementarian headship in marriage isn’t demeaning to women in any way whatsoever. However, the way that Mark writes about Katherine upends that completely:

What is perhaps most curious is that their marriage did not start with love or attraction, as Katherine was not physically attractive . . . Martin even confesses to his friends afterward … that the proud and haughty Katie alienated him . . . Even Martin’s friends were not fond of Katherine. He reported that many cried with grief upon hearing of his hasty marriage. (21)

Katherine was not physically attractive? Aish. It’s not exactly as though Martin was some sort of Adonis, but Mark says absolutely nothing about his looks. And, when talking about their “awkward” early days, due– according to Mark– to their “monasticism,” he only gives an example of Katherine being awkward, not Martin.

As the story goes on, Mark describes the blossoming friendship and romance between Katherine and Martin Luther, but it’s clear from the previous five pages that Mark thinks the love that Martin felt for “Katie” was not only in spite of himself (“Good God, they will never thrust a wife on me!”), but in spite of Katie, as well; after all, Martin married an ugly harpy– a harpy who worked very, very hard and sat with him while he wrote his letters and was just there for him as he did all of his amazing man-stuff while Katherine … kept a garden.

~~~~~~~~~

The rest of the chapter is Mark and Grace arguing about how important it is for married people to be friends. Which, ok, there’s nothing wrong with that argument on its face. I think friendship can go a long way in a marriage, and I have a hard time envisioning a successful marriage without friendship– all of the happily married people I know are friends. So, while I don’t necessarily have a problem with the message of the chapter as a whole, I do have a problem with how a lot of the specifics get presented, because things like this happen a lot:

I wanted the friendship but without the conflict. I didn’t understand that true friendship involves healthy conflict and hard discussions as God reveals sin and repentance, and reconciliation takes place. (25)

There’s an important word missing there: can. Friendships can involve conflict. However, the way that Grace has phrased this– and from things they both say later on– it is assumed that all friendships must involve conflict, or they are not actually friendships:

We may say we are someone’s friend, but unless we are quick to pursue them in the sin they have fallen into, we are not really much of a friend. (40)

I disagree with that. This is coming from someone who hasn’t even been married two years yet, so feel free to tip in your two cents, couples-with-more-experience, but drawing on both my experience as a partner and as a friend, I don’t think this is true. All of my friendships have involved some sort of conflict, true, but those have been the moments when our friendships have been the weakest and the most unloving. In my marriage, my goal isn’t to “pursue him into the sin he has fallen into,” but to love and accept and encourage.

I’ve had the sort of friendships that Mark and Grace are advocating for here, and one thing I’ve learned after a short lifetime of “friends” who want nothing more than to “sanctify” and “edify” me is that it sucks. Hardcore. I can’t imagine if Handsome treated me the way that Mark thinks partners should treat each other; I would be miserable and unhappy. The fact that my partner encourages me, and loves me, and accepts me for who I am right now while also dreaming with me about everything we can be together is wonderful. We both want to become better people– more loving, more generous, more kind . . . but we are not going to do that by harping on each other every time we think the other has “fallen into sin.”

Also, Mark doesn’t actually believe this, since he fired, excommunicated, and publicly shamed pretty much anyone who dared to disagree with him, particularly regarding accountability.

Interestingly enough, this first assumption– that true friendships are about “edification”– leads to another problem I have with this chapter: Christian elitism.

Only when marriage and family exist for God’s glory– and not to serve as replacement idols– are we able to to truly love and be loved. (28)

It is through the presence of God the Holy Spirit in our lives that we are able to love our spouses. (30)

We are convinced that the couples who pray … together stay together. (36)

The more his need for her and her need to help him are celebrated as gracious gifts from God, the faster oneness and friendship blossom in the marriage. (38)

That last one is also just icky– because they say that a wife needs to “celebrate being helpful as a gracious gift from God.” Whee. Complementarianism isn’t demeaning or chauvinistic at all. Not even a little bit. But the biggest problem I have (for the moment) with these statements is that they frame non-Christian marriages as less than. They probably wouldn’t go so far as to say that non-Christian marriages are doomed to unhappiness and divorce, but by making the claim that we need to place “glorifying God” as the center purpose of our marriage in order to truly love, what they are saying is that people who don’t think of “glorifying God” as a goal cannot truly love. They can love, sure, but not truly love. Any happiness a non-Christian experiences in their marriage is because of luck, probably. Because they couldn’t possibly be building a healthy marriage filled with trust and love and respect and kindness and acceptance– not without God, at least. Not really.

