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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In Praise of Manly Pastors

I recently had a post about some men—mainly pastors—I would recommend other men follow. That prompted the question: Why is masculinity important in a pastor?

Well, there’s a larger theological discussion to be had here. Masculinity is important because excellence is important, and virtue (moral excellence) in a man—of which elders are to be exemplary—is necessarily masculine. Masculinity is important in a pastor because pastoral ministry is, by nature, agonistic, combative, confrontational. It takes courage, grit, fortitude, perseverance.

(Note the header image e.g.—John Calvin barring the Libertines from the Lord’s Table.)

But the simple reason I wanted to point out a few men to be aware of is because, on the practical level, men want to find pastors whom they can follow into battle. It’s that simple. If you’re a wife reading this, you need to understand that while the children’s ministry may be the most important aspect to you for finding a good church, for your husband it will be having a pastor they would follow into battle. They may not consciously word it that way. Perhaps it’s not even the best way to word it. But wives, you should want to go to a church where your husband respects the pastor. The programs, fellowship, coffee, and “atmosphere” may be terrific; but if your husband does not respect your pastor as a man, he won’t last long.

I hope to explain that a little further soon.

The video below is a good example of the need for manly men in the pulpits of America. I don’t link to this video because I endorse Maxwell. I don’t. I disagree with much of his approach and his theological views (including, ironically, his take on masculinity). But he’s hitting a niche precisely because he is accurately pointing out the failing of modern evangelicalism when it comes to masculinity, engaging the world manfully, and, thus, retaining real men in the churches.

This is why we need men like Wilson, Baucham, Cunningham, Conn, Wiley, and others.

In this video, Voddie Baucham explains that one of the primary reasons men aren’t interested in church is because the pastor is not a man they respect and feel they can follow as their leader.

In this article, C.R. Wiley discusses how to get and keep masculine men in the church.

And when we talk about masculine pastors (or men in general), we don’t—or shouldn’t—mean the machismo and posturing that so often is presented as manhood. Alastair Roberts has some helpful thoughts on that in two articles here and here. I’ll leave you with a quote from Wilson’s Future Men. This is essential in our endeavor to not continue losing future men from the church.

Boys should be able to see masculine leadership throughout the life of the church. From the pulpit, to the session of elders, to the choir, boys should be able to see men they respect. They should not see what is too often the case—missing men or silent men just along for the ride. When men go to church simply to sit in the back, they are teaching their boys to do exactly the same thing, if that.

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On Joseph and Mary’s Betrothal

Matthew 1 and Luke 2 describe the birth narrative of Christ, and give some fascinating details that point to just how shocking, how inappropriate, how unfitting an arrival this was for the long-awaited king of Israel.

The nativity involved a surprising amount of humiliation and shame. Read the account of Matthew 1:18–25 below, and then ponder with me a few surprising elements of the birth narrative over the next couple of days.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Joseph and Mary were betrothed, as we see in verse eighteen. Some translations use the word “engaged,” and that’s a little misleading. Engagement in modern times just means you’re planning to get married. But what does it take to get out of an engagement? Just break up, right? With betrothal, in the ancient world, you were legally man and wife. And to end a betrothal, you had to get a divorce.

The process of Jewish marriages involved (1) the betrothal, and (2) the wedding feast. When you became betrothed, you were legally married, but you were not to come together to have relations until after the wedding feast. So there was a betrothal period, during which time the bride readied herself for the groom to come get her, and the groom went and built and prepared their house. When the groom was done with all of his preparations, he would come and fetch his bride, and there would be dancing and singing as they paraded to the wedding feast (which would usually last for seven days).

Okay, what’s the point?

During that betrothal period, although they were legally man and wife, they were not to come together physically—it was not an option. So, for Mary to be found pregnant during the betrothal, before the wedding feast, would have been one of the most shameful, humiliating things for her to go through. It’s hard for us to grasp the level of shame that would have been present here—we don’t really work in categories of public honor and shame anymore—but this would have been utterly devastating. It would have shamed not only Mary, but also her family, her husband, and the child.

