Concluding Thoughts On Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught

So what’s the verdict on this book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I started reading for class a book on divine simplicity. Now whatever your thoughts are on the doctrine, I respect something the author, James Dolezal, did. At the start of the book, he takes a survey of many arguments from atheists and evangelicals and others AGAINST divine simplicity.

That means going in, he’s not giving you a one-sided case.

Unfortunately, evangelical atheists don’t know how to do that.

As I said, only one conservative source is quoted and the arguments aren’t even made from that source. Now you could be a fan of liberal New Testament scholarship, but even still, you should hopefully agree that if someone wants to present a case, they should show familiarity with the other side. Madison shouldn’t be able to just say “I have a PhD.” He needs to show he has interacted with the material.

I bring this up because as we finish this book, we find more of the same kinds of arguments.

So let’s see. One thing thrown out suddenly is the idea of 30,000 denominations. I always like to refer to this source on that because this is an argument non-Protestant forms of Christianity often use, and yet here there is a Catholic source saying it’s bogus. He’s right. Bad arguments are bad arguments even if the cause they are arguing for is true. (And no, I don’t agree with Catholicism or Orthodoxy, but that’s not the point here.)

Then we have him giving Tim Sledge’s argument of “Why didn’t Jesus say anything about germs?”

Yeah. Try to picture how you would say something about microscopic beings that you couldn’t even see back in Jesus’s day and how that would be passed on. Besides that, water quality wasn’t exactly the best. It could be washing your hands could do more harm than good at times and who knows how many people had access to good means of cleaning?

No. Jesus gave us Himself instead which led to the scientific revolution. It is quite strange to say “Jesus didn’t speak on what I wanted Him to speak on, therefore I won’t believe in Him.” It’s also a way to avoid evidence to the contrary. Just say Jesus didn’t speak on X, therefore, I don’t need to listen to anything else. Such people do not really care about evidence.

Madison also encourages Christians to study the work of serious scholars, devout and secular alike. Well, I have. I’m still convinced. It doesn’t look like Madison has really done that. I see some secular scholarship, but a lot of his sources are not scholars and as I said earlier, he only briefly references one “devout” source of scholarship.

Physician, heal thyself.

So in the end, the conclusion is not a shock. Madison is someone who chooses the flimsiest of arguments that could easily be answered if he really wanted to have them answered. I don’t mind that Jesus taught any of the things Madison brings up, at least not in the same way, but I am thankful that I have tried to follow something Paul taught and I wish that Madison had.

Study to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The Toxic War On Masculinity Part 9

What happens when the church absorbs secularism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We are going to conclude this tonight as the last two chapters are about men and marriage and the church and patriarchy.

For the former chapter, Pearcey says it takes a man to save a marriage, and in many ways, I think this is true, but not all. I know many men like myself who we did not want our wives to leave at all. We fought tooth and nail to save our marriage.

If someone wants to leave, you can’t stop them.

Yet still, there is no doubt men need to be pulling their weight in marriage. Of course, women do, but this is written considering the men. We need to make sure we are treating our wives honorably and in a way pleasing to Christ.

That gets us to the last chapter.

Can we get some matters clear?

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS IT ACCEPTABLE FOR A HUSBAND TO ABUSE HIS WIFE!

Let’s add a corollary to that.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD A WOMAN STAY WITH A MAN THAT IS AN ACTIVE DANGER TO HER AND/OR HER CHILDREN!

The first one seems obvious, but there’s a real danger in that several churches tell women they cannot leave an abusive relationship. They have to respect the man as the leader of the household. If he’s not being the man he should be, who’s fault is that?

Why it’s the woman, of course. She is just obviously not being pretty enough or taking care of the house enough or being submissive enough or not having enough sex with him. If she will change her behavior, he will change his.

Baloney.

One strong reason men who abuse keep abusing is that they know that they can get away with it. A woman in this position is not respecting male headship. She is enabling true toxic masculinity.

This is not some new modern idea. This goes back to Augustine.

