the imaginative conservative logo

Whatever Happened to Manhood? A Return to Biblical Manhoodby Wayne Braudrick (Lampion Press, 2015)

Whatever happened to manhoodThe war against boys has been going on for several decades now, and it is beginning to bear its bitter fruit. Fewer and fewer young men are willing to stand up and be leaders, to take responsibility for their actions and those of others, to be the spiritual heads of their families and the role models of their communities. They prefer to remain adolescents forever: not men, but guys or dudes or “bros.”

The deck has been strongly stacked against them. Even as schools have beaten the fight out of their male charges, television sitcoms have trained the fathers of these emasculated boys to view themselves as comic figures with no real authority. Their job is to drink beer, watch sports, and horse around with their buddies, while their wives do the real work of holding the home together. They’re nice guys, good for a laugh, but they are not to be taken seriously.

One would have expected a concerted outcry from the church followed by a flood of books, seminars, and workshops calling on men to shake off these stereotypes and become again the men God created them to be. But that has not happened. There was, of course, Promise Keepers, and thank God for that group, but its influence has dwindled. Focus on the Family and the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood have ministered powerfully in this area, as have the filmmakers who gave us Fireproof and Courageous, but their work has not been taken up by the church and society as a whole.

Wayne Braudrick

Wayne Braudrick

It was, therefore, with a great sigh of relief that I discovered Wayne Braudrick’s Whatever Happened to Manhood: A Return to Biblical Manhood. Finally, someone was speaking out clearly and boldly about this issue. In the midst of a billion dollar self-help industry, someone had written a book with the sole purpose of helping men be men. Not helping them to get rich, or win friends and influence people, or find their best life now—just to be the men God created them to be.

Mr. Braudrick, senior pastor of Frisco Bible Church in Frisco, Texas, spares no punches in calling men to live up to a biblical ideal: one which expects them to be focused servant leaders who are true to their word, who fight for the right, who commit themselves to life-long learning, and who form strong, lasting friendships.

Mr. Braudrick, thankfully, does not overwhelm us with statistics; still, he does do well to begin with a few revealing stats on the issue of trustworthiness. According to a 2009 study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, whereas “51% of teenagers 17 and under believe that lying and cheating are necessary to succeed,” only 10% of people over 50 share that belief (12). This shift in attitude has been particularly strong amongst men, rendering them less likely (and able) to live up to God’s call to honesty and integrity.

How quaint it sounds today to praise someone for being a man of his word. Yet that is the biblical ideal from which our culture has fallen. Though it is certainly true that a good man is hard to find, I must agree with Mr. Braudrick that “a reliable man is hard to find” (25). The fault for that lies not only with dishonest men but with a society that no longer expects men to be honest: that, sadly, takes for granted that they will lie and cheat.

whatever happened to manhoodThis is even more the case, Mr. Braudrick argues, with the lost virtue of focus. We live in “a time and place where males are expected to lose focus and are applauded for being distracted. Our current culture produces male losers greatly because it reinforces lack of focus in men” (34). Then comes the sting in the tail: “Wonderfully, the common culture generally admires the focused woman. Yet the focused male is considered a threat” (34).

Mr. Braudrick notes this irony—that women are celebrated for embodying masculine virtues while men are ridiculed or attacked for doing so—several times throughout his book; but he never does so in a way that denigrates women. His goal is not to “put women in their place,” but to call men to return to their proper, God-given place. Why, he asks, does our culture applaud diversity in everything except the diverse gifts and natures of the sexes?

For too long, our society has allowed men to slip into narcissism, pornography and hurriedness, afflictions which Mr. Braudrick wisely treats as intoxicants. The sirens of self-centeredness, porn, and false urgency cause men to loathe themselves, to lose their capacity to think, and to sacrifice their freedom and their peace. In the end, such insecure, addicted young men become cynical, crotchety old men.

Robbed of their integrity, their focus, and their will to lead and serve, men abdicate their responsibility to be the “point man” and “primary scout” of their family (58). Ceding all control to their wives, they retreat into their “man cave,” leaving their wives not only to fight the battles of the family but the battles of the community as well.

Boaz and Ruth

Boaz and Ruth

Holding up Boaz from the Book of Ruth as the supreme male role model of a kinsman-redeemer who is both kind and powerful, Mr. Braudrick challenges his fellow men to revive their lost passion to “do justice; love mercy; walk humbly; [and] fight to protect the weak” (99). Let us think of ourselves again as heroes and warriors, but thoughtful ones who act rather than react, who learn from their mistakes, and who know how to put their own lives and actions in the wider perspective of eternity.

Finally, Mr. Braudrick counsels men to invest themselves in committed, intimate male friendships. Rather than give in to the social stigma that labels close male friends as closet homosexuals, we must boldly reclaim the kind of life-changing, courage-enhancing bond that formed between David and Jonathan. Men need strong, fearless men to lift them up, even as they need themselves to lift up men who are younger or weaker or less sure of themselves.

Over a decade before he began his famous collaboration with Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein wrote the lyrics for a song that, though Mr. Braudrick does not reference it, sums up powerfully his vision for what men can do when they bond with other men and, together, live out the fullness of their God-given masculinity:

Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,

Who will fight for the right they adore.

Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,

And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.

Oh! Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder,

They grow as they go to the fore.

Then there’s nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,

When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.

That is the call. Let us pray the church will both invite and challenge men to live up to it. And, by so doing, sweep away the false sitcom stereotypes and destructive educational initiatives that doom would-be stout-hearted men to a perpetual adolescence.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

Print Friendly
"All comments are subject to moderation. We welcome the comments of those who disagree, but not those who are disagreeable."
30 replies to this post
  1. Do most churches care about anything other than growth and their budget? Sometimes I wonder. And much of the so-called praise music seems designed for love-sick women who want Jesus as their romantic interest. That’s a big turn-off for guys.

