Bnonn Tennant (the B is silent)

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Was Jesus an alpha male? Part 2: command

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11 minutes to read To properly understand intersexual dynamics, we need to ground them in human nature—which is fundamentally the image of God. This image consists in two related elements which are both encompassed by the term command.

Taking the obvious Revelation 1:8 joke as given, I have established that speaking of alpha and beta is—at best—unhelpful for recovering a Christian understanding of masculinity. Jesus was not alpha, nor beta, nor for that matter omega—because these terms don’t have clear, true meanings within the Christian worldview.

Nonetheless, I believe these terms serve a useful purpose, and so we should seek to find replacements that do have clear, true meanings. One such useful purpose that I find myself gravitating toward is for analyzing the actions of characters in movies and television. It is helpful to have a shorthand way of testing and describing what characters do, to assess whether they are being portrayed in biblically commendable ways, or in ways that we are supposed to find commendable but are in fact at odds with God’s design. It is easy to do this with respect to straightforwardly moral actions—the Bible equips us with a robust system of ethics to say, “That is right, that is wrong; that is good, that is evil.” These verbal shortcuts are “hooks” that we use to connect to the broader gamut of internalized biblical teaching. We need something similar for detecting gender-bending—the Bible equips us with the information we need to say, “That is masculine, that is effeminate; that is feminine, that is butch.” We need to take what it teaches and internalize it, and then build the verbal shortcuts to hook back in.

For example, it’s exceedingly common for an otherwise dominant character to become deferent and submissive when interacting with his girlfriend. Perhaps the most egregious illustration in 2017 cinema is the recently-resurrected Superman going from a stance of vengeful head-crusher to obedient puppy the moment Lois steps into the scene. [If you want to open the clip in a new tab rather than playing the embedded video below, see Superman vs Justice League on YouTube. Try to look past the comically appalling airbrushing of Henry Cavill’s mustache.] It’s convenient and relatively accurate to label this as beta supplication with a hefty side of oneitis.

Similarly, it’s helpful to be able to analyze the nice-guy-goes-mad-with-power trope (e.g. American Beauty, Breaking Bad, Fargo season 1) in terms of a beta provider discovering his inner alpha. It gives us a vocabulary to at least reframe, and perhaps more critically consider, the imposed narrative of toxic masculinity. Since alpha is a theoretically positive term, we are perhaps more inclined to realize that it is not the traits the character is discovering that are toxic per se, but rather his lack of moral conviction. Lester, Lester and Walter were not beta because they were nice guys; they were nice guys because they were beta. Strip that away, empower them to do whatever they want, and you discover that what they want is sin—which is actually a much more realistic and compelling narrative than the one Hollywood thought it was telling.

This framework also helps us understand why we feel that these characters are in some sense heroes, despite being so wicked: it is because although we are wired to admire virtue and despise sin, we are also wired to admire masculinity and despise effeminacy. These men, as they became worse sinners, simultaneously became more masculine, resulting in a paradox of admiration for the viewer.

Here, however, we see a good illustration of my contention that the alpha/beta dichotomy is functionally useless for understanding biblical masculinity. As I’ve observed, every man—and if Dalrock is to be believed, also every woman—wants intuitively to say that alpha = manly = good.

But here we have characters who become more manly, and yet also more evil because of it (or possibly vice versa; the dynamic is complex).

Thinking in terms of alpha and beta here simply produces moral and teleological confusion. It leaves us vulnerable not only to being conditioned wrongly by media, but also to becoming inured with regard to the contemptuous and abusive view of women typical in the manosphere.

The moment one criticizes red pill attitudes to women, one invites allegations of white knighting—trying to defend women’s inherent honor, and decrying their objectification. On the contrary, I think the Bible models proper objectification of women by marking them as assets (Exodus 20:17; 21:7 etc); and I don’t think any woman is worthy of respect just for being a woman. But I also don’t think any man is worthy of respect just for being a man—yet both are made as representations of God, and both are thus worthy of honor for being human, even if their lives in every way should be condemned for repudiating God’s image. Feminist women and red pill men have both adopted contemptuous and abusive views of the opposite sex, because they have adopted contemptuous and abusive views of God and his image. Both must therefore be called to repentance.

Moreover, as Dalrock pointed out in the comments for my last post, it is not just the manosphere that propagates the view that alpha = virtue. This is the standard line inadvertently championed by complementarians like Albert Mohler and Matt Chandler, who—despite thinking that it is actually beta traits that arouse women—teach that a wife’s desire for her husband reflects his virtue.

