The lion has been given the prestigious title of “King of The Jungle.” This is because the lion is respected by all animals, given his strength, courage, and ferocity. However, a stark change occurs if you take a lion out of his natural habitat in the wild and move him to a comfortable zoo setting. The lion no longer walks with purpose. He looks lost. His roar is gone. He doesn’t look people in the eye. He sits there in a sad state, sleeping, bored, and taking shallow breaths. In the zoo, the lion has been caged; thus, his nature has been caged. Here, we witness a sad transformation of a once powerful, active creature roaming the savanna, ruling his pride, striking fear into the heart of every beast, to now spending every hour of the day alone in a cage. Instead of boldly and cleverly hunting his food, his food is now casually served to him. After years of living in a cage, a lion no longer believes it is a lion. Wildlife biologists readily acknowledge that sheltered animals in captivity are ill-equipped to be put back in the wild, and eventually, they cease to survive in the wild.
Just as the lion has been stripped of his natural essence, men have had their manhood purged. Instead of being warriors on a mission, men have turned into a domesticated suburban consumer. What has happened to men is analogous to throwing a wild predator into the cage in which their very nature is stripped down. In his book, “The Decline of Males,” Dr. Lionnel Tiger thoroughly articulates that men in the Western world are in a psychological decline and have lost the masculine attributes of their ancestors. In his research, Dr. Tiger notes some staggering findings. Fewer men are going to college. Those who do are performing worse than their female peers. In the workforce, men have had issues holding down jobs. The Atlantic article “The End of Men” showcases the dramatic role reversal in which women have now become the majority in the workforce. In the Covid recession, 82% of males lost their jobs. On the domestic front, 40% of babies are born to women who are not married. In 25% of births, the child will be without a stable father. These findings insinuate that men are not embracing fatherhood, which, in turn, negatively affects society's ability to produce a stable family. With men seeing a decline in the workforce and in fatherhood, there has been an uptick in criminal activity in men. Studies show that the single male is by far the highest demographic for criminal behavior, drug use, and suicide.
The slow decaying of masculine attributes is also happening at the chemical level, as we see evidence of a worldwide weakening in men’s overall physiology. Sperm counts have been decreasing among men coupled with lower testosterone levels. This has caused men’s fertility to decline worldwide in the last twenty years. In fact, many researchers have been scratching their heads about the cause of this dramatic drop in men’s physiology. More chemical rupturing is taking place in male hormones with the use of atrazine. The chemical atrazine is a legal herbicide used to kill weeds in the U.S. Yet, recent studies have revealed significant problems with atrazine towards the male sex hormone androgen. Androgen is a crucial substance in the male sex hormone in developing and maintaining masculine characteristics in reproductive tissue, which, in turn, affects the whole male physiology. Unfortunately, atrazine has spread to our drinking water as it's estimated that 30 million Americans are drinking water laced with atrazine.
Dr. Tiger notes the fall off of masculinity is because, for the first time in human history, we are at the point where one sex controls reproduction. With the advent of the pill in the 1960s, men have been taking out of the means of human reproduction. Instead of men engaging with women in terms of marriage and then kids, men have now become clueless about reproduction. In short, men were born to be sacrificial fathers. However, with the pill, the concept of fatherhood has been blurred. No longer do men see women as a person they need to build a family with in which they are to lead, provide, and protect. Given the pill, men view women as mere objects for pleasure. Sadly, men have traded the mentality of self-denial for the other for carnal pleasures of the self. In this exchange, men have become weaker mentally and biologically.
