What is Woman For?

Text: 1 Cor. 11:2-12

Ok, so yeah, I know what you’re thinking. What a weird passage. Why on earth did he pick this one? Well, to quote the 42nd President of the United States: “I feel your pain.” I understand that this is a difficult topic, and I find these verses to be quite challenging myself. They present a good occasion to remind ourselves that the word comes from God, by His perfect inspiration for our teaching. This not some personal opinion of men, nor is it my own special interest. These verses are important precisely because of their discomfort, since they show how our current assumptions about what is obvious and what makes sense are not neutral but themselves come from historical and cultural conditions.

Now, I am not going to talk about the specific question of headcoverings. I have preached on that topic in the past, and if anyone does want to hear more about it, feel free to ask me afterwards. Instead, I want to look at what Paul teaches us about men and women and the logical rationale he uses to find practical application. What we see in this passage of scripture is that, when answering a specific question of how men and women are to dress in worship, Paul moves back to the original creation of Adam and Eve to illustrate the nature of men and women and their original orientation towards God and one another. He explains what men and women are. The big idea is this: As a general rule, women fulfill God’s calling in their lives primarily by being wives to and for their husbands. Continue reading

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What is Man For? The Dominion Mandate

Text: Genesis 1:26-31

It is plain that there is a problem with dominion today. We hear a lot about a “jobs crisis” in America today, but we ought to instead call it a dominion crisis. As of 2013, 26% of men in Polk County between the ages of 26 and 54 were not working. Nationally the percentage is 16%. Something is wrong.

In addition to a jobs crisis, there is another crisis. The marriage rate of Americans is 50.3%, the lowest since official statistics have been kept. The birth rate is also at its lowest ever, lower than both France and Great Britain and no longer at replacement rates. This is particularly striking in light of the fact that American culture is more explicitly sexualized that any prior point in its history. Why is this happening? In some ways marriage is simply not desirable. It often doesn’t make good economic sense, especially in big cities, and concepts like family solidarity, male headship, and female submission strike the modern ear as backwards or even immoral. Yet the evidence also shows that low birthrates make the economy worse not better.

These problems are connected. We do not work, and we do not see fruit. This is not simply because men don’t take initiative. They often do fail to take initiative, but more than that, men are by and large bewildered and confused, not knowing what initiative even looks like and not having a clear desire to seek dominion. Instead of occupying our world, we are occupied by it. Continue reading

Douglas Wilson’s Father Hunger

I received an advance reader’s copy of Douglas Wilson’s Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men To Love And Lead Their Families several months ago, but I didn’t manage to actually read it until a month later.  Atop that, after reading it, I had planned to write a review of it, but also allowed another month to pass.  So this is no longer “advance.”  Still, I very much enjoyed the book, finding it engaging on an intellectual level and helpful on a personal level– me being a new dad and all.  So I do intend to review Father Hunger here, but it will now be a series of posts, taking the various chapters in order as I reread them.  I’ll probably skip a chapter or two, or at least combine some, but for the most part I’ll be going through them individually.

You can find “20 Quotes from Father Hunger” over at the desiringGod blog.   As good as those are, I have to say that they are the “safe” ones, suited for the broader Evangelical audience.   I plan to give you the full Wilson treatment here, particularly highlighting all of his funny, manly, tough-talking, and almost-dirty-but-not-quite-because-we’re-talking-about-real-life stuff.  This book’s got some chutzpah, and long-time Wilson fans won’t be disappointed.  It is a blend of what you’ll find in his earlier books on marriage and family, with the obvious qualification that it is directed towards fathers.

Pastor Wilson also relies on the work of George Gilder’s Men and Marriage.  The thesis of that book is basically that men will either be horndogging scoundrels or they will get married, and for the sake of civil society, we should encourage the latter.   Pastor Wilson whimsically follows this theme in one of his subtitles: “Fight Crime, Get Married.”

At this point I would also want add the contribution of Denis De Rougemont’s Love in the Western World.  De Rougement argues that erotic love is at war with civil society, causing men to rush off into affairs, adultery, and even death.  The great antidote is, of course, marriage.  And while one might not agree with all of De Rougement’s religious and historical genealogizing (he connects it all to a medieval theological heresy), his basic point is true: the passions must not rule us but rather be ruled by us.  C. S. Lewis puts it more simply, “Love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be god.”

What this has to do with Father Hunger should be plain, and Pastor Wilson explains it ably.  Men have been lead away from Fatherhood by the supposed virtues of our modern culture.  They follow after romance, independence, and avarice, but the end result is not a dreamy blessedness, but rather permanent adolescence.  The only way out of this muck is to man up.  And so throughout Father Hunger, Pastor Wilson addresses the Biblical command for maturity, male leadership, and the goodness of marriage and children.  He explains the various competing ideologies in our society today and how they pull against marriage and fatherhood.  And he concludes the book with practical advice on how to be a father, directing it to those who currently are fathers, to those who will be fathers, and, most importantly, to those who have never had fathers.

Pastor Wilson’s first chapter, serving as the introduction, lays out the basic vision.  The solution to a broken society is to reclaim the concept of a well-pleased father.  When daddy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  And the only way to recover happy paternal relations temporally is to first recover them spiritually and eternally:

In human history, there will never be a more perfect father-and-son moment than this moment between Father and Son [alluding to Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river Matt. 3:16-17–SW].  This is the keynote–pleasure.  This is the pitch that a father/son relationship needs to match– “well pleased.”  (p 12)

And so it is that Pastor Wilson begins to show us how to be well-pleasing fathers and have well-pleasing families, all by finding pleasure in our father in heaven.  I will continue this review in the upcoming posts.