Our placement in this place and time by God’s Providence tests how much we are willing to suffer sexually in order to follow our Lord.
Readership: Christian Men
Author’s Note: This post expands a comment I left under Lexet’s post, Charting the Red Pill World (2021 March 26). Recently, there has been a spike in commenting under this post, so I wanted to elaborate on this aspect of suffering a little further.
Length: 2,800 words
Reading Time: 10 minutes
In the course of life, Christians have always been called to suffer in solidarity with Christ’s own suffering for us, and the Gospels themselves specifically talk about this. For example…
“24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?“Matthew 16:24-26, cf. Luke 9:23
And again we read in 1 Peter 4:
“13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. … 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
This suffering takes many forms in the daily lives of all of us, and is not confined to any one specific area or circumstance of life. However, in the current Western world, with its very pre-eminent centering of sex, and given the testosterone-driven male sex drive, many Christian men who wish to remain faithful to the moral law of God sexually are being urgently and loudly called by Him to intense, ongoing, lifetime suffering in this area, in one way or another, and with very limited options.
In the post cited, Lexet brought this situation to a fine point in writing that,
“Christians are limited in their choices by scripture. When it comes to sexuality, we have only 3 options: (1) live a celibate life; (2) play with fire and risk spending eternity on fire; or (3) marry.”
Yes. When we examine what this actually means, in practical terms, for Christian men living in the 21st Century West, we can see that the Lord is currently calling Christian men to embrace suffering in this specific area in some form, regardless of their life circumstances.
- Choice (1) is suffering, clearly.
- Choice (2) is eternal death.
- Choice (3) is also suffering for almost all men who undertake it with Christian ideas.
So unless you want to flirt with eternal death, you have to “pick your poison” of suffering.
The trouble is that this is not an approach to life that sits well with many Westerners of this era, and particularly many Americans, even Christian Americans, who are very wary of what they see as a “doom and gloom” approach to the issues presented by life. This dissonance creates a good deal of tension and frustration as people bang their heads against the wall trying to find a way to get what they want in life, in a way that is morally acceptable, but which doesn’t involve suffering either way.
After all, this is America. It’s a culture that has always thrived on optimism, whether called for or not. We do pain just fine — “No pain, no gain!”, and “Pick your pain, discipline or regret!” We’re good with pain, as long as pain is tied to personal effort and personal achievement. As long as it is chosen pain, pain we voluntarily incur, pain we take on in the service of an end we desire. And we’re also fine with pain we see as just desserts, as the righteous come-uppance for foolish personal decisions. Either way, we’re generally comfortable with pain that we can trace back to our own choices — either healthy (“No pain, no gain!”) or unhealthy (just desserts).
We really suck, culturally, at existential pain, however — pain that just is, that is not our own doing, that can’t be overcome, that is inescapable, structural, existential — and suffering as an existential state of solidarity with the suffering of Christ.
Some Christian Sects are more open to Suffering than others
In the same post, Lexet posed the question,
“Why is the Catholic [Red Pill] the largest subset of the Religious [Red Pill]?”
I think that the reason why this is the case is because, as among Christian churches, the Catholics embrace the virtue of suffering the most openly.
Traditional Catholicism (not the gay-dominated Francis Church, mind you, but actual Catholicism, which exists in pockets scattered throughout the Catholic Church) has a very well developed theology and spirituality of suffering. It recognizes that existential suffering for the cause of Christ is a life path, and not a circumstantial state to be managed or avoided if possible. Therefore, men who are conservative or traditional Catholics will be familiar with the idea of suffering in solidarity with Christ, and some of them will embrace it more readily. Thus, they will tend to be less repulsed by the obvious conclusions I reached above that a Red Pill analysis of the current social landscape leads to for Christians — that for most men it’s suffering, either way. Some portion of Catholics will accept this and see it as normal, and not exceptional, but rather simply the way in which suffering is going to play out for many of them in this otherwise comfortable, protected age.
