The Truth About Women (and Men)

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After Brian Colmery said such nice things about me, I’m going to take him to task a little for his post “The Need for Protection in the Church” because I think it presents an overly romanticized view of women, men, and our cultural assumptions. Playing into the theme we see so often on TV of men who are utter dolts but are married to women who possess the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job, Women of Olden TimesBrian gets a little lopsided on who’s to blame for the sorry state of relationships.

This all started because of an article in the laddie magazine Maxim in which advice is given to guys looking to score with “church babes.” However, if you really want to go back to the source, John Steinbeck’s classic, The Grapes of Wrath, features a minister who advises that the best time to take advantage of a young woman is right after she’s walked out of the Sunday morning service. You’d be frightened at how accurate that statement is. Mixing the emotional nearness that people feel worshiping the Lord with romantic feelings of love and nearness to another person is all too easy to do.

But Brian weighs in:

I have plenty of thoughts on the issues that men have in the church – including, but not limited to, the fact that they’ve lost any coherent concept of masculinity, they need books telling them to go hunt things in the woods to awaken the “man within,” the single ones tend to be deathly afraid of speaking to women of any type, not to mention that they haven’t the foggiest idea of how to properly treat a woman (which involves cherishing, caring for, appreciating, encouraging, and protecting, not stammering in front of and equivocating on everything under the sun). These issues, while the root of the problem, have given birth to one of the saddest and most ignored issues in church life: the lack of protection of our women.

Now I don’t disagree with Brian on the issue of protection. Nor do I disagree with his trashing of the inane culture we’ve made out of Wild at Heart. Whenever I hear that men are bored in church, I have to ask myself how bored we can be when we’ve all got responsibility to not only ensure the protection of our own kids, but also the sons and daughters of all the other people in the church. Honestly, few things in this life are more precious than young women and young men growing into their adulthood. Our lame-brained rugged individualism in the American Church, though, has told us that someone else’s kids are not our problem, so it’s no wonder that our teens and tweens are getting picked off by the Enemy.

Brian goes on:

We’ve failed on two fronts, and the article makes it obvious. The first is that women in the church have been exposed to such weaklings in the pews next to them that they are tempted to connect with men who haven’t been born again. The fact that Christian men today do not stand out as above and beyond non-believing men in terms of their moral core, security (in Christ), capacity to make decisions and create, to work and make difficult decisions and simply to stand, is a blight not only on Christian men but on the God they serve. With the very Spirit of God living inside their chest, they squelch it enough to come off as spineless.

Whoa. That’s a pretty heavy accusation and one that I must say has not been my experience in toto. I’ll talk more about this in a bit.

Brian’s second point:

The same insecurity and androgyny that has led Christian men away from their rightful place as the culmination of masculinity has prevented them from being able – and even willing – to protect the women God has placed around them in their church. Again, women are more than capable to make good decisions, and yet I can’t help but feel (and read in the bible) that men have a responsibility to care for and cherish the women God has put in their lives. This shouldn’t have to involve a “program” effort, where this is outlined in three points and given out in memo form to the congregation. This desire to protect and cherish should arise from the inside of every man. And yet, if it must be programmed, let it be. The women in our churches are being preyed on by men who have nothing but their worst interest in mind. And the first line of defense has laid down their arms and sat down.

While I’ll certainly be scourged for offering that most young women I see in churches today are making terrible decisions, I’m going to stick with that for now. More in a little bit.

He finishes with this:

Anyone who isn’t a member of the church community and attempts (or even desires) to get close to a female member should have to go through the men of that community. Not in an “ask the father first” sort of way, but, well, yeah. Shouldn’t the men in the community be of such a caliber that the women would seek out their advice (in the same way that the women of the community should be of such a caliber that the men should seek out their advice)? And shouldn’t it be understood that there are men of such a caliber surrounding the women of a church community that wolves know not to enter there?

Now I’m going to weigh in based on my own experiences over the last nearly thirty years of being a Christian.

When I was a single Christian guy I know that just about everyone in the church around me held me in high esteem. I was teaching Bible studies by the time I was sixteen and discipling others. No one ever said a bad word about me. I was a clean-cut kid, 6′ 4″ tall, strong as an ox, well-built, smart, and fine to look at. I treated every woman I dated like an absolute queen and was universally acclaimed for my creative dates that made women feel special. Despite this, I lasted a very long time “on the market.”

If we applied Brian’s standard of masculinity here, I should have had the young women in the churches I was a part of fighting to be seen with me in public. So what was the problem?

