Relational archetypes and more insight into the false godliness of complementarianism theology

Started to comment on Jack’s More on Relational archetypes, but the comment was too long so we’ll do it here.

DS disagrees with Rollo’s Cardinal Rule, but I think many relationships do play out this way, and so it needs to be considered. I think DS would agree that if both the man and the wife are aiming to glorify God in a Headship structure, then this competition should become much less of an issue.

I somewhat agree and disagree. I think most of the manosphereian rules also fall somewhat prey to the apex fallacy as well. In accordance with the sexual strategy rule, men who are most attractive will tend to default to a polygamist lifestyle and the women who are most attractive will default to a serial monogamy lifestyle.

Things does not necessarily play out to the stated scenario. In most societies, 90-95% of both men and women will marry. Also, most of the men and women who do want to marry — the “good” men — will marry off taking a bunch which means the women who don’t marry will complain about “where did all the good men go?” Sure, some men may default to polygamy and some women will default to serial monogamy (the most attractive and/or narcissistic ones typically), but I would say most still prefer one relationship/marriage if they could have it.

The current marriage climate is seeing some disruptions to this model, but it seems to be for the most part not actually a large decline in people getting into relationships and only simply marriage itself. Since Christian morality went out the window more people are considering cohabitation in the short or long term instead of getting married. This makes up for the larger disparities in actual marriage.

One thing is the placement of Celibacy on the graph. Celibacy is a unique relational position, because the woman is independent, but she still remains under the authority of her father. I think true celibacy is very rare, because most women are sexually involved with a man at least once in their life, and this upsets the clarity of authority over her head. Secular, independent, adult women who may or may not have been previously married, may not recognize any form of male authority over her, and if this is the case, then although she may not be sexually active, she fails to conform to the Christian archetype of true Celibacy. Older widows or single women whose father has died are special cases of Celibacy, if it can be called such. I have to offer a disclaimer on the details, as there are technicalities which I have not yet worked out in great detail.

Numbers 30 on vows is fairly instructive for how it was in Israel.

Young women were under the authority of their father, married women were under the authority of their husbands, and widows and divorced were independent and responsible. At the very least in the latter part of 1 Corinthians 7 seems to indicate that young women were/are still under the authority of their fathers in the New Covenant. 1 Timothy 5 does tell younger widows to marry because otherwise they became busybodies without a husband.

I don’t think Numbers 30 applies to all cultures or anything like that (e.g. we’re not under the Law and thus not under circumcision nor Numbers 30 vow structures), but they are good principles to understand, especially in light of 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Timothy 5.

It is fairly well known that the wife has much more influence than the husband towards creating happiness in a marriage. (“Defensive” may not be a very good word to describe this, but I am hard pressed to think of a better description.) To understand why this is, one only needs to consider the two dichotomies in the graph.

  • The man only has defacto authority if the woman has a “Thing” for him. Besides the plain fact that there are precious few men who are able to instill the blessed Tingles and/or exert masculine Headship, this status is somewhat unstable and always subject to change (c.f. hypergamy).
  • The woman’s mindset and habits of submission are subject to her own discretion. She can always choose to be disobedient and/or disrespectful.

Here are a couple posts that describe this imbalance in more detail.

Because of this dynamic, it is more accurate to use the husband’s happiness as an indicator of his wife’s spiritual maturity, and less accurate to trust the converse proposition as an indicator of the husband’s worth, as is customary within Churchianity.

I disagree with the premise that women have more influence. A crappy wife or a crappy husband can make the conditions of a marriage miserable both ways. In particular, to the second point that respect and submission are at the behest of a wife, so too are a husband’s headship and love. I do, however, acknowledge there are typically more disrespectful and rebellious wives objectively than lazy and good for nothing husbands. This tendency is more a product of the culture than anything. I’d expect some more of the opposite when patriarchal norms are more accepted at least.

However, the happiness of a spouse should never have dependent on the state of a marriage in the first place. Such is living in step with the Spirit where the disciples can sing joyfully in the prison after they were beaten.

Obviously, God has it right in the fact that He made Biblical marital roles and responsibilities unconditional — the good and godly behavior of a spouse can influence the other toward Christ. The major issue is that we’re often bound by our own timelines, and we wish or hope that change is more immediate which can cause mismatched expectations and covert contracts which sabotage the efficacy of God’s structures.

In the former post, DS said that the dotted male submission line is the same line as the female submission line. I separated these two lines because there is a grey area in real-life relationships, in which there is some degree of mutual submission depending on the issue. This is best exemplified by a Complementarian structure in which the man and wife hold traditional gender roles. The man is an authority in certain areas, such as politics, religious doctrines, and which car to buy, while the woman is an authority in other areas, such as the frequency of church attendance, choosing a school for the children, and how child rearing is to be implemented. In a true Headship, the wife consults her husband on every decision and follows his directive accordingly. She rarely (if ever) insists on having things “her way”, and instead, finds joy in discovering the purposes behind her husband’s directives.

Complementarianism claims that the husband and wife discuss everything and then the husband’s vote is a tie break. What happens in practice is everything is all well and good as long as the husband is making decisions that the wife likes, but when he doesn’t she emotionally manipulates him until she gets her way. Ironically, this is pretty much similar to how things run in egalitarian and most non-feminist but egalitarian relationships and marriages. The only time you have women in charge explicitly is when the woman/wife actually literally says she wears the pants.

On the surface there is the claim that these things are happening, but under the surface they are all the same: disrespect and manipulation tactics are coming a man’s way if he wants something that she disagrees with. That’s why I still think the lines are in the same place. When push comes to shove, the wife is in control or exerts tactics to make sure she gets what she wants.

One aspect I’ve noticed is that the more a husband and wife agree on most everything in the case of complementarianism or other non-feminists structures the more ambiguous it looks to us. However, many of the complementarians will take this as a sign of godliness — “wow, their marriage is so great because they’re in agreement on everything.” If we remember back to CBMW’s definition of headship, their interpretation of Scripture is the husband and wife should agree on everything and if they disagree then the husband gets the tie break.

However, this is not a sign of godliness but just two people getting along well usually by personality and underlying dynamic. When push comes to shove and the husband decides something that his wife doesn’t like, we’ll see how godly she is with her respect and submission. The wives who pass this test of godliness today are definitely in the minority.

Moreover, this incorrect assumption of “godliness by agreement” gives the layperson husband and wives (and even pastors I believe) the wrong impression and makes it much more difficult to have real godliness when there is actually a disagreement. For instance, “we had such a godly marriage until this came up” — no, not really. You agreed with each other a bunch because you have similar personalities and there was no conflict. When conflict came, your real character and ability to honor God was revealed. And it wasn’t pretty.

True headship does not require consulting on every directive because authority is able to be delegated in the Scripture and can be by a husband. For example, if a wife has expertise in a certain area a husband might delegate that to her and also if there are minor decisions like day to day life style he can say I trust your judgment on them.

When people describe marriage as “hard work” or “requiring work”, I like to think they are referring to the daily tasks required to maintain or progress towards a Christ honoring Headship.  This may or may not be the case, depending on the personalities involved, but it needs to be emphasized that when we talk about a Christian marriage, we aren’t just talking about a wedding ceremony and the related legal documents.  No, a Christian marriage is defined/determined by whether it is characterized by Headship — male authority and female submission.  Any other type of relational structure is not a Christian marriage by definition.  Either or both the husband or wife may or may not be Christians, but without Headship, they don’t have a Christian marriage.

I mostly agree with this. I have a friend who is a pastor who has said his marriage is hard work. He also married a pretty head strong woman. I don’t know his exact view, but I’m pretty sure they’re both complemenetarians, and they have a hard time implementing it because of her strong will to want to do things her way. Same with my parents.

This gets sticky when we realize that it is possible for two people to be unbelievers, yet still have a Christ-like relationship. This is true because all humanity remains under the pre-Edenic Covenant.

Yes, the structures of authority that God created at the beginning anyone can benefit from. Hopefully, they are able to recognize that they are in God’s plan and turn to Him, but they still reap many of the benefits of stability and peace from being within it even though they don’t acknowledge Him.

Another way to succinctly describe this “move” from one relationship structure to another is carried in the concepts of redemption and sanctification.  A man’s marriage and family experience redemption when a Headship structure is attained and/or maintained.  This means that God is able to use this marriage and family for His purposes towards holiness, glory, growth, and bearing fruit, rather than it being relegated to a common, real life, sitcom drama filled with self-centered sins of ignorance.

Sanctification is also more likely to occur in Headship.  But this is a little more complicated, because the man, or especially the woman, may not find internal joy and contentment in adopting the Headship structure.  This weakness becomes more pronounced with women who are steeped in the Strong Independent Wimmin™ mindset, and/or who have a sordid sexual history and can no longer bond to a man in marriage.

Agree here as well.

What we can say about the Biblical marital roles and responsibilities is that, like the Christ and the Church, they aim to bring about oneness. The husband heads the marriage with love for the purpose of sanctification and honors his wife and treats her like himself, and the wife submits and respects her husband. Both are required to kill their own ego and be concerned about obeying God and giving their spouse what God says they need.

 

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Summary of evaluating relationship or marital status and plans of action

I think we should explore some of the processes from the Bible and the female life path.

Generally, the trajectory of a relationship or marriage seems to have several components.

The current status of the relationship or marriage:

  • Headship/tingly respect
  • Complementarianism
  • Chivalry
  • Courtly love
  • Allyship
  • Egalitarianism
  • Churchianity
  • Feminism

The past status of the relationship or marriage to now:

  • Headship/tingly respect -> Headship/tingly respect
  • Headship/tingly respect -> others
  • Others -> Headship/tingly respect
  • Others -> Others

Evaluating the good scenarios

Headship -> headship is the one that usually runs like clockwork and never has much issues, if both the husband and wife are fighting their own temptations and trying to be obedient to headship and love as well as respect and submission respectively.

Others -> headship are the ones that are able to be turned around. There’s several examples of this including Dalrock, Cane, and others. Typically, the success of these can be used as a pattern to turn others around into headship.

Dalrock indicates that his was turned around by simple use of game. Whenever his wife tested him instead of DEERing (defending, explaining, rationalizing, or excusing) he either used some “game” (agree and amplify, etc.) or didn’t give it attention. This seemed to rapidly turn around his marriage from his account at least. I’d estimate that they were fairly solidly complementarian (believed in headship) but his behavior was just frustrating his wife a bunch when he didn’t act as a head should. It was a pretty easy turnaround.

Cane is a slightly different story. From his account I believe that he basically had a heart to heart with God in prayer after what he was doing wasn’t working (probably DEERing). Instead, he accepted that being the head was going to make his wife angry sometimes and left that up to God. Act as the head, expect your wife to follow, and don’t try to placate her emotions. By my estimation I expect that this was a bit more difficult than Dalrock’s.

I’m not sure if there are more difficult examples that I know of, but there are more situations I know of that took far longer to turn around from the RP reddit. One of the mods took several years to turn it around.

Evaluating the bad scenarios

In these scenarios, typically it is the sex drying up that motivates most men to investigate their situation further. It’s unfortunate that this is the primary motivator that start to drive them toward change, but at least it helps them understand that they are not in a situation that honors God in obedience with the Bible either on purpose or perhaps inadvertently (usually due to the teaching of churchianity that lines up more with the culture than the Bible).

