How Jesus Destroys the Myth of Toxic Masculinity

(AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

The latest Cephas Hour episode focuses on the music, with songs by The Lost Dogs, Richie Furay, Bob Bennett, Rachel Wilhelm, Rosalie, Whiteheart, Mark Heard, Veil of Ashes, The Prayer Chain, Crystoria, Daniel Amos, 77s, The Choir, and Altar Boys. A little something for everyone.

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As I was finishing up the show, its opening song, “Joel,” which was originally recorded by Daniel Amos for its “Mr. Buechner’s Dream” album, the version in the show an acoustic interpretation by The Lost Dogs recorded in 2002 and released in July 2023, gave cause for thought. The Scripture passage quoted is not unfamiliar.

“And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.”

Joel is one of the more interesting minor prophets. While not using the evocative imagery of, for example, Ezekiel, he was not reluctant to use descriptive illustrations to drive home his point.

Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.
Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste—
nothing escapes them.
They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.

It beats your average Marvel script by a mile. No CGI needed.

Many a Biblical scholar far more learned than I have debated whether Joel was referring to contemporary issues, matters far into the future from when he prophesied, or both. My guess is both. He apparently was referring to a plague of locusts, but then again, he could also be referring to Armageddon or a reasonable equivalent thereof. Whenever we start thinking we have this theology and Scripture deal nailed down, God loves throwing a puzzler into the mix, so we will hopefully remember that now we do indeed see through a glass darkly.

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There is a fair amount of certainty in Joel, points easily overlooked when one focuses on the book’s primary verse, namely 2:28, as mentioned above, while neglecting the stark imagery of 3:10.

Beat your plowshares into swords
and your pruning hooks into spears.
Let the weakling say,
“I am strong!”

Men being men. In the present time, a sadly novel concept.

Moving ahead to the New Testament, there is an unfortunate image of the apostles being wussified old men doddering around, unwilling and unable to hurt a fly. Nothing could be further from the truth. These were rugged men in the prime of life, most coming from strenuous occupations such as fishermen when being one meant doing all — as in all — the work yourself. And, as the popular meme correctly notes, when one asks, “What would Jesus do?” remember that flipping over tables and driving people out of the room with a whip is within the realm of possibility.

It is highly unpopular among today’s elitist societal strata and pop culture creatures to be the traditional definition of a man. This incorporates not only the sheer lunacy of believing that pretending to be a woman makes you one but the open hostility evidenced toward men who, as said above, embrace the traditional definition of manhood. Not the false manhood of cartoonish machismo, but actual men. Men take ownership of a situation and responsibility for their actions. Men lead by example, not just words. Men treat women with respect, not in hopes of being sexually rewarded but out of an inviolable sense of right and wrong. Being the family leader and doing the work is anathema to progressives. They call it toxic masculinity. We should all be similarly toxic. As my colleague Becky Noble noted:

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But for most women, what makes men attractive to us is much more than looks. It is definitely how they treat you. How many boys and young men are being taught today to pull a chair out or hold a car door or other type of door open for a woman? How many are being taught to walk on the outside of the sidewalk? As someone who considers herself a strong independent woman, I certainly don’t need those things, but it is what boys and young men should be taught to do. It is all part of being a man. The way men carry themselves, not just around women, but in general, is important. It is a hard thing to put a finger on, but it is a certain something, a strong masculine presence that as Sen. Hawley said, that boys and young men are being told is “toxic.”

Given how we are in a society that openly disrespects and derides men and manhood, it’s easy to see why we have so many problems. Even the most confident men must feel respected to perform at maximum capability … if they carry on in life, period. The only genuine hope for men stems from knowing Christ. Jesus was a Man of action. He didn’t spend His days on this earth wandering around spouting hippie platitudes. He challenged authority. He stared down the mob, looking to stone to death the adulteress. He defeated the rulers who thought they had finished Him by rising from the dead. This is the Jesus the apostles followed, and men have followed for 2,000 years. This is the Man Who one day will call time on this tired planet, returning to it with righteous judgment and in glory as its King.

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So yes, young men will see visions, and old men will dream dreams. All of these point toward one notion: To be a man means being a man of God. Even as Jesus destroys the myth of toxic masculinity, to be a man of God means to man up righteously.

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