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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Some Thoughts on Christianity and MGTOW

In this post, I wanted to share a few thoughts about Christianity and MGTOW. There has been some talk on men's blogs about what the "solution" might be for men who are trying to stay afloat in a post-feminist world. I know what the solution is for the believing man, whatever his fate with the opposite sex may be (Romans 15:13). A man can spend all his time learning tips to attract women. He can read up on "inner game" all he wants, but as somewhat profitable as these things may be, they are insignificant compared to the power of the Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7). Indeed, "joy" and "peace" are fruits of the Spirit, not one's marital status or one's sexual history (Galatians 5:22). The one who has overcome the fear of man (Proverbs 29:25) has overcome the fear of woman, the fear of rejection, the fear of shame, and yes, the fear of indefinite loneliness.

Abide in Christ (John 15:4), draw near to God (James 4:8), ask for the Spirit and be led by him (Luke 11:13; Romans 8:14). What I am saying is not new. But I know that sometimes accepting a proposition intellectually is not the same as understanding it experientially. So seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:1-14). Spiritual maturity does not come instantly and it does not come easily. You may be like Jeremiah. He was unable to take a wife and live a life in the context of a supportive community because, well, the community around him was under judgment. But even when others around you forsake you, you are never alone if you stand with God (1 Kings 9:1-18).

A Biblical understanding of MGTOW does not relish isolation from others, not even women. But what it does seek is peace and meaning in the person of Christ. So, when the churches fail, when the women of our culture go after the idols of our day, when those in power grow more tyrannical and corrupt, when men are marginalized and stripped of importance, when misandry flourishes, when society moves further away from God, a man can stand firm and unshaken in Christ (Matthew 7:24-25; Psalm 46). The saying that "Jesus is all you need" has fallen on hard times, probably because it has been used in too many instances to dismiss those who suffer from loneliness. But even so, some of us have at least a partial appreciation of its truth, even though the appreciation has come through many failings. It's a truth that helps us to not only survive the depersonalized structure of our modern society, but also to thrive. It keeps us from being tools for those with an ungodly agenda.

To men who feel alone, I say this: Don't thirst for the affection of those who are perishing. Look around you and discern. The people that mistreat you and that you are tempted to envy are like chaff. They will be blown away. Read Psalm 49 and Psalm 73. There will be those who will falsely accuse you of being bitter, envious, and insecure. Don't marvel at this; false accusations against the people of God are nothing new (Matthew 5:11). The women that demean you are enslaved by the spirits of bitterness and pride. If they refuse the healing of the Great Physician, what fellowship do you have with them (2 Corinthians 6:15)? They will sink. Don't be sucked into the wake of their demise. Your religious leaders may scoff at you, too, but remember that they scoffed at righteous men before the Babylonian Captivity and before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The wicked will not prosper--even if they stand before podiums in large auditoriums with stained glass windows.

I suspect there are those who will accuse me of a "sour grapes" attitude that masquerades behind piety. They don't understand. They don't have the slightest clue. And I suspect the reason they don't have a clue is because they haven't taken the idea of walking close to God in their personal lives very seriously. A lot of them are nominal believers, at best. If they were walking close with God, then they would understand what I am saying.

This is not about my wounded pride, although all of us struggle with it. The love of God that allows me to stand alone in the crowd if necessary is also the biggest challenge to my pride. How can I be prideful in anything if the very blessings of life I have are gifts (Matthew 5:45)? What accomplishments can I boast in if it is God's power that sustains me (Philippians 4:13)? Why should I be afraid of looking like a fool if I am a fool for Christ (1 Corinthians 4:10)? Why should I be afraid of facing up to my failures if, in Christ, all things are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17)? Why should I be afraid of being weak if, in Christ, his grace is perfected in such (2 Corinthians 12:9)? Why should I care if others say I have "no life" if indeed, I have given up mine for Christ's sake (Mark 8:35)? Why should I be worried if everyone is better than me if the One who is perfect loves me still (Psalm 18:30)? Indeed, it is his love that helps me to love others as myself (1 John 4:19).

