Soft feminism: The subtle porn of low expectations*

Its been about a decade since I was party to any form of marriage counseling. But the underlying messages are there everyday, squeezing out the nitrogen and oxygen in the air we breath. They are ubiquitous in daily interactions, media, church experiences, and unfortunately they even show up in dialog with one’s own family. They are easy to miss. Its important to write or talk about this plainly just as it is plain to talk about sexual rejection, submission, and the other things that form the Christian feminine imperative.

Cane has taken on some of these tough topics lately. He has outed female porn in its most subtle forms. Like what I am about to launch into, female porn and the necessary twin, hamster food, hides in plain site by clothing itself so as to be agreeable politically and even morally in a very superficial way. Good raffia is extruded tape. It is woven to form the bag that holds what constitutes female porn. The outside of the bag looks nice, has a corporate logo and meets all the OSHA Right to Know regulations, but inside, where the back side of whats been extruded is in contact with the content, there may be stuff like maleic anydride….stuff that BURNS THE EYES AND SKIN with exposure, slowly over time.

So it is with low conflict counseling. Or plain old advice.

Over the weekend there was a story that ran about America’s longest married couple. They were celebrating their 81st anniversary. All the coverage I heard, read, or saw had the reporters or commentators yukking it up because the old man said his secret was to do whatever his wife told him to do. I mentioned Cane’s posts about the forms of female porn because their was some of it buried in this story as well. It may seem counter intuitive to see female porn in a long-married story and it would be if not for the quips and comments made by the men and women reporting it. First the “Awwwwwwwww, how precious” remarks. Those are not made to recognize longevity of marriage, rather they are made because it seems quaint.

Twenty years ago I used to travel around the U.S. a lot as a salesman. I regularly visited a small town called Leola, PA. It was in Amish country near Lancaster. On the way there from Philadelphia I’d drive through breathtaking farmland hills developed by generations of Amish. There was a traditional one room school along the way. And taped on the front door of the school was a sign that used to sadden me. It said something to the effect, “This is a functioning School, please do not just walk in and take pictures of the kids”. The same emotion that drove people to want photos of the cute-little-Amish-kids to the point they would burst into a school house in session was the emotion driving the reporter Kens and Barbies to say “Awwwwwwwww”. The long married couple were a quaint anachronism, not something to be held up and emulated. Quite the opposite actually. The anachronistic aspect grabbed attention, the man’s statement, that the secret to marriage is to obey your wife, was like the trifold center to the female porn magazine being metaphorically thumbed through there.

To the point.

A man comes home from work. There is some parody that makes the rounds occasionally about what a man needs when he gets home. It says the wife should have his slippers waiting, a quiet tidy place, maybe a glass of his favorite beverage and a newspaper, like that. Ive heard this read in churches. No matter where its shared, its a source of humor.

I don’t get the joke.

Most men would have no idea what that list would look like in action, not even one single aspect of it. If a man stood on any one of those things as principle he’d be labeled an ogre. A cyclone would form as the crowd rushed to the woman’s side if he even jokingly expressed approval for one of those ideas. The man’s concerns fall under “don’t sweat the small stuff and its all small stuff”. But that light bulb in the closet under the stairs, one light bulb of two….there is still light there….it will drive that woman nuts, and with her, the man, until it supplants him even being able to stand amidst the chaos of his arrival home, stand quietly and imagine the lack of entropy and the presence of an obvious path on the floor  from the kitchen to the bathroom. If he trips over something that’s been sitting there for a week, and he utters an impolite exclamation, what would he be told? How would he be counseled?

“Agree with your wife, press the debris out of your way, scoot to that closet, change that bulb, and stop making a big deal of things.”

Low expectations, no expectations, and the porn of the rigidity of the required male servant leader. Well, not exactly. The porn is all that other stuff, those TV shows and the rest that she can use to replace “the jerk” on her slumber screen. The counselor is fully aligned. She has been seeing him for a few weeks and he is a great guy (recently told to me, about a Dr. of psychology and church counselor,  by a man I know, regarding a counselor who had recommended that a woman we know divorce her husband) And he is the male lead in her life’s divorce porn movie, today, until she can get to India.