Headship -> others is typically a scenario where you have the example that a woman was attracted at first because of any number of PSALMs (power, status, athleticism, looks, money) and the man was good to at least decent leader of the marriage. Over time, this is what the secular manosphere typically calls the “lazy or drunk captain” where the man doesn’t lead anymore because he got lazy or is drunk and doesn’t know what he’s doing.

These cases seem to be the most easily turned around if the husband gets fit again and starts leading again. The resistance from the wife typically ranges from none to several months as she may test to see if he’s actually back. This also ranges depending on how ingrained a wife is into leading and/or doing things herself and how much she has bought into the culture assumption that she should be doing this. The more in the latter case the more resistance there is to change back to headship.

Going from an other that is higher on the list such as complementarianism will face much less resistance overall than something like chivalry or feminism. This is to be expected because the greater the inversion of the relationship or marriage, the greater change that has to be had and the more drastic it will feel. In these cases, one would expect the reactions of the wife to be similarly drastic in accusative and negative emotions. This can be quite difficult for men to stand up to, especially ones that had very little to no backbone in the first place.

Others -> Others and the status of others seem to be the most problematic. Typically, these tend to be the cases of egalitarianism prior to the marriage and after (e.g. mutually decide on things but the woman is often the “tie break”) or some type of in chivalry/courtly love or feminist life path where the roles are strictly inverted (e.g. she wears the pants). It also seems to be the case where a woman or wife will be more in the relationship for her own status or financial support rather than because she wants to be with her boyfriend/husband as her attraction to him is nil to little to probably less than moderate.

The most common scenario seems to be when women close to the wall who suddenly stop dating bad boys and totally changes her behavior because she “learned her lesson.” Indeed, she will had let past men do more sexually than the man she is currently with and justify it by the same logic.

Now, these types of relationships have pretty much negative relational inertia and are the most difficult to turn around. A man who want to start acting as the head will encounter staunch resistance typically due to his inexperience with acting as a leader and the incongruent behavior that he exudes. His mission, masculinity, and frame have often taken a back seat, so it’s hard to learn how to do this.

The bull in a china shop can apply to men who try to do too much at once at first, but it’s also usually the case that the woman or wife will typically not like it in either case where he is overdoing it or not. However, this should still be calibrated by the man with other experienced men giving him advice. Men who are in this stage typically DEER a lot which sabotages their ability to lead.

In most of these cases, the biggest gains to be had initially are from physical appearance changes. Going from skinny or fat and obese to muscular, dressing well, good grooming, styling, and smelling good typically brings in a notion of rational fear (e.g. RP term dread) to their woman that is beneficial due to both pre-selection of other women thinking he’s more attractive and the fact that he is getting his life together whereas she could only manipulate him before.

Changing behavior that is ingrained as habits is a slower process that is much more difficult to be quantitative on how it is working in the long run. The best advice I’ve found that works consistently is to focus on putting God first in everything especially in obedience to your own marital roles and responsibilities. Yes, you do want to call out your wife if she’s being disrespectful and disobedience, but acting as the head is much more important because she can only follow (at least eventually) if there is a model to follow. In these cases, you basically have to assume that you’re literally restarting the relationship over again and therefore you must aim to build her trust in the new you especially by not being butthurt if she challenges you or gets in a huff or upset a lot.

In certain cases, of relationships or marriages that have existed and started in an other state for years or decades, it could be several months to years or more before you start to see an adequate turn around. In some cases, a wife might even just leave, so allow the unbeliever to go as it’s more important to obey God rather than placate your wife.


Final thoughts

The vast majority of relationships or marriages seem to fall into generally definable categories that have some common characteristics. Some relationships and marriages are easier to turn around than others, and it is the case that not all relationships or marriages seem to be salvageable (at least by one party) if the other party is dead set on disrespect and rebellion.

One must make their decision to wholeheartedly follow Jesus wherever the path of obedience to God via the Bible may lead. This can definitely cause marital suffering, but it is worth it to obey God.

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The Bible and female life path

Going back to Jack’s chart:

A few personal notes about this chart.

  • The Bible commands either Headship or Celibacy. There is no other. That’s what Biblical marriage is, and that’s where the line is drawn.
  • Complementarianism is the most deceptive for Christians because it is the closest to the Truth, but the lies in it produce the same fruit of the world (e.g. divorce, marital strife, etc.).
  • In practice, the male submission line is the same line as the female submission line. Complementarians ultimately end up with male submission as they make a husband slave to his wife’s feelings. Choreplay being one of the obvious ones, and of course the emphasis on servant-leadership.
  • I’d argue that feminism is pretty much everything under the umbrella of male submission, just the most obvious word. Egalitarian “Christians” come in two groups; the ones that don’t want to be grouped with the feminists and the ones that will admit it. They’re both one and the same, except the ones who don’t want to be grouped with the feminists are just deceiving themselves.
  • To be it’s really crazy in retrospect how chivarly and courtly love have been integrated into Christianity by most of western churches.

The more you move down the chart the further you get away from the Truth, and the more earthly consequences become more dire for both the man, the woman, and relationships and marriage. Good fruit is good fruit, and bad fruit is bad fruit.

It’ll be interesting to see how far the Church ends up deviating from this, and the consequences of that. The more progressive churches are losing members in droves and the conservative ones less but on a similar trend. Will be interesting to see at what point it stabilizes, perhaps like post-Christian Europe?

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God and Moses and who’s who

One of the more interesting things that I’ve seen as I’m re-reading the Pentateuch is that throughout Exodus to Deuteronomy the Israelites continue to rebel against God and Moses. This leads to conversations between God and Moses where the Lord wants to destroy Israel and Moses is “convincing” the Lord not to do it.

One lecture from the perspective of Jewish history found this particularly intriguing because it seems like Moses is playing the role of God (e.g. in being slower to anger and reminding God of His promises – as if God needed reminding) while God is playing the part of humans (e.g. in that He wants to, albeit justly, punish Israel for their sins).

Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Perhaps this is to say that God is giving us a lesson that we too can be more like Him if only we exercised our will to walk by faith and the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to live by our own human temporal standards and instead think both from generation to generation and eternally.

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Mike Bull’s What is biblical feminism?

The sixth post in the series.

  1. Aaron Renn on The Manosphere and the Church. My post.
  2. Alastair Robert on The Virtues of Dominion. My post.
  3. Peter Leithart on Side effects. My post.
  4. Bill Smith on Attraction: The Biblical Theology of Pickup Artistry. My post.
  5. Paul Maxwell on The Measure of a man. My post.
  6. Mike Bull on What is Biblical Feminism
  7. Aaron Renn’s final response

I won’t be covering Renn’s final response because it’s just an extremely brief sum up of the articles with one comment. Thus this is the last post.

Honestly, this last one is so dismal I didn’t even really want to cover it.


The continued push for equality between the sexes has been a disaster—not because equality is a bad thing, but because it is a good thing, and good things only come from God.

Having anything to say on the issue of gender roles is like walking in on a domestic dispute to offer advice. Even worse, being on the spectrum makes me the last person you would ask for help with interpersonal relationships. But a terrible driver might yet make a good mechanic.

There’s no such thing as equality. It’s not something God cares about which is why He doesn’t discuss it at all in the Bible.

What God does care about is headship and submission, love and respect, and honoring others. While one may claim that some of these are analogous to “equality” (e.g. Jesus washing the disciples feet or loving others), that is tunneling in to what the world considers important rather than what God does which is caring about others.

Matthew 20:25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Trying to force equality on the Bible is the same worldly mistake as high officials trying to exercise authority over others, except in the reverse direction.

The end of feminism

Like the movie Thelma and Louise, feminism has been a tragedy in three acts. Abuse led to recklessness, further abuse, and now, despite continued calls to turn around, third wave feminism, as a vehicle of liberation, has shifted gears into its final nihilistic gesture.

Freedom from reality is not really freedom, and feminism as a social construct is not reality. Real-life evidence comes, strangely, from the failed UK reality TV show Eden. In an experimental attempt to create a new utopia, the participants were left to fend for themselves for a year in remote countryside. But instead of proving that the differences between the sexes are essentially social constructs, the absence of social structures allowed the sex differences to quickly reassert themselves. The men became lazy brutes, the women were treated as maids and sex objects, and the show was cancelled.

While it is easy to demonize feminism because of what it has become, the independence it has achieved means that there is no going back. But the agenda will accelerate into oblivion unless the Church can offer a better destination. Providing a Promised Land is, ironically and inescapably, the job of men.

Feminism = bad. Mmmkay.

Dominion, not domination

That land is not the Manosphere. Like the Death Star, this brave new world was a man-made bubble. Instead of a light filling the earth with abundance, the men’s rights movement is a pale moon in a distant orbit with a chip on its shoulder, circling society like a pirate ship. The issue is not a battle but a troubled marriage, which means that ongoing conflict makes everyone a loser.

Men exploited women, now women exploit men. Men respond by inventing new ways to exploit women. Feminism rebels against the commodification of women but merely results in commodification of a different kind.

This is domination instead of dominion, a Baalistic appropriation of the blessings promised by God. Seizing territory and farming the land are different things, as different as impatience is from patience. Like feminism, the Manosphere is an expression of angst in the creeping barrenness that is sterilizing secular humanism from the earth.

As a response to abuses suffered under the overreach of the women’s rights movement, masculism boils down to Adam seizing Eve’s half-eaten fruit. Like feminism, the men’s rights movement desires something good but is disqualified by its method (2 Timothy 2:5). Intimidation is the death of intimacy. Theft is the nemesis of grace. Men calculate and women manipulate, demanding from the other what can only be obtained as a gift. As soon as it is seized, it is a worthless counterfeit, and what was once intoxicating becomes toxic.

Rehashing Peter Leithart and Bill Smith’s boomer complementarianism. Already critiqued this in the previous posts.

God made a world in which equality can never be taken but only bestowed. I know a married couple who have lost all reason. He goes out of his way to love and spoil her, far beyond what she could ever possibly deserve, and she respects and honors him far beyond what he could ever possibly deserve. It is almost comical. Neither of them seems to realize how insane they are.

This is not equality in any sense of the words used by feminism (equals) or the Bible (not used in the Bible). Bull is trying to somehow marry the two — that’s exactly how complementarianism was developed in the first place — by impressing feminism onto Biblical concepts.

Bull also conveniently leaves out submission by the wife including only respect and honor.

The source of all inequality in the world, and its remedy, are found in the relationship between the Father and the Son by the Spirit. For Adam, Jesus, and by extension, Eve, and the Church, equality in any God-ordained sphere is not something to be grasped but received (Philippians 2:6-8). The forbidden fruit always comes to us freely from God’s hand when we are ready to freely give.

This arrangement, so counterintuitive to us, is an outflow of God’s own “seed and harvest” character. All of life is death-and-resurrection. To preserve what was intended to be sacrificed is to kill it. He who would save his masculinity will lose it. She who would be delivered from masculinity will be made more vulnerable to it.

It’s interesting Bull reference these verses:

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

This is an example of Jesus submitting to God, so by the very analogy (e.g. God:Jesus as well as Christ:Church::husbands:wives) we can consider that wives should not consider “equality” with a husband something to be grasped but are servants to their husbands even obedient unto death. This is synonymous with 1 Peter 3 where Sarah is lauded as being submissive and obedient to Abraham even in situations where Abraham lied by omission to Pharoah and Abimelech and almost caused her to commit adultery with possibly the violence of war breaking out.