As far as anyone knew, there was no explanation for Jesus’ birth other than impurity (and, in Joseph’s mind, unfaithfulness) on the part of Mary. So, Matthew 19:1 says, “her husband Joseph, being a just man, and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” What’s being said here is probably that although he was just man (and therefore of right ought to divorce her before the wedding feast), but also unwilling to put her to further public shame (which he would be fully within his rights to do), he decided to divorce her quietly—in other words not to make a public spectacle of it.

But, verse 20 says, as he was considering these things, an angel appeared to him and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife.” Now, the Greek doesn’t say, “don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife,” which we read as meaning, “don’t be afraid to marry her.” Remember, she already was his wife, as we see in verses 19 and 24. What it says is, “don’t be afraid to take your wife.” In other words, “Go fetch your bride. Don’t divorce her; she’s remained pure; this is of God. So bring her to your house, finish the wedding process. There’s not going to be any celebrating. There will be no parade of dancing and singing. But don’t be afraid, don’t divorce her, don’t delay anymore—go get your bride.”

Right from the start of his life, Jesus’ first advent is characterized by hushed tones, shame, and scandal. This continues in the birth narrative itself, which we’ll look at next time.

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A Father’s Responsibilities

I ’ve recently been reading Marriage and Family in the Biblical World—a fascinating work explaining the structure, role, and centrality of the ancient household. The book examines the views and practices of marriage, family, and household in ancient Israel, Greece, Rome, and the early church. Below is an interesting list of the father’s responsibilities in the ancient Hebrew and early Christian household, adapted from lists in the book itself. A truly captivating study, I look forward to finishing the book, and commend it to you as well.

A Father’s Responsibilities

·     Personally modeling strict fidelity to Yahweh

·     Leading his family in national festivals, and nurturing the memory of Israel’s salvation

·     Instructing the family in the traditions and Scriptures

·     Managing the land

·     Providing for the family’s basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, and rest (1 Tim. 5:8)

·     Defending the household against outside threats

·     Protecting his wife and daughters from unwise vows (Num. 30)

·     Serving as an elder and representing the household in the official assembly of citizens

·     Maintaining the household’s well-being and the harmonious operation of the family unit

·     Implementing decisions made at the clan or tribal level

·     Leading and discipling his wife (Eph. 5:26)

·     Discipling and disciplining his children (Eph. 6:4)

·     Leading his family in prayer (1 Pet. 3:7)

A Father’s Responsibilities for His Daughters

·    A father has the responsibility to protect his daughter from male predators so that she would marry as a virgin and thus bring honor to the Lord and purity to her husband (Deut. 22; Ex. 22:16–17)

·     Arranging for his daughter’s marriage by finding a suitable husband and making proper arrangements (Deut. 7:3–5; Ezra 9:12; Neh.13:25; Jer. 29:6; Luke 20:24–25)

·     Ensuring a measure of security for his daughter by providing a dowry

·     Protecting his daughter from rash vows (Num. 30)

·     Providing security for his daughter in case the marriage fails

·     Instructing his daughters in the Scriptures

A Father’s Responsibilities for His Sons

·     Modeling biblical manhood in the home (Prov. 23:26)

·     Preparing his sons for marriage and headship in their future households

·     Walking alongside their sons and teach them a trade and to care for the land

·     Telling their sons the story of salvation with a view toward generational remembrance (Deut. 6:20–21)

·     Correcting their sons and restrain their iniquity (Deut. 21:18–21; 1 Samuel 3:13)

·     Teaching their sons wisdom from God’s Word (Prov. 2:1–5; 3:1–2)

·     Making arrangements to help their sons to secure wives (Gen. 24)

·     Leaving their sons an inheritance (Deut. 21:15–17)

I highly recommend this work for any who are interested in studying the theology of the household, or in understanding the cultural context of the biblical world more generally. One of the most fascinating books I’ve read recently—get it here.


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How to Start Building Your Book Collection

So you want to start building your library, but you’re not sure where to start. I’ve often spoken with folks who wish to dig deeper into the Christian faith, but then find that there are just too many books to choose from—and it’s hard to tell what’s reliable anyway. The proverbial flooded market can certainly be overwhelming—especially when you want solid, trustworthy resources, not just whatever happens to be on TGC’s top 20 list.

