I think he has earned a puppy party.

In Why Man and Woman Are Not Equal Glenn Stanton writes:

The New York Times’s Gail Collins told NPR unequivocally that the most important primary finding of her brilliant book America’s Women (which faithfully sits to the left behind Leslie Knope’s desk in every Parks and Recreation episode), is that the most powerful and important influence women have had on our nation’s founding, growth, and success is this: They make men behave. All their other important contributions are secondary.

I was unfamiliar with Leslie Knope or the show Parks and Recreation, but given how important she is to Stanton I knew she and the show had to be hilariously feminist.  I did a bit of googling and found this fitting clip.

I am a goddess, a glorious female warrior. Queen of all that I survey. Enemies of fairness and equality, hear my womanly roar. Yeah!

Related:  Solipsism as a religious experience.

Posted in Focus on the Family, Glenn Stanton, Manosphere Humor, Moxie, You can't make this stuff up | 102 Comments

Something in common.

7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.[d] 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.

— 1 Cor 11:7-12, ESV

In the discussion of a recent post the conversation turned to the different temptations faced by men and women.  That the two sexes would face different temptations is only natural.  However, there is at least one temptation that men and women share;  both are strongly tempted to worship women, to put women in the place of God.  You can see this outside of Christianity with the prevalence of mother goddess religions.  You can also see it in Genesis 3, in the way that the serpent tempted Eve (emphasis mine):

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Eve was tempted by telling her she would be like God.  Adam’s temptation was to listen to his wife instead of God:

17 And to Adam he said,

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
    and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
    ‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you…

Modern Christians have succumbed to this same temptation.  Thus despite us living in an age where female rebellion is considered a virtue, conservative Christians constantly warn men that they need to be wary of the sin of not listening to their wives.

Others, like FotF’s Glenn Stanton, come right out and teach* that men require their wives to take on the role of headship, so the wife with her natural goodness can instruct her husband on issues of morality.

Man and woman are not equal. He owes what he is to her. That is hardly her only power, but it is among her most formidable. Christianity has always known this….

Woman is the most powerful living force on the globe. She creates, shapes, and sustains human civilization.

Most women, of course, love this message.  But if we are honest, so do most men.

*HT Smithborough

Posted in Attacking headship, Focus on the Family, Glenn Stanton, Not Listening, Rebellion, The Real Feminists, Traditional Conservatives, Turning a blind eye, Ugly Feminists, Wife worship | 47 Comments

The roots of modern Christian wife worship.

In the discussion of Women as responders, commenter Neguy pointed out that the idea that women are naturally good (so long as their husband is loving) goes much further back than 1972:

I think you’ll find that the core of the men bad/women good theology goes back quite a long way. British scholar Callum Brown dates the big shift to somewhere around the year 1800. He surveys the evangelical literature of the 19th and 20th centuries and writings from the 1800s are almost identical to Glenn Stanton. His book The Death of Christian Britain is about secularization in the UK, but basically argues that this feminization of faith (or more precisely, the merger of Christian and feminine identity), is what ultimately caused the collapse of Christianity in the west.

This comment and some excerpts he shared in follow-on comments convinced me to pick up a copy of The Death of Christian Britain.  I haven’t made it all the way through the book, so I may well write a follow up post later.  But as Neguy notes above, the narrative that Brown found starting around 1800 is the standard narrative we see from conservative Christians today.

Brown’s thesis is that conventional wisdom on the decline of Christianity in Britain is incorrect.  Conventional wisdom is that Christianity has been in steady decline in Britian since 1800.  Brown asserts that this is not the case, and instead argues that the real decline was abrupt and began in 1963.  As Brown explains in the introduction:

…this book re-brands Britain of 1800 to 1963 as a highly religious nation, and the period as the nation’s last puritan age.  The Britain of our nearest forefathers is re-branded as a deeply Christian country of unprecedented churchgoing levels and the most strict religious rules of personal conduct.

