Ahh The Man Problem

We have a man problem!  How many times have you heard that in the Church in the last 10 years?

I want to respond some more to a piece from the SBTS that quotes Al Mohler talking about this.  This isn’t personal by the way.  All Mohler is doing is putting words to what so many in the Church think about singleness and marriage.

As Mohler is discussing the “sin” of delaying marriage (what length of delay equals sin is unclear of course) he says,

“This is a problem shared by men and women.  But it is primarily of men.  We have established a boy culture in which boys are not growing up into men.

Guys, the reality is that God has given us a responsibility to lead, to take responsibility as a man, to be the man in every way before God that we are called to be . . . It means taking the leadership to find a godly wife and to marry her and to be faithful to her in every way and to grow up to be a man who is defined as a husband, and by Gods grace we pray eventually, as father.”

I just . . . I mean. . .

First let every man read and understand what I say next.  You are not primarily defined by being a husband or even a father.  You are primarily defined by your relationship with Christ.  Period.  This is vital because if you don’t get this then you won’t be a good husband or father if you get married.

Now if you get married, then there are defined roles and responsibilities (which these same evangelical leaders will be sure to remind you of).  It’s not bad to know what those are because it should impact your decision to get married.  Are there guys slacking off because they don’t want to “man up” as it were?  Sure.  But that is only a part of the issue.

This premise that its all the guys’ fault is a complete failure of the Church to acknowledge the rest of culture and it’s own part in creating it.

The blame the men movement comes up short for lots of reasons –  Just for starters:

  • It fails to address why men are not going to church, getting married, or even finishing college (or other “mature” things).
  • It fails to address women’s sin in any way
  • Completely ignores attraction and choices involving it.
  • It makes women the helpless victims and absolves them of their choices
  • Embarrasses the men in church who women don’t date – of which there are many
  • Doesn’t help any of those men learn anything that will help them get married
  • And most of all, creates more disrespect of men within the body of Christ

Here’s the other funny thing about it.  If all of these Christian men are a bunch of “boys” whose fault is that?  Was there a secret men’s meeting that I missed where we all got together and said, “Let’s not grow up.  Let’s step back from leadership. Screw what the Church teaches.”  Guess who raised us?  Guess who spoke to our parents in the pews?  Guess who taught us how to be nice?  Guess who told us that slogans, rallies and sermons can save us?  

I could handle the “men are the problem” line better if it started with, “We’ve failed our young men.  We help set them up to fail.”  That would maybe lend some sort of credibility.

Mohler and company have this idea that there are all these sinless godly women just sitting around and if only men would act they would say yes and marry them.  They assume that the reason that Christian women don’t get married is that men just aren’t . . . well . . . man enough.  (This idea of men are sinful and weak and women are sinless is everywhere and in everything they talk about – not just singleness.)*

But the truth is that I know a lot of men that want a godly wife.  There are single men in every church looking for that. I was one.  For 20 years. Is Mohler suggesting to the women that they should go out with any of these guys that ask them and become their wife?  Of course not.  Men should go find a wife – really any wife.  They don’t need to be attracted to them and the woman doesn’t have to be that godly.  Just man up and marry a woman – you can help her be godly.  Women on the other hand are taught to be careful.  Don’t settle.  They are told they need protection from all of the not quite godly enough men.  

So according to many of our leaders, the only way to be a godly, mature man is to get married.  But the only men that women should marry are godly, mature men.  Again – whose fault is all of this?

Part of the problem (without getting into this too much here – more later) is that they are asking men to play by the cultural rules from 50 years ago, while not asking the same of women.  They fail to recognize how the culture has reshaped the getting married game.  It’s not just the men that have created this.  There’s plenty of blame to go around.

The bottom line here is that simply saying man up is a non-starter.  It’s not working.  At all.  We have to talk to both sexes and we have to teach them both not only what to do in marriage and that they should get married but also how to go about getting married.