All this preamble to say: we need a vocabulary for the concepts that terms like alpha and beta are trying to describe. In this post I’ll sketch the basis of my preferred vocabulary, explaining it from Scripture. In the next, I’ll develop it further and synthesize it into a conceptual framework for thinking about masculinity and femininity in constructively Christian ways.


I propose that command should be our primary term for building an understanding of Christian intersexual dynamics, and especially of Christian masculinity. This is because men and women are both made in the image of God, and the image of God is dominion; representative rulership (Genesis 1:26–28). This is the headwater from which flow ideas like alphaness, and the related concept of frame. [ Rollo Tomassi, Frame on The Rational Male (October 2011).]

In Genesis 1:1–25, God models what it is to have dominion. He fundamentally does two things during the creative process:

  1. He orders the world, imposing his will upon it to organize and govern it. Put succinctly, he has an external command over
    the world to structure and control it.
  2. He judges the world, repeatedly assessing it and pronouncing it good and fitting for his purpose. Put succinctly, he has an internal command of the world, apprehending its nature and comparing it with the wisdomous ideal (cf. Proverbs 3:19).

These two distinct but related elements are jointly crucial to understanding our own natures as imagers of God. This will become clear as I explain further. It is why I propose the term command, rather than another like dominion or rule. Command contains within its meaning both the sense of control, and of right judgment—a command over, and a command of.

1. A command over

Though the Lord Jesus humbled himself to become a servant, he remained the Lord at all times; his command over his world was without question, and the gospels at times take pains to illustrate this. John, for instance, records Jesus’ categorical declaration that he laid down his life of his own volition; no one took it from him, nor could they (John 10:18; cf. Matthew 26:53).

Indeed, Steve Hays has recently drawn attention to the oft-overlooked fact that John describes the Pharisees enlisting a Roman cohort—σπεῖρα, 600 infantry—to arrest Jesus (John 18:3). [ Steve Hays quoting J. R. Michaels, The Gospel of John (Eerdmans 2010), 887–895, The theophanic Jesus on Triablogue (March 2018).] Despite the overwhelming force backing them up, when Jesus tells them, “I am he” (cf. Deuteronomy 32:39 LXX), the Greek reads that they literally “retreated to the back and fell to the ground.”

It is this command over the world that God creates man to carry into creation on his behalf. As Yahweh had begun ordering and governing the world, so Adam was to complete the project, expanding the sanctuary of the garden until all the earth was transformed into sacred space. [For a good primer on this, see Michael S. Heiser, Thinking Like an Israelite 2: Sacred Space and Sacrifice on YouTube. Mike speaks pretty slowly so the 1.5× playback feature is helpful.]

In Genesis 2, God forms Adam first to represent him in creation. Then, exercising his command of reality, he judges that it is unfitting for Adam to do this alone. Thus he creates Eve to meet Adam’s need of a helper (Genesis 2:18, 20)—and implicitly of a mate to make him fruitful and multiplicatious (Genesis 1:28; 2:24).

Paul makes much of this chronology in regards to the command structure of marriage in 1 Timothy 2:10–13 and 1 Corinthians 11:7–9. In the latter, he observes that man is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man (v. 7). It is not that woman is not the image of God; rather, because this image is representative rule, and because God created man to bear this rule with woman subordinate to him, it is man who mediates it to her. As the man is the crown of God (cf. Isaiah 62:3; Psalm 8:5)—the representation of his majesty—so the woman is the crown of man (cf. Proverbs 12:4). She is made to have command over the world, but she is made to do so on behalf of man. Her command is designed to be subordinate to man’s. This simple fact accounts for a great deal of the success or failure of inter-gender dynamics, as we will see.

2. A command of

The capacity for right judgment is inherent in rulership; that is why the original rulers of Israel were called judges. As Genesis 1 shows us, there’s a kind of virtuous cyle between rightly judging reality and rightly ordering it. Having a firm command of one’s world is prerequisite to having a firm command over one’s world (Proverbs 24:3–6 is perhaps a paradigm example). Pharaoh understood this well (Genesis 41:38–41), as did Solomon (1 Kings 3:8–9)—having command of reality, coupled with command over reality, produced what these days we’d call “positive outcomes”—success, prosperity, shalom not just on a personal level, but an international one (Genesis 41:53–57; 1 Kings 4:34; 10 etc). For a good feminine parallel, consider the comparison between Nabal and Abigail in 1 Samuel 25.

