Men Going a Third Way – Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

It is possible to convince women to back away from feminist rebellion, but like any other skill, convincing women is something that needs to be learned, practiced, and developed through patient endurance. Granted, women aren’t machines you learn how to use, and you’re never truly going to understand them. Nevertheless, they are people you get to know and learn how to behave around, so skill and learning remain relevant categories.

The “trick” (if you want to call it that) is that you have to continuously observe what works, what doesn’t, and adjust your behavior accordingly. What you mustn’t do is get so caught up in how it “should” work (or, God forbid, how women tell you it works) that you ossify yourself in the conviction that they’re just impossible to deal with. You can’t proceed under the assumption that being corrected the same way a man is needs to be is a prerequisite for women to change course.

Most women aren’t going to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and radically alter their behavior contrary to everything they’ve been taught based on an abstract argument—even an obvious one clearly rooted in God’s Word. I’m not saying we should stop proclaiming those parts of God’s Word as something which needs to be obeyed. We absolutely need to do that more and more. I’m just saying that men can’t expect doing so to be all it takes for a woman to change herself. And as you learn that, you really have to scale your expectations closer to reality.

And that’s actually my other takeaway from the kayak situation: The commenter was asking me for a way to get women to admit when they’re wrong. The truth is that my wife never did admit that she was wrong—she just stopped trying to steer. That common female refusal to admit fault is something I’d wager a lot of men struggle with. We find it infuriating because we naturally perceive it as stubborn, sinful defiance (and though I do think there’s more to it than that, I don’t think we’re entirely wrong in that assessment.) Nevertheless, while an admission of error would have been gratifying and greased the wheels of loving kindness, the reality is that we didn’t actually need it. Stopping the errant behavior was all we really needed to have a good trip, and we’re both glad we went kayaking.

So it is with feminist rebellion. Men don’t really need wives who openly reject feminism with all the fervor of the red-pilled (as wonderful and helpful as such women are.) Mostly, we just need wives who will ultimately act more and more inconsistently with feminism. Sometimes, men become so dead-set on the former, that we never really try that hard to induce the latter. In other words, we let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

It would be great if you could find a wife who calls you “Lord” as Sarah called Abraham. While every last woman will answer to God for her response to the most hated parts of his Word, expecting most of them to wholeheartedly embrace it is simply not a realistic goal for men of our era. But then, we don’t really need women to explicitly admit they’re wrong, act reasonably during arguments, cheerlead us, stay physically fit, openly acknowledge their husbands’ authority to our faces, share our passion for abstract theology or apologetics, support our political stances, eagerly try new sex acts, and so forth. Those may be great things, but they’re not in the cards for most ordinary men. You might eventually be able to swing having a couple of those things in a wife, but if you truly insist on a bunch of them from the get-go, going your own way is indeed the only option you’ll have left.

But if you are called to marriage rather than celibacy—as most of us are—then you are called to find a more realistic option that still includes what men actually need. We do need women to want to marry and have kids, spend time raising them, stop blowing up their marriages through divorce, repent of fornication, and so forth. I wouldn’t marry a woman who wasn’t convinced on things like that. That may or may not be sufficient for marital bliss, but if men can manage that, then we’ll have a future in which more can be built.

Yes, “she respects the 6th commandment” is a relatively low bar, and it’s not dream girl territory, but it is attainable. Particularly if men work more collectively in society and back one another up. Even when women aren’t learning by reason and argument, they’re still learning from proximity to the social attitudes & authorities of the contentedly unapologetic men in their lives (not the whiny ones.). Maybe you can’t convince a woman on all of those points and will need to move on—you may do that a lot. But if you’ve convinced a woman on even one essential point (and let her know the others are non-negotiable by walking away), then you’ve at least made headway for someone else. And the more women we can convince on any of those points, the more marriageable women there will be in the long run. We can do that from either inside or outside romantic relationships—as long as we don’t insist on reason & moral obligation being the only allowable ways of changing women’s behavior.

Civilization isn’t built in a day, and every incremental step towards the end of the rebellion is a step in the right direction. What’s more, each step provides a little bit of inertia that makes the next step easier. And let’s face it: There’s been just as big of a loss of marital know-how among women as there’s been among men—they need time to learn too. The catch is that ordinary men today probably aren’t going to get many of the things they want out of wedlock. And yes, it inevitably involves a not-insignificant risk of divorce, being trapped in a sexless marriage, etc. But those are risks that can be managed to varying degrees, and civilization is never built without taking risks.