…The book focuses considerable attention on how piety was conceived as an overwhelmingly feminine trait which challenged masculinity and left men demonized and constantly anxious. It was modern evangelicalism that raised the piety of woman, the ‘angel in the house’, to reign over the moral weakness and innate temptations of masculinity.

…women, rather than cities or social class, emerge as the principal source of explanation for the patterns of religiosity that were observable in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most importantly, two other things will emerge. First, women were the bulwark to popular support for organized Christianity between 1800 and 1963, and second it was they who broke their relationship to Christian piety in the 1960s and thereby caused secularization.

Chapter four covers what Brown calls the feminization of piety.

One of the great mythic transformations of the early nineteenth century was the feminization of angels.  Until the 1790s, British art and prose portrayed the angel as masculine or, at most, bisexual — characteristically muscular, strong, and even displaying male genitalia, and a free divine spirit inhabiting the chasms of the sky and space.  But by the early Victorian period, angels were virtuously feminine in form and increasingly shown in domestic confinement, no longer free to fly.  Woman had become divine, but an angel now confined to the house.

But it is Brown’s analysis of the common narrative during this period that I find most interesting.

…women’s spiritual destiny was virtually never portrayed as a battle with temptation or real sin; fallen women did not appear as central characters, and none of the usual temptations like drink or gambling ever seemed to be an issue with them. The problem is the man, sometimes the father, but more commonly the boyfriend, fiancé, or husband, who is a drinker, a gambler, keeps the ‘bad company’ of ‘rough lads’ and is commonly a womanizer. The man is the agency of the virtuous woman’s downfall; he does not make her bad, but does make her suffer and poor. She is not always portrayed as having undergone a major conversion experience, but to have emerged from childhood into a disciplined and natural ‘goodness.’

As Neguy points out, you can see this same concept of women having “natural goodness” in Glenn Stanton’s writings (among many others). Brown explains how this concept dominated the Christian romance stories of the time.  Just as Christians are taught today, if a woman has a godly husband she will be a very happy wife:

Finding the right Christian husband was the uppermost consideration rather than the age of engagement.  The ending, as in all evangelical stories, was always happy — as in Love’s Healing in the 1920s which concludes with the heroine marrying ‘a splendid Christian man.  She is fortunate indeed and will be a happy wife.’  By the 1930s and 1940s, scores of paperback religious novels appeared, aimed almost exclusively at teenage girls and young women.  Love was the dominant theme, following a format familiar to Mills & Boon readers, but with a Christian ‘spin’, ending with lines like:  ‘What are you thinking of, darling?’ whispered her husband.  ‘I was thinking how good God is.  I’ve never been so happy in my life.’  Romance was set within a tough system of moral values, but it was invariably the man’s moral values that were the criteria, making the women’s issue the arrival at the right judgment on the man’s worthiness.

Men, on the other hand, are presented as naturally sinful and in need of a woman to reform them (emphasis mine):

In evangelical stories about piety, women appeared throughout as good but not always converted; men, by contrast, almost always appeared as in a perilous sinful state until near the end. Men were the problem, given manifold temptations: drink (nearly always), gambling (increasingly after 1890), and ‘rough’ in overall cultural terms. They lived dissipated lives which caused suffering and ruination to mothers, wives, and children. Nowhere did evangelical literature have such a powerful influence in the public domain, including in ‘secular’ fiction, as in its demonization of men.

Brown explains that narratives about men fit one of two structures:

The male centered evangelical narrative had important characteristics.  There were two structures in use between the 1850s and 1930s;  the ‘son structure’ and the ‘husband structure’:

Of the two, the Husband Structure is the one we most commonly see today, albeit generally omitting item E or replacing it (and often D) with the wakeup call.

