Chalk one up for better conversations about men being men, and men having the courage to live out their vocations as men.
Their goal is simple: remind men that Biblical manhood is part of God’s divine order, not a social disease in need of eradicating.
Manhood (God’s meta-vocational design for masculinity) is, according to Foster and Tennant, what a ‘male enters into when his body and mind reach maturity.’
To be man is to be man under God’s sovereignty and grace, where he ‘strives to rightly order himself, and the world by developing the virtues and skills necessary to this task – especially strength, workmanship, and wisdom.’
For Foster (a Pastor), and Tennant (a writer), Biblical manhood, is ‘man building God’s house by building his own.’
‘Gendered piety’ is a term pioneered by the pair, and it is the core qualifier of the duo’s mission to win men back to Biblical Manhood.
It means, ‘the unique duties to God, and man entailed by living out one’s sex’ – or as I understand them: living out our gendered vocations.
Talking with Right Response Ministries in 2021, Foster and Tennant said, they recognised how loaded down the term patriarchy had become.
For the co-authors and Podcast hosts, the term ‘gendered piety’ offers a more holistic approach to discussing God’s ordained order.
‘Gendered piety’ goes beyond patriarchy because it entails gendered vocations (not necessarily gender roles), by recognising the ordained purpose to which God calls men into manhood.
As Tennant explained:
“We’re quite concerned, not just to affirm that men represent God’s rule – which is true – but also so to say what are the other aspects of being a man; what are the duties of being a man; what do men have to do? What do women have to do? So, we call that gendered piety.”
Using the term ‘gendered piety’ also stops their message from being drowned out by woke Olympians – who tend to ditch terms, and definitions for snarky, emotive sloganeering.
If I’ve understood them right, ‘gendered piety’ keeps the integrity of God’s purpose for men, without the woke feminist garbage attached to the term ‘toxic masculinity,’ and the phrase “down with the patriarchy.”
The problem with the term patriarchy argued Foster, “is that there are virtuous manifestations of it, and wicked manifestations of it.”
Tennant adds, the pair don’t use the word a whole lot, nor do they “shy away from using it.”
Patriarchy isn’t wrong, it’s just too limited as a platform for teaching what God has ordained Biblical manhood to be.
Additionally, ‘gendered piety’ isn’t a euphemism for complementarianism.
Drawing a line between biblical patriarchy and complementarianism Tennant said, the latter had lost its way. He then called it a “kind of shame theology”, and stated that complementarianism was always flawed because it was “highly conditioned by feminism.”
Foster and Tennant’s premise means there can be no place where man abdicates the vocation of manhood, forcing his gendered vocation onto woman. Since, women have their own distinct gendered vocational responsibilities before, under, and with God.
To paraphrase the duo, ‘gendered piety’ is where a male, lives out his multifaceted gendered vocations under God – what a man does, how he lives, who he loves, serves, worships, thinks, and why. This is biblical manhood.
Foster and Tennant make a good argument.
We all know how patriarchy (men as rulers; representing God’s rule) has become a pejorative.
Our corrupt governments, broken homes, and weakened societies testify to the consequences of this pejorative turning good men into weak ones.
It’s in the catastrophising slogan, ‘toxic masculinity,’ a put-down, often used, not by those who understand masculinity, but by those who have a toxic view of masculinity.
Its damage, inflicted by falsehoods, is evident in boys failing behind girls in academia, high suicide rates among men, increased fatherlessness, and the lack of government-backed, pro-men charitable safety nets.
As John Elderidge in ‘Wild at Heart’ quipped:
“Where are all the real men?” is regular fare for talk shows and new books. “You asked them to be women,” I want to say.” The result is a gender confusion never experienced at such a wide level in the history of the world.”
Manhood as a pejorative has stifled how the world and the church understand what it means for man to be man, and what it means for man to be man for woman, before God.
Viewing biblical patriarchy as ‘gendered piety’ gives a holistic “no” to the paralysis of this patriarchal pejorative.
‘It’s Good to Be a Man’ has merit. It is theology proper.
Biblical manhood is not a disease in need of eradicating. It’s a vocation worth celebrating.
Keen to know more?
Michael Foster is the latest guest on The Caldron Pool Show: