Who Is to Blame for Today’s Effeminate Culture?
When the only concept that defines the Biblical man was taken away from the pulpits and the minds and the hearts of the church, inevitably, the church lost the concept of Biblical manhood. And while the world – and Hollywood – were still in the inertia of an earlier Christian era, when man was defined by his purpose and therefore was a true man, the church pulpits were setting the stage for the loss of manhood and for the creation of the modern concept of a genderless society of no real men and no real women. The church had a 40-year head start on Hollywood.
The modern culture of perverts and effeminate men was born not in the studios of Hollywood or in the meetings of cultural Marxists but in the faculties of the modern Reformed seminaries, and in the pulpits of our own churches. Culture is religion externalized, and an effeminate religion will inevitably create an effeminate culture.
Book of the Week:
– The Calvinistic Concept of Culture by Henry Van Til
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Welcome to Episode 11 of Axe to the Root Podcast, part of the War Room Productions, I am Bo Marinov, and for the next 30 minutes we will be talking about our modern effeminate culture in all its manifestations; and we will also try to see where exactly the reason for the rise of that culture is. Hold fast to the arms of your chair; you may discover that those who have been most vociferous in denouncing that culture have actually been the main culprits in its creation and nurturing.
To think about it, it hit us all of a sudden, didn’t it? Just a few years ago sodomites and other sexual perverts and monsters were still noisy but rather absent from most of American life, and limited to a few dens of sexual depravity. If anything, their influence seemed to be waning. In November 2009, in the same week the progressive Air America announced it was ceasing operations, another network declared bankruptcy: Window Media LLC, a financial group specifically focused on financing and operating newspapers and magazines geared toward the sodomite community. It shut down several publications in South Florida, Atlanta, Houston, and Washington DC. The group’s market forecasts for a growing market of sodomite demand didn’t materialize; the assessments about the sodomite community amounting to at least 3% of the population proved to be wrong. Earlier that same year both Obama and Hillary Clinton, when asked about sodomite so-called “marriage,” said they were not going to support it nor push it. Apparently, their assessment of the numbers was not in favor of it. It would take lots of imagination in 2009 or 2010 to predict that the miniature share of sexual perverts in the US will go on offensive in just a couple of years, and within 4 years will not only turn the tables but will also exercise social and political influence widely disproportional to their small numbers. If, of course, we are talking about sexual perverts, indeed, and not about political and legislative initiatives of groups who care nothing for the sexual perversion itself but are using it for other purposes. (And most probably will eventually throw the sodomites in the next dumpster once their agenda is accomplished.)
Either way, the hits came so quickly and unexpectedly that today, no one really knows what to do. Among most Christians, the mood is that this can’t be stopped nor reversed; all we can hope for is some rearguard action, to slow down the assault. Kim Davis who simply obeyed her state’s laws was kidnapped by federal thugs while the Sheriff of her own county remained passive and uninvolved. A few Republican politicians started incorporating the issue in their repertoire of talking points, under the meaningless heading of “religious liberty,” but we know how effective that is, when it comes to real action; how many Republican states have banned abortion so far, and what have Republican majorities in Congress and the Senate done in this regard? Most Republican politicians have already surrendered, as have the supposedly “conservative” TV big mouths, also known as “pundits.” (Remember how Ann Coulter happily jumped at the opportunity to speak to some sodomite “conservative” organization?) No more than a couple of months after the Obergefell decision, the issue of men in dresses who want to have access to the ladies’ restrooms suddenly became a big legislative and judicial issue. Pedophiles are preparing for action too. Where does this end? No one knows, and Christians not only don’t have a plan, they don’t have any faith nor hope it can be stopped. Remember my podcast about the Denethor ministries to which American Christians contribute billions of dollars every year? Go through their websites and find me a single one of these ministries that offers anything of value for its money, saying that we will win this battle and here’s the plan to win it. There isn’t one. They are all convinced that this trend is unstoppable. They have all surrendered to it, psychologically, and they are teaching and leading their listeners to surrender as well. Why not, after all, they have been teaching surrender when America was still at least outwardly decent in its culture and legislation and politics. Now that all pervert hell is breaking loose, what should make them change the tune? Remember Denethor’s cry, “Abandon your posts”?
