Detoxifying Humanity

Has anyone not seen the Gillette commercial? I’ll wait while you watch it.

It’s pretty amusing to see who is getting triggered by this ad. Many are acting like this is an attack on masculinity.

But I didn’t hear that word in the ad except for a few background overlapping voices. Is this ad really an attack on masculinity or is it an attack on terrible people in general?

To be fair, the ad is aimed specifically at men. You don’t see ads like this aimed at stereotypes of women being catty or nagging. Instead, you see ads which tell women they are ugly and not good enough, which is just as bad if not worse. Not to mention the classic “sex sells” concept in advertising, use women as bait and people will line up to buy your products. Even the ads that claim to stop shaming women for their choices carry the subliminal message that they really should choose Product X instead of doing Y.

While some may say it’s a bad PR move to imply most of your customer base is aggressive and rapey, there is absolutely nothing wrong with what they are trying to tell men. In fact I see no reason to be triggered at all by this ad. As one of my friends joked, he was only bothered by the fact it “barely scratched the surface of” human depravity. Ads like this should force introspection. You should ask yourself “am I like that?” If you are, change, if you aren’t, be glad and help others to change.

So why aren’t men just being introspective over this ad? Why are so many of them fussing and claiming their masculinity is being attacked? Definitions are important. Words don’t mean much anymore. “Masculinity” means different things to different people. It’s a cultural concept with a moving definition. Most of the left wants to define it by vices. The right by virtues.

None of the vices I have seen associated with the term make me think of the male gender exclusively. A jerk is a jerk is a jerk. A female jerk is just as horrible as a male one. Being a domineering, tyrannical adult-child is also horrible (but you never see the term “adult-child” just “man-child” do you? Hmmm…). Even though there are some hormonal influences that predispose the two sexes to different levels of aggression there is no logical reason to assume it’s a purely male tendency. Women can be and are frequently just as aggressive as men. Just this week I have witnessed an equal amount of bullying from girls on boys as boys on boys and boys on girls, it’s a universal problem. Being aggressive is a bad quality in anyone.

Unwanted sexual advances are just as awful from a woman as from a man (trust me, I’ve experienced both). Despite common myths, men, especially young men, do experience sexual assault and rape. The numbers are not as great, but the crime is just as egregious.

Likewise, all of the virtues I see attributed to “masculinity” are virtues we should laud in all people. Where but in the most tyrannical and oppressive places in the world is bravery, courage, strength, nobility, intelligence, and a desire to defend righteousness considered bad traits for a woman to have? Who decided character traits are dependent or associated with genitalia and chromosomes?

Being a good man means being a good human being. It means channeling one’s passions into productive and creative pursuits. It means building others up with love. It means being humble enough to admit you have feelings and emotions and you are capable of empathy, sympathy, and compassion for others. Being a good man means using your strengths for good, not evil. Do not harm others. Do not worship violence and destruction.

To praise the fact that men are “destroyers” and conquerors of nations is merely praise for worldly vain-glory. Destruction and enslavement of others is hardly something to be proud of. We should be working for a more peaceful world, not a more violence prone one.

Defending sexual aggression from either gender is pretty disgusting too. To act like words and actions are merely joking around and those hurt by them should lighten up is an attitude for thugs and tyrants. God created sexuality to be a wonderful thing, do not cheapen it by making it a joke or a weapon (or as advertising). Our sexuality is one of the most vulnerable characteristics of us humans, one that is easily damaged.

Instead of trying to detox “masculinity” specifically, why not work to detox all of humanity of it’s vices and sins? Instead of getting triggered by an advertisement that is trying to tell you to behave better, why don’t you look at yourself and ask if it’s true?

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Putting The “Justice” Into Social Justice

If you pay any attention to the modern world you’ll notice a buzzword floating around that might be a bit confusing for literalists like me. When I hear a term I pick apart it’s meaning just to be sure it’s being used correctly. Probably the most overused buzzword floating around right now is “social justice.”

Recently there was a meeting headed by John MacArthur to come up with a Christian response to the term. The group came up with a 14 part “Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel”. I plan on combing through it over the next few days and give a good summary of what I agree with and disagree with. From my initial scanning I will say I am not totally sold on it.

