Category Archives: Patriarchy

Meat and Potatoes

avlxyz at flickr.com

Lord willing (and assuming the flesh is not too weak to frustrate things) I’m returning to blogging here after a long hiatus occasioned by (among other things) diminished health. As before, I intend to comment – mostly polemically – against sexual insanity in the world and in the Church as well as against sexual shilly-shallying among those who deem themselves to be guardians of evangelical Protestant orthodoxy in America (and, occasionally, in Europe).

But, to this I intend to add a focus not heretofore present in this blog, namely to begin pounding out something I have long complained was absent within Broadly Evangelical American Protestants (hereafter BEAPERs). When it comes to things sexual, BEAPERs lack the meat and potatoes of the subject. They are like a gaggle of culinary amateurs who stumble upon the Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery (check out the customer reviews!). But, rather than learning from it, they simply display it prominently in their kitchens while they make endless creations out of Jello and Cool-whip.

In this case, however, the situation is worse. The religious feminists are now firmly in charge of BEAPER-land. They prominently display the Bible in their offices of power, but they never learn from it. Instead, they’re taking their cues from the World’s latest fashions tregarding he sexual analogs to Jello and Cool-Whip, as it were.

So, since BEAPERs won’t do serious theology about sex, I’m going to  undertake that project in this blog, toward two ends:

First, whenever I find a serious effort to do theology about the Bible and sex, I’m going to attempt to engage these works in this blog, in blog-sized chunks. Second, I am going to use this blog as a sort of “test kitchen” for my own contribution to the conversation I think has been badly needed for a very long time. That contribution will be to bring to completion a book I’ve had steeping on the back burner for over a decade now: The Masculinity of God.

I think I’ll begin in the next blog by introducing a work by Matthew Lee Anderson in which he attempts a preliminary engagement of a theology of the body. His subject is broader than human sexuality, of course; but, human sexuality must needs be a large idea in his discussion. So, I propose to take his book, chapter by chapter, summarizing what I find in it of significance for the building of a Christian orthodox consensus on sexuality generally, endorsing anything I can support as orthodox and Biblical, and criticizing some things (not everything) I find heterodox or sub-Biblical. Perhaps Matthew may eventually find his way over here and offer his own replies to what I present about his work.

Interested? Stay tuned. You won’t have to wait long.

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Filed under Complementarianism, Egalitarianism, Feminism, Patriarchy

Amazing Discovery by our RCC Friends

changing-timesThe BBC is breathlessly reporting something that I’ll be NO ONE EVER knew before:

Women are prouder than men, but men are more lustful, according to a Vatican report which states that the two sexes sin differently.

A Catholic survey found that the most common sin for women was pride, while for men, the urge for food was only surpassed by the urge for sex.

I can just Homestar Runner now:  “Seeweeouswy, Strong Bad!  Can you buh-weave it?” 

The BBC has shown us how late in the Empire we are, that this would be news.  Actually, it’s more than news.  It’s subversive, which is why it’s coming out of the Roman Catholic Church, that paragon of Western Patriarchal Purgatory, in which all men are gods and all women are bare-foot and prego.

Not that the Romans have any monopoly on this sort of thing, of course.  It used to be that American Protestantism was rife with sexist oppression — women covering their heads in worship, wearing dresses instead of short-shorts to Church.  Do you realize that not many generations ago there were no female worship leaders?  No generous swathes of female belly-flesh undulating from what old cranks pompously called “the sanctuary?”  No navels winking merrily at the congregation? 

It’s taken a long hard fight, but Broadly American Evangelical Protestantism has finally reached the gender heights of what George Bernard Shaw proclaimed as the proper gender division within humanity:  male, female, and clergy.  Except if you’re female clergy, you’re still permitted to flaunt your femininity.  If you’re male clergy, however, you’d better not speak or act in any way that a woman wouldn’t be comfortable speaking or acting.

Still, those Catholics think there’s a gender component to sin. 

The Pope’s personal theologian backed up the report in the Vatican newspaper.

“Men and women sin in different ways,” Msgr Wojciech Giertych, theologian to the papal household, wrote in L’Osservatore Romano.

“When you look at vices from the point of view of the difficulties they create you find that men experiment in a different way from women.”

Msgr Giertych said the most difficult sin for men to face was lust, followed by gluttony, sloth, anger, pride, envy and greed.

For women, the most dangerous sins were pride, envy, anger, lust, and sloth, he added.

Oh yeah??  Who says??

Actually, it was the Catholic sinners (or, at least, those who still go to confession) who provide the shocking evidence.

The report was based on a study of confessions carried out by Fr Roberto Busa, a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar.

