Complementarian soul essence.

Some readers of my recent series on the book Every Man’s Marriage may feel that I’ve unfairly lumped Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker in with complementarians. After all, their book teaches that the wife is the master, and that the husband’s job is to submit to her, to comply with her soul essence in all things. On page 90 Fred explains that he is Brenda’s slave for life, and she is his “master”. But on page 93 they caution not to fall into the feminist trap of making your wife your master (emphasis mine):

Remember, we’re not talking about abdicating the crown when you choose to mutually submit. We’re talking about abdicating your style. Playing Chief Tiebreaker will trample your wife’s convictions and eat away at her soul essence. She’ll never blossom under that scenario, and there’ll be no oneness. You won’t experience intimacy.

Of course, we must be wise as we become Chief Servant, because there are two sides to the coin of mutual submission. On one side are those men who think they’re kings of the realm, and they lord that role over their wives. This attitude creates resentment and imbalance in the relationship. On the flip side are those men who have abdicated their godly role of male leadership because of feminism. In other words they make their wife king of the realm, deferring to their wives and failing to take leadership.

This is the soul essence of complementarianism; they don’t believe that men should succumb to feminism, but instead practice headship and submission, just like Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker teach.

Alternately, if you read the quote immediately above and your first thought was:

Aha! I knew Dalrock was holding out on me! Sure they teach some terrible things, but they teach some good things too!

Then you might be a complementarian.

Posted in Complementarian, Denial, Every Man's Marriage, Fred Stoeker, Servant Leader, She's the boss., Stephen Arterburn, Traditional Conservatives, Wife worship | 45 Comments

Harkening back to the golden age.

Cane Caldo hilariously describes Pastor Doug Wilson’s new post Masculinity without Permission.*

Even when he tries to avoid blaming men–for one post!–he has to caveat that he would really rather talk about the bad men…but he won’t do it here…even though he thinks he should.

The segment Cane is commenting on is (emphasis mine):

As we confront this disaster—and it is a disaster—the definition of masculinity that I believe we must return to is this: masculinity is the glad assumption of the sacrificial responsibilities that God assigned to men. Now this is the point where, in normal times, if I were not writing in a culture that was not so well-advanced in its pathological condition, I would hasten to add that masculinity was not bluster, bullying, self-seeking aggrandizement, abusive behavior, and so forth. I would qualify against the counterfeits. All that is quite true, but I don’t want to emphasize it right now.

The reason for not yelling up that particular rain spout is that it has been counterproductive. We have been doing that in an unrelenting way for a generation or more, and by doing this we have helped to create and shape the awful conditions that we so lament.

Note that Wilson is nostalgic for the days when feminism was powerful enough that whenever masculinity was discussed the feminist heckler had to be preemptively placated, but not so far down the line that the damage of decades of placating feminists had already produced an undeniable disaster.  This is the same kind of nostalgia conservatives have for girls wrestling.

For it is not normal to reflexively bash men as he says he wishes he could do, indeed as he does while claiming he will not.  This is an artifact of feminism.  And as Wilson explains, as gratifying as it was to reflexively bash men for decades, doing so has lead us to our present disaster:

The sincere Christian men, who falsely believe they are being taught in accordance with the Word, will dutifully disarm. They will abdicate their essential role of actual leadership in the home, and they will call it servant leadership, leading from behind, or “just-what-I-was-going-to-suggest-leadership.” But there is a vast difference between real servant leadership, the kind Christ practiced and enjoined, and the kind that requires men to stand down whenever mama ain’t happy. By so emphasizing servant leadership, the church has not succeeded in establishing more of it, but they have succeeding in giving men a noble-sounding name as a fig leaf for their cowardice.

Note also whose fault it is that we can no longer afford to coddle feminists.  It is the good men who listen to Christian leaders.  If these men were better, they wouldn’t take what they were being taught seriously.  These cowards, these weak men, are screwing feminism up!

*H/T Hmm, The Question.

Posted in Cane Caldo, Pastor Doug Wilson, Servant Leader, Weak men screwing feminism up | 99 Comments

They had a good run.

Last week Tucker Carlson had Mark Steyn on for a segment about the trans boy* who won the Texas state championship for girls high school wrestling.  In the discussion Steyn stated that this has ruined the girl’s state wrestling championship.