They dedicate their lives
To running all of his
He tries to please them all
This bitter man he is
Throughout his life the same
He’s battled constantly
This fight he cannot win
A tired man they see no longer cares
The old man then prepares
To die regretfully
That old man here is me

What I’ve felt
What I’ve known
Never shined through in what I’ve shown

(Someone bet me I couldn’t fit in a Metallica lyric.)

*I always liked George Bushes expression, “the soft bigotry of low expectations”.

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38 thoughts on “Soft feminism: The subtle porn of low expectations*

  1. “Don’t hold a grudge. Forgive each other. Live accordingly,” he said.

    “We are very fortunate,” Ann Betar added. “It is unconditional love and understanding. We have had that. We consider it a blessing.”

    The above is why their marriage has lasted. The other statement? Who knows what he meant by it. Maybe she picked his clothes and arranged the social engagements. Maybe he was joking.

    A woman who refuses to do kind things for her husband doesn’t have the unconditional love or understanding that Ann Betar speaks of. It isn’t a joke at all. I haven’t heard anything like that in church for a long time, but it’s really just wordliness that perceives selflessness as weakness or foolishness. That’s my take, anyway. And it’s a lot of nesses.

  2. As someone who lives in Leola, and happens to make a living off of the “elsewhereians” I can relate to the bursting in to take pictures.
    The “outened” light bulb would drive me nuts before it would my wife. My wife however, will make sure the house is neat and orderly and will greet me with a quiet kiss and no demands, and is apologetic to a fault if a Costco run needs to be made on the way home from work. But it has always been thus. But red pill understanding, some of which has been learned here, has made our relationship better.

  3. @Jill
    I wish I could agree fully. When people say things like “love each other unconditionally” its wonderful. Its also a throw away line for readers,like you (no disrespect intended) to enjoy. Its like interviewing players after they win a game. “Well, we just went out there and gave 110%. Wasn’t lookin good at the half but we just dug deeper and we pulled it out” Then the coach,
    “This game was about returning to fundamentals”. These statements are part of the American experience and are filler. Why so many men listen to ESPN radio to hear stuff like that repeated all day baffles me, but then, women would read endless stories to be able to read those words about unconditional love. Its more product than reality..
    BUT, there is one thing about the unconditional love statement that should be noted. She did not divorce her husband. That is evidence of some level of unconditional love.
    The way the divorce porn crowd reads that is strange though. They can celebrate that vicarious unconditional love while having frivolously divorced a husband. They can use the lack of unconditional love from the husband as rationale for demonstrating precisely that lack by filing a divorce. This is why the porn of it is so subtle. Its infiltrated our language to the point that words are designed to provoke good feelings, OR, provide hamster food for the very opposite thing from what they represent.
    One could argue that “listen to the wife” is also vaporous. I can only offer anecdote. I know and have known lots of couples who grew old together. Even some that seemed to have wonderful relationships. Most, though stable and long suffering, were stable because the man did what that man recommended. Most of those, with a bitter controlling wife who masked to the world that she was controlling and left the appearance of traditionalism. Many with overtly bitter and controlling wives. the mans acquiescence was the glue that not only held the marriage together, but also held the appearance of contentment illusion in place. Ive seen flashes of the reality underneath.

    These are the reasons I mentioned that story as divorce porn and how counter intuitive it seemed. Saying unconditional love kept us together is true, but its not true in the day to day way it is imagined by the divorce porn observer.

    Paul
    Small world. The drive through all those unfortunately names consecutive towns (Blue Ball, PA borders Intercourse, PA) and then especially the man I went to visit at the company where I had business, those were all amazing wonderful experiences in my late 20’s to mid 30’s. You would know the business I visited, it was making foam cups. Lets leave it at that.Maybe the biggest employer in Leola, but i wouldn’t know. If we have some potential connection, indicate so and I will send you an email at the address you used to post.

