Conveying messages, negotiating misadventures, fully responsible, but powerless to act.
Theme: Faux-Masculine Archetypes
Length: 1,700 words
Reading Time: 6 minutes + a humorous 4:11 minute video
Husbands are Heads with no Headship Authority
Bnonn Tennant, Michael Foster, and Doug Wilson have touted a model of Christian Masculinity that we’ll look at in this post. They have assiduously avoided nailing it down in concise words, preferring instead to describe it in terms of what it is not. But by reading their walls of text in blog posts and newsletters, it appears to be one in which a husband accepts full responsibility for his wife and family, but care is taken to exercise as little authority as possible, other than what can be done through kind verbal teaching and prayer, so as to not antagonize the Curse of Eve in the wife. Tennant and Foster call this headship, but when we comb through the details, we find that the husband is not actually the head, but merely a figurehead. This is because a husband having “full authority” is toxic, or so they say. The intricacies of Tennant and Foster’s model have previously been critiqued by Cane Caldo, Dalrock, and Full Metal Patriarchy. Dalrock and Full Metal Patriarchy have addressed the nuances of Wilson’s version in many posts.
As a case study of this model, take a look at this newsletter written by Bnonn Tennant and Michael Foster entitled Toxic Sexuality (2021-12-20). About half way down we find this.
“One form of genuinely toxic masculinity is hyper-patriarchy.
This is a theological error, where a father makes himself the sole mediator between his church or state, and his wife or children.
Essentially, this type of man sees his authority over his family as absolute, so the church and state must go through him to gain access to his family in any and every way.”
So if I’m getting this right, Tennant and Foster’s idea of Christian Masculinity is that a man should never assume that he should have absolute authority over his home and family, because that would be toxic hyper-patriarchy. (Oh no!) Instead, the church and state should have direct intervention, as if the man should not be trusted to handle his own affairs within the home.
This is clearly a sin against the integrity of the family.
So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9 (NKJV)
If someone were to ask why the church or state would want to bypass the man of the family to access the wife and children, it would be apparent that the motivation is not for the best interests of the family.
No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.Matthew 12:29; Mark 3:27 (NKJV)
In order to rebuild Tennant and Foster’s argument, we’ll need to cherry pick an anecdotal example of an already broken family that needs to be protected from an abusive husband/father, and use this as a justification for binding the man of the house. But it would be wrong to assume that all the other decent men who are not abusers should be thrown into this mix of miscreants. Well, the fact of the matter is that they already are! Married men are already bound by the Duluth model, No Fault divorce, and the Bradley Amendment. How much more binding do we need? But Tennant and Foster are making the case that it would be theologically incorrect for a man to have significant authority over his family and they did not mention any exceptions for respectable men! It seems that letting a man glorify God by handling his own affairs in his own home is an atrocity in their eyes!
But Husbands should be Responsible Figureheads
And as if that were not bad enough, the next line in the newsletter is…
“Now, as head of his household, he is its chief representative, and a mediator between it and the outside world.”
If I’m interpreting this correctly so far, a husband is like a sock puppet ambassador. Like an ambassador, he is a mediator, but not the sole mediator. Like an ambassador, he should represent and remediate any messy situations that might accrue between his family members and the church and/or the state. Like an ambassador, he doesn’t get to express his own views, or do what he wants, or make the larger decisions. But unlike an ambassador, he shouldn’t have the authority to make any necessary adjustments, because that’s “toxic hyper-patriarchy.” So he’s a sock puppet ambassador for his family, namely the wife — and she can always call the police if she doesn’t like either the message or the messenger.
To me, this sounds like responsibility without authority. Okay, we see this all the time, and this is why husbands everwhere are throwing up their hands. But the kicker is that Tennant and Foster make this out to be the correct doctrinal stance, as they asserted earlier that if a man were to have such authority (as “sole mediator”), then that would be “toxic masculinity” and “hyper-patriarchy.”
IMHO, saying that husbands are not to be trusted with authority over their own homes is misanthropy!
Case Study — Husband stands by when Wife breaks the law
To exemplify their point, Tennant and Foster offer the hypothetical example of a wife who breaks the law, saying that she must answer to the law for her crime, not to her husband, and that it is the responsibility of the law to hold her accountable, not her husband.
