October 31, 2008

Understanding Personality Typology: Function Dominance (part IV)

Ok, first take a deep breath. This round isn't going to be as rigorous as the last two, so just relax. I know I'm going over a lot. A major point for this series is to have something for me to reference in later posts, so I'm trying to get everything out there. Besides, this is the last post explaining how the system works, so just enjoy and take your time. The fifth post might take me a little longer anyway.
Well, at least that's what I thought when I originally wrote this. I recently had my wife review this post, to see if there was anything I needed to improve. Well, there was. She got very lost. She advices to anyone who may read this post, please review the former posts before reading this one. There isn't a lot of new content, but it does pull together what was spoken about before.
As I mentioned before you have a Perceiving Function and a Judging Function. However, both functions don't operate with the same level of significance. One function dominates over the other.

Actually, to be a little more accurate, everyone has four functions, a intuitive, a sensing, a thinking, and a feeling function. The two functions mentioned in your profile are your two strongest, and, in fact, are the one's which are really influential in your personality. I won't even mention the lesser two in the next post. The various strengths, and what this means towards your health as an individual, is what this post is going to be about.

The Function Hierarchy

Everyone has four functions, and, in each person, these functions are as follows:

  1. Dominant: Very simply, this function is the one that has the most effect on your personality. It is what is easiest for you to do, and it is what you enjoy doing the most. It guides your whole personality, so to speak.
  2. Auxiliary: The word 'auxiliary' means "giving support or aid". The auxiliary function is what backs up your dominant function, helping your personality to be balanced and healthy.
  3. Tertiary: The word 'tertiary' literally means "third". Not very technical. This is simply the third thing that you are good at. It often rounds out your personality in latter years (See here).
  4. Shadow: This is what you are the least proficient at. Often you just don't get people that are dominant with your shadow function. However, often if one goes through something traumatic, one might loose all trust in one's dominant function, and begin to rely on one's shadow instead. However, one is usually terrible at it and it comes out in a perverted form. See link for examples.

Determining Dominance

Up until this point, we've learned how to interpret your profile using the Lifestyle scale. The Lifestyle scale tells you which function is extroverted and which function is introverted. However, we have yet to look into the Attitude scale. Now we shall.

Very simply, the Attitude scale tells you which function is your dominant function: your introverted function or your extroverted function. As an example, let's take my personality profile: ENTP. The P tells us that my Perceiving function, iNtuition, is extroverted. So I am extroverted iNtuitive. This leaves my other function, Thinking to be introverted, and thus introverted Thinking. The E then tells us that it is my extroverted function that dominant, leaving the introverted function being auxiliary. So my dominant function is Ne and my auxiliary function is Ti. Hmmm... let's see if I can make that simpler.

Take out a sheet of paper and write out Dom. and Aux like this:

Dom: __ Aux: __

We're looking at ENTP. The E tells us that the extroverted function is the dominant. So put a little 'e' after the Dom, and a little 'i' after the Aux, like so:

Dom: _e Aux: _i

Now look at the Lifestyle scale. That tells us which function is going to be extroverted. In this case, the P tells us it is the Perceiving Function, which is the N. So put an N in front of the 'e', like so:

Dom: Ne Aux: _i

So, we've used the E, the N, and the P. That just leaves the T, which naturally goes in the last spot. So we have:

Dom: Ne Aux: Ti

Ok, so do you have that?

Now, there are also the two other, less influential, functions: the tertiary and the shadow. To know what these are, we start by figuring at the shadow. Just remember what you are worst at is the opposite of what you are best at. Therefore, your shadow is the exact opposite of your dominant. Likewise, your tertiary the opposite of your auxiliary. Therefore, since my dominant is Ne, and the op piste of iNtuitive is Sensing, and the opposite of Extroversion is Introversion, then my shadow is Si. And since my auxiliary is Ti, and the opposite of Thinking is Feeling, then my tertiary is F (tertiary doesn't get a direction. Basically, it is so irrelevant, no one's been able to tell if it has a direction. A moment of silence for all of the tertiary functions). So, if you would add this to the chart above, with Tert for tertiary, and Shd for Shadow, you would first fill in the Shd with the opposite of the Dom, so Si.

Dom: Ne Aux: Ti Tert: _ Shd: Si

And then fill in the Tert with the opposite of the Aux, minus the direction.

Dom: Ne Aux: Ti Tert: F Shd: Si

Ok, now, let's do an exercise. I'm going to list off five personality profiles and, if you want, you can figure out what is dominant, auxiliary, tertiary and shadow, complete with direction. It'll be fun! At least, I find it fun...... Anyway, the answers are to the left of each profile in the background color, so just highlight it to see the answer.

ISFJ Dom: Si Aux: Fe Tert: T Shd: Ne
ESTJ Dom: Te Aux: Si Tert: N Shd: Fi
INTP Dom: Ti Aux: Ne Tert: S Shd: Fe
ESFP Dom: Se Aux: Fi Tert: T Shd: Ni
INFJ Dom: Ni Aux: Fe Tert: T Shd: Se

Seeking A Healthy Personality

As far as personal health is concerned, it is all about balancing your dominant and auxiliary functions. In an unhealthy personality the dominant rules over the auxiliary, forcing it to support its inclinations. However, in a healthy personality, the auxiliary function is used to keep the dominant function in check: to make sure it does go to far.

For instance, let's take an ENTP (yup, me again. I know it best). The Dominant is Ne, which means that the person is constantly seeing great ideas of what to do around them, and constantly wanting to see those ideas expressed. The Auxiliary is Ti, which means that a person is maintain a consistant inner world of thought and order. In an unhealthy personality, the person will only use their Ti to try and bring their ideas into fruition, or to develop them. However, in a healthy personality, the person will use their Ti to determine whether or not they are living up to their responsibilities, and actually achieving things in the real world by these ideas.

Another example. Let's take an ESFJ. The Dominant here is Fe, which means that the person will primarily want to help, support, and better the people around them. The Auxiliary is Si, which means the person has a deep repository of personal memories through which they understand their place in the world. An unhealthy personality will use their deep memory of experiences only to support and amplify their opinions about the people around them and what's best for them, often holding insurmountable grudges. However, a healthy personality would use their memory as a check on their own sense of morality, and judging the concrete effects of their actions.

Therefore, it is good to think about what your auxiliary function is, so that you can learn how to keep yourself in check, and watch for exaggerations.

October 29, 2008

Funny Video

Regardless of whether you agree with this guy's politics, you have to admit that this is funny:

Understanding Personality Typology: Functions with Attitudes (part III)

Quick Review

This is where we move beyond the basics and begin to appreciate how these scales interact with each other. Let us first review the difference between introversion and extroversion. Introversion refers to directing one's energies toward oneself: understanding or shaping one's inner world. Extroversion refers to directing one's energies toward the world around you: understanding or shaping your surrounding world.

Also, let us remember that there are two scales which are called functions: the Perceiving Function and the Judging Function. I have also stated that the point of the Myers-Briggs description is not to identify your personality, but to explain how your personality functions. As one may surmise from this, it is the functions which are the central aspect of understanding this: your Perceiving Function explaining how you come to understand things, and your Judging Functions explaining how you shape things.

Directing Functions

I have said before that everybody has some introversion and some extroversion. Well, to be more specific, every person as an introverted function and an extroverted function. In other words, you have two functions, and one is directed toward the world around you, while the other is directed internally toward yourself. Which one is which is determined by the scale called Lifestyle. Lifestyle points to which function is focused externally.

