Into the manosphere

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Our heroes ventured into the manosphere and maybe went a little too far down the rabbit hole.

Full Dalrock email interview (Nathan is in bold, Dalrock is in regular):

NATHAN:

Hi, 

We’re putting together an episode of our podcast Sound of Sanity on Red Pill, Game, MGTOW, all that good stuff. I wanted to see if you would consent to a phone interview sometime in the near future. I’d like to get as clear an articulation of your views as I can, and present it to the world. The questions would be quite simple (I prefer simple questions that allow for more elaborate answers, as needed): 
1. Who are you and why do you talk about the things you talk about? 
2. What are the problems facing men today? 
3. How do you address these problems on your website and in your writing? 
4.. What does a man need to do to live a satisfying and productive life in today’s culture? 
5. What does a woman need to do to live a satisfying and productive life in today’s culture? 
6. How do these answers relate to God and the Bible? 
7. Define red pill. Define game. Define MGTOW. How do these things relate to your work? 
Full disclosure: as you probably know, we don’t agree on everything. If I’m not mistaken, you see the work of my pastor and others like him as somehow undercutting the concept of female moral agency. I see your work as needlessly undercutting male responsibility in the name of establishing female moral agency.
The podcast may ultimately reflect these differences, but I’d like to give you a fair chance to say your piece. This won’t be “gotcha journalism.” Actually, in that spirit, I’ll warn you about the potential “gotchas” right now:
I would like to press you a bit on the misogynists that work like yours seems to attract. I’ve seen more than one commenter in your archives say that a woman needs a good old fashioned spanking. I see in your “comments policy” you ask people to refrain from discussing marital corporal punishment. It seems to me that if you have to ask people to refrain from that topic, you may be attracting the wrong sort of people. I’d like to ask you frankly about that and let you answer however you choose.
I hope that sounds amenable to you. 

DALROCK: I very much appreciate the spirit that you are engaging with.  I will decline, because podcast isn’t my medium.  Rollo Tomassi has been asking me to do the same for some time now.  Incidentally, he might be open to a joint podcast with you.

With that said, your questions are good.  I’m not sure I will have answers that do all of them justice, but if you are interested we might still cover the same material in a written format.  If you are interested let me know.  We could keep it very simple and I could respond to your questions and comments in your email in a post.

NATHAN: Who are you and why do you talk about the things you talk about? How did you get into it? Why do you chose to do it pseudonymously?

DALROCK: I’ll tackle the last part first.  Social justice warriors are in the process of consolidating their victory in the culture wars.  One of their favorite tactics is to swarm anyone who disagrees with them and try to destroy them personally, since they know they would lose an open debate.  I assume this is obvious with all of the examples we have seen, but if you aren’t already familiar with this Brendan Eich and Paige Patterson would be examples you could look into.

I’ve seen arguments that when faced with social justice warrior silencing tactics Christians should either shut up (as nearly all Christians have done) or volunteer for the punishment/harassment SJW swarms stand ready to mete out to dissenters.  For example, fellow Christian blogger Bnonn recently tweeted:

https://twitter.com/bnonn/status/1080408819241349120

I disagree.  I see writing pseudonymously as a prudent measure to help protect my family from evil.  I’ll take it a step further and return the question;  do you think it is critical for the sake of the culture war for me to expose my family to SJW assault?  I won’t put my family at risk to show Bnonn I’m a “real man”, but if there is a serious argument as to why I should put my family at (greater) risk I’d love to hear it.  I’ll add that if you have read my blog you already know that I meticulously link to and quote my sources for what I write, so everything is right there for anyone who is interested to cross check.  In fact, I urge you and your listeners to do so.

Note: One of the interesting facets of the discussion is that I challenge other writers to defend what they write.  As a general rule, the “other side” responds by refusing to defend their writing and challenging me to defend what others (commenters, etc) write, or explain who I am that I would ask another to defend their ideas.  It could be that there are great rebuttals to what I write, but we won’t ever know until the topic of conversation changes.  I’ll go into this in more detail on other questions, but I think this is relevant here.

As for the remainder of the question, I’m a happily married (over 20 years) father of two, and I started blogging because of my passion about marriage.  My passion is twofold.

1)  I strongly believe that marriage is truly beautiful.  Marriage has been under attack for decades, and most conservatives, including conservative Christians are in denial here (more on this in later answers).  I grieve for young people who won’t have the opportunity for something so beautiful, something my wife and I enjoy, because previous generations stood by in denial as it was under assault.  Even in cases where marriages technically exist, much violence has been deliberately done to transform the reality of marriage away from its beautiful design.

2)  Children deserve the benefits of an intact family.  Our cultural abandonment of marriage a the primary family structure is causing immeasurable pain to children.  I’m astounded by the apathy I experience daily on this topic.  Whenever anyone asks me why I care, my first thought is “why don’t you”?

NATHAN: I’m not sure what to think about your arguments for remaining pseudonymous. I understand your desire to protect your family and I don’t think there’s anything innately manly about offering yourself or your family for punishment by the mob.

