The Sissification of Men

Have you ever seen a guy carrying a man-purse or wearing “guy-liner” make-up? They exist, and unfortunately their tribe appears to be increasing. On this topic, Tom Purcell pens an Op-Ed for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in which he mourns the loss of manhood in our culture. Purcell has some trenchant critiques about how sissified men have become. He writes,

Why are men turning into a bunch of softies?

I’ve been following this transformation for some time.

In the late ’90s, the covers of men’s magazines began producing headlines nearly identical to women’s magazines: “Ten tips to remove that flab and win her attention!”

In 2003, I reported on the emergence of the “metrosexual” male — “straight urban men who are willing, even eager, to embrace their feminine sides,” said The New York Times.

In 2006, I reported on the Man Bag, a purse for men, though its creators hate when you call it that.

The modern man needs a purse so he can tote around his hair goop and other items he can’t be without.

One happy Man Bag customer explained why he bought one — it prevented his wallet, which he had carried in his back pocket, from misaligning his spine.

That’s great. We’re at war with tough-guy terrorists and our guys are getting injured by their wallets.

This is good stuff. Read the rest here.

(HT: Ray Van Neste)


  • Mike Aubrey

    I’m an egalitarian. I have no problem with Dr. Burk’s post. I have a great respect for him and his writing.

    What I take issue with is your comment, Matt Svoboda. Thanks for all your Christian love & name calling. That’s real nice & Biblical.

  • T

    Yeah, I use one, and I take offense to you calling me a sissy. What’s more, it is contemptible that you make such ludicrous judgments on cultural practices and try to tie them in to the egal/comp debate with which you are so obsessed. I’m sure God is not quite as disturbed as you are about me having what you call a ‘man-purse’.

  • Ferg

    Guess I’ll have to ask forgiveness for having a bag that perfectly fits a book, my bible and my journal that fits comfortably over my shoulder. Who gives a crap if it’s a man purse. I forgot that to appear like a man I’m meant to carry a rucksack in my back so I can carry my bible, wallet, book and journal.
    Are you guys serious that a man bag is for sissys?

  • Joel

    Here we go again… Why don’t you come over here to Europe where the body builders and ‘sissys’ alike wear bags over their shoulders? It really and truly does not have to be tied to masculinity or femininity. I’m not saying that the line between manhood and womanhood isn’t being blurred, but for goodness sake pick a different litmus test to make the point and then tell us why you think that’s not OK.

    The irony is that according to these kinds of posts, it is the non-bag wearers that seem to be MORE concerned with their appearance, and demonstrate as much by pointing out how they don’t wear them! So, really, which one is worse off?

    It is this sort of stuff that will shape Christian boys into meathead men, because it feeds misnomers about what being a man is. Being a man is not about looking like a lumberjack. It is about a courageous heart. It is about character. It is about loving Jesus at all costs- even if that means martyrdom!


    1 Samuel 16:7 – “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

  • Collin

    “Sissy” is culturally determined. Don’t most American men shave? Isn’t this act some attempt at feminizing the male face? Let’s all poke fun at Gillette.

  • Chad

    The rest of the article is quite different than the beginning posted here. It touts that men are becoming “sissies” because that is what is becoming attractive to women (hypothetically). So it isn’t saying that men want to be like women; men want to be loved by women.

  • Kamilla


    It’s not attractive, not in the least. I think our culture teaches women they *should* want a softer man, so some women accept this. But that’s not what we really want. If it was, Harlequin would have gone out of business and we wouldn’t be saddled with this sick, sad vampire craze – movies and books and (I’ve lost count of how many) television series.



  • Travis Cox


    I split firewood with my hands all day Saturday to heat my house for my wife. I’ve killed five deer this season which I’ve skinned and processed myself to provide meat for my family. I pulled a calf out of a 1500lb cow who was in labor the other day. Last summer I cut hay in well over a hundred degree heat from eight to ten hours a day.

    At this point it is incredibly tempting to ask you or any other guy what they do on a regular basis and then follow it up with a judment concerning their masculinity but that’s not a true litmus test.

    I think you get the point. Now quit playing on the Internet and go get some work done and for God’s sake don’t volunteer to do the dishes for your wife after supper tonight.

  • Frank Gantz

    Is a man bag really a defining point of sissification? There may be a problem with men not being men, but to apply a cultural norm as the standard seems contrary to a people of the book.

  • ron

    NPR did a report on omnivores in Japan. Straight guys that are feminine and aren’t interested in women.

    I fear it will end up in the US as well.

  • R DeBarr

    Dr Burk,I just wanted to say thanks for giving me this gift idea for my dad. I stopped by the Harley store after work and got a nice leather satchel so he can carry his valuables when he parks his bike.

  • Dave Dunbar

    My “man purse” is a bag from Shepherds’ Conference (2002). It is very useful, but contains NO hair-anything, cosmetics, or anything of that nature. It does contain a Bible, note paper, usually a book or two, sometimes the laptop, wallet, IPOD, checkbook, keys, and sometimes an item of self-defense. I hope it isn’t sissy-like — it certainly is useful. 🙂

  • Matt Svoboda

    Everyone who thinks Denny or the article is saying “man bag= sissy” is really missing the whole point…. Try again.

    So no one gets offended this time- I love all of you very much. 🙂

  • Barton Ramsey

    I agree that having a “murse” does not necessarily mean one is a “sissy.” However, I do not believe that is the point of the article or Denny’s post.

    The point is, something is changing in “men” and how we define “manliness,” and some people may or may not have found a legitimate reason why.

