proxy of happiness

We rightfully jump on people who say happiness is a choice.  This is because often what they mean is watering down the definition of happiness to accommodate being able to produce it on cue.  Maybe to slow burn contentment.  But what I think they are getting at is the idea that happiness is a learned response which I highly agree with.  It’s Pavlovian.  You are given a life script that you are prompted to follow by the prevailing myths of the culture along with social pressure.  For example the idea that an SO can make you happy.  I was never happier than when I was with the girl I liked.  That relationship ended but it taught me about happiness.  Modern psychology tells us that happiness is up to us, but I think it’s something we fall into when we are doing what we believe society wants us to do.

The flip side of this is when things go wrong in relationships we suffer doubly because now we have lost our proxy of happiness and our culture is expecting us to perform a certain rhythm of happiness that involves another willing partner.  But we can’t find that partner or that feeling any more.  So we take a hard look at our life script and say maybe we should decouple happiness from being in a relationship, but it’s so ingrained in us most of us have to learn the hard way by going through a messy divorce.

Where are all the good Christian men?

Women often lament the lack of good Christian men to marry. A Barna Group survey backs this up—only 38% of evangelicals are men.

Why? As an ex-evalgelical I toss up some reasons.

The commodification of men (verses the decommodification of women).
The first thing you have is the oft-denied (but more often practiced) currents of the prosperity gospel flowing through most of evangelicalism. This falls on men harder than women. We are the ones looked on as money producing commodities. We are the ones who are judged the most harshly based on how much (or how little) God “prospers” us. This commodification of men is just a staple of our culture but there just aren’t any forces trying to beat it back within evangelicalism (at least not any I’m aware of). However, all kinds of forces are pushing for the decomodification of women—not viewing them as sex objects. This is a positive development but more needs to be done to help the male side of things.
“The Proverbs 31 woman is virtuous, the Proverbs 31 man is rich”

The passive-aggresiveness that rears its head all too often in Christian culture
There is a lot of negativity that goes along with daily life. Unfortunately evangelicalism tells people to turn off this negativity. Most people (rightfully) can’t handle it so they end up expressing their negativity passive-aggressively instead of expressing it through healthy channels. The non-confrontational nature of Christian culture is stifling and it is fertile ground for all forms of passive-aggressive expression. I think this behavior happens more among men than women (because men are naturally more aggressive and Christian culture is just muting this aggression turning it into something more ugly than necessary).

Thinking away your faith
It’s easy to lose your faith, easier than you’d think. Evolution, philosophy, German higher criticism, befriending people of other traditions—all these can put fractures that lead to later destruction. Christians will be quick to point out that evolution doesn’t contradict the Bible. But once you take evolution as truth the first 11 chapters of Genesis go out the window (at least literally). With regards to leaving the faith I don’t think being smart is a liability but I think thinking more than necessary is. At the risk of sounding sexist I would say men have minds that wander more.

Difficulty with sexual purity
It’s an uncomfortable truth, it’s harder for men to stay sexually pure than women. Men are expected to stay virgins deep into their twenties (sometimes past their sexual prime) in a environment of hypersexuality. This is task that not every man is up to… and for what? Christian marriages fail at the same rate secular ones do.