Therefore, someone with P uses their Perceiving Function to understand/experience the world around them while using their Judging Function to determine their self-worth and then change what needs changing about themselves. Meanwhile, someone with J uses their Judging Function to improve the world around them and determine how the world is, while they use their Perceiving Function to accumulate data and understand their place in everything.

Let's take an example: ENTP. The Lifestyle in this personality profile is a P for Perceiving. Therefore the person is extrovertedly intuitive. That also means that the other function is introverted, so the person is introvertedly thinking. Now let us consider the opposite: ISFJ. Here, the lifestyle is a J for Judging. Therefore, the person is extroverted feeling, while introvertedly sensing. Simple?

I might also add that a function pointed internally is very different than one pointed externally, even if they are the same letter. Because of this, one's function isn't referred to by the letter on their profile, but instead is represented by that letter with an 'i' or 'e' subscript. For instance, someone with the ESTJ personality's Perceiving Function would not be S, but Se. Meanwhile someone with the ESTP personality's Perceiving Function would be Si.

The rest of this post will be comparing each function with its extroverted/introverted counterpart.

There is one personality trait that I won't mention below because it will be true throughout. What a person tends to be articulate about is that which pertains to their extroverted function. For instance, I am an Ne and a Ti. I am very good and explaining my views about the world to people, but I am terrible at explaining my reasons for those views.

  • Extroverted Sensing (Se): Extroverted Sensing means that the primary way one interacts with the world around them, and understands that world, is through taking in concrete data through one's senses. The result is that the person tends to desire to experience the world around them. Often they will experience things just for the sake of experiencing them.
    Extroverted Sensing also understand the world around them in the now. It is the present sense that represents reality. What they currently experience is what the world is. How they understand the world can shift dramatically from moment to moment, because the world is contained within the moment. Because of this, they also have the tendency to be spontaneous in the things they would like to do.

  • Introverted Sensing (Si): Introverted Sensing means that the primary way one appreciates and understands themselves is through reflecting on the concrete data they have stored in the past. The result is that the person has a vast repository of personal memories. These memories haven't necessarily been analyzed, but they are catalogued nonetheless.
    They therefore have a deep reliance on past personal experience. Their understanding of self is grounded in what has occurred to them in the past, and what they have done. These people have a very strong sense of the way things are, and are rather inflexible on that, being shocked whenever something goes against their former experiences. When something new happens, it is compared to what has happened before.


  • Extroverted Intuitive (Ne): Extroverted Intuitive means that the primary way one understands the world around them is by assessing the purposes and connections of the world around them. The result is that Nes are on a constant quest to understand the world around them. This may be compared Ses who are constantly trying to experience their world.
    Also like Ses, Nes are very "now" focused, constantly acting on their current idea of understanding of the world. They have a trust of flashes of ideas through which they either investigate, or comment on, or interact with the world around them. Indeed, whenever one gains new data, it is introduced to the framework, and new ideas immediately begin to explode from one's mind based off of these connections. The Ne then desires to immediately act on these new ideas, making them seem like they are often jumping from one thing to another.

  • Introverted Intuitive (Ni): Introverted Intuitive means that the primary way one appreciates and understands themselves is through developing an internal framework of understanding. The result is that complex internal network of thought, through which they seek consistency. Thus, when new data is encountered, the Ni seeks to make it consistent with the framework they have already developed.
    Like the Si, they have fantastic memory, and have a deep reliance on what has gone on before. Unlike the Si, they rely not on experiences, but on their understanding of those experiences. The Ni is more likely to catalogue the lesson learned than the event itself. Because of this, when they gain new data, it is compared to the overall framework. If it is inconsistent with it, it is rejected as false; if it is consistent, then it is entered. If it is inconsistent but known to be true, the the Ni has the very difficult task of attempting to reorganize their inner framework to compensate.


  • Extroverted Thinking (Te): Extroverted Thinking means that the primary way that you interact with the world around you is by assessing how the world measures up against your principles, and attempt to correct it where it errs. The result is someone who attempts to the make the world around them work. One sees the world by way of structures and systems, and attempts to make these structures and systems function as orderly as possible.
    Extroverted Thinking also has a strong concept for rules and laws, and expect such rules to be obeyed. When they are not, a Te is not afraid to enforce them. To them, rules and laws are not there to make the world happy, but to keep the world in order. Without them, society will crumble. Indeed, the stability of society, or just the world in general, is of extraordinary concern.

  • Introverted Thinking (Ti): Introverted Thinking means that the primary way one deals with one's self is to compare one's self to an established set of logical principle, and then attempt to calibrate one's self accordingly. The result is one who is constantly attempting to improve oneself. It is not a matter of making one a more moral person, but making one a more capable and worthy person. They are also concerned with doing the proper thing: that which will bring the most success to one's self, friends, and family.
    A Ti also strongly trusts his/her one way of reasoning. They won't except something as true unless it makes sense to them in a objectively logical way. They also don't care so much about whether the world around them is logical. They are more concerned with whether or not they are, so that they can respond to the world in a proper way. An inability to express their thoughts clearly may result in their conclusion sounding like absolute truths, though in reality, the Ti is very willing to rethink things.


  • Extroverted Feeling (Fe): Extroverted Feeling means that the way in which one primarily interacts with the world around them is by assessing how well the world measures up to one's morals, and then attempt to conform the world to a better way of living. The result is, like the Te, a Fe tries to make the world a better place to live in. Unlike the Te, the Fe's world is made up of people: of individuals, and how those individuals interact with one another. Therefore, they try to improve, or create, the relationships of the people in their lives.
    Extroverted Feeling also has a strong sense of social justice. When other's go against the very basic morals of society, the Extroverted Feeling is very quick to seek justice in the situation. Now this doesn't mean the Extroverted Thinking is not concerned with justice. The difference, is that the the Te sees justice as a means of maintaining order in a greater system, while the Fe is more concerned to see justice in particular circumstances. Te wants to see a decrease in murder, Fe wants to provent what happened to recently departed Timmy from happening to anyone else.

  • Introverted Feeling (Fi): Introverted Feeling means that the primary way one deals with one's self is to compare one's self to an established set of morals, and then attempt to match one's actions and thoughts in line with those. The result is someone who is very aware of their guilt and goodness. They are trying to be a good person. They are also concerned about doing the right thing: the good and moral deed, regardless of consequences. They only consequences they do care about is whether or not they hurt the people around them.
    A Fi also trusts their sense of goodness and righteousness. They can't except something as proper for them to do until they have determined the rightness of it in their mind (or as they would say, their heart). They can't proceed until they feel settled about it, or at least not willingly.

Source: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/understanding-mbti-type-dynamics/the-eight-function-attitudes.asp

October 27, 2008

Understanding Personality Typology: The Basics (part II)

We are now going to start looking at the actual system of Myers-Briggs. When you take the Myers-Briggs, what you get back is what is known as your personality profile. When you see your personality profile, what you will see is four seemingly random letters. What are these letters? How specific are they? Is everything really so black and white? Since when did intuitive start with an N? These are the questions that we shall be dealing with in this post.

The Four Scales

The personality types work by identifying where one is positioned on four separate scales, sometimes called dichotomies or preferences. They are:
  1. Attitude: Extrovert (E) or Introvert (I)
  2. Perceiving Function: Sensing (S) or Intuitive (N)
  3. Judging Function: Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  4. Lifestyle: Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

These are actually scales, and are not simple black and white options. Everyone has a little bit of everything in them. For instance, in the attitude scale, everyone has both and extroverted side and an introverted side, but everyone also prefers one over the other. This is why these are sometimes called preferences.

