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.