  2. What happened to Manhood?

    As a benighted child of the 60’s, I can tell you it went from “Danny Williams”, “Andy Taylor” and “Lucas McCain”, to “Archie Bunker” and then “Homer Simpson”. Not sure what is the common fatherhood reference now as I don’t watch network TV any longer.

    As men left the Church in the 1960’s and 1970’s, women took there places. The current ordinary form of the Mass is feminine and banal.

  3. Most Churches I’ve been familiar with seem to try to be more appealing to women. Presumably, they may think drawing in the wife will also draw in the husband and kids. I always thought the Church would do well to try and be more alluring to men.

  4. This article is sadly true. It is especially sad for me, because in the folly of youth I married one of these self-centered, porn-addicted, perpetual adolescents. Now my life is a bitter sorrow and my children have no strong male role model whatsoever. And I know many women who share the same pain. It’s epidemic that males today do not grow into men, but remain boys forever.

    • That’s sad to hear. But it also leads to the point that young women have no better role models than young men. Who are they supposed to look up to? Gloria Steinem? Hillary Clinton?

      • I agree wholeheartedly, Eric. Neither boys nor girls have any good role models in today’s culture. I do believe though, that parent can have a substantial influence on a child’s personality by setting a good example, regardless of what is going on in the outer world. It is the lack of a good role model within our home, that I mourn for our three boys.

  5. I strongly agree with everything you’ve written here, and frankly am glad that my father is no longer alive. I don’t know what he would have made of men today. I have told my son over and over that I don’t care what he does for a living, or how much money he makes. I want him to be what my father called “a stand up guy”. Like Charlotte, I, too, married a perpetual adolescent. But thankfully, in the past year he has grown sick of himself. He has started noticing men in old cowboy movies, and in Norman Rockwell paintings, and saying “Why can’t I be that man?” : that man at the head of his table saying grace, that man who commands respect? – to which I answered , ” You can…with Gods help you can. “” he now has. But there is still damage to undo. My son not wanting to go to Mass for instance because Dad never went. My husband now saying, Well, Dad’s going to Mass now, so get your butt in gear. Men can wake up and grow up still….if they want to.

    • Cheryl, your post truly warms my heart, and encourages me to keep praying for my husband. Thanks so much for sharing your story. 🙂

    • Head of the household used to mean something. That’s what you see in the old cowboy movies but is missing today; a certain amount of default social respect that used to accrue to family men by virtue of their heading a household. All that is gone. Society and the law have redefined marriage around the female, and redefined family around child support, and “conservative” Christians didn’t even notice it happening — frequently assisting in the redefinition in the name of “compassion”.

      A married man today is, legally and socially, little better than an at-will employee of his wife — legally responsible for all her debts, morally held to account for her happiness, but prohibited from exercising any kind of authority over her lest she claim “abuse”, an offense whose scope and seriousness is limited only by her feelings about it at any given moment. As for a man’s rights as a husband, forget it: there aren’t any anymore. The courts will cut the man out of his own home and family on her word alone. Then churches take pity on the poor dear and trash the man’s reputation and admonish him, along with all young men within earshot, to “man up” and accept his station of servility.

      And servility is the problem: Christians are all crowded onto the side of the boat that is nearly gunwale-under, to quote Lewis: so focused on avoiding the socially-unrespectable teachings that wives are to accept their husband’s leadership, that they instead teach husbands to be servile and defer to her idea about where she wants to be “led”. They teach the oxymoron of “mutual submission” to neuter the Apostles’ teaching. The secular Hollywood image of the man as ignoramus who must be led by his (morally and intellectually) superior wife is now also the churches’ image. Until Christians repudiate this error and hold women accountable for their actions to the same extent as men, men’s consciences will hear the charge to “man up” as an attempted con. Having been taught a false version of family, men will continue to redefine manliness around things other than family.

      • Craig, I agree with you. But I think it goes both ways. Yes, I do know many women who run the house. Unfortunately, nature abhors a vacuum. If a woman senses weakness in a man, she will tend to exploit and take over. No matter what a woman says, women have no respect for a man that is weak. I also know traditional households where the man does demand respect and is in charge of the house. But doesn’t earn or deserve it. Men used to put there families first. They did without and worked long hours, sacrificed for,their families. On weekends they did repairs, yard work, kept the car running etc. now many men work until 5pm and on weekends and evenings they park themselves in front of the TV and watch sports, or just goof off until Monday morning creating resentment for women.

        In my house, I am a stay at home mom. I was a successful career woman until 4 years ago, but our marriage was a wreck, my son wanted me home more. Now things have changed dramatically. We changed our marriage and lifestyle over completely. My husband is now truly the head of the house. He is the breadwinner, decision maker, and he is not my puppet or errand boy. I strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman, if you know what I mean by that, and our marriage works perfectly now. My sons friends always want to be at our house because there is home cooked food. They get off the bus and want to come to our house because they know there are home baked brownies waiting. There house is empty. It is unfortunate that in our society it often takes 2 parents working to keep a house afloat, and most couples have no choice. My son just asked me a few days ago if I was a feminist, and I told him the truth. I used to be, but no longer am. I feel we lost way more through feminism than we gained. I feel happier and more confident with y husband in charge. He doesn’t just demand respect. He has earned it. He doesn’t treat my like a mindless slave, and doesn’t act like a tyrant. I, in turn, do not act like a resentful servant, or constantly cut him down in front of my son. Our way of life I know would no longer appeal to most people, but it works for us. What truly made the biggest difference is our understanding of the purpose of marriage. We were raised to believe that marriage was about a person meeting your needs, and being in love, following your heart and happiness. I no longer believe that. Love isn’t just a feeling. It’s an action. We now believe that the purpose of marriage is to learn unconditional love, mercy, and to help the partner achieve holiness and spiritual growth. To demonstrate the relationship between Christ and his church. My husband tries to,treat me like Christ treated the church. The master of all must be the servant of all. I put him and the family first the way I would put God first. When we started living this way, there was nothing left to fight about and our marriage became wonderful.