Christian elitism comes out in a lot of ways in Christian culture, and they’re usually wrapped up in sentiments like this one– and it frustrates me no end because of how baldly false it is. I’m friends with a lot of atheists and agnostics, and my friendships with them have been richer and more meaningful and more challenging than most of the friendships I’ve ever had with Christians– and the relationships that I have now with Christians don’t have anything “more” than my relationships with atheists. In fact, most of the friendships I’ve had with Christians have been profoundly negative and have ended horrifically because they felt more entitled to judge and condemn me than to love me.

In short: being friends with your spouse = good. Doing it the way that Grace and Mark think is good (such as, for Grace, “forcing herself to trust him,” 25) = bad.

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  • Crystal

    Men like Mark Driscoll are the sort of reason why I want to remain single. His opinions on marriage are base and vile. He is a loathsome, arrogant man.

    Also, agree with you on Christian elitism. It’s totally wrong and it SUCKS because it’s not true, but I’ve heard how TRUE it is because a person is SAVED and INDWELT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT multiple times – more times than I’ve cared to count.

    This stuff can affect the kinds of friends you can pick too. It’s AWFUL.

    • Crystal

      Or it can affect the kinds of friends you do pick. Either way, it sucks.

  • Tim

    He needs her and she needs to help him – well of course, because boys and girls are different. Why else would boys like blue and girls like pink? And any man who wears pink is really a woman anyway, right?

    Sheesh, that book is full of horrible relationship analysis and advice.

    • Crystal

      Yes, Tim, you’re right. Thank you for writing about this dreadful book, Samantha. Such courage and resolution at so YOUNG an age! We are similar in age (I’m around 5-6 years your junior) but I’m not sure whether I could do what you’re doing, Samantha. It takes incredible guts to do what you’re doing.

  • Crystal

    The idea is that people have MORE WISDOM and can DO A BETTER JOB because GOD IS WITH THEM. AWWWWW….

  • Crystal

    I also think Driscoll has a delicate man’s pride the size of a million footballs. Everything MUST be manly – but his pride – it’s delicate, you can’t touch it. Aren’t you ADMITTING TO BEING A WIMP by behaving like this??

  • Why do you think there’s this predictable and consistent trend towards Christian elitism, and is it present more often in fundamentalist versions of Christianity compared to other denominations?

    I grew up fundie, and I went to a fundie undergraduate school. It really seemed that most of the people I interacted with had the “Anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you… through Christ who strengthens me” mindset.

    I think it’s safe to be elite. Is that too much of an oversimplification?

    • Crystal

      No, because they fear the FALSE DOCTRINE creeping in. They’re so afraid of hell they do not understand the love of God.

    • I think it has something to do with tribalism: my tribe is better than your tribe, because reasons. I can get the same sort of thing from a lot of different ideologies– atheists are certainly not immune to this. Maybe it’s just human nature?

      • Crystal

        Possibly, but extremism just aggravates it ALL THE MORE.

      • Hm, that makes sense. Actually, it makes a lot of sense. I teach at both a college and a high school, and I hear from both sets of teachers how horrible the other group is. I guess there are advantages of that, evolutionarily speaking? It seems a little silly, though, for the most part.

      • I don’t think it’s necessarily part of human nature, but i think there is a huge undercurrent of it in our society.

        here’s a glorification of competition and the idea that the “best” will win out – and that the person who comes out on top is obviously the “best” and can tell everyone else what to do. I see both Christians and Atheists with this worldview, it just takes different forms. :/

    • I’d agree with Samantha that Tribalism plays a part, but I think that Evangelical Christianity falls prey to this Elitism more than perhaps other areas of human belief.

      Personally, it seems to me that part of that comes with how “superior” “our” God is. “My ways are higher than your ways, my thoughts are higher than your thoughts” says the Lord. And since we’ve been called to become like God, and we are following His “higher” ways, than that means that by necessity – if we are following God’s True Teachings – we must be “higher” than the world. Which is why Christians are called to be separate from the world, why Christians consider the level in which they are accountable to be better. And it must be better, right? Otherwise, why would one choose to do it?

