Viva La Manosphere highlighted a Barbarossaa post today with a new (to me) man up video featuring Pastor Mark Driscoll and Bill Bennett. These guys are the all stars of the man up brigade, so it was impressive to see both of them in the same video. Those peter pan manboys don’t stand a chance!
The video itself is some of the best advertising I’ve ever seen. It is perfectly tuned to appeal to the key target audience, which is quite obviously Christian women. At the same time it is designed to appeal to the secondary audience, Christian men. Christian men can watch the video and think:
Finally, someone is fighting the feminism in the church and teaching men to reclaim their position as head of the household! I’ll go ask my wife if she will allow me to attend.
Following the lead of Courageous, the video features a thoroughly broken husband being harangued by his ballbusting wife. For a moment he weakly pushes back, but then she threatens to move out and he submits to her authority. Those who support traditional marriage are no doubt encouraged by this exchange and the larger message of the video, assuming this video series is secretly about returning to the biblical instruction on headship and submission. If their wife gives the ok, they can’t wait to attend the sessions!
But as I mentioned above the true target audience of this video is obviously the head of modern Christian households, the wives. The video is perfectly tuned to create a grass roots facebook/email marketing campaign by Christian wives:
Finally someone is willing to fix our broken men! Maybe these folks can get our man-children to step up and lead us the way we tell them to.
This works because those who believe in traditional marriage will spot the out of control harridan wife and assume the video is a rebuke of women like this, while women like this can identify with the harridan wife constantly telling her pathetic husband to man up. The whole video is tuned this way, with vague references to “divorce” changing society, without ever saying anything which would make a rebellious Christian wife uncomfortable. You won’t know what is actually included in the series until your church plunks down the $150 and the wives send their husbands and sons in to be fixed. My money says the rebellious wives won’t be disappointed.
No one ever went broke pandering to feminist Christian wives, and this is the whole problem. While the video is telling men they need to step up and reclaim their position in the family, the message to modern Christian wives is anything but submission. Many of the men whose wives send them to the Stepping Up™ video series likely were dragged to a similar type of video series titled The Art of Marriage™. If you are a married Christian man in North America, odds are your wife was emailed by another Christian woman telling her about how great the program is (mine was). SunshineMary mentioned having viewed that series in a comment a while back:
(my husband and I recently went through this study at our church). It’s the same old same old. Lots of false information about what generates attraction, lots of “servant” leadership (i.e. supplication by husbands) and mutual submission.
What the creators of the Stepping Up™ advertisement above are ignoring is that feminist rebellion is rampant in nearly all modern churches. This rebellion is being catered to by Christian movies and a whole slew of Christian publications, marriage retreats, books, etc. It is so bad that biblical headship is now framed as abuse. We don’t need more man up rants, we need to man up and confront the rebellion. But since Christian men have been beaten down by pastors and other religious leaders pandering to the rebellion of Christian wives, telling men to man up is easy, while calling on Christian wives to submit is terrifying. Christian husbands won’t argue if you tell them they need to “step up”, they will agree and then tell you about how their wife is light years closer to God than they are. This is a serious pathology, but no one in a position of leadership wants to truly confront it. There is not only a sense of terror at offending the feminist rebellion, but a deep sense of shame that the Bible is so profoundly unfeminist.
Pastor Voddie Baucham Jr. gave an excellent sermon on the topic of submission on a radio program by FamilyLife back in June of last year. The message is titled The Value of Submission, and you can download the mp3 or read the transcript. He does a masterful job of addressing the rebellion while softening the message enough to prevent an outright riot in the pews. Here is a short quote, but I highly recommend listening to or reading the entire thing:
But here’s what else I know—even if your husband led perfectly, you would rebel against it because that was the curse in the Garden. “Yes, well, what if my husband is not even being obedient to God?” Isn’t it great that there’s a Bible verse for that? First Peter, Chapter 3, “Likewise, wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the Word—” Yes, it’s in there!
By the way, when he says, “Likewise, wives,” do you ever wonder, “Like what?” If you go back to the previous chapter, and the previous paragraph, he’s talking about slaves who have evil masters and how a slave, with an evil master, should submit, even to the evil master. It’s after that that he says, “Likewise, wives.” I don’t write the mail; I just deliver it. [Laughter]
Pastor Baucham is a master, and very few other pastors could honestly navigate this issue without being thrown out of the room. What the Bible says is so radically different than how modern Christians believe that hearing the truth can be quite startling. Yet if we are Christians first, we need to bend to the Word, not the other way around. But very few Christian teachers are willing to take a bold stand for the Bible, especially when it comes to the topic of women and marriage. Telling men to “step up” is easy, a true crowd pleaser; telling women to submit is dangerous, not to mention bad for business.
After Baucham’s sermon completes the host of the show and president of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey expressed his thoughts on what Pastor Baucham just explained:
Dennis: I’ve got a feeling it’s probably pretty quiet in some cars and, maybe, on some headsets, listening to this broadcast.
Bob: Let me just say that we still have Part Two to come. That is where Voddie is going to talk to men about loving their wives as Christ loves the church. This message has some balance to it, but—pretty strong stuff.
Dennis: It is strong stuff. As I was sitting there listening to Voddie give that message, I thought, “You know, this would be a tough message for a woman, in this culture, to hear, if it was given by a woman.