        I no longer think that marriage can really work based on the parameters that we as a society now expect. The minute someone is not getting their needs met, whether due to illness, money problems, the wane of physical attractiveness or affection, people feel it is time to leave. I I focus on my husband’s happiness, and meeting his needs and putting them first, and he puts my needs first. By doing this, all of our needs are met and their is no more fighting and selfishness. I strongly believe now in the traditional roles, having lived both ways, and we are both committed to raising our son this way.

        • Cheryl, good for you. You are now the counterculture, both outside the churches and inside them too.

          That is the main issue to contend with. Unfortunately, the dominant feminist culture insists on teaching young men precisely the wrong things when it comes to attraction and respect. What young men are taught in the (feminism-infused) churches is that good young women are attracted to men who listen to women’s opinions, respect sexual boundaries, and give unselfishly of themselves. Men are wired by nature to see respect for rules as masculine strength. Young men put this into practice and are told that they’re indecisive, unassertive, and boring. Women call them weak because, at bottom, women are wired the opposite: to see respect for rules as weakness and contempt for rules as strength.

          What young men are taught in the schools and in popular culture is that young women never need a man and can do everything at least as well as a man, but want a dutiful provider to settle down with “someday” after giving 10+ of their best years to a series of boy toys. This life plan shows contempt for the laws of nature that keep civilizations alive, but that contempt is proof that a woman following this life plan is “strong”. Young men see this and perceive the boy toys as getting the better end of the deal than the providers.

          The chuck-it-all-and-play-Xbox attitude is a despair born of perpetual frustration at dutifully following the lessons one was taught, and finding the women more attracted to convicts and layabouts.

      • Craig, you’ve written everything I was thinking after I read this article. And you’ve written it far better than I could. Thank you! There are plenty of men who are as eager as ever to be assertive leaders. It’s in our nature to be so, after all. Men are being artificially held down by a family court system that gives them little choice but to acquiesce to their wife’s wishes, however unreasonable. And there are many spoiled, poorly raised, self-centered women out there who DO deserve their fair share of the blame for this. Thanks again.

    • I agree. I try to insist my son climb trees, stack wood, etc. just so he has some muscle tone. Many boys today have arms like limp noodles. However, I would rather see the pseudo-manliness of lifting weights in a gym, than the lifting of a beer, lifting of a remote, or lifting of a video game controller which is about all the lifting I see some men doing.

    • Lifting weights in the gym is not “pseudo” manliness, it defines real masculinity quite well. Do I sense someone who despises men willing to make the sacrifices that masculinity demands?

      Manliness includes many things, and this includes sacrifice and the pursuit of self-improvement. One of the greatest things I’ve ever accomplished has been weightlifting, as it has increased my masculine traits several times over and has taken great dedication and work ethic that most men don’t have.

      Judging by how women treat me now, there’s not “pseudo” about wanting to better one’s self. Manual labor does, I believe, promote humility and a better sense of character through hard work that is required to acheive/earn one’s way.

  6. I really don’t know if men know how to act. My ex had many “man-up” issues. Although he seemed manly when I married him, I realized it was a big act. He was man-less, who let narcissism and alcoholism become his way of operating. All the while climbing the corporate ladder and doing quite well there.

    In thinking how he was brought up, I can’t help but to blame his mother (and his father who had man issues). His mother sealed his fate by letting him off the hook for everything. So I believe weak mothers are to blame for weak sons too. I would love to blame it all on men but women share some of the blame too. A wife can only correct so much from a weak childhood. However, I strongly believe that we are meant to overcome our weakness and evolve to become better people. Sadly, my ex-husband missed many opportunities to overcome and evolve into that better person.

  7. The manhood problem in our day is due to an egregious neglect of some basic rules of nature. Dalrock’s review of Courageous is worthwhile to the discussion. In short, the movie is a good example of Christian society failing to understand the problem enough even to begin addressing it.

  8. Just BRILLIANT!! The very cry of my heart as I raise a teenage son and see before us a landscape of dragons that wait to be CONQUERED by these brave and courageous young men and fathers!!!

  9. May I ask – in this culture of easy divorce with terrible consequences for men, what would entice a young man to even get married? What are the benefits vs the risks that men face with this endeavor? This is a sincere question and would love for the women of this thread to answer.

    • Well, I cannot speak for all women, only for myself. I suppose to start with it depends on what a man is seeking out of marriage. I can understand your question and the underlying bitterness I am sensing. I know many women who are very shallow. They will trade up when a more attractive or richer man shows interest, but I know as many men that have done the same. I think that the reason to get married today is the same as it always was, …until recent years that is. I have heard many sermons aimed at men telling them not to marry for beauty and curves, to marry based on personality, and yet I know men are primarily visual. If they weren’t, I doubt the porn industry would have taken such hold. I think if a man can find a woman marrying for the right reasons, and with the right values, she is worth marrying. A woman with virtue is still a rare gem. And just like in Proverbs 31, a virtuous woman can bring a man great joy. But I also think that marrying a woman who is materialistic, overly dominant, spoiled, used to getting her own way, who,is flirtatious, will not make a good wife and yet that seems to be the kind of women men gravitate towards. They go for the flash. If you can find a woman who understands the biblical purpose of marriage, she will be in it for life, and you will be very happy

      • Cheryl’s reply is rare, and I’m going to assume she’s an older lady, as it is indeed extremely rare that I’ve seen any admission by today’s women that some fault lies with women. That kind of honesty and willingness to exam things in a frank way is refreshing.

