<aside> 🖨️ Click for printable PDF version.


As Ryan can attest, I was not always as supportive of Bnonn’s focus on gendered piety. When he first began researching the issue, he went through what is known as a ‘cage stage’ – where a new adherent to a philosophy becomes very evangelical and wants to convert everyone to it. ‘Cage-stage Calvinism’ is a trope; so is cage-stage Crossfit or veganism.

At the time, of course, I didn’t know it was a cage stage, and since I had always thought of patriarchy as a dirty word, and knew of patriarchal fathers and husbands who were abusive, controlling and legalistic, I was very concerned about the path I thought Bnonn was headed down.

I have since been told that other people were too. Ironically, at the time I disagreed with Bnonn about the lack of manliness in the church. Now I look back and think it was shameful that none of the men at church had the courage or resolve to take Bnonn in hand and set him straight.

Even Ryan only met with Bnonn once, eventually, after I had brought the matter to his attention several times and eventually begged him to meet with him.

During that meeting Ryan hardly said anything to Bnonn, and after that he apparently considered his duty done. However, it was still helpful in that when I told Bnonn I had asked him to meet with Ryan, it woke him up to the fact that I was genuinely upset, and opened the door for us to have some really good discussions.

Shortly after that Bnonn connected with Michael Foster online, a pastor from South Carolina who was also interested in biblical sexuality. Michael did what nobody in Trinity had bothered to do – he discipled Bnonn. He helped Bnonn realise that what the church needed was not simply ‘anti-feminism’ but a positive, robust, practical theology of masculinity, especially for men who had not learned how to be a man from their fathers.

<aside> ⚠️ This marked a real turning point in Bnonn’s attitudes and focus. Since then he has begun a phase of transformation and growth which I can only admire. He faithfully studies the Bible with the children every morning, and is working through the book of Proverbs with Miles. He has a much greater sense of responsibility for maintaining our home and garden, budgeting and investing for the future, developing good relationships with his family of origin, and trying to intentionally lead our family in a biblical direction. He has made a conscious effort to develop relationships with other men in the church, to exercise hospitality, and to mentor other young men struggling with singleness, family difficulties and theological questions. We know a young woman trapped in a tyrannical family situation – what Bnonn would describe as ‘the bad patriarchy’ – and Bnonn has repeatedly counselled that she resist the abuses of authority and escape the situation.


At the same time I read more widely into the issues Bnonn was researching about, and have gradually come to agree with most of his positions regarding gendered piety. We both recognise that there are dangers and absurdities within the patriarchal movement, but we do not believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (Ironically, Bnonn's refusal to adhere to the whole-hog quiverfull-and-Debi-Pearl patriarchal movement has occasionally gotten him labelled a feminist and a liberal!)

Our view is aligned with Scripture, with the Confession, and with orthodox Christianity throughout history.

What saddens me now is not Bnonn’s views, but the fact that they are viewed with disinterest or derision by his and my Christian friends, and with hostility by his pastor. Yet none of these people has substantively engaged him on the issues.

Some of these friends wrote Bnonn off early on, and have not been privy to his changing attitudes due to distancing themselves and unfriending him on Facebook. Others have simply become absorbed in their own affairs and failed to maintain a relationship with Bnonn, despite his attempts. One member of Trinity has apologised to Bnonn for this treatment; several others continue to ignore and avoid him.

I thank God for raising up men outside Trinity to give Bnonn mentorship, intellectual pushback and support. But it is a sad indictment of the men of Trinity that Bnonn only found this fellowship outside it.