The “Let Men Be Men in 2024” Podcast

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Podcasts | 49 comments

Let Men be Men in 2024

We often get accused of hating men.

When we say that men weren’t created to lust; that men can be emotionally healthy and can actually handle strong women, we’re told that we don’t like men.

We don’t think that’s actually right. We believe that men can be emotionally mature, emotionally healthy grown-ups. We believe men are awesome!

And so today, in the first podcast of 2024, that’s our cry: Let men be men!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube!

Timeline of the Podcast

3:25 What is a ‘manly’ man?
6:00 An analysis of maleness and leadership in Christian literature
14:30 Insecurity and Fragile Egos
24:40 The ‘Directions’ example
37:00 How this ‘Halo 3’ study showed male competency affected treatment of women
42:00 “You can’t expect men to live up to their responsibilities”
50:30 Masculine virtue signaling
57:45 Conclusion + What’s coming up on Bare Marriage

What are men like?

That’s our essential question in this podcast, and we answer it taking a look at a whole bunch of takes on manhood from many different evangelical sources.

And then we ask the question: who is it that doesn’t like men? Who is it that is actually anti-men? Is it us–who believes that men can be healthy? Or is it those who preach that me have such fragile egos that even saying, “hey,  honey, turn left here” can cause them to go into a downward spiral?

This is the first of a three part series on Let Men Be Men. Today we’re looking at how our evangelical resources portray men as super fragile and insecure, so that they need to be coddled, as if they were little boys. And we’ll look at how most evangelical resources present men as really quite incompetent and irresponsible in multiple ways, while women are always presented as competent and responsible.

And just to give you a sense of what we’re talking about, here are just a few quotes about what men are like:

To illustrate: it is simply impossible that from time to time a woman not be put in a position of influencing or guiding men. For example, a housewife in her backyard may be asked by a man how to get to the freeway. At that point she is giving a kind of leadership. She has superior knowledge that the man needs and he submits himself to her guidance. But we all know that there is a way for that housewife to direct the man in which neither of them feels their mature femininity or masculinity compromised. It is not a contradiction to speak of certain kinds of influence coming from women to men in ways that affirm the responsibility of men to provide a pattern of strength and initiative.

John Piper

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

The male ego is the most fragile thing on the planet.

Shaunti Feldhahn

For Women Only

The next power shift occurs when the husband realizes he has lost his wife to the kids (or her career, or her aging parents who need extra care, or even, at times, the family pet.) Once this happens, he is likely to try meeting his ego needs through another avenue. One thing I’ve learned about men: if we don’t think we can win, we usually won’t even compete; we just turn our focus elsewhere. This is clearly an immature response, but if we can’t find respect at home, we’ll search for it outside the home. It might be at work, on a video game, at the golf course, or in a deer blind. But we’ll stray however far we must in order to get some semblance of respect, somewhere.

Gary Thomas

A Lifelong Love

Next week we’ll look at Emerson Eggerichs’ take on the male idea of friendship: that men are super afraid of women talking ever.

Then we’ll end the series with our call to Let Men Be Dads, and ask the question: why is it that evangelical authors present men as being jealous of little babies? Why do they consider themselves on the same level as toddlers?

So that’s what’s coming! And I hope you’ll take us up on this cry to let men be men, and to believe that men can be strong, capable, competent people too.

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Let Men be Men podcast

Why do you think evangelical resources so often portray men as incompetent and irresponsible and fragile? Why do people not get upset about this? What can we do about it? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: Welcome to the first Bare Marriage podcast of 2024.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage.  And I am joined by my cohost and daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.

Rebecca: Hello.  Hello.

Sheila: And hey.  It is 2024.   

Rebecca: It is.

Sheila: And you let your son quote unquote stay up to welcome in the New Year.  

Rebecca: We did.  We celebrated New Year’s in Iceland, which is—he got to stay up an hour or so late but not really late.  

Sheila: Yeah.  But he thought he was welcoming in—

Rebecca: He thought he was welcoming the New Year.  We put on one of those little 20-second countdowns with all the little animals and party hats bopping around.  Most exciting thing that’s ever happened to him I think.  There are a lot of most exciting things that have ever happened to him, but this is definitely one of them.  He lost his absolute mind.  It was adorable.

Sheila: Yes.  He is four.  We had a wonderful vacation.  We had a great Christmas.  And we’re coming back late to the podcast because we’re trying desperately to get ahead because we have another grandbaby coming in just over a month.  Not you.

Rebecca: So glad that it’s not my turn.  

Sheila: As those who are watching on video can tell.

Rebecca: Yeah.  No.  Not me.

Sheila: Not you.  It is your sister, and so we’re excited about that.  And looking back—so 2024 is going to be awesome because I’m going to have a new grandbaby.  You’re going to have your first niece or nephew.  I don’t know if we’re allowed to say which one yet.

Rebecca: Allowed to say.

Sheila: And we are going to finish writing our marriage book, which is coming out in 2025.  So that’s big.  And 2023 was big too because She Deserves Better was out, and so that’s a lot to celebrate that year.  2023.  The year of She Deserves Better.  And if you have not read that book, please do.  It is wonderful, and it is based on our survey of 7,000 women.  And we just closed our survey for our marriage book.  And so speaking of that, can I just say thank you to two big groups of people?  So before we get started today, thank you to everyone who took our marriage survey.  It’s because of you that we are able to write these books, and we know that it took a lot of time.  Thank you especially to the couples who did it gather.  It meant a lot to us, and it’s going to let us do what we need to do.  So thank you for that.  And we want to thank you for the people who are funding what we’re doing.  And we actually met our fundraising goal. 

Rebecca: We did.  Yeah.

Sheila: Yeah.  So we started fundraising in the end of November.  We’re a new initiative of the Bosco Foundation.  They have chosen us as one of their new initiatives to help support getting our information and research out there.  And we set a goal of $52,000 for—which we calculated a budget for some scholarships and some continuing education that we’re going to do.  And we actually hit our goal, which was incredibly exciting for us.  We were checking the stats on December 31.  And you can give to that too and get tax deductible receipts within the United States as law permits.  And we’re really looking for monthly donors because I hate writing fundraising emails.  I hate it with a passion.  And so if we get monthly donors, then I won’t have to do that often.  And, of course, you can join our Patreon.  If you don’t care about the tax receipt or if you just want to be a part of our amazing community, especially on Facebook, you can join our Patreon and get a bunch of perks there.  So check that out.  So those are all the thank yous that we have to do as we enter this New Year.  And now how do we want to start 2024, Becca?

Rebecca: Well, I think we just want to start by really listening and really hearing our critics.  We have a lot of people.  We’ve really taken on the conservative evangelical ideas around marriage and sexuality, right?  Anyone who has been here for longer than a hiccup and a half knows that.  And a lot of people who are in those spaces critique our kind of mentality and our kind of theology by saying that they believe that men should be men.  And we don’t believe that men should be manly.  We believe that men should just kind of be another woman.

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: Right. So their men are the manly men.  Our men are little wussy men.

Sheila: Sissified men.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Exactly.  So I wanted to take a look and see okay.  How do they describe their men?  Let’s look at these manly men.  How can our men be more manly?  So let’s look at the descriptors that they have of men in these books.

Sheila: Yes.  Let’s see how they describe men.

Rebecca: Because if our men are not manly, maybe we should try to help them be a little more manly.  Let’s see what manly men are like.   

Sheila: Yeah.  Let’s do it.

Rebecca: Should we define our version of a man first?

Sheila: Sure.  

Rebecca: So I think that a man is a grown adult.  So that underpins a lot of this.  So I think this is a controversial take.  Men are grownups.  Okay?  So that means they can be expected to do grown up things and to be grownups and to function like a grown adult would.

Sheila: Right.    

Rebecca: So there are people who—men—and yeah.  A lot of these things women also do, but we’re talking about men because that’s what our critics want to do.  Men take initiative to get stuff done.  They can be relied upon.  They are able to function without having a hissy fit every five seconds if you do something wrong.  They are able to be great parents, and they are there for their kids.  They are a strong bedrock of reliability and love and support for their children.  

Sheila: And responsibility.

Rebecca: They’re responsible.  Exactly.  They’re someone who if I’m married to a manly man in my mind what that would mean is that I don’t have to coddle him or baby him because he’s a grown adult.

Sheila: Right.  He’s not one of your children.  

Rebecca: He’s not one of my children.  He is someone who is my partner together, who I can kind of say, “Yeah.  You take care of it,” and then I can actually just trust him to take care of it.  And it will be done because he’s, again—say it with me.  A grown adult.

Sheila: A grownup.

Rebecca: Yes.  A grown adult.  So that’s my idea of a manly man.  And the egalitarian view of a man really comes down to they’re a grown up.

Sheila: Okay.  So let’s take one of their first big claims is that we don’t want men to be leaders.  They know that men are leaders.  And so let’s look at what it means for a man to be a leader.  All right?  So I’m just going to give a quick example.  In the book, The Resolution for Women, which is written—or put out by—the makers of those movies.  What are they?  Love Dare.  War Room.  Courageous.  Yes.  Okay.  So they have this one passage where it says that one of men’s biggest fears is to be controlled by a woman.  Okay?  And you know what?  I agree.  Nobody wants to be controlled by someone else.

Rebecca: By anyone.  Not just a woman.  But by anyone.

Sheila: Yeah.  Women don’t like being controlled by men either.  Okay.

Rebecca: Exactly.

Sheila: Okay.  But the question is what do they mean by being controlled.  Okay.  And what they mean by being controlled is that she makes decisions in areas where she’s good at it.  Because as the man, he needs to be making the decisions.  And so if she starts to make the decisions, then—I’ll even read you what you it says.  Okay.  So if she starts making decisions, “he will eventually shut down completely relating his role of leadership to you since you seem to be doing such a good job at it anyway.”

