No More Football, Guys

“Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?” – Professor Higgins

The relationship between Christ and the church is the pattern. Does Christ submit to the church so that somehow the church does not submit to Christ in everything? No, Christ does not submit to the church, but he does love the church, sacrificially so to the point of death…. The note in the ESV Study Bible well expresses the meaning of Ephesians 5:21: “submitting to one another means ‘submitting to others according to the authority and order established by God’ as reflected in the examples that Paul gives in the following verses.”

 

(Disclaimer: This writer is married to a strong woman of Germanic descent who is not known to take any “guff” off him. I have been banned from commenting on the Bayly Blog. I am not a follower of Doug Wilson. I don’t believe that electing a woman President would subject us to “the monstrous rule of women” though that might be the case with one most likely be President. As the term “patriarchy” is presently used, I am an opponent. However, sometimes enough is enough.)

Frustrated with Eliza, Professor Henry Higgins asked, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Today that question is turned on its head. “Why can’t a man be more like a woman?” That question reflects the outlook not just of college departments of gender studies and nanny-state bureaucrats, but of some conservative evangelicals.

Last weekend I came across a link to a Blog by someone named Cicero Kirk titled Masculinity So Fragile. Kirk’s piece is ostensibly a exposure of the view of manhood taught by Doug Wilson and Christ Church of Moscow, Idaho.

Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho promotes the most faux form of masculinity I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a fragile form of masculinity that thrives on bluff and blunder while lacking any real substance. What they offer is a television form of masculinity.

There follows in the same paragraph this non sequitur:

Football first took a hold of America when the young men felt like they needed something to prove their worth in a world at peace. No matter how much you enjoy the sport, excelling at football is no judge of character and worth. This is why such an emphasis has been placed on showboating exercises in the Kirk like boxing and rugby.

Figure out this progression:

  1. Doug Wilson and Christ Church promote faux masculinity, fragile masculinity, television masculinity.
  2. 2. American football emerged because, there being no wars to fight, men needed to prove their worth.

Comment: For quite a bit of human history men have run with objects and tried to knock one another down on fields. From at least the time of the Greeks there have been games that involved advancing a ball. Europe of the Middle Ages had “mob football.” The English invented rugby. American football emerged from rugby. The first football game was played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. Walter Camp is considered the father of modern football rules. And somehow the game became popular (when Cicero does not say) so that men could prove their worth. No matter how much you like football, football is no judge of character and worth.

The sentence, “No matter how much you enjoy the sport, excelling at football is no judge of character and worth,” deserves to be entered in a contest for “the most convoluted sentence of 2015.” I will venture a guess at the meaning: No matter how much you like football you need to understand that football prowess is no indication of the character or worth of an individual.

  1. Back to Wilson.

Apparently they like the “manly” sports in Moscow. And Cicero knows what it’s all about – blustering men learning to exercise male headship:

The purpose of this is to raise future men. Rough and tumble men who will be the spiritual heads of their families. Men who will stand for what is right and just, men who won’t shirk from a fight. The problem is is that this isn’t what the Kirk wants. They are happy to support the bread and circuses, the blustering and chest beating to make men feel like they have power and control, but when it comes to the actual exercise of it, that’s a different story.

I have read this paragraph repeatedly, but I cannot follow its logic. My attempt at interpreting it: The purpose of the pursuit of manly sports in Moscow is to prepare men to be heads of their families, who stand for the right and won’t run from a fight. But, what Moscow really offers is circuses (sports?) which will produce blustering men who feel like they have power and control . But they don’t really exercise power or control. (In what areas do they not exercise power and control? My guess: exercising power and control over themselves to restrain themselves from exercising power and control over their families. See next paragraph.)

Cicero continues:

Playing rugby, or getting your nose broken in a boxing match doesn’t make you more manly than someone who sits in their room and plays video games or watch Netflix. It’s a distraction from true manliness, from love and sacrifice. It’s the promise of setting up a little lord to oversee the tiny kingdom of their wife and children, but only so long as they pay proper tribute to the king (note: that’s Wilson).

Question: Allowing for differences of genetics, interests, abilities, and life experiences, is the kid sitting in his room watching a screen as manly as a kid on the rugby field?

Back to Cicero:

It’s a distraction from true manliness, from love and sacrifice. It’s the promise of setting up a little lord to oversee the tiny kingdom of their wife and children, but only so long as they pay proper tribute to the king (note: that’s Wilson).

Apparently Cicero believes that rough sports, at least as they are used at Moscow, are a distraction from the true manliness of love and sacrifice. These sports offer the distracted male rather the promise of becoming lord of a kingdom consisting of wife and children. It is worth perhaps noting that a man’s being a “lord” is not without Biblical warrant: “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Peter 3:5,6a).

Now Cicero is ready to deprive patriarchs of their favorite weapon, Ephesians 5:

In the passage of the Bible that patriarchs love the most, wives are called to submit to their husbands, but they conveniently forget the passages that precede it, where we are asked to submit to each other.  This is anathema to the Kirk…

What Cicero and many others try is to tell us that Ephesians 5:21, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” gives us the controlling principle that governs the understanding of Ephesians 5:22-24:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Somehow the participial phrase “submitting to one another” weakens the imperative, “Wives, submit to your own husband as to the Lord.” But, it is hard to see how that can be the Apostle’s intent when he goes on to say, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to Christ in everything.” Does “submitting to one another” somehow weaken, “so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands”?

The relationship between Christ and the church is the pattern. Does Christ submit to the church so that somehow the church does not submit to Christ in everything? No, Christ does not submit to the church, but he does love the church, sacrificially so to the point of death.

Ephesians 5:22-6:9 addresses three reciprocal relationships. Ephesians 5:22-33 deals with wives and husbands. Wives submit; husbands love. Ephesians 6:1-3 deals with children and parents. Children obey their parents; fathers bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4-9 deals with slaves and masters. Slaves obey. Masters do not abuse their authority by harshness. The note in the ESV Study Bible well expresses the meaning of Ephesians 5:21: “submitting to one another means ‘submitting to others according to the authority and order established by God’ as reflected in the examples that Paul gives in the following verses.”

Christina Hoff Sommers who wrote The War Against Boys (2000) said:

Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with “ tug of peace.” Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodgeball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud — too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys’ play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard reply is, “Because it’s fun.” Play is a critical basis for learning…And boys’ heroic play is no exception.

Unfortunately Sommers’ plea did little good. Boys will be boys becomes boys need to become girls. Attempts to feminize boys (which swims against the tide of what boys are) are made by all sorts, from secular feminists to evangelical mothers who think the natural aggressiveness of boys needs to be suppressed. But boys compete, spit, play rough, make pistols of their thumbs and forefingers, make truck sounds, knock one another down – because they’re boys.

Now it seems, if somehow they survive the efforts to feminize them as boys, they must be feminized as men, which means, among other things, for people like Cicero, leading their households by not exercising headship.

And no more football.

Bill Smith is a minister in the Reformed Episcopal Church and is pastor of the Covenant Reformed Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Va. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.