Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Projections of an Immoral Cynic

Today, Talleyrand posted a rather harsh response to a Catholic article on men and marriage. While I thoroughly support dismantling the pretty lies foisted upon us by various blind and agenda-driven organizations and individuals, when I read Talleyrand's response, I couldn't help but be struck by the shocking amount of logical fallcies and reactiveness in his post. While I am not a strong supporter of the Catholic church (for various reasons), I do highly value the fact that the Catholic Church has a noble vision for what marriage should be, and actively advocates it. In this particular instance, I think that the article in question is quite a reasonable one. Let's break down Talleyrand's response to it and see whether his criticisms are valid, or whether they are merely projections of a cynic.

I bring this up because of the Catholic’s church “new” (read conservative) stance it is starting to take. I headed over to read one of the blogs that supposedly represents this sea change in the catholic church and I found this article on men and marriage. (Hat tip: Butterfly Squash)

I have said it before, and I will say it again, conservatives, liberals, and feminists are no friends of men because they refuse to accept the nature of women.
It may or may not be true that conservatives, liberals, and feminists refuse to accept the nature of women. However, in this particular case, such a complaint is unrelated to the article in question, which specifically states: "It is true that women have a role in all these matters. But this article is directed to men." Given that the article in question says nothing at all about the nature of women, this critism has zero applicability to the present article.

Lets get to dissecting the article.
Among the measures of mature manhood that God Himself sets forth is faithful, stable, committed marriage. After observing, It is not good for the man to be alone (Gen 2:18) God says ….A man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two of them shall become one flesh. Thus God indicates an essential description of manhood. This is what a MAN does.
Right from the get go we have shaming language. (Code Green: Peter Pan, Code Lavender: Masculinity). They posit the convenient interpretation of scripture that to be fully a man, you must get married.
Shaming language? Perhaps my reading comprehension is sadly deficient, but nowhere in that excerpt do I see any shaming occuring. Nowhere is Charles Pope saying that marriage is the only criteria for being fully a man--hence his use of the word "among." He is sharing his vision, based on Scripture, that marriage is a good thing, and that a mature, stable, committed marriage does indicate maturity in a man.

However, the advocation of a certain course of action cannot be accurately conflated with disparaging the abdication of such a recourse. That the author advocates marriage does not mean that he is shaming those who don't choose to get married. This is a blatant misreading or misinterpretation of the author's words.

The article’s next point is:
A mature man recognizes that it is not good, not healthy, for him to remain alone and unattached.
Right back to the shaming language. I am almost embarrassed for them. They can’t move on, they can’t even come up with new tactics, just the same old, same old. (Code White: Mental health). The writer does not say how it is unhealthy for the man to do this. He makes no explanation for the health benefits for marriage at all.
The writer isn't presenting any new thoughts or ideas. Instead, he is postulating the age-old Scriptural claim that was quoted in earlier in the article. If God Himself doesn't say how it is unhealthy for a man to be alone, why complain that the writer doesn't? It is sufficient to state the true nature of things. Whether an idea is new or old has no bearing on its veracity.

He fills a very long paragraph with more shaming language: You’re a boy, not a man if you don’t get married. (Code Green . . . again).
Rather than simply take your word for it, let's quote the article itself:
But a man, if he is a man, prepares himself for marriage, or perhaps for the priesthood or religious life. He is serious and steadfast about it. This may mean finishing college and embarking on the beginnings of a career but in the end he will accept the truth that it is not good for him to remain alone and unattached. In the recent past dating was usually understood as a time wherein one searched for a spouse. Today many see it “just for fun.” Marriage is postponed indefinitely. Many young men are not serious in searching for a spouse. Instead they “play the field” and use women sexually. They avoid commitment and drift from relationship to relationship. Some “father” children and still do not accept responsibility. They are not men, they are boys. For boys play. “Boys will be boys,” after all. Sadly many women allow and facilitate this immature and immoral behavior. But God is clear, a man (rather than a boy) accepts that it is not good for him to remain single and unattached and he respectfully seeks a wife.
Here, there is very specific shaming language. It is not, however, directed at those who choose to abstain from marriage, nor is it directed at those who are "serious and steadfast" in their aims towards marriage or towards a life calling that does not include marriage. It is directed at those who, "use women sexually," "avoid commitment," and "drift from relationship to relationship." It does not surprise me that Talleyrand is bothered by such a moral judgement, since his very lifestyle is exactly the one condemned by the author as boyish and irresponsible. While I much appreciate his honesty and openness about who he is and how he lives, the fact of the matter is that he is one who uses women sexually, avoids commitment and drifts from relationship to relationship. Since we do live in a world of objective morality, which is codified by God Himself, such behavior is destructive and deplorable. The author's shaming language isn't nearly strong enough. Not only is it sad that "many women allow and facilitate this immature and immoral behavior," I would say that it is digusting that men allow and facilitate this immature and immoral behavior. Something Talleyrand wrote yesterday resonated deeply with me:

