The sixth post in the series.
- 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. My post.
- Paul Maxwell on The Measure of a man. My post.
- Mike Bull on What is Biblical Feminism
- 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.
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.