The Hidden Hand (with French manicure)

Elspeth is touting a book for ladies. I grabbed a free sample just to check it out. My impression is positive. I came across her rewrite of Philippians 4:8; worth sharing here:

Finally, my sisters, concerning your husband, if there is anything that is untrue or dishonorable, if you can find an action that is not right, a thought that is impure, if you see anything unlovely, if anything about his work or habits is not commendable, if you can think of one thing about him that is not excellent or praiseworthy, dwell on these things. Reflect on them, chew them over and meditate on them, stir the pot of negative thinking about your man, and the god of griping and discontent will be with you. [1]

I passed on the urge to parse a recent Barbara Rainey article because of how well plowed that ground is, but this satirical scripture rewrite begs that I go ahead and do it.

See what Barbara Rainy says about how a Christian woman should love her man, a glimpse at what it would be like to be married to a woman following her advice:

She offers three things:

1. Believe in your husband

2. Be willing to confront your husband

3. Pursue intimacy with him on every level.

Number two is clearly my focus. She expounds on the point as follows:

Too many wives mistakenly believe they are following the biblical pattern of submission by ignoring or denying deficits in their husband’s life. But being submissive does not mean being silent. It simply means being wise and loving in how you approach him, treating him with kindness and respect. Say to your husband, “Could I talk to you about something?” Asking permission to broach a difficult subject may make it easier to get your message across. He is far less threatened and insecure this way.

Her advice makes the evangelical feminist version of Philippians 4:8 a good thing. There is nothing in Rainey’s list that speaks to the dark side of women manipulating, micromanaging, judging, and controlling their husbands. In fact she recommends it, so long as its done by “being wise and loving in how you approach him, treating him with kindness and respect”. It is how you do it sister! But you gotta do it!

Notice also that the number 2 doesn’t just separate numbers 1 and 3 on a number line. Number 2 on her list opens a chasm between 1 and 3. And more, it makes 1 and 3, individually, far more difficult to accomplish.

Because of the proclivity women have to be critical of their husbands, which of the three things do you think resonates most with women who read the list? Right. And once number 2 is boldest and loudest, it is the filter through which numbers 1 and 3 must pass before they can be rightful wife imperatives. Because, the church frames marital obligations, for woman, as conditional.

“If he is loving her and servant leading, what woman would not support a man like that?”

I was thinking about what the preacher who married my wife and I said to me and my wife in a session we had prior to the wedding day. To me he said:

“To see her faults and weaknesses and yet to still believe in your wife’s God-given potential as a woman and steward of your home will do more for her spiritual growth than you can imagine”

Oh, uh, sorry, he never said that. Weaknesses coupled optimistically with God given potential are subjects no one dare broach with women. Rainey doesn’t make an effort to disguise this. She even makes a virtue out of it in her exposition of number 1. Rainey grows the wife’s expectations while simultaneously building in barriers to actually realizing them:

To see his faults and weaknesses and yet to believe in your husband’s God-given potential as a man and his leadership of your home does more than you can imagine for his spiritual growth.

I a separate article Rainey drills down into this issue in a more focused way. From the title, 5 Ways to Help Your Husband Step Up to Manhood, and throughout the piece, the spirit of the above rewrite of Phil 4:8 can be seen. Another five point program on how women can fashion Godly men. Numbers 3 and 4 are fitting in the context of this post.

3. Praise your husband when he steps up to manhood. When he leads family devotions, when he prays with you, or when he makes decisions that are especially responsible, thank him. Just as you want to cheer your kids when they do something right, you need to cheer your husband. Your words to your husband are powerful. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Encouraging him and praising him when he does what’s right is one way you can help him be the man that God wants him to be.

4. Believe that your husband can grow to become a more godly man. If you believe in your husband … if you accept him as who he is … if you trust God and then allow God to work in his life … God might just surprise you. One of my favorite verses, Luke 1:37, says, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Perhaps you’ve been married for more than 20 years, and you really think your husband can’t and won’t change. Remember that nothing is impossible with God. The King of Heaven is not finished with your husband, and you need to believe both in God and in your husband. Don’t underestimate what God can do!

Imagine the genders reversed. I cannot. Why is it that when evangelical feminist Christian leaders, male and female, speak or write about men they use comparisons to children and language indicative of the potential that men possess. More, why is that language not likewise used when addressing wives? The answer is clear. It is one of the fundamental observations amongst Christian men (and a few women, Elspeth) that the aura of female spiritual superiority be preserved and advanced. That the things of God be more likened to the things of woman. The same frame is taken by secular feminists, that any group, company, organization, situation, is less and incomplete if it lacks the guiding female hand. Likewise, marriage, the church, the family, Christianity itself is better served if the over arching guiding force is that of the female. Within that framework, somehow, men find their potential to be leaders, to be Godly men.

To illustrate how insidious and hidden this overarching hand is, imagine you and your friend go camping and fishing. You are gone a few days, cut off from mobile phones and cars and traffic and refrigerated food and from the interaction with other people, utterly. Just outside your immediate thoughts are your responsibilities back in civilization. Work, wife, kids, so forth. If you are lucky you keep those thoughts at bay. Its best when you manage to completely but temporarily purge them.

Go up a level, there is another layer, another system that you could think about and realize, though not there and then at the lakeside, how it has a measure of control over you.

