We have noted that a lot of evangelical leaders today are studiously reenacting the historical battles of Christianity, rather than risking their manicures on the current battlefield of sexuality.
This doesn’t apply to all evanglical leaders, of course. Some have entered the battle with various missions, which they pursue with varying degrees of vigor and tenacity. Certain among them, for instance, have taken to sneaking up on our soldiers in order to shank them from behind. Others are replacing their blanks with live ammo and mobilizing their units to fire on our foxholes and encampments. Still others are summonsing their women and men to urgent briefings about how the Greco-Victorians incorrectly drew the battle-lines and seized the wrong territory, so even though we’ve lost most of it now, we ought to give the rest back anyway.
In other words, plenty of evangelical leaders, and would-be leaders, have much to say about what masculine and feminine sexual piety is, and how it doesn’t exist because what is wrong with you and shut up, that’s why. This, coincidentally, is also what Chastity said when questioned at the local library during Drag Queen Story Hour, shortly before having to retire to the reserved area to recuperate with cushions and puppies, but that is just a coincidence. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
And because the internet has turned this dispute into something resembling the clamor of Babel five minutes after Yahweh’s reconnaissance, you would be forgiven for not knowing what to make of it all.
We therefore offer the following public service announcement for anyone who is unsure about whether any given leader is worth listening to on this matter:
If you’re trying to figure out whether to trust a man who teaches on biblical sexuality, pay careful attention to the forum he cultivates.
This is not the only thing to look for, and it’s not infallible, but we have found it to be a reliable guide. There are basically four kinds of men you will discover once you begin scrutinizing those they surround themselves with:
- The White Knight. This is a man who surrounds himself with female sycophants. These ladies love everything he says, and provide positive feedback about how helpful, edifying, and godly he is. It is not that he is actually helpful, edifying, and godly—only that he says things which tickle the ears of weak women who fancy their feelings to be reliable measuring instruments for what pleases God. This man lives for the praise of women, and also by extension of other white knights; he serves and worships them, not God. He is a false teacher.
- The Hot Dog. He surrounds himself with male sycophants. These men laud everything he says, echoing and expanding it—often in foul ways that step much further than the teacher himself. He allows this to continue because it lets him remain superior, even as he feeds on their adoration. When called on the fact that he has become the king of a sewage swamp, he claims that it isn’t really his swamp, and besides, he has seen the gators really flourishing there. He too is a false teacher.
- The Big Head. This is a man who surrounds himself with no one. He seems uninterested in the praise of men, not because he is godly, but because he is more fearful of being tested and challenged by them than he is desirous of their glory. He is a proud and fragile man, sometimes called a gamma male: someone fundamentally dishonest with himself about his capacity for being wrong. He speaks out of ego, rather than genuine love of the truth, and is thus a false teacher.
- The Sheep Dog. This man surrounds himself with other men who love him. They test what he says, usually finding it helpful and true—but, because they love him, they challenge and rebuke him when he is wrong. This man knows the truth of Proverbs 27:5–6: open rebuke is better than hidden love, and the wounds of a friend are faithful. He knows that iron doesn’t sharpen itself, and when he speaks, he does it not to earn praise from men, but from God.
The fourth kind of man can seem like the third kind; because he values the love of men he trusts and knows, rather than the the fawning of crowds, he can seem aloof until you know him better. You can’t always see the men he surrounds himself with because they are not publicly showing themselves. But you can usually detect their presence.
The different kinds of false teachers can overlap, because they all share the same thing in common: the fear of man. Moreover, there can be mixed motivations in even the best and truest teachers; no one is immune from seeking their own glory, and indeed, many sheep dogs start out as something less noble and have to be brought to repentance to become useful to the kingdom. But we have found these general rules to hold surprisingly true; beware white knights, hot dogs, and big heads.