I was intrigued with a recent article entitled, “Rise of the Warrior Monk,” by Christian Chensvold in National Review. I think of myself as a “closet” monk here in the north woods. My spiritual instincts would classify me as a spiritual warrior, who is a truth-teller (prophet). The truth teller sees things more black and white, while speaking the truth. But being more intuitive and feeling in personality, I usually fight with a “velvet glove.” I identify with the “Tender Warrior” as a blend of “tough” and “tender.”
Chensvold makes reference to “men going their own way.” “Whether these men are middle-aged and embittered from divorce or lifelong rejection, or in the prime of life but prematurely disillusioned,” notes Chensvold, “these male dropouts share the view that contemporary society is soulless and effeminate, increasingly demonizing men for all of their natural instincts.” He wonders if men who are dropping out are not “reviving a long-lost archetype, the warrior monk.
If the Warrior Monk is to have an meaningful voice today he will need to have a gentle spirit to counter the “toxic” label. Jesus encourages us to take his yoke and learn from him, “For I am gentle and humble in spirit.” Paul tells us, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” He exhorted the Colossians to, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12). Gentleness is also a fruit of the Spirit.
Chensvold quotes Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, who have written on men being “hard wired” as king, warrior, mentor and friend. “The psyche of the man who is adequately accessing the Warrior is organized around his central commitment. This commitment eliminates a great deal of human pettiness. Living in the light of lofty ideals and spiritual realities such as God….so alters the focus of a man’s life that petty squabbling and personal ego concerns no longer matter much.” This would be a man who stands and fights for the truth.
Chensvold wonders if, “today’s warrior-monks might very well end up discovering their feminine side…..not the feminist-approved, socio-political kind.” Once again we go back to the creation story. We read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). Here we learn that masculine and feminine are opposite and complementary qualities. They are like darkness and light, being two extremes on a continuum. Both are found in the soul of men.
“The more nearly we function in His image, the more nearly we reflect both the masculine and the feminine in their proper balance – that is in the differing degrees and aptitudes appropriate to our sexual identities as male and female” (Payne). Men need to be affirmed not only in their masculine, but also in their feminine side. Each man as he is being transformed will learn to walk in the proper balance. He will be affirmed in his true masculine soul, while being complimented in the feminine.
So Chensvold is unto something as he journeys in our confused culture. The Warrior Monk will express the essence of the masculine, which is taking initiative, standing for the truth. But it will need to be supplemented by the feminine response, which is characterized by gentleness and response.