The (De)Meaning of Marriage in the New York Times

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This is a podcast episode titled, The (De)Meaning of Marriage in the New York Times. The summary for this episode is: <p>Does our society really <em>need</em> marriage after all? Can't couples who want to spend the rest of their lives together just cohabitate? And can't co-parenting outside of marriage work just fine for kids? It's obvious that the concept of marriage has shifted quite a bit over the years (even within the church). And the truth is that if we continue to redefine it, we risk losing the tremendous value marriage provides to society. In this episode, <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Patrick</a>, <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Keith</a>, and Dan discuss the ways in which our culture has redefined and demeaned the institution of marriage. Citing examples from recent articles in The New York Times, they call out the elite's hypocritical motives behind their agenda. Tune in now!</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Ok, truth time... Did you like this episode?</strong> Tell us by leaving a rating or review! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 If you did, you won't want to miss what's next (so subscribe now!). And help a friend by sharing this with them. Thank you! πŸ™</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Plus, the conversation is just beginning! </strong>Follow us on <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, and <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Instagram</a> to join in on the dialogue! <strong>Want to learn more about Truth Over Tribe?</strong> Visit our <a href=";utm_source=Show%20Notes%20" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">website</a> and subscribe to our weekly <a href=";utm_source=Show%20Notes%20-%20website" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">newsletter</a>.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Marriage Requires Amnesia</a></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Watching a Partner Change Is Hard. Accepting It Can Be Harder.</a></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Divorce Can Be an Act of Radical Self-Love</a></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">The Weddings Section Asks What It Means to Be Committed in 2022</a></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">From Best Friends to Platonic Spouses</a></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Subscribe To Our Blog</a></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">How Tribal Are You?</a></p>
NYT - "What does it mean to be committed in 2022?"
03:36 MIN
Do we normalize platonic marriages?
04:06 MIN
What does marriage ask you to give up?
01:57 MIN
Divorce: "A Radical Act of Self-Love"
03:30 MIN
What's actually killing marriage
02:01 MIN

Keith Simon: Are you tired of tribalism?

Jason Whitlock: I think a lot of what the left supports is satanic.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

Patrick Miller: Are you exhausted by the culture war?

Donald Trump: If they don't like it here, they can leave.

Hillary Clinton: You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

Keith Simon: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?

Speaker 7: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican Party? And the answer is absolutely not.

Speaker 8: From certainly a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote democratic.

Patrick Miller: We trust the lamb, not the donkey or the elephant.

Keith Simon: This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives, and too conservative for liberals.

Patrick Miller: I'm Patrick Miller.

Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon. And we choose truth over tribe.

Patrick Miller: Do you? Keith, you remember back... I think this was maybe 2012, so almost 10 years ago. We read that book What Is Marriage by Gergis, George, and Anderson, a bunch of Catholic writers. Do you remember that book?

Keith Simon: I remember it. Doesn't seem like it was that long ago when we read it, but it probably was back in 2012.

Patrick Miller: It was, because it had to be before 2015 with the Obergefell case, which legalized gay marriage, and that's what the book was about. It was arguing against legalizing gay marriage at the time. And we're not getting into that debate in this episode, but what was interesting was I read the book with a friend of mine who is a committed atheist, secularist person, but he wanted to see the Christian perspective on the issue. And he said," These authors are totally slippery- sloping." Because in the book, they said," Hey, if we start redefining marriage, we're just going to redefine it out of existence. All of a sudden, polygamy is going to become normal. All of a sudden, people are going to start marrying their friends. You're going to start marrying your dogs, your shoes," that kind of stuff. And he goes," Look, this is a little bit ridiculous, don't you think? This is just a slippery slope."

Keith Simon: Well, the book was titled, I think, if I remember right, What Is Marriage, and it defined marriage as a lifetime committed relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of producing children and raising those children inside of a family.

Patrick Miller: And also companionship, sex, sexuality. These are all the normative model of what marriage has been, by the way, for millennia.

Keith Simon: Yeah, that was one of their big points. Not only had marriage been defined this way for a number of centuries, but also throughout the globe, throughout the cultures. That every society had some conception of lifetime committed relationship between men and women that was conjugal, sexual in nature, for the production and raising of family. And once you started to change that, then everything was going to come with it. And your friend was saying, I guess, that," No, that won't happen. You're exaggerating."

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So fast forward 10 years to the present, where we're past the legalization of gay marriage. And all of a sudden... And listeners might not realize this. Our conception of marriage and how we think about family, how family function, these things really are beginning to change radically. It turns out that the slope was slippery, and we are all sliding right down that thing.

Keith Simon: Yeah. When you just get caught up in your world and your life and your friend group or whatever it is, you don't step back and see the big picture, but let's do that for a second. Let's step back and see how is marriage changing. And one of the ways that we see it is how people respond to questions about marriage. For example, here's one: Is it very important for couples with children to legally marry? So these are couples with children. I hope you caught that. And in 2006, 49% of people said yes. In 2020, only 29% of people said yes.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, that's exactly right. So in a period of 15 years, we've seen a 20% drop in the amount of Americans who think it's important for couples with children to legally marry. And on the flip side of that, there's more people who think that it's unimportant. So again, in 2006, 23% of people said," No, it's not important for people to be legally married and have kids." And then fast forward to 2020, 40% of people now think," Yeah, it's unimportant for people to be married who are having kids."

Keith Simon: So here's another question: Is it very important for couples who want to spend the rest of their lives to get other to marry? In 2006, 54% of people said," Yes, it's very important for couples who want to spend the rest of their lives together to get married." In 2020, now it's only 38%.

Patrick Miller: And again, we see the flip side of that, the amount of people saying," No, it's not important that you get married if you want to have a lifelong relationship." 2006, just a quarter of the population. 25% of people say that. In 2020, it's 36% of people, which means that now in 2020, it's about the same amount of people who say," Yeah, marriage is important for lifelong relationships and people who say," No, it's not important." What I think is wild is that we're seeing these shifts even happen inside of the church. So back to the earlier question, is it important for couple with children to marry legally, that number dropped 20% amongst people who attend church every single week, so people who attend church every week. In 2006, 65% of them say," Yeah, yeah, you should definitely be married if you're going to have kids," but it drops to 45% amongst people who are attending church every week, and we see the exact same thing happen with the question about spending the rest of your lives together. 82% of churchgoers say," Yeah, if you want to spend the rest of your lives together, you should be married." But now in 2020, or two years ago in 2020, 67% of weekly churchgoers are saying that. So these shifts aren't just happening out in the world, they're happening inside of the church.

Keith Simon: And this redefinition of marriage has been going on for quite a while. It's not just about gay marriage. It's about no- fault divorces and cohabitation. The rules about who should be married and what the purpose of marriage is have been changing. Here's a fact that I love. I don't know why. I just find it so incredibly interesting. We all know that people are getting married later in life, but I don't know if we realize how dramatic the change has been. So from 1890 to 1980... So that's 90 years, almost 100 years. The median age a woman got married ranged between 20 and 22. So the average age a woman got married ranged between 20 and 22.

Patrick Miller: So that's pretty stable. I mean, 90 years of that.

Keith Simon: For almost 100 years. Now, it's 29 years old. So since 1980, there's been this huge spike in that people are getting married older now, and the same is true for men as well. There's a little bit more fluctuation between 1890 and 1980 for men. They've always gotten married a little bit older than women. And now today, the median age for a man to get married is 31.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, that's really interesting. Dan, I'm curious. We're both on the younger side. Does this fit your experience?

Dan: Well, it's interesting because I'm about a 50-50. I had a friend group that I was immediately close to that got married around the early age, 23, 24 side.

Patrick Miller: Now, context is you went to a Christian school.

Dan: I did.

Patrick Miller: You were very much in a Christian subculture. My guess is that the median marrying age for Christians who are very involved in a Christian subculture is probably younger than the rest of culture.

Dan: Yeah, definitely. But there was, even in that immediate group of people at the Christian high school, that are still, to what I understand, not married, and they're 28, 29. And so it's interesting. There's really big gap of people that are subscribing to the 23, 24 age. But then obviously another, I'd say at least 50%, that are going up to the 29, 30, plus.

Keith Simon: How old were you when you got married, Dan?

Dan: I was 23.

Keith Simon: And what about you, Patrick?

Patrick Miller: 23.

Keith Simon: And so was that normal for your... Oh, I was 22. So pretty much the same for all of us. Is that true for your friend group, Patrick, that people are getting married later?

