Letters Have Arrived. Once More.

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Merry Warrior Stuff

In the last line of the postscript to Worser and Worser you wrote: “I have sometimes thought—and why not admit it?—that I am despised in so many corners of effete evangelicalism . . . because my adversaries have suspected for a while that I might be having a good time.” That line is not only true and a challenge for all who “fight,” but absolutely hilarious as well! It made me laugh out loud and brightened my day. Thank you!

Scott

Scott, thanks.

“. . . have suspected for a while that I might be having a good time.”

😏😉.

A Dad

A Dad, I would respond to your hieroglyphs, but I am not conversant in that stuff.

😁😁😁😁

The very fact that you are a *merry* warrior is an encouragement of the highest order. May God continue to increase your faithfulness and broaden your influence.

Dave

Dave, thank you.

The Government Hates the Competition

“Did you see that clip of Justin Trudeau solemnly intoning that the Freedom Convoy truckers were, and I hope you are sitting down, “breaking the law”? They were “disrupting businesses” also, which everyone knows is the government’s job.” Reminds me of the Rules that popped up across the Shire during the hobbits’ absence, and it makes me want to “break a good many things yet, and not ask [them] to answer.”

Guymon

Guymon, exactly so.

Constitution Party?

Apropos of no post in particular, do you have an opinion on the Constitution Party? As far as I can tell (with only just as much research as I need for a school report on third parties), they’re for originalism where the Constitution is concerned and government under the lordship of Christ.

MG

MG, yes. And I have voted for Constitution Party candidates in the past, depending. But I think that their definition of Christianity is broad enough to include Mormons, which is problematic. If that is true (and my memory on this is years old, and I have not confirmed it), then it sort of defeats the purpose of having a Christian political party if you go on to define Christian incorrectly.

The Doctrine of Vocation

I’m reading through your Father Hunger. (Very encouraging, thanks.) You have a chapter on the pointy haired boss . . . You quote Luther on vocation and speak as though he may have written more on this idea —vocation. This is something I struggle with as I don’t particularly find my “line” fulfilling. I was wondering if there is a specific work by someone—Luther or otherwise—which is helpful.

Nathan

Nathan, I would recommend two books—God at Work by Gene Veith and Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey.

Speaking of Crazy Talk

Can we just point out the fact that unreasonably high expectations for girls is still running rampant in this culture? It used to be unrealistic body types, then it was unrealistic sexuality, then it was unrealistic sex drives, now it is unrealistic fighting skills. I cannot count the number of times we see a 115lb girl go up against a 250lb pure muscle Navy SEAL and win! Just more of our culture putting unreasonable and unattainable standards for our girls. Only this time it is going to lead to them getting knocked out or worse. Our culture kinda sucks…

Jon

Jon, yes. As John Wayne once put it, “Life is hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid.”

My Avuncular Tone

Re: Lack of Communication is Key

Dear Uncle Douglas,

A pretty close to real-life Dawson here (we even got our new first date set up at the same time). Thank you for your series of letters, they have been extremely edifying, encouraging, and challenging in all the right ways. I think you are right on the money and am grateful for your shrewd perception of the challenges facing guys like me.

I write to ask your advice. I just had my first date, and I think it went decently but still feel very discouraged inwardly. We conversed for almost two hours and I did my darnedest not to share too much, but still think I spilled beans a few times. (Thanks for the favorite novel question, that worked really well!)

She didn’t let me pay for her meal which almost completely buckled my confidence but I got through it. However, at the end, she left my car abruptly, said thanks, and didn’t respond or look back when I said goodbye. She then immediately proceeded to call out and wave to another young man walking towards her dorm.

I think if a friend of mine gave me this report, I would encourage him and tell him not to hang his head, however, that is exactly what I feel like doing! What do you think I should make of the situation and do you have any wisdom for me to learn? Should I ask her out again after some time or go zero dark thirty in our communications?

Thank you again and God bless.

Sincerely,

Liam

Liam, no. You should ask her out again soon. Cut out the guesswork. If she says yes, then all your worrying will be proven wrong. If she says no, then let her say no, be a gentleman, and thank God for the clarity. You should want clarity, not an easy let down.