Ours is merely to figure out how. And that’s not going to happen by disengaging from society and/or by having unattainable expectations. Neither will it happen if we succumb to despair or, God-forbid, if we continue to make ourselves ugly by submitting to women. We’re only going to learn by trying, failing, learning, trying again, and passing on what we’ve learned to others—hopefully our sons. We need to persevere knowing that we ourselves probably won’t live happily ever after in all the ways we’d like to, but that our children or grandchildren might. The long and short of it is that dealing with feminist rebellion will require what civilization has always required: planting trees in whose shade you’ll never live to sit.

And you know what? We really can learn to do it.

While this is the last post in the series, it’s still to be continued… by you. How are you going to nudge the young women in your church towards the pursuit of marriage? How are you going to convince your wife or girlfriend that staying home with the kids is affordable or that she could be a brilliant homeschool teacher? How are you going to backup the men in your life during their own troubles? How are you going to make yourself appealing to marriageable women? How are you going to create sensible gender roles in your corner of society? How are you going to create the kind of circumstances in which the women in your life will favorably respond to reasonable arguments? How are you going to recreate male-only spaces in society in which men can learn from and reinforce one-another on a new path? There’s an enormous mess to clean up, and there’s nothing for it but to pick a little spot and get started.

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7 Responses to Men Going a Third Way – Part 4

  1. Paul says:

    Thank you for your series.

    I will limit myself to one remark now: you speak about social pressure having a real influence on women. If we go to Scripture, we see exactly such a mechanism in place:

    “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2

    So, the apostle Paul sets a pattern, for the leaders of the church to follow: teach older women to teach younger women to basically be submissive.

    Now to be bold; you appeal to men to take back the reigns.
    When do the elders of the congregation start to teach this to the older ladies, and demand them to act upon it? And when will the first older ladies be excommunicated according to Matthew 18, for refusing to do so, by these same elders?

    Most men are not an elder, so why do you chastise all men to do this, and not rather the men who are given this explicit task? Why can men not go to their elders and insist that their wife adheres to these clear instructions? Why is she not excommunicated?

    In reality something completely different is happening, and men are shamed again.
    Let first the leaders in the church take Scripture seriously, and start adhering to it.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for your comment, Paul. If I may, your suggestion is putting the cart before the horse.

      Before we have older women teaching the younger as per Titus 2, we need a generation of older women who actually believe and know how to do such things. To use a very broad brush, Boomer women are generally the *last* people I would trust to teach younger women how to behave in this way. Likewise, before we have elders instructing the older women to do such things, we need also elders who actually want to follow Scripture on the subject themselves. The question we need to be concerning ourselves with is how we’re going to create such things–a generation of godly women and good church leadership. It’s not going to just happen on its own, and we can’t sit around waiting for it to happen so that they can do the jobs we’re not willing to do.

      And if you want to talk about Matthew 18, you need to recall three things that Jesus teaches there:

      First, it’s not about excommunication, it’s about gaining our brothers (and sisters) (http://matthewcochran.net/blog/?p=1540). Looking at it as a mechanism to coerce women to behave is not only misunderstanding what it’s for, it’s also entirely counter-productive. It’s very much the kind of moral authority approach which men wrongly expect to work with women that I was writing about. We need to think outside that box.

      Second, Jesus’ instructions entail approaching the offender with one or two others, then bringing it before the entire church. If you want to take the excommunication approach, then you need a congregation in which most members see that as something worthy of excommunication. You need to get lots of people in a congregation on board before you can follow Matthew 18 to its conclusion–you can’t just start there.

      Third–and most importantly–is where Jesus says it *does* start. It starts with “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” In other words, it starts with ordinary Christians who have been offended against willing to speak up to one another–not leadership. If you haven’t taken a woman in your congregation who have sinned against you aside and appealed to her, don’t expect elders to jump in and handle it. It doesn’t start with the older women. It doesn’t start with the church leadership. It starts with you.

      So when Ephesians 5 comes up in the lectionary and your pastor avoids preaching on it for the 3rd time in a row (or preaches wrongly), respectfully bring your concerns to him. When the subject comes up in Bible study, speak up confidently, articulately, and respectfully in support of the plain meaning of the text. Become a man who can lead a Bible study and teach faithfully. Become a man who people would trust as an elder and help guide the congregation. Become a pastor who will remain faithful to *all* of God’s Word (including Ephesians 5, but not obsessing over it either–there is a whole lot of God’s Word that needs to be preached.) Get married, learn to guide your wife, and make sure you teach your kids better than you were taught.

      “When do the elders of the congregation start to teach this to the older ladies, and demand them to act upon it?” Probably after about a century of ordinary Christians doing ordinary work to build up congregations in which Titus 2 has become the norm. Don’t wait for it. Work for it. There is no quick fix.

