Onward, Christian Soldiers Ill Prepared for War

We should change the hymn to that. I recently watched Kirk Cameron’s documentary “Monumental” on netflix. Looking at people reviewing it on youtube I saw mostly nonbelievers criticizing what they felt was a poor grasp of history and believers praising the film, feeling it was ‘enlightening’. A brief summation is that the film presents the idea of tracing the pilgrim/puritan roots of America and suggests that the National Pilgrim Monument is a ‘Matrix of Liberty” that demonstrates how a country should be founded and remain established on a basis of biblical values in order to be a good and well functioning society.

I wondered what Kirk Cameron and his friend, the historian Marshal Foster, really understand about the Bible. While there are themes of establishment of strong community upon faith in God in the Bible, there are also stories of martyrs and wanderers, outcasts and of the importance of faith in the face of despair. We are told in the Bible that the body may die, the soul endures.

Recently I’ve been teaching on the last chapter of the book of Ephesians. I find it at times depressing that Ephesians, which like most Epistles is not very long, is so hard to teach to people. I found it difficult to learn but I find it sad that it is socontroversial among supposed Christians. The most poorly maintained of the items listed in the full armour of God is the Word, in my opinion. Christian people seem to love testimonies, movies, concerts, huge celebratory gatherings, seminars, but time spent in the Word of God is so lacking.

In the documentary, there is a lack of mention of how many generations of suffering and struggle went before the Puritan movement in the British Isles and the Reformation in mainland Europe. There’s not even a mention of the constant striving towards having the ordinary person be able to study the Bible for themsevles, and the reasons why it was considered dangerous–the danger of false interpretation, of civil strife in society and so on. Like so many approaches in modern Christianity, there’s this expression of a desire for a ‘fix’ that will make things better. There is little mention of the idea that evil beyond mere kings and parliaments are in the world opposing the faith.

While in the documentary Kirk Cameron says he isn’t setting out to blame, his words outside this documentary contradict that. He blames things like the Gay Agenda, for instance, and that the government doesn’t allow prayer in schools for a degradation of Christian values. However to me this is not really the fault of people who don’t believe in the Bible. I look at how few Christians I know really read it, really know what it contains, focus on it, prefer to let pastors or other ministry leaders do the studying for them, prefer to enjoy the praise and worship and easier mental stuff, and think “well, that figures. We dropped the ball.”

Without the sword–the Word–what good is all that armour we supposedly have but to crouch in a defensive position? How do we know what is morally true and right? If we do not discuss it and challenge one another on it, how is it proven and tested so that it is true in the face of a real battle?

Having done kendo myself, I know that sword work requires real work. Leave it, and you get soft, your reflexes get slow, you do not have the right instincts. In human beings, instincts need to be trained, because our basic instinct of the flesh is selfish, cowardly and lazy for the most part. What the Bible teaches us in the parables Jesus told using seeds as an analogy for faith is that faith is developed carefully over time with care and effort. The challenges to it–distractions, offenses and direct evil–are serious, and can stop its growth or kill it. The shield in ancient combat, which Paul the Apostle uses to describe faith, is paired with the sword. They are stronger together.

Paul emphasizes the whole armour of God for a reason. Salvation as a helmet makes sense–a sense to the very core of our thinking that it is salvation that is at the core of our thinking. A breastplate of righteousness–the very sense of our life itself wrapped in righteousness, because as Christ taught us virtue is better than bread. But do most Christians really live by that?

Shod in the Gospel of Peace–what moves us forward, what gives us purpose is the absolute belief in Christ’s message of peace for the spirit, freedom from sin, unity with God.

When I hear about things like the divorce rate, the lack of moral compass of our society, I can’t help but look at how the Church is really little different from society. I know this has been said before, but I felt after seeing this film it needs to be said again. I need to remind myself of this too.

Objectification

A cousin of mine recommended that I watch the show “Gilmore Girls” and I did watch a few episodes because I am a stubborn person and like to do things thoroughly when I do them. While I did not enjoy the show (I think it’s supposed to be a comedy but I never laughed) I did find it interesting.