Patrick Miller: It's 100% true. I actually went to a public school, despite whatever Keith says on the podcast, and so many of the friends that I had in high school did not get married right out of college, which is what I did. And by the way, we're not moralizing about this. Our point is not you should get married young. I know someone's going to hear that. We're just talking about changes in trends around marriage. But many of the people that I graduated high school with, many of them still aren't married. I would say probably a full quarter of them still have not gotten married. And then probably half of them, maybe more than that, 60, 70% of them, have gotten married in the last two to three years. I'm 34, so we're talking about people in their thirties getting married. And I remember in my twenties wondering," When are these people going to get married?" They were dating people seriously. It wasn't like they were asexual, just living solo existences out there. But for some reason, they just didn't want to get married yet.

Keith Simon: Well, there used to be some cultural pressures to get married, and those cultural pressures have vanished, or at least been minimized. And one of those was the guilt around cohabitation. If you said you were living with someone else, that was looked down upon. But like we saw in those poll questions earlier, it's not looked down upon at all. And again, like you said, we're not moralizing, but we are saying that with changes in how we do marriage, there's going to be changes in our society that affects all of us. For example, people are going to continue to have sex. Now they're having sex and having kids outside of marriage, so more kids are being raised outside of marriage.

Patrick Miller: Well, and part of this has to be a function of the pill, of birth control. I mean, it used to be that there was no way to really control whether or not someone you were having sex with got pregnant in the end, and now we have a lot of control over that, which means I can have more sexual partners without consequences.

Dan: Well, in my experience, everybody that I've talked to that's not married and waits until 26, 28, 29, that age says this thing over and over again," I just wanted to experience what it would be like to be living together, know all their ups and downs, their bads, their goods before I really committed to anything."

Keith Simon: Like test driving a car.

Dan: Yeah, that's what I've heard-

Keith Simon: They want to test drive their future spouse, maybe.

Dan: Yeah.

Patrick Miller: Well, and it's interesting, and we'll see the consequences of this several decades into the future. There is a question, because there are stats that show that cohabitation leads to higher rates of divorce. And the logic around that seems to be something like if you are training yourself to not be committed to share a house with someone, to share a life with someone, but not fully commit to them, can you just turn a switch when you get married and say," Yeah, now I'm ready to be fully committed," or do you stay in the same mindset? I remember, by the way, when Emily and I got married. She had a professor... This is super weird. She had a professor who found out she was getting married, she was 22, and was trying to convince her not to get married.

Keith Simon: Because he was interested in her?

Patrick Miller: Who knows?

Keith Simon: crosstalk creepy?

Patrick Miller: He was old. I hope that wasn't the case. But he told her," You need to live together with your fiance. You need to try it before you buy it, otherwise you're going to end up-"

Keith Simon: I like that.

Patrick Miller: ..."getting a divorce." Now, I don't think Emily and I are going to end up getting a divorce, and I think your decision-

Keith Simon: Who knows?

Patrick Miller: Yeah. I mean, we've still got a lot of life ahead of us, a lot of things for me to mess up. But in all seriousness, he moralized. So we're not trying to moralize get married early later, that kind of thing, but he was moralizing." You getting married young is a huge mistake."

Keith Simon: What's the Tim Keller line, because I think it's really good, about living together? And is it something about... That you're saying to someone," Look, I want to take advantage of all the benefits that come from commitment, but I'm not willing to make the commitment. I'm not willing to say rich or poor, better or worse, sickness, health, till death do us part. But I want all the benefits that come from it, and it ends up that you end up using each other for your own ends. I know he says it better than that, but I can't remember-

Patrick Miller: Yeah, he definitely says it better than you said it.

Keith Simon: Tim Keller does everything better than I say it.

Patrick Miller: But the point still stands. We're training ourselves to think about marriage, to think about commitment in a particular way. And I think what you just highlighted there is that We're living in a moment where the thing that matters most in my life is myself. It is my own happiness. It is my own future. That's the thing that I put as a priority. And so it makes sense to cohabitate to try it for a while, because you can focus on yourself, and not "What are the consequences for this other person," or the idea of committing myself to something greater than myself. In fact, committing myself to my spouse, or this other individual. But what I think is really interesting right now is that it's not just that Americans' perceptions of marriage and family are changing at a very, very rapid pace. It's that there are media organizations now that are really at the forefront of trying to change American perceptions about marriage and commitment.

Keith Simon: It's always hard to tell in media if they are reflecting the changes or if they are pushing the changes forward. And maybe it's a little bit of both, but just noticing that the New York Times in particular... And of course, you could probably say this about other media outlets, but the New York Times has been running a lot of articles in the last year or so on marriage. And I think if I just read through some of the titles that we're going to end up discussing and unpacking as we keep talking here, I think you'll see where this is headed. So here are some of the headlines of the titles of these articles in the New York Times, again, all published in the last year. Here's the first one: What Does Marriage Ask Us to Give Up? Here's another one: From Best Friends to Platonic Spouses.

Patrick Miller: I'm really excited to talk about this one.

Keith Simon: How about this one? This is the title of the article: The Weddings Section Asks What It Means to Be Committed. Divorce Can Be an Act of Radical Self- Love. Now, those titles all convey that there's something going on that's changing in marriage and how we see marriage. What are the consequences of that? I think that we would be a little bit naive to say that we can change an institution that has been around for thousands of years in every part of the world, in every culture, and think that there aren't going to be any consequences that come with it.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. I mean, someone might be listening to this saying," Well, why are you guys talking about this? Why are you going to do an episode where you're going to go through a bunch of New York Times article holes and discuss what their views of marriage are? Does this really matter?" And I think it really does matter, because we are living in an age right now where everybody is redefining cultural institutions, like Keith said, that have existed for thousands of years, and have worked well, by the way, for humanity for thousands of years. So it's not a small thing to change our conception of marriage, the fundamental until building block of human society for millennia. That's something actually everybody, whether you're married or unmarried, should care tremendously about.

Keith Simon: Even just thinking in the Bible, marriage predates government. It predates all other institutions. Like you said, it's the building block of society. So GK Chesterton helps us think about how we should approach cultural institutions, and he gives this image of a person coming along in a field and seeing a fence there. And he says one approach is to say," I don't want this fence to be here. I don't see any purpose for it," and you tear it down. Now, another approach Chesterton said is to come along and say," Hmm, why is this fence here? Well, clearly someone put a lot of effort into putting this fence here. So I wonder if I should keep it or tear it down. Well, before I can make that decision, I need to understand why did this person put this fence here. What purpose did it serve? And once I understand that purpose, then I can better evaluate whether it's good to keep that fence or not." But he said a lot of people just walk into cultural institutions and begin to tear them down without realizing the consequences. Why have those institutions been a valued part of our society for so many years? What purposes did they serve? What benefits did they give society or individual people? And if we don't have an approach that says," Hey, I need to be humble here and understand this before I just come in with a wrecking ball and start destroying it," I might do a lot of damage in people's lives.

Patrick Miller: That's exactly right. Marriage is a fence, a cultural institution, again, that has existed for millennia. And we are watching as as a nation, we are tearing it down. We're saying," I don't want fence here. I'm ready to move past it." And we're watching as major cultural institutions like the New York Times, probably the most important newspaper in the United States, seems to be actively promoting this tearing down thing happening. But no one's asking the question," Well, what purpose did marriage serve? What value did marriage give to society? Are there any risks or costs to changing our perception about these things?" So what we're going to do is we're going to go through a number of articles in the New York Times. We're going to read little bits from it. We'll save you the time of reading the article, but we're going to try to analyze them, figure out what's the world view that's informing these writers. And is the direction they're going, is that actually going to lead towards human flourishing, or are we tearing down an incredibly important fence that has been set up, which has served humanity well, and the costs in the future are going to be tremendous?

Keith Simon: So I think a great place for us to start is with this particular article. Now, here's the title: The Weddings Section Asks What It Means to Be Committed in 2022. It's by a woman named Katie Van Syckle. And the whole point of this article is that the New York Times has redone the Weddings section. If you've ever read it before, it would tell about two people and where they got married. It was very invested in their academic and their professional resume.

Patrick Miller: It was kind of an elite thing. You got your wedding announced in the New York Times.

Keith Simon: That's like a big deal-

Patrick Miller: Society.

Keith Simon: ...I guess. And so they're moving away from that, and part of that's due to COVID. I mean, nobody was getting married in COVID, and so that was definitely a part of it.

Patrick Miller: And if they were, there's no way the New York Times was going to celebrate it.

Keith Simon: Exactly. But what they've changed to is now something called Mini- Vows, in which they want to tell the story of people who fell in love and the obstacles they overcame. Okay, so all that's fair enough. But here's a question in this interview with the new editor of the Weddings section. They asked," Do you have any goals for the section, for the Weddings section?"