Rebecca: Oh my gosh.  If you’re just going to be in charge, then I’m just going to do nothing.  I’m just going to do nothing because, oh, you want to do it anyway.  Who does that sound like?  Does that sound like a grown man?  Does that sound like a grown man to you?  Does that sound like, “I’m a man”?  Or does it sound like, “Hi, I’m 13.  I am 13, and I can’t handle that Brody is better than me on the team.  And he got the position that I wanted on the soccer team, and so I’m just going to throw a fit.  And I’m going to ruin it for everyone”?  That’s what it sounds like.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  If I don’t get to do what I want to do, I’m going to take my ball and go home.

Rebecca: But not only that.  She wasn’t even saying that you’re nagging him at what he’s doing.  What she’s saying is, “Hey, you’re better at something,” and you’re like, “No, hun.  That’s not the right way.  We have to do it this way.”  And he’s like, “Well, fine.  Then you can just do everything.” 

Sheila: Yeah.  And she even goes on to say—now let’s say that there is some area that you’re better at.  What you do is you step back, you let him make the decisions and take leadership, and then he’s more likely to see that you’re good at this.  And he’s more likely to let you do it.

Rebecca: I do that all the time.  I actually do that a lot.  I have a member of my household for whom I actually know quite a bit more than them in certain areas.  And they don’t believe me.  And that’s really frustrating at times.  Because when you are really good at something and someone doesn’t see that in you, it can be really frustrating.  But I’ve learned to kind of take a deep breath, take a step back, and then when my four-year-old Alexander realizes that I was correct and that word does say cat instead of moon, he comes back.  And he says, “Mummy, can you help you?”  He is, again—if you didn’t catch that, my four year old.  Yeah.  So yeah.  With a toddler, who has impulse control issues, and is dumb—I love toddlers.  But they are not that smart yet.  Right?  They’re still in that section of their brain where they think they know more than they do which we all are at but it’s especially egregious with the four year old.  I literally do that with my four-year-old son where I’m like—I’ll be helping him make a model.  And he’s like, “No, mommy.  I can do it.  I can do it.”  I’m like, “Well, you are objectively gluing the dinosaur’s head to his butt, but I will walk away.”  And then he says, “Mommy, it doesn’t look right.  Mommy, I need help.”  And I’m like, “Yeah.  That is an actual four year old.”  He is in preschool.  He was excited about pajama day.    

Sheila: I know.  And this is the thing.  This idea that unless men are in charge they’re going to withdraw and they won’t be involved in the family which is basically what so many of these books teach it’s like how is that a man.  Unless I get to be in charge, I’m not going to do my responsibilities. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  Okay.  So you think your men are the manly men and your men are the one we have to treat them like four year olds.  No wonder these women don’t want sex.  I’m going to be honest.  The men in all these books are like, “I know you don’t want to sleep with me.”  Yeah.  No duh.  Okay.  I have been reading—I counted with Joanna last night.  I read 25 books in 2023.  Okay.

Sheila: Okay.  Mostly novels.  You’re getting back into novels.

Rebecca: Oh, I’m getting into that.  Don’t worry.  I’m going to make that clear.  I started really reading again in September.  So most of those books—I read three books before September.  I read 22 books from September to the end of the year because I just stopped watching television.  And a lot of that is fantasy fiction.  Right?  We’re reading a lot of books, a lot of—all the dragons and all that kind of stuff.  It’s very, very fun.  But as a result, I’m also reading a lot of really romance books.  And you know what none of these men are like?  You know what none of these men in these books would do?  Literally, all of these books that are written to be like, “Hey, women.  Here is a great storyline and some romance that’s going to make you kick your feet while you’re reading your book on your bed giggling,” right?  None of them are like, “Well, if you’re good at something, that’s hard for my self esteem.  So I need you to look up at me with gazing doe eyes and just think I’m the best ever even when I’m totally biffing it.  And I need you to stop having thoughts and instead cater to my feelings.”  No.  These are men.  These are men where it’s like, “You, I don’t know.  Get your armor on.  We’re going into battle.  Let’s go together.  Let’s get this done.”  They’re good at what they do, and they don’t care that she’s also good at what—

Sheila: Faramir and Eowyn.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Can you imagine reading a book—seriously, women, just imagine reading a book where the main character is in love with a man who can’t handle that she has any powers or any abilities and who constantly tries to put her down so that he can have the spotlight.  You know what is?  That’s the before guy.    

Sheila: Yeah.  The before guy.  

Rebecca: That’s in every single one of these books too.  It’s the before guy.  The before guy is the one where it’s like, “I don’t like that you all of a sudden have this new cool thing you can do when I’m just still normal.  And so I don’t—you are making me feel small.”  And she’s like, “Okay.  Go away, you puny, little, pathetic loser.”  And then she finds the guy who is like, “Yes.  Be bigger.  Be better.  Grow.  Gain your power.”  And that’s the guy she falls in love with.  Guys, don’t be the before guy.  But these guys who are like, “You don’t have manly men.  We have the manly men.”  Oh, their manly men are these petulant four year olds who are ditched first thing they possibly can be in any romance novel.  This is not a man.  This is not a man.  They’re like, “You need to let your man be a man.”  And by man, they mean literally have the emotional intelligence that my kindergartner is learning how to grow out of right now.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  I’m with you.

Rebecca: Sorry.  Okay.  We can get back to this.

Sheila: So yeah.  And this is what so often is talked about is that men need to be the leaders.  If they’re not the leaders, they’re going to withdraw.  So if they don’t get to lead, they’re going to pick up their ball and go home.  And the way that they define leading is that they get to make the decisions and the way that this book portrays it.  She is controlling him if she makes decisions.  But he’s not controlling her if he makes the decisions because he is supposed to make the—it’s really insane.  But you know what they never talk about?  The fact that in 78.9% of couples they make decisions together and function as partners.  And this is not a threat to men.  In our survey for The Great Sex Rescue, 20,000 women, 78.9% of couples do not function with him making the decisions.  They function with them being partners.  And I don’t know why  these manly men can’t picture a woman being a partner.  Seriously.  Read Lord of the Rings.  Become Faramir.  And I do have one comment—one other comment to about this idea that if you step back in your areas of competence and he leads then he’ll see that you’re more competent and then he will let you lead anyway—

Rebecca: That’s ridiculous.

Sheila: – how is this not My Big Fat Greek Wedding?  How is this not the husband is the head but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head anyway that she wants?  

Rebecca: But the wife is the neck, and she can turn the head anyway that she wants.

Sheila: And this is my other big pet peeve about so much advice to women is it’s just teaching us to be passive aggressive.

Rebecca: Well, and who do you have to be passive aggressive with?  Emotionally immature children.  Now I’m not saying you should be passive aggressive as a parenting technique.  I’m just saying the kinds of people who only respond to passive aggressiveness are emotionally intelligently struggling.  I don’t where else can I go with the phrasing of that, but you know what I mean.  Right?  They’re not the most able to handle reality or just life, and they’re really toxic.  

Sheila: Yeah.  But in the same books, the women who are saying, “Hey, he doesn’t want to be controlled.  You need to make him a leader,” they’re also saying, “He’s just so insecure.  And he needs to feel like you think that he is amazing.”  Okay?  So here’s a quote from For Women Only.  All right.  Shaunti Feldhahn says, “If a man isn’t convinced that his wife thinks he is the greatest, he will tend to seek affirmation elsewhere.  He may spend more hours at work where he feels alive and on top of his game, or he may spend too much time talking to the admiring female associate.  ‘Why else do you think so many men take sports so seriously,’ one man asked me.’”  Okay.  And I want you to watch— 

Rebecca: That’s easy.  Dopamine hit.  That’s an easy—anyway, sorry.  That’s dumb.  That’s a dumb question in that book that has a lot of very easy answers other than, “I don’t think I’m appreciated at home.”  Sorry.  Pet peeve of mine when there’s an obvious answer that’s not dumb and then they go for the dumb one.  Sorry.  We can move on.

Sheila: But I want you to just keep track as we do talk about some of these quotes in books is how many books warn women that their husbands will have affairs or stray if they don’t get treated like—they don’t get coddled essentially.  Because you know what?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with admiring and affirming your spouse.  We all should be admiring and affirming our spouses.  But it’s really wrong to say, “He isn’t able to do good things unless he first feels like you think he can do these amazing things.  And if you don’t think and make him feel like he can do these amazing things, he’s not going to do anything at all, and he’s going to leave you and have an affair on you.”    

Rebecca: Does that sound like a man?

Sheila: You’re not responsible for healing his childhood wounds.  You can be someone that God uses to do that, but you aren’t responsible for—you’re not his therapy.  Marriage is not his therapy tool.  Okay?  It can be used in that way.  I think that I’ve grown a ton being married to your dad.

Rebecca: Oh, and me too with Connor.  Connor is a really good evening force for me.  Absolutely.

Sheila: But to say that unless you do these things that will heal all these wounds in him he isn’t going to be able to be a decent person that’s—and in fact, he’s going to do the exact opposite and have an affair on you.

Rebecca: No.  It’s actually going to have the—and it’s going to have the opposite response too, right?  If you have someone who has got deep woodenness and acts in ways that are immature and harmful to those around them and then you just coddle them and think—and make them feel great about themselves, all these books that also say things like, “You just need to act like he’s the best person in the world, and then he’ll act like the best person in the world.”  I don’t know what pretend books they’re reading in the psychology library in utopia.  The idea that removing consequences from people’s behaviors will enact change—I just—

Sheila: The funny thing is most of these people would not—if you were to talk about the economy, they would see things very differently.  Right?  

Rebecca: Oh, absolutely.  You can’t give handouts to people because if people get stuff for free then they’re not going to work for it, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  And you know what?  I don’t want to debate policy because it’s actually really complicated.

Rebecca: Yes.  Absolutely.

Sheila: And we can all feel differently on public policy issues.  But they would be the first to say that.  That people respond to incentives economically—

Rebecca: And responds to punishment and the threat of punishment is the only thing that keeps people working.  So the idea that you get something for free that you haven’t earned will actually mean that any motivation that was there will suddenly evaporate.  So they can see that in terms of money but not in terms of relationships.  Interesting.

Sheila: Yeah.  It’s really interesting. 