Keep walking up this systematic file tree and eventually you could find a level where this things of the federal government are operative in your life. Now only are we unlikely to dwell on the federal government when we are away from it all, we are unlikely to dwell on it when we are not away from it all. (Political obsessions notwithstanding). It is in this way that the feminine hand over arches the full spectrum of gender relations, up to and including marital order. Whether we are actively under manipulation from the wife, at which point we are acutely aware of the hidden hand with the french manicure, or we are at church, or we are at work or we are lakeside with our buddies, actively or passively the hidden hand of female control is there vying for primacy. That one man is more able to resist than another doesn’t challenge the existence or efficacy of the overarching system affording this hidden female hand its influence.

[1] From What’s It Like To Be Married To Me?, page 47, by Linda Dillow

What I read in the sample of Dillow’s book was solid stuff. Sure to be rebuked with “what about men getting asked what its like to be married to them?” questions, hopefully she gets to the fact that men are constantly challenged on this.The hidden hand indeed.

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14 thoughts on “The Hidden Hand (with French manicure)

  1. It is one of the fundamental observations amongst Christian men (and a few women, Elspeth) that the aura of female spiritual superiority be preserved and advanced. That the things of God be more likened to the things of woman. The same frame is taken by secular feminists, that any group, company, organization, situation, is less and incomplete if it lacks the guiding female hand. Likewise, marriage, the church, the family, Christianity itself is better served if the over arching guiding force is that of the female. Within that framework, somehow, men find their potential to be leaders, to be Godly men.

    I never got around to writing that post you asked me about Empath, and I’m sorry about that. But reading this passage here makes it clear we are on the same page. “Evangelical Feminism”, or “Christo-Feminism”, is just another form or Supremacist Feminism. It might have started out different, but it is clear there now. It is about elevating the feminine above the masculine (and the divine). Only unlike most feminist supremacists, Christo-Feminists are sneakier about it.

  2. I would propose that evangelical feminism didn’t really “begin” at all. Like feminism, which all manner of intellectual yammering can be done over its wave and origins and framers etc., folks like Podles have taken a stab at tracing the evangelical cord back to the wall. But what he traces and what I mean are different things. I’m not trying to quibble over definitions, I don’t enjoy that hair splitting (If I did I’d bait game adherents and sit and watch). Podles traces what became the various forms of true divine-fem worship, such as certain Episcopal, Universalism and some pagan groups have embraced (This assumes there are actual degrees of separation between the three). The evangelical feminism I’m talking about is found in the interpretations of scripture that is relevant to marriage and gender. It came about opportunistically because the other forms of feminism existed and afforded these evangelical fems some cover.

  3. The evangelical feminism I’m talking about is found in the interpretations of scripture that is relevant to marriage and gender. It came about opportunistically because the other forms of feminism existed and afforded these evangelical fems some cover.

    Ok, got you. Still, I was mostly addressing the overall substance or aim of Evangelical Feminism. And that aim is the elevation of women over men. Hence, Supremacist Feminism.

  4. Honeyed words can be so persuasive, can’t they. You show well just how subtle the feminine logic can be. I wonder if it didn’t stsrt when the forked-tongue one had his conversation with Eve regarding ‘helping’ Adam reach his full potential.

  5. Yes, that is the same stuff Donal. We are on the same page completely. you are referring to it one level up from where I am describing, female primacy, so forth. Neither of us is referring to the divine fem worship, nor to secular feminism. Evangelical feminism is whats left.

  6. Mrteebs, you’ll notice Donal’s mention of and my response to defining evangelical feminism. You linked to one of the many sites that form the basis for evangelical feminism,

  7. Reblogged this on William Tarbush's Compositions and commented:
    I’ve become more interested in neoreactionary and reactionary thought and how it applies to the relationships between men and women. The only item that I believe has more influence over male/female relationships is the Curse in Genesis 3. Please read:

  8. 3: Praise your husband when he steps up to manhood

    4: Believe that your husband can grow to become a more Godly man

    This may sound like a silly question, but did it ever occur to the Raineys that Christian women shouldn’t be marrying unmanly and ungodly men in the first place?

  9. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Early October Edition | Patriactionary

  10. Appreciate the linkage.

    Sure to be rebuked with “what about men getting asked what its like to be married to them?” questions, hopefully she gets to the fact that men are constantly challenged on this.The hidden hand indeed.

    Since you have the book, jump to pages 105-106 where she starts to deal with this some. She doesn’t really get into the degree to which men are challenged on this, choosing instead to admonish women to do what Velvet has dubbed “keeping your eyes on your own paper”. An excerpt:

    “When I said, “I do,” I made an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. I also made a commitment to God that I would seek to be Jody’s helper— to meet his needs rather than to have my needs met.

    The world shouts, “It’s all about you; get your needs met!” Jesus, the Christ, brings a different perspective: “I came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20: 28, author’s paraphrase ). Jesus came to lay down His life that we might be free. Then He says to me, Linda, will you follow in My steps and be Jody’s helper? Will you seek to serve and not to be served?

    So she basically says what gets me lampooned all the time; that as Christians our primary concern is our own obedience not our husband’s and that our obedience isn’t contingent upon his (this assumes of course that he isn’t fulfilling his duties which is very subjective from a wifely perspective, and another reason why we need to avoid playing Holy Spirit Jr. for our men. We are wholly unqualified.

  11. I totally botched that HTML. First paragraph was a restating of something you wrote in the original post.

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