What nuggets of wisdom and truth are there to mine from this rock? There are more than this, but this specifically is worth pointing out:
These boys will be allowed to forget everything but their own immediate feelings for as long as society allows them, and this society allows straight white boys to dodge personal and emotional responsibility until at least the age of 70.
Big part of the problem right there. Society and the left have failed at this level, and so has the right. It seems to me to be systemic. Parents matter. A lot. But not even some parents know how to teach personal and emotional responsibility because they weren’t taught it themselves.
Many of us grew up trying to be the everyman–the one who can do everything by himself. The one who can tough it out. The one who doesn’t need to depend on anyone to make it. Some of the kids and young men I know today are chasing after this fantasy, because they believe that if they don’t, they’re not real men. That they don’t have what it takes.
But it’s not true. Human beings were designed to be dependent upon one another. Not co-dependent, but dependent. We were designed to engage with our emotions, not suppress them. Both men and women.
On the left, this radical deification of autonomy as the supreme American value has resulted in, to varying degrees, a non-falsifiable belief in one’s own righteousness that demeans others who are different as a form of virtue signalling. In doing so it has inculcated a deep, secret fear in its advocates that they could be judged as bad people if they show any weakness by diverting from the approved set of sacred beliefs. It has led to the creation of safe spaces designed as a defense against negative emotions like shame and fear, but prevents today’s kids from learning how to healthily process them. A judgment-free zone has arisen where correctly diagnosing mental unwellness and imbalance in order to restore the true self is thought of as a denial of one’s real self. Here I am speaking of the kind of thing that happens when one’s feeling of who they are does not match what their body tells them they are. As an example, transableism is gaining traction as a socially-acceptable identity, which is a belief that one should not have a completely functioning body, and where people seek instead to intentionally become disabled in some respect.
On the right, this same deification of autonomy has resulted in an individualistic twisted version of John Wayne’s machismo that demeans others who are different as a form of masculine strength. In doing so it has inculcated a deep, secret fear in young men that they could be judged as unworthy of manhood if they show any emotion or speak about women respectfully in front of their peers when women aren’t around. It has created a culture that has embraced spite and mockery as an acceptable, even heroic response to the antics of the illiberal wing of the leftist progressive movement, and in doing so prevents men and women from healthily channeling their frustrations. A culture of cruelty and revenge has arisen in the place of the belief in the equal worth and dignity of all humankind.
The results on both the left and right are, in reality, interlinked. Each finds in the other part of its cause. And everywhere these things have created fractured individuals who are, perhaps permanently, separated from who they really are as men and women, and from the God who gives them these true identities.
The solution, I am convinced, is pre-political. That is, the answer to this fracturing of our selves and therefore our culture lies in the form of something that did not have its genesis in politics, but rather something more essential to who we are as human beings.
What has created this? At the root, sin has. Dr. Rosaria Butterfield speaks of sin this way.
Sin practiced sears your conscience, it harms your soul, and it makes you long for the very thing that will kill you. The Bible talks about that in terms of the flesh.
And so it is not the sort of thing a government or law can fix. And so we must begin to ask ourselves if the very things we see as political solutions are not in themselves sin.
Those of us who are followers of Jesus struggle daily with this sin.
Dr. Butterfield again says:
Sin distracts us. It takes us off course. We weren’t looking for it. It was looking for us, Genesis says. We weren’t intending, but it found us. Then indwelling sin manipulates us and it took a while for me to realize that my lesbianism was indwelling sin, and it was indwelling sin because I had practiced it for so long. Indwelling sin manipulates you. For me, it was a very painful reality that there was a war inside, that between the indwelling sin of my lesbian desire and my union with Christ that was new, small, and nascent, but growing.
Thus, we Christians have to be committed to an active and long-running battle against this sin. This repentance is a daily and ongoing thing. And that’s why we need a community of fellow believers who are all repenting and who are doing so transparently. Knowledge that others are struggling and that they don’t condemn us for our failures keeps us going, gives us hope, and gives us faith.
The American church has a long way to go. Being available only on Sundays isn’t going to cut it. You can’t schedule times to support one another. Church on Sundays and potlucks once a quarter aren’t enough time to know each other. Pretending you’re fine to maintain a safe emotional distance from others in that church space is no way to live.
The LGBTQ community has done wonders in this area. This community opens its doors to those who are suffering. People who have suffered as much as this community cannot help but support each other. Their homes are open day and night and they have regular, spontaneous get-togethers. They provide safe spaces for each other to be themselves and perhaps, if they’re suicidal, hang on for another day.
The LGBTQ community has much to teach the American church about how to be a community. And we have much to teach them about a God who loves them. We are both, in a sense, connected by our separation from each other. We fear each other, and hate each other’s sin, but we need each other. Our mutual sin keeps us separated from one another and from the love of Christ.
Community, it turns out, can do a lot to help invest our children with the tools they need to develop personal and emotional responsibility. But community cannot itself scale into a government. There are those who today are trying to make that happen. But no amount of laws or political willpower can create community out of a nation, because these things cannot address the individual.
But church community, especially, was designed for the individual without fracturing him or her. And this community has something no others have; a message of hope that Christ intended for the individual, a message which Christ has commanded those whom He has chosen to peaceful advocate to our enemies. It is a message that one’s self worth doesn’t reside in what one does or can do, but rather in Whom they belong to; a Person who doesn’t change, who won’t betray you, who won’t stop loving you no matter how much you screw up, yet who wants you to struggle with your sin in order to mortify it. This Father God is the one whom not even many American Christians speak about because they do not know Him well. But He is good.
…if we really live as the family of God, the watching world would see that. It would be irresistible. People are dying of loneliness. People in our churches, people in our neighborhood. It’s an agony to see so many lonely people. If the church really had an understanding of itself as a family and a deep committed calling to draw others into that, that would change everything.
That fractured self that has fractured our society? I think Dr. Butterfield knows how to fix them.