Rebecca: Interesting.  Interesting. 

Sheila: And then to go along with his whole insecurity because, seriously, these books talk about men like they are so terribly insecure.  Both For Women Only and Love and Respect talk about how men’s ego is the most fragile thing in the planet.  Both of them.

Rebecca: Sexy.  Fragile ego in a man.  That’s hot.

Sheila: And you know what?  We do have egos that can be hurt.

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Sheila: And if your spouse is really picking at you, yeah.  That’s going to be destructive.

Rebecca: Well, and also knowing each other’s vulnerabilities and our insecurities and stuff, that’s an aspect of emotional intimacy that’s so important in a marriage, right?  But the idea that men are just constantly insecure and so, as a result, you have to coddle him.  And we don’t ask, “Okay.  Maybe we just learn to cope with that a little bit.”  Again, there’s nothing wrong with having insecurities.  We all do.  I know Connor’s insecurities.  Connor knows my insecurities.  We all have insecurities.  And knowing each other’s vulnerabilities and insecurities and being able to be a soothing balm on those specific things that can be a really important part of intimacy in marriage.  Right?  If you aren’t able to share your insecurities with each other, then do you even really know each other.  Right?  Can you even really trust each other?  We’re not saying that men have to be stoic emotionless people.  That’s not what we’re saying.  The ironic thing is that the people who say that men are so fragile in their egos are also the ones who say that men shouldn’t really have emotions typically.  And they’re the ones who kind of pin men into these weird little bubbles where all they need sex.  And if they don’t get sex, then they’re going to be sad.  And men are so sad because they just feel so small all the time.  So you need to give them sex so they can feel big.  That is not the same as saying we, as human beings, have areas of insecurity.  You can help with that.  That’s not the same thing.  What they’re saying is men should not have consequences because your job is to make sure they don’t even feel like they’ve done a bad job even if they have.  Right?  No one is asking here—

Sheila: And can I give you a great example of that?

Rebecca: Sure.

Sheila: Okay.  So in the area where Emerson Eggerichs has that quote—so he’s quoting this woman, who says, “Thank you for teaching me how fragile the male ego is and how much he needs unconditional respect.”  Okay?  So he’s sharing this quote by this woman.  And I look at this quote.  And I’m like, “I wonder what the context is.  Let’s just look at the context.”  All right?  And so this woman who is speaking—do you know what the context of her marriage was?  In the paragraph right before this quote in Love and Respect.     

Rebecca: No.

Sheila: Her husband had had an affair.  And he had repented.  She’d let him back into the house.  And now he was working on how to be the spiritual leader, and she was learning how to give him unconditional respect and not bring up the affair anymore.  It gets better.  Would you like to know what the next example of a man with a fragile ego who needs unconditional respect is?  The very next paragraph after this quote.  It is a man who was physically abusive to his wife.  And he repented again.  She let him back into the home, and now she was learning how not to provoke his anger.    

Rebecca: Okay.  So we got dude who can’t keep it in his pants and dude who is actually just abusive.  And both of them we had to learn how to coddle their egos.  Maybe those men shouldn’t be thinking I’m the bees’ knees.  Maybe, just maybe, the ego problems might be a little bit earned.  Maybe, just maybe, these manly men who are the real men unlike those egalitarian men who are sissy men, who can’t handle—who can’t be faithful.  The bare minimum for a marriage is be faithful and don’t assault each other.  That is the—I’m not making light, guys.  You know us.  We’re not making light.  I’m just saying this is bizarre.  We have to be able to acknowledge how bizarre this is even if men have very fragile egos that women don’t have.  Maybe the only reason we have—that men have fragile egos in these circles—because, by the way, it’s not everywhere, but in these circles, is because they’ve been puffed up bigger than they actually are.  Humility is the antidote to a puffed up ego.  And humility doesn’t mean I think I’m nothing.  Humility just means I have an accurate self assessment, right?  A humble person, who won a prize for robotics engineering, can also say, “Yeah.  No.  I’m pretty good at robotics engineering,” but they’re not also going to be like, “And so, therefore, you need to listen to me about everything or else I’m going to have an affair.”  You know what I mean?  It’s an accurate self assessment.  And if you’re in a community and a culture where men are just given stuff simply because they’re men, not because they’ve earned it, you have now made a culture where there is a whole generation of men who doesn’t understand that they are not just deserving of unconditional praise and affirmation when they’ve done absolutely nothing.  And how many times have we actually set up a lot of these men as they’re growing up as young boys in these communities to have failure, to become egotistical monsters, because they’ve been taught these kinds of things where, well, no—you need—the important thing is how you feel.  You need to feel affirmed.  You don’t need to be doing something affirmation worthy.  You need to feel affirmed. 

Sheila: Because you deserve unconditional respect.

Rebecca: Because you deserve unconditional respect.

Sheila: I mean think about in the Love and Respect world they even wrote a book called Mothers and Sons about how mothers need to give their sons unconditional respect.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And it’s just—it’s—we’re all for respecting our kids.  Absolutely.  We do respectful parenting.  Absolutely.  Emerson Eggerichs’ idea of it being gendered is very, very strange.  I also don’t like when people do these kind of psycho—pseudopsychology things.  They make definitions of what respect means, and then they apply it to different things.  Because there was a whole thing about sex and love and respect, the same respect your son needs.  I think we need to think that through a little bit.  Ick, ick, ick.  But anyway, that’s a different conversation.  But one of the big things that these manly men, apparently—because they have the manly men, remember?  We don’t have manly men.  Our men are just competent.  That’s the big thing they’re missing.  They’re missing competence.

Sheila: Yes.  And that’s what it shows.  In the part about the fragile ego in For Women Only, one of the examples she gives is that you should never give your husband directions.  

Rebecca: Yes.  When he’s turning the wrong way to go to your friend’s birthday party.

Sheila: When he’s turning the wrong way.  Yes.

Rebecca: That’s my favorite.  That’s my favorite section in this book.  And by favorite, my favorite.  Not like, “Wow.  This is a great section.”  I mean like this is a bit.  

Sheila: Yeah.  This is telling.    

Rebecca: So the example leading up to this is a woman and her husband are going to her friend’s birthday party, and he keeps turning down the wrong way.  And so as a result, they’re super late, and she has the choice between correcting him or just letting him keep making the wrong decision.  And this is what Shaunti concludes with, “We don’t realize that the act of forcing ourselves to trust ourselves to trust our men in these little things means so much to them.  But it does.  It’s not a big deal to us so we don’t get that it’s a big deal to them.  We don’t get that our responses to these little choices to trust or not trust or at least act like we do,”—big side eye to the at least act like we do—“are interpreted as signs of our overall trust and respect for them as men.  So next time your husband stubbornly drives in circles ask yourself which is more important.  Being on time to the party or his feeling trusted.  No contest.”  I’m like okay.  First of all, so many thoughts.  False dichotomy.  If Connor turns the wrong way and I say, “Oh, hun, you’re supposed to turn left,” you know what he does?  He balls his hands up into little fists.  He comes, and he says, “I’m a man.  I’m a man.  Stop it.  Trust me.  I’m a man.”  And then I say, “I’m so sorry I didn’t respect you, honey.”  No.  That’s not what happens at all.    He says, “Oh, my bad,” and then he turns left because it’s not that big a deal because he’s a competent grown up.  And he doesn’t have a weird ego complex.  And he isn’t going to mutter in a corner like some 11 year old, who has got—who is in the middle of puberty and can’t handle his emotions.  He’s just like, “This is not an issue of trust.  This is an issue of objective fact.”  And this goes so well with another section of For Women Only.  That this is just a little throwaway line.  “As one of our close friends told me, it’s all about whether my wife thinks I can do it.  A husband can slay dragons, climb mountains, and win great victories if he believes his wife believes that he can.”  Objectively, no.  

Sheila: Objectively, you can’t climb mountains.

Rebecca: What I find so funny is all of these people in this group of I believe that we should let our men be men are also making up these fake men.  Okay.  So you don’t actually believe a real man exists then.  You don’t actually believe that men can just be competent.  You think that we have to act like we trust our husbands because they’re not actually trustworthy in For Women Only.  Right?  Again, do you know how immature it is to stubbornly drive in circles instead of just asking for directions or just checking the GPS?  Do you know how immature that is?  That is 17 year old, I just got my driver’s license, and I want to show that I’m cool kind of immature behavior.   This is not manly.  And then this idea that I could slay dragons if my wife just believe in me. No.  You couldn’t, Gerald.  No, you couldn’t.

Sheila: You might be able to find the best tax loopholes for your client.  It doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.  

Rebecca: No.  But that’s not about whether or not your wife believes in you.  I have not studied accounting.  If Connor believes—oh, sorry.  I’m sorry, so it doesn’t matter.  Connor hasn’t studied accounting.  It doesn’t matter how much I believe in him.  He has to go to school to become an accountant, if he wants to be an accountant.  It doesn’t matter how much I believe in him.  He cannot climb Mount Everest without a lot of training and a lot of gear and a lot of help.  And if he didn’t have—and there are so many people who have climbed Mount Everest and don’t have women who believe in them.  And they just did it.

Sheila: You know what the issue is here though?  Is that what they are doing is they are replacing competence with their wife acting like they’re competent.  And then if he isn’t competent, they can blame her.  

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Sheila: So it gets men off the hook for having to do the work of becoming competent.

Rebecca: No.  They’re living in a dream land.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  I find this really funny about this example about the directions because we actually had this conversation in our Patreon group about this exact thing.  And they said, “Isn’t it interesting how when Shaunti gives these stories it’s always about something that doesn’t matter,” right?  What if he was driving in circles and they were supposed to be picking up their kid in the school parking lot after coming back from a trip?  Right?  And your kid is going to be left in the school parking lot.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Or your aging mother-in-law is waiting at the airport, and there is not good seating.  And she’s in pain.