It does trouble me that you are denying your readers the chance to examine your life—what sort of man you are, how you practice what you preach, and what authority you speak from. These are not insignificant question, and they’re not inappropriate to ask. Jesus and the Apostle Paul was never afraid to engage in “ad hominem.” Who a person is does matter. Not just their arguments taken in the abstract. That being said, I’m not sure I disagree with your choice. I just question it. However, I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking it through. 

DALROCK: I know this wasn’t a specific question or in the second version, but I think you touched on a core issue of disagreement here so I want to address it:

If I’m not mistaken, you see the work of my pastor and others like him as somehow undercutting the concept of female moral agency. I see your work as needlessly undercutting male responsibility in the name of establishing female moral agency.

The problem is that the most ridiculous things are being claimed as male responsibility in order to deny reality and therefore shirk responsibility.  Feminists openly and methodically marched through all of our institutions for decades.  Conservative Christians responded to this by simply denying that it was happening.  Changing the subject to men, no matter how ridiculous, is the go-to coping mechanism here.  This is why we have Pastor Doug Wilson teaching that a Christian husband is responsible for making his wife more physically attractive.  Wilson starts by parroting the very feminists he fears confronting:

A common assumption in the world is that women must “keep themselves up” in order to keep a man. In the world of attracting and being attracted, women are taught to view themselves as being primarily responsible for their own attractiveness or loveliness. This viewpoint is inculcated early. Once young girls used to play with baby dolls, seeing themselves in the role of the nurturing mother; now they can be seen playing with Barbie dolls, seeing themselves in the place of the doll. And of course, the doll is both pretty and stacked. The pressure is on and stays on.

But Wilson has a solution to the feminist condemnation of the evil patriarchy.  Christian men are shirking their God given responsibility!

The Bible teaches that a Christian husband is responsible for the loveliness of his wife.

I’ll note that this isn’t a dumb comment Wilson made off the cuff.  This particular dumb comment is from his book Reforming Marriage*.  I’ll also note that Wilson clarifies that he doesn’t mean this metaphorically:

When husbands undertake the assigned responsibility of loving their wives in such a way that they grow in loveliness, they need to understand that the results will be visible.

It isn’t just Wilson who makes up this kind of zany stuff to avoid confronting feminism.  Feminists, like gays, have been pushing for decades to fully integrate the armed forces, including front line combat and submarines.   If Conservative Christians were ever going to find the courage to confront the feminists, it would be on this topic.  This is at most a secondary issue for the average conservative Christian woman.  Very few conservative Christian women want to don combat boots and go to war.  Moreover, what these women are doing is the Old Testament definition of cross dressing.  But still, even herethe thought of confronting the rebellion of a handful of butch feminists in the pews was simply too much.  So conservative Christians invented a fiction that women weren’t coveting men’s roles, and instead men were forcing women to push their way into combat by shirking their responsibility.  Can you imagine historians a few decades from now coming across resolutions like this, or the statements I quote herehere, and here?  No one outside the rarefied world of conservative Christians believes this is what is happening.  Try telling this to someone on the street;  they will laugh at you, and rightly so!

Examples of this are everywhere.  One common claim is that feminism is the logical reaction to Christian men shirking their responsibilities.  In one sense they are acknowledging feminism, but at the same time they deny what is really happening.  The CBMW asked Mary Kassian:

In practical ways in your marriage relationship, how do you balance gender equality with male headship?

If you aren’t familiar with her Kassian is a Woman’s Studies professor at Southern Baptist Seminary, and was with the CBMW founders when they created the name complementarian.  Kassian replies explaining that because her husband fulfills his responsibility, she doesn’t feel the temptation of feminist rebellion:

…the question of male-female equality has not been an issue in my mind. I am secure and confident in who God has made me as a woman. Brent upholds and guards my “equality” so I do not feel the need to do so.

Pastor Matt Chandler makes the same argument in his sermon Women’s Hurdles (transcript).  Chandler explains that if a Christian husband fulfills his responsibility to love his wife, she can’tbe tempted into feminist rebellion:

“Really, men, here is a great way to gauge how you’re serving, loving, and practicing your headship.  If the most secularized feminist in the world showed up in your home and began to kind of coach your wife toward freedom and liberation from your tyranny, our wives should be so well cared for, so nourished, so sowed into and loved, they would say, “What you’re describing is actually tyranny. I love where I am. I am honored. I am encouraged. My man sacrifices so that I might grow in my gifts. He will oftentimes lay down his own desires in order to serve me more. My husband goes to bed tired at night. He pours into our children. He encourages me. All that comes out of his mouth, sans a couple of little times here and there, is him building me up in love.”

Men, here is a good opportunity. If you’re like, “Well, gosh, I don’t think she would say that at all,” then, men, I think on the way home, you should probably repent and confess before the Lord to your wife.

This stuff is flat out nuts, but no one notices within Conservative Christianity because it is so common and it has been going on for so long.  I could offer more examples, but instead I’ll pose some question to you:  Do you believe any of the following:

  1. The Bible teaches that a Christian husband is responsible for the loveliness of his wife.
  2. The reason feminists are pushing to open combat for women is because men are refusing to fight.
  3. Women can’t be tempted into feminist rebellion if their husbands love them sufficiently.