  • Denny Burk

    I think some of us may be missing the point here. Purcell is not arguing that every guy carrying a bag is a girly man. He’s arguing that guys who carry around their beauty products everywhere they go in purse-like totes may need to rethink things a bit. I agree. Too many men fritter away their lives on frivolous things. There’s hardly anything more vainglorious than a guy who strategizes the hours of his day around his incessant primping.

    The weakest part of Purcell’s essay is his tendentious thesis about birth control pills. That was pretty weak and not even necessary for his main point–that manhood is being marginalized in our culture.

  • Mike Aubrey

    Too many men fritter away their lives on frivolous things.

    Indeed, but if that’s Purcell’s central point, then there is very, very little reason to limit it to men and his title is deceptive because it is just as unacceptable for women to fritter away their lives on the frivolous as it is for men!

  • Matt Svoboda

    Mike Aubrey,

    Obviously, it is unacceptable for everyone to waste their lives on frivolous things… That does not mean it is deceptive to discuss one particular people(men) who do it. It is okay to single out one particular people and no be deceptive. Please, you seem to continue to miss the point.

    You egalitarians always seem to read things wrongly. (that was a joke- no offense intended)

  • Karen

    Let me echo the complaints about keying the post to bags for men. My husband and son carry small messenger bags because it’s a convenient place to carry a cell phone, keys, wallet, iPod, and usually a book or two. Either they weigh down their clothes by stuffing something into every pocket, lose things, or carry a bag.

    Men carry bags is hardly a novelty, either, since pockets in clothes are a rather recent invention. Would you have said a man with a sporan in 10th C. Scotland was being “sissy?”

  • Mike Aubrey


    So what is the point of calling men “soft” for being frivolous? Assuming that frivolity *is* the point of the article, then what exactly is the point of calling these frivolous men “soft”? Seriously, help me out here. Show me what I’m missing.

    It’s all fine and well to single out men. That’s awesome. Men are expert sinners and need to be singled out as a group. They’re different than women. They sin differently than women.

    Frivolity isn’t one of those different sins — in fact, power tools can be just as frivolous as handbags & shoes. One might say I’m firvolous — in the sense of self-indulgent — when it comes to books. I own roughly 100 Greek grammars & lexicons.

    But if frivolity is the point of the article: that men shouldn’t be wasting their time with stupid things like this, that men are “soft” and “sissies,” then what is the implication for women? If its okay for women to be sissies (and it would be strange for it not to be), then the implication here would be that its okay for women to be frivolous.

    And I highly doubt anyone would say that. And so I ask:

    1) Is the article truly about frivolity?
    I doubt it — the word doesn’t appear there at all.

    2) If Dr. Burk’s point here is frivolity (which is possible), then what in the world is the point of using the word sissy?

    All this to say, you’re right. It isn’t deceptive to single out a particular group. It’s perfectly okay to do so. The question is: how do you go about doing it? What in the world does “sissy” and “soft” add to that signaling out when frivolity has nothing to do with gender at all?

    Here’s a challenge, instead of trying to respond to my argument here, how about trying to answer these questions?

  • David Vinzant

    The point is that real men do manly non-frivolous things like playing football and perfecting their skateboarding tricks. Right, Denny?

  • Jessi Bridges

    Purse or no purse, I can speak for my generation when I say that there are fewer and fewer men that know what it means to be chivalrous, courteous, brave, confident, strong, tough and a leader. I think there are also fewer and fewer manly role models for boys to look to.

    My prayer is that fathers will step up and teach their children (future generations) Biblical manliness; that there are gender differences and they are wonderful!

  • SM

    In his essay, Purcell is attempting to offer a claim to answer his question (presumably his thesis):

    “Why are men turning into a bunch of softies?”

    The mention of man-purses was brief in a listing of transformations he has noted in recent years.

    As I read it, his essay had little to do with arguing that men primp too much (though he believes so). Also, Purcell’s article did not have anything to do with manhood being marginalized in society but more precisely about his observation of transformations in manliness.

    The point of his essay is to answer his opening question: “Why are men turning into a bunch of softies?”
    His question assumes men are a bunch of softies. He answers his question:

    “A scientific study, highlighted in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, offers a theory as to why more women appear to be drawn to softy men.

    It may have to do with the contraceptive pill.”

    “Theory” is the key word. If you follow the trail and read the article he quoted from what he left out was:

    “…Dr Alvergne said **it** could alter women’s view of male attractiveness. ‘It is a **possibility** – but there is **no** evidence of this yet,’ she said. ‘We need a lot more research in this area.'” Daily Mail UK (emphasis mine)

    The article from the Daily Mail is grossly disingenuous in the use of pictures of the supposed transformation or manly attractiveness from the “rough” Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster of the 1950’s to the “cheeky and “boyish” Zac Efron of the early 2000’s. The attractive tough guy, manly-men Kurt Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Sean Connery, and Steve McQueen of the 50’s & 60’s did not hit the big screen until much later in life when compared to the men they chose to represent the transformation towards “soft”, “girly” attractive men. The ages of the men from these previous generations range from late 30’s to 44 at the time the pics were taken, and they are in their character’s costume–a pirate, lawman, a gladiator–tough, manly-men.
    As “evidence” of this transformation to “soft”, “girly” men being more attractive they transition from the icon’s of the 40’s and 50’s who were in their late 30’s to near mid 40’s cast as a pirate, lawman, and a gladiator to the “softer” John Travolta (24) and Ryan O’Neil (29) of the 1970’s cast as a 19 year old Brooklyn kid and a 24 college student, respectfully. Not exactly, a fair comparison.
    As you would guess they used pictures of a much younger Michael J. Fox and Rob Lowe for the 80’s and very young Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp for the 90’s and the still somewhat adolescent Zac Efron for the 2000’s.
    A fairer representation would be to put a picture of 41 year old warrior Brad Pitt up against the 44 year old gladiator Kirk Douglas. Or better yet, how about comparing real men to real men not real men cast in costume, make-up, lighting, and a professional photographer (not to mention airbrushing and other digitizing of photos unavailable decades before). When an article is misleading like that it loses, in my mind, credibility.

