I suppose the title might take some explaining, but if the post can’t explain a title like that, then what are we all doing here?
Let me say at the outset that this is not a post about overt effeminacy—effeminacy of the lisping mincing kind. If that kind of thing were a virus, then the men who had it would be the carriers. What I want to talk about here is a far less visible form of effeminacy—by which I mean the effeminacy that refuses to respond appropriately to the overt kind. I am talking about the doctors who are afraid to address the virus. Doctors who are afraid to address the virus simply have a different form of the virus, and that is our great problem.
Not only is this second kind of effeminacy far less visible, it is also far more widespread. And it is the actual cause of all our troubles. It is the premier hazard in all of this.
The Effeminacy of Silence
We have had multiple stories we could use to illustrate how this works, three a day on average, but let me just pick one of the gaudier ones—drag queens in the kids’ section of our libraries. There are three basic kinds of characters in these stories. First, we have the drag queens grooming the little kids, and the lesbian librarians who set it all up. Second, we have a goodly number of Joe Six-packs, watching the news about this latest travesty as it comes on the 48 television sets at their favorite sports bar, with all of them saying, “What the hell?!” or the rough equivalent. And then third, we have the effeminacy of silence everywhere else.
You don’t need to be light in your loafers to be effeminate. You don’t need to teach a queer treasure workshop at Revoice. You don’t need to put on your face paint and wig, and go leer over the top of the book you are reading to prepubescent boys at the library. You don’t need to trail around clouds of epicene rainbow ambiguity.
All you really need is the effeminacy of silence. Head down, mouth shut. Every eye closed—no, wait. That’s a different drill, but not unrelated. Back to the point.
Our real problem, therefore, is not all the effeminacy we can see—and we are seeing quite a bit more of it, are we not? The problem is the vast multitude of effeminates who could stop it but who are letting this happen.
Masculine Love Fights
Suppose a man is walking downtown with his wife, and they are accosted by some thugs. The thugs take the wife’s purse, rifle through it, make rude comments to her, mess with her hair, and generally act like they are thinking of doing a whole lot worse than that. Suppose also that her husband is standing off to the side, saying things like, “Gentlemen, this is genuinely distressing. There is no need for this. I must register a protest in the strongest possible terms.” What we should do, confronted with a spectacle like that, is to say—in the strongest possible terms—that such a man doesn’t love his wife, no matter how emotionally distressed he might be over her unhappy circumstances.
And we can say this because love fights to defend what it loves.
And to be sure, this being July and not November, there are always qualifications to be made. Love doesn’t fight over everything, for example. If a man cuts ahead of a woman in line at CostCo, she doesn’t need to text her husband, who is out in the car, so that he might come in and fight for her honor. So, no, love doesn’t fight over trifles.
When it comes to pitched battles over the color of the paint for the church nursery, I am prepared to join with John Frame in lamenting some of the darker impulses of Machen’s warrior children. But with all these extra warriors running around, it would seem (at least to me), that we would have had some reinforcements who would be able to join us here on the wall at Helm’s Deep. So maybe they weren’t warrior children after all. Maybe they were just soteriological Calvinists with bad attitudes and nerf bats.
So, the sexual revolution has now worked its way into absolutely everything. Is that a trifle?
There is a line (between shouldn’t fight/should fight) that can be crossed, and real love instinctively understands where that line is. When that line is crossed, love stands up, love speaks up, and love does whatever is necessary. A studious and academic chin stroke of concern does not know very much about that line at all, except for the basic operational axiom that we “are not across it yet.” And that is because, for those trapped by the effeminacy of silence, we are never across it, by definition.
In the meantime, do not confound spiritual apathy with pastoral wisdom and concern. Being across that line might require action, and action entails risk.
Quoting Bierce Again
I have had occasion to quote Ambrose Bierce from The Devil’s Dictionary on this general subject before, and look at me now. I am going to do it again.
VALOR, n. A soldierly compound of vanity, duty and the gambler’s hope.
“Why have you halted?” roared the commander of a division at Chickamauga, who had ordered a charge; “move forward, sir, at once.”
“General,” said the commander of the delinquent brigade, “I am persuaded that any further display of valor by my troops will bring them into collision with the enemy.”
While at It, Let’s Quote Thornwell
While I am on the subject of fighting, this brings to my mind a comment made about Robert Breckenridge by the great Southern Presbyterian theologian, J.H. Thornwell.
“What he does, he does with his might. Where he loves, he loves with his whole soul; when he hates, he hates with equal cordiality; and when he fights, he wants a clear field and nothing to do but fight.”
So I can spare some of my adversaries some time googling, let me just acknowledge that Thornwell and Breckenridge were both Southern Presbyterians who supported the Confederacy, being from South Carolina and Kentucky respectively, and I would like to top off this free information by saying that I don’t feel any twinge in my conscience about referring to either one.
And so who around here wants a clear field, and nothing to do but fight?
It is fairly safe to exclude Machen’s modern warrior children, who are all down in the church nursery, arguing over the paint swatches.
Are there reasons for such silence? There are always reasons for such silence. The one thing we can say about such reasons is that they at least are plainly heterosexual, because they multiply like crazy.