I’m a single young man, early 20s—I’ve been reflecting on your “Lack of Communication is Key.” I recognized a something myself in your phrase “emotional needy bucket.” Much as you described, I’m too given to sharing, as opposed to making conversation. This sin has probably hurt my relationship prospects hitherto, and it shames me. I want to defeat it, permanently and thoroughly and get back to a reasonable amount of that “natural male reticence” you describe.

That said, I think this problem is symptomatic of a deeper failure to handle loneliness well (that’s not to make excuses or be needy). Several external factors (e.g. my calling has required me to attend a very secular university) have contributed to a lonely last few years. When I am able to converse, I sometimes share like an emotional needy-bucket. These external circumstances are unlikely to permanently change overnight, so I’m wondering how best to become a stronger man and conquer the inner pain, weakness and hollowness that tries to outwardly express like this. Do you have any advice on how to do this?

Finally, I want to thank you for writing content like this. It cuts to the heart, in the double-edged sword kind of way. Young men aren’t the most “squeaky wheel gets the grease” demographic in the church, and, in a way, that’s as it should be. But rest assured, huge numbers of young men are benefiting from almost one-of-a-kind content like your “letters to Dawson,” numbers well out of proportion to some engagement metrics. And we are all grateful.

Bill

Bill, whatever you do, don’t do this with girls. If you have to talk to somebody, talk to a pastor. If you are somewhere in the middle range of all this, talk to your guy friends but in a way that enables you to joke with them about it. But don’t talk this way to girls. Not ever. Not if you ever want to get a girl worth having.

Hello. Doug. This is Judith from Uganda. I am a girl that got messed up with some guy from church. Basing on your post called boy meets girl. I realised. It is likely to be a divorce with out marriage situation.

I got my feelings messed up asking him out last year before I was a Christian. How do I forget about him? Because it seems I truly fell in love. After meeting him, he helped me return to Christ after 15 years of exile. He helped me lose weight. He helped me read the Word.

I of course realised yesterday, he didn’t love me..

Going forward I plan to protect me heart.

But how do I forget him.

Kindly help uncle Doug.

Judith.

Judith, I am very sorry for your troubles. The pain will heal over time. Make sure you clean and dress the wound, changing the bandages regularly. Don’t pick at it. Don’t become bitter. Don’t allow yourself to daydream. Walk with God, and He will heal you.

Collection Agency Time

Dear Gashmu:

Please send me your address, as I would like to forward you a few bills. I presume you take full responsibility for this quote: “We like to describe self-controlled people as ‘unemotional,’ but what we really mean is that their emotions are not half-civilized yard apes on a sugar rush.”

Upon reading it, coffee sprayed from my mouth and nose with the fury of a highly pressurized fire hose, soaking my electronics and short-circuiting my computer. Cost: $150.

Additionally, after I finished choking, I realized that I had quite literally fallen on the floor, spraining one wrist and breaking a collarbone. Cost: $1,500

While having these matters attended, the doctor informed me that I had also developed pneumonia from the remaining coffee that I was unable to expel. Cost: $350

I have never laughed so hard in my life, and since the immediate effects are life-threatening, continued exposure to your wit might be the end of me. I enjoy reading your nuggets of wisdom wrapped in humor—like a filet mignon wrapped in bacon—but my goodness . . .

Malachi

Malachi, you very clearly have not read the Mablog terms and conditions. Every time this happens, you are supposed to send me money.

False Alternative

Is the following statement true?

“When we as a nation deny God. God gives us evil leaders. We must repent from our sin. And turn to God! God is the only way to freedom! 2 Chronicles 7:14”

What if all these truckers are atheist abortion supporters? What if Fauci is God’s judgment for abortion? Pharaoh of Egypt? What was that all about? Was Moses a Canadian trucker?

Thomas

Thomas, yes, the statements in your early paragraph are true. But the hypotheticals in the later paragraph are not. As hypotheticals, they are making no truth claims.