    If you follow the article to the end, you find one brief disclaimer:
    “The rise of such stars could also be explained by cynical attempts to market films and merchandise at an ever younger age group.”
    You think? I’m dating myself, but I have never heard of Zac Efron and would classify him as a boy. The picture of him the articles uses is from a film where he is cast as a 17 year old kid. Clearly, he is intended to reach girls for whom we would think it odd if they were attracted to a 44-year old Kurt Douglas, gladiator-type.
    The actors of the 50’s & 60’s started their careers much later. Try finding online a still shot of them in their 20’s or teens. You won’t find one from a film because they don’t exist because they didn’t start their film careers until their late 30’s.
    Were our founding fathers in curly wigs, puffy shirts with lace and ruffles, white stockings, knickers, and a braided pigtail with a ribbon falling down their back soft, cheeky, and ssissified? No. Would we say a man donning that style today is? Yes. Why? Styles change. But, a 20 year old boy will not look like a 44 year old man and he shouldn’t. The two issues are being confused.

  • Sue

    This is one of the best pieces of writing since John Piper wrote A Challenge to Women. (1995) He wrote,

    That you be totally committed to ministry, whatever your specific role, that you not fritter your time away on soaps or ladies magazines or aimless hobbies, any more than men should fritter theirs away on excessive sports or aimless diddling in the garage.

    Piper was just as hard on women as he was on men, and he steered a few normal guys away from compism with this statement. 😉

  • Sue

    This is one of the best pieces of writing since John Piper wrote A Challenge to Women. (1995) He wrote,

    That you be totally committed to ministry, whatever your specific role, that you not fritter your time away on soaps or ladies magazines or aimless hobbies, any more than men should fritter theirs away on excessive sports or aimless diddling in the garage.

    Piper was just as hard on women as he was on men, and he steered a few normal guys away from compism with this statement. 😉

  • David Vinzant


    I’d like to know where in the New Testament you (or anyone else) find texts that define “biblical manliness” as being “chivalrous, courteous, brave, confident, strong, tough and a leader.” Also, where is “biblical womanliness” defined in the New Testament?

  • Matt Svoboda


    Well, I’m not sure why you are trying to keep this contained within the New Testament, but look at the context that Paul says, “act like men,” read Proverbs 31 and look at people like David, Moses, Solomon, Paul, and many other men in the New Testament and tell me how you would describe them… Im guessing words like, “brave, confident, strong, chivalrous, courteous, and leader” would be on that list… Remember, these were very godly men as well, meaning, they are a good example to men.

  • David Vinzant

    I don’t think we’re communicating Matt. The question here is what justification is there for saying that only men are expected to have such qualities and not women.

  • Sue

    Thank you Matt for those kind words!

    I am so sorry, but I think “act like men” could be better read as “act like adults” and not children.

    The trouble is that I have yet to find an edjective in the Bible that is applied to men and not to women. There must be one, and if anyone knows of one, please mention it.

    Oh yes, I remember now – Eaau was a hairy man.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    The trouble is that I have yet to find an edjective in the Bible that is applied to men and not to women.>>>>>

    I have yet to see in the Bible a female father or a male mother. Sex roles involve much more than mere adjectives. What about the nouns?

    Hey, have a Merry Christmas, Sue.

    God bless,
    Mrs. Webfoot

  • S. Daniel Owens

    Do you ever wonder why people are beginning to hate evangelicals? Look no further then this post! Please stop causing people to think I’m like this…

  • Don Johnson

    The grammatical masculine form of nouns in Greek and Hebrew often includes both males and females, unless the context indicates otherwise.

    For example, Heb 11:23 By faith Moses, having been born, was hid three months by his parents, because they saw the child comely, and were not afraid of the decree of the king;

    The word translated “parents” is Greek paternes, which is the plural of pater, which is father. So while it might be possible to translate it as “fathers” we can figure out the most correct translation is parents.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    The grammatical masculine form of nouns in Greek and Hebrew often includes both males and females, unless the context indicates otherwise.>>>>

    Don, are you actually trying to say that there ARE female fathers and male mothers in the Bible?

    I think that you are confused.

  • Don Johnson

    No, just that the Greek term often translated as fathers can mean parents as they include mothers. This is just basic 1st year Greek.

    The OVEREMPHASIS of grammatical gender is flawed from the get go, which is why translators do not agree to limit the lexicons.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Don, the father – as in “male parent” – has the preeminent position.

    You are begging the question, though. Are there female fathers and are there male mothers in the Bible? Is Biblical parenting gender specific or not?

    An underemphasis on gender leads to perversion, actually – and not just of a language.

  • Don Johnson

    The father in a patriarchal society has the preeminent position. The Bible was written in times of patriarchical societies.

    But the sole preeminence of fathers is not endorsed by the Bible, it was just a cultural assumption and God works with people where they are at, taking them step by step into the Kingdom.

    There ARE females sometimes in paternes/fathers-parents in the Bible, but no males in materas/mothers; this is simply the way Greek works, it is not a Biblical truth. The truths of the Bible were chosen by God to be revealed in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and one needs to see how these languages work (and do not work) in order to see what God is teaching.

    Parents (both) are to raise up their children. Society may claim that one parent is above another, but that is not relevant to the Biblical revelation.

  • Don Johnson

    The God of the Bible is said to have a womb, this does not mean God is female, as God is beyond gender. It also does not mean God is sissy. Both Jesus and Paul used female metaphors to describe themselves.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    You are still dodging the question. I’ll put it another way. Show me in the Bible where a woman fathered a child. Show me in the Bible where a man gave birth to a child.

