Book Plunge: The Toxic War on Masculinity Part 1

What do I think of Nancy Pearcey’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let’s take a break and review a good book. This is a book that I highly encourage all of you to buy immediately. You can buy it here and support what I am doing at the same time as well.

The scene is at a bar. College students frequent this bar for hanging out and socializing. In comes a 28 year-old man who tosses in a smoke grenade for confusion and then comes in and starts shooting.

In response are men who start pushing others under a table, especially the women, and shield them with their bodies. They break windows so people can escape and repeatedly go in and out of the bar leading people to safety.

From here, Pearcey talks about how the APA in 2018 said traditional masculinity is harmful, but then asks a question.

Who here showed traditional masculinity?

Hint: It’s not the shooter.

Real masculinity has been shown in history when the Titanic goes down and men watch as women and children are escorted off. A famous story has one man putting on his tuxedo so he can die as a gentleman. These men knew they were dying. They knew the women would go on. They accepted it.

This is not the problem.

Pearcey says that when we make a blanket statement though on masculinity being a problem, the solution is really for men to be emasculated. Not necessarily physically, shudder the thought, but at least psychologically and emotionally. She contends that masculinity is not toxic. Sometimes, strength is needed to protect the innocent. Masculinity as it was made is good.

When you denigrate manhood, many men remain boys. One aspect of this is a fear of commitment. Not a problem for many of them. It’s especially easy for them to get casual sex for instance, without having to commit. The very women complaining about men are the ones enabling the traits that they don’t want.

It’s not any better at church. David Murrow wrote a book called Why Men Hate Going To Church which is well worth reading. Jesus is often portrayed as a weakling. No. I am not saying Jesus should be some macho type, but we should be able to see Jesus as a man we want to be like. That could mean we need to change our idea of masculinity, but we definitely need Jesus to be a man.

But doesn’t the Bible tell wives to submit? Here’s something interesting. She cites Bradley Wilcox who says the most violent husbands in America are nominal Protestants who attend church rarely if ever. They have enough Bible verses they can use to justify themselves in their eyes without a worldview behind it.

By contrast, who are seen as the most loving and faithful husbands? Conservative evangelicals.

Why is it that churchgoing, theologically conservative family men test out as the most loving husbands and fathers of any major group in America? The key factor, sociologists discovered, is that these men have a strong commitment to the family as the foundational institution in society. They believe marriage is not primarily about individual fulfillment but about forming a stable, loving home to raise a family.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 38). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

These men know they are to cherish their wives. These men know they are to build a family. These men know this woman is going to be the mother of their children. Evangelical conservative wives have the highest satisfaction in their marriages and it’s not about gender roles and who does the workload. It’s about getting valued for your contribution.

Now some skeptical men might be saying “Yeah, but these are religious prudes.” Well, consider this:

Women who are highly religious also report greater sexual satisfaction than other women. This surprising fact turned up as far back as 1977 in a survey by Redbook magazine, and it has been repeatedly replicated. One study found that “for both the wives and husbands, feeling that God was part of their marriage was positively associated with sexual satisfaction.” Another study concluded, “When it comes to relationship quality in heterosexual relationships, highly religious couples enjoy higher-quality relationships and more sexual satisfaction, compared to less/mixed religious couples and secular couples.” The National Health and Social Life Survey, the most detailed analysis of sexual behavior in America, found that people in intact marriages who worshiped weekly “were most likely to report feeling wanted and needed during intercourse” (94.9 percent).

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 40-41). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Another important aspect is a conservative Christian approach changes men:

For example, anthropologist Elizabeth Brusco conducted a study of evangelicalism or Pentecostalism (she used the terms interchangeably) in Colombia. As a feminist trained in Marxist thought, Brusco expected to find that Christianity would be “a powerful tool of patriarchy.” Instead, she discovered that when a man converts to evangelical Protestantism, he stops drinking, smoking, gambling, and sleeping around. He begins to direct his money to his family. As a result, the household income goes up and the family’s standard of living increases. The children are better educated, they develop better life skills, and the entire family experiences upward mobility. Brusco concludes that conversion to biblical Christianity has the effect of “re-attaching males to the family . . . thereby dramatically improving the quality of life within the confines of the family.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 44). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

While many feminists see the biblical attitude as a problem, it’s quite the opposite:

Surprisingly, Martin argues that biblical Christianity has done far more than Western feminism to improve the lives of poor women around the globe. In her words, gender equality has been rigorously preached by Western development agencies and mainline church organizations. Yet, it is not Western feminism, even in its Christian variant, which has transformed for the better the lives of millions of poor women in developing societies. They have been “empowered” by a “regressive,” “fundamentalist” Christian movement whose theological rawness and lack of intellectual sophistication causes problems and embarrassment to enlightened Western observers. Martin concludes that “if there is a ‘women’s movement’ among the poor of the developing world, Pentecostalism has a good claim to the title.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 45). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Some might also think that these could be Puritanical attitudes, but as Pearcey shows, the Puritans get a bad rap. They were not living in the constant fear someone might be enjoying themselves. If anything, most men would love to hear things like this from the pulpit:

Another minister, William Perkins, wrote that sexual relations between a married couple should be “an holy kind of rejoicing and solacing themselves.” He insisted that sex is as “spiritual” as preaching: “Yea, deeds of matrimony are pure and spiritual . . . and whatsoever is done within the laws of God, though it be wrought by the body . . . yet are they sanctified.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 78-79). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The Puritans also preached against domestic violence. They had no patience for a husband who abused his wife.

In 1641 the Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted the first law anywhere in the world against domestic violence: “Every married woman shall be free from bodily correction or stripes by her husband.”42 The law was soon amended to include wives beating their husbands, as well as “unnatural severity” against children and servants. One Massachusetts man was even brought to court and fined when neighbors complained that he told his wife she was “but his Servant.”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (p. 79). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This all sounds good.

But how did we get from here to an age where you can have a hashtag with Kill All Men tweeted around?

We’ll take a further look at that next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)