If my accusers had what I had more abundantly than me, I would be happy for them. But of course, if they did have it, their behavior towards me would be quite different, even if they still disagreed with me. Furthermore, if the Spirit of Christ leads me to repudiate either the tone or the content of what I have written over the last few years, then is it the end of the world for me? No. As the Apostle Paul said, "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8). Even through my failures, I am confident that God will continue his sanctifying work in me until the day of his Son's appearing (Philippians 1:6).

Here is the essence of a Biblical understanding of MGTOW: Go ahead and call me a loser. Go ahead, because Christianity is for losers (Matthew 10:39; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29). There is no need for me to be defensive about that statement because the victory is already mine in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). I stand upon this confession:
"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." (Colossians 2:8-12, NASB).
I am not writing this for my own benefit; I'm writing for the benefit of the others. You see, many of you have tried to make it all about me. But it isn't really about me. It's about Christ, regardless of what you or I think about things. If I have said some things over these last several years that shouldn't have been said, then I apologize. Let what is good stand; let what isn't fall. If my counsel is not of God's will, then I will be defeated (Proverbs 19:21). The same goes for you. Take care.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Best Ones Are Already Taken

A lot of men like to complain about the fact that the "best ones are already taken." Well, it is true--in one very special sense. These women of which I speak are "already taken" by Christ. In a strange way they, who have already given their hearts to another, are the only ones men should be pursuing. Other women have given their hearts to romance novels, the American Dream, living it up, the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, or the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Many times, men are far from number one in a woman's life. So at best, a woman who has Christ as #1 will put her husband at #2, and not dead last (as is the case with not a few husbands).

You might retort, "But I've met a lot of Christian women who claim to put Christ first and they still treat me like dirt." Yes? And your point is? Do we need to rehash matters about the state of our churches today? Needless to say, religiosity, cultural conservatism, and the such like are not reliable metrics of spiritual maturity. Take the most conservative, Bible-believing congregation you like and compare them to the Pharisees. How will they fare? The Pharisees were moralistic (Luke 15:2), zealous about studying the Scriptures (John 5:39), and zealous about following the Law (Acts 22:3). You see, there many are who zealous for God's word and yet are not zealous to walk in intimacy with the One who authored it. Are they led by reliance upon God, Christ, and the Spirit? Or they led by their self-righteous expertise in knowing doctrine and performing religious acts? Now you know why so many conservative churches are utterly dead. They have forsaken their first love (Revelation 2:4) and have become country clubs for suburbanites.

Some would assert that Christian men "have no excuse" and that there are "plenty of women to go around" in our churches today. Those who assert this are looking at the matter though the eyes of man, not through spiritual lenses. The Bible is clear about the kind of woman a man should date or marry (Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 3:1-6). This simplifies the picking and rejecting to a great extent. It has to do with one's attitude, not a flurry of religious activity or putting up a front. It has to do with the heart, not the backside and where it is planted on Sunday morning.

So you see, when religious leaders tell me that I need to find a wife that helps me "glorify God" or helps me perform "kingdom work," I think they often do not know what they are asking for. They may think of church buildings, programs, funded ministries, grandiose missions, professional clergy, filled church nurseries, filled pews, filled coffers, good times ahead for their man-made denomination, middle-class values, a return to the 1950s in the general culture, or whatever. Being Spirit-filled does not equate to any of this. And being married to a Spirit-filled woman does not equate to any of this. It does look a lot like what one reads in 1 Corinthians 13.

The Christian man who has turned his back on the dating scene is not to be consumed with bitterness, selfish anger, vengefulness, or hate. But he doesn't need to bother with romance, either. True, he is called to love women as his neighbors (Mark 12:33) or as his sisters in Christ (1 Timothy 5:2), but he is also called not to cast his pearls before the swine (Matthew 7:6). Quite frankly, a lot of woman are acting like swine because their souls are in spiritual bondage to the Enemy. This includes a lot of churchgoing women who are deceived by their own religiosity.

I have said many times that a Christian man has no Biblical obligation whatsoever to date or marry. Now, it may be that God may individually lead a man to marry and put a desire in that man for a wife, but that is God's private work in somebody's personal life, not dogma to be bound on the body of Christ (Proverbs 18:22; 1 Corinthians 7:25a). The Scriptures still grants men the right to refuse to marry (1 Corinthians 7:37).

