Category Archives: Man, the glory of God

Fifth aspect of man, from 1 Cor. 11:7

Joe, the Plumber II

Esolen’s second essay on Joe the Plumber’s encounter with a media-babe is now online.  Enjoy.

Esolen highlights but does not mention or expound directly the fact that at the heart of masculinity is unadorned, uncultivated dirt.  That is the first and most direct reason given in Holy Writ for his creation – to cultivate the dirt (cf. Genesis 2:5).  This aspect of his origin appears today in the things Esolen discusses about authentic men:

[Joe the Plumber] was about to handle hard, sometimes apparently intractable, materials, things that don’t oblige our utopian dreams.  The iron pipe does not condescend to political correctness.  It won’t say, “I see that I should move into place no matter who or what is lugging me, because that would be the democratic thing to do.”  There’s a bracing reality in such things as iron, or earth, or even PVC, not to mention water, that wondrous bringer of life that can bring ruin, too, if it’s not under control. 

Man’s raison d’etre is uncultivated dirt, to cultivate it and bring forth from it what could not be without cultivation.  Woman’s raison d’etre (according to Genesis) is the man, already functioning in a stewardship, responsible to God for the Garden.  Her being from him and for him goes a very long way to account for the distinctives of men over against women and their relationship to one another.

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Coming Soon: Iron Man

UPDATE: While we’re still discussing Iron Man here at home, we’re also overflowing with end of the last year in high school for the last child at home. And there’s more: Prince Caspian has just come out and I haven’t seen it yet. But, I have heard that the screenwriters decided to change it in the interests of altering Susan’s part in the plot. And, when 21st Century screenwriters do that … well, I’m not optimistic that its going to be a change to advance the orthodoxy of sexual roles in the West.

So, I’m going to have to see Prince Caspian now, so I can compare/contrast it with the way Iron Man handles the roles of the sexes.

Stay tuned.

I’ve been looking around for someone else to say what I want to say, but haven’t had much sucess.  Lots of positive reviews, but the film’s most amazing features are either overlooked or where noticed (just barely) they elicit feminazi wisecracks.

Iron Man is just about the most honest statement about male and female and how they are supposed to relate that I have seen in any film in years.  Once Big Thangs this weekend are safely in the rear view mirror (including a dandy Daddy-Daughter Walz in a couple of hours ago; watch for pictures, maybe a video clip, of me and my baby walzing), I’ll try to pull together my thoughts on Iron Man for next week.

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About Beards

To grow one, or not to grow one.  That\'s the question.A blog I recommend others read, because it is a valued cobelligerant in contending for Biblical sanity generally and in the area of sexuality in particular, recently posted something about beards. It was a snippet from an early Father of the Church, Clement of Alexandria, who offered these words:

But for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, to arrange his hair at the looking-glass, to shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them, how womanly! And, in truth, unless you saw them naked, you would suppose them to be women. For although not allowed to wear gold, yet out of effeminate desire they enwreath their latches and fringes with leaves of gold; or, getting certain spherical figures of the same metal made, they fasten them to their ankles, and hang them from their necks. This is a device of enervated men, who are dragged to the women’s apartments, amphibious and lecherous beasts.

… For God wished women to be smooth, and rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane; but has adorned man, like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him, as an attribute of manhood, with shaggy breasts,—a sign this of strength and rule.

… This, then, the mark of the man, the beard, by which he is seen to be a man, is older than Eve, and is the token of the superior nature. In this God deemed it right that he should excel, and dispersed hair over man’s whole body. … It is therefore impious to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.

Father Clement says a good many other things, which you can read for yourself at the CCEL site linked above. And, all that he says will keep the egalitarian chattering classes twittering for the rest of their lives.

But, I cite Clement here by way of showing how very, very far our culture has moved from its Christian foundations, and to suggest that something so simple as the grooming of body hair by both men and women in Christ’s church shows which way the spiritual winds are blowing.