This had me wondering just how long girls high school wrestling has been around.   Carlson and Steyn are also talking about a broader issue, but with regard to girls wrestling in specific it struck me that there is a very narrow “progressive” window for what the two conservatives are mourning.  A society has to reject traditional sex roles enough to encourage girls to wrestle, but it has to be traditional enough to not yet embrace transsexualism.  Girls wrestling is a sort of Goldilocks phenomenon.   It can only occur for a short window when everything is just right.

With this in mind, I set out to learn how long there has been a girls wrestling championship for trans wrestlers to ruin.  How long is the girls wrestling Goldilocks window?  It turns out that only six states in the US currently have state championships for girls wrestling, and that Texas has the second oldest:


Twenty years ago when Hawaii created the first girls wrestling state championship the conservative argument would have been that girls shouldn’t be wrestling.  Today the conservative argument is that trans wrestlers shouldn’t ruin girls wrestling.  This puts the observed outer limit of this Goldilocks zone at twenty years, but most states today still don’t have a girls wrestling state championship, and half of the states that do have one have had one for less than ten years.

*A girl taking hormones to transition to a boy.

Posted in Feminists, Traditional Conservatives, Tucker Carlson | 84 Comments

The thought of holding hands with him made her sick, but fortunately he convinced her to marry him.

In Chapter 20 of Every Man’s Marriage, Stephen Arterburn explains that when he was dating his wife Sandy she found the idea of holding his hand revolting:

When Sandy and I were dating, I attempted to hold her hand one night.  She jerked back and said that the thought of holding my hand kind of made her sick.  She said it in the nicest way possible, but for whatever reason, I simply wasn’t appealing to her.

Arterburn claims in the introduction that when he first married her he was a backwards thinking he-man traditionalist, and only learned to be a Sensitive New Age Guy (SNAG*) after she threatened divorce, thus “reviving” the marriage.  But in Chapter 20 we learn that he was a sniveling SNAG from day one.  His reaction to finding out that she found him revolting was to LJBF himself.  Arterburn continues:

My temptation was to lick my wounds and walk away.  Instead, I told her that I wasn’t in this relationship to hold hands or do anything else but be with her.  Well, that obviously had an impact on her because we eventually did hold hands.  Furthermore, we eventually got married.

Arterburn tells this story as an example that proves the SNAG model the book is selling really works, as well as an example of God’s providence.  Because he was obedient to God during their courtship by LJBFing himself, he was prepared by God for his unexpectedly sexless marriage.  This helped him double down on stupidity:

It is amazing how God lays things out in our lives that make sense only years later.  This was one of those weird things…

When we finally married, I was shocked to find that sex was a painful experience for her.  She wanted no part of it.  I was humiliated, felt like a failure, and had no idea what to do.  Then I remembered the hand holding incident.  I went back to that place and realized that I had to be of the same mind now that I was then.

After years of applying the methods Arterburn and Stoeker teach in the book, it has all been worth the wait:

It would take years to work out the problems, but the end of the story is that we’ve had some wonderful sexual experiences in recent years that we never had in our earlier years.  It was worth the wait and worth my learning some new things about her–that sex could be something she would actually want versus dread.

This is just one more example of the danger of the heretical model Arterburn and Stoeker are teaching in the book.  Instead of helping other men avoid making the mistakes the culture was teaching, they doubled down on the mistakes and presented them as coming from God.  Simply put, the new religion they invented is not only not from God, it doesn’t work.  Women aren’t turned on by men who submit to them.  A woman’s sexual desire isn’t stimulated by a man complying with her soul essence as it sets the terms of oneness.  It is all nonsense.

At some level at least Arterburn had to know what he was writing wasn’t true.  The book the quotes above are from was published in October of 2001.  In the introduction to Every Single Man’s Battle Arterburn explains that some time in 2002 he learned that Sandy was cheating on him, and when he confronted her on it she filed for divorce.

…I had arranged [a trip to Australia] to celebrate our twentieth anniversary together, trying to mend what had been so very broken for twenty difficult years. I had thought we were making progress, and as I walked that beach with my wife, I presumed she felt as close to me as I did her. Alas, that simply was not the case. The betrayal had already occurred, and she was making plans for divorce…

Many readers of Every Man’s Battle will be stunned to discover that my marriage ended in 2002…

*My words, not Arterburn’s.


Posted in Closeness, Every Man's Marriage, Game, Servant Leader, Stephen Arterburn | 139 Comments

That the word of God be not blasphemed

As bad as Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker come off in Every Man’s Marriage, I think Brenda Stoeker comes off the worst. None of this is intentional, as Stephen and Fred are supposed to come off bad for having not obeyed their wives’ soul-essences not for creating a mystic vagina worship religion, and Brenda isn’t supposed to come off bad at all.

