by Del Tackett
Nothing is judged more severely by our culture today than assertions of biblical male and female absolutes. It may be possible that we are in the final progression of God giving our culture up to first “sexual impurity” then “shameful lusts” and finally a “depraved mind”. And throughout all of this, true human sexuality has been the prime target. The enemy turns everything on its head, evil is good, good is evil, and truth is exchanged for a lie.
This exchange is found most deeply in the attack on human sexuality, for it strikes us at our core. God designed the human being as male and female, created for a relationship, and each with unique purposes. And yet, this forms the focus of our current controversies. Ponder how many of our burning issues are rooted in a contrary view of God’s design: pornography, abortion, adultery and unmarried sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, LGBTQIA+, transgenderism, pansexuality, personal pronouns, gender dysphoria and identity, etc. Additionally, we have human sexuality issues that are being used as political and social hammers such as male toxicity, #MeToo, ERA, pay equality, gender roles and quotas, glass ceilings, harassment and so on. Human sexuality is at the core of all of this and nothing seems to provoke a more visceral hostility.
But we must stay true to the Word of God or we are lost in a fickle sea of emotions and power struggles for control and significance. Of the critical forces aligning themselves in our culture today, this may well be the most perilous of all, for when we mess with man’s fundamental design, everything becomes radically skewed.
This threat has now become a pervasive belief that penetrates virtually every aspect of our culture. I suppose we could call it “the feminization of society” but that both wrongly implies a negative about true femininity and it would fall woefully short in terms of communicating the depths of this deep menace to our culture.
When God describes the downfall of Nineveh, Babylon and Egypt, there is a nearly identical declaration for each: they had “become like women”. Here is the passage from Nahum, concerning the fall of Nineveh:
Behold, your troops
are women in your midst.
The gates of your land
are wide open to your enemies;
fire has devoured your bars. Nahum 3:13
This is not a denigration of women, but rather a condemnation of the feminization of men and its consequences. Thompson’s Chain Reference lists all of these passages under the title “effeminacy”. The peril to the city or nation is clear. It is no longer being guarded or protected; its gates are left open for the enemy to plunder.
This is a most serious threat. When a culture rejects truth and righteousness, it has a disastrous effect upon the role of the male and the female. This, in turn, has a disastrous effect upon the culture.
Let’s examine it.
We must first never forget how foundational the diversity of male and female is to the human race. This is the design of God, creating them the same in essence, yet so very diverse in their personhood.
The Noble Male is driven by two engines, as on a train. The first engine is truth, righteousness and wisdom; the second is grace and compassion. He is primarily driven by a zeal for truth and righteousness, but it is tethered by grace and compassion.
The Virtuous Female is driven by the same two engines, but they are in reverse order. She is driven first by grace and compassion, but this is tethered by truth, righteousness and wisdom.
She is, therefore, not given to unwise actions propelled solely by her grace and compassion.
He is, therefore, not led by some cold and heartless logic, but by a gracious and compassionate wisdom.
The Noble Male has been made to protect and defend. He is built for this. He protects and defends that which is good and true. He gives his life for the noble cause. He stands on the deck of the sinking Titanic having gotten women and children into the scarce lifeboats. He falls on a live grenade to save the lives of others. He rushes into a burning building to save those trapped inside. He goes to the stake for truth and righteousness.
The Virtuous Woman has been made to nurture and comfort. She is built for this. She nurtures and comforts that which is good and true. She is the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31, a champion in commerce, strong and knowing that her grace and compassion must be guided by wisdom and truth. Not long ago I had the privilege of hearing Governor Reynolds of Iowa and Governor Noem of South Dakota. These are Virtuous Women. Would that we had 48 more of them!
However, when a culture rejects God and absolute truth, when it casts off the Meta-narrative of God, then the Noble Male and the Virtuous Female are stripped of their divine compass. The Noble Male loses his primary role and the Virtuous Female loses her tether.
The male no longer sees anything beyond himself worth defending or protecting and he descends into either the self-centered buffoon or the selfish brute.
The self-centered buffoon cares only for himself, abandons his family physically or otherwise, absorbs himself in drinking, sports, video games and other selfish pursuits. He is depicted for us in much of our entertainment today from “Everyone Loves Raymond” to the cartoon “Zits” to the children’s books, “The Berenstain Bears”, where Papa bear is a buffoonish cub in an adult body and Mama bear is always the wise one, rolling her eyes at Papa bear. When this dawned on me, I stopped reading them to my children.
The selfish brute has been found in every tyrant known to history. It is found in today’s ISIS and in the gangs that roam our streets and in the beast that beats his wife or girlfriend. When a culture loses the Noble Male, it is headed for the very same end into which Babylon and Ninevah collapsed.
When truth is lost, the female’s primary role becomes untethered and she begins to nurture and comfort in unwise or even evil ways. This is malevolent compassion and it is the heart of the threat before us.
We know that power, untethered from truth and righteousness, can become catastrophically evil. We have seen this throughout history and today. But few consider what happens when compassion is also untethered from truth and righteousness. We wrongfully think that all compassion is right and good. It is not. In fact, it can bring a family or culture to ruin.