Yes, that’s how civil authorities work, but they’re using this to argue that the husband is irrelevant — not that he has no authority (which is basically true for the majority of men these days), but that he shouldn’t have any authority! (Again, because that’s “toxic hyper-patriarchy.”)
Well, well… This stance coincides quite nicely with the goal of misandric Feminism to transfer all civil authority from husbands and men over to the state. Tennant and Foster add the condemnation of false guilt to this agenda by rationalizing the theological application.
Husbands should only have enough Authority to fulfill their Responsibilities
Further down in the same section, Tennant and Foster attempt to shore up their earlier misgivings towards husbands with another contradiction, by arguing that a man’s authority should be on par with his responsibility.
“Authority and responsibility should always be at a relative parity. This is because authority is given specifically to fulfill particular responsibilities with regard to ordering the world in accordance with God’s will. Responsibilities cannot be fulfilled unless they’re accompanied by the authority to do so. But trying to take authority without responsibility is at best larping—and at worst to make yourself a tyrant.”
According to their view, if a man is expected to have full responsibility, then he should also have full authority. But he shouldn’t have full authority over his wife and family because that’s either larping or tyrannical. Apparently only the law and big government should be allowed to exercise hyper-patriarchy. Or maybe a more logical explanation would be that since husbands should not have full authority, then they should not have full responsibility either, but I doubt they would agree with that conclusion. Somehow, I’m getting the sense that their underlying views are not that far removed from the feminist view that women should have full authority, and men should have full responsibility. Thus, the mountains of text are obviously necessary to fully expound on the logical backflips needed to square it with the scriptures and make a convincing case.
The newsletter is titled “Toxic Sexuality” but the content is actually about “Toxic Patriarchal Authority.” Instead, this confusing newsletter should have been named, “How to dupe Christian men into complying with misandry by painting yourself into a corner and calling it theologically correct”, thereby encapsulating modern Christian Masculinity quite well.
Nevertheless, we can thank Tennant and Foster (and Wilson too) for giving us an illustration of Christian Masculinity as a sock puppet ambassador.
As I said in the beginning, it’s hard to identify exactly what this model of masculinity is all about. But we can be sure that this model specifically stresses the following.
- Tis better to err on the side of extreme caution, regarding the dictates of others (e.g. the church, the state, and the wife), lest ye be seen as “toxic”.
- Avoid being a toxic gremlin by not exercising too much masculine authority.
- Take care that one’s responsibility is adequate, but not disproportional to one’s authority.
- Allow the church and state direct access to his family in any and every way.
- Represent the family, i.e. the wife.
- Mediate any mishaps or misfortunes that might occur.
It sounds like a Feminine Imperative recipe for keeping the husband busy fighting fires on a daily basis. If a man’s home is his castle, then a husband with limited authority is like a castle without walls nor moat. He and his family are left defenseless and disenfranchised, subject to the demands and whims of others. All his assets, yea even his own life, are open for the taking.
Oh, but he is supposed to lay down his life, right? (Ephesians 5:25)
Not if he doesn’t have a Life of his own to lay down. A responsible figurehead with no headship authority is not a hero who sacrifices himself for the welfare of others. He is little more than a breadwinner that must be tacitly tolerated and carefully excluded from matters of import. At worst, he is fodder for the cannons of misandry.
In fact, this is the same model of masculinity that we often see in popular culture — the workhorse who is held fully responsible for anything that might happen, but who is cluelessly naive and too powerless to take any action that might have any effect.
Authority: < 5 by definition; 0 in reality
Average Score: 0.5
- The Futurist (Imran Khan): The Misandry Bubble (2010-1-1)
- Full Metal Patriarchy: Why I’m Still Suspicious of the IGTBAM Project. (2020-9-28)
- Full Metal Patriarchy: The Brazen Hypocrisy of Bnonn & Foster (2021-5-11)
- Full Metal Patriarchy: Transcript of Dalrock Discussion From The “It’s Good to Be a Man” Episode of The Aaron Renn Show (2022-4-10)
- Full Metal Patriarchy: They Were Basically Buddies! (2022-4-12)