No, Focus On the Family, I Do Not Want to Civilize a Barbarian – via Biblical Personhood Blog
There is certainly nothing wrong with marriage or the nuclear family, but often times, in attempting to defend the nuclear family or the institution of marriage, a lot of Christians and conservative groups (such as Focus On The Family) err too far in making an idol out of both and denigrating singleness (or childlessness) in the process.
I have taken Focus on the Family to task before on that issue and one or two others.
Another blogger, Biblical Personhood, caught wind of a Focus on the Family blog post by Glenn T. Stanton – well, it’s on a blog called “First Things,” which the lady blogger of Biblical Personhood says is an off-shoot of Focus on The Family.
I have discussed Stanton on my blog before, such as in these posts:
Based on what I remember about Stanton, he can veer a little bit too much into idolizing marriage.
At any rate, here is the link to the blog post by Biblical Personhood, with some additional comments by me below this excerpt:
(Link): No, Focus on the Family, I do not want to civilize a barbarian via Biblical Personhood blog
Here is an excerpt from the opening (please click the link above to visit the other blog if you’d like to read the entire page):
From Biblical Personhood Blog:
(Link): Focus on the Family recently suggested something that seems, at first glance, to flatter women. I did not feel flattered at all. They suggested women are the number one way to change men for the better:
/// start quote
… the most fundamental social problem every community must solve is the unattached male. If his sexual, physical, and emotional energies are not governed and directed in a pro-social, domesticated manner, he will become the village’s most malignant cancer. Wives and children, in that order, are the only successful remedy ever found. – Glenn T. Stanton
/// end quote
This is highly problematic, to say the least.
From the theological perspective :
Have Focus On The Family never heard of Jesus and being born again? Surely Jesus is better at changing humans – even the alleged “malignant cancer” called unattached males – from the inside than any woman is? How could a Christian™ organization say that women, not Jesus, is the only remedy for men’s bad tendencies?
(( read the rest here ))
If you are an unmarried man (and you either want to stay single for the remainder of your life, or are aware you may never marry, even though you may want a wife), I’m sure you must really appreciate guys like Stanton saying you are basically a raging animal, or an immature man-baby, unless you are married to a woman.
You, if you are a single (unmarried) man, are a nothing, an incompetent, immoral loser unless you have a wife, is how Stanton’s reasoning comes across. You must have a wife and possibly father a child by said wife to count or to be a “real man.” This is pretty insulting stuff, especially bearing in mind that the Bible that Stanton likely would say he reads and agrees with, says nothing of the sort.
I did read over the Biblical Personhood blog post a day or two ago, but I don’t remember exactly everything that blog author wrote.
I will here add my own thoughts about the Stanton penned blog post. Some of my observations may be similar to those by the Biblical Personhood blogger.
Women create, shape, and maintain human culture. Manners exist because women exist. Worthy men adjust their behavior when a woman enters the room. They become better creatures. Civilization arises and endures because women have expectations of themselves and of those around them.
I disagree with just about everything he said there, on different levels, and for different reasons.
Most cultures are patriarchal, and this has been the way the world has been for thousands of years.
Women are not allowed to shape or maintain politics, marriage, or church – let alone culture, because men hold all the power. Women are taught by parents and culture from girlhood that this is normal, that men should be in charge, and females are conditioned from childhood to accept this and go along with it, especially Christian girls.
As much as I dislike blatant sexism, where men sound like cave-men and make loud, rude, condescending claims, such as women are not as logical or intelligent as men (this is used to justify limiting women in the workplace and so on)-
I also do not appreciate this (Link): benevolent sexist, noble-sounding, sappy and fouffy writing that tries to convince women that being subservient to men, allowing men to lead and protect them, and thus they can and should give up self-determination and their agency, is in their best interest, because dang it, women are so much more morally superior creatures to men.
This sort of writing is sugar-coated sexism. It’s asking women to give up their personhood, identity, or their independence, in exchange for something else (in this case, the betterment of men or culture).