Patrick Miller: And here's the response of the new editor of the Weddings section, which I think is really telling, because she's about to tell us something about what the New York Times wants to communicate to the United States, to their audience, about marriage and the nature of it. So she says this," We want to tell stories that give us a different perspective on relationships in a way that we probably wouldn't have thought of in the past." Okay, so let's just pause. Remember how we used to do it? Time to think differently. Okay, she goes on," Outside of our Mini- Vows, we are looking to tell stories of commitments that are not necessarily associated with marriage."

Keith Simon: Now, this is the Weddings section. I thought you were supposed to be talking about marriage. But no, we're going to talk about new relationships.

Patrick Miller: Yep, yep. Okay, so let's keep going,"What we've been seeing is that a lot of people aren't getting married and aren't committing in that traditional sense. But they are starting families, and they are creating homes together in a different way," which, by the way, fits exactly what we saw with that Gallup poll. She continues," We want to explore that: What does it mean to be committed in 2022?"

Keith Simon: Now, is that different than what it meant to be committed in other times? I guess it is. And I don't think the commitment is going to be deeper or richer. It's going to be probably more superficial.

Patrick Miller: Well, we'll see. Marriage has been our bread and butter because, obviously, we’re the Weddings section, but I do feel that it's time that we get into what is considered nontraditional and kind of normalize that. That’s where we’re looking to go, to just expand what the word commitment means." Okay, so let's try to take takeaway here. The New York Times, in their Weddings section, they are actively attempting, their editorial staff is actively attempting, to normalize non- traditional forms of relationship and marriages and to change our conception of what commitment really means. In other words, what they're saying is," Hey, we know that what we're celebrating in our Weddings section, it hasn't been normal for millennia, but we want it to become normal. And we will help make it normal by being, again, the largest, most important newspaper, celebrating different kinds of stories in an effort to make those stories, even if they're very rare, even if they're very strange, seem as though they're totally normal by putting a spotlight on them."

Keith Simon: I think that's exactly right, Patrick. When they say they're trying to normalize it, they're admitting it's not normal. It's abnormal. It doesn't mean it's bad necessarily, but what it does mean is that it's unusual. And I'm just wondering if some of the things they're talking about, about being married to friends or being married in a platonic way... Is that normal to your experience? Do you know a lot of people who are in platonic marriages? What about you, Dan?

Dan: I know zero people in platonic marriages. I don't even know if I fully understand what that means.

Patrick Miller: Marriage without sex. We're going to get into an article just a second that explores it, but I agree with you, Keith. I find it very disconcerting, because the New York Times' slogan is all the news that's fit to print. Now, in my mind, news or newsworthy things are things that are either major events that are changing our economy or our government, or if you live in New York City, the city, or stories that illustrate things that are happening widely and broadly. But by putting a spotlight on what is strange, on what is abnormal, on what is outside of the norm, and then pretending as though it's normal, you aren't printing all the news that's fit to print. You're trying to change. You are editorializing. You're trying to change people's perception.

Keith Simon: It's like a pulpit. It's like they're preaching from their pulpit. It's not really reporting news as much as trying to shape the way society runs. And that last line you read, they're trying to redefine commitment. Now, what does that mean crosstalk-

Patrick Miller: I don't even know what that statement means.

Keith Simon: Well, like I said, I think it's probably to make it a little bit more superficial. Let's think about what happens in a wedding. You take vows. And in those vows, you're not declaring your love for that person at that moment. I mean, it's obvious. You're getting married. The vows are meant to be a lifelong commitment. Think about the vows you take and the statements you make: in sickness and in health, in joy and sorrow, in poverty or riches. You're saying that whatever comes, however life might change, whatever comes our way, I'm making a commitment for the rest of my life to be committed to this relationship, to work through all the problems and all the hassles and all the difficulties and all the disappointments. The vow is not for the marriage day. The vow is for the 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 years after that day.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, and it's not just a vow to yourself, it's a vow to another person, and we would even say a vow before God. In other words, I'm making a commitment to God, and I'm making a commitment to you. You know what's not in the vows?" I'll stay with you as long as I like, as long as I feel happy, as long as you satisfy my needs."

Keith Simon: As long as you meet my needs, as long as we're 50- 50, as long as our health is good, as long as our careers work out. That's not what's in there.

Patrick Miller: No. And if you did that, that wouldn't be a commitment to the person. That would be a commitment to yourself. And that's what this... It would be. It's saying," I'm committed to my happiness-"

Keith Simon: I married me.

Patrick Miller: ..."just so you know." I'm surprised there's not an article about marrying yourself in the New York Times.

Keith Simon: Oh, just wait. It'll be next week.

Patrick Miller: It'll be next week. No, in all seriousness. And that's what these Mini- Vows, this change of commitment, is really all about. In other words, the shift in commitment is a shift away from committing yourself to something greater than yourself to a commitment to yourself, shifting to a commitment to your own happiness. Now, this fits our cultural moment tremendously well, but it's a theme that we'll see get unpacked multiple times in the articles that we'll read.

Keith Simon: Look, I don't want to belabor this, but I really think it's super important. The vow is saying that when things go south, I am in this and committed. And the whole idea of a Mini- Vow section where you tell the story of how people fell in love, the whole emphasis of that is on you being happy with the other person, about them meeting your emotional and physical needs, psychological needs. That is a redefinition of marriage.

Patrick Miller: Can I just ask a question? What is the point here? Why have progressives been fighting to change marriage laws for decades now, if all along they thought that marriage is just a non- normative institution that needs to be written off, we need to change what commitment is? You know what it reminds me of? And I'm not trying to be mean, but it's honestly what it reminds me of, is my son Oliver. He's two. He's not very good at sharing. And if Iris picks up, let's say, a little tambourine and she's playing with it... He wasn't playing with the tambourine, but now that she's got the tambourine, he's got to have the tambourine. And he will start screaming at the top of his lungs," Give me the tambo!" And finally, Iris says," Okay, I'll share with you. You can have the tambourine." 10 seconds later, he's thrown it and he's cast it aside.

Keith Simon: He didn't want the tambourine.

Patrick Miller: He didn't want the tambourine, he just didn't want her to have the tambourine. And that's what I feel like right now. Look, if you don't want marriage, if you don't want it to be a normative institution, fine. But don't take my tambo, man.

Keith Simon: Don't redefine marriage, something that has held our culture together, been good for kids for centuries. Don't throw it away just because you are having a fit.

Patrick Miller: Okay, so we've already talked about platonic spouses. I think we have to go there.

Keith Simon: Okay, let's do it. So here's the next title of the article: From Best Friends to Platonic Spouses. Some people are taking their friendships to the next level by saying β€œ I do ” to marriages without sex.

Patrick Miller: I wish they would've made the title: Saying I Do to Marriages That Say I Won’t Have Sex With Them.

Keith Simon: You could be a headline writer.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, yeah.

Keith Simon: This article is by a woman named Danielle Braff, and in the article, they explore stories about people who are in platonic marriages. So these are people who are friends. Some are two women, some are a man and a woman, but they don't have sex with each other. They have sex outside of their marriage, but not inside of it.

Patrick Miller: Some of them. Some of them are what's called asexuals. These are people who have no interest in romance. They have no interest in sex, so they're not even having sex outside of their marriage.

Keith Simon: Here's what one couple said," We wanted the world to know we are each other's go- to person in the world, and to be able to handle legal matters with the other appropriately. We are a couple, a unit, and partners for life."

Patrick Miller: Wait, hold on. Let me see if I'm understand this right. So these people, they are saying yes to the argument over chores, finances, the roller coaster that is PMS emotions, and no to sex. This is so backwards.

Keith Simon: All the commitment with none of the benefits.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, what the heck? There's some people inaudible," Oh my gosh, you've got three men on here. They're just befuddled by a sexless marriage." But in all seriousness, sex is not just for men. Sex is for women. I don't know why a woman would want to be married without sex.

Dan: Facts.

Patrick Miller: No, in all seriousness, let's go back to the broader question. Is the New York Times trying to normalize bizarre definitions of marriage? Because again, historically, marriage has always involved sex. This is partially because marriage has been the stable place in which children could be had and raised. It was all supposed to be a place of companionship. And any married person's going to tell you the health of your marital relationship is very much so deeply attached to your sexual life. I don't know many married couples who have a healthy marriage who stopped having sex with one another.

Keith Simon: Well, of course there are all kinds of health issues.

Patrick Miller: Yes, there's things that can step in.

