Jack covered some DP Monahan’s Godliness is not attractive? post in his Comparing Carnal Chads and Churchian Cucks, but I want to dig deeper on the main misconceptions.
Christian Red Pill bloggers like Aaron Renn insist (against the claims of Evangelical preachers) that godliness does not attract women. Women, instead, are attracted to power, what we call “alpha” attributes, i.e. size, strength, status, confidence, money. In fact, godliness is unattractive. Godliness is “beta”. Women will settle for “betas” because they are good providers, but will secretly despise them. Women pick alphas for sex and then settle for betas to take care of the alpha’s bastard kids. Therefore men have to be taught not only how to be godly but also how to be alphas.
I understand what they are getting at – we do observe these kinds of behavior and the examples he gives of what passes for Evangelical marriage advise are ridiculous – but I think the model for understanding the behavior is flawed. From a theological perspective it can’t be the way God intended human nature to work; since status is purely relative, by definition not all men can be high-status. There will always be inequality of alpha traits. But since God wills that the great majority of men marry, it cannot be the case that God makes a condition for being married the display of these traits.
This is a fundamental misunderstanding that he would understand if he had read my post on A Christian understanding of attraction and the role it plays in marriage Part 3.
Essentially, attractive traits — PSALMs (power, status, athleticism, looks, money) and masculinity — or however you classify them are a subset of the main aspect which God created to be attractive to women: Dominion. This is directly related to the commands God gives to man from Genesis 1 and 2. Analysis of these verses are handled in the attraction link above.
To use the example of status, Monahan is correct that not every man can have high status. However, status is only one indicator of relative dominion within a group or from group to other group. Not every man needs to have mainly status either. He can have relative dominion over other areas of PSALMs + masculinity.
For example, not every girl is interested in the high school or college quarterback or sports athletes (though most of them are). Even within “nerdy” video game or D&D or anime collectives, there are women who are groupies toward men there. These latter groups have virtually no status within a school or university hierarchy, but they have their own sub-group hierarchies and the people within those groups have their own non-status attractive traits.
While display of many of these traits are not needed, there usually is at least one or couple of aspects of dominion that men need to display to be in relationship or married. Pretty women sometimes go for the ugly rich man or fat celebrity. However, let us also not forget the quintessential example of the 40 year old obese man-child living in his parents’ basement playing video games. When you display virtually no dominion subtraits — sexual attraction — like the video-game-basement-obese-man, no woman is going to want to marry you.
A man who is generally excellent in all he does (e.g. “do everything you do for the glory of God”) naturally develops PSALMs and masculinity by being excellent at his job, learning to be discipled and discipling others (good socially, learning how to follow and lead, etc.), cultivates physical fitness, etc.
The alpha / beta dichotomy is basically a Nietzschean one in which the ubermench takes what he wants while the ordinary people huddle in fear of social scorn. It is not a vision of an orderly society but of a fundamentally disordered one. It is also based on evolutionary psychology which tends towards just-so stories: an evolutionary explanation of how the alpha got his game is analogous to a wives’ tale of how the cat got his tale, tending towards tautology and generally free of evidence. (To be fair, Renn himself makes these same criticisms.)
Most Christian Red Pill types are Protestants which means they labor under a distorted view of human nature: in classical Protestant doctrine human nature is totally corrupted by original sin, so a Protestant can imagine a world in which the natural order is a Nietzschean one while the divine law is something completely different.
Catholics don’t always have a consistent view of nature and grace, but in general they do not see human nature as totally corrupted by sin, but as weakened while retaining its inherent goodness. Catholics don’t typically speak of godliness but of virtue, which is the development of the good capacities inherent in human nature. There is no set of good Christian “beta” virtues on one side, and human “alpha” virtues on the other. Rather both are sets of human virtues which work together, and which are perfected and elevated by the infusion of the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
This too is another common misunderstanding, and to be fair, there is probably a large component of the ‘sphere which also misunderstands this.