There’s this feminist concept called “objectification” which is something bad men are supposed to do. It means turning people into objects. When men are attracted to women, apparently a lot of time they objectify them. They apparently only see breasts, backsides, legs, etc. It is said that in advertising, in television, in movies and of course in pornography men do this a lot, and it is a problem because it focuses less on women as people and more on them as quantities or qualities, particularly physical ones. It is therefore strongly suggested by feminists, by people paying lip service to feminism and to Christian spokespersons who claim to be trying to make male/female relations better that men need to learn to not look first at appearances but at the real person beyond the appearances.

Well this is not altogether a bad idea if what is meant is don’t be superficial. That’s not a bad value to have at all. The problem I have with it is that if men objectify women, women probably objectify men a lot more.

So watching this show I notice the following things are discussed regularly between the women about men when it comes to their dating value in order of things first noticed.
1. Appearance (style of dress and general physical attractiveness)
2. Manner of behaviour (calm and fun and confident seems to generally mean ‘guy is attractive’ in this regard)
3. Job/Lifestyle. (while not as high as the others, I notice that the guy generally needs to have more money or at least just as much as the woman does. Certainly a nicer car.)
4. #2 comes into play again when dealing with the woman’s craziness. The woman gets flustered, confused, hesitates, gets angry, etc; the man must be calmly persistent and charming in response.
5. Has no bad habits. Bad habits range from the serious (being bad with money) to the relatively trivial (smacks his lips, is untidy at home, has a verbal tic) etc.
6. Following all this is the man’s general character.

Now on these shows these things are generally true. I would like to emphasize something–I don’t think the above is necessarily bad that women objectify men a bit more than men objectify women. There is an old joke about how to please a man: show up naked and bring food. While this is a bit silly and not entirely true there’s also a basis for the joke. Men who are fussy about details in relationships stand out; men who tend to be relaxed about home life, the woman’s appearance (wanting her attractive but not magazine perfect for instance), and accepting of others’ habits unless they are over the top and beyond any normal person’s tolerance are more average. Again, I think that that’s okay. These are simply preferences. People can sort them out as relationships require.

The issue for me is that it is a virtue in women and a problem in men, and the problem in men is not necessarily linked to anything in reality. Because of course as we know women end relationships a lot more than men do. So I would urge church leaders who think that they are being fair by pointing out objectification of women by men that it does go both ways, and perhaps a little farther on the women’s end of things.

Men Looking at Other Women?!

I have discovered the Counseling Men Blog: Advice for Men, and the Women Who Love Them! The topic I am focusing on from their site is “Looking at Other Women”.

Before I go into this: I have to confess to feeling completely tired just looking at the title, anticipating what it is about, and discovering that I was completely right. Take a look for yourselves. The usual Christianese formulae are there—in a Q&A, husband admits that though he loves his wife, he can’t stop looking at other women.

When younger I was just another guy who looks at other women, even when with my wife. I meant no harm, but it upset my wife and hurt her. My reaction was to stop looking at other women and avoid dealing with women. I have no interest to meet any one else or look at any one else. I am totally satisfied with my wife.
Like other men looking at other women, I get incidents that happen without control, a glance, that I hate and am not comfortable with and especially if the other woman notices me looking. I do not look again, but just this uncontrolled look makes me awkward and I panic, mostly out of fear of hurting my wife and risk of losing her.
When with my wife, my wife reports that I become a different person and not notice her. I notice that I feel awkward and I am not comfortable when out. I feel as if I have to keep my guard up all the time and if I relax I will fall!
(bold above is on the site)

So that is the fellow’s dilemma as presented. I have to say that I’m a bit puzzled—what exactly is meant by this stuff? What does ‘looking at other women’ mean? Is it a glance? A full on ogle? A Loony Tunes stare with eyes bugging out and train whistles going off and a loud whistle? We don’t know.

What are incidents that happen without control? Is he becoming painfully aroused, is he unable to keep from snapping upskirt shots? Again, we don’t know.

And how exactly is he hurting his wife? How does he become a different person? What does that even mean?

