Preying Women

As Christians we are commanded to “prove all things” or, as another states: “examine everything carefully.” This, I believe, is what we find in the following analysis.

The evangelical crisis about gender roles is much worse than you think. I know this because discerning, biblically-grounded complementarian friends read Gospel Hope in Hookup Culture by Owen Strachan, and thought it was pretty good.

It was not pretty good. It is lightly-rebranded feminism.

Why is the Gospel Coalition sponsoring an articulation of “biblical sexuality” that is basically rebranded feminism? Why is that articulation coming from a former president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood—an organization dedicated to correcting this sort of error? And why are discerning, biblically-grounded complementarians reading it without their bullshit detectors going off?

Because see the first sentence of this article.

Satan used just enough truth when he tempted Eve to prevent any red flags going up. The same thing is happening here. Owen’s points are just truthful enough for us to nod our heads and keep reading, instead of saying, “Wait a minute, what about…”

Let’s work through each of his four points. I’m going to start with point 2 first, because it comes logically prior to point 1—and the fact that Owen seems oblivious to this is almost certainly part of the problem:

2. Promote God-honoring romance, not sexual utilitarianism.

This is a lopsided secular caricature of what the Bible actually says about the relationship between sex and love. God designed sex to image covenant love—not romantic love. I think the ideal covenant love within marriage does involve romance, but it is the covenant that sanctifies the sex, not the romance. Romance doesn’t purify sex, and sex without romance is not dirty. Marriage purifies sex, and sex without marriage is dirty.

This Disney-chivalry notion of romance has a great deal to do with where we are today. Once romance became all that was required to legitimize sex, fornication became a matter of course.

1. Promote an ethic that focuses on the whole person, not ‘hotness.’

This is the standard feminist solution to perceived problems of objectification. The issue is not that it’s wrong, per se, but that it promotes an indirect solution to physical attraction, instead of the direct solution which the Bible explicitly advocates. What about…marriage (1 Corinthians 7:9)? If you’re going to “hook up” with someone, the way the Bible says to do it is to marry.

Here’s another way of getting at the problem: Owen is suggesting we should encourage serial fornicators to consider that God would rather they treated people as more than just objects of sexual desire. The implicit hope is that they will therefore realize that purely physical sex degrades both parties, and so stop fornicating. But that isn’t realistic, and it doesn’t represent what God would have them do anyway:

  • It isn’t realistic because what will actually happen is that since their sexual urges won’t go away, they will think that God would rather they chose their sexual partners on the basis of more than just looks (see: romance sanctifies sex)—and they will keep fornicating anyway.
  • It isn’t what God would have them do, because God would have them repent of their fornicating and make proper use of their sexual urges by marrying someone to have sex with.

Moreover, couching the solution in terms of the “whole person” secularizes what the Bible says about the qualities to desire in a spouse (aside from hotness): namely, virtues like fidelity, responsibility, wisdom etc. Once you’ve disconnected marriage as the proper context for sexual urges, and connected up romance instead, you naturally become quite coy about what to look for in a partner, because you’re thinking like a romcom instead of like a Christian.

3. Train men to care for women, not prey on them.

Obviously we don’t want men preying on women. But as commenters on the article asked, does Owen have any actual working knowledge of hookup culture? Like them, I doubt it. From the first-hand accounts I have read, it is the women who typically prey on the men. Indeed, it is a cliché in our culture that women are in control of sex. Men always want it; women exercise power by selectively granting it.

Owen’s point here is especially insidious because if you react against it, there’s a presumption that you are soft on rape. Well, no. I’m as hard on rape as the Bible is. But if you’re trying to offer a solution to women’s consistently and insistently treating men as sexbots, and your solution is, “teach men to behave better,” I am going to point out that you are a fool, because the problem starts with the women behaving badly. You don’t fix a leaking roof by putting a bucket under it.

4. Help students see they are not defined by their sexuality.

Yeap, once again true…except look at how Owen describes the problem:

Hookup culture is equally corrosive for women. According to Wade, “Sexy costume themes” at campus parties “reward women for revealing and provocative clothes, stratify them and put them into competition, all while reminding them that it’s their job to make parties sexy” (195). By Wade’s own testimony, the postmodern approach to sex robs women of their dignity, puts them into competition, and plunges them into unhappiness by rendering them as mere objects.

Notice the grammar. Who are the actors in this paragraph? It is not the women. The women are passive. It is the “parties” and the “postmodern approach.” Since parties and approaches are merely proxies for the real actors, the clear implication is that it is men who are doing this to women. But that is simply garbage. The entire philosophy underpinning what Owen describes is feminism: driven by women. Enabled by men, certainly—but driven by the sin of women’s envy. And in terms of the practice, if you consult first-hand sources, you will discover that again, while men often enable this behavior, it is women who eagerly jump into the most provocative outfits they can find; women who establish hierarchies and competition with each other; women who see it as their jobs to make parties sexy; women who are the first to bid men to treat them as mere objects (and, of course, the first to complain when men comply).

