The American Psychological Association recently released a study calling out what it perceives as the dangers of traditional masculinity warning that it leads men to hating women and LGBTQ people. As men are “marketed” to by corporate America we see confusing messages on what it means to be a man these days.
Are we to be the strong, silent, rugged, macho guy? Or the sensitive, nurturing, submissive guy who sits back quietly and just accepts things the way they are?
If we listen to the world we will be continually confused about what it means to be a man. But not surprisingly God’s Word has a lot to say about what real men are.
This morning, Mike discusses this issue with Dave Wager of Nicolet Bible Institute. What does it mean to be a man of God in today’s world?
We also look at an interesting perspective from a Christian musician who says that youth these days are being conditioned to worship their own self-image, and since the world is sending wrong messages to our youth about what their image should look like it is leading to dire consequences for an entire generation.
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In short, the guidelines aim to provide clinicians with suggestions for how to support “men in breaking free of masculinity rules that don’t help them” and help men shift from “traditional masculinity” to “positive masculinity,” which is illustrated through courage and leadership. McDermott believes that these new guidelines can change the world. He said, “If we can change men, we can change the world.”
There is this misunderstanding that I think has crept into the Church that we would call the ‘fear of the spirit of man’ that has deceived us into believing that God’s will for our lives is that we be popular or influential. The heroes and fathers of our faith, many of them could not have been described as popular or influential. But they were faithful and they feared God above all else.
APA’s new Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men strive to recognize and address these problems in boys and men while remaining sensitive to the field’s androcentric past. Thirteen years in the making, they draw on more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.
Taken to their logical conclusion, here’s what the APA will lead parents to convey to their sons:
- You might grow up to be gay;
- You might grow up to be bisexual;
- You might grow up to be androgynous;
- You might grow up to be a transvestite or a transsexual, like the strange folks who read to you at drag queen storytime at the library;
- You might, in essence, grow up to be a woman;
- You might grow up and choose to surgically amputate your penis, take hormones, and grow breasts. In fact, you can begin to take puberty blockers now if you feel like it;
- You might grow up to be some form of sexual being no one has ever conceived of being until you decide for yourself what that is.
Oh, and by the way, there’s also one more possibility:
You might grow up to be a man – a man who is romantically and sexually attracted to women and who will one day marry the girl he has fallen in love with. But if you do, you reveal that you have “conformed to masculine norms,” which according to the APA are “psychologically harmful,” and therefore not good for society.
Motte-and-bailey argumentation works like this — begin by making wide, sweeping, and stereotypical arguments. That’s your bailey. In the identity-politics context, that’s where you see activists condemn “whiteness,” make broad attacks on Christianity, and (yes) express anger at “masculinity.” Then, when called out for a level of bigotry they’d never tolerate in others, they retreat to the motte — claiming all they’re really concerned about are the truly bad actors. They don’t actually mean to attack everyone, just the bad people.
It is interesting that in a world that otherwise teaches boys and girls to “be yourself,” that rule often applies to everyone but the “traditional” male who has traditional male impulses and characteristics. Then, they’re a problem. Then, they’re often deemed toxic. Combine this reality with a new economy that doesn’t naturally favor physical strength and physical courage to the same extent, and it’s easy to see how men struggle.
That does not mean that men were perfect. There is already too much nostalgia in our society for a past that had virtues but also had terrible vices. But it does mean that it was easier for a man to have purpose, and meaningful and sustainable happiness is elusive without purpose.