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Free Battle Paper: Was Samson a Toxic Male?

Or is it Wokester Biblical Interpretation That's Toxic?

· Bible,Culture War,Samson,Woke Christians,Judges

I've recently completed work on three new Battle Papers for The Christendom Curriculum. We've decided to offer one of them as a Free Sample. The Battle Paper, slightly edited for blog format, is below. If you are interested in joining The Christendom Curriculum, you're on the right website. Just go here to join today.

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This Battle Paper was written in response to an old friend of mine re-posting the following comment (made by a friend of his) on Facebook:
 

Samson teaches us a powerful lesson in toxic masculinity:

All of the strength, success, cleverness, and admiration in the world won’t save you from the consequences of being a sinful, abusive fool.

You are NOT too big to fail.

***


My friend added to this repost the simple comment, “Preach!”

I responded to the statement about Samson on this wise:


***

Woke Christian: Samson was a toxic male, a sinful, abusive fool, and a failure.

The Bible: Samson was a Spirit-filled (Judg. 14:6, 19; 15:14) hero of the faith (Heb. 11:32–34), who, through faith, wrought righteousness (Judg. 14:4), obtained promises (Judg. 13:5), escaped the edge of the sword (Judg. 15), out of weakness was made strong (Judg. 16:28–30), waxed valiant in fight (Judg. 14:5–6; 15:8), and turned to flight the armies of the aliens (Judg. 15:15); who sinned (Judg. 16:1; 4), and returned to the Lord (Judg. 16:28), and who died nobly, in faith, winning a victory against the enemies of God greater than all the previous victories of his life (Judg. 16:30).

Woke “Christianity” is busily engaged in teaching the precise opposite of the Bible, hoping no one will notice the sleight of hand.

***

My friend responded with these words, posting a video by the popular Bible Project YouTube Channel:

Samson is not a hero, he functions as an archetype. When God’s people worship the gift more than the giver. When we think God’s gifts are given to us in order to prop up our ego, rather than to serve God and others.

https://youtu.be/kOYy8iCfIJ4

***

And I responded in this way:

Samson is certainly an archetype, but that does not mean he cannot also be a hero. He is a hero, and in my view, the unwillingness of many Christians today to embrace heroic archetypes helps explain our failure to be the cultural salt and light we are supposed to be.

You wrote, “When God’s people worship the gift more than the giver. When we think God’s gifts are given to us in order to prop up our ego, rather than to serve God and others.”


What has any of this to do with Samson or his story? The Bible says explicitly and repeatedly that Samson was filled with the Spirit (Judg. 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14). It further reveals that God used Samson to accomplish His purposes (Judg. 14:4), answered his prayers (Judg. 15:18–19; 16:28–30), and that Samson fulfilled his God-given calling: to “begin to deliver Israel” (Judg. 13:5). Paul lists him among the great men of faith in Hebrews 11.[1]

Samson is an archetype, but not of worshipping the gift more than the giver, or of using God’s gift to prop up our ego instead of serving God and others.

These ideas are utterly foreign to the texts of Judges 13–16 and Hebrews 11.

Samson is a type of Christ Himself, the angel-heralded, miraculously born deliverer of Israel, the mighty Bridegroom, the Spirit-guided Davidic Lion (Satan)-slayer, the riddler who speaks in cryptic sayings, the one who came not to bring peace but a sword, who was betrayed in exchange for silver and delivered to his enemies, was mocked and blinded,[2] and led to his death, and who gained by his death the greatest victory of his life.

Why do we think otherwise when reading these exceptionally clear and unambiguous texts?

I’ll take a stab at a brief explanation.

All of us live and move today in a weakened, effeminate form of Christianity that despises masculinity, which it brands as “toxic.”

It despises righteousness in men, and so it seizes every opportunity to slander the godly men of the Bible (and of post-Biblical history), calling Noah a drunkard, Jacob a liar, and Samson a toxic male.

None of which are true.

If we would begin again to be the cultural leaven that leavens the whole lump—which is to say, if we care about bringing the Gospel to our neighbors and the nations—we must begin to disentangle ourselves from the weeds of this false form of the faith; to learn to spot its errors whenever it appears.

After all, if this false form is capable of teaching the precise opposite of what the Bible says, while simultaneously claiming friendship with the faith, then we are under a powerful enchantment that needs to be broken immediately.

