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Archive for the ‘masculinity and femininity’ Category

Courage: The Need of the Hour

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Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of [the other nations], for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Dt. 31:6).

Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. (1 Chron. 22:13).

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:13).

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:6).

I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. (Ps. 3:6).

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1).

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6).

I read somewhere yesterday that, in these times, the virtue Christians most need to cultivate is courage. I have an old friend who used to pray routinely for courage and humility. This prayer is more urgent now that Christians in the West are coming to be viewed as the “troublers” of civilization.

Courage will not mean an arrogant boisterousness in the face of those who oppose God’s gospel. But it most certainly will mean standing firm on the truth God has revealed. It will mean affirming and suffering for God’s sovereignty and lordship in absolutely every arena of life. It will mean affirming, in public ways, that God defines reality and has not left the defining of it open to us in any part of life. God created us “male and female” and we must courageously affirm that sinful human beings do not have the power or authority to try and define sexual reality for themselves. God invented marriage and He decides what it is and isn’t. He has determined the nature and purpose of sex and sexuality. We must stand with Peter and John when they said: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you be the judge.” (Acts 4:19).

God is the one who says that people from every tribe, tongue, nation and language matter to him, both the born and the unborn. God defines justice and with Him there is no favoritism.

As Os Guinness has said, there is no god but God, and so we must courageously obey Him in all things. His Word must be our constant standard of truth and reality. It will take courage to affirm the Bible’s truths, to defend its precepts, to proclaim its very words, to avoid softening or bastardizing its language and teaching, and to demonstrate its beauty with our lives.

We will not do this in our own power. Yet it is sobering, and indeed terrifying, to remember what God says: “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:7-8).




Written by Michael Duenes

July 23, 2016 at 11:51 am

Women Must Lead as Women

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manhood-womanhood.jphBack in the early 90’s, I broke up with a woman I was dating because she and I had quite different views about masculinity and femininity, maleness and femaleness, and what masculinity and femininity meant in practical terms for life under Christ. She was, to use the terminology of the time, an “evangelical feminist.” This means she saw no distinct headship role for men in the home and the church; that is, she disavowed any unique command for husbands and church elders to exercise godly leadership and authority over their wives and parishioners and for women in the home and church to exercise faithful submission to such godly leadership. In general, she would have held, as far as I understood her, that there are no real proper role distinctions between men and women in the church and home.

Yet I also remember women in the church of her persuasion communicating quite clearly that, even though there’s no unique roles for men and women in our world, women should “lead as women” and men should lead as men. The problem, of course, in saying this is that one then has to explain what it is about women, as women, that would allow them to “lead as women.” Once one begins to articulate such a thing, one is back to distinctions between men and women, and ostensibly, this is what we simply cannot have. These women understood from common sense and experience that men and women are not the same, and they wanted to affirm this, while also protesting that male and female roles are interchangeable. They never seemed able to square that circle. Funny thing, reality!

The larger trouble is that the “evangelical feminists” did not want to admit that their blunting and bludgeoning of unique understandings of and roles for males and females had any connection to the normalization of homosexuality. When people like John Piper sounded the alarm in 1991 that “it is increasingly and painfully clear that Biblical feminism is an unwitting partner in unraveling the fabric of complementary manhood and womanhood that provides the foundation not only for Biblical marriage and Biblical church order, but also for heterosexuality itself,” they were told that “Biblical feminism” carried with it no such problem.

Yet here we are, some twenty years on, and not only is there a massive cultural wave informing us that male and female have nothing to do with marriage, but there’s the concommitant notion that manhood and womanhood themselves are absurdities, bigoted and narrow social contructs, utterly malleable and resistant to any kind of parameters or definition. Therefore, we must of necessity have genderless marriages, genderless dorms, genderless classrooms (see here) and genderless bathrooms. Piper and the other complementarian naysayers have been proved right at every turn, though there’s no honor in saying so, as I’m sure they would agree.