Oh wait. That’s probably not what he was going for there.

The abolition of Adam

The offer to the Woman was always intended to trap the Man that they might both be cut off.

Feminism delivered women from bad men by emancipating them from womanhood. Germaine Greer’s “female eunuch,” repressed sexually by the constraints of culture, sought to be free of the chains of nature but became something unnatural, something sexless. To Greer’s chagrin, external feminine attributes are now fetishized by transexuals, so even womanhood has been appropriated by men. The revolution always eats its own.

As we know, feminism also disenfranchized men. The masculization of women not only emasculates men, it also feminizes the world and alienates men from it. Increasingly, we are a society of male and female eunuchs. What we have stolen from each other has turned to ashes in our mouths. However, “punching up” is not the same for men as it is for women. Given the opportunity, yet at great cost, women can abandon their God-given roles for those of men. But the men who have found themselves without purpose as a result of this experiment have either given mere lip service to the cause, opted out of reality entirely, or circled the wagons to create a “safe space.”

The problem is that in none of these three scenarios can men be men in the way that God intended, so we have to settle for cosplay. Self-conscious masculinity is little more than anti-drag. It looks into the mirror for validation instead of being transformed by the Word of God.

True masculine attributes are the natural outgrowth of husbandry—the fruit of a life voluntarily given to being food and shelter for others as a tree of righteousness. When it comes to the hearts of men, God judges the book and then designs the cover. Ask Adam. His use of studied externals, a cloak of dead leaves to hide the absence of fruit, was the first act of manly virtue signaling.

Bull’s analysis of feminism is too basic and, to no one’s surprise, complementarian in nature.

Feminism is not just bad for men, it’s also bad for most if not all women. The main women that benefit are the most attractive women because of the ensuing dysfunction in the relationship and marriage marketplace harms most men and women at the benefit of the top few. Feminism pushes not just for the feminization of men but also for the masculinization of women. Both are bad.

These examples and many more are why there are no redeeming qualities of feminism.

A man’s world

Where the Spirit of God harmonizes things that were set at odds by sin (truth and love, man and woman, priesthood and kingdom), the world deals with disharmony by attempting to homogenize them. But the gifts of God can never be revoked, the Man’s headship can never be abolished, and his responsibility for the Woman can never be evaded.

A man is a mission, born as a drawn bow and held in a necessary tension. His life itself is a tour of duty. His identity is indivisible from his purpose, which is why the pent-up, puffed up potency of the Manosphere is ultimately impotent without God.

In contrast, a Christian man, whether single or married, is never without purpose. The single life is priestly and the married life is priest-kingly. In either case, and in any domain or pursuit, submission to heaven as a child of God brings dominion of the earth as a father to people. We are to be passive before heaven that we might be active upon the earth. We see this one-and-many in Jesus’ ministry of prayerful solitude and public preaching. A godly man mediates between heaven and earth. His strength, like his mission, comes from above.

Generally correct, but like most of the boomer complementarians they also refuse to reject feminism or call out female rebellion. You really can’t discuss men without discussing women, especially if we’re talking about relationships and marriage.

In its attempt to deal with rogue males, however, the Church has made the same mistake as the world, turning the exploiters into the exploited. By divorcing Jesus’ priestly ministry from His subsequent enthronement, the Church has beaten men into submission under the banner of “servant-leadership.” Godliness in now considered to be passivity on the earth. The Man receives orders from God and from the Woman.

But Jesus now possesses all authority. Priestly humility qualifies one for kingly rule. A priestly man is not a butler but a guardian. The term “servant-leadership,” which implies passivity, needs to be replaced with the term “priest-kingdom.” A man has the authority required in order to serve but it is still authority. Moses was the meekest man who ever lived and he was no pushover.

But our rights as heirs are always preceded by priestly responsibilities. Fixation with rights turns everyone into an accuser and results in discord. A focus on responsibilities turns everyone into an advocate and harmonizes the world as God designed.

Bull begins to go astray from the mark again here.

While it’s true focusing on rights is often the wrong way to go about things, the focus on responsibilities is as well. Honing in onto responsibilities is precisely what “servant-leadership” purports to do in the first place. This inevitably morphs into the focus of serving your wife, Church, etc. Bull basically just trades servant-leadership for the same thing under a different name.

Finding your mission and thus your role is the most important thing because that grounds your responsibilities to pleasing God rather than your wife, Church, or man.

The Bible is the problem

The “discord” of sexual hierarchy established in Genesis 2 was not, as some claim, a result of sin, yet, like the “not-good” firmament in Genesis 1, it is indeed a temporary divide that aches for resolution.

Complementarians rightly argue that the entire Bible presents male headship as the norm, while egalitarians rightly argue that the Bible itself demonstrates a gradual shift towards equality between the sexes. As in a domestic dispute, both parties have legitimate grievances, and both justify their position from the Word of God.

The Scriptures themselves thus present us with an apparent contradiction. Is there a theological solution that takes both male headship and female equality in its stride without violating either one? Most certainly.

Priest-kingdom works with the grain of the created order. God prepares all of us for glory, but men especially, by getting us out of our comfort zones. What He made is good but He intends to make it great—to broaden our shoulders for a more glorious mantle and greater burdens (Isaiah 9:6; Hebrews 2:10).

The Tabernacle, a tent of sacrifice, was humaniform, cruciform, because a man is a house designed to be inhabited by God (John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Adam was opened up so that his bride could be built by God. He was then expected to “empty himself” as a safe space for his wife and children. Tested as a servant (priesthood), the house would become a household (kingdom). Adam would then speak as God’s legal representative (prophecy).

The roles of priest, king, and prophet were expected to be fulfilled by Adam in the Garden. They then played out corporately in the history of Israel. As a process of growth to maturity, they also correspond to the three waves of feminism, but it is a false prophetess. The only lasting solution is a society of priest-kingly men like Jesus instead of usurpers like Herod.

Complementarians argue that headship is the norm is correct, but their headship is figureheadship. Egalitarians are simply wrong there is equality.

I simply have no clue what he is talking about in the last 3 paragraphs though as they don’t even relate to complementarian version of figureheadship and female equality, even if there was such things.

The throne of Eve

As James B. Jordan has observed, the Bible mentions kings and queens, and prophets and prophetesses, but no priestesses. This is because the empowerment of the Woman depends upon the prior faithfulness of the Man. Like the Man, the Woman was designed for glory, but she requires a godly enabler. This is biblical feminism.

Women are prone to striving for inclusion at the expense of orthodoxy. Thus, if a woman takes the office of priest, she is sawing off the very branch upon which she sits in safety (Isaiah 47:7-9). The Old Covenant priesthood was entirely male because the Sanctuary was not safe for the Woman. This is also why Jesus’ disciples were all male, even at the Last Supper. The serpent had not yet been crushed by the Man. Until this happens in our culture, the Man and the Woman will continue to crush each other under foot.

Like Eve, although married to the king, Esther was little more than a chattel, a thing. We see the same progression in the difference between the Ten Commandments in Exodus and their repetition in Deuteronomy. The woman is not longer a possession but has been given co-regency in the “resurrected” order.

Once enthroned, the ascended Christ sent His Spirit to gather the bride, a corporate Woman who would not be deceived because she had a better Adam than the Herodian “man of sin” (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). Revelation begins with a vision of this Adam, ends with a vision of His Eve, and in between there is the “carnage” of the spiritual war against the dragon. Once defeated, the saints are enthroned with Jesus just as Esther was enthroned with Ahasuerus. If Adam had been faithful, both he and Eve would have been robed in righteousness as co-regents and joint-heirs.

Since God always works through a process of planting and harvest, gender roles, while distinct, are not static. They are covenantal, that is, they proceed from promises to fulfillments. God gives us a “firstfruits” taste of coming glories, a downpayment of grapes or wine or even the Spirit of God, and prepares us for the glorious burden of wise government on His behalf.

So, the difference between secular feminism and biblical feminism is that feminism grasps (or manufactures) what God has in store while biblical feminism receives it in God’s time.

Biblical feminism sees the Woman exalted to the status of co-regent via the faithfulness of the exalted Man. Feminism seizes the throne, appoints self-interested flatterers and sycophants, and alienates those who would truly protect the people.

One must wonder by Bull keeps pushing a bibical version of feminism. Bull is right that Christians are co-heirs with Christ, but he also misses the point where Christ rejects the disobedient believers in Revelation 2 and 3. Jesus says “if you love me, obey my commandments.”

Only the obedient are lifted up by the one in authority. Those who are disobedient are disciplined. The “godly enabler” is only enabling insofar as the one who is being enabled respects and submits to authority. If Esther was disobedient to the king like Vashti then she would have ended up the same as her.

God’s love is indeed unconditional, but that love has different responses to obedience (repentance) and disobedience/rebellion (hell). Same with the husband and wife. 

This is why we can’t understand the roles and responsibilities of only men as has been seen through the past few articles. Ignore womens’ agency to sin and rebel is extremely perilous.

The voice of the bride

A church truly governed by godly men will be filled with godly, empowered women. But due to a failure to think in terms of covenant process and sacred architecture, complementarians describe the liturgical role of women in terms of what it is not.

Egalitarians rightly complain that if women are expected to keep silent in the Church, why are there so many vociferous women in the Bible? This is not a question of why but of where and when. The women at the tomb were told to testify about the resurrection of a Man. Their testimony was a response to the Word. Their domain is outside the Sanctuary, an image of the testimony of the Bride of Christ to the nations.

Bull makes a weird argument about outside of the domain vs inside. I don’t think that is correct. Evangelizing and prophesying (all Christians) are not the same thing as teaching or leadership positions (men only).

I already covered why some of these types of examples are terrible in other articles such as women in leadership positions.

The light of the bridal city is the Lamb of God. Only a lamb is worthy to open the scroll in the Sanctuary. A self-sacrificial man in the Garden is a light to all men and women. A female priest has removed the linch-pin decreed by God for the maintenance of the Sanctuary.

The role of the “preacher” has been conflated with that of the prophet. If there are prophetesses, why cannot a woman be a priest? The answer is that all roles are prophetic. The faithful priest will speak for God. The faithful king and queen will speak for God. The faithful prophet and prophetess will speak for God. The Bible is filled with wise, wily women, yet not a single one of them was an egalitarian.

And not a single one was complementarian.

The voice of the bride in the Scriptures is always a response to the “male” Word, and very often it is a brutal song of victory. In the case of Esther, the legal “prophecy” was the identification of the serpent. I suspect that if Adam had spoken as a prophet against the lie of the devil, it would have been Eve who suggested that he kill it. It is by God’s design that women not only are capable of unfathomable springs of love but also, when betrayed, of a fury that is hotter than hell.

A very strange argument again that is conceptually backwards. Women generally do not instigate violence except through more covert or underhanded means. Esther basically buttered up the king with banquets before exposing Haman. It was also Christ who is coming to rule and destroy the enemy and not really at the behest of the Church.