The irony of all of this is men really are abdicating their responsibility.  These absurd lies are used by cowardly men to avoid manning up and challenging the feminist rebellion.  In this sense I hope we are aligned.  You want men to man up.  Iwant men to man up.  But manning up doesn’t mean cowering in fear while striking a heroic pose.  Manning up means doing what is difficult.  We are failing Christian women, and women in general.  But we aren’t failing them by not making them pretty, or forcing them to insist on taking on the roles of men, or making it possible for them to feel the temptation to sin.

NATHAN: To answer your questions:

 

  1. The Bible teaches that a Christian husband is responsible for the loveliness of his wife.

In one sense, a Christian husband is responsible for everything about his wife. He is her head. This is not mutually exclusive with her being a moral agent fully capable of making her own choices, and responsible for the ramifications of said choices. Do I think that a husband can magically make his wife more physically attractive by caring for her? No. Do I understand, in a general sort of way, what people who make those claims are getting at—that a loved woman is a lovely woman? Yes. Do I think the rhetoric on that point can be overwrought, even misleading, especially among pansy complementariness like Chandler? 100% yes.

 

  1. The reason feminists are pushing to open combat for women is because men are refusing to fight.

Again it seems fairly obvious that both things are true. Women are moral agents who are tempted to rebel. And men are moral agents who are tempted to abdicate. Adam abdicates in Genesis 3, and Eve is straight up told by God she will rebel. We can parse the rhetoric or this or that public figure, but any doctrine that denies men’s temptation to abdicate, or women’s temptation to rebel is wrong.

 

  1. Women can’t be tempted into feminist rebellion if their husbands love them sufficiently.

No. Their husbands must also rule over them and discipline them. And even then, women are moral agents. Some of them will harden their hearts against God. Some of them will fall away from the faith. Some of them will remain submissive and pure-hearted and feminine even if their husbands are jerks who don’t love them at all. There are a lot of women in this world that will do a lot of different things. 

But very generally, if a husband loves his wife and rules over her well, she will be less likely to be tempted to rebel, just the same as if a king loves his subjects and rules over them well, they will be less tempted to rebel. That’s just common sense. We can’t throw that out just because many people use that kind of language to deny female moral agency.

DALROCK:  I’ll circle back on the other two, but for now want to probe you on this.  I don’t think you understood what I’m saying.  Conservative Christians are saying the reason women are pushing to integrate all parts of the armed forces is because men are unwilling to fight.  Do you really believe that is what is going on, even though feminists tell us they are doing it to advance feminism?  If so, do you feel the same way about gays pushing into the military?  Are they doing so because straight men are refusing to fight, regardless of what gay activists tell us?  Likewise, are cis men refusing to fight, which lead to transgendereds insisting on being admitted into the military?  The other day I heard (second hand) about a man making the same excuse for women pushing to be ordained as pastors;  a Christian man said they had to, because men were refusing to become pastors.

NATHAN: Of course there are rebellious feminist women out there who are pushing for rebellious feminist agendas. When feminists tell me that’s what they’re doing, I believe them. They are culpable, they are wicked, they should be called to repent. 

To use the military example, if every lazy man in America repented and said he was willing to work hard in defense of this country, we would still have to contend with rebellious feminist women who want to usurp their bounds. 

That said, it seems obvious that these things tend to grow in an environment where men are evading responsibility. To admit that is not to deny the other things. 

DALROCK:

Of course there are rebellious feminist women out there who are pushing for rebellious feminist agendas. When feminists tell me that’s what they’re doing, I believe them. They are culpable, they are wicked, they should be called to repent.

But they haven’t been called to repent, and won’t be, because complementarians insist on changing the subject to men.  This is exactly what has happened and continues to happen on the subject of women pushing into combat.  Complementarians form concensus with feminists that men are bad and women should be cherished, and the matter is left there.  In theory someone, somewhere will hold women accountable for crossdressing.  But never complementarians, and never today.  See the PCA resolution on the subject that Pastor Bayly lead.  Women rebelled by demanding to take on men’s roles, so the PCA drafted a resolution condemning men for not fulfilling their roles (a lie), and then stressed the importance of cherishing and protecting women (a non sequitur at best).  This is cruel to women and girls.  Imagine if we did the same thing to boys.  Imagine if we responded to Bruce Jenner cross dressing by declaring that we are appalled that men feel the need to be feminine because women won’t do it, and men deserve more than they currently get from women.  This would ironically be more true than the claim for men and the military.  But it would still be a lie, and it would be cruel to men and boys who are tempted to sin in the way Jenner is sinning, because we would be sending the most confusing message imaginable to them in order to avoid offending Jenner and men like him.

To use the military example, if every lazy man in America repented and said he was willing to work hard in defense of this country, we would still have to contend with rebellious feminist women who want to usurp their bounds. 

This misses the point.  You may as well change the statement to:

If every rude man in America covered his mouth when he coughed, we would still have to contend with rebellious feminist women who want to usurp their bounds. 

Because one has nothing to do with the other.  Even worse, we don’t have a problem with men being unwilling to work hard in the defense of the country.  This implies that Christian men like myself and Pastor Bayly who have never joined the military sinned by not having done so.  It is a lie.

