Friday 19 January 2024

Some Romantic Christian "don'ts" about courtship and marriage

I find the "manosphere" - including the "Christian" sub-type - always and increasingly wrong-headed - and indeed harmful. 

So I thought I'd add my two-penn'orth in a way that is intended to be a negative corrective to some of the most blatantly false attitudes and aims. 

(I do not feel it would be right - would indeed be absurd! - for me to offer positive advice of a "what to do" kind; and indeed that would be counter-productive to the desired attitudes and aims.)

This is from a broadly Romantic Christian perspective (implicit in everything that follows) - which means it is rooted in my own intuition and experience for which I take personal responsibility; which implies that I will not "defend" my convictions, nor argue with those who disagree - because public "facts" and "evidence" depend on prior assumptions; and all logic and reason can do is infer the consequences of assumptions. 

One assumption, behind all this, ought not to need stating to Christians - but, of course, does (we are all sinners); and this is that Love is By Far the most important thing in marriage; as it is in this mortal life and in Heaven

(And Love is dyadic - as I have recently tried to explain.) 

If Love is not the underpinning of marriage, then we will be dealing with a public institution; and that means - in The West, now - marriage will be subject to a System that is evil overall and by intent. 

(Context: There are no guarantees in this mortal life; and your life is probably not "about" what you currently suppose it is about. We live in a divine creation - therefore (over the timescale of mortality - which is seldom in the immediate short-term) probabilities are not relevant to those fundamental matters crucial to the real purpose of your life; I mean, concerning matters where God would be expected to "intervene". In short; God will make happen what needs to happen.) 

Courtship begins with adolescence, and - as of this time and place - we all start-out from an adolescence characterized by intense self-consciousness and alienated consciousness: a situation of bad faith, hypocrisy and fantasy

We are hyper-aware of our-selves - but that "self" is compounded largely of fantasy (what we think we would like to be, what we want other people to be like). It is very seldom our real or true "primal self" indeed it is often an opposition or even inversion of that real self. 

We need to learn from this original situation, and work towards something better; which is:

Making our public persona a genuine manifestation of our real self

The other characteristic of modern adolescence, is also a consequence of our alienation. This is our conscious experience of being cut-off from spontaneous participation in the consciousness of other people; which means we tend to experience others (including women) in an un-real fashion - rather like characters in a novel, movie or play. 

Too often; because our the standard modern set-up of consciousness and culture: we engage our own fantasies our our-selves, with other-people's own fantasies of themselves (including women); and this must be overcome as much as possible. 

Furthermore; the above leads to the familiar situation in which relationships are reduced to a hypocritical war of attempted manipulations

(e.g. We attempt to project our fantasy persona (of what we think we want to be like) to manipulate a woman who may be doing the same: the "winner" is the one who succeeds in fooling the other into accepting the projected persona, and thereby successfully manipulating him or her. Meanwhile, the primal self is cut out-of-the-loop altogether.) 

For a Christian to accept that adolescent and alienated situation and work with it, rather than against it - and to claim this as Christian; is in bad faith - as well as hypocritical, dishonest, psychopathic (i.e objectivizing others and attempting to use them for gratification). 

It also prevents us learning from the experience of our actual situation in this mortal life

More explicitly, a marriage built on projection and manipulations is a marriage based on a lie. Furthermore, the lie intrinsic to a projected persona will tend to attract a woman who is attracted to that persona - which is not our real self: any resulting marriage will probably be rooted in dishonesty and deception.  

One very small positive suggestion to round-off: if you succeed in making your public persona a genuine manifestation of your primal self; then a woman (and you are only seeking one woman, a single wife) who is attracted to marry you on that basis (or something near to it, tending towards it) - will be more likely to love you for your real nature. 

If you hope for that marriage to be strong, lasting, loving - a basis in truth is surely for the best?

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Francis Berger said...

A relationship with a woman that leads to marriage should be based on truth and love. Go figure!

It's funny how love rarely enters into the equation on the mano blogs. Whenever it is mentioned, it is usually denigrated in favor of manipulative tactics, deceptions, lies, falsehoods, elaborate strategies, intricate psychoanalysis, profiling, etc. Same goes for being as "real" to your nature as you can be.

I don't expect the secular mano guys to address the spiritual dimension of all of this, but when I see Christan men sidestep truth and love in favor or what amounts to Ahrimanic thinking and strategies (which you have blogged about before) in the form of "game" or "the socio-sexual hierarchy", well, I can't help but feel disappointed.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - I agree - The problems with the "manosphere" from a Christian POV are baked-into the assumptions, its "pragmatic" (bureaucratic, scientistic) perspective - and, as such, are undetected, and/or denied.

Things are much worse than such people realize. And Christianity (including institutional churches) cannot now operate *within* the public sphere and its metaphysical assumptions.