        I understand where Atak was coming from.

        It today’s western culture, the expectation is still there for men to provide, protect, and support women…yet thanks the American divorce culture, women, who initiate the majority of divorces by the way, are basically incentivized to divorce men if they’re “not happy”, or “frivorce” (divorce frivolously). Even Christian media, movies, and sermons beat down men and constantly show them how they are supposedly the root of all problems, and how they should “man up” and marry women with promiscous backgrounds and who are likely to divorce them a few years down the road. (Check out Dalrock’s website for excellent exposure of things like this). So rare is it that women are ever called out on their behavior and faults, which I believe is a major contributor to why we are where we are now.

        Thanks to the internet men have collectively discovered that in today’s world, men are held in contempt and feminism has caused us to be portrayed as having “toxic masculinity”, all while demanding we continue to pay women alimony, pay for raising another man’s child (EVEN IF SHE HAD AN AFFAIR OR LIED ABOUT PATERNITY) and so much more.

        Domestic violence is just icing on the cake, and the manner in which that accusation, restraining orders, and more are readily abused to separate otherwise good men from their families and homes is appalling. Despite being raised to be good little passive simps who are responsible, hardworking providers (also called “betas” in other circles) what a man today finds is that his good intentions, sincerity, and willingness to provide for a woman is not enough; often the truth is that women (at least during their youth) seek out a very different kind of man, the kind often not willing to commit and they kind that decades ago would be considered a “bad” man.

        The number of participants in the “manosphere”, “red pill”, and men’s rights websites has grown an amazing amount in the last number of years, especially in 2015. We are typically hated, mocked, accused of being rapists/abusers/whatever is currently trendy, etc by many women and “white knights” but there is no backing down. I have learned so much from the real stories shared from other men and the exposure of anti-male rhetoric in the media that it makes me start to reconsider ever being married. Honestly, some of the stories are incredibly depressing, and I’m now able to see how feminized our society has become…and how marriage is something typically only use to hold MEN accountable, not women.

        This risk with marriage today is so high that many men now just have given up on marriage, and the number of marriages has decreased significantly.

        Hence movements such as Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) and men who choose to only have “fun” with women and never marry. Go on YouTube or various places on the internet when the question “where have all the good men gone?” is asked, and you’ll see SO MANY comments by men, and how tired they are of being 2nd rate citizens and living in fear of false rape accusations or marrying a woman only to lose most of what they’ve worked for or never see their kids again at her whim, all while being denigrated and portrayed as the one to blame. They choose instead to date but not marry, and enjoy the single life, saving money, and pursuing their own goals.

        The truth is, in this day and age the “good men” who are marriage material didn’t “go” anywhere. Often they’re ignored by many women until women reach an older age (say 30+ years) and start feeling the biological clock ticking. By that time their youth and tenderness is often deteriorating, they’ve given their best sexual attention and energy to other men, and they have emotional baggage from personal problems and multiple relationships). I have known several women like this.

        I was raised to believe women were sweet, caring creatures and deserved my chivalry. I was wrong! Or at least, *most* women don’t. I have numerous stories of how being another sweet and chivalrous young man was thrown in my face, and even mocked. There are multitudes of men just like me, and we are working to ensure that other men know the truth also, and change their way of thinking.

        There seems to be less and less respect from women for men as being heads of the household and the leader of the family. I almost never hear of a woman being held accountable for disrespecting her husband/boyfriend/etc. Nearly any thing I hear or read is biased against the man. Additionally, why do women often just sit idly by and allow this to happen? I hold them largely to blame for a great deal of how things have become.

        Thanks to the “red pill” I now understand why by default assuming a woman was worth a long-term relationship was naive. I’ve learned over the years that most “good” women get into LTRs/married young; otherwise, they’re very hard to find, indeed. Thanks to the terrible rise in obesity in America and the way that otherwise average, rather course women seem to behave as if they’re a real prize, that leaves so few desirable women. These obese, plain women with no real desire to be the best wife they can be are the same ones with an unrealistic list of requirements for the type of man they desire.

        Thankfully I have been overseas (several latin countries) and I still know that women who are traditional and more down-to-earth and family oriented do exist, but it’s a shame I it looks like I’ll have probably have to go that far to find it. Oh well, good thing I have a passport.

        I have hope that there are still a few reasons to get married, but it appears to be like panning for gold: if you do it long enough and at enough places, you might finally find one worth keeping. A man has to decide if it’s worth the effort and risk.

  10. Thanks for the reply. No bitterness here – I have been married for 30 years, have 4 sons & 1 daughter, and 1 grandchild. One of my sons has already married. As I watch them date and consider marriage, I fear for them and their pending marriages. Too many horror stories of divorce, lifetime alimony, never seeing their kids, and some suicides by these men. I am a lawyer and specialize in divorce law, and let me tell straight out – the law is stacked against men. I have come to the conclusion that marriage in this current environment is a very risky endeavor for young men, and unless something drastically changes, its an institution that probably needs to die. Too many lives (young men’s lives) are being ruined by it at this point. I strongly encourage my sons to be extremely careful in whom they are dating and the criteria with which to judge prospective spouses. I tell them that if there is any doubt, dont do it. Its not worth the risk and pain.