Consider …

What pastor or christian leader would ever consider a sermon urging the men of his flock to let their beards grow out? If they will not preach sermons to their female parishioners on the womanliness of long hair, the shamefulness of short hair on women (remember, that’s the Apostolic judgment in 1 Corinthians 11!), how shall they ever screw up enough courage to grow a beard, or to urge their brothers to grow them?

Of course, there many reasons modern Christian leaders would offer to avoid the subject entirely. They would include

1. Legalism!! If we preach on the length or grooming of hair, much less of beards, we’d be preaching a legal code. How contrary to the gospel of grace. Right?

2. Majoring on minors!! Or, less than minors!! What about men who can’t grow beards? What about female cancer patients?? And, who’s to say short hair on a woman is shameful anyway??

3. Hearts are far more important than the hair!! God looks on the heart, not on the hair-length. Right?

These and similar defenses against preaching on head-hair are irrelevant to this question — does the Bible, does the New Testament, does the Law of Christ, do any of these have anything to say to Christians about hair length and hair grooming? I’d expect most modern Christians to give a resounding “NO!” to that question.

But, when you point them to such teachings in both Old and New Testaments, a modern Christian leader cannot explain why they are there in the first place. To explain them, he (and, more often these days, she) would need a Biblical theology of sex to explain things like sex-differentiating elements in grooming and fashion, things which both the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ have very clear things to say.

Clement trained his pastoral guns on fashions of dress and grooming that are pretty much the same as what we find today. He warned his flock to avoid the way the world corrupted women and emasculated men. First Century North Africa and Twenty-First Century North America had far more in common than anyone understands. Clement was a faithful servant of his Lord to preach all the Christ had commanded. Modern shepherds rarely do that any more, at least where the the commandments of Christ deal with things like dress, fashion, and — yes–hair length and its grooming, on both men and women.

By way of disclosure, I admit to wearing some form of facial hair since college days (high schools in my day did not permit any facial hair on men). I have worn a beard for almost 40 years now. My children (the oldest is now 25) have never seen me without a beard, except for a photo taken during Marine Corps boot camp, and they did not recognize me at all when they first saw it. The

If you’d like to see an entire website devoted to the subject of beards — their glory, their cultivation and maintenance, their lore, check out beards.org. As I pen this blog, it features the fellow at the right, seen in both his bearded and unbearded versions. Beards.org archives all the steps in between this version of Patrick and the bearded version below. In fact, you can see all the versions in between at beards.org, and find all you ever wanted to know about beards, and a lot of what you never dreamed there was to know.The

During my 40 years with a beard, I’ve seen beards go in and out of fashion. And, I’ve seen kaleidascopic variation in beard styles, lengths, and grooming. But, in no Christian community I have ever inhabited have I seen even the slightest acknowledgement that the Holy Spirit had any opinion at all about this topic, or that He had shown His opinion in Holy Writ.

That is what is the most startling about Clement’s pastoral exhortations. Most moderns will be shocked at the details of his teaching (he dares to criticize what we nowadays call “waxing” to remove all hair from the face, chest, and other parts of the body).

Beyond the details, however, is the larger framework from which the details take their meaning. It’s this Biblical framework one can sense in Clement’s exhortations. And, once you begin to perceive that framework and to think about the world in terms of it, the world around you begins to look pretty much as Clement was describing it in his day.

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Jesus’ Sexual Temptation

was sexual temptation included?The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness lays a foundation for later affirmations in the New Testament.  It validates Jesus’ righteousness.  It certifies His worthiness to undertake the mission set before Him.  It demonstrates His moral perfection, validating His suitability to die for the sins of others, as His death could not come about because of His own sins, the temptation attesting that He had none.

A more immediately practical significance of Jesus’ temptation, however, is found in Hebrews 2:17-18:  Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Was Jesus Tempted to Sexual Sin?