In the fourth century, the great church father Augustine said that if a husband is committing serious sin, such as fornication or adultery or physical abuse, his wife should not submit to him. She should regard God himself, not her husband, as her head: If her husband fornicates, she offers her chastity to God. For Christ speaks inwardly in her heart, and consoles his daughter with words like this: “Are you distressed about your husband’s wrongful behavior, what he has done to you? . . . In so far as he behaves badly, don’t regard him as your head, but me.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 257-258). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

If you are in danger, get out. If your children are in danger, get out. If your church tells you you have to stay, leave that church.

Headship means the man is actually striving to act like Christ. A man who is an abuser is not a man. He’s a temper-tantrum boy in the body of a man.

Pearcey closes the book describing the Titanic and when it sank, the men went down with the ship so the women and children could flee. One man put on a tuxedo so he could die as a gentleman. Now, a group of men regularly gather around a statue commemorating the event and say the following:

“To their dignity, grace, and style, but most of all, tonight we toast their courage. . . . To those brave men.” “Hear! Hear!” “To the stewards, the men who stoked the boilers, the crew who shared that bravery as much as any man in a tuxedo. . . . To those brave men.” “Hear! Hear!” “To the young and old, the rich and the poor, the ignorant and the learned, all who gave their lives nobly to save women and children. To those brave men.” “Hear! Hear!” Finally, one man closes the commemoration saying, “Chivalry, gallantry, bravery, and grace—in these times those ideals seem to have all but disappeared. But by our remembrance they are born again. And in our lives, they can live again.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 269-270). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

May they live again in men today!

Hear! Hear!

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The Toxic War On Masculinity Part 8

How can fathers work and be Dads both? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Going forward, Pearcey reminds us what the past was like.

In the colonial period, men were integral as actively engaged fathers and leaders of virtue. The family worked together daily in a family industry. . . . During the Industrial Age, this dynamic changed. Women became responsible for “civilizing” men (which led to the destructive mindset that excused and perhaps expected crude behavior from men). . . . The family dynamic became disjointed.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 211). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Nowadays, a lot of men sacrifice time with their family for their work. Why? They’re the breadwinner. They have to provide. They want their children to be able to go to any college they want and give as much as they can.

Problem is, a lot of these children want their Dads more than that.

Fortunately, some businesses are realizing this.

After her article went viral, Anne-Marie Slaughter gave a TED talk saying, If you work for me and you have a family issue, I expect you to attend to it. . . . I am confident, and my confidence has always been borne out, that the work will get done, and done better. Workers who have a reason to get home to care for their children or their family members are more focused, more efficient, more results-focused.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 213-214). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Imagine that. Workers who get to spend time with their families and work out issues can actually work better. Could it be that if a job leaves a man thinking he’s being taken away from his family, that he will resent it? Could it be if he resents it, he won’t be as productive?

Not only that, if you can learn how to manage a family, you will usually be better on your job. In a hilarious statement she says,

Research has “determined that parents tend to excel at skills such as negotiating, compromising, multitasking, and patience. If you can resolve conflict with a three-year-old, you can almost certainly manage a group of adults.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 214). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And research again shows that more families want more time together instead of more money together.

When Peggy Orenstein interviewed couples on their work-family balance for her bestselling book Flux, she found that the most satisfied couples were those who limited their work commitments: “The husbands had flexible jobs, worked regular hours [no overtime], or were self-employed.” Orenstein found that men who adopted these strategies often received fewer promotions and took a salary hit—the Daddy Penalty. But they said the payoff was worth it, namely, “a closer relationship to their children.” When asked, 70 percent of fathers say they would prefer more time with their family, even if that meant earning less. In a separate study, the same number of wives—70 percent—say they would prefer more time with their husband over a higher paycheck. A man who is slaving away at work for the sake of his family may be surprised to learn that his family would prefer his time and presence instead of fancier cars, nicer vacations, and designer clothes.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 215). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This is shown more and more throughout the chapter. Shorter work weeks even lead to more productive workers. Men. It might be better for your family if you can work part-time. Fortunately, one good thing Covid did is show many of us that is possible. I know many people who supplement their income doing work on YouTube so they can be with their family. I have a gamer on YouTube I watch frequently who talks often about spending time with his children and playing the games he got to play with his parents.