All roles require faithful testimony as legal representatives of Christ. Godly women have plenty to say to godly men, as confidantes and advisors. Women perceive things that men do not. But there are also women who are singled out by God with the gift of prophecy. The Word flows out of them as a spring of life. To be encouraged, edified, or rebuked by one of these ladies is to hear from God Himself. Yet not one of them would ever dare to darken a pulpit. Their true glory is in their submission. They are empowered because their deference to God’s way enables Him to bestow His power upon them.

And here we go again into the “wife is your Holy Spirit” territory instead of your wife is your helper. Inverting sex roles again like complementarian figureheadship does.

Conclusion

At the core of the debate over equality between the sexes is our failure to understand that the good things we desire cannot be grasped but only given to us. This is the heart of the Scriptures. Jesus Himself inherited all the kingdoms of the world but would only receive them from the hand of His Father.

The way in which we receive good things is through patient faith and obedience—not because we are earning them but because we are not yet ready to bear them. That includes true equality between the sexes as co-regents in the Garden, the Land, and the World.

In conclusion, more false boomer complementarianism that you should ignore.

I won’t be covering Aaron Renn’s final response, but he did take issue to one of the things I said about feminine mystery.


Overall, I was hopeful with this series as Aaron is fairly versed with the manosphere, including the Christian portion of it. However, it was pretty clear starting with the 2nd article that there is still a lot of heretical feminist and boomer complementarian lenses still clouding the eyes of these men where they interpret the Scriptures incorrectly and give poor prescriptive advice.

This article in particular clearly summed it up for us: if you go along with their advice you’ll just get more of the same just under a different name. Servant-leadership and boomer complementarian figureheadship are still two sides of the same coin as is men stepping up into responsibilities without authority and calling out female rebellion.

It’s pretty sad because these men seemed like they really started to understand some of the concepts of the manosphere, but just found another way to twist the concepts to fit their own boomer complementarianism again. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

Posted in Godly mindset & lifestyle | Tagged | 23 Comments

Paul Maxwell’s The Measure of a man

The fifth post in the series. I’ll link my post

  1. Aaron Renn on The Manosphere and the Church. My post.
  2. Alastair Robert on The Virtues of Dominion. My post.
  3. Peter Leithart on Side effects. My post.
  4. Bill Smith on Attraction: The Biblical Theology of Pickup Artistry. My post.
  5. Paul Maxwell on The Measure of a man

Let’s get into it.


If you will recall, Paul Maxwell several years ago was the writer of “Real men love strong women” on Desiring God where he grossly misinterpreted several passages of Scripture to agree with feminism. My post in response to that.

He’s actually come up a few other times (he seems to have found out about the manosphere somehow) and has progressively become more oriented to the true nature of attraction, but he still has some ways to go. According to his bio, he’s no seminary student anymore either but an “independent researcher” and likely entrepreneur or something along those lines.

But what is a man, really? A collection of necessary properties? Operations? Can a man be uniquely evaluated meaningfully in any way? Can he fail? Can he do what he wishes? What liberties does he have—from whom, and to what? What rights is he able to exercise, and how are those rights sourced, defended, properly and improperly exercised, and most importantly, how are they bounded? Who draws the lines? How are they drawn? Where are they drawn? Why are they drawn there? Why does his maleness shade these questions with gendered idiosyncrasies?

What happens if a man crosses a boundary? What happens if he crosses it twice? What degree of punitive severity should he expect in proportion to the intensity of his transgressions? What opportunities are available to a man qua man? To what degree are those criteria fixed or flexible? Who sets them, and how, and do they take macro- and micro-social factors into account? Can we know the verdict? Can we appeal the criteria? How ought they to be understood and applied directly?

What are theologically (and socially) acceptable methods available to a man to cope with sub-optimal life circumstances? What should a man do when he wakes up full of suicidal anguish and can’t help but start drinking every day at 2pm? What should a man do when his wife leaves him for another man and sues to take his children? How should he respond when she documents all of his private failings before a judge as a means to remove his children from his custody? What is a contrite single father supposed to do after he strangles his son with an electrical cord in a drunken rage, and doesn’t remember the next day? What happens when he does it again the next weekend? What is the son supposed to do? What is the son supposed to do 20 years later when all of the Christian men in his life are telling him that he is too angry?

All good questions that Maxwell says he wants to answer. We’ll see what answers he has.

Whether William James had a soul or not, he understood how people worked. That is why James’s students (such as G. Stanley Hall, who went on to influence John Dewey) founded the American Psychological Association, which reconstructed the failing enterprise of early 20th century German Psychology. The new Westernized, pragmatic, “medicalized” approach to the self produced a sanitary treatment infrastructure in which new versions of licensure were created to service human issues classified within the “personal problems jurisdiction,” which came to replace those basic services often provided by Christian pastors for centuries.[1]

This new space exists, and pastors should feel a legitimate sense of competitive anxiety with the new cohort of secular shepherds. That this movement was founded by the founder of pragmatism is no coincidence. More often than not, the advice of these secular shepherds works. Men see results in the gym. Men learn David Burns’ cognitive distortions to achieve emotional regulation. They get what they want. A man might even get a woman to like him—perhaps even to fall in love with him. A man has fun manipulating the mechanics of the universe available to him in order to pursue different values across time. In Erik Erikson’s model, between the ages of 17 and 41, men traverse from cultivating fidelity to love to caregiving. Men have fun playing with things, and the laws of nature is the most enjoyable, tinkerable pack of toys a man could have, whichever values are in one’s crosshairs.

But as with all fun and games, there are rules. And if you break the rules, you will be expelled, disqualified or, when the game is real life, cause serious physical or emotional injury to another living being. The National Institute of Health reports: “In 2018, the suicide rate among males was 3.7 times higher (22.8 per 100,000) than among females (6.2 per 100,000).” We might say this is all James’s fault — this is all happening within his wet dream, after all. But there are too many variables to consider. Perhaps James saved millions from suicide. We don’t know what our culture would look like if conservatives took the intellectual lead in the 20th century and produced significant bodies of practical knowledge related to the psychology of the Christian life in the context of male stress — rather than, say, the justifiably waning biblical counseling movement.

But the question this data really puts before us are: Why men? What rules are they breaking? Why such dire consequences? Why such extremely broad spectrums of violence and emotional disruption?

This seems like a long tangent to the issue.

I generally agree that the Church has been too “anti-science” in the past century or so. It was actually the Church pushing science and arts through the dark ages all the way up to the 1800-1900s, but since then it’s become a lot more secularlized. Once the Church abdicated that sphere it’s been used against it.

It comes down to one thing: We want to be credibly seen and loved by other men. But what is credibility? In the 21st century, it is indisputable competence. For Joe Rogan, it’s that he’s a Jiu Jitsu blackbelt, successful standup comic, a free thinker, in incredible physical shape for 53, and he’s a millionaire. … What’s John Piper? What’s Matt Chandler? What have they said or done in the past 10 years that has made an impact on anything that men face every day?

Let’s return to what men want. Men desire to be credibly seen and loved. Everything comes down to this. Purpose. Vision. Work. Acceptance. Sex. Faith. Grief. Alcohol. Pills—opioid, red, blue, white, black. It’s all a way to cope with an unseeing love, an unloving presence, both, or neither.

Here Maxwell makes a big mistake that is commonly seen in the ‘sphere.

Men don’t want to be loved. Men want to be respected. The Bible clearly spells this out between husbands and wives, but it is also true between men and other men as well. The main love that men need is only God’s love, but men primarily are love givers and respect receivers

This mistake is easy to make if you are operating from a feminized (Christian or not) point of view. Women want to be loved. This particular mistake is typically seen in the decline of quality of relationships from father to son which is showing them how to grow into a man who can be respected and typically the other encompasses a mother’s love for her son.

This basic mistake doesn’t give me hope for the rest of the article.

Can preaching Christ crucified on Sunday morning do something as effective as William James? In my view, the church is called to outdo James. The pragmatism of the left is good at hitting targets, but it’s not good at knowing what targets to hit. The church is good at aiming, but bad at shooting.

What men need from the church is a cooperative, credible, and holistic endeavor on behalf, not of “the church,” but of local churches, to identify men inside and outside of the church, conduct a triage, and begin helping each man one at a time to get on his feet, acquire the appropriate meta-skills for the task before him (and in light of the path behind him, for good or ill) and supply him with resources that he can leverage to advance the causes in his own life.

OK, sure, that’s part of it. The main thrust of what’s been missing is equipping and discipling men for the gospel mission: evangelism and discipleship.

A lot of the issues of wallowing in mediocrity or despair are immediately addressed by the gospel itself and the hope that comes from it. But it just doesn’t stop there obviously.

This is why pastors often fail to reach men. Reaching men requires more negotiation. And men can be very difficult to negotiate with. Pastors, in one sense, are bracketed from the stresses of the market, and over time can become soft and easily unsympathetic to cutthroat posture many men need to cultivate in order to thrive in the workplace. Men don’t want to have this posture all the time. But they need another man who can go toe-to-toe with him, not to fight him, but as a gesture, communicating that trust and respect are worth earning, and that the pastor is willing to earn it. Then he can have a secure place in his life.

The pastor will only be able to parlay for the membership of a secure man when he is able to explain in the man’s own terms what he’ll get out of it. I know plenty of men over the past year who have not left the church or the faith, but have simply walked away from evangelicalism — not over theology or ideology, but over the weirdness of the culture and the suspicious incompetence of its credentialed professionals. The manosphere sometimes calls these men MGTOWs (men who go their own way), but most men would just call it being one’s own man.

Pastors desire submission as a down payment for care. And men don’t want to submit. Most men already suffer under a crippling deluge of daily anxiety. Anxiety is about control. And the request for the submission of church membership is a request from men to give up what little control they have left in their lives. Pastors underestimate the scale of this ask, which is why they often fail to close the sale — they forget what it’s like to be a gunslinger in the West, bearing the burden, not only of providing, but of long-term profitability for the sake of the long-term financial security of their loved ones.

Again, part of it, but not the primarily parts.

Bracketed by the stresses of the market? Give them practical advice to be more attractive instead of the pretty little lies like “godliness is sexy”.

Discipleship is the practical part of leading by example, showing these men how to, and then helping them walk the walk.

This is what men think about. They are not thinking about Adam and Eve. They don’t care. They have real problems and need real help. If the church is able to supply men with resources they can leverage to pursue their values, men will come to them. If not, it’s up to each church how much marketing work it wants to do in order to acquire men. In business, we call this a “customer acquisition cost” (CAC). What is the highest CAC a church would be willing to pay for a single new male member? They are already paying something, from the pamphlets they print to the electricity bill they pay. So, what’s the number? How much do churches want the real men of the world? The ball is really in their court.

Maxwell goes wrong again here. Drawing on business principles to help grow the Church gets you a Church that is ineffective. The Church must not be business focused but people focused.

I quit my job last week, because I have quite harshly overworked myself for the past 7 years due to my own compounding trauma, and reached a psychological breaking point. While I’ll finally get to build my own business creating courses on theology and meta-skills for young adults next year, writing fundraising letters with my wife was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I couldn’t write the appeal for days. And I’m a full-time writer (er, was … or, still am)! I felt too pathetic. My sense of failure as a man was fortified by the 100 Matt Chandler sermons I had listened to when I was in my early twenties:

“What will they think?”

“I’m a failure as a husband.”

“I should be providing.”

“No one will show up.”

“No one cares.”

“Nobody cares about me.”

“This is so embarrassing.”