Anyway the author of the article goes on to explain something of why men look at other women.

Why do men look at other women? Most of us first developed the habit of looking at women when we were teenagers. It happens naturally and then we encourage it because of how good it makes us feel. Each time we see a sexually attractive woman our brain rewards us with a chemical high. It’s a minor high compared to other drugs, but it’s still enjoyable and addicting.

This natural reward system is the beginning reason why men look at other women. With the almost constant barrage of attractive women we’re exposed to in our media crazed world, many of us men have developed a regular “habit” of looking at other women. This habit can become so ingrained that our looking becomes like a natural reflex and one that we can feel we have no control over.

Unfortunately, our media exposure has only made this a more and more difficult battle for men. Advertisements by Carl’s Jr., Victoria Secret, car and beer makers all use scantily clad women, in sexually provocative poses to sell their products (are we buying the car, the girl, or does the girl come with the car?) contribute to why men look at other women.

When we get married or in a committed relationship we need to stop being a man who looks at other women. If we don’t, this “habit” can cause us a lot of problems, just as you’ve described.

Before I continue, I must say that while sure, one would expect that there is a need to demonstrate devotion to one’s committed relationship, that again there is this odd phrase: looking at other women. I’m still not sure what this means exactly here. Does he mean notices? Ogles? We still don’t know.

Anyway, here’s some advice he gave on how to control this, barring being so obviously addicted that you need counseling.

1. Recognize that it is a habit that you’ve built, not an uncontrollable reflex.
2. Begin to look for ways you continue to build that habit — such as movies, TV shows, magazines, football games, or internet porn and stop feeding it to your brain (read My Husband Looks At Porn to learn more).
3. Accept and get comfortable with the fact that it is natural to notice attractive women. The goal here is not to eliminate noticing, but rather how often you look and for how long.
Well wait a minute—let’s suppose we accept these three pieces of advice are reasonable. What exactly does ‘how often you look’ mean, and how long is too long?

And in fact, what is the actual goal here? What is this trying to achieve?

I read a bit of the comments section but there was only so much that I could take. A common theme was agreeing with the article which suggests that overwhelming amounts of sexual materials in the media are one of the causes of men being obsessed with sex. Which is interesting—why then are subjects like lust, adultery, falling in love, so common in the writings of the ancients? Were things more moral in the bronze and iron age or something? Doesn’t seem like it if you read the Bible or any ancient history. But one poster said that she felt human beings could be like penguins and mate for life. Um…no, actually they can’t. Human beings just aren’t wired that way. Human beings are naturally opportunistic, it’s one of the reasons why we are a successful species. Faithfulness for human beings is a moral choice, not a natural inclination. And here’s something to consider: one of the first things we are attracted to about anything is appearance. Other things tend to follow after that first impression. That doesn’t magically go away because of a ceremony and signing a piece of paper.

The issue I have with this sort of thing is not that it is trying to encourage moral behaviour—it’s rather that there is no real yardstick for moral behaviour in it; it merely feeds into women’s fears, worries about their looks and self esteem, without offering any real practical advice.

I’m sure that sites like this have the best of intentions, I really do. They see a crisis and want to respond to it. So I am NOT condemning this website in particular—I think that it reflects a generally faulty line of thought in our society, which I think this ignores a real factor in divorce: women generally feel a strong inclination towards letting their morals be guided by their emotions.  You will notice that women who are enjoying being married will often be amused or even arrogant in the face of their man giving a glance to another woman, the “sway your hips if you want honey, he’s going home with ME” attitude I’m sure we’ve all seen. But for the woman who is unhappy about her marriage anyway, everything the guy does will become a suspicious clue as to why she’s unhappy, no matter what it is. Like the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the start of WWI—if conflict and condemnation are wanted, women who want out will find a way that allows them to feel like the wronged party.

