*trigger warning: abuse
Thoughts lead to feelings. Feelings lead to actions. Actions lead to attitudes. Attitudes lead to behaviors.
It’s no wonder that many within the conservative brands of Christianity have adopted a toxic masculinity not unlike the god in which they subscribe. Believing in a vengeful, callous, narcissistic, exclusive, male, and patriarchal god will most certainly lead to feeling and behaving in much the same way and defining masculinity with much the same attributes and attitudes.
With an insistence on a literal interpretation of the Bible and a claim to holding the one true understanding of it, many conservative Christians have shaped God into a white-bearded man who is always right, always justified in his actions no matter how questionable, has little to no compassion nor emotional connection, and gets what he wants when he wants it. It’s as if they have created God in their own image instead of embracing the image in which God has created all people. In fact, it’s interesting that, in their minds, God is somehow always supporting and siding with their thoughts, beliefs, actions, attitudes, and behaviors as if God is under their authority and direction instead of the other way around.
For when your best ideas for “masculinity” are to become more aggressive, controlling, forceful, stern, abrasive, self-centered, emotionally distant, and entitled while becoming less compassionate, patient, kind, gentle, loving, peaceful, sacrificial, and emotionally accessible. You have not only betrayed God’s design for all humanity, you are blaspheming the fruit of the Spirit and sabotaging their growth and manifestation in men. Period.
According to their own creeds, “In Christ, there is neither male nor female.” Men don’t get an exemption from being like Jesus nor an excuse for living in ways contrary to His graciousness, patience, humility, humbleness, tenderness, compassion, mercy, and softness. To pull these divine threads out of the tapestry of masculinity is to cut Jesus out of masculinity. You can’t be a male “in Christ” without them being lived and manifested in your life. Being a loving, peaceful, temperate, emotional, agreeable, nurturing, warm, and gentle person is not reserved for nor assigned merely to women. There’s nothing inherently complementarian about being male or female, there is only being fully human—with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Make no mistake, what so many conservative Evangelicals fear most is men actually following and becoming like Jesus. All their power, privilege, patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and bigotry rests on the spiritual and emotional immaturity of men. That’s why they fight so vehemently to control “masculinity” and the masculine narrative. Make God look like a man just like them, and their boys will become just like them too. Never let them see the true Jesus. Never let them think, feel, and behave beyond their testosterone-driven image. Never let them exchange a narcissistic, poisonous distortion of masculinity for the beauty of being Jesus—fully human; of and with the divine.
I remember the time, as a 10 year old, when I was frightened by the story of God drowning the people in the flood. My mother comforted me by saying, “God created rainbows to remind us He’d never do that again.” As if God just had a bad day, and accidently stormed out of heaven like a drunk stumbling out of a bar, and committed genocide. Nothing to see here. Nothing that a rainbow can’t fix. “I’ll never do it again, I promise” says God. “Boys will be boys” says Evangelicals.
I also remember the time, as a 6 year old, when I walked down the stairs from my bedroom into the living room to see that my dad had my mom tied up with a rope on the couch. Their fighting had woken me up, again. When he saw me looking around the corner, he told me it was to “control her” because she was, “out of control.”
Ropes, rainbows—symbols of abuse, not care.
Promises from a narcissist of more narcissism, not change or hope.
Confessions of toxic masculinity born from a toxic God.
Love doesn’t need rainbows or ropes; manipulation or control, aggression or compliance.
Masculinity doesn’t either—it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth
Grace is brave. Be brave.
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