Build Men and Rebuild Society
People throw around the phrase “toxic masculinity” to describe virtues of manhood that are far from toxic but needed in our world. To be clear, toxic virtues attributed to manhood exist. The beer-can-crushing-against-his-head tough-guy image is one. The guy whose sole mission is to sleep with as many girls as possible is another one. Those examples better qualify for the phrase “pseudo masculinity” or “cultural masculinity.” But there is a kind of masculinity missing in our culture often labeled as toxic.
The masculinity often called “toxic” can be virtuous. It’s biblical. Men who recognize their God-given responsibilities and live to fulfill them. These men look for one woman to marry and build a life with. They see their charge as leading and loving her as Christ leads and loves the church. These men recognize strength, both physically and spiritually, as important in their roles. Protecting and providing marks their focus. Whether they build businesses, work with their hands or minds, or are young or old, they recognize the call to vocation and not laziness.
These kinds of men desire children to raise. They are affectionate fathers, but also provide the discipline and structure needed for their children. They require their children to honor their mother and look after their siblings.They instill instruction in the Scriptures to their children, oversee their educational path, and nurture each one’s God-given abilities and personality. They give their children a vision for a life that glorifies Christ in all they do.
Virtuous men are church men. They love and invest in the local church. They support the work of ministry with their money and teach their children about it. These men walk with other men, learn theology, and commit themselves to the church’s mission and ministries. They may serve in elder roles or in other ministry roles, but they also exemplify to others what healthy church members do.
The masculinity described above hardly exists today. It shows in our world too. Studies reveal how a man in the house has profound effects on the children that live in that house. We cannot replace fathers. The root cause of children growing into adults who are poor, abuse alcohol or drugs, or get incarcerated is not race, gender, or geographic place. It’s fathers. Dads in the home change everything. To rebuild our broken society requires rebuilding families. To rebuild families requires building virtuous, godly men.
In Genesis 8, Noah and all the creatures on the ark exit after a year on the flood waters. They entered as pairs of every kind. But the Scriptures say they exited by families. Why does this detail matter? One explanation offered is the creatures on the ark procreated during that year. That is a strong possibility. But this detail goes beyond the multiplication of creatures. Noah and his family, the creatures and all their kinds, exited the ark with the task and commission to repopulate the earth. They are to be fruitful and multiply. How is the LORD going to rebuild a society laid to waste because of sin? Through families. By building households.
The same strategy can rebuild society again. Churches must invest in men. Men need a vision to aspire to and chase. They need fraternity with other men who desire the same, who push them. Men thrive off challenge. The stakes are too high for us to continue producing what C. S. Lewis called “men without chests.” Lewis wrote, “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
What does he mean? Our society mocks what is honorable, yet wonders where the men of honor are. We castrate, yet demand fruitfulness. We don’t plant seeds for masculinity, but demand the fruits of its virtue. That’s our world now. We crave virtuous men and need them, but do everything we can to discourage manliness. “Men without chests” doesn’t refer to a simple lack of virtue, but the lack of heart to feel and take responsibility. Virtuous men not only do the right things, but feel the right ways. There is a time for gratitude and a time for anger. There is a time for keeping peace and a time for violence. Virtuous men do not choose peace at all costs, they know how to discern which response is required in each moment. We live at peace with everyone, so long as it depends on us (Romans 12:18). But virtuous men recognize others will not always let us have that peace. Sometimes virtue requires fighting.
Godly families committed to Christ as King, and His Word as their rule, would transform churches. Those churches would transform the world by shining like cities on a hill in this present darkness. Men are the foundation stones for this movement. Build the men and rebuild society.
Looking for a way to build up godly familes and godly young men? Check out The Engaging Truth Conference this fall at Ridgecrest Conference Center in NC.
Erik is the Lead Pastor of The Journey Church in Lebanon. He also founded Knowing Jesus Ministries, a non-profit organization which exists to proclaim timeless truth for everyday life. He is married to Katrina, and has three children: Kaleb (who went to be with the Lord), Kaleigh Grace, and Kyra Piper.
- Persevering: Moving From Cultural Conformity To Being Rooted In The Timeless Truth Of Scripture