  4. I’m a single guy and I watch porn, whether I’m dating a woman or not. It’s too convenient. I’ve been in relationships before, and I always get bored. I’ve slept with 60-70 women, and none can hold my interest for more than 3 months. I get sick of the drama and neediness of a women’s emotions. It’s like having a mother and daughter rolled into one. I prefer the thrill of the chase and how many I can get into bed is more satisfying than keeping one and get bored with it. I’m not a sexual deviant either…blowjobs, doggystyle, that’s it. It’s the variety of women and winning them over that turns me on. I think it taps into evolution as well, many men would be this way if they could actually pull it off. They fulfill the need to be the masculine warrior-hunter when they find themselves with a woman that strips him of his ego. We live in a post-feminist culture of female empowerment. Frankly, I’m sick of it. Ladies, in case you didn’t know, feminism killed chivalry. You got what you wanted, congratulations. There is no equality in relationships. One will always wear the pants.

    [EDITED]

  5. I can one-up you on not getting the joke.
    I tell people ‘My wife does those things’ and people laugh.
    But she does do those things. And when I press it and say ‘No, he really does those things’ people get upset.
    I once lost a contract over it.
    You know what? *THAT* is funny!

  6. “When people say things like “love each other unconditionally” its wonderful. Its also a throw away line for readers,like you (no disrespect intended) to enjoy.” But it’s not a throwaway line, and it’s not something I would merely “enjoy” in the sense that you mean it. I’m also not exactly sure what “readers, like you” means–ones who reduce others’ lives to voyeuristic oohs and aahs and “aren’t they quaint”? That kind of perspective [“aren’t they quaint?”] stems from pride. Pride prevents us from learning from our elders.

    Human love is flawed; we know this. Human love isn’t pure and right. It’s fraught with manipulation, deception, selfishness, and ego-protection. Still, unconditional love is something to strive for. What I understand her to mean is what I’ve seen modelled in my parents, who’ve now been married more than forty years. The way they’ve swallowed their selfish desires over the years can’t be reduced to a throwaway line that makes me feel good.

  7. @Jill

    The way they’ve swallowed their selfish desires over the years can’t be reduced to a throwaway line that makes me feel good.

    What are you arguing about, then? This is exactly the sort of porn of low expectations that Empath is condemning. You endorsed the throw-away line because–like all good propaganda–it evoked an emotional response that–in turn–you tied back to your parents’ relationship. It’s entirely possible that the two marriages might have been nothing alike! There’s always one person doing more in the marriage, and that’s the information and advice that is needed.

    “Unconditional love” is a throw-away because it doesn’t tell you that the husband provided for his wife even after she had affairs, or she submitted even though he was physically abusive. That’s how they stayed married.

  8. Heh, live down the street from the maker of cups. If you want a ride behind a choo choo it can be arranged.
    In thinking about the soft porn, I wonder if there is a connection to a marriage with two single skill people vs a marriage with multi skill people. Single skill people have a tendency to make the time to sit and soak in the culture while multi skill people don’t have time for TV or… or…or…
    Both my wife and I have too many things to do,both of our own and together and with and for our (almost) grown sons to worry about are we haaaaaapy. If we aren’t we fix it. Like watching the “pure” human nature in a young child that hasn’t been “socialized” a “pure” hamster that doesn’t get fed soft porn is much easier dealt with.

  9. Cane, I don’t have an argument. I never did. The man’s claiming to obey his wife was the throwaway line (or throw a dog a bone line), not the ones in which they said they operated off of forgiveness (his words) and unconditional love and understanding (her words). Do we know the details? Nope. But I’m starting with the assumption that all people are sinful and, in order to stay married, those principles of forgiveness and unconditional love are necessary. I know what that means because it was modeled to me by my elders. I try to learn from my elders; that was my only point. And it’s what’s lacking in the big hoo-doo about this couple. Even unconditional love has little context for most of my generation becuase they didn’t see it modeled for them in their parents’ broken marriages.