I hope this helps to explain my perspective. I know you are no stranger to the Scriptures, and so I will carefully consider anything you may wish to say.

***

As of this date, I have received no further response. I did however watch the video that my friend posted. Below are my thoughts after viewing it, which will help explain better some of the statements I made above.

***

The video is very well done in terms of presenting an engaging summary of the book of Judges. The presentation is no doubt an important reason why it has garnered over 2 million views as of even date. And it does okay when discussing the overall general content of the book.

But it is dreadfully bad when it comes to summarizing the stories of the individual judges.
There are two reasons, I believe, why the video is so bad.
First, it indulges in the crazy modern pseudo-Christian belief that “all have sinned” means “virtue and courage and heroism are impossible.” Such a hermeneutic virtually requires spinning every action of the men of the Bible (almost always the men, not the women) in the worst possible light.
Second, it partakes of our current effeminate form of Christianity that knee-jerks with horror when confronted with any action of a genuinely manly sort, quickly shuffling such deeds into the “Icky—Do Not Keep” bin and running around in disgust like Lucy after a Snoopy-kiss (“Get some hot water! Get some disinfectant! Get some iodine!”).
In line with this Ick Factor reaction, the video makes the following accusations against the major judges of the Israelite kritarchy:
“Gideon is…a coward of a man… Gideon has a nasty temper, and he murders a bunch of Israelites for not helping him in his battle. He makes an idol from the gold he won in his battles. And then after he dies, all Israel worships the idol as a god and the whole cycle begins again.”

“The next main judge is Jephthah, who’s something of a mafia thug, living up in the hills…he was so unfamiliar with the God of Israel, he treats him like a Canaanite god: he vows to sacrifice his daughter if he wins the battle. This tragic story, which shows just how far Israel has fallen—they no longer know the character of their own God—which leads to murder and to false worship.”

“Samson is by far the worst…he has no regard for the God of Israel. He was promiscuous, violent, and arrogant. He did win—brutally—strategic victories over the Philistines, but only at the expense of his own integrity, and his life ends in a violent rush of mass murder.”
“You can’t tell the Israelites and the Canaanites apart anymore, and that’s just the leaders.”
 

A recent study of white-coated researchers has determined that these accusations are 98.7% false. And you know that must be true because SCIENCE.[3]


In fact, I have good news for you: none of these accusations are true.


The Bible does not say that Gideon was a coward. Quite the contrary. It says Gideon was afraid, but did what he had to do anyway, which is the very definition of courage. As the great John Wayne put it (at least according to the Infallible Internet):


“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”


The Bible does not say that Gideon had “a nasty temper.” That’s an inference from the text (Judg. 8:4–9, 14–17), run through an All Males Are Toxic Males hermeneutical grid. To get to that conclusion, we must ignore an earlier text (just a few verses earlier) of Gideon showing patience and responding with a soft answer to another group of Israelites in a similar situation (Judg. 8:1–3). The difference in Gideon’s response to the two groups is instructive, but not very helpful if your agenda is to Always Bash Manly Action.

But for those who are interested in what is actually going on in this text, James Jordan offers this insight:

“Why [Gideon] was harder on Penuel than on Succoth we do not know. He had his reasons, and since he is not condemned, we trust they were good ones. Perhaps it was because Penuel’s sin of trusting in their own tower was more serious than Succoth’s.”[4]

This is an important principle, by the way: if the text of the Bible does not condemn (either explicitly or implicitly) the actions of a person, we’d better be extremely careful in passing judgment ourselves.

Likewise, the Bible does not say that Gideon is a murderer. Rather, it tells us that he is God’s anointed and divinely empowered representative who brings judgment, not only on Israel’s enemies, but on Israelites who align themselves with Israel’s enemies.


(A strong word of warning, is it not, both to leftist Christians who align themselves with God’s enemies, and to conservative Christians, who have no notion of ever really fighting against evil, preferring instead a philosophy of “principled defeat”?)


The Bible does not say (the idea is genuinely goofy) that Jephthah was a “mafia thug.” Honestly, why do these self-styled Bible teachers have to be so cute and clever? Why not just say what the Bible says? Namely:

“Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour… and there were gathered vain [the Hebrew word means “impoverished”[5]] men to Jephthah, and went out with him.” (Judg. 11:1, 3.)

