Great article

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Aaron, I appreciate a lot of what you say. But, as a pushback, I do think that sometimes you do to “evangelical pastors” what you rightly point out that (many) evangelical pastors do to men.

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Is there really a large contingent of evangelical men who could get married but decide not to because of divorce/custody law....?

I am probably out of touch but I don’t think that is a big factor, at least amongst evangelicals

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I have to pick a nit with Aaron. Some men are cowards not just about marriage but many things and need to be told to “man up” just like the influencers like Peterson does. As a retired Army officer shaming does work with some men and not a Sesame Street approach of building up their egos. Too many young men are sitting in their parents’ home playing video games and watching porn instead of getting out doing what they need to do. Coddling them does not help.

This is not to excuse women for what they are doing to emasculate men, but you don’t have to be emasculated and there are women out there that still want real men.

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Oct 26, 2023Liked by Aaron M. Renn

When I was teaching at LCU, I remember walking into a classroom in the middle of a conversation that several of the male students were having. They had just been in a chapel service and were talking in disgust at the topic of the service: born again virginity. Evidently, from what the students told me, a woman had been invited to speak, or rather brag, about spending her 20's in promiscuity, and then "repented," was made a "spiritual virgin" again, and evidently her husband had sat on the stage beside her during this entire humiliating display. The lesson of the service, I suppose, was something about God always having a plan for whatever you go through, and never having to be held accountable because God takes away all your shame. And the students were agreeing that this woman was quite shameless.

Unfortunately, Aaron, I think there's a nexus of bad theology, bad social science, and bad incentives at the heart of this which isn't going to go away until these institutions begin to suffer serious consequences. Big Eva is invested in women-heavy ministries, women-heavy congregations, and that's why these absurd teachings keep popping up, the most absurd of which is Born Again Virginity. Pastors know that they can't tell the truth to a late-30-something single woman who spent the last decade in serial-monogamous relationships with secular men. Their young adult ministry would dissolve overnight. Necessity is the mother of theological innovation.

Men, even very young men like my students, know that they're something contemptable about a women with a high body count that they don't want to be involved with. They don't want to vicariously be made one flesh with half the men's lacrosse team. And this is the hard part that we leave unspoken because we Evangelicals are allergic to speaking the truth when it's icky: we're not talking about guys not wanting to date 20-year-old virgins. We're talking about guys not wanting to date late-30's who came to Jesus after a series of LTRs with secular men.

The hard lesson, which these pastors are not going to admit (or else only admit while weasel-wording away the core of it) is that repenting of your sin doesn't make the worldly consequences of sin go away. Nobody is entitled to marriage, and nobody is obligated to romantically pursue a woman. Sorry, folks, Hosea is not God's model for human marriage, his marriage was unique and it was a metaphor for Israel. Pastors want to please a large and well-tithing chunk of their congregation, and it's natural to let yourself be swayed by tears and sob stories. But the result of caving to that pressure is to become contemptable. My students saw through it clearly - the harlot on the stage, the humiliated, virtually cuckolded husband next to her, and the saccharine, greasy smile of the pastor behind them. I don't blame the boys for not buying that.

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Hi Aaron,

I pretty much agree with everything you write, but I wanted to make a minor point about how you refer to Jordan Peterson and similar men.

I react negetively (and I don't think I'm alone) to the terms "influencer" or "online influencer." To me, this term brings to mind primarily a young, fit, beautiful, and/or daring person primarily involved in marketing activities through internet views, clicks and likes while (often) flaunting her body (in the case of women), wealth, possessions, or connections. I find this type of "influencer" repugnant and emblematic of our cultural decline. Of course, I understand you do not mean this in the case of persons like Mr. Peterson. Nevertheless, in the mind of the reader, an "influencer" might lose to a "pastor" out of the gate because of this negative association.

I like to think of Mr. Peterson and similar men as "teachers" or guides, mentors, coaches, professors (perhaps even "experts") in becoming a man and a better man. Could we come up with a more positive term? Just a thought.

Keep up the good work!


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