Protestant ecumenists with their gender priorities straight (or, should that be straight/gay/lesbian/transexual?) need to redouble their efforts to liberate Catholic clergy and laity from the deplorable sexism of the past.

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Filed under Patriarchy, Worship wars

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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Filed under Man, the glory of God, Patriarchy

Tuning forks, Iconic Men, and Masculine Resonance

Men, in some ways, are like tuning forks.The citation for heroism for Major Bruce Crandall’s Medal of Honor (see a couple of blogs ago) highlights a peculiarl dynamic that works within a man’s soul, both in crisis charged moments and also over long periods of a man’s life as well.  Consider the following words from Major Crandall’s citation:

While medical evacuation was not his mission, [Major Crandall] immediately sought volunteers and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, led the two aircraft to Landing Zone X-Ray. Despite the fact that the landing zone was still under relentless enemy fire, Major Crandall landed and proceeded to supervise the loading of seriously wounded soldiers aboard his aircraft. Major Crandall’s voluntary decision to land under the most extreme fire instilled in the other pilots the will and spirit to continue to land their own aircraft, and in the ground forces the realization that they would be resupplied and that friendly wounded would be promptly evacuated. This greatly enhanced morale and the will to fight at a critical time.

What’s going on here is something I call “masculine resonance.”  I liken it to a powerfully sounding tuning fork brought near to other tuning forks.  The sonic power of the one tuning fork generates harmonic vibrations in the previously silent tuning forks.  In the case of Major Crandall’s Medal of Honor citation, quoted above, Crandall’s heroism “instilled in the other pilots the will and spirit” to do as he was doing.  Moreover, within the soldiers on the ground, Crandall’s efforts “greatly enhanced morale and the will to fight at a critical time.” 

Such resonance among men is not a purely passive thing, as if one brave man automatically creates bravery in a bystander.  That’s why tuning forks have limited ability to illustrate the resonance I’m talking about.  Resonating tuning forks are, in fact, passive.  But, masculine souls, resonating with the power of other masculine souls, are not.  There is much to masculine resonance which comes from deliberate choice.

Beneath the mild-mannered man is the Superman!You can see this easily when you watch how very young boys relate to older, more overtly masculine males. Young boys will unabashedly mimic masculine characteristics in other males when they admire or otherwise esteem them.  Their esteem gets expressed in two ways — by overt exclamations of praise (e.g. “Wowee! Look at that! Isn’t he the coolest?!”) and by attempts to mimic the male who is admired. So, the young boy seeks to dress like, act like, speak like the iconic male he admires. Entire segments of the toys-for-boys industry capitalize on this dynamic. 

Before there was Superman, there was Superboy!In boys, the “effect” runs in one direction only: from the iconic male to the boy, who endeavors to incorporate the masculine identity of the iconic male into his own masculinity via mimicry. The same is necessarily true when the iconic male is a figure from history, or a fictional character (e.g. Daniel Boone, Davie Crockett, Superman). The boy’s mimicry focuses on things easily reproduced (dress, habits of speech or behavior).

But, this mimicry also works in adult men, from silly costuming by young adult males at a sporting event, to the more sober and serious attachments men make with other men in their professions, avocations, and spiritual loyalties.  The dynamic itself is completely natural.  The mentor-disciple relationship is fundamental for men to grow into masculine maturity, and the most elementary way this relationship works is via mimicry, as the disciple endeavors to appropriate the mentor’s skills, insights, habits of life, and wisdom.

Proverbs 27:17 is often cited as yet another metaphor for the way men affect one another.  Unfortunately, its point is often missed for the simple reason that few people today ever sharpen iron.  But, the wise man of Solomon’s day knew – as we all know – that one never sharpens iron with another piece of iron.  Instead, we apply something harder than iron to the iron blade we wish to sharpen.  We sharpen iron with flint, or granite, or some other crystalline stone.  When the stone and iron come into contact, the iron changes much while the stone changes little.  This would be a fitting picture for the way a mentor “sharpens” his disciple.

Men behaving like they do when united by a winsome leader against a dasterdly foe.When iron sharpens iron, both change.  And, so, the picture presented in the proverb shows us how men in fellowship, men in sustained community, even men in conflict, change one another through the encounter.  It may be for good, or for evil.  Either way, men bonded with one another create corporate bodies of amazing power.

There are several directions one might explore from these observations, but I’ll mention only two here, and only in brief.

First, masculine maturity arises from a man’s interactions with other men, especially other men who are more mature than he is.  Women cannot shepherd the boy across the threshold of manhood. Only men make other men. Only men can mature, develop, perfect, and hone other men. And this is true for adult men as much as for boys.