    I will be honest – articles like this actually upset me to how disingenuous they represent the current situation out there. The article focuses on the destruction of Manhood, but it does not ever address the legal and cultural forces that are intent on destroying this construct. Young men WANT to get married, but the risk is simply too high and the pool of women is poisoned.

    • Well, I can see this article upsetting you because you obviously do not fall into the group,of men to whom this article refers, and you seem not to have raised your sons according to the current culture. I can see your point about the pool of women, but I would venture to say that the pool of men is poisoned as well. There are some men that want to get married, and I assume your sons are among that number..but most men don’t. They see no reason for it. I have had mostly male friends over the years. I find the conversation of most women shallow and pointless, and men have always gravitated towards me as a confidante because I have that rare quality of discretion. I have heard men talk about their relationships. Some men honorably, but most not. To them there seems to be no point in getting mattered unless 1) they have been living with a girl for some time, no even though they are not in love with her, she represents routine and comfort, and at this point it would be more aggravation to start over than it would to just marry her to shut her up, or 2) they meet a girl that all of their friends think is sexy and wins admiration for them, so they propose to get her safely off the market, but they do not see any reason why this should curtail their side affairs. I have not met one man who confiding honestly, wanted to marry because he genuinely loved a woman and couldn’t live without her. The culture is undoubtedly poisoned. We have raised a generation of people that view my mate strictly as getting the most bang for your pun intended. The goal is to get the best looking mate with the highest income potential, expectations when dear old dad and mom kick the bucket, etc. If this formula changes due to a change in appearance, income, anything at all, then it is viewed like a contract for which the terms were not met. This marriage is null and void because: you no longer have money, you have let yourself go, another investment has come along promising higher dividends etc. as long as people view each other as chattel, a means to an end, a relationship can hardly help but end badly.

      I do hope though that after seeing the seamier side of marriage in its full technicolor scope of humans behaving badly, that you do not become so cynical that you poison your boys minds against what can be one of life’s great joys. I am a devout Christian and so I speak from that viewpoint and bias. I believe and raise my son to believe that marriage is about helping your partner to achieve holiness. It is about learning grace, unconditional and sacrificial love, mercy. How could we ever learn unconditional love with a partner that meets all of our conditions, or learn forgiveness and mercy if our partner is so perfect they don’t require forgiveness. In my own marriage, it is about trying to love my husband the way God does, as he is. When he is wrong, I pray for him and forgive him. He does the same for me. When we argue we realize that it is because we are being selfish, and unChristlike, and it usually stems from a demand to have our own way. We learn to put another’s needs ahead of our own. We grow as people, and our marriage improves with time. With this outlook, a marriage can’t fail. People just selfishly stop trying. The key is though that both partners must view a marriGe this way, as an unbreakable team. If your sons could find a woman that would engage in mRriage under these terms, the forces of hell could not keep them apart. And no, I have not had a perfect life or marriage. My husband became an alcoholic and went through rehab 5 times before he beat it permanently. I had cancer, and several hospital stays. Ours has not been a charmed life. But we learned grace, humility, and the deep comfort that comes from knowing that we are accepted for who we are warts and all, and that is worth marrying for.

  11. Cheryl, Thanks again for your reply. I am also a devout Christian and believe in the sanctity of marriage. My marriage has been a good marriage although difficult. Having said all that, you are not really addressing my original question – why would any young man take the risk in today’s legal culture? You have addressed the relationship side of such a union, both the good and bad – thats great! But recognize that marriage is a legal contract, with the full force of the law behind it. Wake up and see what marriage is today! Its a legal contract with a high chance of failure. Why would any woman encourage their son to enter into a legal contract with a woman where it is most likely to fail, and where the young man will pay dearly for it for many years? Marriage today is not ‘until death do us part’ as you and I have experienced. Instead, it is ‘until I become bored…’ And please see the objective facts – in my practice, 80% of the divorces are initiated by the wife, not the husband – and its not due to abuse, alcoholism, etc on the part of the man. Their reasons mostly boil down to something like ‘they just dont love them anymore.’ Now the consequence of breaking this contract for the woman is not all that great – they keep the children, receive both child support and support (alimony), and they gain the freedom to go find someone else. So the incentive for women to divorce is not punitive, but instead quite lucrative. Now what are the consequences for the man? Very great! they will lost their assets, they will need to pay support, and in some states, mandated to be lifetime support. They will very often lose access to their own children and years of followup legal action just to see them. Some go to jail. Its heartbreaking, really. Many have simply given up, committed suicide. If your son would be playing the stock market, and knowing that there is a > 50% chance they will lose, and for those that lose, a > 50% chance they will pay for the rest of their lives and never see their children – would you recommend your son to take such a risk?

    This is why I have such a hard time with articles such as these. The advice is so blithe – ‘just Man Up!’ People who say this, and many Christians as well, do not understand the reality of risks involved these days. Marriage, in this current legal climate, is one of the worst legal agreements a young man can make. As for my sons, I no longer push marriage as the ideal thing to pursue, but inform them of the dangers of such a contract if they wish to pursue it. I educate them with all the horror stories that I could possibly remember over my years. I advise them to find happiness and meaning outside of marriage. Cheryl – marriage is on the decline for a very good reason. Unfortunately, I dont see the situation improving in our lifetimes.

