Note: this is the second installment in a series of posts where I dispense advice to my pre-adolescent sons. Advice that I wish I would have had in my youth.
A little-z zealot, that is.
My checkered past features a four-year time span of acute unhappiness, bookended on the left by a surprise divorce that I didn’t see coming, and on the right when I was introduced to and eventually wed Mrs. Wapiti.
It’s been nearly 10 years since I first faced those dark and terrible days, and the memory of that bitter experience motivates me to share the lessons I had to learn the hard way.
One of those hard-won lessons was, duh, don’t be unequally yoked.* That should have went without saying, but I was frankly quite ignorant and arrogant in my youth, the way high-achieving young folks can be. The other lesson was: marry a woman who is hard core about her faith.
There are a couple of reasons why I advise my sons and my fellow men to marry hard-core believers. First, is has been my consistent observation that in today’s world, with women armed as they are with so many choices, choices that include whether a man’s child escapes the uterus intact and whether a man gets to participate in the rearing of his own seed, indeed whether he remains free or is sold into a state of semi-slavery, a woman’s locus of control becomes paramount. If she is internally controlled, as I’ve observed most women are, then her actions will be primarily driven by whim. Or biochemistry. Or modern chemistry. Or even a dartboard. Whatever heuristic a woman uses to govern her actions, if she peers inside herself to determine what to do and where to go, run, don’t walk away. Such women is but a leaf in the autumn wind. Who knows where the air currents will take her, and by extension, where the man tied to such a woman finds himself.
Hard core Believers, on the other hand, are externally governed. Their locus of control tends to be directed outside themselves, toward a fixed point that doesn’t move. In the case of Believers, that fixed point is Scripture and the Holy Spirit, and women whose decision tree starts and ends there are a whole lot less likely to follow their Game-manipulable lizard hind brain into situations which their hamster must then rationalize away.
So how does one differentiate the externally controlled few from the internally controlled masses? By her claims to be a committed Christian? Bzzzt! If the metaphorical red pill has taught modern men anything about women, it is to put greater stock in a woman’s actions than her words.
This brings me to the second reason why I advise men to marry zealots: they take their faith seriously. A seriousness that is reflected in their church/synagogue attendance rates. And it turns out that said attendance rates are highly correlated with marital success. Read on:
“Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as the world!”
It’s one of the most quoted stats by Christian leaders today. And it’s perhaps one of the most inaccurate.
The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes – attend church nearly every week, read their bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples – enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.
That’s the text. But the adjusted-for-race-and-income data practically shouts from the rooftops (negative numbers represent percent less likely to divorce):
Protestant (Nominal) +20
Protestant (Conservative) -10
Protestant (Active-Con) -35
Catholic (Nominal) -5
Catholic (Active) -31
Jewish (Nominal) +53
Jewish (Active) -97
Looking at the data, one thing is very clear. Those that are serious about their faiths stand a significantly lower risk of marital disruption than those that are not. Fine. This is great news, but not the end of the story, for what I also find very interesting about this table is that those who dabble in their faiths, those who are neither hot nor cold, are the ones setting themselves up for failure the most…+20 for Protestants, -5 for Catholics, and a whopping +53 for Jews.
My advice for my sons and my fellow brothers is this: find and marry a woman who is zealous about her faith, a zealotry that is demonstrated by her actions. For an obedience and submission to Christ portends well for her ability to follow your lead in marriage. Granted, such women may be hard to find in this day and age, but if a fellow dares to marry, and I think some fellows should,** her worth will be far more than rubies.
* I was a nominal Protestant at the time, paired with an east-Coast (i.e. lib/fem) nominal “jack” Catholic. Uh-oh.
** I think that only Believing men should marry. Non believers should avoid Marriage 2.0 religiously, if you pardon the pun.