The situation is even worse, as a matter of fact. Not only no one has any hope or any plan for victory, neither do they have any understanding of what caused all this. Yes, yes, all these ministries repeat these days that America will be judged by God for this apostasy. Strange that they would say that, though. When Christian Reconstructionists first preached and taught the covenantal character of history – that God judges in historynations, cultures, collectives, and individuals for their obedience or disobedience – these same ministries, 20 or 30 years ago, opposed it and objected that God doesn’t judge anyone or any nation in history. Meredith Kline established the foundational tenet of the modern Two Kingdoms rhetoric, “prosperity and adversity being experienced in a manner largely unpredictable,” because God dispenses them without any regard for men’s obedience or disobedience. Today, even the staunchest two-kingdoms theologians have abandoned in practice what they taught just a few years ago, and believe that America, after all, will be judged for this apostasy.
But still, there is no answer to the question: what brought us this far? Where did this apostasy come from? Why is it that suddenly Christians are so weak and powerless, and the enemies are so bold and powerful and victorious? How did the culture change so abruptly? How did our culture suddenly forget the difference between the sexes, or chooses to ignore it . . . nay, worse than that, actively – through legislation and court action – seeks to suppress it? And why blame it on legislation when the very society adopts the same mentality in its cultural habits and mores. Men – even those men who are not perverted – are more and more effeminate, more and more exhibit behavior and conduct that we used to associate with women in the past. Forget about the perverts, it’s the straight men who look like women more and more, and act like women more and more. Men used to value action and purpose and work and toughness, used to brag about their achievements and exploits, they even bragged about their scars and survivals and how many hits they took in a brawl and still stood firm and fought back. And just the other day I read an article titled, “39 Things Women Will Never Understand About Being a Man”! And the author goes on and on in listing in how many ways his little tender sensitive soul finds offensive in being a man, things like “We never get complimented for our looks,” or “We are hardly ever allowed to express any emotion,” or “We don’t have anyone to hug us when we are hurt or down.” Seriously. And the article had something like half a million shares. And no, it’s not just the liberals. Try to say any harsh truth in an only mildly harsh way in any church today and see how many men will have their feelings hurt, and will ignore the truth you are saying; and you will buried under an avalanche of “corrections” of how to tell them the same truth in a way that won’t make them feel bad about it. Seems like the sodomites and other perverts are our least problem. Our greatest problem – present everywhere around us – is the effeminate culture of our straight men.
How did we get to this?
I remember the Hollywood movies back in the 1980s. Bulgaria was a former Communist country so we were not free to buy and watch Hollywood movies – certainly not Hollywood movies that would depict the greatness of America, or her liberty, or her economic prosperity, or her superiority over the Communist regimes. Rambo, Rocky, Top Gun, and many other ideologically incorrect movies of the 80s were simply not allowed. Tapes were smuggled through the borders, nevertheless, copied, and these copies of low quality and disastrous translations at times were sold on the black market. Some were, those that were judged to be harmless in terms of the ideology of class warfare. So for us, watching Hollywood movies – even of the lowest quality – was a sort of defiance to the regime. Looking back through my Christian faith now, none of these movies were Christian or had any Christian worldview attached to them – with the exception, I suppose, of the optimistic endings of all of them, very typical American from the perspective of European audiences; and yet, that optimism came from an earlier era of Christian influence on the American culture, when the modern Denethor ministries – amillennial and premillennial – were not yet the dominant influence on the church. Save for the optimism and for a few moral lessons of self-sacrifice, though, nothing else was pointed to a Christian worldview. Back in the 1980s, Hollywood was just as thoroughly pagan as it is today.
And yet, in these movies, men were men and women were women. The established stereotype for a male protagonist would be strong, purposeful, and capable of taking hits and punches without flinching or complaining. A scarred face was a badge of honor; men brawled in bar rooms and then drank together. Women were far from the fleshless pale creatures of romanticism but they were just as far from the genderless creatures of our modern third-wave feminism; these were women of beautiful femininity as much as they were of vigor and strength. If there were effeminate men or masculine women, they were either antagonists, or ridiculed; and perhaps even subjects of redemption – and that applied to all kinds of movies, drama, action, or comedy.