Having a lot of time to think about this over the years, I’ve come to a few conclusions:

1. Many women today want financial security above all else

I never saw the guys who were ultimately on the fast-track career path suffering for the ladies, no matter how cloddish, caddish, or half-hearted about the things of the Lord they were. To a lot of young women, money alone talked. I’d chosen to go into camping ministry—not a direct path to being Bill Gates. I even had one girl I was particularly enamored with tell me that she didn’t see how I could fulfill her monetary aspirations making less than a thousand dollars a month out in the woods somewhere. Well, at least she was honest!All those guys I knew who were poor, but loved the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength…well the ladies weren’t banging down their doors. Sure, if one of those poor guys was going into the ministry, he might get a few takers. But the poor laborer rarely got a second look from the girls who ran in the church circles I did. Makes you wonder what the real priorities are and where those young women were getting those priorities.

2. All that most young women today know is the fallout of feminism

The Church in America bought the lies of feminism, and like Pandora’s Box, going back to what pre-feminist womanhood in the Church was like borders on being delusional. The same goes for manhood. The very foundations of our culture have changed because of feminism and the Church seems to be okay with what that has wrought, sadly. We may talk about spineless men, but that pandemic erupted because of feminism.I’ve talked much about the radical shifts in the work world and how they affected Christians, but few seismic shifts were greater than women entering the workplace. Now I’m not trying to excuse the Neanderthal mentality of men at work, but the repeated assaults they encountered for doing all the things men for years were told they needed to do with regards to women and to work made them gunshy. Rather than face a lawsuit for saying, “That’s a pretty dress,” or getting screamed at for holding a door open, men got used to ignoring women at work altogether for fear of losing their jobs. Better not to say or do anything that was formerly consider gallant than to say or do something that an “emancipated” woman would deem inappropriate. This has even gone so far that the military explicitly teaches young men (now that women make up a large part of our armed forces) to ignore the sounds of women soldiers being raped and tortured.

All this has carried over into the American Church. This does not excuse it at all, but to get at the root of the problem, the Church has to question some assumptions that it holds about the workplace, sex roles, and culture in general that it absolutely is not willing to discuss for fear of being branded “out of touch” or “patriarchal.” We’d rather get riled up about gay marriage than to question if women should be assuming work roles that were prototypically male. I don’t see James Dobson railing about lowering standards for firefighters and police to ensure that enough women can fill those roles. We conceded that issue a long, long time ago.

3. Our expectations about adulthood have changed

In the not-so-distant past, unmarried children stayed home with their parents until they eventually did get married. That was the Christian norm. However, many Christians today are of the opinion that kicking Johnny or Janey out of the house at eighteen is the godly thing to do. As a result, Johnny and Janey better have some marketable skills or else they’re dead in the workplace water. With college becoming the de facto requirement for getting a real adult job, if a young man or woman doesn’t leave the shelter of home for college, their chances for “making it” go down considerably. Yet as we all know, college has become a hive of sin, even, sadly, at a Christian college.Yet what option is given to Christian young people anymore? Unmarried Christian women aren’t at home learning how to become “a homemaker” like they used to be. Instead, they’re expected to be out on their own, making their own decisions, and earning a living. Again, much of this is do to feminism, but it’s hard to fault men entirely for this outcome. Is it any wonder that problems result?

4. Our culture denigrates the role of the elderly in aiding youth

    We have a tendency to shuttle our old people out of the way by sticking them in nursing homes or lumping them into church groups designated especially for them. But that lack of integration into the functioning community, even in churches, keeps the wisdom of the elderly away from the young people who need it the most. Grandparents used to have a much more important role in mitigating youth problems than they do today. This puts young people at a great disadvantage to their peers of a hundred years ago. Many youth live nowhere near their grandparents, either, but you don’t hear the Church saying anything about how following jobs around the country has broken up the extended family.

5. We set-up singles (and couples) for moral failure

Because our churches corral singles into peer groups, we fail them. We toss sexually-frustrated people into a sexually-frustrated pool and expect folks to be paragons of virtue. It’s like asking a starving dog not to eat the steak we just tossed him. Even the Church has an obsession with career success and this has led young men and women to stay single longer. It only invites moral failure. Again, the Church is sitting on the sidelines and encouraging behavior that only creates wounded people.Because our churches don’t begin marriage and family classes for kids as young as ten, we fail them. Domestic abuse in my area of Ohio is rampant. One reason is that we don’t teach boys at an early age to never strike a woman—ever. Worse still, we never teach young women to avoid the losers out there who are most likely to hit them at some time in their relationship. I know so many promising young women dating guys who are losers, it’s not funny. One of the girls I dated broke up with me and started dating a guy who abused her. She then turned around and started crying on my shoulder about it, while still dating the guy. Folks, that’s pathological, but more common than we care to admit.