      I think this kind of pattern begins to require a certain amount of Tribalism. You stick with those who are following the same Code as you. It’s very common advice for Christians to never date – much less marry – non-Christians for this very reason. And then while they encourage Christians to have non-Christian friends, it’s only to make ones life a witness of these Higher ways.

      Fundamentalism just tends to push things toward the extremes, and so you get extreme amounts of Elitism. I’ve seen this in my own church. I’ve been raised in a Seventh-day Adventist background and one of the messages of the church is that the SDA Church was raised to be the Remnant of God’s Truth in the end days. As the church has grown increasingly fundamental in the last 10 years or so, that message has gotten preached more and more strongly in more black-and-white terms.

  • Crystal

    “But the biggest problem I have (for the moment) with these statements is that they frame non-Christian marriages as less than. They probably wouldn’t go so far as to say that non-Christian marriages are doomed to unhappiness and divorce, but by making the claim that we need to place “glorifying God” as the center purpose of our marriage in order to truly love, what they are saying is that people who don’t think of “glorifying God” as a goal cannot truly love. They can love, sure, but not truly love. Any happiness a non-Christian experiences in their marriage is because of luck, probably. Because they couldn’t possibly be building a healthy marriage filled with trust and love and respect and kindness and acceptance– not without God, at least. Not really.”

    Yes, absolutely. I have to totally agree. I also remember hearing another arrogant man talking like this in the umblest voice you could imagine; therefore, the opinion isn’t as uncommon as we’d like to think, although the man in question does oppose Mark Driscoll and his vile teachings.

    By the way, men and women SHOULD BE FRIENDS, just like men and men are friends, and women and women are friends. There shouldn’t be any difference of any kind based on a person’s sex.

  • Crazylikeafox

    I don’t know anything about the Luther’s. Was it a happy marriage? Did he treat her as an equal, or not? Also, I’m curious if it was an arranged marriage or not. It wouldn’t surprise me considering the era, but it’s always possible it wasn’t arranged as well. Sorry, I know that has nothing to do with your point, but it got me wondering and now I can’t ignore it

    • Crystal

      Your question deserves to be answered. Some sources say he was good to her such as the documentary “Katie Luther: The Morning Star of Wittenberg” even to the point of leaving her his inheritance when he died. Also, another source said she was the only woman allowed to sit in on his theological discussions. Other sources disagree with this assessment based on his other vile and nonsensical opinions on women. We really don’t know, but I’m interested in a conclusive answer to the question also.

    • Definitely not an arranged marriage, but one for love. Martin Luther was a monk before being excommunicated from the Catholic church because he advocated change. Katherine was a nun around this time, who also left. As far as it being happy, I don’t know too many details, but if I remember my confirmation classes correctly, she was very supportive of him and his work.

    • Luther was a horrible misogynist so I can’t imagine that he could have had a very happy marriage. People might deduct that they were happy based on their public appearance but how can they know what happened behind closed doors?

  • Hilary

    I remember learning about Martin Luther in (public) high school, in our European history class. The article was interesting, and finally helped me to understand the difference between Protestants and Christians (not always obvious when you are Jewish, live in a predominantly Lutheran city, and have Catholic grandparents). The article went over several ways of understanding him, theological, historical, psychological, but the one thing that always stuck with me was the conclusion: that in the end, there are grave difficulties in psycholanalyzing the dead. So when trying to understand Luther, I always keep that in mind: there are grave difficulties in psycholanalyzing the dead.

    As for Mark Driscoll, I’m not even sure what ‘calling someone out in sin’ means. My wife and I have had some dozies of a blowout when one person couldn’t coast anymore coping with the other’s behavior, but afterwards we try to work out tactical strategies to fix the problem (with varying levels of success). When I think of calling someone out in sin, my first thought is calling an intervention regarding chemical abuse. Even that isn’t about sin, it’s about a reality check and getting help. Is neglecting your physical health a sin? Penny and I have had to help each other take our health seriously and get help for problems instead of just coping. Saying ‘I need more help/ this isn’t working/ I can’t live feeling this ignored/ we have a problem, and you need to take it seriously’ is one thing, but I can’t imagine telling my wife ‘You’re sinning, and because I love you I’m going to shame you about it to try and help you change.’