    • Atak, I have been following yours and Cheryl’s conversation with interest. I believe she *did* answer your question in her earlier comment when she said that virtuous women are rare gems, but they do exist – yet young men tend to gravitate towards the flashier, sexier women. In other words, men can get a lot out of marriage but only IF they put in the effort to look past appearances and find a truly good woman. Trust me, good, faithful, virtuous women DO exist – I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I am one, or at least I try to be – but yes, we are rare, and we certainly do not stand out in a crowd like the cleavage-showing women do. But we DO exist. I have met many, many virtuous women in my life, who are devoted to their husbands and marriages, and who, quite frankly, put up with a lot of crap from unfaithful husbands who are often also addicted to alcohol, drugs, porn, or if you are lucky like me, all three.

      But you and I travel in different circles. Since I am devout Christian wife and a traditional woman, and I deal with an abusive, drug-addicted husband who didn’t even start supporting our family financially until 10 years into the marriage (no matter how lovingly I encouraged him) – since I fit into that group, I talk to other women in similar circumstances. There are many of us trying to fight the good fight and hold onto our ideals of marriage despite all the crap our husbands dish out. But in your job you see the opposite, marriages that have fallen apart because the woman is selfish and cruel. There are all kinds of people in the world.

      I think that considering your professional experience, it is entirely right that you should want to save your sons from the sort of tragedies you’ve witnessed. Personally, I feel that you’d be serving them better to help them have discernment in choosing a marriage partner, because I agree with Cheryl, that finding a truly “good” woman would bring your sons a lifetime of happiness. Raising a family with the right person fulfills a very deep longing that all humans have. I don’t think marriage and family should be thrown away just because this current generation has a lot of men and women both with minds poisoned by a sick culture.

      I am giving the same advice to both my daughters and my sons – marriage can be wonderful, but don’t rush in! Wait for a partner who is dependable, loving and unselfish. They do exist. (Sadly for me, I never met any good men until after I was married. How I wish now I had just waited a little longer…)

  12. Atak, I appreciate your reply. As Charlotte just pointed out, I believe I did answer your questions. But I see you are looking for a more pragmatic response. You want to know, considering the legal risks, what in fact is “in it for them”. I’d like to preface by saying that I feel entering a marriage based on what’s in it for me, is exactly why marriage is no longer working. We have 2 to 3 generations of men and women who have been taught to view marriage from this perspective. Starting in the late 60’s, people started reappraising their marriages in light of this viewpoint, which was previously not the benchmark for whether or not to stay married. Many people threw away perfectly good, or at least salvageable marriages because the media and magazines “told them” their needs were not being met, they were having sex less than average, etc. I think to go into a marriage with this idea will almost guarantee a troubled marriage unless you happen to be one of the very lucky few who lead a charmed life where no one gets cancer, has a stroke, loses a job, gets disfigured in a car accident, etc. Most marriages today are started on this concept. I know my own was. I was a very successful businesswoman at that time. We had agreed on sharing household experiences 50/50. Well, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 2 months after the honeymoon. My arm muscles seized up and I could no longer write. I couldn’t transcribe my own phone messages. I had to go in to my boss, hysterical, and explain that I had to go out on disability because I literally could not write or type. My husband drove me home that day, and I can still remember what he said to me. “Are you telling me that on top of everything else, I’m going to have to support you? You’re going to have no income except disability? I didn’t sign on for this! I felt like I had been stabbed. I’m not telling you this to prove how bad men are, or even to show that sometimes men are the ones at fault.

    I’m making the point that this is what is almost destined to happen whenever something goes wrong if you establish a marriage this way. We look for a person that seems on paper to be as trouble free as possible, like buying a pedigree dog. We agree to put in our 50%, and then when something goes wrong, and the other person can only put in 40%, then by the terms of our “legal agreement” , which is what marriage has been reduced to, the other person is in default and therefore, we can in good conscience, separate and divorce them, and punish them to the full extent of the law. You can fill in the blank here.

    I’m putting this rather brutally to make a point. You say that marriage no longer works and should be done away with. I am making the point that God did not institute marriage under these parameters. It was not” the party of the first part agrees to take the party of the second part with the proviso that the persons continue in all aspects and under all circumstances to display all physical abilities and behavior heretofore displayed and approved of by both parties. Both persons have a legal obligation to render any such services both stated and Implied that can be construed to have been agreed upon at the entering of such contract, including but not limited to, the maintenance of one’s personal appearance, income potential, sexual performance and quality of health. Any significant devaluation of the person’s appearance, physical health, libido or stamina, income potential, or any other asset guaranteed under this agreement, not withstanding normal wear and tear, may render this contract null and void by either party. ” Yes, by reducing a potential marriage to this- “why would a young man, or woman for that matter, enter into a binding legal agreement under these terms” it appears to be sheer lunacy.

    The point I was making is that this is not the point of marriage, as it was designed. When I was first married, and we were discussing our marriage and our 50/50 arrangement with my husband’s aunt, she told us it doesn’t work that way. And we didn’t understand what she meant. But we do now. Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100. Both partners give 100%. As often as they can. Maybe today I can give 75 and my husband can only give 25. I gave 100% when my husband was drinking. People told me to leave him, but I didn’t. I prayed for him instead. Later on when I was diagnosed with severe arthritis and had to stop working…when I couldn’t even get around and had to be waited on hand and foot for a few weeks, he gave 100%. I remember saying to him that if I had left him when he was drinking, who would be taking care of my now while I was crippled. THIS is how God designed it. For all of the reasons I mentioned in my previous comments. Our failure to trust in God, and our lack of faith that he knows what he is doing…our inability to understand that God allows us to undergo a particular hardship or struggle because he has a reason for it..this is something prior generations had which we are missing. If we are Christian, let us not blame God and feel he is shortsighted, or feel that he has a designed a non working system just because we as people are now so self centered that we cannot conceive of any purpose for marriage except our own personal gratification. If BOTH MEN AND WOMEN viewed marriage this way, it would still work. After all, it worked for a few thousand years: Quite well in fact until recently. Marriage doesn’t need to change, we do. And so as a Christian, I stand by what I originally said. If your sons, or any people, entered into marriage with a partner that had a true understanding of the gravity of it, and we’re both committed to it, I do not believe that there are too many problems that are unfixable.