(For more on this particular issue, read “Singleness: Radical Answers for a Harsh Reality“.)

6. Our youth groups aren’t discouraging a Girls Gone Wild mentality

When I was in youth group, activities for the sexes were often segregated. The guys played football while the girls did whatever the girls did. (Hey, I wasn’t a girl, so I didn’t know what they did.) But not only have youth activities gotten wilder and stupider, but there’s no keeping the girls out of that craziness. But girls and boys are different. If we open young women to the inane things that boys do, we give them the option to act just as stupid. In our efforts to make our youth groups cool enough to keep kids from dropping out, we’ve inadvertently encouraged the Girls Gone Wild culture.Should we be surprised then that young women today are remarkably aggressive compared to their peers from just thirty years ago? There’s a hardness there that shouldn’t be in a woman, especially a Christian one. Unfettered from whatever expectations we placed on feminine propriety back then, girls today look at themselves as being just like the boys. This is not to say that the boys don’t have a responsibility to grow up, but that we’ve crushed one of the bulwarks of human society: female normalization of males. With the girls out trying to be one of the boys instead of being solidly female, you can’t put all the blame on the boys if they respond to the girls as being just one of the guys, albeit with a different sexual attraction. That only leads to trouble.

7. We’ve encouraged young women to be their own bosses

All the issues I raised above have led to today’s young women thinking that they need nothing from men, especially protection. The problem for men here is that any man with a spine attempting to look out for a girl on the verge of making a mistake is more likely to get a “Butt out” as a response than a “Thank you for protecting me.” I know that this has been the response I’ve received whenever I’ve questioned a young woman about here choice of a guy.Empowering young women to be the masters of their own fate has had this two-edged sword effect: yes, they are more confident in their decision making, but the decisions reached are often ill-advised. And no amount of pressure will change their minds. Given the cultural edicts we’ve erected even within the Church, our hand is forced unless we are willing to question the entire basis of modern femininity within the whole Church structure. As far as I can see, no one is willing to start this kind of soul-searching.

I could go on and on.

But my point here is the same one I made in “Are You a Hamster?” when I responded to Douglas Groothuis: The fix is too simplistic. To Brian I say that it is not enough to ask men to get a spine. All sorts of deep, deep cultural and Church issues are involved here. If we do not deal with those underlying issues, all the backbones in the world won’t help.

In summary, the Church must start questioning

  • How we prepare young people for marriage
  • What expectations we set in others for determining a good marriage partner
  • What makes a true man or woman of God
  • What cultural values support or detract from godliness in our sexual roles
  • The inroads that feminism has made into Church practice and the subsequent cultural expectations of Christians
  • Whether defaulting to kicking the kids out at eighteen or sending them off to college is the way of Christ
  • Whether we are contributing to the manliness of women
  • Whether the measure of a man, at least the one is that women seem to be prioritizing, is how much money he makes or how successful his career is rather than the depth of his love for Christ.
  • Whether women belong in the roles that formerly were held solely by men

Maintaining the sexual status quo we’ve adopted in the Church over the last forty years won’t cut it anymore. It’s not enough to grow a spine unless that spine is able to bear up under tough questions about womanhood and manhood in the American Church and the culture at large.

Are we ready to question it all?

21 thoughts on “The Truth About Women (and Men)

  1. SheekChic

    “We may talk about spineless men, but that pandemic erupted because of feminism.”

    Dan, I read your entire post, Brian’s, Rhett’s, and even the Maxim article. It feels as if it’s turning into a battle of the sexes with the statement you made above. Feminism erupted because of several factors, 1 was the absence of men (physically & all else) as they were off defending the country in war & this even goes back to the Roman era! I am a firm believer of Godly submission don’t get me wrong, so defending women over men or feminism is not my point here, it just really makes me uncomfortable that one side or the other should capture blame when we hold personal responsibility & convictions for who we are.

    Both men & women share responsibilities for the roles today, and the truth is, things have changed, so what should we do about it now? Argue about how or why or who caused us to get here? No, we START something based on these changes, and become who we believe we should be IN CHRIST- who is unchanging, steadfast, and sovereign despite societal structures, the birth of feminism, and the emerging trend of metro-sexuals . . .

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with the following statement about what the church must question:

    What makes a true man or woman of God

    And maybe not knowing this for sure has always been the true source of confusion, dissatisfication & “trendy” fix-it’s streaming through Men & Women inside & outside the church in the first place, and nothing else.