Keith Simon: crosstalk around pregnancy. But you're talking about under normal circumstances-

Patrick Miller: Normal circumstances.

Keith Simon: ...everyday circumstances, usually there is a correlation between, not causation necessarily, but maybe causation, between sexual life and the health of a marriage. So here is a paragraph out of this article. Says," There are no statistics about the number of platonic best friend marriages, and many people who are in them aren't open about their situation." Yeah, no kidding. There are no statistics about this because there are very, very, very, very few people who do it. But the New York Times wishes to normalize this, so they are preaching it from their pulpit. Okay, back to the article." But chat boards on Reddit and within smaller asexual and aromantic communities have popped up recently, suggesting this could be a larger portion of the marriage population than numbers portray." And then it goes on to tell us what some of these terms mean, because even the readers of the New York Times don't understand this. This is how abnormal this is, is that the readers of the Times aren't familiar with these terms, so the author has to tell us in parentheses," Asexual is defined as having little or no sexual attraction to others. Aromantic means having little or no desire for a romantic relationship." So my question is do you know anyone like this? I mean, they're going to Reddit chat boards and then writing an article saying," Well, some people said it on Reddit. Maybe there's lots of people out there, and they're just not talking about it, but they're all in platonic marriages."

Patrick Miller: If you've ever been on Reddit, it is full of weirdos. I mean, and normal people, but if you want to find it, there's a Reddit board for it. Reddit is no sign of something being normal or more pervasive than people believe. And the real tragedy here for me is that if you are someone who might self- identify as asexual or aromantic, there might actually be reasons in your past, past trauma, past hurt, that have led you to be in a place with your own sexuality that you aren't comfortable with sex. But I don't think we should be treating it as something which is normal. I'm not saying that in a shaming way, like" Oh, you're abnormal." I'm saying it the same way that's like... I battle with depression. When I'm in one of my dark, low moods, I'm not in a normal state, and I need to figure out how do I come back to a state of normalcy. And for different people, there's different solutions. Sometimes you need therapy. Sometimes you need medicine. There's a whole slew of things that come into play. But by trying to normalize these things which are not normal, we're actually subjecting people to their own mental illnesses in a way that's not healthy. It's not going to lead to their flourishing in the long run.

Keith Simon: Okay, back to the article."'It should be acknowledged that we've really normalized heterosexual monogamous romantic relationships to the point of stigmatizing other kind of relationships,' said Nick Bognar, a marriage and family therapist in Pasadena, California.'All of this is to say, I think this probably happens a lot, but people don't talk about it much because their relationships are invalidated by others when they're seen as not being part of the norm.'" So you see, Patrick, people would be upset with you because you have normalized heterosexual monogamous romantic relationships. Now, I don't think we've normalized that. I think the way culture really normalized that, because that's the only way culture would exist, is if you had heterosexual couples having children and raising those children. That is the only way our society exists. It's the only way the world exists. If you stop doing that, society comes to an end.

Patrick Miller: It's not normalized, it's the way it works. And one of the problems with this is that the statement makes no sense. A platonic marriage is not a marriage. It's a different kind of thing. It might be a-

Keith Simon: It's a friendship, right?

Patrick Miller: It's a friendship. And you know what? If you want it to remain celibate and have a close friend that you share life with in a profound way-

Keith Simon: Fabulous.

Patrick Miller: ...I think that's amazing. I have no problems with that. That's not a marriage. And he's saying that if you say it's not a marriage, you're stigmatizing it. And again, that doesn't make sense. It's not invalidating to say that a banana isn't an apple. A banana's a banana, and an apple's an apple. A platonic relationship cannot be a marriage. They are just two different things. And no one's stigmatizing, no one's hurting. I think, by the way, that our culture does need a more robust way of thinking through friendship, and the fact that there really might be people who spend lifetimes in committed friendships with each other for companionship. I think that's a great conversation, but it's not marriage.

Keith Simon: Well, and earlier in the article, the person said that they got married in one of these platonic marriages, as they call it, so- called marriages, because of legal reasons. They wanted to be able to handle legal questions, legal problems on behalf of this other person. And maybe we need some laws that allow friends to represent one another on legal issues, healthcare issues, things like that. But you don't change marriage because you want to help another person with their power of attorney or their healthcare decisions. That's not a reason to redefine the way the world has done marriage for centuries.

Patrick Miller: Well, it goes back to the idea of the fence. Why is this fence here? Why, for example, have we given special tax benefits to married couples? Well, it's because we realize that married couples that stay married have children, raise those children in stable households. That's good for the whole of society. That's how you raise productive citizens. That's a good thing. And so one way we incentivize it is by giving them special tax benefits. And not just incentivize it, by the way. Having a kid is really costly. I mean, I've joked with people before. I was like," I should get a lot more tax benefits because I have multiple kids, because guess what? I am investing a massive amount of money that you, who have no children, are not investing." I'm not saying that in a mean way. Some people want to have children. They can't have children. Some people want to be married. They're not getting married. I'm not trying to say it in an unkind way. But what I am saying is that it is costly to have kids, and our society should be invested in the development and raising of those children in a stable environment.

Keith Simon: But it also shows that this isn't just a Christian or biblical argument. The government, something that's not faith- based at all, has said that," We think that we need to provide an atmosphere for kids to thrive in and for people to get married, because it is good for our culture and our society for people to be married." You mentioned the benefit of kids. I think we could also find some data to show that it's good for men. If you take a bunch of men and they're not married, it doesn't go very well for them. It doesn't go very well for society to have a bunch of unmarried men. Now, I don't know what we're going to say. Maybe we can say that is a bad way to think about men, or maybe that thinking about marriage civilizes men. And maybe that is... It's just true. Maybe it's not correct to say it, but it is true that marriage does civilize men. inaudible them responsible for other people. It takes all of their ambition and testosterone, and focuses it on serving others instead of themselves.

Patrick Miller: Look at any house of college men, and this point is proven. It's a total just dumpster fire.

Keith Simon: It is. You're right. But we can't say that, but it's true. It's 100% true.

Patrick Miller: Okay, back to the big picture. The New York Times is trying to destabilize our definition of marriage. And one of the costs of redefining marriage is that the more you redefine it, you end up defining it out of existence. By the way, the purpose of a thing and the thing itself are connected. A corkscrew is designed to open up wine bottles. Now, could you use a cork screw like a drill to make a hole in a wall? Well yeah, you could, but if you did it over and over again, you'd probably break the corkscrew. You'd have a lot of terrible holes inside of your wall. Treating marriage as though it's a Swiss Army Knife that can do anything is a great way of breaking marriage. It's a great way of breaking the society that you're trying to use it on as well. It's like using the corkscrew as a drill. It's just not going to work.

Keith Simon: But I think that's the point, that you want to break marriage. Or at least there's a group of people, and maybe the New York Times is involved in this, I don't know, they want to break marriage. They don't want to be restricted by the commitments that marriage makes. They don't want to fit into what society is doing. They want to do their own thing. And in order to do their own thing, they have to redefine marriage out of existence.

Patrick Miller: We'll be back to our episode really quick. Look, if you're enjoying the content in here, you want to sign up for our newsletter. We like to write little articles every week that are based on our podcast, but they really take one idea that we don't spend a lot of time talking about and expand them. Not to a super long article, but to an article you could read in 10 minutes and get a good little nugget out of, that's going to help you think about what's happening in our world in a more Jesus- centered way. So make sure to go to choosetruthovertribe. com and subscribe to our newsletter.

Keith Simon: Okay, so next article is What Does Marriage Ask You to Give Up, this by a woman named Kaitlyn Greenidge. So Dan and Patrick, what do you think marriage has made you give up?

Patrick Miller: It's a good question. I think the most obvious thing that marriage asks you to give up, and by the way, I think this really escalates when you have kids as well, is autonomy, freedom. And that might sound like I'm dogging on marriage. I don't think that having the freedom to do everything is actually very freeing. It's incredibly freeing of me to limit my freedoms and to say," Hey, I can't love any woman. I can't have sex with any woman. I can't go buy a house with any woman or man. Those are all off- limits. I've made a commitment to this one person to do life together." And it's a commitment of my time as well. I have to go on dates with her. I have to invest my time and energy in her rather than investing it in other people. I think this actually leads to greater freedom, because at the end of the day, after spending over 10 years with this one person I've invested... And she's invested so much in me. We have a deeper relationship as a result. But if it wasn't for that commitment, chances are we wouldn't have stuck with it. We would've just moved on to something that was easier. So that's the first thing that comes to mind for me.

Keith Simon: Okay, so hang on. This article asked," What does marriage ask you to give up". Your answer is it asks you to give up a certain kind of freedom to get a better kind of freedom?