A.  Husband lives with virtuous wife
B.  Husband is a drunkard/gambler/wife-beater
C. Wife and children suffer in poverty
D.  Chance event (often an accident to husband)
E.  Wife nurses husband in Christian way.
F.  Husband converts
G.  Family happier, if not richer

If this seems familiar, it is because it is the plot of every Kendrick brothers movie with the possible exception of Facing the Giants.  I’ve already written about Fireproof, where the chance event (D) is the wife filing for divorce and taking up with another man.  I’ve also written about Courageous, and War Room.  But you can even see this same pattern in the more obscure Kendrick brother movie Flywheel.  From the plot summary at InfoGalactic:

Jay Austin (Alex Kendrick) is a car salesman who consistently cheats his customers, even to the point of overcharging his own pastor. He teaches his rotund salesmen, Bernie Meyers (Tracy Goode) and Vince Berkeley (Treavor Lokey), to do likewise. Jay occasionally attends church, but only because his wife Judy (Janet Lee Dapper) wants him to go. He also fakes giving a donation to the church. His relationships with his wife and son (Richie Hunnewell), who both disapprove of his dishonesty, deteriorate. In addition he is facing foreclosure on his lot by the bank. Jay becomes troubled in his conscience, and one day while flipping television channels, he sees a pastor preaching that “you’re in the shape you’re in today because of the choices you’ve made”. Jay becomes personally convicted and becomes a born-again Christian, prompting him to change his business practices.

Jay apologizes to his pregnant wife and his son and decides to sell cars honestly from that point on…

This covers A-D, omits E, and covers F.  All that is left for the Husband Structure is the final item, G:

The next day Jay comes to the lot and sees many people there to buy his cars. Jay even has to call his wife to help sell all the cars on the lot that day. The total of the sales above the cost of the cars is enough to cover what the banker demanded, who comes later that day and wonders where all the cars have gone…

Jay exits the lot and rushes home to bring his wife to the hospital. She gives birth to a girl named Faith, to stand as a living reminder of Jay’s newfound faith in God. At the end of the film, Jay drives away with his son in his 1958 Triumph TR3, an acquisition at the beginning of the film, which Max (Walter Burnett), his mechanic, had repaired with a newly installed flywheel (thus the film’s title).

Posted in Attacking headship, Christian Films, Disrespecting Respectability, Kendrick Brothers, Rebellion, Theological Crossdressing, Traditional Conservatives, Turning a blind eye, Wake-up call, Wife worship | 107 Comments

The rational response to high divorce rates.

Note:  Most of the data presented in this post is from family profiles produced by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR) at Bowling Green State University (BGSU).  For brevity when referencing a family profile from the NCFMR I will use the NCFMR short name of the profile (eg FP-16-19), with a link to the profile.

Recently first divorce rates have gone down (FP-16-19), and first marriage rates have gone up (FP-16-18):

first_divorce_08_14m

first_marriage_08_14m

Also, while the US overall (not just first) divorce rate remained flat between 1990 and 2010, according to FP-16-21 the overall divorce rate since the US peak in 1980 (22.8) has gone down by 25%, to 16.9.

These figures are encouraging on the surface, but they leave out something catastrophic that is going on beneath the surface.  Our new model of marriage simply doesn’t work for the majority of the nation, and as a result large parts of our population are increasingly avoiding it.  This avoidance can take the form of delaying marriage, avoiding remarriage, or avoiding marrying altogether.  The aggregate result of this avoidance means that the percentage of the adult population that is married is dramatically decreasing:

percentmarriedallraces

From the chart above you can see that the results are different for men verses women, as well as by race.  A more detailed picture by race can bee seen by comparing the rate of first divorce (FP-16-19) and the rate of first marriage (FP-16-18) by race:

us_divorce_by_race_2014_m
us_marriage_by_race_2014_m

As you can see above, the women who divorce the most are also in the least demand for marriage, and this pattern is consistent across all racial and ethnic groups measured.  The logic of this is intuitive, but seeing it so clearly mapped out is striking.