When we imagine we can jettison God’s words and still maintain the nice, comfortable distinctions we’d like to keep, i.e., women leading as women, we run up against reality, and bring suffering and harm to ourselves as a result.


Written by Michael Duenes

October 11, 2014 at 1:08 pm

“Any Further Attempt to Prevent Historical and Legal Change is Fruitless”

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A13914.jpgSo says Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision not to hear any of the gay “marriage” cases. In other words, get on the side of the gay “marriage” juggernaut, or be steamrolled. Resistance to the cultural ascendancy of the redefinition and twisting of marriage is futile. If you so much as attempt to prevent the imposition of the gay “marriage” agenda, you’ll be damned to the wrong side of history. The statist, secular gods have spoken!

But then I wondered how God sees things, and how God’s people should therefore see things. Mr. Simon’s statement is that of a man who “scoffs and speaks with malice; [who] loftily . . . threatens oppression, [who] sets [his] mouth against the heavens, and his tongue struts through the earth.” (Psalm 73:8-9). He is of those who arrogantly speak: “Who is the Lord that I should listen to His voice?” (Exodus 5:2). “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption” (2 Peter 2:19).

Whatever Mr. Howard and those of like mind may have to say about the supposed inevitability of gay “marriage,” their words are a fleeting vapor, with no more truth or power than the morning mist that hangs over one’s front lawn. Even if gay “marriage” becomes legal in all 50 states, their words will pass away, but Jesus’ words “will never pass away.” What God says about masculinity, femininity, sex and marriage is what will endure – legal or not – for it is good, true and beautiful. God “who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds in derision” such presumptions against His Word and ways. God alone “changes times and seasons,” and decides what is “inevitable” and what isn’t. Even the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar had to acknowledge that God’s “dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing; and he does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What doest thou?'” We Christians should have the utmost confidence in God’s continued rule and reign, and it is His promises which we should bank on in light of yesterday’s folly by the Supreme Court.

As for the future, I agree with Russell Moore: “The sexual revolution didn’t start at Woodstock. It is always with us. We ought to have the confidence of people who have heard a word from God and the compassion of a people who are on a mission with God. The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back into his cemetery plot.” Our commanding orders remain the same: “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:20-21).


Written by Michael Duenes

October 7, 2014 at 9:20 pm

What Does Pregnancy Mean?

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During pregnancy, women experience dramatic physical changes and a wide range of health consequences. Labor and delivery pose additional health risks and physical demands.” U.S. Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood v. Casey

“The [Uniform Parentage Act] begins with faulty nomenclature. It identifies the gestational surrogate as the ‘gestational mother.’ The use of the term ‘gestational mother’ throughout [Article 8 of this Act] is inappropriate, as it fosters the false presumption that the gestational carrier is actually the child’s mother. She is not. . . .[I]n surrogacy, the body is merely the vessel through which the services are rendered.” Paul G. Arshagouni, Be Fruitful and Multiply, By Other Means, If Necessary, 61 DePaul L. Rev. 709 (2012).

Surrogacy is an interesting study. I was anticipating doing a research project on the topic this semester, so I did a fair amount of reading on it over the Christmas holiday. Also, my good friend, Jennifer Lahl, has been neck deep in the surrogacy policy arena for some time now, and she was just here in Kansas this week to testify before our state legislature on the subject. The reason I think surrogacy is interesting is that it hits pro-life Catholics, Protestants, and feminists in unique ways, setting surrogacy apart from the more traditional pro-life issue of abortion. As Jennifer remarked to me, aside from the pro-life Catholics, people aren’t sure which “tribe” they want to join up with yet, whereas with abortion, people are pretty well entrenched in their respective camps.

Not only that, but there are various types of surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, the woman supplies her own egg and is simply inseminated by the man who wants the child. What is becoming more common, and what seems more problematic, is what’s referred to as “gestational surrogacy,” wherein the woman who will carry the child and give birth to the child has no genetic relationship to the child. The egg and sperm are provided by third parties, through the invitro fertilization process (IVF), and implanted in the surrogate’s womb.

