Russell and Duenes

Archive for August 2009

Radical on a university campus

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During what season of life are young women and men around each other most? It has to be the college years. And yet it seems to me that these have become the years when consciously pursuing marriage or actually getting married has been ridiculed and shunned by large swaths of our American populace. I was reflecting on my previous post, The Case for Early Marriage, and thinking that a significant hindrance to younger marriage among Christians would be parachurch ministries on university campuses. Now, these ministries are certain to be very diverse across our nation, and my experience is very limited (and probably very Californian, as opposed to, say, Mississippian). But even my limited experience tells me that if a young person gets involved with a parachurch ministry on campus (of the Campus Crusade for Christ or Intervarsity varieties), such a ministry is likely not going to be a major factor in helping young co-eds move towards marriage. It’s not why they exist. They exist to help students “get radical for Jesus” on campus. Trust me, there is nothing wrong with such desires for radical and single-minded devotion to Christ and His mission in this world. But a 53 year-old is called to radical obedience as much as a 19 year-old. So I’m not sure why seeking marriage would be ruled out by “radical-ness.” Why should we assume that the campus years are years are to be spent “doing ministry” and avoiding preparation for marriage? I’m not saying that your local University Christian Fellowship chapter should turn into some kind of matchmaking service, churning out married couples as its main activity. But again, my own experience suggests that the ethos of parachurch ministries, by and large, is one that reflects the prevailing notion that marriage is something for “later,” something to do once you’ve left campus and gotten your life together in an established career.

The difficulty is that when our young college student does finally graduate, he or she enters a work world that consumes most of his time and energy, makes her very transient, and leaves him with many fewer opportunities to meet prospective spouses than he had while on campus. This is not to say that people can’t find each other after college – over ninety percent of Americans will eventually marry – but I have to think that much of the rise of internet dating services and frustration with church “singles groups” has to do with the kind of social dislocation and isolation that happens once undergrads leave college. We may today ridicule the woman who goes to college to get her MRS degree, but frankly, once she’s out and working, she is often much more “on here own” in trying to find a suitable mate than were her forebears.

No doubt I’m leaving out a lot of things, but I remember a young co-ed friend of mine remarking to me and some of my male buddies in college: “We thought you all wanted to be like Paul (i.e., single).” Ah, no! But the ethos of our parachurch group was such that it was no mystery why she thought this. Many parachurch ministries don’t have a large enough vision for life and ministry in this world to be serious about promoting and fostering marriages among their members (or they may simply pawn it off to “the local church.”). They are thinking about the campus, and rightly so, but they seem not to think that the campus might be better won by Christians who are ordering their lives around some different trajectories than their fellow collegians. College life has become, in large part, another program for prolonging adolesence, and as such, has fueled the problem of later marriage. I don’t gather that parachurch ministries are helping to stem the tide. Indeed, they might find the notion that they should do so laughable.



Written by Michael Duenes

August 30, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

The case for early marriage

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Over the years I’ve strongly advocated that people, especially Christians, should be marrying at a younger age (early twenties, if possible). I’ve also tried to encourage those like myself who are already married to encourage these younger marriage ages and to lend vital support to the sustenance and viability of such marriages. Virtually nothing is clearer to me than the fact that God never intended for us to put our sex drives on hold for a decade or more after our initial sexual flowering. We put young people into a deadly bind when we tell them simultaneously to “wait for marriage” and also to “remain sexually pure” well into their twenties and thirties. The reality is, people are not remaining sexually pure, and it’s obvious why. Sorry, but taking cold showers doesn’t work when people go through puberty at about age 14 and don’t get married, and thus are barred from having sex, until they are 26. It’s not happening. God did not intend it.

I did not come to this position by listening to some forceful advocate for it. It has struck me as true from the plain teachings of Scripture. So imagine my surprise and joy when I came across Mark Regnerus’ incredibly articulate case for early marriage. Not only does he form the argument far better than I ever could, but he addresses five common objections to early marriage, namely:

1) Economic insecurity of younger people

2) Immaturity associated with younger people

3) Finding a poor match at such a young age

4) The possibility of younger folks “marrying for sex” (An idea he is more lukewarm about than I)

5) Unrealistic expectations that younger people have about marriage

Regnerus successfully drives home the truth that the fight for abstinence among the unmarried will always be a losing battle as long as we follow the cultural directives about delaying marriage, and make no mistake, we’ve been following such directives lock, stock and barrel. Christians, particularly Christian parents, must begin to think Christianly about marriage once again. They must foster a culture in their children’s lives that will allow for the proper maturity and readiness for marriage in the early twenties. Yes, God is sovereign in these matters, but in His sovereignty he has designed most people to get married, and to do so before their sex drive has been in overdrive for ten years or more. Dr. Regnerus concludes:

Romantic relationship formation is what I study. I’ve spoken with hundreds of young adults about not only what they think or hope for, but also what they actually do. Time and again, I’ve listened to Christian undergraduates recount to me how their relationships turned sexual. One thing I never ask them is why. I know why. Because sex feels great, it feels connectional, it feels deeply human. I never blame them for wanting that. Sex is intended to deepen personal relationships, and desire for it is intended to promote marriage. Such are the impulses of many young Christians in love. In an environment where parents and peers are encouraging them to delay thoughts of marriage, I’m not surprised that their sexuality remains difficult to suppress and the source of considerable angst. We would do well to recognize some of these relationships for what they are: marriages in the making. If a young couple displays maturity, faith, fidelity, a commitment to understanding marriage as a covenant, and a sense of realism about marriage, then it’s our duty—indeed, our pleasure—to help them expedite the part of marriage that involves public recognition and celebration of what God is already knitting together. We ought to “rejoice and delight” in them, and praise their love (Song of Sol. 1:4).

I strongly commend the entire piece for your consideration.


Written by Michael Duenes

August 27, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

Pete Rose still banned from baseball after twenty years

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Twenty years ago this week, all-time major league hits leader, Pete Rose, was banned for life from baseball. Readers of this page may not know it, but we’re huge sports fans, so we thought we’d give our take on Mr. Rose for our latest podcast. Listen here.

R & D

Written by Michael Duenes

August 24, 2009 at 3:07 am

Posted in Podcasts

exalted along with all your name

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King David declared to God, “I will bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your lovingkindness and your truth; for you have exalted your word together with all your name (Ps.138:2).” John Calvin, likely in response to such Scriptural declarations, said in the Epistle Dedicatory to his commentary on Romans,

Such veneration we ought indeed to entertain for the Word of God, that we ought not to pervert it in the least degree by varying expositions; for its majesty is diminished, I know not how much, especially when not expounded with great discretion and with great sobriety. And if it be deemed a great wickedness to contaminate any thing that is dedicated to God, he surely cannot be endured, who, with impure, or even with unprepared hands, will handle that very thing, which of all things is the most sacred on earth. It is therefore an audacity, closely allied to a sacrilege, rashly to turn Scripture in any way we please, and to indulge our fancies as in sport; which has been done by many in former times (English Translation, Grand Rapids, 1947, p. 27).

If Calvin felt this way in the 16th century, one can hardly imagine how he would have regarded our age, for we do not really hold that the Bible is “of all things the most sacred on earth.” In this we are at odds with God himself. Too many are caught up fighting the non-existent “bibliolatry” bogeyman while God himself tells us to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within us.” As a Bible teacher, I shuddered a bit as I read Calvin’s thought. I am often mindful of God’s admonition that “not many of you should become teachers, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” But it is not hard for me to call to mind the countless instances when I have “rashly” handled the Scripture with an unprepared mind and heart, indulging my fancies. It is a sober and solemn task to take up God’s word and teach it to others. I pray that God will bring home to my heart the true force of Calvin’s (and David’s) words, and not mine only, but all true teachers of his word.


Written by Michael Duenes

August 20, 2009 at 3:44 am

Is my Baby a Possession or do I Possess “it?”

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Reality star Kourtney Kardashian and her boyfriend recently found out that Kardashian was pregnant. I found Kardashian’s thought process regarding “keeping” the baby or aborting the baby hard to wrap my mind around. Though, for now, she has decided to keep the baby, it seemed to have been quite a struggle to come to this decision. Kardashian said: “For me, all the reasons why I wouldn’t keep the baby were so selfish: It wasn’t like I was raped, it’s not like I’m 16. I’m 30 years old, I make my own money, I support myself, I can afford to have a baby. And I am with someone who I love, and have been with for a long time.” What this statement clearly says is that Kardashian, and most likely many other women in her position, consider legitimate reasons for ending a life to be: age of the mother and/or lack of money, support and love. I wonder how many young mothers of toddlers would agree that age appropriateness should be a factor in whether their toddlers should remain alive. Or how many poor people, depressed people and those with relationship problems would feel right about terminating the life of their teenage son or daughter because of their current financial or relational states. Why is Kardashian’s reasoning, or lack thereof, not unlike millions of women around the world? It seems to be due to a horrific view of what children really are to them: possessions.

Let’s replace a few key words in Kardashian’s statement and see where they take us. “For me, all the reasons why I wouldn’t keep the SPORTS CAR were so selfish: It wasn’t like I was FORCED INTO BUYING IT, it’s not like I’m 16. I’m 30 years old, I make my own money, I support myself, I can afford to have a SPORTS CAR. And I am with someone who I love, and have been with for a long time.”

I am troubled…


Written by Michael Duenes

August 19, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Russell