The more I research the term the more nebulous it’s meaning. Just like the term “toxic masculinity“, the definition of the term “social justice” seems dependent on one’s political beliefs.

What’s my definition of “social justice”?

The “social” part is not hard to understand and for the most part I think people use it correctly. It’s pretty hard not to. “Social” just refers to people. The term clearly refers to how we treat people.

The “justice” part is much harder to understand.

“Justice” is defined by the Google as: “just behavior or treatment”, “the quality of being fair and reasonable”, “the administration of the law” which is somewhat helpful, if we can define “just”, “fair”, and “reasonable.”

“Just” is defined as “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair” which seems clear right? It’s also defined as “(of treatment) deserved or appropriate in the circumstances.

So who decides what is fair? Fairness is a rather subjective thing. “Deserved” is also a relative term, especially in this day and age of entitlement nonsense.

These definitions are pretty cut and dry when speaking in legal terms. When a civil violation or a criminal action takes place fairness and a deserved retribution can usually be pretty easy to parse out. In “Social Justice” however, fairness and deserts can mean just about anything.

That leaves us with “morally right” and “appropriate in the circumstances”.

As a Christian, I have a basis for the moral treatment of others in scripture: “Treat others as I would have them treat me” “Love my neighbor” and “love my enemy”. To be socially just I must take pains to ensure I am loving those around me. Add “appropriate to the circumstances” and this becomes a slightly more difficult task.

Social justice as a Christian requires a great amount of discernment and attention to individuals. We cannot approach the subject as the pagan world does with blanket platitudes and government programs. We have to be involved with individual members of all classes, races, genders, religions, and whatnot.

To be just we must know what our neighbor deserves (love, first and foremost) in their individual circumstances. We must treat our enemies with love, understanding that they may deserve different things than our family or neighbors (again, they deserve love, but tempered with caution).

Social justice is a silly term for Christians to use. We have had the golden rule for millenia, why use such a trendy buzzword?

I’m just going to keep on treating others with love and kindness.

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The Toxicity of Masculinity

A well articled subject.

Buzzwords are notorious for having hard to pin down definitions.

Definitions of buzzwords are frequently dependent on the social or political persuasion of the individual being asked. This is why I tend to avoid them, they are imprecise and often meaningless to a real search for truth.

One such buzzword (buzzphrase?) getting a ton of use lately is “Toxic Masculinity” (“TM” for brevity).

I have seen “TM” used by hard core feminists and not so hard core feminists alike. “TM” gets blamed for everything from manspreading to mass shootings.

Basically anything that men do in quantifiable measures more than women can be reduced to “toxic masculinity” depending on who you talk to.

I am a fan of one definition I found. This is the definition that describes toxic masculinity as a cultural push to make men into “manly men”.

In “TM” culture, men are supposed to be hyper-sexual, hyper-aggressive, unemotional, aloof, and unable to nuture or show compassion. Any man who is not “manly” on these terms is a “cuck” or any number of other derogatory terms. I have no problem opposing that kind of “toxic masculinity”.

It is destructive to men and women to define men in such terms.

It’s not just the culture at large where we see this push. The concept of “wild” men is quite prevalent in the church as well. Men are supposed to be “wild at heart” and their wives should not seek to “tame” (ie emasculate) them by insisting on their emotional availability. Men are supposed to be strong and quiet and never let their wives see them as weak or insecure (ie human). Godly men don’t need to be corrected by their wives, that would undermine his role as strong leader. He is to be left to his own devices, after all, God did make him strong for a reason.

This kind of “masculinity” is just as repugnant as the world’s view of men as womanizers and aggressors. But, as one article points out, it’s a culture, not a real masculinity. The problem is not masculinity itself, but the way we have defined it.

Frequently I see “toxic masculinity” used whenever any injustice (real or perceived) against women occurs. By this definition “toxic masculinity” is at play even when something as simple as a book without a strong female character is in question (or if that character is a “strong female“) .