*Examples – If Husbands will lead the right way then women would not try to take over the lead.  If more men would sign up for combat duty then women wouldn’t feel the need to. Etc.  H/T Dalrock


6 thoughts on “Ahh The Man Problem

  1. I agree with a lot of what you said, but I’m going to push back a bit on the women are perceived as innocent victims part.

    Feminism, whether real or imagined, moderate or extreme, gets blamed probably just as much as men not “manning up.” I think women, especially when they are at least reasonably attractive, are accused of being “too picky” for not choosing the perfect “nice guy” Christian man and only going after bad boys (whether or not they are actually dating anyone) by Christian men who feel entitled to date them. Single professional women are accused of putting career over motherhood even though by default, most single women are career women and there are plenty of career women with children. Professional women are also blamed for only wanting to date certain types of (professional) men when the reality is that those are the men they come across day to day. Single women are certainly not perceived as innocent victims by married women who think they’re after their husbands. I think both sexes get blamed for their immaturity and selfishness.

    These preachers like Mohler are speaking primarily to men because they are men and they think they know men’s motivations to remain single. They are also the public faces of the church. Women get their share of the blame, but as we’re not as public, the accusations aren’t on the same platforms. For example, you’ll hear about the abusive single/childless colleague who harassed the innocent working mom for leaving early to take care of her child, but those are stories on Facebook, on blogs and in person (and oddly, not in the workplace in my experience). Women aren’t in the pulpits to the extent men are and aren’t sharing their opinions in the same way.

    That said, I do think men get a lot of the blame publicly and I’ve said before that it’s not fair. But I think if you speak to an individual woman struggling with being single, she is probably blaming herself at least to some extent. Maybe it’s her friends and her preacher blaming the men. I just don’t know many single women who aren’t examining themselves and not accepting their responsibility for the situation. I think we’re more in the same situation than not.

    • Hey T

      Always appreciate your thoughts. I agree with a lot of what you say here. I want to be clear that I’m not saying I think women are the problem alone either. And for sure, women do not think other women are innocent.

      I also agree whole heartedly about that nice men being mad because the Christian women won’t date them. No one is entitled to a date. I actually have a couple of posts coming up about this.

      But I do think in the church that the leadership thinks women are less sinful. Part of this comes from a desire to protect them. Part of it comes from the desire to have women like them. And for sure they shame men publicly way more. Mohler is taking to men, but he’s doing it in front of women, which no one ever does the other way around (nor should they necessarily).

      For the latest example of this look no further than the abortion issue. Abortion is murder, but the woman is not responsible for the decision. Men are told to love their wives no matter what, but submission is only if the man has “earned” it. If a man does it right then the women will be fine.

      I’m not blaming women for that – as I think you know. But I really do think that many in the evangelical culture don’t see women as responsible for any of it.

      • Thank you. I hear you. I agree that leadership does harp more on men than women, but I do think a lot of it is because leadership in the church tends to mean men. You have an extremely valid point about saying these things to men only, and not in front of women, and the fact that this isn’t considered is demonstrative of the lack of respect leaders in the church have for single men. I think it’s hard to say if single women would get equal public shaming if women in the church had a bigger voice in general.

        Although, the few women I’ve encountered in pulpit ministry have been supportive of single women, and of all women and people in general.

        I think some of your other examples, like submission, really depend on the church and that particular church’s leaning. Some churches emphasize mutual submission and others emphasize submission of wives to the point where they are pressured or told to stay in abusive situations.

  2. I have enjoyed reading your post and your insight. I have to wonder what Al thinks of us 50 something single again Christian men? Are we less fulfilled in our walk? Are we just supposed to rush to the altar with a likewise single woman from church whether or not there is any attraction?

    The ” Man Up” movement is seriously flawed for all the reasons you state. I tire of hearing about the 20 or 30 attractive, smart, Godly single women in church while all the men are home playing video games. The women in my church seem as flawed and broken as we are no matter what their age. Calling out one gender as the problem in order to pander to the other doesn’t help either of us in the long run.

  3. Pingback: It’s Time To “People Up” | More Than Don't Have Sex

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