After listening to Michael Cosper’s podcast about The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, it has got me again thinking about post-patriarchal manhood.
In the podcast, I keep hearing constant references to movies like Fight Club and Braveheart, combined with Driscoll’s habitual derision against wimpy or effeminate men. In Ep. 5, “The Things We Do to Women,” we saw the dangerous mix of sexualizing women and stressing their servitude to men! Whoa, that was a heavy episode!
But not everything Driscoll did was bad, he challenged Christian men to be more responsible, to be better husbands and fathers, be active rather than apathetic in career and home, and that was a genuine act of counter-cultural theology in a world of absentee fathers, porn addiction, and selfish, lazy, and immature young men.
This is why I think Driscoll garnered a following and was popular on his crusade for Christian manliness.
Here’s the thing: Men, including Christian men, want to be told how to be a man and they can be very insecure as to whether or not they are doing it right.
If you don’t give men a do and don’t list, or set before them an examplar, then they will either:
(a) find someone who like a Mark Driscoll, Doug Wilson, or Jordan Peterson who will tell them;
(b) absorb and amplify whatever it is they see around them, from violent fathers, to misogynist friends, to Mister Rogers; or
(c) withdraw from social interaction and relational commitments out of a mixture of confusion and fear as to how to act.
Here’s my point, men want and need mentors who teach them and show them how to be male. There’s a time to tell a dude, “Harden up bruv,” as well as ask him, “Name your top three female role models.” There’s a place for saying, “If you hear a woman scream, you run towards the scream,” as well as teaching him, “Jesus and Paul used maternal imagery to describe their mission and ministry as a positive thing.” Men need to learn, “This is how you change the oil on a car,” all the way through to, “If you wanna do ballet, that’s cool man, those dudes are buff and they hang out with a lot of women.”
The alternative to Christian patriarchy is not a non-gender specific list of virtues, but something that is relatable to the broad spectrum of male experience, a cruciform masculinity that helps men live in ways congruent with the teachings and example of the Lord Jesus Christ.