In the first segment, I suggested that the man-up rants, being deployed by Neo-Calvinists, are not necessarily symptomatic of effeminization of the church; but are leftovers and corollaries from a conservative patriarchal perspective that sees men as leaders and women as flotsam; the latter, to be directed by the programming expertise of the male leader. I do not dispute that an effeminization of the church is occurring. However, if we misconstrue the diagnosis, our prescriptions will also be askew.
Recovering from a long sojourn in spiritual warfare and psychosis, familiar to both John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon; I began recollecting the abusive behaviour of a wife during my period of weakness. I vented my pains and frustrations to a male Christian colleague, leader of our small group.
In similar manner, after the Golden Calf incident, Jehovah vented His anger about the Hebrews to Moses; even threatening to eradicate the nation and produce the promised seed of Abraham through Moses loins. Although His Will might be set on saving these incorrigible people (as a sociopolitical entity), it did not stop Him from confiding His justified feelings. This suggests that it is OK to confide one’s justified feelings, even against one’s spouse, to a confidential source in order to seek psychic validation and vindication, although one has no intention of pursuing the ramifications of such feelings. It clears the air and clarifies the mind before being able to determine how one ought to proceed in the face of such circumstances.
However, the small group leader set upon me for ragging about the wife, even in confidentiality. This is consistent with this conservative value that men ought only to be concerned about their own conduct in the marriage. If the husband leader is wise and virtuous, he will know the right buttons to push so that his woman will respond in positive fashion to his manipulative craftsmanship. The man initiates; the woman responds; in sex and everything else. It is daft! And it is largely unbiblical and unchristian.
I had heard this perennial nonsense from a spouse who excused her every vice and viciousness as being a response to some failing on my or some other person’s part. But it becomes highly incredible when the husband, following the example and admonitions of Christ, refused to rail against the wayward and vitriol railings of the spouse. For, failing to react to the railings in like manner, that same small group leader set upon me. I no longer have contact with the man or his ex-church.
Husbands are to initiate sex and wives respond. Husbands are to lead in setting the tone of the marriage and women will follow if that vision is good; at least in the subjective eyes of the wife. (That is the nub! The wife becomes final arbiter of the Good and therefore the de facto leader.) Husbands are to lead in reparations of marital breaches.
And indeed, this propensity has validity; especially if one isolates all the admonitions geared toward spouses from the admonitions given to general Christian humanity.
However, wives behaving in conditionally to the virtuous initiations of the husband bumps up against this piece of counsel.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.1
One can find similar admonitions to servants/employees (and there are many obtuse Evangelicals who differentiate admonitions to servants from those of employees) about acting as faithful stewards, despite the harshness and vileness of their employers. The general tone of the NT ethos of grace promotes conduct and attitude that transcends merely responding to the actions and attitudes of peers and adversaries.
That a husband should lead in promoting the general welfare of the marriage and spouse is not disputed. But it is the endemic tendency for Evangelical churchmen to blame the husband if the wife fails to respond in kind. If the wife is a natural shrew, the unstated tenor of this conservative mind in Evangelical circles, is that the husband must have made her so. That mindset simply betrays what the Scriptures say about human nature. It might be true that many, if not most people, will respond in kindness to kindness. But there are many who exploit the good will of others or whose mind is so corrupted that they misconstrue the virtue of the virtue of others’ conduct. Furthermore, Christians, whether husband or wife or whatever category of humanity, are to differ from general humanity by transcending knee-jerk reactions to the behaviour of others.
Scriptures speaks about rebellious and contentious women in equal measure as about abusive men. To his credit, Mark Driscoll will not draw back from re-iterating the many proverbs of Solomon concerning such women; despite the many modern Evangelical banshees2, who lop off in selective isolation these admonitions against nagging wives from the rest of his Driscoll’s sermon, which addressed the concerns of both sexes. However, the general emphasis of Mark Driscoll’s sermons and articles tends to be directed more towards male irresponsibility as in this video.
