Stephen Paddock- Las Vegas, 58 dead
Omar Saddiqui Mateen- Pulse Night Club (Orlando), 49 dead
Seung-Hui Cho- Virginia Tech, 32 dead
Adam Lanza- Sandy Hook Elementary, 27 dead
Devin Patrick Kelley- First Baptist Church (Texas), 26 dead
And the list goes on…
I looked in the mirror the other day and I saw the problem…
Not me per se… but my gender. There is a serious problem with the male gender in the United States of America. Some have coined the term “toxic masculinity.” I tend to agree with this term. If I doubt it, all I have to do is look at the list above. Or maybe the list below…
Harvey Weinstein (movie producer)
John Besh (chef)
Mark Halperin (journalist)
Kevin Spacey (actor)
Louis CK (comedian)
Dennis Hastert (former Speaker of the House)
Anthony Weiner (former congressman)
And the list goes on…
The first is a list of the names of the shooters responsible for the deadliest shootings in U.S. history. The second list contains the names of people who have been accused and/or convicted of sexual harassment or worse. Notice that there is not one woman on either list.
There is a clear pattern of toxic masculinity in our culture. I am not an expert in sociology (although I did major in sociology in college) or in psychology, but there is too much repetition for this to be random or a coincidence.
For most our history, we have existed in a white, male dominated society. This is slowly changing (thankfully). However, as unstable men perceive this loss of status and power, some of them go to extreme measures to exercise the ultimate personal power…they take the lives of others. Of course, each shooter has a story and what appears to be unbridled hate, but at the heart of it is either a loss of status or lack of power in their lives. Instead of cherishing human life, there is a desperate attempt to kill in one final act of masculine power. Once again, these are all men.
On the other end of the spectrum we have a list of men who had lots of power and status (and money). What did they do with that power? They abused it by sexually abusing others. They treated others as objects to be possessed and used. Instead of seeing individuals as equals, they view others as instruments of personal pleasure. This is an abuse of power and an abuse of sexuality. Once again, these are all men.
I fully admit to not being an expert in this, but I can see there is something terribly wrong. I’ve developed a pretty good eye over the years when it comes to sin.
I am reminded of a man who did not act like this… Jesus. He once said this, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:44-45
As followers of Jesus, we are reminded that our destiny is not about the accumulation of status or power. As a matter of fact, the opposite. We are tasked with being servants if not slaves… people of no power or status. I know I am preaching to the choir on this, but I believe this needs to be clear in the hearts and minds of Christians, specifically men who follow Jesus.
Even St. Paul when writing about Jesus said this,
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant…
Jesus wasn’t just telling us from on high how we should act. No! He lived it out! As God, he has all the power (and status) one could ever want or need, but Jesus did not exercise his power so that he would be treated with deference and reverence. Nor did he use his power for his own gratification. No, he became a servant for our sake. A gentle, suffering servant who is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
My hope and prayer is that when I look in mirror next, I see Jesus looking back at me and not a reflection of the toxic masculinity that seems so prevalent in our nation.