As Gay As a Pope Tweet

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One of our central problems today is that Christian men have been maneuvered (and/or bludgeoned) into thinking that ungodly and sentimental softness is a biblical virtue. Even while attempting to take a stand against the extreme forms of rebellion in our time — e.g. complementarianism v. egalitarianism — those who stand for the biblical position too frequently attempt to outdo the disobedient at their own game. It comes down to a “softer than thou” sort of posturing. The corruptions of feminism have gotten into everything — Calvinism, evangelical activism, complementarianism, and so on. The end result is that evangelical men, taking one thing with another, are gayer than a pope tweet.

And lest this seem like a random insult — instead of an incredibly apt metaphor — let me just say that Pope Francis (@Pontifex) takes sentimentalist sap to new and majestic heights. “Advent begins a new journey. May Mary, our Mother, be our guide.” “Advent increases our hope, a hope which does not disappoint. The Lord never lets us down.” “There is so much noise in the world! May we learn to be silent in our hearts and before God.”

It didn’t always used to be this way. It almost makes one yearn for the days of the badass popes. For example, Pope Urban VI ordered the torture and execution of five of his cardinals, responding to their screams with his taunt of “weak old women!” That also would be a bad hash tag, but at least it wouldn’t be so insipid and boring . . . okay then, all right. I changed my mind. I am prepared to grant the effeminate Francis is an improvement, but still . . . #DeathByBromide.

But I got distracted from the point anyhow. The problem we are discussing is evangelical men who do not know what gentleness is. They do not know what men are for. They do not understand how tenderness is supposed to work.

Gentleness is an essential part of what the Spirit works in us (Gal. 5:22). “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (2 Tim. 2:24). And with godly men, this gentleness is not clumsy, not out of place. It really is gentle. “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children” (1 Thess. 2:7). This kind of gentleness is a velvet-covered brick.

Masculine gentleness is a good thing, and altogether to be desired. The point here is that it is not the same thing as what the egalitarian world is adamantly defining as acceptable behavior for males. That requires a softness at the core that can only be defined as a kind of masculine rot.

Meekness is a good thing, and we are called to it. “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Tit. 3:2).

But these terms are biblical terms, to be defined by the Bible, and not by the Fellowship of the Perpetually Offended. Moses was a meek man, one of the meekest who ever lived. “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). But he was the same man who used his staff to leave that era’s great superpower a smoldering ruin. Whenever he left, his meekness did not leave Pharaoh muttering anything about “mama’s boy.” The courtiers of Pharaoh were too busy saying that Egypt was destroyed (Ex. 10:7) to be saying anything at all about what a panty-waist Moses had been.

So we are to be gentle, but our gentleness is to be imitative. God is omnipotent, but He is also gentle. We cannot duplicate what He does, but we are nevertheless told to imitate it. But what does His gentleness do?

“He teacheth my hands to war, So that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: And thy right hand hath holden me up, And thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, That my feet did not slip. I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: Neither did I turn again till they were consumed” (Ps. 18:34–37).

God was gentle with David, and the end result was that his hands were ready for war. He was able to break a bow of steel. His feet were kept secure so that he could pursue his enemies and consume them.

All together now — that’s in the Old Testament!

“Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. 10:1–6).

Paul pleads with the Corinthians, using for his oath “the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” He wants to be gentle with them when he comes to them, but he also knows that his gentleness might have to come to them as severity. And what will the final effect of this gentle ministry be? He, the man who swears by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, will pull down strongholds, cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. He will take every thought captive, bringing them to the obedience of Christ. And he will deal with every form of disobedience. In short, he is prepared to kick some Corinthian hinder parts and take names.

Now if you let the world take biblical words and fill them out with their definitions, and then you try to fight for other biblical concepts with this gear, with this panoply, you will discover — soon enough — that you are out on the battlefield with the sword of truth and a shield of wet tissue paper.

So you can see this principle everywhere. The right kind of hard man is hard for his wife. Soft men are hard on their wives. In the same way, hard men are hard for their people; soft men are hard on their people. As we deal with these perilous times, we need hard pastors — pastors who are hard for their congregations, not hard on their congregations.