    Well, I suppose in Mark’s book my first problem is that I am Jewish, liberal, and lesbian. The job in protein biochemistry is icing on the cake, writing Doctor Who fanfiction is lagniape, and three cats just put me beyond the pale. (Writing Doctor Who fanfiction with a Jewish lesbian character who can sit down with the Doctor and talk theology over a banana kugel . . . I don’t even want to know what level of sin he’d have to call me out over that.)

    • Hilary

      Oh crap, I meant between Protestants and Catholics. I didn’t really understand the difference between Protestant and Catholic until high school, because to me it all looked basically the same, you guys all worshiped Jesus Christ just in slightly different ways. I know Protestants are Christians, and I knew that back then.

    • Hilary, as near as I can figure out, in fundiegelical speak “calling someone out in sin”–in this case a spouse–usually means a husband chastising his wife for being insufficiently submissive; e.g. they had a difference of opinion on, oh, just about anything, and she didn’t concede that he was right quickly enough.

    • Anne

      Why do you have to be so awesome? Seriously, I’m an invisible lurker here, on RHE’s blog, and on LJF, and I get really excited every time I get to read one of your comments. Figured it was about time I went ahead gave a shout out. 🙂

  • “I disagree with that. This is coming from someone who hasn’t even been married two years yet, so feel free to tip in your two cents, couples-with-more-experience, but drawing on both my experience as a partner and as a friend, I don’t think this is true. All of my friendships have involved some sort of conflict, true, but those have been the moments when our friendships have been the weakest and the most unloving. In my marriage, my goal isn’t to “pursue him into the sin he has fallen into,” but to love and accept and encourage.”

    My relationship with my husband is probably the relationship I’ve had the least amount of conflict with over the years. I suppose it depends on what is meant by “conflict”. Do we disagree? Sure, but we’re quick to talk it out and figure out a way to move forward. I don’t know that that is the type of conflict that Driscoll has in mind, because it’s not about changing the other person, but about moving the relationship forward. There’s nothing about my partner I want to change (except maybe him leaving his dirty socks on the living room floor), so what’s left is a need to figure out how to make two personalities work and work well together, which requires a generous dose of acceptance of both the other person and yourself.

    But like I said, I somehow doubt that Driscoll is advocating the same view of conflict. *shakes head*

  • I’ll chip in my 2 cents on this issue. My wife and I have been married for 13 years. We have 5 adorable – and challenging – children. We are, and have been the best of friends since we started dating, and I cannot imagine a marriage without that friendship.
    We are both strong, ornery, self sufficient sorts, and neither of us likes to be subordinate. At all. It was thus a great surprise to many of our friends and family that there is little conflict in our marriage. Sure, we have our disagreements and occasional fights, but many have remarked that we work really, really well together at whatever we do. Needless to say, ours is an egalitarian marriage. It’s the only thing that would work for us.
    Also, rather than Driscoll’s “sanctification” view, we both work to make the other’s life easier. Not change the other. Help the other out, and cover when the other needs a break. And with 5 kids, we often need it. So why should I seek to “improve” her? Better to just see a need and meet it. Like a *friend* would do. In my opinion.

  • Melody

    “Christian elitism comes out in a lot of ways in Christian culture, and they’re usually wrapped up in sentiments like this one– and it frustrates me no end because of how baldly false it is. I’m friends with a lot of atheists and agnostics, and my friendships with them have been richer and more meaningful and more challenging than most of the friendships I’ve ever had with Christians– and the relationships that I have now with Christians don’t have anything “more” than my relationships with atheists. In fact, most of the friendships I’ve had with Christians have been profoundly negative and have ended horrifically because they felt more entitled to judge and condemn me than to love me.”

    I’ve found this as well. I’d be careful what I say around Christian friends and felt more accepted by my non-Christian friends, far more! Christians, fundie ones anyway, are so comfortable judging everyone and everything, it’s like a mindset of its own. When I think back about opinions that I used to have, it makes me feel pretty ashamed. It was for me also a reason for self-hate and I had hardly any self-esteem, because I kept falling short of being a perfect Christian and hated myself for that. The constant exalting of Christians who had ‘made it,’ didn’t particulary help.

    The problem I’ve had with Christian elitism was the idea of doing good deeds and charity. There are plenty humanists doing good things, but in our theology they were supposed to be bad, so they couldn’t possibly look out for others and join say Doctors without borders. All non-Christians were supposed to be selfish and greedy and so on, so they couln’t be altuiristic as that was the Christian perogative… So I’d be asking how that was possible, but didn’t receive a good reply. Suddenly it was God’s image in them but they were still bad and doing it for the wrong reasons anyway… Sigh.