But is this problematic? A ton of people don’t think so, many others aren’t sure, and it seems to be only a very few who think surrogacy should be outlawed entirely. We can easily understand people at the two opposite poles. Homosexuals and singles who want children are understandably in favor of surrogacy, particularly gestational surrogacy, as it allows them to have children without an unwanted sex act. Conversely, orthodox Catholics oppose surrogacy in all forms, for surrogacy is violative of the procreative, conjugal sex act which is the only faithful way of producing children, in their view.

Protestants, or the plain old non-religious, don’t generally have the Catholic qualms about contraceptives, and thus, may be more or less ambivalent about surrogacy. One of my friends exemplifies this ambivalence a bit, as he wonders what surrogacy has to do with abortion. And that’s probably a continuing question for lots of Christians. After all, abortion is the taking of life, but in surrogacy, the goal seems to be bringing wanted lives into the world. No one is being killed, are they? What could possibly be wrong with people using technology and surrogates to achieve that which would otherwise be so painfully denied them? No one can understand the pain of infertility save the infertile.

Then we have the feminists, for whom surrogacy poses an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, they want women to have the autonomy and authority to “choose” what to do with their own bodies and reproductive systems, even if that includes being a surrogate for someone else. Privacy, choice and equality trump all other values. Yet this means they have to downplay the way that surrogate mothers are treated, namely, as not being mothers at all, but mere “carriers,” or to put it crassly, “breeders.” So we find the schizophrenic feminist position whereby the feminist sponsors an anti-surrogacy film like the Center for Bioethics and Culture’s “Breeders,” while posting flyers at the showing of the film stating that they don’t take a position on surrogacy and don’t support legislation which would ban it.

Yet might surrogacy, particularly gestational surrogacy, be more connected to abortion than one knows? Do all, or even most, of the people engaging in gestational surrogacy through IVF create a single embryo each time they try it? Or do they rather create many embryos and implant more than one of them in the surrogate mother, hoping that some of the embryos will die, and if they don’t, they will be affirmatively aborted (“selectively reduced,” as the euphemism goes)?

And what about the surrogate mothers themselves? The big move now is to avoid categorizing them as mothers at all. The legal literature is fascinating, insisting in many instances that the pregnant surrogate be called a “gestational carrier.” No, we dare not call her a mother, for that would imply that she has some connection and right to the child she bears. But to treat women as mere “carriers” is to denigrate and objectify them. It is to treat their generative capacities as a mere “service” to be ambivalently rendered. Indeed, it’s best if the gestational carrier does what she can to avoid bonding with the child she carries, in anticipation of the child being removed from her at birth. Not only must the surrogate’s femininity be diminished, but the nature and beauty of pregnancy must be blunted and marred as well. Pregnancy is something that encompasses the entirety of a woman’s physical body. There is not one cell of her body that is unaffected by pregnancy. Her emotional and psychological life is also entirely engaged in a pregnancy, for better or for worse. There is a bonding that goes on between child and mother, and rightly so, whether the mother thinks so or not. All of this must be downplayed so that the surrogate can simply render her services and then get on with life.

And what of the children? Surrogacy seems rather adult-centric, catering to the yearnings of adults rather than the best interests of the children. And when money is changing hands, how can we escape at least some complicity with baby-selling? And these days, one fears to question – at least in public – whether creating children to be raised in homosexual households is a good thing. Moreover, when adults need these wombs, by and large, to whom are they going to go? What population of women are going to be called upon to be surrogates, or will it be spread evenly amongst the population?