Sheila: Right.  Or you’re supposed to take someone to a doctor’s appointment.  Yeah.  Okay.  It’s easy to say when it’s a party, but that’s not usually what it is.  And the fact that she uses these examples is just so typical because she’s not talking about our actual experience.  And she’s just making women feel guilty for just wanting men to be men and to be able to handle, “Hey, we actually do need to get there on time, and this is how we get there.”    

Rebecca: That’s what I find so funny is all of these let men be men people are not letting men be men.  It’s like yeah.  I am someone who, as a straight woman, I very much like being married to a man.  And a lot of what makes my marriage so good is that Connor is genuinely a very competent human being.  I don’t know.  People in our Patreon really know this and people who listen to the newsletter a little bit.  But I got walking pneumonia for six weeks.  

Sheila: Yeah.  We were both really sick, but you were even sicker than me in November.

Rebecca: It was bad.  Yeah.  My doctor and all the walking clinics in our area they know me by name now.  They know my face because I went in, on average, two to three times a week for four weeks.  And then two of the weeks, I was just recovering.  But I had a lung infection.  

Sheila: An ear infection.

Rebecca: I’ve been on almost as many antibiotics as tuberculosis people now.  We’re approaching that level.  I’m still on a steroid puffer, and I probably will be for a couple of months.  I had it bad.  And you know what happened?  The world didn’t fall apart because Connor knows how to handle a house and kids.  And we just made it work.  And I didn’t have to coddle Connor while I was sick.  And I didn’t have to think about meal planning because he was like, “Rebecca, go lie down.”  It wasn’t a big deal.  And he got his work done still.  And I still got to get a bunch of mine done.  And it just rain smoothly, and I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was being an inconvenience because my husband was competent.  And then you read a lot of these books where it shows men as not able to get—not able to know which direction to go which I will say.  This book was written before Google Maps.  I understand that.  I remember MapQuest.  But still it’s like the idea that you can’t even rely on your spouse to be able to handle something as simple as getting directions from you.  That does not scream competency.

Sheila: And this directions thing seems to be a real issue for many of these manly men.  Let’s not forget John Piper and directions.

Rebecca: Oh, yes.  John Piper is great.

Sheila: Okay.  So John Piper and Wayne Grudem in their book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, they have a real issue with women giving directions.  So it’s not just Shaunti Feldhahn.  And here is what John Piper says.  Okay?  “It is simply impossible that from time to time a woman may be put in a position of influencing or guiding men.  For example, a housewife, in her backyard, maybe asked by a man how to get to the freeway.”  Where is her backyard?  Have you ever wondered?

Rebecca: Well, I don’t know.  When I sit and I frolic in my backyard and just wait for men to ask me things, it’s pretty common.  

Sheila: I mean I guess—anyway

Rebecca: I think it’s a pretty normal experience.  

Sheila: “At that point, she is giving a kind of leadership.”  So if she give directions, she’s giving leadership.  “She has superior knowledge that the man needs, and he submits himself to her guidance.  But we all know that there is a way for the housewife to direct the man in which neither of them feels their mature femininity or masculinity compromised.  It is not a contradiction to speak of certain kinds of influence coming from women to men in ways that affirm the responsibility of men to provide a pattern of strength and initiative.”

Rebecca: Why are we putting so much energy towards stuff that’s just so stupid?  

Sheila: I know.

Rebecca: This is so much energy given to this, guys.  Oh my gosh.  Oh my gosh.  He’s asking a woman for directions.  What do we do?  Okay.  It’s okay.  It’s okay.  He can still be a man.  It’s okay.  You’re still a man.  You’re still a man.  Sorry.  I’m punching myself in the chest for anyone who is not watching.  You’re still a man.  You can still be a man and ask directions.  It’s okay.  Just ask in a manly way.  “My lady, I’m on a quest.  I long to approach Kroger’s grocery mart to attain—

Sheila: Sustenance for my family.  

Rebecca: – sustenance for my underlings.”  Prithee, shall thou help me in my adventure?  And she says, “Oh my lord.  My lord, well, the legends speak of a land of Kroger.  Through generations, the women in my family, as we spin around the fire—we chatted with each other.  We say, “Kroger.  Kroger.  Down the east.  Down the east, then two to the left.  Two to the left, then two to the right.  And behold, Kroger shall be in sight.  And if you are to follow that wisdom, oh my lord, can you please tell me?  Come back.  Prithee tell me, come back.  So that I can tell my family, and we can sing your praises as the knight who made it to Kroger.”  Why?  What on earth is this?  This is so dumb.  None of this needs this much energy.  Do you know what happens?  A man says, “Yo, do you know where the Kroger is?”  “Oh, yeah.  You turn left on Bridge and then right up McClarens, and it’s on the left about a kilometer up.”  Awesome.  It’s not that big a deal.  And you know what?  No one suddenly wasn’t a woman or wasn’t a man.  It’s not like and your balls shrunk four sizes that day.  It was fine.  I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that on the podcast.  But we just read The Grinch to the kids.  This doesn’t matter.  

Sheila: No.  And that’s the thing.  These manly men are obsessing over things that are so insignificant.  And how is it—but the best part, Becca, is that John piper explains what it means to give directions in a way that affirms his masculinity and her felinity.  And the way that you do this is that there’s two aspects to this.  Okay?  One is being direct, and one is being personal.  

Rebecca: Got it. 

Sheila: And what a woman can never do is be both direct and personal at the same time.  But she can be direct and impersonal, or she can be indirect and personal.  You just can’t be both at the same time to a man or else—and he gives the example when he’s talking about different professions.  So a woman can’t be a police officer because—

Rebecca: Because that would be direct and personal.

Sheila: It would be being direct and personal especially if you’re, for instance, directing traffic.  You’re telling a male driver where to drive.

Rebecca: Oh, heck no.  That’s just terrible.

Sheila: Right?  But a woman can be a highway engineer who directs the traffic in that way because she’s not directing an individual man.  

Rebecca: Again, this stuff is just so petulant.

Sheila: I know.

Rebecca: The only word for it is—it’s just a group of petulant man children who have been like, “Yeah.  We’re good at stuff, right?  We’re good at stuff.  We’re good at stuff, right?”  That’s what this feels like to me.  Connor and I both have very high needs to feel competent as people, right?  Everyone does to a certain extent.  Both Connor and I are, I think, more than the average person.  Genuine need to feel competent.  You know what I don’t have to do with him?  I don’t have to make him feel competent because he’s just like, “If I want to feel competent, I should become competent.”  And that’s one of the reasons that I am attracted to him because he’s, oh, a grown adult.  He’s a grown adult, and I don’t need to coddle him.  This idea where it’s like okay.  So women can do this but not this because this makes me feel maybe—I don’t like taking orders from a woman because that makes me feel small.  And so instead of that being a me problem, I’m going to be like, “You can become an engineer, but you can’t be a police office because that’s a boy job.  And I think that’s a boy thing.  And I just want it to be a boy thing.”    

Sheila: Yep.  Because I can’t handle being told what to do by a woman.

Rebecca: That’s so ridiculous.

Sheila: Do you remember that Halo 3 study?

Rebecca: I love the Halo study.

Sheila: Okay.  So this was done a couple of years ago.  And it was a bunch of researchers, and Halo 3 is a video game that you can play online.  So you can play with other players.  And what they did was they created female avatars and female voiced characters.  So it wasn’t necessarily women playing.  They weren’t studying women players versus men players.  They were studying women voiced characters.  So people assumed that these were female characters.  Okay?

Rebecca: Players.

Sheila: Players.  Yeah.  

Rebecca: They assumed they were female players.  But yeah.  They weren’t all necessarily actually—

Sheila: Yeah.  It’s just they were female voiced, female everything players.  Okay.  And what they found is that if a guy was a really good Halo 3 player he had no problem with female players.

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Sheila: But if a guy was a bad Halo 3 player and wasn’t very skilled, he had a huge problem with female Halo 3 players especially if they were better than he was.  So the good players didn’t care.  It was only the ones who were subpar that cared.  And it really makes you wonder when these guys are going off about how women just can’t be bosses.  Women can’t—because that’s another thing.  John Piper doesn’t think that a woman can be a boss.

Rebecca: No.  Of course, he doesn’t.

Sheila: If a woman is a boss, it’s very important that his male—that her male underlings open the door for her and hold the chair out for her just to assert some sort of dominance.

Rebecca: That’s so creepy.

Sheila: Well, I mean I just can’t see how that wouldn’t get you reported and, if you kept doing that, in major ways.  That’s not corporately appropriate.  But they don’t know that’s not corporately appropriate because they’ve only ever worked in churches.

Rebecca: Well, and that’s what I wanted to say is I honestly think that—and we talked about this a little bit when we did our review of the Nancy Pearcey book is what has happened in evangelicalism over the last, I guess, 50 years probably since the resurgence that happened in the 80s.  40 to 50 years, right?  Is what’s happened is evangelicalism has split off from the rest of the world.  And then we have our own schools and our own groups.  And so you never really need to talk to non evangelicals in your entire life.  If you want to become a pastor, you might never need to actually talk to someone who is not evangelical.  Right?  And so you have these John Piper types and these people who are in these really isolated groups that are saying this stuff, and I do wonder how much of it is that they’ve never actually been asked to be competent in a real way.  I’m not saying the specifics like John Piper, Emerson Eggerichs—and I’m not saying any of the specific.  I’m just saying the culture that has created a group of men—because I do want to say this to since we’re talking about this.  I’m not actually sure how much these books are all the authors’ personal experience, right?  Because we know because we’ve been in the publishing industry for awhile now.  People are pressured to write books because the market needs them, right?  That happens a lot.  I mean—hold on one second.  I mean I think that’s why our book has a little bit more edge because—

Sheila: Our books.

Rebecca: Our books.  Yes.  Our books have a little bit more edge because we use research.  And so it’s quite clear that it’s not all our personal experience because we can’t experience everything.  So we use research to fill in the gaps.  But what’s happening instead is, I think, these people are saying, “Oh, so all these men are feeling like their wives don’t respect them and don’t listen to them.  And their wives are usurping?

Sheila: Usurping.  Yes.   

Rebecca: Their wives are usurping all of their God-given rights.  And so they write these books for all these super incompetent men.  All I’m saying is I’m not saying this is necessarily the truth for the authors.  But what happens when you create a whole culture where the Bible schools are really easy to get into.  And they don’t have rigorous academic requirements.  And then you can’t really get the same kinds of jobs.  And maybe you just are a little bit less competent.  But now the evangelical world has made all this money off of it, and these schools make them a lot of money.  And these groups make them a lot of money.  And so what do they—they can’t suddenly make them harder to get into.  They can’t suddenly actually hold themselves to the same standards as a secular world because they now—they’re going to lose their cash cow.  So what they do instead—well, we just convince people that men are just not competent, so we all have to act like they are because that’s just how men are.  Whereas in the real world, there are competent people who have been held to very rigorous standards who are used to working with people because they are the best in the field, not because they are a nice guy who I knew from youth group and got the job that way.  Right?  This is a fundamentally different culture in a lot of ways.  And I do think that that’s where we’re seeing a lot of the disconnect.  And, again, I’m not saying that for the individual authors necessarily.  A lot of these people went to secular schools.  But they’re writing for a culture that has profited off of actually making people incompetent by removing all standards of behavior, by removing responsibility, by removing accountability, and instead putting this weird façade of masculinity in its place.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  It is really weird.  Okay.  So we’ve talked about how men need to be coddled, and they need to be told that they’re competent even if they’re not.  The next thing that women need to understand as we are reading these books about manly men is that you cannot expect a man to live up to his responsibility.    

Rebecca: Oh, of course not.  

Sheila: So a manly man is not one who is expected to live up to his responsibilities.  And in fact, a manly man is one who is primarily concerned about himself.  That is what we hear over and over again.  And I want to read this to you from the book His Needs, Her Needs.  Okay.  Now His Needs, Her Needs is a book that we looked at for The Great Sex Rescue.  It was one of the books that we analyzed.  It came, I think, fourth last on our—the 13 books that we analyzed in terms of healthy sexuality.  And what it does is it talks about the five biggest emotional needs of men and the five biggest emotional needs of women which is problematic in and of itself.  But one of men’s emotional needs that they really need is peace and quiet.   Domestic support.

Rebecca: Of course.  Women don’t need that.

Sheila: No.  Women don’t need peace and quiet.

Rebecca: Women are never over stimulated by their children.  

Sheila: So men need domestic support.

Rebecca: In fact, I ask Alex to scream in my ear every now and then just for funsies.  Sorry.  Let’s just read it.

Sheila: Okay.  So he is telling the story of Phil and Charlene.  All right?  They had three kids in five years.  Charlene had to quit her job, and so she only works part time now.  Phil has been working two jobs to try to meet up with their financial obligations.  And they live in a two-bedroom house, and it’s really crowded.  Okay?  And here’s what they said—here’s what Willard Harley writes.  “Phil still worked two jobs.  But coming home from his second job, he found the demand greater than ever.  Charlene still needed things fixed and sought help with the children.  The lawn still needed mowing.  And Charlene began to complain that their two-bedroom house was not large enough for their family.  Life, once so pleasant for Phil, rapidly became intolerable.  He tried to escape by watching television and reading the newspaper.  But that didn’t work well because Charlene could still bother him and make him get up and help around the house.  Next he started staying after quitting time and hanging around with some of his coworkers, but that only aroused Charlene’s ire.  She felt hurt and angry when he wasn’t coming home in time to help.  Not long after that, Phil found Janet, a fellow worker that he could talk to and relax with.”

Rebecca: This reads like a caricature.  Okay.  I’m going to say something.  Okay.  Are you ready?

Sheila: Okay. 

Rebecca: I don’t know if anyone else—you may not have known about this.  There was a musical that a man wrote about his divorce with his wife.  And there is a song in it that’s supposed to show the audience just how terrible his ex-wife was.  And everyone is listening to it being like, “How on earth can you write this song and think that you’re in the right?”  And I actually want to read some of the lyrics because it’s so similar to this.  Can I?

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.

Rebecca: Literally this man wrote this about his own real life to try to garner sympathy and get people against his ex-wife.  And these are the lyrics that this man wrote that his wife said to him.  And we’re supposed to think she’s the bad guy.  Are you ready?

Sheila: Uh-huh.

Rebecca: “You know what makes me crazy?  I’m sorry.  Can I say this?  You know what makes me nuts is the fact that we can be together, here together, sharing our night, spending our time, and you’re going to choose someone else to be with.  No.  You are.  Yes, Jamie.  That’s exactly what you are doing.  You could be here with me or be there with them.  And as usual, guess which you pick?   No, Jamie.  You do not have to go to another party with the same 20 jerks you already know.  You could stay here with your wife on her freaking birthday, and you could, God forbid, even see my show.”  He wrote that thinking that that would make people think, “She was such a nag.”  And I’m like how can you be that good of a writer and not see it.  

Sheila: He’s going out on her birthday.

Rebecca: He’s going out all the time, and it’s her birthday.  And he says, “You could stay here with your wife on her freaking birthday.  And you could, God forbid, even my show.  And I know in your soul it must drive you crazy that you won’t get to play with your little girlfriends.  And the point is, Jamie, you can’t spend a single day that’s not about you.”  And it’s just like literally—anyway, I just heard that.  It’s the same thing.  But we have to ask a question like how can these guys not see how ridiculous they are.  This is ridiculous.  My wife has three kids, and they’re so loud.  And I try to come home, and all I want to do is I want to watch my television.  But then she keeps on bothering me.  And then I have to mow the lawn.  And my wife is just so mean.  This sounds like a child, guys.  You had three kids.  You know what?  You had some say in that.  And you know what?  Yeah.  Life is stressful when you have three kids under five, and you don’t make a ton of money.  And you have a small house, and it’s overwhelming.  It absolutely is.  But for pity’s sake, take a step back.  Be self aware.  

Sheila: Yeah.  But this is the thing.  In their universe, there’s sympathy for Phil because remember this is in a chapter on how men need domestic support.  And domestic support is defined as peace and quiet.  So don’t put any demands on him.  And make the kids quiet.  And here’s how this whole situation with Phil and Charlene got resolved.  Okay.  So Phil stopped the affair.  But this is the sentence that sums it up.  “Their relationship improved tremendously once Charlene, the wife, could understand Phil’s need for what I call domestic support.”  

Rebecca: And I really just don’t see any explanation for this kind of view of manliness other than you don’t actually think men are competent.  You don’t actually think men are capable of doing anything.  And I just find it so ironic.  And I do want to say this too.  What I don’t understand is the majority of men who believe in complementarian theology do not expect themselves to be incompetent.  This is not even a complementarian versus egalitarian thing.  It’s just that all the comp resources paint men as these petulant man children who are really kind of icky and not really manly.  And so even though most—I would say that most of the people who are in these circles would not agree that they shouldn’t be able to take instructions from a woman.  

Sheila: Yeah.  I know.

Rebecca: And yet, that’s what all the teaching says.  It’s like, guys, this is ridiculous.  This is ridiculous.

Sheila: And most people would think, hey, a man is supposed to look after his kids.  Okay.  Here is another example of the same thing.  Okay?  All right.  So this is Gary Thomas in Lifelong Love.  And he says this, “The next power shift often occurs when the husband realizes he has lost his wife to the kids or her career or her aging parents, who need extra care, or even, at times, the family pet.  Once this happens he is likely to try meeting his ego needs through another avenue.  One thing I’ve learned about men if we don’t think we can win we usually won’t even compete.  We just turn our focus elsewhere.”  This is clearly an immature response.  “But if we can’t respect at home, we’ll search for it outside the home.  It might be at work, on a video game, at the golf course, or in a deer blind.  But we’ll stray however far we must in order to get some semblance of respect somewhere.”  

Rebecca: I love how he admits that it’s an insecure and immature response.  And then he’s not like, “And so, men, if you see yourself doing this, maybe watch yourself.”

Sheila: Then let me just read you the next part.  Okay?  “This becomes a relational cancer when the other spouse responds in kind.  Okay.  It’s clear he’s checked out.  That reinforces my decision to focus on the kids because he’s not.  He just sits there playing his video games and someone has to be the adult.”  

Rebecca: Yes.  Someone has to be the freaking adult, right?

Sheila: And Gary is saying this is bad.  That this is bad that she is—now let’s look at the examples he gives.  Okay?  So she’s focusing on aging parents who need help, and he says, therefore, the husband doesn’t feel respected.  And so he’s going to go somewhere where he feels a semblance of respect.  Because if she is focusing on her actual responsibilities, it means she isn’t giving him respect.  So manly men need to feel like they are the absolute main concern no matter what else other people are experiencing around you.    

Rebecca: Again, it’s a toddler mentality.  It’s a mommy, mommy, watch me.  Mommy, mommy, watch me.  Watch me, mommy.  Mommy, are you looking at me?  Mommy, watch me.  And I’m like I have dinner to make, love.  I adore you.  I cannot watch you 24 hours a day.  

Sheila: And then he’s watching video games constantly.  And he’s saying that somehow this is her fault because she is not giving him—

Rebecca: Again, there are the ones who say that we don’t have real men.  And I think a lot of it is that there is this—again, because there is not an expectation of actual competency, they do a lot of masculine virtue signaling stuff.  This idea that the man needs to be the leader.  What does that mean?  Right?  Women can’t ask for direction.  Women can’t give directions.  They can ask for directions all they want of the man who is driving in the wrong direction.  But they can’t give directions.  But they can’t give directions.  All these things.  And they build up this false sense of masculinity.  And he talks about it here.  And what I see so often is a lot of these groups of people—and I’m going to say something.  And then don’t get mad immediately because I’m going to explain it.  But these groups, they are so focused on things like beer and football and hunting and fishing and traditionally masculine activities.  And they talk about being masculine all the time, but they forget to actually be men.  Because you know what guys?  They are also—you can hunt and fish and love football and beer and also be a competent grown up around the house.  And those are the guys who are—oh, we have to talk about the difference between Jonathan Owens and Travis Kelce.  This is the perfect example.  

