This is the last post in a series I’ve called “Blogging Dobson” – (1) – (2) – (3) – (4) – (5) – (6) – (7) – on some comments in the Dobson book “Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives”. I pull out some “interesting statements” which illustrate the fallacy that these kinds of ministries perpetrate of being “godly” or “family-affirming”.
In this final post detailing the final section of interest in “Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives”, Dobson addresses the issue of emotions and feelings. What he writes is very relevant given the current gynocentric culture. The perspective the current culture gives feelings is evident in the opposition to post #6 of the series. Dobson writes on this current perspective (1, 2):
It is likely that what you feel, right or wrong, is a powerful force in determining your behavior day by day. Emotional experience in the Western world has become the primary motivation of values and actions and even spiritual beliefs. Furthermore (and this is the point), we are living in a day when we are being encouraged to release our emotions . . . to grant them even greater power in ruling our destinies. We are told, “If it feels good, do it!”
The reader of this series might be surprised, but I agree with Dobson 100% on this (and the other sections in this post). He is right on track that given the gynocentric (and hedonistic) focus in culture, that feelings and emotions have come to rule over facts, values, actions, and spiritual beliefs. The general drive of discontentment that most women feel is based on the assessment of emotion as more valuable than fact, faith, or reason. This attitude, unfortunately, is so pervasive that most people now are immune to seeing this, and are indeed following it out and pushing back when anyone pushes against it. The Feminine Imperative has taken hold.
The emphasis has gone from whether something is factually true or right, or produces the proper results, or is spiritually effectual, to whether the practice feels right or wrong. This is the predominant reason why most preachers do not effectually preach Scripture. The emphasis is not on getting out the message of God present in Scripture, but on using Scripture for a veneer of spirituality in a message that is fully calculated on sending people away feeling good about themselves (or as the Churchians would say, “meeting their felt needs”). This produces a different message, which only pushes people into their own personal Jesuses and gives them cover to deny their sin before an objective and absolute God.
Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:5-6)
This drive on feelings over substance has contributed to much of the sin problem that is present in churches and wider society as well. While the view of true love warns of dangers and is concerned for the dangers people are in, the rebuking of others for their sin is considered taboo. While it doesn’t feel good to have to deal with anyone regarding anything they do that is destructive, the prideful person who is the target of such things tends to reject it because it doesn’t feel good to them.
This drive for feelings over faith has also driven the preaching of the Gospel. A gospel based around that personal Jesus has been derived in order to push them away from any hurt feelings. Hearing that you’re a depraved wicked sinner who deserves to be cast into hell and the only hope is to throw away all your own ways and thoughts and even your life and follow after Jesus, as well as hearing about any sin you are doing just doesn’t feel good. It feels terrible. But it’s loving and right to be concerned about the welfare of others, especially before the Lord. Most people wouldn’t question arranging an intervention for a drug-addicted person. It shows a lack of faith and even aids a sinner in the Church when the Christian sees sin and is silent.
The perspective of holding feelings over substance has even made it into marriages. Dobson writes (1, 2):
Most love songs, in fact, make it clear that a commitment to one another is based on the excitement the couple shares. Thus, when the thrill evaporates, so does the relationship. By contrast, the greatest piece of literature ever written on the subject of love, the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, includes not a single reference to feelings: (He quotes 1 Cor 13:4-5, TLB)
The unfortunate part of Dobson’s assessment is that his teachings have contributed to the predominance of Marriage 2.0 within Churchianity, and in exactly this way. The wife’s feelings, thoughts, desires, and whims are not only held as important as fact, faith, and reason. The wife’s feelings have come to rule the marriage, to the point that she is treated as deity. Dobson’s heretical teachings that the imperative of the husband is to make his wife happy by being unconditionally responsive to her feelings by submitting to her, and to make his wife feel loved (as opposed to loving his wife) has contributed greatly to the destruction of marriage we are seeing today. Dobson writes (2):
I have no desire to return our culture to the formality of yesterday, when father was a marble statue and mother couldn’t smile because her corset was too tight. But if our grandparents represented one extreme of emotional repression, today’s Americans have become temperamental yo-yos at the other. We live and breathe by the vicissitudes of our feelings, and for many, the depression of the “lows” is significantly more prevalent than the elation of the “highs.” Reason is now dominated by feelings, rather than the reverse, as God intended. (Galatians 5:22, TLB quoted)
I don’t know how accurate Dobson’s assessment is of the generations prior to him. However, he is right in his final assessment. Reason is consistently discarded in favor of feelings. As it goes with marriage, what is being demanded of husbands now in Churchianity and the Marriage 2.0 paradigm is completely impossible. Given what has been written, Dobson should have known better.
Feelings are a part of the human existence, and part of maturation is learning to deal with them by putting them in the proper perspective. There is no way to make a person feel happy, or feel anything. Feelings and emotions are solely up to the person having them to control. The person involved needs to be able to see these things for what they are and then evaluate them based on fact, faith, and reason.
Now where the issue of feelings come into the topic of marriage can be where a husband can function as a check against the wife’s feelings (it seems this is a vital component of a husband “mastering” his wife). Given the gynocentric culture and the demands of women, feelings can most certainly be given undue relevancy or importance in the face of the prevailing objective evidence. Dobson started the chapter, entitled “A Man and His Emotions” with several stories of where emotion clouds good wisdom and judgment. Dobson started the paragraph I pulled the text from the first quote with these two sentences (1):
Let me personalize the issue at hand. What imaginary fears are you supporting with contrived evidence? What role do rampant, uncontrolled emotions play in your life?
A husband, or other men in general rejecting any of a woman’s feelings as invalid, irrelevant, or unsubstantiated to the case at hand given objective evidence can most certainly cause a woman to be upset and up in arms. Given the power that women have gotten in society today (along with men following after the feelings bandwagon), the destructive results of giving feelings primacy over objective evidence and reason are all around us.
Takeaways from doing this:
1. I don’t know how well this experiment has ended up working out. But it was interesting to go through some older material and see what the teachings on marriage were. This is what drew me to the book in the first place as blogging material. That said.
2. It’s interesting how clearly the common Marriage 2.0 doctrine we talk about today on these blogs was expressed in 1980. I have to wonder if these doctrines were such clever deceptions that no one has protested against them until the manosphere got hold of them? It makes me wonder, since the church has so widely and completely accepted the materials of Focus On The Family to be as much gospel as the Scriptures when it comes to marriage and family. Or was there others out there protesting against these doctrines long before we came along?
(1) “Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives” by Dr. James C. Dobson p 185. (2) ibid page 186.