What I'm getting to is this: A Christian man doesn't have to worry about what people think about his singleness if he is not even surrounded by Spirit-filled women in the first place. If he finds a woman filled with the Spirit, and if he is filled with the Spirit, there will be very little holding each of them back if the Lord is pleased to have them together. The two of them won't need a "mandate" and won't have much use for pretense and stratagems. Love has a way of accomplishing what coercion cannot.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Miserable Comforters of Men's Ministries

Anyone who has read the book of Job knows just how unprofitable his friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were in his hour of need. Even though Job did nothing wrong to deserve his fate, his friends saw the situation differently. They insisted that Job must have sinned in some respect and that he needed to repent. After all, they reasoned, God brings favor to the righteous and punishes the wicked. At one point in exasperation, Job exclaims, "I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all" (Job 16:2, KJV). God himself sets the record straight at the end and gives Job's friends the 6:00 AM wake-up call:
It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has." (Job 42:7-8, NASB)
The modern church doesn't have any characters like Eliphaz and his buddies, does it? To ask the question is to answer it.

I fear too many men's ministries are headed by "miserable comforters." They don't get it. Their theology is pat, simplistic, and lacking in serious reflection that comes from a concerted study of God's word and a modicum of spiritual growth. They falsely assume that the problems men face are largely self-inflicted. As Paul Coughlin has noted, women get "fellowship" groups while men get "accountability" groups. The "miserable comforters" will declare that if you only do "xyz" then God will resolve things. They don't want to listen. They want to discourse at length about their Mickey Mouse theodicy and assume that solves the problem. Sermonizing relieves them from understanding, compassion, and weeping with "those who weep" (Romans 12:15).

Here's a dangerous question to ask: What qualifies these people to minister? Are they ruling by decree? Or leading by example (1 Peter 5:1-3)? Really, let's think about it ...

1. Do they come from a tough background or where they raised in a supportive Christian home?

2. Have they ever experienced long periods of social isolation or alienation?

3. Have they ever struggled for a long time with sexual desire in the face of constant rejection from the opposite sex?

4. Have they ever lost their job, relationship, or something else comparable because of a personal failing?

5. Have they ever felt they were going nowhere with their life, being stuck in an unrewarding, dead-end situation?

6. Have they ever felt that their dreams have been dashed and that the doors have been slammed in their face?

7. Have they ever felt out of place in churches and among other believers?

8. Have they ever had to struggle with health problems at a young age?

9. Have they ever struggled with depression, serious backsliding, feelings of worthlessness, anger at God, feelings of being rejected by God?

10. Have they ever "hit bottom" with a serious challenge such as drug abuse, a prison sentence, contemplating suicide, etc.?

I suppose you or I could add to the list. I am not saying that men have to go through all of these things before they minister to others. On the other hand, if you see a pattern where self-proclaimed experts on "Biblical Manhood" act patronizing and condescending to men, and yet have never really struggled with the things many men struggle with, then take note. I fear that too many involved in "pastoring" or "ministering" to men grew up in the system, or were accepted early on because they "looked the part." Jesus, on the other hand, was "despised and rejected by men," "acquainted with suffering" and "tempted in all points" (Isaiah 53:3; Hebrew 4:15). Jesus understands what men go through. The others? I'm not so certain.

Jesus described his ministry this way: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19). But of the Pharisees he said, "They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger" (Matthew 23:4).

Do you feel free from the spiritual bondage of sin, guilt, dread, emptiness, and/or despair? Or do you feel weighted down? It's one thing to demand that people be holy; it's quite another thing to show them how to be holy by example. Gentlemen, test the spirits (1 John 4:1). Get out the litmus strips and see if your leaders are authentic. Maybe God, in his mercy, can work through them even though their motives are less than honorable (Philippians 1:15-18). Maybe they are in an acceptable relationship with God, but I really think many of them have misunderstood their calling. Perhaps the best thing they can do to advance the cause of Christ is to sit down and shut up.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Holiday Weekend Links

I've got a long weekend because of the MLK holiday. So, here are some good links ...

