Arranged Marriage

Find a set of railroad tracks and put your ear to the rail. Feel it? A distant hum, a low vibration. Arranged marriage is coming.

This is not your mama’s version nor an extraction from eastern nations nor taken from the tradition of Jewish matchmaking. Fiddler on the Roof anyone?

“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match. Find me a find, catch me a catch. Matchmaker, matchmaker look through your book and make me a perfect match.” (Fiddler on the Roof)

Today’s digital information panorama has so confused the waters that our former straight shot to marriage now resembles the Mississippi River: muddy and winding, it even went backwards once. Consider the sand bars that the late adolescent must navigate around if they ever hope to get downstream and achieve this traditional marker of adulthood:

Loss of Confidence – Divorce has rocked the stability of the institution of marriage

Loss of Wonder – Pornography and Erotica (literature designed to arouse) are two sides of the same coin and have destroyed the hidden wonder of intimacy, a magnet that use to pull people towards marriage

Loss of the Trades – Skilled labor (manufacturing, construction, business) is out of favor, giving way to an endless forage into ‘education.’ One now needs a graduate level degree to match what used to be gained by a bachelor’s. This results in debt and the delay of traditional adulthood accomplishments (career, marriage, family)

Loss of Financial Recovery – The phenomenon of student loan debt is a cultural monster, often fed by forces beyond a student’s ability to process. 18-year-old optimism can suddenly become a 23-year-old’s disillusionment.

One thing is sure:

The short-timed social era where farms were abandoned for cities, where kids had nothing immediate to do other than to create an adolescent bubble, hang out, fall in love and get married….is long gone.

The complex world of sexuality, where students often spend 15 or more years in adult-ready-bodies, requires your help. It’s possible that this challenge may be partially met by arranged marriage, coaches and mentors who deeply enter the lives of single professionals. One thing is certain. Risk taking almost always carries a gender expression. If you’re meeting with a young man or young woman, your advice- if followed- will usually lead to godly masculinity or femininity.

But beware of the extremes as they generally backfire:

Extreme #1 – Where one’s reputation for match-making is so ambitious that it becomes their identity. Young singles sense this a mile away and cross to the other side of the street.

Extreme #2 – Buying into the old mantra that students should finish school, land a career, pay off student loan debt, save a gazillion dollars and buy a house- all before marriage. Good luck doing this before 40.

So, what could godly coaching look like?

  • Let God bring it to you. As you work with students and single professionals, work on first things first. Their love for God and his community
  • Pray for their private lives, including their deep longings for marriage
  • Assign risks in areas where their behavior seems counter to what they really want
  • Demonstrate trust in God as you overcome your own stage-of-life fears through faith
  • Invite them to activities where significant interaction with marriages and families occur
  • Point out a good match from time to time for them to process godly character
  • On rare occasions, arrange a blind date

Because of an increasingly complex culture, customized coaching is a growing need for our younger generations.

Shades

Erotica is the new game in town, toying with intimacy and longings through literature- titillating words designed to awaken desire. Picture pornography and erotica as two sides of the same coin.

two sided

A recent book offers great clarity as to why the genre is exploding, linking the longings of a woman with the fiction of our day. Pulling Back the Shades (Gresh/Slattery) says:

The definition of erotica is “art or literature intended to arouse sexual desire.” Why is this a spiritual issue? Because sex is inherently spiritual. (Pg 44)

The word “spiritual” simply means that at our core, we were created for security and significance. Notice how the authors give further definition to a woman’s longings:

  • To escape reality
  • To be cherished by a man
  • To be protected by a strong man
  • To rescue a man
  • To be sexually alive

In the imaginary world of erotica, the reader both 1) gets saved and 2) becomes the savior. That’s the power. That’s the formula. Security and significance.

“Enter erotica. No man needed, no risks of heartbreak involved, you don’t even have to put on makeup….just start reading and you can have your body and mind awakened any time you want.” (Pg 24)

When Jesus says…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

….he is talking about this very tendency. Whichever side of the coin we tilt towards does the same thing. It attempts to arouse our mind and body. The big question we’re left with is what exactly was Jesus implying? Was he taking the established code (no adultery) and simply ratcheting it up a notch? An impossible idealism? If you hold to that position, you may as well check into to the local despair unit.

Jesus is our security. And our significance comes from partnering with his agenda. This revolutionary intrusion into human history finds the Son of God invading our private space. We get saved and he is the one doing it. The savior.

 

Reading Gender Gap

We’ve known two things about boys for some time- they’re falling behind girls at an alarming rate and the gap is widening. Enter “Boys: The Weaker Sex” in The Economist:

The reversal is laid out in a report published on March 5th by the OECD, a Paris-based rich-country think-tank. Boys’ dominance just about endures in maths: at age 15 they are, on average, the equivalent of three months’ schooling ahead of girls. In science the results are fairly even. But in reading, where girls have been ahead for some time, a gulf has appeared. In all 64 countries and economies in the study, girls outperform boys. The average gap is equivalent to an extra year of schooling.

And here’s the clincher:

The OECD deems literacy to be the most important skill that it assesses, since further learning depends on it.

Our challenge is easy to define and seemingly impossible to solve. Most boys have a reading problem due to the fact that video games and Internet browsing yield instant- though debilitating- rewards to their undeveloped brain. But reading is the gateway to all learning due to the magnetic characteristic of wonder. Wonder pulls us in and reading is the tool whereby wonder is ignited.

C.S. Lewis used to talk about the grief of learning verbs and parts of language, contrasting it with the stunning adventure that awaits once we transcend that stage and get into the actual wonder of reading. My dad needed glasses at an young age due to hiding under the covers- long past bedtime- and reading by flashlight. Most boys are stuck at the ‘parts of language’ stage, where reading is all work and no wonder.

Check out these ideas to help them gain traction:

  • Downshift. Create deliberate time and space to escape the speed of technology reward (TV, Video Games, Internet are all reward and no work). Schedule low tech windows where initial boredom and parental involvement mandate reading. (Vacation, Low-Tech-Tuesdays, etc)
  • Use books as the gateway to wonder with extremely strict controls on wonder-smashing-porn.
  • Research books in keeping with your son’s stage-of-life curiosities
  • If the content appears to be ‘too much, too soon,’ use this parental discomfort to enter their lives in discussion. I’d rather have boys break through the age of innocence with a book of your choosing than through the guaranteed first porn moment.
  • Expose them to extreme-readers, kids who are a few years ahead of them. I met a young doctor the other day who’d read through his small town library 2.5 times between 5th and 8th grade.
  • If your son loves devices, consider some type of e-reader as a dopamine dispenser for reading
  • Develop a plan for the tweet, Facebook post, email world as it does involve writing and reading skills (even with it’s obvious limitations)
  • Pay for reading. This works for many families, often delivering kids from the ‘reading is work’ to the ‘reading as wonder’ stage. Get over the short-sighted sense that this is backwards. Their entire educational future hinges on the ability to read. Think of scholarships, graduate assistance, job market, career advancement.
  • Play the reading-writing relationship. Want to write better? Read a lot. Want to read better? Write.