Toxic Masculinity

I’m told the Oxford Dictionary named “toxic” its “word of the year”. For good reason - it describes well our political discourse, our relationships, Utah’s air this time of year . . . but especially men. We’ve heard so many stories where men have misused others, especially women - where “toxic masculinity” is an understandable description.

Therefore I would like to speak to our men. But not really me - the apostle John, from 1 John 2:

12  I am writing to you, little children, 

because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 

13  I am writing to you, fathers, 

because you know him who is from the beginning. 

I am writing to you, young men, 

because you have overcome the evil one. 

I write to you, children, 

because you know the Father. 

14  I write to you, fathers, 

because you know him who is from the beginning. 

I write to you, young men, 

because you are strong, 

and the word of God abides in you, 

and you have overcome the evil one.

Men, what is your identity now, now that you are united to Christ? Does the label “toxic masculinity” fit? You are forgiven (v. 12), not because you deserved it, but for praise of Jesus Christ. You already know THE man, the perfect man, who was from the beginning, who is the perfect embodiment of everything the world hopes for in a man (v. 13) - Jesus Christ. And you (note carefully the verb tense) have overcome the evil one. In Jesus Christ. Whatever the world says about “toxic masculinity”, that IS . . . NOT . . . YOU - in Christ. Whatever you were before, forgiven! Whatever need of strength and a template for true masculinity, given, in union with Jesus! Whatever was evil, wrong, bent, devilish, depraved and stained in you - cleansed, reborn, on the cross! 

In Christ, by faith, you are “toxic” no longer. 

Therefore we have power to walk out who we are. We can “live strong”, "if what you heard from the beginning abides in you” (v. 24) - the gospel. Remember who you are, and hope in who you will be. We ARE strong, as we live in the gospel and allow the Spirit to continue to preach it to ourselves. As you and I “abide” in this gospel, God deploys our strength in self-forgetting self-sacrifice. We increasingly live lives that are anything but “toxic”. We give, instead of take - we lead, provide and protect, just like the One we’ve known from the beginning. 

All solutions to “toxic masculinity” terminate on Christ.⁠1 We have him - thus we are the solution!



1 This phrase is meant to comprehend the ultimate and intermediate ways that “toxic masculinity” is “solved”. While the ultimate is always spiritual, always landing on Christ, there may be intermediate steps - for instance, where the church calls in an authority, like the police. But even then, that intermediate step flows out of the nature of Christ, who not only loves kindness and walks humbly, but who also “does justice” (Micah 6:8).