One way to create a good culture of masculinity is for men to have female heroes and role models. Let me name you some of mine:
From the Bible, Mary of course, the teenage peasant girl whom God chose to bring his Son into the world, to nurse him into manhood, then had to watch him die on the cross. No, I’m not going Roman Catholic any time soon, but we should all call Mary “blessed.”
From church history, so many to choose from, martyrs like Felicity and Perpetua, who were the epitome of faithfulness and courage. I admire the perseverance of Monica who prayed for her son Augustine to come to faith. Macrina the younger, sister of the Gregory of Nyssa, who was something of a spiritual muse to many. So many inspiring stories of Christian women.
When I wrote the second edition of my Evangelical Theology one of the biggest surprises was to learn about the life and writings of Sussana Wesley. The mother of Methodism did more than make tea and cake for her sons, the woman knew her medieval metaphysics and had an infectious piety.
Then there is the amazing and moving story about Ilse Fredrichsdorff and the confessing church in Germany during the second world war which I’ve already written about.
Among biblical scholars and theologians, I’ve always admired the work of Elizabeth Achtemeier, Morna Hooker, Lynn Cohick, Karen Jobes, and Flemming Rutledge.
There are many other women I admire for their work, valor, character, and perseverance in more secular areas such the Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jilani Jahangir, Canadian climate change scientist Katharine Heyhoe, Claire Lehmann the founder of Quillette, and Nigerian/British pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha.
Remember, you become what you admire, so if you admire some women, you will become like them. That, I submit, is a good vaccine against toxic masculinity.
Who would you put on your list of women to admire and imitate?