A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Defrauding Women and Other Doozies

Boundless has recently reprinted some articles that, in the minds of the Editor(s), represent some of the best writing that the website has to offer. What is the basic theme of the recent crop of offerings? Sex. Not surprising to me. If there is anything that the prude and the lewd have in common, it is their obsession with sex. The current article featured at Boundless, "Physical Intimacy and the Single Man" (by Matt Schmucker), is no exception in this regard. I came across this article before on the Boundless website. I had a low opinion of it at the time that I first read it and have a low opinion of it now, but I am glad it has been reprinted if only to give me the opportunity to expose it for what it is.

I grant that the article contains some relevant Biblical truths about purity. Men should avoid sexual behavior with women outside the marriage bond. They need to also get away from any compromising situations and guard their minds against impure thoughts. However, I must ask a question: How much rat poison would you accept in a bag of corn meal? A half cup? A tablespoon? A teaspoon? A dash? I ask this, because what makes Mr. Schmucker's article so destructive is that it is Biblical teaching laced with Phariseeism and misandry.

For starters, the article opens with questions. Loaded questions, that is:
  • Do you think it would be acceptable or unacceptable for me, a married man, to have sex with a woman who is not my wife?
  • Do you think it would be acceptable or unacceptable for me to kiss, caress, and fondle a woman who is not my wife (something short of intercourse)?
  • Do you think it would be acceptable or unacceptable for me to have a meal with a woman not my wife and engage in extended conversation about each other's lives (likes/dislikes/struggles/pasts)?

If you answered "unacceptable" to three out of the three, or even two out of the three questions — "yes, it would be unacceptable for you as a married man to do those things" — I want to suggest that a double standard may exist in your mind. Many people who answer "unacceptable" with regard to me, as a married man, would not say "unacceptable" for the single man.

I have a few questions for Mr. Schmucker:

1) What if the woman you are having an extended conversation with happens to be a female relative? Why should we necessarily view all female-male relationships through the sexual lens?

2) If a single man has an extended conversation with a single woman, is he engaging in something dishonorable as you seem to suggest? If he cannot do this, is he supposed to be basically in the dark about any woman that comes into his life up until the time he marries?

3) Or if a single man can have a extended conversation with a woman that he has the intention of marrying, can he also have sex with her under these circumstances? If not, then why put extended conversations in the same boat as sexual behavior?

3) Would it be acceptable for you as a married man to pursue any kind of an amorous relationship with a woman not your wife? Could you, a married man, pursue courtship Josh Harris style or Candice Watters style with someone not your wife? If a single man's case is truly parallel to yours, isn't everything off limits?

In short, Mr. Schmucker's logic is downright asinine. Affirming that God's expectations for single men are different from those for married men is not a double-standard, friends. It's reality. Anyway, Mr. Schmucker continues:
Now to the male reader who says, "Lying with a prostitute is a black-and-white issue, and of course I would never do that," allow me to reply: You are missing the point. Being bought at a price by God should compel you to honor him with everything you have and with everything you are, including your body.
That's a good principle. But here's another principle:
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
That comes from Col. 2:20-23 (NASB). That applies just as much to the man-made casuistic theology of modern religious pundits as it did the Judaizers of Jesus' and Paul's time. Anyway, Mr. Schmucker goes on in his article to talk about men defrauding women. What is is his proof-text? 1 Thess. 4:3-6 ...
It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.
Ok, what am I missing here? Because I don't see anything in that passage about women. I'm pretty certain it refers to sleeping with another man's wife! And what pray tell, is the point that Mr. Schmucker attempts to make? Well, he says:
What do I mean by defrauding in this context? Simply put, a man defrauds a woman when, by his words or actions, he promises the benefits of marriage to a woman he either has no intention of marrying or if he does, has no way of finally knowing that he will ...

What may be considered innocent — holding hands, putting an arm around her in the pew, some "light" kissing, long talks over Starbucks coffee — all send the message to a sister that reads, "You're mine." Single men must be careful here.
This presents me with an opportunity to torpedo yet another lousy idea being floated by self-canonized relationship experts in the Evangelical blogosphere. Somehow we are to believe that if a man gets too cozy with a woman, he is essentially promising marriage to her. Such is the idea behind the charge that men are "defrauding" women. Nice theory ... if it weren't so full of baloney.

