Andrew Tate’s message of self-autonomy and high value is appealing to young men who see little hope elsewhere. But in Jesus’ instruction to the apostles, we see a different model of masculinity, says Mark Birkett
For the lucky few that remain unaware, Andrew Tate is an infamous British-American social media personality, seen as the figurehead of the ‘manosphere’ - an umbrella term referring to an online community that promotes a particularly toxic brand of masculinity.
He is currently under house arrest in Romania where he is being investigated for suspected human trafficking, rape and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women. In the UK, four women have recently announced their intentions to bring civil action against him for alleged sexual violence. Yet he commands a following of loyal young men who look to him for inspiration in their droves.
While he awaits due process, let’s take a look at the specifics of what Tate is promoting and consider how Christians might respond.
We must do more than simply criticise Tate’s worldview; we must to offer an alternative
If you were to watch one of Tate’s YouTube videos, or listen to him on a podcast, you will probably hear him refer to a “high value man”. He uses the phrase regularly. Naturally, he considers himself high value, and spends a great deal of time explaining how he has achieved this status and how other men can emulate him.
He claims that high value is achieved by an alpha male domination which harnesses the power that accompanies important jobs, money, social status, the capture of ‘high value’ women, and an extreme self-reliance.
Tate says he is on a mission to empower young men in the face of a culture that seeks to disempower them. High value men exercise complete autonomy over their lives; they can walk into a room and demand anything they want. No doubt this message appeals to young men whose circumstances seem out of their control; to those who struggle to find good jobs, sustain meaningful relationships or keep up in a highly competitive society, the message of self-autonomy is enticing.
A different way
In the first century, a group of men were also setting out on a mission to empower people, although they had a very different idea of what this looked like. The twelve disciples proclaimed the good news that Jesus is king. And they looked to their Lord God and his coming kingdom for inspiration. Commanded by Jesus to travel light (see Mathew 10:8-11), these men had to rely on the generosity of others to sustain them on their mission.
Without jobs, fancy titles or wealth, they were forced to be reliant on others for food and shelter. According to the standards set by Andrew Tate, the apostles would be considered low-status losers. Yet, as historian, Tom Holland, points out in his book Dominion, they would go on to establish a religion that remains embedded within contemporary life thousands of years later.
The right measure
If high value were to be measured by such longevity, instead of material gains, the disciples would be considered of the upmost value. However, this was not what Jesus had in mind when he sent these men out into the world to make disciples of all nations.
In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus explicitly warned against the value judgments made on earth: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
To young men who struggle to keep up in a highly competitive society, the message of self-autonomy is enticing
As Christians, we are called to view value from a divine perspective. The apostles were able to go about their mission with confidence because they modelled an archetypical bravery. While many in the manosphere would associate aspects of it with the type of masculinity they aspire to, it is a divinely different type of masculinity; one that is without fear and that rejoices in defeat and death.
Ultimately, whatever high value status Andrew Tate clings to on earth will be stripped from him in death.
Like all of us, he will one day stand naked before his maker: no Lamborghini, no golden watch, no cigar, no sunglasses, no earthly body of which to boast, no money. Nothing. And what then?
A new masculinity
Constructing a new, modern form of masculinity is a daunting task. But is it one that Christians must confront head on. A closer inspection of the lives of the apostles, and the teachings that inspired them, are a good place to start. These foundations are strong and well tested.
Each generation of Christians must work out how to make Christianity relevant to the here and now. We must do more than simply criticise the worldview of Andrew Tate and his followers; we must to offer an alternative. A life of purpose, truth and a hopeful vision of the future; a path to self-sacrifice and love.
Young men are lost and searching; but they can be found by the love of Jesus.