If women aren’t proportionately represented in a particular job class, it’s probably the fault of “toxic masculinity”. If a man rapes a woman, he must have been raised in “toxic masculinity”. In the mind of many of the hyper-feminists out there, it seems like nothing ever happens apart from it.

Could it, in the definition I appreciate, be at play in any and all of these things? Maybe. But always? And to the point where every time a disproportionate hiring or a rape or a mass shooting occurs we need to automatically place it in the “guilty” category?

I don’t think so. Nailing down why a bad thing happens in this world is hardly ever simple, labeling it with a buzzword to raise “awareness” (another buzzword) is not going to stop it from happening again.

I also have seen “toxic masculinity” blamed when any gendering of a person takes place. If you call a girl “pretty” or a boy “handsome” or “strong” without correcting your speech to say boys can be pretty or girls strong you are guilty of a pernicious crime. In this view any promotion of gender differences is automatically supporting “toxic masculinity.”

Gender differences do exist. The problem is not that genders exist, the problem is that we gender things. We gender colors, blue is a boy color, pink is for girls. We gender toys, dolls are for girls, cars are for boys. We gender personalities, females are nurturing, males are rough and aggressive.

It is not the fault of toxic masculinity that boys can’t like pink and play gently with dolls. It’s the fault of a culture that likes efficiency in distinction. “Boys are boys and do these boy things. Girls are girls and do these girl things.” Our culture likes cut and dry distinctions, anything outside of the norms makes it uncomfortable.

I think this is also why buzz words and catch all phrases gain such traction. It is easier to blame a concept of “Toxic Masculinity” when men do horrible things than it is to dissect individual factors.

I have a hard time adopting phrases that get adopted by the uber political class. They water down and change meanings all the time to fit their needs. Words and phrases get overused and misused and no one can quite pin down exactly what is being communicated.

Words have meaning, and words without meaning have no place in rational discourse.

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The Exhaustion of The Hunt

Maybe I have mentioned this before, I’m a romcom aficionado. I get all teared up and then all warm and fuzzy after watching them. Even a good romantic drama gets me right in the feels. I’m sappy. Too sappy.

There is a common theme in a lot of these comedies, a theme that has also shown itself in stand up routines and has seeped into my own social life: finding a mate is hard work.

My wife and I occasionally have the “if you died” discussion (sounds morbid I know) and we have both come to the conclusion that we would end up old spinsters.

Well, she thinks she would be, and I think I would be, but we are pretty sure the other would be just fine.

She’s hot, she’s hilarious, she has other qualities that would be inappropriate to discuss on this blog, why would she have a problem finding a man?

I’m hot (apparently), I have a great personality, I connect emotionally, and I’m good at… things…. Why would I have a problem finding a mate?

Because the market sucks!

I don’t envy the 20 and 30 somethings out there playing the field and trying to pick up women. I don’t wish to trade places with anyone trying to find someone to settle down with. Even the thought of perusing dating apps and bars and even church is enough to make me want to stay single.

From what I can tell listening to comedians and friends, people are mean. They are deceitful, manipulative, emotional, selfish, and ugly. All the attractive ones (ie not like those) are taken. It is an awful world out there for love.

Even if I managed to snag a good one, it wears out my spirit just thinking about going through the initial stages of a relationship right now.

I remember the boiling passion of our early relationship, it would be insane to go back to that. I am quite content with the simmering passion we have now, the kind that occasionally flashes out of the pan, but never leaves us feeling burned out by the other.

If I ever end up in the market for a new lover, I will probably end up taking out a want ad in the paper, asking for a particular set of qualifications, a photograph, and a promise that she is not nearly as sappy as me.

Because that would just be too exhausting.

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Daily Thoughts #61

Put students first, except the ones with your opinions…

I’m so glad we live in a tolerant nation. So tolerant they screwed my friend out of an important opportunity because the powers that be found something “derogatory” on his social media. Maybe it’s just me, but simple opposition to someone’s life choices or habits hardly qualifies as “derogatory.”

Glad I did my research and discovered that drinking my Kentucky Mules from unlined copper will NOT give me copper poisoning. Unless it has been sitting for a day or two, and I drink a liter, if either of those are true I have other problems.