The Fruitlessness of Doubting

I could really do with some counsel on how to help my wife through some doubt. She was baptised as a professing believer at the age of 6, but in her teen years, after growing up in a Christian home and attending church as a professing believer, she went astray into worldliness. Now she thinks she has no hope because (according to her) she fell away like a Hebrews 6 person. Please help.

Jonty

Jonty, the problem is not that she is doubting, but that she is doubting the wrong things. For example, she seems sure that she fell away like the person in Heb. 6. But is she Jewish? Was she delivered from a sacrificial system where she had to keep sacrificing bulls and goats? Did she get on a boat to return to Jerusalem just in time for the Romans to sack it? No to all three. So why is she so confident that Heb. 6 could apply to her? So she is being confident, like we all are, and she has doubts, like we all do. But her confidence is in the wrong place, and so are her doubts.

Hot Tip and Good Idea

Noting the letter that you received from the wife of the tax protestor, I just wanted to let you know how it worked out in my family. My father was a tax protestor (not sure if he paid none or any or just didn’t file). They put the house in my mother’s name so that it wouldn’t be taken and she just filed separately. (I do agree that she should have been informed before marriage, but don’t see it as a grounds for divorce).

Anon

Anon, thanks.

The Translation Issue

I would love to hear a more detailed treatment on why you prefer the King James translation, and I suppose more specifically the Byzantine text. I have seen comments you have made here and there about it (and forgive me if I missed something along the way), but I haven’t read any detailed explanation on why that is the manuscript tradition you prefer. Thanks for your time,

LM

LM, I have a section on the issue in my book, Mother Kirk, and I also participated in a debate with James White on the topic, which can be found here.

The Value of Generalizing

REGARDING: The Value of Gender Stereotypes As I read this letter to your wanna-be nephew, it struck me that by modern definition, the book of Proverbs is 31 chapters of stereotypes and generalizations.

Exactly. That tells us something of God’s mind on the subject.

Carey

Carey, thanks, and yes. A proverb is a generalization, and a book full of them should tell you something.

Buying Things in the World

I’m wondering if you can point me to a treatment on a subject I don’t know the name of. It started when I decided to buy books directly from Canon instead of through the amazonian middleman. It’s maybe 5% more expensive to do it that way, and I have to pay shipping, but the money goes to Canon. I’m not helping to subsidize whatever Brave New World building is coming from Bezos’ empire.

So here’s the rub. Was that an amoral decision? John’s second and third letters seem to indicate that monetary connections do put us into partnership in even greater ways. But this then leads me to consider what seems untenable, namely that I shouldn’t spend my money at a business that will then turn around and use the profit for sinful means. The next thought I had was, “Well then I can’t buy anything made in China, because it probably came from something akin to slave labor.”

I don’t think I’m looking at this topic clearly yet, but I am unsure where to begin to look for clarity.

Thank you for continuing to outfit the Reformation. May God keep you.

John

John, it is perfectly acceptable to not do business with a business you would rather not have anything to do with. But that personal desire is not a matter of morality. You should not adopt, as a moral principle, a standard that would require you to leave planet earth in order to be consistent. There are moral problems up and down pretty much every supply chain, and you are not responsible for them.

Fake Vaccine ID

Here in Indonesia my apartment has “issued a decree” where everyone would be asked for a vaccine certificate, and if not be vaccinated. Since my father, and I myself, don’t want to be vaccinated, he’s made, or more properly speaking, forged a vaccine certificate for us. I wonder if such actions are justified considering the fact that this involves lying, bearing false witness to a neighbor. God bless,

Matthew

Matthew, the main problem here would be that if the landlord is applying this standard to you because he wants to, and he owns the apartment, then I don’t think you should lie about it. But if he is just doing it because of pressure from the government, then it is a different matter. Some private business simply want deniability, and I have no problem with giving them that.

Edenic Blessing and Cursing

I have a couple translation/theology questions unrelated to your recent writings on Blog & Mablog.

In a recent Bible Project podcast, they discussed the blessing and cursing that took place in the garden of Eden. I had never noticed this before, but they pointed out that after the fruit was eaten, there was no curse of the man or woman; only the ground (Gen. 3:17) and the snake were cursed (Gen. 3:14). At least, the word “curse” is not used explicitly for the man or woman. It seems to me like they were cursed in several ways, not least of which was to die, as Paul affirms in 1 Cor. 15:22.

