Reflecting on masculinity led us conclude that it is impossible to develop a cohesive understanding of masculinity without engaging with and coming to conclusions about complementarian and egalitarian theology. The debate between these two positions is basically between the egalitarian view that patriarchy is a consequence of the Fall and so masculine socialisation should be abolished, versus the complementarian view that patriarchy is God’s command in Genesis 3:16 and therefore masculinity needs to be redeemed. Most members of the Think Tank didn’t feel they had enough understanding of the theology to confidently work out where they stood on this.
Have written previously about the Think Tank’s thoughts about masculinity and fragility, it was suggested that we need to build a bridge between what Christian culture understands about masculinity and what is understood about it within wider culture. One Think Tank member reflected on hearing a talk from a Christian leader working to reach men; stating that although the talk was really helpful, there was little reflection on how much of Christian culture’s engagement with non-Christian men is really about reaching working class men, but that this is not explicitly recognised within most of the work that is done.
We reflected on the serious issue of male suicide (THIS article gives more information on this). The standards of masculinity in society are impossible to achieve and may be fuelling some of men’s vulnerability to suicidal thoughts and actions. We concluded that sadly these impossible standards are often being reinforced (rather than challenged) by Christian culture. CALM is a UK organisation working to address male mental health issues.
The resources that the Think Tank have discussed include:
- Cordelia Fine’s books “Delusions of Gender” and “Testosterone Rex” are a good start for people wanting to understand how innate gender differences are.
- “Sexism of God Talk” by Rosemary Radford Ruether was mentioned as a useful introduction to feminism and Christian feminism.
- Rizzlekicks star Jordan Stephens has created THIS video about toxic masculinity.
- Stan Goff’s book “Borderline” which is all about masculinity, war and Christianity.
Some other materials we have come across are:
So, what’s next for the Working with Young Men Think Tank? Well at our next meeting in March we’re going to be reflecting on THIS Liturgist’s podcast about Mother God and also considering the possibility of producing a resource for Christian youth workers and churches about masculinity and working with young men, so watch this space for more information about this.
If you know anyone who is a Christian youth worker and is particularly working with boys and young men or is doing intentional reflection on masculinity do let us know, we’d love to hear from them.