While Dr. Tiger primarily looks for a cultural origin for the fall of men, we must go deeper to look at the root cause in the spiritual realm. The interplay of spiritual forces breaking into physical realities is a staple in Catholic theology. That is, the causes in the material world are influenced by those powers in the immaterial world. Of course, in the Biblical sense, the source of evil, and in turn, destruction of what is natural is the devil (cf. 1 John 3:8). The central plot in the spiritual world is the devil’s aggressive insistence to destroy God’s creation. In Genesis, we learn that the pinnacle of God’s creation is the human person. The human person is imbued with God’s sacred image - this image personified is male and female. Because God created a person in God’s image of “male and female,” the demonic has zeroed in on gender distinctions to blur God’s treasured creation. An insightful visual of the erasing of male and female distinctions is in Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion.” Notice that in this film, the devil is portrayed as genderless; thus, no male and female distinctions exist.
In his hatred of God’s creation of persons, here is where the devil focuses on demolishing authentic masculinity. His motivation stems from a loathing of the concept of the father. Psychologists articulate the reality of people having a father wound in which they harbor deep resentment toward their father. And beyond this, exorcists often remark that the devil has a “father wound” towards God the Father. Given the devil’s self-inflicted “father wound,” any suggestion of taking down masculinity or “the patriarchy” is an echo of a demonic plot to disrupt the nature of men and God’s hierarchy of sacrificial male leadership.
As exorcists indicate, the primary way the devil corrupts God’s creation is through the popular messages he pervades in the culture. Scripture describes Satan as “the ruler of this world” (cf. John 12:31, 4:8-10), and in this world, his warped message cunningly seeps into the mainstream through vague, emotionally laced philosophies. In his master messaging, the devil has made our culture hate authentic masculinity and femininity. It has been evident that the culture wants to blur the distinction between men and women, thus constructing a confusing egalitarian picture. For example, Disney has recently eliminated all mentions of “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls" in its theme park. Recently, the Cambridge Dictionary changed its definition of “man” from “an adult male human being” and now defines man as “an adult who lives and identifies as male though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.” In academia and media, they are literally attempting to redefine what a man is. A crucial component in this reconstruction of men is dismantling the traditional notion of masculinity. To dismantle masculinity, they must isolate it and show how repugnant it is while at the same time rebranding masculinity into a counterfeit. Here enters the “toxic” component of masculinity. For the last ten years, the word “toxic” has been cleverly put in front of the word masculinity. This was deliberate as when the phrase is repeated over and over again, eventually, people will associate any masculine attributes as unhealthy or, dare we say, “toxic.”
Exorcists demonstrate in their manipulation of the culture that demons utilize human agents to carry out their work. Therefore, whether they know it or not, certain people have been heavily influenced by dark spirits to despise traditional society - especially a hatred of masculinity. One such example is reported by Mallory Millett. Mallory's sister, Kate Millett, was an influential feminist activist in the 1960s. Mallory joined Kate during the early years of the feminist revolution but later denounced the movement. During one of the early feminist roundtable meetings, Mallory reported the following dialogue was recited as the feminist battle cry:
“Why we here today?” the chairwoman asked.
“To make revolution,” they answered.
“What kind of revolution?” she replies.
“The cultural revolution,” they chanted.
“And how do we make cultural revolution?” she demand.
“By destroying the American family!” they answered.
“How do we destroy the family?” she came back.
“By destroying the American Patriarch,” they cried exuberantly.
“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?” she probed.
“By taking away his power!”
“How do we do that?”
“By destroying monogamy!” they shouted.
The roadmap for disassembling masculinity was outlined in this feminist dialogue. Kate Millet’s own words demonstrate how the feminist philosophy's main agenda was to eliminate the traditional concepts of masculinity. Interestingly, Mallory also reported that this group would frequently be involved in demonic rituals. Carrie Gress made the feminist-demonic connection in her book, “The Anti-Mary Exposed.” Here, Gress outlines how the thirst for power in feminism is the polar reverse of femininity, which is most prominently displayed in Mary, the Blessed Mother. With this, we can identify a framework in which the devil uses a crafty philosophy full of catchy slogans and emotional appeal and can channel it through vulnerable, resentful people to carry out his agenda of destroying the God-given image of male and female (it is worth noting that Kate Millet hated her Catholic youth).