I’m really tired of how sexists keep demanding things of women, and nothing of men, of expecting women to fix men, or to fix society.
Stanton is also upholding a variation of Christian purity culture and Christian gender complementarian beliefs, which depict all men as being lustful, horny-horn dogs who cannot control their sexuality, and so, it is up to girls and women to hold men in check, get men to practice sexual self control, and if a woman gets raped or sexually harassed, she will likely be asked by these same types of people, “What were you wearing at the time? Were you drinking?,” as though the sexual assault was the fault of the female.
Under this Stanton-ian system of putting women on a pedestal, women are made to be less than human. Women are not allowed to be flawed, make mistakes, or have sexual desires or sexual preferences. Women are still held responsible for the sins of men, especially, it seems, men’s sexual sins.
It is not true that women are more noble of heart or sexually pure than men, or that women want sex less than men and so on – all of these are cultural assumptions, things that aren’t in the Bible, that guys like Stanton WISH were true or that they assume to be true.
See this post for more:
Stanton goes on to say (summarizing the views of another author’s, Collins’ work):
They [women] make men behave. All their other important contributions are secondary.
Wrong. Wrong. Let’s not go down this road. Men should be held personally accountable for their actions, lives, and choices.
To Stanton and Christians such as him: stop making women responsible for men behaving or misbehaving and stop teaching women that women can “clean men up.”
I haven’t even yet finished reading this essay by Stanton, and I bet I can see where it’s going – he’s probably going to suggest that it’s unfortunate that so many young men these days are not marrying or are delaying marriage, because, dang nab it, marriage would force these young, immature, selfish whipper-snappers to grow up.
To Stanton, I say: Stop assuming that it takes marriage to make a man civilized or a full fledged adult. The Bible teaches no such thing.
The Bible does not teach that marriage is necessary to make a person mature, godly, or ethical. I have (Link) plenty of examples on my blog of married men (some who are Christians) who have been arrested for theft, drug addiction, rape, spousal murder, use or production of child porn, and other sins and crimes.
Stanton goes on to say:
Collins provides examples from history. [He then cites some of her examples of women “causing” men to behave properly]
Here’s my counter example to that:
About a week ago, a news story came out of New Mexico of a man and woman who raped and murdered a ten year old girl named Victoria Martens.
The girl’s mother sat by and watched passively as this man and woman raped and killed her daughter.
I blogged about that story here (contains explicit language):
Here’s my point. The women involved in that sickening, disturbing abuse story did not help that little girl – the woman participated in the sexual assault and murder.
According to the police, the mother sat back and did nothing to stop the man (who was her boyfriend) from raping and strangling her ten year old daughter – nor did the mother stop the other woman from assaulting and stabbing the little girl. The police also said that this biological mother “showed no remorse” for what she did to her daughter and allowed to happen to her daughter.
The Bible does not teach any where that women are immune from sin or the effects of the fall, or that women are by nature more loving, godly, and sweet.
The Bible does predict, way back in Genesis, that men would gain the upper hand and lord authority over women and exploit them; God said men would rule over women, which was a negative outcome of the fall; it was not something God designed or wanted.
However, to reiterate, the Bible does not say that women are necessarily the gentler, kinder sex.
The Bible shows that both biological sexes are capable of very evil acts.
A woman had John the Baptist’s head chopped off, as mentioned in the Gospels. A woman named Jezebel, a queen over Israel in the Old Testament, persecuted the prophets of God.
There may be a case to be made that men may be more likely to commit violent crimes more often than women, but I would be careful not to take this argument to this looney extreme conclusion that all women every where are as self-less and pure as the freshly driven snow, and therefore can and should save men and society.
By parents, churches, and culture, women are conditioned from the time they are girls to stifle their anger and to be passive, where-as men are encouraged to be tough and assertive from the time they are boys.
Consequently, women are, generally speaking, passive-aggressive in behavior, while boys get into fist fights more often. If you see more men killing people than women, it could be due to that conditioning and not due to biological differences or God’s so-called “design”.
