Columnist Ross Douthat, in response to recent discussions about “toxic masculinity”, penned a piece for the New York Times, In Search of Non-Toxic Manhood.
One of the frustrating tics of our society’s progressive vanguard is the assumption that every evil it discovers was entirely invisible in the past, that this generation is the first to wrestle with dominance and cruelty.
This forgetting of human experience, this perpetual present-tenseness, pervades the latest flashpoint in the culture war over the sexes — the new guidelines for treating male pathology from the American Psychological Association.
The trouble with men, the guidelines argue, is that they’re violent and reckless, far more likely than women to end up in prison or dead before their time. But the deeper problem is they’re prisoners of “traditional masculinity,” which the guidelines describe as a model of manhood marked by “emotional stoicism, homophobia, not showing vulnerability, self-reliance and competitiveness.” This tough-guy ideal encourages “aggression and violence as a means to resolve interpersonal conflict,” and tempts men toward rape, drug abuse and suicide.
Douthat’s OpEd reminded me of an article I had read several years ago, written by Kyle Worley for Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) titled Repenting From ‘Biblical’ Manhood. It was the 10th and final part of a series titled Manhood Marred. The series explored a variety of ways that sin has corrupted, or marred, manhood. So in a very real sense, CBMW was way ahead of the American Psychological Association – and Gillette Razors.
In Repenting From ‘Biblical’ Manhood, Worley introduces the subject with these words:
While we firmly believe that God has ordained complementarianism as the governing sexual and marital ethic of the Christian life, we acknowledge that a corrupt complementarianism and those false ways of living that some may have treacherously called ‘biblical’ manhood have led to the perversion of the wonderful truth that God has laid out for human flourishing in the home, in the church, and in the culture.
So, in the vein of those prophets who plead for the sins of their kinsman, it is time that we corporately repent and lament the perverseness of a manhood that has been shaped by sin and not by the authority of Scripture.
Then, in the “vein of the prophets”, Worley offers the following memorable, and beautifully humble, prayer of confession and repentance:
Lord, We confess that we are broken and are in need of your grace. May you draw our gaze to the God-man Jesus Christ and the full scope of scripture as the authoritative revelation for what biblical manhood should resemble.
- We repent for the sins of our passive brothers, unwilling to lead when it counts.
- We repent for the sins of our chauvinist brothers, covering up abuse in the name of authority and male leadership.
- We repent for the sins of our brothers who refuse to grow up, Lord would you call them to greater maturity.
- We repent for any machismo that has seeped into our churches, may we be disgusted with misogyny in all its forms.
- We repent for men who are trying to escape from the responsibilities you have entrusted to them, may they find joy in their stewardship.
- We repent for men who are attempting to “lone wolf” their lives, Lord may they find your church as beautiful as you do.
- We repent for men unwilling to sacrifice their control and comfort to lead in all spheres of life, may they look to He who laid down His life for His bride.
- We repent for men who are so jaded with cynicism that they lose love for the King and hope for his coming kingdom.
We pray that you would rescue women who are trapped in abuse and that you would crush the purposes of abusers who treacherously call themselves “complementarians” or “biblical men.” Bring them to repentance and comfort those who have been bruised and broken beneath their hands.
We pray for those men who are trapped in sexual immorality. Lord, would you break the chains of pornography in the life of the church. Those wicked chains that place men in shackles next to the sex trafficking victims, pornographers, and orphaned.
We pray that you would continue to renew a movement towards good, beautiful, and true complementarian practice. May the witness of those men and women who have been created in your image, given distinct roles in the world, and who treasure the gospel tell the true story of complementarianism. May the lies that creep in under the banner of complementarianism in churches, homes, and communities across the world be crushed by this witness.
Comfort the woman abused, the child orphaned, the widowed mother, the widowed father, the church filled with faithful women.
Comfort the young woman not righteously pursued, the young boy with no father to learn from, the wife who serves the belligerent and lazy husband.
Confront those trapped in sexual immorality, confront churches filled with passive men, confront the young men unwilling to grow up.
Crush abortion, crush the movement to undermine the beauty of Christian covenant marriage, crush the porn industry, crush abuse at home and in the church.
Come, Lord! Come, Lord! Come, Lord, would you come?
To borrow a theme and turn a phrase, “CBMW was anti toxic masculinity before toxic masculinity was un-cool”. We would do well, and it would be timely, for the Church to reaffirm our commitments, and acknowledge our failures on this front; humbly repenting before our Holy God, and prophetically proclaiming God’s design for masculinity rather than leaving the final word to the APA, or to some other organization.