Check Engine

[Today’s post is a guest post by reader Donald R., who has submitted a guest post before to plug his book about Christian marriage. Since I am somewhat tied up right now, I offer it without commentary, although I might do so later.]

Mark Driscoll on Young Men

[The rest is in response to the video linked above. To understand the post, you really need to watch the video.]

Mark Driscoll isn’t a bad guy. He can see that there’s a masculinity crisis facing this generation and he wants to tackle it head on. This is admirable. It’s true that many of today’s young men are beginning to shun traditional masculinity. They no longer seem to care much about the historical provider role and are often choosing to spend their twenties having fun instead of preparing to head a family. This trend obviously has huge implications for our society and it does need to be addressed; unfortunately, Mark’s proposed solution is misguided at best and may even make things worse in the long run.

From the video above:

Today, the average guy who’s in his 20’s is less likely than the average woman to go to college, to have a degree upon graduation, to have a job, to go to church, even to have a driver’s license.

So you guys who have no vision of future, career, no intent of taking a gal on a date maybe to get a wife out of the deal. Maybe you have a kid, you can’t take him to little league; you can’t go pick up your groceries. I mean, they’re not even thinking in terms of a legacy or a lineage or a future.

You gotta tell them that they’re wrong. That they’re absolutely wrong and they have no idea what they’re doing.

Guys just don’t think about anything other than a good time. And it’s about thinking about a good legacy, not just liking where you live but what legacy are you going to leave? It’s boys who can shave, man. It’s just a joke.

Mark has identified a cultural shift away from traditional masculinity; but the real question is, what is causing this shift? Have today’s young men really decided to collectively abandon traditional manhood out of sheer laziness, or are there other forces at work here? If the “check engine” light comes on in your car you’ve got two options – fix the underlying problem or unplug the light. Mark is suggesting that we unplug the light. To really fix the problem, though, we need to open up the hood and take a deeper look at the inner workings of our civilization.

When listening to Mark, one gets the distinct impression that he believes there to be some kind of external measure of manhood that today’s generation is failing to meet. Historically speaking, he is correct. The traditional view of manhood can be summarized in five basic points:

Traditional View of Manhood

1. Men have a role to play in society

2. It is their duty to fulfill this role

3. If they fulfill this role there will be rewards

4. If they don’t fulfill it they are shirking their duties

5. Men who shirk their duties aren’t real men

Mark is fully committed to this view and therefore believes that young men who fail to live up to a traditional male gender role are shirking their duties and not real men. But what if this was only half of the equation? What if the very concept of traditional manhood was built upon a delicate balance between the men and women of a society and that balance somehow got out of whack?

I believe this is precisely what’s happened. You see, guys like Mark always conveniently forget the fact that our civilization has spent the last hundred years completely redefining womanhood. In the old days, men and women had different (but complementary) roles in society. So, the flip-side of Mark’s traditional worldview should look like this:

Traditional View of Womanhood

1. Women have a role to play in society

2. It is their duty to fulfill this role

3. If they fulfill this role there will be rewards

4. If they don’t fulfill it they are shirking their duties

5. Women who shirk their duties aren’t real women

But our culture doesn’t view womanhood that way anymore. Today’s women are free agents, completely autonomous individuals who can choose whatever kind of lifestyle makes sense for them personally. This is not only accepted, but celebrated – even by the likes of the supposedly conservative Mark Driscoll. And it’s here that the system is beginning to break down.

Now, I’m not suggesting that gender roles ought to be so rigid that a society can’t make necessary adaptations as it grows and matures. But I do think it’s fair to say that the current masculinity crisis is largely an unintended consequence of the women’s liberation movement. In our effort to give women more options and freedom to self-determine their own identity, we have unwittingly opened Pandora’s Box:

Single young women in their sexual prime—that is, their 20s and early 30s … are for the first time in history more successful, on average, than the single young men around them. They are more likely to have a college degree and, in aggregate, they make more money. What makes this remarkable development possible is not just the pill or legal abortion but the whole new landscape of sexual freedom—the ability to delay marriage and have temporary relationships that don’t derail education or career. To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture. And to a surprising degree, it is women—not men—who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future. (Source: The Atlantic)

Men in their age group aren’t getting as strong a signal that working hard to become a provider will result in a long term relationship and later marriage … [therefore] a significant percentage of men haven’t felt the incentive to prepare themselves as a provider. Even worse, these [career women] pushed out men from their slots in school and the workplace. So the men they one day hope to marry both have less incentive to do the extra work and planning to become a provider and face additional obstacles to do so. (Source: Dalrock)

This, then, is the root cause of our masculinity crisis. It used to be that, by following society’s path of traditional manhood, a young man would gain socially approved access to sex and, by extension, a positive male identity through his role as a husband and father. But our society changed the rules in order to allow women more autonomy and, as a result, the rewards for men who follow the traditional path have begun to dry up.

