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

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Albert Mohler's (Mis)measure of Manhood

Recently, Albert Mohler stated:

In a biblical perspective, manhood is defined in these roles and responsibilities ["the role of father/protector/provider"]. A man is defined in terms of who he is and what he does in obedience to God. A society that rejects or sidelines these roles and responsibilities -- that does not honor fatherhood and hold it out as expectation -- will sow seeds of disastrous confusion. The damage to our language is among the least of our problems.

While the Bible clearly honors men who forfeit the blessings of wife and children for the sake of the Gospel (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 32-28), the history of the Christian church indicates that these represent a minority. The normative expectation is that a young man will mature to take on the role of "father/protector/provider" that Peters correctly sees as "not considered as necessary or desirable as it once was" within the secular culture. Those men who are faithfully living out these responsibilities are not likely to be too concerned about finding true masculinity. They are living it.

So Albert believes manhood is defined by the responsibilities of "father/protector/provider"? But wait, he makes a half-hearted concession that the "Bible clearly honors men who forfeit the blessings of wife and children for the sake of the Gospel" (albeit these men are, according to Albert, in the "minority"). Time for Logic 101. If a particular characteristic is essential to the definition of a class of entities, then no member of the class can be devoid of the essential characteristic. All strawberries may not be red, but all real ones are made of vegetable matter. If you give me a plastic strawberry with a refrigerator magnet on the back of it and tell me it's a "real strawberry" then I am going to chuckle. You were trying to be funny, right?

So if manhood is defined by the role of "father/protector/provider" then one must assume this quality is essential to manhood (otherwise manhood could not be "defined" by it). Is this true? Let's pose a classical three-part syllogism:

1. Major premise: Manhood has the quality of being a "father/protector/provider" in the familial sense.
2. Minor premise: The Apostle Paul did not possess the quality of being a "father-protector-provider" in the familial sense.
3. Conclusion: The Apostle Paul did not possess manhood.

Did you see the foolishness of trying to make marriage and family essential to the definition of manhood? Look, I don't care about any counterargument that "biblical singleness is a rare gift." There is no middle ground here. Either marriage and family is a intrinsic part of manhood or it isn't.

At best, Albert Mohler and his compatriots must subordinate the role of "father/protector/provider" to some other essential component of manhood that would necessitate a lot of men being a "father/protector/provider." Albert says, "A man is defined in terms of who he is and what he does in obedience to God." Good point, but should most men get married as an act of obedience to God? If so, what part of God's revealed Word does Albert reference to support such an idea? Answer: None. He just mentions "the history of the Christian church" and "the normative expectation." If Albert's views have been so "normative" in "the history of the Christian church" I wonder what teaching Martin Luther had to oppose with respect to marriage and celibacy? The historical revisionism of so many Evangelical leaders is astounding. Do they not realize that appealing to church history and ecclesiastical tradition is a rusty, two-edge sword laced with tetanus?

And what about the role of "protector" and "provider"? Are we saying that women have no role in protecting and providing for their children? Or for their aging parents? That women have no role in providing for their husbands? When women of yore wrung the necks of chickens and shelled peas to put food on the table for their men, was there no "provision" in that? Was that all a mirage? What does "helpmeet" mean anyway? A resident motivational speaker that occasionally gives me sex and buys stuff from QVC with my paycheck? I've said it before. I'll say it again. 1 Tim. 5:8 is not gender-specific.

There's just too much stuff here ripe for the picking. Somebody get me some mason jars.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Headship Canard

Some of my readers are already discussing something that I wanted to ignore, then address, then ignore, then (yes) address again. What is it? The Headship Canard. Here is basically the thinking behind it: Whenever women do anything wrong or when relationships between the sexes go sour, it's because men supposedly did not exercise the "headship" or "biblical leadership" that God demands of them. There's not much difference between this line of thinking and feminists blaming men for the behavior of women (think "power differentials" and "patriarchy hurts men, too").

The Headship Canard recently reared its beaked head at Boundless, where Motte Brown made reference to Doug Wilson's beliefs on the matter. Adam aka "Puritan Calvinist" alleges that Wilson's views on headship stem from Federal Vision Theology (a belief system which is a controversial approach to Reformed Theology). However, there are others who have expressed similar sentiments about men being responsible for women's actions. Debbie Maken and Adrian Rogers come to my mind as examples.

Let me cut to the chase. The Headship Canard is a rank, theological error that is refuted by the Scriptures. Women are clearly at fault for their own sins. They must take responsibility for their actions and stop constantly blaming men when they get into a pickle. See the following scriptures ...

Genesis 3:16 (see also 1 Timothy 2:14)
Ezekiel 18:19-20
Proverbs 14:1

Enough said.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Candice Rearranges the Deck Chairs

In her latest offering, Candice Watters discusses the question of whether or not women should "settle" for men who are not the most desirable mates. She makes reference to a quote from an article from Laura Nolan. As I saw that name, I had a thought that can be expressed as follows: "Oh no, I hope it's not that lady that made a comment about older single men being like eggs." I read on ... "Nolan says men are like eggs. If they don't hatch in time, they go bad." Yep, it's that lady. Sigh. Candice. Candice. Candice. Why must you scrape the bottom of the barrel?

Candice goes on to talk about an article by Lori Gottlieb in The Atlantic that basically calls on women to stop waiting for Mr. Right and just settle on getting married (or something like that). Honestly, I haven't bothered to Lori Gottlieb's article, because the oft-repeated swan-song of the aging feminist who bewails her choices has lost its novelty. Predictably, there are plenty of feminists and other kneejerk gynocentrists in the blogosphere, etc. who have taken issue with Gottlieb's essay. "We will not settle!" screeches the peanut gallery of female journalists.

Candice takes more of a middle-of-the-road approach. She thinks women need to be realistic about mate selection, but they do need to have standards. That's good advice--if there are any men that want to marry, that is.

All in all, it's more of the usual from the Spin Sisters. It used to be discontentment with men. Now it's discontentment with the lack of men. And yet, when I read these kind of narratives, I am left with the impression that female journalists think the interest men have in women and marriage represents some of sort of mathematical constant not subject to change--something to be taken for granted. More rearranging of the deck chairs. Even if twentysomething women suddenly decided changing diapers was more rewarding than sitting in the cubicles of the Customer Service department, what would change for men? Unfortunately for many women, there are a number of men who have the temerity to ask that question.

Indeed there are some men who are "settling." Not for the contemporary woman. No, they are settling outside the Anglosphere because they are tired of the stupidity, decadence, loss of liberty, and male-bashing that seems to plague many Western societies. Then there are others who are "settling" for the bachelor life. They find themselves truly "settled down"--unlike their harried married counterparts. So the beat goes on.