How did the culture change so abruptly? How did Hollywood transform from celebrating manhood and strength to hating them, and to celebrating genderless, non-distinct creatures and sodomites that were ridiculed just 30 years ago? Modern churchian celebrities place the blame on the “world” or on the depraved heart of man. But this explanation can’t hold water. For the last 19 centuries the world and the depraved heart of man were not able to prevent the spreading of the Gospel and the turning of the world in an essentially Christian world. (How else can our modern celebrities speak of a post-Christian world?) There must be another reason for this sudden turn in the culture, specifically in America. A reason that is very specific for the last one hundred years, in the West.
And that reason is the church itself, and these very celebrities who now ostensibly decry the rise of the effeminate and sodomite culture. The ball started with them.
In order to see how this happened, we need to go back to a book I have advertized for quite a few years now, a book that I believe is the most unique book ever written in the history of Christendom: The Foundations of Social Order by R.J. Rushdoony. Nothing like it has been written before, and nothing like it has been written since, although I do hope we will eventually see more such books written. The uniqueness of the book is in its thesis: In it, R.J. Rushdoony makes the case for the true origin of the Western civilization and everything good and righteous and just it encompasses in the creeds and the councils of the early church. In the book, he examines in detail the theological principles developed in the creeds and the councils, and from there, the philosophical, ethical, judicial, political, social, scientific principles at the foundation of the Western civilization.
It is difficult to not notice the revolutionary character of his thesis. See, from the perspective of most non-Christian historians, the Western civilization may be unique, but its development came from natural factors: whether genetics, or geography, or some haphazard combination of material and historical factors. Modern historians, with a very few exceptions, are overtly or covertly Marxist: they believe in the sovereignty of impersonal “historical forces” – whatever that means – in shaping history. As a matter of fact, most modern theologians are practical Marxists when it comes to history and interpretation of history, because they too have a rather impersonal interpretation if history. Yes, yes, I know, they say that God moves history, but then their God moves history in such a mysterious and unpredictable way that He really doesn’t differ from the impersonal historical forces of Marxism.
In the book, Rushdoony followed to its logical conclusion the Calvinistic concept of culture so beautifully summarized by Henry Van Til in his groundbreaking book: “Culture is religion externalized.” Or, to rephrase it, if you want to understand a culture, follow its religious presuppositions. Rushdoony laid that as the foundation of his book, and instead of looking for the sources of the Western culture in material, social, economic, genetic, or other such factors, he found those sources in the religious presuppositions uniquely developed in the West: the Trinity, the nature of Jesus Christ as God and Man, the ontological distinction between the Creator and His creation, the concepts of man’s sin and God’s redemption, the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, and the eschatology of victory in history and final consummation in the final judgment. It is this uniqueness of the religious presuppositions developed in the West that produced the uniqueness of the Western civilization. All we hold dear today – liberty, limited government, the value of the individual, rule of law, habeas corpus, just measures, protection of private property, freedom of conscience, due process, universality of ethics and law, science and the scientific method, technological development and optimism for the future, the value of the family, the protection of the weaker members of our society, true charity, entrepreneurship, decentralization – economic and political – all these followed from the Creeds and the Councils. Man is as he believes, and his beliefs determine his practical actions. He may not always be self-conscious about every single detailed link between his presuppositions and his practical actions, but in the bigger picture, whether he is aware of it or not, he will create a culture that exactly corresponds to his most fundamental beliefs.
Again, Rushdoony’s thesis was – and still is – revolutionary. It still sounds foreign even to the so-called “Reformed” theologians and celebrities today. “Reformed” today is made to mean a few simple propositions about individual soteriology, about the personal salvation of man. If you can quote the TULIP and if you can say that it is God who saved you and predestined you to salvation, you pass for “Reformed” these days, even if in everything else – your view of society, culture, history, law, and everything else – your view doesn’t differ from any pagan ideology out there. We have today “Reformed” celebrities whose interpretation of history is no different from the Marxist interpretation of history; they view the rise of Christendom in purely technical or materialistic terms (The two Westminster seminaries and the Southern Baptist seminary in Kentucky come to mind when I mention such Marxist interpretation of history). We have others for whom such interpretation is not even needed because they do not see any connection between the development of the Christian doctrine and history, or between the development of the Creeds and the rise and fall of civilizations.