  10. .it will drive that woman nuts, and with her, the man, until it supplants him even being able to stand amidst the chaos of his arrival home, stand quietly and imagine the lack of entropy and the presence of an obvious path on the floor from the kitchen to the bathroom. If he trips over something that’s been sitting there for a week, and he utters an impolite exclamation, what would he be told? How would he be counseled?

    He would be counseled to be more understanding, of course.

    Yesterday my husband showed up at home earlier than I expected. The laundry basket that would have been finished when he arrived was in mid-fold all over the bed, books were all over the couch, and I was in workout clothes and a pony tail since I decided yesterday of all days to sleep in and push my workout until later in the day.

    When I heard the car pull up, I was like, “What the heck? Look at this place!” Even the teenager who was in her room came up front wide-eyed and to see what the house looked like. My husband never complained about that kind of thing even when the children were little and the house was truly a wreck, but I always made a deal of making sure he comes home to an orderly house.

    He didn’t notice the mess. He only noticed that I looked a mess: “It’s almost 4 o’clock. Why are you still looking like that?”

  11. Jill, if I was one who picked up folks old wooden furniture from the curb so that I could refinish it, rehab it, whatever, someone may say “I put a table by the street because someone, like you, will come along and get it. Maybe add the words “for example” after “reader like you” and you see how specific my meaning was and how harmless. I am not prone to insults that include -like you- as a way of scooping my target into the thing I am criticizing.

    The voyeurs of which you speak are more than voyeurs who reduce peoples lives to ooos and aaaahs. They are actually not reducing a particular live or lives to oooos and aaaaahs in some simple voyeuristic act. The peoples lives are just the carrier for the porn. Their life is the paper stock on which the porn is printed. The porn is the things being said about the prop, which is the life. The comparison to the Amish school is a perfect one. It could have been a market, a home, a barn, a barn raising, whatever.

    Actually what your parents have done may or may not be subject to a throwaway line….BUT…..that’s how it would be described by the divorce porn peddlers, throw away lines. Lines that simultaneously praise them for their long marriage, reduce that achievement to a cliche, and infer things for women to consider, then, that if YOU sense YOUR marriage isn’t like this (meaning your husband isn’t like this) then you are missing out.

    Cane’s closing sentence was perfect. I want to add that there really is no such thing as unconditional love between two people. There may be a set of behaviors that seem to outwardly reflect unconditional love, and there may be times when one or the other must choose unconditional love over righteous reaction, but…..those are actually not evidence of unconditional love. They show commitment. Period.

    To make the word commitment appeal to women it would have to be wrapped in a story of a mans selflessness. The only time the divorce porn people would get a boost from a demonstration of a woman’s unconditional commitment would be these tales where a man gets paralyzed at 25 years old and she stays the next 60 years caring for him. Even there, the way divorce porn works, the reason it appeals to them has nothing to do with the virtue the woman is modeling in that case, rather it has everything to do with her vicariously being THE HUSBAND, or better said her being the victim and her husband being the 60 year caregiver. Imagining that feels really good. But it also gives her yet another standard from which to judge the worthiness of continued commitment, and inevitably the man will fail that mental exercise.

    What is being modeled to you is commitment. Nothing more can be extrapolated. Its less common for women to embrace commitment long term, to long suffer, its common for men to do it. These are facts backed with numbers. men suffer in silence, they stick to the commitment. they may seethe inside time to time. They may cry to God to please help them keep hangin in. Women bail. And they get reasons to bail from divorce porn, and that story was, even if inadvertent, divorce porn. It wouldnt have been so maybe 70 years ago, but then again, it also wouldnt have even been a story, because folks stayed committed. Now with the undertone of divorce porn everywhere, it has to be made into something that CAN be used in multiple ways. These writers do not scheme to do this. It is the fabric from which the zeitgeist is woven now. It is instinct.

  12. The phrase is “steadfast love”. It’s different from “unconditional”. Even God’s love is not unconditional. The unrepentant and unregenerate will go to Hell.

