MGTOW Propaganda in Reformation Germany

I continue to be astounded by just how pervasive the truth is that there is nothing new under the sun. I discovered recently that the MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) movement is also nothing new. I’m reading “When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe,” by Steven Ozment; and in the first chapter he writes:

Three years before his own marriage, Martin Luther wrote a treatise, Vom elelichen Laban (On the estate of marriage, 1522), his first lengthy discussion of the subject, in which he complained that “marriage has universally fallen into awful disrepute,” that peddlers everywhere are selling “pagan books which treat of nothing but the depravity of womankind and the unhappiness of the estate of marriage”—a reference to classical misogynist and antimarriage sentiments and to the bawdy antifeminist stories that were popular among Luther’s contemporaries.

A proverb by Jerome was also popularly used in Luther’s day: “If you find things going too well—take a wife.”

This disdain for marriage is nothing new. The divine institution has been under attack since the beginning. Our current culture’s confusion and contempt surrounding the matters of marriage are why the teaching and work of folks like Allan Carlson, C.R. Wiley, Doug Wilson, Foster and Tennant, and others is so important.

“When Fathers Ruled” is not only an interesting book regarding the historic protestant view of marriage; it’s an essential work for understanding the Reformation in its context, as seeking to restore the biblical view of marriage, family life, and the discipleship of the household. I encourage you to get a copy here and check it out for yourself. I think you’ll find it beneficial in various ways.

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Learning to be non-androgynous men…

Most Christians—including, unfortunately, many complementarians—speak of men and women as though they are basically interchangeable in every way except with regard to specific formal offices in the church and home. We often act like humans have largely androgynous souls that just happen to get stuffed into gendered bodies. The problems and dangers of that view are myriad, and it comes out in the way pastors and Christian leaders give advice to men—advice that really would be equally as relevant to women.

Where is the gender-specific, real-world, biblical and practical wisdom for men to learn how to cultivate godly masculinity? Where is the biblical doctrine of the household? Where is the fatherly advice that makes men want to be good at being men? Allow me to reiterate a few places to start.

First, I can’t recommend highly enough the project from Michael Foster and Bnonn Tennant called “It’s Good to Be a Man.” Right now, it’s only a Facebook page, but they’re hoping to gain some momentum and start a site to post articles and continue helping men any way they can. I’d love to see them start a podcast. Anyway, even though it’s only a Facebook page right now, I’m telling you these guys are worth following—helpful and real. Set it so that you get notifications everytime they post, and enjoy!

Here’s some more to get you off the ground:

Recommendations for some books, blogs, and podcasts men ought to know about.

Recommendations of some specific men worth following. This is how you really learn and grow—by following men who are already being the kind of men you want to be.


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Men, Not Geldings

I’ve stumbled (over the course of about a year) onto a group of Christian men that I wish I would have known about years ago (some of them haven’t been around that long, but you get my point). The unfortunate—and sometimes unacknowledged—reality in the Christian world is that most of the widely known, popular pastors and teachers are not masculine men. Sure, they might have good things to say; but many men find it hard to look up to them or to really feel like they can follow them because, well, they’re simply not manly.

Additionally, of those who do aim to appeal to men specifically, those who avoid the trap of immorality (which ensnares far too many), often fall prey to the error of artificial machismo on the one hand, or, on the other, of the “emotionally evolved” masculinity that causes men to relate to other men the way women relate to women—and sometimes they fall prey to both these errors.

Another endemic threat is the fact that many “celebrity” pastors and theologians, including conservative men for whom I have much respect and from whom I have learned much, can be prone to follow the winds of cultural pressure. Even those who for the most part have stood strong against cultural and worldly influences, frequently hold to positions or conduct themselves in such a way as to make me hesitant to actually recommend them as men, to men. The pressure to be academically respectable, and to “have a seat at the table” amongst the intellectuals of the world is often overwhelming, and even the most loved and respected theologians and pastors fall prey to the temptation to be found respectable by the world’s standards.

Well, all that to say, I’d like to commend to you a number of relatively lesser-known men who are writing and speaking about things that actually matter to the every-day person and are genuinely helpful to men, specifically, who are seeking to grow in wisdom and follow Christ faithfully amidst the hectic and mundane schedules of modern life.

These particular men minister in overlapping circles, and thus often interact with each other online; that interaction is beneficial and edifying to the curious observer as well, so I would recommend not only following their individual blogs/podcasts, but finding them on Facebook as well and learning from their conversations with one another. Yes… I very much enjoy being a fly on the wall in those discussions.