Patrick Miller: Yes.

Keith Simon: Dan, what about you? What have you noticed that you had to give up to have a good marriage?

Dan: Happiness. I'm just kidding. I'm totally kidding. I'm totally kidding. I'm actually way more happy than I ever have been. No, in my marriage, I would say it's time. I mean, a lot of things that Patrick said I'm repeating, but time is the biggest one that... I remember the biggest fight in our first year of marriage was I wanted... This sounds so childish, but I wanted to play with my friends. I wanted to go out and hang out with my friends, all the time. And I expected to hang out with my friends probably four times a week. And that was a no- no once it came to marriage.

Keith Simon: No fly zone.

Dan: No fly zone. So I'm happy, I promise.

Keith Simon: What are you down to now? Zero times a week?

Dan: I'm still doing okay. I think one to two, which is actually, I think, pretty good for having a kid.

Keith Simon: Yeah. No, that's great. Yeah, marriage does ask you to give up things, so I think the title of this article, What Does Marriage Ask You to Give Up, is worth asking.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, count the cost before you build the building.

Keith Simon: So let's just see how Kaitlyn Greenidge writes this article. Here we go." I spent most of my 20s and 30s single, only to marry and then come to the conclusion that my marriage should end. Now I'm single again, but I'm not alone." The article goes on to say that she lives with her mother and her siblings after her divorce, and that some of these siblings have children. She has her own child. So they live in this home that they've affectionately called the compound, with a wide variety of ages all living together.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, so it's kind of a non- normative family.

Keith Simon: Yeah, I'd say that's true. I mean, extended family, so maybe it was normative in some time and place.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. My point isn't to say that having extended family in your household is non-normative. It's actually very normative, historically. I'm saying that your family doesn't involve a father or father figures. That's the non- normative part.

Keith Simon: Yeah. So she goes on," We are living through a time when all the stories the larger culture tells us about ourselves are being rewritten." Okay, so here we go, another clue. We're redefining, we're rewriting, we're normalizing a different kind of relationship. So now she's going to tell us about some of the things that are being rewritten. Here she goes," The story of what the United States is, what it means to be a man or a woman, what it means to be a child, what it means to love one's self or other people, we are imagining all of this again so that these stories can guide and comfort us rather than control us." So social institutions, they control you, and they need to be rewritten to give you more autonomy, more freedom so that you can express your individualistic self. And what does she mean? Well, she means cultural institutions like what it means to be a or a woman, what it means to be a child. So these are fundamental things about who we are, and she's trying to say," We got to rewrite all this." And it makes me think of this law that just recently passed in California. I don't know if you saw it or not, but what it requires is that a large department stores that have kids sections, that they have gender- neutral toy sections. So this is a law that the state of California is demanding that private businesses have a gender- neutral toy section. Because we're going to rewrite what it means to be a boy or a girl, and we're not just going to let individual families or even individual kids make those decisions. We're going to require our stores to enforce those decisions.

Patrick Miller: Okay, so bottom line, social institutions must be challenged. This goes back to the fence thing. In other words, the author of this article came to the fence, and she saw it and she said," This fence is a cage. This is a way of hemming me in. This is a way of limiting my personal freedom, my personal expression, my personal autonomy. And because we live in the era of the self- expressive individual, where the only thing that matters is your ability to be authentic, to do what you want to do, that's the highest value, it must be a cage. And so it has to be gotten rid of. Tear down the fence. Get rid of it. You cannot be in the cage." But again, what I find so interesting here is that she has no sense of the common good. This all fundamentally comes down to herself.

Keith Simon: What she wants.

Patrick Miller: What she wants, what she desires, what she likes, what she feels. There's no sense of," Hey, could there be costs to your kids, or even to the children of others who don't have a compound to go live in if they follow your example?"

Keith Simon: All right, back to the article." It seemed obvious to me then, having lived in a two- parent home that was deeply unhappy and dysfunctional, that the number of parents around to make a working family was arbitrary." Really? It's just arbitrary? Well, here we go," That people beholden to the rigid mathematics of mother and father and children equals stability were shortsighted, ignoring all we know of human interactions and ways we make family throughout human history. To believe that one equation would work for all of us seems so simplistic and childish that for much of my young adulthood, I simply disregarded it." I mean, these are incredible claims, that the number of people that it takes to make a kid is just arbitrary. I mean, when I read that, I thought," Is there a definition of arbitrary that I'm not aware of?" So I literally went and I looked up arbitrary, and it turns out I do know what arbitrary means. That she was saying that it's just totally random. It was just by chance. Well, no. She refers to it as rigid mathematics. Well, no. It's called biology. You have to have a mother and a father in order to conceive a child. And in the context of a mother and father, that is where a child is most likely, not every time, there are always exceptions to this, but most likely to thrive.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. I mean, when I read this, I'm just going to be honest, it makes me want to hit my head against the wall, because it is so obviously irrational. And yet, I can see people reading this clapping their hands, excited." Yay. She's so right. She's setting herself free." And you're on point, biology. This is not rigid mathematics, it is facts, but it goes beyond that. This isn't even descriptive of most people in the US. Most people in the US grow up in a family with a mom and a dad. That's not arbitrary. It's not just a thing that we've made up. Again, we can look at the stats here. 58% of children live with their mom and dad, and their mom and dad are married. Another 4% live with both biological parents who aren't married. So they're still living with mom and dad. Another 5% live with a biological parent and a stepparent, so you still have a mom and dad in the picture. And so that totals up to 67% of our population that are living with a mom and a dad or a stepparent. Only 27% of our population live with a single parent. Now, that's still a big proportion, but it's hard to say that this is arbitrary when you're looking at numbers that high.

Keith Simon: Yeah, those numbers are declining. In other words, there are more kids now than there have been in the past who are living outside of the home that their mom and dad, or mom, dad, or a stepparent, are living in. And yet, these numbers are still very, very high. So normal reality is that this is what kids grow up in, a home with a mom and dad in it. And for that, we should be really thankful.

Patrick Miller: It goes back to the broader question: Is the New York Times trying to redefine marriage? Are they trying to redefine family? And I think of course the answer is yes. They're saying," Look, if your family is non- normal, you live in a compound, you don't have a mom and a dad, that's great. That's totally normal." And what they're doing is they're essentially espousing the supposed worldview of enlightened elite educated people. You say," Look, I'm not judgemental. You can do family however you want to do family. It's going to work out great for you, because these are all social constructs anyways. You've imagined them. You don't need a mom and a dad for a child. That's not something that's necessary or valuable. You do you." Where I think things get really interesting is that the elites, the people who are educated, that's what they say, but is it what they do?

Keith Simon: No, they live by more traditional values, and Charles Murray showed this in his book Coming Apart. I had a conversation with a woman named Batya Ungar- Sargon, who wrote a book about media and how it's changing, and one of the points that she made in her book was that the readership of the New York Times is highly educated. So you have a group that the New York Times is trying to appeal to that sounds enlightened, like we're normalizing things to give people more freedom, to get them out of the cage of cultural expectations, like Patrick said. But they don't live that way. Check these numbers out. 86% of kids whose parents both have a college degree-

Patrick Miller: Which makes you about the most elite of the elite.

Keith Simon: Yeah, because only about a third of Americans have completed a college degree. So to have two parents that completed college degrees does make you in kind of select company. But 86% of kids whose parents both have college degrees live with both biological parents, who are married. So the elites are espousing that here's a new way to live, and yet that's not how they live. They live by pretty traditional values. But those who are working class, those who don't have the elite education, they are the ones who are reaping the consequences. So check out this number. 47% of kids whose parents have completed high school, but that's all their education level is, live in married couple families. So the elites say one thing and live another way.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And of course, you just have to ask why. Why are they living a different way? And I think it's because whether or not they acknowledge it mentally, the simple reality is that things work best that way. It turns out that this fence that exists, it exists for a good reason, and they know it. And that's why they're not going to live differently. But as they seek to normalize these other kinds of relationships, it's not hurting them, it's hurting those who have less education. It's hurting those who have less opportunity. It's normalizing family structures and telling people in those environments," Hey, this is totally okay. You don't need to worry about it, and you can trust us educated elite people. We know what we're doing. But by the way, we're not going to do that." In other words, who is the New York Times opinion page serving? Well, it's serving elites, because you know what they get out of the deal? They get moral superiority.

Keith Simon: That's a perfect way of putting it.

Patrick Miller: I'm so enlightened. I am normalizing these new visions of marriage, nevermind the consequences for the working class people who buy into my bad ideas.