The guy is doing it right.

I have often said this about ministry. When I was married, I made it a priority to have my wife with me as much as possible, even when many speakers didn’t share that mindset. For me, family was more important. As Pearcey says:

One of my students attends a church where the senior pastor repeatedly tells his congregation, “I refuse to have a ‘successful’ ministry and a broken family.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 223). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Several people can do a job. Only one person can be a husband to your wife and a father to your children.

Choose which is more important.

Well, this all sounds noble, but still, men can imbibe a secular mindset. What then?

Next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

Book Plunge: The Toxic War on Masculinity Part 7

Are men dumb? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Across the board, are men dumb? No. Some are brilliant. Some are dumb. The same applies to women. (And if you think otherwise for either one, that says a lot about you.) Unfortunately, in our society, men are usually seen as the dumb ones.

I really enjoyed watching Home Improvement with my family. I still enjoy it today, but I have to agree that it’s clear who is the brains in the family. Tim is an idiot who screws up consistently and he needs his wife to make sure that he handles things properly.

Usually in a show, the woman is the voice of reason. The guy is the one who is just thinking about sex, watching sports, and drinking beer. Men have a really bad reputation in our society.

Suzanne Venker, author of The War on Men, writes, In the span of just a few decades, America has demoted men from respected providers and protectors of the family to superfluous buffoons. Today’s sitcoms and commercials routinely paint a portrait of the idiot husband whose wife is smarter and more capable than he.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 191). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Churches aren’t safe either. As Pearcey says:

Even churches sometimes send negative messages to fathers. One of my graduate students, Grace, leads the women’s ministry at a large Baptist church. She told me, “On Mother’s Day, we honor mothers, passing out roses. But we spend Father’s Day scolding men and telling them to ‘do better.’”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 191). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Pastors. Hear me on this. If you spend Mother’s Day praising the mothers and Father’s Day scolding the fathers, you are contributing to the problem. Either praise both or scold both or tell both how they’re wonderful and how they both need to improve. I recommend the last one. Point out to them how essential their role is in society and then tell them how they can be even better at it without assuming that they’re miserable failures.

You all know I’m thoroughly conservative, but when I saw this quote in Pearcey from Obama, I had to say “When he’s right, he’s right.” I would honestly at least want to stand up and cheer if I heard this.

In the words of former president Barack Obama, “We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child—it’s the courage to raise one.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 192). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Could that be political pandering? Sure. All politicians do it to some degree. It’s also right.

Something I have heard black conservative commentators say about LeBron James is that he needs to stop being a race hustler. The man has been faithful to his wife and raised his children. That should be his main message he has out there. Fatherlessness is a huge problem in the black community.

Pearcey also says fathers have often been reduced to just pals. The problem is kids have plenty of friends they can be pals with. None of those friends can be a father.

There’s no doubt that shared recreation fosters positive father-child bonds. Some of my students say they cherish memories of their father coming home from work and throwing a ball with them in the backyard. Nevertheless, the idea that the father was primarily a playmate or buddy was new in the nineteenth century, and it entailed a steep loss in status. It contributed to the idea that fathers were not essential to family life.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 196). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I liked times my Dad and I played games together. I remember playing Jaws and Golf and Dr. Mario for instance. When I come to see my folks, we inevitably break out a round of Trivial Pursuit. I liked hearing my Dad tell stories about when he was in college and when we see superhero movies like Batman movies, he can tell me about what those heroes were like when he was growing up and I can tell them what they are like now.

Also, I have come to see many shows thanks to my Dad and inevitably, I know them better than he does. My Dad grew up watching Adam West in Batman. Today, I know the series better than he does. He watched Cheers when it came on. Again, I know the series better. Finally, definitely Smallville, and yes, I know that series better than the Smallville magazine writers did. Before I moved to New Orleans, we were watching The Flash together.