Fair warning: this crowd is no stranger to controversy (you can read about some of that here). To sum up my thoughts: often I agree with the controversial side, and am glad someone stepped up to say it; the rest of the time, it’s rarely something that would prevent me from recommending these folks (clearly). I’m not recommending them as the most refined and safe theologians, but as real men you can actually look up to—the kind of men you want to spend time with on the weekend just so they might rub off on you.

Additionally, many (if not most) of these men are Presbyterians, thus I will find myself in disagreement with them on various matters of theology and ecclesiology from time to time; however, I have not actually found this to be a hindrance to my learning and benefiting from them, since our philosophy of worship, ministry, and culture is so kindred of spirit, and, as I’ve clarified here, finding someone with whom you agree on every fine point has never been a good standard to have—that way lies madness.

I’ve taken far too much space to get the simple point across: these are some men (in no particular order) I’ve benefited from recently; they are exceptional resources to be aware of, and I’d like to make you aware of them as I think you’ll find them enjoyable as well. As I said before, I wish I could have discovered these men sooner. So then, to the names:

  • Michael Foster — Foster writes from time to time on sexuality, attraction, marriage, and manhood, but not in the typical way. He’s actually talking about the things we know in our gut to be true, but which most Christians just rarely talk about or acknowledge. Most Christians—including, unfortunately, many complementarians—speak of men and women as though they are basically interchangeable. We often act like humans have largely androgynous souls that just happen to get stuffed into gendered bodies. Where is the real-world, sex-specific wisdom for men to learn how to cultivate godly masculinity? Where is the biblical doctrine of the household? I’d say, start with Foster. You can follow him on Facebook here and here to see more of his thoughts. He and Tennant (see below) also started a podcast called “It’s Good to Be a Man” that is well-worth the listen.
  • C.R. Wiley — If you’ve followed my blog at all recently, you probably recognize this name. Wiley is a pastor in Manchester, Connecticut, and he’s written one of my favorite books for young men on building, cultivating, and managing a strong and godly household. His blog, PaterFamilias Today, is a treasure trove on similar topics. Pastor Wiley also recently started an email newsletter that, so far, has been well-worth it. Just send him your email address over Facebook (and follow him while you’re there) and he’ll add you to the subscribers list.
  • Dominic Tennant — Tennant has an exceptional blog, and also is worth following on Facebook for more of his thoughts. If you want to cut straight to the meat, begin your journey with this article, and (unrelated) this series. He also writes and podcasts with Foster on It’s Good to Be a Man.
  • Tim Baly — pastor at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana; you can hear Baly on Warhorn Media’s podcast The World We Made, and read him at Out of Our Minds. He recently wrote a book called The Grace of Shame, addressing modern Christians’ blind spot when it comes to interacting with and helping homosexuals.
  • Doug Wilson — perhaps the best known name on the list, Wilson is a pastor at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. He’s a prolific writer who’s written some of the best pastoral books on marriage and family I’ve read, and he blogs regularly at Blog & Mablog. He also has a podcast I’d highly recommend, called the Plodcast, in which he comments on a current social or political issue, recommends a book, and then discusses a theological word or concept; it’s about 20 minutes total, and well worth it.

As I noted, the above men will often interact with each other on Facebook—that’s worth following. A couple of other men you’ll see associated with these, whom I don’t follow as much but are still worth knowing, include: Eric Conn, Toby Sumpter, Jake Mentzel, Peter Jones, and Andrew Dionne. There are a few other men I would similarly recommend following, but who don’t interact in these same circles. One that I’ll include in this post would be Voddie Baucham. You can find some good sermons and clips on YouTube, but his current messages can be heard on SermonAudio.

I’m sure there are more to include, but I hope you find this group of men encouraging, instructive, and edifying. I thank the Lord for grounded, manly pastors, helping men to be men of God. Do you have any others you would add to the list?


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Deeper Discussions on Divorce

Our church has recently been discussing the biblical teachings on sexuality, marriage, divorce, and remarriage. This is, of course, an astoundingly difficult subject both practically and morally, as well as exegetically and hermeneutically. The deeper into the issue you go, the more levels of complexity and confusion you find, and more differences of opinion between loved and respected pastors and teachers.

In that vein, you might be interested in this online conversation happening between two theologians from whom I’ve benefited greatly over the past few years—Doug Wilson, and Dominic Tenant. It concerns some of the finer/stickier points of when a wife may be allowed, biblically, to leave her husband.

It started with Pastor Wilson’s fictional letter to a wife considering leaving her husband over abuse and mistreatment.

Wilson has a fairly loose interpretation of Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 7, so Dominic Tennant offered a few critiques of Wilson’s exegesis here.

Wilson responds and seeks to clarify here.

And Tenant replies once more.

I’ll let you know if anything more comes of it; I look forward to any further discussion.