  13. While I agree that unconditional love is impossible for humans, and perhaps even that steadfast love is a better phrase, my simple understanding of what it means to love unconditionally is choosing to love even when conditions change. You may call that commitment–that’s fine. I’m not going to wrangle over terms. I don’t think I have any real disagreements with you. However, sometimes your writing is difficult for me to understand.

  14. sometimes your writing is difficult for me to understand.

    I get that a lot. Cane told me that months ago when we first met in these cyber halls.

    Nevertheless, the pedant in me would say that the term matters A LOT. Why? because one expresses something that women can generally embrace if it is demonstrated by men, and can even convince themselves they are demonstrating to men…..unconditional love…..even when and if they divorce the man they can say they did that. Where commitment is far easier to challenge when they file for divorce. Though sadly the women i am referring to could still rationalize that they “remained commited to him for the duration of the marriage” (he one she just took down in flames with a divorce)

    The words, the language is crucial, not trivial. Its the first thing to be coopted and leads societal trends by removing guardrails that are clearly expressed with words.

  15. You’re right about language, certainly. It’s one of the first methods used to control people and their thinking. For some reason, this reminded me of the “tough love” conceit. I could imagine a woman divorcing her husband out of “tough love” for what she percieves as his bad behavior. In fact, I don’t just imagine. I’ve seen this happen repeatedly.

  16. Empath:
    “There is no such thing as unconditional love between two people.”

    I have to disagree with that. It’s true that it practically never happens (just like love itself is virtually an extinct concept); but if two people are united in genuine love, it would seem to follow logically that that love would be unconditional. However, both parties would be have to be bound by it, if ‘conditions’ exist, the love isn’t complete.

    To draw an analogy from Christian doctrine: when St. John speaks of Christians ‘becoming one with Christ’ he is speaking of that kind of love, because afterwards he relates: ‘if we say we love Him and continue in sin, we lie and do not know the Truth.’ That is unconditional love in the macrocosm—among people love is designed to work in the same way.

  17. Jill:
    “I am starting from the premise that all human beings are sinful and in order to stay married those principles of forgiveness and unconditional love are necessary.”

    No—the reason that those things are necessary is because it starts with the ‘assumption that all people are sinful’ Don’t you see that is a loophole for feminine misandry and infidelity to start with? If two people were genuinely in love, unconditional love would simply happen; and forgiveness would be rarely, if ever, necessary between them.

    I would shudder if a prospective wife told me that she starts with the ‘assumption that all people are sinful.’ I would translate that as either: ‘Don’t hold me responsible for whatever happens next’ or ‘All men are pigs, and I expect you to act accordingly, and prepare for the worst!’ Either way, I’d make a beeline out of that relationship as fast as possible; because such statements are a bellweather of impending disaster for the man involved.

    I’m not of course denying that people don’t fall into sin—but I read such statements as an intention to do so. In the normal course of things, a sin is an imperfection or a mistake, which can be repented of and rectified without harm to the marriage relationship.

  18. No—the reason that those things are necessary is because it starts with the ‘assumption that all people are sinful’ Don’t you see that is a loophole for feminine misandry and infidelity to start with? If two people were genuinely in love, unconditional love would simply happen; and forgiveness would be rarely, if ever, necessary between them.

    Eric, never seen you go so far off track. Yes indeed it is absolutely a loophole, hamster food, all that. All cliches created from scripture are designed for that purpose, to allow flexibility in understanding it, and to afford rationale for doing whatever the hell she wants. Thats the language thing I am talking about.