      And remember: actually following God’s word in this case involves a radical and offensive change to how nearly everyone sees the world. That doesn’t change overnight, and you can’t force it on people–you have to lead them along behind you. It’s not the first time in Church history that changes of such scope have become necessary. I’d highly recommend reading Luther’s Invocavit sermons–in which he addresses his congregation about many of the radical changes that the Reformation called for and how they need to be carried out in ways that *aren’t radical*. https://www.checkluther.com/wp-content/uploads/1522-Eight-Sermons-by-Dr.-Martin-Luther-Preached-at-Wittenberg-in-Lent-1522-Invocavit-Sermons.pdf. Let’s learn from those who have gone before us–their insights, their mistakes, and their experiences.

      • Paul says:

        Thank you for your reply.

        OK, so you basically agree the church leadership is failing at this task, and it should start there, but you claim because church leadership is not doing this, “ordinary” men have to take the lead, in the hope things will eventually change.

        Well, at least that clarifies your expectations. At the same time, it’s a sad state of affairs. And I think it takes more than an ordinary man to take the lead. I don’t know you, and only stumbled on your blog yesterday, but I have the impression you are of the persistent kind. Don’t make the mistake to think that things that seem obvious to you, are so for others. Same for calling on “men” to make these changes. Only probably a small minority of dedicated Christian men would be able to pick up such a task, or are even called to it.

        As for your remark on marrying and guiding your wife; I know stories of countless men for which this is not only a daily struggle, but they are effectively cut at the knee by their own congregation. Same thing for trying to approach the elders with this. If you’re lucky you’re not excommunicated yourself, if you’re unlucky you will be arrested by the police for abuse.

        Have you ever studied the Duluth model and its definitions of abuse? Every man who tries to follow the clear instructions in the NT, will fit those definitions.

        I have a more fundamental issue with your statement ” Looking at it as a mechanism to coerce women to behave is not only misunderstanding what it’s for, it’s also entirely counter-productive. It’s very much the kind of moral authority approach which men wrongly expect to work with women that I was writing about. ”

        Although you might be correct that strictly speaking Mt 18 is not talking about excommunication, I was also implicitly alluding to the other NT texts talking about it. These are quite clear that rebellious people not living according to sound doctrine, but in persistent sin, need to be confronted by leadership, then shunned, and then eventually excommunicated, regardless of their sex. That IS productive if it leads to a church that does want to be faithful to God and His Word. Church is not about numbers, but about faithfully following Christ.

        Women are not in a separate category that are allowed to just keep on sinning. Not even Boomer women. Nor are they allowed to ignore authority.

        And it’s even worse than that. We can EXPECT women to rebel against male authority. Eve’s curse far predates feminism. Therefore, sound biblical teaching should instruct men and women that after being born again, especially in marriage, the only way to revert the curse, is if women submit to their husbands, i.e. acknowledge his authority, instead of rebelling against it, to the point to want to take over that authority (“who wears the pants?”). Instead, women should live by a gentle spirit.

        I really don’t have an easy answer towards a solution, I wish I had.

        • Matt says:

          Regarding excommunication: let me clarify. In a sense, Matthew 18 is indeed about “excommunication”, but excommunication is really the terminal measure in a long endeavor of gaining our brother–and it’s taken by the church as a whole. You’re right that women are not exempt from Biblical authority and ultimately excommunication. But that terminal step has a certain place and function that doesn’t match very well with these specific circumstances we’re facing. It’s not an option when the church as a whole isn’t able to come together to do it, and it’s there to bring about repentance rather than coerce behavior. In other words, it helps to protect and maintain the integrity of a congregation, but it cannot create that intergrity.

          You can see this in how Paul deals with the Corinithians–an extremely errant and chaotic congregation. He does tell them to excommunicate one fellow–the guy who was sleeping with his step-mother. That was beyond the pale even for pagans. And though there were people in the church who were proud of that fellow, it wasn’t something everybody was doing. In contrast, he didn’t tell them to excommunicate the folks who were misusing the Lord’s Supper, the women who refused to cover their heads, the people wounding consciences by eating meat sacrificed to idols, etc. For these folks, Paul preached, instructed, exhorted, commanded, and so forth. A church cannot excomminicate half of itself, and it cannot excommunicate over something it hasn’t even been teaching.

          My point is this: Now is not the time for excommunication–it’s time to actually start faithfully teaching submission again. And that’s something that is as enfleshed in the daily life ordinary Christians as it is proclaimed from the pulpit. It’s as much ordinary Christians talking to one another as it is pastors and teachers teaching parishioners. You’re right about the challenges–the shameful way many pastors and teachers cut off the branch husbands are standing on. I’ve written on that at length before (and yes, I’ve talked about the Duluth model and its implications here: http://matthewcochran.net/blog/?p=1121). That absolutely needs to change, and I welcome the day when we’re ready, for example, to explicitly discipline women who intend to divorce a faithful husband (which is a closer goalpost than disciplining regarding submission.) I want those victimized men to bring it to the church, and I want the church to proclaim the law to their victimizers and tell them they need to repent. I want our teachers and pastors and elders to get on board with God’s Word.