That aid is further elaborated in Hebrews 4:15-16:  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

So, we are encouraged to seek grace from God our Father in time of temptation because Jesus, our High Priest was tempted in all points as we are, and yet resisted.  So, we count on Him to intercede with His Father for our sakes, when we need divine grace to overcome temptation to sin.

But, wait!  What about temptation to sexual sin?  From the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we see Jesus facing no explicit temptation to sexual sin.  In an age where temptations to sexual sin are thicker than sea-coast fog, (and the First Century was far worse), what do we think of this absence of sexual overture in Satan’s temptation of the Lord?

Yes, He was tempted.  Sort of, that is.

From Hebrews 4 (“in all points tempted as we are”) and Mark’s summary statement (1:13 – “He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan …”) we might infer that sexual temptation was included in the range of temptations focused on Jesus by Satan.  Luke’s comment – “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” – suggests that the three temptations recorded were only a representative sample, that the whole gamut of temptations (“every temptation”) was trained on Jesus.  Or, that a temptation to sexual sin came later (at an “opportune time”) . 

Scorcese’s film based on Kazantzakis’ novelThis latter possibility provided the premise for Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel and Martin Scorcese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ .  In book and film, Jesus faces myriad temptations, including sexual enticements, throughout His adult life.  And, whatever flaws of history or fantasy the novel and film exhibit, their aim is the same as that of ordinary Bible students who speculate that Jesus faced  sexual temptations, which temptations are not expressly recorded by the gospel writers.

Unless …

Sex to the Power of Ten

Jesus said that the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.  And, though Jesus’ was speaking of the machinations of an unjust steward, His comments sometimes apply just as well to the insights by the sons of this world into how that world works in other areas.  Such as sex.  Just such an insight from a popular son of this world provides a clue to Jesus’ sexual temptation.

Heston’s 1995 AutobiographyThe actor Charlton Heston wrote an autobiography in 1995 (In the Arena, An Autobiography) in which he recounts, among other things, the events and personalities that attended the filming of El Cid. In the passage quoted below, he describes the filming of El Cid’s taking of Valencia. “Babieca” is a reference to the horse Heston rode in the film.

[p.255] We had most of the major interior scenes in the can by this time, leaving us largely focused on several varieties and sizes of outside scenes, principally the Cid’s conquest of Valencia and his subsequent defense against the invading Moors.

We filmed his entry into Valencia as bloodless, following Menendez Pidal’s account. The citizens welcomed him in preference to the weak King Alfonso, as the abler soldier they needed against the Moors, offering him the crown of Valencia. The Cid, stubbornly unwilling to displace the king who had exiled him and imprisoned his wife and children, refused the crown, surely one of the outstanding examples of loyalty in history.

It was also a key moment in the movie; I thought a lot about how to play it. As sometimes happens in film, that wasn’t necessary. It played itself. I led a mounted troup to the gates of the city, real iron gates set in the real stone walls of a medieval city. The sun and the sea were as they’d been a thousand years ago. The gates swung open, two thousand people screamed welcome. I rode through, [p. 256] Babieca dancing under my hand, both of us aroused by the roar “Cid! Cid! CID!” I swung off the horse, down into the welling sound, and climbed the steep time-worn stone steps set in the wall. At the top, I turned, the sea behind me, the city and the people lying below, reaching, entreating, warm and open as a woman. “Cid! Cid! CID!”

You don’t have to act that. You can’t act it. I was there. It happened to me. I know, in my bones and blood, what it is to take a city. Yes, of course, it’s like sex. It is sex – to the power of ten.

As you read this passage from Heston’s autobiography, was there any passage from the Gospels that came to mind? I don’t know about you, but I immediately thought of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Matt. 4:8-9).

If Heston is right – that such glory as the Devil offered to Jesus is an offer of sex to the power of ten – then Heston has presented us an intriguing validation of the statement made by the author of Hebrews that Christ was tempted in all ways, just as we are; specifically, that when the Devil offered Him the glory of the nations, Jesus encountered a temptation aimed at his human, masculine sexuality, a temptation which cut far deeper than a comparably trivial inducement to “mere” coitus.   