It is also important to note that these are not completely separate traits. These are an integrated profile of your personality. These 4 letters interact uniquely to generate 16 substantially different personality types. The differences are not just in the scales, but how these preferences affect one another.

For this post though, I am just going to go through the four scales, and each of the 8 preferences, and provide a very rudimentary understanding. If you notice, for each preference I mention both a definition and tendency. The reason for this is that, though they are not separate traits, they can be treated as such for surface level use. But these are merely based on tendencies, not what the actually scales indicate. The definition will be what I will be interacting with in later posts as we consider typology on a deeper level.

Extroversion (E)

Definition: Extroversion doesn't mean you like to hang out with people a lot, though that is often the case. Rather it refers to where you direct your energy the easiest. For an extrovert, it is easiest for them to direct their energy outside of themselves by interacting with the world. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

Tendencies: Like I said above, it is often the case that extroverts like to hang out with people. Because it is easiest to devote one's energy outside of one's self, an extrovert often finds the activity relaxing, or exciting. Being around stimuli often gives them energy, as if they pick it up from the atmosphere. Therefore, extroverts do tend to like parties. They often are talkers, preferring to get their thoughts "out there" as if their brains could not contain them. It might seem as if the purpose of learning something, to them, is simply to explain it to someone else. They also tend to be doing. Being idle is actually more of a chore than chores sometimes. They easily become restless if left alone for too long with nothing to do.

Personally, I am an extrovert. However, I do not go to a lot of parties or even have that many friends. However, I am most certainly a talker, and will teach you on any topic you ask about. Sometimes, I might even be knowledgeable on it. I can't seem to help myself. I actually learn by talking, by having my thoughts exposed, challenged, and corrected.

Introversion (I)

Definition: Introverts are not necessarily quiet people. Being an introvert means that it is easiest for one to direct one's energies inward. Introverts possess a vast private world in which they spend the majority of their energy.

Tendencies: Introverts tend to be reflective people. Though many are not quiet at all, they do tend to take an inactive role in the world around them, preferring to be more of an observer. They prefer to think before they speak, and often surprise the people around them with their insight. They are deliberate people, often taking a great deal of time to make a decision. To rush an introvert often results in delaying their decision. They often need to have time alone to rest, since outside stimuli can be incredibly draining.

My wife is an example of an introvert. Her favorite hours are spent at home curled up around a good book. Though she often enjoys social gatherings, she definitely needs a rest after them. One of the most frustrating things though, is that I often am ready to make a decision, and she needs to go to a different room for a while to think it over, but I have had to learn to respect it. It is not that I am more decisive than she is, but that she needs to go into the other room to think about it rather than interacting with me. Leaving the conversation, to me, is leaving the matter undone, while for her, continuing the conversion is impeding her ability to think about it.

Sensing (S)

Definition: The Perceiving Functions are the way in which, you guessed it, you perceive things. More specifically, they are the ways in which your personality takes in information, and the process through which it selects what to store.

Sensing Types primarily take in new information through their 5 senses. They are uncannily sensitive to their environment. Additionally, they prefer concrete information over the abstract, since they can often understand by extension of their senses. Their memories are often sensory focused, remembering experiences over ideas.

Tendencies: Sensing Types are often very down-to-earth people. Not only do they prefer concrete information, but they also tend to be more concerned about their immediate environment. Their home is just as, if not more, important than what's going in the greater world. They tend to be skilled with their hands and often other kinds of tactile activities. They understand things better if they are able to form a picture in their minds, or maybe relate it to a sensation. Despite this, they have a tendency to be overly literal with things, and thus, not always very good with metaphor.

My wife is a very apt example of a Sensing Type. Often you will find her laughing at a metaphor, because she can actually picture it in her mind. She has an awe-inspiring experiential memory: for instance remembering the color of something she wore from early in her childhood, while I sometimes forget what I'm wearing at the moment. She has a passion for walks where she can take in her environment, and just enjoy the sounds of the birds or the smells of the flowers.

Intuitive (N)

Definition: First of all, the reason for the N is that the I was already used. Sorry, I promised I would answer that. With that out of the way, I would like to start by saying that intuitives are the hardest preference to describe. Intuitives possess a subconscious framework of ideas. When taking in information, that information is immediately assessed for value and then situated somewhere within that framework. This assessment sometimes happens on the conscience level, but is also often subconscious. They prefer abstract information. Information is then cataloged based upon importance or meaning.

Tendencies: Intuitives are amazing innovators. Because each idea is attached to a basic framework, this means that no idea is completely in isolation. Additionally, this subconscious framework is constantly being readjusted, meaning that they are forming conclusions about things, and forming relationships between things on a subconscious level (hence the name intuitive). Because of this, they appear to be able to make remarkably accurate leaps of logic that they often do not understand, or at least cannot explain. In reality, the reasoning was merely subconscious. This also means that they tend to be very forward thinking. They can easily see the potential in things, since they understand things based upon their purpose, rather than their existence.

I am a strong Intuitive Type. One of the most frustrating things about it is when someone asks you to explain where you got your information from. The reference isn't remembered, just the info. Another fun thing to deal with is when people try to spare you the trouble of analyzing things. Hint: if you tell an intuitive person not to worry about analyzing something, but to just remember it, they will look at you like you have two heads. It actually takes more effort to memorize than it does to analyze. Intuitives are driven by the concepts of "why" and "what if".

Thinking (T)

Definition: The Judging Functions denotes the style of logic one uses to make decisions and the standards by which those decisions are judged. The difference between Thinking Types and Feeling Types is not that one is logical and the other illogical. They both use different kinds of logic. Let me restate that, they use different kinds of logic. One bit of interesting trivia: 75% of men in the world are Thinking Types, and 75% of women in the world are Feeling Types. What's more interesting is most (but not all) of masculine/feminine stereotypes comes from the fact of this stat.

Thinking Types use objective formal logic to make decisions in life. By objective, I mean that Thinking Types necessarily believe that in order to get a proper perspective on a situation, one needs to remove oneself from a situation as much as possible to assess it. Indeed, when Thinking Types stop believing this, they become illogical. By formal, I mean they use mathematical/scientific types of logical rules to come to their conclusions. This is the style of logic that you learn in school. Thinking Types judge their decisions, and the decisions of others, based off of principle standards, often referred to as truths.

Tendencies: Thinking Types are often mis-characterized as uncaring. Instead, Thinking Types are usually thinking of big picture issues, and are concerned with long-reaching results. For instance, if someone is sad, the Thinking Type will do what they can to help them. However, making them happy may not be what the Thinking Type believes the person needs ;). They are concerned with the result, and often believe that the ends justify the means. When considering an option, often the first question a Thinking Type will ask is, "will it work?" If someone disagrees with them, they will usually consider that person dumb, self-deceived, or irrational.

I am a Thinking Type, though for a Thinking Type, I have a good understanding of Feeling Types. However, I often offend even when I am doing my utmost to be sensitive, understanding, and qualifying of my statements. In fact, I seem to offend people deeper than most Thinking Types. Currently, the theory of my wife and I is that because I can sometimes "turn it off", I'm expected to know better. However, I am still a Thinking Type, and it takes a lot of effort to "turn it off". Often, Thinking Types are very caring individuals that just don't understand why people are getting upset at us. One thing I believe, based off of experience, is that fewer Thinking Types expect Feeling Types to behave like them than the other way around. Not that they don't get frustrated when Feeling Types do something they deem as "illogical".