That said, it seems obvious that these things tend to grow in an environment where men are evading responsibility. To admit that is not to deny the other things. 

Of course it is to deny the other things.  As I pointed out with multiple links, this is what is being done regarding women in the military.  I urge you to go check the sources and see what I mean.  Bayly’s PCA resolution blamed men for non existent sins and didn’t confront women’s real sins.  The same is true for the examples I provided by John Piper, Joe Carter, Denny Burk Owen Strachan here. The same is true for the quotes I provided from Doug Phillips’ Vision Forum here.  The same is true for the other example I provided by CBMW Executive Director Owen Strachan here.  In all of these cases the sin of women demanding to crossdress and usurp the roles of men was not addressed.  Making up sins for men absolutely is being used to avoid holding women responsible.  If I’m wrong, it should be trivially easy for you to prove it to me since the links are all there.  I urge you, please show me where any of these examples state that a woman wanting to go into combat is sinning.

NATHAN: I can see that it will take a lot more discussion and shifting through the sources for us to come to any terms on this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being the crux of our discussion, and it may be the crux of our eventual podcast on the subject.  

However, it would be helpful to me if we could address the broader spectrum of questions I’ve sent you. And then we can circle back around and dig down as we need to. That would help give me the context I need. As we have the deeper discussions, I want to make sure I understand fully where you’re coming from. Hope that makes sense.

DALROCK:

Define red pill, game, and MGTOW. How do these things relate to your work? Or do they? What do people need to understand about them? What label would you give yourself? 

Red pill is a metaphor from The Matrix, and represents a conscious choice to reject lies that we have accepted without even knowing we had accepted them.  As you may already know I’m not really a fan of the metaphor.  One of the problems with the term is it is applied across divergent perspectives. The 2017 documentary The Red Pill for example represented the Mens Rights Activist (MRA) perspective, which (probably oversimplifying) is a push to make feminists live up to the stated ideals of feminism (true equality).  Another group is the MGTOWs (Men Going Their Own Ways).  From what I’ve seen MGTOWs argue passionately amongst themselves about what this really means, with one of the arguments being if married MGTOWs are true MGTOWs.  As the argument goes, who is to tell a man if he really is going his own way?  I won’t try to resolve that argument, as I’m not a stakeholder.

The label I would apply to myself is Unchivalrous Christian, and I have a post in the works on this.  Nearly all conservative Christians would I believe consider this a contradiction in terms, and this is the real problem with chivalry.  It is a parody of Christianity that was eventually accepted as if it were the real deal.  When I first started writing I mistakenly believed that what we call chivalry started off noble and was perverted in or around the 20th century.  But the more I have looked at it the more obvious it became that it was perversion from the beginning.

I would define game as a form of applied psychology, with the primary application being seduction (specifically a man seducing a woman)*.  Game is profoundly disruptive because not only are men highly motivated to be sexually successful to satisfy sexual desire, but as a society we equate the ability to attract/seduce women with virtue in men.  And it isn’t just secular culture that makes this equation.  If anything, Christians are worse in this regard.  Women’s arousal is seen as anything from a holy sanctifying force needed to purify marital sex to the very words of God by modern Christians.  This near universal belief that women’s sexual desires point to male virtue is rooted in chivalry, which explains why Christians have this bug the worst of all.  It also explains why game is such a threat to our values.

There is another group you didn’t mention that is often called red pill, and that is the pickup artists.  Their focus is seduction purely for the sake of sexual success.  They are by and large the ones who discovered/developed/spread game, for obvious reasons.   One way to look at it is that chivalry is both a system of moral values and a form of game (set of tools to seduce women).  In both regards it is false.  Pickup artists by and large aren’t interested in the moral question and reject chivalry because it isn’t an effective way to seduce women (it is an attraction killer).  If it worked as advertised, they would happily employ it.  My rejection of chivalry on the other hand is focused on the fact that it is a parody of Christianity, a false religion.  I would reject it even if it did work.

*The one true definition of game is a matter of enduring passionate disagreement in the men’s sphere, along with whether it works, and if it works, whether it can be learned/taught.

NATHAN: Is game good or bad or just an observation of how things work, whether we want them to work that way or not? How is it connected to biblical ethics, if at all?

DALROCK: Game is knowledge, but potentially dangerous knowledge.  So it depends on who you are and how/why you are using it.  As I noted above, the serious practitioners and teachers of game are using it for “pickup”, so the moral problem there is obvious.  And there is also the problem of temptation, not unlike meat sacrificed to idols.

But game also has value within marriage, especially since we have decided that romantic love is the place for sex and marriage, instead of marriage being the place for sex and romantic love.  I can cite many more examples, but consider the movie Fireproof.  The scene that sets up the conflict is when Caleb makes a fist and warns the man his wife is starting an affair with that he is going to fight him for his wife’s heart.  This conflict persists until Catherine finally realizes she (romantically) loves Caleb, and not the doctor.  In the movie her romantic love suddenly returned because Caleb had submitted to her in all things and outspent the doctor on items she wanted for her mother (winning her over without a word).  Game teaches what the Love Dare sets out to teach;  how to generate romantic love from your wife.  If you think that romantic love is a good thing in marriage (which I do), then a husband using game can certainly use it for good.

