37 Comments

This is a great take, and as a leader in an evangelical men's ministry, I see that we must avoid this overly one-sided thinking on, in essence, sin. Part of this comes from a reaction to men *not* taking responsibility--or at least the perception of that. And I think generally speaking, we can see that more men taking more responsibility for their behavior and, if a Christian, for living out their faith consistently is a good thing overall. But certainly this is not carte blanche for women to blame all of their own sin and sinful decision making on men. It does no good to tell Christian women they are helpless and without moral agency.

A great example of how this can affect our understanding of the Bible can be seen in the book, Misreading Scripture through Western Eyes, and its treatment of the David and Bathsheba story. In the western church, we tend to treat this as an almost omnipotent king demanding commanding another man's wife to sleep with him. But in an Eastern culture, that's not how the story reads. She has responsibility as well.

For a long time I have seen many marriages where the wife was leading spiritually while the man was being dragged along. But lately I have seen more and more of the reverse. Yes, Christian men need to take responsibility for their behavior and behave in accordance with Scripture. But Christian women also bear the burden to reject sin and live for Christ.

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I'm curious what the more left-leaning portions of Big Eva had to say about this controversy. What I find interesting about it is that it is a great opportunity to show they aren't "homophobic" and are willing to treat heterosexual sin as (equally?) bad. But for some reason I doubt they did.

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It seems we are expected to simultaneously hold several contradictory ideas about women. They are full agents, and should be considered just as capable as men in voting, owning property, and sexual decision-making. At the same time, their sexual sin is 100% the fault of men. Every sexual decision they make should be celebrated simply because it is a woman expressing her autonomy. But if they regret it, then it was rape (since liberal feminists can only see through the paradigm of any sex that is consented to as good - therefore, if it's "bad" in terms of the woman regretting it, then it was coerced.)

I am reminded of my problems with Louise Perry's "The Case Against the Sexual Revolution," which I recently finished. She rightfully criticizes this liberal feminist view but does not seem to be able to fully escape the paradigm herself. She acknowledges that hookup culture is bad for women, even if they consent to it, but at the same time seems to say that they don't really consent to it because they are so agreeable and now, because of the pill, don't have the excuse of unintended pregnancy to say no, and men are so much stronger than women that they can kill them with their bare hands (so therefore this must enter into the calculus as well). And so women apparently have full agency but ought to be protected from the effects of their bad decisions, including moral blame.

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This seems to be the full fruit of the work of men like George Gilder and the Complementarian movement (wasn't there a recent podcast/article with the current president of the group who did that?) where the unholy child of Gilder's views of women as the prime (really only - though he undoubtedly included religion led by women-tamed men) civilizing force and men as mere tools to be acted upon by women and religion lest they become savage faced egalitarianism and in an effort to salvage some gender distinction - birthed complementarianism with Gilderite principles firmly intact.

With Canon Press's recent republishing of Gilder and the blowback from it (resulting in Doug Wilson even releasing a specific segment to address the outrage - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rvfvax_-WV0), the topic is squarely back in public view. The best response I've seen so far about Gilder was Dalrock's 2018 article (https://dalrock.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/with-friends-like-gilder-married-fathers-dont-need-enemies/) and his observations still ring true.

A more recent review from Scott Yenor of American Reformer (https://americanreformer.org/2023/07/sexual-suicide-for-two/?fbclid=IwAR2jM2ibgrL9AFQqmfAdw6b60iDQDjbX7ob4cFNzpbaHVZEImwQofXJNmfA) misses the mark by calling Gilder worthy of praise (he isn't) but at least correctly identified Gilder's fatal flaw (the same one Aaron notes here) - Gilder imputes innate virtue to women and no flaws. So they cannot be held responsible for any evil they do - it is all the fault of outside forces or circumstances and the only other group left to blame: Men. So men must be made responsible for ALL evil, including the evil committed by women. And women's influence (indeed, takeover) over areas is lauded as a good and righteous thing because women are innately good so what they affect/control is automatically considered more civilized and good (or better than if men alone were to handle it).

This line of thinking is probably the biggest cancer of the last century in regards to gender and was ushered into the church in the 1970s through 1990s through the efforts of men like Gilder, Piper, and organizations like Focus on the Family - all who claimed to be "For the family" but in reality were pro-female, anti-male and absolutely anti-Biblical. Where the Bible is unapologetically pro-male (and pro-female too of course) with each person individually responsible for their own conduct, these men (and their acolytes) systematically subverted the traditional, Biblical, patriarchal balance to appease the shifting culture and appear more "enlightened". They should be directly credited (blamed at least in part) for the abortion death toll, the divorce toll, fatherless epidemic, and the raging ravages of feminism in Christianity and culture at large.

And the men currently defending it (and perpetuating it) have zero excuse at this point in history.