Today’s young men are beginning to react to these changes by embracing autonomy, themselves. The net effect of this shift is that they often don’t work as hard in life. It’s easy to point the finger at these men, as Mark does, and complain that they are being lazy; however, this argument is ultimately futile. Because we have embraced the idea that modern women should be autonomous, we have no choice but to grant the same freedom of choice to modern men – even if we don’t like what they do with it.

With that being said, I do agree with Mark that the current trend is harmful to our society as a whole. But we can’t fix the problem by forcing men to keep playing by the old rules. Mark has this idea that young men somehow owe traditional masculinity to the world. They don’t. Traditional masculinity was earned by society through a complex system of incentives and rewards that were largely dependent on the counterweight of traditional femininity. With that framework dismantled, these men have every right to cast off the yoke society is attempting to place on them.

This is why Mark Driscoll gets it wrong. He thinks that, if he can just shame young men back into their old societal role, everything will go back to normal. But this plan is doomed to failure because it doesn’t address the root of the problem. The problem isn’t men; the problem is men and women. The whole system is down and it’s going to take all of us working together to get it back up again.

We need to re-calibrate the societal balance between masculinity and femininity if we’re to have any hope of fixing this mess. That means accepting and embracing the complementary natures of men and women as well as providing some kind of incentive for those who participate in the cultural re- awakening. How that will work in practice (if it will even work at all) is anyone’s guess, but it’s the only practical option we’ve got. We need to quit trying to unplug the “check engine” light and, instead, get busy working on the real issue – rebuilding the symbiotic partnership between men and women.

Advertisements

26 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

26 responses to “Check Engine

  1. RetailCrunch

    This is a nice analysis of the situation written in a way that could be understood outside of the ‘sphere. Good work.

    Some still possess and cultivate their masculinity or femininity, but the wide variety of life scripts people are following adds another layer of complication to the mating dance our young people perform.

  2. Deep Strength

    With that being said, I do agree with Mark that the current trend is harmful to our society as a whole. But we can’t fix the problem by forcing men to keep playing by the old rules. Mark has this idea that young men somehow owe traditional masculinity to the world. They don’t. Traditional masculinity was earned by society through a complex system of incentives and rewards that were largely dependent on the counterweight of traditional femininity. With that framework dismantled, these men have every right to cast off the yoke society is attempting to place on them.

    Agreed on the traditional masculinity front.

    On the other hand, because God created us in His own image we owe God our masculinity and therefore should be godly mature Christian men. Even if we are using it only for His glory.

    Whether a Christian man will decide to be an MGTOW so as to focus solely on God (1 Cor 7 “as Paul is”) or to search for a feminine women is ultimately up to a decision between him and God.

  3. Feminism has unleashed the unholy sextet of the pill, abortion, nofault divorce, mother custody, alimony and makework jobs. Womens naturally hypergamous natures are revved to maximum. Traditional masculinity is dead at the hands of the justice system.

    Men are the engine of civilisation. They do not do this to impress women. It is because we can. Men will continue to invent, sustain and improve, but the deadweight is increasing. In difficult times, women will need men more than ever. Alienating them seems like slow motion suicide. Though its commonly said, women are not strong at rational thinking, or cause and effect.

  4. deti

    “With that being said, I do agree with Mark [Driscoll] that the current trend is harmful to our society as a whole. But we can’t fix the problem by forcing men to keep playing by the old rules. Mark has this idea that young men somehow owe traditional masculinity to the world. They don’t. Traditional masculinity was earned by society through a complex system of incentives and rewards that were largely dependent on the counterweight of traditional femininity.”

    Spot on, and splendid.

    That’s the heart of the problem right there. It has been simply presumed that men and women could make all these changes to society, and men would simply do what they’ve always done – go to school, get jobs, get married. But what was happening on the marriage end was that they were being expected to date, marry and toss their bodies onto the machinery of society to support women who would divorce them a few years and a couple of kids later. Men respond to incentives; and if there are no incentives for men to act in a traditionally masculine manner, it won’t happen.

  5. “Traditional masculinity was earned by society through a complex system of incentives and rewards that were largely dependent on the counterweight of traditional femininity. With that framework dismantled, these men have every right to cast off the yoke society is attempting to place on them.

    This is why Mark Driscoll gets it wrong. He thinks that, if he can just shame young men back into their old societal role, everything will go back to normal.”

    If we were speaking purely from a secular perspective, then that would be a fair point. But within the framework of Christianity, God’s call to us as men and women transcends what other people do and transcends the state of society on the whole. That is, after all, a part of what it means to shine our lights brightly and be a witness to God’s truth. The question is: Who has God called us to be as men and women?