There you go—that’s masculinity. Pushing your neck against the knife blade of reality and saying, “Here’s who I am, here’s what I’ve got, here’s what I want, and here’s how I plan to get it.”

That is how the world sees men. Unfortunately, many in the Church have taken up this stance and do the same thing to men as the culture does: the demonization of men and masculinity.

My dad was a beast of a man. He taught me how to lift weights, pick up girls, and take shortcuts. I had to spit out some bones, but he taught me much that I never would have learned in the context of the church. And that’s okay. The church isn’t responsible for me. But he did teach me the softness of the most valuable business skills, the harshness of the economy, the abundance of opportunity in every context, a nose for sales tactics and how to parry them.

I met several men in the church in my early teens who taught me many of the basic competencies, including theological skills. I respected these men, because I saw how hard they worked. I saw them give up their seats for women on the subway. I saw them be gentle with hurting men. I saw them exercise restraint during the psychotic episodes of strong, unstable men. I saw them lead their families in morning prayer. I saw them thank God for Christmas presents. I saw stability.

What did I really see?

Men who were measured by their affection for Christ. Temperate. Controlled. Strong. Crass, but strategically appropriate. Open to the visceral, but spiritually disciplined. Family men, with wives and kids. In my mind, as a young man, if I could be like them, everything would be okay. I would be okay.

It wasn’t until several years ago that I found another man I respected just as much. The CEO of the company I worked for. Previously a church planter, now a tech CEO—no longer helping one church raise thousands, but helping churches across the globe raise millions with technology. He did it. He actually built something. Like Rogan, he had a black belt of sorts—that intangible quality that strikes men with something akin to the beatific vision. His skill, his accomplishments, his winsomeness, was enrapturing. When he spoke, his vision resonated with something deep inside me. What was it? It was the same thing I felt when listening to Joe Rogan. It was the same thing I felt when sitting under my pastor’s tree Christmas morning, grateful to have people who saw and loved me.

What was it? How do men speak in such a way so as to enrapture other men? What is the X factor for male mobilization that makes seeing-love meaningful?

It is credibility.

When men are seen and loved by men they find to be credible, they’ve caught the golden snitch. They’ve won the cup. Their hearts belong to that man. You know what I’m talking about. There is a male-male parallel to romantic love that operates along the axis of paternal needs in the male psyche—a father-son bond with significantly untapped potential which, unactualized for too long, succumbs to its half life and spoils into frustration and resentment when a man’s desire for intimacy is unreciprocated.

Again, Maxwell misses the main issue again: respect.

Masculinity whether via credibility, competency, strength or other traits from other men all build respect.

Renn makes note of the “incel” (involuntary celibate) community as a “community of low status young men extremely unhappy that they are unable to have sex with or go out on dates with women.” The incel movement is the tip of the iceberg. Yes, men want sex. They want the attention of women. They want to dominate, engineer, construct, tear down, burn, build, have sex, achieve spiritual enlightenment, and everything in between. But beneath all of this is a desire to receive credible love that cares about real circumstances and doesn’t let go.

In his article, Renn laments: “The church has adopted a very skewed approach that improperly berates and belittles men, and has badly misled them with teachings that just aren’t true.”

Men shouldn’t care what anyone thinks. Men shouldn’t care if churches degenerate them. Who cares? It’s a church. There’s a billion of them. There’s only one of you. Move on.

The real problem facing young Christian men today is not secularism. It’s not Joe Rogan. It’s not the heathen gurus. It’s suicide, alcohol, drugs, and obesity. Those are the four horsemen of the apocalypse slaying men by the thousands each and every day, and the golden thread among these vices is a lack of credible love.

The church has no presence in these conversations. Its pleas for abstinence are sufficient for instructing the church in standards for Christian morality, but bad for managing mental health pandemics. COVID tore out the rotting floorboards of social decorum that were hiding the deep state of mental unhealth that permeates the young American male psyche. Now is not a moment for reflection, but action.

Maxwell again misses the main thrust. Suicide, alcohol, drugs, and obesity are all symptoms of the issues of lack of mission, lack of respect, and lack of good discipleship and teaching men accurately about God.

Men need saving. Saving takes resources. The church has resources. If men can leverage them, they will. If the social interest rate is too high, men will discontinue the church as their spiritual payment provider. Visa can run as many anti-Amex commercials as they want — they will never achieve 100% among credit card users, and neither will the church achieve 100% market share among men.

When businesses lose market share, they don’t blame the clients — they take ownership and fix the problem. Why, when the church loses market share, does it bemoan the spiritual immaturity of the culture rather than taking ownership and fixing the problem itself? There are men to be gotten. Either you’re getting them or you’re not. There’s not a deep social force at place driving men out of the church. Jordan Peterson once said: “You get the spouse you deserve.” Likewise, the church has the demographics it deserves.
Conclusion

The manosphere will be forgotten in 10 years, but we will all still be here. The universe will always bring more suffering. And men will make a choice either to become resentful and cruel, or hopeful and constructive. That’s why they flock to Peterson — men are looking for reasons not to kill themselves, and the church isn’t giving them a good one.

The real measure of a man is the man in his life who loves him best—he will function as his measure both in the sense that the younger man will strive to be like him, and yet, he also shows him how to be a measured man who, upon hearing what he believes is the church’s disdain for him, simply doesn’t care. To a man, the man who credibly loves him is his measure, for good or ill.

 

The measure of a man is the man in his life who loves him the best? Nah. That’s a recipe for failure.

Maxwell had a good setup to transition this to what a “real man” according to the Bible looks like. For instance,

1 Kings 2: 1As David’s time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 “I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. 3 Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4 so that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

Real men focus on putting their strength in God first, and everything flows from that. But Maxwell misses the context plaguing men again and again, and if you do a secular based analysis without information your opinion on a Biblical worldview you only get failure.

The posts in this series have honestly gotten progressively worse over time. Aaron’s was obviously pretty solid as he’s known about the ‘sphere for a long time, but the subsequent posters are more and more unfamiliar. Their boomer complementarianism colors their view of what they are saying, or they just aren’t taking actual Biblical worldviews and relying on secular analysis.

Posted in Godly mindset & lifestyle | Tagged | 10 Comments

Bill Smith’s Attraction: The Biblical Theology of Pickup Artistry

The Fourth post in the series. I’ll link my post

  1. Aaron Renn on The Manosphere and the Church. My post.
  2. Alastair Robert on The Virtues of Dominion. My post.
  3. Peter Leithart on Side effects. My post.
  4. Bill Smith on Attraction: The Biblical Theology of Pickup Artistry.

Let’s get into it.

Interestingly, having read some of the subsequent posts, we’ll actually see that a lot of the writers increasingly have less and less understanding of the Bible / Christian manosphere concepts and often conflate their cultural lens of the Bible with what the Bible says. We’ll hit them as we go there.


In his opening essay, Aaron Renn provides a good summary of why men in general and Christian men in particular are turning to Pick Up Artists (PUAs) and mentors within the manosphere. To put it bluntly, when it comes to intersexual dynamics and how men attract women, these men know what works. The PUAs assert that Western Culture and the church within it have been sold and are selling a bill of goods produced by Feminism.[1] These men, however, recognize the fact that Feminism is a war on reality. Women do not want what Feminism says they want, and men who have played along are being emasculated. What leaders in the manosphere are discovering is God’s created design.

Renn’s references show that the techniques for men attracting women work while the evangelical church’s emphasis on “servant leadership” does not. Many Christian young men are attracted to the Rollo Tomassi’s of the world for this reason. The servant leadership model (a perfectly fine biblical phrase) has been hijacked by those within the church highly influenced by Feminism. Servant leadership is generally understood now as, “pedestal the woman, give her everything she wants, just say, ‘yes, dear,’ be a self-deprecating nice guy, and, remember men, it’s always your fault.” (This is nothing like the Servant.) This is not working. If these men begin to date and eventually marry, attraction, if it ever was there, wanes and the marriages turn sexless all too often. The couple then goes to counseling where the husband learns that he must negotiate for sex with his wife–paying for sex in some form or fashion– following the Al Mohler model quoted by Renn. Things don’t improve because that’s not what she wants, even though that’s what she’s been told she should want. She’s just not sexually attracted to him. On the rare occasions when they do have sex, it becomes passionless “duty sex,” which becomes frustrating to both of them. Our churches are filled with married couples like this. (I speak as a pastor of thirty-plus years.) Some of these spouses, believing themselves to be good soldiers, endure. Others are divorcing, not willing to live in “loveless” marriages.[2]

So far so good. I could nitpick some of this, but it’s a fair assessment.

Again, from the previous article I think that servant leader is a misnomer. The Biblical phrasing is a lot better: a leader (with authority) who uses his authority to love and serve. This makes the difference because if you phrase it servant leader, the emphasis is always going to be placed on the servant aspect thus inadvertently inverting the roles in the relationship or marriage.

Indeed, we need to make the distinction with Ephesians 5 on Christ’s love for the Church (which husbands are to emulate) that this sacrificial love is for the purpose of sanctification.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

I’ve heard passages on this preached dozens of times and referred to colloquially hundreds of not thousands. I can count one one hand the number of times it’s been qualified for the purpose of sanctification and not other mumbo jumbo like do what your wife wants.

It means you need to have your love and serving focused on making her more holy. Holiness and feelings are often at odds with each other.

Enter PUAs. They tell men what has been glaringly obvious through the centuries about what attracts a female’s sexual desire. Men try it. It works. They like it. Game. Set. Match.

The techniques work. The question is, Why do they work? We can say that it is because of sin, but sin is not a creation ex nihilo. Sin is a parasite that twists God’s creation. So, behind all sinful intersexual relationships is a divine design that is being leeched off of and distorted. These men have tapped into the way God created and sustains intersexual dynamics, specifically what attracts women to men, and they have sinfully used it. PUAs use God’s reality to a perverted end much like any atheist uses language to deny the existence of the eternal Word; he operates within God’s reality while denying his existence. Reality is reality whether you use it for good or ill or accept or deny its Source. Sound epistemological justifications for intersexual dynamics cannot be found in the secular manosphere, but they know reality when they see it. In the area of intersexual dynamics, the manosphere men are images of the sons of Cain who discovered and developed creation previous to the sons of God. In this case, the manosphere re-discovered and re-developed biblical treasures that the Western Church lost through neglect and allowing the Jezebel of Feminism to redefine masculinity, femininity, and intersexual dynamics.

Our battle with the manosphere men is, of course, over their misuse of creation and the evolutionary worldview that they claim supports it. But we are working with the same reality and, quite frankly, at some points, they are seeing reality better than many of us Christians. There are good, biblical explanations for why these attraction techniques work in intersexual dynamics. They are rooted in the original creation. Though twisted by sin, our original design, which includes intersexual dynamics, is restored by grace, not obliterated.

Smith goes off the reservation here and makes a common mistake that pastors often make. He’s confusing what ought to be versus what is. Usually in Church this is where pastors say “godliness is attractive” instead of what actually is attractive: power, status, athleticism, looks, and money.

He gets it right that Creation is the original design. What he gets wrong is that it’s being leeched off of and distorted. God made Adam and Eve with free will and thus the capacity to be tempted to sin. In other words, any temptation that man and woman face is by Design. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the free will to choose between good and evil. This is not a distortion of Creation but flows naturally from it.

