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Where Girls Are Men and Men Are Scared

May 17, 2010
S. Michael Craven
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This past week I stirred controversy by suggesting that we were losing our sense of duty and that this was reflected in a growing disdain for or indifference to self-sacrificial service, especially related to military service. Well, I want to continue to stir this pot, not because it gives me pleasure but because we’re beginning to scratch the surface of a significant problem that is adversely affecting our culture and, by extension, the church.

Obviously, one of the reasons I think we see more and more young people devoid of any sense of duty is that they’re not being taught the virtue of duty. Those things that must be done because one is compelled by a strong moral obligation, so strong that one would die before one surrendered this virtue—this is what I mean by a sense of duty.

This virtue is not limited to military service only, but should govern most of one’s life. Men must posses a sense of duty to their wives and children, for example. A socially reinforced possession of this virtue would serve to fetter men to their moral obligations. Negatively, neglecting these obligations would be socially regarded as a shameful moral failure. I would argue that few husbands and fathers who abandon their moral obligations to their families suffer much—if any—shame, personal or social, today. In fact, we rarely speak of shame today; and when we do, it is generally met with condemnation for having made anyone feel badly about his or her immoral behavior!

Even among Christians this sentiment can be found. I’ve heard other Christians rebut any rebuke by quoting Romans 8:1, saying “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (NIV). However, if you read just a little further, you’ll see that there is shame when one is disobedient (see Rom. 10:11, 1 Cor. 6:5, 1 Cor. 15:34). A loving rebuke is often a first step, which, when heeded, is followed by a warranted sense of shame and guilt that often turns a sinner to repent (see Luke 17:3).

This is one problem. In a culture in which the moral lines have become blurred—as they no doubt have in our case—there is little social reinforcement for what is good and what is bad. We simply no longer agree on these categories; if one should—as I often do—assert a specific moral position, one can count on being condemned for “intolerance,” which is the worst offense possible. Of course, by tolerance we mean, “I won’t tell you what you to do and you don’t tell me what to do.” You think this same sense exists anywhere within the church? You bet it does!

The second problem is the problem of gender confusion. In the 1950s, psychologist and Kinsey-affiliated “sexologist” Dr. John Money developed a controversial theory that challenged the traditional understanding of gender. Money argued that while we do have some innate sense of being a boy or a girl for up to two years after birth, our brains are, in effect, malleable and we can be taught to grow up as either a boy or girl by how we are raised—by the toys we are given, the guidance we receive from adults, and the clothes we are given to wear. In other words, you can completely separate psychology from biology. Money’s concept became known as the “theory of gender neutrality” and undergirds much of the contemporary effort to redefine human sexuality into almost anything one wants it to be, regardless of one’s biological gender. (Money applied his theory in the controversial case of David Reimer in 1966, in which he reassigned David to female gender following a botched circumcision at birth. Raised as “Brenda,” the results were disastrous on many levels, ultimately leading David to commit suicide at age 38.)

The more radical elements of the feminist movement would seize this theory as the basis for a campaign to “liberate” girls from their traditional gender-specific identities. Girls would be encouraged to throw away their dolls and avoid domestic role-play. Boys could now be “reprogrammed.” A new and nebulous child-rearing philosophy would slowly creep across the cultural landscape, discouraging the traditional forms of male play. No more G.I. Joes, no guns, no more playing war, and so on. Political correctness would attempt to restructure the nature of competition, male sports in particular. Boys would be taught that aggressiveness was bad and aggressive competition should be discouraged. At least that was the plan.

Much of this nonsense is rooted in a false conception of human nature and directed primarily toward boys. Since men have tended to be the more violent members of society, it was thought that by raising boys to be more like girls they would cease to be violent and the world would achieve the utopian dream of universal harmony. Again, that was the plan.

The fallacy of gender neutrality is the fact that, generally speaking, boys and girls are born with not only obvious biological differences but also innate psychological orientations and interests as well. Furthermore, being neutral relative to gender (in the sense that we try to erase all distinctions between the sexes) does not necessarily yield equality. It simply means that men and women suffer a substantial loss in their own identity.

I am not suggesting that we teach our sons to be violent and our daughters to stay in the kitchen! Neither am I proposing some sort of juvenile machismo or barbaric masculinity. True manhood should be characterized by a steadfast and unrelenting sense of duty: duty to God, the community, and others, regardless of the cost. Jesus modeled this best by his unflinching commitment to die on the cross for the sake of sinners. Here again, the disciplines of military life promote this sense rather uniquely. Anyone who has ever served knows that an elevated commitment to self over the mission is quickly and decisively squashed!

At this point, we can either accept the gender-neutrality doctrine or resist this cultural influence by once again teaching boys to be men and girls to be women, thereby celebrating the God-given complementarity between the sexes.

After more than four decades of gender-neutral propaganda, we have not only not achieved neutrality but have seen a perverse reaction. Boys are increasingly becoming more feminine and girls are becoming more masculine. Boys are increasingly vain, fashion-obsessed wimps with a duty to nothing but themselves and girls are increasingly becoming sexual aggressors who are brawling on the soccer field.