We need Christian leadership, in short, that is meek and gentle in its responsiveness to the Word of God, and that absolutely refuses to budge whenever the world demands it. And that is something that I am afraid we do not currently have.

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Bro. Steve
Bro. Steve
6 years ago

Good article, but you quit too soon. Where’s that last paragraph providing the biblical definition of meekness or gentleness?

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
6 years ago

The world visably redefined the churches worship just a century ago, and our society simply reflects it. It all starts in the sanctuary. There are very real consequences for parading ourselves before the King, without the proper clothing. But connecting that dot would just be way to hard on a congregation.

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

I agree that sentiment is not a substitute for analysis. I also agree that people who are right (or who believe they are right) should not be cowed by emotional appeals. Both of those points, however, miss the point of why sentimental arguments have such incredible resonance in this particular case: Complementarianism (and, anti-gay prejudice) is shameful, and deep down inside, people understand that it’s shameful. It’s far, far easier to shame people who are doing shameful things.

Michelle
Michelle
6 years ago

This is hardly a new situation. For excellent portrayals of the difference between gentleman-like manners and pseudo-gentleness in men (particularly exhibited in clergymen), one can scarcely do better than Jane Austen’s novels, which would indicate this was already a significant societal dysfunction 200 years ago.

Ben Carmack
6 years ago

“Gentlemen” in paragraph 5 should be “Gentleness.”

timothy
timothy
6 years ago

Complementarianism (and, anti-gay prejudice) is shameful, and deep down inside, people understand that it’s shameful. It’s far, far easier to shame people who are doing shameful things.

ROFL!

The little red Humian-Utilitarian wields his presumed righteousness thinking it a cudgel that leaves a mark of correction.

Oh! goodness! What a laugh.

Keep trying, Eric. You may shame somebody, yet.

RFB
RFB
6 years ago

EtR,

“…shame people who are doing shameful things…”

If I am correct that you profess that there is no God, then what on earth could possibly be shameful about anything?

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Timothy, and RFB, I don’t have to shame anybody into doing anything. The mere fact that a significant part of the Christian church (including its evangelical and Reformed wings) have already been shamed into re-thinking those issues (or at the very least toning down the rhetoric) indicates that they’ve already been shamed into it without any help from me.

Reuben K.
Reuben K.
6 years ago

Pastor Wilson,

Paragraph 5 begins w/ the word “Gentlemen” where it should say, “Gentleness”.

Otherwise, I am invigorated by this sterling summons to an unrelenting gentleness of spirit. And I just got to use the words invigorated, sterling, and unrelenting, so I’m happy, too.

A Godly, born-again gentleness in a man is as the silken softness and sensitivity of a surgeon’s hand. But the hand is very strong nonetheless, and it makes cuts deeply, exactly, and unflinchingly to the bone. As in all things, we should be imitators of Christ- our great physician.

Johnny
Johnny
6 years ago

I don’t see a problem with his last two tweets.

Mark Brown
Mark Brown
6 years ago

You should look at the latin versions of the pope’s tweets. They are much more interesting. Other than the whole Mary thing, I’m beginning to think a big part of the problem with the Vatican in English is the wimpy translators.

RFB
RFB
6 years ago

EtR,

My meaning is this: Christians acknowledge a thing called shame; those who say that there is no God cannot, and cannot care, because there is nothing to care about.

Who is acting more consistent within their beliefs?

Those who believe in good and evil, and therefore care about shaming or being shamed,

or,

Those who say that at the most fundamental level that human life is molecular disinterest, but then pretend to care as if it matters?

AeroBob
AeroBob
6 years ago

I think Biblical manhood is actually well summarized by Teddy Roosevelt’s foreign policy “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Matt
Matt
6 years ago

As we deal with these perilous times, we need hard pastors — pastors who are hard for their congregations, not hard on their congregations.