Too many times in this culture, we have panderers that validate the feelings of women over the facts. The fact is that if a man has not promised something to a woman, her reading her own wishful thinking into his behavior does not change his "no" into a "yes". People, we would not tolerate this nonsense if the roles were reversed. If a man said, "She lead me on," we would shriek at him, "No means no! Jerk!" But somehow verbal communication doesn't mean anything when ladies get their precious little hearts broken. Give. Me. A. Break. If a woman is too stupid to have open communication with her male significant other about what behavior is appropriate and what that behavior implies, she doesn't deserve to get married. If she reads more into a man's behavior than what he has promised, then the only fraud that has been committed is that of her own self-deception. Heartbreaks are a fact of life for either sex, so let's stop automatically blaming men when relationships go sour.

Another concern comes to mind as I read Mr. Schmucker's remarks: Does anyone really expect me, as an educated Christian man, to believe that holding hands sends the same instrinsic message as heavy petting? I haven't seen too many married folks on Sunday morning engaging in heavy petting in pews, but I have seen them holding hands or throwing arms around the backs of each other. Maybe the elders at Mr. Schmucker's church should come out strong against married people showing such inordinate displays of public affection!

I will finish my review of Mr. Schmucker's with this quote of his:

We do not want a brother standing at the altar on his wedding day looking at his beautiful bride only to imagine behind her the boys and men who took advantage of her and robbed her of the trust and confidence that she now needs for her husband. We do not want a sister standing at the altar on her wedding day looking at her handsome groom only to imagine behind him a string of relationships with girls and women he failed to honor, and knowing that images in his head from pornography use and past flings may stick with him for a long time.

Ah yes, it's the man who commits the sexual sin in both cases, isn't it? Did you pick up on that? I did, and I'm getting tired of the insinuation that men are wolves and women are Little Red Riding Hoods. Okay, boys and girls, repeat after me ... slowly now ... It. Takes. Two. To. Tango. Tell our fine Christian ladies to stop chasing pretty boy thugs and keep their pants zipped if they don't want to get "defrauded" (boo-hoo).

P.S. Somebody should inform the person in charge of graphics at Boundless that having a picture of a well-muscled man with his shirt wide open in an article about purity is in extremely poor taste.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Anakin, thanks. I was so peeved by that article at Boundless I was going to resurrect my 'blog, like Lazurus coming forth from the tomb, with a response.

I sent that link to some people, and most of them picked up immediately on the idea that it's sort of crazy to impute sin to the idea of a single man talking to a single woman at the coffee shop.

I hope my wife of the future has had lots of talks with lots of men before we settle in together. I like them smart and well informed and knowing for certain why it is they want me and not someone else. I won't regret her having done that, and I don't know any other way to parse that article out than to take it that way. Poor editing? Possible. More likely: Freudian slip, or they really are so set in their thinking that they can't "hear" themselves. Or they really do believe that interactions between singles of opposite genders outside of church surveillance of one sort or the other is inherently suspicious, or even "wrong" but don't want to come out and say this; or haven't figured it out about themselves.

...Freudian slip, I would say.

wombatty said...

Great analysis Anakin; this stuff is getting really tiresome.

Anakin wrote:

Ah yes, it's the man who commits the sexual sin in both cases, isn't it? Did you pick up on that? I did, and I'm getting tired of the insinuation that men are wolves and women are Little Red Riding Hoods. Okay, boys and girls, repeat after me ... slowly now ... It. Takes. Two. To. Tango.

Yeah, I caught that too. Men are always guilty because women can do no wrong.

What people that write such articles seem to forget is that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand; they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have rights without responsibilities. Now these people continue to imply that women have little or no responsibility for their behavior.

Here, if women are sexually indiscreet before marriage, it is not because they were irresponsible, engaged in poor judgment, or, and I might be bordering on heresy here, catered to their sinful nature. No, it’s because one or more men defrauded them.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are plenty of men out there who are engaged in defrauding women in this way. But that’s the difference between someone like me and Matt Schmucker – I don’t have a Pollyanna-ish view of human nature, be it that of men or women.

