A few months ago while testing my thesis, with an audience of students, about the centrality of the “patriarch” (as defined by feminists) to the thriving family and society, I was struck by the response of one male undergrad. He said that should he speak the way I had spoken he would likely get fired from a job or, at minimum, run into trouble with the HR department. (He was a full-time student in his junior year). I was taken aback and asked the other young men (all full-time undergrads at The Catholic University of America) if they knew what he was talking about. They did and agreed with him.
With this I realized that radical Marxist feminist ideas have already penetrated universally and deep — deep even into the hearts of the best of young men, raised (most likely) in good, intact Catholic families. These young men were in many ways the “cream of the crop”. They were good men: friends, who loved and played sports, looked forward to finding the right girl, valued chastity, worshiped more than weekly, went to confession often, prayed daily, studied hard and helped others get through difficult exams. Yes: “The Cream of the Crop” — yet already afraid of being manly men and scared soon to be such in the workplace.
Given that, I have since put the following question to a number of audiences: “We have women’s study centers/departments/institutes in colleges all over the country (644 in 2014); what do you think would happen if we were to propose similar ‘Men’s studies Centers’ ?” The response is always the same: not just protest, riots!
One could say our ideas are now ruled by academic dominatrices who demand male submissives, nowhere more clearly illustrated than in the American Psychological Association’s new guidelines on “Toxic Masculinities” in which the traditional man (read “married and religious’) is assumed to be domineering and violent.
Earlier this week a director of coaches from a Christian sports organization described to me his concern that a significant portion of the teenage boy is organization deals with are afraid to commit — and committing is key to sports. They are soft. Most are from economically comfortable families in a high-income part of the country. Further, it is the mothers (not the fathers) who voice anxiety about their boys and demand a difference: they are sending their disengaged boys to the care of masculine men — sports coaches — to make men out of them, and often show anger when the project seems not to bring about the expected change, and instead further highlights their sons’ weak stance on life.
Emasculated males, disgruntled, anxious, and increasingly angry females!
The more the coach and I probed this the more we concluded that the Christian vocation of following Christ (becoming His disciple) and becoming totally self-sacrificing, was absent from the modern “Christian” discourse about marriage.
We live in a world of unrivaled comfort. The ordinary college grad (despite debts, etc.) lives as gentry never could even dream of for most of human history, and many young, just-married couples live better than most kings have. On the scale of the human historical experience we are the most pampered generation in all of history (despite the levels of abject poverty — which by the way are constantly dropping, globally, with talk of total elimination of this abject poverty, worldwide, by 2050). Prosperity always breeds softness unless a demanding vocation is expected by the culture and is personally embraced. Christian churches no longer present such a demanding vocation in marriage. It too has become soft.[Even thought this blog is written for all readers — Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Confucian, Shinto, secular and SBNRs (spiritual but not religious), in this day of mass media all from these religious groupings are aware of what a Christian is supposed to be. They also have similar teachings, for the natural family requires self-sacrifice, sometimes heroic, and in all cultures that heroism is most honored. “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” evokes universal agreement.]
With that explanation I now zero in on the problem of the Average American Male (who still is “Christian”):
The fully mature Christian man (deliberate follower of Christ) has come to grips and is at ease (though he struggles and suffers) with being one who gives himself totally for his wife (first) and his children. Everything he does is for their good. However, such a man has one big need: a woman who has embraced the same vocation: to sacrifice herself totally for her husband (first) and then her children (not the other way around), and everything she does is dedicated to that. This is her way, this is her husband’s way, of following Christ.
But, when prosperity is combined with a feminist culture these norms are now avoided by Christians and instead pacts (compromises) with social and material comfort are negotiated, nowhere more than in marriage and family life. And the children suffer: boys become soft and girls come to despise them.
By the way: in today’s culture, which of these two — boys or girls — are called upon to be strong?
The correction needed involves a massive amount of rebuilding of marriage and family. Even in the intact, weekly worshiping family there is a huge amount of brokenness (revealed in softness) and outside of marriage, many, many times more.
But this crisis is beginning to provoke great responses all over the place as Americans awaken to the fact that we are experiencing a catastrophe in civilization. Should this young generation survive and thrive they will truly be “The Greatest Generation” for no other has ever confronted anything like this family situation in all of human history. Even the best of parents wound their children in some way. Today’s parents do so in degrees offspring have never experienced before. Though this is not fully their fault, it is fully their burden.
There are two responses constantly beckoning. They come from two very different parts of the human heart and lead to two very different destinies in human relationships: ‘anger and power’ or ‘love and sacrifice’. The first can win temporary battles but only the second survives to win the war — a war not over for any until the end of each of our times— on the deathbed.
One of these myriad good responses is a work by Dr. Rick FitzGibbons, an APA-award-winning family psychiatrist who, later this year, will release Habits for a Healthy Marriage (Ignatius Press), filled with the distilled wisdom of 40 years of clinical experience. It is destined to become a classic because he lays out for every modern couple, the next steps to take, no matter where one is starting from on the road to becoming a great couple — the couple their children need them to be, and the couple they have always wished they could be.
Can enough people (enough Christians) find the source of hope and confidence to start this journey? For without such widespread hope the burden is frightening — and, not surprisingly, suicide is increasingly seen as the easy way out.
The finding of this hope is the pivot on which the future of our civilization now rests, a hope strong enough to draw all into committing — committing to the work Fitzgibbons lays out so that couples all over the country are talking to each other, about how to turn emasculated young sons into courageous, self-sacrificing mature men that young women will desire to marry. (The answer lies deep in their marriage.)
Whence comes this confidence to commit to such a marriage—– to commit for the rest of the game, the rest of the battle, the rest of the war, the rest of life.
The true answer needs to be seen by many, widely known, believed and tapped into, deeply. Quiet prayer leads to the source..
For the good of the child,
The center and future of civilization,