The Impotence of Sanctified Testosterone

Teaching by Obfuscation

In an article by Jason Allen, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood decries what they see as a lack of masculinity – “biblical masculinity,” that is – in today’s churches.

Many churches are bereft of male leadership, and many congregations exist in a settled fog over what biblical manhood should look like.

Allen argues that the only way to correct this deficit is through radical spiritual reform. He calls it “sanctified testosterone.” He’s serious:

Through this, the church needs to recover biblical manhood, Christian masculinity—what we might think of as sanctified testosterone.

Aimee Byrd

Aimee Byrd

Aimee Byrd handily addressed the many problems with Allen’s arguments, quoting his points one by one and responding with thoughtful and incisive analysis. (Full disclosure – Aimee Byrd is a friend of mine.) One example is her response to the first excerpt I quoted:

“Many churches are bereft of male leadership, and many congregations exist in a settled fog over what biblical manhood should look like.”

As to the first part of the sentence, that is a sweeping claim. Maybe it’s true? It isn’t my experience in my church. But I’ll take him at his word. As to the second part, I agree. But this article may be a reason for that.

I go one step further and suggest that tepid phrases like “biblical manhood” and shock value phrases like “sanctified testosterone” are examples of the befogged obfuscation inherent in the positions taken by Allen and CBMW.

First off, there is nothing in the Bible that even remotely supports a cockamamie concept like “sanctified testosterone.” It’s a fancy sounding phrase (Aimee labels it propaganda) that has a value of less than zero. Second, the Bible does not call us to “biblical manhood and womanhood.” It calls people – women and men without distinction between the sexes – to be more like Christ.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28-29.)

What woman and men were really made for

The beauty in this call to Christlikeness is that it is solidly based on the way we were created in the first place. As Aimee points out in response to Allen’s insistence that every man in a church has a leadership role over every woman in that church:

“There is a defined role of leadership, authority, and protection men in the church must play.”

Is there? Please show me where this definition is. Again, is every man a head to every woman in the church?

Aimee goes on to answer those questions in her next paragraph:

And just as a side note, the word ezer, used to describe Eve in Gen. 2:18, is the same word used to describe God as an ezer to Israel throughout the Old Testament. And when you look at these verses, we see this word used to communicate great strength. I particularly find Psalm 89:17 interesting, “For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted.” Here we have the word ezer, usually translated helper, translated strength. These verses are also saturated in military language as they describe God as Israel’s ezer. The root for this word is used one hundred, twenty-eight times in Scripture, meaning to rescue and save. It is used referring to God’s rescue in thirty cases, which we see mostly in the Psalms. So, although I completely acknowledge men do have greater physical strength than women, and should use that for anyone’s protection whenever someone may be in need, women also have strengths that are vital to the church. Women are also called to be protectors, leaders even.

I would add that when the woman is called the man’s ezer in Genesis 2, the modifier kenegdo is absolutely necessary in order to make sure the Bible is not placing the woman in a position superior to the man.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper [ezer] suitable [kenegdo] for him.”

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:18, 21-22.)

If Genesis 2:18 merely used the word ezer, the original readers might have thought the woman to be a superior helper since (as Aimee points out in the excerpt on ezer above) the word was used to refer to God and his strength as the rescuer of Israel, often in passages with militaristic language. When the word is applied to God as helper or strength, we know he’s being described as a powerful helper of unstoppable strength.

By adding the modifier kenegdo (meaning suitable or of the same kind), Genesis 2 is clear that the woman is not to be considered a superior created being who condescends to help the man as God reaches down to help his people, but is instead a helper at the same level as the man. In other words, if the woman had been described with the word ezer alone, it might suggest she is superior to the man. The full phrase ezer kenegdo thus shows that men and women are of equal strength in God’s kingdom.

Marg Mowzcko

Marg Mowczko

There is nothing whatsoever in the expression ezer kenegdo that implies a subordination of women. Instead, it has the meanings of strength and similarity. Each of the creation accounts in Genesis chapters 1, 2 and 5, highlight the similarity, unity and equality of men and women, and tell us that their joint task involves being God’s regents of the world he created … . (Marg Mowczko, Kenegdo: Is the woman subordinate, suitable, or similar to the man?)

How is this joint task performed? As Aimee said, “Women are also called to be protectors, leaders even.”

Note her word choice there: “also.” Men can lead and women can lead. Women can protect and men can protect. This is the way it’s been from the beginning. It’s what we were made for. Let’s have no more befogged obfuscation with talk of “sanctified testosterone” and “biblical manhood and womanhood” as if those phrases meant anything. They don’t.

Ezer kenegdo – now there’s a phrase that means something.


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40 Responses to The Impotence of Sanctified Testosterone

  1. CA Native says:

    “befogged obfuscation” – great phrase.Thanks to both you and Aimee for the insights in your articles.

    • Tim says:

      I really like how Aimee addressed his poor doctrine point by point until she exposed it for just how empty it is.