    Now, from a pragmatic secular view, what do they get for their efforts. Where are the benefits? Well, I did my thesis on child abuse, and the ideal environment in which to raise a child for their maximum well being. It was the 2 parent household. After reading all of the data, everyone from BF Skinner on up, the bottom line is that the best chance for a child is 2 married parents with a strong marriage. The best thing you can do for your child, is love your husband or wife, for many reasons, physical and psychological which I will not bore you with. Now, you may wish that your children have the gift of singleness that St. Paul talks about in the Bible. But if they don’t, then a good marriage with children is best for them physically and spiritually. What are the actual alternatives? Well, you mentioned building happiness on other things. Fine, but if they have sexual desires, it is better to be in a marriage than in what is at best like an at will or temp job. Aside from your views on abortion, sex can produce children, and diseases, some of which are incurable. A sex life which consists of year after year of random sexual partners, is not only spiritually bankrupt and unbiblical, but physically dangerous and emotionally debilitating. All people like to,pretend that no one gets hurt in these exchanges or hookups. We’re just having a good time, right? She or he knows I’m not serious. The problem is someone always falls in love. That’s how we are wired. We aren’t animals. When women say it doesn’t bother them that the man they are sleeping with isn’t committed to them, they’re lying. And I suspect many of the men are as well. So then what are you left with? Living together- which still can and usually does end with child support, acrimonious breakups, because it wasn’t even entered into with any pretence of permanence, and there are fewer legal rights to be had. You don’t even need to,file divorce, just pack a bag and say, Sorry, you’ve been traded. So, if not a fulfilling life alone, then what? You keep wanting reasons of why they should marry? What are the benefits of staying single unless you are celibate? You risk disease, heartbreak, love with a person you don’t even have a legal right to, and stand to be dumped at any time. Or you get to be “the old guy in the club” . You men know what I mean here. At which case you then will settle down and marry around 40 out of loneliness, and the lack of available sexual partners, and really pick the wrong person.

    Perhaps, the odds are worse than they were before. But even in Old Testament times a good woman or man was hard to find. Why should it be different today? Yet, I still would rather see my son married, than drifting along in meaningless one night stands, as his hair line recedes, his health worsens, and he has no one in his life that really loves him for better or for worse. I would rather see him married than banding together with the other 30 and 40 something men, with their false sense of bravado, congratulating each other on the fact that no woman has ever caught them, while meanwhile signing up for online dating sites or surfing the net for porn to try to fill the emptiness they deny to everyone.

  13. Cheryl & Charlotte – thank you both, its great to have a civil discussion on a tough topic. Reading both of your comments it seems that you have encountered some difficult situations in your marriages, and are fighting the good fight. I commend you both! My marriage has been long as well, and for the most part, a happy one. I would like to try to focus the discussion on my main point, which is the legal and cultural environment with which modern marriage exists.
    There are two sides of the Marriage coin. On one side is the sacramental and relationship components. I have often heard that marriage is between 3 people – man, woman, and God. This aptly describes this side of the coin. There have been many cultural changes to the meaning of marriage and the relationships that affect the resiliency of this part of marriage. And your comments appear to be solely focused only on this side of the coin, but we are all in agreement on this context and we are talking past each other. Now lets flip the coin to the other side, which is the LEGAL and contractual portion of the marriage. I would describe that there are three parties involved here as well – man, woman, and the government. It is this side of the coin where there have been drastic changes over the past 50 years that have largely caused significant damage to the institution overall. Cheryl – you asked the question, how has marriage really changed since the Old Testament times. What has changed significantly is the culture, which then drives changes in the legal system. It is this side of the coin that I would like to focus on, and challenging the notion of marriage within this framework. This is reality folks. Again, in my practice, I have seen THOUSANDS of marriages fall apart, mostly initiated by the woman, for trivial reasons. One would say that there are no winners in divorce, which I partially agree. However, there are clear losers in a divorce, and they are the children and the husbands. Because the legal system in this area is so stacked against men’s rights, the outcome is devastating for husbands. Wives, who initiate 80% of these divorces usually move on with cash & prizes and with an eye towards their next marriage (victim). Women who decry the reluctance of men to marry these days have to understand the legal risks that men face, that women do not face. Lets walk through some statistics to drive the point home: In the general population, 60% of marriages fail. For those marriages that fail and where a second marriage is attempted, 80% fail. For those marriages that fail, 95% of child support is the responsibility of men, and spousal support is 98% the responsibility of men. We are now seeing more states enact lifetime spousal support formulas. It is estimated that settlements with joint custody, men will only see their children 15% of what they are legally entitled to. 20% of men who go through a divorce end up on jail at least once, as a result of fabricated abuse allegations or missed child support payments. 5% commit suicide. The current legal ramifications for failed marriages upon men are significant and draconian. Women, at this juncture, do not face this.