If Jephthah, an outcast around whom gathered a band of impoverished men, is a mafia thug, then so is David, who did the same thing during the reign of Saul:

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men. (I Sam. 22:1–2).


The Bible does not say that Jephthah murdered his own daughter, nor that he was “so unfamiliar with the God of Israel, he treats him like a Canaanite god.” It is quite clear that Jephthah’s daughter was devoted to perpetual virginity—this is the sacrifice discussed in the text. Moreover, Jephthah did not, as the video states, “vow to sacrifice his daughter.” This is a sloppy error that I won’t even directly refute. It’s easy enough to look it up and read the actual words of his vow.[6] And the vow was not rash; it was something God moved him to do. Dr. Jordan’s summary is worth quoting at length:

“Several problems confront us in the story of Jephthah. Did he really kill and burn up his daughter? Was he a man of real faith?...Some commentators assume that Jephthah had a real, but grossly ignorant faith. He lived in barbarous times, they say, and did not know any better than to try to make a deal with God, and to sacrifice his daughter. In fact, however, Jephthah is listed as a hero of faith, real true faith, in Hebrews 11:32. Even if he were not, the fact is that the book of Judges calls explicit attention to his anointing with the Spirit of God, and just before he makes his supposedly rash vow (Jud. 11:29). As we have seen (pp. 51ff. above), such an anointing implies all the graces of the Spirit, at least in some measure. There can be no doubt but that Jephthah knew the law of God, for his letter to the king of Ammon shows a thorough familiarity with the events recorded in Numbers. He was no ignorant man. There can be no doubt but that Jephthah’s daughter was not killed, but was devoted to perpetual virginity and service at the door of the Tabernacle. Bible commentators and opera writers

have turned the story of Jephthah’s daughter into a Greek tragedy more often than not; but they have been too much influenced by the story of Agamemnon and Iphigenia…As we shall see, Jephthah’s vow was not rash. It was well thought out. He had something definite in mind, for a threshold sacrifice is connected to the establishment of a house or dynasty. God moved Jephthah to make this vow, because God wanted to make it clear that it was His house that was the true house of the King, and it was His house (the Tabernacle) that would be built (on the threshold sacrifice of the virginity of the women who ministered at its doorway)…This may seem strange, but I believe it is because we are not used to thinking as people in ancient Israel thought.”[7]


What about the video’s treatment of Samson? Well, for starters, the Bible does not say that Samson “has no regard for the God of Israel.” It says the opposite: that he was filled with and led by the Spirit. Nor does the Bible give any support to the idea that Samson was “arrogant.” Though it’s not surprising that the video would make this claim: manly confidence, being one of those things that modern Christians despise, is always interpreted in the worst possible light.


The video writer even describes Samson as “violent,” as if that were a bad thing! Samson was called by God to fight against God’s enemies. So was David. And Alfred the Great. And Charles Martel. And Don John of Austria. And Robert E. Lee. War is terrible, and men ought to avoid it whenever possible. But in a fallen world, war is sometimes regrettably necessary; and those who engage in it for the glory of God and the good of His people should not be despised as “violent” and “brutal.”


Speaking of which, the video also says this of Samson: “He did win—brutally—strategic victories over the Philistines, but only at the expense of his own integrity, and his life ends in a violent rush of mass murder.”


Not a word of this is true, except the part about Samson winning strategic victories. The video calls these victories “brutal” (there’s the “Ick” factor popping up again), but if you read the accounts in Judges 14–16, you will find they are no more brutal than any other accounts of warfare you might read. I suppose some people will only be happy if soldiers kill all their enemies by means of sterile injections in a medically controlled environment. Honestly, is there any way to employ force sufficient to end a man’s life that is not “brutal”?

The squeamish eye of modern Christianity turns away from Samson in horror. But the eye of faith sees in these “brutal” actions something else, something better:

“We learn something encouraging about Samson from what the Philistines say. They admit that he has been “the destroyer of our country, who has slain many of us.” What a great testimony! We learn from this that Samson did a mighty work indeed during his 20 years of judgeship.”[8]

If we cannot see such “brutal” actions as “a great testimony,” how will we even recognize God’s deliverers when they appear?

One of my sons was watching the video with me, and when the narrator accused Samson of “mass murder,” both of us laughed out loud at the same moment. It’s just so crazy.