  2. Danielle

    Hi Dan, I’ve been reading your site for awhile and love reading your posts, even if I don’t agree with everything you say. I’m a 20 year old lady in college. My father has never shared my beliefs and when I left for college I no longer even had the spiritual leading of my male pastor, despite spending 2 years trying to find a church that I felt comfortable in and that supported my own call to ministry. It fell to me to protect myself (and I’d like to believe I’d done a decent job), but now that I’m living back at home and attending the church of my childhood again it is hard to allow the men of the church, who actually want to, to protect me. This fault I believe lies with both the men and the women of our church. Keep up the insightful posts.

  3. Brian Colmery

    Ah, Dan, the sheer publicity I get from being mentioned over here is worth the correction! And I don’t doubt you were quite the catch…

    Like most of my posts, the one you quote is more of a quick response than a comprehensive guide to the sexes. I agree with much of what you’ve said regarding the cause, and ultimately the culture that the church has found herself a part of. I also don’t discount the issues that some women have and the poor way they have chosen to deal with them in the church. Yet, I can’t help but look around at the church and wonder where the men have gone? For everyone of you out there, I’ve met countless others in the church who indeed are spineless. And, while I might understand, I can’t excuse.

    We must battle the underlying culture that brings about these symptoms in both sexes, and yet I feel that the best way to do so is to teach young men (and women) today to be role models for the next generation. As one generation grows closer to God, the next will see them and hopefully walk towards them—and away from the culture that has pervaded Christ’s church.

  4. CJR

    Let me first say that the situation of modern religion – it’s inability to draw in those from our culture and to produce robust disciples – is lamentable and regrettable and should certainly be the focus of thought, prayer and action.

    Having said that, Brian’s post, while ostensibly against it, actually seems like a rough summary of John Eldridge’s book, Wild At Heart.

    In it, Eldridge argues against the kind of “limp-wristed” male the church, according to Eldridge, is peopled with and urges a return to his understanding of “masculinity”. He claims this is the root of why so few men enter the church – that the church has portrayed the Christian male as a “Mister Rogers” sort of fellow – mild, soft and unthreatening.

    This kind of “maleness” has, in its turn, had a deleterious effect on the women in churches. Specifically that they don’t find these men very attractive and are left to the world of unbelievers to find a sufficiently “masculine” man to “meet their needs”. Draw your own conclusions on that.

    Let me say that Eldridge’s writings are uniquely uniformed from a biblical perspective. I’m no bibliophile, but Eldridge quotes more from Braveheart than from Jesus. He seems to take great pride in not basing his arguments in fact, science, anthropology, history or Scripture. Referring, instead, to that age-old source of persuasive argument and deception, anecdotes and metaphors.

    I don’t agree with much of what Eldridge (or Brian) have written, but it is true that the church has presented an emaciated gospel, the church has refused entrance often to aggressive, threatening people, the church has been guilty of making discipleship non-threatening in the hopes of luring people to it.

    The question is, though, what if anything does this have to do with gender?

    Are there real issues to be dealt with? Of course – radical feminism, like chauvinism, is an error that requires thoughtful and deliberate opposition. But no thinking person can believe that the entire sweep of the feminist movement hasn’t resulted in real advancement for women – in terms of health, opportunity, education, employment, marriage, justice, protection from violence, and on and on.

    It seems that so many Christians today want to judge ideas and movements in terms of where we were last week instead of where we were one or two generations ago.

    Eldridge’s (and Brian’s) depiction of women is that of the damsel in distress. Eldridge goes to cringe-worthy lengths to portray this very image. That women require a “father-like” figure to rescue and protect them is not offensive, however, until you couple it with the apparent beliefs that (1) men don’t require such a father-figure, and that (2) men are to be that father-figure for women. This isn’t even chauvinism in disguise – it’s just plain chauvinism!

    Surprisingly, Dan doesn’t really correct what I see as errors in Brian’s arguments. In fact, Dan writes:

    Domestic abuse in my area of Ohio is rampant. One reason is that we don’t teach boys at an early age to never strike a woman—ever. Worse still, we never teach young women to avoid the losers out there who are most likely to hit them at some time in their relationship.

    So the apparent contentions are that domestic violence is (1) higher than it was in a more patriarchal age, and (2) is in part due to the lack of a specific teaching regarding violence toward women.

    Let’s think about that.

    As feminism has continued its march forward, are domestic violence rates increasing or decreasing? They are decreasing – dramatically so. indicates that domestic violence has decreased by about one-third to one-half just in the last 10-15 years.

    If feminism is the culprit, why is this number not increasing as feminism advances?
    Have we instituted the “don’t hit girls” program in public schools?

    No.

    It has decreased not through a return to gender bias and chauvinism, but through better legislation to protect women from violence, more effective enforcement of such laws, and a more open society where women are encouraged to report such violence and protected when they do.

    Also note that Ohio has a relatively low rate of domestic violence and has been on a sharply declining trend since the mid-1990s.

