Friday, March 09, 2007

Masculine piety?

Back in the day, I spent a lot of time on AOL discussing, among other things, various theological issues. The following is part of one such discussion. Even though there is a lot that I wrote back in 2001 that I would prefer to think I've since outgrown, I felt that this particular post might be worth repeating.

[The quoted portions below are taken from the article "Ministers in Skirts" by Douglas Wilson. The article originally appeared in Credenda Agenda and I assume it can still be found at]

>It explains why the masculine virtues of courage, initiative,
>responsibility, and strength are in such short supply.

This kind of stuff reminds me of a 3-year-old boy I used to know. He had the amusing habit of assigning gender to *everything*. For example, one day when I was visiting, he wanted to do some digging and asked for the "boy shubbil". He would only drink out of "boy cups". I could never quite fathom what made a shovel a "boy shubbil" and what made a cup a "boy cup".

Scripture doesn't stoop to this sort of immature silliness. When it tells us to be courageous, the Bible doesn't address just the men. Women aren't let off the hook when it comes to initiative, responsibility, and strength. "Be strong in the Lord!" isn't referring to having enough testosterone in order to build up male-sized muscles. There is nothing masculine about being godly, about obeying Scripture, and about being mighty in spirit.

>We have failed
>because we have forgotten what masculine piety even looks like. When it
>occasionally appears among us, we are entirely flumoxed by it. But God gave
>the pattern of feminine piety to complement, not to rule.

Contrary to what a number of both feminists and masculinists might think, true spirituality and piety is neither masculine or feminine. If it were, Scripture would clearly teach this. However, our spiritual journeys, our justification, our sanctification---these are not gender-specific. True piety, true spirituality, is an ongoing process of the Holy Spirit in our lives, as we are being transformed more and more into the image of Christ. This does not mean that we must all become masculine. It means we must all become holy. And holiness has no gender.

Having said all that, I have to say that I still believe that God has ordained different functions for men and women, within families and within the church.

To put Douglas Wilson's article in its theological context: Although, to my knowledge, he does not describe himself as a theonomist, his theology has, over the years, moved more and more into that direction. This article, in fact, is strongly reminiscent of one that appeared in Chalcedon Report (a theonomist magazine) titled "Girlie-Men in the Pulpit".

I think these articles are, in part, intended to be highly insulting to women. One of the worst epithets a theonomist can hurl at anyone or anything is that he/it has become "feminized" or "feminine".

When God created Eve, he did not make a mistake. He saw that she was good. Femininity is good. If pastors and churches are failing today, it is because of sin and disbelief, not because men are becoming "feminine". It's time to start calling a spade a spade and a shovel a shovel---and it's time to stop pretending that the spade is feminized.

copyright 2001 by Rebecca Prewett


  1. Great thoughts, Rebecca.

    I really am tired of everything "bad" being equated to the feminine and everything "good" being equated to the masculine.

    Honestly? Don't this people see what they are doing when they fling these insults around?

    I agree that when a church fails, it is because of sin and disbelief. Not because it was "feminized". How convenient to blame everything on the feminine.

  2. Rebecca, someone shared this link on my blog. Maybe you would be interested in seeing it. It sounds like another type of Promise Keepers in some respects:

  3. I erased a response off my blog to this, on account of it being more appropriate here. Here it is, in part:

    Right off the bat, I think this site is hitting on a problem that plagues both men and women, and that is we cover up so much when we go to church, and we sit in pews and listen, and anything most people in church get to say is according to the script of a liturgy, or a hymn book or overhead screen lyrics.

    So there isn't really an outlet in formal church for the human soul. And a potluck isn't the place for it, either. And some kind of outlet is necessary for confession and true encouragement and forgiveness and healing.

    I have a friend, who is a psychologist, and years ago she told me people are willing to pay just to have someone listen to them, and to have a close friend, and that is one of the real needs counseling and psychology meets, if people don't have this in their lives. I think there is a lot of truth to that, and I think this is what many men are reacting to.

    I don't think it is a "feminization" issue as much as I think it is an "isolation" issue, and a "we need some place where we can be real with each other issue," and this plagues women, too.

  4. Thanks so much for your comment --- you inspired me to write a new post!

  5. One thing that infuriates me about discussing problems with the church is to bring up the "feminization" issue, and always in a negative sense. It is so insulting it infuriates me, and I'd better not write about it. To the point, I don't think it is a true characterization of the problem. I think the problems can be described in much more accurate terms.

    I haven't heard too much about it, yet, but that site looks like this particular men's conference is really taking off.

  6. Lynn, over on your blog, Corrie made a particularly good comment concerniong the "Godmen" movement. I somehow missed your instruction to take the discussion here, then I saw it, so here goes:

    On Indeliblegrace, Corrie said...
    "It seems that their religion revolves around their private part. IMHO, that is called "idolatry".

    You hit that one right on the head, Corrie. One of the very first results of Original Sin, as stated in Genesis 3:16, was that men and women began using their sexuality as a power tool (no, not a superduper Home Improvement doo-hickey)-- with women using their sexuality manipulate men, and men using their sexuality to rule over women and show their dominion over "lesser" men as well (can we say, Sodom and Gomorrah?)

    Phallus-worship is idolatry indeed, the insidious idolatry which has contended against and attempted to infiltrate and subvert the worship of God since man first went astray.

  7. CJ, thanks. I asked to take it here because I have a strong hunch DP and people in VF would dislike this movement, and I don't want them to get the impression that by talking about *it* on that particular entry of mine, that we are talking about them.

    I read the Godmen site. I have no problem with men wanting to bond together and "get real" with each other, but I do have a problem with everything being characterized as being a problem because it reminds them too much of women.