Sex to the Power of Ten in the Bible?

We need, I think, to reconsider what is going on in those prophetic passages which describe the kings of the earth committing fornication  with a city (Rev. 14:8; 18:3, 9; Ezek. 16; Hosea). Ordinary hanky-panky of the carnal sort is exactly NOT what the Prophets are talking about. Nor are the prophets scoring a cheap  rhetorical point by salaciously comparing a city’s allurement to a hooker’s come-on.  Great Kings (and those who suppose themselves to be such) fall prey to a fundamentally sexual enticement when basking in the glory of their cities or its citizens.  Think, for example, of Herod’s deadly error in Acts 12:21ff, or Nebuchadnezzar’s similar folly in Daniel 4.  At its heart, Herod’s basking in the adulation of those from Tyre and Sidon, and Nebuchadnezzar’s pride in the glories of Babylon are no different from Ahasuerus’ pride in Vashti (Ruth 1).  Indeed, Ahasuerus’ display of Vashti’s glory and all the glories of his empire are all of one piece.  Heston’s term for this is “sex to the power of ten.” But, there are no naked bodies.  There is no “sex” in the merely animal sense of that word.

We must also not confuse what is “greater” with what is “lesser” when comparing sex-to-the-power-of-ten with sex to what is ordinarily conceived by the term “sex.”  Modern notions of sex are almost comically truncated.  One might just as well collapse the meaning of “good diet” to the eating of green beans.  Eating green beans is only one, tiny feature of a good diet.  And, those who understand what a good diet encompasses also understand that a good diet might actually omit green beans altogether. 

So also something like masculinity or femininity.  Among the truly masculine or feminine are those who never (or, who no longer) experience sex as sexual congress with the opposite sex.  A ten-year old boy is often overtly masculine, though he is sexually a virgin.  Some of the paragons of femininity in all history have been virgins.  And, a widow or widower do not lose their overt or their intrinsic sexuality merely because they cease for the remainder of their lives to experience sex as they knew it with their departed spouses.

This kind of sex everyone understandsSo, Heston is not the first to understand that sex and all its wonder are driven by powers that easily transcend narrow animal aspects of sex. Before Heston spoke of such a thing, the Prophets of the Old Testament, and the Apostle John after them, spoke to the same point, using the same terms.  Israel’s worship of other gods was harlotry and adultery

Christians, regrettably, often suppose Jesus was beyond all this.  The pale, slightly fruity-looking Jesus that peers at us from so many treacley portraits in Sunday School assembly rooms looks utterly deaf to a sexual Siren’s song.

But, if bread is a temptation to a starving man, what is the offer of the glory of the nations to the One by Whom, for Whom, and In Whom are all things, Who is at the time of the offer surrounded by dust and rocks and geckos? And what is it to decline such an offer of such a glory, when that glory is rightfully Yours in the first place?  What kind of choice is it to follow, instead, a path leading to abasement and a humiliating death, because Your Father requires this of You? What shall we conclude about someone who made exactly that choice, in the face of exactly that temptation to chose otherwise? 

We conclude, as the author of Hebrews puts it, that “Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”  And that most certainly includes being tempted by sex to the power of ten.

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Godly Men and the Manly God

Like father, like son The blog entitled Dangerous Book for Men has gotten some attention from some of my readers out there in internet-land.  In one case, questions posted in that blog had to be passed by for a bit, as I was buried in prior commitments.  Now I wish to bring Bethany’s questions to the front page, so I may attempt an answer. 

In the comments to that blog, Bethany offered the following, which she announced as honest questions.  I receive them as such.  They are:

1.) I’m sure you would say that I (I am a woman, by the way) would have something to gain from reading both Psalms and Proverbs. But would you say that it is unnecessary for me to do so? Since it was not written for “me” or, I suppose, my gender I can read it to gain insight into males perhaps but not really to profit myself in any way.