    I actually don’t think that Driscoll is appealing to “tradition” as much as it would seem. I think he believes in a particular type of God-ordered masculinity that calls for the spiritual leadership of men without respect to what women or other men for that matter, are doing. He’s not shaming them into a societal role, but into a spiritual role. I believe people would have to engage his worldview on the theological level to really evaluate and address what he’s saying.

  6. jack

    I’m not convinced Driscoll is a good man. I think it is very likely that he is an egomaniac strutting like a peacock for the females in his church.

    Of course, beating up on people who have neither position or the microphone is the mark of a bully and/or coward.

  7. Pingback: Selling Sense | Alpha Is Assumed

  8. Greg C

    I too, am suspicious of Mark Driscoll, as well as any pastor, who are either, too afraid to call out the real root of the issue (FEMINISM), or have come under the spell of the spirit of feminism, themselves. Either way, they are in need of a good shaming, and a call for them to “man up” and muster up the courage to do what God called them to do, which is lead their flock, all of them, into obedience (opposite of rebellion/ FEMINISM) to the Word of God.

  9. Ton

    I don’t trust anyone who uses a lot of words. Women, preachers, lawyers, teachers, politicians, news anchor etc etc. The more words the more lies.

  10. Pingback: Moral Lemmings Jumping Off the Marriage Cliff | The Society of Phineas

  11. Women and white knights simply don’t think in terms of incentives when it comes to assessing or influencing men’s behavior. It doesn’t occur to them, and it’s foolish to think it ever will. Our future is the matriarchy. No other “practical options” exist.

  12. deti

    Denise:

    Driscoll might increase his credibility up a bit from zero if I ever once heard him call women out for their shortcomings and sins; for their misuse and abuse of marriage; for their perversion of Scripture to suit their own ends.

    Instead, when it comes to women and their collective conduct in the SMP and MMP, what we hear from Driscoll and his ilk are excuses, praise, false advertising and idol worship.

  13. earl

    Yup…women celebrate the fact they aren’t feminine anymore…and men are shamed into staying betas to keep up this facade.

    What happens when the shaming doesn’t work anymore? Fear.

  14. ballista74

    It should be well pointed out that Mark Driscoll (and others like Al Mohler) are feminists and preaching it in lockstep with the basic principles.

    Women have absolute moral authority and consequently don’t have failings.
    Men have absolute moral depravity and consequently need to perform penance for being born a man.

    So in the minds of these feminists, the only failing here is that men aren’t growing up (how they put it, they mean “man up” when they say that) and marrying the sluts.

  15. @ Denise: “I think he believes in a particular type of God-ordered masculinity that calls for the spiritual leadership of men without respect to what women or other men for that matter, are doing. He’s not shaming them into a societal role, but into a spiritual role. I believe people would have to engage his worldview on the theological level to really evaluate and address what he’s saying.”

    How can anyone have any sort of role “without respect” to any sort of context? A “role” suggests other complementary roles. There’s no point in even trying to play the “role” of Hamlet in Death Wish 2 because there’s simply no room for it.

    The Church is supposed to advocate arranging stuff so that doing the “God-ordered” thing is also somehow beneficial, or at least doesn’t almost invariably bite you in the ass. He may be shaming men into a spiritual role (although that’s debatable), but he’s also shaming them into a societal role that’s bound to harm them.

    If the “right” thing is also the “harmful” thing, barking “SHAME ON YOU” a lot simply won’t work. Were he advocating that men “man up” while simultaneously advocating a return to femininity, reform of divorce laws, etc., I’d consider him to be an ally. Instead, he just wants to focus on one part of the mess in a way that makes all the other parts even more messy. I have no idea where his heart really stands, but what he advocates is nothing short of disastrous.

  16. jack

    Some chick recently was trying to suggest that one should always do the right thing, regardless of whether there was any benefit to it. At all, ever. Of course, she was referring to men doing “the right thing” for the sake of women.

  17. Neguy

    If Mark Driscoll were an egalitarian on marriage roles and women in eldership, he’d make a great lecturer in gender studies at U-dub. He’s right in alignment with all the feminist talking points.

  18. Luke

    The quoted article absolutely fell on its face in the first line with this premise:
    “Single young women in their sexual prime—that is, their 20s and early 30s”

    NEWP. Try more like age 17-25. My God, anyone who claims that women in their early thirties are still in their sexual prime is blind or a liar. As a test, look at pictures of the women at a high school senior prom, and compare to any 32-YO bitter careerist broad who’s been on the carousel half her life. No comparison.

  19. @ Luke

    I agree that the time range is wrong. Still, the rest of it has value.

  20. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2013/12/18 | Free Northerner

  21. Pingback: Tradesman’s Weekend – Good Company « stagedreality

  22. On thing that usually comes up in these comparisons is why is it that women are using their autonomy to move ahead in the 20s and early 30s much more than men are.

    The Hanna Rosins of the world say that this is because women are just better than men are period — she really believes this, and is a full on misandrist.