I would think that some women would find this insulting in the same way minorities should find affirmative action insulting. These people are promoting a low view of women (either that, or these men have a severe inferiority complex; insisting that everything is their fault). They might as well come out and say it plainly:

We can’t expect them to behave responsibly, after all, they’re only women.

While they are being straight-forward about it, they should also be consistent. If women are not morally responsible beings, they have no business in the workplace or the voting booth. Come to think of it, perhaps they are not even qualified to be mothers without strict supervision from a male relative while hubby is at work.

Further, if a woman is not responsible for her bahavior around men (because she is not capable if exercising judgment & self-control) before marriage, how can her husband trust her to bahave after marriage? Perhaps it would just be best for women to be confined to the home absent a male-relative escort.

For some reason, I just don’t see this consistency happening…

Hermes said...

I once posted a comment on Boundless showing some of the absurdities of that article; the ultimate absurdity being, as you say, that since it's wrong for a married man to date or "court" a woman who is not his wife, it's wrong for a single man to date or court a single woman. But upon rereading it, it strikes me even more now than it did then how it explicitly (or almost explicity--the Boundless writers are always hedging their bets) says that any and all physical contact between two people who are not married is wrong, period.

I'm not quite as critical of the "defrauding" argument in all contexts as you, since I don't know why a man would show such affection with a woman if he didn't intend to keep pursuing the relationship. But it also strikes me how clear the message is that anytime anything goes wrong in a relationship, it's the man's fault. Apparently if a girl reaches for her boyfriend's hand or puts her arm around him, he is still the one defrauding her.

Mordecai Lament said...

EPIC FAIL! Oh, my... gosh. Boundless royally screwed this up. Okay, first question, I agree with. I get where he's coming from. Second question, as far as I'm concerned IS a double standard. I'll give slight deference to certain things. It's a matter of context. (My personal opinion only) But the third question makes me go, "What are you smoking?"

Triton said...

I think you meant Col. 2:20-23, not Col 2:1.

Ah yes, it's the man who commits the sexual sin in both cases, isn't it? Did you pick up on that? I did

Me too. American girls are getting trampier every year, but Boundless seems oblivious; as far as they're concerned, the little harlots can do no wrong.

They'd probably give full custody of the kids to Britney and blame K-Fed for her bad habits.

Kuya Kevin said...

I have to agree with you on this one, too. I read the article and found it to be "purity overkill."

To give you some quick background on me, I'm an advocate of sexual purity here in Manila--it is a central theme of my ministry (I've even written a book here about it).

BUT, I get frustrated when it is taken too far. Holding hands or any form of affection defrauds women? Come on.

The Bible is clear about sexual immorality. It is hard enough to convince youth/singles to postpone sex until marriage. Let's not add to the Scriptures and burden folks with extra-biblical commandments.

Laura said...

I can see where they are coming from ONLY if they are assuming off the bat that

1. A man will have no reason to socially interact with a woman until he decides to find a wife.

2. The only women that a man will be interacting with are young pure homeschooled type girls who's fathers have been asked for permission first and who are only talking to a man at all because they are hoping to get married.

I guess these 2 conditions are true for some men in some communities. I follow the blogs of a number of girls like this, who don't believe in any physical touch or being alone with a man until they are married. Or wearing pants. In the context of communities of Christians like this the article's points are not unreasonable.

But to assume that this tactic is reasonable for all single men in all contexts is dumb.

On the other hand, if those perfectly pure very religious girls are going to find husbands, they will be men who are going about courting and getting married in the same kind of way. (I am thinking men who have been raised in the same kinds of very religious families and communities).

But no, in my opinion it isn't defrauding anyone unless someone actually lies about their intentions.

Also, I have enjoyed reading your blog. :)

Curiepoint said...

By my estimation, by not playing the game according to this guy's rules, I am defrauding a woman of the chance to defraud me through the aegis of perpetual marriage and enslavement.

No thanks.

Hermes said...