Sheila: Okay.  Okay.  

Rebecca: Okay.  So you may not have heard this.  You’re going to love this.  Okay?  So everyone and their sister now knows Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are dating.  And Travis Kelce has been amazing at building up Taylor and just being like, “Yep.  She’s astounding.  I pulled Taylor Swift.  This is amazing.”  Way to her.  She’s an international pop star.  

Sheila: Because one of the problems that Taylor Swift has had in the past is that guys get—she dates someone.  And then they get intimidated by her because she makes more money and is more famous.

Rebecca: Or whatever.  Yeah.  He’s letting her shine.  It’s great.  Everyone is like yay.  Good for them.   Whatever.  Recently, do you know who Jonathan Owens is?

Sheila: No.

Rebecca: Do you know who Simone Biles is?

Sheila: Yes.  She is the bomb.  She is an incredibly—

Rebecca: She is the greatest of all time gymnast, right? 

Sheila: Yes.  Yes.  Olympic gymnast.  And she’s a role model, and she’s been outspoken about abuse.  And she’s wonderful.

Rebecca: Yes.  So Jonathan Owens is Simone Bile’s husband, right?  No one really knows who he is.  Even among the NFL, he’s mostly known as Simon Bile’s husband.

Sheila: Oh, so he’s in the NFL?  He’s a football player.

Rebecca: Yes.  Sorry.  He’s a football player.  Yes.  So he went on a podcast, and he made a joke that he didn’t know who Simone Biles was when they started dating.  And that she pulled him.  He didn’t get her.  He’s the catch in their relationship.  And everyone is like excuse me, sir.  Excuse me, sir.  You are nationally known as Simon Bile’s husband.  Your legal name is now Simon Bile’s husband.  You are not the catch here.  Right?  There is this difference where—but you know what?  There is also a level where Travis Kelce is one of the best in his job, and Jonathan Owens is a pretty good NFL player.  But he’s not the best, right?  There is a level of—but there’s an ego difference there where it’s like—there are two men who are both dating the greatest of all time in their industry.  Right?  Simone Biles is—we love Simone Biles.  

Sheila: Yeah.  We do love Simone Biles.  

Rebecca: And we love Taylor Swift.  Okay?

Sheila: We love Taylor Swift. 

Rebecca: As I give a knowing look.  We love Taylor Swift, guys.  Okay.  Here we go.  No.  But there are two men who are dating greatest of all time women in their respective industries.  And one of them has a fragile ego, and one of them does not.  And it’s just been really funny to see the difference there.  And this is exactly what they’re talking about.  This idea that you have to make sure you don’t outshine him because he can’t handle it.  Then find a man who can.  Why on earth are we expecting this?  Why aren’t we expecting more?  Why aren’t we expecting men to be able to just handle that sometimes you marry someone who is good at something and that should be something to celebrate?

Sheila: Well, I mean reading these books I’m like why would anyone get married.

Rebecca: Well, exactly.

Sheila: Because what are these books telling us?  Men can’t handle you asking for directions.  Men are not going to be there to look after your kids.  Men are going to pout and whine if you have a mother with Alzheimer’s who needs you to care for her.  And they might even get into video games or have an affair because Gary talks about an affair right after that.  Men are going to need you to coddle them and make them think they’re in charge even when they’re not because you’re better at something than they are.  And you just have to coddle them so that they let you shine, and they let you do what you actually need to do.  But you can’t just start because then they’ll pout.  And it’s like oh my gosh.  Why would you even want to get married?  

Rebecca: Exactly.    

Sheila: I don’t want to marry a man like that.  

Rebecca: No.  Well they’re not men.  And that’s exactly it.  It’s like you have—we have to stop doing these facades of masculinity and to ask what actually makes a man.  Because you know what?  Yeah.  Hunting and fishing and liking video games doesn’t make you a man.  Being a grown up person who is competent and reliable makes you a grown up man.  That’s the thing.  And you might like fishing and hunting.  You also might like reading.  You might like cooking.  It doesn’t matter.  But these cultural movements like evangelical cultural movement—they’re so focused on these superficial things.  These superficial aspects of masculinity.  Like Shaunti Feldhahn literally says at least act like you trust him even if you can’t really trust him.  It’s all superficial.  It’s all pretend.  It’s like these boys are playing dress up their whole lives.  They’re playing dress up as men.  They’re not actually being men.  It’s like guys.  So anyway, we wanted to make 2024 on Bare Marriage the year where we take back the slogan let men be men.

Sheila: Yes.  Because we want men to be men, okay.  We believe that men are men.  We believe men can be competent.  We believe men can be dads.  We believe men can be emotionally healthy.  We believe that men do not need to feel like—we believe that men do not need to fear that their wives are going to outshine them.  We believe that men can celebrate their wives when their wives are great at something.

Rebecca: Yeah.  If you want to be respected and you want to be trusted and you want to be relied upon, then be respectable.  Be trustworthy.  Be dependable.  Be reliable.  That’s the thing is it’s like there’s this bizarre rift that’s happened between reality and whatever the freak is happening over here.  It’s not reality.  It’s like you’re supposed to pretend everything.  And the same Christ that tells us let your yes be yes and your no no doesn’t then say but also, women, make sure you lie every single time you talk to your husband which is pretty  much what these books seem like they’re saying.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.

Rebecca: And we do need to say too a lot of this advice happens for a reason, right?  Of course, there are people who are really—they nitpick and pick at insecurities, and everything is a power struggle.  Absolutely.  I get that.  And you know what?  As human beings, we all do kind of fall to the lowest standard that we are held to.  Right?  And so it’s not that women are better than men.  It’s not that women are more holy than men or more responsible than men or more mature than men.  It’s just that we’ve had less room that we’re allowed to fall.  There’s more consequences on women if we don’t grow in those areas.  And if men had those consequences, they would as well.  Right?

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  And that’s actually what John Gottman says.  And I think your dad and I talked about this in one of the podcasts in November about how John Gottman says that the next big thing that’s going to happen is men are going to get more emotionally healthy.  And we’re going to see that because women already are because of how we’re socialized.  And we don’t have a choice.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Well, women are not necessarily emotionally healthy as much as we are more emotional healthy.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And that’s what he says.  We’re more emotionally healthy.

Rebecca: Studies have kind of—the stuff that I’ve seen is each gender gets a failing grade.  It’s just how much are you failing by.  Right?  I think there was one I read that said only 10% of people are actually self aware.  And we do know that healthy relationships and intimacy require us to be able to know the truth about each other.  Right?  And so maybe if we have all these generations of couples who have been, in essence, taught you can never tell him the truth because he can’t handle the truth.    

Sheila: Yeah.  I know.  It’s like you can’t handle the truth. Jack Nicholson.

Rebecca: You can’t handle the truth.  It’s all the women in evangelicalism.  It’s like all these men want to be like I’m a manly man like Jack Nicholson.  No, honey.  The wife is Jack Nicholson.  You can’t handle the truth.  You were 20 minutes late to Katrina’s party because you didn’t turn the right way.  You can’t handle the truth.  Anyway, but with all these partners who can’t really actually be truthful with each other—when that’s such a foundational aspect of relationships and intimacy, it is not surprising that now we have an entire generation of evangelical men who have been taught to not be able to emotionally connect with their partners.

Sheila: Exactly.  And we’re going to touch on that next week.  In fact, this whole let men be men thing is going to be a three-part series on the podcast.   So this week we were talking about men’s insecurities.  Next week we’re going to talk about how men don’t actually want a relationship with a woman because it would be too scary.  Okay.  And then we’re going to talk about how men are dads.  

Rebecca: And we want to be clear.  We’re not saying that that’s our statements.  What we’re saying is this is what these books are saying.

Sheila: Portraying.  And we don’t believe that.  We believe that men can be dads.  Great dads.

Rebecca: We believe that men can be great companions.

Sheila: We believe that men can want true emotional intimacy.  And next week, of course, it is January.  It is the third week of January next week.  And that means it is time for our Emerson Eggerichs focus, which we do every year this time of year.  And so we’re going to look at what Emerson Eggerichs says about relationships.  And then we’re going to look the next week at what these books say about men as dads, and it’s pathetic.  And it’s terrible.  And I don’t know why men aren’t rising up in response saying don’t talk about us that way because it’s terrible.  So we’re going to look at that in the next three weeks.  But to get into next weeks, one of the big things that Emerson Eggerichs is saying is that he’s very afraid of women talking.  Okay.  His whole book is geared around how men do not want women to talk.  It’s very, very, very important that women never talk and that the basis of a man’s friendship is that a woman doesn’t talk.  And we’re going to explore that next week.  But to just give you a taste, I want to show you how this isn’t just Emerson Eggerichs.  But many evangelical pastors and speakers actually give this same message.  And so let’s just end this out with a couple of clips from Mark Gungor talking about how men and women see emotional intimacy differently.  And then ask yourself, as you’re listening to this, is he describing a manly man.  Is he describing an actual man?  Or is he describing a child?

Mark Gungor: Now women say, “Well, that’s terrible.  Pastor, it shouldn’t be about that.  It should be able companionship and fellowship and sharing.”  Girls, if your husband was interested in companionship, fellowship, and sharing, he’d have gotten a golden retriever.”

Rebecca: I’m just so glad that he’s wrong about men because otherwise I would not have gotten married.  

Sheila: Exactly.  

Rebecca: That’s the thing.  And, again, we want to say this as we’re doing this series on let men be men we’re not saying that men are like how these books say and now we need to retrain all men.  What we’re saying is that actually most men are better than these books say that all men are.

Sheila: Most men want a wife, not a golden retriever.  Most men do want companionship from their wife.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And so let’s not allow what is called Christian resources to dumb down and expect less from men that they are capable of doing.

Sheila: So people, if you love men, if you believe that God loves men, if you think that God made men to be great, then can we please stop talking about men like they are insecure boy childs?  Because they’re not.  And it is so disrespectful to men to talk about men the way that our evangelical resources have done.  And we can do way better than this if we want to honor the men in our lives and if we want to call men to be what God made them to be. 