But I could do that with any of my friends too. The most important gift given was affirmation and being a Dad growing up. No one else could do that. Fathers. Plenty of children can be friends to your kids. Only one can be a Dad to them.

I also encourage fathers of girls to do this. When Valentine’s Day comes around, don’t just get something for your wife. Get something for your daughter too. Treat her like a princess. Why? Because you want it that when she starts dating, she won’t settle for a man who doesn’t treat her as good as her Daddy does.

By the way Dads, help out your wife at home too. Pearcey says there are benefits.

And if that’s not enough of a motivator, Sandberg and Grant report that couples who share housework and childcare also have more sex. As they put it, “women and men who ‘work hard’ also ‘play hard.’” Apparently, this last finding sparked considerable interest, because several other researchers have studied the same phenomenon: “Men who do more housework and child care have better sex lives and happier marriages than others” (John Gottman, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail). “Men said the happier their wives were in the division of housework, the happier the men were with their sex lives” (Newsweek). “Couples enjoyed more frequent and satisfying sex for both partners when men made a fair contribution to housework” (Science Daily). “Men’s performance of child care is generally associated with more satisfaction with the division of child care, more satisfying sexual relationships, and higher quality relationships” (Gender and Society). “Couples report having more and higher quality sex when they are satisfied with their relationships. . . . Relationship quality and stability are generally highest when couples divide up the household labor in a way they see as equitable or fair” (Council on Contemporary Families).

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 204-205). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Also ladies, this is a deep need for your man and meeting that will motivate him more and more.

But how do you do all this with a work schedule?

That’s for next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

Book Plunge: The Toxic War On Masculinity Part 6

Does Christianity need muscles? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Pearcey continues writing as to how when male behavior changed, Christianity began to be seen as less masculine. There was an attempt made to make Christianity more muscular. One way to do this is with sports, so you have institutions rise up like the YMCA. Interesting fact she shares is that the inventor of basketball was actually a Presbyterian minister who set up two baskets for that had been used for gathering peaches.

Such an idea is not unheard of. Paul used analogies of athletes in his writings. Not only that, but he used soldiers as an example even including the armor of God in the book of Ephesians. Thus, using “manly” interests to give examples of how Christians were to live is not unheard of.

Why bring up the military? Think about hymns like “Onward Christian Soldiers” or “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus.” We are told to fight for the faith and we are told to be good soldiers. Examples like this are appealing to men.

Many men take pride in their work and see it as a defining feature of their lives, but how often do preachers talk about work?

The biblical teaching on work and vocation should be a key part of the Christian message. Yet it rarely is. One survey found that 92 percent of churchgoing men have never heard a sermon on the subject of work. Christian essayist Dorothy Sayers comments that if Christianity does not speak to our work lives, then it is silent about most of what we do: “How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 181-182). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Nowadays, I find many sermons just seem to be self-help therapy. I’m not saying that’s how it is with my church or every church. I am saying that we rarely seem to have sermons that have meat on them. We often preach at the lowest common denominator and send our church members out into a world above that. We train them on how to use bows and arrows while our enemies have rocket launchers.

I have a professor here who did a dissertation on Billy Sunday, an evangelist of the past who impacted Billy Graham. I was surprised to see how confrontational Sunday was as Pearcey says:

Sunday taunted his audiences, saying if they were hesitant to convert to Christianity, it was because they were “not man enough”: You haven’t manhood enough to get up and walk down the aisle and take me by the hand and say, I give my heart to Christ. . . . Oh you aren’t man enough to be a Christian! It takes manhood to be a Christian, my friends, in this old world! No man can be a man without being a Christian and no man is a man unless he is a Christian. Billy Sunday’s testosterone-laden style appealed to men, and he became the most influential revivalist of his day. Even H. L. Mencken, the acerbic journalist known for his attacks on Christianity, called Sunday a “gifted exhorter” and remarked that he was “constantly struck by the great preponderance of males” coming to the front to be saved at Sunday’s crusades.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 183-184). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Notice the emphasis on manhood.