1. A nice Tubecast of Paul Elam of Mensnewsdaily.com explaining who the MRAs (and MGTOWers) are and who they AREN'T ...

You can find the longer article here.

2. An excellent piece by Paul Coughlin. Considering my last post, its subject matter couldn't be more timely. (HT: Singlextianman).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Men and the Psalms of Disorientation

A notable contribution to the interpretation of the Psalms is that advanced by Walter Brueggemann. A well-known scholar in seminary circles, Brueggemann has taken a sociological approach to study of the Old Testament, which though not entirely without criticism, cannot be summarily dismissed either. While Brueggemann veers slightly towards liberation theology at times, his work should not be pigeonholed as such. I daresay evangelical scholars who are worth their salt acknowledge the contribution Brueggemann has made to the study of the Psalms. Pick up any academic work on the Psalms put out by Eerdmans, Baker, IVP, etc. and you'll probably find a hat tip to Brueggemann right along with Derek Kidner or Trempor Longman.

Brueggemann posits a threefold scheme to understanding the book of Psalms (or the Psalter, if you will): psalms of "orientation," "disorientation," and "new orientation." Psalms of orientation express sentiments of faith when all is right with the world. These are psalms of praise, psalms extolling the value of God's word, or psalms that assure the blessings of the righteousness and punishment of the wicked. Psalms of disorientation represent a crisis in faith. These psalms cry out in agony over sin, sickness, persecution, defeat, despair, etc. Many times these psalms are frank and brutally candid in their desperation. The often wonder aloud why God is taking so long to right a situation (Psalm 13) or they may express their desire for vengeance against a personal or national enemy (Psalm 109). Finally, the psalms of new orientation represent a restored sense of faith after a crises has passed. Psalms of thanksgiving, for example, can fall into this last category.

I want to focus on the psalms of disorientation. They remind me of Job's statement: "Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul" (Job 7:11, NASB). Brueggemann has stated these psalms have a vital role to play in the lives not only of individual believers but of the Church as well. Modern Christians may be taken aback by some of these psalms, such as the imprecatory psalms (where curses are pronounced against enemies). I myself do not think we can easily adopt the sentiments of all these psalms in toto (Romans 12:14), but in many other ways, we cannot ignore the negative emotions expressed by believers of old in the Psalms.

Brueggemann warns that when the psalms of disorientation are absent from individual or corporate worship of the Church, two things happen. One, the believer has an inauthentic relationship with God, only telling God what the believer thinks God wants to hear and not what God sees in the heart anyway--the grief, frustration, anger, sorrow, fear, moments of doubt. The second danger is that churches become a mouthpiece for the status quo, blind and indifferent to the suffering and problems others face. The churches are too busy singing "happy, happy, joy, joy" when they should be mourning for others and mourning for their own sins and failures (Romans 12:15; Jeremiah 8:11). Brueggemann indicates that a body of believers who cling to the mode of orientation when times of disorientation are upon them have become inauthentic in their expressions of faith.

So, the ones who quote Proverbs 18:22 on marriage forget that the same author penned Ecclesiastes 7:26-28. The ones who quote Psalm 127:4-5 on children forget that the same author penned Ecclesiastes 4:1-3. The ones who focus on Psalm 9:11 and want to sing praises forget Psalm 137:3-4 where the author, witnessing the brutal subjection of the Jews by the Babylonians, doesn't have the gumption to sing any songs at that moment. I could go on and on. There is a time and place for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). The scriptures speak to the places where we are at in our lives. Our churches, unfortunately, all too often speak the same tired litany. They're stuck in Psalm 65:4 while Jeremiah 7:4-8 rings out from the streets.