Feeling (F)

Definition: A Feeling Type is not an emotional person. A Thinking Type can be just as emotional. Instead, think of a Feeling Type as someone who uses subjective social logic to make decisions. By subjective, I mean that Feeling Types necessarily believe that in order to get a proper perspective on a situation, one must put oneself within it. They believe in "putting oneself in another's shoes." Indeed, when Feeling Types stop believing this, they become illogical. That's right boys, that's what will make them illogical. Don't try to fix them.

To explain social logic, I might have to break down to you what the basic meaning of logic is. Logic is a system of rules that are applied to certain premises (in these cases, that would be the standards) that, when applied accurately, result in consistent conclusions. When I say that Feeling Types use social logic, what I mean is that they apply a system of social rules to come to their conclusions. And these are rules that are consistent, and often more complicated then the ones used by Thinking Types.

Feeling Types then judge their decisions, and the decisions of others, over against certain moral standards.

Tendencies: Feeling Types often come off as empathic, as if they can tell what other people are feeling. However, what is actually going on is that Feeling Types are usually very aware of the various social rules around them, and are quick to pick up the implications of a person's body language or tone. They also seem to have more categories of feelings than Thinking Types. Though they do often make emotional decisions, they mostly try to make decisions based on either social implications or what they believe constitute the general consensus among moral people. They are concerned with the righteousness, and often believe that the means justify the ends. (Think of super heroes who risk the fate of the whole world because they are unwilling to do the "wrong" thing in that moment) If someone disagrees with them, they will often see that person as immoral, insensitive, or cruel.

My wife is a great example of a Feeling Type. She is very aware of the people around her, and is constantly concerned about the people in her social circle. She is very quick to comfort someone, and is powerfully loyal.

Judging (J)

Definition: The Lifestyles explain which of the two above functions is directed at the external world. In other words, do you interact with the world by observing it, or do you interact with the world by making decisions about it.

Judging Types interact with the world by making decisions about it. Because of this, they are concerned with putting their world in order, which manifests itself in many ways. They do this by assessing the world around them, and then using their logic to change what needs changing.

Tendencies: Judging Types like order and structure in their lives. They tend to be very decisive, and become agitated if things are left open. They are very satisfied with a finished project, often taking great pride in the mere act of completion.

My wife is the Judging personality in my home. There are certain things that need to be done a certain way, and she has a very clear sense of what she wants her home to be like. However, the biggest place where this shows up is in her relationships. Her friends and family are her world, and her idea is putting the world is order is ensure that those she loves are happy and taken care of.

Perceiving (P)

Definition: Perceiving Types interact with the world by observing it. They are drawn to either understand or experience the world around them to the best of their ability.

Tendencies: Perceiving Types do not understand the word completion. Things aren't done, they are merely acceptable for the time being. Indeed, Perceiving Types often care more about a thing being started then they do about it being finished. It was the idea or the experience of it that mattered. Also, Perceiving Types tend to be rather indecisive, because they are never done collecting data. If a Perceiving Type says to wait on a decision until all of the data is in, do not let that person determine what constitutes as "all of the data". There is never enough data.

This is what I scored the most extreme on. Indeed, when I try to explain "percieving types" to my friends and family, how they respond is to say, "so someone like you." Oh, do I have ideas. And do I love to start them. I also have this obsessive compulsive need to understand everything. After all, this is what drove me to theology. I have a need to understand the reality around me, so I pursue the Ultimate Reality, and there is no greater joy that I have than knowing that there will always be more to learn about Him.

October 25, 2008

Understanding Personality Typology: Introduction (part I)

In this blog, you may have noticed me mention something along the lines of personality types. What exactly are they? Are they similar to those things you took in high school saying what animal or color you are? Not really. They are a little more official than that.

A Brief History

In psychology there is a major question about personality: are our personalities based on nature (how we are when we are born) or nurture (the events in our lives). Most today say a bit of both, but at the time of Carl Jung, most were saying nurture. Jung boldly argued the case for nature, but not in the sense of many before him. Instead, he argued that we are all born with a personality type: a manner in which our personality behaves. These types do not really define who you are, but instead describes the way that personalities function. He argued that your basic personality type already exists when you are born. He identified each type by a set of three letter indicated scales.

Now, I'm not saying that I am a huge fan of Jung. Though I like what he started in this area, much of what is said is fairly outdated now. But two women took his basic idea of personality types, and developed a means of both studying them and identifying them based off of Jung original ideas. Katherine Briggs and her married daughter Isabel Myers developed a sorter to determine one's personality type, as well as conducted research which upheld some of Jung's ideas, while disagreeing with others. This is known as the Myers-Briggs-Type-Indicator, because all of the fun names were taken.

Myers and Briggs would do several things with this overall theory, including adding a fourth scale, and discussing how these scales interact with each other and the idea of function dominance (I'll explain what that is later in the series. For now, just know that it's cool)

A Short Theological Reflection

My belief as far of the nature of these types is different than Jung, who saw them as products of evolution. Instead, I see them as provisions by Almighty God, who crafted each of us by hand. These types represent gifts to each of us, for each has purpose and power. Each brings a balance to society, without which we would not have progressed as we have.

One of the basic biblical concepts is that no man/woman is an island. We are co-dependant upon each other. Indeed, I believe that the individualism of American society is one of the great weaknesses of our culture. Because each scale represents a need in human life, and because each person is not perfectly balanced in all scales, which would actually be unhealthy, we therefore have a built in need to rely upon each other, and build each other up.

Indeed, many of the social problems that we have are based on insisting that our way is better than everyone else's. We misunderstand each other, and assume that we all motivated by the same kinds of basic mental/spiritual framework. But if we are built differently, and if the builder knew what He was doing, then we can be sure that these differences have purpose, and learn to submit to one another, as taught in Ephesians 5:21.

Therefore, I ask you join me as I go through and describe to the best of my ability what these personality types are. This shall be a five part series. The next part shall be a simple description of the four scales, followed by discussion of function pairs, then a discussion of function dominance, and finally a list of the actual personality types. This is describing things as I understand them. Please remember that I have not been trained in this (though I hope to be), and much of what I say is open to error. I will attempt to the best of my ability to keep this light hearted and fun. So please, enjoy.

October 22, 2008

Is Romans 8:29-30 an Ordo Salutis?

There are some who insist that Romans 8:29-30 represents a Calvinist ordo salutis. This question was brought to me by one of the members of SEA, who was wrestling with this text because of how some Calvinists had presented it to him. Well, what is an ordo salutis? It literally translates as ‘order of salvation’ and refers to the process which a person goes through as the turn from being condemned to being saved. Now what the Calvinist claims is that the order proposed by Romans 8 fits Calvinism better than Arminianism. Is this true?

No, and I can give a few reasons:

What’s So Calvinist About It?

Here is the proposed order
  1. We were foreknown by God
  2. We were predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son
  3. We were called
  4. We were justified
  5. We were glorified

Now how is this necessarily Calvinist? All Arminians believe that our predestination unto salvaton is conditioned upon faith which was foreknown by God. Therefore, according to the Arminian order of things, God foreknew our faith, then He predestined us unto salvation, and then the other things could come in really any order. Therefore, what is the point of quoting this as a Calvinist text?

But Is This Even an Ordo Salutis?