These roles of the Noble Male and the Virtuous Female were meant to be complementary. The Noble Male may want to kick the baby bird out of the nest in April, but the Virtuous Female may see he needs another month. By the end of May, however, they both kick him out.
But there are larger implications here. At the cultural level, some of the social spheres themselves carry these same distinctions.
The State, for example, is a protect and defend institution. It punishes evil and condones what is good. It protects its citizens from the theft of their property and defends them from foreign enemies. It defends the freedom of its citizens to be fruitful according to their work and initiative. It allows them to fail, learn from those failures and then pick themselves up and press on. But not so in our feminized culture. The State has now tipped from protect and defend to nurture and comfort. We demand that it feed us, clothe us, care for us. It becomes the Nanny State. Out of “compassion”, if someone fails, the Nanny State will rush in, put them back in the nest and they become a ward of the State. This follows with a host of “compassionate” laws and policies to keep anyone from hurting themselves or suffering from any bad consequences of their actions. Virtually every bill that is passed today is primarily a nurture and comfort bill that will ultimately destroy the wards and enlarge the State. All of this is pressed onward by our new prime ethic of “compassion” and cheered on by feminized men attempting to outdo each other by their “nurture and comfort” character and proposals.
These, however, are mostly driven by malevolent compassion and false grace. Star Parker writes often of how this malevolent compassion has destroyed the black family. Welfare programs that paid women for more babies (as long as they weren’t married) were offered under the guise of kind-heartedness yet produced horrible consequences and served no one except to garner power to the State. The economic crash of 2008 was driven primarily by “compassion” policies that granted so many unwise loans that the entire house of cards came tumbling down. Malevolent compassion pretends to care for the unemployed by paying them so much to not work that they end up not working. These are not driven by truth and wisdom, but by emotional compassion that ends up in no good.
It is this malevolent compassion that is behind everything from giving needles to addicts, to defunding police in favor of community services, to being squeamish about border security. It drives minimum wage laws that result in loss of jobs. It is behind growing soft on crime and behind transforming our military into more and more of a humanitarian service.
The Church is inherently a protect and defend institution as well. Paul states that it is the “pillar of truth”. But now it is tipped more to the nurture and comfort side and we desire “smooth words”. We want to be comforted and entertained on Sunday mornings.
The Family can also be devastated by this. We have already mentioned the ruinous results of malevolent state policies, but if inside the home, even one with both a mom and dad, the nurture and comfort of children isn’t balanced with wisdom and truth and righteousness, then we can raise coddled, dysfunctional, adult children, who cannot handle anything contrary in their lives. Obstacles and bumps throw them into emotional turmoil and depression—even suicide.
Even the sphere of labor is now desperate to signal how “compassionate” it is in a thousand different ways, most of them also unbridled by true wisdom.
The notion of “malevolent” compassion is difficult for us because we think that all compassionate thoughts, feelings and actions are good. But we need to rethink this. In the beginning, Satan faked a benevolent heart toward an oppressed Eve. But it was all a lie. Judas feigned a benevolent heart for the poor, but the Scripture tells us he really was after the money for himself. The emotion of compassion arises in me when I see a homeless person. But if I give into that emotion without the balance of wisdom and truth, I can act in a way that is detrimental to him. We are inundated with this ploy constantly. Someone is paraded out in front of us, in video or print, and the plea is based totally on compassion. It tugs at our heart. But we must always balance that emotion with wisdom and truth or we might be guilty of supporting something malevolent. This is what the Scripture calls us to when it says:
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10
Unbridled compassion would scream at this command and call it hateful or something similar. But the truly wise and compassionate heart sees this one’s true good is found, not in coddling, but being graciously firm.
Let me close us with a story from a dear friend. When he was young, he had gotten himself onto the wrong path, hanging out with the wrong kind of people and sneaking it all behind his parent’s backs. One Friday night he got caught and was going to have to spend the weekend in jail until he could go before the judge on Monday. He called his mom, knowing that she would bail him out. But to his horror, his dad answered. When he told his dad what had happened and laid out his sad story about being in this horrible jail, his dad told him he would see him Monday. My friend told me that his weekend in jail turned his life around. He is a very successful businessman today with a wonderful wife and family. This wouldn’t have happened under unbridled compassion.
The greatest danger and bottom line, of course, is that malevolent compassion destroys our ability to see evil as evil, both personally and culturally. It blinds us. Sexual depravity is no longer seen through the eyes of wisdom and truth, but through the wringing hands of unbridled compassion. We coddle evil and that which is ultimately harmful to people because we are led to believe it is “compassionate” and “caring”.
Our gates are wide open, but it is the Remnant that understands what true grace and compassion should look like; it understands the truth of God and His righteousness and the wisdom that must be displayed in the midst of this storm.
May God give us the grace to become Noble Men and Virtuous Women and raise our children to be the same.
 We cannot in our short space do justice to this and I commend to you the excellent and classic work “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” by Grudem and Piper.