Bnonn Tennant (the B is silent)

Where a recovering ex-atheist skewers things with a sharp two-edged sword

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It’s OK for a man to be a helpmeet

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5 minutes to read A progression of observations about Wesley Hill, based on his own testimony, that do not make him look very good.

Michael Foster recently shared “Love, Again” by Revoice speaker and author of Spiritual Friendship, Wes Hill. Having gotten sucked into reading it, I figured I should redeem that time by sharing my thoughts. There’s no particular order here, except that looking back I think there is: [ Wesley Hill, Love, Again: On a celibate breakup and what happened after in Comment (vol. 36, issue 2, May 2018).]

1. Emotional fragility

Wesley embodies why regular folks sense that they’re walking on eggshells around malakoi. Throughout the piece, it feels like the diary of a teenage girl: we’re reading someone who thinks (s)he is saying insightful things, someone who is desperate to be unique and interesting, but ultimately is too emotionally fragile for an adult to have a real conversation with, about how these desires and expectations match up to reality.

2. Neediness

The desolate lack of what I think of as “personal gravity” is as palpable as it is pitiable. One of the core elements of being a man is learning self-sufficiency and becoming comfortable with the idea of commanding your own life. You go from being like a moon in your childhood, orbiting your parents, to being like a planet: you still orbit the sun (God), and you may form complex systems with other men, but you are not orbiting them, or anyone; when you meet women, their tendency is to orbit you; and when you marry and have kids, your wife is in your gravity well, rather than you in hers, and your kids are in turn orbiting this binary system.

Wesley is the opposite of this. He has at least dimly realized that orbiting another man, as a woman would, is not on the table for him, after his failed “friendship” with Spencer. But rather than grow up into a man, he has tried to deal with his intense effeminacy by orbiting other binary systems instead. He desperately clings to them in the hope that he can share in their identity. It’s easy to despise this, because it really is detestable, but at the same time he needs mercy. Sadly, he is instead getting enablement from these families.

3. Obliviousness

Despite plainly describing his friendship with Spencer as an unrequited romantic relationship ending in a breakup, Wesley can’t bring himself to the obvious conclusion that there was something really wrong with this. He admits that he can’t be in a relationship like that again, but rather than then acknowledging the biblical reasons why, he defers to it being unfair and unhealthy; he continues to seek healing of his brokenness in relationships with married couples, where it will be emotionally safer. Unfortunately, safety is not the issue.

4. Father starvation

In this vein, it’s hard to tell whether he is more like an adoptive child in arrested development, or more like someone who is pursuing non-sexual polyamory. I suspect a little of both. At the very end, he openly admits that the love he entertains for these couples is analagous to the obviously degrading passions he felt for Spencer (Rom. 1:26). At the same time, his almost obsessive pride in being a godfather shows how desperately he hungers for real fatherhood.

This in itself is telling, since effeminacy seems to be strongly correlated with father failure, and of course the only true solution to it is the fatherhood of God. Wesley, I’m afraid, would rather be a pretend husband in these families than pursue real fatherhood; and while he tries to pass it off as healthy and beautiful and—of all things—sacramental, it is obviously perverse.

5. False approval

It is a sad testament to the state of the assembly that this is not only tolerated and enabled within his own congregation, but has found a wide audience in larger christendom. Rather than recognizing an obviously needy, damaged man with a shameful problem, needing biblically-grounded pastoral care and firm admonition to save his soul from hell, people are falling over themselves to publish the equivalent of Dr. Phil letters and praise his virtue and insight.

6. Assimilation into the world

The fact that the praise heaped on Wesley and his ilk is indistinguishable from that heaped on sodomites by the world at large shouldn’t be terribly surprising. This is depravity in Christian trappings. What is striking is how flimsy the trappings have become. The influence of secular language on Wesley’s writing is conspicuous. He has a “spiritual director” rather, apparently, than a pastor. He talks about “flourishing”—a term of art in utilitarian ethics—as the end of biblical morality, rather than holiness or sanctification. He refuses to use biblical language for his feelings, because obviously that language would condemn them as “degrading passions” and “contrary to nature”—so he chooses rather the positive term “gay.”

Along the same lines, I’ve seen a lot of Revoice apologists recently condemning faithful Christians for taking exception to certain terms, like “sexual orientation.” It can hardly be a coincidence that the same people adopting the language of the world are the ones condemning us for quarreling over words.

7. Denial of creation distinctions

I’ll finish with a broader observation about the general confusion inherent in Wesley, and people like him. Their views, and events like Revoice to celebrate them—are a natural fruit of an existing evangelical theology: namely, the well-established agreement that gender roles are not part of the created order. They are, rather, divinely-imposed exceptions to a general androgyny, which are restricted to the home and church. [ G. Shane Morris, Rules Without Reasons: Why the Culture Is Eating Evangelicals for Lunch (June 2018).]

The logic is straightforward and reasonable: since men and women are generally interchangeable, with only very specific roles being explicitly prohibited by Scripture, then it follows that there’s nothing inappropriate about treating a man as your helpmeet, provided you avoid violating the specific prohibitions on marriage and sex.

If there is no creation principle to say e.g. that being a fireman is a man’s job, then there is no creation principle to say that being a helpmeet is a woman’s job.

The fact that even quite radically feminized evangelicals are able to spot the problem with Revoice suggests that this is a critical time for pushing back against their broader understanding of gender roles. It will either go one way or the other: either they will recognize their inconsistency and turn to a more robust understanding of God’s design for sexuality, or they won’t, and lacking any principle to stand on they’ll slip into approval for spiritual friendship as much as for all the other gender-bending they already affirm.

 28 comments

The Other James

While I think Mr Hill’s dysfunctional level of neediness is plain to many of us, your tone is a bit uncharitable as well.

Most of us have experienced periods in our life where we feel insufficient and needy in ourselves. Even when we grow out of these phases, there will be times where that longing and need still arises. I don’t see where this weakness need imply that one’s soul is in imminent danger.

Further, there is Biblical precedent for suggesting that strong male friendships and even intellectual/emotional intimacy are valid expressions of agape love. (David and Jonathan being the prime example.)

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

The problem is Hill’s unrepentant effeminacy, which he is crowning as sacramental and teaching other men to emulate. So your concern about my tone just comes across like you’re worried that I’m being mean to the wolves.

Brian

I agree with The Other James. Your article is completely uncharitable, I’ll add nauseatingly condescending, and on top of that inaccurate.
Mr. Hill is a man with homosexual desires, who (in the face of today’s culture!) is abstaining from them, and determined to live chastely/celibately, because he clearly understands that is what God demands of him. Right there I want to give him a standing ovation because I’ve never done anything that difficult in my life. On top of that, he goes the next step… he opens up about how he recognized that his intimate friendship really was serving as a surrogate for his romantic desires for men. So he stopped pursuing those too!
Again, this is a man who is open to God’s call. Constantly monitoring his thoughts, desires, and actions, in the hopes of conforming them to God’s will.
He self-admittedly has a deep longing for human relationship (as so many of us do), and is satisfying that in a way he feels is in accordance with God’s law. I have no problem with him forming close friendships with married couples to satisfy his need for human connection in a way that, for him, “avoids the near occasion of sin”. Does he go too far in living with a married couple as a pseudo third parent to their child (basically a Full House type uncle)? Yes. I think that’s very “unhealthy” (sorry, I know you hate that word) for everyone involved, most importantly the child. And you should certainly say that, but you can do that “with gentleness and respect”, as he’s given no indication that he’s unwilling to listen.
But instead you mock him. You “tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but… are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” You photoshop his face on a girl scribbling into her diary. Bravo, tough guy.

Finally, you say – “He has a “spiritual director” rather, apparently, than a pastor.” Yeah, who in the world would ever have a “spiritual director”? http://priestlyformation.org/programs/seminar-for-seminary-spiritual-directors.html

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

Mr. Hill is a man with homosexual desires, who (in the face of today’s culture!) is abstaining from them, and determined to live chastely/celibately, because he clearly understands that is what God demands of him.

False. As I have already documented, Hill is at best confused and at worst in open denial about the depraved and defiling nature of his desires.

I’ve never done anything that difficult in my life.

Shocking.

On top of that, he goes the next step… he opens up about how he recognized that his intimate friendship really was serving as a surrogate for his romantic desires for men.

Whereas Paul says that it is shameful to even speak about the things these people do in private, you are praising Hill for making them public.

So he stopped pursuing those too!

No he didn’t; he merely redirected them. Did you read the article? He plainly has no sense of the root of the problem with his relationship with Spencer, and after reluctantly pruning the putrid fruit off the stem, is continuing to water it in different soil.

Again, this is a man who is open to God’s call.

You are the blind defending the blind, unable to discern the difference between openness to God’s call, and lip-service to it.

Constantly monitoring his thoughts, desires, and actions, in the hopes of conforming them to God’s will.

Much like the Pharisees.

He self-admittedly has a deep longing for human relationship (as so many of us do), and is satisfying that in a way he feels is in accordance with God’s law.

How he feels is irrelevant to whether he actually is in accordance with God’s law. That is the problem. He is not—not even close. Like most people today, you have elevated feelings above reality.

And you should certainly say that, but you can do that “with gentleness and respect”, as he’s given no indication that he’s unwilling to listen.

Actually everyone involved in Revoice have repeatedly shown that they are unwilling to listen. They are only interested in “having a conversation” when everyone already agrees with them. You just haven’t been keeping up with the state of play. That’s fine, but you don’t get to then come pretending that you have, and that I’m the one being unreasonable. The Bible says absolutely nothing about being gentle and respectful with false teachers. It says the other thing.

Yeah, who in the world would ever have a “spiritual director”? http://priestlyformation.org/programs/seminar-for-seminary-spiritual-directors.html

Linking me to training in a role invented by an apostate church doesn’t quite underwrite your sarcasm in the way you seem to think it does.

Tom

How would you counsel him/other Christians with unwanted homosexual desires? What would godly living in that situation look like, in your understanding?

David Anderson

The commentors saying that Bnonn’s content is good, but his tone mean, are showing how far the effeminacy rot has got. Important truths of the hour are not meant to be said limply and accompanied by 100 caveats. They are meant to be said forthrightly and unapologetically.

Brian

David – you’re misrepresenting our point. I agree we should be unapologetically firm. That’s different from needless mockery like posting a guy’s face on a picture of a little girl. There’s a difference between limpness and caveats compared to gentleness and charity where it is called for.
Forthrightly and unapologetically is correct, but Sumpter in the link below is a better example of how thats done-
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2018/july/lsquo-cancel-the-conference-rsquo-podcast-hosts-confront-pastor-on-controversial-christian-lgbt-lsquo-revoice-rsquo-event%3famp
(and again, my criticism wasnt just of his tone but of his uncharitable and inaccurate description of Smith’s article overall)

Rolo Baez

Bnonn,
I have to agree with everyone else’s criticism that your article is extremely uncharitable. Wesley Hill didn’t ask for his same sex attractions, his effeminacy, or whatever other faults he has. Some people really do get a crappy hand in life, and have to make the best they can of it within God’s laws. As it stands, Wesley is doing nothing sinful in trying to find whatever source of intimacy he can while denying his longing for a male companion. Yes, ideally he would be a normal male with normal opposite-sex attractions, but as it stands that’s not how God made him.

David Anderson

Rolo Baez, you write as if Dominic hunted Wesley down in his private home, and started attacking him.

In reality, Wesley decided to write a book and distribute it to the world, spreading his ideas, seeking to be a teacher of the church. That makes him fair game for a robust response, especially if his ideas are wrong and dangerous to the church of Christ. If Wesley’s such a wilting flower that he can’t take robust public criticism, then he shouldn’t be publishing.

Rolo Baez

David Anderson,
The only one being a touchy wilting flower is you. I simply said, Bnonn’s criticism was extremely uncharitable. If you think saying that is the equivalent of writing as if, “Dominic hunted Wesley down in his private home, and started attacking him,” then maybe you need to get back into the kitchen while the men talk.
In the article cited, Wesley wrote about his experiences and struggles. He offered minimal prescriptive norms. At times he even humbly admitted that he can be insufferable, jealous, etc. The fact of the matter is that people struggle and people aren’t perfect. Wesley is doing the best he can and writing about his experiences for others to share. For someone else who may be wrestling as well, that can be a huge encouragement.

David Anderson

Rolo, I now learn that your standards as to what counts as “charitable” discourse are quite flexible, depending chiefly upon the viewpoint being proffered. That’s revealing. Why are you downgrading Wesley from someone who’s trying to offer instruction to the church of Jesus Christ, down to just someone “trying to share” ? That’s also revealing. Your flexible standards reveal that it’s not “charity” you are concerned about, but to defend Wesley’s effeminate position, as a defensible doctrinal position. So why not drop the smokescreen and just defend that?

Sharkly

I’d just like to go on record as saying I think Bnonn was more charitable than I would have been.

Faggots disgust me. Effeminate men disgust me. I’m glad holy God also finds them to be an abomination and makes that clear in His word. We are never as Christians to condone or placate this sort of evil.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

If you lust for another man’s hairy ass, imagining you’ve found “love”, you need to get your brain scrubbed, not spread your insane depravity.

God didn’t say faggots needed a gentler tone, He said they needed to be put to death. Amen! When Jesus returns righteousness to our world, they will be again. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Rolo Baez

Wow Sharkly Wow. I totally agree with you. I think we should just kill all effeminate men and masculine women. Leviticus Style!

Rolo Baez

I mean how dare these people through zero fault of their own be overly effeminate or masculine. Since the Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to be working on them we should just kill them.

Sharkly

Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
… 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

It isn’t that the Holy Spirit isn’t working. Don’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has left the abominably besmirched and profaned “temple” that was created to be the image of God, and has been abused by faggotry’s pollution, and turned them over to a depraved mind. And don’t believe the lie that God’s judgement ensnares the faultless. They choose their perversion and chose to incur God’s wrath. This isn’t about how much hair grows on a person’s upper lip, effeminacy is a choice to refuse your God given chromosomal sex and willfully and blasphemously effeminize the image of God our Father.

Rolo Baez

We know from consistent, reliable scientific study that what makes people effeminate or masculine isn’t due to choice, but due to a variety of biological factors such as the pre-natal environment and genetics. Considering that most gender atypical people get harassed by people like you it doesn’t make sense that they would do it by choice. People are what they are.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

Actually we know the opposite. Stop peddling discredited leftist myths. Plenty of twin studies have demonstrated the falsehood of the genetic theory. Moreover, even if it were true, it would be irrelevant. I didn’t choose to be attracted to women, yet Jesus says I commit adultery in my heart every time I look at one with lustful intent. In the same way, sodomites defile themselves every time they experience degrading passions toward another man, whether they chose to experience them or not.

Rolo Baez

I specifically stated in the comment you’re addressing that we know a variety of biological factors influence gender expression. I did not say genetics is the only factor. In fact, if you knew anything about genetics you’d know virtually no human trait is either entirely genetic or entirely unaffected by genetics. That said, I reiterate that I did say a variety of biological factors influence gender expression, and these are supported by rigorous, replicable studies. Your claim that I’m peddling discredited leftist myths is thus completely wrong and inappropriate.
While it is true that the etiology of effeminancy is unrelated to the morality of it, that was not the issue I was at odds with in my discussion with Sharkly. The issue at hand is how we should treat people who are effeminate. Sharkly expressed extreme hatred and disgust at people who are effeminate. What is even more reprehensible, he seemed to suggest killing them was the best and biblically preferred option. My discussion with Sharkly was mainly over how we should treat people who are effeminate not on whether effeminancy was moral. Regardless of whether or not effeminancy is moral, I and many other do not think it is productive to kill them or basically unleash the gestapo on them. This is a way of handling the issue that is extremely destructive and unproductive.
Sharkly, like you, also made radically incorrect statements about the etiology of effeminancy which I attempted to correct. Sharkly said effeminancy was a choice, but there is very little evidence that is the case. You and Sharkly seem to be seriously ignorant regarding the truth about what causes gender expression. Linked below is an article by one of the leading figures on sex research and his discussion of gender.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sexual-personalities/201605/sex-and-gender-are-dials-not-switches

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

I’m sure Psychology Today is an impartial and unbiased source with no stake in promoting the religion of sodomy.

How we deal with effeminacy is a different question from how we deal with sodomy. Sodomy is clearly condemned in Scripture as a capital crime. However, effeminacy is an internal attitude over which the civil magistrate has no authority; it is not to be punished, but repented of.

Rolo Baez

David P. Schmitt is a highly respected figure in the scientific community when it comes to the study of Sex and Gender. He is far more qualified to pontificate on these issues than you are. Your disparagement of him is baseless and deeply inappropriate.
A lot of things are condemned as capital punishments in the Old Testament. We are living in the days of the New Testament so we do not need to resort to executions or brutality in order to deal with either effeminacy or homosexuality. Sharkly clearly insinsutated that the proper Christian way to deal with effeminancy and homosexuality was to use brute force including putting these people to death. This is a very dangerous mindset and one that Jesus did not advocate for Christians. Sharkly’s comments were profoundly reprehensible and that is what I was responding to.

Rolo Baez

The New Testament itself explicitly discontinues certain aspects of the Old Testament Law. This is not an issue of us disagreeing. It is an issue of you being gross uninformed about both the Scriptures and the science of human sexuality and gender for that matter.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

I’m so fortunate to have a modern-day prophet like yourself to help me out personally. I’d never heard that the New Testament abrogates the Mosaic covenant!

Rolo Baez

The fact of the matter is that in the New Testament era certain aspects of the Old Testament Law are no longer relevant. For example, all the laws related to the temple are obsolete, because we don’t have a temple or at least one in the traditional Old Testament sense of the word. This is a fact. Your snarky remarks do not change that. Nor do they justify your earlier statements or Sharkly’s for that matter.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

Rolo, you’re so desperate to be right that you’ll shadow-box with an imaginary opponent rather than step back and ask what I actually believe, and what the reasons are. I have no interest in a discussion with such a person. Go away.