A man never loses his need for close, engaged, resonant relationships with other men. The “rugged individualist” notion of manhood we inherit from the last century is a myth that distorts, blunts, and diminishes a man’s manhood.

Second, a man seeking maturity does well to seek out his mentors, to present himself to those whose manner of life and wisdom he aspires to acquire.  He also seeks out the company of other men and chooses well the masculine company he keeps, avoiding those who will misshape him, seeking those whose virtues he’d wish to rub off on himself, cultivating relationships with men whose character support, strengthen, and protect his own character.

The most effective way that men may advance in authentic masculine maturity is through worship of God the Father through His Son, the God-man Jesus Christ, and this worship will shape men most effectively when done in the company of other men.  Our churches today never offer this to the men in their midst, which is probably a leading reason men are as scarce in the churches as they are. 

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Filed under Man, the glory of God, Man, the Savior, Patriarchy

Me Tarzan, You Jane

Me Tarzan, You Jane, Them Bad GuysMany “gender truths” found in general revelation have a high degree of “Duh!” connected to them.  They are so blindingly obvious (see below) that it’s comic to find someone spending gobs of time and money to articulate something like this:

“ … women feel dependent on men.”

“Females are smaller and weaker than males so, women and their offspring are prone to being the victims of predators, and violence.”

“It is that instinctive need to rely on a man which makes women so afraid of abandonment. Perhaps that is why women are more attuned to their partner’s moods and curious about tiny aspects of his life. And they are much better than men at spotting liars.”

Do you suppose the person who expressed these ideas was some knuckle-dragging patriarchalist?  Nope.  It was Dr. Nick Neave, evolutionary psychologist at Northumbria University in Great Britain, that nation of patriarchalist chest-thumpers.  And he published these thoughts in that reactionary, patriarchalist, woman-hating rag called The Daily Mail.  Read all of it here or here

Now, when you consult the entire article, you find Dr. Neave falling all over himself with apologies for having to convey such radically non-PC, seemingly contra-feminist ideas.  Tsk tsk.  The risks some men take for science! 

It reminds me of the labors of sociologist Dr. Stephen Goldberg, whose 1974 book entitled The Inevitability of Patriarchy met 67 rejections from publishers before he found one willing to risk printing it.  When he published a revised version of the book in order to answer the challenges his first effort generated over the next 20 years, he re-titled the book Why Men Rule: A Theory of Male Dominance.  The readers’ reviews of the first and second versions of Goldberg’s work are predictable and funny to read.

Two points to make on this occasion:

General revelation does not tell lies.  One may ignore it, of course, as secular and religious feminists must.  And, one may misreport the message of the cosmos, as secular and religious feminists ordinarily do.  Goldberg and Neave – insofar as they take the data of Mother Nature at face value – should be commended for listening to Nature rather than constantly correcting her. 

The Book of Nature is intelligible only when read in light of the Book of God.  Goldberg and Neave attempt to explain the data of human relationships (i.e. that they are stubbornly – Goldberg would say “inevitably” – patriarchal) by recourse to an evolutionary dynamic, a kind of scientific determinism that may be described but never overturned.  Contradicting this view is the account of the patriarchal nature of human relationships found in the Bible.  At best, Neave’s and Goldberg’s account is “inevitably irritating” (one Amazon reviewer’s characterization of Goldberg’s work) to egalitarian sensibilities.  Only the Bible’s account is comprehensively coherent, for it amounts to the Creator’s commentary on His own work. 

Those who embrace both the data of general revelation and the Bible’s account of it will find men like Goldberg and Neave helpful, for they testify to the “hard-wiring” of human relationships as God designed them.  Also, they have no Christian or Biblical axes to grind and cannot be charged with Christian or Biblical bias in their reporting of what Mother Nature tells all of us, even if it’s really regrettable news to an egalitarian. 

BACKDATE:  Joe Garagoli of the San Francisco Chronicle made a similar report back in August, 2006, which may be read here and here. He begins his story with these words:

Louann Brizendine’s feminist ideals were forged in the 1970s, so the UCSF neuropsychiatrist is aware that some parts of her new book, “The Female Brain,” sound politically incorrect.

Could it be that the feminist parts of Brizendine’s book are, like Neave’s and Goldberg’s, ignoring the contra-feminist implications of their research?

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Filed under Egalitarianism, Feminism, Patriarchy

What to do about the bad husband?

