Up to this point, I have perhaps said a number of unusual things, and in our day controversial things, but we are still just assembling pieces on the workbench. We are now approaching the point where we will begin the assembly. I am talking about constructing a biblical view of how a man and woman ought to enter into the marriage covenant. Once you have this clear in your mind, you will then be in a position to seek out a woman who has it clear in her mind. Or, failing that, if it is not clear in her mind because of the prevailing fog we all live in, you seek out a woman who is absolutely submissive to the Scriptures, and is willing to learn what the Scriptures require of Christian women.
I am going to be using two analogies. The first will be the one I have already alluded to, that of assembling a complicated piece of machinery on a workbench. The second will have to do with novels—one written by a man for men, and the other written by a woman for women.
Let us start with the assembly metaphor. You no doubt have had the experience of putting something together, in a way that made sense to you, and then having the disconcerting experience of finding a piece left over. The unique shape of the piece declared to you the fact that you clearly left something out. It was nothing so simple as an extra screw, or an Allen wrench that was just there for the assembly. The piece was clearly meant to go inside the thing you just assembled, and now you know that your gizmo, whatever it is, does not have that piece, and it was probably an essential piece. And so you know that piece was intended to play a role. And its configuration clearly means that it will be useless unless it goes into its assigned spot.
Now suppose that you lived in a time when egalitarianism had almost reached its apotheosis. “Equality for all” was within reach, and that supreme moment was just around the corner. As a consequence, your workbench was surrounded by observers and critics and media pundits who were telling you that “all parts are equal.” And because of the unique delusion that egalitarianism provides, what they meant by this was that “all parts are the same.”
In the old order, you would have taken the whole thing apart again in order to discover your mistake, in order to find out where that part was supposed to fit. Your mission would have been to discover the unique role that it had to play in the irreducibly complex contraption you were working on. After all, you wanted the thing to work.
But in this weird new order of ours, wanting something to “work” is a clear vestige of white supremacy. And while some people (who don’t get out much) might say that I am clearly letting my satiric bent get away from me, and that no one would ever say that wanting something “to work” was “white supremacy,” I am afraid that we are actually way past that point. People are saying this kind of thing all the time, and we say it about profoundly important things. We say it, for example, about marriage.
We have people running our country who can’t tell the difference between male and female, or between thieves and customers, or between sane citizens and the mentally ill homeless. This is not a side issue—major cities are rapidly becoming uninhabitable because they have a ruling class that believes that a functioning society is the hallmark of oppression. So you do not just have the challenging task of finding a good and virtuous wife. You must find her while living in a madhouse.
In the grip of egalitarianism, we want no assigned roles for anybody. The part that everyone gets to play is the part that they have chosen for themselves. You can be whatever you want to be. We do not want any authoritative assembly instructions coming at us from outside. That would be dictatorial, authoritarian, fascist. So each part must identify itself, in line with its own hopes, dreams, aspirations.
In the old order, in the Christian order, there are sex roles and sex rules. These roles are assigned by the one who designed the whole thing, and the fundamental sex rule is that we must respect the authority of the one who designed it all. It is He that has made us, and not we ourselves. It follows that He knows where everything goes, and where everyone should go.
This applies to the basic facts of biology—God says to the woman, “you are the woman, and so you shall have the babies.” This also applies in areas that some consider less obvious—you are the man, and so when there is a loud noise downstairs in the middle of the night, you are the one who must go check. I say “less obvious,” but we have to remember that it is only less obvious to us now because of the unrelenting dint of propaganda that we have been subjected to.
The glib and sophomoric response to this wants to ignore the fact that God designed everything about us, whether inside and out. So when I say that the one with the womb should make the babies, the response comes back that I do not apply this consistently. Why don’t I say, for example, that the ones with hands should make the sandwiches? A fuller answer will have to wait for my second analogy, the one about the novels, but for the present I will just say that a woman’s inner psychology is as uniquely configured as her womb is. Godly women want to feed their men. Godly women are designed to make the sandwiches. This is not an absolute law, like the one about making babies, and there are times when a man fends for himself and makes quite a decent sandwich. But in the general scheme of things, the apostle Paul wants the women to make the sandwiches. In Titus 2:5, Paul is saying that the older women should be teaching the younger women to be oikourgos—busy at home, keepers at home. That includes the sandwiches. And no, if a man and his wife go out on a lunch date, and their sandwiches are made in the back by some minimum wage male, nobody is sinning.
If you doubt what I am saying about the unrelenting propaganda, try this experiment. Among your circle of friends, most of whom are evangelical Christians, try to make conversation this coming week in a way that will cause one of your friends to complain that you seem to be “stereotyping.” It will not be hard. Say that women like cross stitch more than men do, or that men are taller than women, or that women like baking pies for their men. And the conversations that will follow will be very predictable. Your common sense generalization will be considered “answered” because somebody has a aunt who is 6’ 2,” or a sister who hates making pies.
Because men and women are so naturally distinct, the task of the egalitarians has been to file down the uniqueness of their respective shapes so that they can assemble “families” according whatever worldview whim or fashion takes them at the moment. So instead of thinking about heterosexual civilization as a complex Swiss watch, our generation—in the grip of this lunatic dogma, in pursuit of the brave, new family—want men and women to be Lego pieces that have had the male pieces filed off and the female pieces filled in. Everybody is now a little plastic block, and any piece can go anywhere. The only thing that distinguishes any block is now the color, and they are working on that.