They went on to discuss the translation of Gen 3:16, especially the first half of the verse. In most English translations, it says something to the effect of “childbirth is going to hurt a lot.” The KJV translation (“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”) is closest to what they discussed on the podcast as the best translation of the Hebrew. They explained that the Hebrew words have more to do with frustrations in conceiving, implying that the whole process of having kids (relationships, pregnancy, child-bearing) is going to be challenging. This is similar to how the ground will be fruitful for Adam, but will also be full of thorns and thistles, and he’ll have to struggle through it.

I have a few questions from this:

1) Is it correct to say that the human race was not cursed? It sure seems like it’s implied, if not stated directly in other words.

2) Where do you stand on the “curse” of Gen. 3:16? Is this specific to labor pains, or is it correct to view it as the whole process of child-rearing? This seems clearer if I only had the KJV, but the other translations muddy the waters for me.

3) On a related note…would labor have been painless without the fall?

Thanks!

PS – I enjoy the “Doug Reacts” videos, and I am eagerly anticipating you doing a long-form interview with Joe Rogan or Jordan Peterson…or both!

Tim

Tim, I think it is best not to rely too much on what specific words are absent from Genesis. We are not told in Genesis that the serpent was Satan either, but there are multiple places in the New Testament where that identification is made. You mentioned 1 Cor. 15:22, but there is also this: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). Giving birth is still a great blessing, just as it is a great blessing to bring a harvest in from the field, but many sorrows attend it. That is the nature of the curse. The serpent was cursed to certain things, just as the man and woman were. Difficulty in their respective vocational callings was part of it, but the central part of the curse (taking all of Scripture into account) was our enslavement to sin. Apart from the fall, I think childbirth would have been challenging and strenuous, but not agonistic.

Broader Horizons Needed

I attend a fundamentalist university in the south, and one thing I have noticed often is that many good, young men here don’t have a real direction in their lives, beyond that of marriage. Finding a wife and raising a family is their ultimate goal, and there are really no career plans or life plans to speak of otherwise. Meanwhile, many of the girls are just the opposite, and have dreams about jobs and careers and “doing things”. Of course this is not true in every case but seems to be a growing pattern. This seems opposite of how it should be. Do you think this is healthy, and do men need a mission in life beyond marriage?

Josh

Josh, I think you are correct that this is happening, and I believe that it is profoundly unhealthy. And I believe the correction needs to be doctrinal—the church must recover a Kuyperian understanding of eschatology, vocation, and scriptural sex roles. Like yesterday.

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-BJ-
-BJ-
6 months ago

To those young men who are concerned about having someone they can share their feelings and express their concerns since they should avoid doing so with their girlfriends or potential girlfriends, this is why you need a tribe. The easiest path is Dad, Pastor, or male Mentor. They will care enough about you, ideally, to tell you the truth and help you navigate it in a masculine way.

Zeph .
Zeph .
5 months ago
Reply to  -BJ-

Unfortunately, Dad is not in the picture for many of these young men. One piece of advice i would give is not to spend too much time gaming. Don’t stay at home too much. Join Toastmasters, It will help your pulic speaking skills.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
5 months ago
Reply to  -BJ-

Young women have always had these networks but they seem equally prone to over-spilling if not outright trauma dumping on first dates. In vain are they counseled by women’s magazines to appear confident, sane, and even a bit mysterious. They still appear to think that “I’ve always had social anxiety” is a statement men find so alluring as to lead to a second date. If I were to add to Doug’s excellent advice, I would tell young men not to cry in front of young women in whom they are interested. Young men in California cry a lot. No matter… Read more »

Zeph .
Zeph .
5 months ago

Nathan, Look up When Fathers Ruled, by Ozment Harvard University Press. There are a lot of Luther quotes on family.

Nathan
Nathan
5 months ago
Reply to  Zeph .

Thanks.