    I also wondered why they would do good things, because as far as I could tell (certainly for me anyway, I’m a little embarrassed to admit) Christians would do things so God would be pleased with them (and perhaps go to heaven/not to hell). I certainly only believed because I was afraid of hell, nothing more or less. Humanists don’t have any reason to fear hell, so why should they be doing good things? Oh, I don’t know, perhaps out of the kindness of their hearts? But then they were full of sin, so they couldn’t right? It simply doesn’t add up.

    Anyway, to end a long rant, this is part of my struggle to stay Christian. I’ve discovered I believed mostly out of fear and a desire to please my parents and God by extention. There is this saying that God doesn’t have any grandchildren, and I’m wondering if I am or was a grandchild rather than an actual child. Do I still like or want God now that I am less afraid? Now that I have better self-esteem, don’t take my parents’ opinion as gospel anymore, and am beginning to question exactly how good God is? Throwing people into hell, which isn’t necessary if you don’t make them in the first place, that kind of thing… If God is the one holding all the cards, God is ultimately responsible for everything, right? The devil can only go as far as God allows…which makes God responsible for the bad as well. That kind of thing.

    So that’s a bit of my issues with that. I’m at the brink of losing my faith, I think. The only reason I still believe is because of some fond ideas and memories around Jesus helping me and being there for me when times were hard. But I might be persuaded that it was an imaginary friendship, and on my most cynical days I believe this to be true. On others, I’m still hanging on, floating towards a more liberal and positive image of God. Some days I want to keep my faith, and other days I just want to toss it away as far as I can.

    • Tim

      A few people have commented on the discussion of Christian elitism. I think Samantha’s criticism of it is on target – I think a lot of fundamentalists believe (all evidence to the contrary) that Christian people are on average essentially just better people: better at successful marriages, better friends, more honest, more generous, less selfish. And I think, in addition to just being false, it’s a damaging view that harms relationships, makes the people who hold it suspicious of “outsiders,” more likely to feel shame when they don’t personally measure up to what they think their identity should be, and can make people hypocritical and blind to their own faults. I don’t think “Christian elitism” is essentially different than other forms of elitism; I think it is an example of tribalism (which has evolutionary advantages); I think you can find similar examples in a lot of other groups. It’s pretty human to think that members of your “tribe” (whether that’s progressives, Ivy Leage graduates, Bears fans, people in Theater, or math majors) are just inherently “better” in some way than everyone who isn’t part of your group.

      I think there are several elements in Christianity that mitigate against the natural human bent toward tribalism. To cite just one example, in order to illustrate what the command, “Love your neighbor,” means, Jesus tells a story about someone who crossed tribal lines to do good. If you’re interested in pursuing this theme: “Christian biblical and historical teaching that Christians shouldn’t think of themselves as belonging to any elite group that’s in any way better than non-Christians,” there’s quite a lot of material on that. I see the fact that fundamentalist Christians often fall prey to tribalism as just illustrating that fundamentalists are human, too.

      I think, from a Christian perspective, the fact that non-Christians do “good” (however that’s defined, as volunteering their time and talents, or as simply being loyal friends and having successful marriages) really is explained by the concept of imago dei. That we’re all made in God’s image, and we have an inborn sense of “right” and “wrong” and are drawn toward the good, whether we’re Christian or not. Of course, history shows that most of us have selfish impulses as well which can cause us to fail to live up to our ideal of the good, under certain circumstances, and Christians as well as non-Christians struggle with that as well. And are sometimes motivated to do “good” things because we are looking for someone’s approval, and are sometimes motivated to avoid doing things we know we shouldn’t just because we’re afraid of the consequences, whether we believe in eternal consequences or just in the power of a parent, a professor or a cop.