    Let me digress into an example of one of the bedrock principles of this. I confess I say with some pride….I was in a meeting at the elementary school this week where my 8 year old girl was in the final stages of being selected for the special needs accoutrement treatment. As odd as that sounds, it means in my case that she was up for the gifted and talented track. They lump that with special needs. My girl is not autistic, asperger, spectrum disorder, any of that. She is just bright, I was throwing in the fact that they place that all in the same category for informational reasons. Its all good and blessedly normal on all measures for us. The first reviewer made the comment, “no surprise dad, she was off the charts verbally, because girls are better at this”. It was not the time or place for me to rebut. Oh but rebut I would and that’s a whole different topic. How that ties here is that these cliches are a product of this allegedly superior communication regime. And frankly, its true. Instinctively a woman can confound a man, building strategy where she is not even aware she is doing so, laying traps, guiding discourse passive aggressively. They end up with these cliches that mean lots before them did the hard work of finding statements that close off argument from men. that is ALL these cliches must do. To be fair, some women will also make the arguments that men make. Its not about men, its about the arguments themselves. So….we agree on that.

    All are sinful is a loophole for her, and an accusatory basis for her to use on him when he is actually in a zone of doing life well, or approval, things that glorify God. She can use this is get round it, and to say he cannot get round it. Perfect.

    You are correct, we sin, and that needn’t be the and of the marriage. That simple statement is steadfast love. I barked at my wife tonight while shopping. I barked because of my day and then somethings she did. As we walked into the house, my wife looked back and me and thrust out her tongue and blew air and slobber…I cannot create that sound in type….anyway it was sweet and conciliatory. She was saying hey bub, ok, so you had a point, please don’t react that badly, and guess what, I’m with you my friend. I have to say I love those moments, and we both have them. Its steadfast love, there is more reason to love her and her me than not. Lets refuse to pick one reason and call that a deal breaker even of we lay in bed staring at the ceding some nights angry. But it is NOT unconditional love. Its love that says i can handle this, and what happened last year, and 10 years ago, and likely what will happen next year, but some of those require, not love, but dogged commitment. Dogged commitment gets past problems. depending on unconditional love does not.

    if two people are united in genuine love, it would seem to follow logically that that love would be unconditional.

    May seem logical, but thats wrong because its impossible. I cannot give love because it is unconditional. I can because of commitment. The love born of commitment is not fun or sexy or fluttery. Its that I’m here, got your back bottom line. Not leaving. Not going to opinine that I am unhaaapy.

    1 John scriptures you mention are tough ones. the need context and I need to read good teaching on them often, because they are unequivocal and as stated impossible. They are exclusionary. They do not represent something in the macrocosm so to sPeak that is germane to this.

    Im going to hope that cane responds on this thoughtfully because I am saying his response will be better than mine on that subject, And its important. That scripture stops many Christians,or or prevents some from becoming Christians because of reading as you have.

  19. If two people were genuinely in love, unconditional love would simply happen; and forgiveness would be rarely, if ever, necessary between them.

    I vehemently disagree with this Eric, while simultaneously be surprised that you harbor such fantastically romantic notions.

    I suspect it’s because you’re looking at the need for forgiveness as something only required in the wake of a grievous breach of trust. However in a marriage, the need to forgive covers far more than that. Most marriages that die suffer a death from a 1,000 cuts, not a fatal blow.

    Unconditional love can never “simply happen”. It has to be choice made daily.

  20. Unconditional love is never going to be a description of a lifetime, or a period of time. It will be a choice that guides an action, from event to event. In fact we all suffer conditionality. With each opportunity we can allow the condition to win, or suppress the condition and act as if we did not have the condition. That would be an “unconditional act”. But unconditional love, not so much.

  21. With each opportunity we can allow the condition to win, or suppress the condition and act as if we did not have the condition. That would be an “unconditional act”.

    That’s a good way of looking at it, but I still say that’s indicative of unconditional love, or as close as we humans are able to get to demonstrating it, no? Love isn’t just about how you feel but about what you do in spite of how you feel.

    The mistake Eric is making is implying that when you’re “genuinely in love”, unconditional acts or unconditional love, just flow as a result. That it doesn’t require choice or come with any internal struggles, which is as I said, a fantastically romantic notion that doesn’t play out in a real marriage.

    And it doesn’t matter how good the marriage seems to be. That’s just not reality.

