One correspondent has found the red pill to be rather like the scroll in Revelation 10:10. He writes a long and heartfelt email, which I shall not paste in full, but will quote from extensively:
I was raised in a very effeminate, blue pill manner, which has led to much frustration and deep depression over the years regarding women. I’m 26 and yet never been on a date, and that’s not for lack of trying. But I recently read The Rational Male [ Rollo Tomassi, The Rational Male (CreateSpace, 2013).] (twice) and I would say I’ve swallowed the red pill. I see that many of my problems are my own fault, due to my misunderstanding how women work…
And to avoid any confusion, I do not believe, like some red-pilled men do, that women are the problem with the world and are only worth using for my sexual lusts. There is a lot to steer clear of in the red-pill community.
While recognizing that Rollo is not the best moral guide for Christians (which he acknowledges, RM 284), I think he does a good job describing what is, and how men and women do in fact work. I count myself among the many men that Rollo has saved from potential suicide. But I am currently struggling with “the bitter taste of the red pill,” only I am trying to work through this as a Christian.
My problem is this: Swallowing the red pill seems so much like embracing a God-less, Darwinian, dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest worldview. I’m a Christian, but I am struggling significantly to hold onto my faith. Practically speaking, I often operate with a deistic / agnostic mindset.
I don’t want this to be the case. I don’t actually believe in evolution. But I do feel like I’m just another animal in the jungle looking to attract a mate. Life seems like nothing but an extended nature documentary on the Discovery Channel. And there is even a sense in which the Bible says just as much — “I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts” (Eccl. 3:18).
I’ll return to the substance of this worry in a moment, but I want to start by nipping bad exegesis in the bud. If you read Ecclesiastes 3:16ff, it’s clear that the way in which we are but beasts is with regard to our mortality. “For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return” (Eccl. 3:19–20).
We need to be careful not to overextend this analogy to other aspects of beastiness, because doing so—especially in the context of the red pill—will rapidly diverge from biblical reality.
This nihilistic atmosphere is best seen in the Sexual Marketplace, which I take to be a cold, brutal fact of life. Take for example your average college-age group at your average Church. Almost all of these young Christians are praying for a spouse. But it’s the good-looking young men and women who coincidently see their prayers “answered” first. The not-so-good-looking young men and women coincidently have their prayers go “unanswered.” They are then consoled by other Christians who tell them “God is teaching you to wait,” or “God wants you to learn contentment.” There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but they only prove the rule.
I’ll offer a more systematic response in a moment, but I want to break in here first to make a preliminary, foundational observation that I won’t return to—even though it does deserve further development:
The nature of the sexual marketplace today is very different than throughout most of human history. In most cultures and times, it is not a cold, brutal fact of life in some winners-and-losers sense. Focusing on the United States, even thirty years ago it was extraordinarily uncommon for anyone to remain unmarried. Somehow, everyone seemed to find a spouse; by the age of 30 over 85% of people had married, and by the age of 45 over 95% had. [See Percentage of U.S. women never married, by age, 1980 & 2015.] Although the numbers do wax and wane through US history, the times when they were especially low were the result of war. But today, in the space of one peacetime generation, these numbers have changed dramatically: at age 30, over 40% of people are still unmarried; by age 45, they’ve just managed to catch up with the 30-year-olds of 1980. That’s a huge shift, but the fact that it has shifted should illustrate that it’s not pairing off per se which is the issue. Something else is going on.
What is that thing? Most simply, I think it is the teardown of the household.
It is not the teardown of marriage, as you will generally hear Christians lament. That is too reductionistic. If it were merely marriage which was under attack, Christianity would offer a more effective bulwark—but lots of Christians value marriage, yet marriage rates in the assembly are down and divorce rates are up.
Neither is it the teardown of the patriarch, as many red pill pundits say. If that were so, then the mere reinstatement of patriarchy would solve the problem—but it typically produces cultism instead.
Rather, the effects we’re seeing today are the result of the household itself suddenly collapsing after over a century of having its key structural elements progressively weakened and removed. Tearing down the household obviously does involve tearing down marriage and the patriarch at the same time, but it’s a mistake to conflate the struts with the structure. When we do that, we miss the forest for the trees. For instance, I believe this teardown began much longer ago than most people realize: it started with the rejection of biblical republicanism in favor of flat democracy, rather than with what we’d today think of as egalitarianism or liberalism or feminism. Once social order began to be determined entirely at the individual level, with each person exercising equal, autonomous “micro-rule” through their personal vote, everything we’re seeing today inevitably followed.
