Monday, July 23, 2012

The death of chivalry

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another (Tit 3:3).

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity (Eph 4:17-19).

I’d like to place the recent firestorm over Jared Wilson’s TGC post in a larger cultural and ecclesiastical context.

i) Jared has since issued an apology as well as a retraction. And I think that’s all that’s required. I think the original post unintentionally mischaracterized the issue.

ii) Of course, Jared’s apology/retraction wasn’t enough to pacify his vociferous critics. And that’s because this isn’t fundamentally a question of tone or imagery. Rather, this is ultimately a theological and ideological issue. The critics are gunning for complementarianism, and they will settle for nothing short of unconditional surrender.

iii) The tactic was a campaign of intimidation. Intimidation can be effective, but it comes at a cost. You may succeed in silencing the opposition, but that fails to persuade the opposition. In fact, if you win that way, it hardens the opposition. That tactic further polarizes the respective camps.

iv) Feminism, including “evangelical feminism,” doesn’t produce a generation of young men who are more loving, caring, considerate responsible.”

If you create a culture of fear, where men are afraid to say what they really think, from fear of legal or professional reprisal, that doesn’t change minds. That will simply result in men who don’t say what they really think, or say what they don’t really think. They may intone feminist rhetoric to get by, but they don’t believe it.

They will keep their opinions to themselves, not because they are cowards, but because it would be foolhardy to speak their minds. Why risk losing your job, face suspension or exclusion, for violating some politically correct speech code?

v) Intimidation fosters resentment. And festering resentment will be diverted into socially destructive outlets. That produces more male aggression rather than less. A large population of unattached males is a recipe for social unrest. Think Sons of Anarchy.

vi) If young men find themselves in a culture where the deck is stacked against them, they will minimize their social responsibilities. If we create a culture in which men have all the responsibilities with none of the rights, then men will avoid commitment. To take one example:

Contemporary reproductive technology and law place all the burden for unwanted pregnancy on them. Between the pill and abortion, women have complete control over the reproductive process. They can avoid or end any unwanted pregnancy, and the man involved has no say in the matter. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court went so far as to hold that a married woman has the constitutional right to abort her husband’s child without even telling him.

A woman’s “reproductive rights” also include the right to carry a pregnancy to term. The crucial point here is that while the decision belongs entirely to her, in the event that a child is born the law assigns financial responsibility to the male involved. That is what the boy in her study means when he worries about being “screwed for the rest of my life.”

Just ask young women about men today. You will find them talking about prolonged adolescence and men who refuse to grow up. I’ve heard too many young women asking, “Where are the decent single men?”

Women’s trouble finding husbands is only part of the problem: Men who aren’t interested in marriage also have less incentive to be productive workers or responsible fathers.

vii) And it’s not just the boys. “Where are the decent single women”?

Feminism doesn’t liberate women. A young Christian woman with a Biblical understanding of womanhood has a sense of self-worth, self-identity, and inner direction. Her primary relationship is first and foremost her direct relationship to God. What God means to her, what she means to God, that’s what anchors her in the turbulent sea of a fallen world.

Cut her loose from Scripture, and a young woman is defined by the boyfriend. Defined by peer pressure. Defined by competition with other young women. Wanting to fit in. the craving for social acceptance.

viii) Unless men and women both submit to the authority of God’s word, they will revert to raw animal passion. Godless men act like bucks during the rut while godless women act like roes in heat. There’s no self-control. Think Jersey Shore or Hip-hop.

Feminism enslaves women to unbridled passion, enslaves women to their social circle.

ix) It also seems to me that we may be witnessing a coming split between the evangelical left and the evangelical right. The evangelical left is increasingly brazen about casting off Biblical authority. Adopting an “opt-out” mentality in reference to Scripture. If they don’t like something in Scripture, they feel free to opt-out.

This is a rebellious attitude that contains the seeds of its own destruction. It won’t produce gallant men or emancipated women. Rather, it will produce men and women at the mercy of forces larger than themselves. Raging hormones. The tyranny of social expectations.

x) The Christian faith is authoritarian in two respects:

a) God has the right to tell us what to do. He has moral authority. Wisdom.

b) Christianity is a revealed religion. We know what we know based on what someone else knows.

As such, the Bible is a package deal. Take it or leave it. 

xi) In a fallen world, power invariably carries potential abuse of power. If you put men in charge, there will be cases of men abusing their authority. If you put women in charge, there will be cases of women abusing their authority. Whatever group you empower, some horror stories are inevitable.  Shifting the balance of power doesn't eliminate abuse of power. It merely relocates the potential. That's unavoidable.


  1. Hey Steve, here's a question. Has it ever occurred to you that one reason there may be too many single Christian women, is that Christian women have expectations of men that are WAY too high. It seems like it's the fad to beat up on men, but women share plenty of blame.

    Was it Josh Harris that recommended that a woman develop a list of what they want in a man? Possibly. You can correct me if I'm wrong. But it seems like a lot of Christian women, in the name of being picky, will write a man off if he doesn't meet the mark for every single thing on the list. Who do they want? Mr. Perfection?

  2. Oh, and I would say this applies more to Christian women than non-Christian women.