Over my life, I have personally been mistreated and abused by both men AND women – in family relationships, on jobs, and in friendships. Neither sex has a corner on positive or negative qualities or behavior.
Stanton goes on to say:
Anthropologists have long recognized that the most fundamental social problem every community must solve is the unattached male. If his sexual, physical, and emotional energies are not governed and directed in a pro-social, domesticated manner, he will become the village’s most malignant cancer. Wives and children, in that order, are the only successful remedy ever found. Military service is a very distant second.
The Bible teaches that a “cure” for a man’s sexual, physical, and emotional issues is the Gospel. Not marriage. Not fatherhood. But the Gospel – following Jesus Christ and being in relationship to Christ, not a wife.
The Bible asks both males and females to help people.
If a man finds himself single and aimless, lacking goals and having an over abundance of energy and time, the Bible asks him to lose his life for Christ, which means in part, to do things like hand out sandwiches to homeless people on the street corner. The Bible does not tell men to deal with this ‘lack of purpose’ or extra energy and extra time by marrying.
In cases where males out-number females, such as China, thanks to their messed up abortion policies and laws, and where parents favor having male children and abort females, men today in China are desperate for wives because there is a gender imbalance (see this link).
In some of these nations, the men are so desperate for female companionship, they are kidnapping and raping women – there is sexual trafficking going on.
The solution to this sort of issue is not to suggest it is up to women to “tame” men.
Women are the victims of this garbage; don’t put a further burden on them in the form of cleaning up the messes of men. Men can police other men.
Women are incapable and unable to “tame” men in most of these nations anyway, because most nations are patriarchal in nature – women have no power or control over men.
I’d also, if I were Stanton, or conservatives who think as he does, stop assuming men are incapable of controlling themselves.
The Bible does not teach that women are responsible for men; no, it says each person has his or her own sin nature and God will hold each accountable for his or her own sins.
The Bible does not teach that grown men are infants who need parenting even into adulthood.
The fact of the matter is that the Bible states, via the hand of Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 (link to 1 Cor 7), that it is better to stay single than to get married.
If it were true that marriage were necessary to civilize and mature men and strengthen and sanctify culture, Apostle Paul would not have written that singlehood is preferable to marriage. But he did write that.
The Lord Jesus was a single, childless man, and apparently, so too was Apostle Paul – at least the last few decades of his life. Neither man needed marriage or parenthood to keep their behavior in check.
Jesus said it is what comes from inside a person’s heart that makes him sin – not one’s marital status (nor one’s biological sex).
Stanton goes on to list long benefits of marriage for men; here is just a brief quote:
Husbands and fathers enjoy significantly lower health, life, and auto insurance premiums than do their single peers, for a strictly pragmatic reason.
The problem is, a lot of these studies that claim married persons live happier or longer lives are often false and flawed.
See these pages by Bella DePaulo, where she debunks these sorts of claims and studies:
Man and woman are not equal. He owes what he is to her. That is hardly her only power, but it is among her most formidable. Christianity has always known this. The Savior of the world chose to come to us through a wife and mother. It’s why you find what you find at the very center, the honored and singular position, on that superlative ceiling of a certain celebrated chapel.
Woman is the most powerful living force on the globe. She creates, shapes, and sustains human civilization.
The Bible says men and women are interdependent (see this link 1 Corinthians 11:12).
Neither biological sex is greater or “more moral” than the other – so no, I don’t believe that men and women are “in-equal.” I don’t believe women are noble, or more noble than men, and that all men are savage.
Where Stanton says that Christ came to us through a wife and a mother, I hope he appreciates how painful that comment can be to infertile, married women who are beside themselves in grief because they want to conceive and have a baby but are physically incapable of doing so.
I hope Stanton considers that there are women such as me who had hoped to marry, but we are in early middle age and there are no suitors, no husband for us, so a wife I am not.
Stanton’s language of elevating Mothers and Wives, which I guess is meant to flatter any of his female readership, has the effect of making women such as me – childless and circumstantially single – feel marginalized, as though we are “nothings.” We don’t count.
