Saturday, June 22, 2019

Quest for manhood

I'm going to comment on a statement by AD Robles.  

He did a follow-up to elaborate on his position: 

1. The aim of my post is not to dissect his tweet but to use it as a launchpad to briefly review masculine ideals. That's an urgent issue. Many men lack a clear masculine ideal. That's in part because many men come from broken homes. They were raised by single moms. They don't have brothers. So they lack natural role models of masculinity. 

In addition, secular progressives are making every effort to destroy normative masculinity. And that leads to further confusion.

2. Robles says "effeminate" men should be church disciplined. He quoted 1 Cor 6:9 to prooftext his claim. Unfortunately, his appeal is fallacious. "Effeminate" isn't the most accurate translation of malakoi, although it may have been more accurate in 1611. At the most general level, malakoi denotes homosexuals. And it specifically denotes the anal-receptive partner in the transaction. A catamite or butt-boy. 

That's hardly synonymous with "effeminate". While there's overlap between queer men and effeminate men, some queer men aren't effeminate (in the sense of swishy) while some effeminate men aren't queer. 

Perhaps Robles is using "effeminate" in a broader sense than swishy. Maybe he means guys who fail to embody masculine virtues. 

3. We need to distinguish between manliness and projecting a macho image. There are guys who have the image down pat (beer, beard, tattoos, pickup truck, gym rat, colorful language), but they are totally dependent on modern technology. Some have none of the survival skills or problem-solving skills which men were expected to have into the early 20C. Machismo is playacting. Don't confuse masculinity with masculine affectations. 

4. I agree with Robles that church is a place where guys should be taught Christian masculinity. But what's the standard of comparison? Who's manlier–hipster Jeff Durbin or dapper James Kennedy? There are many visions of manliness. Consider some examples:

ii) The medieval chivalric code

iii) The Epic of Gilgamesh, Ramayana, Mahābhārata, Iliad, Beowulf, Song of Roland, Tom Brown's School Days, Last of the Mohicans, Red Badge of Courage.

iv) The Dangerous Book for Boys (Conn and Hal Iggulden); Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants (Doug Wilson); Defending Boyhood: How Building Forts, Reading Stories, Playing Ball, and Praying to God Can Change the World (Anthony Esolen)

v) Tough-guy actors, viz. Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Charlton Heston, Hugh Jackman, Burt Lancaster, Bruce Lee, Steve McQueen, Robert Mitchum, Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Edward G. Robinson, Richard Roundtree, Kurt Russell, Tom Selleck, Frank Sinatra, Christopher Walken, John Wayne, Bruce Willis.

vi) Actors who alternate between tough guy and debonair ladykiller, viz. Humphrey Bogart, George Clooney, Sean Connery, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, James Mason, Gregory Peck, Vyacheslav Tikhonov.

vii) Soldiers, jocks, cowboys, hunters, explorers.

5. Which of these represent good role models of manliness?  

i) Masculine criteria:

• The Book of Proverbs

• Qualifications for elders and deacons (1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9).

• Christian duties and virtues (e.g. Eph 5:25-31; Gal 5:19-23).

ii) Masculine role-models:

• Biblical heroes of faith, viz, Heb 11, David, Daniel, Joseph, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, St. Paul.

• Christian missionaries

7. Final note: real men don't watch Disney Princess movies. Manly dads don't let their sons watch Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street. Don't raise your son to be a nancy boy!


  1. What is your take on Mr. Rogers (besides the obvious of him not being a good role model). I for some reason see a lot of secularists praising him, but not necessarily for good reasons (being a Christian and keeping your mouth shut is not a good reason).

    1. #7 was satirical, although satire satirizes truth. I never watched Mr. Rogers as a boy. I only know it by reputation. I've seen some clips. It just strikes me as pansy fare. A parody of the emasculated minister. Reinforces a damaging stereotype of Christianity.

    2. 1. I too see secularists praising Fred Rogers (and Bob Ross) on YouTube, Reddit, etc. I think that's because Rogers projects the image of the "nice guy". A non-threatening man whose primary pursuit in life was teaching children to be nice to one another. I guess Rogers is popular today in part because we live in a feminized culture. A culture which idolizes the feminine over and above and even to the detriment of the masculine.

      2. Rogers does strike me as effete. For example, I can't see Rogers having my back in a street brawl. I can't see Rogers giving me advice that could sustain me for a lifetime like (say) a good team coach or drill sergeant might. Such as when I encounter profound suffering and evil in life. "Look for the helpers" only goes so far.

      3. Also, I think many women could do what Rogers did and even better than he did it. Indeed, Angela Santomero's Daniel Tiger might be a good example. (Dads know what I'm talking about! That's why I prefer classics like Tintin, Jonny Quest, DuckTales. Stories involving brave and derring-do adventures and explorations!)

      4. By the way, at least to my knowledge, Rogers was more of a liberal Christian. For one thing, he graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary as an approximate (though older) contemporary of John Frame's. Frame writes about PTS in chapter 4 of his Theology of My Life:

      "My Pittsburgh friends, however, had other ideas. Mostly, they wanted me to enroll at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. This was the seminary from which most of the Beverly Heights interns had come, where among the teachers were Bob Kelley, James L. Kelso, and John Gerstner. But many of the other teachers there were liberal, and that was the predominant orientation of the school."

  2. Glad you are mentioning this, Steve!
    I was unsure of what was meant in earlier posts on this issue but, this clarified for me.
    I am sick of overreactions by Wilsonian and Bayly types who try to reinforce a contrived stereotype. It also gives the impression that godliess is extraordinarily different between the sexes and as an ad on.

  3. "Final note: real men don't watch Disney Princess movies."

    Dude, you just triggered Manata!

    1. Now we know why Manata is a gym rat: to compensate for watching Disney Princess movies!

    2. The classic Disney Princesses and some newer ones are good role models for girls: hardworking, humble in their menial chores, responsible, they EARNED their happily ever afters (Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Tiana).

      More modern ones are a mixed bag - layabout princesses but mitigated by their level of wealth (Jasmine, Anna); rebels who go against their expected responsibilities but for a selfless reason (Mulan, Moana).

      The WORST by a longshot is Pocahontas - chasing after riverbends while the rest of her tribe desperately races against time to survive another winter. Sure is privileged being the big chief's daughter!

      On the guys side, you do have some decently heroic examples who are brave and/or self-sacrificial - Beast, Eric, Phillip, Tramp.

  4. Another thought just occurred to me, what do you think of the phenomenon of tomboys? The idea of women/girls tinkering with engines or DIY seems to go against traditional norms, but is culturally seen as being more or less harmless. I suppose it's a matter of degrees. Thoughts?

    1. I don't have a problem with Tomboys. I think some girls natural like to hang out with guys doing guy stuff. The problem is when normal girls are brainwashed into believing superheroine propaganda.

      Some girls may be Tomboys as a result of socialization, viz. if they grow up with brothers in a family of ranchers and hunters.

    2. Moses would like to have a word with you in Deuteronomy 22:5

    3. Dress codes are highly variable in time, place, and social class. I don't think Deut 22:5 was designed to rubberstamp every culture's dress codes.

      In addition, there's a difference between a girl who naturally prefers to hang out with guys and do guy stuff to, say, a drag queen who's audaciously subverting inherent differences between the sexes.