In Favour of Divorce

I was trying to get myself geared up to write about Ephesians 5, but I have not been inspired about it. I saw yet another argument about sex within marriage about the Corinthians verses

This is what one version of the Bible says on the matter:

Now I will answer the questions that you asked in your letter. You asked, “Is it best for people not to marry?”[a] Well, having your own husband or wife should keep you from doing something immoral. Husbands and wives should be fair with each other about having sex. A wife belongs to her husband instead of to herself, and a husband belongs to his wife instead of to himself. So don’t refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. In my opinion that is what should be done, though I don’t know of anything the Lord said about this matter. I wish that all of you were like me, but God has given different gifts to each of us.

 

This strikes me as being a simple set of verses, talking about how sex in marriage is about cooperation, and one party simply saying “I have a low libido” is not really good enough. You’d still have to work out some kind of compromise, some kind of understanding. But typically the default CF position was “why can’t the high libido person defer to the low libido person?”

Personally, this may sound shocking in the face of what the rest of that chapter says, but I honestly think that one of the things I would consider in future–whether I would do it or not is another thing but I would certainly wonder if it would be a good idea–would be to divorce a woman who takes up the position that a couple’s sex life is predicated on her moods and feelings, not on what the couple comes to agreement about.

I am in favour of divorce as a contingency. Just as I am in favour of war as a contingency. I think that Christians who talk of marriage dislike having this contingency, but it exists, and I think that men today need to be prepared for it rather than hoping it won’t happen. Women in our culture as far as we can tell divorce when they feel unhappy in their marriages, so it would be foolish to not be ready for that. Trying to make preparations so it won’t happen–the odds are that it WILL happen, and that we men lack information about why it will on a case by case basis. Women seem to have a tendency, in our culture, to marry for reasons outside of will driven choice. They marry because it is expected, because their mood at the time told them to, or whatever the case might be, they expected that their husband would become the man of their fantasies by magic–well disillusionment arrives and they divorce.

So men should be ready for it. We should be ready for it like the Apostles were ready to be rejected as Christ was–and ready to dust off their sandals and move on. I think that that readiness might also make men a bit more thoughtful about who they marry, and might make them more ready to confront bad behaviour from women early.

The Hunt (movie review, with spoilers)

The Hunt is a movie that came out in 2012; it is set in a small Danish town and is about a male kindergarten teacher. It is a sad and well made cautionary tale about how a witch hunt can happen.

The man is divorced, and clearly unhappy at the limited time he has with his son. It is demonstrated that his wife (who we never see) has an irrational desire to keep him from his son, who loves his father and at one point runs away from home to be with him. This part made me very sad to see.

It is very clear that the man (Lucas) has a good relationship with friends (he belongs to a hunting club) and with his neighbors, has a dog and is good with the kids. One of them a little girl expresses inappropriate amounts of affection for him, which he gently, firmly and rightly rebuffs.

This gets out of hand. The little girl is angry with him, hurt, and tells the principal things that alarm her and make her feel that it is likely that Lucas sexually abused the little girl.

The principal, Grethe, decides to bring in a friend who may be some kind of social worker, to interview the girl. She is given leading questions, and the two adults conclude that she was abused.

The principal is clearly concerned for the girl, but her reactions are unprofessional and stupid. She acts like an hysteric; she does suggest that the teacher take a leave of absence but then before she has even told the police from what we can see she tells the rest of the faculty and all the parents, and tells them there are things to look for in their kids that are signs of abuse–like bedwetting night terrors, things like that. Things that could have multiple causes in fact. Before he is even questioned by the police or charged she has turned the community against him and refused to even explain why to him; at one point when he tries to confront her she runs away from him hysterically. She even informs his wife. Bearing in mind that there has been no investigation, and that the child does not have any visible trauma. (of course as audience we also know it is a misunderstanding involving a five year old who said some things she doesn’t understand the meaning of, mixing her anger with Lucas with some things her older brother and a friend talked about)

The film is a grimly well told story about how this virtually ruins his life.

Bee linked us to the website “Cry for Justice” and there is a link here http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/signs-your-husband-may-be-addicted-to-pornography-by-wendell/ that is very much in the same spirit as the witch hunt in the movie. People are fearful of something bad happening–and it erases their sense of a need for fairness and process, eliminates their ability to distinguish what is really happening from what they imagine must be happening.