Other kinds of Christians, especially many Protestant Christians, come from traditions that do not feature anything like the old Catholic spirituality of suffering-in-solidarity (and many of the more conservative sorts of Protestants may be wary of the concept, despite its scriptural mooring, due to common taboos about “merit” and “works” and so on, or the fear that such a concept undermines the “once and for all” nature of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross). These religion-specific reasons, coupled with the general American cultural distaste for existential pain, lead to many of these men viscerally rejecting the suffering implied by the Red Pill’s analysis as being “too negative” or because it “doesn’t offer a solution”. In fact, this is the constant, endless, refrain, like a resounding, erroneous antiphon that one hears from these types of guys. Catholics don’t have that issue, so they tend to be more open to TRP ideas, while being hostile to the PUA side of the tactics.
- Traditional — Lots of vocal conservatives who appreciate and promulgate tradition.
- Unified — Their identity is based on the monolithic Catholic Church.
- Based — God’s order and Christian living is emphasized. Simping is restricted to the veneration of Mary (no women clergy/pastors/teachers like Beth Moore, etc.)
- Sex Structured — The church has a theology of sex that is taught and is strict on paper (even though many do not follow it).
He also offered four counterpoints to explain why Protestants have an aversion to the prospect of suffering.
- Non-Traditional — There is no appreciation of any tradition, and while in the more strict circles purity culture is taught, said culture has many inconsistencies and tends to pedestalize women, which in turn, tends to further reduce the receptivity to any notion that men are suffering under the current socio-sexual regime.
- Multi-Denominational Factions – There is no central, unified identity that cooperates with each other, especially with conservative-minded Protestants, who tend to be much less denominational, much more independent, and therefore much less aligned.
- Postmodern — The vast majority of the Protestant churches trend left of center (a perspective which tends to identify social or material causes for suffering rather than seeing them as existential in nature).
- Sex Vapidity — Doctrines on sex are not taught and/or enforced.
Lexet added an interesting tangential note.
“Politically right wing Protestants of all stripes share a common link with Rushdoony’s dominion movement, which kicked off the American home school movement.
That’s where Wilson comes from, and that’s the same movement that influences so many of the family life’s, Focus on the Family, etc.”
Trust in Others Enables Trust in God and Empowers Us to Bear our Cross
Personal suffering is often used, by believers and non-believers alike, as a reason to blame God for all the evils in the world. Whenever one is faced with suffering, especially when that suffering can’t be blamed on someone or something specific, there is definitely a choice to be made. One can plunge into self-pity and become resentful towards God and the world, or else, one can patiently endure it as a test/trial of faith, and experience renewal and change as a result at some later time.
The ability to bear suffering in this way — to bear suffering that just happens to us, and can’t easily be “blamed” on someone or something specific, as Americans are wont to do — depends to a significant degree on one’s level of trust — trust in God and trust in one’s interactions with other people.
The Bible is pretty clear that we should not “place our trust in man”, so it is easy for a Christian to never realize that trust is of central importance. Aside from these scriptural warnings, there is a deeper issue about being able to trust in general, and that it is OK to trust certain people, maybe even vital. Trust is closely related to faith and confidence, and we need to work on this if our relationship with God is to improve to the point of being healthy and vibrant. To put it plainly, it is extremely hard for us to actually place our full trust in God if we at the same time are distrustful of most everyone around us who shares the image of God.
Trust, I think, is an area where we as Americans will tend to be pretty retrograde in. The current version of our culture is very individualistic and therefore not particularly trusting. That wasn’t always the case — there used to be more trust between people when the American lifestyle was less mobile, when people knew the people around them more intimately, and when most relationships endured over the course of a lifetime. But that has seeped away as we have become more mobile and increasingly rootless, and of course more culturally, economically, and politically divided, and more fractured and more individualist over the last 50-70 years. This has also happened with Christians (just like all the other cultural changes have, too), and it’s kind of crept up on people due to the high level of material comfort and the superficial pleasantries that are still customarily exchanged among strangers in America.
For many Christians, the collapse of the influence of Christianity on the broader culture has led to a kind of retreat from that culture — a tendency to create a parallel culture that is “faithful” and not “heathen”. What Christians miss is that in taking this approach, they are doing basically the same thing as everyone else in this culture is doing: sorting themselves into localized silos of the like-minded. This approach is not counter-cultural at all, it is actually representative of what the entire culture has done, more or less, since the 1990s. And it generally makes Christians less trustful of the people outside the “Christian” silo, to one degree or other.