Keith Simon: We are better than the past. We are better than those barbarians who thought that marriage was something between a man and a woman. We are so enlightened to know that you can have asexual marriages, and marriages between two women and two men, and maybe even polyamorous marriages.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. We're not even going to get into polygamy this episode. We do have a great episode that we can link to in the show notes where we talked about... It was actually in-

Keith Simon: 3, 4, 5, 6 people getting married. It was in The New Yorker, which fits the New York Times. I mean, it's just the elite of the elite.

Patrick Miller: Okay, let's do one more article.

Keith Simon: Oh, this is a good one, I think.

Patrick Miller: Might be my favorite.

Keith Simon: Really?

Patrick Miller: Yeah.

Keith Simon: Okay, get us going.

Patrick Miller: So the title of the article is Divorce Can Be an Act of Radical Self- Love by Lara Bazelon. Now, I actually want to pause here. I think I agree with that statement. You might love yourself so much-

Keith Simon: I don't think this is how she meant it, but... Well, you might love yourself so much that you need to-

Patrick Miller: Get a divorce-

Keith Simon: ...get a divorce.

Patrick Miller: ...out of love for yourself. Now, I'm not saying that's actually what's going to make you happy in the long run. You don't know yourself very well. But there are plenty of people who love themselves so much that they can do this radical act of self- love and get a divorce. Okay, let's actually hop in to the article. Just so you know, she's a law professor at San Francisco School of Law. So she opens up, and she's sharing about how she used to believe that divorce was terrible. And she grew up in that culture that thought getting a divorce was a failure, a personal failure. It was bad for kids. It had catastrophic results in people's lives. But she explains that she's become enlightened, and she's realized that this isn't the case. So I'll just hop straight into the article." But I've learned that divorce can also be an act of radical self- love that leaves the whole family better off." Now, one of the things we're going to pick up in this article, by the way, is I can't tell where she's trying to convince me and where she's trying to convince herself.

Keith Simon: It definitely sounds like that, that she has tried to rationalize decisions.

Patrick Miller: Yes.

Keith Simon: And I don't know if that's true of her or not.

Patrick Miller: I don't know.

Keith Simon: She's a good writer, but it's about all I know about her.

Patrick Miller: She says," My divorce nearly seven years ago freed me." She was in a cage, catching the themes." My divorce seven years ago freed me from a relationship that was crushing my spirit."

Keith Simon: Was this abuse? Was it-

Patrick Miller: No.

Keith Simon: ...verbal abuse, physical abuse?

Patrick Miller: She goes on to say that she still in a sense loves her husband. Her husband's a great guy. He never asked her to do things that she didn't want to do.

Keith Simon: Did he have a gambling addiction?

Patrick Miller: No, there was no-

Keith Simon: Did he have-

Patrick Miller: He didn't cheat on her, none of those things.

Keith Simon: Didn't cheat on her?

Patrick Miller: Nothing.

Keith Simon: Nothing. But it was crushing her spirit.

Patrick Miller: And she explains why eventually, and we'll get there, but she goes on to say her choice of having divorce, it didn't just free her," It freed my children-"

Keith Simon: Oh, of course.

Patrick Miller: ..."then five and three, from growing up in a profoundly unhealthy environment." Now, we already know, again from her story, that she feels like she grew up in an unhealthy environment with parents that fought all the time, so you get where she's coming from.

Keith Simon: So a little bit later in the article, she tells us that she has asked her children if they've been freed by the divorce, and so here's her daughter's response. She's 10 years old." Some of my friends spend more time with their parents, but I have to give you a lot of credit, because those kids are in two- parent families. Our criminal justice system is horrible and messed up, and you're trying to help it get fixed." She added," I want to have a big career and try to get somewhere and have impact." Now, does that sound like a 10- year- old?

Patrick Miller: No.

Keith Simon: You don't think that sounds like a 10-year-old?

Patrick Miller: I never spoke like that.

Keith Simon: When you were-

Patrick Miller: I still don't know how to speak like that.

Keith Simon: I mean, this 10 year old sounds like a law professor to me.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, it's impressive.

Keith Simon: Very educated.

Patrick Miller: Honestly, when I read this paragraph, I felt a deep sense of sadness, because it was obvious to me that the child was just parroting what her mom told her, which is," Why can't I be with you as much as your friends' parents are with you? Why can't I be around? Because I've got this really important job, and I'm changing the world, and that's worth it in the end." And so her child, who would love to have her mom with her, who would love to have more of a relationship with her mom... Because she probably doesn't want to look at herself and say," It's my fault." She's doing the rational thing and parroting what her mom says, which is," Hey, you're doing important work, and that's more important than me." I mean, it's ironic. Do you notice how this lady's self- love requires her daughter to learn selflessness? But that's just the way it's going to work.

Keith Simon: Because in any relationship, only one person can really love themselves if the relationship is to be maintained. Your self- love demands that other people die to themselves, give up their rights.

Patrick Miller: Okay, so let's go back up to the top of the article. And I'm going to read a long section here where she explains her divorce, but I think this is really telling. And again, it's echoing a lot of things I'm hearing in culture. We won't go into the Adele interview with Oprah. It's very similar to what Adele said to Oprah, and it's things I've heard people who get divorced say, again, very similarly. So I'll hop in." There was no emotional or physical abuse in our home. There was no absence of love." Why are you getting a divorce? But let's keep going." I was in love with my husband when we got divorced. Part of me is in love with him still. I suspect that will always be the case. Even now, after everything, when he walks into the room, my stomach drops the same way it did before the roller coaster comes down. I divorced my husband not because I didn't love him, I divorced him because I loved myself more."

Keith Simon: We could just stop right here. That is a mic drop moment. When she reads that back, or when the editor at the Times reads that back, do they understand what she's saying? That" I love my husband, but I love myself more, and so I wasn't willing to put his needs ahead of my own. I wasn't willing to die to myself. I wasn't willing to serve. I wasn't willing to take the low road." Everything that Jesus teaches us is now turned on its head with that statement that" I love my husband, but I love myself more, so I had to get out of here."

Patrick Miller: And this statement is virtuous in a culture which puts self- expression and self- love above everything else. And that is how our culture is dramatically different than what you just said, than what Jesus taught. And yet, again, I can imagine Christians, I can imagine lots of people clapping and celebrating," Yes, you do love yourself so much," but we know as followers of Jesus that's not the path to happiness. That's not the path to joy.

Keith Simon: Let me pick up." There are many reasons we did not make it, but the main one is that we had incompatible visions of our roles as partners and parents. Having children did not transform me. In fact, it didn't change me much at all. I love our children beyond reason. I know I'm lucky to have them. But after I became a mother, I was still the same striving, work- obsessed, domestically- challenged person I had always been. I made choice after choice to prioritize my career, because I believe fervently in the importance of the work I was doing, providing legal representation to wrongfully convicted men and women. It gave me an identity, a purpose, and the comfort of knowing I could support myself." So she tells us here something really important, and that she prioritized her career. In fact, she said she did it over and over and over. And so I think it begs the question: She prioritized her career over what? And I think it is that she prioritized her career over her husband and over her kids over the needs of other people who live around her. Now, she says she does important work, and let's believe her. I mean, why not believe her? It sounds like she does. Wrongfully convicted people need good legal representation. But is there a way to live out your gifts and to pursue your career in a way that doesn't prioritize your career at the expense of other people in your life?

Patrick Miller: And I realize some people are going to hear us saying this, and they're going to think that we're saying something about men and women, so let me be explicitly clear. I would tell a man who said to me," I have made the choice to prioritize my career over my children, over my wife, over my family again and again and again..." I would look that man in the face, and I'd say," You have a serious idolatry problem. And if you don't deal with it, it's going to wreck your family. It's going to wreck your marriage. It's going to wreck your life. Because that God, your job and the identity and worth it gives you, it will never live up to what you need. You'll continue to pursue it. You'll continue to chase it. You'll continue to love and give it, and it will only demand more and more and more of you, and leave you more and more alone and dead."

Keith Simon: So you're right. It's not about men or women. It's about putting things like career in its proper place. God cares a lot about our career, and our careers can contribute to loving our neighbor and making for a better society and working for the common good. We want men and women to have whatever careers that God's called them to have. Fabulous. But when she says here that" My career gave me an identity and a purpose," she is telling us something that is really important for us to hear. Because if we place our identity and our purpose in a career, then it is going to have too much influence, too much say, too much of a priority in our life. And what she is telling us is that if" I wasn't seen as on the top of my game, if I wasn't seen as being an expert in my field, then I wouldn't know who I was. It would be compromised."

