Toxic Masculinity? There’s No Such Thing

“Toxic masculinity” has been cited as the cause of everything from the #MeToo sexual assault crisis to mass shootings.

But the phrase “toxic masculinity” is an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp. One thing refutes the other

Masculinity cannot be toxic. Maleness can be and unfortunately often is. Masculinity is a social virtue. Maleness just means being a male. Men who rescue those in distress, like we saw on 9/11, in the Houston floods this summer and those who ran toward the bullets in Las Vegas are masculine. Mass shooters, rapists, abusers, gang-bangers and sexual predators are not masculine. There is a world of difference between the two.

In fact, any male who shrinks in the face of serious challenge or danger of others cannot be called masculine. Nor can any man who uses his powers to hurt other people or enrich himself. They are merely males.

How is masculinity a character quality distinct from being macho or boyish? What does it mean to be a masculine man?

I explain these important questions in a new piece I have over at the Federalist. I hope it’s interesting and helpful to you.

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Marriage as #1 Driver of Social Justice

A foundational value in our nation is the opportunity for all its citizens to be able to compete for a fair and meaningful shot at the American dream. This begins with access to citizenship, educational opportunity, and securing meaningful work that leads to greater life opportunities via commitment, diligence, and self-sacrifice. But an important contributor to putting and keeping men, women, and children on the escalator toward the American dream is little-known and widely ignored.

Just 70 years ago, social mobility and protection from poverty were largely a factor of employment. Those who had full-time work of any kind were seldom poor. Fifty years ago, education marked the gulf separating the haves from the have-nots. For the last 20 years or more, though, marital status has increasingly become the central factor in whether our neighbors and their children rise above, remain, or descend into poverty. The research is astounding.

Continue reading here.

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Reformation Day: What You’ve Been Taught Is Not Even Close to the Truth

Millions are celebrating one young Augustinian monk’s consequential actions on this year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Even those with no interest in the history of Christianity often know the story of the great Martin Luther and his revolutionary doings on October 31, 1517. Luther’s great protestant hammer detonated a bomb as it drove a nail into the rugged wooden door of Wittenberg’s main cathedral.

It was as if he were driving a spike right into the heart of a terribly corrupt religious system. Second only to the cross of Christ, this action divides Western history into before and after.

The results of this theology professor’s world-changing action are beyond dispute. What actually happened on what is celebrated as Reformation Day, however, is highly questionable. Simply put, it’s unlikely the door episode ever happened. It certainly didn’t happen as portrayed in popular historyand classic paintings.

Continue reading here…

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Gender Theorists Can’t Keep Their Story Straight

What a different world we’d have if more people evaluated a belief system, not from what they assume about it, but what they learn from the experienced and serious people who hold those beliefs. Because of my work at Focus on the Family, I’ve had the fortune to do this over the last decade or more with the gender studies community.

They are quite different than I am. Like 99.999 percent of the world, I hold that humanity presents itself as male and female, solely. Our gender studies friends believe this is a tragically uninformed, if not oppressive, view. What have I learned by venturing outside my own bubble and observing this different world? I have much to tell, and no one could make up this stuff.

Continue reading here

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Why Manhood Doesn’t Happen Naturally

In terms of human development, healthy masculinity is not natural. It doesn’t just happen. It must be constructed. This is not the case with womanhood. Her biological make-up ensures the girl will more naturally grow into a healthy woman. As her body matures, internally and externally, it sends her and those around her an unmistakable message of what she is and what she is becoming. It moves her in a very particular direction with great force. Her family and community treat her differently because of it.

The boy’s transition into manhood is not similarly pre-determined. It must be created with significant intentionality.

Manhood is a behavior that must be taught, an identity that must be bestowed by a boy’s family and the larger community of men.

Why is this so?

The male nature doesn’t naturally go in the direction society needs it to go in. It is more oriented toward extremes – lethargy and passivity, or aggression and sexual opportunism. Manhood must be crafted.

Margaret Mead is one of the early anthropologists to study the societal phenomenon of manhood. She observed this necessity:

In every known human society, everywhere in the world, the young male learns that when he grows up, one of the things which he must do in order to be a full member of society is to provide food [and protection] for some female and her young. …[E]very known human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men.

She explains why this must be intentionally done generation after generation:

…[T]his behavior, being learned, is fragile and can disappear rather easily under social conditions that no longer teach it effectively.1

It is the precise opposite for women. She must be ideologically and politically pressured, with great potency, to abandoned and ignore her children.

This brings us to the nub of the issue.

The most elemental destabilizing forces in every culture are unchecked male sexuality and strength. If a society does not find a way to bring these under control, society is impossible to sustain, and very bad things happen.

It is only when these two things are corralled that a healthy, safe and productive society can take shape and sustain itself. Only then can women and their children thrive. As Mead explained, there is no human culture that has sustained itself without doing this.

Now, what must be learned must be taught, and the more consequential it is, the greater intentionality it requires. Manhood can only really be taught and developed by older men, instructing and showing what is expected of the boy in order to become a part of the fraternity of good men. Mothers and girlfriends can influence this, to be sure, but they cannot deliver it. It is a transfer of ideals, behaviors, attitudes and beliefs from one generation of men to the next.

This is unarguably the first work of family formation and community sustainability as it affects industry and economics, criminality, health-care, education and every other essential part of any community. It is the work of human culture and well-being.

The primary question is how one generation of men accomplishes this in their service to the next generation of women, children and the society. And particularly, how we do it in today’s culture with all its unique challenges?

This question and its answer must become a national concern.


  1. Margaret Mead, Male and Female, William Morrow & Co., 1968, p. 189, 192.
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A Man with a Gun in Taco Bueno

Last week I was taking advantage of .99 cent taco burgers at Taco Bueno. Taco burgers. 99 cents. Duh.

As I’m enjoying my dinner, a man walks in with a gun. Few were in the place, so there was not a mad reaction. This man had a gun. It was a good size pistol, right there in the restaurant. It was a startling thing. But my reaction was the opposite of what you might imagine and I was personally struck by this.

I felt safer than before he walked in. Why?

This man was a dressed casually, but nicely, in jeans, cowboy boots and an outdoor work shirt, tucked in. He had his pistol neatly holstered to his substantive leather belt. There was no reason to think he was a law enforcement authority who would naturally carry a gun. He simply appeared to be a regular, but responsible, citizen with a fire arm strapped to his side. (Colorado permits open carry.)

It did startle me because you don’t normally see such a thing in public life. As quickly as I felt the startle, I realized that if something were to go south in this taco place, a terrorist attack or a robbery, I’d be much safer with this particular man with his gun there. Then I wondered why I felt this way. What made this different than another, different person totting a gun through the door?

It was how the gun was displayed.

Ironically because it was in clear sight. If he had the gun obviously hidden, but easily accessible tucked under a coat, that would have had me hit the floor. If he had it clearly in the open, in his hand, even more scary!

But this man had the gun, safely tucked away, but clearly ready to use it if needed. Does one hold a gun like that if he means harm? Anyone knew he had that gun for protective reasons, for a noble purpose. It was not for evil. It was not for sport, but for protection of himself and others.

You could also tell by the way he carried the gun that he likely knew how to handle it in such a situation. He had a humble confidence, it wasn’t for show or as a statement.  That is important.

Guns in public can be scary for sure. Especially in a society where mass shootings have sadly become regular events. But guns can also be comforting, as this man’s presence demonstrated to me. It is not the gun itself that determines this, but in whose hand it is and how they intend to handle it.

I’m glad that that man with that gun was there, even if he might ever need to use it.

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HRC Celebrates Walmart for Having Same Bathroom Policy as North Carolina

No one missed that the Human Rights Campaign, the largest and most powerful gay lobby in the world, called down unrelenting hell-fire upon the state of North Carolina for their bathroom policy last year. You surely missed that this year, HRC also awarded Walmart, who holds an even more restrictive bathroom policy, its highest gold-star, 100% rating for being a “best place to work for LGBT equality” and overall LGBT friendliness as a corporation. The very same rating they awarded Target.

I explain here in detail how this terribly embarrassing mix-up could have happened. Hint: HRC doesn’t make trans-bathroom access a requirement for earning their 100% LGBT equality rating. True.

This is an important story on this whole issue as we each seek to navigate this issue in our own minds as well as in the public square.

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