I don’t write a lot about game itself, but I have written a number of posts exploring the morality of game within marriage. I’m probably missing some but these are at least a start:

  1. She felt unloved.
  2. Headship Game.
  3. Radio Silence and Dread.
  4. Slow your roll
  5. Is fear of women the beginning of wisdom?

One thing I think we need to be very careful of is not to try to create a theology of game (intentionally or not).  This would be replicating what we did with chivalry.  The Bible doesn’t tell us to game our wives, just like it doesn’t tell us to buy them flowers and propose on one knee or speak their love language.  The Bible also needs to be the lens we view game through, not the other way around.  If we are clear on that, however, game can make it easier to stop rejecting what the Bible plainly tells us.  We reject the bulk of what the NT teaches us about men, women, and marriage because it offends our primaryreligion (chivalry).  If game helps us recognize the error of worshiping chivalry then it is beneficial, but we shouldn’t then make the same mistake and confuse game for Christianity.  Wives should submit to their husbands in fear and reverence not because it generates “tingles” (sexual attraction), but because this is what the Bible tells us.  Husbands should see themselves as the head not because this makes them sexy, but because it is what the Bible tells us.  And if someone outright rejects game but chooses to follow biblical teaching on marriage anyway, they are doing the right thing for the right reason and any disagreement on game is akin to two Christians disagreeing about the proper way to forecast the weather.

NATHAN: What does a man need to do to live a satisfying and productive life in today’s culture? What does a woman need to do to live a satisfying and productive life in today’s culture? How do these answers relate to God and the Bible?

DALROCK:  Answering questions 4 and 5 would take the wisdom of Solomon, which I don’t possess.  What we have in the temporal world is vanity compared to the eternal, and yet we should live our lives under the sun with wisdom.  Luckily I do have access to Solomon’s wisdom on the subject along with the rest of the Bible.

With the exception of a few men with the gift the Apostle Paul describes in 1 Cor 7, God’s plan is for men to marry.  Ecclesiastes tells us to rejoice in our work, our food, our drink, and our wives, as these are our portion in this world (Ecc 9:9, ESV):

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.

God’s plan for us hasn’t changed just because we have decided that Christian marriage should only be for the elite.  However, there is a common perspective of Christian married men today towards unmarried men which I reject, and it goes something like: “If I had to marry then you should have to marry too!”  I think this is precisely backwards.  I see marriage not as a punishment or burden, but as something truly wonderful.  I understand that I’ve been profoundly fortunate, but I still see it as a gift from God, not a curse*.  I want marriage for men not because I object to men remaining single, but because for a Christian man eschewing marriage means foregoing sex, romantic love, and children–for life.

When you think about it that way, what we’ve done to marriage is unconscionable.  We took a gift from God, something profoundly beautiful, and mangled it to suit our own perverse tastes.  In the process we’ve ground up innocent men, women, and children.  Think of the magnitude of the evil that our current and recent generations have done.  We inherited a flawed implementation of Christian marriage, where marriage for life was by far the norm and was the recognized family model.  We rejected that model and replaced it with the child support model (keeping legal marriage around as a purely ceremonial relic).  If our consciences weren’t so thoroughly seared we would be like King Josia in 2 Kings 22:11-13 (ESV):

“11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

We’ve weaponized marriage as a tool for women to steal from men.  The goals are to both facilitate sexual liberation & single motherhood and to provide a threatpoint to dis-empower husbands (destroy headship) within marriage.  Economists Stevenson and Wolfers describe the threatpoint of divorce in their paper Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress(emphasis mine).

In the literature on the economics of the family there has been growing consensus on the need to take bargaining and distribution within marriage seriously. Such models of the family rely on a threat point to determine distribution within the household. The switch to a unilateral divorce regime redistributes power in a marriage, giving power to the person who wants out, and reducing the power previously held by the partner interested in preserving the marriage.

But while the goals are feminist goals and the intentis to merely destroy respectable men, the changes are unintentionally cruel to women as well.  Offering women cash and prizes to betray their marriage vows is cruelty to them, not kindness.  This isn’t just true spiritually.  It is true temporally too.  All of the women married to loser husbands married the best man they could attract for marriage.   The idea that women can (generally) find a better husband once they are older, have a history of divorce, and another man’s children is absurd on the face of it.  Real life isn’t like the movies.

The other thing that we’ve done is labor to remove a path to respectability for men.  Our culture has a deep seated contempt for married fathers, and Christian culture outdoes secular culture in this regard.  This is why Christian movies so regularly express contempt for married men and (especially) married fathers.  It is also why Christians have taken a day secular culture set aside to honor fathers and have instead made it into a day to denigrate fathers.  The feeble defense for things like the ritual of tearing into fathers in Father’s Day sermons is that the goal is to make terrible fathers better.  The lie of this is proven by the lengths Christian films like Courageous go to show that faithful hard working churchgoing fathers are failing miserably.  Society is telling young men that married fathers are either villains or buffoons, and modern Christians are all too eager to reinforce this message.  Imagine a young man who watches the Christian movie Mom’s Night Out.  What kind of man does he want to be?  Does he want to be the sexy badboy biker tatoo artist, or the married Christian fathers?