There are many problems today with relations between the sexes, many problems in marriage, even between believing Christians. But, while this is Anakin's blog, I'd have to say that if you think marriage is bad because it's "perpetual" (meaning lifelong,) or you consider marriage "enslavement," you must not be coming from a traditional Christian perspective but rather a modern morally liberated perspective and thus are not making a useful contribution to the discussion.

Amir Larijani said...

Hermes says:

But, while this is Anakin's blog, I'd have to say that if you think marriage is bad because it's "perpetual" (meaning lifelong,) or you consider marriage "enslavement," you must not be coming from a traditional Christian perspective but rather a modern morally liberated perspective and thus are not making a useful contribution to the discussion.

Marriage--in and of itself--is hardly a bad thing; nor is it "enslavement".

However, it is the dogmatic, unbiblical rendering of marriage--perpetuated by the evangelical elitists--that is "evil" and, as constituted by them, represents "enslavement".

By taking "headship" theology beyond its Biblical rendering, the elitists are consigning men to a lose-lose situation that hardly reflects God's glory.

Moreover, by inferring that husbands must "earn" sex--which has no Biblical precedent--the same elitists are providing the same gift to Christians that the Pharisees, Scribes, and Rabbis of old gave to the Jews.

There is nothing holy about it, and it's long past time to call it for the lie from hell that it is.

If a left-leaning scholar ruminated as Mohler has done, the conservatives would be slamming it from here to kingdom come.

So why do we give Mohler a pass?

wombatty said...

Amire wrote:

If a left-leaning scholar ruminated as Mohler has done, the conservatives would be slamming it from here to kingdom come.

So why do we give Mohler a pass?

Because Mohler is peddling his pious bilge in the cause of badgering more men into marriage.

Curiepoint said...

Marriage as proposed by Mohler and others that flock to his bandwagon does constitute slavery. That was my point all along. This notion of someone else owning my body, whether it's my wife or anyone else, is the very definition of slavery.

And, if marriage is supposed to be a covenant that remains unbroken throughout life, then that is the definition of perpetuity.

Don't think I am contributing anything useful? Fine. Set me to ignore. But, the only person here that has the authority to ask me to leave is Anakin.

Christina said...

This notion of someone else owning my body, whether it's my wife or anyone else, is the very definition of slavery.

Didn't Anakin reference verses that said that the husband's body belongs to his wife and the wife's body belongs to her husband?

Ken said...

While I do believe that for Christians, a husband and wife belong to each other, I do agree with curiepoint that marriage can be perpetual enslavement if a man does not choose his wife wisely and treat her kindly.

One of the problems is, though, is that it is getting more difficult to choose wisely, especially if we follow the burdensome extrabiblical constraints that some are heaping on us... which was a point of this blog entry.

In today's legal and social climate, legal marriage is almost always a much bigger risk for men. Since most women marry men that earn more than they do, in some places she can extract money from him for LIFE if they were married for a certain amount of time, such as ten years, and women file for divorce more often.

So, what would you call it if a man is forced to pay alimony for the rest of his life to a woman, who say, committed adultery and then filed for divorce after just ten years of marriage? Isn't being forced to work for someone else considered slavery?

SavvyD said...

I was going to write about this article too. A man and a woman have to get to know each other before they marry. I have had intense conversations with male pastors--am I a sinner for that? No, there's plenty else you could point to.

I think it's also important to seperate good men from predatory men. Some ARE predatory--as are some women who hang out in AOL chatrooms that Amir told us about. I think we should be more upset with Boundless for the way they wrote it than to stire up more trouble between men and women.

SavvyD said...

I think no fault divorce sucks.

I just wrote about the 7 habits of highly defective dating as a counter to things I've seen on Boundless, etc. I'm annoyed. Maybe I've kissed a few too many boys lately in an attempt to "catch up" but still, dating need not be a bad thing. Kindly drop by. :)

PS I love men!!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog. I basically like it and think it might be helpful for a certain demographic. For me as a happily married person in the 55-60 age range, I do find it interesting. Basically I have young single friends of both sexes and I was looking for a counter balance to the ever tiresome boundless rant and I think I have found it. Thanks! That savvyd blogger is great too!

