I typically do not post in response to other posts or articles I find around the web, but today I’ll make an exception. I found this post entitled, “Masculine Pastors: The Battle They Face and Will Face Even More” over at What is Truth, a blog operated by an Independent Baptist pastor named Kent Brandenburg. My purpose isn’t to critically assess the post, mainly because I find myself in nearly complete agreement with it. Rather, I’d like to point the reader to it (RTWT) and use it as a jumping off point for some discussion of how men in our modern world can be “real men.” As such, even if the reader is not an Independent Baptist or a pastor, my hope is that both the original post and mine below will be useful.
It’s obvious to any reasonable observer that the Western world is undergoing a crisis of masculinity. Much of this is due to the constant assaults upon manhood made by feminism, especially once feminism (as part of the larger progressive Left constellation of interest groups) gained institutional acceptability and found itself in possession of managerial power (i.e. it became part of the “establishment”). Masculinity, as it has traditionally been accepted and expressed, is becoming more and more socially unacceptable, in large part due to the Cathedral’s use of the media to bring it into disrepute. This has been coupled with a legal regimen surrounding marriage, the domestic abuse industry, and divorce which assumes guilt on the part of men and generally tends to exonerate women, no matter how badly they may act. Buttressing this is a public education system that uses a largely female body of teachers to discourage “boys from being boys” through a combination of indoctrination and medication.
This is not the only area of society encouraging effeminacy. Pop culture as a whole (e.g. rock music) has encouraged men to look and act like women and to adopt an unhealthy and ungodly definition of “love.” As Western societies have become more urban and metrosexual, popular culture has channeled men in this direction. The Baptist preacher in The Waltons described by Pastor Brandenburg is an early example of this trend, a trend which reflected the increased “taming” of men that soft and effeminate modern urban life began to uphold as the ideal. Indeed, the so-called Rural Purge that occurred in American television between 1969-1975, in which a number of still-popular rural and western-themed shows were cancelled and replaced by shows dealing with “urban life,” helped to cement this direction in popular culture. Television moved away from programming that upheld traditional masculine ideals of toughness, responsibility, decisiveness, and honour (such as in many westerns) or which more generally tended to uphold and valourise country living (which, again, is disposed toward emphasising masculine traits of hard work and self-reliance) as “cleaner” and “better” than urbanity.
As a result, we see a growing effeminisation in many men, especially in the younger generations, occurring as a conditioned response to these cultural inputs. Men are to be “tamed” because their masculine traits are “no longer needed” in the sort of soft, civilised, technologically adept society in which women can push a button and have what they want just as easily as a man can.
In recent decades, this inclination has increasingly come to infect churches of all denominations. While Pastor Brandenburg specifically approaches this from a Baptist angle, let’s be frank – there are a lot of Evangelical, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox clergy and lay leaders who are also deeply feminised in their thinking and actions. And don’t even get me started on the Episcopalians. It used to be that “women preachers” were unheard of. Now they are commonplace. And wherever they enter in, they bring with them a radical departure from biblical, traditional Christianity. Even in churches with male clergymen, the real leadership is often still in the hands of the women of the church, whether officially or unofficially, who control the policy directions and teaching. Once the gangrenous rot of female leadership enters a body, it’s often impossible to stop the sepsis that follows.
Coupled with this is the fact that most modern churches, even if male led, have adopted the tendency to pedestalise women. The churches cater to women. Churches are supposed to make women happy. They need divorce care where they can support each other against their mean, brutish ex-husbands. They teach that the spiritual temperature of the home is determined by the happiness of the wife. If a husband isn’t making his wife happy, then he’s obviously not spiritual, he’s failing in his leadership of the home. This all derives from the unscriptural teaching that women “sanctify” men, rather than the husband leading his wife, even if she doesn’t understand or is unhappy about the direction he goes.
Is it really any wonder that more and more men simply drop out of church?
However, the opposite reaction – what Brandenburg calls “tortured masculinity” – is nearly as much a problem in that it emphasises and encourages traits and behaviours in men which are just as destructive both to true masculinity and to society as a whole as feminism has been. Much of this pseudo-masculinity can be found represented and promoted by the “pick up artist” community, and the “manosphere” in general. Real men don’t hold down jobs or support families, they travel the world fornicating with as many women as possible. Real men don’t exercise self-control, they get drunk and fight, gamble, or whore around. Real men aren’t “tied down” by responsibilities. In short, real men are dysfunctional and dyscivic. Much of this is a conscious reaction against the aforementioned tendencies in society, but it is a reaction which lacks a genuine biblical and rational foundation. In its own way, it is an emotional response to feminism.
As is often the case, the proper balance between effeminacy and tortured masculinity is found in the “golden mean” between these two extremes. This mean is found in a biblical and balanced masculinity which encourages men to be what God created them to be.
What does this mean in practice?
