I keep running into this theme…the remedy of it haunts me…yet the reality of it screams at me, be it from the media, my own mirror or the different guys I meet. Our gender is not even a shadow of the men we see on films like 300, Braveheart, the Patriot, the Insider, etc, etc…in fact, our gender seems to be plagued with brutal aggression or extreme passivity. We live vicariously through our favorite athletes, CEO’s, movie heroes and talk about the past like it is still our shining crown, yet at the same time are plagued with fear, apathy, and selfishness – lame. I mean, some of the saddest conversations I have ever heard are middle-aged, over weight, unmotivated men, still taking glory in a touchdown they made over 20 years ago…sad. If you ever get the feeling that real masculinity is making a comeback, just walk into a church, and eaves drop on a couple of dudes talking…one or three things are going to happen 1) you’re gonna be tempted to go put on a skirt and join them or 2) you’re gonna wish you brought your pillow, because what they are talking about is as impactful as paint drying or 3) you’re gonna realize they are aggressive control freaks. Yes, I know, I’m jaded about this, but I don’t think I am too far off. For further notice, you will probably hear me pick on the church a lot, not because I am against the church, but because I am part of it, and believe I have two options: 1) leave the church or 2) help to be part of the solution in redefining and establishing masculinity in the church.
This is not just a church issue. Heck, look through out history, broken masculinity seems to lie at the foundation of every major problem our world knows or has known: oppressive government, racism, rape, corporate greed, drug trafficking, human trafficking, domestic violence, porn, neglect, broken homes, etc, etc…the list could go on. Us men have done a bang up job historically. Here is the deal, the remedy is not found in feminism, or the discounting and degrading of masculinity. It is not found in the confusing or merging of genders, in other words to say there is no real difference in femininity or masculinity is like saying there is no heat in August in Austin. It is not in the creating an ideology based on Jennifer Aniston’s recent quote about only needing a man’s sperm, not a man…theoretically, that is no different than men wanting women to simply satisfy a want or need, also known as objectifying. The remedy is found in redeeming masculinity, not forsaking it or downplaying it…masculinity matters, and until it is being redeemed, the world will not get better.
Now, let me be fair, there are some great examples of men who have sacrificially given of themselves to create a better world: Martin Luther the Reformer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, William Wilberforce, and many, many others. While this is true, it still does not deny the fact that the scale tips heavy on the side of broken masculinity.
Lately, this subject has been amplified as I further look into engaging the fight against sex-trafficking, and find very few men at a grassroots level. I posed a question on twitter, “on a grassroots level, why does it seem that so few MEN are willing to take up the fight against sex-trafficking?” A friend of mine gave a four point answer, “1) Many men have sexual issues. (porn, etc) 2) Apathy/priorities – they would rather play video games or watch sports 3) They simply don’t know. 4) They don’t have daughters themselves.”
So, let’s look at these:
1. Many men have sexual issues: No one can argue this. Look at the porn industry. Look at the revenue brought in by strip clubs, and then on top of that, the name we give them, gentlemen’s club…really, isn’t that like insisting Jaws is nothing more than a goldfish? I don’t have enough room to go into this, but it is so true. Secular culture demeans sex to a simple transaction and modern-evangelical ideas demonizes sex, and the truth is, sex is to be celebrated. The moment we see something like porn as something guys do, because “boys will be boys” we have furthered the idea that we are no more than animals with uncontrollable animal instincts, and women are nothing more than pieces of flesh to be used…the trajectory has already been established. Until we begin to have a clear understanding of sex, and elevate it beyond the idea of animal instinct, or the releasing of stress, until we return to the idea of Jewish ‘dode’ even a simple normal-evangelical understanding of sex, doesn’t really redeem true sex – but I don’t have time for this here. The remedy to sexual issues is not trying harder, it is the gospel. The gospel reshapes the way we think of sex. The gospel, redefines sex. The gospel is the power of God to free us from our destructive sexual issues. The gospel re-establishes the real, God-honoring, worshipful act of sex, and causes us to be even more broken for those who are having their lives ruined by what God intended to be life giving and God honoring. Again, more could be said, but space does not permit.
2. Apathy and wrong priorities: This is huge, apathy and wrong priorities, dates back to the garden. This explains two things 1) why so many men sacrifice their family on the altar of promotion and 2) why so many men, have no idea that their apathy, lack, and unwillingness to fully engage not only allows the problem, but actually helps create it. What if we, as men, began to actually realize, there is no such thing as neutral. We are either adding to the problem or fighting it. What if we realized that our apathy and wrong priorities didn’t exempt us from the fight as non-contributors, but actually contributed to the brokenness…after all, didn’t a great man once say, “the only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing…” Again, the gospel is the remedy, for not only does it demand engagement and right priorities, but it enables us and equips us to engage and builds in us the priorities of God…
3. They simply don’t know: I have a hard time giving credence to this one, it seems like in a world like ours with information being at the tip of your fingers, via the internet it seems like ignorance is chosen, which brings us back to the 2nd point, apathy and wrong priorities…I think this is the modern version of what Proverbs calls “turning your deaf ear to the cry of the poor“, and if you look that up in chapter 21, it doesn’t go well for those who refuse to listen. So, maybe those of us who do know, are required to make others know…the truth is we will be held responsible for what we know…For a third time, the remedy here is, the gospel. That is not to say, that you will learn all the in’s-and-out’s on human trafficking through the gospel, but the gospel will awaken our souls and not allow us to rest until we are pouring ourselves out for the pour, broken, and needy…in other words, the gospel will begin to create an unsettling in us, that will cause us to seek and know…
4. They don’t have daughters, and as much as I don’t want to give credence to this one, the fact that I have three daughters is heavily what has pushed me toward my involvement in this issue. When you read the stories, know the realities, and then simply ask, “what if they were my daughters?” you will react. The truth is, we must realize according to Isaiah 58, they, the trafficked victims, are our daughters. What if we took this idea of family, beyond trafficked victims – to the poor, the broken, the homeless, the refugee, the orphan…what and how different would our work toward and with them look? If we didn’t see them as other, but literally saw them as our own flesh and blood…I’m pretty sure, ‘spare rooms or guest rooms’ in our homes would be more of a weird idea than the norm, as we would not even think twice about bringing our own family into our homes…just a thought. For instance, it is unfathomable to think that my daughter would even have a chance of dying from preventable diseases cause by unclean drinking water. Why? Because as her father, I would disadvantage myself to make sure she had clean water, I would exhaust my resources. Why? Because I’m her dad, and that’s what dad’s do. If my daughter was kidnapped, I would not rest until justice was brought and she was found. Why? Because that’s what a dad does. If my daughter, was starving, I would give her my food. Why? Because that’s what dad’s do. Until this is the way we see the homeless, the trafficked, the starving, the orphan as our daughters, until we realize, we DO have daughters, we won’t do what is necessary. Men, masculine men, sacrifice for the health of their family. They live in a way, they pray in a way, they fight in a way that leaves them with scars for the good of their family…this is what men do for their daughters…and finally, the gospel once again, remedies this issue, for it is through the Gospel of Jesus that we are all brought into one family, as one people, and gives us the lens to look at humanity as image bearers of God…in short, because of the gospel, we all have daughters…
This is why the gospel is the answer to broken masculinity…the question is, can we begin to work together to actualize this in our lives and truly and deeply hold each other accountable to a masculinity that is informed, equipped, and empowered by the Gospel, for the trafficked victim and the orphan, to the glory of God…I think so