    Dan writes,

    Yet what option is given to Christian young people anymore? Unmarried Christian women aren’t at home learning how to become “a homemaker” like they used to be. Instead, they’re expected to be out on their own, making their own decisions, and earning a living.

    Again, the apparent contention being that women need to be at home, cooking and cleaning – rather than capable of making their own decisions, earning their own way.

    In a word, dependent. On men, of course. Just think about that statement.

    Were women better off when their only option in life was to marry a man in order to survive? Depending on your metrics, the answer might be “yes”. For example, divorce rates would be lower if women had no choice but to remain with their husbands no matter what. Of course, we could just threaten our wives with murder to prevent them from divorcing us. That, too, would lower divorce rates. And, arguably, would be about the moral equivalent of keeping women ignorant and incapable of supporting themselves so they have to depend on (and therefore be loyal to) us men regardless.

    The fact that women are better educated, independent, and generally as in control of their own lives as men is not a bad thing. Nor is it an ungodly thing. The claim that we could make the church better by preventing women going to college or working outside the home is stunning unless you currently live in Sudan or Saudi Arabia.

    Dan writes,

    Empowering young women to be the masters of their own fate has had this two-edged sword effect: yes, they are more confident in their decision making, but the decisions reached are often ill-advised. And no amount of pressure will change their minds. Given the cultural edicts we’ve erected even within the Church, our hand is forced unless we are willing to question the entire basis of modern femininity within the whole Church structure. As far as I can see, no one is willing to start this kind of soul-searching.

    Is appears here that women are less intelligent and capable of making informed decisions than men of the same age (as I don’t see similar claims about young men making poor choices and requiring “protection”). What is the basis in fact for the gender-based difference in intellectual capacity and decision-making?

    Dan writes, regarding women choosing abusive partners (over the objections of the pious, apparently):

    Folks, that’s pathological, but more common than we care to admit.

    Certainly more common than we care to admit, though I would make two points about it:

    (1) it’s less common now than in the past due to continued advances in open our society to gender equality, and

    (2) it’s more commonly admitted today than in the past because society has developed enough that it doesn’t relegate the position of women to second-class status – and, therefore, relegate their mistreatment or abuse to a second-tier category.

    The only observation I can agree with and substantiate in fact is that, yes, our society is more sexually promiscuous now than in the recent past. Whether or not that has anything to do with mixed swimming at youth group functions, I sorely doubt.

    More likely, it has to do with the popularization of the objectification of women through mass media. A work not of the feminists, but of the chauvinist remnant still in power and greedy for more. It also has to do with the failure of the church and society to address issues such as poverty, the disintegration of the family and the ability to teach and convey morality to children without familial support structures.

    Don’t forget that, too, some of this is due to a general liberalization of contemporary culture – that is, for many people, the behavior you lament as “immoral” many have defined as “harmless fun” -This “definition” of morality is in part, wrong, and, in part, right. It would be tempting to throw the baby out with the bathwater and drag us bag to burkhas and veils as the “fix” for profligate behavior. But this would be, in my opinion, a more immoral act than tolerating the profligate behavior.

    There is a middle ground of moral uprightness, rooted in Christian teaching, and righteous antinominianism that should be sought – neither a retreat to the dark days of the past, nor a concession or surrender to immorality of a Sodom.

    This path is always the hardest – the extreme ends pendulum’s arc being easier to define and cling to – but ultimately the right one.

  5. CJR,

    All I can say in response is that you must not have gone back into my archives and checked out some of the things I’ve written that agree with many of the points you made. It’s not possible for me to spend six hours a day trying to unpack every idea I have, so what has come before has to inform what I write now. (Case in point: I fully argued for egalitarian work roles in my business series, though I put an enormous caveat on that support.)

    As for feminisim, I don’t agree that the feminist movement bought all the advances you claim it has. Most people can point to a sociological downside to every upside you listed.

    I did not say that young women were less intelligent than young men when it came to making decisions. Many of today’s young people, both male and female, are making questionable decisions because we simply did not raise them right.

    To the point about domestic violence, I must ask, How much is too much? I would contend that even 1% is too much. All I know is that in my area, the police get a lot of domestic violence calls. Not only that, but I can’t ever recall seeing women with facial bruises in my life until I moved to where I live now. Men need to stop hitting women when they get angry. We need to drill that into boys from about the day they can say their alphabet.

    As for women and “homemaking,” I think one of the problems we see in our culture is that people are delaying marriage too long. Did you read the link I had to the “Singleness” post?

    Concerning youth functions, what kids today do is far more outlandish than mixed swimming.