Unfortunately, looking at our time, it hasn’t seemed to work in the long-term. If anything, men are now the object of ridicule. How so? That will be looked at next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: The One

What do I think of this novel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve already interrupted one book to talk about another book and now I’m interrupting that book to talk about a third. This one will be short. It’s only going to be one entry.

I’ve been making it a point to read more fiction lately. I don’t mean Christian fiction. I just mean fiction. This is in addition to mystery novels that I’m also reading. The last book that I read in this category and finished yesterday is The One, which you can buy here.

Please keep in mind that this is not a Christian book. However, it is certainly a book that is thought-provoking. Just know if you’re a Christian you won’t approve of everything in it.

Dating is hard. I know it. I hate it. You have to go out there and find the person and then spend so much time with the person before you decide you want to marry the person. What if there was an easier way?

In this novel, there is. You can just take your DNA and send it to the Match Your DNA company and they will run it through their database and find the one person that is meant for you based on your DNA. Who is that one person that you will click with and form a relationship with?

This is something that most everyone is doing in the society. There are concerns about couples who are not “matched” and many couples sadly get divorced so they can be with their “match.” Couples who marry without a match are seen as passing up “the one” that is meant for them.

A little side note here, but before you roll your eyes at the concept, if you’re a Christian, remember that too many of us have a concept of how we have to find “the one” that is meant for us. Verse in Scripture that says this? None. We just throw it in with the same errant concept of “Finding God’s will for your life.”

Anyway, the novel follows five characters. I don’t want to use the term protagonists because you will not like all five of these characters. All of them use the Match program and while there is some good that comes of it, overall, I conclude there is far more harm. Something that was meant to lead to better relationships seems to lead to harder ones.

Really, I can’t say much more beyond that because some of you might want to read it and if you do, I don’t want to spoil it for you. The main thought I had going through this book was that we praise science all day long in our society, and I’m certainly not saying science in itself is an evil, but there are some decisions that maybe we just shouldn’t be leaving to science. Maybe sometimes we should make the decisions ourselves instead of having others do the thinking for us.

Fortunately, we’re not in any danger of that today. Right?

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The Toxic War On Masculinity Part 5

What happens when men embrace toxicity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re going to have a short look tonight at this part. There comes a time when after awhile, people get so often told that they are such a way that they become such a way. This is what happened to men eventually. Want to keep labeling them as unfaithful and barbarians and everything else? It will not become a mark of shame. It will become a mark of pride.

And so it did. Men decided that this would be who they would be and let the women just deal with it. Unfortunately, the lie has gone on so long that now most of us believe it and we don’t even realize we believe it. Consider this one quote from Pearcey:

Sociologist David Popenoe, codirector of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, writes, “Men are not biologically attuned to being committed fathers. Left culturally unregulated, men’s sexual behaviour can be promiscuous, their paternity casual, their commitment to families weak.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 169). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Many of you could be reading this and thinking, “Yes. No question about that one.” Pearcey has a different take:

Note the assumption that men are not created to be faithful husbands and fathers—a dangerous message that fosters male irresponsibility.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 169-170). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It’s so simple and yet it goes right through. Pearcey sees what many of us would take for granted and says that if we go this route then we are assuming men are a problem to begin with. Apparently, nothing is said about what women are created to be.

Within the past month or so, I posted on a story on the Babylon Bee Facebook page and had a feminist woman reply to me. It was on the topic of abortion and she was telling me if I wanted to eliminate abortion, I needed to deal with, and I will edit her language for the sake of some readers, but simply, men having an irresponsible release. It never occurred to this woman that it takes two to tango. She also said that if men do not control themselves, then women will have abortions. Yep. It’s all up to the men what the women do.

Thus, we live in a world where men are guilty of the crime of being men. You find some extremes where men form a manosphere and then manhood is often defined by how many women you sleep with. The women complain, but at the same time, they go right along. (Which means also the women have to be being just as promiscuous as the men, but there’s hardly anything said about controlling the female sex drive.)