    Men are still fathers and husbands. Women are still mothers and wives. That has not changed.

    The OT was always patriarchal. The inheritances were ALWAYS passed from father to son, as in male child. One time in one family in Israel there were no male heirs, and the daughters were given their male father’s inheritance for only one generation and then the inheritance returned to their own sons as in male children.

    Yes, parents are to raise their children – the man parent as the father and the female parent as the mother. Men are fathers and women are mothers because in the beginning, God created them male and female.

    You are dangerously blurring gender distinctions in ways that neither the Bible nor nature do.

    Genesis 1:27
    27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

    Besides, saying that God is beyond gender is not the same as saying that gendered language for God is irrelevant or that sexuality and gender roles – as in “male and female He created them” – are just some sort of mistake that must be corrected. God’s paradigm has not shifted just because yours has.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Well, I’m going to go do some more important things than bicker with the feminists, no matter how much fun that can be.

    …at least for awhile…

    I have gifts to wrap and cookies to bake. Come over for tea and we can have a nice visit – or coffee if you prefer.

    Have a blessed Christmas, Don, Sue, and every one.

    – Mrs. Webfoot

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Rats! Just one more. It’s one thing to say that God is beyone gender – though I’m not sure what is really being said by that. It is an entirely different thing to say that you and I are beyond gender.

    We are not. I am a woman, a wife, and a mother. I cannot be a man, a husband, or a father. God has limited me to being female, which means I am not male.


    Now, on to the cookies and presents!

  • Don Johnson

    Yes, God designed humans with 2 genders, female and male. Only a female can birth and nurse a child and only a male can impregnate a female. This are the hard and fast disctinctions, beyond that one deals in probabilities.

    Society in OT and NT times was patriarchical, this does not mean patriarchy was God’s best, just like polygamy and slavery were not God’s best.

    Any gendered language for God is a metaphor. God does not have genitals and is neither male nor female, yet uses both genders as pictures for God’s nature.

  • Don Johnson

    I an gendered a male and can never know what it is like to birth or breast feed a child. I do not say humans are beyond gender, humans come in 2 basic genders.

    Many verses that some non-egals read as gendered are not really gendered, they are referring to humans as humans. Suzanne’s bookshelf recently did a series of posts on non-egal reading of 1 Tim 5:8, where all the non-egals are shown as reading the Bible with blue glasses and seeing things that are simply not there.

  • Sue

    I do not wish to be seen as avoiding this conversation so I will say that I do not know of any man giving birth to a child.

    However, my recommendation would be that if you are interested in this process you should watch the movie Junior with Arnold Schwartzenegger and Emma Thompson for a touching and sensitive treatment of this issue.

  • Brian Krieger


    So, then, are you for the elimination of any distinctions between men and women? Eventually even eradicating the biological ones if possible? Or some or all of those? Or….?

    I often read more into what someone says or doesn’t say, so I figured I would ask and you wouldn’t be shy about stating ;-).

  • Sue

    You’re kidding, right. If you had seen the movie you would know that Emma Thompson is quite emphatic in stating “I’m the mom! I’m the mom!” Its a comedy.

    I am much freer to be motherly and feminine as an egalitarian than I ever was before. I am just busy being a mom. ( I work too but my kids are not little.) It is much more fun to be an egalitarian women because I don’t have to suppress my natural femininity since I am not “in submission” as they say. I can be a human being, as I was intended to be – a female.

    It is too funny that some people think that becoming egal makes you lose femininity. Quite the opposite.

    What happens, I think is this. Women who are not living within an egal framework, and who know that being a woman is very bad for them, try to suppress their femininity. This makes them seem less feminine because they are rejecting the role of submission, which they associate with being female.

    But when a woman finally realizes that being feminine does not mean that one has to suppess one’s natural self and be subjugated, then she can simply be herself, as a woman. It is much healthier all around.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Okay. So is it safe to say, Sue and Don, that you agree with me on the Biblical nouns used to describe real human beings? You will never find a male mother or a female father either on the pages of Scripture or in nature.

    Nouns like “father”, “mother”, “husband”,”wife”, “man”, “woman” and so forth are part of God’s creation order of “he created them male and female.” We must not blur those distinctions or we will pervert both language and nature.

    I started down this road because you, Sue, said that there are no adjectives in the Bible that are gender-specific – or words to that effect.

    What about the nouns? I think that I proved my case, but I doubt that will settle it for the egals. Maybe it’s one of those inconvenient truths, so it has to be obfuscated by egals. It’s not very complicated, actually.

    Sigh. I suppose now we have to introduce the subject of trans-gendered people, which is generally where the egals take us next! …and they say that there is no such thing as a slippery slope…

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Your testimony is interesting, Sue. It is similar to mine, but in reverse! Until I worked at getting rid of egal thinking, I had trouble fully embracing femininity!

    Weird! I don’t think that egalitarianism allows a woman to identify herself as a woman because of all that emphasis on shared humanity and all that. In fact, when I accepted that by definition I am a woman, I was told by the egls that I was opening myself up for abuse.

    I was told that I have to define myself, and not allow anyone else to define me. Self-definition is a woman’s right after all.


  • Don Johnson

    Mrs. W.

    We really need to use the GREEK terms and not the English ones and use GREEK grammar and not English grammar. What English did a 100 years ago or does now does not really matter in terms of what the Greek in the 1st century meant. Once one determines as best one can what the Greek meant, then one can translate it into contemporary English terms.

    To simplify things in Greek, a male is never described using feminine term but a female is sometimes described using a masculine term, as a generic masculine. Think of 1950s English, where a man would never be called a “woman”, but a woman might be called a (generic) “man”.
    This is especially true when plural terms are used, but there are also examples using singular terms.