But from a Biblical perspective, as I argued in a lecture to the Mid-Atlantic Reformation Society a few years ago, history is not only not independent of the Creeds of the church, history is defined by the Creeds, and history is nothing more than the perfection of the creeds over time. (That is the very title of the lecture, “History Is Nothing More Than the Perfection of the Creeds Over Time.” You can find it on my web-site, ChristendomRestored.com.)
Now, of course, some would say, we knew that the faithfulness of the church to God changes history, nothing new about it. If we are obedient to God, God will send His blessings, if we are disobedient to God, He will send His judgment.
While that is true, it is not my point here. The issue here is not whether God judges or blesses a culture, the issue is how a culture develops in the first place. We know that the Classical civilization was in rebellion against God and was eventually judged and replaced with the Western, Christian civilization. But how did it develop in the first place? What gave the beginning, the impetus, the foundation for it? Why were Rome and Greece what they were and not something else? Same about any other civilization, China, Japan, India, the pre-Columbus civilizations in America. And of course, that unique civilization which we now call the West.
The West, therefore, was born in the creedal faithfulness of the Church in its first 5 centuries of its existence. Not necessarily in the moral perfection and uprightness of Christians: in fact, if anything, in those early centuries the church had to deal with a number of ethical and judicial leftover habits from the older, pagan civilization. (Just read what Paul had to deal with in the Corinthian church and keep in mind all the missionaries had to deal with similar abominations among their newly converted listeners.) This moral imperfection, though, was a lesser factor compared to the greater factor, the creedal faithfulness of the leaders of the church. They weren’t all perfect, and many of them made mistakes for which they had to repent later, but their zeal for the Biblical doctrines was unsurpassed, and these early church leaders were willing to bring upon themselves the wrath of the Empire but not budge on the issues of doctrinal and creedal purity. Christendom was born not in the moral perfection of the church but in the doctrinal faithfulness of her leaders, and consequently, of her members. History is nothing else but the perfection of the creeds over time, and therefore the history of the West was entirely predicated on the creedal formulation of the Christian faith.
But this influence wasn’t limited to the emergence of the Western civilization. The church’s creedal faithfulness became the major factor which determined the ups and the downs of that civilization. As long as the church held true to its creeds and developed them and perfected them faithfully, the West prevailed. Where and when the church abandoned its commitment to them, the civilization waned and retreated. The best example is the fate of the Eastern Empire: as long as the Eastern church held fast to the doctrinal decisions of the early councils, the Empire stood strong against its pagan and Muslim enemies. The decline started in the 7th century when the creeds were modified to encode subordinationism in the Trinity, worship of images, and dualistic views of salvation. (See my article on “The Filioque Clause: Why the West Is West and the East Is East.”) By the 10th century, the Empire was spending more resources on fighting internal heresies that were splitting it than on its external enemies. By the 12th century, it had lost its demographic and military superiority. By the 15th century, only a shadow of its former glory had remained. The loss of creedal faithfulness led to the loss of the cultural force and vigor which had created and sustained the civilization.
The West wasn’t safe of it either. While many today believe that sodomy has never been so rampant in the West, and there have never been sodomite “marriages” before in history, thew truth is, sodomy was much more rampant, and that among the European elite, in the 14th century, a little over 100 years before the Reformation. Sodomy was so rampant that it was openly and unashamedly depicted in paintings and engravings of that era; some even depicted Biblical scenes in sodomite interpretation. (One prominent example is a depiction of the Magi in an obviously sodomite position in Taymouth Hours, a popular illustrated devotional book in 14th-century England.) The sodomite drive behind the Renaissance is acknowledged today; what is less known is that originally, it was promoted under the auspices of the church. In fact, many of those sodomite paintings and engravings are still surviving today in cloisters and churches in Italy, France and Germany. Sodomy was rampant in the monasteries, it was also popular among the ruling classes of Europe; there were quite a few sodomite marriages performed by priests. The cities of the Italian principalities had quarters separated for sodomite prostitution.
The Western civilization received its judgment for this abomination, eventually, in the form of the Turkish advance in the Balkans and the Mediterranean, and also in the several breakouts of the plague. The question, though, is the same as for today: How did it get there? Just 200 years before that the West was pounding the much larger and richer Muslim world to smithereens; small groups of crusaders were turning large Muslim armies to flight, and the role model of the West were the knights protectors of the City of God, Jerusalem. How come just a couple of generations after Richard the Lionhearted, the West was celebrating effeminate men and perversity, becoming worse in its wickedness than the pagan Romans and than its Muslim opponents?