Where Stanton says women are the most powerful force on the globe – no, we are not. The reality is, and as God predicted in the book of Genesis, is that men would rule over women, and yes, man has been exploiting, abusing, and controlling women ever since.
Most cultures are not egalitarian, feminist, mutualist, or matriarchal, but patriarchal – men hold all the power, not women.
The first step in weakening her power is to convince her that she must overcome her femininity. This, ironically, is precisely what the most vocal strains of feminism have advocated.
Yes, woman should have equality in the workplace, in politics, and in the public square.
But to render her more like man in order to accomplish this, and to judge her womanliness a hindrance to her ascendancy, is to get things exactly backwards. It is to treat her as much less than she truly is.
How is Stanton defining and understanding “femininity?”
My hunch is Stanton’s understanding of the term “femininity” is loaded with his personal biases, and probably most heavily resembles a 1950s era TV sit com wife, such as June Cleaver.
Nobody, not even most liberal, militant feminists I have seen, argue that women gaining equal opportunity at church, the workplace, and in relationships says this should be accomplished by women “being men” or “being like men.”
On an individual level, yes, there are women who assume to get ahead on a job that they must emulate men, or what is considered traditionally masculine characteristics, but “acting like a man” is not something most feminists promote, and it’s not something most women want to do, even the ones who do it.
Women who “behave like men” do so on their jobs because they believe they aren’t getting equal pay for equal work, and aren’t being taken seriously at their jobs when and if they act in stereotypically girly ways.
Where Stanton writes,
…and to judge her womanliness a hindrance to her ascendancy, is to get things exactly backward…
I spent over three decades as a conservative Christian gender complementarian. I have lived life as a woman, Stanton has not – he is blind to the sort of discrimination and biases women undergo, even among conservative Christians.
I can tell Stanton based on personal experience that secular culture as well as conservative, Christian gender complemetnarian culture views womanliness in a low or negative, light.
Men and masculinity in secular and Christian culture are more esteemed and get more opportunities at everything – bigger pay checks, the corner office, they are heard during meetings when they speak up, they don’t usually have to be afraid to get on an elevator alone with another man, walk through a parking lot alone at night, etc.
Masculinity is defined by secular and Christian culture as being the opposite of whatever is feminine, and whatever is deemed feminine (which may include but is not limited to traits such as gentleness, compassion, nurturing) is often ridiculed or looked down upon, which is why so many boys and men don’t want to show gentle, meek, or tender behavior in public, at church, in their personal relationships, or at the job.
A woman’s womanliness very much gets in the way in her life, in the dating world, in jobs, in church, because those venues all respect whatever one’s culture defines as masculine traits more than feminine ones.
Please don’t kid yourself otherwise. Only in conservative or Christian complementarian writings that complain about secular feminism, do we see male authors writing in a glowing, affirmative manner about “womanliness.”
The rest of the time, authors like this, who claim to respect femininity, yell in a derogatory fashion at their sons, when the son, for example, tosses a football poorly, “You throw like a girl!”
If they see their son crying, such men will scream in anger at this son, “Stop crying like a girl! Real men don’t cry!”
Feminine traits, and habits perceived as being “womanly,” such as crying in front of people, or throwing baseballs poorly, are mocked, ridiculed, and insulted by men – the same men who insist they sure do respect women and femininity. (If you personally don’t do it, other men do.)
If you need anecdotal proof of how being a man is easier than being a woman, and how a woman’s “womanliness” holds her back, especially in the workplace, please see this page, written by a transgender man (a person who was born a woman but who now dresses, presents, as a man), and he discusses how he notices how he gets treated better as a man than he ever did while presenting himself as a woman:
Aug 2014 / BY
Having experienced the workplace from both perspectives, they hold the key to its biases.
…Ben Barres is a biologist at Stanford who lived and worked as Barbara Barres until he was in his forties. For most of his career, he experienced bias, but didn’t give much weight to it—seeing incidents as discrete events. (When he solved a tough math problem, for example, a professor said, “You must have had your boyfriend solve it.”)