At the end of the day, however, many people seem to take the position that: “Well, these people are just trying to do something good, namely, bring life into the world and to experience the joys of parenthood. Why not just leave them to it? And surely if a woman does not want to be “dehumanized” by being considered a “rent-a-womb,” well then she can just say ‘no’ to surrogacy, can’t she? What’s the problem? We’ve got bigger fish to fry, like sex trafficking, political oppression, poverty, genocide, economic inequality, abortion, war and the like. Freedom is good; fertility is good. Surrogacy can’t really be a big deal, can it?” And it may not be a “big deal,” relative to other concerns, but does that mean it’s not a “deal” at all? Does that mean we ought not try and ask good questions about it, about the nature and purpose of femininity, motherhood and pregnancy, about the purpose of conceiving and raising children, and about the purpose human sexuality? And if we wonder about what kind of people we are becoming when we go in for surrogacy, might we not at least think about what would make us better people, more the kind of people God intends us to be?


Katy Perry: I Kissed a Girl and I liked it

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I kissed a girl and I liked it; the taste of her cherry chapstick. I kissed a girl just to try it; I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it. It felt so wrong, it felt so right, don’t mean I’m in love tonight. I kissed a girl and I like it, I liked it. – Katy Perry

Over the weekend, my wife happened to be surfing our Amazon instant videos, and she came across Katy Perry’s documentary, Part of Me, which chronicles her world tour in 2011, but really, tells a brief story of her life and how she got to where she is. I admit, I was quite engrossed in the film, not because I’m a Katy Perry fan. I hardly know her music. But because I’m always intrigued by people who have achieved a good measure of fame, wanting to reflect on the messages and images they convey with their lives.

I’m no musicologist, but I doubt Perry’s music is of the lasting variety. This is not to say, however, that her music lacks a certain catchy quality. It is catchy, and I can see why she’s popular. Her music seems to be an extension of the force of her personality, which from all appearances, is quite winsome. Yet the song that grabbed my attention above the others is her little ode to homosexual normalcy, “I Kissed a Girl.” Watching her sing it in concert, to the screams of adoring fans, both my wife and I thought, out loud, that there are no moral and philosophical arguments that can do battle with the message of this song, in the powerful musical medium in which it is given. It simply bypasses all the logic, rationality and reflection of the moral/ spiritual realm, and moves right to the emotions. One is swept up in the apparent “rightness” of treating homosexual behavior, “experimentation,” in her words, as something entirely normal, even beautiful, something to be “liked.”

At least for a time. That was my next thought. In our particular cultural moment, Katy Perry’s song has great coin, and along with other similar expressions of approval for homosexuality, seems to be carrying the day. But only for a time. How much time, I don’t know. But God is no fool. He created and superintends all reality, and His good and beautiful commands and ordinations cannot be contravened without consequence forever. The fallout of all of our celebration of sexual “liberation” and autonomy will be brokenness. The sexual brokenness born of our current rebellion – not just in the homosexual arena, but in the totality of human sexuality – is gaining force like a tsunami; and when it breaks upon the shore of human relationships, the wreckage will be vast indeed. It always is. And what then?

Will God’s people still have the healing, comforting, liberating, beautiful gospel of Christ to offer in the midst of the carnage? Will our own sexual holiness and fidelity to God’s ways be present and observable in a winsome way to those who have finally come up against reality and are searching for soul-quenching truth, and are no longer mollified by the fleeting pleasures of sin, which Katy Perry so forcefully purveys? For Perry’s notions – powerful as they are right now – will be of little comfort in the end. Worthless physicians they will be.

Will we take God at His word concerning marriage and sexual faithfulness, trusting that, in the long run, truth will out, and God will draw in the broken to Himself and give them Living Water, rather than watered-down truth? Standing with God, keeping the faith and continuing to make the case – with our words and our lives – that “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” is not futile. It may seem utterly irrelevant and a “losing argument” in the face of the Katy Perry’s of the world, and the tens of thousands of her devotees. But those devotees are human beings, created in the image of God, and they cannot escape reality. Jesus’ words and His loving precepts never return to Him void. He loves us, and as with the Prodigal Son, He keeps seeking us, waiting for us to return to Him when we’ve grown tired of eating from the pig’s trough.


Written by Michael Duenes

August 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm