Challenges to Humanity

What in the World is Going on with Men?

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Don’t look now, but a national conversation is emerging on the state of American manhood and masculinity. Consider some of the relatively recent works published on the subject: The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys are Struggling and What to Do About It (2019), Man Enough: Undefining Masculinity (2021), Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters and What to Do about It (2022), and Manhood: The Masculine Virtues American Needs (2023). The conversation has made its way into the Evangelical world as well. Perhaps you have read recent works such as Wild at Heart Expanded Edition: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul (2021), Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole (2013), and The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (2023). Clearly manhood and masculinity is an increasingly important topic both in the world and in the Church.

The consensus in the conversation is that American masculinity faces a looming crisis. According to the latest statistics, fewer men are seeking active employment [1], men are delaying marriage at record levels [2], and men are reporting loneliness at record numbers. At the same time, deaths via alcohol, drugs, and suicides, often called “death of despair,” are rising to record levels. Emerging evidence even suggests men are less healthy and physically fit than the men of decades past [3]. As a result, many voices are sounding the alarm and calling for a national conversation about both restoring men now and helping boys to avert a future crisis downstream.

The church needs to be the ultimate defender of the family.

In some respects, this conversation is not new. Every generation of men seems to have something to say about the lack of male bravado among their successors (cue Millennial males looking at Gen Z males). In the early 20th century critics noticed young men becoming soft and thin-skinned. Removed from the rigors of agricultural-farm life and now in the cities, young men were deemed as soft, effeminate, and unmanly. The church was caught up in the hysteria, and some launched a movement known as Muscular Christianity. The goal: to provide a little muscle, testosterone, and physicality to the Christian men. It was from this that sprung organizations such as the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) and the Boy Scouts of America. Yet a century later, we are having the same conversation, proving once again the words of the wise King: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

As a man, husband, and father to a son and daughters, I am concerned. I am concerned that our culture and Church expect less of men and our future men. I am concerned about the state of men’s souls as it seems many are wandering aimlessly, having bought the enemy’s lie that the pilgrimage of life leads to nowhere. How can the church respond? Does the church even have anything to offer men in crisis? The church cannot afford to ignore this crisis. I offer some humble suggestions.

1. Present the whole Christ.

We have done a marvelous job presenting Christ as the suffering servant and lamb of God. That should never be taken away, but I fear we have accidentally jettisoned his other attributes. Christ is the eternal warrior King who rules the world from the throne of Heaven and will return uncontested to exercise righteous judgment. Men throughout history have sought to follow good leaders. We have the greatest leader in history, and we need to present Him to men as one worthy to be followed.

2. Recover the Protestant teaching of vocation.

We need to proclaim and teach men young and old that the Lord has called them to a vocation, whether it be the ministry, the bank, the factory, or the academy. Whatever job they have, Christ is Lord over that job and they are a servant of Christ in that field. Men need to know that Christ is the Lord of all realms of life. It will make a huge difference to know that a man’s work matters and matters eternally.

3. Teach the glory and goodness of the family.

Many young men are delaying marriage and parenthood at record numbers. The church needs to be the ultimate defender of the family and teach and preach the wonderful mystery of marriage and the rearing of children. The family is one of the greatest gifts to humanity and many men have bought the lie from the enemy that it is not worth pursuing. The church needs to be a fortress that teaches and models the family as God designed it.

Much more needs to be said and done. However, we cannot afford to be silent. My son’s future is on the line. My daughter’s future husband is on the line. Our future pastors are on the line. We must address this crisis and we must do it now.

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Ryan Michaud

Ryan lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife and 3 children. He serves as Pastoral Intern at Idlewild Baptist Church. He also works in public health for the local health department. He is passionate about the preaching and teaching of the Word of God because that is how people come to know and love the Living God. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, reading, and drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee.

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