Patrick Miller: So let's pick up with her last two paragraphs from this article. She says," My ex- husband wasn't unreasonable in wanting me to change." Okay, so what did he want her to do? She says," Well, he didn't want me to give up working. He just wanted me to stop chasing after bigger and harder projects. He works hard, but not when he's at home. He rarely travels, and actively engages with nearly every aspect of our children's lives, no matter how mundane. I fell short of his standards.'You're not present' was a phrase I heard a lot. Sometimes it was literal. For years, I traveled frequently for work." Sometimes it was metaphorical. My mind consumed by a case or a piece of writing, I would retreat to an inner world that made it hard to focus on the people right in front of me. Sometimes during the final months of my marriage, I wavered. Maybe if I quit my long- distance job and found a position closer to home, even if I did not particularly care for it, we could hold on. Perhaps I could work part- time, join the PTA at my son's school, and start cooking dinner. I fervently wanted to save my marriage and give my children an intact family, and I've been taught that divorce was a terrible thing to be avoided at all costs."

Keith Simon: Remember the article we read that was titled What Does Marriage Require You to Give Up? It does require you to give up some things. And one of the things that marriage and having children requires you to give up is putting your needs first in your life. It requires you putting your spouse's needs and your children's needs above your own. At least, that's the Bible's picture of marriage. And when you say that" I am unwilling to do that, because I want to chase bigger and better work projects," regardless if you're a man or a woman, what you're saying is that" I'm going to put my needs first, because this is where my identity is, and I have to do this to feel good about myself." You're going to tear your marriage apart.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, and she's just setting up a world of false dichotomies. It's" Either I find purpose in my work, or I find purpose in my family. Either I work full- time and go at it full- throttle, or I'm a stay- at- home mom who does the PTA, does all the cooking.

Keith Simon: She talks about it in kind of a demeaning way. I mean," Or I can stay home and cook dinner." And first of all, there's something really noble about cooking dinner for a family and providing for your family, and sitting around a dinner table with your family, so I don't like that's demeaned. But there are other ways to put together a life in a modern world that allow you to have a career and raise a family.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And by the way, that wasn't what her husband was asking for, by her own mission.

Keith Simon: He wasn't asking for it.

Patrick Miller: He says,"Would you just be present? Could you show up to some of these events? Could you be here mentally when you're with us?" He's not saying," Stay at home and cook, and join the PTA." That's not what was happening. And if I can just be humble for a second, I actually feel a sense of alignment with her. It is so tempting for me to put my job, my career, the next big thing before my family. And I know what it's like to be with my kids and with my wife and have my mind on a work project or something else. That's a temptation. But what I've realized is when I give into the temptation, the costs are far, far, far higher than the benefits. And when I actually resist the temptation and do what I think God would call me to do, which is put them first, die to myself, put them first and love them, what comes out of that is real life and joy and goodness.

Keith Simon: She said in the article," Divorce is painful and heartbreaking, but it can also be liberating, pointing to the way toward a different life that leaves everyone better off, including the children." It seems like everybody who I've talked to who have young kids and are getting divorced for reasons that aren't maybe an addiction or an affair or something like that-

Patrick Miller: Gambling. Yeah, there's lots of things

Keith Simon: When they're just doing it because it's their preference, they're tired of the other person, they want a new life, they have to figure out a way to tell you that this is actually good for the kids. And there's something that that shows us inside of us, that we have this conscience, whether we are Christians or not, or whatever faith, or no faith. We have this conscience that say," I'm responsible for these children, and so now I've got to talk myself into believing that me leaving their father or their mother is really good for them. I'm really putting them ahead of them. I'm really putting their needs first. That's why I'm getting this divorce."

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And what they're doing when they do that is they're redefining reality. Which goes back to the bigger theme of this entire episode, which is that we are redefining marriage. We're redefining how we think about divorce. You make this bold claim that your children are going to be liberated and more free and happier as a result of your marriage, when the reality is it stands against the facts. There are sociologists after sociologists, we're talking about progressive liberal sociologists working at some of the most prestigious institutions in our country, who all say that's totally wrong. Sara McLanahan, she put it this way. She's a Princeton sociologist. She said," Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off on average than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of whether the resident parent remarries. This does not mean children who are raised in single parent or step families necessarily do badly. Many turn out fine. But the social science is clear: Children who are raised by their own married parents are more likely to thrive. That's because they tend to enjoy more stability, more money, more consistent discipline, and more attention than their peers from other families."

Keith Simon: Yeah. Boys who don't grow up with their married parents are twice as likely to end up in jail. Now, look, this is a complex picture, because there are some marriages that are called high- conflict marriages in which kids do better when they are out of that volatile, angry, maybe violent atmosphere. So it's not-

Patrick Miller: Yeah, we're not saying marriage at all costs.

Keith Simon: No, there are legitimate reasons to get separated. There are legitimate reasons to get divorced. What we're trying to critique is this new cultural way of redefining marriage that says that my needs are first and primary, and that what I need to do is pursue what's best for me. And like she said," I love myself so much, I got this divorce."

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And one of the things she talks about too is how she's co- parenting with her spouse. And this is a new phrase I started hearing two, three years ago for the first time. And the idea is," Hey, we got a divorce, but we're still in a nice relationship with each other. We say nice things about each other. We show our kids that we don't hate each other, and so we're co- parenting. We don't live in the same house, but we're doing it with one another."

Keith Simon: That term, co- parenting... You guys have young kids. Don't you co- parent?

Dan: Yeah, I don't really know the difference between co- parenting and co- parenting.

Keith Simon: I don't know. I mean, co- parenting-

Patrick Miller: Co-parenting is when you're not married and you're not living in the same house.

Dan: Oh.

Keith Simon: Yeah.

Patrick Miller: I do married parenting.

Keith Simon: Oh, okay. But not co- parenting.

Patrick Miller: I guess. I don't know.

Keith Simon: Okay. I don't know.

Patrick Miller: But here's what's so interesting about that. Harry Benson with the Institute for Family Studies has actually shown that when parents get along after the divorce, that can be more confusing for children. Why couldn't you make it work? I mean, that's what the kid is asking. If you guys can get along so well, why did this even have to happen?

Keith Simon: Yeah, but a lot of married couples who get divorced say this, that" Oh, we're nice around each other. We only talk highly of the other person. We do family events." I mean, she says this in this article. They go for bike rides or something like that together. And the kids are going," Well, then why couldn't you make this work out?" I mean, if there had been anger and violence and mistreatment, at least the kid could rationalize," Okay, well, this makes some sense," but it doesn't make any sense if the parents get along." If you all get along so well, is it me that's the problem," is probably what the kid's asking.

Patrick Miller: Well, it kind of tells the lie of the whole myth of co- parenting. Co- parenting is for the co- parents. Because it's more about how they feel and how they perceive the relationship and how they're able to talk about the relationship with other people than it is about what's happening inside of the kids' psychology and how the kids experiencing it. Because again, statistically speaking, this is very confusing. And I don't know what this means for people who are co- parenting. I don't think we're trying to argue that if you have a divorce, you need to be a jerk to your spouse so your kids understand why you guys got separated, but it does sound like it's important for your kids to understand the real reasons. And I can imagine that there's a lot of parents who are co- parenting that are trying to paper over those things, because they think that's what's better for the kids. I mean, what's better for the kids, in the cases like this one where you're not in a high- conflict marriage, is stay together.

Keith Simon: Yeah, you work it out. You figure out a way to serve one another, love one another, care for one another, and you go through some of those bumps. And it might be hard one year, it might be hard two years, but if you stay in it and work it out, the research shows that five years later, you'll be really happy that you did, and you'll be at a much better place if you're willing to put just a little work into it.

Patrick Miller: And if you're not, just be honest. Say," I care more about myself than my kids."

Keith Simon: Well, she kind of said that-

Patrick Miller: Yeah, she did.

Keith Simon: her headline, right? A radical act of self-love.

Patrick Miller: Self- love, I know. Maybe that's what you have to do.

Keith Simon: So a lot of this comes down to just self- expression. It comes down to autonomy, doing what I want, being in charge of my own life. In this article Lara Bazelon is writing in the Times, she praises this single mom. She's gotten divorced, and she's in grad school at night. Here's what she says about her." She's living with her nine- year- old in an apartment she picked out, decorated, and paid for on her own." Quote, this is what the mom says," Everything is my choice, and I am in charge." Well, if that doesn't say it. Guess what? If you want everything to be your choice and you want to be in charge, don't get married.

Patrick Miller: Save yourself some pain. You'll save another person pain. You'll save children pain, if you have kids.

