The Ugliness of Male Submission

Pulpit & Pen put up an article the other day about popular false teacher Beth Moore, who apparently had the drummer from her worship band kneel down on stage and apologize to all women for the bad behavior of those afflicted with the terrible scourge of masculinity. [H/T: Lutheran Pundit]

The entire affair reminded me of a passage from Dostoevsky’s The Possessed (also translated as Demons in newer editions.) In it, two of the supporting characters, Lizaveta, and her fiance Mavriky Nikolaevitch, join a group that has decided to amuse themselves by visiting local saint/prophet/holy fool Semyon Yakovlevitch. But when Mavriky unexpectedly becomes the target of the group’s laughter, Lizaveta makes an unusual demand.

Mavriky Nikolaevitch took the glass, made a military half-bow, and began drinking it. I don’t know why, but all our party burst into peals of laughter.

“Mavriky Nikolaevitch,” cried Liza, addressing him suddenly, “that kneeling gentleman has gone away. You kneel down in his place.”

Mavriky Nikolaevitch looked at her in amazement.

“I beg you to. You’ll do me the greatest favour. Listen, Mavriky Nikolaevitch,” she went on, speaking in an emphatic, obstinate, excited, and rapid voice. “You must kneel down; I must see you kneel down. If you won’t, don’t come near me. I insist, I insist!”

I don’t know what she meant by it; but she insisted upon it relentlessly, as though she were in a fit. Mavriky Nikolaevitch, as we shall see later, set down these capricious impulses, which had been particularly frequent of late, to outbreaks of blind hatred for him, not due to spite, for, on the contrary, she esteemed him, loved him, and respected him, and he knew that himself—but from a peculiar unconscious hatred which at times she could not control.

In silence he gave his cup to an old woman standing behind him, opened the door of the partition, and, without being invited, stepped into Semyon Yakovlevitch’s private apartment, and knelt down in the middle of the room in sight of all. I imagine that he was deeply shocked in his candid and delicate heart by Liza’s coarse and mocking freak before the whole company. Perhaps he imagined that she would feel ashamed of herself, seeing his humiliation, on which she had so insisted. Of course, no one but he would have dreamt of bringing a woman to reason by so naive and risky a proceeding. He remained kneeling with his imperturbably gravity—long, tall, awkward, and ridiculous. But our party did not laugh. The unexpectedness of the action produced a painful shock. Every one looked at Liza….

Liza suddenly turned white, cried out, and rushed through the partition. Then a rapid and hysterical scene followed. She began pulling Mavriky Nikolaevitch up with all her might, tugging at his elbow with both hands.

“Get up! Get up!” she screamed, as though she were crazy. “Get up at once, at once! How dare you?”

Mavriky Nikolaevitch got up from his knees. She clutched his arms above the elbow and looked intently into his face. There was terror in her expression.

At the risk of anachronism, the scene very much fits the profile of what is today called a “fitness test” (or “s**t test”). The basic idea is that a woman will test a man by trying to provoke some kind of ridiculous reaction from him—all while hoping that he won’t actually react that way, but instead be strong enough to stand up to her.

Liza worries about her own status because her fiance is being laughed at, so she gives him a chance to set her mind at ease. Poor chivalrous dope Mavriky fails spectacularly, as he does throughout the novel. As I recall, he also does other ridiculous things like waiting for Liza outside in the rain for hours, and towards the end, even waiting outside the house where she’s sleeping with another man so that he can take her back when she finishes and comes to her senses. There’s a reason for her “peculiar unconscious hatred” and the look of terror she gives him—namely that he’s a pushover wherever she’s concerned. She can’t get past her lizard brain’s uncertainty: if he’s weaker than she is, than what good is he to her?

It was Beth Moore’s arrangement of a kneeling man that brought this to mind, but I think there’s broader applicability here than just the dynamics of personal attraction. After all, Western women have been making increasingly ridiculous demands—not just of individual men, but of both society in general and of the Church. For example, tens of millions of women have demanded:

  • That we believe women and men to basically be the same.
  • That women be allowed into military combat
  • That we believe that the reason so many women divorce faithful husbands is to escape abuse.
  • That we trust that any disparity between men and women in any setting is always due to sexism.
  • That men stop finding virginity attractive
  • That women be allowed into the pulpit.
  • That the Church stop teaching God’s word on submission and headship.
  • That we need to abandon due process so that women can fornicate in safety.
  • That women who allege sexual assault should always be believed without evidence—even in hearings before the United States Senate.

The list could go on and on, but this should suffice as a sample. And notice that these aren’t fringe demands like a universal curfew for men or a no-questions-asked raise for women to close the wage gap. No, these have all broken into the mainstream, and many have become majority positions. Not that we should dismiss the fringe demands as irrelevant. After all, these mainstream demands were fringe positions at one time or another in our history—until some fools started taking them seriously.

Now, the motivations behind these demands are different than Lizaveta’s.  Some demands come out of simple envy. Others proceed from a faithless desperation because they’re scared of men.  There’s probably no shortage of ostensible reasons.  But although the motivations differ, the outcomes of giving in are very similar to what they were for Mavriky Nikolaevitch.

First of all, it has never been the case that giving in to these demands brings women to their senses. Allowing women in non-combat roles in the military did not sate feminists’ demands for combat roles; it only facilitated them. Accommodating false not-technically-a-pastor teachers like Beth Moore hasn’t stopped women’s demands for the pastoral office. Refraining from anything that might be perceived as slut-shaming has only encouraged promiscuity. Every inch that was given did nothing but deprive civilization of miles. Christians in particular should have known better. After all, the Bible tells us to flee temptation—not to deliberately attempt to get as close as possible to the line without crossing it. And Dostoevsky did know better: “No one but [Mavriky] would have dreamt of bringing a woman to reason by so naive and risky a proceeding.”

Secondly, giving in to these demands does not improve women’s opinions of the men who do so. While relatively few women go straight for feverish demands that wives divorce their husbands for supporting the wrong politicians, the unfortunate fear men have of sleeping on the couch has led many men to give in and support these kinds of demands for the sake of peace with their wives. But this is hardly a new phenomenon, and we’ve seen the results. Never has more been ceded to women than in the past few generations in the West. And yet, at the same time, I cannot think of a time when there was more open contempt for men by women.

Again, this should not be a surprise for Christians. God designed a beautiful world. Part of that beautiful design is the submission of certain women to certain men, for the core unit of human society is the family, and God made the wife’s submission a functional necessity for marriage. The Bible describes a wife’s submission as a form of adornment and even “imperishable beauty.” In contrast, when Scripture speaks of women ruling over men, it’s in the form of a curse. Deliberately scorning God’s design is always ugly, and women naturally find it repulsive even if they demand it. That revulsion itself only leads to further demands as they feel the need to take more and more from the men they hold in contempt.

The result of all this is a vicious circle that only ends when men start saying “no” and react to ridiculous demands with unapologetic rejection instead of obsequious attempts to curry favor through cringe-worthy submission. So men, if some fancy takes you to try and submit in this way—whether by literally kneeling down to offer a meaningless apology or simply by supporting something you know to be ridiculous—I urge you to squash the impulse. If pride and self-respect are too meaningless of concepts to you to suffice as a rationale, then at least consider this: your ugly submission will neither make women safe nor make them feel safe. The sacrifice of your self-respect and reputation will earn nothing for women at all except to nudge them a few more steps down an already dark and miserable path.

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