It was a slow day today. Which is good. I needed one!

If anyone is in the Cloudcroft, NM area I have several more days of loneliness (yes, even with the five kids loneliness does occur), maybe you want to hit up the brewery? It would be fun to meet a reader. Any of the three out there….

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Fatherhood Is Not Babysitting

This was in a Facebook group I’m in. Most people got the joke. One guy commented:

“What exactly is this meme saying?

Why is the woman abandoning her God given role as mother “for the next few days”?

Why is the father being regarded by both women almost as a boyfriend?”

My response was “you gotta be trolling.”

But looking at his timeline I really don’t think he was. His posts show that his worldview assumes men and women were created exclusively for distinct “roles”, women to pump out babies and stay with them constantly until they are capable of pumping out their own, and men to go out of the house most of the time to till the fields and provide the means to buy food (which definitely falls into the woman’s role). These roles are rigid and unbending.

I’m not completely opposed to the idea of roles. In any organization, such as a family, division of labor is helpful to ensure that all jobs are taken care of.

But implicit in this guy’s worldview is the idea that men are incapable of raising children. The fact that a woman would “abandon her God given role” and leave her children in the incompetent hands of their father is appalling. We all know men don’t have the capacity to nurture. We know their attention spans are way too limited to ensure the kids get all that they need to survive.

Implicit in this worldview is the concept that fathers are nothing more than babysitters when they take responsibility for the care of their children. If this guy had his way, the mother would never be out of the child’s presence. The father would will never be left out of his league watching the kids for a few days, let alone a few hours.

Maybe I am being uncharitable. Maybe this guy is a great father. Maybe he lets his wife “abandon her role” and go out occasionally. I don’t know.

All I know is I take exception to the idea that men are useless for raising children. I reject the notion that fathers are babysitters and the jokes about them needing “rescue” and being incompetent.

This guy may not have understood the meme, but I think most of us got the point loud and clear.

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Stop Thinking With Your Penis!

If you read Wednesday’s post, you might have also discovered that The Transformed Wife has many cringe worthy articles, way too many to respond to. But one post has got me particularly heated up.

It wasn’t the “risqué” image she chose, or the standard nonsense about how men are so visual and women are not. It wasn’t the usual “women need to be ashamed of their bodies and cover them completely so that men can’t be enticed by them” lines that got me riled.

That stuff is old hat. I have addressed the Modesty stuff before. The main points of the post were not at all shocking or new to me.

What was shocking was the very first comment:

“…Lori that picture for this blog post is one that could cause a brother to stumble. She is an example of what not to do. Would you please consider changing the image for one of a Godly-attired sister whose dress and shoes and pose will not lead a man who comes here seeking guidance for his wife astray? My husband Jeb is so thoughtful in finding materials that will help me grow (your book!) But he was a little shocked and surprised, and asked me to share his thoughts.

Really, Jeb?

If the image above gets you off, I sincerely hope you never leave your house or browse through any website. The amount of skin and shapeliness I see on a daily basis would send you running for the nearest restroom. Sorry to be a bit crude, but really dude?

If you can’t handle high heels and a little bit of calf, you probably aren’t taking every thought captive. You’re thinking with your penis, not your brain.

We need to stop this nonsense about how women are just a bunch of enticing objects that we can’t help but covet and lust after. We need to quit telling women that God made them a little too good and that we just can’t stop ogling them and making them into objects.

I thought the men going to her site seeking guidance for their wives were the Godly ones? These are supposedly the most self-controlled, upright, and good men out there. These are no men of the streets. And yet apparently they crumble at the site of some legs.

I am not saying that men don’t stumble. Men stumble over all sorts of things, sexually and otherwise. Men can literally make anything into something sinful. If women knew what could possibly make a man stumble she would never leave her bed (although even that in some men’s imagination can be twisted into something depraved).