What does this have to do with men? I think it is obvious. I have already written how social conservatives have betrayed men. I have already written how the things that people consider blessings can oftentimes only serve as a painful reminder to some men that things are not right. Religious leaders and so-called "men's ministries" would like men to stay in a hollow mode of orientation. They would deny us the language, the liturgy, or the venues to express our grief, our despair, our anger, our frustration, our sense of outrage against injustice. They tell us to "stop being bitter," "move on," "get over it," "stop whining," "man up," "stop being so self-centered," "stop blaming others," and on and on. Yet they would do well to hear what Brueggemann says:
It is a curious fact that the church has, by and large, continued to sing songs of orientation in a world increasingly experienced as disorientated. That may be laudatory. It could be that such relentlessness is an act of bold defiance in which these psalms of order and reliability are flung in the face of disorder. In that way, they insist that nothing shall separate us from the love of God ...

But at best, this is only partly true. It is my judgment that this action of the church is less an evangelical defiance guided by faith, and much more a frightened, numbed denial and deception that does not want to acknowledge or experience the disorientation of life. The reason for such relentless affirmation of orientation seems to come, not from faith, but from the wishful optimism of culture. Such a denial and cover-up, which I take it to be, is an odd inclination for passionate Bible users, given the large number of psalms that are songs of lament, protest, and complaint about the incoherence that is experienced in the world. At least it is clear that a church that goes on singing "happy songs" in the face of raw reality is doing something very different from what the Bible itself does. (The Message of the Psalms, pp. 51-52) [emphasis mine]
Men, like Hannah, are weeping in the "bitterness of soul" to God (1 Samuel 1:10), but our church leaders too often play the part of Eli and falsely accuse these men of impropriety (1 Samuel 1:13-15). And all too often, church leaders are impatient with those who are suffering, forgetting that the seasons of refreshing and renewal for an afflicted believer are in God's hands, and the issue cannot always be forced. Job and the author of Psalm 88 must wait in a disoriented faith until the Lord encounters them.

So, we see, dear readers, that the ones who often accuse men of spiritual immaturity may themselves be spiritually immature. The issue of how our churches, our popular culture, our society as a whole, and even women treat men is not going away and cannot be swept under the rug of a bogus ecclesiasticism. Men of faith who are concerned about these things are finding a way to talk about these things, the cavalier dismissal of the religious status quo notwithstanding. In the face of religious misandry, they can look with a vindicated conscience to the words from the Lord by the prophet Amos:
I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:21-24, NIV)
Gentlemen, let's take a cue from Amos. Let us never be shamed into silence. Let's roll.

More recommended reading:

"What Can Miserable Christians Sing?" (by Carl Trueman) (a fuller version of this piece was published in Themelios, February 2000)

Friday, January 8, 2010

More Thoughts on My Thoughts on Sex

Some may look at my recent posts and see some apparent contradictions (I say "apparent" as opposed to "actual"). First I say "incels" do not exist, but then I acknowledge that people are having difficulty obtaining intimacy. I say that men can control their sexual appetites and live happy lives without obligating themselves to women, if need be. Yet, in the same post I acknowledge that men are biologically hardwired to want sex with women. Moreover, I acknowledge that the male sex drive is strong enough for some sex-deprived men to want to go into pornography, etc.

I don't think I'm contradicting myself. I am reacting against some extremes. On one hand, too many people want to box men in and tell them that they can't be independent of romantic relationships with women. On the other hand, too many want to turn men into polite eunuchs and ignore the natural reality of the male sex drive, chiefly its intensity, ardor, and attraction to physical beauty in women. That is why male chastity that honors a man's sex drive is a more complex matter than a chastity that demeans men (especially a type of demeaning chastity that incriminates and/or devalues men and pedastalizes women). A Christian man that doesn't want to get married is called to be chaste, but that chastity should be informed by a male-friendly type of "gender realism," not a white-knighting, Estrogelical narrative that is so common among religious pundits. The male-friendly chastity of which I speak requires an unlearning of things (an "unplugging from the Femamatrix" if you will) and the inculcation of a new knowledge base and mindset, but I nonetheless think it's doable and in reach for nearly all the men who want it.

