A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Which Conservatism?

There are "conservatives" and then are ... conservatives. The problem with the way the word "conservatives" is often used is that it inheres in it a degree of ambiguity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word "conservative" as "tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions." But what do conservatives want to maintain? To answer this question, I believe we must distinguish between two camps of "conservatives."

1. The first camp of conservatives are cultural reactionaries. For them, "conservatism" simply means preserving or restoring a state of affairs that serves to benefit them, if no one else. It's often a yearning for a social order that is static and inflexible. What is to be maintained is not so much a set of principles, per se, as it is a certain status quo. I will, for the sake of this discussion, call them Reactionary Conservatives.

2. The second camp of conservatives are those who seek to maintain or restore certain principles. Deviation from a standard is repugnant to these conservatives. I will call these individuals Principled Conservatives.

How does this differentiation play out in politics? Reactionary Conservatives will talk about limited government up until the point the concept threatens their sense of identity or desired state of affairs. They'll go after the "welfare queens", but won't touch the entitlements that go to married suburbanites. They'll oppose "nation building" unless their favored politician changes his mind. They believe government shouldn't be involved in raising our kids unless they want to censor what our kids might see on the Internet.

Principled Conservatives, on the other hand, will say no to government handouts and kickbacks, whether it is for the "welfare queens", the feminist social workers, the agrobusiness lobby, the defense industry lobby, the bailed out real estate speculation lobby, or yes, the married suburbanites. The Department of Defense will be just for that, period (Not the world's police). When it comes to social mores apart from the defense of life, limb, and property, the government will neither be the Mommy who spoils nor the Daddy who spanks. Why? Because Principled Conservatives hold steadfastly to the virtue of limited government and resist any encroachments of the State upon an accepted standard of governance (such as the Constitution).

But what I am saying also applies to religious matters--at least in the case of Evangelicals. When we talk about "religious conservatives," we need to distinguish between the Reactionary ones and the Principled ones. Reactionary Conservatives embrace the conservatism of dressing up in their Sunday best, quoting dead religious luminaries, and preserving institutionalized religion. Religion in this case is about conveying a wholesome image - the "form of Godliness" whether or not there is any real power to it. These conservatives pen screeds against the materialism of married couples who have no children, but not a lot, if any, screeds against the materialism of families with large houses, large automobiles, and large church buildings. These conservatives tell young men not to worship sex and women, but often discount any notion that men can have God-given fulfillment apart from taking a wife. The Reactionary Conservative talks about "sola scriptura" but mostly in the context of flashing his Evangelical credentials. Beyond that, his theology is a jambalaya of cut and pasted proof-texts, shaming language, threats, authoritarian gestures, demagoguery, and the "such like."

The Principled Conservative, on the other hand, wants to know just one thing: "What does the Bible say?" In matters of faith, he has no loyalty to Spurgeon, Calvin, Edwards, or any other uninspired person pushing up daises because he knows they are not the final authority on matters pertaining to "life and godliness" (2 Pet. 1:3; 1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Tim. 3:16). He doesn't want proof-texts; he wants context. He notes that the same Bible which requires one to "provide for his own" does not demand that anyone today start a family. He notes the same Bible that says husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church says nothing about a man asking women out or paying for dates. The Principled Conservative takes seriously little observations like these and doesn't take seriously those who would demur on this matter. His faith is isn't about saving our church buildings, our neighborhoods, our nation, or the cultural hegemony of the Protestant lifestyle ... it's about saving souls.

I think you can see where I am going with this and its relevance to what I write. The next time someone invokes God, the Bible, the notion of "conservatism", etc. and talks about what "real men" need to do, ask yourself if the person in question is a Reactionary Conservative or a Principled Conservative. Just speaking for myself, I intend to keeping reading my Bible ... and rooting for Ron Paul [*grin*].

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Ok, this is, uh, somewhat amusing. Sometimes, a little bit of comic relief is useful to keep oneself from getting too glum about the ridiculous attitudes society has with regard to men. The thing about parodies, though, is that it's hard to poke fun at something that already goes to hilarious extremes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Some Challenge

"Atypical Christian Woman" writes:
"This response is a little off topic, but I think you should check out Candice Watters' blog post from 1/3/08. I was so incensed by the way she regarded the single female writer because it was not biblical to just rip into someone the way she did. I wrote an e-mail confronting Candice and she wrote back. However, I will have to read her response when I have more time to think."
I am not exactly sure which post ATC is referring to, but I did see another recent post from Candice which caught my attention. In her latest offering, "Men, Called to Celibacy?," she says of the author Mike Mason:
"Given the seeming reluctance of so many Christian guys to get married, Mason's book issues a much-needed challenge [emph. mine]. Though promoted as a book for married couples, Mystery of Marriage is a powerful resource for singles trying to discern their calling."
Okay, what's the challenge? What is it about Mike Mason that will make men want to take the plunge? Does the guy have some hard-hitting exegesis to get Christian "toxic bachelors" to come down to the front center pew with their collection of Xbox games? Does he have some stats and social research to help men see the error of their ways and to help them distinguish between Ariel the Little Mermaid and Ursula the Sea Witch? Here's the quote from Mason that Candice thinks is a clincher:

"When I saw those two hawks, therefore, I took them as a sign, as a sign of God's pleasure in my marriage. ... It was not just hawks that were flying, but angels that were dancing on account of my marriage, and any yearning I might have had to be in a monastery (besides being ludicrously unrealistic by that point) was nothing less than a temptation from the Devil. Those two hawks were a confirmation that, for me at least, no worship could be more pleasing or acceptable to God than the worship of marital love, of two lives being played out against one another in a covenant of loving cooperation. What happened to me that summer's day was one of those gentle eruptions of grace that the Lord sends so quietly, so nonchalantly, so playfully into our lives. ... Never again would I have excuse to give in to those crippling and agonizing doubts as to whether God had called me to be married, or whether He had called me to be married to this particular woman."

So seeing two hawks flying in the air is Mason's momentous confirmation of matrimony? Uhhhhhhhhhh ... okay. I see his account as a confirmation of something else about the kind of arguments some people try to make for marriage.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Biblical Masculinity vs. the Wild Warrior Fad

Well, I thought I start out this year and this blog with an excellent post from Gordon Hackman on biblical masculinity (click here). In our culture, men are being hammered from all directions. There is no doubt that feminists and other androphobes have made men uncomfortable about their masculinity. Some consequently find a cure in stereotypical understandings of masculinity from bygone generations to counteract the widespread feminization of society. The old "tough guy" image is touted as the new answer to the identity crises many men are having. I have no problem with men who embrace stereotypical understandings of manhood as long there is no sin involved. But I have to ask--should Christian men ignore both the precepts and the liberty revealed in God's word just to take at face value the ipse dixits of self-appointed experts on the Evangelical book circuit?

Saturday, January 5, 2008


The purpose of this blog is to share my convictions on what manhood means from a biblical perspective. I may diverge into other topics, though.