‘Toxic Masculinity’ and the Only True Antidote
The antidote to this toxicity won't come by trying to eliminate, redefine or re-teach masculinity.
The left has stumbled onto a problem that has been around for a long time. Liberals call it “toxic masculinity.” Christians call it sin.
The liberal solutions will end up causing more harm than good. Why? Because they don’t understand the real problem of men in society and they try to fix it without the guidance of the only man who has the answer: Jesus Christ.
What is “Toxic Masculinity”?
So what is toxic masculinity? It’s a problem everyone reading this has probably known.
The father who abuses alcohol and abuses his family. The college student who takes advantage of women sexually. The insecure man who attempts to cope by emotionally or physically controlling his wife or girlfriend. The overwhelmed man who, weighted by stress from a demanding job, financial struggles or painful personal issues, becomes emotionally distant and even harsh.
It’s the father, husband, boyfriend, or classmate whose anger rages into violence and leaves everyone in their wake hurt and stunned. We’ve all known men like these. Some of us have been painfully and even dangerously close to them.
Liberals aren’t actually claiming that all men or all masculinity is “toxic.” They’ve simply coined a term to encompass the wide array of destructive behaviors that males are particularly subject to. They have some numbers to back this idea. For instance, men are overrepresented when it comes to drugs and alcohol abuse. The great majority of mass shooters are men.
The left deserves kudos for identifying a problem common to some males and trying to find some solutions. But because they can’t identify either the root of or answer to the problem, they’re unnecessarily trampling a lot of innocent things along the way.
The Left’s Problem, Despite Good Intentions
A prime example of this is a Salon article from last July. In it, David Masciotra tells the sad story of Kosta Karageorge, a football player and collegiate wrestler who committed suicide in 2014 at age 22. (Actually, Masciotra just retells the story, paraphrasing the majority of the New York Times’s feature on the same subject.)
Masciotra details young Karageorge’s extreme workout regimen, the multiple untreated concussions he suffered in childhood, the stress-induced bald spots that began before high school, and more.
If anyone is searching for an example of a good man, they need look no further than Jesus Christ, in whom there was and is no sin — or, to use the popular term, toxic masculinity.
The saga is an incoherent mix of facts about what seem like major parenting problems that the writer fails to separate from participation in innocent activities, like football or shooting sports.
For instance, right after detailing how Karageorge would regularly throw up in the high school cafeteria from an unhealthy abundance of protein, Masciotra writes, “It was at the age of 11 that Karageorge’s uncle and father first took him to the shooting range, and began their initiation of the boy into America’s weird gun culture.”
The Actual Problem
To me, Karageorge’s story sounds like the result of bad parenting, and perhaps the modern obsession many parents have with forcing their children to live like professional athletes. But Masciotra calls Karageorge’s story “a modern American tragedy” and “collateral damage of a war over manhood.”
This mixes correlation and causation. There is nothing wrong with big muscles, sports, guns, motorcycles, or an appreciation for the rough and rugged. But when people start idolizing these things (as Karageorge and his family apparently idolized physical dominance in the sports world), that becomes a problem. That’s what creates “toxic masculinity.”
The left’s answer to this problem is to label it and simply take the idols away. But people will just create more idols and misuse more things, because that’s what we do by default. It’s the person that has to be fixed, not the thing. And the only one who can fix the person is Jesus Christ.
If anyone is searching for an example of a good man in whom there was and is no sin — or, to use the popular term, toxic masculinity — they need look no further than the perfect man, Jesus Christ (1 John 3:5).
Jesus Christ, The Man
Like any aspect of human nature, masculinity can become “toxic.” In fact, it already is, because everyone is born with inherent sinfulness. The antidote isn’t trying to eliminate, redefine or re-teach masculinity. It’s being a man like Jesus.
In Revelation 19, Jesus is depicted as a warrior with a sword leading an army on a white horse. But he also washed the feet of his disciples — one of the most lowly expressions of servitude at the time.
Jesus doesn’t fit into stereotypes of masculinity of today or of the time he walked on earth. But he does set a fine example of true manhood — the emulation of which will do far more to solve the problem of “toxic masculinity” than any liberal solution.