2.) If the adjective for a good God is “manly” and the adjective for a good man is “godly” does that make them the same thing?

3.) And what does that make me? If I seek to be godly should I therefore also seek to be manly?

Here, then, are honest answers, in the order Bethany asked for them:

To question No. 1, I say …

Of course, you have much to gain from reading both Psalms, Proverbs, and anything else in the Bible, no matter to whom it was originally written.  I think this must be true of any written text, no matter to whom it is written.  I think you must know this.  I cannot think of any text – can you? – that is utterly without some conceivable profit to those for whom it is not addressed. 

In the case of the Scriptures, of course, its value for any believer is huge, even for those believers to whom the Scripture was not originally or primarily addressed.  Consider Genesis, for example.  There are a great many details in the book that show us that Moses’ audience was the generation of Jews who came out of Egypt.  In a derivative sense, that same audience incorporates all those who were participants in the Old Covenant, even centuries after the death of that generation of the wilderness. 

Was Genesis written to me or to you as participants in the New Covenant?  No, but … Paul, referring to a Mosaic statute, states this:  “For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?  Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, …”  

Paul also says this about an episode in the wilderness:  “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”  In other words, Scripture has value, even purpose, with respect to those to whom it is not originally or directly addressed. 

Proverb 19:25 says “Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary …”  The punishment was never directed at the simpleton, but he profits from seeing it! 

Is this splitting hairs?  No, for several reasons.  Acknowledging that Proverbs, for example, is written by men, to men, to mature young men into masculine adulthood … all this helps us avoid misunderstanding Proverbs.  To acknowledge that the Psalms were the hymns, prayers, praises, laments, and thanksgivings of men is critical for understanding  them, and it in no way diminishes their value for women, their capacity to instruct women, to edify and encourage them. 

But, there’s even more involved than a basic hermeneutical premise.  When most — if not all — of the OT is written to men, when it speaks to men as men, even when it is speaking about women, we’re justified in noticing this and wondering why.  And, Scripture — in the way it orders marriage, family, society, and the day-to-day relationships within the community of faith — tells us why it is so thoroughly patriarchal.  For that, finally, is the reason all these texts are presented by men to men.  This is even the case when the teaching (in the case of Proverbs 30) is candidly reported to be the teaching of a mother to her son!

By the way, you may indeed learn much about womanhood from reading the Scriptures, for they speak to the nature and life of womanhood, even if it be addressed to men.  In most places where the Scripture talks about women, it does so by speaking to men about women.  You, as a woman, would be foolish to ignore these places in Holy Writ.  And, I do not think you are foolish.

To question No. 2, I say …

I never said that “the adjective for a good God is “manly.”  If you think I have, please note that I repudiate the idea you’ve ascribed to me.  I do say – because the Scripture says so – that God’s “face” in the Scripture is manly, that we know Him (not Her) to be masculine.  And, so I confess, teach, and defend (because the Bible also does this) that God is masculine. This is what’s required of us to believe.  To say that God’s masculine face is a mere condescension, something arbitrary, is to make God a liar about His own revelation of Himself.    

Yes, “godly” is a proper adjective for a male who is “good” insofar as goodness and godliness overlap.  But it is also a proper adjective for believers generally (including females), and it is used in this collective sense many times in both Old and New Testaments. 

Mary Daly is famous for charging that “If God is male, then man [the male] is God.”  In the sense that Daly intends her charge, she is liar, for she knows that orthodox Christianity confesses only one human man who is God.  But, I fear, that’s Daly’s problem:  after the incarnation, God is not only as masculine as He ever was, He is additionally male.  And, He remains male for all eternity (ala The Book of Hebrews). 

About question No. 3, I say …

If you are to be godly, you will be godly in ways that are meet and right for women to be godly.  None of that requires a woman to be manly.  My eldest daughter, far more than my other three daughters, bears my image in striking ways – her face, her complexion, even the way one of her eyes is ever so slightly lower than the other.  The “shape” of my personality is found all over, in, and under her own personality.  Her sense of humor, various character strengths and, alas, weaknesses too – these she bears because I am her father.  But, in no way is she masculine, and the ways in which she most strikingly resembles me, these are not ways in which I am feminine. 