In another sermon turned into Washington Post article3, Driscoll complains about the extended male adolescence, the whining evangellyfish without backbone; these unproductive males still living with their mamas. In a more recent and truly stupid article, Driscoll whines about the unwillingness of modern young males to marry and be responsible. 4 Under the present marital legal regime, such calls to man-up sends men into that, which is potentially hazardous to the material and psychological welfare of the male. A modern legal marriage is not a private contract between spouses alone. In the current sociopolitical environment, a husband marries a wife and the family court apparatus, manned by unjust feminist judges, who favor her. Even male feminists acknowledge the litany of evils that males face in this day5, even if they try to suggest that even more self-centered feminism would resolve it.
Driscollesque admonitions to enter an unjust and hostile legal regime is an invitation for masochistic martyrdom. Males are responding somewhat rationally to the circumstances on the ground. Covenantal marriage, in and of itself, is a virtue and benefit for both spouses. However, in the current sociopolitical climate, a conscientious male must ensure beyond shadow of doubt that the potential spouse will not take advantage of the inequitable family law system that currently reigns and holds the male hostage.
And this is a problem with Evangelical conservativism, which concentrates on private ethics but eschews and ignores public ethics that impinge on private behaviour. Conservative Evangelicals assume that the almighty male can privately overcome the legal impediments and imbalances, no matter how tilted the field of play. For Driscoll to preach marriage but not equally condemn these public impediments and call for sociopolitical reform, discredits the Christian gospel.
And there are other impediments for the young male. They include the imbalance of female to male primary and high school teachers. And even male public teachers will be largely feminized in these secular liberal public schools. The best three teachers that I remember are all male. This is not a product of misogyny, (or mere misogyny). It is simply that males speak a similar dialect of language of thought. It is simply that males tend to learn more by more kinetic methods; the son who litters his father’s driveway with parts from a disassemble car in order to reassemble another.
In the unjust legal regime, where child support from fathers, even those who are not biological fathers, are scrupulously and relentlessly pursued, while mothers are permitted to play custody games and invent sexual and physical abuse charges with legal impunity; the young male with absentee father has no true solid psychic ground upon to land in order to soar. It is a psychological reality that feminists cannot grasp; at least until the empirical evidence becomes overwhelming after a couple of generations. But even then and there…
It is true that a large element of males do not contest for custody. But why is this?? Custody becomes a weapon, wielded by self-centered and spiteful shrews, to extort more money from their ex-spouses and ex-boyfriends.
It is true that young males are staying with ‘mama’ for longer periods of time. However, consider the economic times, in which we live. There has not only been a socioeconomic and legal war waged against the male through the organs of government, there has been war waged by the older generation against their children. The real minimum wage is 1/3 less than it was in the late 1970s. I could live in a one-bedroom Toronto apartment at the age of 17 and still save a little money. There is no calculable way for my youngest son to live in such splendour even fifty miles from a metropolitan center. Existing union members voted to protect their own wages while damning future employees to a second class wage scale. Indebtedness; through money printing (private indebtedness) and public deficit and debt incursion, which has been addictively continuing for decades; front loads an economy for the benefit of generations prior. Later generations must face an economic drag in the deleveraging and paying back the debt. That is, unless they likewise ‘pay it forward’ until it can no longer be paid forward. And in this dragged-down economy, the youth also faces the public debts of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation. Is it any wonder why the younger generation wants to climb off this boat?
Globalization has strengthened the natural economic power and leverage of management at the expense of labour. Job prospects and wage rates/incomes have become increasingly dismal, especially in job categories traditionally held by males because those jobs, more than the service-oriented jobs preferred by women is more subject to globalization.
And a maturing sclerotic corporatism impedes economic growth and opportunity. The small entrepreneurial startup is often less threatened by innovative competition than by business and legal maneuvers by larger corporations with deep pockets (i.e. Microsoft versus Netscape). This affects more the type of businesses started by males more than females.
Anecdotal evidence abounds of deliberate, if furtive, hiring practices against Caucasian heterosexual males. And males are less adept at navigating the socioeconomic climate of corporate and bureaucracies, whose political correctness is reflective of the quilting bee than the rough and tumble of the boxing match.