    Your position on chauvinist culture driving the objectification of women is based on older feminist thought and not the latest. The second and third waves of feminists believe that flaunting female sexuality is empowering. Call it “pornstar feminism,” if you will. That’s what is driving the pornification of culture now. Women have adopted a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality here and its helping to drive the Girls Gone Wild culture we see today.

  6. CJR

    Regardless of what you’ve said elsewhere, you have to stand by the statements you make in whatever context you make them.

    In your comment, your wrote,

    “Many of today’s young people, both male and female, are making questionable decisions because we simply did not raise them right.”

    Which is certainly a defensible statement that I wouldn’t necessarily contest.

    This is not, however, what you wrote in your post.

    For example, in your comment, you claim,

    “I did not say that young women were less intelligent than young men when it came to making decisions.”

    Yet, in your own post, you wrote,

    “…most young women I see in churches today are making terrible decisions…”

    And then you wrote,

    “…they are more confident in their decision making, but the decisions reached are often ill-advised…”

    And no where do you indicate these are general human observations – they are deliberately pointed at women.

    You comment,

    “As for women and “homemaking,” I think one of the problems we see in our culture is that people are delaying marriage too long.”

    But delayed marriage isn’t at all what you wrote about in your post. There, you say,

    “Unmarried Christian women aren’t at home learning how to become “a homemaker” like they used to be. Instead, they’re expected to be out on their own, making their own decisions, and earning a living. “

    Based on this argument, delayed marriage would be good as long as the singles were at home learning how to be a “homemaker”.

    The issue I have is with the clear assertion you make that women would be better off if they weren’t out learning how to, and I quote, “be out on their own, making their own decisions, and earning a living”.

    You also comment,

    “As for feminisim (sic), I don’t agree that the feminist movement bought all the advances you claim it has. Most people can point to a sociological downside to every upside you listed.”

    Whether or not you agree with me is irrelevant. The question is whether you can substantiate your positions.

    What, exactly, is the sociological downside to:
    (1) the right for women to vote?
    (2) the right for women to seek higher education?
    (3) the right for women to divorce their husbands?
    (4) the right for women to enter the workforce?
    (5) the right for women to receive fair and just treatment from employers?

    Are there abuses of women’s rights? Of course – but no more and no different than the abuse men make of their rights.

    What I specifically said was,

    “The fact that women are better educated, independent, and generally as in control of their own lives as men is not a bad thing.”

    So, again, I ask, what are the sociological downsides to allowing women, along with men, to be educated and independent?

    You comment,

    “All I can say in response is that you must not have gone back into my archives and checked out some of the things I’ve written that agree with many of the points you made. It’s not possible for me to spend six hours a day trying to unpack every idea I have, so what has come before has to inform what I write now.”

    Do you want comments and dialogue or not? You could just turn off comments and make posts if it’s troublesome when people don’t just accept what you write. If, however, you are open to comments, you need to bear the responsibility of defending your statements -either by making them internally consistent and reasonable or by explaining your position in light of your larger viewpoint.

    But this latter option only goes so far. For example, you claim in your comment,

    “I fully argued for egalitarian work roles in my business series”

    Yet in your post you wrote,

    “We’d rather get riled up about gay marriage than to question if women should be assuming work roles that were prototypically male. “

    And you later ask,

    “[w]hether women belong in the roles that formerly were held solely by men”

    Given these latter two statements in your post, I don’t see why it’s the reader’s fault for reaching a conclusion about your position that is quite contrary to the position you claim in your subsequent comment to hold.

    I believe I must have missed something somewhere, because this post is way off the mark given what you’ve written elsewhere.

  7. CJR,

    You wrote:
    I believe I must have missed something somewhere, because this post is way off the mark given what you’ve written elsewhere.

    I think that part of the issue here is that this entire topic is very near and dear to your heart. Yes, I am questioning some foundational issues of how our society now functions. That goes out of the comfort zone of some people and this post has obviously struck a nerve in you. I also think that you might be missing some of the concepts I’m laying out because you’re defensively trying to find the worst possible outcome of what I’m saying.

    For instance, questioning whether women should be appropriating certain male jobs does not mean I’m against women working. In truth, what I’m questioning is whether the type of work we do today is in keeping with the best possible work we can do. Is it possible that a homebased economy is more in keeping with the way God made us, an economy that has both parents at home working? What does that mean for women (and men) in how they view their careers now?

    Questioning whether young women (and young men) should automatically be shuttled off to college does not mean that I’m against women being educated. I’m questioning the whole issue of college. Could the Church put a better system of advanced education in place? By the time my son is ready for college, it will probably cost a quarter million dollars for four years. Can we not get something else in place that can teach people a trade? In the case of women, is there anything wrong in teaching them a trade that is traditionally “female”? Why have we so disparaged those directions for young women, but elevated the trades men traditionally performed?