Yet now what if we take this even further? What has this done to Christianity? Even in churches before the American Revolution it was noted that men were not nearly in attendance as much as women. What happens when masculinity is redefined?

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: The Toxic War On Masculinity Part 4

Is culture fair towards boys? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes I hear about problem students at school. Inevitably, they’re boys. These are boys that seem to always act up in class and parents can’t figure out what’s going on. Sometimes, I think I also know what the problem is.

They’re boys.

No. It’s not that being a boy is a problem, but it’s that the schooling system we have today is much more geared towards girls. Sit at a desk and be quiet and don’t move and do your work that way. Many boys would rather be active and they are gunning inside of themselves to be active. Also, if they don’t find themselves challenged, they will either make artificial challenges, like I did, or they will cause trouble, like I didn’t.

This started more and more when fathers went off to work and sons were left at home often to be raised by the mother. This isn’t to say that a mother can’t raise a son, (See this book for instance) but there is a challenge as a mother can’t pass on masculinity. That’s one reason many excellent single mothers I still would encourage to get male role models for their sons that they can personally interact alongside.

Pearcey says that the way boys were was shown in the novels of the day. Boys were more and more being scamps. Think of something like Huckleberry Finn. The good boys were boring and the bad boys were going off and having adventures.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with spirit and spunk. Boys are on average more physically active and aggressive than girls. Many of them love to pretend fight, to play competitive games, to be a hero. But being high-spirited is not the same as misbehaving. The bad-boy books taught boys that being good was boring and girly—that to be a “real” boy meant to break the rules and defy adult standards of behavior.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 144). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In many cases, this led to an escape to the wilderness because home was where femininity reigned. Why did Thoreau go out to Walden Pond? To get away from femininity. What about the classic tale of Rip Van Winkle? Just go and look and see what he had to say about his wife!

Why were men going out west? Not just to find gold and riches, but to get away from centers of femininity. Real manhood was to be found out on the open range. One went out into nature to get in touch with one’s manhood. It sure wasn’t going to happen in civilization. Yet Pearcey says about this that:

Yet, instead of escaping into boy culture, a more biblical response would have been to recognize that Christianity does not strip away the virtues of boyhood—the natural drive many boys have to fight, to compete, to build forts, to win. Instead, it calls men to direct those masculine traits to fight evil, overcome sin, protect those they love, and strategize how to advance biblical truth in the world. Christianity does not suppress men’s thirst for risk and adventure but redirects it to eternal goals.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 151). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This idea of escaping femininity and the noble savage even impacted the formation of the Boy Scouts.

Today few people remember that scouting was also originally framed as a means of liberating boys from the world of women. A 1914 article distributed by the Boy Scouts argued that, at a certain age, a boy “slips the apron-strings” and discovers “a world in which petticoats are scorned and an attempt at petticoat rule is resented.” As one historian explains, scouting was intended to be “a boy’s liberation movement, to free young males from women, especially from mothers.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 152-153). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

By the way, Pearcey doesn’t have anything against the Scouts. She says she was a cub scout leader for a year and loved it. What needs to be asked though is why was there a need to have an idea of a noble savage? What were boys not just running to, but running from?

Think about things like Dude Ranches as well. Men are needing to find masculinity and are not thinking they can find it at home. They think it is out there in the wild.

Well, what about Jesus? Many men don’t identify with Jesus who is often seen as weak. What about gentle Jesus meek and mild? As Pearcey says in response:

It’s true that Jesus described himself as meek: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29 KJV). But in the first century, the meaning of the word “meek” (Greek: praus) was quite different from what it is today. A Greek military leader named Xenophon used the word to describe war horses that were well trained—strong and spirited yet highly disciplined. Socrates said a meek person was one who could argue his case without losing his temper. Plato used the word to describe a victorious general who was merciful to a conquered people. Aristotle referred to a meek person as someone concerned about justice but whose anger does not degrade into revenge or retaliation. The common theme in all these uses of the word is power under control—which certainly describes Jesus better than any saccharine Victorian image.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 156-157). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Power under control is not what many of us think of when we think of Jesus as meek.