As I said, this deserves further development, but that will have to wait for another time. Keep it in mind, though, as we continue…
My point is that it seems this coincidence has nothing to do with God answering some prayers for a spouse while teaching others to “wait” or to “learn to be content”. Instead, it seems it has entirely to do with high SMV and low SMV. Be high SMV and your prayers for a spouse are more likely to coincidently get answered. Be low SMV and your prayers will coincidently go unanswered for a while, if not for life. (See what I mean by a deistic mentality? I don’t like it at all, but I’m just trying to best describe my concerns at this point.)
The problem with this view is that it’s blind to God’s role in the setup for the believer’s prayers. Essentially, you are lacking a doctrine of providence. Is God not involved in the world until we ask him to step in? Do some people just accidentally get born with the DNA for hotness, while others don’t—and then it’s up to them to mitigate their unlucky roll in the SMV lottery by asking God to miraculously make them attractive to someone?
Surely this is an absurd view of the world. The dichotomy you suggest doesn’t exist; it’s not that either the law of nature and the rule of averages guide events, or God does. God created everyone with specific plans for their lives. So if he created some people to endure singleness, one obvious means that he would employ to bring about that singleness would be low SMV. And if he created others with the intention of quickly answering their prayers for marriage, one obvious means he would use to bring about that answer would be creating them with high SMV.
The problem with your objection is that while you recognize that God typically doesn’t answer prayer miraculously, you’re blind to the extent of his working through ordinary means. The fact that God doesn’t typically overturn the rules of the world when answering prayer is not a reason to think he is seldom present; it is a reason to think that he is always present, because he is working through those rules. They’re his rules, after all.
To take an analogy, if I’m unemployed and want to find a job, I should certainly pray for one. But although God can just drop one in my lap—I get a phone call the next day offering me a hundred grand a year to test video games—why should I expect that? Should I not rather expect that if I invest time in developing my skills and applying for jobs, God will honor that by opening an opportunity for me?
God’s working through ordinary means can certainly look indistinguishable from his not working at all. Hence it’s a “coincidence” when he rewards those who use those means to achieve the things they want. But for this view of the world to hold up, we have to assume his non-action to begin with: that things would have happened the same way regardless of whether we had prayed or not. Not only can we not possibly know that, and not only is this question-begging in favor of atheism, but we can have confidence that it is false because Jesus assures us so (e.g. Mt 6).
If I may, your response to the red pill on this point is quite dangerous because it exactly mimics the atheist mindset. I think you recognize this, which is why you are so troubled. Fundamentally, you don’t like how the sexual marketplace works, and you’re pissed that God organized things this way. The natural, fleshly response at this point, which I’ve seen countless times, is to then throw sand all over God’s existence or goodness—either way the effect is the same, ending in faithlessness. That’s basically what happened in Eden, and it’s basically what’s been happening ever since.
You can’t deal with this by distancing God from the situation or from yourself. The only way to deal with it as a Christian is to double down on God’s involvement and submit yourself to it. The situation you’re in is his own design to begin with, and he put you here to learn how to live as a man in the world he made. Just as he isn’t going to drop a job in a bum’s lap, since it would defeat the purpose of him developing the skills and endurance and character God wants, so he isn’t going to drop a woman in most men’s laps, for the same reason.
Basically, if I may borrow some ’tude from Jordan Peterson, stop blaming God for your problems and go tidy your room bucko. Women are aroused by a command presence, and attracted by virtue—so develop your command over your world and yourself, and start spending time in places where women can see it.
Here’s an extreme, concrete example. A few days ago I met a girl with a severe facial birth-defect (right side of jaw completely missing, deformed teeth, right ear completely missing). My heart breaks for this girl because I know that it does not matter how much she prays. It does not matter how much she reads her Bible or trusts God to provide a spouse. The cold, harsh, brutal reality is that this girl will likely never get married. She will stand by and watch her girlfriends get married while she is left out. Again, there are exceptions to this general rule, but they only prove the rule.
Right, so what this girl is praying for is something more akin to a miracle; even if she does everything in her power to increase her attractiveness to men, she may still need God to overturn the natural rules of attraction for her. There’s nothing wrong with that, but of course the expectations have to be adjusted accordingly—similar to someone born quadriplegic praying to be able-bodied. God can do that. But it’d be setting oneself up for disappointment to suppose that he will do it every time. Often the reason he creates someone disabled is not to answer prayers for healing, but to produce character (cf. Rom 5:3–5).
But this brings us to another thing you seem to be lacking an awareness of: the history of redemption! Obviously this is nonexistent in the red pill literature, which entirely presupposes evolutionary psychology; we’re just animals competing with other animals to pass on our genes before we perish, in a purposeless and uncaring world.