On a related note, an "incel" site called love-shy.com has picked up my post on the "incel" community. Needless to say, the folks at that site are none too pleased with what I have written about the matter. It's too bad, really. I understand that many people are lonely and not in a good position to enjoy intimacy under the circumstances they would choose or tolerate. But frankly, the "incel" label is a self-imposed form of victimhood. It's like some people getting together and starting a group called the Society of the Involuntarily Socially Awkward. As it is, very few people can truly say that they absolutely cannot get sex. There is, more often than not, some desire that is stronger than the sex--a desire to avoid rejection, to not be bothered with too much effort, to save money, to save time, to save one's sanity, to "keep oneself unspotted from the world", etc. Sometimes these desires are legitimate; sometimes they are not. The "incel" label doesn't take this matter into account, though. Rather, the label is counterproductive, given to waving the white flag and lying down in the ditch. It's especially tragic since a happy and productive life should not be held hostage to having sex with people.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Mutton Chop Tease Show

In C. S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity, there is a peculiar quote about sexuality. I think I recall it being quoted by others in defense of conservative sexual mores:
You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act--that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?

One critic said that if he found a country in which such strip-tease acts with food were popular, he would conclude that the people of that country were starving. He means, of course, to imply that such things as the strip-tease act resulted not from sexual corruption but from sexual starvation. I agree with him that if, in some strange land, we found that similar acts with mutton chops were popular, one of the possible explanations which would occur to me would be famine. But the next step would be to test our hypothesis by finding out whether, in fact, much or little food was being consumed in that country. If the evidence showed that a good deal was being eaten, then of course we should have to abandon the hypothesis of starvation and try to think of another one. In the same way, before accepting sexual starvation as the cause of the strip-tease, we should have to look for evidence that there is in fact more sexual abstinence in our age than in those ages when things like the strip-tease were unknown. But surely there is no such evidence. Contraceptives have made sexual indulgence far less costly within marriage and far safer outside it than ever before, and public opinion is less hostile to illicit unions and even to perversion than has been since Pagan times. [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Macmillan, 1973), pp. 89-90]
So, according to Prof. Lewis, our age is one of sexual gluttony, since our appetite for sex is keen even in the presence of bounteous access. I have never fully agreed with Lewis' above quote and even now find myself siding somewhat with his unnamed critic. Lewis' wrote his work in the middle part of the last century. I highly doubt he could have foreseen the wreckage that feminism and the Sexual Revolution has wrought on our cultural fabric.

Sure, the socially dominant and the unscrupulous may be getting more sex, but others are finding themselves increasingly isolated in a depersonalizing culture. The burgeoning online dating industry, as a case in point, is indicative of how intimacy has become elusive for many souls. Moreover, if we are to believe, as some do, that married people have more sex than singles, then a decline in marriage itself can point to sexual starvation.

Some fellow bloggers tackling men's issues also point to the haremization of our culture. It could be the Government Harem of Marriage 2.0 and family law. It could be the Cultural Harem of women chasing a tiny pool of "Alphas" or women holding out for idealized mates that don't exist. Either way, men are getting locked out.

So I think Lewis' appraisal of our situation is deficient. I am not surprised that porn has mushroomed and been normalized. I am not surprised that some are now talking about the next phase of technologies in the sex industry (teledildonics, haptic technology, sexbots, whatever). What else could have happened? The relationship between the sexes is highly dysfunctional. Men are told that they can't live without sex or women. The Pink Wurlitzer plays that tune non-stop. So when people don't get any intimacy in a healthy way, its understandable when they scrape around in trash cans for poor substitutes.

Social conservatives just don't get it. They are following C. S. Lewis' line of reasoning. They typically think gluttony is the problem, when in many cases, desperation borne out of deprivation is the problem. If they do acknowledge an intimacy famine, their "solution" is Marriage 2.0. That is no real solution. The institution of marriage must be fixed in our culture, shorn of its misandrist elements before it can be taken seriously again. I have consistently preached that men can do without intimacy with women if only for the sake of their dignity and sanity. Indeed, sensible men will do without if the medicine is worse than the ailment. In many cases, it is.

