For the Record

Posted to Doug Wilson, here, in response to his post “Letters are Better than Fetters”, and about his post “Masculinity without Permission”. As of this moment the comment has been submitted. I’ll give it a minute or so. (EDIT: My comment posted.)

On “Masculinity without Permission” (Taken from my comment here [ ] and repurposed here to give you a chance to respond.

You did not have to write,“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.”

You could have left it out altogether–as you left out fathers from the list of people hurt in fatherless families–but you didn’t. You must at least take a swipe at “toxic males” on your way to talk about all those other bad preachers out there who preached the wrong servant leadership and not the good servant leadership you really meant all along.

Whoops! Thought we were done with that, but here you are again, writing about the toxic males: “Now he would be a fool who said there was no such thing as a toxic, overdone masculinity—there certainly is. I myself have seen some remarkable specimens of it.”

Churches have one-hundredth of a problem with blustery, bullying men than they do with wimps cowed by their wives. Yet your posts are filled with recriminations against regular men, instead of encouragement to them to actually lead; as in give commands and have expectations…such as a pastor might do at his church, say.

Here is a lengthy quote from the first of three suggested posts marked “Related”, titled, “A Woman’s Body and Fatherlessness”, from 2011. I chose this post because I had confidence that I could take the first recommendation and find it loaded with servant leadership typical of most Christian preaching, and also some examples of weak men “screwing up feminism” (i.e., modern life). Here we go:

“What are fathers for? The biblical answer goes far beyond the answer provided by Darwin. Fathers are more than inseminating carbon units. God has established and ordered the world in a certain way. God commanded Adam, and all fathers after him, to provide and to protect (Gen. 2:15Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). That is what fathers are for. Provide for and protect whom? The answer is their wives and children. Unprotected children are fatherless children. Unwanted children are fatherless children. Aborted children are therefore the final word in fatherlessness.

Someone might interject and say that surely aborted children are motherless as well. This is true, and tragic. Motherlessness, the fierce suppression of the mothering instinct, is the immediate cause of an abortion. But that motherlessness is, in its own turn, a function of fatherlessness. This all happens because fathers have believed the lie that it is possible for them to opt out of the creation mandate. That mandate is assigned to every man who is ever given the tremendous privilege of making love to a woman. First the pleasure, then the provision and protection. The privilege of planting seed in a garden brings the necessary responsibility of tending that garden.

Apparently, neither fathers nor gardeners are actually in charge of families or gardens; just provide and protect them. Leading is left out of your post entirely except when a man leads a woman to commit motherlessness and kill his children. And where’s the mandate for a woman to provide a child for the tremendous privilege of making love to a man? I am forced to consider that perhaps you’ve never been confronted with that situation.

I’ll tell you one thing: If any of your male readers get the idea to be masculine and take his *tremendous privilege* without permission, he’s gonna hear about it from you!

You continue:

Any man who thinks that a wonderful time in bed must be necessarily linked to a lifetime of responsibility is written off as a hopeless dweeb. Faced with a choice between not being mocked and having a backbone, far too many men choose the option of not being mocked. But fathers who wilt in the face of such sneers and mockery are just sperm-delivery fathers. They have all the backbone of a wet napkin. They deserve the mockery, certainly, but from the other direction.

Of course, there is the problem of old-fashioned selfishness. Convincing men to take the sexual pleasure, and to not feel responsible for any resultant child, has therefore not been a difficult argument. It has been a downhill argument. The moral authority of Western civilization spent a number of centuries persuading and convincing males that they should take up responsibility for their progeny. That was the uphill part of the argument, and it was made possible by the growing influence of the gospel. Unfortunately, we have decided to all head back downhill again, and us with no brakes now.

So abortion happens for the following reasons:
1. men fail to provide
2. men fail to protect
3. causing motherlessness
4. men aren’t grateful enough for the “tremendous privilege” of sleeping with their wives
5. men are wet napkins who deserve to be mocked, especially by moral Christians
6. men are selfish
7. men are out of control

And here I thought abortions happened because mothers paid medical experts to skewer their babies. Turns out it has been toxic male Christian fathers all along.