This moral ambiguity and gender confusion is producing a loss of aspirations: men no longer aspire to masculine virtues and women are abandoning the pursuit of feminine virtues. The result is a generation without aspirations—those rooted in their biological gender—that lift their conduct above hedonistic self-gratification; i.e., a sense of duty.

The church can either capitulate under the pressure of political correctness or we can train our young people—in those virtues supported by their gender and complementary to one another—in service to God and others. 

© 2010 by S. Michael Craven

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Response from : Greg Williams  

May 17, 2010 10:06 AM

Mr. Craven

Another great article and thanks! I'm currently reading "Your Church is Too Small" upon your recommendation and loving it. Might I suggest "Return of the First Church" by John Fenn.

Also, in light of this excellent article, you might find this very interesting interview article with Dr. Dallas Willard ( as well as taking a look at Dr. Miriam Grossman's book, "You're Teaching My Child What?" in reference to your comments about Money and his ill-conceived 'junk science' about gender neutrality (specifically her chapter on "Genderland", pp. 155 - 182).

Thanks again and God bless in Christ!


Response from : Gregg Motley  

May 17, 2010 12:18 PM

Right on! I taught this very message to a church audience and stirred up a hornet's nest. The Lord be with you as you deal with the response.


Response from : Kathy Emma  

May 17, 2010 4:04 PM

Just the title alone sums up a lot of the frustration I've been feeling the past 6 years of my single adult life. As a divorced christian woman, I experienced being the sexual predator and quickly realized the power I thought I felt because I could get any guy I wanted, really just resulted in getting a guy who had absolutely no backbone or moral compass- including the christian boys. Then after some needed healing from the Lord, I decided to really be and grow in my female identity as I understood it to be by God's design. Part of that was to stop pursuing men and let them pursue me. Guess what happened? I've averaged 1 date a year in the past two years!!! What?!? God's will and timing aside as I wait for my future mate, one thing I've noticed: Christian men do not know how to pursue a woman. They are so frightened to even chat with a women. It doesn't matter how many guys I may smile at in church to invite them to approach me- they don't. And one of our leaders even did a poll of the (very few) single men in our church and guess what? They expected the girls to approach them. What? The way I see it is if a guy can't even get the guts to talk to me or ask me out on a date then that is a huge red flag and gives me just a taste of how much of a spiritual leader he won't be in marriage. Obviously, this is just a small example.

Response from : Cynthia M Williams  

May 17, 2010 11:29 PM

While I do see, as you do, an increasing loss of the idea of duty, I think that overall our culture has become more masculinist in its values: more violent, more aggressive, more obsessed with ideas of individual autonomy and untrammelled personal freedom. Women and children have suffered from this increasingly masculinist domination of our cultural and social landscape, and girls are contorting themselves into ever more bizarrely sexualized forms in order to obtain male approval. Christianity must come to terms with the fact that there actually is such a thing as patriarchy and male domination, and it is having a very destructive effect on our culture and society. Jesus repeatedly violated the patriarchal norms of his day in speaking to unrelated women,including ostracized women, and allowing them to follow him. He also definitively rejected the militarist aspirations of his followers. I think modern day Christians should think very carefully before making a judgement about the issue of gender differences and feminism.

Response from : Suzanne  

May 18, 2010 3:24 PM

I have followed your thoughts for some years now and have been so blessed. Thank you for activly engaging your talents for God's truth and for the sake of others. I really think you are on to something here but I also think that more research could be greatly beneficial in bringing to light what our Lord desires from his children... male and female, without any pre conceived ideas of what we think we need to be or what others tell us and what they think we should be and do to please God through our lives which include our gender.(some make much more of gender than it seems God intended)Genesis 1:26 -29 gives the most concise information of what God's desires and expectations are for his children, made in His Image, female and male. I would like to suggest a most excellent book to you called -My Brother's Keeper: What the Social Sciences Do & Don't Tell Us About Masculinity, by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen. May God give us all the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that we may know and serve Him with all we are...His children male and female, made in His Image, all being blessed with ultimate power and authority to do battle for His Kingdom, with no measure being given to one and not the other.

Response from : Dawna Polachek  

May 19, 2010 9:23 AM

I find a growing lethargy among young adults because of these very issues. They seem to not know who to believe with the distinctions between the world's view and the Church's view so "fuzzy". Having not been adequately taught the Scripture's directives, they then turn to their own instincts and "common sense". They are frustrated.

Response from : Malachi Hough  

May 19, 2010 11:10 AM

Thank you sir for an excellent article! This is an ongoing perceptual change that is sorely needed in our cultures today. What the enemy has wrought upon us through decades of deception isn't going to be eradicated overnight. the continual dedication of men and women to God's greater purpose is working, we just need to keep up the steam!