Of course, the converse is also true: having a faulty command of one’s world produces an inability to exercise command over it. This is basically the entire theme of Proverbs, so it’s hard to pick a single passage to illustrate the point; but see especially Proverbs 11:14.

It is in this command of that the red pill is paradoxically both strongest and weakest.

It is strongest because it infers its understanding of sexual psychology and motivation not from theory, but from raw behavioral data. In that regard—and I say this with full cognizance—it moves us closer to imitating Jesus’ perfected command of reality: specifically, his knowledge of what is in man (John 2:25). It does this by recognizing that the only way for us to have a firm command of human sexual psychology is by aggregating and assessing human sexual behavior. In biblical parlance, we can only know man’s heart by assessing his works. If a tree claims to produce figs, but it’s covered in thorns, it is a thornbush—protestations notwithstanding. In this respect, red pill men are, in fact, seeking to judge not according to appearances, but with right judgment (John 7:24). [To better understand this, I recommend Rollo Tomassi, The Medium is the Message on The Rational Male (September 2011).]

However, this is only one side of the coin. On the other, the red pill is weakest, because in the parlance of Scripture, to have a good command of the world is to have wisdom. But wisdom does not merely consist in accurately recognizing what is; it ultimately consists in recognizing what ought to be. When we exercise command over our world, it is either to narrow the gap between what is and what ought to be, or to keep the gap closed if we have already achieved parity.

It was this wisdom that Pharaoh sought. It was through wisdom that Solomon’s rule was great. In both examples, the origin of this wisdom is explicit: it is God. Proverbs 8:12–21 summarizes the point well:

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
      and I find knowledge and discretion.
The fear of Yahweh is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
      and perverted speech I hate.
I have counsel and sound wisdom;
      I have insight; I have strength.
By me kings reign,
      and rulers decree what is just;
by me princes rule,
      and nobles, all who govern justly.
I love those who love me,
      and those who seek me diligently find me.
Riches and honor are with me,
      enduring wealth and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
      and my yield than choice silver.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
      in the paths of justice,
granting an inheritance to those who love me,
      and filling their treasuries. Proverbs 8:12–21

The problem here, of course, is that if you spend just 30 seconds reading nearly any red pill comment thread, you will effortlessly discern pride, arrogance, the way of evil, and perverted speech—all those things wisdom hates. There is no fear of Yahweh here—but if the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), and wisdom is what a command of the world consists in, then what genuine command of the world can be offered by a red pill sans Scripture? Accurately discerning what is will certainly empower men to make up the difference with what ought to be—but how shall they decide what ought to be? The manosphere is an excellent illustration of how there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 14:12), and that the anger of man cannot produce the righteousness that God requires (James 1:21)—no matter how justified it may be at the chaos and pain caused by feminism.

Ironically, while sphere pundits rightly mock the naïve sentimentality of the Hollywood/Hallmark “follow your heart” [See Feral love on Dalrock (December 2012).] and “just be yourself” [See Rollo Tomassi, Just Be Yourself on The Rational Male (January 2012).] narratives that empower women and debilitate men, they are blind to the fact that they’re producing a mirror image. They trust in their own hearts, rather than walking in wisdom (cf. Proverbs 28:26).

You’ll notice I frequently reference Rollo Tomassi’s blog, the Rational Male—yet Rollo exemplifies the problem I’m describing. He has done a good job of living up to his title and producing a rational command of the world; unfortunately, he actively resists making any kind of normative comment on red pill realities, and thus has failed entirely to achieve a moral command of the world. He explains with great clarity what is, but refuses to conform it to what ought to be. Thus, although he himself is by all accounts faithfully married, his work becomes a fulcrum around which all kinds of debauchery turns.

Indeed, it’s hard to overstate the irony of how Proverbs, a book about achieving command over one’s world by gaining command of it, repeatedly personifies the abandonment of this goal as the pursuit of seductive women—the very thing the manosphere is so thoroughly consumed with. If we are to develop a Christian framework for intersexual dynamics, we must heed the warning of Paul:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Without the restraining force of God’s law, red pill truths simply empower men to pursue their own sexual strategy—aka lust—at the expense of women. There may be a certain self-righteous satisfaction in turning the tables on feminism, through which women have so successfully pursued their sexual strategy at the expense of men. But there is no actual righteousness to be had. A society that despises the image of God enough to sic the genders on each other is free-falling into the pit of hell. Will it make any difference who is on top when they hit the bottom?


