It’s time to change the way we talk and think about male sexuality,” writes Zachary Wagner in the Speaking Out section of our July/August issue. The church, Wagner argues, hasn’t done its part to set boys up for success. Purity culture has too often cast men as “sexual animals,” rather than offering Jesus as an example of gentle self-control and godly maturity.
Wagner’s reflection—based on his book Non-Toxic Masculinity: Recovering Healthy Male Sexuality—joins a conversation that’s been taking place inside and outside Christian circles this year. Richard Reeves’s book Of Boys and Men and Christine Emba’s Washington Post column “Men are lost. Here’s a map out of the wilderness” are among the attempts to diagnose why men are struggling—in school, in the workplace, in families—and what can be done to help. Commenters on CT’s social media pages found Wagner’s vision of Christ-centered masculinity encouraging. “Thank you for putting Jesus as the highest example instead of politics or helpful debate,” wrote one woman.
Though a few said the article either went too far in support of “the feminist movement” or didn’t go far enough in “deconstructing the patriarchy,” and others wished Wagner had offered more concrete advice, many of those who commented found his take, in their words, “refreshing,” “timely,” and deserving of an “AMEN.”
senior editor, audience engagement
Very few persons under the age of 60 or 65 are interested in or even know of anything related to a “denomination.” There’s a majority of youth that have no clue what a “church” is or even care. So these writings appear to be more of a traditional understanding of Christianity, even if they call themselves “nondenominational.”
I was taken aback by comments in the article by Daniel Silliman. He states conservative nondenominational churches “teach that the gospel is political, but not partisan.” And a little further he quotes pastor Tonetta Landis-Aina as saying the same thing. To me, those statements are treading on dangerous ground and possibly giving tacit approval for actions and motivations that can easily cross the line into partisanship, whether one is liberal or conservative. Of course Jesus cares that we look out for the disadvantaged, but I would never characterize the gospel as being political!
A denominational Christian like me (Presbyterian Church in Ireland) needs to consider carefully the blessings of not carrying denominational baggage. But what about accountability? There are structures in denominations to call to account a leader who goes rogue. I am disappointed that the article did not address this crucial issue.
M. Daniel Carroll R. gets much right about the hollowed-out worship I believe many believers feel today. This is a well-timed article that names and brings to light a serious problem in the body of Christ. Sometimes our worship can and has led us further from God himself, and this article does get to the heart of our need to be confronted by the idea that we must be careful not to worship false gods.
At the same time, I felt uneasiness with his message about social justice being the center of our worship. My wife and I have led life-giving, Christ-centered drug and alcohol programs as Salvation Army officers that left men and families changed and engaged in Spirit-led churches. The writer is careful to distinguish between politicized social justice and godless humanist programs. However, I have run up against social justice advocates around the world and in our own country that hated Christ-centered programs and made it difficult in their spheres of influence.
The church has gone so far from practices of humility, service, and truth that my soul has suffered. I feel sickened when attending church services that are not worshiping with humility. It is not easy to gather together without the distractions of entertainment and politics of government. CT really helps me be encouraged that God’s people are interspersed in the population and glad to serve by calling out the sin that seems to be destroying the calling of the church.
I too was a physics and math major and came to the same conclusions as he did about the reality and influence of mathematical truths. I like the variety among the people highlighted in the testimony column each month. A testimony need not be dramatic to be valid and to bring glory to God.
Behind the Scenes
Our July/August cover story actually started as an online movie review. I learned that some Berry College professors were involved in a documentary called Her Name Was Hester. Journalist Melissa Morgan Kelley couldn’t make it to the movie showing, but she drove from her home in Atlanta to northeast Georgia to meet the subjects for herself. As soon as she recounted the conversations from her visit with these neighbors brought together by their shared faith and surprising history, I knew we had to make it a bigger feature story.
editorial director, news
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.