    This is ONE reason why the overemphasis on (grammatically) masculine terms can lead to mistakes in interpretation or at least why faithful believers can end up with different understandings of what is being said.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    You are still begging the question. You will find no such thing as a male mother or a female father in the Bible. Therefore, when adjectives are used about mothers or fathers, – or a specific man or a specific woman, or a husband or a wife, – they are not gender neutral since the nouns are not gender neutral.

    This is especially true of Greek – but you must know that.

    Adjectives modify nouns, not the other way around. An adjective tells us something more about a noun. You have to look at the noun to see what is being spoken of.

    Surely you are not trying to say that nouns such as “woman” “man” and so forth are gender neutral words, are you?

    I would LOVE to have you say that they are. That would make my day. 🙂

    Hey, have yourself a merry little Christmas, and we’ll see you later,

    Mrs. Webfoot

  • Don Johnson

    Here is an example where the male phrase includes women as it was used in the culture at Ephesus.

    The second qualification: “Faithful spouse” (1 Tim 3:2)
    The second qualification in the list deals with the
    overseer’s married life. Careful research has shown that
    this qualification means that whether one is a husband or
    a wife it is important to be a “faithful spouse.” It requires
    that an overseer, if married, be faithful and be “a one-spouse
    kind of person.”

    According to Lucien Deiss (notes to the French
    Bible, the TOB, Edition Intégrale, p. 646, note a), this
    Greek phrase was used in Asia Minor, on both Jewish
    and pagan gravestone inscriptions, to designate a woman
    or a man, who was faithful to his or her spouse in a way
    characterized by “a particularly fervent conjugal love.”

    When I read Deiss’ comment about how this phrase
    was used on ancient grave inscriptions in Turkey, where
    Paul and Timothy ministered, I confirmed it with him
    myself, reaching him by telephone in Vaucresson, France.
    Some might find this insight into 1 Timothy 3:2
    surprising because modern versions of the Bible
    translate this Greek phrase as – “husband of one wife” –
    making this qualification appear to be restricted to men
    only! Instead, rightly understood, this qualification is
    about faithfulness in marriage by a Christian spouse. It is
    not saying that oversight is “for men only.”

    Pages 87-88
    Think Again about Church Leaders by Bruce C. E. Fleming

    The point is that many non-egals think 1 Tim 3:2 refers only to males, but that is not the way the Ephesians themselves used the term, for them, it referred to both genders and so the preferred translation is “faithful spouse”.

  • Nathan

    Very interesting topic.

    It is something that I struggle with, but really shouldn’t have to. You see, I don’t see the Bible giving specific lists of traits for a man.

    It would be nice if the Bible said that men don’t carry accoutrements around with them in a bag, don’t wear guyliner, don’t shave, play football, are unabashedly gassy, whatever.

    Most things on the “Real Man” list are cultural. If the Bible says “Be a man” people across the ages all thought of something different about what being a man meant.

    Regarding, the Bible saying “male and female created He them”

    Does this phrase necessarily mean that he created this one strictly male and that one strictly female? Or could it mean that he created both with a set of masculine and feminine traits? Both psychologically and biologically we see the latter occurring. Intersexed people are a strong case for this (stronger than transgendered, Mrs. W). Until someone can explain why a newborn baby that was fearfully and wonderfully knit together by God in the womb is neither fully male nor fully female but is some kind of mixture physically (ie genetically) of both sexes, then I don’t see where the hard and fast rules that the Bible doesn’t explicitly list comes from and why I should be compelled to follow it.

    Please don’t assume that I’m affirming homosex — that’s another can of worms.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Until someone can explain why a newborn baby that was fearfully and wonderfully knit together by God in the womb is neither fully male nor fully female but is some kind of mixture physically (ie genetically) of both sexes, then I don’t see where the hard and fast rules that the Bible doesn’t explicitly list comes from and why I should be compelled to follow it.>>>>

    Nathan, instead of putting those precious little ones who are born with incomplete genitalia into a separate gender category, why not think of them as what they really are – handicapped human beings. Little babies are sometimes born without arms, legs, or even brains. You wouldn’t think of inventing a new category of humans based on these birth defects. Why would you do it with handicapped genitalia?

    These are birth defects and are in no way normative of anything except the fact that because of sin’s entrance into the world, all of creation is groaning.

    Can a handicapped person – even one that involves chromasomes and genitalia – have faith in Christ and be saved? Of course!

    Like you say, the homosexual subject is a different one. A homosexual can be saved the same way that any other sinner can be saved – by grace through faith, which involves turning from sin to God. The sinner must repent and be converted.

    There is no need to repent of a handicap. Homosexual behavior is sin that needs to be repented of. It is not a handicap.

    Then, as far as sex differences are concerned, the Bible explicitly says that there are differences between men and women. Men father children. Women bear children. A woman is a wife and a mother. A man is a husband and a father. Those are not the same roles at all. There are huge differences between fathers and mothers, husbands and wives.

    Men go to war to defend their homes. Women do not – at least in the Bible.

    What kind of bag a man uses to carry his books, who does the dishes, how the housework is divided up are secondary, really, but not irrelevant, actually.

    In the example of the “man purse”, a woman would not use such a bag – if we are talking Latin America or Europe, that is. It pertains to a man, not a woman. Often when we incorporate into our culture something that is common in another culture, we get it wrong.

    The main issue is that the Bible explicitly says that there are two and only two sexes – male and female. That’s it. There are two sexes.

    Those with damaged testicles are mentioned in the Bible. Levites with handicaps of any kind, – including those involving the reproductive organs – were not allowed to serve in the temple. (Leviticus 21:19-21) They were still part of Israel.