But isn’t it precisely the role of the pastor to be hard on the congregation? You don’t need anyone telling everyone what’s wrong with them; everyone already knows that. It’s what’s wrong with us that people have trouble seeing.

St. Lee
6 years ago

This post addresses something I realized not so long ago. Our societal definition of “gentle” is out of whack. Many have a mental image of a “gentle Jesus” as more like a butterfly than like the King of kings he actually is. Gentle is power that is under control. Without the power, there is no gentleness; only weakness. Jesus fits the real definition of gentle perfectly. Many so called Christian men today only fit the definition of weak.

Rick Davis
6 years ago

Best Post Title Ever!
It was good for a chuckle.

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

RFB, saying that without God there can be no shame/good/evil/morality, is like saying that without fish there can be no filet mignon, or that without rocks there can be no chocolate milk. One simply has nothing to do with the other. In addition to the two having nothing to do with each other, in practice the morality that has often been practiced in the name of God has frequently been the deepest and most egregious of immorality. You really want to make the case that the God who nearly wiped out the entire city of Jerusalem because he was annoyed… Read more »

Rick Davis
6 years ago

Eric,

Maybe this would work better for you: without God, no standard of morality can be held to be authoritative over every competing moral standard. In the end, the best you can hope for is “majority rules”, which is just another form of “might makes right”. There is no transcendent standard by which all human societies and ideals may be measured/judged.

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Rick, that might work better if it were true, but it’s not. Humans do morality for the same reason birds fly and fish swim — it’s in our nature. So asking a human “whose morality?” is like asking a bird “whose choice of limb to take to the air?” That doesn’t mean that everyone always acts in a moral way; far from it. But I seriously doubt that Pol Pot thought he was behaving morally when he committed mass murder; he was simply a sociopath who didn’t care about morality.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago

One would think that Eric had never heard of the Spartans or the Aztecs.

Jeff Moss
6 years ago

Most of the second Pope tweet that you quoted is from Romans 5:5 and Hebrews 13:5: “Advent increases our hope, a hope which does not disappoint. The Lord never lets us down.”

But then, I do read the Pope’s Twitter account in the original Latin. :-)

RFB
RFB
6 years ago

EtR,

“…the God who nearly wiped out the entire city of Jerusalem because he was annoyed that David took a census…”

And you think that is “wrong” or “evil” because some fizzing molecules have lined up in your brain creating in you an offended sentiment, or because its just a natural impulse similar to why “birds fly and fish swim”?

Without God you have no basis for the very premise of good; all you have is whatever the current impulse provides, and you have no right to be offended, because you have no rights.

Andrew W
Andrew W
6 years ago

Where “sociopath” = “one who doesn’t care for Eric’s morality”.

That said, this blog is mostly about applied philosophy / theology / etc, and thus makes certain assumptions (such as morality is derived from and ruled by God). There are better places to discuss topics such as whether morality in the absence of transcendence is merely arbitrary preference, and thus I won’t engage further here.

Blannwich
Blannwich
6 years ago

Doug, any further thoughts on the idea of “I am base in your presence, but bold while away?” Is this something that you utilize or that is applicable today?

jigawatt
jigawatt
6 years ago

RFB, saying that without God there can be no shame/good/evil/morality, is like saying that without fish there can be no filet mignon, or that without rocks there can be no chocolate milk. One simply has nothing to do with the other.

If someone denied the existence of fish, and took their absurdity to its logical conclusion, it would certainly cause a denial of filet mignon. Same for rocks and chocolate milk.

peter
peter
6 years ago

Hey Doug,

Thank you for writing the things you do. When I finished the article I had two questions:
1. Can you comment on a kind of pastoral softness that leaves a congregation undefended against moral and exegetical relativism? (Unless I missed it in the article and comments)

2. I am curious why you phrase certain things the way you do. Why say things in a way you know people will be incensed by, when the same thing could be said (maybe with not quite the same kind of humor) without that ‘edge’?

jigawatt
jigawatt
6 years ago

“God can’t be our standard of morality because he’s so immoral.”