She ends this section with a battle cry hopefully men can get behind, as well as women.

We are called to engage in the battle for the advancement of the kingdom . . . employing all the natural and spiritual gifts with which we’ve been equipped to fight against hunger, poverty, and ignorance and to fight for truth, life, and justice . . . to redeem culture and transform nations.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 159). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I will certainly take part in this battle and hope I already am.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The Toxic War On Masculinity Part 3

Do men bear responsibility? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What happens when you divorce the public and the private, the sacred and the secular? What happens when femininity and masculinity are no longer seen as complementing one another but are seen as competition? What happens when the individual becomes more important than the household?

There’s not much to say on this one tonight except when two groups start to form a divide, generally, they make it get deeper and deeper. Men who were seen in a negative light, well, they became a self-fulfilling prophecy. They started living that way and before too long, you had saloons. You had men spending extra money on alcohol. You saw that since the women were taking charge of the household, the men were starting to abdicate responsibility.

It’s a sad reality that we all will usually choose the path of least resistance and the path that requires the least work. Today, a woman will have sex with a man thinking that he will then marry her. In reality, he’ll usually see that and say “Okay. I guess I don’t need to go any further.” Why should he? He’s got what he wants and he doesn’t have to enter any further risk, such as getting married and losing half of his money and having to pay alimony for the rest of his life.

And the women in all of this? Well, they developed a sort of take-charge attitude in this. Many reform movements were beginning because women were of the mindset that things would be better if they were in charge. This is the beginning of feminism today and sadly, it is the beginning. As I said at the start, if you keep pushing people down a divide, that divide will grow worse and worse.

So then, you have the idea that we need to have reform. Where does that lead? Today, you can have a hashtag that says to Kill All Men.

Sometimes you need to go back to where you lost your way and find out what happened. One step Pearcey takes is to look at how Jesus treated women. Jesus would be with women in public and speaking to them. Jesus would include women in His teaching and have them listen to His teaching. Jesus even traveled with women and had women who were supporting Him.

Jesus had a tender heart towards women.

So far in all of this post today, we have discussed what happened between men and women. I have stated that men and women drove further apart. Instead of being allies and working together, they were becoming enemies and working against one another. However, marriages don’t normally have just a husband and a wife. They also have children. Some of those children are also the future men.

What happens to the young boys when the Dad is not only away from the son because of work, but away from the son because he is out drinking with his buddies?

That will wait until tomorrow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: The Toxic War On Masculinity Part 2

Where did things go wrong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So we have a culture in America that prizes women, where men are told to treasure them. Men actually lead their families. Everyone works together and men are guardians of virtue leading the family in prayer and Bible study. That all sounds good. What changed?

Answer: Technology.

In the past, men would often work on their own turf and eventually one day, the Dad would call the son over and introduce him to the craft. The family would work together. When the Industrial Revolution came along, men got separated from that and they were more in a work environment than a home environment.

Pearcey tells us that the work environment was quite different and many of the traits we deem toxic today, started showing up, like the strong competitive win-at-all costs mentality and the desire to get ahead. I think to some extent, men have always been competitive, but now it was a dark side of competition.

Men had to do this because they had to provide for their families and they had to show that they could not be replaced. Pearcey tells us the criticisms Marx had of the working environment were common in his day. Man was becoming a machine to earn profit and it was not about the family business anymore.

In the past, there was the Protestant Ethic, whereby it wasn’t just ministerial work that was a calling of sorts, but so was secular work. The person who was making shoes could serve God just as much as the priest could. All people were to play a part in the Kingdom of God. The priest could travel the roads, but he certainly needed someone to build those roads!

This also led to a public and private divide. The private was the home and the public was the work. The public/work was that which could be verified, think science. The private/home was the subjective. Those familiar with the Schaeffer idea of the lower and upper story, which Pearcey definitely knows well and references, will be familiar with this. Because of this, morality did not control work like it did the home and men working in that environment were more influenced by it than they did influence it.

