I was going through my bookshelf the other day and came across Werner Neuer's Man and Woman in Christian Perspective. I first read it in college, probably about 1993 or so. It was recommended to me by Peter Doyle, the pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church of Opelika, AL. Dr. Doyle used to do a college men's Bible study and it was one of the most impactful things in my life -- especially my view of men and women. Dr. Doyle gave us all kinds of great counsel on relationships; 25+ years later I'm realizing just how much I appreciate what he taught me and how it saved me from really colossal mistakes I would have otherwise made. You could say he permanently inoculated me against feminism. I remember him telling us, "Marry a woman who dresses like a woman. Marry a woman who wears dresses and skirts, not pants." Even in 1993, he was, shall we say, politically incorrect. Dr. Doyle also wrote a series of kids' adventure books that had very strong male/female stereotypes. He also did a really fine American history series for kids. As a preacher, he was simultaneously bold and jovial -- he'd slice your conscience up with a grin on his face. But he always pointed us to Christ as our sure hope of forgiveness. Anyway -- back to the Neuer book. Neuer is a German theologian and I remember being surprised when Dr. Doyle assigned it to our group it since I did not expect a conservative work on the sexes to come from a contemporary European theologian. But I was surprised. Happily surprised. It really is a superb book, especially in the way it integrates Scripture with what we know from the created order. I relied on Neuer extensively in my May, 2000 essay on men and women.
Here's a quote from Neuer addressing the differences between men and women, to give you a taste:
“The Bible sees the man as the head of the woman. This corresponds to empirically determined characteristics of the male, his greater drive to lead and direct, his markedly dominating behavior, his strength of will and his greater aggressiveness. In Gen. 1-3 the man is specially commissioned to subdue the earth, to open it up and organize it. This fits in with his stronger and more robust physique, with his greater capability for abstract thinking, with his particular capability for creative and pioneering achievements in all areas of intellectual life, and with his more pronounced interest in the world of things. On the other hand, Scripture characterizes the woman as the man’s helper. This also fits in with the scientific characterization of woman: she is more ready and capable of adapting, she has a greater capacity to sympathize. Her superior imitative ability, including linguistic ability, and her stronger interest in people destine her for the role of completing the man by being his companion. These characteristics also help her to fulfill the task of motherhood which the Bible and her physique assign her.”
I always thought that phrase, "which the Bible and her physique assign her" was just perfect. Such a wonderful blending of natural and special revelation, showing their full compatibility and congruity. Neuer's believes our divine design as men and women and our duties as men and women perfectly match: design and duty go together. God made man for leadership and dominion, and fitted him with the physical and psychological qualities he would need to fulfill this calling. Likewise, the woman was made to help and nurture; she has been equipped for these tasks in various ways that suit her to her vocation and that complement the man.
Neuer again, this time on how feminism is tarnishing the woman's feminine glory, driving a wedge between women and their husbands and children:
"Christian women in their marriages have ample opportunities as wives and mothers to live for others and sacrifice everything that hinders them from being unconditionally their husband’s partner and their children’s mother. Sadly, it must be said at this point that many Christian women are not prepared to realize with total consistency their nature and to be their husband’s helpmeets and mothers as God intended. More and more are influenced by the spirit of the age and rebel against the man’s headship and the total demand of being a mother."
On the sexual confusion of our era, especially the feminization of men:
"There has been no period in history in which it was more urgent to put into practice the biblical view of male and female than today. For at present God’s standards, and particularly the divine ordering of the sexes, are being questioned and set aside on a scale never experienced before. Our era is marked by the attempt to level out gender distinctions, or at least reduce them to the undeniable physiological minima. This attempt has found its most radical expression in feminism...[I]t has led to a ...deep uncertainty about what are the roles of men and women. Today whoever dares to use such terms as manliness and womanliness runs the risk of being laughed out of court as hopelessly backward...Our age is suffering a serious loss of manliness. The term manliness may be briefly defined in its biblical sense by the willingness to undertake leadership in a responsible and devoted fashion in marriage, family, and society in accordance with God’s standards. Judged by this picture of responsible manliness the present situation appears pretty dismal.”