Now of course child abuse is a terrible thing. But the whole thing hinges on the stupid Grethe and others saying “children don’t lie.” That’s a new one to me–children do lie.

We live in a world of a strange dichotomy of thought. To people n the Cry for Justice site the victims who bring accusations never lie, are never wrong, must always be upheld. Anyone who says “you have to give the accused the benefit of the doubt” is therefore some kind of perpetrator of evil. These people are mostly suffering from a failure of imagination–they can’t imagine they themselves being unfairly, mistakenly or even maliciously accused.

I recommend watching this movie. It should be a sobering tale. One thing that does come out–the zealous investigators had found that all the children had agreed that something bad had happened to them in a basement. They described the basement; the abuse had taken place in the basement.

One problem: the guy’s house had no basement.

Take a look at the page I linked on “signs your husband may be addicted to pornography”. It’s all witch hunt type stuff, send for the Witch Smeller Pursuivant. Might as well be saying “Does he have shifty eyes? Does he ever slouch? Does he ever leave his socks on the couch? These could be signs…”

 

Being a Perfect Man

If you’re a Christian, you believe that Christ perfectly did the will of God, and was a perfect man on this Earth.

We keep hearing about what men are supposed to do in life and in marriage, and in the context we talk about it here it’s about pleasing women, and obviously this is a topic we are not happy with, in the sense of how the Church is generally dealing with it.

I was thinking about Ephesians 5, so often quoted about men loving their wives like Christ. But Christ was uncomfortably honest, Christ did the right thing even when people turned their backs on him for doing it, and Christ did give all–but not in the way people wanted him to.

So this has been something that has been troubling me since I’ve been writing for this blog. The idea that so many in the manosphere seem to be searching for some kind of solution, or angry at changes in our society. But I honestly think that this is avoiding understanding of biblical truth. We are called to be like Christ, but this is what Christ faced: being rejected, misunderstood, not appreciated.
So what are the churchian marriage counselors really selling? I think there’s a simple test of that. If they’re not promising blood sweat and tears with the possibility of it all ending in sorrow because all people involved with relationships once they grow up are making decisions on their own–then it just ain’t the Gospel.There is no formula that works but that way, the truth and the light if you are a believer.

 

Selfish is the New Good

One of the most frustrating things to those who have any concern about human relationships in the manosphere is what we call frivorce: a divorce that takes place without physical abuse, adultery, or profound abandonment of the marriage. (for instance say someone moving away from their spouse and literally having almost nothing to do with them) A common notion is what is referred to as ‘unhaaaapy’ which is a mocking way of referring to how women in particular talk about feeling unhappy in their marriages. Often you hear in such cases things like “He’s a good man, i’m just not in love with him anymore”. We seem to hear this a lot more from women than from men. And you often hear about how the woman doesn’t want sex with the man anymore, how the idea of it makes her skin crawl.

I think the worst case I’ve heard of like this comes from a writer and apparent educator called Renee Jain, who wrote an article published in the Huffington post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-jain/why-being-selfish-is-the-most-unselfish-thing-you-can-do-the-martyr-mentality-myth-_b_3438103.html

She writes:

I was young, successful on all accounts and looking at my life from the outside in. Yet, I sat in a daze as the plane taxied down the runway. “Should oxygen be needed, a mask will drop down from the compartment located above your seats. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, be sure to secure your own mask first before assisting others.” I sat, silenced, as I let the words of the usual take-off ritual sink into the depths of my mind.

 

Now my thought of this is: of course. Because you actually cannot physically assist someone else if you are experiencing oxygen deprivation, in fact you could pass out and you could both die. However she continues:

Suddenly, sitting up straight as if I’d been hit by a cue of inspiration from the unknown, the message I received was distinct and powerful. In fact, I was stirred into action. I turned to my husband at the time (whose name has been changed for the for the sake of this piece), and said, “Kal, I want a divorce.” I watched as the blood drained from his face. After several long moments, he responded, “We never fight, I treat you well, and our careers — well, they’re thriving. I don’t understand what it is that you want?”