Yet, Millett’s work has temporarily seen success, for today, we are surrounded by cries to “smash the patriarchy” in academia and through popular messaging. The word “pater” in Latin is translated into "father," while the word “archy” refers to “hierarchy” or, in the Biblical sense, God's "sacred order." Therefore, the word “patriarch” denotes God’s sacred order in which the husband and father sacrificially lead the family toward God and away from evil (see Ephesians 5:21-29, 1 Tim. 2:12, Col. 3:18). Under God’s hierarchy, those at the top continuously serve those at the bottom in a self-giving manner. This concept is spelled out when Jesus announced, “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first” (Matthew 20:16). It is essential to realize that God’s hierarchy is the complete opposite of the modern view of a hierarchy often found in a corporate org chart. The modern org chart model views everyone's position in terms of a power grab in which those at the top reap the rewards of those at the bottom. Here, there is a continuous struggle as those further down, and those further up attempt to selfishly climb the ladder precisely so they can gain a luxurious life. In contrast, in the Biblical hierarchy, those further up endure suffering so those further down can reap the benefits of their suffering (see Ephesians 3:13, 5:25, Colossians 1:24).
In his grand marketing plot, the devil has portrayed God’s order as a mere power grab where men use their position to control women. One way he has accomplished this is by cunningly manipulating the way people react when they hear the words “authority” and “submission.” Any mention of these words in Scripture is meant with holy terror as if the man is set up to use his authority to inflict fear and control others. But, the word “authority” in Biblical terms refers to divine “author’s rights” while “submission” simply means “under the mission of” God. Therefore, these good words that are scattered throughout the Bible have been marketed to the public as foul sounding. From this rebranding of terms, women have been trained to despise male headship as “toxic.”
While feminism is an external attack against masculinity, there is an internal assault that is highly successful in rupturing male attributes. St. Thomas Aquinas writes extensively on how the dangers of effeminacy lure men away from sacrifice. Aquinas defined effeminacy as the inability to put aside pleasure in pursuit of the arduous good. In effeminacy, a man shies away from doing hard things because it means giving up his comfort. The state of effeminacy showcases an addiction to comfort and, therefore, a lack of engaging in strenuous, heroic work. Men have experienced a slow dripping of effeminacy in the consumeristic messaging of our culture. Here, sacrifice has been replaced by comfort. In her book, “Dopamine Nation,” psychologist Anna Lembke illustrates that our culture’s obsessive consumption of comfort and pleasure has led to a situation in which people lack the ability to do hard things, thus are incapable of sacrifice. This formula has particularly impacted those whose nature is to do hard things - men. In short, society sells men on the idea that he can get all the good (pleasure-seeking) without the bad (suffering). However, the reality is that if they pursue only the “good” (pleasure-seeking), what they end up getting is an inversion of who they are. While the addict's high might seem “good,” it produces nothing but misery over time; causing one to live in bondage to their addiction.
In St. John of the Cross's book, “The Ascent of Mt. Carmel," he shows that effeminacy surfaces when men become overly passive. Here, he introduces the woman in Revelation chapters 18 and 19 as the source of effeminacy. In Revelation, the woman (known as the harlot) is adored by all nations as she holds the world's riches and represents the model of profit. Her seductive temptation to the world is to indulge in pleasure and comfort. By passively receiving her message, the world becomes lazy and soft and lacks the ability to do demanding things. St. John mentions that many, even church leaders, have drunk from the cup of the harlot in which they pursue luxury, comfort, and the acclaim of the world. St. John asserts the harlot dupes men into drinking from her cup of pleasure by tempting their fleshly desires. As men consume the harlot’s cup, they no longer want to do strenuous tasks and battle spiritual evils; they’d rather sit in comfort merely entertaining their lower appetites.
A prime example in the Bible of passivity coupled with effeminacy is King David. Rather than lead his men in battle against the Philistines, King David passively stayed in his palace, where he then gave into his sensual pleasures of fine dining. This quickly turned into lust when he noticed an attractive woman bathing in the distance. The lusting after Bathsheba segued into to adultery which, in turn, eventually caused David to murder Bathsheba’s husband (2 Samuel 11).