      I think people are motivated spiritually (i.e. to seek “God” or a “higher power” or something similar) by a need for one of three things: Life (by which I mean the bottom three layers of Maslow’s hierarchy – physiological needs, security, love and acceptance), Wisdom (by which I mean an understanding of how the world and relationships work), or Meaning (by which I mean the top two layers of Maslow’s hierarchy – esteem and self-actualization). All three of those things can be found within a functional Christian community and in a real relationship with God. Some people just need some food, a safe place to sleep, and someone to tell them that they’re worth something and people really care about them. Some people need to know how to go about stopping a pattern of self-destructive behavior, or they feel like they just need to understand where they came from and what this crazy world is all about. Some people need to feel like they’re doing something that really matters in the world beyond just making their animal self comfortable and content. Functional Christian community and a real relationship with God can provide all three of those things. But someone who feels like they have all of that going on already, or doesn’t really desire one or more of those things will not find real value in seeking Christian community or a relationship with God. And will probably not ultimately hang onto a hand-me-down faith in order to keep the parents happy.

      • Melody

        For me there’s a pretty big gap between what Jesus teaches and what Christians (the ones I knew and grew up, so fundamentalists) portray and believe in their daily lives. I’ve often felt uncomfortable, like an outsider, and I didn’t always agree with everything but was afraid to speak up, nor really allowed to anyway. So I am/was part of a tribe that I don’t feel I belong to and their response to the outsiders (some of whom I do like a lot) is not so positive either.

        Anyway, I get your point about what you need from God or a religion. Perhaps I’m learning to rely more on my own judgement now than on things I was taught. There are many things that God/my religion have given me, good and bad. At the moment, I’m trying to find out if the good outweighs the bad, or if it doesn’t. I do think I’ve looked to religion to fill all these needs which I now know can come from other sources as well. For me there is freedom in knowing that. Religion has been very constraining for me and I would like to keep the good but only if I can manage to keep the bad out of it (i.e. inmense fear of God, punishment, heaps of guilt etc) I’ve had my share of faith crises over the years due to this and to think that I might have avoided all that pain and grief if I hadn’t believed in anything at all, is kind of upsetting. On the other hand, I do like Jesus and have felt some support and solace in my relationship with him, so, there’s that too.

        In so far that I still believe I do think everyone is made in the image of God, which is part of why it is so wrong that Christians pretend they are better than everyone else.

        • Tim

          Thanks for your thoughts. What Jesus teaches is a pretty high standard – hard for anyone to live up to, really. I’m sorry for the bad you experienced (fear, punishment and shame) and the way felt like you were an outsider in the group you grew up in, and that they didn’t treat outsiders well. I can definitely relate to all of that. I wish you well in your faith journey, both with trusting your own judgment and with the difficult project of sorting the good from the bad and seeing how much the good is really worth.

          I have to say, I really like Jesus, too. If you can find a group of Christians who really seem to be all about loving Jesus and loving their neighbors, first and foremost, that might be a safe group to do your sorting with. If you can’t find such a group, I wouldn’t sweat it. If God is really there, and he’s good, and he loves you, I have to believe that he’s even more interested in making that connection with you and is able to.

          In your earlier note, you mentioned questioning how good God really is. It’s a fair question. Would you like some pointers to people who have thought about that question seriously?

          • Melody

            I’ll be moving soon so I might check out some new churches and see what happens. I do believe it’s possible to have faith without attending a church though, perhaps not easy but not impossible either, especially when there have been negative church experiences.

            Yes, I would like to read more about the questions that I have and only seem to find atheist answers to rather than Christian ones. Thank you!

          • Tim

            I don’t know if you’ll want to continue this discussion here or elsewhere – it seems we’re drifting from the topic of the blog – but here is a link to a fairly neutral, accurate (IMO) article on the topic of the logical problem of evil in philosophy and where it’s gone in the 20th century: http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-log/#H4
            It’s not an answer to all your questions, but a pointer to some men and women who have thought seriously about your questions from a philosophical standpoint. If you have some further thoughts and questions and you’d like to bounce them off me, I’m open to that. What atheists have you been reading, btw?

          • Melody

            Thanks! I’ll check it out.

            I’ve mostly read websites of former pastors turned atheists, reading their struggle and recognizing similar questions. Also a bit of Jung, who offers a different perspective on God, more Gnostic.

  • Abby Normal

    So typical–a woman doesn’t fit the proper mold or does something a guy disagrees with and the only thing he can think to do is insult her looks. Practically every right-wing tool on the radio does this; I guess it should come as no surprise that Driscoll does the same. (Only men are allowed the privilege of being funny-looking, apparently.)

  • I admit, now I’m pretty curious what the most important marriage in history is… Ferdinand and Isabella, in Spain, perhaps? Led to a unified Spain and Columbus’s voyages to the Americas.

