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

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mohler Can't Let It Go

Adam (aka "Puritan Calvinist") has just posted an excellent review of a recent radio program by Albert Mohler on evangelicals and their disinclination to accumulate wealth. Mohler suggests that evangelicals are making some sort of religious statement when they marry and have children early, but there's more than meets the eye. I especially applaud Adam's following comment about Mohler's broadcast:
What I find most fascinating is that 95% of conservatives would disagree with him that delay of marriage is a sin, and that children are mandatory to a marriage [a fact he conveniently never mentions]. Yet, they still marry early, and have children. Why is that? Could it be that it is not necessary that it be mandatory in order for people to do it? Could it be that the sheer goodness of the responsibility of marriage and children will naturally cause people to want to do it, even though it is not mandated by the Bible? Indeed, far from upholding Dr. Mohler's beliefs, it is actually the strongest refutation of his beliefs. People do not need to hold his views to be conservative, and they don't need to hold his views to have early marriage and children.
Indeed. As it is, why should I believe that evangelicals are necessarily marrying young and having large families due to their beliefs when the study cited in the radio program mentions other factors: lower levels of income and education? Is Mr. Mohler confusing correlation with causality or something like that?

Another matter worthy of consideration is that I did not hear any scriptures for the "marry and get pregnant early" gospel Mr. Mohler was hinting at. Radio broadcast after broadcast--blog entry after blog entry--this man tells us the right thing to do is to marry and bear children, but he isn't very forthcoming with book, chapter, and verse for his sermonizing. If he's ever bothered to cite what the Bible teaches on marriage and children, then I have easily missed it.

Final note: Adam mentions Andreas Köstenberger as one of several evangelical scholars who take issue with Mohler's marriage mandate theology. I might add that Mohler's view on married people needing to have children is not universal among evangelical scholars either. Case in point, read "Be Fruitful and Multiply" in the November 2001 issue of Christianity Today by Raymond C. Van Leeuwen.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I HATE Feminism

In the Bible, we are told to love that which is good, but abhor that which is evil (Rom. 12:9). David speaks of hating "every false way" in Psalm 119:128. We thus realize that there are times when Christians have a duty to hate something (Eccles. 3:8). As a Christian man, I think is it appropriate to HATE feminism (note the capital letters). I am not talking about a polite disagreement or a mild contempt. I am talking about full-blown disgust and revulsion at something so fundamentally at odds with a created order established by a loving and holy God.

If this statement is shocking, then so be it. I have been accused of "rhetorical overkill", but this is not the time to worry about that. I suspect many will take issue with my speech. They may declare, "Feminism is about celebrating women as people who are equal to men, and securing their political and economic rights. How can you be against that?! Do you hate your mother, you misogynist creep?!" This would be a valid argument if feminists didn't repeatedly prove themselves to be complete and total two-faced, hypocrites. Am I exaggerating in making this charge? I suggest you read an excellent essay "Manipulating - This What Feminism Looks Like" by J. Soltys. Feminist have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

If you are woman, and if you want both genders to be treated with equal dignity in our society, then stop calling yourself a "feminist". Even the etymology of the word (FEM-in-ist) doesn't countenance the idea of equality, justice, fairness, etc. Feminism is best defined as a political ideology that concerns itself with the advancement of women. Period. Nothing else. Yet, even in defining the word, we must take into consideration how feminism is widely practiced. All too often, feminism promotes women at the expense of other human beings (men and children). Inasmuch as feminists have repeatedly failed to rectify this situation, they no longer deserve any modicum of respect.

I put feminism on the same level as child pornography. Are you taken aback at that statement? Ask yourself this: Is the murder of innocent children better than the sexual abuse of them? Feminism is most assuredly responsible for the death of millions of babies. Not only that, it is also responsible for creating a debased culture where men and boys are routinely and systematically dehumanized. It is difficult to have any level of polite interaction with a human being whose goal is not really justice "for all" but pushing an androphobic agenda to the fullest extent in law, academia, commerce, and the culture at large. It's like expecting a black man to have a coffee klatsch with a white supremacist. How can I, as a man, be expected to dignify the insane ratings of someone whose fear, distrust, and obvious hatred of me is rooted in my biology? The bottom line is that the anti-male pronouncements of feminism have no place in civilized discourse.

