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Our Rehoboam problem

We must teach men that their nature is essential to flourishing communities


Andrew Tate leaves the Bucharest Tribunal in Bucharest, Romania, on July 17. Tate faces charges of human trafficking, rape, and organizing a criminal group for the sexual exploitation of women. Associated Press/Photo by Andreea Alexandru

Our Rehoboam problem
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A rising generation of increasingly lost and fatherless boys is searching for someone to embody what it means to be a man. Instead, some of them find Andrew Tate. His interview with Tucker Carlson has been uploaded to Twitter and presently viewed over 94 million times and criticized already for its lack of transparency. But it nevertheless represents something important: Carlson, once the second most-watched television host in America, takes Tate seriously. The so-called “manosphere” is no longer just driven by far-right forums and edgy frog memes. It is increasingly entering the mainstream, proving that a sufficient amount of the next generation of men is finding something in their collective messaging they aren’t getting elsewhere.

Even Washington Post columnist Christine Emba, by no means an apologist for traditional masculinity, acknowledges that modern men are desperately searching for positive role models who aren’t just going to tell them to keep hating themselves for their toxicity by birth. In contrast to many others musing about the plight of America’s boys, a crucial criterion evidenced by influencers such as Tate is their palpable empathy for troubled males. Yet whereas Jordan Peterson has increasingly emphasized the importance of moral formation and religion, others like Rollo Tomassi are pushing men to get vasectomies in their 20s and forego family life to maximize their physical and financial prowess. In tension is the extent to which manhood exists for men to exert themselves either for their self-glorification or the welfare of those around them.

We have what we might call a Rehoboam problem. In 1 Kings 12:6-15, the newly crowned king of Israel and son of Solomon sought counsel from both his father’s generation (vv. 6-7) and those of his own (vv. 8-11). In fulfillment of the prophesied downfall of a united Israel, Rehoboam opted for peer pressure and oppressed his people (vv. 12-15), eventually causing the division of the kingdom. Whereas his elders pushed him toward the model of servant-kingship envisioned by Moses in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, those of his own age who saw no need for such restraint under the Lord instead pushed him to exert patriarchal tyranny for his own gain at the expense of others.

Rather than having the example of a lived obedience in manhood from churchmen, husbands, and fathers from the past and present, our modern-day Rehoboams such as Tate and Tomassi beckon men to reject the encumbrances of community in order to realize their own prowess. For these would-be mentors, Prometheus must be unbound from both God and fellow human beings alike.

We must reject any notion that men can know why they are here on this earth purely by using dead reckoning in their own estimation of themselves.

In response, Christians must emphasize to men that what and who they are matters to civilization. As Shane Morris noted in a recent book review, the church has to do more for men than only telling them what they shouldn’t be. The promise of new life in Christ consists of addition and subtraction: a putting off of the old self and the active assumption of the new (Romans 13:12-14). Men in and outside the church need a compelling vision for their masculinity that emphasizes how their gender can advance the good God has ingrained in the created order in a way they’re uniquely meant to fulfill.

As opposed to nature triumphing over grace, the restoration of men to God and each other in Christ must be seen as involving the differentiation of their particular design in creation as a calling in itself. To be a man requires a grasp of what all men can and must be in this world. On this point at least, one can sympathize with those drawn to the principles of male influencers who do not want men to deny some of their innate tendencies toward pursuing individual excellence, resilience, and leadership. However, we must reject any notion that men can know why they are here on this earth purely by using dead reckoning in their own estimation of themselves.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” But in dying to himself, he must embrace all that God made him to be for the sake of others. Enabled by His grace, men can serve the purposes in which they belong in their churches, homes, and workplaces with a deep sense of place and meaning—and faithfulness. Yet that has to start with seeing men as essential, not incidental, to the flourishing of society.

Only when men see where they are to fit into the whole human community can they begin to play their part; otherwise, they might continue down the path of totally avoidable self-destruction. We just have to be willing to show them why.


Flynn Evans

Flynn Evans is a graduate student in history at the University of Mississippi. His writing has appeared in Providence Magazine, Ad Fontes, and Mere Orthodoxy.


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