The current wisdom does acknowledge the need for a recovery of masculinity. But
the current wisdom also figures this means men must become much more sensitive,
first to themselves, and then to others. This emphasis is whooped as true masculinity:
real men cry and suffer deep pain. But actually the current wisdom is a drunk
in a bar ordering a stiff one as a preparation for his forthcoming promised sobriety.
Before turning around, before converting, he thinks he must take at least three
more steps in the other direction.
The need of the hour is masculine confidence; we need men with backbone. And
what do we have? We have men off in the corner, moaning and whining about their
childhoods, keening over long-remembered hurts, snuffling about aimlessly, and
getting in touch with their own personal selves. Secular man is off looking for
a mommy, and we are all sick of it.
The popular Christian alternative to this can be seen in the Promise Keepers
movement; in many positive ways this movement does provide a Christian alternative
to the secularist groping after a genuine masculine identity. At the same time,
when the doctrine and practice of this Christian alternative is examined carefully,
the effeminacy of modern evangelicalism is clearly still in evidence. Dismayed
by the fact that men have ceased to function as men, we gather them together
to recover true manhood. Unfortunately, while the emphasis is on restoring real
masculinity, American Christian men are still heading in an effeminate direction.
If the airliner is flying east, to leave the seat and head west up the aisle
is an inadequate response.
For example, some training materials for PK urge that we start giving purple
hearts to men with wounded hearts, which is not exactly a masculine response.
And New Man, the magazine of PK, is filled with calls for increased sensitivity, real
men have feelings too, eight steps to intimacy, and so forth. And one PK spokesman,
Robert Hicks, expresses a desire for wayward young men to be indulged after their
first experience with the "police, or their first drunk, or their first experience
with sex or drugs." Hicks suggests that the time be used as a teachable moment
and a "rite of passage." He suggests that the "true elders could come forward and
confess their own adolescent sins and congratulate the next generation for being
human." Whatever else this response is, it most certainly is not a biblical masculine
responseit is not strong, masculine leadership for young men at all; it is indulgence,
which is the last thing such boys need.
Still, Promise Keepers is not the problemthe movement simply represents an initial
and inadequate response to a problem which was overwhelming us long before PK
came into existence. That crisis is one of rampant masculine abdication. The
PK movement has provided the valuable service of identifying this problem on
a national level. However, PK is to be faulted, for while they insist that this
problem be addressed with courage and integrity, they have allowed the movement
to be steered by professional handlers into various forms of moral cowardice
and doctrinal compromise.
When it first began, Promise Keepers was, well . . . promising. Our prayer should
be that PK returns to that early promiseand that they do so fully prepared for
a real fight. The need is certainly great. Whenever "real masculinity" prances
in a skirt and blouse, it must be attacked, and attacked by Christians with a
warm enthusiasm. The doctrine of the "sensitive male" must be critiqued, wherever
it appears, and soundly, with a baseball bat. Psychological and theological flimflam
merchants, with all their estrogenic supplements, must be hooted off the public
stage. If they were to engage the enemy with full integrity, Promise Keepers
could have a tremendous impact for good in Christianity's cultural war against
effeminacy. But as the situation now stands, it seems clear they will not.
This may prove to be offensive to some, although it is certainly not the intent.
But the modern resistance to pointed criticism does not reflect a manly concern
for biblical obedience; it is yet another specimen of men who can get their feelings
hurt on the sharp edges of the truth. Because we live in such an effeminate culture, especially
in the evangelical church, the temptation for proud men is to think the only way
out of their sin is to cultivate an effeminate form of pride. This is not sanctification;
it amounts to castration. Because the fundamental antithesis in our fallen world
is covenantal and ethical, and not gender-related, ungodly men must become godly
men. Ungodly women must become godly women. Men who seek to get away from arrogance
and pride by becoming more like their wives have misplaced this antithesis. And
so when a brother comes alongside with an admonition, the appropriate response
is not to take offense. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
Christian men must be called to true confidence. And this masculine and biblical
confidence avoids the sin of hubris without falling into the common error of
confusing humility and effeminacy. The word confidence comes from the Latin,
meaning with faith. A man who walks in faith may certainly be accused of being
arrogant and proud, but such accusations are simply a part of the cost of doing
business. And the restoration of biblical masculinity is business that must be
done, and done immediately.