As someone who understands that all male human-beings are created in the image of God and are of value to Him, I have a duty to take an active stand against feminism. The moment you call yourself a feminist is the moment I have stopped taking you seriously. Why? Because you have never taken seriously the concerns of men.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Discretionary Singleness

I was thinking recently about how people often discuss the issue of singleness. Perhaps we are missing something in the way we categorize the unmarried. We usually talk about "singles by choice" or "singles by circumstance." But what do these categories convey? The first implies a group of people who embrace singleness as a preferred status, perhaps with enthusiasm. The second group implies those who would marry if they could but circumstances beyond their control prevent them from doing so. But I think a lot of single people, if not most of them, fall into a third category. They can be identified as follows:

1. They would very much like to get married (unlike "singles by choice").
2. They have had opportunities to get married (unlike "singles by circumstance").
3. However, they have passed up opportunities because of circumstances they deem to be unfavorable.

In other words, their singleness is due to an exercise of judgment (discretion). Many of us have probably said "no" to a lot of potential mates. Maybe we could have been happily married to any one of these mates, but we can't be sure in every case. Also we must consider that some people don't feel ready at a given moment to pursue marriage, although in reality, they might be ready enough. Given that bad marriages are worse than not getting married, sometimes doing nothing seems like the best thing. In short, a lot of judgment calls are made. Do we hold our cards or fold? One can pray about it and seek godly counsel, but at the end of the day, we make choices. We hedge. All the pious platitudes of the "gift of singleness" crowd or the marriage mandators are of little comfort to singles in the dirty trenches of agonizing over decisions.

So how should we treat singles who are not married because of judgment calls they have made? I have a few recommendations. First, we shouldn't belittle them for their singleness. We should not treat them as "incomplete" or as second-class citizens in a church. We should not treat them as asexual eunuchs, either; they have honorable desires that need to be acknowledged. Finally, we shouldn't force these singles to get married, but we should help them get happily married--if that's what they want. If we take these matters to heart, a lot of nonsense and ill-feelings generated in discussions about single people will probably fall by the wayside.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sexual Addiction - What They Don't Tell Men

I've been contemplating posting this for a month or so. I came across an article on sexual addiction in the March issue of Christianity Today. In it, the author states:
A widely recognized authority, Patrick Carnes, author and executive director of the Gentle Path program at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Mississippi, estimates that 8 percent of adult men and 3 percent of adult women become sexually addicted at some point in their lives (this article will focus on the greater problem, male sexual addiction).
It doesn't surprise me that the article acknowledges a focus on "the greater problem, male sexual addiction." Do you think we will ever see an article on "the greater problem, female frigidity in marriage relations" (which violates 1 Corinthians 7:1-5)? No? And why the exclusive focus on male sex addicts, anyway? Let me just say that I suspect a lot of people have a great of deal of interest in continuing to stigmatize male sexuality while portraying women as innocent, angelic beings.

This is not to take away from the valid concerns that the article poses. Sexual addiction in men is a problem. However, after hashing out the issues, identifying the problems, sharing case studies, and pointing to solutions, I believe a fundamental truth is getting ignored. It can be best summed up in the following words which were posted at the Church for Men board:
Merely focusing on men's sexual addictions is ignoring the underlying issue. The underlying issue is that male sexuality is suppressed or exploited. Society puts forth the noxious whimp/barbarian paradigm where a man is labeled, if not expected, to take one role or the other. If he is not an outright, macho jerk, then he is expected to constantly apologize for his masculinity. Society (and especially women) cannot tolerate men being complex and not so easily pigeonholed. The nice guy is not allowed to explore his own dreams and desires without first playing the part of the macho cowboy or thug.

Another thing to note is the hypocrisy of it all. Yes, sexual sin is intolerable, but when we constantly tell men that they can't live meaningful lives without women and that men are worthless without women, then men will get their conquest one way or the other in order to "feel like a man" (whether it be one-night stands, playing pretend with beautiful women on some porn site, etc.). A man who is confident in his masculinity to the point that he doesn't need a woman to validate it is less likely to look to sex to boost his self-esteem. But, alas,in feminized, estrogelical churches that are marriage-crazed and beat up on men, it is verboten to talk about having a worth apart from women. We can't have men be too much in control of their desires, dont'cha know.
Let me conclude by saying that modern evangelical church talks out both sides of its mouth about male sexuality. Men are told that most of them have a duty to pursue a wife, and yet they are demonized for doing this very thing, as one blog poster so clearly and painfully shows.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Finding Manhood (Part 1: The Present Choices)

[This is the first planned installment of a series on understanding biblical manhood. Those who agree with what is written are permitted and encouraged to reproduce it. No credit or attribution is necessary.]

Today we are told that masculinity is in trouble. We are led to believe that men are adrift without a strong sense of who they are. Our society has come up with several paradigms of manhood, some as a remedy to the supposed identity crises men are facing. What follows is a review of six prominent paradigms. The paradigms listed probably do not exhaust the notions people have about manhood, but understanding them is essential to discerning the difference between those expectations of men that are biblical and those that are worldly.