We can see a less clear example of this when we look at first divorce rates (FP-16-19) and first marriage rates (FP-16-18) by education:

2014divorcebyeducation

2014marriagebyeducation

As we would expect, the least likely group of women to divorce (college graduates) is the most in demand for marriage.  However, the women with the highest divorce rates (some college) are the second most in demand for marriage.  Clearly men haven’t recognized the real risk of marrying a woman with some college, and are instead assuming the risk is slightly higher than marrying a college grad.  But aside from “some college” women being out of place in the marriage chart (they should be to the far right), there is another anomaly;  women without a high school diploma or GED have the second lowest divorce rates, but are the least in demand for marriage.  However, this represents an odd corner case, and much of what we are measuring in this category represents first generation Hispanics.

While there are some exceptions, overall the more likely a woman is to divorce the less likely she is to marry. This much is clear from the data.  This leaves us with the question of what is the mechanism that is creating this pattern.  It is always possible that I have the wrong end of the causal arrow, but I think the most logical answer is that men have over time become less interested in marriage where the risk of divorce is high.  But even here, there is the question of the specific mechanism in play.  One very popular theory is that men are individually making a cost-benefit evaluation of marriage and more and more deciding not to marry.  While I think there are certainly some men who are approaching the question in such a clear headed way, I think the much more powerful mechanism has been a slow cultural shift in response to the changing risks of marriage for men.

A proposed mechanism.

Instead of men carefully researching the statistics and coming to individual conclusions, I think what is happening is each subculture is slowly responding to the new realities of marriage.  Part of this is cultural knowledge, like the warning to middle class and upper middle class men that it is foolhardy to marry a working class woman, and the warning to men in general to avoid marrying a woman who already has a track record of divorce.  Part of this is also about the changing sense of what is “normal”.  When the divorce revolution first exploded, the men who found themselves ejected from their homes, and the sons of those men, already had formed their opinion on the nature of marriage based on a previous era.  Even though the rules and risk had clearly changed, these men were slow to change their ingrained attitudes on marriage.  Marriage was simply something respectable men did.

But over time, each new generation was raised with a different starting assumption on both the normalcy of marriage and its risk.  This happened fastest where the change in risk was highest.  In working class neighborhoods, divorce rates well over 50% meant that divorce theft, and not lifetime marriage, was the new norm.  Moreover, as women continued to delay marriage, and men became less willing to marry divorced women (or even try marriage again after being ejected from their first marriage), a smaller and smaller percentage of the subculture was married at any given time. In addition, the family courts are merely the formal/legal expression of our attitudes towards married men.  In the past married men were generally seen as respectable, but both the family courts and popular media make it clear that men who marry are despicable (either for being cruel to women and children or worthless fools).

In 1960 70% of white men were married, and in 1970 this had only dropped to 68%.  Even in 1980, with divorce rates peaking, 65% of white men were still married.  If you were white and in the middle or upper middle class, these rates were even higher.  Marriage was still very much the norm, although this was becoming less and less so as each year passed.  Compare this to black men, who saw the percentage of men who were married drop from 61% in 1960, to 57% in 1970, and 49% in 1980.  By 1980 being unmarried was more normal for black men than being married.  This continued to fall, and by 2010 only 36% of black men were married.  This translates into increasing out of wedlock birth rates, and this added to the continuation of high divorce rates means that fewer and fewer children will grow up with married parents.  Over time, the expectation of each generation regarding marriage has changed, but the change has been slow enough to fool many into a sense that our new marriage model isn’t failing after all.

Much of the apathy is that our elites still feel like marriage is working for them;  if the changes they made to marriage have been a catastrophe for everyone else, then everyone else simply needs to become like the elites.  This is a profoundly arrogant and selfish attitude, but since the elites are the ones who frame the debate about marriage there are few voices prepared to challenge this narrative.

The sexual revolution isn’t over.

But even our elites will eventually be forced to recognize the cost of redefining our family.  There is a common belief that the sexual revolution started in the 1960s and ended sometime in the 1980s.  While it may well have begun in the 1960s, the sexual revolution never ended.  Marriage has continued to recede as each cohort marries in smaller numbers, and those who do marry wait until ever later in life to do so.  While divorce rates have dropped some as marriage has become a luxury of the higher socio economic classes, each new cohort is less likely to remarry after divorce.  The real sexual revolution has always been about destroying marriage, and it won’t be over until marriage is defunct as a social institution.  Even if divorce rates continue to either level off or decline, marriage will continue to be something that is relevant to an ever shrinking part of the population.