    And again, when I’m questioning women being independent, I’m not just questioning that for women. The post itself has its focus on women, but again, I have long claimed that ALL of us, male and female, are too independent, too disconnected from our extended families, our communities, and even our churches. In the case of women, they persisted longer in being rooted to those very things. Men, however, were the ones that threw off that dependence first as they pursued the lie of American rugged individualism. That hurt men a lot. And now women want to pursue that same lie and God help us all if we appear to be standing in their way! Too bad for all of us that this is happening. Women have always been the ones who cherished and protected those things, but now they want to go down the same foolish path men have. Our society as a whole is far worse off for it.

    Those are the questions I’m asking.

    I can tell by your responses that you think I’m trying to go back to those “bad old days,” but all I’m examining is whether those bad old days were 100% rotten rather than perhaps 50% rotten. Is it possible that other 50% was something we never should have lost in our effort to distance ourselves from what we perceived was bad? The very fact that this question can’t even be asked without people getting upset tells me that we may NEVER be able to recover some of the good things we lost in our rush to be modern and “enlightened.”

  8. CJR

    Dan,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I have to admit that it still appears you’re trying to have your cake and eat it, too – saying you aren’t talking about women, but then making statements only about women.

    You write,

    I think that part of the issue here is that this entire topic is very near and dear to your heart. Yes, I am questioning some foundational issues of how our society now functions. That goes out of the comfort zone of some people and this post has obviously struck a nerve in you. I also think that you might be missing some of the concepts I’m laying out because you’re defensively trying to find the worst possible outcome of what I’m saying.

    First, this is no nearer or dearer to my heart than other things you’ve posted on and I’ve commented on. What may have left you with that impression is that, in this case, I’m not agreeing with you.

    Second, I think you’re implying that my responses are emotional (struck a nerve and defensively)and therefore somehow suspect. I resent the accusation and, honestly, find it a bit disturbing that you’d rather proceed ad hominem rather than address the questions and issues I raise.

    You proceed in your comment to not answer a single question I raised in my comments – no specific responses whatsoever. You disregard the clear quotations of your own writings and the subsequent questions I ask you to answer in regard to each. Why?

    Rather than explain yourself, you attempt to recast your original words in a modified light. For example, you comment,

    Questioning whether young women (and young men) should automatically be shuttled off to college does not mean that I’m against women being educated. I’m questioning the whole issue of college.

    But look at what you said in your post:

    Yet what option is given to Christian young people anymore? Unmarried Christian women aren’t at home learning how to become “a homemaker” like they used to be. Instead, they’re expected to be out on their own, making their own decisions, and earning a living. Again, much of this is do to feminism, but it’s hard to fault men entirely for this outcome. Is it any wonder that problems result?

    The latter is a specific gender-based comment.

    Look, if you’d posted your last comment as your post, we wouldn’t have this disagreement. I’m simply contending that you were either ill-considered, hyperbolic or careless with the initial post – your words didn’t accurately represent your ideas. Why is that a struggle to admit?

    Consider your last paragraph in your comment:

    [A]ll I’m examining is whether those bad old days were 100% rotten rather than perhaps 50% rotten. Is it possible that other 50% was something we never should have lost in our effort to distance ourselves from what we perceived was bad?

    Now, look at what I wrote separately (and before you made the above statement):

    There is a middle ground of moral uprightness, rooted in Christian teaching, and righteous antinominianism that should be sought – neither a retreat to the dark days of the past, nor a concession or surrender to immorality of a Sodom.

    This path is always the hardest – the extreme ends of the pendulum’s arc being easier to define and cling to – but ultimately the right one.

    Further, I wrote,

    [I] suggest that the answers are complex and elusive and will probably find final form in some mixture of lessons lost from the past and new interpretations of modern understanding.

    Dan – I agree with the arguments you present in your comment – but these are not the arguments you make in your post!

    I just believe that words mean things and we should be careful of misrepresentations and misinterpretations. What I read in your post is not reflective of the ideas I’ve heard you espouse elsewhere – nor are they accurately reflective of the subsequent “clarifications” you’ve made in some of your comments.

    You comment,

    The very fact that this question can’t even be asked without people getting upset tells me that we may NEVER be able to recover some of the good things we lost in our rush to be modern and “enlightened.”

    It would have been nice if you’d actually raised the question in your post as you did in your comment – because they are vastly different.

    Remember how you bristled at the idea that, and I quote, “any man with a spine attempting to look out for a girl on the verge of making a mistake is more likely to get a “Butt out” as a response than a “Thank you for protecting me.””