Young males are staying with ‘mama’ for longer periods of time? I wonder why.
If women are now complaining where all the men have gone, I remember complaining to my best friend in the late 1970s about how silly and self-centered, North American girls were. Some of my disparagement of the opposite sex in those days stemmed from an ignorant lack of appreciation of the radical differences in approach to life between the sexes. This was consistent with the prevailing winds of thought sweeping those times; whereby gender differences were thought to be a product of social constructions. And thus if women did not meet standards of a supposed innate commonality, it must be less because female proclivities naturally differed, but that the current batch of females were unworthy.
However, hypergamy was just as prevalent then as it is now. I observed in mildly bemused and contemptuous detachment as girls chased the so-called alpha-boys who would express contempt towards them in “locker room” discourse.
If I had the authority of an old Roman paterfamilias, I would probably send away for mail order brides from the developing world for the other two sons that I have. However, this is just as unfair a blanket condemnation of the other sex as that conducted by modern women and theologians. There will always be a remnant of tender-hearted but tough Christian women, in amongst the American Evangelical (and other) Princesses out there.
And thus, if men don’t man up in career, marriage and children; it is equally prudent to question whether there is anything out there worth manning up to!
This is not an excuse for young males to wallow in despair and self-pity. There remains a problem with the porn and gaming culture that predominates the young male culture. However, preaching man-up sermons, without empathetic regard to the general and larger circumstances that males face, invariably and justifiably invites scorn and detestation for such a message. For obtuse evangelical preachers, to thunder without empathetic recognition of an increasingly overwhelming tilting of the field against males, their pontifications will lack resonance in the hearts and minds of future generations of young lads.
One of the observations, emanating from the above incident with the small group leader or the Evangelical church in general (and their men’s groups); is the myopia that impedes marriage, through this modern conservative atomistic (individualistic) perspective that pollutes Christianity. We, as men, are to seek how to be better men and let women seek how to better women. In other words, each is to weed their own side of the conjugal garden.
However, analyzing only one’s own side of the garden, prevents a totality of vision as to the social dynamics of the conjugal relationship. The weeds on one’s spouses’ side can spread onto the other. The Scriptures speaks of marriage as one entity (“one-flesh”); in which the issues on both sides of the garden are of common concern between spouses. There are natural responses to the behaviours of the other. The wife, who incessantly places herself on the self-righteous Moses seat, finds a husband that withdraws from intimate confiding of his dreams, fantasies, fears, anxieties and shortcomings with her.
The Puritans envisioned marriage, society and church as a whole and total organism; a commonwealth. The actions and attitudes of one component of the commonwealth of marriage or society etc could not be readily isolated in its consequences. However, current atomistic conservative evangelical mentality is prone to conceive marriage in its individual, isolated ‘roles’. And according to Tim Keller, marriage’s purpose is ultimately to improve our individual sanctification. The onus is misplaced and it hurts the ability to see the total picture and true purpose. The marriage is the thing.
It is true that each party of a conjugal union must ultimately and personally do in order to improve the overall relationship. But understanding the social dynamics enables us to understand why we behave in the way that we do, and against what we are contending.
1. 1 Peter 3:1
2. Darlene (Dee) Parsons, “Mark Driscoll is a Nagging Clanging Cymbal”, The Wartburg Watch 2013, May 1, 2013, accessed http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/05/01/mark-driscoll-is-a-nagging-clanging-cymbal/ as of June 1, 2013.
3. Mark Driscoll, “The world is filled with boys who can shave”, Washington Post – On Faith, August 22, 2010, accessed http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/mark_driscoll/2010/08/the_world_is_filled_with_boys_who_can_shave.html on June 1, 2013.
4. Mark Driscoll, “Why men need marriage”, Washington Post – Guest Voices, January 11, 2012, accessed http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/why-men-need-marriage/2012/01/11/gIQALubyqP_blog.html?wprss=guest-voices on June 1, 2013.
5. Noah Berlatsky, “When Men Experience Sexism”, The Atlantic, May 29, 2013, accessed http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/when-men-experience-sexism/276355/ on June 1, 2013.