Recently, I was flying from Pittsburgh to Atlanta. As I was trying to make the minutes go by faster in the Pittsburgh airport, I looked at the magazine section in one of the newsstands. As I looked at the various headlines dealing with current events and situations going on in our world, a bold headline on a liberal magazine caught my attention. The headline simply said in big, bold, block letters “TOXIC MASCULINITY.”
I picked up the magazine and began to leaf through it until I found that particular article dealing with the subject of toxic masculinity. I began to skim the article, trying to find out exactly what that phrase meant or at least what it meant to the author. I had heard the phrase several times on television; I had seen it floating around the newsfeeds at many different times, but I wanted to find out exactly what this magazine was talking about when it said “toxic masculinity.”
As I read that article, I came to find out that what they called “toxic masculinity” is what I would consider basic masculinity or normal masculinity or what we could even call Biblical masculinity. The article seemed to attack anything and everything that we would associate with and expect from a traditional American man. This particular article did not deal much or at all really with any kind of physical or verbal abuse which we would be totally against in every instance. It’s a sorry excuse for a man who would ever raise a hand or his voice to a woman or child. No one in their right mind would ever be an advocate for that brand of belligerent behavior. Instead, it seemed this article’s slant was to attack the idea of manhood that is comfortable, confident, and completely satisfied with being a man in the traditional sense.
The article seemed to advocate for a watered-down version of masculinity; or if they had their way, a scenario where the gender lines of distinction are totally erased. The position pushed by the article would hope to create a new fluid form of humanity that shows little or no distinguishing traits or traditional gender-specific characteristics at all. If those who produced the article, as well as those who parade on the talk shows and march down city streets, had their way, decent men with character and old-fashioned masculinity would go the way of the dinosaurs and the rotary telephone! What a term, what a thought, and what a headline, “Toxic Masculinity!”
The dictionary defines masculinity as “pertaining to or characteristic of a man or men: masculine attire. Or having qualities traditionally ascribed to men, such as strength and boldness.” The dictionary defines toxic as “acting as or having the effect of a poison; poisonous: a toxic drug. Something causing unpleasant feelings; harmful or malicious:” So what the liberal media and those who publish articles like the one I read in the airport are trying to say is that one who possesses characteristics or qualities traditionally ascribed to men is like a poison to society. I want to go on record and say that I totally, 100% disagree with that definition and that ideology.
Traditional masculinity, or the term I prefer, Biblical masculinity, is not a toxic thing. Our nation would not exist if it were not for men of that kind. Our Bible would be a thin report if it were not for that type of man. In fact, I’ll go on record and say that our society is in such a mess today because we are lacking in the department of traditional manhood and those admirable qualities and character traits that define masculinity. I don’t agree with their definition of toxic masculinity, but let me say this: I do agree that we are suffering from a weak, worldly version of masculinity that is in fact toxic to our society and poison to our culture. I agree that there is such a thing as toxic masculinity. We see it and suffer from it every day, but my definition is going to be a million miles from that of the mainstream media or that magazine’s definition.
There is nothing more beneficial to a society than Biblical manhood. In the beginning of time, God purposely created. He created the earth purposely. He determined its dimensions and decided its shape. God purposely allowed the right amount of light to radiate from the sun to warm the earth. God named each star and placed them with purpose. God covered the world with water, and He did that on purpose. God created dry land to separate the waters into seas. With purpose, God created every blade of grass, every species of plant, and every petal upon each flower. God purposely created the animals. He created them all to be unique. He created birds to fly and fish to swim. He gave the cow its moo and the lion its roar. All of that was on purpose.
On the sixth day, God created man. Man was created distinctly, uniquely, and purposefully. God breathed into man’s nostrils, and man became a living soul. God created man. God did not fashion a pronoun-less being or a fluid entity. God created man. God made man in His own image. He made man to be a man and act like a man and to behave like a man. He created man on purpose. Later, God would create a woman. The woman was totally different from the man. The two were not in opposition but were complementary. The two completed one another. From the beginning, there was a distinction made on purpose between the two sexes.