It would be better to say that God gave man the capacity to learn and understand and gain wisdom. This can be used to learn about creation and what works with intersexual dynamics. However, if the intent (of the heart) is evil then it will be used to sin. Creation itself cannot be twisted by anyone other than God. It is only the human heart that can become twisted.

As Leithart notes in the closing paragraph of his essay, attraction is mysterious. Genuine attraction cannot be negotiated. It can be cultivated, but it is never merely contractual. People are attracted to different sorts of people for a myriad of reasons. Our attractions are shaped by various factors: how and where we were reared, our goals, race/ethnicity, culture, brain chemistry, and other conditions. There are characteristics that initially attract us and those qualities that keep us attracted long-term.

Attraction is what we are drawn to as beautiful and somehow useful to us. While there are a number of micro-factors in specific attractions, there are some common factors that are not so mysterious that attract women to men and vice versa. Qualities that attract men to women are very different than what attracts women to men. Men are attracted to classic femininity; long hair, softness, curves, etc. Feminism, however, has attempted to convince women that men should be attracted to sameness. For example, men should be attracted to a woman if she has power, status, money, and physical strength. In other words, the more she acts like a man, the more she will be attractive to men. Men sexually attracted to women do not want boyfriends. Our polarities attract us to one another as men and women, not how we are the same.

We are created to need one another for different reasons to fulfill our created purpose of dominion, and when we see another person who can somehow meet those needs at some level, we are drawn to or attracted to him or her. Opposites attract because we complement one another’s strengths and weaknesses. Beauty and utility are friends, not enemies.[3]

I don’t think that’s where Leithart was going with saying attraction is mysterious as I analyzed in the previous post. We don’t want these things to be mysterious because they can often lead to ONEitis and other terrible things. Marriage is a covenant, and we should help everyone understand all of the issues that can affect it.

The rest is fairly straight forward basics.

The PUAs have developed their techniques around traits of genuine masculinity that attract females. Genuine masculinity is rooted in God’s original creation of the man and his relationship to the woman and the rest of creation. God made the man to take dominion. As Roberts rightly states in his essay, this dominion began even before the woman was created as man named the animals and was given the responsibility to guard and work the garden (Genesis 2). God saw that it was not good for man to be alone. He needed the woman to accomplish his dominion mandate. So, God created the woman to be his helper. The woman, Paul says, is created for the man (1Corinthians 11.9). While the man’s primary orientation is toward the earth from which he was created, the woman’s primary orientation is toward the man from whom she was made.

The woman becomes a part of the man’s mission in the world, so he names her at her creation as well as being tasked with guarding her and providing for her because she becomes a part of the Garden. The woman looks to the man for protection and provision. His ability to provide and protect defines, to a great extent, his masculinity in relation to femininity.

This is half-true and needs clarification.

Man/Adam took dominion over the earth (naming the animals, cultivating the garden, etc.) before Eve came around. It would be more accurate to say that Eve as the helpmeet may help him take dominion. Eve was also needed in particular for the fruitful and multiply aspects of God’s command.

This is important to understand as a man’s mission (taking dominion) does not need a woman, but can benefit from the help of a woman. An important distinction.

Adam failed to take dominion over the serpent as he should have, consequently, failing to provide and protect his wife. Since the fall, the man’s masculinity must be proven to the woman. She tests him to see if he is a worthy protector and provider. These masculine characteristics, rooted in the original intersexual dynamics, prove to be what attracts women to men.

I disagree with this.

I do not believe there was a change in what men and women find attractive before and after the fall. In other words, God created men to be attracted to physical beauty, and God created women to be attracted to PSALMs. It was natural for Adam and Eve to be attracted to each other given they were masculine and feminine and they followed God’s commands prior to the fall. It did not to be proven because it was evident.

What I do think is that the bounds of temptation for men to desire physical beauty above all else or women to be hypergamous was unleashed. In other words, men and women now have their selfish desires fully unleashed and must fight against temptation.

For a man to be a protector, he must demonstrate strength. This strength comes in many forms: physical, intellectual, social status, competency, et al. So, for instance, women like more muscular men. No woman is going to see Jason Mamoa in Aquaman because of the literary superiority of the film. In Captain America: The First Avenger, when Chris Evans is transformed from scrawny Steve Rogers to buff Steve Rogers, Peggy Carter gets a little flustered when she sees him without a shirt on. This is so common it is cliché. The woman is attracted to power because she was created to need and, therefore, be attracted to a man who can protect her. This is why a professional CrossFit woman will not generally be sexually attracted to some beer-guzzling couch potato who plays video games all the time. He is weaker than her. If she is stronger than him, he cannot protect her any better than she can protect herself. She is looking for someone stronger. (This is one aspect of the hypergamy Renn alluded to.)

This powerful man exudes confidence as well. He knows who he is, and he knows what he wants to do. He has a mission. He is happy for a woman to join him, but she does not define his mission. Since she is created to be oriented to the man’s mission–helper–this masculine confidence is attractive. If he loses this and begins to revolve his life around her, she becomes less attracted to him. This runs contrary to her created design.

And yet the Church doesn’t tell this to men and women. Heh.

The perversion of this is seen with the bad-boy attraction. Bad boys have women flocking to them. Why is that? Because they are exhibiting strength. They are going to do what they want to do, and they don’t care what people think. It is distorted, yes, but it is a distorted masculine trait. A woman wants a confident man; a man who will lead her, whom she can join and orient her life around.

Again, Smith like to call these things distortions for some reason which is incorrect.

The heart is oriented in a particular direction (good or evil) and the expression of the heart (aspects of masculinity or femininity) make it come off a certain way. Masculinity in itself cannot be distorted because it is a way of expression and not good or evil intrinsically.

A man’s ability to provide is coupled with his power to be attractive to women. The man was created to work the ground and through that to provide for his wife. Women rightfully want to know whether or not a man will provide for her. Feminism has taught women to be their own providers. Consequently, they have hyper-educated themselves and competed with the men for jobs. Many make a great amount of money. When this happens, they find themselves less attracted to men who make less than them. The woman who is a brain surgeon is not normally attracted to a plumber. Just as with the physical strength mentioned earlier, if she can provide for herself better than the man can provide for her, she will not normally be attracted to him. This is why very unhandsome men with a great deal of money can have physically beautiful wives. We can call it gold-digging if we choose, but a woman sees ample provision. She uses her power–feminine beauty–to secure it. Again, many times this is twisted, but it is twisting the way God created the sexes to be oriented toward one another.

I still like the analogy of the Church pastor and worship band leader vs the Church janitor, doorway greeter, and parking lot coordinator better. Definitely a more illuminating Church-goer way of explaining things.

Rollo Tomassi, something of the godfather of the manosphere and one who has formalized many of these insights in his The Rational Male series, will tell you that this hypergamous inclination is due to the evolutionary development of the hindbrain in the woman as a survival technique for her and her children. The Bible provides the true foundation. A woman’s hypergamous inclinations are in the hindbrain, but they are given to her by God in her creation. She is created to desire a man who will lead, guard, and provide for her. She judges and tests men’s masculinity relative to her strengths and weaknesses and is drawn to men who are superior to her.

Though these creational realities have been discerned, developed, and perverted by the sons of Cain to use to their selfish, sinful ends–namely, to sleep with as many women as possible–the root intersexual dynamics are a distortion of reality: the way God created and sustains intersexual relationships. Recovery of these fundamental dynamics can be quite helpful to the church. Many frustrations in Christian marriages can be traced back to the simple, biblical truths in which men are not being masculine. Because of this, their wives do not respect them as protectors and providers and, therefore, are not sexually attracted to them. Both the man and the woman keep trying everything that they are told in their churches and through the latest marriage books. These tend to be no more than baptized Feminism. Consequently, frustration continues.

The manosphere men are working with our world and perverting it to their own devices. It is time that we reclaim what rightfully belongs to us, benefitting from their insights just as we would from Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Freud, or Yogi Berra. We must sift those insights through God’s Word. When we do we can find a reality that is true, good, and beautiful.

Already covered why these aren’t distortions but simply an incorrect understanding of Creation. Beyond that, I think that Smith’s analysis and wording is very presumptuous and prideful.

In all reality, it’s a terrible thing that many a Christian has had to learn from PUAs to know about the true nature attraction and relationships of  men and women. This is not something that one should rightfully and willfully benefit from, but instead Churches and leadership should be repenting to God and to their congregations for telling pretty little lies.

We should acknowledge where we went wrong and seek God’s grace in preaching what is right and true. We must continually strive to remove the feminism and other worldly lenses that we still have on our eyes, and be humble that God can use others who may not even be Christians to teach us about Himself and His Creation.

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Chivalry is anti-Christian in action

It just occurred to me there’s an easy way to explain why chivalry is anti-Christian.

A correct marriage analogy is a King and a Queen — the King wields authority over the queen and the rest of the kingdom. Instead chivalry is a knight trying to impress and serve the queen. Remember, chivalry is a knight’s code and not one that a king would follow. The knight is to put the Queen up on a pedestal and serve her whims.

It’s clearly an inverted roles scenario where the Queen is in charge and the knight is serving her. It’s not even the trash term “servant leadership” but literally just serving. No headship and no authority and therefore anti-Christian.

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Peter Leithart’s Side Effects

The third post in the series. I’ll link my post

  1. Aaron Renn on The Manosphere and the Church. My post.
  2. Alastair Robert on The Virtues of Dominion. My post.
  3. Peter Leithart on Side effects.

Let’s get into it.

Interestingly, having read some of the subsequent posts, we’ll actually see that a lot of the writers increasingly have less and less understanding of the Bible / Christian manosphere concepts and often conflate their cultural lens of the Bible with what the Bible says. We’ll hit them as we go there.


So there I was, contentedly complementarian, when suddenly (so it seemed) my friends started talking of the patriarchy, offering me pills of various hues, and charging that complementarianism is compromise with feminism. I learned about the manosphere several years after it petered out. I’ve been blessed in the churches I’ve attended and pastored over the years, and have never felt besieged because I am a man. Besides, I’m a dinosaur who grew up in the 60s and 70s, shielded from the cultural revolution of those decades by parents who grew up in the 20s and 30s. Self-consciousness about masculinity wasn’t part of my upbringing, though, for good or ill, one of the lessons my father (implicitly) taught me is that one of the marks of a man is reticence about his own manhood. All that to say, I’m a late-comer to this conversation.

Renn actually calls complementarianism — which was invented in the late 1980s if you’ve read my blog and saw me go over it — baby boomer theology. Generally, it rings pretty much true, as you can see from this.

You have the people who grow up during the sexual revolution and implicitly pick up that the culture is starting to rail against “the patriarchy.” Some of the abuses such as the occasion of the deadbeat dad might ring true (but they’re basing this on the exception, not the rule). Then they must integrate the supposed abuses of “the patriarchy” into their theology rather than understanding that the Scriptures already denounce abuse of power.

Then you have chivalry and other anti-Christian thought layered in and you get implicit bias where you end up with a lot of “men bad and women good” type of stuff.

The conversation is necessary. Some of Aaron Renn’s claims need elaboration. Women initiate most divorces, but that doesn’t mean women are to blame for divorce. There are long and messy stories behind every divorce, typically more than enough blame to spread around. The focus on male sins may be a sign not of feminization but of a certain kind of masculine emphasis in a church; if a man is considered the head of his wife and family, he bears responsibility for what happens.

