[From the archives.]
In 4 Ways to Overcome the Feminization of Boys, Owen Strachan wrote that the actions of the passengers who subdued a heavily armed gunman on a train traveling from Belgium to France (BBC – France Train Shooting: what we know) reminded him “of the duty we have to train boys to take risks and lead in self-sacrifice for the good of others.”
Mr. Strachan* says nothing about training girls to take risks and lead in self-sacrifice for the good of others, though. For him risk-taking and self-sacrifice are manly characteristics and Jesus is the one who set the example for men to follow in pursuing their risk-taking self-sacrificial lives:
He does no violence to the God-created nature of manhood. Instead, he redeems manhood, and channels to ends that glorify the Father. Men find in him the example they desperately want. They discover a warrior-savior who is so manly that he feels no insecurity over weeping over the death of his friend (John 11:35).
Jesus redeemed manhood? Mr. Strachan provides no reference to a Bible passage to support this claim. Then again he couldn’t, because there is no Bible passage supporting such a notion. After all, Jesus did not come to redeem manhood. Jesus redeems people. (Galatians 3:13-14, 1 Peter 1:18.)
Pink and Blue sets of Spiritual Armor
The main problem with Mr. Strachan’s spin on the train rescue is that the traits and characteristics he claims are specific to men are actually traits and characteristics the Bible shows in women as well. His unbiblical efforts not only don’t build up men in any way the Bible teaches but also serve to create vapid women if they accept his ways, as much as if he said: “Men, go out and take some risks! Oh, and you women should empty yourselves of any desire to be risk-takers and let manly men take those risks for you.”
The Bible has much more to offer women and men. For example, regarding Mr. Strachan’s reference to Jesus as a warrior we can look to Paul’s teaching on the armor of God and take note of the complete lack of gender/sex restrictions or distinctions.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12-13.)
Paul goes on to list the armor – the helmet of salvation, shield of faith, sword of the Spirit, and more. (Ephesians 6:14-17.) Nowhere does Paul say this armor is for men but not women, so if Jesus set an example as a warrior then it’s an example for both women and men in the kingdom of Christ.
Some might say, though, that the armor of God is for spiritual battles while Mr. Strachan is talking about physical action. First, spiritual and physical matters are not dichotomized in Scripture. They are intertwined and joined so that what we do is always part of spiritual reality. (E.g., see what Paul had to say about sexual intercourse and spiritual reality in 1 Corinthians 6:15-16.)
Second, we can look at Biblical examples of men and women who took action in various ways. David defeating Goliath might be the most famous example, but it’s not the only one. And sometimes men God acted in ways that had disastrous consequences.
Consider Lot, Abraham’s nephew. When the mob outside his house demanded “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them,” Lot went out to face the mob long enough to offer them his virgin daughters to “do what you like with them.” The daughters escaped only by the intervention of God. (Genesis 19.) Then there’s the Levite – a man set aside for service in the tabernacle of God – who sent his concubine out to another threatening mob. They raped her all night long, and she was dead by morning. (Judges 19.)
Lot and the Levite were decisive men, and their actions are horrifying.
Women of Action: examples for all men and women to follow
Lot and the Levite don’t stack up well against others in the Bible, but they look especially bad in comparison with women who took decisive action and were honored by God for it.
- Zipporah – When her husband Moses was in danger of suffering God’s wrath, Zipporah grabbed a knife, circumcised their son on the spot, and saved Moses’ life, claiming him as her “bridegroom of blood.” (Exodus 4.)
- Deborah – When Israel descended into a period of evil, Deborah answered God’s call to lead the nation, holding court to decide disputes among the people and mediating God’s will for the leaders of Israel’s army.** (Judges 4.)
- Jael – When the general of the army attacking Israel fled for safety, Jael killed him by taking a mallet and driving a tent stake through his brain while he slept. (Judges 4.) Israel sang her praises. (Judges 5.)
- Rahab – When the Israelites sent spies to scout the enemy in Jericho, Rahab hid them from the soldiers and sent them safely back to their own lines. (Joshua 2.) She is an honored ancestor of Jesus. (Matthew 1:8.)
- Abigail – When David and his men traveled the countryside with no permanent camp as a base, Abigail provided everything they needed despite her husband’s refusal to help David and his army. (1 Samuel 25.)
These are women who took risks and led through self-sacrifice, and the Bible celebrates them all.
Mr. Strachan, on the other hand, would teach women not to do anything like these courageous acts and instead leave risk-taking sacrifice to men. I hope he’s not depending on men like Lot.
Following the Example of Women who Follow God
To say that the Godly examples of courageous faith these women gave us don’t count, to say that only boys should be trained to take risks, to teach that only men are meant to lead through such self-sacrifice – all of that is to deny Scripture itself and leads to vapid womanhood.
Yet it’s not women themselves who are vapid. What’s vapid is the rotten fruit of patriarchal doctrine. It’s so rotten, all that’s left is the stench lingering in the air.
But in Jesus, we have the sweet aroma of freedom to follow him and his ways regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. After all, Jesus did not come to redeem manhood so that men could lead women.
He came to redeem women and men for himself.
*Owen Strachan would call himself a complementarian and not a patriarchist. He teaches that when it comes to families, churches, and the world at large, men are to lead and women are to follow. That’s patriarchy.
**Some conclude the only reason Deborah became Israel’s leader is because no man would do it; no passage in Scripture supports that conclusion. To the contrary, God works through women the same way he works through men, by his choosing.