Reclaiming biblical sexuality (without being a dope)

New Warhorn Media post by Nathan Alberson:


Very enjoyable. Thanks, brothers.

I’m very thankful for the brothers and fathers who were careful not to kill my zeal when I was definitely a dope about these things, and who kept at the instruction and correction as I matured. I know it was a lot of work for them. May God bless them for it!


Is it just as accurate to say that men are responsible the way you men said women are vulnerable?


Yes: “For the husband is the head of the wife…”

“Is,” not “should be,” right?

1 Like

That was my thought as well. I wondered about it specifically because there was a lot of urging to men to “take responsibility” but then to women there was urging to admit vulnerability. Perhaps the difference simply comes down to the fact that vulnerability is not something that leads directly to action, whereas responsibility is?

Just trying to figure out the difference.

Yeah I listened to this episode twice, once by myself and once with my bride. I think we have a lot of work to do, but I am so grateful for the encouragement to be who God made us to be, even as we fumble through it.


Look at that, I made it on a podcast :slight_smile:
As the single woman on Sanityville that Tim mentioned, this was SO helpful, and corrective to some error that has been weighing heavily. Describing masculinity/femininity as a dance/tension that we must navigate is so clarifying. I’ve been reading some rather legalistic, fundamentalist teaching on sexuality—of the women single or married should remain at home, college and working outside the home is always borderline sinful at best, and if you aren’t married you must be doing something wrong variety— that really got to me, and caused despair that as an unmarried (not by choice) adult woman with degree and a job I’m in sin, which spiraled into assurance issues over the last few months. I’m slowly sorting it out, and this podcast helped immensely. The comment that single women are vulnerable to God for marriage and children hit me—trusting that relieves the burden of ‘what am I doing wrong to cause this’ questions. And the advice to be a mother and a helper to the women and children of the church was wonderful. My overall takeaway was that femininity/womanhood (and manhood) is not a list of rules but a disposition—which to me means I need to chill out about working outside the home and focus on serving where I am😉

I also want to make sure you know my original post wasn’t coming from a jealous or bitter place, just a tender conscience and fear of displeasing God :slight_smile: and the replies to that post were so kind and helpful, even though i forgot to go back and reply :upside_down_face:


I was thinking the same thing.

1 Like

I do have one question about the podcast—what does it mean to be deferential to all men in honoring the created order as the podcast talked about? I’ve seen this word used several places regarding the general posture of women to men, but I haven’t heard a clear definition or example, and I’ve always understood ‘defer’ to mean letting someone else decide or being obedient to someone else’s decision. Does showing deference to all men mean being obedient to all men (as in I must do what any man tells me, as a wife must obey her husband), or does that mean to be respectful of all men but not required to obey them? If I want to do or choose A but a man wants me to do or choose B, would I be obligated to do B, or would deference be taking B and his reasoning into consideration out of respect but still being free to do A? I cant think of an actualy time this would happen outside of a boss/elder/father scenario, in which case you would obey anyway, but I guess it happens :slight_smile:


Yes, and Christian single men are also at the wrong end of the “if you aren’t married you must be doing something wrong” messages. And while the precise form of the message differs, obviously, it is certainly not helpful.

Christians end up single for many different reasons - some positive, some not. What is good counsel in one situation may not be in another.

That one. :slight_smile:

1 Like

No. No more than every man is to lay down his life for every woman. And yet! The man who looks on while a woman is attacked on the bus and doesn’t attempt to save her because she isn’t his wife and he ought not to lay down his life for just any woman has failed to image his sex.

At the highest level what this means is that the basic reality of male and female never disappears and is never inconsequential to our behavior or our interactions with others.

For example, if woman is vulnerable and you are a woman, do you want the men you have contact with in a given day to treat you as though you are just one of the guys? To do so is for them to ignore or even deny your vulnerability, and the result will be that eventually you will get hurt. So man is to have an attitude of protection to womankind, not just his wife and daughters. He does not owe every woman the same protection that he does his wife, but he does have responsibility for those around him who are of the weaker sex.

Likewise, a woman is neither to treat men as though they are women, nor (more to the point of your question) should she interact with them as if she is a man. Knowing her vulnerability and their responsibility, knowing her womanhood and their manhood, she ought to behave in a manner that does not deny those realities.

Now, I hope that higher level description, together with an equivalent requirement and example for men helps you to make sense of this partial definition: A deferential woman remembers that the men around her are responsible in a way that she isn’t, and that fact is evident in her interactions with them.

Of course, our sexuality is not the only objective reality that our behavior ought to account for. If a woman is more knowledgeable about a topic than the men in a room, what and how she speaks is also affected by that. But that doesn’t ever negate the fact that she is a woman or that they are men.

The reality of the creation order is what stands behind the responsibility of man, and it also means that there is more to deference than simply understanding that man is responsible. It also means that woman must understand that though a man is not her head, he has been made a head, and she has not. So just as Timothy, though a pastor, is instructed (1 Tim 5:1) to appeal to older men as to a father, thus demonstrating that age demands honor regardless of other realities, so women are to talk to a man as to a head. And this is true even if she is his boss. To obliterate that reality in how she interacts with him is to attack headship as a whole, the same way that to ignore age differences is to break the first command with a promise—honor your father and mother, that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Now many women, in an attempt to apply this principle have come to the conclusion that they cannot second guess, much less argue with a man. And many men would like this to be true. However, following on the theme of the podcast, to adopt this position is to become a dope. Abigail saved her husband’s life by second guessing his decision and negating it. And yet, there is something to the conclusion. A brash woman is most definitely argumentative and has no qualms in shaming a man by “putting him in his place.” So how does a woman navigate these waters?

