Friday, March 10, 2017

Before You Meet Prince Charming: Chapter Two - Part Two

The allegory in this chapter covered why emotional purity is like a rose torn to pieces.  Moving into the self-help portion of the chapter, Ms. Mally starts teaching us about the evils of dating.

The introduction begins blaming dating, modern culture and general lack of thinking for the current trend of awful marriages.

"If you look at the fruit of the American system of dating, there is reason to be seriously concerned. The majority of modern marriages end up in divorce. Few marriages are truly happy. And many enter into marriage with injuries, emotional handicaps, and scars from past dating relationships." (pg. 34)
  • Sloppy transitions and failure to explain conclusions are two ongoing problems that CP/QF literature is ripe with.  Yes, I know that your audience is strongly inclined to view dating as evil, but that does not absolve the author from laying out a connection between behavior during dating and behavior during marriage.
  • The old "50% divorce rate" trope is trotted out again.  There are so many problems with that statement....
    • Measuring divorces as a function of marriages is a statistical nightmare.  There is no federal requirement that states collect or publish the number of marriages per year so researchers are left trying to estimate out the data based on cohorts like everyone who was married in the 1980's.
      • With that qualification, the lifetime divorce rate of people married in the 1970's and 1980's was estimated at between 45-50%.  By comparison, the divorce rates for the 1960's and the 1990's were placed between 30-35%.  The reasoning for the uptick in the 70's and 80's had more to do with society transitioning from a breadwinner-homemaker model of marriage to a marriage between loving equals.
    • I would be remiss not to point out that the highest rates of divorce in the last three decades has been among couples who marry young without college degrees while the lowest divorce rates are among people who marry later in life and have degrees.
  • I need some data - or even some compelling anecdotes - to support the claims that most marriages are miserable because the people entering marriage are emotionally devastated from dating.  Now, there are plenty of anecdotes about people who were hurt by emotional purity before marriage.
After the introduction, the chapter takes a sudden left turn into the topic of the importance of Christians marrying other Christians.  This section starts with Ms. Mally describing a time she was met a young woman at a friend's house who was getting married to a man who was not a Christian.
    • Ms. Mally glosses over the fact that the young woman doesn't seem bothered at all by the fact her fiance is not a practicing Christian. 
    •  Ms. Mally also implies the young woman is marrying someone she only met 6 months ago which is the time that the couple started dating.  That may be true, but the two may have had a previous friendship before dating.   
  • From this bland memory, Ms. Mally extrapolates that the woman she just met is making a illogical and ruinous decision because she and her intended formed an emotional relationship that would be too painful to break.  For me, this feels like a major over-reach of the information at Ms. Mally's disposal from a woman she just met.
This leads into a list of reasons...scenarios....a brainstorming session..... I don't really know what to class this as... that lead Christians to marry non-Christians.
We can make a list of possible reasons:

1. It could be that one of them lied. You know, a guy will say anything for a girl, and vice versa.

2. Perhaps one of them was sincerely deceived and considered himself to be a believer, but didn't understand the gospel -- that Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, formed at the moment in time when one specifically and genuinely asks Christ for forgiveness and mercy.

3. Maybe they both went to the same church or were from the same denomination and therefore just assumed that the other was a Christian.

4. They might have believed that after marriage they would be able to lead their spouse to the Lord.

5. Possibly, they felt pressured into getting married by circumstances or other people.

6. Maybe one of them got saved after they were married. Well, that's a good problem! Someone came to know the Lord.

We can continue to list other possible scenarios, but actually there is just one main reason for unbalanced marriages - it's called dating." (pg. 35-36)

For my sanity, I'm going to re-write each point above in a more coherent fashion before refuting the issue in each.

Point One:  Christians marry non-Christians because the non-Christian lied about their salvation status.
Rebuttal: It is true that some people lie to potential romantic partner.  While someone could lie about their salvation status, Christianity isn't a cryptic religion; a Christian is supposed to act like a follower of Christ.  As two people get to know each other, someone who lies about their salvation status will most likely show other signs of not being that into their religion.  More importantly, a guy or girl could lie as easily in a courtship as they could during dating.

Point Two: Christians marry non-Christians because the "non-Christian" self-identifies as a Christian under different guidelines than the "Christian".
Rebuttal: This isn't a problem caused - or even exacerbated - by dating.  This is what happens when the "Christian" doesn't bother to explain their personal or church requirements for membership in Christianity to someone else.  If you want to marry a Christian self-identifies under evangelical beliefs, be clear to your romantic partners about that.

Point Three: Christians marry non-Christians because being a card-carrying member of an evangelical church isn't proof of actual Christianity.
Rebuttal: *rolls eyes* For the love of God, ask your partner if they are a Christian under whatever definition you use is.  This is not that complicated - and needs to be done in a courtship, betrothal or arraigned marriage as well as in dating.

Point Four: Christians marry non-Christians because they hope they can change a major life characteristic of their spouse after marriage.
Rebuttal: People change over time, but expecting major changes in someone after marriage is unfair to the "changee" spouse.  After all, Sarah Mally et al. would be up in arms if atheists were marrying Christians as a step in getting the Christians to deconvert.   Like the three previous points, this isn't a problem with dating; it's a problem of marrying under false pretenses.

Point Five: Christians marry non-Christians because the Christian feels pressured to get married because of circumstances or other people.
Rebuttal: Funny, after reading the first four points, I think Christians marry "non-Christians" or non-Christians because of a release of pressure.  Spending your life in a pressure cooker where everyone is trying to determine who is "saved" sounds horrible.  Imagine meeting someone who believes your statement of being a Christian at face-value.  No need to compare theological definitions or need to prove that you asked Christ for forgiveness and mercy. Now, THAT would be a delicious release of pressure.
On a more practical note, if you expect to have the fortitude, stamina and conviction to spread the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, you cannot seriously expect me to believe that a good saved Christian will crumple under something as minor as societal pressure for marriage or an unplanned pregnancy.
This, yet again, has nothing to do with dating.

Point Six: Christians are married to non-Christians because the Christian converted after marriage.
Rebuttal: How is dating even remotely related to this?  It's not.

This post is already long so I'm going to break this into two posts.  The next post really drives home the dangers of writing a book on dating when you've never dated or spent any time around peers who dated.


  1. There's also the reality that there are plenty of healthy interfaith marriages out there; sharing the same religion is absolutely not a requirement for a good marriage.

    1. I completely agree. Under Ms. Mally's system of classifications, my husband and I are both non-Christians, but under the system used by the rest of the universe, I'm a Roman Catholic and he's Reformed Church of America.

      The important thing is that both partners can respect the beliefs and practices of their spouse. Being of different faiths requires more communication over things like how to celebrate holidays, how to balance religious duties with family duties and how to raise your kids - but I've also known people within the same faith who have much more difficulty over those topics because they assume that they share identical wishes because they are of the same religion.