If you know a godly woman, you can see her Father within her, just as easily as you can see me in my daughter. 

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The Dangerous Book for Men

Author, subject, and interpreter

– – –

In an earlier blog, I mentioned wrote the following:

There are two books in the Bible which are written by men and for men.  …   The woman’s perspective is entirely missing in these books.  Though women are mentioned in these books, it is always from the perspective of men.  In these books you find information and opinion about women (though women are far from being the central subject of either tome) conveyed to men by other men.  

Do you know the name of these books of the Bible?  I’ll blog about them later.

Leigh Ann, among the commenters on that blog, caught the core of my question and came up with three suggestions, all of the fitting the bill nicely:  1 and 2 Timothy, and Proverbs.  It’s interesting that a woman is the one whose radar seems tuned accurately to the wave-lengths I was talking about.

1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are epistles written by a man (Paul) to other individual men (Timothy and Titus).  So, they qualify in the narrowest sense. But, in these more general terms – men writing to and for other men, as men to men – the Pastoral Epistles of Paul weren’t what I had in mind.  Leigh Ann was correct to name the Proverbs.  It is the one book where one can make a solid case for the feature I was thinking of.  The other book like it is the Book of Psalms. 

In one respect, the Psalms may comply with the criteria I mentioned more strictly than the Proverbs.  The Proverbs contain teaching which the male collector of that bit of wisdom credits to his mother – “The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him …” (Prov. 31:1).  There is nothing like this in the Psalms. 

LOOKING CLOSER AT PROVERBS

Proverbs is the Book most easily recognizable as written by men for men.  Its introductory chapters continually address “my son,” while the speaker consistently casts himself as one who gives “the instruction of a father” who passes on what his father taught him “when I was my father’s son,  …” (Prov 4:1-3).  To be sure, the teaching of the son’s mother is endorsed and affirmed, but the son encounters his mother’s wisdom directly via his father’s exhortation to it in the pages of this collection, as we’ve already seen in Proverbs 31:1ff.  In other words, the book of Proverbs presents itself as a man’s, a father’s, teaching directed toward his sons. 

The most dramatic way this feature of Proverbs shows itself is by the perspective it takes.  It is always the perspective of the male, not the female.  There are, for example, frequent statements about how wonder it is to have a good wife or how terrible to have a bad wife.  But, where are the observations about how wonderful it is for the woman to have a good husband, or how wretched it is for the women to have a foolish husband?  Women are spoken about frequently in the Proverbs, but women are never directly addressed in the Proverbs. 

Finally, Proverbs belongs to a genre of literature from the ancient Near East, all of its exemplars showing this same feature – they were teaching from older men directed toward younger men, to prepare them to enter the ranks of mature men who could rule their families, communities, and nations with all the success that wisdom brings. 

Comparing the book of Proverbs with other ancient Near Eastern literature sheds light on how the collection arose in the first place.  In order to instruct their sons, court officials in many lands pulled together the wisdom they had acquired in a lifetime of diplomatic service.  From Egypt we have at least ten such collections, from The Instruction of Onchsheshonquy in the fourth or fifth century BC.  An Akkadian translation of a Sumerian original titled The Instructions of Shurruppak dates from approximately 1300 B.C.  Ahiquar, who served as vizier to the Assyrian kings Sennacherib and Esarhaddon in the seventh century B.C. left The Words of Ahiqar

Prophetic authorities in later years added Solomon’s proverbs to the canon of Scripture.  The Proverbs of Solomon, Son of David, King of Israel  – the actual title of our canonical book – takes its place alongside these and other collections.  Prophets after Solomon continued to add to the collection until it reached the form we have it.  A manual of instruction for the king’s sons became available to all of God’s children.

