Saturday 4 August 2018

How can you understand women from a Christian perspective?

One of the most disgusting spectacles on the internet is the self-styled right-wing manosphere writers (whose macho-posturing is nearly-always contradicted by their chickenhawk pseudonymity), who purport to write from a Christian perspective; but who argue using only secular, materialist utilitarian reasoning and evidence - and then thinly-coat their conclusions with a supposedly-Christian veneer. 

(The intent is apparently to retain the male extra-marital sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility of the sexual revolution; but in a situation where women are held subordinate - hedonistic materialism for the men and patriarchal religion for the women.)

Given the pseudo-scientific, pseudo-Christian, posturing, prideful and self-serving midden that is the manosphere, on the one hand; and on the other the dishonest, incoherent, demonic evil that is mainstream socio-politics... how should Christians then proceed in understanding women from a genuinely Christian perspective?

The answer is obviously to begin with the Christian understanding of sex and sexuality; to begin with 'what God wants and intends' from the fact of there being men and women. Only later may the materialist and pragmatic socio-political conclusions be derived.

Here, there are differences among Christians. Traditionally, the official theology of most Christian churches has been that sexuality, sex, marriage and procreation are merely a temporary feature of our mortal lives; all of which either cease, or else cease to be important, after death (for instance marriage until 'death do us part').

This has not always been the view of actual Christians, for instance among the 'laity'; who have often regarded sexuality, sex, and marriage to be at least potentially continued in Heaven.

This has been given a metaphysical basis in Mormon theology, which regards men and women as distinct from the beginning, a complementary dyad - the ultimate 'unit' of a Man. Only the dyad is capable of the highest exaltation to fully divine creativity, which is the chosen, irreversible, eternal marriage of a man and woman, as separate beings bound by love to make a complete god.

My point is that a real Christian needs to - indeed ought to - first reach a personal understanding, as best he can; by faith (that is by personal revelation, through prayer and meditation, by the fullest intuitive knowledge) - of why from the divine perspective there are men and women both; why there is marriage and what is its ultimate nature and importance; and what sex is ultimately for.

From this solid ground, we may then be able decide the secondary issues of what are the mortal, this-worldly, my-personal-life (and perhaps cultural) implications of this Gods-eye-view understanding.

Given the way in which the sexual revolution has been the major, most powerful, most successful instrument of demonic strategy over the past fifty-plus years; this is something we all absolutely need to do. 


Unknown said...

Relevant movie recommendation: Kara no Kyoukai (Garden of Sinners)

In this series, the hero is an ordinary young man who has a girlfriend with myriad supernatural powers, mostly involving death and killing. Throughout the series there is ambiguity about the character of the girlfriend: her family is obviously some sort of mafia, and there is evidence that she may be a serial killer. From an outside perspective, it seems like the boyfriend is the weaker party, since he has no fighting skills and mostly just does kind things to people.

Later it becomes clear that the girlfriend has been using tremendous restraint to avoid killing people at all, and that the boyfriend is a person of immensely strong character who has been using his moral authority to keep the girlfriend out of trouble. Because the boyfriend is a true Patriarch, the girlfriend is totally enthralled. The boyfriend doesn’t exploit the girlfriend sexually at all in the entire series, and at the end they get married and have children (naturally).

Athough there are no explicit references to Christianity, the main hero is obviously Christian and operates directly from the Jesus playbook. The importance of prioritizing avoiding spiritual corruption as opposed to physical harm is emphasized many times.

— Robert Brockman

Michael Dyer said...

Revered though?

They're just humans. I think part of the problem has been chivalry poisoning. We tipped too far in the other direction.

Women aren't magic or a "civilizing influence" or anything other than fellow humans with differing characteristics. Capable of being wicked or righteous just like men.

Don't get me wrong I think you're right I just think that we pushed too far. Women basically control most congregations and we've prioritized them so high that natural dynamics have been thrown out of whack.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MD - I'm afraid your comment exhibits exactly the materiast reductionism that I find so disgusting!

To say that women are 'just humans'... That 'just'...! And to say that women are not magic, or not a civilizing influence! And to say that womens are wicked or righteous 'just like' men!

All of these are wrong, from a Christian perspective; all exhibit a biological reductionism of the deadliest kind. They are what we muct resist.

Your last paragraph may well be OK, but it begs the questions I have said that we must settle *before* being able to understand and improve society from a Christian point of view. There is no short-cut to Christian policy that leaves-out being a Christian.

Knowing that something is wrong is different from knowing what would be better.

