The #metoo era is dangerous because the rules of what is permissable are very quickly changing. This is especially dangerous for complementarians because complementarians earn their living in the margins of what feminists are trying to destroy. This June we saw Dr. Paige Patterson rejected and discredited in the complementarian world because of past statements he made in support of 1 Cor 7 and 1 Pet 3. Those statements were on the extreme edge of acceptable complementarian thought when he made them, but in 2018 they are entirely unacceptable. This has left complementarian leaders scrambling to signal that they aren’t like Dr. Patterson. Just last week we witnessed Pastor Doug Wilson engage in a major rewrite of 1 Cor 7.
The problem for complementarians is they have to live in the margins of feminism, because their whole point of existence is to serve as feminism’s loyal opposition. This forces complementarians to engage in a series of ridiculous contortions as feminists continue to advance their agenda. Complementarians can’t blame feminist rebellion, or even (for the most part) feminism itself for the radical changes we are observing, because they are terrified of angering the feminist Christian women who surround them. Thus when women insisted on entering all areas of our armed forces in the name of equality, complementarians were forced to pretend that women were reluctantly filling roles that men were refusing to fill.
One way complementarians were able to resolve the inherent conflict in their position just a few years ago was to engage in what I’ve referred to as cartoonish chivalry. Cartoonish chivalry involved a caricature of manhood that was carefully crafted to not offend the feminists in the pews. For example, see Pastor Chandler’s 2014 sermon A Beautiful Design (Part 3)–Man’s Purpose. Pastor Chandler explained that it wasn’t leadership that made men different, because women are designed to lead as men are.
When I was trying to draw up a sentence on the unique responsibility of men, I wanted to, as best I could, stay away from the word lead. I’ll tell you why. I think men do lead, and they do lead in a unique way. I also know women who can lead and who do lead. In fact, I’ve come across some women who are bosses. Do you know what I’m saying? I mean, they get stuff done. They lead. They put together teams. They help those teams function rightly, and they lead out.So saying that a man leads as a kind of attribute of manhood that is not true about women would be incorrect.
What made men different back in 2014 was men’s cartoonish hyper-macho love for violence in the protection of women. Anything less, and you aren’t a real man:
As a single man, you image headship with borrowed authority by serving and
protecting women as sisters. Let me unpack that. I have an older sister and a younger sister. Here was a frequent conversation my daddy had with me. “Buddy, at school, you look out for your sisters. If some other guy is messing with your sisters, I want you to tell a teacher. If that teacher will not listen, I want you to punch them in their face and keep punching and keep punching and keep punching until an adult drags you off of that little boy. When they drag you off, what I want you to do is be like, ‘Get off me! Get off me!’ You go back at them until they… There needs to be a healthy kind of fear of you when it comes to your sisters. You protect them.”
Our masculinity comes out in the fight, not in peacetime but in fight. Again, it’s why the lazy men are so destructive to human flourishing. They want it to be fair. It’s not fair. You don’t want fair. You haven’t been designed for it. Think of the movies we like to watch. We want the fight. We want our lives to matter. We want to lay it down. We love Saving Private Ryan, everybody getting shot up on the beach. We want to run up on that beach with them. It’s in us.
Brothers, you’ve been called to this. Anything less than this is outside of design and purpose.
But this was back in 2014. What was loved by complementarian women back then is now seen as toxic masculinity. This means that the definition of the timeless essence of manhood must yet again be changed. As Pastor Chandler explained in his February 2018 sermon Manhood Restored, the new timeless essence of manhood involves rejecting violence and machismo in all forms, and getting in touch with your feelings:
What we’re talking about today is extremely important, and I think it comes at a time in our culture where there are two predominate false narratives that are killing us. The first false narrative is what I’ll call the machismo narrative. If you’re my age or older, I would almost guarantee you grew up with this. Here’s what I wrote: “Machismo severs the emotions and sets up sexual conquest and athletic prowess as measures of masculinity.”
If you grew up with a dad who was like, “Quit crying! Suck it up! Be a man! Men don’t act like that. Quit acting like your sister,” all of that is machismo nonsense. Brothers, anybody grow up in that house? “Quit crying. Quit feeling what you feel. Men don’t feel; we do.” It’s machismo. It’s ridiculous. It’s toxic to the male soul, destroys human flourishing, and teaches that brute force and violence, as well as misogyny, are masculine. It’s a lie. It’s killing us.
Our dads aren’t evil men. They had given themselves over to a picture of masculinity that’s very, very popular and yet wrong. “Suck it up. Don’t feel. Quit crying. Men don’t cry.” Gosh, that cuts out Jesus. It cuts out King David. If you would like to go one-on-one with King David, manly man, all my cash is on him. It ain’t a lot, but I’m going to win. I’m going to double it up, even though the odds are not going to be in your favor. The dude killed a bear and a lion with his hands. I know you CrossFit, but my guess is you’re going to get yourself lit up.
This is one of those false narratives. When men embrace this narrative, you get Harvey Weinstein.
Brothers, quit being so hard on yourself. God knows. Love is the motivating force. If you want to say this phrase to your boys, “Be a man,” you’d better not be talking about their emotions. You’d better not be talking about their hobbies. You’d better not be talking about their feelings. You’d better not be talking about that stuff.