When Tony Wilson first read about Andrew Tate in the newspaper, he thought he was a monster. But when he prayed about the situation, God broke his heart in surprising ways and challenged him about his own lifestyle
As the story of the American-British social media personality Andrew Tate unfolded in the press, I found myself railing against him and his rotten empire built on violent attitudes towards women, exploitation, pornography and excessive, conspicuous consumption.
Tate’s arrest in Romania forms part of an investigation into human trafficking. The details were not an easy read. He’s spoken triumphantly about his subjugation of women and his ‘trialling’ of their sexual prowess, as though he were test driving one of his many sports cars. Amassing a vast wealth and a high rolling lifestyle has given him global prominence and many ‘disciples’ (read: impressionable young men) have been willing to pay to be tutored by him.
If you reversed every teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, you might end up with Andrew Tate’s lifestyle
My first comment on this story is that it’s vital we recognise the genuine harm caused to women who suffer physical and emotional abuse. This article in no way seeks to minimise the pain inflicted or to suggest that Tate should avoid justice.
After reading about Tate, I took the situation to prayer and held it quietly before the Lord for some time. To my surprise, I found my heart broke in several ways. It broke for him, the world and for me.
A new story
Firstly, I sensed God reminding me that he loves this man and that, in his mind, there exists the perfect version of Andrew Tate that he longs to make real. It’s so far away from the person we read about but, nonetheless, God wants to change Tate’s heart. He desires Tate to know that he’s a beloved child of his heavenly Father.
As I held the two pictures in my head - the Andrew Tate as reported in the press and the one that God longs to hold close - I could only sit in silence before the Lord. The anger that had built in me melted into a deep sorrow Tate is living a life that is so far removed from what God wants for him.
Can we join in prayer that God writes a new story in Andrew Tate’s life? And can we do this while simultaneously praying for justice to be done in his case?
A broken generation
Secondly, the brokenness of his business empire and lifestyle is hard to take in. If you set about reversing every teaching of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, you might end up with something similar to Tate’s lifestyle.
But what really broke my heart was that teenage boys have become captivated by his lifestyle - so much so that schools are reportedly having to ‘de-programme’ students who are mimicking his style of speech and body language. To what depths have we plummeted when society struggles to find a better narrative around which young people seek to conform their lives?
21st Century liberalism is supposed to offer young people unrivalled freedom to become whatever their minds can imagine. Nothing is off limits. But what, in fact, is it delivering? For many, life has become an emotional nightmare in which the real-life options are so abhorrent that they retreat into a virtual world which is even more abusive and cruel.
Tate has been able to latch on to the confusion and disorientation that many people, young men particularly, experience in the middle of this maelstrom. Sadly, he puts forward all the wrong solutions in his attempt to reclaim masculinity and if ever the word toxic was appropriate, it surely is here.
We are creating a generation completely at sea and unable to discern what might make a good pattern on which to base one’s life.
Can we join in prayer that God writes a new story for this generation?
Finally, my heart broke for me. God gently showed me that many of the things I find repellent about Andrew Tate’s lifestyle are present in my own heart.
The world rightly criticises Tate’s selfishness and apparently callous disregard for other human’s made in the image of God. But as I prayed, I did not become more aware of Tate’s sins. I became more aware of my own.
Of course I try not to abuse anyone, but how many of my purchases involve the exploitation and commoditisation of people who live far enough away that I can pretend they don’t exist?
The truth is that I consume way more than my fair share of the world’s resources. I might not spend thousands of pounds on a swanky restaurant meal, but I have enough calories in my kitchen to feed a village.
Tate praises Qatar and Dubai for having got it right where the West has failed, but these places are right at the top of global consumption per capita. If we all lived in the same way we would need nine planet earths to sustain everyone. So in Tate’s world, some people win big while most people lose miserably.
To what depths have we plummeted when society struggles to find a better narrative around which young people seek to conform their lives?
My lifestyle choices may not be in the same league as Andrew Tate’s but, from the perspective of most people alive on the planet today, when it comes to consumerism, the lives we lead may well look barely indistinguishable.
Can we join in prayer that God writes a new story in my life, too?
A superior destiny
It is right that we call out abhorrent attitudes and acts wherever we find them. It is right that people face justice where crimes are committed and people are hurt.
But perhaps it is not always enough for us to be against ‘this’ or against ‘that’. Perhaps we need to find better ways of demonstrating the benefits of kingdom values. Perhaps we need to honestly own the failings that we all carry inside us, and remind ourselves that God has made us for a better purpose, too.
We can all choose a destiny that is far superior and endlessly more satisfying than anything Andrew Tate can imagine. And God alone gives us the grace to live it out.