First – and before anything else can really fall into place – one must accept the truth of the old saw that “real men love Jesus.” A man who is incapable of rationally assessing his own place in the universe and before God is never going to be capable of real leadership or obedience to higher authority of any kind. As I’ve noted elsewhere, hierarchy is a key component of human social life, anywhere and everywhere and at all times. A man who refuses to acknowledge his place before God in obedience is one who will always have a skewed and degenerate understanding of leadership. Though he may fool himself into thinking that he is “strong-minded,” he is merely self-willed – which is not at all the same thing.
Perhaps the key trait that defines biblical and proper masculinity is that of temperance. Everything else I’m going to be talking about below springs from this. Self-control in all areas of life enables men to transcend mere genetic maleness into the realm of genuine masculinity.
Let’s talk about the physical first. While I do not believe that men should strive to look like world-class bodybuilders (I believe this pursuit represents an imbalance in the male total life), they should seek to be physically fit. I strongly oppose using I Timothy 4:8 as an excuse for physical laziness or lack of physical discipline. God created men to be strong. God created men to work. God created men to protect their families. And yes, while some men will be naturally be stronger or faster due to issues of size and genetics, this should not dissuade any man from seeking to improve himself in this area. You may not end up being the strongest guy on the block, but you can still make yourself formidable enough in general that some other guy, even one a bit bigger or stronger, will still balk at messing with your wife or children.
So yes, this means exercise. This means hitting the gym. This means repetitive physical exertion that will hurt and strain you. That’s where the temperance comes into play. It’s easy to sit around and do nothing. It’s not easy to work hard. Doing this requires a conscious effort of the will to overcome the natural intemperance of laziness.
Coupled with this is control over your food consumption. Let’s face it – man was not made to eat food stuffed full of high fructose corn syrup and butylated hydroxyanisole. Neither was he made to eat 5000 calories in a day that he only uses 2000. Stuffing ourselves full of cheap fast food and sugary sweets is a form of intemperance in that it goes for the quick, the easy, and the sensual. Children would gobble down candy and cookies all the time if we allowed them to. Men shouldn’t. Gluttony is also a form of intemperance, one which is common among American Christians. I can’t think of how many times I’ve seen even Baptist pastors waddling their way up for their fourth plate in the buffet line. As James said, “…My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
Men ought also to cultivate manly pursuits that will enable them to carry out the responsibilities that God has given to men. Men are supposed to be competitive. As George Patton so famously and profanely indicated, he wouldn’t give a hoot for a man who didn’t want to win. Men should play sports or otherwise engage in athletic activities in which they can put themselves to the test, striving to excel others and their own previous limitations. Men ought to develop skills that enable them to protect themselves and others. Men should become proficient in the use of firearms. A man should learn how to fight – not the be a brawler or bar fighter, but to defend himself and his family. A man should inculcate in himself a martial outlook on life that enables him to utilise defensive violence when necessary, so that he will not “go tharn” when the time for action comes.
Part of temperance and manliness is responsibility – for yourself, for others, for your duties. I don’t just mean doing your job – I mean making sure that you are the sort of person who is dependable and reliable, whose word can be trusted, who can be relied upon to meet your obligations. Pay your bills on time. Keep your promises. And if you mess up, be willing to step up to the plate and own up to your own error. It’s a feminine trait to try to “pass the buck.”
In his post, Pastor Brandenburg observed that feminine men in today’s generation will view men from previous generations who display traditional masculine traits to be “authoritarian.” This is exactly right, and well they should. Men were created by God to exercise authority – over their families, over creation, and within social hierarchy. Within their proper spheres, every man should be willing and able to exercise authority and exhibit traits of leadership. These traits include assertiveness, decisiveness, activity, and directness. Men should be willing to give orders and lead by both word and example within their legitimate areas of influence.
This authority most naturally extends to the home and family, which was the very first institution that God gave to man. Patriarchy is not a dirty word, but it is a vital component of any successful human civilization. Marital complementarianism, on the other hand, typically coincides with decay and degeneracy in human societies. Men and women were not created equal in authority. Men must step up to the plate and take leadership in their own homes. If they can’t do this then they will also fail to lead in churches, in the workplace, and in their nations.
This last, especially, will require a good deal of temperance on the part of men. Every trend in modern society is against this very thing. Exercising patriarchy is increasingly socially unacceptable, and in many cases close to being illegal. Men must be willing to bear that opprobrium and do what is right regardless.
Modern man finds himself in a crux – he must be masculine to perpetuate civilization worth having, but is trapped in a modernistic system that is designed to undermine that civilization-maintaining effort at every turn. As reactionaries, we must be part of the effort to restore masculinity in our Western society. Indeed, this is a vital, irreducible component in the “becoming worthy” part of the “Become worthy – Accept power – Rule” equation in neoreaction. We are currently seeing a period in which good times are producing weak men. We must be ready to endure the bad times that weak men produce so that we can be among the strong men who can help to restore good times.