Men can also relate to the scenes played out in the Rocky movies. Rocky III opens up with the Heavyweight Champion, Rocky Balboa, embracing his comfortable life filled with fame and fortune far away from how he grew up in the slums of Philly. Yet, because he moved out of the tough streets of Philly, he lost his edge and consequently gets pummeled by a gritty fighter named Clubber Lang. To get his “eye of the tiger” hunger back, his trainer has him return to the slums and experience a grueling retooling of his manhood. This theme of hardships and self-sacrifice over worldly comfort continues in Rocky IV. Here, Rocky leaves his mansion to train in Siberia's Arctic, cut off from technology and human contact. The Rocky story also showcases that the man centered on a grueling mission must subdue his fleshly passions - especially lust. Recall Mickey tells Rocky to “lay off the pet shop dame” while training for his title bout with Apollo Creed.
Because man shares the five senses with the beasts, his overstimulation in these lower appetites will reduce his intellect and will. In this pleasure-seeking mode, he cannot know the good and freely choose to do the good. What's worse is that being ensconced in pursuing pleasure, man cannot do the role that God gave him - suffer for the good of the other.
As feminism and effeminacy continue to run amok in society, people now view authentic masculinity as “toxic masculinity.” In 2019, Gillette came out with a commercial decrying “toxic masculinity,” and the American Psychological Association published a report on the harmful effects of masculinity. Even Pope Francis has been caught up in the hype of “toxic masculinity.” In a recent audience with the International Theological Commission, Pope Francis described the “masculinizing” of the Church as a “great sin.”
In examining the concept of “toxic masculinity,” we can witness an attempt to rebrand authentic masculinity articulated in Scripture and through our ancestral past as wicked. Academia defines toxic masculinity as a “cultural pressure for men to behave in a certain way.” They further outline that manliness "perpetuates domination, homophobia, aggression, and emotional stoicism.” This “toxic” brand of masculinity views men’s role as dominating society while repressing women. Notice how they’ve flipped God’s order of man’s role at the top from sacrifice to now inserting the word “dominate.” This cunning word swap is effective as now the public views the traditional hierarchy as poisonous.
They further suggest that traditional stereotypes of man as socially dominant can be considered toxic due in part to their promotion of violence. They attempt to equate the increase in male violence to traditional masculinity by insinuating that masculine traits are characteristic of the unspoken code of behavior among men in prisons. In their campaign, they are exchanging the cause from effeminacy to traditional masculinity. As St. John of the Cross highlights, effeminacy in men leads to an increase in violent acts, as in the state of effeminacy, men have become addicted to being governed by their overzealous passions. Therefore, inverting traditional masculinity to effeminacy produces apes, not gentlemen.
We can see this as the modern idea of excessive play and entertainment tricks men into indulging in their passions. Here, we have an inordinate desire that gets men addicted to comfort. This, in turn, makes them weak in developing a virtuous character. Rather than act courageously when injustices occur, modern man becomes ruled by his lower appetites. After all, King David became effeminate in his pleasure-seeking mentality, and this state caused him to want to kill Uriah. Whereas pleasure-seeking men more easily slip into erratic behavior, traditional masculinity has men master sacrifice and self-denial of the passions in which their behavior is more grounded and rooted in the virtues. The vast amount of studies reveal that men who seek the more traditional approach to getting married and having a family are far less violent than those who take the non-traditional approach of men who don’t start a family. In fact, our prisons are swarming with men who refuse traditional masculinity to sacrifice their wants and start a family. In short, what academia and the media are doing is taking the adverse effects of effeminacy (out-of-control behavior and violence) and attempting to place the blame on Biblical masculinity. Here, they use the example of an ardent prisoner who has a zest for violence and labels it as “toxic masculinity.”
