This week’s most-read news stories have involved men behaving abhorrently. Christian Vision for Men’s Jon Stockley says the only antidote to the relentless surge of toxic masculinity is for men to imitate Christ
“Boys will be boys”.
These were the four simple words tweeted by journalist Evie Breese earlier this week.
Alongside her tweet, she shared a screenshot of the BBC news homepage, highlighting the most read stories that day: a headteacher and her daughter, shot by her husband; a dad found guilty of his disabled daughter’s manslaughter by negligence; a police officer convicted of multiple rapes; a man arrested in connection with the disappearance of an eleven year old girl, and another man convicted of raiding cyclist Mark Cavendish’s family home at knifepoint.
Boys will be boys pic.twitter.com/8ClHQK939a— Evie Breese (@EvieBreese) February 7, 2023
The list goes on. There really is no shortage of these types of stories and, the sad truth is, for many of us, we are becoming increasingly less surprised.
Now, I understand the irony of Breese’s tweet, but can we ever just reduce this to an argument that, somehow, this is just what some men are like?
Jesus was the only one who ever lived well, all the time
For how long do we continue to have endless conversations around nature, nurture, environment and social conditions?
I recently had a conversation with a mate of mine who is a police officer. He told me that 80 per cent of the crime committed in the UK today is perpetrated by men. I was stunned, but not surprised; it confirmed something I had long suspected to be true.
If I’m honest, statistics like these just confirm to me how much we need the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Men need to be transformed by the power that comes from a genuine, life-changing encounter with God. Without that, the consequences are there for all to see.
I have been deeply challenged by these words from The Message translation of Romans 8:29-30: “God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.”
Jesus stands as first in the line of humanity he restored. He stands with grace, strength, love and compassion. It is Jesus who gives us all the hope that things can be different. This is not a call for men to become soft and spineless - that is not who Jesus is - but Jesus shows us how to use our strength creatively, not destructively.
We are living in days when it is almost impossible to talk about masculinity without it (understandably) causing very angry reactions.
As men, we must take responsibility for where we are today. Toxic masculinity is such a common phrase right now. It might cause strong reactions, but it is something we need to face up to and be honest about.
But here is the thing. The Andrew Tates of this world will continue to exist. Social media will continue to feed this toxic narrative, and men will continue to get things badly wrong - as long as we fail to see that our original and intended shape (Romans 8:29-30) can only be discovered in Jesus.
Jesus was the only one who ever lived well, all the time. He was the only one who harnessed his emotions, his testosterone and his strength in ways that consistently honoured God and helped those around him.
For those of us who follow Jesus, who have committed to walking the narrow path and living a Christ-centred life, may I challenge us all to do everything we can to bring the gospel into every area of our lives?
80 per cent of the crime committed in the UK today is perpetrated by men
Whether we are church leaders, ministry leaders, husbands, fathers, sons, men of influence, or men with little influence - whoever we are, wherever we are, let’s lead by example. Let’s live lives that are full of grace and love, honouring everyone around us, as Jesus did.
The death and resurrection of Jesus was designed to stop the grotesque direction that humanity was headed in, and restore our relationship with God forever. It is the one thing that can stop this relentless surge of evil.
Recently, I read Morgan Snyder’s Becoming a King (W Publishing). The following epitaph is one that all men should aspire to be true of them:
“He lived and led with wisdom, vulnerability, and courage.
He shaped the world for good and left a lasting legacy.
He loved well and loved deeply from a sincere heart.
And he finished strong.”
In Jesus, we can, as men together, become the antidote to the relentless rise of toxic masculinity.