His definition of manliness works for me. Manhood means you lead. It means you get the job done. It means you are designed for dominion and rulership in church, family, and culture.
He continues, pointing to the problem of our sexual crisis:
"When the man is no longer prepared in sacrificial love to assume his responsibility in marriage, in family, and in society, the woman is no longer ready to entrust herself to male leadership. The loss of masculinity therefore carries with it a loss of femininity. Male irresponsibility necessarily causes female irresponsibility: when man no longer accepts his male tasks, the woman also rebels against her tasks. It is just this development we can observe so clearly today...At bottom feminism is the consistent unloving answer to men’s lack of love!...Whereas previously too many men fell into the trap of justifying their authoritarian domination of wife and family because they were head, today there is the opposite danger: Christian husbands, either for a quiet life or by wrongly adapting to the spirit of the age, are not ready to assume their position as head. Many Christian fathers, for example, deny their headship by leaving the spiritual upbringing of their children entirely to their wives and by so doing renege on their great responsibility to be spiritual head of the family...As head of the family, the father should be the first to arrange for the correct religious instruction and further upbringing of his family; he should be the first to pray and sacrifice with and for his family; he should be the first to exercise the right and duty to bless them; he should be the first involved in various decisions and measures to develop the spiritual life of the child...In a special way he and his own example should kindle the religious life of the family. He is a teacher, priest, and pastor of the family, or as Augustine put it, he is bishop of the family. When Christian husbands put their headship into practice this way they fulfill their maleness in the way that God intended. Fulfilling the headship that the NT envisaged involves the man in a school of selflessness and love, in which he daily has opportunity to crucify his male egoism.”
Before there was the "red pill," there was Neuer. Do not put off this book because it was written in the last century; this book is excellent from start to finish. I get a bit nostalgic just looking at the cover and thinking back to those days with Dr. Doyle, but I promise you my love for the book is not just sentimental. I have not seen many people cite it over the years and but I'm mentioning it here in case you want to read something from outside our ecclesiastical circles but that affirms much of what we believe needs to be said.
"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."
- Marcus Aurelius
My sermon Sunday on the pair of family psalms, Psalm 127 and Psalm 128, deserves a bit more comment. I will focus here especially on Psalm 128. (Video of the sermon is available here -- the sermon starts about the 17 minute mark; audio is available here.)
The first part of the sermon focused on the man in these psalms and that's what I want to look at further here. If we want to know what it means to be a blessed man, perhaps we need to start with manhood itself. What does it mean to be a man? How are men different from women? How does a man's masculinity feed into his duties/roles as a husband and father?
Have you seen reports on this new Netflix show Cuties? Looks like soft pedophilic porn. It's sick. Maybe with Ghislaine Maxwell behind bars, some on the left are trying to normalize pedophilia before a bunch of them get busted for it. Maybe they can get it legalized before they go to jail. Let's hope not.
What’s interesting to me here is the plot line of Cuties and the way this movie is being defended by progressives, especially given the way Netflix has marketed it.
The New Yorker tweeted this: “Cuties, which has angered scandal-mongers on the right, is the story of a girl’s outrage at, and defiance of, a patriarchal order.”
This post is written for men -- young men, married men, and at the end, I make a plea to men who are church leaders.
Since Theopolis has started a conversation over the value of so-called "red pill" thinking for men, I thought I'd chip in something a little different here. I've read a number of red pill writers over the years and found them to be mixed bag, yet very profitable if read with discernment. Sure, there are dangers in reading the red pill guys, just as there is danger in reading Freud or Nietzsche. But there is also value. In this post, I am not really interested in critiquing all that is wrong with the red pill; that has been done elsewhere. Rather, I am interested in asking how we can derive benefit from what the red pill gets right and how we as Christians (and especially pastors) might build upon.