I never really understood federal headship because it basically absolves a woman/wife of her free will. Let’s look at some other examples:

  • If God is considered the head of Israel and Judah, he bears responsibility for what happens [when they sin]
  • If Jesus is considered the head of the Church, He bears responsibility for what happens [when they sin]

You can see how these two examples are patently absurd. God and Jesus can act perfectly, but those who are supposed to be following them can go and sin. Then do we blame God and Jesus for the Israel or Judah or the Church’s sin? No. That would be dumb.

Yes, it is important to recognize that in most marital dysfunction it takes two to tango and there’s probably enough blame to go around. But it would be absurd to not evaluate it by what actually happens. And we know that most divorces are not because of abuse or adultery but because the one party is unhaaaapy (usually the wife) which is why we call them frivorces.

Still, I agree with the charge that the church has capitulated to egalitarian feminism. As he notes, it’s been going on for a long time,[1] but has certainly intensified over the past several decades. You can see it in hymnody, from the nineteenth century to the present. You can see it in the near-universal practice of women’s ordination. You can see it in the absence or apathy of men in many churches. You can see it in the persistence of Victorian femininity as the norm of piety. A rebalance is long overdue.

Agreed.

In my limited exposure to the manosphere, I haven’t found much of value; friends I trust tell me there’s substance there, and I believe them. Still, I’m not convinced a Christian masculinity movement is the answer. It’s reactionary, and risks devolving into yet another species of identity politics. Worse, I fear a masculinity movement will lose track of central truths of the Christian faith. My essay is a warning label, because red pills may have harmful side effects.

I discussed this in the previous post, but it starts from the gospel and discipleship. Men are generally better equipped and are a good base to build from.

1. Neither Aaron nor Alastair Roberts use the word “patriarchy,” but other friends do, so I’ll start there. It’s a theologically infelicitous term. The arche of patri-archy means “source” or “beginning.” The Father (pater) is, one can say, the beginning or source (arche) of Godhead, but Trinitarian thought complicates this one-directional hierarchy. In the Trinity, there is no arche without completion in a Second by means of a Third. Source and product, sun and rays, are co-equal and co-eternal; the original is immediately and forever fulfilled in the image. In fact, the Second Person makes the First what He is, for there is no Father without the Son. As for humanity: The male Adam was the literal patriarch of the human race, but, as Paul writes, every man since Adam has been born of a woman. Paul stresses mutual dependence and envisions a co-archy, of male and female (1 Corinthians 11:8-12).

Pater shades into “male” and arche into “rule,” so that “patriarchy” takes on the sense of “rule by men.” Here too “patriarchy” doesn’t capture the biblical picture. God didn’t create the world to be ruled by men or fathers, but by ‘adam, whom He created male and female (Genesis 1:26-28).[2] At a minimum, Adam couldn’t complete the “Adamic vocation” by himself because he couldn’t “fill” the earth without a sexual partner. The human story doesn’t end in male rule either, since Jesus the Last Adam reigns with His Eve, the church. We might say the Father rules the eternal kingdom, but the Father never rules alone, but everywhere and always by His two hands, the Son and Spirit. As for creation, it has a bridal future (Revelation 21:1-8). The church anticipates the new heavens and earth precisely because she is now the bride that creation will one day become. Femininity is an ontological reality, we might say the reality of the world, the telos of creation.

I like Patriarchy because it offends christo-feminists and most complementarian Christians because it shocks them of their own covert feminist failure. The correct Biblical term is likely to be Headship as that is the example of Christ and the Church that husbands are wives are to strive for.

Most Christians along with Leithart don’t really understand that love tends to treat as one of the same body while those under the head are to treat it as following/submitting/obeying.

This is the importance of understanding the various Biblical marital roles and responsibilities. The responsibilities themselves are different according to their role, which means that all of the bluster about authority or equality don’t matter if you’re not discussing how they are applied according to role.

2. From the beginning, Christianity elevated women. When Jesus’ disciples abandoned Him, women followed Him to the cross and the tomb. Women were the first witnesses of His resurrection. The apostles became eyewitnesses and leaders of the church because of news they first heard from Mary, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary.

Women found the early church attractive because, Rodney Stark says, Christian women enjoyed “considerably greater status and power than did pagan women,” both in the home and the church. The church prohibited infanticide, and so prohibited female infanticide. Christian teachers condemned divorce and sexual sins, and destroyed the pagan double standard by demanding that men as well as women be chaste before marriage and faithful in marriage. Pagan widows were pressured to remarry, but in the church “widowhood was highly respected.” Wealthy widows kept their husbands’ estates, and the church cared for poor widows; Christian widows had more options than their pagan counterparts. Within the church, women served as deaconesses. In all these ways, “the Christian woman enjoyed far greater marital security and equality than did her pagan neighbor.”[3] So many women joined the church that “in 370 the emperor Valentinian issued a written order to Pope Damasus I requiring that Christian missionaries cease calling at the homes of pagan women.”[4]

3. The elevated status of women was Christologically rooted. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free man, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). As many as are baptized into Christ are clothed with Christ, and that common clothing gives every member of the church a common identity and common privileges. This is a sexual equality undreamt by ancient pagans.

Paul doesn’t erase created, social, or religious differences. Jewish believers continued to live as Jews, though they didn’t impose Jewish customs on Gentiles. We know there were slaves in the church because Paul exhorted them to serve their masters. Paul distinguished the roles of men and women in church and family. But the church is a communion where these differences are harmonized into a complex unity. The binary contrasts are transformed into relations of mutual deference and service. Jews give Gentiles spiritual goods, so it’s fitting that Gentiles give the return gift of material goods. Every slave should consider himself the Lord’s freedman, and every free man or master is the Lord’s slave. Within marriage, husbands serve their wives, even to the point of death, as Christ served the church, and wives mimic the church who submits to Christ in all things. The mutuality is asymmetrical in various ways, but it is mutuality, reflecting the mutual submission and glorification of Father and Son in the Spirit.

There are obvious complexities here, but we can say this: A church should have the atmosphere of a community where “there is neither male nor female,” just as it should be a harmony of social classes and ethnic groups. A masculinized church is as much a perversion as a feminized one.

Another dubious line of thought.

Leithart is making the same mistake as the CBMW who came up with complementarianism theology in the first place. This is of course no surprise because he has been a complementarian for so long. He is using the examples of so-called abuses of the cultural authority and status to define how we should understand the Bible rather than use the Bible to understand how we should understand authority and status.

Christianity elevated the dignity and honor of all groups that were derided and ruled over — women/wives, slaves, poor, widows, etc — because God doesn’t care about secular implementations of power or riches but because He knows all human’s intrinsic worth as His creations.

Using this as a line of argument against masculinity and Patriarchy/headship is falling in line with feminists. Ironically, it’s the same argument used by christo-feminists to try to claim equality in marriage and be leaders/pastors in the Church.

You should really question yourself when you’re using their arguments. Instead,

John 13:12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Luke 22:24 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. 27 For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

Jesus, having created authority in conjunction with God, does not denigrate or cancel authority but tells us to use it rightly which is to love and serve others. The “greatest” is the one who is the one who loves and serves.

4. Jesus is true man, the measure of manhood. Not everyone in His day would recognize Him as such. In certain respects, even pagans would have regarded Jesus as a manly man. He does works of power, easily disposes of a Legion of demons, acts forcefully in the temple, firmly resists Satan’s temptations, has daring outdoor adventures with his male companions. He is victorious in public debate, courageous in His relentless truth-telling, unfazed by hatred and opposition. Yet He also tells His followers to become like children, commands them to turn the other cheek instead of retaliating against insults, shows compassion for the weak, commends those who emasculate themselves for the kingdom.

Pagans might have seen His death as analogous to the self-immolations of Roman heroes. In most respects, Jesus’ death subverts ancient masculinity. Aristotle lined up the binary “male-female” with the binary “active-passive,” but Jesus becomes so passive He is nearly reduced to an object as He’s passed from one enemy to another. Instead of facing His death with Stoic resolution, He pleads with His Father to remove His cup. He bows to His Father’s will, but “it is questionable whether such a submissive posture, even it if involves self-restraint, would be understood by a man in the Greco-Roman world as a masculine deportment.”[5]

He is shamed, mocked, beaten, whipped, spit on, then nailed naked to a cross in full public view. Cicero reluctantly conceded that a brave man might groan in pain, provided it was like the groan of an athlete straining for victory (Tusculan Disputations 2.22.55). But Jesus cries out in anguish to the Father who has forsaken Him. For Romans, men are made to penetrate, not be penetrated, sexually or in combat. A man who can’t protect his body from assault is, at best, low-status, no longer a vir but a pathicus. On the cross, though, Jesus is pierced with a spear, which makes him appear unmanly. Romans would acknowledge a real man might be captured, tortured, humiliated, but Jesus appears unwilling or unable to defend His honor at the point of its greatest threat. Romans would have echoed the Jewish taunt: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.”[6]

Christian discussions of masculinity today sometimes appeal to the scientific and social-scientific evidence of sexual difference. I don’t dispute the evidence, though determining what normative conclusions we can draw is a different matter. My concern is more basic: It would be a travesty if manhood were left unevangelized, unchallenged and untested by the masculinity of Jesus. It would be more than tragic if a social-scientific portrait of masculinity displaced Jesus as the measure of Man.

Again, the issue is that Leithart defaults to trying to understand the Bible through the lens of the culture rather than the Bible itself defining what manhood is. One such example is from David to Solomon on his death bed:

1 Kings 2:2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

Yes, men are defined by masculinity but masculinity is defined by being strong to be obedient to God no matter what the cost: whether emotional or not. Whether status or not. Etc.

5. No pill of any color can dispel sexual mystery, and those who think they’ve discovered the truth about sexual dynamics need to be cautious. They don’t have women figured out – or men, for that matter. I hope no one wants to dispel the mystery. Dispelling sexual mystery would rob the world of much else besides. Bereft of sexual mystery, creation and human life would be bereft of mystery as such.

This is simply disingenuous. There’s a reason why there’s a common saying throughout the manosphere: “Don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.”

Most of “sexual mystery” is buried under the disguise of the words of men and women that are incongruent with their behavior. If a woman says she hates bad boys but she keeps getting with them she’s clearly lying, has no self control, or both.

But like many of Leithart’s points before, this is buried under the disguise of another feminist talking point that he’s unconsciously channeling. The Bible lays human nature and human sexuality (both men and women) bare for all the world to see. There’s no tangible benefit from blinding men to a woman’s sexuality or vice versa; in fact, there are numerous downsides especially with ONEitis, chivalry, choreplay, and such things being so rampant.

There’s no godly reason there should be mystery, and a strong case of wisdom against it. A statement like this is similar to a pastor telling all of the men in his congregation to marry a woman like he did while being ignorant that he was attractive because he is the leader of a congregation and has high status. It’s just not good.

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Alastair Robert’s The Virtues of Dominion

The second post in the series. I’ll link my post

  1. Aaron Renn on The Manosphere and the Church. My post.
  2. Alastair Robert on The Virtues of Dominion.

Let’s get into it.

The human calling is not a gender-neutral one. By the very nature of the way that God created man and woman, the weight of the fivefold human commission—to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and exercise dominion over all of its creatures—would, though collaborative, fall very differently upon each sex’s shoulders.

