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Toxic Masculinity?

The Boy Scouts of America just announced they were dropping the word “Boy” from their name to become more gender inclusive and unbeknownst to them, they have officially ceased to exist as an organization.

The change in the name is only another indicator of our culture’s disdain for the differences between genders—more specifically the hatred toward masculinity.

Our Society hates men and everything that is deemed as masculine is immediately labeled as “toxic”. From academia to media, all have joined the crusade against masculinity. Even my beloved Star Wars has added to the narrative that masculinity in any way, shape or form is something that should be repressed, if not, condemned outright.

Is masculinity toxic as Hollywood, colleges, and other groups espouse?

The answer is no.

But what happens to a culture that believes the rhetoric that maleness expressed is somehow “toxic” to it?

We are seeing it now. A whole generation of boys not knowing what a man is supposed to be or look like. The masculine ideal has been either woefully distorted or shamed to non-existence leaving young men adrift in purposelessness, wasting their time with video games with nothing to strive for.

Ask any high school student, what it is to be a man and you will not find one cohesive answer because they simply do not know. To go even further, does anyone know what it is to be a man anymore?

Certainly, I will concede that expressions of masculinity in the wrong situations can be deemed as troublesome, if not dangerous. Take aggression for example. Men are naturally more aggressive than women and if that aggression is manifested against a woman or another person without just cause, then it is sinful. Yet if that aggression is demonstrated in defense of themselves, their family, or for another person, then it is deemed as virtuous—even heroic.

The Bible condemns both toxic masculinity (as well as toxic femininity) and as Billy Graham once said, “the ground is level at the foot of the cross”. Salvation, forgiveness of sin is needed by all, regardless of gender.

Yet in regards to masculinity, the Bible celebrates it by way of not only recognizing its particular attributes but calling for it to be expressed honorably.

In my opinion, one of the most striking examples of masculinity found within the Old Testament is found in the 10th chapter in 2 Samuel.

Joab and his brother Abishai, commanders of David’s army, are surrounded by the Ammonites and the Syrians. The situation looks increasingly bleak yet Joab turns to his brother and utters these words: “Let us be of good courage and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: And the LORD do that which seemeth him good” (2 Sam. 10:12 KJV).

What did Joab mean when he looked to his brother in the face of certain death and charged him to “play the man”? It meant to act accordingly in the situation. To possess courage and demonstrate that in the heat of the battle. Also, at this moment, the masculinity expressed is not only an example of courage but also one of sacrifice.

Notice that Joab’s words had no hint of self-preservation. They were facing a massive force and what it looked like, their death, but instead of retreating to safety they instead made the difficult choice to lay it all down for others.

Making the hard choices for the betterment of others is what it means to be a man. Selfishness or cowardice are never heralded as virtuous, sacrifice and bravery are. That is why we often take the time (or at least we should) to honor our veterans or those who have fallen in battle because of the level of sacrifice demonstrated for our country is deserving of such.

Sacrifice, bravery is again, definitional to masculinity and both of these are exemplified in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the apex of manhood. He braved the terrors of the cross and God’s wrath, sacrificing his own life for others. There has never been nor will there ever be a man greater than the man for us, Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5) and so he stands as our example of what a man truly is.

Paul ended his letter to the Corinthians with this exhortation: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

Be a man. Be like Jesus.

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