Yet the problem remains. Men don't really have a lot of good options, so many of them take poor ones. The solution to our sexual ills cannot be reduced to theological and political soundbites. The religious pundits will yammer on and rail against men, but more male-bashing will accomplish very little. The hungry are still hungry. We've only just made them feel guilty about it. The Mutton Chop Tease Show will continue.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Female Sexuality, Ambient Porn, and the Pink Wurlitzer

The feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said:
"When women can support themselves, have entry to all the trades and professions, with a house of their own over their heads and a bank account, they will own their bodies and be dictators in the social realm." [Emphasis mine]
Dictators in the social realm indeed. There is one area in the social realm where men know all too well how women wield a dictatorial power that rivals that of any oriental despot--female sexuality. To quote Novaseeker:
Basically it's fair to say that women defended their own power bases and actually increased their power over them substantially such that they have a near totalitarian power over their own traditional bases of children and sex (abortion rights, VAWA, rape and harassment laws, c/s regimes, family law) while aggressively colonizing the male space. When women speak of equality, therefore, I think what they really mean is (1) equality between men and women in what was previously the male space coupled with (2) absolute power of women in the female space. [Emphasis mine]
How can women wield absolute power in the realm of sexuality? Well, the degree to which female sexuality is celebrated and publicly flaunted in our culture is unprecedented. I cannot but wonder if there is a connection between the fact that (1) a lot of women are increasingly incapable of relating to men in healthy ways and (2) women are increasingly resorting to extreme measures to beautify themselves and flaunt their sexuality in front of men. In short, we may have a craven attempt to heighten the demand for something that is losing its real value.

There are all sorts of studies on the long term affects of being exposed to environmental noise (how it causes mental fatigue, reduces productivity, etc.), but do men think about exposure to the amped-up sexual noise of our culture? There is a name for this sexual noise in our public spaces--ambient porn. When men think of pornography, they think of Playboy, nude bodies, videos of sex acts. But what about all those stupid billboard ads, flash animations for online dating sites, suggestive scenes on television, etc.? The women need not even be scantily dressed. There are plenty of advertisements directed at men that feature fully clothed women with flirtatious looks and poses. The problem is that men are not aware of how this constant bombardment of stimuli affects them because it is so subtle, hence the term "ambient porn."

Like it or not, men react on a very basic biological level to sexual stimuli, even when they are virtuous enough to not want to follow through on anything illicit. Do we, as men, stop to think about what the constant barrage of female sexuality does to our mental and emotional health, if not our spiritual health? Think, for instance, about the unwanted sexual tension and the mental and emotional stress, anger, and depression that all too often follows. Think about all the compromises that men make with regard to their dignity and self-worth in order to fulfill a strong drive that has been overstimulated (marriage 2.0., woman-firsterism, illicit and immoral sexual acts).

What is particularly galling about discussing this matter is that it will be greeted in three very unhelpful ways:

1) Mockery: A man will be accused of being a "frustrated loser."

2) Apathy: You will be regarded as a prude. After all, it is supposed that men want non-stop titillation by women.

3) Chivalrous male-bashing: There may be some acknowledgment that wanton displays of female sexuality are a problem, but men will be held solely responsible. Men will be regarded as lecherous beasts, while fashion models, porn stars, and other immodest women will be regarded as precious, unfortunate victims who have been exploited.

All of these approaches are blindly myopic and refuse to acknowledge the biological and psychological realities of male sexuality. These approaches have their roots in woman-firsterism, the "blank slate" lies of feminism, and the such like.

On the third point above, I will say that women who knowingly and voluntarily flaunt their wares cannot in any way be called victims. They are no more victims than a drug pusher on some street corner who sells an ounce of crack cocaine to a minor is a victim. These women know what they are doing. On a religious note, if lust is a sin in men, then so is inciting that sinful desire. Jesus said, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!" (Luke 17:1). The logical end is that there is a place in hell for immodest women if there is one for the male lecher.

But there are some things my male readers ought to agree on, regardless of whether or not they are religious or conservative. I submit to you that a society that amps up the noise of female sexuality while curtailing the means by which men can express their sexuality (whether the curtailment be through law, religion, workplace rules, custom, shame, what have you) is clearly demonstrating a demeaning and hostile stance towards men. I count every porn star, bikini model, and woman who dresses immodestly to seek the attention of males as my enemy. If the dish isn't for sale, it shouldn't be on the menu. For it to be on the menu is a clear case of unethical fraud.

