LaShawn Barber wrote an article for “World” magazine entitled “the war on men.” She referenced a student gathering at Claremont College in California meeting to discuss masculinity. The common consensus was that masculinity “is harmful both to those who express it and those affected by it.” So, where does this leave the average male? An advertisement for the event said: “Masculinity can be extremely toxic to our mental health, both to the people who are pressured to perform it and the people who are inevitably influenced by it.” So, it appears that men must live with a masculinity that is “toxic”… I applauded Ms. Barber for her closing statement: “I hope men will push back against this anti-male tide, just as Christians have to push back against our diminishing freedom to live as Christians in all aspects of our lives.”
Toxic masculinity was also the topic at Duke University’s “Men’s Project.” The goal of the project was for male students to “critique and analyze their own masculinity and toxic masculinities to create healthier ones.” A nine-week course for “male-identified” students discussed such topics as male privilege, patriarchy, “the language of dominance,” rape culture, pornography, machismo, etc. The student newspaper insisted the course was “not a reeducation camp being administered by an oppressed group in service of the feminization of American society.” I have the sense that the young men and women in this course accept as fact that every man is “toxic” in his expression of masculinity.
I want to make a few comments on the word “toxic.” In a Google search, I found this definition of toxic: “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation.” Wow! People seem to be saying that masculinity is harmful to society. If so, I take strong exception to the word “toxic.” Speaking biblically, I would say instead that all males are afflicted with a sin nature: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). There’s no excuse for the gross, sinful behavior of men in our society. But our sin nature can be redeemed, renewed in the image of Christ.
My advice to Christian men who have to deal with their so-called “toxic” masculinity is to get rid of it like some old, ill-fitting clothes: “You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom made by the Creator, with his label on it” (Col. 3:9-10 – Message). God gives us a new wardrobe that will be unique for each man, allowing him to live out of his masculine soul. God does the changing. Our part is to choose to take off the old ill-fitting clothes. This involves repentance, surrender, and letting go of the old familiar ways that might be toxic.
Men, I invite you to join me in the cultural battle to help restore a godly, masculine presence in society. Yes, there is a toxic masculinity that has done much harm. But God is raising up a whole new generation of godly men. Through surrender to the lordship of Jesus, men are boldly, yet humbly, giving expression to a new expression of masculinity. To this I am committed. I take comfort in these words from Ps. 71:18, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”