Not only that, but we needed to know how to get along in a workplace that was amoral. What if we made a set of dictums to follow artificially? We could call it, an, oh, I don’t know, social contract maybe? Yep. That’s where it began. It was even called social physics. How does a contract work as a system of ethics? Pearcey says:

What’s the difference between a contract and a covenant? Both are agreements, but the differences between them are crucial. A contract defines an exchange of goods and services. But a covenant defines a moral relationship between persons. In a contract, I seek my own interests, I strike a deal. But in a covenant, I seek the common good of the relationship and everyone in it. A contract includes an opt-out clause so I can leave if I no longer feel my interests are being served. But a covenant is a moral commitment of the whole person.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 98). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

As an aside, do you see what happens when we treat marriage like a contract instead of a covenant? In a contract, each person enters for their own good in an exchange and they leave when they are not getting what they want. In a covenant, the parties enter a moral relationship for the good of the other and the relationship.

She goes on to then say:

But in social contract theory, a social institution was no longer defined as an organic unity with a common good. It was merely an aggregate of autonomous individuals, all pursuing their own interests. And if there was no common good, then a man’s duty could no longer be defined as responsibility for protecting the common good. Men were set free to pursue self-interest.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 99). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

One place of common good was the household which gets us to women’s suffrage. When the idea first came up to allow women to vote, it had a lot of opposition. From the “patriarchy?” No! From women!

When the issue of women’s suffrage was first raised, most women actually opposed it—a fact that puzzles modern historians. Even the early feminist leaders acknowledged that the vote was not popular with women. Alice Stone Blackwell, a leading suffragist, wrote, “The chief obstacle to equal suffrage is the indifference and opposition of women.” Suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Ida Harper wrote, “In the indifference, the inertia, the apathy of women lies the greatest obstacle to their enfranchisement.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 99-100). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The right of women to vote would be seen as breaking the house into not one common unit all voting together as one, but as individuals who could each go their own way. The woman would thus be her own individual and the man would no longer be looking for the good of the whole household.

Now that we have a division in place, women started to be seen as more superior. After all, they were the ones raising the families for the most part. One aspect of this I hadn’t considered was angels. Typically, angels in the Bible are fearsome creatures. They constantly seem to have to tell people to not be afraid immediately.

But in the Victorian age, angels began to be portrayed as young women—delicate, sweet, and guarding little children. Brown concludes, “One of the great mythic transformations of the early nineteenth century was the feminization of angels.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 109). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Also interestingly in the past, the strong sex drive was not seen as being on the part of the men. It was on the part of the women. The women were seen as having insatiable lust that would men astray. This is not to say that men don’t have a strong sex drive, as many of us men will attest, but it does mean that feminism has come to be something quite different.

What this would mean eventually was that men needed to have women in their lives to ensure that they were virtuous and if there wasn’t a woman, well the man could pursue his self-interest. Women do contribute to men, but a man can be and needs to be virtuous even without a woman in his life. We now have it that men are bad boys and once a woman gets a man, she has to shape him up.

This had an effect then on church life and ministry:

Even the tone of American evangelicalism became softer and more emotional. In a classic book on the subject, The Feminization of American Culture, Ann Douglas says the ministry lost “a toughness, a sternness, an intellectual rigor which our society then and since has been accustomed to identify with ‘masculinity.’” Instead, the ministry took on traits society has typically identified with femininity, such as care, nurturing, and tenderheartedness.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 115). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Around this time, we also had attacks coming in based on higher criticism, evolution, and philosophy. The church should have responded with intellectual rigor, but no, they went into retreat. Christianity was based on the emotional experience at that point. Christianity then became a private faith. (Want to know what God is saying? Don’t go to public Scripture, but go to private experience.)

Right now, things are not looking good for the church in the world and a lot of it has had to do with the erasure of masculinity.

We shall continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)