Ummm …

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Jane, the Spartans and the Aztecs had a rudimentary, less developed sense of morality that still included the basic: Take care of your community. We disagree with the Spartans that community means just our tribe, and we disagree with the Aztecs that human sacrifice benefits the community, but those are differences in perception rather than a difference on the basic question of taking care of our community. Andrew, I agree with you that this isn’t the time or the place for the conversation we’re having. Unfortunately, every time I comment here, somebody hijacks the thread with some nonsense or other… Read more »

RFB
RFB
6 years ago

EtR,

The reason that I make such claims is due to the premise of your claims; you claim that certain things are good or bad, and you do so in your own professed context of an accidental existence. You presuppose no transcendent purpose for anything, and then make value judgments that you insist are not arbitrary. That type of claim has everything to do with all that we discuss.

jigawatt
jigawatt
6 years ago

Eric, in your worldview, fish are upstream (!) of cows in the evolutionary river, are they not? Shall we also discuss the delicate food chain and ecosystem and whatnot to provide a non-evolutionary answer?

katecho
katecho
6 years ago

Eric the Red wrote: “Complementarianism (and, anti-gay prejudice) is shameful, and deep down inside, people understand that it’s shameful. It’s far, far easier to shame people who are doing shameful things.” It is far easier to shame people when you can co-opt their moral framework and use it against them, as Eric the Red is fond of attempting here. For example, if you tell people they are being “prejudiced”, and “anti-gay”, or if you tell them they are against “freedom of choice” or against “a woman’s control over her own body”, then you can hijack their sensibilities rather easily, if… Read more »

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Jigawatt, no, fish are not upstream of cows. Evolution doesn’t happen in a straight line; it’s more like a bush where you have branches going off in different directions. If you trace it back far enough you can probably find a common ancestor for both, but that’s a different question. Plus, even if fish were ancestors of cows, fish could die off and still leave cows; with only one exception all of my ancestors are dead but I’m still here. RFB, I disagree with your premise on so many grounds it’s hard to know where to start. First, there is… Read more »

timothy
timothy
6 years ago

ETR wrote: Katecho I suppose it’s possible that something you wrote bears some slight resemblance to something I actually believe, but I’ve read your comments now twice without finding it, so I shall merely wish you a pleasant day. Your days will not be pleasant. Just because you think that you can don and doff any ethic of your choice without consequence, does not negate the moral laws of our universe. To be in conflict with what God has ordained, to embrace Sin, pays a wage–death. You are well on your way. Our God has given us many accounts of… Read more »

timothy
timothy
6 years ago

@ETR.

FWIW, Katecho’s premises and argument are as clear as day. Either you lack reading comprehension and wisdom or are willfully ignoring what is in your own soul.

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Timothy, Katecho’s premises and arguments are indeed as clear as day, but they’re mostly straw men. He imputes to me positions I haven’t taken and arguments I haven’t made. On those rare occasions when he actually does engage something I’ve actually said, I engage back. Today is not one of those occasions

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

And by the way, even if he’s right that I’ve coopted your moral framework — and he isn’t — fine, then let’s have a conversation about your moral framework. Changing the subject to my alleged lack of a moral framework is a thread hijack when it’s your framework we’re discussing.

jigawatt
jigawatt
6 years ago

Jigawatt, no, fish are not upstream of cows. All the evolutionary experts I’ve ever heard describe the process different from you. That’s one of the problem with you science types – you can’t agree on anything. Just like those Christians arguing amongst themselves. Plus, even if fish were ancestors of cows, fish could die off and still leave cows; with only one exception all of my ancestors are dead but I’m still here. You’ve changed the rules on me. An atheist doesn’t deny God for only right now. He says that there is no God and there never was. If… Read more »

Gregory McDivitt
Gregory McDivitt
6 years ago

Do you ever read the tweets/Facebook updates of John Piper or RC Sproul, Jr? They’re turning the gospel into haiku for teenage girls.