  22. Love is not about how we feel I suppose, but in today’s vernacular….it certainly is about how we feel, hence I say unconditional love is not possible meaning it that way. Sadly we have to be more rigid with language so i use commitment.

  23. Love is not a feeling. Love is active and proactive. If you consider love to be, by modern definition, nothing more than a feeling, I can now truly understand why you don’t believe unconditional love is possible. Also, regarding Eric and my assumption that all humans are sinful, it was specifically connected to the idea of forgiveness and unconditional love as stated by the couple who have already been married for 81 years. They are looking backward at their lives, not [necessarily] giving themselves excuses to sin in the future. I’m not sure how using biblical cliches gives people an excuse to sin, in any case. The Bible does not ever give excuses to sin. Yes, I’m well aware that the Bible is used inappropriately all the time, but it always requires taking verses out of context. That people do this out of self-deceit or because they are ill-intentioned does not make biblical truths inappropriate to use in a discussion (unless they are used inappropriately).

    “I’m not of course denying that people don’t fall into sin—but I read such statements as an intention to do so. In the normal course of things, a sin is an imperfection or a mistake, which can be repented of and rectified without harm to the marriage relationship.” I’m sorry you would read my or somebody else’s statement of cynicism about the sinful nature of mankind to be ill-intentioned. Your second sentence was more of what I had in mind when discussing the need for forgiveness and [commitment], although, in my grandparents’ generation they had a completely different ideal of forbearance. What we consider grievious rather than minor, they considered something to live through (alcoholism, for example). Far be it for me to give myself excuses to sin, or call for more tolerance of bad behavior. This is merely a rumination on marriage, past and present.

  24. Elspeth:
    I really don’t see this as fantastically romantic at all: I tend to think the death of genuine love and romance in our culture makes it seem fantastic or unreal. Unconditional love does require choice; but that choice is made BEFORE marriage, not afterwards. If love is a matter of valuing another—why would it require any ‘work’? The only scenario where I could see that it would is if one spouse didn’t genuinely value or love the other.

  25. Empath:
    If I follow your argument correctly, it seems that what you refer to as ‘dogged commitment’ and unconditional love would amount to basically the same things: although commitment would be the active form and unconditional love the proactive form. In other words, if two people love one another unconditionally, (the thought, or emotional state), commitment and willingness to perservere through difficulties together would be one manifestation of that love (the active expression of it).

    “The 1st John scriptures are tough ones…they do not represent something so to speak germane to this.”

    As I understand, he was speaking of love in the sense that it transcended the merely physical plane and that is the kind of love to which we should aspire. To understand that, we have to understand that love—in the first place, is not divisible. There aren’t different types of love (as many Churchians teach) but the kind of love which God manifested by creating man and incarnating as man—which is set as the goal to which we ourselves should love. Note that God’s love is always conditioned on acceptance of it. Once that’s achieved it becomes unconditional, which is what St. John also meant by ‘becoming one with him in love’.

    Between two people in a holy marriage situation the case is directly analogous. The two become one: and that unity is not divisible by anything other than one party’s non-acceptance of it. That’s one reason why premising such a union on ‘mutual sinfulness’ instead of ‘unity in God’s love’ is very probably doomed to failure.

  26. Jill:
    “Love is not a feeling. Love is active and proactive.”

    No—love is premised on VALUE. Two people love because they mutually offer what they both value. Unfortunately, too much written about relationships (even in churchian circles) takes this reductionist approach: ideas like love and romance are somehow considered ‘quaint’: because, as we’re taught by the public school system, love is really nothing more than an mechanical sex drive somewhat influenced by social norms and subconscious drives. Calling love a value judgement is certain to get most people laughed at in derision—yet nonetheless that happens to be what it IS.

    When I read the statements about premising a relationship on the sinful nature of mankind, it brought to mind something women repeatedly saying today: “Well, we all have issues don’t we?” The idea being that—nobody’s perfect, so don’t expect too much, and who are you to judge, since you’re a male pig and I’m a victim of your oppression anyway; so ‘man up’ and let’s pretend to be happy together.