We often get questions that go something like this one we recently received:

On pages 114-115 in section 2.2 [of your work Five Aspects of Woman] you talk about Christ suffering under human authority and you urge wives to submit to “bad husbands.” You ask that they “be patient with them by recognizing Christ’s authority over and beyond their husbands.” … someone who is currently in an abusive relationship married to a “bad husband” could construe this section to mean that they should stay with their husband even if he beats them to death. Just as Christ is our example, he was beaten and crucified. I do not with any of my being believe that Christ has called us to do the same.

bad husbandThis correspondent is in numerous company with her question, for to judge by feminist and egalitarians generally, married men are neanderthals unless they happen to be Alan Alda wannabees instead.  Even the ostensibly Christian egalitarian will speak as this women spoke, to render the Apostle Peter flatly wrong in what he counseled women to do in 1 Peter 3. 

I am not concerned here to expound 1 Peter 3 in its broadest scope, except to say that a very large company of martyrs in heaven would have a thing or two to say about what Christ did or did not call upon them to suffer for His name.

The question posed, however, almost never turns on a potential martyrdom. In my own pastoral experience of some 25 years, and in onsulting with other pastors across several denominations, I do not find the husband who beats his wife to be more than a small minority of bad husbands.  Far, far more common are husbands who abandon their husbandly responsibilities rather than abuse those in their homes.  Yes, the latter exist, but the measures applicable to them are not applicable to husbands whose faults are the kinds characteristic of sluggards.  In any event, what do we say — what should any Christian say — to a woman with a “bad husband?”  What we say turns on what is meant by the term “bad husband.”

I thought my wife’s answer to the question was a good one, and so I reproduce it here:

Dear Mrs. M…,
 
You ask me to provide clarity on what I consider a “bad husband.” Let me respond with two answers.
 
I. Bad Husbands Don’t Do What They are Supposed To Do
 
One way to define a bad husband is this: one who does not fulfill the work that God gives him to do as a husband either because he abandons the responsibility or he abuses it.
 
I would list the following as basic kinds of responsibilities for husbands:

  1. provide—work to earn a living
  2. lead—provide overall direction for family practically and spiritually (I Cor. 14:35 indicates that women should be able to ask their husbands their spiritual questions. If he does not know anything spiritually, how will he answer?)
  3. love wife—kindness, affection, personal interest in her, spend time with her
  4. be a father to their children: strong, attentive, loving in discipline and care 

Now when a man abandons or abuses any of these areas he is a bad husband because he withholds something from his wife or children that they truly need, or he puts upon his wife something that God did not design her to bear.
 
For example, there are men who will not work. They abandon their responsibilities as breadwinners. They put upon the wife the weight of providing for the family. Now no man is a perfect husband because no man provides and leads and loves flawlessly. However, most women consider their husbands “good husbands” when they see a sincere effort in the above areas. However, when a man is simply passive or abusive in any of these areas, a woman will have a great need to read and meditate on I Peter 2-3 in order to gain grace from Christ to forgive and be patient, not retaliating in kind, giving evil for evil.

For example, Sue may be married to Joe who is a pretty good guy. He is not a criminal. However, he never spends any time with the children, nor does he take any initiative whatsoever in their guidance, discipline or care. Sue is going to feel hurt, angry, and disappointed, and she has reason to. It hurts her to see her Children neglected. She will need to apply I Peter 3 in patience and in prayer for Joe to grow in love for their children. She will also need to refrain from retaliating in kind, e.g., by withholding her affection from Joe because he is withholding his affection from the children.
 
II. Bad Husbands Who Are Criminals
 
Now there are men who are criminals. They are a different category of “bad husband.” Assault and battery are crimes which can and should be prosecuted by the State. Paul tells us that government is for the punishment of evil-doers.  I know that criminals exist and that mentally-deranged people exist who can make life literally impossible. In these cases, the wife should seek help from the state or the church or family or friends. It is not our duty to take beatings that we can escape. Jesus himself spoke up when He was struck unlawfully (John 18:22-23) and Paul asserted his rights as a Roman citizen, rather than take an unlawful beating from Romans (Acts 22:25-29).
 
To summarize, I believe almost all women find their husbands letting them down in key ways over the time of their marriage. These failures are real and cause true suffering for the wife. She should be patient, she should model the faith, and not retaliate in kind. In this way she will strive to “win him without a word.” If a woman is married to a criminal or a madman, she should seek help as her situation allows.
 
I hope this provides some helpful background on the passage in question.

I would only add to this by way of urging church leaders to plan, train, and rehearse interventions for those situations in their flocks where an errant spouse (including women!) are bringing harm to the rest of the family and scandal to the flock.  I remember long ago when I led my elders in confronting two men in the congregation who were involved in adulterous affairs.  Both situations eventually turned out well, as the husbands repented.  But, I found tremendous reluctance for the elders to join me in admonishing the errant husbands.  And, in these situations, the state has no interest in punishing evil-doers at all, beyond encouraging the offended spouse to terminate the marriage.

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Filed under Man, the Husbandman, Patriarchy