In part this can be witnessed in the different ways that God creates the man and the woman in Genesis 2. The man is created in response to the need of the earth for a man to till it, while the woman is created as a helper to the man in their common human vocation, as one who will bring what he initiates to glorious completion. The man is created out of the earth for a task of mastery that chiefly moves out into it; the woman is later created from the side of the man for a task that principally focuses upon the bearing of human life and developing the realm of human community. The contrasting foci of their callings is further witnessed by their respective judgments after the Fall.

Relating Genesis 2 to Genesis 1, we might observe that the task of the man chiefly focuses upon the forming tasks that we find on the first three days: the tasks of taming, naming, structuring, ordering, dividing, and ruling. The task of the woman, by contrast, chiefly focuses upon the filling tasks that we find on the second three days: the tasks of filling, establishing life and communion, making possible succession and delegation of rule to children, glorifying, and perfecting. While both clearly assist the other in their respective callings, and neither is exclusively concerned with their own more immediate tasks, there are manifest differences of focus.

Agreed with the first paragraph. It is straight out of Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The second paragraph reaches a bit. God creates man in the garden for a few specific purposes:

Genesis 2:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

  • Cultivate and keep the garden
  • Obey God’s commandment(s)

Principally, Adam is able to be fruitful (cultivate and keep the garden) as well as subdue and take dominion (take dominion over and name the animals). However, he is unable to fulfill the multiply and fill without a helper. His helper can obviously help with the former, but is unneeded, but definitely needed for the latter.

To parallel this to Jesus and His Great Commission, we have the same thing for evangelism and making disciples. The reason why Paul designates singleness as preferred is that all of the commands (Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over) can be done without marriage now as winning and discipling people for Christ is also multiplying and filling the earth.

In principle, I agree with glorious completion, at least in some of the tasks. Developing the realm of human community is true in the perspective of being fruitful and multiplying. Though this can be misinterpreted.

When I say that a husband must regularly “earn” privileged access to the marital bed, I mean that a husband owes his wife the confidence, affection, and emotional support that would lead her to freely give herself to her husband in the act of sex…. Put most bluntly, I believe that God means for a man to be civilized, directed, and stimulated toward marital faithfulness by the fact that his wife will freely give herself to him sexually only when he presents himself as worthy of her attention and desire. -Albert Mohler

Renn notes of Mohler in the previous post to where women civilize men which is not an uncommon thought in the Christian community. I believe Driscoll had some similar comments on such.

The third paragraph makes this more clear, though similar wording can give some issues. Paul specifically talks about how woman is the glory of man, though not in perfecting in the way we think of it. However, you could arguing if you are using the NT definition of perfection (e.g. Matthew 5) it means completeness to which I would agree.

Modern Christians, accustomed to thinking in terms of abstractions and ideologies and assuming that social reality flows chiefly down from ideas and rules, tend to be unmindful of the degree to which our social reality is determined by material conditions—by bodies, by geography, by resources, by technologies, by economic conditions, and many other such things that constitute the under-considered material fabric of our reality. The sexual order of society largely flows ‘up’ from such realities, rather than ‘down’ from abstract ideas.

When considering God’s purpose in creation, we should consider not only his explicit commands or commissions, but also what he built into our natures—natural law—not least because Scripture itself often appeals to it. As the Apostle Peter observes, women are the ‘weaker vessel’: men were created considerably stronger, not merely in terms of their typical raw physical strength as individuals, but also in their ability to create and exert social and material power in male groups. The biblical teaching principally concerns a divinely established empirical reality that must be honored and upheld; it was never simply chosen or even divinely commanded—man is the head. The prescriptive teaching of Scripture is grounded upon a descriptive account of difference.

This is true but it is important to understand why.

Like I’ve discussed in some of my attraction posts, marriage is an earthly institution as there is no marriage in heaven. By parallel, this also means that the institutions that God created in the beginning are earthly institutions meant for earthly purposes. In other words, creation is constrained by the rules (natural law) that God implemented within its nature.

Women being “the weaker vessel” is logically consistent with the ordering of creation and the purpose of her being a helper. All NT truth builds on the foundations of the OT truth that we observe.

While it may be impolite to dwell overmuch on the fact (and contemporary society deems it pathological), men create, possess, and symbolize power much more directly in the world than women (women themselves exercise very considerable power and influence, albeit different and typically less direct modes of it). This is a reality that, though ideologized, institutionally enforced, and socially inculcated in various ways, is a stubborn fact of the world as God created it, replicated across countless cultures in different times. In those tasks that relate to human dominion—in gaining mastery over our physical environment, in the task of invention, in the establishment and exercise of political power, etc.—men’s pre-eminence is everywhere self-evident.

Take a moment to look around you right now and consider the degree to which you live in an immediate environment, and in a world more generally, that has been created by men’s exertion of dominion over nature in all of its aspects, as well as by fundamentally male power structures and endeavors in human society—in politics, resource extraction, trade, infrastructure, construction, invention, science, technology, and a host of other areas. While much is said about the ‘empowerment’ of women, it is important to note that empowerment typically presupposes a party with more immediate possession of power authorizing the empowered party to wield some of it.

Yup, men build civilization.

I think women’s place in churches is rather more complicated than Renn’s account suggests. While women are placed on a pedestal, not every woman is placed on such a pedestal. Many women’s experience in churches is one of the loneliness and the self-alienation involved in struggling to maintain the façade of having it all together that the pedestal requires, of the unpleasant ways in which women jockey for the limited space on that pedestal, of the painful experience of falling from it, or of the experience of being conspicuously denied a place upon the pedestal by virtue of being unmarried, divorced, or childless. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.

While it can be an inhospitable place for many women, contemporary evangelical church life is nonetheless chiefly ordered around the women at its heart. The good man in such a context must greatly tone down his manliness. Headship is mostly characterized as a beholden-ness to the women and children in men’s lives. Men are to be the obliging mall cops upholding this domesticated realm and taming other men for operation within it. The man is much more figurehead than actual head.

Yes and no. While it is true that women do have some semblance of responsibility placed on them (e.g. virginity, modesty, propriety, etc.), it is definitely not to any of the level of degree that men have placed on them. The facade of having it together is the cultural milieu of the feminism rather than the Church, although we must admit that the world has highly infected the Church.

Yes, if you are single or divorced it can be an issue of mostly other women looking down on you in your Church, but if it comes up as a main Church topic such as through a sermon or message than even with men (or women) preaching they’re only going to say that the single women are daughters of the King or that the single mothers need help. Despite often times if they are living in sin. Heck, as we’ve seen before, single mothers get credit for being fathers too on Father’s day.

Men, on the other hand, are just demonized in general whether in small talk or through the Church pulpit. Maybe they get a golf clap on the occasional Father’s day.

Where the church has particularly failed is in effectively addressing man as the head. For many Christians, the concept of male headship is a culturally embarrassing biblical teaching that needs either to be rejected (the more popular egalitarian option) or qualified to virtual extinction (which is more common among complementarians). Concepts such as that of the ‘servant leader’ have been employed to soften the teaching. Where the concept is most emphasized, it can be attended more by blame than by honor.

What the manosphere and others of the teachers that Renn identifies recognize is the importance of manliness, of the traits that make a man apt for the exercise of dominion in various spheres of his life. A man who can act with mastery, competence, assertion, confidence, honor, courage, strength, nerve, and the like—especially if he acts as a skilled possessor of a behavioral repertoire, which he can deploy with discrimination, discernment, and self-mastery—compels respect as a man. Such traits, well-exercised, are manifestly attractive to women. Yet churches provide little training in, contexts for the formation or exercise of such traits, or purpose for their employment. This neglect results from and perpetuates a neglect of the broader, outward-oriented task of dominion. It also means that many Christian young men will turn to pagans to learn manly virtues, often picking up perverse notions of masculinity that glorify lording over others, or despising the weak, in the process.

The pre-eminent dominion given to the man in creation pre-existed the creation of the woman. The purpose of man’s dominion includes yet greatly exceeds the end of serving and building up the woman. To exercise such dominion effectively and appropriately, man needs to grow into various forms of mature manliness, requiring developing a constellation of qualities and virtues beyond the narrowly moral. A man who is kind, yet lacks strength of will and character is deficient in virtue—which limits even his capacity for true kindness.

The failures of the church in this area are related to dysfunctions in the way that its own life is ordered. If the church largely neglects the task of dominion and the development of truly Christian forms of power and mission in the wider society and mostly focuses on the internal concerns of its communities, it is unlikely that it will be a place that produces mature Christian manliness. In such communities, ‘male headship’ loses its outward orientation and tends to become either oppressive or pathetic. The man functions chiefly as the helper of the woman, rather than vice versa, as God established things in creation.

Excellent analysis, albeit it needs to be qualified with our ultimate mission: The Great Commission.

While women may favor manly traits in their partners, they generally do not favor such traits in the men in their immediate groups as individuals. It is one thing for a woman to have a strong and virile man in her corner (that can represent an increase in her agency); it is quite another to have to compete against such men. Nevertheless, because male groups are powerful and good at creating power, women desire empowerment from them. Contemporary politics between the sexes have much to do with the breakdown of marriage as the means by which male power served and empowered women and the rise of political and corporate structures for independent female empowerment and the limiting or discouragement of pronounced male agency.

The modern gender integration of society and of the church has tended to produce a situation where manliness is discouraged, where ‘good men’ are the docile and obliging men who can operate best on women’s terms. Changing this situation will require a reordering of the church’s life, where men’s virility and greater spiritedness are no longer treated as things to be house-trained, but as strengths to be developed and harnessed in the service of a newly prioritized outward church mission.

This would require a sharply counter-cultural posture towards men as agents of dominion, encouraging men to lean into and develop their aptitudes in this area, rather than stifling them in order to secure a more domesticated and equalized gender-neutralized society. It would also require the establishment of a very different settlement between the sexes, wherein men’s strength was not—as it has so often been—exercised at the expense of, without regard for, as a diminishment of, or as a lording over women, but where women more generally were strengthened by men’s greater exertion of their strength in the world. The manosphere will offer us little aid in that.

In my opinion, the big issue where this article falls short is that it fails to address the infiltration of cultural concepts into the Church and its subsequent destruction. It’s not so much that Churches need a counter-cultural posture, they shouldn’t had that in the first place.

“Being in the world but not of the world” means you are connected first and foremost to Jesus’ Great Commission. You don’t need to “counter” the culture because you already resist the culture. One is proactive and the other is reactive. The initial manosphere in itself is/was reactive by nature as well.

Part of this is the watering down of the gospel. If there’s no cost to following Christ, we get tons of false teachings out of it: prosperity gospel, soul mates, etc. Discipleship is based around men because they are innately better at dealing with the suffering that should come with following Jesus.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

As feminism infects Churches (and all of the underlying reversal of roles in marriages and pastors or women pastors), the gospel gets watered down and turns into basically self help groups where God becomes the cosmic vending machine to make you feel happy and accepted. No need to repent of your sin because God’s love overcomes all.

In conclusion, a counter-cultural posture is worthless because it’s reactive. Churches need to get back to the gospel with a mission focus. Most of the Church and its programs should be focused on developing missions for men. If you have a Church with strong masculine men, the women will follow as they will be naturally attracted.

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