I can understand Kathy's frustrations well. I remember distinctly one woman I worked with, a good Christian woman, who was expressing her similar frustrations. Every solid looking christian young man she sought after ended up falling short or backing off due to being 'scared' If i recall her words correctly. Interestingly enough, when I watched her approach these men, it was usually aggressively. She brought up the subject, and initiated the relationship.

I could see how difficult it could be if she hadn't approached them in this way however...they probably wouldn't have even broached the subject, For fear of seeming 'improper' or 'rude' I would assume. There is a difference, of course, between improper approach and proper approach...unfortunately, most young men in the church are learning neither! More men need to feel free to pursue, in a Godly manner. Does God not pursue us?

We also need to be careful to not fall into the worlds traps of identity of masculinity vs. femininity. Violence isn't masculine, and it saddens me when I see those two things coined together so closely and so often. Masculinity gone WRONG results in violence. Being a self-defense instructor, I see violence from a very close and real perspective, and both men and women can exhibit it. Men tend to do it more often and in more demonstrative ways, and this is largely a result of our nature. But which is more destructive, the man who beats his son, or the mother who spends his entire life berating him and saying he's "just like his dad" who's in jail. Both are destructive, and both are degraded twisted versions of God's design.

But our nature isn't violent. And the sooner we recognize this difference, the sooner we can get to these young men who are thinking that something is broken about them. I see far too many young men who have come under my wing in training that almost literally do not feel comfortable in their own skin. You would be amazed at how many of them actually calm down, and display less aggressive behavior after training in an 'aggressive' sport (a.k.a Martial Arts). This fact goes against the idealism that masculinity is violent, because that idealism is false. It's when we allow young men to receive their training from the WORLD that their masculinity is devolved to a violent behavior pattern.

It's a horribly destructive sequence. Take a young man, train him in Violence (not masculinity), tell him that IS masculinity, and then tell him hes bad or evil beacuse he displays such patterns. It's almost as bad as telling a woman she is bad or destructive because she is beautiful. Yes, beauty can be destructive if mis-used, but it isn't any more 'violent' in its natural form then masculinity is.

Of course, if we don't have any positive examples, then how do we know what they really are? In our world now we only have 2 extremes...the neutered gelding, or the violent episode (for men). And neither even come close to what God created in our ancestors, nor what Christ emulated and set as our example.

Response from : Dan Vogt  

June 3, 2010 12:42 PM

I enjoy your newsletters and appreciate the insight they provide. It is nice to have in writing some of the challenges that men and women deal with on a regular basis, and constructive tools to address the challenges. Regarding the latest newsletter "Where Girls are Men and The Men are Scared!", I think the generalization of classifying all people into a male or female genus is difficult to define as well as quantify and not reflective of the world we that has been created for us. To illustrate my point, let's look at how the Olympic committee determines males from females. Since 1921, we have known that women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and Y. This, traditionally, has been a fundamental distinction of sex. After some female athletes were found to be chromosomally male, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) started requiring all athletes to take a test counting the number of X chromosomes. In 1990, scientists learned of a gene call SRY on the Y chromosome is what makes fetuses become boys and not girls. In 1992, the Olympic test was perfected to detect the presence of the SRY gene. But that proved insufficient as any genetics expert knows there are exceptions to the chromosomes rules. There are females with the Y chromosome; there are males with no SRY gene. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the IOC decided to "refrain from performing gender tests." conceding that no single test provided a complete answer.
According the Eric Vilan, Chief Medical Genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA:
"Identifying the gender of intersex and transsexual individuals poses an even more complex challenge. Intersexuality is defined as the presence of "ambiguous genitalia," making it impossible to tell easily whether the newborn baby is a boy or a girl. It occurs at a frequency of 1 in 4,000 births. Plastic surgery of the genitals is often performed to conform a typical appearance of one sex or the other, and a male or female legal sex is assigned shortly after birth. Many of these children grow up feeling alienated from their legal sex identity and undergo reconstructive surgery as adults to regain their dominant gender identity.
People who fall into this sexual and gender limbo also have legal problems.
The Texas Court of Appeals referred to sex provided by "our creator" as opposed to sex created by physicians and rejected "man-made" sexual organs. Sex should be easily definable, but it's not. Our gender identity our profound sense of being male or female is independent from our anatomy and the belief that gender and sex is black or white is simply flawed and contrary to basic biological realities. For further study of this area, I suggest you contact a genetics expert. To believe that everyone falls into the same categories as you or I may, only furthers the discrimination of those who do not.

Response from : Dr Jeffrey P. Rush  

June 28, 2010 1:29 PM

Well done and well said.

No question there is an attempt to make us all amoebas. I think this is why men (and boys) are simply retreating giving way to the feminists.

As with socialism you eventually run out of people with money, this approach will eventually run out of men and then what?

The bigger problem here, in my view, is the the lack of involvement by the church. Not only the lack of involvement, but many churches, indeed most churches drive men away (literally or figuratively) and certainly don't want to address the topic.

In my own church, there seems to be a sense of "look at the men who are in church" thus we don't have a problem. Being in church and being IN church are two different things, as Morley et al. has noted.


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