Ironically, the very people we claim to be helping by making a habit of denigrating married fathers are the ones we are harming most.  Wives with good husbands can most easily overcome the temptation we dangle to not respect and submit to them.  Likewise for children of good fathers.  It is the wives and children of marginal and failing fathers who will be most susceptible to the temptation we gleefully and consistently put in front of them.

For women specifically, just as with men I believe that marriage is the blessing God intends for nearly all.  One of the cruel things we do to women in this regard is discourage them from seeking a husband when they are young and most attractive.  We fear that if they marry young they might submit to their husband.  So we urge them to delay marriage while pretending we aren’t sending them out for an extended ride on the cock carousel**.  Not only does this make it harder for them to be satisfied later in life in Christian marriage, but it makes it harder for women to understand what their “marriage market value” (MMV) is.  In the past when the bulk of women married around the same age, women could much more easily understand what their real options for marriage were.  When the clear goal is marriage, women compete for signs of commitment from men who (generally speaking) have good qualities for marriage.  This means the AF/BB (sex with alphas, marry a beta) strategy isn’t in play, so the marriage minded woman has access to much more information as her peers start to make their selections.  Now we have delayed marriage for women so that AF/BB is the predominant strategy, and we have also greatly spread out the process.  This both confuses marriage minded women and greatly dilutes the information they have available.

*I don’t think Paul is contradicting this in 1 Cor 7:6-9.  I think he is saying that he views his gift as a different kind of blessing.

**The term is vulgar but it expresses a vulgar truth that no other term quite captures.

NATHAN: Does work like yours attract misogynists? Why or why not? If so, is there anything that can be done to avoid it?  If not, is there something an outsider like me isn’t understanding about the people that it does attract? Is it fair for me to ask the spanking question and the misogyny questions right next to each other? Are my biases making me see misogyny (for example, in the wife spanking crowd) where I should see something else? If so, what am I (and others like me) missing? 

DALROCK: I think this primarily breaks down to two things:

1)  “Normal” for conservative Christian culture is to pedastalize, really to idolize, women.  This ties back to chivalry, which is why this is worse in conservative Christian culture than even feminist Christian culture.  When “normal” is idolizing women, anything short of that will seem like misogyny.  I’ll use two books as examples, but keep in mind the books themselves aren’t what is telling, it is the reaction by conservative Christian culture that is telling.

The authors of Every Man’s Battle wrote a follow on book on marriage titled Every Man’s Marriage.  The thesis of the book is that a man’s wife is his “master”:

What I’m trying to say is that the “master” defines your rights (and remember again that though we refer to your wife as your “master,” it’s our shorthand for the fact that becoming one with her essence is actually your God-given master). Why? Because you’re called to oneness and her essence sets the terms.

The whole book is shot through with ridiculous quotes like that.  See my series on the book for more examples.  Outside of conservative Christian culture people would laugh at such tripe.  But check out the Amazon.comreviews.  Conservative Christians love this stuff.

Another book (and set of Amazon reviews) to consider is Wendy Griffith’s  You Are a Prize to be Won!: Don’t Settle for Less Than God’s Best.  Griffith is in her mid 50s and is so entitled/picky she has yet to meet a man who is worthy of marrying her!  This should make her a cautionary tale to young Christian women not to be overly proud.  But in conservative Christian culture Griffith’s massive entitlement makes her a role model.  Griffith explains to young women that as entitled as she was, God wanted her to be more entitled:

…I heard the unmistakable voice of the Lord in my spirit. He whispered so clearly to me, Wendy, you are a prize to be won!

I knew the Lord’s voice, and I knew that He was speaking to me about my value. I didn’t need to be the one pursuing in a relationship or running around like a chicken with my head cut off, looking for love in all the wrong places. God has my man, and that man is going to recognize me as his prize! And the same goes for you.

Unfortunately, I have had to learn this lesson the hard way.

Pearl of Great Price

Ladies, the Lord wants you to know that you are a pearl of great price, a treasure worth pursuing and protecting. You are worth fighting for…

I don’t know if you saw the hilarious bit of trolling of feminist academia by a group that submitted the most absurd feminist papers they could dream up to academic journals.  My personal favorite is their assertion that feminist interpretive dance would improve the study of Astronomy, but others prefer their paper about rape culture among dogs.  The thing is, nothing is too absurd for academic feminists, and the journals couldn’t tell the hoax papers were satire because that is what real feminist submissions look like.  If I were going to troll conservative Christianity, I’d write books like the two I just mentioned.  I’d say headship means you are your wife’s slave and that the pearl of great price was not salvation, but women, and I’d present the advice on find a husband as coming from a woman in her 50s who never managed to find a husband.  But these folks beat me to it.  How could I possibly make a parody more absurd than the real thing?

So just like anything short of the craziest things you can imagine feels like misogyny to feminists, the same is true (with a different flavor) for conservative Christians.  The thing is, while lying to women makes both the liar and the women feel good, it is still cruel to women.  Christian women have heard this message their whole lives, and many don’t know it isn’t true.  Who really hates women, the men who offend them by telling the truth, or the men who remain silent while women are being lied to?

