A term we hear these days, which we never heard until just a few years ago, is Toxic Masculinity.
I think I understand the intent of those who use it; and I agree with their intent. It’s used in reference to alcohol-fueled frat boys who force their will on alcohol-incapacitated women; to sports thugs caught on camera slapping or kicking their girlfriends; to corporate creeps who think their business authority gives them the right to apply it sexually to the women they oversee; to the media titans shocked to discover that the groping license of the “old boys club” doesn’t apply any more.
If that is the intent of those who use the phrase Toxic Masculinity, I get it. When it comes to standing up for the inherent rights of women to be free from fear of assault, from discriminatory treatment, and from assumed privilege of men in power toward them, I’m with them. In my opinion #ItsAboutTime women were treated with the respect they deserve simply because they are a gift from God who created them in his own image.
But I reject the term Toxic Masculinity. In my opinion, there is no such thing.
There absolutely are toxic males (I refuse to call them men) who strut and pose on the stage of their own lives, suspecting they actually signify nothing. Males like the ones described above. Males who come to the end of their own sense of worth and potency and unleash their final fury on theater-goers, high school classmates, dance club-attenders, and outdoor concert revelers.
These are indescribably toxic males who never learned what it really means to be a man. They take as many victims with them as they can as they go out in a distorted “ blaze of glory.” They have nothing to do with genuine masculinity.
Masculinity, like femininity, is a gift from God. Each is a part of his character that He chose to reflect to humanity. Femininity reveals the profoundly relational, stunningly captivating, fiercely protective, life-giving nature of God. Masculinity reveals the powerful, action-oriented, life-defending, self-sacrificial nature of God.
Just as there are toxic males, there certainly are toxic women. They are sadly damaged and fallen. But just as there is no such thing as toxic femininity, there is no such thing as toxic masculinity. Both genders are, at their core, a sacred gift.
What is Masculinity? It may be hard to define, but we know it when we see it. Here is one of the best descriptions I’ve ever seen…and I love that it’s expressed by a woman. She knows that, though our world gives us far too many examples of toxic males, genuine masculinity is trustworthy, courageous and heroic. The world needs more of them.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.