If we try to fix a problem like feminisation of institutions without doing so from a Christian basis, then we will merely be replacing one materialism with another.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - I don't feel that we can open that can of worms here - and to repond to it adequately now would take me too far off topic. But I'll bear it in mind for a future post.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MD - Just think about what I have said. Work it out to your own satisfaction.

Unknown said...

Okay, I think I get it: men and women have the magic ability to improve their spiritual condition by renouncing any and all of their wickedness at any time. Because of this, the statistical behavior of groups of women or men behaving badly means very little -- any given individual can repent.

Claim: one of the dangers of saying things like "modern women are awful" is that it implies that individual women cannot choose to not be awful. With enough repetition of this idea, women may be fooled into believing that they don't have the free will to behave well -- this is manifestly some of the purest corruption.

The metaphysics of free will are thus primary.

Do I have it right?

-- Robert Brockman

Bruce Charlton said...

@RB - Not even close!

Bruce Charlton said...

@C - I'm not going to get personal or specific in print; but the example you give I regard as an exact example of the fakery I discuss in my post. In which socio-politics comes first, and materialism provides the reasoning - with Christianity applied to the result late and superficially.

Chiu ChunLing said...

This comment section is rather interesting in an unusual way.

"All of these are wrong, from a Christian perspective; all exhibit a biological reductionism of the deadliest kind."

Naturally, the deadliest kind of any concept is the one that is obviously wrong on even its own terms. It is not only from a Christian perspective that women are profoundly different from men, the agents of social cohesion at both the personal and civilizational scale, and with very different characteristic virtues and vices from those of men.

Jesus taught using parables because the biological facts of life (not just human life, but all organic life) on Earth have been arranged to illustrate eternal principles.

r/K selection is a good example. One thing that happens when you look at a diagram of different species arranged by r/K factors is that you realize that all the disgusting species are in the r corner while all the species that we find naturally admirable are towards the K corner. It is thought provoking to consider why that is, but the profoundity comes in when you start to look at how that instinctive feeling of disgust for the crawling vileness of things that merely spawn en mass should inform our feelings about the temptation to apply more r oriented reproductive strategies in our human life rather than sticking to K procreative strategy.

Men and women are not at all equal in their ability to meaningfully pursue r type strategies. I realize that putting things this way, I've approached a bit closer to a literal can of worms, but it seems inevitable, because we are indeed talking about what makes a meaningful difference between worms and men.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - I should point out that r/K theory is a prettyy metaphysical thing; more like a research framework than something 'established'. It is also very difficult to operationalise convincingly - that requires a great deal of personal judgement, and I often disagree with the ways that it is done.

So an r/K measurement is an extremely imprecise and ony somewhat valid thing.

But, accepting some of of overall validity to the idea; the Big problem comes with trying to use this materialist index to discuss Men, when Men are not materialist beings. r is optimised for short termist outcomes, when there is no predictable long term; K is optimised for longer term outcomes, in an environment where outcomes are more preditable.

But any Christian perspective demolishes r/K by having the 'eternal' timescale for 'outcomes'. The difference between r and K is insignificant compared with the difference between mortal lifespan and everlasting life.

I don't regard r or K as better; because each human soul is placed in a situation that provides the experiences which that specific soul most needs. Most humans throughout history (the vast majority) never reproduced - and the proportion is higher for men.

Yet all men and women chose mortal life and were placed in a situation for their benefit - even if that benefit is simply incarnation and death.

So, r/K has approximately zero relevance to the Christian, as such; or to morality, as such.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Some measures of r/K strategy are really quite "hard". All the ones I prefer, in fact. Simply put, they refer to time and metabolic energy (including nutrition generally as well as raw caloric output) expended towards further procreative effort to ensure the survival of children already conceived compared to that expended towards generating new opportunities to conceive.

In that sense, nearly all females of all species tend to be relative K strategists by virtue of providing the larger gamete during reproduction, but if you eliminate consideration of the investment before it is fertilized then the difference narrows dramatically (but still doesn't close completely in most cases that do not involve the habitual consumption of the male by the female).

Human life is complex, and thus it can be very difficult to measure, or even reliably judge, the time and energy which are being invested in expanding future conception opportunities compared to securing the welfare of existing children. Sometimes there is a clear difference and a really measurable investment gap. But not always. Men spend much energy building up their career and reputation, those investments are fungible as to whether they will be allocated towards gaining conception opportunities or caring for posterity. Indeed, psychological transference often occurs with regard to sexual/progenitive impulses, which may be considered the origin of much great art (whether for good or ill). And you can't always tell from the art what impulse was transfered to create it, or the relative balance of the several impulses, more likely.