Consider the “ideal man” so to speak for a Christian woman. This is the Brad Pitt / Chris Adams / Chris Hemworth type that ticks all of attractive dominion related traits of PSALM and masculinity, but also has all of the virtues as well. Christian, faithful, kind, good with kids, humble, etc.
In other words, these traits are not mutually exclusive to each other.
The reason why it’s a common misunderstanding is that many men have observed the “bad boys” getting the girls where they display the PSALM traits and then assume that women are only attracted to the combination of PSALM and masculinity with evil. Likewise, they see the Church producing Christian nice guys who are not attractive but supposedly exuding all of the virtues. Hence, they believe that these things are mutually exclusive to each other. However, they are not.
As I have stated before, the reciprocal rule is another reason why this misunderstanding persists. If the populations you look at for understanding women are only promiscuous women then you are going to get the wrong impression that all women act like prosmiscuous women. The majority of women who desire relationships will also value the virtues that we have mentioned above.
Monahan’s unification falls a bit short which we’ll explore in the next part.
God does not expect all men to be powerful in the hierarchies of the world, but he does expect all men to be virtuous. He also expects men to exercise authority according to their state in life. For most men, that means exercising authority over their families and property. So the virtues of manhood should be those virtues ordered to the exercise of authority: prudence, courage and creativity in the face of opposition, obedience to higher authorities, integrity, accountability, and the ability to take counsel. (I am sure there are others, these are the ones that occur to me).
Virtue understood as the perfection of a good potential is attractive because there is nothing else a person can possibly be attracted to except for virtue. Problems arise when a person is attracted to lesser virtues instead of higher, or is so enamored of one virtue that they ignore vices in other areas, something that happens all the time. This is probably not a simple matter of nature but also of social conditions: our society encourages young people to start fornicating in the second half of their teens and marry ten to fifteen years later, which means we are habituating them to judge members of the opposite sex and themselves in terms of what makes for a good fornicator and not a good spouse, hurting their marriage prospects later in life.
I suppose someone like Renn would accuse me of imposing a theological framework on reality, when reality is completely different. Just like the Evangelical pastors I want virtue to be attractive because of my theoretical commitments. Fair enough.
Monahan is close here but makes a classic blunder confusing cause and effect.
Again, if the virtue itself is attractive, let me know when the Christian women are flocking to marry the virtuous Church janitor.
A pastor and janitor can be equally as virtuous. Heck, some janitors can be more virtuous as we see with tons of pastors and priests with massive sex or money scandals. Yet, women still want to marry the leaders and not the janitors.
No one who reads these two posts can tell me with a straight face that virtue itself is attractive. Virtue is good and definitely something that both Christian men and women want in a mate (again, they are not exclusive), but virtue is not attractive except in the context of dominion in the form of PSALMs + masculinity or other categorizations.
- Women are attracted to dominion and the relative sub-classification of that (PSALMs + masculinity) as that’s how God created them to be in Genesis 1 and 2.
- God wants us to be virtuous because He is good. Virtuous behavior over time leads to life and positive reinforcement cycles (e.g. Proverbs on wisdom and doing good). Not because virtue is attractive.
The main reason people can get confused is that:
- Virtuous actions can sometimes be attractive (e.g. running into a burning building to save someone, pastor giving a sermon, worship leader leading worship),
- But not all attraction is virtuous (e.g. bad boys using their attractiveness for promiscuity), and
- Not all virtuousness is attractive (e.g. virtuous janitor vs pastor).
As I stated before men that seek to be “excellent in all things” God has for them generally develop both attractive traits and virtues. But this does not mean that attractive traits cause virtue or virtue makes things attractive. They are two separate things because they were created differently by God.
Additionally, to hammer home the point on general leadership being attractive. Not every man can be a Bible study leader for the Church, but every man can be a Bible study leader for his girlfriend or wife. Not only does this fulfill God’s role for men in Ephesians 5 on helping sanctify his wife, but he is also leading which is attractive and being virtuous doing it.