Men, if there was one word that would have defined my early self image it would have been “nice.” I prided myself in being nice. As an ENFJ, who is a two on the enneagram, I was compulsive about my being nice. Some of you who have a different core compulsion can’t relate. Part of the motivation for becoming an ordained Lutheran Pastor, was to be nice to people in a spiritual manner. It was a lot of work. I finally came to see that I was not such a nice guy, rather I had to need to be nice. So I know about being nice as a man. Mark this – being nice can be a trap for men when dealing with the feminist accusation of “sexism.”
Therefore, I read with interest an article by Kyle Smith over at the Acculturated web site. He asked, “What if nice is not just vague but destructive? What if niceness is just an excuse for selfishness?” He quotes a professor Peter Augustine Lawler, who maintains that niceness is not a virtue but more of a moral shrug or cop-out, implying “I let you do – and even affirm – whatever you do, because I don’t care what you do.” “A nice person won’t fight for you,” Lawler points out. “A nice person isn’t animated by love or honor or God. Niceness….is the most selfish of virtues….rooted in a deep indifference to the well-being of others.” It’s a quality that seen more like a “flatness of soul” (Allan Bloom). Wow! That nails my compulsion.
I write wondering about all the younger men, working in corporate life in cities around our country. I have a burden to “call them forth” from a kind of emotional and spiritual foxhole they have been hiding in because of the gender wars. Some are confused about their masculinity, others are angry for being labeled as sexist, while others simply grieve in silence because they feel they have to deny their basics instincts as a man. Like myself they have made peace with the disappear of patriarchy and they are committed to working with women on “gender equality.” They realize that women have done their inner work, while men have not come to grips with how to live out maleness in post-Christian America..
The answer is not to feel forced into being nice. Men, don’t fall for such movements as the #AllMenCan movement, in which men are trying to show how sensitive they are to women’s rights. Denise C. McAllister give this warning to men. “When you try to prove you’re not a misogynist, you will become enslaved to women’s will and whims….You will never be able to do enough to prove that in the deep recesses of your heart you’re not what these women think you are – a sexist pig.” There you have it from a female observer. I agree. Her advice to men, “respect themselves as men and show women love and respect in their personal lives.”
From my perch in the northwoods, I cry out to men, “don’t become angry, passive or let yourself be intimidated. Resist the temptation to resign yourself to flatness of soul, while wasting energy on being “nice.” You are violating your masculine soul. My continuing advice is to come to Jesus, allowing him to bring you to your heavenly Father so you can hear to words, “I am well pleased with you.” Your hidden masculine soul is good. It needs healing. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18). Through brokenness God is raising up men who are both “strong and tender,” not “soft and sensitive.”