      • Lucie Winborne says:

        But will Allen read it or have his eyes opened? Ah, if only. What will these people come up with next, Tim? I was going to read Allen’s post and Aimee’s response, but honestly, all I thought it would probably do is raise my blood pressure (the former post, that is). Still, as always I thank you for exposing this kind of thing.

        • Tim says:

          Aimee’s post is excellent and extremely constructive. I would hope that people like Allen might actually listen to her, since she’s a comp writer. I think they dismiss her and her friends Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt when they call out this nonsense, though.

  2. “If Genesis 2:18 merely used the word ezer, the original readers might have thought the woman to be a superior helper … .” Hmm. What a switch! Having Eve be superior to Adam! *grin* (N.B. I had not thought of that before.)

    In all seriousness, if this had been the case in the “original documents,” I suspect it would have really put a crimp in the complementarians’ call to biblical manhood. I absolutely agree with this point-by-point discussion of ezer kenegdo. Kudos, Tim! @chaplaineliza

    • Tim says:

      They could see it in the Genesis account as written if they would look at the text without the gender driven agenda, I suspect.

  3. Donald Johnson says:

    Gadzooks, methinks that they are trying their hardest to come up with new memes to sell their doctrine. Will they be able to finally find one that sticks before they plain tucker out? Methinks not!

  4. Angie says:

    Cockamamie. Fun and fitting word.

  5. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    LOVED this post, Tim; thanks. The whole “sanctified testosterone” thing leaves me shaking my head because as you show, there is no Scriptural support for the distinctions he’s trying to make. I also really appreciated Aimee’s analysis and was especially struck by this sentence of hers:

    “That is how [Allen] is describing these virtues: *Exhibitions* of courage, *tales* of heroism, and *valiant* sacrifice, that needs to be witnessed, rather than quiet service that is always sacrificial.”

    I had never thought of that before but it seems so key: this “machismo-lite” ideal longs for attention and visibility, wanting be SEEN for doing heroic and valiant acts rather than unseen, mundane acts. (Makes me wonder: are the unseen acts perceived as “girly” things that men are too good for?) As always, I come back to Tolkien’s profound words about the deeds that move the wheels of the world: “Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.” Love, not ego. Faithfulness, not exhibitions.

    • Tim says:

      Jesus knew he did things that caught people’s eyes, but he told those same people that the miracles were not what they should be focusing on. He said the kingdom of God is about believing in the one sent (Jesus) and serving the people around us as Jesus serves us (sacrificially and without fanfare). Why they think displays of men acting a certain way is scriptural is beyond me. It’s not about displays; it’s about love.

  6. Bev Murrill says:

    Great article here… I love that these issues and original translations of words are now being investigated and exposed so thoroughly. Really, the sanctified testosterone is just psychobabble or ‘we feel insecure in our manhood and we need to sort it out, but only God can help us’… however they’ve already made up their minds how He’s going to do that, and they’re barking up the wrong tree.

    • Tim says:

      It’s psychobabble dressed up as doctrine, which puts it in a category they might think is unassailable. Aimee assailed it just fine.

  7. Alice Liddell says:

    What a stupendously great response, Aimee! Bravo!

    Clear, constructive and greatly encouraging. I love the word “cockamamie” – it fits.

    May I have permission to reprint/share your articles, Aimee & Tim? I’d love to share it w/ my consistory.

    God Bless : )

    • Tim says:

      Please share my posts with whomever you think will appreciate them, Alice. It would be great if you include the link back here to the blog too so they can read all the great comments too.

  8. “Sanctified testosterone”?? Sorry, I can’t even take that terminology seriously. I thought in Christ we are all, male and female, supposed to be newly created spiritual beings. This elevates the physicality of the male to new levels. Well, what about my estrogen hormones, that’s what I want to know? Do they get to be sanctified too? I can see a whole new gender battlefield opening up in the church over this. Someone call the religious hormone police…..please!

    • Tim says:

      “Sorry, I can’t even take that terminology seriously.”

      No one should, Cheryl, but they used the term at their CBMW 2016 conference last week and then a seminary president, Allen, used it in his post. They are serious, and it completely goes against the fact that in Christ there is no male or female.

  9. Ruth says:

    But women have testosterone too, so how are we going to view that little problem!?
    I can’t go through life with the thought that my hormones are inferior! And what if I claim my testosterone is equal to that of a masculine pituitary or thyroid gland, or wherever male testosterone is sanctified?
    Yes, Cheryl, we need the hormone police to make sure oestrogen is given equal, if not superior status, after all, it can make raging, magnificent individual out of the quietest, most subservient woman at the most unexpected moments…….
    What a load of truly delusional, sad and unbiblical bumptiousness.
    Thanks for bringing this to your readers attention Tim, it is very serious to see how warped some men and women have become in the name of Christianity.

    • Tim says:

      They also completely miss that every part of us, hormones and all, is sanctified in Christ already. We are set apart for God from our inner parts to our outer ones, women and men both.

    • Barb says:

      Loved your comment, Ruth!! We certainly do have testosterone. But I sure do miss my estrogen because of chemo and cancer drugs and a hysterectomy. Would really like to find one of those “raging, magnificent” women so she could share her excess with me! LOL Maybe those hormone police can help me out so I can get some equality here. This idea of sanctified testosterone is just too much. SMH

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  11. Laura Droege says:

    “Sanctified testosterone”? It doesn’t work from a literal or a metaphorical sense. And why haven’t they come up with an article about sanctified estrogen? After all, if they’re bent on recovering Biblical manhood (and getting all of us rebellious females beneath them), then shouldn’t there be instruction on recovering Biblical womanhood and what sanctified estrogen looks like?!

    I’m not intending to ridicule them as people, only the ideas. They are blinded by lies, and unfortunately, are being sidetracked by this issue. Egals and Comps can get along, as long as we focus on God and work together to minister to others. But when the focus changes, then we’re divided and people are hurt.

    • Tim says:

      It’s a fancy sounding phrase but reminds me of the false prophets who came up with nifty prophecies because that’s what the king wanted to hear. (1 Kings 22:11 comes to mind.) Phrases like “sanctified testosterone” sound big but come up small when looked at closely.

  12. Actually, the more I meditate on it, the more they may be onto something, just not the way they intended.

    I see one of the things Scripture teaches is that God sanctifies the bodies of believers as they let God do this. Their bodies include testosterone and estrogen, this is one of the physical gifts from God that make up our bodies. Therefore God is in the process of sanctifying our testosterone (and our estrogen) and since they occur in everyone, God does this without showing favoritism or partiality. So what they taught for the purposes of gender hierarchy actually shows gender equality as the details are known. Tada!

    • Tim says:

      I thought the same thing, Don. Of course testosterone is being sanctified, whether its found in a woman or a man. That’s what God is doing with every single part of us, hormones included. They hijack it for their comp doctrine and end up emptying it of its meaning entirely.

  13. Pastor Bob says:

    Has the response to polarization on these issues resulted in something even stranger?

    “The church has a very obvious, painful at times, and fatal birth defect, fallible humans are involved.” -unknown.
    People, can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

    • Tim says:

      Or, as one of my old pastors used to say:

      To live above with saints I love; that would be glory.
      But to live below with saints I know? Now that’s another story.

  14. Jacob says:

    One thing that really troubles me about modern Christianity is this idea, this tacit concept that part of the process of becoming a Christian, and more specifically joining a church is repenting of your masculinity, as if there is something inherently sinful about being masculine. I think this is partly why so many young men leave the church when they become adults and also why my future in church is questiinable. I want men to know that they can follow Christ and not be ashamed of their masculinity. They can be aggressive, assertive and ambitious. That its OK to be competitive. Its acceptable to stand up for yourself and confront the guy at church ball who cheap shots you every time you drive to the basket. You can enjoy looking at your wife naked and even enjoy having sex with her frequently. It disheartens me that so many of my male peers are embracing atheism and yet I understand it. It’s interesting how many atheist/agnostic young men will show an interest in biblical stories, and openly admire the heroes of scripture: Samson, Elijah, Moses, the Apostle Paul, John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ and have zero interest in church. Churches need to be more accepting of masculine men, the fellows who maybe have a little more testosterone then normal. Churches need to resist the temptation to “fix” these men and rebuke a cultural attitude that despises masculinity. I am very plugged in to the male atheist scene and this is the common perception amongst these men. Men need not choose between there masculinity and knowing Jesus Christ.

    • Tim says:

      The point is to be like Christ, whether you are a man like those you describe or any other type of man; no matter what your personality the goal is Christ.

      Same goes for women, in that it’s not a matter of being some particular feminine type but of being a woman who grows in Christ.

  15. Jacob says:

    An article that further illustrates my point is entitled “lettting guys be guys” by Leslie Ludy on her website setapartgirl. It’s well written, has long been a comfort to me and you may like it too.

  16. Zoe says:

    Bereft of male leadership? When nearly all leadership in most churches the world over is male? The writer lost his credibility right there.

    • Tim says:

      It sounded a bit rich coming from a male in leadership.

    • Barb says:

      Zoe….I was going to say exactly the same thing! Thanks! And if congregations “exist in a settled fog over what Biblical manhood should look like,” well, just where does the buck stop on THAT if male leadership can’t define it well enough to pass it on to other men. SMH

  17. Love this! Great post. Have a blessed day.

  18. William says:

    Here is the link cited. For your learning and further understanding should you choose to read more studies. Bless you!

  19. ad says:

    Someone should bring up all the atrocities committed throughout history by the all-male Church leadership, back from the days when hyper-masculinity was the rule. Witch-hunts, crusades, abuse of slaves, Imperialism, burning adversaries at the stake, mass financial extortion of the laity, heresies, sexual assault of young boys and women, etc, all done and lead by the all-male clergy both Protestant and Catholic alike. They speak of the “good old days” when men ruled the Churches but if a light is shined on what this “hyper-masculinity” did, their works would put them shame!

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