One of the central themes of the Dalrock blog has to do with what he identifies as the “elevation of romantic love” over marriage. He puts it this way in the post “Lovestruck:”
“Instead of seeing marriage as the moral context to pursue romantic love and sex, romantic love is now seen as the moral place to experience sex and marriage. This inversion is subtle enough that no one seems to have noticed, but if you look for it you will see it everywhere.”
This idea has been reiterated and quoted over several years of his blogging in quite a few posts. It is probably one of the most profound truths revealed and explored in the Christian manosphere.
My purpose in writing here on the topic is to offer an analysis of it theologically, and then try to figure how to share it with a hurting world of Christians who are divorced, (either the initiators or the victims) single mothers, shut out fathers, broken families and to do so in a way that is more likely to be heard. I will come back to that.
First, every Christian subscribes to a theology. They may not articulate it clearly but their actions can tell you pretty much all you need to know about the systematic approach to their spiritual life they take.
For example, most Christians—be they Catholic, Orthodox, or some form of Protestant appear to subscribe to some level of God actively participating and guiding the events in their daily lives. When informed of a person who has become ill, their immediate response it to pray. If you conducted a “Family Feud” style survey of 100 random Christians, and asked them “what do you pray for in this situation” the number one answer would be, ding ding ding ding!!! “for the person to get better.”
When they go on a trip, they pray for safe travels. They pray for their pastor to have an accurate recollection of what he studied before his sermon. And on it goes.
This tells us that most Christians believe that God is actively causing things to happen. The extreme version of this is Calvinism. I went to such a seminary after growing up in the distinctly free-will theology of the restoration movement (the Church of Christ).
I do not wish to debate here Gods absolute sovereignty over the free will of man, but it is a subject that intersects with Dalrocks thesis.
If you say “marriage is the moral context to pursue romantic love and sex” you are making a case for at least some kind of determinism that flies in the face of our “looking for the one and only” drenched romantic culture. I would like to explore this a little.
Recently, a FB friend of mine and Mychaels posted a meme that read something like “If you can love the wrong person so much, imagine how much you could love the right person.” This post is all over social media and is generally posted by what the manosphere calls “carousel riders,” or single moms who detonated their marriages to the fathers of their children. Occasionally a single man will post something similar.
Second, I happen to agree with Dalrock and my first instinct was to reply “the ‘right’ person is the one you married,” which I did but eventually took it down. Not really interested in starting fights over such things with people I barely know.
But isn’t that the point? If one is a pure Calvinist, one would be arguing that once married you have obeyed what is known in reform theology as Gods “decreed” will. (That is, the marriage was ordained to happen way back in eternity somewhere). Staying married and making it work (and pursuing romantic love and sex) would be obeying His “moral” will. The distinction between Gods moral and decreed wills are necessary in this type of theology to explain how people are able to do evil, while still maintaining a coherent theology of His sovereignty. I am hoping Dalrock will comment on this part.
In my own experience with divorce (which I did not initiate) I have had to grapple with this. There were no kids to go through the “meat grinder” of divorce, which seemed to make it less obnoxious. But a grave sin occurred regardless and this mystery still causes me to humble myself in His presence regularly. At the time, however, I subscribed to the idea that “romantic love is the moral place to experience sex and marriage.” The romantic love preceded the marriage, and therefore marriage was the logical next step. This is how the vast majority of Christian conceptualize it—even so called “conservatives.”
So getting back to my point about talking to a broken world about this. There appears to be no way to do so without causing great weeping and gnashing of teeth. I have not yet been able to ask the question “what were the circumstances under which you became a single mother?” without tremendous backlash—no matter how much of a loving place it comes from. If the answer is that we just speak the Truth to those who need it, and deal with however they respond to it, than that is fine. But I have to believe that God has a plan for getting this message to His flock in a way that calls them to repentance instead the usual pure hatred and labelling of us as “judgmental.”