Keith Simon: To be honest, don't have kids, because What marriage does and what having kids does is require you to let go of your freedom, let go of your money, let go of your calendar, let go of all the things that you were hoping to get, vacations you wanted to take, dreams that you had. And instead, to sacrifice for other people, to lay aside what could rightfully be yours on behalf of others. That is part of what marriage is supposed to teach all of us. That's what marriage's institution is good for us, because we are happier as individuals, and our society runs far better, our communities run better, when people learn to lay aside their rights and their prerogatives and their demands, and instead put other people's interests above their own.

Patrick Miller: And this actually goes back to the bigger picture of why is the fence there. The fence doesn't merely exist because marriage is good for society, and because raising kids inside of marriages is great for society. It also exists because it develops character and virtue in the individuals who commit themselves to something more than themselves. Again, the problem's that we live in a autonomous, self- expressive society, which sees any fence, any limitation on my freedom, on my desires... Anything which says," You can't do what you want to do," it doesn't see it as a fence. It sees it as a cage. It doesn't see it as something that exists for your good, they see it as something that needs to be torn down and ripped apart. And that's exactly what the New York Times has been doing, is they're trying to redefine marriage. They're looking at all those fences and they're saying," They're all cages. It's time to get rid of them."

Keith Simon: So what are some things that we can take away from this? Well, we're not going to repeat everything that we've said.

Patrick Miller: No, no.

Keith Simon: There's a lot of little nuggets that we've dropped along, at least our opinion. Maybe it's worth saying that we're talking about an idea here. We're talking about an institution. We're talking about articles that were written in the newspaper of record. We're not talking about your individual situation or your friend's situation, your cousin's situation. We don't know those circumstances, so we don't have any right to offer an opinion on them. So there's not an intent here to shame. There are legitimate reasons that families need to break up. There are legitimate reasons to get married later in life. There are probably bad reasons to get married younger in life. What we're talking about here is a principle, the fence, and how our society is thinking about an institution as important of marriage, and what the consequences are of redefining it.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, and I think you're hitting on a point that's really important. There's a difference between shaming and normalizing. Our culture doesn't seem to understand that saying that something isn't normal is not the same thing as shaming it. Those are two different things. There are plenty of things that aren't normal that we aren't trying to shame the person for. Now, sometimes those not normal things are unhealthy things, and so it might lean closer to the shame direction than others. But again, we live in a moment where if you say anything negative about someone's choices and lives, that is shaming. And of course, that's not the case. You don't normalize cancer to make a cancer patient feel better. You have a serious sober conversation about the hurt that the cancer patient is experiencing, and then you tell that cancer patient," Hey, here's what you can do to experience more health and wholeness." But the cancer isn't normal. Now, I'm not shaming the cancer patient by talking to them about what the consequences are, maybe what are some of the things in their own life that are causing it. It's not shaming it. Nor am I treating it as normal, because it's not normal. Cancer is not a normal state of being. Living in a culture that is deconstructing marriage, that is embracing divorce, that is embracing all different kinds of families where moms and dads or whoever isn't present, this is a cancer, and we need to have an honest, sober conversation about the consequences. We're not trying to shame people, but we shouldn't be normalizing it. It's like letting the cancer patient walk around and say," Hey, I don't want to hurt your feelings today, so don't worry about that lung cancer. No big deal."

Keith Simon: It might be easy to listen to this and think that we are saying that progressives or the New York Times, elite media, is redefining marriage. And that's true, but here's what they're not doing. They're not killing marriage. What's killing marriage is self- expressive individualism. And that is found on the left and the right, outside the church and inside the church. What is killing marriage is putting yourself first, being in charge of your life, loving yourselves, trying to escape the cage and find your own freedom and happiness apart from any demands on you as a person.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. Going back to that Gallup poll, the groups that are most quickly declining in saying that it's really important to be married if you want to have a lifelong marriage, or it's really important to be married if you're going to have children, the groups that are declining at the fastest rates right now are conservative groups. Now, I'm saying that to say yes, we can look at progressive media and see how they're playing into this, but if we start thinking," Oh yeah, these are the progressives," we've totally missed the picture. We are all self- expressive individuals who think that the most important thing about me is my own happiness, my own freedom.

Keith Simon: Yeah, that's exactly right. What's killing marriage is this idea that my personal happiness and my personal freedom is what's of ultimate importance. Check out these numbers. 84% of Americans say that their highest goal in life is enjoying themselves. Think about that. Your highest goal in life is enjoying yourself? Let me tell you, that is a quick way to being unhappy, because it turns out that what really makes you happy is investing in things that are bigger than yourself. Maybe it's investing in your career, or maybe it's investing in your community. For a lot of us, it'll be investing in a marriage and in raising kids. That's where real happiness is found. But here, 66% of Christians agree with that statement that their highest goal in life is enjoying themselves. Now, I don't know what to say, other than those people call themselves Christian, but they don't think Christianly.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And this highlights a fact that the covenantal ideal is dying. So a covenant is a promise, a commitment that's made between at least two people. Sometimes it's more. God makes a covenant with the whole nation of Israel. But what all covenants share in common is that the people making the covenant, they're all agreeing that me, myself, my desires, my happiness, those are secondary. I'm committing myself, I'm promising myself to something greater than myself, to serve the common good. So God promises himself to Israel. Israel promises itself to God. And in marriage, we're promising ourselves to a spouse, to someone out there who's... We're saying," You are more important than me." And here's why this is so important. Committing yourself to something other than yourself really is the key to developing character, lasting joy, lasting happiness. You will become a fuller, richer human being by not being about yourself. The more you focus in on yourself, you just become a black hole. Everything just gets sucked into you, and that's all that you can care about. The more you put your attention on other people, the wider your love becomes. The more generous and kind and selfless you become.

Keith Simon: Think of the people that you know who have focused on themselves. Maybe it's an uncle, a parent. Maybe it's someone in fiction, in literature. Think of the people that have really put the focus on themselves, doing what they want when they want, disregarding other people's needs.

Patrick Miller: I really look up to those people.

Keith Simon: Do you want to become like those people? Do you respect those people? Do they have the kind of life that you want? Now, think about the kind of people that you want to be like, and I bet you, those are people who serve others. Maybe it was a parent who served your family. Maybe it's someone like Mother Teresa who served the needy. Maybe it's like a firefighter who gave his or her life to save others. Maybe it's somebody at your school, a teacher who sacrificed their time and the money of a better career because they really invested in students. Maybe it's a coach who did the same thing. Or maybe it's somebody at your job who serves others, who gives up credit to share credit. Whatever it is, there's so many different ways that serving other people can be manifested in our life. And my guess is those people are the ones that you respect. Well, who are you going to become like? Who are you going to become like in your marriage, or in your family, in your community, in your church? Don't be a fool. Don't fall for the lie that serving others is restrictive, or is a cage, or will make you unhappy. Putting other people's needs and interests above your own is the pathway that Jesus has laid out to true and lasting happiness.

Patrick Miller: There is no one freer, there is no one who is more fully human, more perfectly human, more beautifully human, more good in his humanness than Jesus, and he's the most selfless person who ever lived. And so when we look at this fence out there of marriage, there's lots of reasons marriage exists. We explore it. But I would contend that maybe one reason we absolutely need marriage to continue in our society is that it's one of the last bastions, one of the very last places in our culture where we're called to commit to something greater than ourselves. And that it might actually be the training ground, the training wheels for us to become more like Jesus. And if that's what comes out of my marriage, that my wife becomes more like Jesus, that I become more like Jesus, that we actually reflect his love and sacrifice to our community, that's great. I will give up all of the freedom, I have all of the time I have for a cause that glorious and good.

Keith Simon: Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave a review

Patrick Miller: And make sure it's at least five stars.

Keith Simon: Stop. No, just be honest. Reviews help other people find us.

Patrick Miller: Okay, okay. At the very least, you can share today's episode. Maybe put it on your social, your favorite text chain.

Keith Simon: And if you didn't like this episode, awesome. Tell us why you disagree on Twitter, @ truthovertribe_. We might even share your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.


Does our society really need marriage after all? Can't couples who want to spend the rest of their lives together just cohabitate? And can't co-parenting outside of marriage work just fine for kids? It's obvious that the concept of marriage has shifted quite a bit over the years (even within the church). And the truth is that if we continue to redefine it, we risk losing the tremendous value marriage provides to society. In this episode, Patrick, Keith, and Dan discuss the ways in which our culture has redefined and demeaned the institution of marriage. Citing examples from recent articles in The New York Times, they call out the elite's hypocritical motives behind their agenda. Tune in now!

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