Let me speak in the person of those who will be enticed to offer such reasons.
I don’t want to be associated with nutcases . . .
The people we are up against are not slow with assigning epithets. Racist, bigot, misogynist, chauvinist, sexist, extremist, and more, and because there are genuine exemplars out there who do in fact answer to all those epithets, we in our sweet reasonableness want to make sure to telegraph to the bad guys our deathly fear of being lumped in with those right wing wastrels. “Please, sir! Whatever you do, don’t lump us in with the alt-right!” To which they reply (and this honestly comes as a big surprise to our Captains of Strategy), “Ha, ha! Look at these new alt-righters!”
I don’t want to be associated with those who have been successfully slandered as extremist . . .
There are others out there who are not extremists at all, and we know (down in the recesses of our hearts we know) that they are nothing of the kind. We know that they are innocent of the charge. They only have the reputation of extremism because they are merely living in faithful accordance with what was taught in every evangelical Sunday School in the country just three decades ago. The country has moved triumphantly toward the Abyss, and these troublers of Israel have refused to move with the times. “But if people as innocent as that can have their reputations ruined, then I too could have my reputation ruined if it ever came about that I—heaven forfend!—were to be seen on the same platform with any one of those faithful persons.”
Before it would be possible to share a platform with that Antipas character, he would have to demonstrate a little more flexibility.
Someday, when all this is over, and we are telling our war stories (around the oil stoves at our Free Speech Reeducation Sensitivity Camp), I might tell you the stories about how many people had been pressured by Big Eva (or in consideration of likely pressure from same) to drop their associations with us. It is quite a tacky business. Speakers for our conferences canceling because of pressure, speakers canceling on a conference because I was going to be there, someone backing out of writing a foreword, someone pressured into apologizing for quoting me, and the like. Couple this with the stories we have heard from people who associate with us anyway, with their tales about how they got “the treatment.”
Let’s just say that we are at the point where some up and comer is likely to catch far more grief for agreeing to speak at our Grace Agenda than he would if he spoke at Revoice. It is not the case that Big Eva doesn’t discipline. Of course they discipline. Not whether but which. It is just that they instinctively discipline men who are moving in a biblical direction, and they instinctively shelter men who are moving in an egalihomo direction. This is because—as should be obvious by now—it is far more desirable to them to have men in the ministry who sexually yearn to be in the sack with other men than it is to have men in the ministry who use hurtful neologisms like egalihomo.
If I were to take a stand now it would vindicate those people out there who have been urging me to take this stand for the last ten years . . .
Imagine a fellow who has been a senior statesman in the evangelical movement. He has fought many battles, and has won more than a few of them. But like many a decorated general before him, he has thought too much about the battles of the last war, and didn’t think fittingly about the battles of the next war. But he was warned about all of this, he was warned for years about it. To take a stand now would be to acknowledge that he should have listened to all those warnings from the nickel seats.
I would like to take a stand, but I have to say that outside observers don’t know the first thing about all the internal politics involved . . .
Granted, we don’t know the details. But some of us have an approximate idea, having been through some situations of our own. You have the adversaries who somehow got in, you have the compromised friends, you have the clueless friends, you have the compromised trustees, and you have the clueless trustees. And let’s not forget the donors who have to be led to believe that you are fighting more courageously than anybody actually is.
I know they fight dirty . . .
And there are some aspects of the old private life that could be taken wrong if placed in an unflattering light. Imagine if Peter were afraid that if he stood up to Annas and Caiaphas, they might tell how he denied the Lord. But Peter told everybody instead.
I have a hard time believing that my beloved institution could go hard left within the space of a few years . . .
So look around. What would you call it then?
My wife has reminded me of our mortgage, our connections, and my reputation, in that order . . .
It is better not to say this one out loud because it sounds too much like what it is.
Shrinking from the Fight
In short, whatever the reason, we have millions of Christian men who have become like the men of Babylon that Jeremiah once described.
“The warriors of Babylon have ceased fighting; they remain in their strongholds; their strength has failed; they have become women; her dwellings are on fire; her bars are broken” (Jeremiah 51:30, ESV).
It is all there. Ceased fighting. Holded up. Failed strength. Become like women. Dwellings on fire. Bars broken down. What about that does not apply to the PCA and to the SBC?
I remember the good old days when Presbyterians and Baptists used to vie with one another about who had a more biblical view of water baptism. Now they are vying with each other over whether Presbyterians can capitulate on same-sexualism faster than Baptists can capitulate on racial identities. Not that it matters in the long run. The hordes of identity politics are pouring through the Baptist gates, and the hordes of sexual compromises are pouring through the Presbyterian gates, but the end result seems to be that the neo-pagans will have taken all the Holy City. They will all feast tonight in the citadel.
You might say that your eschatology doesn’t permit that outcome, or that at least mine doesn’t. That’s as may be, but that is just another way of saying that our eschatology doesn’t permit us the luxury of refusing to fight.
And my point is not that our ostensible conservatives are fighting like a girl. The point is that our enemies are avowedly fighting like girls, with makeup and everything, and are doing so in a way that is kicking our butt.
In those memorable words of Burke, words that ring down through the centuries, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to be wusses.”