The Fourth post in the series. I’ll link my post
- Aaron Renn on The Manosphere and the Church. My post.
- Alastair Robert on The Virtues of Dominion. My post.
- Peter Leithart on Side effects. My post.
- 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. 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.
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.
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.