2)  With that said, there is another aspect to this.  Since pedestalization is so deeply rooted in our culture, learning that women sin too is very painful for many men.  Upon learning that chivalry is a lie, many men initially react with what I call red pill bitterness.  Most men either reject the truth outright or make it to the other side with an appreciation for women as they really are.  But some men get stuck in the bitterness phase.  It is like the “red pill” gets lodged in their throat;  they neither fully swallow or spit it out.  They see the truth (or at least part of it), but they hate it and therefore hate women for the fact that it is true.  Christian former blogger Samson’s Jawbone described his own feelings in this regard:

Roissy is fond of saying that he’s not a “misogynist”; no, learning the unvarnished truth about female psychology has given him a *higher* appreciation for women. Not so for me. Sociosexual philosophy has disillusioned me beyond all reckoning. Peering deep into the psyche of woman has rendered me grievously scornful in feeling and mercilessly unscrupulous in behaviour towards these unholy, ungodly beings. I venture to say that… I hate them. Yes, I hate them! And how could I not?

Not surprisingly Samson eventually left the men’s sphere.  In general there is a good deal of patience for men who are working their way through this stage, but if a man gets stuck here and wallows in it eventually that patience runs out.  As commenter Leap of Beta put it:

Samson doesn’t seem like he ever stopped grieving for the old him. He’s still stuck on himself and seems to think that he deserves better treatment from women, and seems to forget that God made women the way they are. He simply doesn’t seem to accept that on an emotional level even if he acts upon it on a rational level. So he goes through life acting on the facts, but never seeing the beauty of how women function when they follow the path God gave them.

Then he blames the manosphere for his unhappiness instead of just owning it. We’re degenerates. We’re cynical. We’re angry. Blah. Blah. Blah. We’re individual men in various states of grieving, acceptance, learning, growing, and teaching. You’ll get from the manosphere what you go looking for as well as what you put in. Samson has found what he’s wanted.

NATHAN: I’ve seen more than one commenter in your archives say that a woman needs a good old fashioned spanking (or words to that effect). I see in your “comments policy” you ask people to refrain from discussing marital corporal punishment. I have several questions about that. First (just to get it out of the way): do you or any of your more serious followers support marital corporal punishment? Why or why not? 

DALROCK: I don’t support marital corporal punishment.  I don’t think it is needed, and I also don’t see it as consistent with the instructions to husbands in the NT.  I’m not sure exactly who my “serious followers” are, but I think the vast majority of my readers would be horrified if you told them they had an obligation to practice marital corporal punishment.

I added the comment rule because while the number of commenters who brought up the topic was small, when they did so it tended to derail all other discussion.  This makes it both off topic and highly disruptive.  Also, if I were going to troll the Christian men’s sphere this is exactly how I would troll it.  It would be a twofer, as it would fit the stereotype and also be disruptive.

I don’t recall the specific comments you are referring to, but I do recall someone posting links to scenes from old John Wayne movies where the Duke spanked women.  I don’t think they meant it as a how-to video, but more of an example of how radically cultural views of a husband’s authority had changed.  In this regard, I don’t think the movies were advocating spanking, but using an outrageous scene to make a humorous point.

Along the same lines, I did include a youtube clip of “Lone Ranger, Man of the house” in a post a few months back.  In that video a husband draws his gun and shoots his wife’s favorite china when she gives him sass.  Then when she isn’t responding to his order to make him dinner, he pulls his gun again and tells her she’s going to look mighty funny without any ears.  One of my readers (MKT) brought the clip to my attention, describing it as “one of the finest moments in TV history”:

It’s one of the finest moments in TV history, and would make everyone from radical feminists to self-proclaimed conservative complimentarians hysterical if they saw it. If you can’t watch the whole thing, just watch the first minute and last 2-3 minutes.

I don’t share MKT’s enthusiasm for the clip, but I don’t think he is advocating gunplay as a form of headship.  My reader in turn had come across the clip on another Christian man’s blog.  The blogger described it as a fond memory from his childhood:

On this privileged occasion, I recall taking in an episode of The Lone Ranger. The theme of this particular show was about that time when there was this mousy little man, hen-pecked to the outer limits of human endurance, and through a series of circumstances, the Lone Ranger adopted this poor man and made him something of a protégé. The end result of this crash course in masculinity was that the little man headed on home, and the happy ending to the whole saga was him pulling out his revolver and shooting his wife’s dishes off her shelves. It makes me happy just thinking about it. Fade to black, and with her thinking something along the lines of finally!

I don’t think the other Christian blogger really advocates gunplay as headship, either.  However, if my opinion on the matter isn’t sufficient you could ask him.  His name is Pastor Doug Wilson.

Like I said, I don’t think Wilson advocates gunplay, and he has stated that he doesn’t advocate marital corporal punishment.  However, one reader we have in common does advocate it, and I think Wilson’s presentation of marriage as a military unit lead my reader to that conclusion.  Commenter Warthog wrote in response to my criticism of Wilson:

@Dalrock you’ve stated the problem, but not the solution. What sanctions do husbands biblically have when their wives rebel?
When children or slaves rebel, the head of the house clearly has the biblical sanction of the rod. Non-destructive spanking/beating.
Does the patriarch’s power of the rod also apply to his wife? If not, why not?