Another way of thinking about the business is the contrast between "implementing" (that Ahrimanic term!) personal will-power over a gratifying timescale; and living in accordance with God's will for this, our whole mortal life - considered in terms of what we most need to experience and learn from it.

Jacob Gittes said...

This passage from Mark came to mind: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

I appreciate this post.
I think that the reason that "game" is so popular, is that men (and women) are lonely, isolated, and depressed.

They don't believe that any virtuous or authentic women exist, thus game is the only way to acquire some fleeting happiness - happiness being conflated with sexual pleasure and success in the dating game.

But there is always hope. But that comes from somewhere other than this material realm. We truly do create with our conscioussness.

Mia said...

This summary is so helpful, thank you. I've been trying to think hard about the decade I spent wildly in love with my own false self, both to strengthen my own faith and to prepare for when my children reach that phase. I married during that phase and while the marriage "worked" and continues and will continue forever, once that adolescent phase finally began to end we had to essentially start all over again, choose each other all over again, form a different and much stronger commitment. No amount of logic or strategy could have gotten us through that. I've seen "Christian" marriages where they are not marriages, they are just "not divorced." And that's good insofar as then hope remains! But then death with be a spiritual divorce instead of what it's meant to be (another radical strengthening of connection and commitment). Anyway, my point is that only a (repeated, bc we sin and fall away) individual commitment to live by love makes it possible to have a spiritually successful marriage, and only that makes a materially successful marriage desirable.

Lucinda said...

"It also prevents us learning from the experience of our actual situation in this mortal life. "
This strikes me as the kernel of the problem with the manosphere, that these men think they are learning something but instead getting themselves stuck in a kind of self-fulfillment quicksand. A manosphere watcher, though he is a long-married man, was telling me the other day that women are not capable of loving a man, that only men were able to love women. I suppose he finds some utility in believing this, and given a certain detailed definition of what he means by love, I probably wouldn't disagree, but it struck me as unhelpful to use the word love in that case. (His perspective is trying to help his recently grown son to find a fruitful woman to marry, having realized in his 50s that having plentiful offspring is much to be desired.)

I think two-way love in marriage is a kind of miracle that can only be accomplished by faith on the part of both, though in different ways. But it definitely gets spoiled by the relational short-termism that plagues modern men and women. And I guess that's what creates the impossibility of learning, an incorrect assessment frame.

Michael Dyer said...

I think it’s one of those “learn too much from the enemy” situations. Evopsych is popular because it has some explanatory power, but it devolves into the sexes looking at each other as collections of traits as opposed to people.

One of the biggest obstacles is we live in a culture centered around elaborately crafted images we project. It involves a kind of lying where personality doesn’t develop. Hence the “finding myself” theme. Makes me think of Screwtape Letters where people will avoid what they actually like in favor of the “best” thing as determined by social set, etc. You can’t meet “them” because “them” aren’t even themselves most of the time.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JG - "They don't believe that any virtuous or authentic women exist"

Yet could could anybody possibly *know* this (except in the ultimate sense that there are NO virtuous and authentic human beings in the world at all)?

But, anyway, the question is ill-formed; because what is at issue is meeting One Woman who will be *love-able and marry-able* -- and not meeting somebody who fits some kind of prior *blueprint* (what's more, a blueprint whose validity is *at best* merely statistical - hence retrospective and based on a different sample than Me/Here/Now - and based on mere probabilities).

It's a version of the Palantir problem - which induces despair based on incomplete knowledge :

Bruce Charlton said...

@Michael D - I was an early and enthusiastic scholar of Evolutionary Psychology (before I was a Christian) but even during the 20 years I was teaching it I realized that many of its apparently strongest predictions had failed to predict post-millennial behaviours - *especially* those with regard to sexual selection. Indeed, there was the opposite of predicted behaviours.

I can now perceive many reasons for this failure of ev psych - both biological and "cultural"; but even more important is the metaphysical (ie fundamental, assumption level) exclusions of biology and indeed science itself - which exclude the possibility of divine creation: i.e. any positive, creative, constructive "tendency" in this world.

So Ev Psych - for all its fascinations (which few have felt as deeply or strongly as myself) is so *incomplete* an explanation/ predictor of human behaviour, as to be a near-suicidal basis for planning one's own life.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Mia and Lucinda - Thanks again for your fascination and vital comments each from a woman's perspective, which would otherwise be lacking on this blog. You both make points that come (at least partly) from outside my perspective; reminding me that men and women are (to some very important extent) complementary at a deep spiritual level.

This is something that mainstream Christianity has got wrong throughout its history - providing feeble and rather incoherent explanations of marriage - until the Mormon revelations in mid-1800s began to help us perceive other possibilities which go right back to the dawn of creation and its purpose.

(Although it seems to me that many/most Mormons - including their leadership - only appreciate this great gift of understanding only very superficially; and even the basics are all-but completely unknown - and of zero interest - outside of the CJCLDS.)