    These are not homosexuals. They are people with handicaps. It may have happened at birth or through some kind of unfortunate accident. They are not a third gender.

    The hermaphrodite legends are pagan in origin. There are some who are trying to introduce these myths into Christian thinking. I have been present in numerous discussions with egalitarians where they have brought up the subject of hermaphrodites – trying to show that gender distinctions are not all that black and white, thereby pushing the gender envelope far beyond what the Bible allows.

    If one does not accept the Biblical limits of “male and female created He them”, then he or she leaves themselves wide open to all kinds of false teachings.

    If you are really interested, then may I suggest you read the following article at the CBMW? I hope that it is helpful.

    Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal

    Peter Jones

    I can hear Don objecting that they are not promoting androgyny, and that may be true in his case. However, it is certainly not true for all Evangelical egalitarians.

  • Don Johnson

    I am male and I certainly enjoy being married to my wife. I know of no evangelical egal who promotes androgyny; God created the genders/sexes and said it was very good.

    Just to be clear, in a marriage, only a husband has the ability to impregnate his wife, and only a wife has the ability to bear, birth and naturally nurse a child. ALL the other stuff of a marriage/family is up to the spouses to decide; if it makes sense for the male to be a househusband, this is fine; if it makes sense for the female to be a housewife, that is fine; it is up to them what works best for them.

    Believers are supposed to be nurturing, this is not a female trait; believers are supposed to be courageous, this is not a male trait. Making artificial gender distinctions beyond the obvious physical ones are not useful and in fact is limiting.

  • Matthew Staton

    Way back in #11, Travis made the important point that in many circles Denny and most other males here (myself included) are sissies. Certainly, in the environment in which I was raised, wearing clean clothes to an office was sissy while wearing work clothes outside and welding your own tools to fix your own problems on your own property and equipment were seen as manly.

    In almost all of the NT epistles, we are enjoined to the virtues of hope, love, rejoicing, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, etc. etc. (I can easily provide references for this list from Romans, 1 Cor, Gal, Eph, Col and other places).

    Culturally, being manly often means telling coarse jokes, using salty language. Simple example: Ice Road Truckers. Many of those guys are manly, culturally speaking. But so what? Their need is for the Spirit vs. the flesh, life vs. death, Cross vs. sin and self — their main need is not to continue to not be sissies.

    My point here is just chime in that being manly is often culturally defined but walking in the Spirit (Romans, Gal) and taking off the old and putting on the new (Col), etc. – these virtues should be the priorities of the Christian male. I know too many Christian males are are concerned about being manly first, walking in the Spirit second, and that is a tragic mistake with real consequences.

    Here’s to truly being CHRISTIAN men and women in the new year!

  • Nathan

    I’m glad you fit the God created this one (Eve) strictly female and that one (Adam) strictly male paradigm. But not everyone fits so neatly into that scheme. And those of us that don’t fit and who want to bring glory to God struggle with finding a way to do that in a world where 90 to 95 percent of the people have no clue what being “sexually handicapped” means. They assume that we experience the world as they do, but for some reason have chosen to divert from it.

    I’m sorry that my hormone exposure was more like Audrey Hepburn’s than Arnold Schwartzenegger’s. Whatever synapses that testosterone burns to create the manliest brain still remain fully intact for me, so sue me. Or better yet, if you don’t like the way that I was created, complain to God about it, not me because I had nothing to do with it.

    That being said, I have everything to do with my actions. The expectations (laws, rules, mandates, whatever) in the Bible still hold. I need help to meet those instead of condemnation regarding why I’m not like you.

    I have much bigger considerations to make than determining if carrying a bag is feminine. The guys in my boat are so ostracized by this kind of thinking that they just give up. Just the simple statement “Men are husbands” is rejection at some level. No, men are not husbands, husbands are men. There is a difference. It is not good for man to be alone — no, it was not good for THE man to be alone. There is a difference. I could go on and on, but then this post will probably be deleted for being a bitter diatribe.

    I assure that I’m not bitter. I just wish for a single day that the people that _automatically_ fit the Bible (and cultural) expectations 10,000 times better than I do, could realize my position and work within that framework to help me live a life that is pleasing to God rather than judge me based on cultural sensibilities and biases that aren’t necessarily biblical.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Believers are supposed to be nurturing, this is not a female trait; believers are supposed to be courageous, this is not a male trait. Making artificial gender distinctions beyond the obvious physical ones are not useful and in fact is limiting.>>>>>

    Don, the way that a mother nuturers her children is very different from the way that a father does. The way that a man shows courage is very different from the way that a woman shows courage.

    Our physical attributes make a huge difference in those kinds of things. You don’t have a problem with that, do you?

    Men cannot breast feed a baby. A man is forced by God’s design to nurture in other ways. Women are not as strong as men. We are forced by God’s design to show courage in other ways.

    Don, for the record, there are Evangelical egalitarians who are pushing the androgyny envelope. I’m surprised that you don’t know that.

    I don’t know what you mean by artificial gender distinctions.

    Hey, have a Happy New Year along with your loved ones.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    I just wish for a single day that the people that _automatically_ fit the Bible (and cultural) expectations 10,000 times better than I do, could realize my position and work within that framework to help me live a life that is pleasing to God rather than judge me based on cultural sensibilities and biases that aren’t necessarily biblical.>>>>

    Nathan, I don’t know what you are struggling with.

    I’m not sure who is judging you. I hope that you find a godly man or a group of godly men who can mentor and encourage you.

    Hey, Nathan, God bless and Happy New Year, okay?

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Nathan, maybe you object to the word “handicap”? How about “limitations permitted by God for His glory to manifest His grace in the lives of imperfect human beings”?