Playboy Paradigm

Under this paradigm, a man's raison d'etre is to accumulate a large amount of toys and sleep with as many beautiful women as possible. The problem is that a man begins to see his worth in terms of the fun he is able to have and his failure in terms of what he think he is "missing out" on. Sooner or later, we are left with miserable human beings enslaved to an endless quest for the ever elusive thrill to trump all other thrills. We also see people eager to live in a protracted youth free from responsibility and accountability (for instance, anxious Baby-Boomer men who don't have the grace to accept their old age and mortality). In the end, it's all sinful and it betrays men.

Feminist Paradigm

The Feminist Paradigm promises men freedom from restrictive sex roles and expectations, but in reality, it delivers one of the most restrictive and demeaning roles of all to men--the whipping boy. We are supposed to believe that no matter what happens, women always have it worse, that women are basically innocent, and that men are guilty. We are supposed to believe that feminism merely wants equality for both sexes.

The problem is that feminism wants equality for the sexes the way communism wanted equality for workers. In fact, feminism, as we have experienced it for a generation in the West, has historical connections with communism. Feminism takes the concept of class struggle and merely substitutes the concept of struggle between the genders. Individual initiative, personal accountability, merit and all other virtues of a just and free society fall by the wayside as government enforces an equality of outcomes. Identity politics reigns supreme and a totalitarian state simply replaces one class of ruling elites with another. Women of today become the new apparatchiks (or shall we say "apparat-chicks").

Religious feminism is not much better. All it can offer is a tortured exegesis of certain uncomfortable passages (1 Tim. 2:11-15; 1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Cor. 11:3) in an attempt to explain away what God has clearly ordained for women. No man who respects God's Word can take feminism seriously other than as a threat to his welfare.

Note: Intersects with the Playboy Paradigm in terms of secularism.

Nice Guy Paradigm

This is the mindset of the man who plays by the rules of the suburbs where matriarchs reign. He has accepted the trek of college, work, marriage, children, work, and retirement as the measure of his worth. He really believes if he works hard enough he will get the pay raise and win the heart of the girl next door. Popular culture, parents, the community, etc. tell him he must jump through certain hoops if he wants to be "successful" or "loved". He dutifully complies. He doesn't think too much about the forces unleashed in society that add to the probability of his failure and humiliation. He is all too trusting and doesn't engage in enough healthy skepticism of the status quo. A good number of men start here before they learn the hard way.

Family-First Paradigm

"Family" is the buzzword of many social reactionaries. We hear of "family" values, foundations and institutions focused on the "family", "family" bookstores, churches that "understand the importance of families", the need for government (with all its interventions and encroachments) to protect "the family" etc. The Family-First Paradigm has many forms. In a milder forms, it is the prevailing spirit of suburban churches where bible studies go hand-in-hand with double lattes, SUVs, white picket fences, L.L. Bean and Pottery Barn Catalogs, voting Republican, etc. In it more extreme forms, it manifests itself in the Marriage Mandate Movement or the Full Quiver Movement. In short, one might say that Gen. 1:28 is the John 3:16 of the family-firsters.

In accordance with the Family-First Paradigm, Christian Men are called to take the Nice Guy Paradigm, pump it up with steroids, and canonize it as a theology. The expectation seems to be that a man must work hard in a dehumanizing office environment, be the primary breadwinner in the household, have at least two children (but preferably three or more), buy lots of consumer goods, and not question his religious leaders and the corporatist welfare/warfare state for which they might be shilling.

Family-firsterism also seems to have the following notions about gender roles: If any thing goes wrong in a man's relationship with women, it is his fault. He is a depraved human being who receives sanctification through the sacrament of marriage (a mystical union with a precious, fragile, female human being for whose choices he must take complete responsibility). His sex drive as a man is the ultimate symbol of his depravity. All real women, of course, do not want sex as much as he does and he must adjust to that (not the other way around).

A particular subset of the Family-First Paradigm merits attention--the Neo-Traditionalists. They exclaim that women have a right to be successful and stand toe-to-toe with men in traditional spheres of male influence (political, economic, and cultural). Yet, when it comes to shouldering the burdens of responsibility men have traditionally borne, neo-traditionalists are all too willing to fall back on earlier sex roles. The result is that women have choices but men only responsibilities. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the insistence by some highly-paid professional women that their husbands make the bigger paycheck. Debbie Maken is a good example of a neo-traditionalist. Her book "Getting Serious about Getting Married" is a convenient patchwork of egalitarian and traditionalist understandings of sex roles. Men are essentially blamed in her book when women end up single due to their own poor choices and unrealistic expectations.