Not defending Wilson here, but you have failed to comprehend what he meant in the military analogy. There is a difference between being at fault and being responsible. To take the example of a ship captain, the USS Stark was hit by an Iraqi missile in 1986 or so. Due to a mistake by the gunnery sergeant, the Phalanx missile defense system had not been turned back on after the last maintenance. Due to this error, the ship was defenseless against the missile, resulting as I recall in the deaths of about 17 men.
The captain was held responsible, as was the gunnery sergeant. It ended both of their careers. The captain was indeed responsible, even though it was the gunnery sergeant’s fault. Simply said, when you have command you are responsible for both the good and bad that happens under your command.
In marriage this would mean that if the wife starts misbehaving, the husband is responsible for the marriage, and should take corrective action on the wife. If the misbehavior metastasizes it is usually because it wasn’t nipped in the bud, just like cancer.
Wilson’s problem is not his recognition that the husband is responsible for the ship of the family. The problem is that Wilson does not acknowledge that the husband has sanctions over the wife for disobedience. Without sanctions you are not a covenant head. All covenants have sanctions.
A man who is held responsible, but has no power to make the people under his headship obey should walk away from that job.

I disagree with Warthog’s conclusion but there is something to his logic.  If husbands are to be measured as if they were military leaders, then should they not practice military discipline?  As I wrote in response to Warthog’s comment, A naval captain’s mission is different than the mission of a Christian husband and father.  Likewise the husband’s role is different than the role of a military commander.  Part of the problem here comes from our twisting what Scripture teaches.  Scripture doesn’t tell husbands they must lead, it tells wives to submit and declares that the husband is the head.  But if the husband is in charge, we reason (properly, in my opinion) that the husband must have someobligation to lead.  So far, so good, but then we take that and run it backwards, erroneously declaring “If the husband leads well, the wife will submit”.  Therefore a wife who is in rebellion it is proof that a husband didn’t do enough to make her comply.  And if the husband is responsible for making his wife comply, then you can see where some would start seriously considering corporal punishment.

But like I stated, I don’t think the husband is responsible for making his wife comply.  There is another bit here that gets at the insincerity of the complementarian position.  The same folks who claim the husband is responsible if his wife does something wrong also are adamant that husbands must never tell their wives to submit.  This is especially strange because husbands are to wash their wives with the water of the word, but here we are telling husbands they are forbidden from telling their wives what Scripture plainly says.  For example, in Wilson’s  21 Theses on Submission in Marriage thesis 11 is:

The Bible does not teach husbands to enforce the requirement that was given to their wives. Since true submission is a matter of the heart, rendered by grace through faith, a husband does not have the capacity to make this happen. His first task is therefore to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He is to lead by example.

This is a complementarian article of faith, and you will get the same basic message from Mary Kassian and Kathy Keller.  My personal favorite however is Pastor Camp:

I’ve never once said in my entire life that a man should tell a woman to submit- ever.

We don’t need marital corporal punishment, we need to take away the tools the church and state have put in place to weaken the position of husbands (divorce, etc).  We also need to stop blaming men for women’s sins because we are too uncomfortable holding women accountable.

Note:  This takes us back to the ten examples I provided in the other thread of conservative Christians blaming men for women pushing to take over men’s roles.

DALROCK: One thing I want to add regarding Game is that while I generally agree with Heartiste’s definition of Alpha/Beta, etc, (language warning) I disagree with the common acceptance that Alpha is good and Beta is bad.  Heartiste may mock Betas (especially lesser Betas) for being sexual losers, but he understands what nearly all moderns fail to grasp;  being sexy isn’t a sign of virtue in a man.  Betas are careful and loyal and this makes them boring and less sexy than exciting badboys.  Marriage is fundamentally Beta, it is a public and legal declaration of “oneitis”.   I write this as perhaps the men’s sphere’s only self identified Beta.

I am seeing Christians outside the men’s sphere use the term Alpha to represent good husbands, and Betas to represent losers.  This is an anti marriage perspective.  The allure here is that for decades conservative Christians have responded to feminist rebellion by declaring that if men were good enough, women wouldn’t be tempted to rebel.  The implied solution is that we can create an elite squad of crack husbands who will be so irresistible that their wives won’t rebel.  This has a number of glaring problems.  One is that if we say only elite men are fit for Christian marriage, we are saying the same for women.  The other is that the way you create a crack squad of anything is by ruthlessly cutting out the men who can’t hack it.  How do you weed out the loser husbands who somehow made it into the program of Christian marriage?  You wash them out via the divorce courts.  And in fact this is exactly what we have embraced, without so much as a “sorry, sucks to be you” to the children who will thereby grow up without their father in the home.

 

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About The Authors

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Nathan Alberson is co-founder and creative director of Warhorn Media. He hosts three podcasts—The Bookening, The World We Made, and Sound of Sanity.

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Jake is the CEO of Warhorn Media and the discipleship pastor of Clearnote Church. He also teaches at Clearnote Pastors College.

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Engineer. Production assistant. Podcaster. Is there anything Ben Sulser DOESN'T do?

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