Daniel Gutfeld

“For a good primer on this, see Michael S. Heiser, Thinking Like an Israelite 2: Sacred Space and Sacrifice on YouTube. Mike speaks pretty slowly so the 1.5× playback feature is helpful.“

I completely agree, not just with Dr. Heiser, but also the 1.5x comment haha!


>we are wired to admire virtue and despise sin
Admire virtue, yes; despise sin, no.


I hope you’re not done. I had begun to look forward to your posts. I found this one especially helpful, and am looking forward to its conclusion.


If you read from a non-gender-neutered Bible it appears that man(Adam) was created in God’s image. Women were just created by God, without mention of bearing God’s image.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:
4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:

Again God created Adam in his image, and created both male and female. Seth was also mentioned as being in Adam’s image, but the daughters were not mentioned to be in Adam’s image.

James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

And the woman is commanded to cover her head when she prays even though it is forbidden for men to do that specifically because they are in the image and glory of God. The way it reads to me, men are in the image of God, and we are repeatedly told so. Women however seem to be left out of that. Jesus (God) became flesh and dwelt among us. So what did God’s image look like? Well God got circumcised in Jerusalem on the eighth day. Jesus didn’t have a vagina. God seems all masculine to me. Father, Son, and the Spirit which impregnated Mary with a Son. Giving God’s Y chromosome!

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

Apparently men feminizing God’s image is enough of an abomination to keep the effeminate man out of the kingdom of God, while we are not told that masculine women are cast out for trying to take on the image of the man.

Ezekiel 8:2 speaks of “His loins” referring to God. And He’s got the fire down below!

I don’t see a single thing in the Bible that implies that women are in God’s image. Ariana Grande is blasphemous and wrong! Don’t join her error.

A society that despises the image of God enough to debase men while empowering usurping women above them is free-falling into the pit of hell. (fixed it for you) your red-pill truth of the day
Once you conceptualize that only men are in God’s image, so much more of the Bible and men and women’s relations makes sense. Try it. The truth will set you free. It brings so many once confusing things together like a unified field theory.
Praise be to our God, He is mighty to save!

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

That’s some wicked incompetent exegesis you got going there Sharkly. The very passages you cite directly refute your view.

Look at the thought sequence of Genesis 1:26–28: God determines to make “man” in his image. The term in Hebrew, as you have noted, is adam; but what you appear not to have grasped is that adam is not (necessarily) a proper noun. It is equivalent to English “man” as a generic neuter noun, and this is how it is frequently used throughout the narrative of Genesis. If you follow the Hebrew closely and notice the pronouns, the question of who has the image of God is absolutely clear:

And God said, “Let us make adam in/as our image and in/as our likeness, so as to rule over the fish … the birds … the cattle … over all the earth and every moving thing that moves on the earth.” So God created adam in/as his image, in/as the likeness of God of he created him/it, male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish … the birds … and over every animal that moves upon the earth.” Genesis 1:26–28

Who is to rule in this passage? The same ones who are made in God’s image—namely adam, man. Is this a singular noun with masculine denotation here? We can easily check by looking at who is given rule in this passage: it is both male and female; the text is explicit that God blessed them, and gave them rulership. So adam here must be a generic noun with a neuter denotation (i.e., “mankind”), rather than referring to Adam only. Therefore, both male and female are made in God’s image. The symmetry of the passage requires it.

By the same token, who is created in God’s image? It is adam, which is explicitly created “male and female.” You have to be completely blinded by misogynistic prejudice to not see this; it’s obvious in any translation.

Genesis 5:1–2 shows the same thing. Even in the English it plainly contradicts your claim, but in the Hebrew it’s even clearer. Literally:

This is the record of the generations of adam. In the day God created adam, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them, and he called their name adam when they were created. Genesis 5:1–2

When the passage switches to the plural form, the referent remains the same: adam. Both male and female are explicitly called “man” here, and said to be in the likeness of God. This is why many translations here render adam as “humankind.” Sometimes the “gender-neutered” translations aren’t actually a liberal conspiracy. Sometimes it’s conservative Bible-believing scholars trying to keep bad readers like yourself from drawing bad conclusions that are just a mirror image of feminism.

God made men and women to image his dominion in the world. It seems that both feminists and extreme patriarchalists tend to think of dominion in terms of “high-profile use cases” like rulership over society—and since the Bible denies this to women, they therefore see it as treating women like beasts of burden with no place for dominion.

But Eve is pointedly not a beast of burden (Gen 2:20), and rule is pointedly not confined to authority over others. In the first chapter of Genesis, God carefully shows us what exercising dominion looks like:

Exercising dominion is ordering the world rightly.