The goal is nothing so simple as “let the homosexuals be homosexuals.” That was just a preliminary step. No, the ultimate goal is for everyone to be metrosexual and androgynous. You have seen the periodic online outrage, have you not, where some tranny dude is complaining about the bigoted men who don’t want to take him out? Make no mistake—this sexual cargo cult is serious, and they have their own perverted version of the great commission. Just as Christ requires obedience from all nations, so these people are driving toward androgynous submission from all. The two worldview are not reconcilable.
But notice something. In this brave new order, not only can any piece go anywhere, it is also the case that any piece is entirely dispensable. In the old order, your eccentric uncle had a place that only he could occupy. In the new order, a block is a block is a block. When someone makes up their own identity, the end result is an absolute loss of individuality. Have you never thought of walking up to someone with Halloween hair and saying, “What an outrageous idea. However did you think of it?” And the contrary is also true. When we receive our assigned station from the hand of God, and accept the fact that He configured us to occupy just such a station, the end result is true individuality, sui generis. There is nobody like your Uncle Wyatt. This is because the one who loses his life for Christ’s sake will find it (Matt. 10:39).
We have been cowed into accepting all their absurdities because certain words or expressions have been designated as “offensive,” and so even Christians have been badgered into abandoning them lest we seem insensitive. We have all been chased out of living useful lives because nobody ever wants to “feel used.” But why not? What’s wrong with being used? It is the great sin of homosexual men that they abandon the natural use of the woman. Is it not? “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another . . .” (Romans 1:27).
When we have a just complaint that someone “has used” someone else, the problem is always with what they left out, and not with the use itself. All of us use one another all the time, and there is nothing wrong with it. This is what it means to live in family, or in community. The problem is not with using people, which is inescapable, but rather the problem arises when we use them in a reductionistic way. The problem comes when you use someone while forgetting who and what they are.
Suppose you are at a picnic late in the afternoon, and someone comes over to ask you a question. When you turn to talk to him, you find the sun is shining straight into your eyes, and so you lean back in your chair so that the guy standing next to your questioner blocks the sun. All of a sudden you can see everybody clearly. Are you using that fellow as a shade maker? Of course. Quite obviously so. But are you using him as just a mere sun blocker? We hope not. If he were to enter the conversation with his own question, would you say, “I don’t think you are supposed to talk. You’re just the umbrella.”
Now lust is reductionist in just that way. As Lewis pointed out, when a lustful man says that he wants a woman, that is actually the last thing he wants. What he actually wants is a particular sensation for which a woman is (currently) the necessary apparatus. A man who really wants a woman is a man who also wants a lawn to mow, bills to pay, curtain rods to hang, a van to buy, car seats to install, meals to share, and—let us not forget to include this—lots of good times in bed. He should want everything on that list and quite a bit more
But nothing on that list is just that. As an old Puritan once put it, first a man must choose his love, and then he must love his choice. And loving your choice means the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility for her, which is why there is no inconsistency between a man using his wife to help guard against immorality (1 Cor. 7:2), and a man laying down his life for her sake (Eph. 5:25). The same man can do both, and the same woman can be both.
All that said, will there be times when a wife is tempted to think that her husband is taking her body for granted? Yes, of course, and there will be times when he probably is. But this is a fallen world, and there will probably also be times when he, up on top of a telephone pole in 28 degree weather, thinks that she is taking his body for granted. Look. Things are tough all over. In a godly marriage, a man and a woman should use and be used, gladly, responsibly, sacrificially, and lovingly. That’s the whole point.
So I will close with my illustration from novels—the kind written by men for men, and the kind written by women for women. I will get to that in a minute, but need to set it up first. The point of this illustration is to demonstrate how deep this creational orientation goes. God oriented men to women differently than He oriented women to men. Men and women do not think about their relationship in the same way. “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” (1 Cor. 11:9).
This is not an example of Pauline misogyny, but rather a description of the deep structure of the world. The man was created for the garden, and the woman was created for the gardener. He has a task in the world, which is to exercise dominion in the world. God saw that he was going to need help with this, and so He created a helper (Gen. 2:18). He created a “helper fit for him” (ESV), a “helper suitable for him” (NASB), a “helper comparable to him” (NKJV).
He was created for the mission. She was created to help the missionary.
Is Paul the only one who thinks this? No, we can gather up additional testimony from Jane Austen, Louis L’Amour, Homer, and Danielle Steel. It can be great literature (Homer, Austen), or it can be reading for the lake cabin getaway (L’Amour, Steel). In the novel written by a man for men, the mission is central. They must find the gold, or win the war, or get the cattle back, or otherwise deal with the guns of Navarone. The plot is driven by that mission. When a women enters the book, she being a plucky rancher’s daughter, what is her role? Well, she helps get the cattle back, and so on. In the novel written by a woman for women, the relationship is central. The relationship is the backbone of the plot. First they like each other, and then they don’t like each other, or somebody else doesn’t like them liking each other, and then they like each other again, fade to black.
In short, everyone thinks this. Everyone knows it. Men don’t think about women the way women think about men. They aren’t supposed to. It is just that we live in a generation when we have decided to rebel against this knowledge, and we are consequently seeking to live in a way that is “against nature” (Rom. 1:26). Part of our general sexual downgrade has been the result of women, even Christian women, thinking that men have a responsibility to be oriented to the relationship the same way the women are. This is false, not to mention pernicious. The results of this mistake are predictable enough, and have been quite disastrous.