I believe the hope of any society to survive and succeed, not even spiritually, but just in general, teeters upon the quality of the men in that society. It’s very obvious that traditional, Biblical masculinity is under attack. It’s under fire just like traditional, Biblical marriage is under fire. It’s maligned by the media and mocked by movie stars. It grabs headlines and garners cheers from social elites. It’s a great sound bite for the attention-hungry, vote-needing politician. Biblical values and old-fashioned common sense are considered by some to be as offensive, or maybe more so than a horrible racial slur or a burning of the American flag.
There is a crowd that would have the boys of our nation grow up to become anything but the caliber of men that built America. They’d have men be soft as Charmin and as weak as a kitten. “Toxic masculinity” is the cry from the pulpit to pew, from workplace to ballfield. No more barbershop, go to the salon. No grunting at the gym or holding a door open at a store. Ditch the football uniform and fatigues for skinny jeans and bedazzled t-shirts. No more fox holes or treestands or drivers seats or work stations; get in your safe space, clutch your weighted blanket, and decompress.
I believe we need a revival of real men in America, men who live out Bible principles, men who walk with God and honor His Word. In the early 1900s, evangelist Billy Sunday said, “How we need men who are pure mahogany through and through.” We need to face the truth that toxic masculinity is real, and it’s here. It’s not what they think it is, but it exists.
As we celebrate this special time of the year and honor our fathers, I want us to consider some attributes of the kind of men who are in fact toxic to their nation, their families, their city, and their church. My prayer is that God will help each of us to be the kind of man that God can smile upon and the kind of father who is a joy to his spouse and a blessing to his children.
In Ezekiel 22, the prophet describes the failings and the sins of his nation. Ezekiel was sent to minister among the people of God who were captured and carried away by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon. If you read through this chapter, you will find that the children of God were living in rebellion. Holiness was hard to come by. Revival was not even on the agenda. They wanted to return to Jerusalem but were not very interested in returning to God.
The society and culture of Israel and Judah had become completely corrupt. Their captivity came as a result of their sin. That’s a stout reminder to us that even a nation that has been blessed by God and founded on God’s Word can stray and fall; a nation that God so blessed can rebel and become a nation that God must judge!
In verse 30, God describes the nation of Israel as being like a fortification with a breach in its wall. A hole had been made in Israel’s proverbial defenses, and that break down had allowed the enemies of God to rush in. The Bible says in verse 30, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” The language of this verse describes the heart of God towards the nation. There was a hole or a gap in the hedge about Israel and God longed for a man to rise up and fill the breach.
I can see in my mind how God scanned the scene of Israel. He saw their sin. He saw their rebellion. He saw their captivity and the condition they were in; and as God scanned, He looked for a man. The Bible doesn’t say that he looked for a great man or a perfect man or a certain man. God just wanted a man who had enough character and courage and conviction to get sick of the situation in his nation and who would rise up and attempt to turn the tide. There was a need, and God sought for a man to meet the need!
Before we move past this, let me make the application and say that God is still looking for men and individuals like that. Always, in every age, God has had his servants who have gone beyond the rest and risen above the crowd and done more for God and good than their peers. Can I say that this hour is in desperate need of that caliber and kind of individual? God, give us someone who cares enough to do something, one who cares enough to get serious, a man of God who cares enough to say, “Here am I, send me!” God, give us some men and women who are willing to fill in the holes in our defenses and stand in the gap and make up the hedge.
In the following half of the verse, we find the sad result of God’s search. The Bible says that God sought for a man, but he found none. All of the judgment and all of the heartache that was coming could’ve been avoided had there been at least one man in Israel who would step up and stand firm for God.
I believe that every evil thing and every wicked thing that you see in Israel as you read through Ezekiel is the result of the toxic masculinity of that hour. God was looking for a man and could not find one! It wasn’t that there were no men in Israel, but there was not a single man with enough God in Him to make a difference. Out of all of the thousands and thousands and hundreds of thousands of men in that nation, there was not ONE that God could use to turn the situation around. The sin, the sorrow, the shame, the suffering, the struggle, and all of the sorry commentary on the nation was due to the sorry state of the men in that day. It was toxic.