Dennis: But hearing it from a man—it is interesting. I think for some women—that makes it tough to hear. I would just say to the wife or the young lady who is listening to that and says, “I don’t like that!”—you know what? He didn’t write it. He does deliver the mail. He’s just trying to share with you what the Scriptures teach, in terms of how a marriage relationship between a husband and a wife—how they’re to complement each other and not compete with each other. There’s a lot about the Bible that causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand up.
Bob: [Laughing] You go, “I don’t like that part either!”
Dennis: As a man, absolutely! And yet, in this culture, Bob, I feel like we poisoned the stream about—I don’t know—four decades ago and really made it almost objectionable for a message like this to be preached by a pastor—by a man—to a mixed audience, at this point. I don’t want you to hear me apologizing that we did it—that’s not my point. I want to recognize that, in this culture, we understand that it does go against the grain of what a lot of women are taught. All I would say is, “If you can find a better way for a marriage to work, I’d like to see it.” This passage, here—along with the rest of Scripture—really points out how two imperfect people can go the distance and how they can glorify God in the process.
He doesn’t want you to hear him apologizing for airing Pastor Baucham’s sermon, but what else is he doing if not apologizing for what is in the Bible? He even says there is a lot about the Bible that causes the hair on the back of [his] neck to stand up! When else would a leader of a Christian organization say something so outrageous, so shameful, except when it comes to pandering to the feminist rebellion?
And exactly who poisoned the well? Feminists? Could he mean women like Sheila Wray Gregoire? I doubt it, because Sheila and her husband are regular speakers at his FamilyLife weekend marriage conferences. Sheila describes on her blog how the women at the conferences get visibly uncomfortable when she talks about “what a woman can do to make marriage great”. She explains that this always happens, so she stops and tells the women:
I know you women are uncomfortable with me saying all these things that you should do. But let me reassure you that right now my husband has all of your husbands in another room, and he is blasting them and telling them what they need to do, too, in no uncertain terms. So don’t worry. Your husbands are hearing an important message. So get your minds off of them and let’s just spend this time thinking about what we as women can do to make the marriage great.
Does anyone doubt that these wives are the same target audience for the ad at the beginning of the post? What is amazing is Sheila isn’t preaching like Baucham on wives submitting to their husbands. Sheila is all over the map on the topic, but in her signature book she explains that biblical submission means giving your husband a list of housework to do so the wife feels pampered and the husband feels useful. Sheila isn’t fighting against the feminist rebellion; she has a master’s degree in women’s studies. Yet even Sheila’s words are too much for modern Christian wives to hear!
Sheila doesn’t just speak at marriage weekends for FamilyLife, she also writes articles for them, including one sternly warning Christian wives not to be doormats (emphasis hers):
Do not enable childish behavior in your marriage
Here’s my feeling: God does not want us to enable unChristlike behaviour. When Christ served, he often did very lowly things, like washing people’s feet. But it didn’t mean He himself was lowly. And when He served, He pointed people to God.
I believe that we can get into relationship patterns in marriage where our service to our husbands does not point them to God; it points them away from God. If our husbands are able to act however they please, and be completely selfish, immature, and border on controlling, then the marriage is not honouring God.
She warns her FamilyLife readers not to suggest that wives should submit to their husbands and win them over without a word (emphasis hers):
So please, ladies, I am truly imploring you today: don’t come up with the pat answers. Honestly, without leaving the marriage, what should she do (or can she do) to turn it into a more God-honouring relationship? Telling her to sit there and take it, or that she needs to submit, even if you word it nicer than that, is not going to help.
By staying away from “pat answers”, I can only assume she means avoiding the instruction Pastor Baucham referenced in 1 Peter 3.
FamilyLife president Dennis Rainey featured another teacher on the topic of Headship and Submission a few months before he featured Pastor Baucham’s message. Just like with the Baucham clip, you can listen to the mp3 or read the transcript. Not surprisingly, the woman he featured wandered around the issue for some time before closing with the abuse canard:
I’m sure there’s still questions in your minds, but let me just try and preempt the most common question so that I don’t get 50 or 500 of them, all saying the same thing. A woman would probably say—many of you women are probably saying in your minds, “Okay. I get what you’re saying, but my husband doesn’t. He thinks his authority is a blank check to get his way in every circumstance. He’s controlling, threatening (maybe even abusive). Am I supposed to submit to all of this?”
The answer is, “No!” Your submission to a husband who is sinning against God is to oppose him. Remember, you’re supposed to be helping, serving in your submission…
If he’s abusive, call the police—I mean, if necessary—but with the motive of trying to serve and save him—not punish, or dominate, or threaten him…
Unlike Baucham’s message, Dennis Rainey didn’t express any discomfort at hearing this message on submission. Instead of talking about how the Bible makes the hair on the back of his neck stand up, he invited listeners to sign up for one of FamilyLife’s marriage retreat weekends.
If you ask me, he should have taken the opportunity to invite his listeners to attend the video seminar on marriage FamilyLife created, called The Art of Marriage™. While he was at it, why not also invite his audience to read his new book or attend the seminars based on it; are you familiar with Stepping Up™? I hear it is just what we need to fix the problem with Christian manhood.