If I were to put my criticism another way, I’d perhaps say this: Owen claims that he is advocating for a gospel hope in a hookup culture, but he fails to actually anchor a single point he makes in the gospel. He doesn’t even anchor them securely in the facts. He mostly just regurgitates received cultural wisdom—aka feminism.

Jerusalem to Emmaus and Back: An investigation.

A fascinating post by Dr. Bivin reproduced on Holy Land Photos’ blog.

David N. Bivin, founder and editor–in–chief of the Jerusalem Perspective has produced a wonderful article A Farewell to the Emmaus Road. Bivin writes: The Emmaus Road narrative is the climax of Luke’s Gospel. In it, two of Jesus’ disciples encounter their resurrected Lord as they follow the road leading west from Jerusalem. Not only do […]

via The Road to Emmaus — A Farewell — HolyLandPhotos’ Blog

Markos reviews Latta: C. S. Lewis and the Art of Writing

Louis Markos teaches English at Houston Baptist University. He also holds a distinguished chair at the school. Prof. Markos gives clear voice to as to how to communicate effectively: say what is meant in concrete and understandable terms. This is fresh air for me.

In this review he describes all the benefits of Latta’s work in combing his personal correspondences to analyze Lewis’ work.


Could there be any two people more different than George Orwell, an atheist and socialist who worked as a policeman in Burma, spent a year living as a hobo in Paris and London, and fought in Spain on the loyalist side, and C. S. Lewis, a bookish Oxford don and Cambridge professor of English who never held a job other than teaching and who, after many years as an atheist, matured into the foremost Christian apologist of the twentieth century? And yet, the similarities between their lives and works are striking.

Orwell (1903-1950) and Lewis (1898-1963) both spoke over the BBC during WWII helping their fellow Brits understand what they were fighting for. Both wrote dystopic novels–Animal Farm and 1984; That Hideous Strength–that exposed the dangers of totalitarianism from the right or left and that warned against social engineering and the loss of personal freedom. Both spoke to the common man and both deserved the title of apostle of common sense.More to the point of this review, both men were prose stylists of the highest order who equated clear writing, not only with clear thinking, but with moral clarity as well. In his seminal essay, “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell exhorts his readers to use simple, concrete language, avoiding such rhetorical pitfalls as abstract terminology, academic jargon, tired clichés, pretentious syntax, and weak, foggy euphemisms.Poor and lazy writers succumb often to these pitfalls, but so do wicked writers who manipulate language for their own nefarious ends. The political propagandist uses abstraction, jargon, and euphemism as a way of hiding his atrocities. For the Nazi or Communist ideologue, the goal of writing is not clarity but obfuscation; words are not meant to reveal goodness, truth, and beauty, but to lend an aura of respectability, or at least inevitability, to inhuman thoughts and actions that should be unthinkable.Although Corey Latta does not mention Orwell in his new book, “C. S. Lewis and the Art of Writing,” he makes it clear that Lewis approached writing with the same type of aesthetic and moral seriousness. Writers are not people who play with words, but stewards entrusted with a precious gift. Latta, an author, teacher, and public speaker who has written on Lewis, the imagination, apologetics, and literary theology, demonstrates that Lewis, from early childhood to the closing weeks of his life, identified himself primarily as a writer, one equally devoted to his own individual writing and to the community of writers that God put in his path.Latta’s contention that Lewis’s dedication to writing lies at the core of his being should come as no surprise to lovers of Lewis. And yet, no critic to date has devoted a book to the fascinating subject which Latta describes in his lengthy subtitle: What the Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic, Apologist, Memoirist, Theologian Teaches Us about the Life and Craft of Writing.In keeping with his subtitle, Latta quotes passages from all the various genres in which Lewis wrote; however, what makes his book a treasure trove for Lewis lovers is the time Latta has spent combing through the thousands of letters Lewis wrote to achieve an admirably rounded and nuanced view of him as a writer. What emerges from Latta’s loving interaction with Lewis’s letters is the portrait of an Inkling whose veins ran with ink: “There is hardly an area of Lewis’s life untouched by writing. Every relationship. Every loss. Every fear. Every ambition. Every hope. Every disappointment” (5).Composed as it is of brief, impressionistic, kaleidoscopic chapters, C. S. Lewis and the Art of Writing is a hard book to summarize, but its mostly chronological approach draws out facets of Lewis’s character missing from most of the standard biographies:

  • Lewis wrote because he had to, because he was a writer: “I am sure,” he wrote in one of his letters, “that some are born to write as trees are born to bear leaves: for these, writing is a necessary mode of their own development” (134).
  • Lewis the writer possessed, as his atheist tutor Kirkpatrick pointed out in a letter to Lewis’s father, “fixity of purpose, determination of character, [and] persevering energy” (109).
  • Though dedicated to his craft, Lewis was discerning enough to know when a project needed to be dropped; contrariwise, he had a long enough memory to be able to pull out an idea he had dropped decades before and bring it to completion.
  • Lewis’s dutiful letter writing–much of which he dreaded–included not only personal and spiritual advice, but his reading and commenting at length, often with considerable detail, on poems, stories, and essays that had been mailed to him by friends, acquaintances, and strangers.
  • Lewis’s experience and philosophy as a reader and writer are inseparable: “Each work Lewis wrote was an attempt to give the reader a new view of the world. To turn readers into witnesses of and participants in what was for Lewis a transcendent act” (76).
  • Lewis downplayed the role of originality in writing, not only on aesthetic grounds, but because of his spiritual understanding of the relationship between God the Creator and the human artist: “Beauty descends from God into nature,” wrote Lewis in a letter to his longtime friend Arthur Greeves, “but there it would perish and does except when a Man appreciates it with worship and thus as it were sends it back to God: so that through his consciousness what descended ascends again and the perfect circle is made” (145).
  • Lewis also downplayed originality because he believed “the writer wasn’t responsible for–or even capable of–original thought, [but] was more of a translator for pre-existent truths” (165-166); and not just any translator, but one who translated “existent ideas into accessible language, into vernacular” (166).

Most lovers of Lewis will know that Lewis’s colleagues at Oxford were highly critical of his popular and Christian works and that his dear friend J. R. R. Tolkien–whose Lord of the Rings Lewis championed–was dismissive of his Narnia books. Most will also know that Lewis’s original ambition was to be a celebrated poet, an ambition he never realized.Still, even here, Latta brings a fresh approach and new insights to the table. It was not until Lewis was able to die to his early desire for fame, not until he was able to embrace his gift for writing as an end in itself, that he was able to persevere through all setbacks and mature into a truly accomplished writer: “It’s when, Lewis believed, the writer stops seeking reputation as one who communicates great ideas and starts loving the ideas for themselves that he can actually write. It’s dying to the novelty of being a writer that frees one up to go and write. Lewis discovered this unlikely artistic version of ‘he who wants to gain his life will lose it’ by writing for himself. Without the motivation of the public’s praise, Lewis found the act of writing its own reward” (133-134).Finally, in the midst of painting his rounded portrait of Lewis the author, Latta offers plenty of sound advice on how to become a good writer. He culls this advice mostly from Lewis’s letters, particularly one he wrote to a young American girl in which he listed five rules of thumb for crafting prose. Latta sums up those five points for us–“1) make quite clear what you mean, 2) prefer the plain, 3) never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do, 4) instead of telling us a thing, describe it, and 5) don’t use words too big for the subject” (4-5)–and then devotes a number of chapters to fleshing them out, with Lewis, of course, as his model. As an added bonus, Latta invites us to become Lewis-like writers ourselves by providing, at the end of each chapter, a series of probing questions and thought-provoking assignments.

C.S. Lewis and the Art of Writing makes a fine addition to the ever growing number of books about Lewis, offering yet another reason why Lewis remains a major literary and popular figure. Indeed, reading Latta’s book and comparing it with the life and work of George Orwell has convinced me that God chose Lewis, not only to be a defender of the faith in a time of unbelief and an apologist for beauty in an age of ugliness, but to be an advocate for clear, common-sense truth at a time when totalitarianism from the right and left threatened to extinguish it forever.

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Μονογενής in the Church Fathers: A Response to Kevin Giles, Part 5 — The Upper Register

A good summary post by Dr. Irons on how we should think about biblical communication. Also, throughout this series, the importance of church history is revealed. History’s use here by Dr. Irons discloses how these early Christians interpreted their native language and thus gives us valid insights to the Greek text.


Μονογενής in the Church Fathers: A Response to Kevin Giles, Part 5 — The Upper Register

“Only Begotten” or “Unique?”

Most Christians are familiar with John 3.16 which says that Jesus was “only begotten” or some versions: “unique.” So which is it, or possible is it a combination somehow of these two ideas or something else? Lee Irons engages Kevin Giles to note his disagreement with translating the Johannine term (monogenase) which only occurs 5 times in Scripture. These instances of the word however are found in direct speech from which Christians derive important conceptions about the nature of God and Jesus and their relation to each other. This is already part 4 in a series upon which I was planning to write an introduction on the first post. Oh well!

Lee Irons and Kevin Giles both believe in the Eternal Generation of The Son which formulation for some adherents hinges at least in part to ideas from the term under examination: monogenase (only begotten, unique).

Adjacent issues to the understanding of the divine relationships are both practical (complementarianism or egalitarianism-since Paul uses divine relating to teach about Christian marital relationships in 1 Cor.11.1-16) and conceptual (Functional Subordination of The Eternal Son).

Lee Irons indicates that both Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware announced on the first day of the recent ETS meeting (Nov. 2016) that they now hold to The Eternal Generation of the Son. This conception I became convinced of a few years back and I credit Lee Irons explanation of it as what made sense to me. The Son is both eternal and generated, therefore: eternal generation.


Μονογενής in the Church Fathers: A Response to Kevin Giles, Part 4 — The Upper Register

132. “The Only Creature Without Sin” – Pope Francis on the Immaculate Conception of Mary — Vatican Files

January 1st, 2017 On December 8th each year, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is celebrated. On this occasion the Roman Catholic Church contemplates the belief that Mary was preserved from original sin. This view had been part of Roman Catholic teaching and devotional practices for centuries, but it was not until 1854…

via 132. “The Only Creature Without Sin” – Pope Francis on the Immaculate Conception of Mary — Vatican Files