What I am saying is that men need to grow up. Men need to stop whining about every good looking woman being a stumbling block to them. We need to stop seeing women as objects and start seeing them as beautiful image-bearers of God. We need to stop the limp-wristed weaker brother nonsense and start holding ourselves and others to a higher standard. We should expect men not to lust instead of assuming that they just do. No man has to sin, he chooses it because of wickedness.

So, Jeb, stop being weak, stop thinking with your penis, take your thoughts captive, and kill your sins.

Godly Men Want Godly Women, With Or Without Tattoos, Virginity, or Debt

I mentioned the other day how I learned God’s grace doesn’t cover sin when seeking a spouse, along with two other wonderful lessons of the week. Since this one got the most traction around the world I figured I would cover it first.

There is a blogger (The Transformed Wife) out there who wrote a post insisting that young men prefer young women who have no tattoos, no debt, and no sexual experiences. I don’t really want to give her traffic, but here is a link if you really care to read it. There are many many posts on there that are cringe worthy, so be careful.

Now, on the face of it I won’t disagree with her. Every young godly man would prefer a perfectly sinless, spotless, unblemished young woman. He would prefer a woman who has not, does not, and never will sin. Every young man and every young woman wants a perfect spouse. And yes, God’s ways are the best ways. Christ wants us to avoid debt and promiscuity. Christ wants us to live lives free from sin.

However, the author’s standards go a bit beyond God’s standards. Christ didn’t expect a perfect bride. Christ did not come to die for a perfect spotless bride. Christ came to live and die in order to create a perfect bride.

Also, while it is true that a perfect spouse would not have debt or a promiscuous past (tattoos? Maybe, maybe not), these are not the only standards by which we should live by.

A debt free, tattoo-less virgin may still be a backbiting, slanderous gossip. She may have an unrighteous temper. She may abuse alcohol or drugs, She might not be a Christian at all. She could easily be a pagan, a Hindu, or a Muslim. To claim that a lack of three very specific things makes her the ideal is seriously blind to the reality of the fallen world in which we live in.

A tattooed, debt-ridden, (formerly) sexually active woman may be the most godly woman you ever meet. She may have had a rough past which left her with a few marks and scars, but now she is on fire for the Gospel. She may have committed egregious sins in the past, but now since God has saved her and changed her heart, she is able to fully grasp what grace is and is able to give it abundantly to her (potential) husband.

Sure, everyone would like a spouse without baggage. The ideal spouse would not have a past. He or she would not have the same struggles as a person with a rough history. But honestly, how many of those people are really out there? It is rare to find anyone without at least a few things in their past they aren’t proud of.

And when you do find that rare individual, are they really ideal? First off, are they really being honest that there is nothing they are ashamed of? That should throw up a red flag right there. Second, does a perfect history really create the kind of character that is able to withstand the hardships of a marriage? Can a person who has never done anything wrong truly understand grace enough to give it to an imperfect spouse?

Personally, I want a woman who has endured some hardship and has come out of it stronger. I want a woman who understands forgiveness and is able to both accept and give it. I don’t care if she has tattoos, debt, or a “pure” body, as long as her desire is to worship and follow Christ with all her heart, soul, spirit, mind, and body, I am quite happy to be with her.

Normally, I would pick a post like this apart bit by bit but this one is almost so ridiculous that I don’t know where to begin. This woman is a Pharisee. She takes the laws of God and adds her own laws. She insists that only those who follow her laws are Godly.

“Your posts sound crazy to anyone who does not believe the Bible is true.” Well, I and about a million others who believe the Bible is true still think your posts sound crazy. No. Not crazy. Just laden with your own man-made laws and standards. We think your insistence on cookie-cutter Christianity is pretty disgusting and probably not pleasing at all to the Lord.

Christ didn’t come for a perfect bride, Christ didn’t come to save “good” people. Christ saves a variety of souls from a variety of backgrounds, geographic locations, family situations, ethnicities, cultures, and dare I say denominations.

Marriage is a mirror of the Gospel. If Christ doesn’t have a preference for debt-free, tattoo-less, virgins, neither should we.

On Being Boyish Or Girlish

Someone tell my daughter she’s too brave…

Brave, strong, energetic, fierce. What do you picture when you read those words? Rather, who do you picture? I dare say the person in your mind’s eye is a male.

