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Toxic masculinity happens when men stray from God’s design

By AL EARLEY

Religion Columnist

The Gillette Razor Co. certainly created quite the stir when they posted their new YouTube commercial.  The interesting thing is that the dislikes outnumber the likes by two to one.  Their target audience, men who use their razors, clearly feel betrayed.  Many men claim they will never use Gillette products again after decades of loyal use.  I watched the commercial and found at times, I resonated with the themes focused on bullying and harassment.  At other times, I felt manipulated by the many brief scenes, that gave no context, and seemed stereotypical of modern attacks against something that the culture seems to think is innately wrong with men.  It has become known as “toxic masculinity.” 

I don’t think the problem is toxic masculinity, but toxic humanity.  Women are not immune from their toxic personalities, so next week I will write about “toxic femininity” (Hopefully my column will survive these next two weeks). 

God did not create us to be toxic men and women.  To get at the heart of the problem, we need to get at the heart of how God created us.  How are men wired?  What gets us excited about life, why do we get in trouble?

To do this I like the study of masculinity found in John Eldridge’s book “Wild at Heart.”  Eldridge writes in his field guide, “To get your masculine heart back, you cannot begin with more duty and obligation.  You must begin with your deepest desires.  What makes you come alive?  Somewhere down in your heart are three core desires: a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue,” (p. 8). 

We start with God’s original design, that we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  Then notice where God puts Adam.  The Garden of Eden is an amazing adventure-land with great rivers and forests.  Read Genesis 2:8-14 with the eye of an adventurer.  As a lover of canoeing, all I want to do is build a canoe and go on some amazing adventures.  I want to find a cliff and jump into the water.  My blood is boiling with excitement just thinking about such adventures.  God is always calling the men of the Bible to great adventures, from Abraham leaving the safety of his father’s home to go to Canaan (Genesis 12), to Peter walking on the water with Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29). 

God also wired Adam to fight great battles.  His first and most important battle was to follow the only rule given to live in the Garden of Eden: Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).  God makes the frightened man Gideon a mighty warrior, as he announces through his angel, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  God gives us his armor to fight against evil, as we read about the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18.  We need a battle to fight, as long as it is God’s battle.

As God looks at the garden there is no mate suitable for Adam, so God creates Eve.  Adam describes her as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.  God’s desire, his perfect plan for marriage is that the two will become one (Genesis 2:20-25, Mark 10:8).  God’s word to Paul in Ephesians 5:25 is “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” 

Of course, Adam became passive when the battle was to protect Eve from Satan’s temptations, and their sin brought the fall of all creation from God’s original perfection.  As sinfulness entered creation; so did toxic masculinity.  We become toxic when we stop seeking God’s perfect plan for our lives, and therefore stop going on God’s adventures, fighting God’s battles, and becoming one with the beautiful women God has chosen for us.  Our adventures and battles become dangerous to ourselves, and others without any good purpose and we treat our wives and other women in ways that fall far short of God’s design for the relationship between the sexes. 

The key to understanding our predicament is not to blindly attack men, but to realize God has made us a certain way, and when we stray from his design, we become toxic.  Men, do you struggle with passivity?  When was the last time you did something that made your blood boil with life?  Was what you did to serve God, or yourself?  What changes can you make to get closer to God so you can get closer to your original design?  God wants to make each of us the best that we can be. 

To find out more about Al Earley, or read previous articles visit lagrangepres.com.