Terri
6 years ago

Feminist. What does that word conjure up for you? If you lean toward one of those descriptive words that are often misrepresented, the first thing you might ask in return is, “what do you mean by that word?” For example, if someone were to always refer to feminists along these lines, it might create a shock collar response toward being labeled “feminist”: “So feminism — smash the patriarchy feminism — wants us to be ruled by harridans, termagants, harpies and crones. That sets the tone, and the pestering is then made complete by small-breasted biddies who want to make sure… Read more »

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Jigawatt, please be so kind as to provide me with a link, or any other documentation, to any “evolutionary expert” who describes the process differently than I did. Just one.

I suppose an atheist could take the position that God (or gods plural) used to exist but no longer does; if God does not exist at this moment then he (she?) doesn’t exist, even if he did at one time. But at any rate, fish are not the direct ancestors of cows, just as God is not the originator of morality or ethics.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago

Eric, the point isn’t that cows are descended from fish. The point is that if you don’t have what’s necessary to get to fish, you certainly don’t have what’s necessary to get to cows. That seems terribly obvious regardless of the details of the evolutionary theory one subscribes to.

Bert Perry
6 years ago

Regarding atheists coming up with morality, all I can note is that the 20th century purges of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and other atheistic leaders have a body count that simply dwarfs the body counts of every other religion and ideology….combined. It does seem to indicate that, as men wiser than I have commented, where there is no knowledge of God, morality goes in the dumpster. Really, Eric, you do have something of an uphill battle in demonstrating that non-believers can come up with a truly objective set of moral standards, don’t you think? The Golden Rule did not,… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago

So Terri, if you make a definition for a word that doesn’t really fit most of the cases of those who identify themselves by that word, then we shouldn’t worry about why you want to identify that way?

Besides, the passage you quoted, regardless of how “soft” it is compared to the “harder” definitions of feminism, is still a relentless attack on the actual biblical account of sexuality, except where it’s shooting down straw men.

Johnny
Johnny
6 years ago

Electricity is amoral.

Eric the Red
Eric the Red
6 years ago

Bert, the problem with your citations to Mao, Pol Pot, et al., is that you think it is somehow relevant what they DID NOT believe, when in fact the relevant analysis is what they DID believe. In addition to God, Mao also didn’t believe in unicorns, fairies, elves, dwarfs, or the gods of Mount Olympus, but none of that is why he was a mass murderer. He was a mass murder because of what he did believe — communism. A China run by libertarian atheists rather than communist atheists would have looked very, very different. The Amorites acted on the… Read more »

RFB
RFB
6 years ago

EtR, Disagreement is where we will again end this, since we even use different definitions. God says that those who reject Him are fools: “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” I, as I think many Christians do, understand that the denial of God is a fundamental moral issue, not primarily an intellectual matter (although said depraved morality infects the whole person). I understand it that way because I (by the grace of God and nothing in me) have submitted myself to God’s definitions regardless of the implications thereof. I think that good and evil is whatever… Read more »

katecho
katecho
6 years ago

Eric the Red wrote:

Had they been atheists, there would have been no Molech, and hence no child slaughter.

Tell that to Margaret Sanger.

jigawatt
jigawatt
6 years ago

Eric the Red, one thing I find fascinating: we agree that cows didn’t evolve from fish. For a survey of lots of folks, some experts and some not, google “fish evolved into”.

timbushong
6 years ago

The right kind of hard man is hard for his wife. Soft men are hard on their wives.

Amen. LOVE that quote. I first heard it (well, its close cousin anyway) back at a charismatic church’s men’s conference, and have used it ever since. Those were some manly charismatics…

katecho
katecho
6 years ago

Eric the Red wrote: Jigawatt, no, fish are not upstream of cows. Evolution doesn’t happen in a straight line; it’s more like a bush where you have branches going off in different directions. If you trace it back far enough you can probably find a common ancestor for both, but that’s a different question. As a self-appointed apologist for evolution, Eric the Red displays a typical and petty arrogance toward non-evolutionists. He sees himself as the enlightened, rebuking the ignorant. Eric the Zealot. Yet Stephen Jay Gould said: “We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar… Read more »