The answer is: the church had abandoned its original commitment to creedal faithfulness and orthodoxy. By the 12th century, theology and scholarship in Europe returned to the pagan presuppositions of the Greek philosophy, and the intellectual formulation and defense of the faith was increasingly surrendered to a worldview hostile to the Word of God. Scholasticism, which started well by trying to correct certain formulations and beliefs, soon degenerated into empty philosophizing no different than the idle habits of the Athenians described in Acts 17:21. Once the formulations of the faith were surrendered, every single definition of the faith was surrendered – including the definition of manhood. It doesn’t matter how righteous and upright the scholasticists were – and some of them were exemplary men. Their intellectual apostasy from the Biblical presuppositions and formulations, and their adoption of pagan presuppositions in their thought led to the decline.
Christendom only recovered with the rise of the Reformation and the restoration of the original creedal formulations. Ironically enough, the revival of the Reformation restored the civilization not only in Protestant lands but in Roman Catholic lands as well. By the 17th century, both Protestants and Roman Catholics were again back to the original creeds – at least formally – and the West was back to valuing Biblical manhood as a civilizational choice and as a drive to action. We cannot understand the mission explosion of the 17th and the 18th centuries, and we cannot understand the European colonization impetus without looking at the restoration and the perfection of the creedal formulas in the Reformed confessions of the 16th and the 17th centuries. The Western civilization was planted in the creedal faithfulness of the church, and it was watered and nurtured in the development and perfection of the creeds. When solid creedal theology was abandoned, the Western civilization withered and almost died. When it was restored and perfected, the Western civilization was back on its feet, kicking and conquering the globe.
Contrary to the two kingdoms doctrine, history is not moved or shaped by common grace. There is no principle of commonness that is neutral or independent of God’s redemptive purpose for His Covenant people. History is entirely defined and moved and shaped by God’s special, redemptive, salvific, covenant grace. As the church goes, so does the civilization. When the church perfects her faith and doctrine and confession, the civilization around the church externalizes that faith and doctrine. When the church abandons her faith and doctrine and confession in favor of pagan or heretical doctrines and presuppositions, the civilization externalizes those pagan or heretical doctrines and presuppositions.
In short: If you don’t like the world, blame it on the church, and on her leaders.
Fast forward to our own times. No, pause for a moment in the 1980s. That same 1980s when Hollywood men were still men and the women were still women. Not awfully Christian either of them, but at least men had a purpose, a cause, and didn’t do selfies because they didn’t care how they looked but rather what they did and what they achieved. The era of cultural dominance of men of strength and purpose and a cause to fight for; and of women who didn’t have to lose their beauty and femininity to be strong. What we need to remember is that while Hollywood was putting out these movies, an institution in the American society was promoting selfishness, self-absorption, self-focus, and, most important of all, safe spaces. While Hollywood was still preserving and celebrating some form of masculinity and femininity and gender distinction, there was an institution at war against it, teaching men that they didn’t have to get hurt, that the world revolves around themselves and their little precious souls, that they have the moral right to shun anyone who speaks harshly and challenges their tranquility and bliss, and that the highest good for man is to separate himself from the battles of the world around him into a nice comfortable emotional ghetto of other men and women like him, committed to the same comfortable existence without any pain, harsh words, or even uncomfortable feelings.
That’s right, folks. That institution that stood against Hollywood’s old-fashioned gender distinction was the American church. In the 1980s, when the world was fighting the last battles of the Cold War, when President Reagan was calling in Berlin, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”, when in the Middle East a formerly Christian country, Lebanon, was being destroyed in a civil war, when Christians in Africa were fighting dictators and Communist guerillas, when the whole world had a short-term cause to defeat Communism and a long-term cause to deal with wars and oppression and poverty, the American church was conveniently retreating in its ghetto, and was teaching its men that all that mattered was their salvation, and that there wasn’t much that could be done about the world, except to “learn to live a kingdom life (whatever that means) in a fallen world.” And no, this refrain was coming not only from the dispensationalist churches; it was actively preached in supposedly Reformed churches and taught in supposedly Reformed seminaries and by supposedly Reformed ministries. As the world was coming out of a long winter, and was in dire need of real men taught to real manhood, the American church had already dropped the ball, turning its men into sensitive tender creatures focused on themselves and their own salvation and emotional well-being, ready to crack down under the most miniature contradiction against themselves.