    In reality I think there are quite a few factors that come into it — including the rise in the economy of jobs that are more suited to women than they are to many men. But I also think that liberation and autonomy look different to women and men due to sex differences.

    Women crave security — financial, physical and otherwise. Autonomy is often seen as the freedom to create that security for themselves, rather than being dependent on specific other persons for it (typically specific men like fathers or husbands). Men are not as focused on security (we tend to feel less threatened and less dependent overall), and so for men autonomy often seems to mean the freedom to opt out of doing things we don’t otherwise want to do.

    So, in other words, if for women liberation meant the freedom to be free of dependence on specific men for security, for men liberation meant the freedom from having to provide the means of that security for women (i.e., building something that is bigger than themselves in being able to satisfy the needs of more people than themselves effectively). When we decoupled the sexes from their relationship of dependency on each other, it should have stood to reason that the hallmarks of this liberation would look different for each sex — because each sex was being liberated from a different “role” in that dependency relationship. That is, it should have been foreseen that women would seek to meet their security needs themselves, while men would seek to dial down doing things that were designed to meet women’s security needs, because this was no longer needed in a context where the dependency link had been removed and women were fending for themselves in terms of security.

    Instead, society seems to have expected that men and women would react largely the same way (probably based on the notion that men and women are largely the same other than for genitals) — and that both would basically act in the same was as men had previously done, coupled with men and women somehow “sharing” the less desirable aspects of life in terms of what was previously considered “mothering”. Of course, that has happened in some couples (we see couples like this in the UMC segment, but that’s ~5% of the population total, and many couples in the UMC have more traditional arrangements as well becase they can actually afford it), but the larger trend is what Driscoll is reacting to here, and it only takes a brief reflection to see why it turned out this way. It was virtually inevitable once that relationship of dependency between the sexes was removed.

    Society is deeply confused about this, however, and that includes people like Driscoll. If he had a keener understanding of things, he would be harping less on young single men and more on young women and their fathers for creating, and egging on, a world of security independence for themselves/their daughters. If women are not dependent on men, men generally won’t be working on supplying the stuff that was previously used for women to depend on — men never did that because they enjoyed it! Certainly not most of them. In that context, it’s inevitable that many men will focus on other things that they do enjoy more personally, and find that doing so doesn’t really mess up their chances with the financially independent grrls much either. It’s fine to harangue young men for underachieving (it would be better for them to be focused on their futures, quite independent of whether women find it attractive or needed or not), but the issue is that incentives matter, and right now there are few incentives for that beyond people who are naturally ambitious and/or gifted. Haranguing is only going to get you so far with the rest of them. He would be better served by cranking it up with the fathers of the young women … but because he likely largely agrees with the fathers perspectives on young women, he doesn’t do that, and instead chooses an easy target to take to the woodshed — easy and ineffective.

  23. Bravo Novaseeker. Insightful comment here. Worthy of a standalone post by itself.

  24. theshadowedknight

    Novaseeker, they are looking to their future. I am compensated by the military to the tune of about $45,000 a year, give or take, when you include feeding and housing me. I live well for a single man. For someone who does not need to provide for another, a job paying $25,000 to $30,000 is plenty. I remember living comfortably on less than a thousand dollars a month, after utilities. For men less and less interested in supporting a woman, they do not need to earn that much. She can pick up her end, and help out, because she is equal, too.

    The Shadowed Knight

  25. Pingback: On the achievement gap between modern young men and women. | Sunshine Mary

  26. Anonymous age 71

    Driscoll is one of millions of heretics in the so-called Christian church. I first encountered one of these jerks in 1984 while counseling divorced men. A man whose wife had committed adultery was told by his pastor that it was his fault she did it, that if he had been “walking with God” she couldn’t have done it.

    Because of this I spent a lot of time studying the Bible in detail. The Bible plainly says (for those who take the time to study it throughly) that effective female submission initiates effective male leadership. Period.

    There arrogant jackasses assume that effective male leadership initiates effective female submission.

    This is also simple common sense.

    In two places, the Bible says it is better to live on a rooftop or in the desert than to be married to a contentious woman.

    In another place it says he who can control a contentious woman can control the wind.

    No where does it tell how to lead an insane or contentious woman. That is, it can’t be done. It is pure male ego by a bunch of conceited jackasses that they assume a real man[tm] can lead a woman and keep her from sin.

    And, of course in Genesis when God was walking every day with Adam and Eve teaching them, Eve still sinned. That is, God was Eve’s spiritual teacher and leader. Do we assume God was not walking with God, that he was a lousy leader? Don’t be ridiculous. These jackasses actually expect husbands to have more influence on their wives than God had on Eve.

    This is a case of “learn to accept that which you cannot change.” God will deal with these heretics in his own time and his own way. Just get as far away from them as you can.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s