While, for the reasons I note above, it is very tempting to American Christians in particular to take this approach, given our pre-existing cultural tendencies toward rugged individualism, which has now metastasized into the current hyper-individualist climate, to try to deal with the current chaos by rolling up the bridges and being “me and Jesus” — even if “me” is “my family” or “my church”, or “me, my church, and the people we’re evangelizing” … it’s still a limited group, a hiving off. And that process of hiving off can be where we cut off trust, and thereby indirectly limit our ability to develop further in our relationship of trust with God. And as it turns out, the “me and Jesus” (or “we and Jesus” as the case may be) approach can isolate us to the degree that it impedes our ability to develop the depth of trust in God that enables us to suffer in solidarity with Christ within the setting of our social adjustments. Without these firm, long standing relationships which are conducive to His will for our lives, including experiences of His love and grace expressed through others, it is easy for us to grow spiritually priggish, lax, and dull.
This happens because the less we trust others in terms of what is happening around us in real life, the more of a problem this becomes in our relationship with God, and the element of trusting in Him. This happens to us because other people bear the divine image, and therefore reflect God, in a particular and imperfect way, to us, and so when we are not trusting towards them (in a non-reckless way) we are holding back from someone who reflects, however imperfectly, God. This does spill over into our relationship with God Himself. Jesus specifically told us,
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”Matthew 25:45
In other words, when we do not give others our trust (again, not in a reckless way, but in a non-reckless way), we are holding back trust from God Himself, and this does impact our direct relationship with God as well.
In this way, the current suffering experienced by most Christian men in the way of relationships could be seen as an opportunity for spiritual growth, both in terms of their relationship with God but also, critically, in terms of their relationships with other people. Specifically, men who are having a harder time bearing this difficult Cross which the age demands us to bear will likely have an easier time doing so if they learn to trust God more, which, itself, will often involve opening themselves to trust others more. This could involve trusting people who will inevitably let them down, but this in itself is a part of the experience of living in the world. — The critical part, from a spiritual perspective, is not the letting down which we are apt to focus on, but the courageous act of opening to trust to begin with, and the decision to remain open to trust, for the sake of God and our trust in Him, and in recognition and acceptance of His clear teaching regarding the impact of our approach to others on our relationship with Him.
Suffering in the context of intersexual relationships is the Cross of our age, and we must bear it, as Christian men. The statement from God at this moment in time is clear and deafeningly loud: Our placement in this place and time by God’s Providence means that we are to be tested by how much we are willing to suffer sexually in order to follow our Lord. That is what the current scenario means for men having the following traits.
- Christian men who desire to pursue sexual holiness.
- Men who are not in the top 20% of SMV.
- Men who don’t have the bag of personal traits (determination, drive, discipline, adaptiveness, etc.) to get and stay in that top 20% of Christian men.
- Christian men who don’t satisfy the current “secular attraction requirements” of women to such a degree that they can successfully attract and retain a Christian woman as a wife in a successful, happy and fulfilling marriage.
These men, which is most of us, are called to suffer, and often quite a lot, in this aspect of their lives, no matter whether they opt in Lexet’s choice (1) or choice (3), as outlined above.
The positive side of the conclusions of this essay is that nurturing our ability and willingness to trust courageously can mitigate the grinding hopelessness of suffering sexually by adding a meaningful context of social support.
- Σ Frame: God’s Silence During Suffering (2009 December 14)
- Σ Frame (Scott): We Marry Our Own Cross (2020 May 18)
- Dollar Shave Club (Chris Bourn): Why Talking to Strangers Is the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Mental Health (2020 July 17)
- Σ Frame: On the Turning Away (2021 March 5)
- Σ Frame: The Relinquished Life (2021 March 8)
- Σ Frame: The Future of Intersexual Relationships is Transactional (2021 March 12)
- Σ Frame: More on the Framework of Options (2021 March 22)