In my previous post, I shared about the guy who, when confronted with a wife who strangles the life out of their marriage bed, basically resigns all earthly hope. His go-to marital tool is the Jedi Mind Trick™, by which he asks God to use His magic powers to flip a switch in his wife.*
This week, I want to talk about Mr. Milquetoast.
In the 20’s and 30’s, a popular single-panel comic strip was The Timid Soul, featuring Caspar Milquetoast. According to the illustrator, Milquetoast is the kind of guy who “speaks softly and gets hit with a big stick”. You can see Caspar Milquetoat in action, or rather inaction, in this collection of ‘strips gathered in a Bing search: Milquetoast Inaction.
The Lord Jesus Milquetoast?
Now, Mr. Milquetoast does have scriptural support for his course of inaction. Per the many Christian marriage manuals and magazine articles that are published for strengthening marriages, Mr. Milquetoast becomes a Servant. The Servant Model of Leadership is a common teaching about how husbands are to approach their marriage. It is a popular and wide-spread concept. Just this morning, as I was working on the rough draft of this post, I Bing’ed “Servant Le” and autofill gave me these search terms:
Servant leadership definition
Servant leadership characteristics
Servant leadership model
Servant leadership quotes
Servant leadership PowerPoint
Servant leadership Houston
Servant leadership Theory
I believe that much of the teaching is a reaction to the idea that the man is the Head of the House, and the abuse that follows. Yes, I admit that there are jerks who think that being male and husband is an entitlement akin to deity. I believe that Charles Shedd said it best, in his book, “Letters To Philip”, from the 60’s: “Get your foot off her throat, Hitler.”
But I also believe that much of the SL teaching is simply modern revulsion triggered by biblical language that is offensive to modern sensibilities. After all, we are all just happy as clams about the dictum, “Husbands, love your wives,” but the accompanying dictum, “Wives, submit to your husbands?” Oh, $&!#!!% no!!!! Are you fresh outta your $%*^@!# mind???
Milquetoast-ing the Marriage Bed
As a result, today, Milquetoast-ing is the preferred Christian go-to marital tool for husbands. Milquetoast-ing enables husbands to be “leaders in the home”. According to proponents of Servant Leadership, Eph. 5:23 says “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church”, but we know that Paul didn’t really mean what he said. After all, any idea of submission is just a patriarchal crock, and so the Bible doesn’t really mean it when it says that the husband is head of the wife. So, the proper way to understand Eph. 5:23 is to look for explication elsewhere. And since Jesus Himself said that He “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matt. 20:28), it follows that the husband, like Jesus, is to serve. Serve who? Why, the wife, of course.
In the area of marital intimacy, Mr. Milquetoast is told, this Servant Leader model is highly touted to act as an aphrodisiac for wives so served. After all, the popular aphorism goes, “there’s nothing so sexy as a man doing dishes”. But all too often, Mr. Milquetoast finds that the more he engages in choreplay, the more things stay the same.
Unlike the spouse who relies on God to be a Jedi, the Milquetoast does actually speak up. Yes, he communicates!! Bravo, Mr. Milquetoast. And what is even better is that Mr. Milquetoast always has the last word: “Yes, dear.” Oh, he will let his wife know that he is unhappy with the lack of sex and intimacy, that he thinks that married couples should discuss intimacy, and come to a mutually acceptable frequency. And maybe Mrs. Milquetoast agrees with Mr. Milquetoast. Maybe. Conditionally. But nothing happens. The frequency is not upped, and Mr. Milquetoast continues on. As a good Servant should.
I thought I was going to do just one post on Milquetoast, but I see that I am running a little long. I will put up a second post dealing with the antithesis of Mr. Milquetoast, Patrick Henry.
* I realize that experts tell us that in up to 40% of marriage dealing with libido issues, the spouse with the higher drive is the wife. And, yes, I realize that, for the sake of these articles, I am using the societal archetype of males as the higher drive, frustrated spouse. I do not believe that this discounts what I am saying to refused and/or restricted wives. Yes, there may be a different set of challenges, but I don’t think a different skill set is the answer.