Enough of that post. From here I’ll surf to the Related link, “Father Hunger”, from 2006. It is a defense of himself from a “local critic” who did not like your attitude towards homosexuals.

But how a call for Christians to stop demanding civil reform as a substitute for reformation in the family and the church can be read this way is a mystery to me. What we have called for is for Christian fathers to repent first, and for the church to get its own house in order first, instead of turning to politics as some kind of savior. Politics will be saved, but politics is no savior. We have argued that the current epidemic of homosexual activism is the result of disobedient Christian fathers, and so we have substantial work to do within out own ranks first. Our culture is in the grip of a profound and disorienting father hunger. This is no less true within the church.

No less true in the church? WOW! Christian fathers are so bad, so unrepentant, that they turn their children gay!

Father hunger is around us in countless ways, and results in far more than struggles with sexual perversion. Father hunger causes loneliness, aggression, rebellion against authority, hatred of kindness, lack of self-control, legalistic pietism, religion based on fear instead of love, and much, much more.

Father hunger isn’t caused by missing fathers ejected from their homes by their wives over 70% of the time. No, no: Bad Christian fathers even in the home (maybe especially in the home) cause pretty much every sin and every pit of the human condition. The word “mother” doesn’t appear once in the whole post.

These are your words, from you posts, which your site referred to me. How long could I go on, from one to the next, and find the same pattern of blaming men for everything, excusing women for anything, and always framing a father’s and husband’s job as service, but never command? I bet a long time.

UPDATE, Doug Wilson responds:

Cane, I distinguish responsibility and fault because I hold to covenant theology. When I tell men they must take responsibility, many hear me saying that they must take the blame. But these are different things entirely. We live in a man-hating age, which wants to blame men for everything. I believe that husbands are commanded to imitate the love of Christ, meaning that they take responsibility. This is because the man is the *head.* This is not running on a parallel track with feminism, but is rather the antithesis of it.

UPDATE II, My reply:

Doug, Yes, responsibility and blame are separate things, but you do blame Christian men. You do also say men are responsible, but you obscure the responsibility of women. A Christian hand and father’s assumption of responsibility over his family does not remove their responsibility. Nor do you blame Christian women. You may blame feminists–people “out there”–, and you take pains to make the two distinct. Your indictments of feminists are carefully parsed so that readers should never believe you have conflated the two groups. That charity is not extended to Christian men. The overlap of Christian men and toxic males is assumed and even emphasized. Then you shroud your use of false weights of judgment under the guise of covenant theology.

Moreover, when you write about the authority of Christian men over their families the words are only about responsibility, and never about command. Christ has responsibility and, and was given all power and authority. Christian men are to be Christlike, but we are not Christ so we shouldn’t assume all power. But you talk solely of a neutered authority that should never exercise power, or even uphold expectations. …Not to mention the dearth of praise here for Christian fathers doing their best amongst an enormous cohort of unruly and feral women who rebelled within, and also raised by, your generation; and under a government and legal system that is honesty, wholly, and truly out to get them.

Justin Parris says (in these comments) this is all because you are daunted by the prospect of feminist backlash, and fear what women and their sycophants will think. That strikes him as just good sense. I believe you darkly sense the error of Justin’s thinking and that’s why you wrote “Masculinity without Permission”. I do not believe you have grappled with your contribution to Justin’s folly.

Aside from men like Justin, (Hey, good luck with him!) younger Christian men out there cannot differentiate you from the other mealy-mouthed complementarians, egalitarians, and Duluth Model-loving high-heel lickers, except perhaps in style. In content and practice, your prescription is to avoid command and expectation. You are indistinguishable. Perhaps that is less true among the people who know you in the flesh, but I write to you about your blog and books.


16 thoughts on “For the Record

  1. that response basically translates to:

    “I’m not blaming men. By the way, men do have to take responsbility for womens’ sins. Look at how anti-femninist my typical Complementarian position is.”