Yet in another sense, the Family-First Paradigm is all neo-traditionalist. Many reactionaries seem to latch on to the norms and customs of bygone generations (invoking the terms "biblical" and "Christian" to give authority to what they believe), while at the same time embracing many aspects of modernity that make the adoption of bygone norms and customs problematic. As a case in point, are we really supposed to believe that traditional divisions of labor between men and women in the 1950s are one and the same as what we find in the nomadic societies of Abraham's day? I get the impression that many family-firsters would answer in the affirmative (at least in those areas that they find convenient to talk about). In the final analysis, one could say that the family-firsters want to read romance novels about the Amish, but not live like them.

Note: The Family-First Paradigm intersects with the Nice Guy Paradigm in terms of naiveté and the Male Feminist Paradigm in terms of a demeaning attitude towards men.

Masculine Christianity Paradigm

Some have called men to renounce a "feminized," "nice guy" approach to Christianity and instead embrace the supposedly "manly" aspects of biblical manhood (a "new masculinity movement" if you will). It's a call for men to be Bible-believin' bad boys--Christian tough guys who take charge. In fact, one might say this philosophy is the Mythopoetic Men's Movement (a la Iron John) baptized into Evangelicalism.

While one might sympathize with the concerns some have with the way masculinity is marginalized in many churches, one still has to ask just what vision of masculinity should men embrace? One writer made an apt observation about the so-called "new masculinity movement":
Imposing qualities we consider masculine on an image of Jesus we consider feminine does not solve the problem. It only gives us a new problem--another culturally shaped Jesus, only masculine this time ...

In the end, the biblical image of Jesus presents a far more radical role model than Jesus the dude. Jesus was gritty, honest, and fearless. Yet his strength was not displayed in his willingness to punch evildoers in the mouth, but in his suffering at the hands of the wicked for their good. Where such strength is found--whether in a man or a woman, a latte-sipping sissy or a muscled mason--there is godly strength. (Brandon O' Brien, A Jesus for Real Men, Christianity Today, April 2008)
In essence, men don't need other men imposing yet another set of arbitrary codes of masculinity. Berating Christian men as "sissies" is arrogant and sinful. Men who want to fight the feminization of the church can do better than engage in the cowardly act of shooting the wounded.

Note: The Masculine Christianity Paradigm can be just as parochial in its demands as the Feminist and Family-First paradigms. Its adherents may present stereotypical views of manhood which please social reactionaries but are not particularly helpful to men as a whole.

Misogynist Paradigm

In response to the mistreatment men have experienced, some men have become so embittered that they have assumed a hostile stance towards women. A word of caution is appropriate here in broaching the subject of "misogyny", however. Feminists and other gynocentrists have misused the word as a smear attack against anyone that questions their philosophies. That said, there are truly men who have a dehumanizing attitude towards the opposite sex. It is a danger that any man angered by anti-male sexism needs to avoid.

Some men say women are "only good for one thing." Others say women all share the same amoral nature. Still others claim that women need to be demoted to second-class citizens or be coerced into submission. Finally, there are those who express elation at the suffering of women. No Christian men who takes the teachings of Christ seriously can embrace these kind of attitudes.

Please note, however, that this is not a call for men to be passive about the misandry they experience or to be overly optimistic about receiving any support from women or society. I acknowledge with great sadness that a great many women and a quite a few of our society's institutions have become the enemies of men. We cannot ignore the evils they are perpetuating; we most vigorously oppose them and shine the harsh light of truth on their deceptions and arrogance. However, religious men need to heed the admonishment of the Apostle Paul to "be angry and yet do not sin" (Eph. 4:26, NASB).


In short, the six paradigms of manhood listed above are unsatisfactory in providing a framework for men to discern what biblical manhood is. They all ultimately fail to meet the most important test all of all: conforming to God's will as revealed in his Word. Religious men need an alternative to the aforementioned choices. The alternative must be rooted in a truly biblical understanding not only of masculinity, but of the humanity of men as well.

[Click here to read the second installment of this series.]

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Why Should Christian Men Marry?"

I plan to post some thoughts soon on the challenge religious men face in defining themselves. In the mean time, I recommend an old post at the MGTOW.com site which touches on the matters I have been addressing for some time. It takes a bit of a "hellfire and brimstone" approach, but nonetheless makes salient points that cannot be ignored. The title of the post is ...

"Why Should Christian Men Marry?"

Friday, April 4, 2008

Trust Me, Guyzzzzz!

Don't worry, Linus, the Great Pumpkin will come and then you will have lots of candy! I like to know what my male readers think about the article I found here. Excerpt:

I’ve noticed that women generally don’t care a lot about how much or how little hair a man has. Money isn’t a big concern for them either. Both hair and money are nice to have, but other things are more important to women who are looking for a mate.
Discuss amongst yourselves.