We should be as good fathers to each other. What does a good father do? He teaches his son all the skills that he can, shows him the pitfalls, and he lets his children live their lives, make their own way, make their mistakes and suffer the consequences as well as the triumphs.
If we are to be good fathers to each other, we must not only instruct one another, but also correct one another. Discipline is an inescapable component of proper fatherhood. Scripture says, "For what son is there whom a father does not chasten?" (Hebrews 12:6) If we are to be good fathers to each other, then we must exhort one another to live righteously and pursue virture. We must hold each other accountable for immoral and irresponsible behavior and admonish one another to live justly, to show mercy and to walk humbly before God.

Scripture also insightfully says, "Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. (Proverbs 9:8) Indeed, a litmus test of a man's character is how he receives correction. A wise man accepts correction and discipline with humility and graciousness. A fool rages against all sound judgment and hates those who offer reproof, since his pride and self-righteousness conflict with wisdom. One who does not receive correction is a fool.

Next point:
Having properly sought a wife he marries her and leaves his parents to establish a home.
Leaving aside the inherent shaming language of this statement, the paragraph encourages marriage but again it does so with shaming language. It does not go into why this is important, only that you must do it. Because God says so, is a nice way to fall back on moral authority, but since the catholic church has allowed itself to become girlie, it needs to do better than that.
Shaming language inherent in this statement? I don't see any. To declare how a mature man of purpose pursues marriage says nothing about those who don't.

Regarding the idea itself, Talleyrand commits the infamous genetic fallacy by rejecting the idea of marriage because "the catholic church has allowed itself to become girlie," rather than discussing the importance of marriage on its own merits. For those who accept God's truth, "Because God said so," is sufficient epistemological grounding. God's words are directly mentioned in the verse quoted in the article, "A man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two of them shall become one flesh." The author is quoting Scripture and affirming Scripture directly.

He actually commits his whole life to his wife

Bad Advice. Horrible advice. Advice that will get a man divorced in today’s day and age.

Good advice: A man makes his mission, not his woman, his priority.
To commit to something is not the same as making something the top priority. This is an equivocation fallacy. A man can commit to a woman, or a job, or a lease, or a bet, without it become the center of his world. In fact, in all these instances, it is best for a man to have a higher purpose behind his commitment. Christians are called to be committed to God above all else.

Too many men are passive husbands. Too often it is really the wife who works hardest to preserve the marriage.
O.k., the first part of this is true, but unfortunately not the way this priest believes. The second part is not true, unless you believe constant tests and undermining the man are in fact efforts to preserve the marriage. This guy is so unbelievably dense about human relationships that it makes me weep with frustration. That he is so arrogant to give men advice like this is proof that being a man of orders does not protect you from that deadly of sins: PRIDE.
It is presumption to jump too quickly to finger-pointing in either direction. While there are many women who actively destroy their relationships and marriages through constant tests and undermining, it is also true that too many men are passive husbands. To deny or fail to consider one's own sins or the sins of one's gender is also a clear manifestation of that deadly sin, pride. Not all men are passive, and not all women test and undermine. The author is stressing the importance of manly assertiveness, nothing more. These is nothing dense or arrogant about that.

This is what God says a real man does.
I challenge anyone to find where God uses the term “real man.”
In the Bible, God just uses the term "man." Implied in such a term is the reality of being masculine. The fact that the word "real" has to be appended is a sad reflection of contemporary cultural conditions.