I will wait for the just right moment to share you with my friends who read boundless.

Blogger said...

Searching for the Ultimate Dating Website? Join to find your perfect match.

Blogger said...

Did you know that you can shorten your long links with Shortest and make cash for every visitor to your short links.

Jon said...

If your man is pushing you away and acting distant

Or if the guy you’re after isn’t giving you the time of day...

Then it’s time to pull out all the stops.

Because 99% of the time, there is only 1 thing you can say to a standoffish guy that will grab him by the heartstrings-

And get his blood pumping at just the thought of you.

Insert subject line here and link it to: <=========> Your ex won’t be able to resist?

Once you say this to him, or even send this simple phrase in a text message...

It will flip his world upside down and you will suddenly find him chasing you-

And even begging to be with you.

Here’s what I’m talking about: <=========> Is your man hiding something? He may need your help?

Thanks again.


entwyf said...

Before I start a rant on something I've thought long and hard about, can I ask the owner of this blog to PLEASE moderate on a consistent basis? Christian blogs that allow trolling and advertising strike me as not being good stewards of the talents God has given them responsibility for.

Here starteth the rant . . .

I appreciate Boundless for saying it's not a good idea for a man to waste a woman's time when it comes to dating.

God has blessed me with some good brothers in Christ who are the husbands of dear women friends. I admire them for their devotion to their wives. They live out the belief that Christian love isn't a feeling but a decision to seek their partner's highest good, no matter how anybody feels about it.

That said, I'm struggling to be a good Christian sister to a man who, after a childhood with a cold and critical mother, and after two failed marriages to women who emotionally emasculated him, has developed a very frustrating self-protective behavior.

Desirous of godly and lifelong closeness with a woman, he nevertheless is understandably fearful of seeking that and experiencing yet more hurt and rejection.

His coping mechanism for dealing with his ambivalence is to wine, dine, charm, text, phone, flirt, hug. I naturally got heart-melty. When I admitted it, he ran away like a feral cat, declaring he just wanted to be friends.

He got a lot of admiration and a big boost to his ego without having to risk being rejected. Never mind how the rejectee felt.

I have no problem admitting that I have several times fallen into that dysfunction, both as giver and receiver, and I understand the fears that prompt the behavior.

In fact, I essentially told this man, "Your words and actions tell me you want a serious relationship. If that's not what you want, then stop what you're doing." He did NOT stop.

When I took his behavior as his intention to get serious, and when I and got heart-melty in a big way, he offered me free lifetime front-row seats in the friend zone.

I declined, saying I'd rather have no relationship than have one so safe as to be meaningless. After a year not speaking to each other, we began to construct a fragile truce, necessary because we see each other every Sunday at church.

The pattern is that we don't speak until he initiates a conversation or phone call. He shares with me that he is a loser, it is so difficult to find someone to date, his ex-wife took all his money, he will never be able to fix up his house to sell it, he is lonely and is going to die alone in it.

I tell him I don't feel sorry for him since he was stupid enough to reject me, and that he's allowing Satan's lies to blind him to the truth that he's so much more than a loser, that he's a conqueror in Christ.
And then he runs away and doesn't talk to me, and I don't talk to him . . . until he initiates a conversation or phone call, and the pattern plays itself out again.

He won't man up and embrace his warrior identity in Christ, strap on his confidence, and go out seeking a princess bride at another church or through a Christian dating website or through the intervention of trusted friends.

He won't embrace the possibility that, in a world of fallen sinners, I may be the fallen sinner who turns out, by God's grace, to be the most trustworthy partner in crime he could ever hope for. Nor will he accept his situation as it stands and stop complaining. Nor will he seek counseling.

If he'd do any of the above with a right good will, I'd be happy, grateful, and content. But he won't.

I don't feel called to leave my church, so in the midst of my own efforts to be functional and not dysfunctional about romantic relationships, I feel hamstrung by a huge amount of selfish, disrespectful, time-wasting manipulation.

I don't think Boundless gets it right on a variety of things, but in terms of women feeling used and defrauded by men in intimate interactions, I think they're spot on.