So, here’s another list of recommended books!

I’ve started compiling a list of books that would serve well as a starting point for a basic Christian library. And as always, recommending a book does not mean that I necessarily agree with all of its content. Rather, I think these are books which are accessible, solid, and particularly beneficial in their various categories. If you’re interested in learning more and getting serious about the Christian faith and way of life, I recommend starting here. I’ll explain why I give these specific recommendations in another post.

I’d also love to hear about any other books you’ve found to be an essential introduction in a particular area.


Study Bibles

HCSB Study Bible

Ryrie Study Bible

How to Study the Bible

Grasping God’s Word, by Duvall and Hays

Basic Bible Interpretation, by Roy Zuck

An Introduction to Theology

Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God, by Bruce Ware

Systematic Theology, by Norman Geisler

He Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom, by Michael Vlach

Understanding End Times Prophecy, by Paul Benware

On Living the Christian Life

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World, by Michael Horton

Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness, by Ed Welch

When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man, by Ed Welch

Respectable Sins, by Jerry Bridges

The Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges

Anger, Anxiety and Fear: A Biblical Perspective, by Stuart Scott

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, by Heath Lambert

On Marriage and Family

Her Hand in Marriage: Biblical Courtship in the Modern World, by Douglas Wilson

Reforming Marriage, by Douglas Wilson

Building a Godly Home, by William Gouge

Why Children Matter, by Douglas and Nancy Wilson

Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants, by Douglas Wilson

For Men:

Federal Husband, by Douglas Wilson

Man of the House, by C.R. Wiley

The Exemplary Husband, by Stuart Scott

For Women:

Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married? And Other Useful Comments, by Nancy Wilson

The Fruit of Her Hands: Respect and the Christian Woman, by Nancy Wilson

The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace

Praise Her in the Gates: The Calling of Christian Motherhood, by Nancy Wilson

The Silver Lining: A Practical Guide for Grandmothers, by Nancy Wilson

On Salvation

Free Grace Theology on Trial, by Anthony Badger

Freely by His Grace, by Hixson, Whitmire, and Zuck

Grace, Salvation, and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages, by Charles Bing

On the Life of Christ

The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, by J. Dwight Pentecost

On the Holy Spirit

The New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit, by Larry Pettegrew

Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship, by John MacArthur

On the Church

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever

Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, by Jonathan Leeman

Going Public, by Bobby Jamieson

On Ethics

An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, by Robertson McQuilkin and Paul Copan

Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning, by Wayne Grudem

Devotionals

Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers from Banner of Truth

Morning and Evening, a devotional by Charles Spurgeon

The Puritans: Daily Readings edited by Randall Pederson

Psalms for Trials: Meditations on Praying the Psalms, by Lindsey Tollefson

Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, by Owen Strachan

New Morning Mercies, by Paul David Tripp

Virtuous: A Study for Ladies of Every Age, by Nancy Wilson

Learning Contentment: A Study for Ladies of Every Age, by Nancy Wilson

Hymns to the Living God

Hymns of Grace


 

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Free Books and Furniture Burning

Doug Wilson is running a blog series this month, aptly titled “No Quarter November,” in which he is doling out rough-hewn, unfiltered, honest thoughts—with no qualifications, no apologies, no punches pulled, and the brake lines cut. As he puts it, he’s departing from his usual pattern of being “balanced and reasonable.” If you can abide his approach, it’s worth the read and thoughtful consideration.

In conjunction with this series, Canon Press is giving ebooks away for free. Today, it’s Wilson’s book, Federal Husband.

Federal Husband is one of the best books on being a husband and father I’ve ever read. It’s challenging, insightful, and convicting. If you have Amazon Kindle, you’d best get over there and grab Federal Husband while it’s free. Or, if you prefer the hard copy, it’s well-worth the price.

Also, enjoy this delightful video in which Wilson explains his series… I barely heard anything he said—I was watching the flames.