          But I’m not going to just wait for it to happen. I’m going to act on it in accordance with my vocations. Since I do happen to be a teacher at my church, I do teach on the subject (and yeah, I’ve often discovered that what’s obvious to me is less so to others; part of why I teach is to overcome that.) Since I’m a writer, I do write on it. Since I’m a member of my congregation, I argue about these things when they come up (e.g. http://matthewcochran.net/blog/?p=1145 – this was from a real conversation with a room of women.) Since I’m a husband, I try to figure out how best to relate to and discipline my wife–no easy task. The reason I wrote this series was for the Christian men giving into despair and going their own way. Everybody does have different gifts and different callings that limit what we can do. But whether big or small, there’s *something* for all of us to do. We’re too prone to shunning the small things because no one small thing will fix such a big problem. But enough men doing small things can make a difference–it just takes a long time.

        • Paul says:

          Thank you Matt for your thoughtful answer.

          Maybe you’re right, and now is not the time for excommunication, even if it would be the right way to do. Again, it shows the sad state of the church (at least on this topic), which is also something I very much worry about.

          Again thank you for trying to be faithful to God and His Word, and in teaching others to also do that.

  2. Paul says:

    I’ve read the five sermons you mentioned. In my opinion it is talking about a different situation; allowing liberty where God has allowed liberty, especially when dealing with people who are not (yet) believers.

    I think the issue we’re addressing however is a different one, and is talking about how the elders in a church should deal with Christians that do not conform to rules in which God has NOT allowed liberty.

    Furthermore, I disagree with Luther where he says : “He who has this faith
    belongs to this sacrament, and neither devil nor hell nor sin can harm him.”

    I do believe a Christian who willingly persists in sin can lose his salvation. We have at least the text in Hebrews talking about the sin against the Holy Spirit which makes that clear. I don’t think the mental gymnastics trying to argue that such persons were never “true Christians” is helping anybody. The practical result is that some people who have professed faith, were practicing Christians, and to the church were indiscernible from”true Christians”, are in danger of being lost. The text is even written for our instruction. What sense does it make for it being in the NT to exhort people to not keep on sinning, if we try to nullify that warning?

    Other texts also speak about the danger of persistently walking in sin. If this did not matter, why does the NT multiple times exhort elders to rebuke sin and even remove persistent sinners from their midst? Or why is the church called to judge Christians in the church, but not those outside? Or why even did Jesus gave us the Great Commandment to ” teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you”, if such obedience is not truly needed, nor need to be taught by the shepherds?

    I’m not talking about ‘works’ here, ‘good works’ do not save you, only grace by faith does (and even faith is given to us by His Spirit). I’m talking about staying “in Christ”, like the branches in the Vine. Only “in Christ” do we have eternal life, not outside Him. And what does Christ say? “Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15). The church should not teach otherwise.

    I’m aware this is probably too short to address all finer points, including most importantly God’s continuing grace and mercy and loving working of the Spirit to gently form us into the image of His Son, and most importantly, His Spirit convincing us of sin, and the sacrifice of Christ able to cover many sins (but not that against the Spirit) even if a Christian commits these but repents of them.

    For the topic at hand, it is important. If persistent sin includes elders ignoring to teach women to obey the commands to submit, or includes women ignoring such commands, are they not in grave danger? Are such commands only optional? I truly fear these words : ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

  3. Paul says:

    Duh, eight sermons!

    Luther: “And if you will not love one another, God will send a great plague upon you; let this be a warning to you, for God will not reveal His Word and have it preached in vain. You are tempting God too far my friends.” (!!)

    Luther: ” have your witnesses with you, and accuse him before the pastor in the presence of the people, saying: “Dear pastor, this man has done this and that, and
    would not receive our brotherly admonition to give up his sin. therefore I accuse him, together with my witnesses who were present.” And then, if he will not give up and willingly acknowledge his guilt, the pastor should exclude him and put him under the ban before the whole assembly, for the sake of the congregation, until he comes to himself and is received back again. This would be Christian.”

    Luther: “Thus we see that confession must not be despised, but that it is a true comfort. And since we need many absolutions and comforts, because we must fight against the devil, death, hell and sin, we must not allow any of our weapons to be taken away, but keep intact the whole armor and equipment which God has given us for use against our enemies.”

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