What choices do Christians have in today’s world when it comes to pursuing intersexual relationships, marriage and family?
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Recent discussions on this blog concerning the approach of Christians to pursuing life goals involving intersexual relationships, marriage, and family have tended to echo prior discussions on other blogs about the same issues. It seems to me that this reflects the twin realities that (A) there are, in fact, very few options available to Christians and (B) the attractiveness of any particular option is going to tend to be very dependent on one’s own “personal/ideological matrix” — that is, the combination of personal qualities (“strengths” in today’s “market”) and faith/ideology commitments which, taken together, form the experiential and mental/spiritual “lens” through which one sees and appraises the short list of available options.
This brief (by my standards!) post will explore the well-known options in slightly more detail, following an editorial conclusion reflecting my own views.
What Options do we have?*
The advent of modern science and technology, together with the nearly simultaneous economic shifts which I have described in greater detail in recent posts, have worked together to change the general socio-economic context in which we currently live, fundamentally, utterly, and likely irreversibly (at least from the perspective of any timeframe that is relevant to individual decision-making concerning these issues). For reasons and in the ways detailed in my earlier posts, these changes have had a dramatic impact on the process and outcome of the dating/mating experience for everyone, whether Christian or not. The resulting changes have produced the familiar landscape in which we live, and this has had the effect of reducing the options that are available to Christians seeking marriage. Thus, the available options for Christians in the dating/mating context essentially boil down to the following short list of options, each of which I will describe in slightly more detail immediately following the list. (Note that this list should be taken as a general framework for organizing thinking about the general options, and not as a straitjacket of categories.):
- Adaptation to the new reality.
- Ignoring the new reality because one has a strong enough “market” position to do so.
- An outlier “custom” solution, if you can manage it.
Option (1) involves various forms of personal accommodation or compromise to the standards imposed by the changed landscape. As Christians, we reflexively scoff at this, but the reality is that it is what most people do, because most people don’t have sufficiently “strong hands” (in the deck of cards sense) to achieve personally-desired outcomes while completely disregarding the standards of the new cultural landscape. The various segments of the secular Manosphere (e.g. incels, MGTOW, and PUA) are taking this option, each in obviously different ways. The Christian Manosphere has yet to find a viable form of adaptation to the current cultural standards and expectations that does not run afoul of scriptural mandates while not at the same time requiring the placement of oneself in the “top 20% of men”. We can think of this option as the “capitulation” option.
Option (2) is for the people who have the “strong hands” (again, in the deck of cards sense), because the strong hands generally do well regardless of what the rules and conventions of any context are — they are, after all, the strong hands, meaning that they have characteristics that are going to lead to superior outcomes in a variety of different contexts, sets of standards, rules, and expectations. Examples of this are the “Blueprint” offered by DeepStrength, which, while likely effective, requires the placement of oneself in the top 20% of men within the given context — in other words, becoming one of the “strong hands”. We can think of this option as the “brute force” option.
Option (3) is for those people who are charting a different course, intentionally going against the grain, neither accommodating/adapting to the new system, nor rising above it based on being able to transcend it by having a strong hand, but rather choosing a deliberately outlier path. People who pursue this option may succeed at reaching their goals, or they may fail to reach any of their goals, depending on any number of factors, but the key distinguishing characteristic of this option is that it is a self-designed, self-curated, individually-tailored pathway that attempts to provide a narrowly-tailored, personally-specific solution based on the specific parameters of the individual involved, and their specific and particular strengths and weaknesses, played out in a carefully contrived context — all of which, taken together, changes the possibilities. It does not hew to the current conventions in a close way (either in the general secular or general/mainstream “Christian” conventional approach), nor is it based on having an extraordinarily strong hand, but it is typically a non-replicable solution because it is specifically tailored to one individual and his particular traits, situation, and possibilities. Men like Jack who leave the system by traveling/living abroad and marrying a foreign wife are taking this option. We can think of this option as the “single tailored” option.
Finally it may be possible to combine certain elements of these options together, as is the case for the recurring idea of setting up a group of like-minded people who work together to secure mates for each other or for their children. In a different vein, others have proposed the formation of a sub-society of like-minded Christians. These two ideas are a blend of options 2 and 3 in this list. The former requires a carefully contrived context, consisting of faith, trust, and social networking, while the latter of which generally requires that one has a strong hand, including the investment capital to buy property in a remote geographical area. Moreover, both these ideas require the various kinds of inspirational, administrative, organizational, logistical, and other abilities that put one well out of the realm of the average person. In general, these hybrid options will tend towards one or another of the three general approaches depending on what the hybrid requires in order to work.
The reality is that the principal factor that determines a man’s choice about whether to pursue option (1), (2), or (3), is the strength of his own hand (i.e., whether he is in group (2) or not). This isn’t a matter of personal choice, but is determined by his given personal qualities (physical, mental, motivational, disciplinary, all of which are traits with bell-curve distributions), and therefore only rather modestly subject to personal determination and improvement. For those who don’t have a naturally strong hand in these key areas, the choice boils down to what each man thinks is a better, more viable and morally acceptable course for him personally, as between (1) and (3).
My perspective is that in any group of Christians, there will be some who “fit” into each of the options above. (We can call those who choose option 1 to be “Group 1”, and so on.) For example, among those who read and comment here at Σ Frame, we have some people who are in Group 1 (who “compromised” with the current culture’s approach to these issues in order to get desired results), some people who are in Group 2 (who have strong hands, or were close enough to get into the strong hands category, and “brute force” the system for desired results), and people who are in Group 3 (who are pursuing “single tailored” individual approaches that are generally not replicable by others, in order to get desired results).
These differences in approach will tend to be based on individual differences in each person themselves (since the key distinctions between the choices are largely based on this), which therefore will lead to significant differences in perspective, which is another way of saying “disagreements”.
To take an obvious example of this, not everyone here is married — some people are never marrieds, some people are divorced, and some people are in second marriages. How each arrived in those situations — including their current marriage — differs, and how they choose to sustain their current situation, or change it, also differs. More importantly for the purposes of this discussion, these differences often depend on the traits/type of person they are, the “strength” of their “hand” overall, and therefore the panoply of realizable options that they perceive as being available to them.
These differences between people’s strengths and life situations lead them to disagree about the best approach to the current dilemma, because their experience of the current dilemma is simply different, due to their different personal traits and situation — all of which have a significant impact on how the current dilemma “cuts” for them personally, how deeply, and how damagingly.
In my view, these experiential differences — particularly because they viscerally relate to so central and critical an area of life — tend to be extremely difficult to bridge in any way that leads to shared conceptualization of viable solutions across the board. In my view, this is the critical reason why these discussions of solutions to the dilemma we all face, always tend to go in circles, and tend to be very familiar, well-worn ones, with easily identifiable grooves. Their basis is deep, experiential, and in the case of most of us, close to many of most unshakeable convictions due to the very central and visceral nature of this experiential data which serves to inform and confirm these convictions. The resulting gap can be observed but, in my view, it simply cannot be bridged.