And, just as it was before, back in history, this change in cultural commitment was not independent of the creedal commitment of the church. For just two generations before that, the church had abandoned the main Biblical doctrine that defines the Biblical man and Biblical manhood: The Dominion Covenant. And without the Dominion Covenant, there is no restoration of Biblical manhood.
I know, there has been a lot of effort in the last 20 years in churches and ministries to restore Biblical manhood. Sermons, seminars, lectures, books, articles, etc. unfortunately, most of it stillborn and useless. And it is stillborn and useless because most of it is based on a faulty theology that has has specifically ignored the very Biblical doctrine that is at the foundation of the Biblical definition of man. I have heard celebrity preachers trying to look and sound tough and brash and even obscene from the pulpit, because that is how a real man is supposed to be and look like and sound like, right? I have seen others try to find the nature of Biblical manhood in something they call “family leadership,” that is, a real man is supposed to lead his wife and children – not clear where exactly, mainly in a family version of empty church rituals. All these predictably degenerate to a point where the brashness and the obscenity lack any substance, and the “family leadership” develops into humiliation and patronizing, and treating the wife and even the adult children as perpetual imbeciles. The reason for this degeneration and this failure to restore Biblical manhood is in the fact that man is not defined according to the Biblical definition of him, and that is, according to his purpose in the covenant. The Biblical man is a man of purpose, and that purpose is the Dominion Covenant, conquering the world for Christ. That purpose was given to him even before he had a wife, so the definition of man can not be found in his relation to his family, and less than that in some “family leadership” which didn’t come until the curse. I have explained this Biblical definition of man in my sermon on “What Is Man?” (somewhere on SermonAudio), but in short, man is not defined by what he is, he is defined by what he is created to do: to take the formless and void world and re-create it to be an ordered, organized, productive, capitalized world for Christ. Only when this doctrine of the Dominion Covenant is restored, Biblical manhood can be restored.
But in the 20th century, this doctrine was not only abandoned, it was actively opposed by the church, and specifically by the so-called “Reformed” part of it. All kinds of excuses were given by seminary theologians why we are not called to dominion anymore, but we should abandon the world to the enemy. All kinds of fancy terminology was invented to convince men to abandon their dominion – “royal exiles,” “mourning by the rivers of Babylon,” “here but not yet,” etc., I have talked about it before, no need to repeat it all here.
When the only concept that defines the Biblical man was taken away from the pulpits and the minds and the hearts of the church, inevitably, the church lost the concept of Biblical manhood. And while the world – and Hollywood – were still in the inertia of an earlier Christian era, when man was defined by his purpose and therefore was a true man, the church pulpits were setting the stage for the loss of manhood and for the creation of the modern concept of a genderless society of no real men and no real women. The church had a 40-year head start on Hollywood. The modern culture of perverts and effeminate men was born not in the studios of Hollywood or in the meetings of cultural Marxists but in the faculties of the modern Reformed seminaries, and in the pulpits of our own churches. Because culture is religion externalized, and an effeminate religion will inevitably create an effeminate culture.
Welcome, therefore, to the world created by the same ministries we have supported for decades now. And the same ministries that are so genuinely surprised by the culture of perversity, and so vociferously against it.
And make your conclusion of how we can bring about a reversal in the culture.
The book I will recommend this week is that great and revolutionary book by Henry Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture. When he wrote it back in the 1950s, almost no one in Reformed circles paid attention to it. And for a reason – while it was strictly an academic book, the conclusions were too damning for the churchian establishment. But one man paid attention: R.J. Rushdoony. We better follow his example, if we care for what world we are going to leave to our children.
And do not forget my work in Bulgaria. In the mission field there, our mission has been faithful to the concept of the Dominion Covenant – a concept not easy to convey to a nation that has had 45 years of Communist domination. But by God’s grace, we have not abandoned it. Consider supporting our work. BulgarianReformation.com, Donate.
God bless you all.