    Joni Erickson Tada is certainly an example of that, even though her limitations were caused by a providential “accident.”

  • Don Johnson

    I think the way humans express nurturing or courage can be very individualistic. Yes, a mother can nurse and a father cannot, and a the bell curve for strength for men when compared to women is shifted to more average strength. Yet there are some women who are stronger than many men.

    There are many ways to be courageous or nurturing that are limited by a few specific things. I simply do not go further than those few specific things, all else is free to choose.

    If you are going to claim some evan. egals push androgyny, you should list some names. I mostly know those at CBE where I have no seen ANY.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Don, actually your arguments about gender equality all flow from neo-Gnostic concepts of androgyny, but somehow you either want to pretend that they don’t or you really don’t know where your arguments are coming from. I’m guessing that you have not taken much time to examine the presuppositions of those at the CBE. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, for now.

    Your paradigm is decidedly androgynous in flavor – the Gnostic ideal.

    You need to take a long, hard, objective look at what you have bought into. I give you as an example of those from the CBE who promote androgyny – in spite of all your howls and denials.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    I will present some evidence, Don, but I have found that with egalitarians, evidence is pretty much meaningless. One can present truckloads of evidence to support what one is saying, and the denials still come. On your grops, the banning, shaming, shunning, and editing also come.

    Here is one piece of smoking gun evidence from the CBE.:

    “Megan DeFranza (M.A.T.H., M.A.B.L) is currently a doctoral candidate at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. She is writing her dissertation on theological anthropology and intersex. She and her husband, Andrew, have two daughters, Lórien and Eden.

    Gender Construction in Society and Church: What We Can Learn from the Intersexed **
    Because of the creation of Adam and Eve, most Christians assume there are only two sexes (male and female), and that these sexes work themselves out in two genders (masculine and feminine). Intersexed persons are those born neither clearly male nor female. Some intersexed persons and their advocates are calling for recognition of a third sex category and rejection of traditional understandings of male and female, an idea not yet adequately explored by theologians. Jesus’ teaching on the eunuch may provide a resource for the intersexed and open up new ways to think about sex and gender in society and church.”

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    No, men are not husbands, husbands are men. There is a difference.>>>>

    Yes, there is a difference. Biblically speaking, men – starting with the first man – were created to be husbands and fathers. God is responsible for that programming.

    I understand that because of circumstances, not choice, a person might not be able to completely fulfill that purpose. We live in a fallen world where things do not always work the way that they are supposed to.

    Even so, God’s original purpose has not been erased. Men were created to be husbands and fathers. Adam, the first male man, is the prototype, the pattern. He was not single even one day of his life, since he was created as an adult human male. Eve was married from the moment of her creation.

    Adult singleness is not the norm, nor should it become the norm. The goal of young people is and should be to grow up, settle down, get married, and have some children.

    Everything else is an exception to that rule. Yes, there are a few who are called by God to satisfied singleness.

    Besides, I know of alleged “intersexed” people who do get married and are heterosexuals.

  • Don Johnson

    My arguments for gender equality flow from the Bible, not Gnosticism.

    I saw the intersex discussion was at the recent CBE conference, but I did not attend, so I do not know what was said. Intersex people exist, androgyny is different, it is denying differences between females and males, which do exist.

    I do have questions about such people, there are many ways things can go wrong in sexual development.
    I feel compassion for them.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Don, I have my own opinions about where many of your ideas and those of the CBE are coming from. Feel free to disagree.

    I don’t think you know the true nature of your new “paradigm.”

    I feel compassion for those who have genital malformations, but also know that the grace of God is sufficient for all of us struggling with physical limitations. “Intersexed” is not a new kind of humanity. They are fully human, created in the image of God, but with flaws caused by the effects of the curse of the fall on God’s creation.

    We look forward to the regeneration of all things.

    Meanwhile, God’s creation groans, and Christ is sufficient even for that.

  • Nathan

    @Mrs. W RE: Singleness:
    People who are “called to singleness by God” are not just an aside to be mentioned in an oh-yeah-there-are-those-people-too sentence.

    There are a couple of key biblical figures that were single and therefore did not fulfill and/or experience the supposed grand purpose.

    Jesus himself did not follow what you call the original purpose. In my opinion, singles are doing quite well to follow the example of Jesus rather than following the example of Adam. Also, God, through Paul, has given people the choice to marry or stay single and said that it is better to stay single when a person can refrain from sexual interaction (physically & mentally).

    Singleness is not taken seriously by most people. This is a HUGE burden that singles (by choice and circumstance) have to bear.

    The goal of young people should be to glorify God and consider the option of singleness seriously, honestly and unselfishly. I think that honest evaluations would result in more people opting for singleness than what we see today.

  • Nathan

    @Mrs. W RE: Sexuality
    The subject is way too complicated to discuss in a blogversation.

    As I approach my sexuality as openly and honestly as possible I’ve learned a few things:

    1. People try to make something gender-specific that isn’t and expect me to live up to that idea which leads to confusion. (men using a European carry-all and you saying that it is relevant, albeit secondary, to a discussion of gender is a perfect example of this)
    2. Men generally do not know what true masculinity is — they assume that masculinity is singular and their experience is an example of it. (See Wild at Heart for a great example of this)
    3A. People aren’t honest about their sexuality. Any doubts, emotions, experiences, etc. that stray from a heterosexual ideal are very rarely communicated.
    3B. The definitions of heterosexual/homosexual/gay are ill-defined & contrived

    I chalk it all up to one side of fallen humanity trying to foist their ideas on another side of fallen humanity.

  • Mrs. Webfoot

    Nathan, thank you for responding to my posts.

    Much that you say is all fine and good.