  • johnkutensky, a very good candidate, another one would be Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn of England. Not a successful marriage, but breaking with Rome and their daughter Elizabeth I changed history significantly.

    I don’t know about the calling out each other in sin crap; wife and I have our 36th coming up and we’ve been friends for most of it. I do things that she fusses about and her fussing irritates me. The one thing that we really fight over is the TV remote. I don’t mind her wanting to hog it, but she could at least learn how to use it and not have to hit five buttons to figure out where the mute is or the channel changer…
    If I ever tried to insist she submit to my Biblical leadership role it would only produce loud laughter.

  • I’m glad you mentioned that people who aren’t Christians are just as capable of loving relationships as people who are. I’m not sure why it doesn’t occur to many Christians that people who aren’t Christians are made in the image of God too. My boyfriend is agnostic and he is the first person I’ve dated who is not a Christian and my relationship with him is definitely more loving and healthy than any relationship I’ve ever had with any Christian.

    • I’m in the same boat. My boyfriend is an atheist which actually made me a little afraid and panicky when I first found out. But seeing as I’m not sure I even believe in God anymore and considering that he is the kindest, sweetest, most honest and compassionate man I have ever met it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Although I am sure my home church and probably my mother are going to think that he has turned me away from God or something like that. Which isn’t even remotely true an is kind for insulting because inlt implies I am incapable of learning and thinking and figuring things out for myself and then making decisions for myself. I am shocked at how amazing of a person he is and how he has had such a positive affect on my life. And he’s an atheist! So much for the “only Christians are truly happy and at peace, and everyone else in the world is miserable” stuff.

  • ReverendRef

    Their marriage was . . . arguably the most significant marriage outside the Bible in the history of the world.

    As an Episcopalian, I would like to nominate Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon for that distinction. Or maybe Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I will agree that the other four — Jane, Anne, Kathryn and Katherine — weren’t all that significant.

    • Yes! Both were much much more historically relevant for sure.

  • Christian elitism can get it’s tentacles into every part of a person’s brain. How often are Christians appalled by Christians being killed in the Middle East? How often are these same people appalled by any other humans being killed? It sickens and saddens me when I hear people talking like this.

    • Melody

      Exactly. Like they are of higher value somehow. Whatever happens only matters if it affects Christians otherwise it doesn’t matter nearly as much. I don’t think that’s very Jesus-like though, but more due to Paul saying we have to look after one another especially (which in his time with a young new religion which is constantly threatened does make sense) but then twisted into not caring much about others in general (as they are the enemy and/or potential converts)

  • I would argue that Katherine Parr’s marriage to Henry VIII had a huge influence on the English Church, both for her own efforts to encourage the king to become more Protestant and for the affect growing up in her household had on Elizabeth I, the first English ruler to avow Protestantism publicly.

  • Caroline M

    My husband and I have had plenty of conflict – we’ve only been married 3 years, but those have been tough times for many reasons. But, I’d imagine that conflict in an egalitarian marriage looks very different from a “complimentarian” (misogynistic) one. Also, I still get squicked out when I read that something must be done “to glorify God.” Growing up as a Calvinist, EVERYTHING was supposedly for the glory of God, including AIDS (which was punishment for gays, duh). When God sentenced millions to eternal hellfire for the crime of being born sinners it was “all for His own glory.” Took me a long time to get that ghastly image of God out of my head.

  • I realize I’m a little late to this game here, but I had to add my own story to what you say at the end of your post about Christians not seeing non-Christian marriages as loving. When I was planning my wedding I asked my high school youth minister to preach at the ceremony and he agreed. I told him about a year before the wedding that while I was very sad about it, I seemed to have lost my faith. A couple of weeks before the wedding he calls me and tells me that he’s very sorry, but he can’t be part of our wedding anymore. When I ask why he says, “Because I believe love comes from Jesus.” That is a direct quote from an ordained minister. Nothing anyone else has every done to me has hurt more. How could he think that I didn’t love my husband to be? Or that I wasn’t loved by my partner? Because I had, very sorrowfully even, stopped believing in God I couldn’t love or be loved anymore? That’s a damnably cruel, and stupid, thing to think about others. That was six years ago and my marriage is more full of love than I ever thought possible and there’s still no Jesus in it. I can’t say that bodes well for his belief system.