When he became Ben, however, he immediately noticed a difference in his everyday experience: “People who don’t know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect,” he says. He was more carefully listened to and his authority less frequently questioned. He stopped being interrupted in meetings.
At one conference, another scientist said, “Ben gave a great seminar today—but then his work is so much better than his sister’s.” (The scientist didn’t know Ben and Barbara were the same person.) “This is why women are not breaking into academic jobs at any appreciable rate,” he wrote in response to Larry Summers’s famous gaffe implying women were less innately capable at the hard sciences. “Not childcare. Not family responsibilities,” he says. “I have had the thought a million times: I am taken more seriously.”
There you have it. Being a woman, being womanly, is perceived differently by many people in our culture, than being a man or being masculine, with being womanly perceived in a negative fashion.
And being a woman and having feminine traits, the ones that Stanton prizes so highly, is detrimental to women on the job, and in other areas of life.
I was steeped in gender complemenatarian beliefs from childhood on-wards, through a traditional Christian family and via the churches my parents dragged me to as a kid.
I was steeped in the same gender stuff Stanton is promoting here in this Focus on the Family “First Things” page he wrote.
Complementarian teachings, which emphasize old-fashioned, cultural stereotypes (which are either based on 2,000 year old, ancient Roman culture that Apostle Paul describes in his letters or upon 1950s, white, middle class American culture, or some combination of the two) are taught to young Christian girls by Christians as supposedly being “God’s design” for women, or as being “biblically timeless and prescriptive” for all women when, in fact, they are neither.
Characteristics that secular society and churches insist are feminine for girls and women – such as passivity; sweetness; unasssertiveness; docility; gentleness; wanting to wear make-up and dresses, etc., etc, are not entirely or necessarily biblical, but are cultural assumptions and preferences – and many of those qualities are identical to codependency.
SIDE NOTE: COMPLEMENTARIANS AND CHRISTIANS ARE OFTEN NOT COUNTER CULTURAL IN REGARDS TO GENDER ROLES and ATTITUDES (Re WOMEN IN PARTICULAR)
Notice that churches often are in agreement with SECULAR SOCIETY (the same secular, godless society they complain about) concerning how women “should” act: churches and complementarians are NOT “counter cultural.”
Complementarians often argue that one “proof” that their position is true is that they are “counter cultural.” But they are not.
Both churches and secular society expect girls and women to do things such as (this is not an exhaustive list): defer to men, to be sweet, gentle, patient, orderly, neat, quiet, emotional, and to enjoy wearing frilly skirts with high heels.
Society and church both punish, marginalize, shame, or ostracize women who are the opposite of that first list; the women who are brash, loud, opinionated, risk takers, who prefer wearing jeans and sneakers to dresses and pumps, who are assertive, who aren’t scared to say “no.”
While all Christians are to emulate Jesus of Nazareth, who at times was gentle and tender, the Bible does not say only females are to exhibit those “feminine” traits. But Christians often behave as though that is what the Bible teaches.
Certainly, any portions of the Bible that call women to act meek and mild, particularly in the New Testament, were written so as to help the Christian faith take off in the patriarchal cultures of their day – a portion of a letter in the New Testament asking women to be quiet and meek was not intended to be a timeless ideal for all women right down to Americans in 2016, say.
Such a Bible passage is not suggesting God designed all women to be naturally meek and gentle all the time, or to be more so than men.
Christians who are into old-fashioned gender roles – a guy like Stanton – often take portions of the Bible meant to be descriptive, or only meant for their original audience (e.g. Christians in ancient Rome 2,000 years ago), and they insist these are prescriptive for everyone everywhere.
The one funny thing about this is that some women naturally do not fit these supposedly prescriptive verses and passages.
For more on those topics, please see this off-site link:
At any rate, guys such as Stanton cannot fool me.
Telling me I am by nature, or God’s design, supposedly more feminine, or that I can restore culture and rescue men, if only I am demure, weak, passive, gentle, and look to men for leadership, is a sneaky, underhanded, but not very clever way, of trying to cajole women into giving up their agency and independence.
