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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Time to Man Up

No obnoxious gym teacher in sight.
photo credit
I hate that phrase. Always have. Puts me in mind of drill sergeants or particularly dull and obnoxious gym teachers pushing you to scramble up a knotted rope in front of the whole class.

But I can’t think of a better way to say it.

Implicit in the platitude is the suggestion that the way you are behaving is unmanly, which is not a fair assumption. Possibly it also intimates that to behave like a woman is a bad thing.

Which it isn’t, of course — provided you’re actually a woman.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the decline of masculinity among millennials (and men of previous generations), and we looked at greed and the push for universal higher education as societal causes of the epidemic of malaise on the part of males generally, and their failure to assume their God-given role in the family.

Today I’d like to look at a third contributing factor:

Feminism and the Christian Family

First, real wages peaked in 1972. For 42 straight years average take-home pay has steadily diminished when measured against the cost of living as an increasing number of women entered the workforce. One may argue whether the increase was caused by feminism or whether it simply contributed to feminism, but there is probably some truth in both statements.

Some of this was necessary, and the independence and employment of an increasing number of women has had certain socially beneficially effects; that is indisputable. In some individual cases the employment of women is inevitable and even desirable. Employment, even for diminishing returns, is still preferable to the predations of the welfare state. But in other cases, the increasing participation of women in the workforce has been driven by nothing more noble than peer pressure or a desire on the part of husbands or wives for upward mobility or security.

And, of course the drive for wage equality for women still underway has contributed significantly to the downward pressure on the average working wage. Faced with the prospect of equalizing pay for men and women, it is hardly shocking that employers have elected to pay men less rather than paying women more.

The bottom line is: Men, most of you will, over the course of your career, make a whole lot less than you otherwise would.

Second, feminism in society has led directly to the pleasingly equalitarian but entirely unscriptural doctrine of “mutual submission” in Christian circles, rather than the home order established in creation and taught by the apostles. This in turn leads to a reluctance to establish clear spheres of responsibility in the home, and therefore to unnecessary conflict. How much pressure does it create on the finances of modern Christian families when nobody has the last word on the family budget? How many Christian families are on shaky ground because of partners who butt heads over every single issue at home in pursuit of the world’s false idea of equality rather than dividing their responsibilities bibically? How many men simply check out of their responsibilities rather than fight about authority constantly? How many Christian wives have become the de facto heads of their households?

I don’t know that it’s even possible to quantify.

Feminism has impacted the economy in other ways that make it more difficult for men to find and keep good-paying jobs, but rather than invest more time analyzing a problem we can’t fix, let’s spend a few moments looking at the teaching of scripture on the subject of men, work and the family.

What Does the New Testament Say?

Notwithstanding the massive pressures on the Christian family, it is clear that it is not the Lord’s intention that we men all devolve into the wimpy millennial stereotype, no matter how much more pleasant and agreeable that might be.

I mean, after all, there’s a certain appeal to the abdication of responsibility. Who doesn’t like the idea of an extra income? Who couldn’t find a way to rationalize sending the kids to daycare or minding them ourselves while encouraging the wife to work when her job pays more than ours? What’s wrong with collecting welfare when society has made it next to impossible to find meaningful, well-compensated employment in our field of study?

Unless you read the New Testament, of course. Let’s remind ourselves what it teaches about a Christian man’s duties to family:
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:10)
This verse is much mocked by leftists, who insist the obligation to work was cultural and say delightful things like this about it when the verse is quoted by Republican congressmen as a reason to rethink the welfare state:
“What’s important to understand is working was secondary in this context, this is not so much a moral decree about work, the main message is a warning not to take advantage of the Christian obligation to feed the hungry, especially if you are screwing up the church and community tasked with doing that by behaving like a twelve year-old socialite …”
— DarkSyde, Daily Kos
The point remains that, whether “secondary” or not, Paul’s instruction here is to get out and get working. If this verse can be explained away, any verse can. It is often taken generally, but should be especially of concern to the serious Christian man.

Then there’s this one, which is even more explicit:
“… if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
(1 Timothy 5:8)
Stop and think about that: “worse than an unbeliever”. If you have any priorities for the development of your own character, put hard-working and dependable high up on that list. There’s more:
“… we labor, working with our own hands …”
(1 Corinthians 4:12)
We also have the example of the apostle himself, and those who travelled with him. If anyone might have been considered exempt from the obligation to provide for his own needs, surely Paul would qualify. But he never took advantage of his status to freeload.

Then there is this verse, which suggests that there is more for a Christian to consider than simply feeding his own family. Love should lead us to make every effort to set aside what we can in order to care for others who need our help as opportunity arises:
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
(Ephesians 4:28)
Time to Man Up

If you are a young Christian man entering your twenties and wondering what the Lord would like you to do with your life in his service, let me tell you, despite everything you see around you, that this is Job One: Learn to pay your own way, and to make a little extra so that you can take care of others.

Period.

There might be better ways of testifying to the greatness and glory of Christ in this life and with prayer and diligence you may find them, but I can assure you that if you fail to do your job in this regard, anything else you might do in your life, realistically, will not matter very much. Nobody will take you seriously, and rightly so.

Time to man up, I’m afraid, even if it seems like nobody else is doing it.

I still hate that phrase. But I can’t think of a better way to say it.

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