It is important to note what the text says, and what it doesn't say. An ordo salutis reading sees the text like this:

Romans 8:29-30 For whom He foreknew, He then predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, He then called; and whom He called, He then justified; and whom He justified, He then glorified.

But that's not was the text says. Instead it says:

Romans 8:29-30 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

All the text says is that the one's whom God did such and such to, He also did these things. For instance, I could say that I married my wife, and she whom I married, I also love, and she who I love, I am also devoted to. Now does this language imply that I married her, and then loved her, and then devoted myself to her? I don't really think so. And yet, that's the eisegesis that these Calvinists are pushing onto Romans 8:29-30. It represents a conceptual order, not a chronological order.

Furthermore, there is nothing in the context that suggests that Paul was concerned with an ordo salutis. Paul's point is that God does good things for us, and this is a list of those good things. Also, the list doesn't have a cause and effect flow to it, which is typical for an ordo salutis. How does being called flow naturally out of being predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son? How does justification flow out of calling? There are clearly some steps missing. The most glaring is faith. Where is faith? Isn't Paul's whole argument in the book justification by faith? If that's the case, why would he leave it out while describing the order of salvation.

The ordo salutis interpretation brings up more questions than answers, and doesn't seem to be based on the text at all but instead out of concern. It is more that it sounds like an ordo salutis because it is a list of soteriological events, and since some want an answer to the ordo salutis question, they made this text answer it. It's the overall problem of forcing the Scriptures to answer the questions that we are asking, rather than prioritizing our questions based off of the Scriptures' concerns.

Consider the thought process. Having been challenged with the theological idea of an ordo salutis, one begins to search the Scripture for where one is listed. In Romans one finds a list of soteriological events. Then, without analysizing the context or considering the actual language and list, the person concludes "I have found what I was looking for," and that is the problem. You will always find what you are looking for. This is why it is so important to base our questions on what the text says, rather than coming to the text, demanding it answer our questions.

October 21, 2008

By Logic or by Evidence

Every single person is convinced by logic and evidence, but each person is convinced by one more than the other. Here is the basic question: which is more important for discerning truth or fiction: logic or evidence?

Personality Types

I'm big on the Myers-Briggs personality typology. It is tremendously helped me understand the people around me. One of the personality functions is the Perceiving function, of which there are two kinds: Intuitive and Sensing. The Perceiving function has to do with the way your personality takes in new information and concepts and then stores it.

Sensing types take in information through their senses, i.e. touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste. Because this is the primary way they take in information, the kind of information that they generally take in is concrete. They tend to have a better head for details, and have a photographic memory. They also tend to have a static view of the world. They are more concerned about what is, then what could be, or even will be.

Intuitive types take in information by reasoning. They remember things based on its importance or purpose. Often they have a conceptual framework in their mind, through which they decipher the usefulness of data, and only take that bit in. This means that the kind of information they take in is abstract. They are more likely to remember things like stories, concepts, and relationships (such as a cause and effect relationship). They tend to have a very dynamic view of the world. Viewing things in terms of purpose and relationship, they are quick to figure out how to use various things in new ways, or even whether a structure has real value.

My point in bringing this up is that Sensing types tend to be more convinced by evidence, which Intuitive types tend to be more convinced by logic. If you think about it, this makes sense. A sensing type has a very concrete way of looking at things. Evidence represents what is tangible, and thus, to them, reliable. An intuitive type is going to be more trusting of logic, because it places things in perspective, and stresses the importance of something over its mere presence.

But Which Is Best

I think it is clear that I am going to say both. This is because both evidence and logic reflect the reality of something, but in different ways. Also, the use of one without the balance of the other can easily be manipulated.

The flaw of using logic without evidence is obvious. Evidence is, after all, derived from the physical world. There is a clear sense of reality that evidence brings with it. No matter how pretty and powerfully a point is argued, it doesn't mean anything if it contradicts the tangible reality around us. I can make a brilliant logic as to why the sky must be red, but it only take a casual observation to point out that it isn't.

This is one reason why postmodern and liberal ideas do not have a lot to stand on. Because we have no objective demonstrable access to God, the only means of discerning information about Him is through revelation. When God's revelation of Himself is discredited, or treated as merely a perspective, we loose the only source of evidence there is, and then anything can be said about God.

However, the use of evidence without logic is equally flawed. Logic is what gives something importance or relevance. Without a well crafted, and reasoned logic, there isn't any guarantee that the evidence provided actually has anything to do with the discussion, let alone that it actually makes the other position's point.

This is why many are not convinced by proof-texting. Often people quote a Bible verse, expecting the other person to merely relent because the Scripture has been spoken, and are shocked when the other person asks for silly things like context, and exegetical interpretation. This is because evidence without good logic is meaningless.

A classic example is what is known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc or the logical fallacy of correlation implying causation. For instance, it was noted that ice cream sales correlated with heat stroke. Therefore it was suggested ice cream causes heat stroke. While one can quote statistics to back this up, simple logic shows that they both have a common cause, rather than that one causes the other.

Another is what is known as "argument by verbosity" where one quotes a myriad of facts, without linking those facts together, or aptly demonstrating the facts as having to do with the subject. For more see machine gun hermeneutic.

My point in all this is think about what you say, and make sure your arguments are backed by both logic and evidence. Think, don't just regurgitate what someone once told you.

October 20, 2008

Kyle's meditation

Kyle has just put up a truly marvelous post that I think many of us should pay attention to. He simply calls it mediation but there is a true beauty in what he says here that reminds me of the ancient devotions. Sometimes, especially on these blogs, we get so caught up in the theology that we lose track of the true devotion: devotion to His presence. After all, isn't that the goal of the whole thing? Communion with God? It is not about who's right about this, and who's right about that. It is about who do you love! Can you feel His presence.

Thank you Kyle for the gentle reminder. :)

October 15, 2008

Wrestling with the Age of the Earth

[DISCLAIMER: many of the alternate positions described here have been reduced fo the sake of treatment. Please do not take my simplification of others' views and a complete description, nor as something which applies to all that espouse such a view.]

Unbeknowest to many, but beknowest to Creationists, within Creationism there are very clearly two parties: Young Earth Creationism (YEC) and Old Earth Creationism (OEC). Now, personally, I'm really neither. I'm more of an I Don't Really Care How Old The Earth Is Creationist (IDRCHOTEIC). I don't use the acronym much.

The primary reason why I am so strongly against Darwinism is that I believe that it undermines the gospel. According to the Word, Jesus Christ came down in the form of a man, died for the propitiation of humanities sin, resurrected on the Third Day, and one day is coming back to judge the quick and the dead. He did this because God wanted to save us from the effects of sin: death. However, because in Darwinism humanity came about through thousands of years of survival, death preexisted humanity, and sin. So death cannot be a result of sin, and Christ died in vain.

Thus, my issue is a theological one, not so much a Scriptural one, though I take Scripture very seriously, believing it to be the infallible revelation of God to humanity, and the highest standard for our understanding of God, ourselves, and existence. I will believe whatever I see Scripture as truly teaching. However, I will be passionate based on the issue's theological significance. I just cannot be passionate about about David using a sling to kill Goliath instead of a sword. When it comes to the age of the earth, though it be an interesting inquiry, it is theologically irrelevant. God is still God no matter how long He took to do what He did. What I am sure of is that God did not bring us into existence through evolution, but that evolution and natural selection are a result of the Fall.

