The other day I saw a post on social media as a message to married men. This message was in line with most Christian messaging to men that I’ve seen over and over. The basic message of most of these types of posts are:
- You will know how well you are loving your wife by how she feels (does she feel loved, supported, empowered etc)
- You are to be a servant leader not a manipulator or ruler. In other words you’re not in charge.
- Be willing to be wrong even if you’re not really wrong. Her truth is the best truth.
- Selective reading of Ephesians 5 focusing on how you should love your wife (which is correct however that’s not all that Ephesians 5 says).
- Basically – your wife is your grade card
Now if this was written to a single guy it might say
- We need more men to step up and be good Christian men because there are all these great Christian women just waiting.
- If you would be enough (man enough, mature enough, brave enough, woke enough, Christian enough, and many other enoughs) then you could marry one of these women.
- Quit being lazy, selfish, a player, a video game junkie etc. If you would do that, then you might be able to get married to one of women.
Now there are obvious problems here. For example we are completely eliminating women’s moral agency (which seems strange as we call for their equality), among many other problems. But today I want to talk about a couple of factors that we don’t typically realize.
First let’s just call this what it is. It’s virtue signaling. When you post this stuff as a guy that is really all you are accomplishing.
Here’s what you are sort of saying. “Hey everyone. I’m the best guy on the internet. I get it everyone. My gender is bad. If only my gender would be better, everything would be better. I’m not like those ‘other guys'”.
The men are bad theme is easy. You get applause from all sides. Women think you are great to stand up to your gender (notice by the way that women never, and I mean never, call out women in this way). But we can all call out the bad men – of which the poster never is one.
This used to happen mainly in the pulpit. The preacher gets to stand up front and confront the men and tell them to man up in one form or another. They get to be the hero to all the women in their congregation. Never in all of my time going to church have I heard a sermon on women’s sin. If you the reader can find one online – please link it in the comments. Seriously. Please. Ever thought about why?
But now on the internet, Christian nice guys can all be the hero.
This whole process is completely ridiculous and so is the message.
First, most Christian husbands have done what you say you want them to. Most of them are the main provider. They are trying to be a good loving husband and good father. These are the men that you are talking to.
The problem with most Christian men isn’t that they don’t love their wives or that they manipulate or rule over their wives. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but that is not the average guy in the pews.
The average guy in the pews is more likely to be afraid of his wife than to be ruling over her. A better message would be, stop being afraid of your wife so that you can love her. Stop letting your wife be your Christian grade card. But hey that would make too much sense and lead to too many heroes.
Secondly, have any of these posters (posers?) actually seen men doing any of these things that they are talking about? Do they have a guy in their small group or on the church set up team who is “dominating” and “ruling over” their wife? If so then maybe they ought to be a real hero and confront them in person. Why don’t they themselves man up, get off the internet and call it out in person? Two reasons this doesn’t happen: 1. it’s way easier to go post about it (or give a sermon) than it is to take the time to challenge the men directly and/or 2. they don’t actually personally know men doing this, they just want to call out the “bad” men who are out there somewhere doing it.
If these men are single, let me assure them right now that this line of virtue signaling will not make them more attractive to women. And frankly for the most part none of their advice will make a single brother more attractive either. I know this because there are lots of Christian men who meet these standards who are not married. How can this be if that is what these women are looking for?
I’m not against calling guys out – ideally in person. Really everyone should be challenged which I’ll talk about more in the next post. But to the men calling out only men online and frankly from the pulpit – just man up and stop it.**
** Yes I get the irony that I’m posting about this online.
You say the average guy is more likely to be afraid of his wife. Can you explain more about this??
You might need to elaborate more in order for me to answer fully – but – an example would be this: I was getting a haircut one day when a woman discussed what her relationship with her boyfriend was like. She said that he better agree that I am right even when I am wrong. I confronted this thinking and told her that a big problem with relationships today is that no one can apologize to each other. She still continued to think the way she did – he had still better tell me he is wrong. You may not necessarily be this way; but, women often respond just as badly to gently given advice as men.
I have a lot of coworkers talk about marriage and what they say is truly sad. Many will say they have learned to just do what the wife says in order to have peace in the home. If they don’t, she will get upset or angry. One man complained – my wife is changing me in to who she wants me to be and won’t let me be who I am.
Having said that, I don’t think all women are like this! A lot of women are very gentle, sweet souls. Men sometimes have trouble determining this because the following quote has some truth to it “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed. -Albert Einstein”
I think this has mostly been answered. Guys are afraid of their wife’s reaction. They want peace among other things. So they often give in when they shouldn’t or try to make their wife happy. Happy wife = happy life etc. I have to ask the boss etc. If your wife is the grade card then that’s a lot of power. A guys greatest fear is typically failure – so if you can get a failing grade at home. . . . .
I see this in the way the men I am friends with behave. My dad, brother, uncles, cousins, etc. With a very few exceptions men prefer peace in their married lives.
It just makes me more glad I’m single. Too bad more people, especially men, don’t happen upon 1 Corinthians 7 and realize there’s another way. It’s also too bad the church is so toxic towards men in general. It isn’t masculinity that’s toxic, it’s society and the church.
I agree with your last statement. Society and the church are “gynocentric.” In addition to chivalry, Feminism (Marxism) has fully conquered both. Following Paul’s admonition to remain single is great advice. Get married if you are horny is horrible advice.
Rose, mutliple coworkers throughout my career have referred to their or another man’s wife as as “THE BOSS” in person; on the Internet a popular term is “SWMBO” (She Who Must Be Obeyed). “Helpmate” seems to have fallen out of favor.
Does this John Gray sermon count?
Meh. It’s bad. It’s in the context of a whole sermon instead of a whole sermon about it. And it’s John Gray. Who apparently also wears really expensive shoes. Haha. Technically I’ll count it. That’s 1.
Thanks for the insight guys!
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I love the insight. Thank you.
Hmm. Seems the church has embraced popular culture and conformed to the world on this issue–as many others.
Let’s decry “the Patriarchy” to become more relevant so people will like us. SMH
There are a few weird churches that have the opposite problem (the quiverfull cult, the SAHD movement) but by and large the American church is lagging just a few steps behind the world around us in yielding to its excesses and vices. Sad.