“I want love,” I replied simply.

 

You know, when Saul was on the road to Damascus, he had an epiphany, and realized that he had been sinning against God, after he was struck blind, and repenting became a follower of Christ. This woman, told that she should look to her immediate safety before looking after others, had a revelation about selfishness. Go figure. Anyway let’s see how that cruel fellow, her husband at the time, responded.

“Renee, we’ve only been married six months. We can make this work. Anyway, we don’t get divorced,” he said with a now discernible edge in his voice. The “we” he was referring to were Indians. Like our first generation peers, we identified strongly with both our culture from India and from America. With respect to marriage, most of us erred on the Indian side. I believe “just make it work” was the unwritten rule. As we prepared for take-off, Kal continued to appeal to my sense of tradition. A protective hand found my forehead in response to the memory that now bombarded my brain as I listened to Kal desperately try and reason with my new charge.

 

Wait, what? He appealed to the traditions by which they had gotten married? He talked about how they could work together to make the marriage work? My goodness that’s…well I have to admit I don’t have words. Let us read on.

“Why did you agree to marry me?” I could hear Kal’s voice shuffle through my foggy memories. I thought about it and the answer was utterly lucid: I had put the happiness of others ahead of my own. I had been a martyr for the happiness of others. This is something we all do far too often.

This union fulfilled a dream of my parents and my culture. Although encouraging of my desires, I sensed a consistent overlay of cultural influence directing my decisions — a roadmap of sorts. Here was the roadmap: Get good grades, get into a good college, get a great job, find a great man, get married and have kids. For most of my life, I buried my own desires and followed the roadmap. By marrying Kal, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of my parents; their sacrifice to come to this country was not in vain. By marrying Kal, I fulfilled an age-old Indian tradition of finding a suitable mate and building a suitable life. Yet by marrying Kal, I began to forfeit my own dreams, values and desires as they did not align with those of my parents and culture. I thought by trading ‘one’ for another, I could still flourish.

I was wrong.

I turned to Kal and said, “I believed that to be happy myself, I could simply float on the happiness of those around me. I now see that life just doesn’t work that way. Kal, the flight attendant instructed us to place an oxygen mask securely on our own face before offering assistance to even our own children. This concept was never intuitive to me, but I now understand it. It’s a basic survival skill — a prerequisite for happiness. Before extending happiness beyond my own person, I must first offer it to myself.”

The day after the flight, I made the most difficult and most wonderful decision of my life — I filed for divorce. I was 25 years old; it was time to start drawing my own roadmap.

One thing I found bizarre about all this is that “Kal” refers to this “We never fight, I treat you well, and our careers–well they’re thriving.” And when he asks what she wants, she says “I want love”. Later on she talks about fulfilling her dream of developing a new educational program for children. it is never made clear why she could not have done this and stayed married to this man. It’s simply that she had ‘walked into the biggest mistake of her life”.

This doesn’t appear to have even been one of those cases where she was in some hidebound old fashioned tradition of barely leaving the role of wife and potential mother, since her former husband referred to ‘their careers’. It is not clear why she could not have worked on her marriage.

This is a typical story, but it stands out for me because for once we have input from the husband. This is a good example of why we condemn frivorce. There was no physical abuse, there was no adultery, heck there was no obvious reason why she could not have said “I’m not happy with my career”. In fact there is no clear notion that she’s even unhappy with this guy in particular.

However I read something else by her where she was talking about the importance of grit–which she doesn’t seem to apply to this particular story–and said that she had been a lifelong quitter, afraid of failure, and learned through a workshop class how to see things through.

I wasn’t so much interested in what she has achieved since as I was interested in that. I think it is a good example of how we need to carefully examine the character of someone we get married to. In this present and likely in the future marriage laws are unlikely to change to something more traditional–it is too lucrative for the current system and for the women who benefit from it to change it. What men need to be aware of is that a woman can use her emotional state as justification to end a marriage regardless of what is actually happening in the relationship. So we need to learn as Christian men to be more discerning about the character of women. I’ve made this point before–I’m making it again.