Yet as Fred describes how they met and married followed by Brenda completely shattering his will, the picture he paints of her becomes one of a pathologically manipulative woman. Fred tells us that early in the marriage he at times sinned by resisting her will.  That ended when Brenda crushed him completely:

Long ago, when my parents’ divorce loomed over my life, a merciless question swirled over and over within my frightened heart.  What are we going to do?  I asked myself.  What are we going to do?

Brenda’s words [that her feelings were gone] brought the question sweeping back, with an even more personal twist.

…Waves of panic washed over me for days, buckling me in unguarded moments.

Fred then agreed to submit to Brenda, first regarding his family, and eventually in everything.  Fred tells us he knew he was dealing with something extraordinary here because making him submit was far more gratifying to Brenda than he would have expected:

Still, I was very confused.  Why was this working?  All along, I thought Scripture taught that women were supposed to submit to their husbands.  Why did my submission revive the marriage this way?  And why was the impact of my decision so huge and dramatic? With the family issues, I thought we’d just been dealing with a simple conflict of wills.  But the scale of the turnaround suggested something much deeper had been going on between us.

Fred tells us that when he finally found a hobby he absolutely loved (upland bird hunting), Brenda’s reaction was to tell him he could only spend two days a year on it:

“Sweetheart, you can’t imagine how good it makes me feel to know you’ve found a hobby you love,” she began.  “You’ve needed one for a long time, but you need to understand what this means to my life.  Hunting means I’ll have to handle the kids six days a week all by myself.  Besides, what good are Saturdays without the fun you bring to the mix?

She continued, “Since you like hunting this much, we should agree now how many times per year you can go.  This way, you won’t be tempted to stretch it when your buddies call.”

Fred suggested three days a year was a reasonable number.  Brenda told him he could have two.  After some back and forth, Fred obeyed her mystical soul essence and agreed to only spend two days a year on the hobby he absolutely loved.

But the most damning things Fred says about Brenda involve the lessons she has taught him and the way he tells us he has come to see her.  Fred is teaching other men what his master Brenda taught him:

Oneness has terms. Comply with the terms and emotional closeness follows. If you don’t comply, the emotions will die.

Try reading that out loud a few times.  Keep in mind for Fred this isn’t just about sex.  When Brenda’s “feelings die”, he goes into a debilitating panic.  He can’t breath until he has regained her approval.

One of the first things Brenda did was take complete control of how, when, and how often Fred interacted with his family.  This of course would fall under the catch all rule of obeying her soul essence, but for Brenda this was especially important.  Fred explains with all seriousness:

You see, Brenda has the gift of discernment. When it comes to family relationships, she knows the good from the bad (Christianity stretches back at least four generations into every branch of her family tree), and what she saw in our in-law relationships made her uncomfortable.

What would happen if Fred were in contact with his family against Brenda’s wishes?

Oneness has terms. Comply with the terms and emotional closeness follows. If you don’t comply, the emotions will die.

Brenda also decides how Fred spends every minute of the day (Chapter 9).

Oneness has terms. Comply with the terms and emotional closeness follows. If you don’t comply, the emotions will die.

She decides what he watches on TV (Chapter 8).

Oneness has terms. Comply with the terms and emotional closeness follows. If you don’t comply, the emotions will die.

And when and how he should bathe and wash his face (Chapter 8).

Oneness has terms. Comply with the terms and emotional closeness follows. If you don’t comply, the emotions will die.

In the Old Testament a Hebrew slave had to be freed by his master after six years.  However, if at that time the slave wished to remain a slave, he could elect to remain the master’s slave for life.  The master would then drive an awl through the slave’s ear on his master’s door post as a lifetime mark of this decision.  In Chapter 7 Fred offers this story as the picture of his marriage to Brenda.

Setting his lobe to the post, he joyously receives the mark, submitting his rights and future for the honor of serving and pleasing his master for as long as he lives.

This Old Testament scene suggests another picture that I’ll paint for you.  One day my eyes opened to see Brenda before me, a woman I’d never known.  Seeing value in me, she paid a dear price to have me as her own, giving up her freedom to seek any other to have or to hold.  I returned this love, happily receiving the mark of a golden ring that told everyone I was now hers.  She was my “master,” to whom I was forever pledged to serve.

Posted in Complementarian, Every Man's Marriage, Fred Stoeker, Stephen Arterburn, Submission, Turning a blind eye, Ugly Feminists, Wife worship | 98 Comments