    Apparently that response is not limited just to men correcting women.

    I am not upset, just not convinced. Apparently, you choose to throw up your hands and cry “foul” is someone pushes back on your ideas and asks you to substantiate them. That, it seems to me, is at least as dangerous as people being upset by uncomfortable questions.

  9. Brian Colmery

    Ah, the odd and oft-misunderstood nature of the blogpost—not quite book, not quite journal entry, but somewhere in the unedited in between.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned from both sides of the blogosphere, it’s that very few people post things that are holistically representative of their views. In this case, Dan is speaking of the down side of the enlightenment. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t think there’s an upside. In my case (funny to think that in a sense I started this whole thing) I was talking about the responsibilities of men. And the fact that they are often spineless. Doesn’t mean I don’t think women have responsibility, or that I don’t believe there are quality Christian men out there. But in reading it’s hard not to react as though someone has presented a balanced, fully researched, and final statement on their views.

    Maybe I should post on that. A blog post about how to read blog posts…that’s pretty deep.

  10. CJR

    Thanks, Brian. Good point. My initial response was because I wasn’t following the arguments that appeared to be stated so hyperbolically. Dan has clarified a lot in his comments and softened his position quite a bit from how they are stated in the original post.

  11. CJR,

    To be perfectly honest, I simply don’t have the time to do a point-to-point rebuttal on everything that commenters post. Don’t get me wrong; I love my commenters and readers. I just can’t always reply in depth to what they post. It is true, too, that I count on my consistent readers to reference things I’ve written previously simply because I homeschool, run a writing business, have a farm, and a lot of other responsibilities. My original post took me 2.5 hours to write. My responses to comments have probably taken almost as long. Folks who have been here for a while know of the business series, my posts on community and alternative Christian living, and so on. I can’t recreate those arguments every time.

    I’m working on completely redoing this site to make everything more reference-friendly, but it costs money and time, neither of which I have. I’m about fifty pages away from finishing the novel I’ve been writing and that’s trying to get all my attention. Blogging is time consuming, both reading and writing, but it does serve as a ministry outlet for me. It may not be perfect, but it’s the best I can do.

  12. CJR

    Dan,

    Are YOU a hamster? You sound almost as busy as the corporate executives I with.

    Just kidding.

    I appreciate your reply and understand. It takes time to think through these issues and consider all the angles. I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts in whatever stage of development they exist!

    Blessings.

  13. David

    You wrote: “This has even gone so far that the military explicitly teaches young men (now that women make up a large part of our armed forces) to ignore the sounds of women soldiers being raped and tortured.”

    Hmmm…I’m curious how you happened upon this particular bit of trivia. I am a Military Police Officer in the US Army, and belong to one of the most “gender-integrated” branches there is. I have several women who serve under me, and yet somehow this bit of information has escaped my notice.
    Not sure which military you’re referring to, but I’m guessing it’s not the one I’ve served with for the last 6+ years. Please correct me if I’m wrong. That’s a powerful statement to make…..IF IT’S TRUE.

    David
    US Army Military Police,
    Deployed in Afghanistan

  14. CJR

    David –

    This may fall into the “I simply don’t have the time to do a point-to-point rebuttal on everything that commenters post” category!

    😉

  15. David (and CJR),

    In the late 1980’s the Air Force started using a prison camp model to train recruits captured by the enemy. One of the express purposes of that camp was to desensitize male recruits to the sounds of their female comrades being raped and tortured by the enemy.

    This fact was confirmed via testimony during the 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. WORLD Magazine featured an article on this programmed desensitizing in their Sept. 26, 1992 article entitled “Major Mom.” (Whether it extended to other branches of the military, I cannot remember, but it was certainly true of the Air Force.)

    This fact was also cited by David Horowitz in his book The Feminist Assault on the Military (though I do not have the exact page number for that one.)

    As far as less exact sources go, I believe Robert Bork also wrote an op/ed piece on this for the WSJ in the last five years. Lastly, I remember hearing this mentioned on a Focus on the Family radio program after the Kara Hultgreen fiasco about ten years ago.

    David, I hope this is enough corroboration for you. If I can remember the rest of the sources for that info, I will pass them on.

    Thank you for serving our country. My family appreciates your protection and your bravery.

  16. David

    Thanks Dan. I now understand the context.

    Unable to share some of my views in a public forum (while in the military)…but on the principles of men being taught not to act like men, I think you have my support.

  17. ccinnova

    Dan, thank you for a great post and your excellent points. I also clicked on the link to your prior post about singleness, and you’ve made some excellent points as well.

    I noticed that someone in the Crosswalk singles forum posted a link to this post in your blog. I look forward to seeing the discussion that follows.

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