MANLY WORSHIP OF THE MASCULINE GOD

The Psalms are identical to the Proverbs in these respects.  Unlike today, when “worship teams” routinely feature women as leaders – sometimes as the only leaders – the Temple worship teams were composed of men (e.g. the Sons of Korah), all-male choirs led by male choir leaders (see 1 Chron. 15 for details). God required that the men of Israel appear three times Jerusalem for the feasts of the LORD, making clear whose responsibility He made it for His worship.  The NT mandate that males shoulder the responsibility for leading the church in worship, doctrine, and defense of the faith is nothing new – it was all there when God first specified how His people were to worship him.

Women were always permitted to attend the feasts of the LORD (1 Sam. 1:1-7), and they did so in accordance with their individual feminine responsibilities (management of the home, rearing children, good works in the community).  And, we have at least two examples of hymns of praise in the OT written by women (Hannah’s hymn in 1 Sam. 2 and Deborah’s in Judges 5) that preceded Mary’s Magnificat.  But no psalm is ever ascribed to female authorship, and – like the Proverbs – the subjects mentioned in the Psalms are invariably presented from the masculine point of view. 

A MANLY BIBLE? A MANLY GOD? OH, NO!!

No doubt in the current climate this feature of the Psalms and Proverbs – namely, that they are by men and for men – insultS the feminist heart.  Baptized feminists (i.e. those who style themselves egalitarians) discount or ignore this feature of the Psalms and Proverbs.  And, reluctant complementarians blush and apologize when confronted by the androcentric flavor of these books.  Behind all these reactions is the 8-ton gorilla whose paws are on every page of the Bible:  patriarchy.  Feminists hate it, egalitarians condescend to it wherever they’re unable to erase it, and obsequious complementarians make endless excuses for it. 

But, the chief flaw in The Dangerous Book for Boys is stated clearly on its back cover:  ” … for boys of all ages, from eight to eighty …” .  And, this is just as much a flaw in the Bible, at least in the current sexual climate, for the Bible is “flawed” in exactly the same way as The Dangerous Book for Boys.  In a genuine sense, the entire Bible is by men and spoken to men.  It is, pre-eminently, The Dangerous Book for Men

And, women?  What do they do with such a book?  They either love it, or hate it, depending on their attitude toward the ultimately masculine God who stands behind the Bible as its Author, its Subject, and its Interpreter.

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Why Men are Happier

Well, on the Fourth of July, I’ve had fun with family and friends.  I have also figured out how to solve a problem with a tiling project in the kitchen.  And, I have not had time or attention to post another blog.  But in the closing minutes of this holiday, I opened an email from Dad (who’s escaping Texas rain in parched Arizona) to find a bit of spam which I’m actually going to share with you in a moment.

First, in the spirit of this holiday, I salute our nation’s armed forces in Iraq.  The photo below is my friend of 37 years, retired from the United States Army, recalled to active duty 12 years later, and now serving American interests in Iraq.  He is sitting on one of Saddam’s thrones, located in one of Saddam’s palaces, which now contains the offices of various military organizations, missions, and departments.  Col. Mike tells me that this is one of the most photographed thrones in the world, and it is also one on which more soldiers have sat than any throne which ever existed.

Yet another American soldier sitting on Saddam’s throne.

Col. Mike looks happy, and so this photograph serves well for the bit of spam Dad sent me, written by a woman, who is explaining why (according to her lights) men are happier.  Happier than women, of course.  Here’s how she explains it:

What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack.  You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth.    

The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don’t have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Graying hair adds attraction.  Wedding dress~$5000. Tux rental~$100. People never stare at your chest when you’re talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks.

A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.

Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face and neck.  You can play with toys all your life. Your belly usually hides your big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can “do” your nails with a pocket knife, or your teeth. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

 Can it possibly be true that this explains the rise of feminism in the middle of the 20th Century?

 Nawwww.  Too easy, that.

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