Rule is about establishing right order—and while biblically this is imposed through an authority hierarchy (e.g. 1 Cor 11:3), it is something that the man is not fitted to do alone (Gen 2:18). He needs a “helper opposite to him,” as the Hebrew puts it. This carries the connotation both of facing him as a reflection, but also of inversely corresponding to him; “helper” is ezer, meaning one who does for another what he cannot. Separately they are complete in themselves, but incomplete in their ability to image God’s dominion. Together, they supply what the other lacks, and perfect the other’s natural virtues, duties, and abilities, to bring right order to every sphere of life.


Didn’t Paul write something along the lines that man was made in god’s image, and that woman was made in man’s image? That’s how I thought it worked.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

Paul says that man is the image and glory of God, and woman is the glory of man. He notably omits the word image, presumably because he knows from Genesis that woman is also the image of God.

That said, even if we take his omission as a mere synecdoche, that’s not in contradiction to woman being the image of God, because as I noted in this article the image is mediated through man, because the image is dominion.


The term in Hebrew, as you have noted, is ‘adam’; but what you appear not to have grasped is that ‘adam’ is not (necessarily) a proper noun. It is equivalent to English “man” as a generic neuter noun, and this is how it is frequently used throughout the narrative of Genesis.

My reference material says Adam (120) is a Masculine Noun. And like the English “Mankind” it can also be used to denote all the men, as opposed to the word womankind. I see the word “Adam” as being a bit tricky, since it has multiple translations as you point out, and that is why I look to other aspects to get to the truth. God, four times says Adam was created in God’s image, and God twice says He created both male and female, without mentioning them being in His image. It seems to me God is making a distinction there in His language.

1 Corinthians 11:7 and the surrounding section of scripture is almost illogical and nonsensical(at least to me, in English) if both men and women are in the image of God.

You speculate that the image of God is “dominion”, and then you go drawing conclusions based off of your own speculation. I’d like to know what the “image of God” is, but I don’t see that we are ever told exactly what it is. Perhaps you have seen it explained somewhere? But men apparently have the image and glory of God, and should not cover their head when communing with God, as a result of that fact.

I’d like to know the truth. But saying certain masculine words are sexually vague, is not a firm foundation to base your belief on, nor is calling me a wicked incompetent misogynist, the same as providing scriptural proof that women are in fact equally in God’s image. And it seems that I could just as easily say that the assumption that men and women are equally in the image of God, is a Feministic presumption.

He needs a “helper opposite to him,” as the Hebrew puts it. This carries the connotation both of facing him as a reflection, but also of inversely corresponding to him…

It is interesting that you bring up the metaphor of the woman being a reflection of the man. Elsewhere in the bible that same metaphor is used with the moon representing the wife, which reflects the glory of the sun, representing her husband.

Genesis 37:9-11 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

Some folks speculate that women have the image of God as a reduced reflection of the man, like the moon palely reflects the glory of the sun, or that a bit carried over with the rib, Etc.
But I don’t see that as clearly stated either.

It Appears that my belief was also the belief of the early church fathers like Origen, Tertullian, Chrysostom, Augustine, and most all of their contemporaries, as far as I can tell. So I’m not the one with the new doctrine to sell.

For example: Tertullian, stated in his “Prescription Against Heretics” that only men are created in the image of God and that they were innocent victims of the ‘wiles and evils of women’.

I hesitate to ask for your “Rube Goldberg” explanation of 1 Corinthian’s 11. I think God is a good author, and the early church understood who was in the image of God, without our current need to incorporate Feminism.

Augustine said the following:
… the wife with her husband is the image of God, so that the totality of this human substance forms a single image; but when woman is considered as man’s helpmate, a state which belongs to her alone, is not the image of God. By contrast, man is the image of God by being solely what he is, an image so perfect, so whole, that when woman is joined with him it makes only one image.

I have said, when I was treating the nature of the human mind, that the woman together with her husband is in the image of God … but when she is referred to separately to her quality of ‘help-meet’, which regards the woman herself alone, then she is not the image of God, but as regards the man alone, he is the image of God as fully and completely as when the woman too is joined with him in one.

Seriously, accepting that we are never told that women are in God’s image, and seeing that the Bible takes great pains not to tell us that, and Paul indicates that they are not, and the early church also believed that, why not, try this doctrine on and see if it doesn’t then make so many other formerly confusing things so much simpler.

The truth will set you free.