Posted in Data, Disrespecting Respectability, Divorce, Marriage, NCFMR | 167 Comments

A big win for Grudem.

The Atlantic has a new article out on a change the ESV is making in their translation of Gen 3:16.  From Rewriting the Biblical ‘Curse’ on Womankind:

Whereas the first half of that sentence formerly read “Your desire shall be for your husband,” it now reads, “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband.” It appears to suggest that women naturally oppose their husbands’ desires, and thus are responsible for marital conflict.

It turns out that Dr. Wayne Grudem, cofounder of the CBMW was a major driver of this change:

The ESV translators are known to mostly affirm complementarianism, the view that men and women should have different roles in the family and church. They include Christian leaders such as the prolific theologian and writer J.I. Packer; the publisher Lane Dennis; and the theologian Wayne Grudem…

I’ve only read a little on the argument for the change here, so I did some digging.  Grudem argued for this reading of Gen 3:16 in a chapter he wrote for Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood*

The word translated “desire” is an unusual Hebrew word, teshûqåh. What is the meaning of this word? In this context and in this construction, it probably implies an aggressive desire, perhaps a desire to conquer or rule over, or else an urge or impulse to oppose her husband, an impulse to act “against” him. This sense is seen in the only other occurrence of teshûqåh in all the books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), and the only other occurrence of teshûqåh plus the preposition ’el in the whole Bible. That occurrence of the word is in the very next chapter of Genesis, in 4:7. God says to Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it” ( NASB ). Here the sense is very clear. God pictures sin as a wild animal waiting outside Cain’s door, waiting to attack him, even to pounce on him and overpower him. In that sense, sin’s “desire” or “instinctive urge” is “against” him. 20

The striking thing about that sentence is what a remarkable parallel it is with Genesis 3:16. In the Hebrew text, six words are the same and are found in the same order in both verses. It is almost as if this other usage is put here by the author so that we would know how to understand the meaning of the term in Genesis 3:16. The expression in 4:7 has the sense, “desire, urge, impulse against” (or perhaps “desire to conquer, desire to rule over”). And that sense fits very well in Genesis 3:16 also. 21

Grudem further argues that to characterize this as sexual desire would be incorrect:

Some have assumed that “desire” in Genesis 3:16 refers to sexual desire. But that is highly unlikely because (1) the entire Bible views sexual desire within marriage as something positive, not as something evil or something that God imposed as a judgment; and (2) surely Adam and Eve had sexual desire for one another prior to their sin, for God had told them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28), and certainly in an unfallen world, along with the command, God would have given the desire that corresponded to it. So “your desire shall be for your husband” cannot refer to sexual desire. It is much more appropriate to the context of a curse to understand this as an aggressive desire against her husband, one that would bring her into conflict with him.

Grudem offers the following in the notes for the chapter:

The understanding of Genesis 3:16 as a hostile desire, or even a desire to rule over, has gained significant support among Old Testament commentators. It was first suggested by Susan T. Foh, “What Is the Woman’s Desire?” in Westminster Theological Journal 37 (1975), 376-383. David Talley says the word is attested in Samaritan and Mishnaic Hebrew “with the meaning urge, craving, impulse” and says of Foh, “Her contention that the desire is a contention for leadership, a negative usage, seems probable for Gen. 3:16” (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, 5 vols., ed., Willem Van Gemeren, Vol. 4 [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991], 341, with reference to various commentators).

*Not to be confused with the similarly titled book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which Piper and Grudem put together when they first created the CBMW.  Also note that the excerpts I quoted are only pieces of what he wrote on the topic in the chapter.  The link is to a pdf version of the book, and you can read the full section starting at the bottom of page 33 of the pdf file.

Posted in Complementarian, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Dr. Wayne Grudem, The Atlantic | 80 Comments