    Too often when I hear about ‘the sinfulness’ of human nature, I read just another variation of the ‘we all have issues’ statement.

    Now, if it were turned around and based on VALUE; it would be a matter of what positives do I have to offer; and what will be the positive effects of a union between us? In that way, love becomes a proactive FORCE instead of what it often is: nothing higher than a mechanistic routine.

  27. Empath:

    How would the last sentence be a false dichotomy if Christians are presumed to be forgiven of their sins?

  28. I tend to think the death of genuine love and romance in our culture makes it seem fantastic or unreal. Unconditional love does require choice; but that choice is made BEFORE marriage, not afterwards. If love is a matter of valuing another—why would it require any ‘work’?

    Perhaps Eric you should help me by giving me a rough description of what you mean by genuine love and romance. And do you sincerely think that there was a time (ever) when parties to a marriage didn’t have to ‘work’ (yes, work) to overcome their emotions and act unconditionally?

    I suspect our understandings diverge greatly but I might decide yours is right and I am not as “in love” as I think I am. I still get the warm fuzzies sometimes at the thought of my husband and I value him a great deal. I perceive that the feeling is quite mutual, but sometimes it’s work to act unconditionally, to bite your tongue, to get over yourself.

    If any two human beings can live together over the course of a lifetime and never have to push through in order to experience a love that “transcends the mere physical plane”, hats off to ’em.

    I submit to you that any time a couple can exercise an unwavering commitment to another and fulfill their obligations to one another, love grows and develops into something that resembles the God kind of love. Through practice and principle.

    You don’t have to have it before the marriage, and most of us don’t. Most of us walk down the aisle in an romantic/sexual haze with no idea what real marriage is going to require of us. We learn and genuine love grows.

    Your assertion that it has to be there before the marriage also discounts the reality of those marriages in cultures where unions are arranged and yet last a lifetime. The method we use for choosing mates these days (solely on the basis of romantic love) is a fairly new phenomenon. Is there genuine love and romance before the wedding is the cases where it isn’t done that way?

  29. Elspeth:
    To my mind, genuine love and romance are both complex subjects, but what it boils down to is mutually responding to shared values. Now of course the difference between this and Divine Love is that among us created beings there is a sexual component (which is by design as well). The sexual component is nothing dirty or negative as many Christians assume, but a metaphysical necessity. For example, I can’t imagine any sexual feelings or impulses whatsoever for someone whom I didn’t see value in any way.

    This is why I suggested that values-response should normally happen before marriage. If two people are essentially spiritually, physically, and emotionally connected (IOW in a state of mutual love) than it should follow that marriage would require very little ‘work’—except when a crisis arises outside the control of either spouse. Even then, they would together to resolve it. So yes, I DO believe that our ancestors had to work on marriages too: but I think there was far less conflict between spouses and they were mostly working WITH; as opposed to AGAINST each other.

    I’m not really sure in the cases of arranged marriage—oftentimes, even in such cultures, the girl did have some input in the matter although legally the parents had the responsibility. There was kind of a built-in check-and-balance in that system: the parents arranged for a good match for their children (since they had to bear the legal and economic obligations of failure) so it was really in their best interest to make sure their daughters were happy with the choice first; and it also suppressed the female proclivity for pursuing worthless deadbeats. This is generally the case even in Islamic countries today. In cases where that didn’t occur, such as royal marriages, adultery was a fairly common occurrance.

  30. It was a cry for help.

    That mantra about the slave-husband doing everything the wife wants and tells him to do is the only thing men are permitted to say publicly about marriage here in the gyno-gulag.

    It’s like those hostage videos the terrorists release, where all the accusations are being admitted to under extreme duress. At the 80+ yr mark the Stockholm Syndrome is entirely ingrained. Poor guy.

    There’s that, and the fact that amerikans are the biggest bunch of hyper-sentimental nincompoops ever.

  31. Pingback: Loving in the Ruins

  32. Pingback: Romance and Marriage… Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage? | Loving in the Ruins

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