It’s a sneaky way of trying to convince women to go back to American, 1950s values, or some other, earlier time, when women didn’t have as much power.
In- so- far as Jesus of Nazareth wants me to help my neighbor if he’s in immediate danger – such as wanting me to dial the “9-1-1” emergency number on a phone to get a fire truck down to my neighbor’s home if it’s on fire, or asking him if I can treat him to a cup of coffee if he’s sad and needs a pal to talk to – yes, Jesus wants me to help men if I can and am willing and capable.
However, Jesus Christ does not ask me, and merely because I am a woman, to play “Holy Spirit” or a Savior figure to one man in particular, or to all men in general.
Jesus did not charge women to save men, or to clean up culture.
Jesus and the apostle Paul showed no interest in saving culture (which is a topic I’ve written of before, so I shall not belabor it here).
Women are not the Saviors of men or of culture: only Jesus can play that role, along with the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.
Like the blogger at the Biblical Womanhood blog, I don’t want or need the unfair, enormous task of “saving” men.
I’m certainly not going to marry some jerk of a man, in the naive assumption I can “change” him for the better. Women have been doing that for decades, and many have found out the hard way that it does not work.
I don’t want to marry a “fixer upper” kind of man – I’d like to marry a guy who is already “cleaned up” and civilized.
I’m not wasting my time, energy, and possibly putting my safety at risk by marrying a jerk. I am not going to play “Belle” to “The Beast.”
Why can’t men help other men? Is Stanton a civilized man? Yes? Then why doesn’t he go volunteer at “Big Brothers of America” to mentor little boys and teach them how to be better people? Why is he expecting women and girls to march down to “Big Brothers of America” and mentor the boys in such places?
Why does it take a woman to teach a man how to be a better person? I don’t think it does.
Why can’t these uncivilized hooligans Stanton is concerned about look to Jesus Christ as an example of how to be a better person? Does’t the Bible point to Jesus?
My sneaking suspicion is that Stanton isn’t really, at the core of it, concerned about wandering, aimless young men who drift through life these days.
No, I think Stanton wants to re-enforce the conservative Christian ideal of using the Bible, or sentimental feelings, to shame women into being subservient to men.
Stanton wants to use flattering language to convince women that society will be better off if they just stay in the narrow box that gender complementarians want them to remain in.
Which, notice, involves men being in charge over women, women voluntarily giving up their power and so on – how coincidental (not).
My guess is Stanton views leadership as being “masculine,” and ergo, if a woman wants leadership, or a say-so in the world (or in life, marriage, or in employment or in church), she is not being sufficiently “feminine” by his standards.
I grew up under such gender role beliefs, and I rejected it years ago. I pass. I want no more of it. It acted as a hindrance to my life – it did not free me.
Acting out the gender complementarian, feminine, womanly-woman ideal (the sort Stanton is advocating for) left me passive, helpless in life, and therefore, a lot of bullies, users, and abusers – men and women – were all too happy to exploit my feminine traits (feminine – as understood by complementarians as being weak, moral, do-gooder, sweet, gentle, and unassertive).
At any rate, it is not my responsibility to change how I am, or to willingly give up my agency and power, to marry soon, to marry any guy who comes along, all to fit Stanton’s assumptions of “femininity,” or to make American culture a better place – and the Bible certainly does not teach any of that.
(Link): Male Christian Researcher Mark Regnerus Believes Single Christian Women Should Marry Male Christian Porn Addicts – another Christian betrayal of sexual ethics and more evidence of Christians who do make an idol out of marriage
(Link): 21 Year old, Devout Christian and Student, Children’s Minister Charged With Murdering Fiancée He Was to Wed in August; Made It Look Like Suicide – Christian Single Women: Another Example of Why You Should Abandon the “Be Equally Yoked” Teaching
(Link): Why Christians Need To Stress Spiritual Family Over the Nuclear Family – People with no flesh and blood relations including Muslims who Convert to Christianity – Also: First World, White, Rich People Problems