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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Anon

    I’m glad to see you doing this podcast to clear the air – that you, as you’ve always said, don’t hate men, but instead want to show that men can and should be more than what the evangelical world has made them out to be. This is awesome!

    Side note: as a Disney fan, I can’t help but think of Beauty and the Beast when you talk about the “evangelical man” vs. the true godly man. Gaston really embodies what the evangelical world believes men are (and unfortunately, there are still men out there like this): fragile ego, conceited, easily jealous of anything that might be a threat to him, believes women are lower creatures, etc. The Beast, on the other hand, starts out as a man with a fragile ego, but here’s the main difference between him and Gaston: when Belle stood up to the Beast, she earned his respect amd he began to change because of it. Gaston was so threatened by Belle standing up to him that he locked her in the cellar and tried to murder the Beast. The Beast also willingly changed because he saw that Belle believed he could be more than just a monster, that he could truly be a good man. It’s such a parallel to evangelical books painting men as monsters vs. Sheila and Rebecca seeing that men are more than that and deserve better!

    • Nessie

      Love your BatB assessment!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I love that! It’s such a good analogy!

    • Terry

      I love this. I don’t love the old, old belief that all an immature man needs is “the love of a good woman” because no woman is obligated to raise the man she’s with. But when a man meets a challenge and grows, yes, that’s good.

  2. Kristy

    Yes, I love that comparison. And who would want Gaston, seriously? He’s such a caricature . . . but then, so is the evangelical definition of manhood. I think that part of what is at the root of this view of men is that evangelicals are so invested in believing that men and women are completely different (this is why Emerson Eggerichs, in his application of Shaunti Feldahn’s highly flawed “research, made the leap, without any evidence whatsoever, from “most men chose respect over love” to “therefore women must be the opposite and must need love more than respect”) — so desperate to see us as almost two different species — that they need a very simplistic way of defining what a man is. And that definition cannot overlap in any way with anything that characterizes a woman. And yet, isn’t the whole attempt to define “man” and “woman” in any way other than biologically (and yes, I know that even that is being challenged now) problematic? Is anyone aware of a good definition of “manhood” or “womanhood”? I can’t think of anything that characterizes all men or all women. I like what Sheila and Rebecca suggest in this podcast. Perhaps if we want to know what a man is, we shouldn’t be trying to contrast him with women but with children. Real men are all grown up. And so are real women.

    • Lisa Johns

      I think that the fact that they so badly want to define men and women as almost different species is very telling — they have no social skills that enable them to relate to others, apparently, so they try to put the blame on the others by characterizing them as too different to be understandable. “Othering.”

      • Cheyenne

        “I can’t think of anything that characterizes all men or all women”.

        This is where often this type of discussion falls apart because this type of statement completely ignores biology. Chromosomes, sex organs, bone density, muscle mass are just a few biological, factual things that differ men from women.

        To say anyone can’t think of “anything” that differs the genders defies logic and science.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Except that some women have more muscle mass than some men. Sex organs, yes. But to say that “all men are stronger than all women” is factually untrue. This is where things get messy.

          I would say a big part of being a woman is realizing and dealing with the fact that men physically pose a threat to me for sure. But this is also largely because of sex organs combined with strength. It’s just complicated, and I do know some women who are stronger.

        • Anonymous

          “Chromosomes, sex organs, bone density, muscle mass are just a few biological, factual things…”

          Kristy accounted for biology just a couple sentences before the statement you quoted, where she said, “in any way *other* than biologically.” Biology wasn’t ignored.

  3. Mara R

    Concerning asking a woman in her backyard for directions.

    I always imagine that she has a corner lot, and that is how he has access without being a creeper in the alley.

    The telling part is that these men need to place that woman in a backyard, Being in her front yard is being too authoritative or masculine or something? Why does it have to be in her backyard and not in the store parking lot on the sidewalk as she pushes a stroller or walks the dog? Why on earth did they pick the backyard?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is really, really weird. Truly.

    • Laura

      I thought the backyard was a strange example of a location for Piper to use in his “directions” illustration. Also creepy.

  4. Julie

    I think Rebecca needs to share her 2023 book list – we all need more fantasy!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Ha! A number of people have said that. I’ll see if she will!

  5. Nessie

    I “let” my husband “lead” for years. He never did. He lived 2 decades frozen. I was told to give him space to grow into leadership. To pray more or differently. To let go of my “controlling” tendencies.

    Now I am left to try to coax or coach everyone into relationship with Jesus and each other. It is far more work, lost years, and being less close to God than we could be because of those years. That sure doesn’t sound very God-honoring.

    Even beyond removing negative consequences, these same church spaces often prescribe positive reinforcement for a lack of good, or even for poor, behavior… The idea is he will grow into that man, but I’ve never seen it work that way.

    GT’s description of men’s neediness basically means: a wife with kids needs to ignore her actual kids with actual needs and brain development still in process so that she can shower the husband-child with attention instead of him behaving as a competent adult (or a real man) and contributing to the raising of their children. I do NOT understand how these “manly men” think their wives could be attracted to them when they behave this way.

    God tells us to not be lazy, but when a man has to check out and have quiet as soon as he gets home and for as long as he wants, then he is far closer to lazy than the wife he is complaining about.

    Through a good church, I’m starting to meet some godly men- men who teach kids. Who cook for events and clean up after. Who listen to others. It gives me hope. And that is manly.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great thoughts, Nessie! And, yes, it is infuriating. And the whole “treat him like a leader and he will lead” is manifestation theology, and it doesn’t work.

      • Nessie

        manifestation theology
        Thank you. I knew there was probably a term for it but didn’t know what it was. Our previous church tried doing that from the pulpit, telling the congregation how great they were at community even though several families, ours included, had spoken to the pastor about the huge lack in that area. I wish pastors would learn that “techniques” like this do not work.

        I think it is easy to believe that manifestation theology might work because of the research out there that says if you tell someone they can’t do something they will believe it, while peers who are told they are capable go on to succeed, etc. I need to look more into that- I’m curious what makes them different.

        I also want to thank you- this website, with it’s honesty about the problems with some men, ideologies, etc., has been instrumental in helping me believe that *good men actually do exist.*

  6. Codec

    You know I find it weird this idea that a man would feel wounded in his ego for a woman to instruct him.

    To me that is absurd. Women have taught me a lot. I ask women for help all the time.

    I would be a fool if I didn’t ask some of my instructors for advice because they were women. Do you know what a shoulder lock is? I know what one is and I learned it from a woman. I also learned how to be a good training partner when applying submissions from a woman.

    It feels degrading to me as a man to imply that I can’t learn from women.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Codec! It’s all terribly degrading and I don’t know why they don’t see that.

  7. Tim

    This is not just an evangelical problem by the way. Painfully low expectations of men are the norm in all sorts of contexts. Needless to say though, the church can and should be better than society at large.

    Haven’t listened to podcast yet but I feel like it’s going to be cathartic!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly. I know patriarchy is everywhere, but what’s difficult for so many women is that it’s far WORSE in the church than in society. The church should not be the place where we’re treated the worst, but it is.

  8. Angharad

    I’ve always found it bizarre that those who treat men like overgrown toddlers complain that you belittle men…

    And the thing about feeing challenged by women knowing more than they do…How pathetic is that? Feeling threatened by someone else’s abilities is not a sign of strength, it’s a sign of weakness.

    I am learning a new language. My husband learned the same language as a young man but hasn’t used it for years, so he has forgotten a lot. He is so proud of my success in learning and delights in telling people that I’ve outstripped his knowledge…He doesn’t feel ‘threatened’ by my ability – he rejoices in it. And that’s because he IS a real man – one who is secure in his own identity and who doesn’t need to throw hissy fits to maintain some kind of bogus superiority.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love hearing about your husband! It’s always good to hear about a good marriage–and a good man!

      • CMT

        Whenever this conversation comes up I think of this piece by Kevin DeYoung I stumbled across a while back.

        This is a long quote but I think it shows pretty clearly where he and other “benevolent patriarchy” types are coming from:

        “…patriarchy, rightly conceived, is not about the subjugation of women as much as it is about the subjugation of the male aggression and male irresponsibility that runs wild when women are forced to be in charge because the men are nowhere to be found. What school or church or city center or rural hamlet is better off when fathers no longer rule? Where communities of women and children can no longer depend upon men to protect and provide, the result is not freedom and independence. Fifty years of social science research confirms what common sense and natural law never forgot: as go the men, so goes the health of families and neighborhoods. The choice is not between patriarchy and enlightened democracy, but between patriarchy and anarchy.”

        As far as I can tell, he’s saying we need patriarchy because men can’t be decent, responsible humans if they aren’t in charge. So men are all Cartman from South Park- either “You will respect mah authoriteh!” or “Screw you guys, I’m going home.” But yeah, egalitarians hate men. Okay, sure.

        • CMT

          Oops this was meant to be a general comment not a reply

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Perfect example, CMT! Yes, exactly.

        • Angharad

          In every other sphere of life, people have to prove responsibility to be given authority. In the world belonging to Piper, de Young and Co, men have to be given authority because they’ve proved they behave irresponsibly without it…

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, that’s a good quote!

        • Lisa Johns

          “Fifty years of social science research…??” CITATIONS PLEASE!!!

          • CMT

            Ikr?? In the rest of the post he mentions maybe 3 authors and their books (but doesn’t mention any research credentials except for one guy who apparently is an MD/PhD). One of the books he quotes for support is a 1973 work called “the inevitability of patriarchy” that apparently was rejected by 55 publishers before making it to print. Soo, Deyoung is citing a guy who was almost too fringey to get published on this subject 50 years ago.

  9. Hannah

    One of the things that really makes my blood boil is the women police officers statement. Years ago I heard a radio programme on the merger of the women’s and men’s police forces in the UK. This happened last century so not recent. The women’s force had built up expertise in ‘women’s issues’ (e.g. rape, domestic violence) but this was all lost in the merger because what do women know? (Happy to be corrected on the facts by anyone with clearer knowledge/ memory). So while I don’t believe you need separate male and female police forces, the idea that you can have a functioning police force with no women in it is just crazy.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely! We really need women’s expertise and perspective as well.