    1. If you are right about the man purse example, then I agree. A “man purse” is not a purse – it is a bag that only men use, at least in Europe and Latin America. Very few men use one, but it is socially acceptable.

    2. I agree somewhat with this point. I would say that not all men do the same things, but all men need to learn what is the range of appropriate behavior, dress, and manerisms for men. So, in a way I agree that men don’t always know what is appropriate to masculinity. I agree that Wild at Heart may not resonate with all men or even be helpful to most men.

    However, men need to have strong male role models who can help them learn to develop their masculinity.

    Part of being a man is growing up, getting a job, finding a good Christian woman to marry, settling down, and having kids. When I say that “men are husbands” I was thinking of the Greek word “aner.” It can mean either man or husband, since men are also husbands almost 100% of the time.

    I think that in our culture at this point in time, we are trained to focus more on the exception rather than the rule. We look for the loophole in order to either negate or modify the rule. It is not that way in all cultures and all languages. The norm is what is important.

    Even in English we have the usage of “man” to mean “husband” and “woman” to mean “wife”, or even “sexual partner.” “My man” or “my woman” sounds offensive to our ear. It was not so in NT times.

    If a man is called to celebacy, they are still masculine and the admonitions to responsible living are similar. The Bible does allow for the gift of singleness, which is a rare gift that can be used greatly in God’s kingdom if one actually has it.

    What we have a lot of in our society at this time is single men who are giving themselves to a sinful lifestyle as if they were still in jr. high or high school. They are not celebate or even always responsible. They just live for pleasure. There are many women living this way, too. They need to get married and settle down.

    I am assuming that you are seeking to live a pure life, but are in the single category. If you are not living a pure, godly lifestyle, then you need to make some changes.

    However, the reality is that most people – even most people in the Bible – get or got married.

    Singleness is the exception.

    Christians should operate under the assumption that men and women will get married, and should get married. Single people need to prepare themselves for marriage, since most will marry.

    Single people who do not get married need to accept that they are different from the majority, and prepare themselves to handle the challenges of being different. If it is because of God’s call on a person’s life, then God will give grace to that person.

    If He doesn’t give a single person grace to be happy and celibate, then that person doesn’t have the gift of singleness that Paul spoke of, and he or she should seek a partner of the opposite sex to marry.

    3A. Nathan, I think that people are way, too honest about their sexual inclinations. we are bombarded with anyone and every one’s ideas about sex. The Bible is clear. We have men. We have women. We have male. We have female.

    There is not “intersexed” category. There is no third gender. That is an idea that comes from pagan mythology – Satan, IOW. it exists in Gnosticism. It exists in Hinduism. It even exists in ancient Mayan beliefs.

    It has nothing to do with the Bible.

    3B. The definitions of heterosexual/homosexual/gay are ill-defined & contrived >>>>>

    I disagree, Nathan. In the Bible it is clear that those who use other bodily organs, – or use sexual organs in ways that God did not design, – in order to find sexual gratification are an abomination to the Lord.

    Otherwise, who are the “ones who have anal sex” and “those who abandon the proper use of the woman” and “women burning with lust for one another” that we are introduced to in Romans 1?

    Also, the Bible teaches that all sex – including heterosexual sex – outside of the marriage bed is sin.

    Does God have to draw us diagrams in order for us to get the idea?

    Nathan, again, I don’t know what specific issues you are dealing with personally. I should ask you what you believe about Christ. Who is He? What has He done for you? What is the meaning of His death on the cross?

  • Don Johnson

    Since I see Jesus, Peter and Paul as egal, I do not see the egal paradigm as so new. I see it as an aspect of the Kingdom which is always increasing.

  • Nathan

    Mrs W.

    I have to live in a world where my very being is challenged and rejected because I don’t fit the norm.

    If I take those things that make me different from the norm and do something sinful, that is bad. I personally believe that I can take those differences and do something that glorifies God. I don’t think that you do, tho. Therein lies the rub. You think that the differences ARE sin in and of themselves. I don’t walk like, talk like, look like, or even like the things like what you deem to be the typical man. I have to keep telling myself: there is nothing biblical about me emulating the Marlboro Man.

    It seems that you would label some of my God-given attributes as “gay” or sin just because they aren’t up to some trumped up manliness quotient. This is a huge deal. I’m expected to change parts of me that God doesn’t intend for me to change, doesn’t want me to change, and so, isn’t going to help me to change. That leaves me very exasperated about how I fit into the church, what it means to be a Christian, and how I should glorify God.

    From my experience, the gay / not-gay categories that people use encompass WAY MORE than what you said is the biblical definition of homosexuality. So, I stand by my point 3B — the Bible may be clear about homosexuality, but people add to it.

    Maybe to help you understand what I’m talking about — what would you do if 99% of your church truly expected that in order for you to be a woman of God, you needed to blink your eyes two times as frequently as you naturally do? I’m sure you could do it, but how would that make you feel? I dare you to try it — go to church this Sunday and consciously change that attribute about yourself. Would you feel silly? Would you question how this is making you a better Christian woman? Would you wonder why God gave you the blinking reflexes He did? Would you want clear scripture references to support the requirement rather than just cultural references, scientific references, or other extra-biblical references?

  • Don Johnson

    I see Nathan’s point and see negatives in OVEREMPHASIZING gender differences.

    For example, the Bible says a wife should respect her husband, this is supposed to be a difference? Does this mean a husband does not need to respect his wife? What a bunch of hooey.

    Grudem goes to extreme lengths to claim that a while a husband should submit to his wife, this submission is different than his wife’s submission to him. I find this also a lot of hooey and if he can destroy the meaning of a “one another” verse than he can destory others resulting in something far from the Christianity I know.

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