(Please notice my co-blogger’s new piece just below. I don’t like to step on the others and we rarely do, but my posting is so sporadic I need to put one up when the urge strikes)
My eight year old girl just finished basketball season. Surprisingly, only once during the season I saw a player drive elatedly to the wrong end of the court and make a flawless lay up in the wrong goal. Amazed at her good luck, she was, and giving herself credit for the kind of serious moves it takes to reach the basket alone, with no defender in sight. And the crowd was cheering louder than usual, some as if they were screaming something.
Imagine a different scenario. A player breaks away and heads for the wrong goal. When the player arrives he or she finds the key, the baselines, any path to the goal, teeming with people. These people are also there, with basketballs, and they are standing around discussing the excitement of the times they have charged the wrong goal. They are from every generation, men and women, and they are reveling in one anothers regalement. But there are so many people that the original errant player is blocked from the basket more effectively than she would have been if the opposing team had set up before she arrived. How very odd. She hears them talking about how cool it is that she is there to score in that basket, and later realizes that all those folks were thrilled with her chance at scoring incorrectly.
The last time I posted it was about Jimmy Evans and his Marriage Today ministry. Specifically he had written another letter of apology for what the Bible says about marriage. If you trip and fall these days you will land on a letter about or study of Ephesians that pertains to what it is not saying to women, and what it is saying to men.
I reacted with a post, and comments were made that suggest we agree here, he is far out of sync with today’s reality. He is also unable to see that gasoline will not extinguish a flame. Then I get the follow up email. I see a man who, even though his letter was offensive to our beliefs, it still agitated his wife or other women in his circle so much that he had to clear that up post haste**. he writes:
God has designed the perfect marriage to include a sacrificial husband and a submissive wife. Sometimes we joke about these things, but this really is God’s plan for marriage. And I want you to know it’s a perfect plan.
Why? One reason is because conforming to these roles helps release the potential in our spouse. Neither person is taken advantage of, and both sides win. God has designed marriage to be the perfect win-win situation.
Let not hearts be troubled. Surely everyone sees what is prominently written in those paragraphs that is boldly encouraging to men. See it? I’ll lift and paste the hardcore pro-male, pro-balance comment here:
There it is. The fairness we have been seeking. Guys, he did say neither followed by an admonishment that a certain bad thing should befall them. We must be doing some widespread and powerful good to now witness such a tectonic shift in his writing from one week to the next. Take a moment to recover yourselves, dry the eyes from the tears of joy. yes, this is big, but there is still a bunch of water to be carried and to carry it we’ve got to get that bridge over Kwai river finished between shelling raids from the enemy. Now whistle that tune that every man my age had burned into his head by that movie….
Carry on. But….wait, what’s this he goes on to ask?
What if a husband began meeting his wife’s needs with the same attention and care he gives to meeting his own needs? This is what would happen: she would flourish.
I felt my BP go up and my face burn when I read this common framing of the role of men. Men, you spend so much time looking after your own needs that if you’d just give her summa dat, she’d be a’ight. (don’t ask).
We must assume that the intention of the outreach is to hit problems that are prevalent, bang for buck…like that. Think of every couple you have ever known. And yourself of course. Process that statement through your life and the lives of those around you. Honestly, Ive known a couple of guys in my lifetime that were self absorbed. Jimmy’s words could apply to them.
A side observation, one without any compelling evidence to back up my theory, is that the one’s I know/knew are married to self absorbed women and therefore the whole thing actually did that thing we Christians quiver in delight when we
miss apply say….it worked together for good.
However the vast majority of men, especially Christian men, even the worst ones, are not looking after themselves at the wife’s expense. To the contrary men are fitting yes-dear driven things into days already full with work and helping with housework and shuttling kids and all the things dads really do. Evans could care less about that. His statement feeds women’s hamsters engraving lies posing as conventional wisdom even deeper into their minds.
To complete his thought he adds:
A good husband is like a greenhouse. He creates an environment for his wife to be fed and protected, so regardless of what is happening in the outside world, she is secure at home. She is praised and encouraged there.
It struck me for the first time, when I read this, that there seems to be a complicated disconnect built into even the better teaching from Ephesians. The woman will flourish, the man will praise her and protect and encourage her and its all unconditional. The disconnect is complicated because of the things of God being unconditional things. For me to in any way suggest caveats to men’s role would fly in the face of God’s unlimited capacity for good being unconditional among us. Yet I would deign suggest a dreaded “but”.
But…I’m over it. I’m over the wall I had erected based on that supposed contradiction and I will say unequivocally that the things taught under the auspices of Ephesians and men’s roles are so far from what Paul meant and what God inspired they may as well be from some humanist pop psych book. The statements Evans makes hit the sweet spot American evangelical style teaching can burden us all with, that being limitless self effacing and unceasing self lowering are virtues without equals. Oh…forgot……they are virtues FOR MEN.
He almost steps back in the stuff this email had scraped off his shoe from the prior email.
A good wife is like her husband’s cheerleader. In submitting to him, she provides him the honor and respect that he needs.
He knew he could not just leave that there as is. Even the choice of cheerleader generated testosterone/estrogen imbalance among all the women in a 20 mile radius around his church. Because of intuition and stuff. Never fear.
Is it blind praise, though? Not necessarily. Cheerleaders know how to convict failing athletes in a positive way. How many times, when a football team is getting clobbered, do you hear the cheerleaders yelling, perkily, about defense? DEFENSE! DEFENSE! HOLD THAT LINE!
They are saying something negative—you’d better shape up, guys—but in a positive way.
Women, when your husband does things you don’t like, find a way to let him know
He gets to come home safely again. he has told men to encourage their wives. Period. No matter what she has to feel he supports her every move and whim. All positive all day, positive encouraging K-Love….guess the gender breakdown of that Christian radio network.
He must encourage her but she sometime gotta bus’sum dishes. But in a positive prasing kid of way. That’s how i alway6s bust dishes.
The sickness is settled deeply in this one. Maybe there is no more we can do here.
Wait, in a subtle but amazing turnabout, the patient makes a pin point accurate self diagnosis. Someone has convinced me that it is a fever dream, because he doesnt even know how spot on he is, and how relevant to HIM his final comments were.
And the guys will do anything for them. They love the attention, even if it’s telling them to improve something. The praise of a woman puts oxygen in the room for men.
Jimmy, how can you explain the motives of men so well and not realize that you have just described The Lift. And you are a captain of the team called Lift Chasers. You stand under the wrong basket encouraging errant players to score for the opponent. You realize you have the majority duped, and that you are all blocking the shot.
Writing more blatant pandering articles in this context is like you telling the player your group has blocked out that you are adjusting to that reality and will not start training them in 3 pointers.
**He already had some cover from a while ago when he wrote this one. But dear, servant leader, what have you done for her LATELY?
Many police cars have this slogan on the side of them: “To protect and to serve”. The authority of a husband as the head of his home exists for the same two purposes. Righteous authority can only be used in this manner. Any other use of authority is abusive and self-serving.