  10. Nessie

    I wanted to take a minute to thank the male commentors on this site that are honest, compassionate, and real. Y’all have been encouraging and helpful on my path to learning that men can and should be good (not perfect, but good). I’m sure I will miss some, but: Phil, Boone, Codec, Tim, Nathan… Thank you!

    • Lisa Johns

      I’ll second that! 🙂

  11. Graham

    I loved this episode and look forward to this series (and more of Rebekah’s entertaining rants!).

    I wonder how much of this problem is made worse because of all of our stereotyping of the genders. The fact is, no one can be competent at everything, and if we have a set of things that men are supposed to be good at and another set that women are supposed to be good at it sets them up to feel insecure about their masculinity or femininity. Using the example of the wife telling her husband she made a wrong turn, for instance. If the husband (and wife for that matter) think that men are supposed to be better drivers because they are wired that was as men, if a wife has to give her husband directions that would mean he is failing as a man. If you separate it out from being a masculine trait you can just accept that you are not always great with direction, and see your wife’s input as being helpful. Competency is important, but the focus should be on character, not some arbitrary set of masculine or feminine traits. And, it’s ok if you’re not good at everything. Just don’t use it as an excuse to be a jerk (or a toddler). To clarify, I’m not disagreeing with anything you said. Just adding another element that probably affects things.

    Also, as a theater guy I was interested in Rebekah quoting the song from The Last Five Years. I knew it was a semi-autobiographical story, but I didn’t think it was supposed to make the writer look good. I always found the girl in that story much more sympathetic. Not sure if he intended to make the male character the more sympathetic one or not. If he did he certainly didn’t do a good job.

    Anyway, great episode! Keep up the great work.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree, Graham! It should be based on competence, and I think you’re right that weird gender stuff gets in the way here.

  12. Laura

    These “Christian” books about men made me want to remain single because these men that were described in these books (mostly written by male authors) were portrayed as jerks, selfish, insecure, not spiritual, and sex maniacs. If this was really how most men were, then being single is much easier. Thankfully, many men I know are not like that at all. The ones that are, I avoid. Even if our men were not like the men described in these books, we (women) were still supposed to cater to all of their needs and wants because he “gets the final say.”

    Thankfully, I had a wonderful father who was never threatened by my mom’s intelligence, was secure, and even joked to his coworkers that his wife gave him an allowance. Mom always managed the finances because that was more her area of expertise. I found a great man who is not threatened by my intelligence and admires my ability to manage money well. He’s okay with me being the financial breadwinner in our marriage after I get my master’s degree. I am so thankful I do not have to dumb myself down to keep him happy.

    I loved Rebecca’s rants on the podcast and just laughed. It is so true that the examples used in these books are so minor such as the husband getting lost on the way to a party or a housewife giving a stranger directions from her backyard. I think that when Piper wrote about this, he was not thinking logically because who gives directions from their backyard unless someone is driving down the alley.

    I’m looking forward to next week’s podcast about Eggerich’s ideas about how he thinks women should talk less. In that case, if he and all these other men don’t like a woman who talks, get a life-sized doll like from the movie Lars and the Real Girl.

  13. Jenny

    I’m sorry… Giving directions to the freeway is leadership and asking/following is submission… I mean, I guess technically, but who frames it that way?! Does that make reading a map submission to Rand McNally?

    Why can’t asking directions to the freeway simply be gathering data via a friendly exchange between humans? Why does it have to have a power dynamic attached?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is truly bizarre. Like absolutely ridiculous that they spend this much time thinking about something so stupid.

    • CMT

      Yeah, reading a map is submitting to Rand McNally, but don’t worry, women can make maps and work in publishing houses. That’s indirect and impersonal influence, so it’s fine! No actual flesh and blood man has to look an actual flesh and blood woman in the eye and acknowledge she knows something he doesn’t. All safe! Everybody’s god given roles are intact!

      Now, if a wife is reading the map while her husband drives, on the other hand, that could get tricky…

  14. Rachel

    Oh my gosh, Rebecca, you were on fire in this one! I haven’t even finished listening to it yet, and I just had to come here and say that I was cry-laughing at your tale of the land of Kroger. Seriously, you have to publish that one. Write a children’s book! It can be a cautionary tale for boys (and girls) about the pitfalls of fragile egos.

  15. Willow

    And then she finds the guy who is like, “Yes. Be bigger. Be better. Grow. Gain your power.” And that’s the guy she falls in love with.

    My first reaction to this: It’s a platonic context, but after years of frustration working in a 95% male industry, I finally work for a boss who interacts with me like this, and it’s so amazing. He, mature and highly competent, treats me exactly this way – challenging me, respecting me, admiring me, encouraging me, backing me up – and not only am I flourishing and working harder than ever to make our unit successful, I never want to leave.

    My second reaction to this: Is this such a gendered response, after all? What if the genders were flipped: “and then he finds the woman who says, Yes. Be bigger. Be better. Grow. Gain your power. And he never wanted to leave her, because she made him feel like a hero.”

  16. EOF

    I loved this podcast so much! As the mom of boys, I want to see them grow up and flourish to be good men. They’ve seen firsthand the fruits of a “biblical man” and they are very much turned off by it.

    I’ve been married over 20 years, and the foundation of my marriage has been the harmful teachings from all of these toxic books. My church has, over the years, moved away from toxic teachings to healthy — however my marriage has not. My husband has continued to rule with an iron fist, leaving the kids and I cowering in fear. Finally, we are separated!

    My pastor said it sounds like I’ve lived through hell, and he’s right. The teachings of these horrible books put women through hell! And none of these authors even care. How is that remotely Christlike? Where is heaven for women and children in the world of Christianity? It is only found in leaving these abusive men!!

  17. Shoshana

    John Piper-“To illustrate: it is simply impossible that from time to time a woman not be put in a position of influencing or guiding men. For example, a housewife in her backyard may be asked by a man how to get to the freeway. At that point she is giving a kind of leadership. She has superior knowledge that the man needs and he submits himself to her guidance. But we all know that there is a way for that housewife to direct the man in which neither of them feels their mature femininity or masculinity compromised….”.

    Oh, boy did I fail in this early! I remember checking our mail at the end of a very long driveway at age 11 when a man pulls up. Wary of 1980s stranger danger parental warnings, I gave him the evil eye. Man asks if I knew how to get to a junkyard a mile from my house. I precisely and accurately give him directions while still being wary and far enough from the road in case I had to run. The man thanked me and drove off. At age 16, I am walking to an after school appointment in my extremely small town. A man stops his car in the street, and asks me, “Hey, can you tell me how to get to Main Street?”. Teenage me stares at him in astonishment, “Dude, you’re on it!”. Man turns red in the face and drives off in embarrassment. I guess John Piper would say I emasculated these guys. LOL.

  18. JG

    I guess that if men are listening to GPS on their phones, and if it is a woman’s voice giving directions, they are submitting to a woman’s directions. Maybe they need to get an app adjustment for a man’s voice for those men who can’t handle having a woman giving directions.

  19. Shoshana S

    I think I’m seeing a companion book in the works called “HE deserves better”!!!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We do keep thinking about it!

  20. Andrew

    I have been discussing this concept with my wife, as well as other men in a recovery support group. I just don’t understand why men are constantly presented as either so pathetic and fragile on one hand, and/or over the top toxic alpha-animal lunatics on the other. How did this idea end up in such a stupid black and white – false dichotomy – as if men are ALSO incapable of all nuance?

    And…I have uttered the exact words that Rebecca launched the topic with:

    Aren’t men…adults?

    Do we even have to ask this?
    Apparently yes, because men (too often, Christian men specifically) are presented like toddlers.

    Where did the idea (specifically in Christian literature) that a men having insecurity or fragile egos transition from a weakness/character defect which should be personally addressed(1) to an axiom of just “how men are”?
    Are we really saying that men are so flimsy that merely being around a woman who…chooses…anything…feels threatening or controlling? If it does, doesn’t that seem like a personal issue?

    It’s like nobody ever said waitwaitwait…hold-up – is this true? And if so, are men unique in this and supposed to be like that? Shouldn’t they be working to improve this? Is it healthy to have a totally external locus of control? (Are any of these authors even familiar with the concept?)

    Again, this seems like coddling and childishness. (And the other extreme (toxic alpha masculinity) is equally childish and barbarian – but too much to be address here.)

    What if men were talked about (at least….inside the Christian book bubble) like actual functioning adults?

    – Their identity, image and self-worth is based on Christ, Not externals, including “being in charge.”
    – They listen for whatever God has for them in that moment: (sometimes to serve, sometimes to lead, sometimes to submit to leadership, sometimes to contemplate, sometimes to seek advice, sometimes to stand up, sometimes to stay quiet, sometimes to just get the job done and ask questions later…etc.)
    – They are humble enough to admit how much they don’t know.
    – They are not threatened by receiving or asking for advice (from anyone, man or woman).
    – They understand that taking an L is a chance to learn a Lesson.
    – They can see and understand that cultural portrayals of masculinity are over the top archetypal caricatures (e.g. John Wayne, James Bond) for entertainment, and obviously not real models.
    – They know that they can and should be working toward self-control – and that this is their own duty, not the responsibility of surrounding environment and circumstances.
    – They are kind.
    – The world is not fair.
    – That acting pouty and butt-hurt when you don’t get your way, is not a virtue.

    ….this list goes on on on, but you are probably bored AND SHOULD BE because these are obvious aspects of:
    being adults. And they actually aren’t unique to men even.

    So again…why are (Christian) men addressed like children, as if this is just how they are and will always be? Is that the “Biblical” view?

    I would say that it is not.

    1) let me repeat and clarify that: Personally Address – as in, your own responsibility to take a sober stock of, and look to learn, grow and improve.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So good, Andrew!


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