But my environment disallows me from being indifferent. I must look into it. For YEC, the age of the Earth is strictly a Scriptural issue. Science is used to validate what the Scriptures say. I respect this. If what they say about Scripture is true, then I must side with them. However, I don't find the Scripture to be as clear about the issue as I would like. A lack of clarity does not mean that I must reject YEC. I must determine whether the Scripture says that the Earth is young, or whether it does not specify the age of the Earth at all.


Error or Myth

If we consider that Science says that the Earth is old, and Scripture says that the Earth is young, and then conclude that therefore Scripture is incorrect, I must disagree. I accept Scripture as always correct as an a priori.

"Well," one may ask, "what if Genesis one just isn't written in scientific language? After all, what Scripture says is meant to have spiritual meaning, and doesn't really comment on science." I disagree. The dialectic between the physical and the spiritual is a false one. Though, I admit, there is a spiritual side to things and a physical side, these do not, and cannot, oppose each other. They are both aspects of reality, and to say that one can contradict the other is to say that either the spiritual is false (Materialism) or the physical side is false (Gnosticism). Both of these go against the Christian worldview. Scripture talks about reality, and, though it doesn't use the same level of precision that we may demand today, it is far more accurate than any other text today. If Scripture says something about science, and means it as an description as to the way things physically are, we must take that as authoritative as anything else Scripture says.

Let us consider Genesis. The book is a historical book; it is describing what happened. Well shall we consider the first chapter to merely be a poetic introduction into the book? Not really, if we look at the construction of the book. It is structured as a genealogy. That's right, it does not simply contain genealogical sections, but it is a genealogy by structure. At different moments in the genealogy, the author (who I believe to be Moses) tells the life story of one of the members of this line, since this story is to have lasting consequence. One thing that is extraordinarily relevant is that God is part of this genealogy:

When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man." -Genesis 5:1b

If we recognize that God is part of this genealogy, then we must see chapter one as God's story: the story of the first (and most important) member of the genealogy. Now, to some degree, the entire Bible is God's story, as is the entire book of Genesis. But what I mean by that here, is it is the little story focusing on God, as an aspect of the book's structure. Therefore, we must consider Genesis one to be a history, for the book understands itself to be history.

Scientific Eschewal

Well, then there is the opposite approach. If we consider that Science says that the Earth is old, and Scripture says that the Earth is young, and then conclude that Science must be incorrect, then we deny the human ability to understand and postulate. This then brings into question the entire right of humanity to say anything about anything. Science is the pursuit of knowledge, scientia being the Latin word for knowledge. I believe that God intends for us to pursue knowledge and understanding, and we cannot use our theological position to impede honest scientific inquiry. (Nor should Darwinists)

Traditionally, Christianity has always believed there to be two revelations: Specific Revelation (i.e. Scripture) and General Revelation (i.e. Nature). The names mean that the Scriptures are specifically given to the Church, but Nature is given to all. But both are given to humanity to understand God. Thus, I see science as the hermeneutic of General revelation.

Where Science and Theology differ I see as a misinterpretation of either nature or the Scriptures. Where the misinterpretation is must be sought out, and never assumed to be on one side or the other.

Day/Age Theory

The Day/Age Theory is very popular within OEC, so I decided to comment on it, though I won't comment on all OEC interpretations. The Day/Age Theory comes in two forms. One is the idea the the Hebrew word yom or day, can also mean age in some cases. Quite frankly, this is untrue. Yom means day. There do exist certain Hebrew colloquialisms which use the word day to refer to a time period, such as "in the day of" or "in the days of", but that's different than saying that yom can actually mean age.

The form, which I would call as the reasonable form, states that yom is used metaphorically to mean age, much like in the colloquialisms above. Though this is certainly more palatable than the above form, and more Hebraicly aware, I would still say that it is false. First of all, none of the common colloquialisms are used, which doesn't negate the possibility of metaphor, but disallows it to be insisted upon. Secondly, there is the whole issue of "and it was evening and it was morning," which is used before the naming of each day, designating that it is talking about a 24 hour period. Still, one may say, it is metaphor, with the movement from chaos to order. Still, with the consideration of day one though, with the creation of the day and the night, the text is clearly tying yom to the literal concept of day. This doesn't disprove the metaphoric version of the theory, but it leaves it stretched enough to feel forced.


Old Earth

The order that I list these is not grounded importance, or personal leanings, but merely the ease of presenting the material.

When I look at the Hebrew there are two main questions that pop up. One is what is a raqia, often translated as firmament. There are only two ancient sources that use this word, Genesis one and Ezekiel 1:22. However, in both instances, there is little to give us the meaning of the word, it being used as a description, rather than the thing described. There exists nothing outside of the Bible. "Firmament" comes from the LXX. However, you will find that neither of Age of the Earth positions really deals with this question, so let's just lay it aside.

The other one involves two words that are very prominent is Scripture: erets and shamayim. Erets means land, also possessing a large breath of meaning, similar to the English word. It can mean the ground, or dirt; it can mean a stretch of land, it can the territory belonging to a nation; it can refer to the nation itself using metonymy; it can refer to the concept of land, as opposed to water or sky; and it can refer to the whole Earth. Shamayim means the heavens, and can also mean sky, much in the same way we use the world heavens.

The problem comes in the expectation that within a small passage of work, a word usually means the same thing through out, unless specified. To do otherwise either derives from some kind of rhetorical significance, such as a pun, or simply confuses the reader.

Now, Genesis 1:1 reads, in the Hebrew:
Bareshith bara elohim eth ha-shamayim veth ha-arets

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The problem lies in the words erets and shamayim being used elsewhere in the text. In verses 8, 14-15, and 20, shamayim clearly means sky, not the Heaven. Additionally in verses 9-10 and 24, erets clearly means land. If we assume that they always mean the same thing through the text, Genesis 1:1 should read, in the beginning God created the sky and the land.

There is another important factor in the text, namely verse two. It reads

Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness
was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

It seems to me, that verse 1:1 could be a prologue, defining what is about to be described, and that the actual planet existed beforehand. If this is the case, then, Genesis one is not describing creation ex nihilo (though I would definitely say that God created everything out of nothing which is affirmed elsewhere in Scripture), but is instead describing the forming of the earth which before hand was covered in water. Also, that this reforming took 6 literal days.

There is one big problem to this theory, and that is day four. In day four, God creates the sun, the moon, and the stars. I don't think that one could argue that the earth existed before the rest of the cosmos in an OEC way of understanding that. I heard one OEC claim that the day four is describing the clearing away of clouds, but I'm not really buying that. I don't see how that is supported by the language in the text

Young Earth

Unlike OEC, which consists of many different interpretations of Genesis one, YEC is much more monolithic. Though there exists a few different creation models, their similarities are much stronger than their differences. It assumes that Genesis one is creation ex nihilio, though I have yet to see a YEC defend that assumption. Each day is considered a literal day, and Genesis 1:1 is considered God's initial act of creation which occurs before day 1, and more specifically moments before day one.

This takes ample use of the English translations, being the most natural reading of them. I possess two main issues with it. One, I don't believe it is the most natural reading of the Hebrew. It feels overly dependant on the English translations, and since I consider the original language to possess the actual inspiration, I find this questionable. A second thing is that I have not been satisfied with most understandings of what the firmament is. Personally, I believe it to refer to the atmosphere, but even that is a difficult reading of it.