A man doesn’t whine and say, “But what about the wife?!” He just does what he is supposed to do and does not point fingers. He accepts his own responsibility. Yes, there are men who have worked hard to preserve their marriage and the wife still walked away.
Remember this fool was advocating counseling earlier in his missive? Remember that? Think about what counseling is like with someone with the above attitude. You cannot complain, you cannot whine, you cannot point out wrongs, because that is not what a man does. He just sits and takes whatever shit sandwich is fed to him and he likes it.

When someone is making these statements, what he is really saying that as a man you need to take it like a slave.

You have no right to complain, you have no where to air your grievances in the catholic church, because “real” men don’t do this.
The author is advocating responsbility and assertive action. Whining accomplishes nothing, and is pathetic and wimpy. Nowhere is the author saying that a man shouldn't point out wrongs or hold others accountable. Before a man holds others accountable for their actions, he must first take responsibility for his own. Jumping to point fingers or remaining passive while waiting for others to change is a weak way to approach life.

In his reponse to the article, Talleyrand has constantly resorted to using fallacious arguments of numerous sorts. Much of what he protests isn't even being advocated by the author of the article. With a couple of minor exceptions, nearly all of the supposed instances of "shaming language" are nonexistent. In the one instance where the author is actually using shaming language, it is directed at precisely the sort of behavior Talleyrand regularly engages in. His defensiveness and reactionary perspective are thoroughly evident in his response, and are clearly being projected onto the author of the original article, whose intent is entirely different than Talleyrand appears to think it is.

While the author does make a few minor points that I would quibble with, his major points are all quite reasonable:
1. A stable, commited, faithful marriage is the calling of most men
2. A man should pursue his calling (either to marriage or to abstinence) in a serious and steadfast manner
3. Marriage should be pursued according to God's prescribed method, as outlined by Scripture
4. A man takes leadership in his family and manfully addresses any threats to marital unity
5. A man should take responsiblity for his own actions and live righteously, regardless of how others behave

Of course, as someone who lives in a contrary manner to all of these points, it is no surprise that Talleyrand would be driven by his emotions to attack such teaching. Talleyrand views marriage as something that is undesirable, and instead dedicates substantial energy to the hedonic pursuit of promiscuity with numerous women. He neither pursues marriage nor abstinence. He rejects God's authority and Scriptural teaching. He adopts an individualistic approach towards relationships, and is not concerned with marital unity or even with relational unity in romantic affairs at all. He does not live righteously and pursue virtue. Instead, bitterness, unbridled pessism and defensiveness surface in his attempt to dissuade others from valuing marriage, living righteously, and standing against the tide of social decay that unarguably surrounds modern men and women. His critisms of the Catholic article seem more to be a reflection of himself than a proper logical refuttal of any of the major points made. Rather than being a reasoned response, all he offers us is the projections of an immoral cynic.


  1. You are in the right on this. Tally is too close to this, and it's affecting his judgment.

    But, I do have to say, Msgr. Pope's letter doesn't fill me with much enthusiam. It doesn't help a man much to know that it is unhealthy to be alone, if he is offered little help in resolving the problem of being alone.

  2. @theblanque: I do agree with you that Msgr. Pope's letter doesn't offer much hope or practical advice for men in how to go about finding a quality woman or establishing the sort of stable, faithful, committed marriage that he advocates.

    That is precisely the value of Game. Game offers practically applicable truths for men concerning women, romantic relationships, and masculine ways of acting socially. Game is part of the solution to the problem of being alone.

  3. Thank you for this well-reasoned post, Silas. I've got to read your blog more often, because I am often very pleased with the quality of the writing.

    I would argue that Msgr. Pope has a blog with numerous articles, including those about vocations other than marriage. Remember, he is writing from a Catholic point of view, not a Protestant one (which is more marriage-centric).

    In Catholicism, we are taught that there should be no "lone rangers", that people are meant to live in communion with others. That doesn't mean that they all have to marry, but that every person should arrange their life so that they are not alone. That is what the lay and religious vocations are for.

    But everyone is called to chastity, according to my faith's principles.

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