JohnM
JohnM
5 months ago

Josh, I agree, what you describe is the opposite of how it should be. I’m a little surprised women in a fundamentalist university have dreams about jobs and careers rather than dreams of home and family, but just a little surprised. We know where they’re getting that, but we might hope someone in a fundamentalist school would have a counter-influence. The real question is, where do young Christian men get the notion finding a wife and raising a family ought to be their primary, if not singular, goal, to the exclusion of any other direction in life? Is it not… Read more »

Arwen B
Arwen B
5 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

I wonder if it’s something in the way of an over-correction from the “Men never want to commit” thing that was going on concurrent with (as a consequence of?) the whole “hippy-free-love-we-don’t-need-a-piece-of-paper-to-prove-our-commmitment” thing.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
5 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

“I’m a little surprised women in a fundamentalist university have dreams about jobs and careers rather than dreams of home and family”

If the impulse to do the opposite weren’t a common problem, God wouldn’t have had to command us explicitly to get married and have families.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
5 months ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Not trying to be contentious but asking as a confused Catholic: how does that fit with St. Paul? I know that St. Paul phrases this as his personal opinion, but would he express an opinion that directly contradicts God’s explicit command? The Catholic church even today says that consecrated virginity for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God is objectively superior to the married state. It’s still dogma that celibacy is preferable to the married state and should be preferred if it is within the soul’s “capacity and disposition.” I had thought that the Catholic church was moving toward… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
5 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

An excellent and interesting question Jill. In reality, if you’re looking for an explanation of the history of such views in evangelicals through the ages, there has got to be at least a dozen other people on the board more qualified than I am to answer. Abstract principles and reasoning are more my bailiwick than tracking official church positions and explanations. As an aside, those kinds of factual details are usually my achilles heel, which is why you’ll see me in an argument stick to criticizing the structure of the argument rather than the material details, which most of the… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
5 months ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin, what Paul makes explicit here is that he is *not* saying ” get married” as a command. The thing prohibited is not celibacy but rather immorality. The thing commanded is not getting married, per se, and having families, but rather, confine sex to monogamous marriage.

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
5 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

Indeed. I don’t like the “superior” language. I think it is clear that the ability to live a celibate life is a gift, and we should take Paul’s instructions about gifts in the body to heart. The eye should not despise or think itself superior to the feet any more than the celibate should think themselves superior to the married. Both are needed in the kingdom. However, it’s pretty clear to me that, partly in response to a culture that devalues marriage and childbearing, the evangelical church has made early marriage and fecundity a “superior” state to celibacy. And there… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
5 months ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

I agree demos, but we’re speaking in the context of a Catholic asking the question. That gives a certain tint to the connotations. As protestants, our pastors are not only able to marry, but are encouraged to do so. Why? If its simply under the broad assumption that they probably don’t have the gift of celibacy, why not make that gift a precondition for serving as a pastor? I agree completely with the eye and foot comparison, but in the context of answering a Catholic it doesn’t really get to the heart of the issue. The answer a Catholic would… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
5 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

Justin, what Paul makes explicit here is that he is *not* saying ” get married” as a command. The thing prohibited is not celibacy but rather immorality.”

I’m afraid that’s not how grammar works. The explanation of it being to avoid sexual immorality is a clarifying clause. “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state” is not part of the law, its explaining the need for the law.

That’s just not an accurate reading of the text.

JohnM
JohnM
5 months ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

What Paul says plainly is “But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.” (NKJV) There is no clarifying clause that changes “not as a commandment” to “as a commandment”. As I read vv. 3-5 and think about it, Paul’s point in v. 2 may be as much “if you are married don’t deprive one another and thus produce temptation” as it is “better to marry than to fall into immorality”. Either way, nobody is commanded to marry, and celibate singleness, whether for life, or until a later rather than sooner marriage, is an acceptable option for anyone… Read more »

Ken B
Ken B
5 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

He goes on in view of the current [or impending] distress to recommend against marriage. Worldly troubles would be spared, but if this requires too much self-control, then marriage would be no sin.
Delaying it depending on circumstances is not necessarily wrong.

Zeph .
Zeph .
5 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

That book that I recommended, When Fathers Ruled by Ozment addresses this.