    He just showed all his cards in one comment. This guy is no different to other complementarians.

  2. I believe that husbands are commanded to imitate the love of Christ, meaning that they take responsibility.

    Wilson’s model is correct in the sense that a commander is responsible for everything his unit does, or fails to do. But that same commander has authority over everyone in his charge (they in fact take an oath to obey those appointed over them), and by judicious use of that authority can mold an effective unit that will succeed.

    The complementarian model assigns the responsibility without the authority. You can identify a complementarian not because he doesn’t grant husbands authority in marriage; but because he avoids addressing the subject at all. It won’t be discussed with women present (The Horror!), and it won’t be discussed among only men (because word will get back to the women).

    Responsibility without authority is a tough nut to crack.

  3. I believe I know what this “covenant Theology” nonsense he is referring:

    “When a couple comes for marriage counseling, my operating assumption is always that the man is completely responsible for the all the problems. Some may be inclined to react to this, but it is important to note that responsibility is not the same thing as guilt. If a woman has been unfaithful to her husband, of course she bears the guilt of her adultery. But at the same time, he is responsible for it.

    … Husbands are responsible for their wives. They are the head of their wives as Christ is the head of the church. Taking a covenant oath to become a husband involves assuming responsibility for that home. This means that men, whether through tyranny or abdication, are responsible for any problems in the home.”

    – Reforming Marriage by Douglas Wilson

  4. “I do not believe you have grappled with your contribution to Justin’s folly”

    That could have been the whole post by itself. Brilliant!

  5. That is an astounding quote, White. I was looking at a preview of the same book and found another astonishing quote:

    Now because the husband is the steward of the marriage covenant, the gender of the innocent party does matter in making decisions about divorce. The Christian community is full of godly Christian women who have non-Christian husbands. Godly Christian men with non-Christian wives are much more rare. This illustrates how much of an impact the husband has on the spiritual state of the marriage.

    In relating this to divorce, it means that wives are much more likely to be wronged by their husbands than the other way around. If a man is unfaithful to his wife, it is quite possible that she was being the kind of wife God wants her to be. If a woman is unfaithful to her husband, it is much less likely that he was fulfilling his role properly.

    This makes me interested in finding a copy used. The defense I receive with Wilson is that sure he writes the darndest things, but he doesn’t mean what he writes. Presumably if we read the whole book, we’d see that he wasn’t really saying what he said after all.

    With that in mind, here is a google books link to the section I quoted above to allow at least a bit of context:

  6. Cane, and Dalrock,
    you both have led quite the fruitful charge into the Wilson comments this week. Good job.

  7. Crediting you Dalrock for starting the conversation on your blog.
    Looks like that thread closed up at Doug Wilson’s, too. There was good stuff in there.

  8. I should say thanks to everyone who went over to Wilson’s–including OKRickety, but especially PrinceAsbel. No one admitted to a changed mind, but there was a terrible disarray, and several furrows plowed that may one day bear fruit. Who knows? I don’t know who MYS is, but he did some good work, too.

    Hold on…YS, was that you?

  9. Cane-
    Yes, that was me. Don’t know how I got started all the way back on Wilson’s blog, but there I got known by that name, so I stuck with it.

  10. Covenant Theology I think is a subtle heresy that according to Amir(blogs at results in real tyranny/abdication since the Husband is responsible for everything in the home and tyranny/abdication is the only recourse to deal with objects that aren’t responsible for anything

  11. Following Wilson to the logical conclusion, Christ submits to the church. That’s blasphemous.

    I’ve long held Wilson and the crec to be apostasy. Covenant theology is rife with error as well.

    I find it sad that the average person can take 5 minutes on an app or with strongs interlinear/Greek and discover the easy truth, yet no one does that. Instead we idolize idiots

  12. Covenant theology is normal for Reformed Protestants, including Anglicans historically, but the things it’s been made to mean in recent times have not always been sound.

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