A few weeks ago I began to see several ‘memes’ on Twitter and Facebook from Reverend Tim Bayly, preciously PCA and now pastor at a church in Bloomington, IN (not sure of affiliation). I found his posts unhelpful, homophobic, crude and lacking gospel winsomeness.. Of real concern is that his language is a gospel barrier to the same-sex attracted (he has written a “Christian” book on homosexuality). I would never allow a person in my inner life who spoke publicly like this. Here are a few examples:
I sent the following letter privately but he never responded and his “effeminate” posts continue. I am hoping for Tim to reflect upon his public language and perhaps this will be helpful.
Greetings! I’m not sure if we have met personally but we have mutual friends and run in the same circles. We are also both pastors who care deeply about masculinity and the attack upon it in culture.
I have been reading your posts concerning real men versus effeminate men. I wanted to encourage you to choose a different word than effeminate because of its historical connotations, biblical usage and a desire that your important voice isn’t marginalized unduly.
The first reason not to use the term ‘effeminate’ is that it is historically rooted in misogyny. In the essay, “The Historical Semantics of Effeminacy”, one of the reasons the word is derogatory is that, “[…it] probably reflects the fact that our society clings to the notion that it is degrading for a man to be reduced to the status of a woman.” Your memes can easily be read as degrading to woman especially when the traits you describe as being effeminate are uniformly negative. The word means, “womanish” or “to make feminine” and none of the traits you describe align with biblical womanhood. Instead, any person having these traits would be considered an incompetent adult. They have nothing to do with femininity. I understand that you are seeking to make a distinction between traditional masculinity and it’s weak, watered down version trodding around today; I agree with your concern 110% percent. The destruction of the masculine ideal is one of the great catastrophes of the post-modern constructionist era.. But I think the term you are using is asserting femininity pejoratively as a way to bolster your claim. There are better ways of doing it.
Secondly, effeminate, ,malakos, is a biblical term for a passive homosexual (1 Cor 6:9). The Bible always deals with homosexuality as activity and has little regard for ideas of orientation, or desire (however true or disordered these realities are). Yet, in popular usage, same-sex attracted men are often described as effeminate, soft or pansies. By using the word I fear a same-sex attracted man who desires to be faithful might think something about his intrinsic nature—sweet, emotive, quiet, etc..—automatically disbar him from biblical masculinity. Of course, this is not true.
Biblical masculinity, as I understand it, is rooted in the male body. We are the initiators of life. The perserverers fighting for life. The protectors of life. The sustainers of life. And we are the shadow of the great pursuing love of Christ. You can be sweeter, quieter, creative and emotive and live into this calling. And you can be like my boys—assertive, physical, aggressive and competitive and live into this.
This is all to say that I believe there is a better word that stands in opposition to true masculinity. Effeminate is too derogatory. Not to weak men but to women and those men seeking holiness in their sexuality. I hope this is helpful. It is meant to be.
Great grace to you brother!