Soldier Soldier

There is a UK series from the 1990s (1991-1997)  called “Soldier Soldier” I have begun watching recently which is about an infantry company in a fictional army regiment. It’s an interesting series, about rather ordinary aspects of military life in Britain during a time of cutbacks, changes in how women fit into the army and so on. I liked some aspects better than others, but there was one that particularly intrigued me—how it depicted male and female relations.

First: there is the adultery aspect. In the first season, there are two cases of outright physical adultery on the part of the wives of soldiers, in another case more of an emotional affair being conducted.

In the first example, we have the company commander’s wife, who is cold and touchy with her husband when he comes back from a tour of duty in Northern Ireland. It turns out that he can be stubborn, rather proud and occasionally hard to get along with but is basically a good and honourable man. One of the things I found interesting about this case is that she ends the affair though one gets the impression it is mostly because she doesn’t want to change her life that much, and she and her husband have no Hollywood style honeymoon resurgence. You get the impression that they are giving the marriage some time to work again—there is an awkwardness between the couple to some extent but the wife a few times in following episodes when talking to other wives emphasizes  that there is a choice to be made and followed through on. I also found the husband’s response interesting. Apart from one punch delivered to the other guy, (another officer who was planning on leaving the army) he is pretty calm about the whole thing. He’s upset, but he says to her after she starts getting upset back, “I have to go. When I get back, either stay or be gone,” or words to that effect. It’s also interesting to notice that he doesn’t really change or try to please her in any way; he clearly loves her but his view of it is that he’s an army officer, that’s who she married, and she can either like it or lump it. He is also a kind man, clearly a good father to his son and a good leader to his men. I found this extremely interesting.

The second case is also curiously banal (in what I thought was a good way). The Company Sergeant Major is having an emotional affair with the wife of a sergeant in the company. The sergeant has PTSD. He and his wife are getting a divorce—when you see their home it is full of packing boxes. The wife says “You need to get some help.” The sergeant bitterly says, “If I do you’ll say, will you?” He is haunted (it doesn’t say directly but I felt it was clear enough) by the deaths of some of his men in the Gulf War.  In the second case, it’s not clear to me why the Sergeant-Major and the wife are carrying on—they’re not having sex, the show demonstrates, but are basically dating. Others around them accept this. This gave me the impression that everyone knew that the couple were getting a divorce anyway. What I found sad and touching about this was that the sergeant has bad nightmares, and here is the thing: the wife knows that when he wakes up from his PTSD nightmares that his instinct is to protect his home. It is clear that he is not violent towards her, is not cruel towards her.

In the third case, one of the private soldiers has recently married the girl who is depicted as being the sexiest girl on the base. She is a very passionate person who doesn’t give her mouth a holiday; she dresses in a provocative way (for the time period), and at one point when he gets back from a training exercise early he realizes she is delaying him while another guy slips out the window. He goes berserk, ends up charged with striking his squad leader (who tried to calm him down), and has to do six months. The wife is never shown being repentant, in fact when talking to a female friend about it she says “what was I supposed to do? He was away for months!”

What I was really struck by during all these episodes though was this: the women feel that they have the right to slap, shout at, vilify and damn men at the slightest turn, for something as little as coming home drunk, because the man was rumored to have done something bad when he was a teenager, for not saying the right thing at the right time—but when the women actually cheat on their husbands, the women are not only protected but very gently chided.

There is actually not one married relationship depicted in this series that shows the wives being supportive of the husbands. It is always done reluctantly and with resentment. They appear to only be capable of showing love when they are in a good mood and things are going well.

I contrast this with the depiction of the Brodys in “Jaws”, my favourite on screen couple I think. In Jaws during difficult times the wife is shown supporting the husband; the husband is shown being caring towards his family but balances this ably with doing his duty to his office. There are two scenes that exemplify their relationship tome. One is where he is brooding about the shark and his wife says, “you want to get drunk and fool around?” and Brody says “Aw, yeah….”. Another is where he is about to go on the shark fishing boat and she is fussing and nervous about it but supports what he is doing. You hardly ever see this in a movie anymore, but the stuff in “Soldier Soldier” marches on.