Still, at a personal level most of us can look at our lives and see whether we are spending more time and effort (and care, which is a kind of metabolic effort and takes time) on maximizing conception opportunities or improving life for the posterity we already have (humans partially include collateral descendants in their posterity by nature).

A rough and ready tool is just to look at the number of descendants and their success ratio, but there are difficulties in that since "success" is not universally defined and some strategies may be relatively ineffective despite their clear orientation. Also, at a personal level it merely gives cause for reproach, since this assessment only works long after it is too late to meaningfully change what you're doing. But applied as a historical tool it is excellent and has the virtue of allowing us to see strategies (hopefully K, but r as well) which we might not have personally considered.

Lucinda said...

This might be off topic.

My observation and experiences lead me to believe in women as some kind of connector, like maybe the fluid in a car battery that allows current to flow. It seems to me that men's freedom from many of the social pressures experienced by women means that men operate with much lower working memory within the social group mainframe. But when a man is in a functional relationship with a woman, she's able to keep him up to speed with the group's expectations and norms, things that she knows without having to think (like when R2D2 plugs into a computer to get access to the main computer). The reverse is not really true. The information men have that women don't is mostly considered useless by women. I think this is why women tend to view men as defective women, whereas men know women are not men, and really struggle to understand how to properly relate to them.

Women's roles as media is why I think the existence and corruption of mass media is so devastating to the role women need to play in families and society, since women don't have reliable wiring for operating completely independently rather than collectively.

This is why I think it's helpful generally for a woman to consciously look to her husband for guidance. Subconsciously she will be following the guidance of whatever social framework she finds most authoritative, but in her husband's independence she will have a bulwark against whatever corruption exists in that framework.

For men I think it's vital to discern what social mainframe any particular woman regards as authoritative, and decide how to relate to her based on that analysis. Is it a mainframe that the man desires to be connected with? The particular woman will be setting the rules for the relationship based on the rules of that mainframe. So when men chose women whose authoritative mainframe is some kind of whoredom (a realm where women make no effort to honor the needs of their children for a connection with their father), then it is no wonder that such men seek to relate to the women in the role of pimp.

A Christian man should avoid entanglements with such women, not least because creating children with such women undermines children's first and best chance of recognizing God as their loving Father.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - That strikes me as a deep and true observation, and one I've never heard before.

Ben said...

Hi Lucinda, great insight thank you. Always happy when I see your comments.

Michaela Stephens said...

The way I see men, they often are very status-oriented, achievement-focused (in order to increase status). Anything that increases status, increases respect, increases power is good. I don’t call this tendency good or bad, I just notice that it is. A good man will try to be the best he can be, and will naturally gain status and power wherever he is. However, only the will and character to make personal sacrifices helps a good man escape the tendency to use his status and power to coerce. A bad man will try to gain power without the effort of doing the hard character work it takes to gain it naturally.

Women are highly relationship-oriented. They subconsciously have feelers out about what the state of their relationship is with other people. Is everything good? Is there some sort of coldness? Sensing something is off calls for analysis of body language and verbal exchanges of the present and past to look for patterns in hopes of determining a cause.
Women also are alert to notice changes in relationships between other people. Discussions about relationships are highly interesting to women. (Often this will look like gossip to a man, and it can easily turn into gossip, but at bottom, it is analysis of relationships.)

Good women can sense when things are off about a relationship, and if it is something they can do something about, they will take subtle measures to repair things or strengthen relationships. (I personally wonder if this was an evolutionary measure, since allowing bad relationships to fester in a tribe could lead to less optimal access to resources, war, and jeopardize survival of progeny.) Good women use relationships and personal influence to work for better outcomes for everyone. A good woman will be very skilled at creating and maintaining relationships and builds everybody up who she comes in contact with. Only the will and character to forgive will help a good woman escape the tendency to use her relationships to punish those who have wronged her. A bad woman will weaponize her relationships to manipulate others and through social aggression, gossiping, and slander, she will socially destroy her enemies and exalt her friends, regardless of the truth.

Both men and women must sacrifice in order to make families work. Men sacrifice their labor and put their personal achievement in service to provide for their families. Women sacrifice bodily comfort and personal achievement to care for their families. The sacrifices are equal, but the world tends to value men’s sacrifice more than women’s. (I don’t think we even know what it would look like to value both sacrifices equally. Would a husband pay his stay-at-home wife the amount that would be spent on childcare if she worked? Or would he pay her even more, since she’s not a hireling?)

From a Christian perspective, if charity, the pure love of Christ, is the greatest of all spiritual gifts, then developing and practicing charity presupposes skill with relationships. (You can’t have charity without someone toward whom you can have it for.)