Peter Pan is not a selfless hero in the book that inspired the movies and the musical. In the pages of James M. Barrie’s novel, Peter is generally a brat, inconsiderate of others and obsessed with his own whims and amusements. His interest in Wendy, for example, is never romantic; mostly just his need for a mother. And by story’s end, everyone else in the story, including the lost boys, decides to return home and get on with life. Only Peter remains in Neverland, trapped by his fear of growing up.
But what if those lost boys had arrived back at home to find there was no place in the real world for adventurous young men? I fear that explains why American life is populated by so many lost boys and aimless young men today: in 2018 masculinity is almost as contemptible as racism and pedophilia.
A society obsessed with glass ceilings, #MeToo, and fleeting gender equality has increasingly become a No Man’s Land… for men. In his breakthrough best-seller, Twelve Rules for Life, Jordan Peterson illustrates the current scene in which boys cannot win. “Imagine that a boy and a girl, aged nine, get into a fight. Just for engaging, the boy is highly suspect. If he wins, he’s pathetic. If he loses- well, his life might as well be over. Beat up by a girl!” (1)
Healthy boys are competitive and confrontational. The spirit of the age is feminine, collaborative, and compassionate. Boys like weapons and love wrestling. They are more likely than girls to defy authority and push back. But they find themselves adrift in a world where Penn State University recently declared that the PSU Outing Club, a group devoted to roughing it, can no longer go hiking, climbing, or camping because the outdoors are too dangerous! (2)
No wonder men are now avoiding college, giving up on marriage, settling for under-employment or unemployment, and committing suicide at increasingly high rates. One of the catchphrases of the moment is Toxic Masculinity. But what if the real toxin is not in our men, but in our irrational, secular illusions of how the world ought to be?
Yes, it was a deranged male who shot up a Waffle House in Nashville earlier this week. It was another male, a quick-thinking man, who leaped into action to overpower him and save lives. Here’s how the Wall Street Journal summed it up this morning: “There is evidence that people in authority are rediscovering the value of pushback.”(3)
Jesus Christ himself is too macho for today’s tastes! Skeptics could celebrate the Lord’s call to love without wading into all that irritating repentance stuff. But they cannot pardon his failure to number a few women among his 12 Apostles. He was clearly a bigot…
Except that he wasn’t. Christ had this shocking habit of allowing women disciples to travel with his group and even sit at his feet alongside the men when he was teaching. (This was unheard of in his world.) He told a friend, matronly Martha, that she should leave the kitchen and join the guys for some education as well. If Jesus favored men over women in selecting his apostles, perhaps it was because he knew nearly all of them would be hunted down, tortured, and violently put to death. The lifeboat principle, “women and children first,” reflects the ethos that men and women are equally valuable, but not interchangeable. We can marry one another because we share common ground, but we can accomplish hard things together because we are different. (See Sexual Suicide, the previous blog.)
Sin has become an evolving art over the centuries. Technology and temptation have created endless opportunities for ruin and self-destruction. It always boils down to the same evil impulse: our desire to be God and write our own rules. But as history has proven time and again, we are not gods, and the brave, new world we demand soon becomes a terrifying, old battlefield of unintended consequences.
The people of God need to rediscover Creation and think again about why God made us as He did. There’s much we can learn. Share your ideas below and follow along here for a while if you like.
Lift up the Cross!