    You ask why men are reluctant to marry these days,and I have explained that the legal risks are simply too high, and the statistics show that overwhelmingly it is the woman who initiates the separation. If the relationship side of the coin fails (often on the whim of the woman, 80% initiated by women), the legal side of the coin kicks in (to the detriment of the man). For a young man, the odds are better of going to war and surviving. If you have sons, this is the future that he faces, and the odds are stacked against him.

    You also asked, what are the better alternatives – living alone? I dont have answers for these questions. The future is quite bleak for this generation and the next. Marriage is the foundation stone of a stable society, and we are seeing marriage rates implode. I cannot predict where we are headed – but I can easily explain WHY young men do not want to marry any longer. And I dont blame them.

    And so knowing the statistics and the devastating consequences to them, I continue to ask any women out there with sons – why would any responsible parent encourage their son to marry in this environment?

    • AtalK, I appreciate the courtesy of your reply, and i am not as obtuse as I appear obviously to be. I was trying to write in a way that would not appear pointed or insulting if your children have opted for a secular life in which religion plays no part. Charlotte picked up on this but I see I must be more direct.
      I do understand exactly what you are saying, and what you are asking, and have answered you in the only way I know how and with entire truthfulness. My husband and I were not very religious when we married. We had a very secular marriage, as most are today. As I have indicated, it did not work. We tried counseling, we separated. We never divorced, but lived apart for a year. Due to my husbands drinking problem, he fell upon hard times. He realized that he could not go it alone, could not quit drinking without help, and turned to me as the only lifeline he had left. Although I did not want to help him, after much prayer, I realized that morally I was under obligation to help him, and I did. We moved back in together. I became much more serious about my faith, and realized that truly, with God all things were possible. I asked God for a miracle.- my husband’s soul and life back, at any cost, even if we lost everything else in the process. God granted me this miracle, and overnight took away my husband’s desire to drink. My husband became a completely different person. I know how,this sounds, but it is the plain truth. My husband realized from whence his help had come, and humbled himself to God. With both of us now understanding God’s place in a marriage, there was no longer any fighting. My husband realized his obligation as head of the family to demonstrate the love of Christ to me, to serve me, and I realized my obligation was the same.

      Yes, I am aware of all of the statistics you are quoting. As I mentioned I researched this previously. I am aware that under the rules of a secular society marriage isn’t working. It is approached frivolously, and lifetime promises are made. In reality, people approach marriage today with the understanding that as long as their needs are met, as long as the status quo is maintained, they will remain. When any of the criteria fail to be met, they divorce, and the laws deal with that unfavorably. So where does that leave us? It depends entirely on the expectations the couple has of marriage and its permanence, which was what I was trying to,get across without putting too fine a point on it. I was trying in my own, obviously ineffective way to not insult or call into question the religious beliefs or lack thereof of your children, or anyone else raising children who might read this, but for the sake of absolute clarity:

      Marriage is an estate that was established by God with a view towards permanence regardless of an individual partners satisfaction level. The traditional cultures where marriage still works and the divorce rate is low, usually have a view of the permanence of marriage, and belief in accountability to a higher power. Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Muslims, the Amish among others all enjoy a lower divorce rate from what I understand. If the people contemplating marriage are secular, and do no not consider God or Allah an equation in their marriage, and view it simply as a rather nice custom which doesn’t really work in today’s day and age, then they ought not to marry because I think the chances for success are dismal. As for your own boys, if they have a faith they value highly and are marrying a girl who feels the same, the odds are good. If religion is nonexistent for,them, or Christianity is just a social custom with very little meaning in their day to,day life, I would recommend they not marry. I come from a very large family. Of all of my first cousins approximately my age, the 5 couples with strong faith are all still married. Their marriages range from 15 to about 35 years in length. For those cousins and siblings where religion plays little or no part of their lives, all have divorced at least once.

      Marriage is quite hard. It requires forgiveness, compassion, and self sacrifice on a level few care to extend. Honestly, having lived both ways, I will reiterate what I have been saying. I am raising my son to understand that without God, marriage is practically impossible unless you are lucky enough to have few challenges. Frankly, if you have no religious feeling about it, if it is just a ceremony to lend an official stamp,to,a,relationship that will end as soon as one’s needs aren’t met, then it is quite pointless. It will fail, and there will be unpleasantness, expense and the law and court there to remind of those promises you made before you grew up and realized that life wasn’t going to all go,your way. So in short, and to be blunt, yes, if marriage is undertaken by the young of today, having the morals and expectations and narcissism of today, with the legal requirements set by prior generations who had honor, integrity, and an idea of what it meant to keep ones word, it cannot hope to work, and should be avoided. If God or at least honor are out of the picture, either for your clients, or your children, yes, then I would counsel them as you have. If they want to marry, let them throw a big party, wear a gown, and tuxedo, have a reception, but be married by a best friend or someone who has no legal authority to,actually marry them. Then they can have the best of all worlds. They can have the form of a marriage, and call each other husband or wife, but there will be no problem of alimony, etc. when they tire of each other. Of course child support would still be an issue, but if there are no qualms about morality, there are ways to ensure that there are no children brought to,term, who would then subsequently require support. I know many couples right now pretending to be be married. Everyone thinks the are married because they claim they are, but have never actually married. A real marriage though, that is something totally different, and cannot be entered into lightly or unadvisedly because it should be permanent and I fail to see how it can be without the help,of God and a lot of prayer, Grace, humility, and forgiveness. I know my own marriage would not have survived.

      Hopefully, then, this is the answer you are looking for. All things being equal, and with the assumption that your children are as most young adults are today, I also would advise them not to marry. I hope not to offend you in any way, but all of my prior attempts to allude to this I guess were not literal enough.

Leave a Reply