(It’s rather a nifty trick, isn’t it, that the writer of this video manages to accuse all three of the major judges he highlights of murder? Just about the only thing he didn’t accuse them of was racism!)

Now the writer of the video, in accusing Samson of “mass murder,” is referring to Samson’s death, in which, blinded and weakened, captured by his enemies,[9] Samson repents, and prays to God to give him strength one last time to bring down this evil temple on the enemies of God’s people, and to let him (Samson) die with them.

So how was this mass murder? Samson was at war. He was God’s chosen and anointed judge. He asked God to give him the strength to destroy the assembled Philistine nobility, the oligarchic fount of this pagan culture, and God did so. If God disapproved of Samson’s action—if indeed it was an act of “mass murder”—why did He grant Samson’s request?


This brings up an important point. The video narrator says this:


“The fact that God uses these really screwed up people doesn’t mean that He endorses all, or even any, of their decisions.”


But if a judge asks God for strength to carry out one of these decisions, and God answers that prayer by granting the requested strength, then yes, God endorsed that decision.

If the Bible tells us that some of these men’s decisions were “of the Lord” (Judg. 14:4) or that they were made in a moment when “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” (Judg. 14:6) then yes, God endorsed those decisions.


And if the Bible records a decision made by one of these men, and does not take the opportunity, right there in the Holy Scriptures, to condemn that decision, explicitly or implicitly, then yes, God endorsed that decision.


We should also note, once again, the slanderous slinging of slime at these godly men by calling them, “really screwed up people.” I suppose such calumny against good men makes a certain type of person feel better about himself.

And I think it is likely that the video scriptwriter is projecting when he says, “The fact that God uses these really screwed up people doesn’t mean that He endorses all, or even any, of their decisions.”

What he really means is, “The fact that God uses these really screwed up people doesn’t mean that I endorse all, or even any, of their decisions.”


This is an important issue that we Christians need to wrestle with. It involves a serious error that leads to bad theology.

In short, this amateur hour schtick of slandering the godly men of the Bible and history simply must stop.

A friend of mine, Christian singer/songwriter/recording artist Jamie Soles (whose music appears throughout The Christendom Curriculum[10]) wrote the following on his Facebook page, and it makes the point very well. We close with these wise words:

Let us say that you were a patriarch of old, and you had lived a godly and upright life in a world where nobody else walked with you. You preached the righteousness of God for years in the face of men and women with hearts of stone.

When God finally destroyed them all, you were preserved, because you built a great big boat, and you saved alive at least two of every kind of animal.

You stood as the representative Man, the one with whom God would start over. All the blood of everybody from here on out came from your veins.

Once, when you were 604 years old, you fell asleep in your tent after you had some wine, and you lay there uncovered.

You lived to be 950 years old, a long-time veteran of both the pre- and post-flood worlds. Then you died.

The person who carved your gravestone and set it up for all to see wrote as your epitaph, “He was a drunkard.”

Was the person who wrote that your friend or your enemy?

There is a meme that makes the rounds that savages the patriarchs in order to make the point that if God could use those guys, He could use you, too. Noah is always the drunk in that meme.

Deliver us, O Lord, from those who slander the good and the upright, and let us not enter their counsels…

 

[1] No, that’s not a mindslip on my part; I believe Paul wrote Hebrews.

[2] Christ was not blinded, but He was blindfolded (Luke 22:64).

[3] Actually, to understand the reasons why all these accusations are false, read the staggeringly good commentary by James Jordan, Judges: God’s War on Humanism, which is included in the Christendom Curriculum in the Christendom Triumphant (Medieval World) Year Packs for Years 9 through 12.

[4] James B Jordan, Judges: God’s War Against Humanism (Tyler, TX: Geneva Ministries, 1985), 145.

[5] Ibid, 194.

[6] Judg. 11:29–31. Note that, immediately before Jephthah speaks his vow, we are told, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah….”

[7] Ibid, 191–192.

[8] Ibid, 274. Emphasis added.

[9] And this, the result of his sinful relationship with Delilah, is the only time in the entire story of Samson where the Scriptures tell us, “the Lord was departed from him” (Judg. 16:20). If we Bible readers would simply pay attention to what God condemns, and what He does not condemn, we could avoid much confusion and error.

[10] See also the Christendom Curriculum Study Help, The Music of Jamie Soles.

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