The other concept academia gravitates toward to discredit traditional masculinity is dominance. With the repeated description of “dominance,” they are bidding to label traditional masculinity as a means to control someone analogous to a drunken overlord. Again, they make a cunning flip of concepts by taking leadership and tagging it as “controlling” or invoking “dominant” behavior. It bears repeating that God’s hierarchy of male leadership is not a power grab where those at the top dominate those at the bottom but a mode of suffering where those at the top sacrifice themselves for the good of those further down.
To be sure, when men aren’t under the order and authority of Christ, they can easily slip into toxic effeminacy as they become ensconced in the seven deadly sins. A man who degrades women, bullies, and merely seeks after his own interest is not a traditional man. He is a lesser man. He becomes on par with animals - entirely guided by his passions and unable to sacrifice for others. To broadly paint all of masculinity as “toxic” because of sinful, arrogant men is akin to saying all weather is harmful because of a series of bad storms. Hurricanes are in the weather but they don’t define weather much like corrupt people are men don’t define masculinity.
What academia and the media do is repeatedly use examples of men who aren’t under Christ as examples of traditional masculinity. However, the irony is that these men suffer from the very thing the culture promotes - pleasure-seeking without sacrifice. When the culture loses God, they lose their mind, and they lose a sense of what is true, good, and beautiful.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has been leading the charge to neuter traditional masculinity. The APA produced five critical attributes of the dangers of toxic masculinity and how to correct them. But, a deep dive into this reveal that the characteristics they dub harmful are actually noble qualities for men that are being marketed as detrimental.
The first area of “concern” the APA presents is emotional stoicism. That is, they view that since men don’t show emotion, they’re more likely to fall into depression and erratic behavior. But, this is a false pretense as psychology shows us it’s the exact opposite. Those who are heavily guided by their emotions tend to suffer more from anxiety, depression, and emotional outbursts. There is a profound difference between controlling your emotions and suppressing them. Authentic masculinity is designed for men to temper, control, and regulate their feelings in which their emotions are channeled through prayer, a well-formed intellect, and participation in the role of provider, protector, and teacher. Authentic masculinity gives men a purpose in their sacramental vocation as husband and father. This serves as a healthy outlet to regulate emotions and prevents men from going down the path of the two extremes of either suppressing emotions or letting emotions run amok. In fact, psychology repeatedly recommends the healthy option of regulating emotions to decrease anxiety. Today, being emotionally neutral is viewed as a defect primarily because our culture is obsessed with showing emotions. Being hyper-focused on feelings, you don’t need to have a rational basis for what you believe; you just have to have emotions for your belief. Instead of beginning a sentence with “I think . . ." people tend to open with “I feel . . .” Today, it's practically impossible not to offend someone’s feelings precisely because people have overly fragile emotions when they hear certain words. For example, a biological man who identifies as a woman filed a police report after he became emotionally triggered by a boys camp because it had the word “authentic manhood” in its brochure. Isn’t it ironic that the phrase “authentic manhood” creates an emotional temper tantrum for someone, but having emotional stoicism is somehow toxic for men?
Being in this emotional state, modern man loses a slice of his rational intellect. Science explains that when a person becomes overly emotional, the logical part of their brain (the cerebral cortex) designed to think critically does not work correctly.
The emotional nature of pleasure-seeking people produces a clinginess to embracing vulnerability. The APA had issue that masculinity can curtail one's need to be vulnerable. But, the culture's idea of vulnerability is that you become consumed with emotion. Vulnerability in the spiritual realm implies exposing your flaws in terms of your sin and brokenness. In the Gospels, those who approached Jesus for the healing of their sins or physical ailments were vulnerable. Vulnerability means you can admit your mistakes to the point you don't care what others think. Vulnerability is realized when men go to confession and honestly acknowledge their faults. As Jocko Willink articulates, real men take ownership of their mistakes. Therefore, vulnerability is not a mere cue to show you can cry. Rather, vulnerability is the state when you can honestly acknowledge your shortfalls to others.