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Sadly, this is the kind of messaging that was given to us when I was in my early twenties. As some one coming from a family where God was not talked about much, a small town where I was a bit of loner, and a father and mother who were emotionally abusive, these kinds of messages to men I lapped up thinking that it was the right thing for me. haha,

The irony is, the pastor shames us for lusting, watching porn, but then belts us over the head for attempting to talk to girls, and generally be a normal healthy masculine man, who happens to like women and takes initiative and does things. Well done white knights of pulpit land, well done.

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So…does blue pill evangelicalism want to have more men in church or to sneer at and cut down the ones who are already there? If the answer is truly BOTH, I predict that they will continue to have plenty to snuffle about.

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Somehow I completely missed this online brouhaha du jour, but gotta say, it's really sad that our society's general knowledge of Christian behavior and culture has sunk so low that someone could speak at a prayer breakfast and make a comment like that.

There is so much lawlessness manifesting in our society these days, from drivers boldly running red lights to thieves stealing all sorts of stuff that never used to be at risk. It's really quite disturbing. But even in much of the Church, we see so many who call themselves Christians having a quite cavalier attitude about whether some moral doctrine applies to them.

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Aug 1, 2023·edited Aug 1, 2023

Great take Mr. Renn! It echoes my recent thoughts after mulling over the vast differences in Mother's Day and Father's day sermons, which you apparently did too. Here is my take if you don't mind, as a conservative evangelical and single guy.

In fact, it's been a lot of the idea that men have to be this, that or the other thing (some of which you have highlighted here) among complementarians and even the 'neo patriarchal' ones, which at least in the circles I follow, is not all that fringe, that turned me into a more egalitarian direction. In fact, if you recall the dustup between camps of complementarianism around 2016 on the Trinity, a lot of weird ideas came to the forefront like how a mailman is supposed to relate to a woman when the husband isn't home. It largely revolved around who had authority was masculine while those were submissive were feminine or effeminate. Many of the egalitarian critiques, and those of 'thin complementarian' camp I believe were spot on, pointing out the absurdity of it all. The former, however, turned into a bunch bandwagoners and hitched a ride on woke express one it became fashionable. So, alas, I am not really complementarian or egalitarian wholly despite attending a complementarian church. I have read both sides comprehensively and understand the exegetical fallacies (namely with the word 'head') both camps try to use to prop up to create or maintain some sort of church culture that reflects either the good ol' days or a future feminist utopia and have found them both wanting, and neither Biblical in their purist forms. But, I might be accused of trying to abdicate responsibility or being a 'nice guy' for these notions.

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You're quite right that pastors need be very clear about what they're actually teaching about these things. That clarity is often missing. It seems to me that pastors have become so comfortable with the tropes of boomer complementarianism that they give very little attention to what they are actually saying.

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Anyone who thinks this way has clearly not spent much time around women.

“The one who controls her controls the wind and grasps oil with his right hand.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27‬:‭16‬

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You need to turn your reflections about gender and evangelicalism into an ebook or PDF booklet. Write it up more formally, gathering the insights from all of your substack posts into one place.

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Aug 1, 2023·edited Aug 1, 2023

In his response to you on Twitter, Berry blamed the entire feminist movement and "many of the problems in society" on the failures of men. His further justification of defending Mace was also off the mark, arguing that if you have ever committed any sexual sin you are disqualified from judging her for joking about her sin in public. As you point out, Berry has no problem with this woman who apparently has no agency in her life having power over all of us by serving in Congress. When he was called out a couple of months ago for a dumb and ignorant tweet about how Latin America migrants are better Christians than conservative American Christians his response was to double down and call his critics racists. I don't think there is any getting through to him.

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You can't separate authority and responsibility in anything and expect it to work.

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I overall concur with the slant against men. I think a lot of has to do with the nature of us as men. We want responsibility - or we should - so we take ownership of things we don't own. As a retired Army officer when I was in command, I was responsible for everything my unit did or didn't do - even when I had no control over it. I think a lot of men - to include pastors - think that way.

See - it's our fault too for thinking that way.

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Hi Aaron, I wonder if this isn't an issue of who has a greater responsibility. The man accusers may sound as if blame is one sided, but while there's plenty of blame to go around, it's arguable Biblically that the man is still more in the wrong than the woman. Example: a man on a sinking ship gives up his lifeboat for a woman– why? Not because he sees her life as qualitatively more valuable than his own, and not because she is more innocent than him, but because he believes he has a greater responsibility for the weaker sex. Men exercise leadership in homes because they're the God ordained agent of greatest responsibility. Even though this situation wasn't marriage I believe the same dynamic is in play– the man may not be more guilty of sin than the woman, but he is arguably guilty of a greater degree of failing to be responsible, here toward a member of the "weaker" sex.

I have loved your nuance re. the ways men are called up but women aren't and think that's spot on. Thanks for your regular and insightful comments. Much appreciated.

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