I'm not really saying that one is better than the other. I'm just saying that I'm currently debating the issue within myself. However, I also believe it to be a silly controversy, since the matter is theologically irrelevant. YEC's that are passionate about it are so because they are defending Scripture's integrity. Personally, I see Scripture's integrity as a matter of faith, and it is up to us to abide by it, but up to God to ultimately defend it. OEC's are passionate because they believe admitting to an old Earth is rhetorically necessary to defeat Darwinism. Though I agree with them that it is rhetorically beneficial and that ultimately it is not that important to the Christian perspective, I'm not willing to compromise on something just because it isn't important to me. Where is stand must be based on whether or not it is true, not whether or not it is useful.

October 12, 2008



Fireproof is a new movie that has been put out by the creators of Facing the Giants. For a while now, I've been complaining about the lack of quality that has existed within Christian film. It seems that Sherwood Pictures is trying to change that.

The problem with Christian movies are plentiful, but none of it actually has to do with Christianity.

  1. The problem with film as an art is that it's a business: a common saying in the film industry. One of the issues that plague films is that it is the most expensive form of art to produce, as a general medium that is. You need writers, directors, cameramen, actors, and special effects people to make a movie passable. You need a lot of all of those to make a movie good, and people cost money. On top of that you need to pay for sets, distribution, costumes, and the personnel to make all of that stuff possible. Christian movies, though, aren't out to make money. Because they aren't out to make money, they generally don't. Because they don't, they don't have the resources to make more movies, decent ones anyway. This is beginning to change though, as clean movies are becoming harder and harder to come by.
  2. The problem with film as a business is that it is also an art: Another common saying in the film industry. Art is, basically, expression. You can express a great variety of things: emotions, humor, principals, attitudes, etc... However, fundamentally, you are expressing more so than teaching. Teaching is for documentaries.You see, people do not go to movies to learn. Could they learn? Sure. Can movies teach? Of course. But when all the movie is doing is teaching, people don't pay attention. When you are taking in art by viewing or listening, what you are doing is that you are listening to the hearts of the person or persons that made that art. But you are not listening to them as teacher, necessarily. You are listening to them either for your enjoyment, or inspiration, or, perhaps, to learn. If the movie does not succeed in at least getting the audience to listen, then it will not succeed in its other goals.Christian movies, for the most part, merely attempt to teach, and that's boring. Before a movie can teach, it must earn the audience's ears, and Christian movies have failed to do this, believing that the integrity of their message is sufficient.
  3. The gate is narrow: It takes a lot of talented people to put a good movie together. Music? It takes enough to form a band which is 3 to 5, depending on genre. Books? Three people: one to write it, one to edit, and one to publish. Movies? It takes at least enough to form a full cast, one to direct, another to write, another to operate the camera, lights, sound, and other technical work, one to produce, one to edit, one to distribute, one to design costumes, etc... That's a lot of people. People who are committed enough to the Christian cause to participate for the right motives are very few. Most want, or need, to make more money than Christian movies can offer, for the above reasons. Therefore, Christian movies are drawing from a much smaller pool of talent. Resulting? A peppering of decent acting within the cast, poor dialogue (in my opinion, the hardest thing to produce), awkward shots, below par visuals, and bad marketing, if it gets any real exposure at all. This, of course, means less money which merely exacerbates the problem.

Does Fireproof still has some of these issues? Yes. You are still dealing with less money, a small pool of talent, and a greater concern to teach than to make money or express one's self. However, it is a vast improvement over what I have seen in the past.

  1. I have no idea about this group.
  2. But, they really nail things hear. The recognize that in order to have their message listened to, they need to earn their audience's ears. They have produced real characters and situations, and produced a film that doesn't just teach, but also genuinely entertains. There are many comic relief elements, especially a running gag with Caleb's neighbors and some of the guys at the station. You see realistic growth in Caleb's character that happens in an interesting way.
  3. The actors are clearly unprofessional volunteers (except for Cameron, who was excellent). This was especially true of Caleb's father, though most of the rest were passable. The dialogue felt forced in many scenes as well. In fact, I was impressed with Cameron with certain scenes because he managed to sell the dialogue he had, like when he threatens this one guy in the middle of the movie. However, the technical work was very good, and the direction demonstrated some promising talent. It wasn't quite up to Hollywood's standard's yet, but it is marked with inexperience, which means it is only going to get better. Also, though the dialogue often felt forced, the plot was still drawing. The plot moved in a believable fashion.

I highly recommend this movie. If you are having issues with your marriage, it's principles can help. If you are not having issues with your marriage, it's principles can still help. Also, it is just plain entertaining, and insightful in the kinds of problems that marriages have in our culture.


The Love Dare

The basic concept of the movie is that Caleb and Catherine's marriage in on the rocks. Caleb has been verbally abusive towards Catherine (yet believes that it is Catherine that is the problem), and Catherine has had enough and wants a divorce, which Caleb seems fine with. Caleb's father, in an attempt to save his son, gives him a book called "the Love Dare". The concept is to hold back your divorce 40 days, and act out a different dare each day. After those 40 days, if you and your spouse still wants a divorce, then so be it. Mind you, your spouse isn't aware of this dare.

Each day a different marital concept is introduced, teaching the person what love is really about. By simply acting out the motions of love, the person begins to understand concepts like self-sacrifice, understanding your mate, and one's own destructive tendencies.

Cultural Love Lies

There are a lot of lies in our culture regarding the nature of love and marriage, and the movie interacts with a few of them. Being an American, I have heard these lies often. But being a Christian for 25 years (BTW, I'm 25) I've heard the corrections to these lies just as often.

First lie: the idea that love is an emotion. Because of this, many associate love in the same category as joy, happiness, and other such good feelings. The result is if these feelings are not present, they believe love is dead, or that just because something makes you happy, that you love it.

This isn't true. Love is an attitude that one possesses toward something else. According to Scripture: "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) Do you believe that we made God happy or joyful or delighted while we were sinners? Of course not. Therefore, love is demonstrated exactly when those good feelings are absent. In the film, Micheal, Caleb's friend, says, "Don't be led by your heart. You heart can deceive you. Instead, lead your heart."

Second lie: the classic line "I want to marry her because she makes me happy." OK, that is a terrible reason to marry someone, and is directly tied to the first lie. This is also a worse lie. The result is someone enters a marriage for what they can get into it. It is selfish. Nothing kills a marriage faster than selfishness.

What one should say is "I want to marry her because I want to make her happy." Love is defined by self-sacrifice. To love something is to value it above one's self. Let me repeat that: to love something is to value it above one's own self. If you do not place your spouse's happiness above your own, then you do not love your spouse, and that's a problem. Again, this is seen in the movie, where Caleb sacrifices his addictions and dreams to make his wife happy. Indeed, the biggest sacrifice he makes, he does anonymously. It is self-sacrifice which is the standard for love, like the Word says:

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. -1 John 4:10-11

Third lie: "We're just different people now" is a suitable reason for divorce. I'm sure you've heard the cliche before: marriage is work. Well, it is! Let me explain something: if you fell in love once, you can fall back in love. You are not incompatible now. No one changes that much. What you need is effort, from both of you. This is, of course, also a result of the first lie, because one believes the lack of positive feelings means a loss of love. The truth is, if you reprioritize your spouse, those feelings will return.