Another "problem" area the APA highlighted that toxic masculinity leads to is self-reliance. What is dangerous about being self-reliant? To be able to live independently gives man great freedom in the sense he is not financially or emotionally dependent on others providing for him. As Proverbs declares, “the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7), so it behooves one to be self-reliant lest he be a slave of the one he needs to rely on. Government platforms work hard so people can be dependent on government oversight and control. In fact, Marxism abhors independent free thinkers because they aren’t as easily controlled. Yes, men need to realize they rely on God for everything, but in our fallen world, being self-reliant is a sign that men are advancing in their achievements.
Another apparent masculine trait that the APA decries is the competitive nature of men. But, again, this attribute is incredibly healthy for men. Existing in a fallen world where evil abounds, men must be competitive with that which they are up against. If a man ceases to be competitive, he’d be enslaved by evil. If we weren’t competitive with the Nazi’s we’d be enslaved by them. If we weren’t competitive with the Communists, we wouldn’t have freedom. Competitiveness is a healthy concept for men in many areas - sports, academia, and the workforce. Competitiveness moves man towards accomplishing an end, wanting to get better at something and achieve success. Without competitiveness, a man becomes a lazy, lifeless blob afraid to go out into the world to work and earn success. In this slothful state, instead of man going out to achieve, he feels entitled to people to give him rewards without him doing anything to earn them. To combat this slothful state, God has given man a competitive drive to struggle and fight for achievement.
Rather than put in rigorous study, the APA merely followed the cultural narrative that masculinity has to be neutered because adherence to traditional masculinity is poisonous for society.
The damage to the attack on men is evident. If you ask most men their purpose in life, they'll likely flounder to answer this question in any serious manner. Most of their answers might be reducible to life's immature goal, “to have fun.” As William Wallace bluntly put it in Braveheart, "All men die. Very few men really live." The upside to this fact is that men are hungry for a sense of responsibility, purpose, mission, and authority (leadership from God). What is needed for men is a recognition of their God-given calling as a sacrificial leader. When men sense they have God’s author’s rights in them, it will provoke a self-giving duty within their soul.
By giving man a sacred mission, men become dignified and naturally act with vigor toward this higher purpose. This whole process facilitates the need for authentic masculinity. This authentic masculinity then enables attraction and desire from the opposite sex as women are attracted to a man who is living for an honorable vocation and can cultivate the gentlemen's virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. However, a guy who is obsessed with Marvel movies, college football, video games, or any other vector of self-pleasure is going to be viewed as weak and immature by authentic women.
Realizing that masculinity needs to be rescued from the toxic label and raised back to the height of gentlemen's nobility, men have stepped into action. Psychologist Jordan Peterson’s books and videos have given men a sense of responsibility and purpose to combat the fall of male excellence. Soon after the Gillette commercial on toxic masculinity, the CEO of Egard Watch made a commercial showcasing the dignity of masculinity. The Egard ad showed a fireman courageously rescuing someone from a burning house. It illustrated a soldier in a battle zone willing to lay down his life for his country. And then the ad displayed the all-important sacrificial line: “97% of all those that die in combat are men, and 93% of those that had workplace fatalities were men.” It went on to show the beauty, nobility, and heroism in manhood. This heroism is displayed in that working-class men have built our massive infrastructures. Men are up on powerlines, working in the sewers, constructing towering buildings. Men put their lives at risk, creating our complex infrastructure and keeping it functioning through their back breaking labor. The one word that describes men's grueling labor for the other is - sacrifice. To sacrifice men need to obtain a rugged nature in which he can conquer his passions through self-discipline and empty himself out in service of the other. In sacrifice masculinity reaches its pinnacle.
Let us rescue authentic masculinity as the noble role God gave us. When man embeds the characteristics of a virtuous leader willing to lay down his life for the other all the while fighting off evil intruders, the world becomes a better place. In this setting, the lion has broken free from his cage.