Mark Driscoll’s Patriarchy Theory

I think that Pastor Mark Driscoll says some things that are correct from the Bible–but I’ve found more often than not that I disagree with him on the subject of how women need to be seen. It is rather interesting, the number of evangelical and fundamentalist Christian leaders who are like the flip side of a coin of the average feminist spokeswoman or man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCDWN2FSV38

In this link, he talks about women as victims, men as victimizers. This is a common point of view, but is it Biblical? In the Bible, men and women are each victims and victimizers; just as Adam and Eve sinned together, so it continues. For example–a woman is taken in adultery and about to be stoned, is saved by Christ–and Joseph is falsely accused of rape, awaiting sentence of death. A concubine is raped to death, her body later cut to pieces by the Levite whose concubine she was and sent to each of the tribes he wants to follow him to war. One woman consents to have a baby cut in half while another wants it to live even at her own loss. The list goes on.

So why does he do this?

I think first of all that he has sincerely good intentions. He wants to help people have good Christian relationships. He perceives a real problem, that many people have no idea how to have a married relationship. And he has a straightforward formula for it: he teaches that women can learn to love themselves as God loves them, and that men can man up and be the men God intended for them to be.

I also think that he seems to fall into the trap of preaching that women are generally innocent–that they only sin because men make them. What does this remind all of us of? Patriarchy Theory, of course. Women would never do anything bad on their own–it’s because men are not responsible and are not looking after them. In Christianese, this goes something like this: “Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden because Adam wasn’t there for her as a husband should have been.” I’m not sure if he ever has actually said that, but listening to him talk, he might as well have.

So in this presentation, he shows the ultimate–a young woman has premarital sex with a young man, believes that she must marry him, and then finds that it is a terrible marriage. He is abusive, adulterous and cruel.

Now: let me say that I believe that Jesus was absolutely right to deal with the woman taken in adultery as he did. Let me emphasize that. But there is no question that the woman was taken in adultery–but those who are going to kill her are themselves sinners and hypocrites. So it would be fair to say “this poor young woman, what a pit she ended up walking into!” But my emphasis would be on the fact that she nevertheless made a bad choice. This doesn’t justify what happened later, by any means, but at no point does Driscoll simply say “women have agency, and they often use it to sin, just as men do.”

The Sin of Feminism

I had been thinking for some time about why feminism bothered me so much, and not being content with the answers, and I had the thought that others have brought this up before but I am going to in a sense more to clarify my thoughts than anything else.

Questions about equality, ethics within marriage, the basis of male and female relationships are an endless argument. But what I’ve noticed within Christianity is that feminism obscures the issue of women and sin. In fact, bizarrely, it does the opposite from a Christian perspective of establishing equality: it absolves women of responsibility for the origins of their own sins.

The Bible doesn’t teach that your social or economic position absolves you of sin. You are not supposed to lie, commit adultery, steal, murder, profane the Lord’s name if you are a slave or a wealthy person.

So everything falls under the umbrella of this. Women who demand not to have to fulfill Paul’s words to the Church on marriage but insist on men doing their best to fulfill theirs are not looking to the beam in their own eye. In fact they are refusing to accept the concepts of fairness and justice as the Bible presents them. We hear a lot about ‘mutual love’ but the expression of this is blasphemous–it’s only mutual if the woman’s happiness is being pursued within the marriage.

Denouncing feminism to modern ears sounds like denouncing any virtues women might have. But to me that isn’t the point. Anything that gets in the way of doing the work of the Gospel in every aspect of life is evil and needs to be denounced. Feminism is an insidious and clever philosophical enemy that appeals to our basic desire to protect women, in particular in the way that it turns this on its head and says that chivalry has always been about oppressing women. But as we’ve seen, goodness does not lie in chivalry anyway.

So I think that this is the best way to denounce feminism–that it obscures women’s own responsibility for sin.