Esther and I have been married a year. Yes, that's not a lot of experience. However, in this time, we have put a lot of effort and work in our marriage. When we see each other's flaws, we don't tolerate them for now, or just vent to our friends. We talk them out with each other, and develop strategies for dealing with them. For instance, I have some slacker tendencies. Esther has noticed this. I know she noticed it, because she has pointed them out, not in a nagging manner, but in a way that encourages me to deal with it. She then has sought to understand why they are there, and helps me deal with them by coming up with strategies. It is not that I am lazy; I'm unobservant. Knowing this, she lets me know she understands, but still pushes me to do better. This also happens in the other direction (though I'm not going to mention my wife's vices publicly). And you know what? By solving these problems... we find more! It hasn't gotten easier, but our love is growing deeper, and we are becoming more motivated to get things right.

Lie four: That marriage is a contract that can be abandoned if either party is no considers the contract beneficial. In other words, I get married to achieve certain goals, such as happiness, security, a clean home, etc... and these goals are not being met. Therefore, I would prefer to take my business elsewhere where I believe I have a better opportunity to achieve these goals.

Truth: Marriage is an unconditional covenant overseen by God. Contract is a business idea, and businesses do what is best for business. Covenant is a relational idea, where one establishes a relationship which is defined by certain boundaries. The reason why adultery is considered a reason for divorce (Matt 5:32) is because by committing adultery, your spouse has already absolved the covenant. Indeed, marriage is primarily a sexual relationship; that is its defining feature. Because of the nature of sex, an official social union is necessary to provide emotional security for the participants, not to mention the product. The salt and pepper analogy in the movie demonstrates this fantastically.

This has many ramifications. First of all, the marriage has not failed because you're goals are not being met. That doesn't mean change your goals. It means fight for them, but within the marriage. Second of all, because it is overseen by God, we do not have a right to absolve it. Any absolution is considered sin (Matt 19:6). Adultery is an OK reason because the other person already absolved it, what that person did is still considered sin. Third of all, it is unconditional. If your spouse is not committed to the marriage, you stay committed anyway and fight for them. To do otherwise is to oppose God Himself. He will remain invested in your marriage. And finally, if you do get a divorce, you will be held accountable to it by God. Does God forgive? Yes, but one shouldn't use God's mercy as an excuse for licentiousness.

Fifth, and final lie considered here: "Its your fault this marriage is failing" or "Its all my fault the marriage failed". In my experience, and according to my research, when a relationship fails in the vast majority of cases, both parties are partly to blame (I happened to come upon a recent exception between a friend of mine and his co-worker). This doesn't mean that the responsibility is equal. Definitely not. It may be more your fault, or your spouse's fault, but usually both a partly to blame, which means that both are able to do something to fix the situation.

Let us take Caleb and Catherine. Caleb was mostly to blame: he was a sexist jerk that pushed his wife around, put his own wants before her needs, indulged in pornography, and eventually began to verbally abuse his wife when she wasn't falling in line. All of those things are flat out evil. However, Catherine also acted as an enabler. According to the movie, they've been married for 7 years, and only had been fighting for 1. Which meant for six years she put up with what he was doing. She was probably giving subtle hints and things, but then in the seventh year she stopped tolerating it, and began to blow up at him. So switched from being a gentle patient understanding wife to being a backbiting sarcastic nag. The result: shock on her husband's part, and emotional retaliation. What she should have done was the moment there was a problem, she should have brought it up in a loving and encouraging fashion (this would go for both genders BTW). By not bringing it up sooner, the activities became more ingrained, and by dealing with it they way she did finally, she came off as attacking rather than loving. Mind you, what she did was merely a mistake (bad method, but not a sinful motivation); what he did was sin. Huge difference.

Ironically, the issue is dealt with from Caleb's side more, who constantly blames his wife for all the problems, even though it is really more his fault. And often it is much easier to see our partner's issues than our own. Then, when we go to try and fix the marriage, we try and fix our partner. Here's a big hint: they are only going to change if they want to. You cannot fix your spouse, but you can do a lot more to fix yourself. It is ironic that we are see the problems we can't fix so easily, but ignore the ones that we can fix. In the movie, it is not fixing Catherine that Caleb must do, it is working on himself.

Social Issues

I'm going to mention two, apart from divorce which is really the main point. The first of pornography. In the film, Caleb has a major addiction to pornography. Indeed, Catherine's biggest issue is that pornography. Remember how I said the primary motivation of marriage should be to make the other person happy. Well, remember love is also jealous. Love doesn't just desires the other person's happiness, but it also desires that it is the source. I don't just want Esther happy, I want to be the one that makes her happy. If I'm not, I will be broken. This isn't selfishness; this is a need. If you allow something else to be the source of your happiness than your spouse, you will break your spouse's spirit. Nobody wants to compete for their spouse's affection (again, this is both genders). Catherine's biggest pain was believing that she wasn't enough for him anymore.

But do not confuse righteous jealousy for sinful jealousy. The difference is simple. Sinful jealousy is possessive. Let's say that I think of love Linda, but Linda love Paul. What is my response? If my response is to do all I can to keep her all to my self because I want her and she's mine, that's sin. If we are dealing with true love, the result is a broken heart, rooted in feelings of inadequacy. My response is to believe that I wasn't good enough, that I couldn't make her happy.

This is less so in the dating world than it is in marriage. If the person rejects your advances to date, then you are denied the opportunity to make the person happy. This is sad, but you can get over it. But when you get married, you commit yourself to making this person happy. To be rejected by your spouse means failure, and that is a much deeper sadness, that most never get over.

The other issue that I wanted to bring up was sexism. I read this one review that said that that the main character and the movie hated women. I didn't entirely trust this review since it contradicted all the others I read (all were secular), and was written as if it was half-written before the guy watched the film: as if he were looking to bash the film. After seeing it, I am convinced of it.

Now it is true that the main character didn't respect women. Hate maybe too strong of a word (only maybe), but the movie treats it as a problem. Saying that it made the movie sexist is reminds me of my one friend that thought that Blazing Saddles was racist.

Caleb clearly does not respect his wife, and yet demanded respect from her. His sexist attitude is extremely evident in the beginning of the film. In fact, he also shows disrespect toward his mother, refusing to listen to her for advice, and being extremely rude to her on many occasions (in fact he still is after his conversion to Christ). I am sure that his disrespect toward women comes from the resentment he shows towards his mother in the movie. But through the activities he is forced to do by the dare, he learns to respect his wife, and the last lesson he learns is to extend that respect towards his mother.

There's another argument that one may make though: by showing the man being the one to fix the relationship, doesn't that show that only the man is strong enough to fix a marriage, and the woman is merely the one that needs to be worked on? To that I have two things to say.

First they had to pick one of them. I think either selection could result in this accusation. You pick the man, and some say it says that only the man is strong enough. If you pick the woman, it says that everything is the woman's fault and thus her responsibility. People were going to look for a way to make the movie look sexist.

Second (SPOILER ALERT), actually, this is the only thing you could spoil, and please don't read this last paragraph if you are going to watch the movie: in the end, the father confesses that it wasn't him that used the love dare to save his marriage, it was the mother. This was also when the father dealt with the disrespect that Caleb was showing his mother. He only followed the advice because it was his father's wisdom, but by learning it was his mother's, he realized how much he disrespected her, and ran to her, crying. A very well done scene I might add.


I've only touched on a couple of the things one could reflect on after watching this movie. I strongly recommend you watch. Keep the criticisms in mind so you are not shocked when you see them. Look past the negatives, it is well worth. The movie manages to touch on a lot of issues, truly dealing with the issue of divorce realistically and thoroughly. Also, it'll make you cry and think, which I believe is a great combination. Besides, we need to show Hollywood that America wants these kinds of movies.