Why?

Likely you have many reasons. Fairy tales, action movies, perhaps you even read the book “Wild At Heart”. We assume men naturally have these characteristics. And that these are positive traits. Men that lack them seem like less of men.

But girls that have them? Do they become less girly? No, quite the contrary: they are well recieved.

We actually value these traditional “male” traits more than traditional “female” traits like humility, quietness, meekness, and delicateness. Characteristics that can be considered “weak” are looked down upon in our “only the strong survive” culture.

We have so over-emphasized self-reliance that any trait that seems dependant on another person, like empathy or compassion, has become a flaw. Femininity, or rather what we have chosen to define as femininity, is weak. To be feminine is to be demure and vain.

Therefore, we are more than willing to accept a “boyish” girl. She is strong and self-reliant. She will not be a burden on our individualistic society. She will contribute to it by being in the workforce and producing independent, strong children (who she will give to the State to educate and raise, but I digress).

We can accept girls who don’t exhibit those traits. After all, they are girls. We can’t expect all but the most exceptional of them to act strong and independent. Girls who aren’t “boyish” are okay. They make good wives to the more “manly” (read: brutish) men out there.

What about boys who don’t exhibit those traits? What about ones who actually exhibit those feminine traits?

We have gotten to the point where it is just assumed they are probably gay. We have actually gone back in history and labeled many historical figures as such. Men who expressed deep love for other men and wrote passionate letters to them (not sexual, just passionate) must have been homosexual. I’ve even read theories that Jesus and John were a couple.

Apparently straight men are incapable of anything other than brutish vulgarity and everything they think, say, or do is basically sexual. If he is brutish and aggressive the man is straight, if he is gentle and passionate (yet restrained) he must be gay. Or at best asexual.

And gay, like feminine, is weak.

Why can girls be “boyish” but boys can’t be “girlish”? Because we are phobic of “weakness”, that’s why.

Boyish and Girlish

Oh look, a butterfly, so girly!

My wife sent me a link last week knowing that I would just have to comment. I have written at least three posts about the subject after all. I didn’t ask this exact question though: Why is it that girls can be “boyish” but boys can’t be “girlish”?

Perhaps that is the wrong question. The more pertinent question is: How do we define what is “boyish” or “girlish”?

The article in question discussed several points like clothing preferences (colors and sparkles) and personality traits like compassionate or caring vs agressive and aloof.

To the first: preferences like these are almost completely cultural. What one culture considers feminine may very well be masculine in another culture. Pink and blue are not inherently gendered. A flashy man is not a less masculine man. There just happens to have been a movement towards dull drab colors on men in our culture over the past 120 years or so. If your son likes rainbows and flash he is not less of a boy for it, he just likes something less boring than the current culture would like him to.

To the second: what makes character traits feminine or masculine? Sure, there are definite hormonal and physical differences between males and females that result in slightly different personalities, but these are hardly universal. And they aren’t even that big of differences when we really look at them. My sons are definitely different from my daughters, but the differences are so subtle I couldn’t tell you if it was gender or simply their personalities.

Why this cultural push to make gentleness and compassion a strictly “female” trait? Why assume that a gentle man is effeminate? Why assume a woman who is strong and courageous is “acting like a man”?

Personally I think we are a culture much too obsessed with sexuality and gender. Since when are people narrowly defined by who they want to have sex with? Since when does gender dictate every character trait and personality quirk?

It’s gotten to the point where people even worry about their sexuality in church. Someone was complaining that worship songs in their church sounded “gay” because they call God “beautiful” or express a sentiment of wanting to be with Jesus. While I could agree that the theology of these types of songs is usually lacking and they are usually set to fru fru tunes it is ignorant just to lay them out as “gay”. Are those sentiments incorrect? Was it “gay” when Jesus washed His disciples feet or when we are told to greet one another with a holy kiss? What is it about expressing love in a gentle fashion that is “gay” or even “unmanly”?

Back to the first question though: Why is it that girls can be “boyish” but boys can’t be “girlish”? For that answer you’ll have to wait for next week.