Yet even beyond the widespread flaunting of sexuality is the whole foundation of attitudes that nourishes it and exacerbates the problem for men. It's like the "Mighty Wurlitzer" (a term that people use to describe the agitprop of the mainstream media). What we have is the "Pink Wurlitzer," an incessant droning on and on in our culture that makes female sexuality out to be the valuable prize that cannot be turned down but rather must be sought out at all costs.

One odious idea piped by the Pink Wurlitzer is that men need to seek out intimate relationships with women. Even church leaders are guilty of propounding this ridiculous lie while the Bible contradicts them (1 Corinthians 7:25a, 7:37-38). Attitudes like this only serve to inflame the sexual desperation of men to where they compromise their happiness, integrity, and sanity. As desirable as intimate relationships with women are (Proverbs 18:22), such relationships are not a necessity for a virtuous and fulfilled life. A man thus needs to be on guard against the shaming, peer pressure, and social coercion that shoves him into relationships with women. Such strong-arm tactics don't serve him as much as they serve the agenda of other parties.

Anyway, I could write much more on this, and perhaps I will in the future. In the mean time, any man who is concerned about the anti-male ramifications of unbridled female sexuality needs to spare some time for the following links.

1. A post on what "ambient porn" is (from a religious perspective).

2. A reader comment at Boundless.org that discusses how the porn industry preys upon insecure men.

3. A post on how female sexuality is used against men (from a Roissyphere/Game/MRA perspective). The blogger Snark writes, "Feminists have certainly played their part in boosting the demand for women's bodies - at which point, they about turn and tarnish men for succumbing to their physical desires. The sexual desires of men - provoked by women - are then used to denigrate men, as rapists and oppressors who see women only as sexual objects." I think this may be a collective case of what psychologists call projective identification. In other words, self-styled victims (such as feminists) provoke people into behaving in ways that reinforce the self-styled victims' persecution complex (see this post by Dr. Tara Palmatier for more information).

4. A male-friendly, four-part series on managing your sex drive (see these links: 1, 2, 3, 4). You mileage may vary on what you get from this one. But read it nonetheless. If you are out of control, others will be in control.

5. A post I wrote at Scripturally Single on what the Bible has to say about men needing sex. I quote something interesting from Abraham Maslow on celibacy. It's noteworthy because Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a concept that is often bandied about among some "Game" advocates.

6. This post by Social Pathologist on the consergame approach Christian men can take to female sexuality. One reservation I have: He says, "The other interesting thing about it is that love is not chosen, it's an involuntary reaction to the other person, you just can't will yourself to do it." If he means eros, then yes. But if agape, then he is flat out wrong, and it takes more than eros to build the kind of relationship that God wants between husband and wife.

So, my fellow men, when the three Sirens of biology, ambient porn, and the Pink Wurlitzer sing their tune and bid you to do something against your better judgment, will you be brought to your knees or will you "go your own way"? I ask this because every red-blooded male (whether he be a husband, boyfriend, or unattached) is one sex act away from being a supplicating, white-knighting beta. Any solution to this potential problem will probably have to be implemented on an individual, personal basis. I can't force you one way or another on the matter. Rather, I will close with this thought: Sex is good and fun, but it should be your handmaiden, not the Red Queen that controls your life. You may reach a situation where nothing is better than something. Think on these things.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Worth of LTR Game

What is the worth of LTR Game (or consergame)? On the heels of my recent post "Psalms 127:1 and the Sexes," Talleyrand offered his own thoughts about the matter. His conclusion? LTR Game is only good for damage control--after a man gets ensnared in a relationship like a marriage 2.0 situation. Otherwise, there's not much use for it, as men would do well to avoid any serious commitment to modern-day women. But then, one should read this recent piece by Hawaiian Libertarian, who takes a more sanguine view of LTR Game/consergame. I can see where both of these guys are coming from.

My view? I think a long term relationship is like any other heterogeneous system or organism. There are disparate parts that make up the whole. Charity may not be enough, but neither is charm or infatuation enough. Like MarkyMark said, there has to be physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bindings. You're inviting problems when any one of these elements is missing. In short, I don't think "Game" by itself can put much of a dent in this.

(See also this post).