I put forward this brief proposal wondering what others think of it, especially @tbbayly and @Fr_Bill.

  1. Take more than just sexuality into account. As I mentioned above, it’s not the only objective reality in any given situation.
  2. In a woman that is deferential, the closer the relationship she has with somebody the more ability she will have to disagree and argue without destroying deference.
  3. The more private the place, the less formalized deference has to be. Deference is connected to modesty, and so it partly depends on what other people are able to observe.
  4. The more a man is actually in authority over a woman, the deeper the deference is that is required of her.
  5. The weaker the man, the more difficult and the more important it is for women to help him protect the dignity of his sex. This will often mean not arguing with him (publicly or privately), since it will simply display his ignorance or weakness, and simply taking action to cover his nakedness.

Helpful. Thanks.

1 Like

Thank you, @jtbayly, for this. My suggestions for tweaking these are given below.

I heartily agree here. As you said, the objective reality of sex is never absent in male-female relationships. Other factors will come into play as detailed below. As far as this principle is concerned, I emphatically agree that in male-female relationships, sex can never be ignored. It can never be assumed that it’s not a factor. Rather it’s always a factor, though just how one manages the male-female relationship will depend on other concomitant factors.

Maybe yes; maybe no. I do understand what you’re getting at here, but . . .

A couple of other factors will hugely limit, sometimes even annul this principle.

Consider - a woman may appear entirely naked in front of her husband and there is nothing amiss (in principle). But, if the neighbors are present . . . well, then her freedom to be naked before her husband is essentially annulled, so long as the neighbors are present.

In a similar way, a woman may disagree and argue with her husband when they’re alone in the house and possibly do so without overthrowing deference to him. But, if the neighbors are present? That freedom is probably going to be curtailed.

Yes, I can hear the objections and sputtering out in Internet Land! :crazy_face: What has nakedness to do with disagreeing and arguing?? Well, nothing of course!

So why put these in comparison with one another? Simply because of this: THE CONTEXT within which either occurs.

You get close to saying this, and I think you are cognizant of it, but I’ll say it expressly here: deference is a social, a relational thing. And just WHO is present in a given occasion of disagreement/dispute between a man and a woman can radically alter the “room” a woman has for disagreeing/disputing with a man.

Agreed. A woman has more duty to display/enact deference to her husband or to her father than she does to the yard man who shows up to trim the hedges and mow the grass. What I’d note here is that deference toward a father or husband will likely include a host of details that modern egalitarian minds would not think belong to deference at all (!) - things like the terms of endearment a wife or daughter might use when addressing a familial male authority.

So, my wife would never think of addressing the lawn man with the term “Sweetie” or “Pooh Man.” And, sometimes (rarely, thank God, in my case) a wife might begin a comment to her husband with a word like this, and he’d know immediately that the game is on for a session of objections to his lordship in some domestic matter!

So, yes - when her allegiance to his lordship in the marriage is a settled matter, the wife’s room for disagreeing with her husband is greater. Conversely, the more room the husband will have to entertain his wife’s petitions, her questions, hearing her concerns about something he has ruled on.

It’s a different topic, though worthy of discussion sometime - but this principle applies with nuclear force in the workplace, where a female has supervisory authority over a man. In this case, he may be “weak” in the sense that his range of responsibility is limited by a woman and the male employee is answerable to the woman supervisor.

In this deplorable arrangement now very common in the modern workplace, everything about the male-female relationship is going to work against the created grain, contrary to the hard-wired psychological machinery of how men and women are to relate to one another.


It’s a different topic, though worthy of discussion sometime - but this principle applies with nuclear force in the workplace, where a female has supervisory authority over a man. In this case, he may be “weak” in the sense that his range of responsibility is limited by a woman and the male employee is **answerable to the woman supervisor.

Well, some of us do have female bosses. I am possibly the only man here with a female manager - a fairly new development, admittedly - but, seriously, what this should mean in practice does need to be teased out. I do have some ideas.

1 Like

As a state employee, I’ve had two female governors, three female Department heads, and three female immediate supervisors. In my current role, though my immediate supervisor is male, others in my role is 80% women. After 14 years I am weary.


You and Eric Rasmusen should get together and commiserate. Funny thing is I expect some of those who would join your commiseration most eagerly would be women who are weary of being led by women. Seriously.


Well, I hope to meet him when I come visit.


I thought this was the best episode yet.

We found ourselves perplexed by the cookie-baking-permission anecdote. What did that man say to his wife after being told to lead her? And what kind of guidance did he receive after the cookie incident? In light of the following discussion, the simple rebuke mentioned seemed like it would have hurt his zeal.

Thank you for the exhortation to lead by being faithful in small things.


Don’t remember rebuking him or her. Our point wasn’t to argue that he was wrong to give her that instruction, but that people repent in wide swathes and eventually find the happy medium. But no, having to ask permission to bake cookies is not the happy medium.