This is not reality, however. To take proper stock of the intersexual facts highlighted by the red pill, we need to be able to distinguish between the world that was, the world that is, and the world that will be. We need to be able to infer distinctions between God’s original very good design, and the ways in which it has been corrupted by sin—and what God is doing about it.
To take an example, hypergamy is surely a natural and good part of women’s design. I’ve seen plenty of Christians try to either make it neutral, or even a result of sin, but it seems self-evidently designed to seek the highest good available. However, hypergamy was created to work in a finely-tuned system where it was balanced by masculine command. Absent that command, and subjected to sin, the depravity of women’s nature leads them to “monkey-branch,” never being content or satisfied with their current lot, but always seeking better.
In the same way, men’s powerful and visually-stimulated libido is surely a natural and good part of their design. Once again, you’ll find plenty of Christians convinced that it’s a result of the fall, but it seems self-evidently designed to take delight in the beauty of God’s design (cf. Song of Solomon). However, it too was created to work in a state of righteousness, where man’s command over his own body was unimpaired by his rejection of God’s command over him. Absent the onetogetherness with God availed by inherent virtue, onetogetherness with a single woman tends to seem less desirable than the lusts of the flesh, and so men accumulate harems.
These are “cold, brutal” realities because the fall is a cold, brutal reality, and sin is a cold, brutal reality. But they are cold and brutal precisely because they are debasements of something that was originally very good.
More importantly, these are not cold, brutal realities that God has left us at the mercy of. He has given us his own son, in the likeness of man, to condemn sin in the flesh, and to redeem and restore that flesh through the indwelling of the Spirit, slavery to righteousness, and the awaited resurrection. Your complaint echoes Romans 7:24—“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”—except that you have forgotten the answer! “Thanks be to God through Jesus Anointed our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
Even though our human natures are still under corruption, we serve the law of God, and more than that, we preach the gospel of God for the obedience of the nations, so that every knee should bow, and the knowledge of God would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
And for these reasons I find it very hard, almost impossible, to get down on my knees and pray for a spouse as I have for the past 8 years straight, day after day. I have a tough time believing that God is in the business of match-making. To be clear, it’s not that I think I personally will never get a spouse. I consider myself an average looking guy with average social skills and an average career. So I’m not hopeless. I will probably be able to get married at some point. My issue is that I have a tough time believing God is part of the process. Instead it’s up to me to improve my SMV or sign up for eHarmony.
I’m not being snarky, but I will speak straightforwardly: I have a tough time understanding the dichotomy, as if God never gave you your SMV in the first place, or ways to increase it, or saw eHarmony coming as a competitor to his role. Presumably you agree with the following scriptural statements:
- God orders all things together for the good of his children (Rom 8:28);
- God is in complete control of people’s hearts (Gen 39:21; Pr 21:1; Acts 7:9–10; Dan 1:9 etc).
But these basically function as premises leading to the inevitable conclusion that if you’re God’s son, he is involved in the process of match-making for you—if indeed marriage is what is best for your life. I trust you can follow the logic without me needing to lay it out syllogistically.
So I find myself in a strange position. Having recently read through much of Rollo Tomassi and Jordan Peterson, I have made significant improvements in my life. I have grown more in the past 6 months than in the last 10 years of my life, mostly thanks to agnostics, and often in spite of Christians. I have hit the gym and gotten in shape (in spite of Christians telling me not to be so concerned with getting in shape). I’ve started dressing better and received compliments from women. I’ve become much more social, making eye contact, staying out of my head. I’ve made big changes toward a better career. By all accounts I have increased my SMV and have an optimistic future.
But spiritually, I am completely empty and alienated from God. I have no foundation to stand on even as I improve myself. It is very disheartening since I truly believe I have sought to honor God throughout my life.
I don’t know you, so maybe this is unfair, but I think you need to seriously ask yourself why your faith in God seems to be so indistinguishable from your faith in a certain way of relating to women. It seems like you’ve turned feminism into a proxy for God, so that when one collapsed, the other followed. There’s a word for that, but it’s not a very nice word. Begins with g and ends in olatry.
Perhaps a kinder way of saying this is that in the process of unplugging, you missed a spot. You’re still expecting a woman to complete your life, rather than God. In one sense, that’s completely scriptural; it is not good for the man to be alone. But to take an analogy, you’re Adam after naming the animals, falling into despair and trying to scoop some dirt into the shape of a woman. Making a clay sculpture is no substitute for trusting God.
Anyway, in the words of the inestimable AD Robles, I hope this helps, and God bless.