I am convinced that the liberals got the phrase right. Without question, they got the definition wrong, but I do believe America is in such a condition as it is because of the caliber of her men. Toxic masculinity is killing our country and weakening our churches. This is the nation of George Washington, Daniel Boone, Neil Armstrong, General Patton, and J. Frank Norris! America has been great because America has had men who would fill the gap and make up the hedge in their day. Whether it was on the battlefield, in the laboratory, in the coal mines, in space, or in the pulpit, God always had His men.
On the large, we’re a far cry from those kinds of men now. We have a country full of men wrapped up in games and stuck in some perpetual teenage persona. Go to the store and you’ll see grown men dressed like they’re in junior high school, even though they’re about an age when they can get discounted coffee at McDonald’s. God, help! The average man you see on television or in the mall can only get a “man card” under false pretenses. They can’t fire a gun or change the oil in a car. They dress like hipster lumberjacks but don’t even know that an ax is something you swing and not something you spray on yourself! They’re more comfortable in pastel capris than mossy oak camouflage. They think a weed eater is some sort of slang for vegetarians, and they know more about essential oils than wrenches or drill bits. Sadly, the average man in America today is sorry, soft, unspiritual, and stuck at a two on the maturity scale.
Again, I say we need a revival of real men in our hour, men who love the Bible and love the Saviour and love their families and lead their homes right, men who love their nation and their church, men who know the meaning of loyalty and patriotism, men who are in fact men that God can bless and use. God, give us some men who are solid mahogany through and through. We need some men to stand in the gap. Where are the men of our generation who are full of faith like Abraham? Where are the men full of courage like David? Where are those men who can lead like Peter and have convictions like Paul?
May God give us some godly fathers. That is my prayer for my own life and for your life as well. “Toxic masculinity!” is their battle cry. Toxic masculinity is a problem, but biblical masculinity isn’t. Ezekiel’s generation was judged because of the condition of its men. Let’s consider some traits of the toxic masculinity in Ezekiel’s day and strive to avoid these in our own hour.
1. TOXIC MASCULINITY IS REPRESENTED BY A LUKEWARM MAN.
Ezekiel 22:8 “Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths.”
Revelation 3:15-16: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
2. TOXIC MASCULINITY IS REPRESENTED BY A LYING MAN.
Ezekiel 22:9: “In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.”
Proverbs 12:22: “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.”
3. TOXIC MASCULINITY IS REPRESENTED BY A LEWD MAN.
Ezekiel 22:9-11: “In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness. In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution. And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter.”
1 Corinthians 6:15-20: “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
4. TOXIC MASCULINITY IS REPRESENTED BY A LAX MAN.
Ezekiel 22:11: “And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter.”
Ecclesiastes 10:18: “By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.”
5. TOXIC MASCULINITY IS REPRESENTED BY A LUSTFUL MAN.
Ezekiel 22:12: “In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD.”
Hebrews 13:5: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
6. TOXIC MASCULINITY IS REPRESENTED BY A LAZY MAN!
Ezekiel 22:24: “Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation.”
Proverbs 18:9: “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.”
2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
7. TOXIC MASCULINITY IS REPRESENTED BY A LOST MAN.
It’s easy to surmise by the lack of men willing to stand for righteousness that the average man of Ezekiel’s day was unrighteous. Simply put, many of them were lost. Nothing is more detrimental to society or as destructive to a family than a lost man. If you are to be a good father you must be a godly father. If you’re to be a godly father, then you need to be a saved father.
Mark 8:36: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
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Since 2006, Pastor Cooper has served as an evangelist and as a pastor, traveling across the nation holding revival meetings and preaching in Bible conferences. Pastor Cooper moved to join our staff in 2019 and is building the Tabernacle Bible Class. He and his wife, Desarae, are an incredible blessing to both the college and church families. Pastor and Mrs. Cooper have one son, Lincoln.