Hot, Holy & Humorous

Are Masculine Men a Problem for Women?

Imagine a group of wives sitting in a coffee shop and sharing about their lives. One topic comes to its natural conclusion, and a long pause lingers. One of the women breaks the silence with just one word: “Men.” Which discussion do you think comes next?

A. Praise for their husbands and other good men they know
B. Curiosity about and appreciation of the distinctions between men and women
C. Frustrations about men and confusion about trying to understand and get along with them
D. Complaints about men and denouncing how they think and act
E. Rants about the Patriarchy and how masculinity can be toxic to women

I suspect the first option (A) would be the least probable outcome, with the second option (B) a close second. The more likely response would be frustration, complaints, and/or rants.

Why is the male species so unpopular among many women these days? What happened that pitted us against each other?

Is there a war on men?

I recently finished The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes by Nancy R. Pearcey, a bestselling author, scholar, and professor at Houston Christian University (formerly Houston Baptist University). I was drawn to the title because I’ve long disliked the battle between the sexes but have seen it only grow worse in recent years. While some tension is inevitable, I desire greater understanding, compassion, and appreciation from men to women and vice versa.

In Toxic War, Pearcey makes the case that the attack on masculinity itself didn’t start recently. Rather, its history begins in the Industrial Revolution when husbands and wives went from living and working together to men going out into the public workplace and women staying home to manage children and household. It isn’t that there was never separation in tasks before, but for the most part, men and women shared the duties of provision and caretaking. When that changed, so did our expectations of what men and women should do and be.

Eventually, we landed on two versions of masculinity—the “good man” and the “real man”—and when the Real Man narrative becomes predominant, we begin to reject masculinity as a whole. We war against masculinity itself, when that’s not the issue. In fact, masculinity comes from God and is, as stated clearly in Genesis 1, “very good.”

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them….And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1:27, 31

Men are not the problem. But sometimes we act like they are. Or we assign to all men what some men do to sour their good name.

Men are not the problem. But sometimes we act like they are. Or we assign to all men what some men do to sour their good name.


When it comes to sex specifically, we get into our heads that all men lust or look at pornography. We believe that men are hard-wired to “spread their seed” rather than commit to a single woman and family. We talk about men wanting one thing from women: sex. We suggest that they cannot control their sexual desire or roving gaze. We expect moral failure and then get angry when men fail.

But is that what it means to be a man? No.

We should be angry when men hurt women. But too often, we’re not confronting the bad actors, harmful behaviors, or wrong expectations of men. Instead, we attack men themselves. And insist that they become less masculine.

We need more manly men.

Let’s return to the Real vs Good Man dichotomy. In her book, Pearcey shares an experiment sociologist Michael Kimmel has run many times, asking several thousand guys the difference between a Real Man and a Good Man. Here’s a summary of answers he’s received.

Real ManGood Man
Never cryIntegrity
Be strongHonor
Don’t show your feelingsBe responsible
Suck it upBe a good provider, protector
Win at all costsDo the right thing
Be aggressivePut others first, sacrifice
Get richBe caring
Get laidStand up for the little guy
See Teaching Our Sons to Be Good Men (

A lot of men have suffered under the pressure to be a Real Man when true, God-sanctioned masculinity is being a Good Man. That’s who Jesus was: a manly man who showed his feelings, provided for others, stood up for the oppressed, and lived with integrity and honor.

Here’s the masculinity Paul called men to:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Ephesians 5:25–31

When men truly “man up” and become Good Men, they not only honor God but they become better providers, protectors, companions, and lovers to their wives.

When men truly “man up” and become good men, they not only honor God but they become better providers, protectors, companions, and lovers to their wives.


Where are the good men?

Nancy Pearcey begins her book sharing a personal story of horrible abuse inflicted by her father, a man who claimed to have faith in God. She knows from personal experience that plenty of men are not good, and the label “Christian” doesn’t provide the assurance it perhaps should.

Without going into detail, let me say that I also know from personal experience how some men hurt women intentionally, repeatedly, and deeply. I’m more than ready to battle against such oppressors. But I also know Good Men who would battle alongside me.

Where are these Good Men? Pearcey shares really interesting research about how evangelical men measure up against secular men when it comes to divorce and domestic abuse. You may have heard the statistics that divorce and domestic violence are just as rampant in evangelical circles as secular society. But in fact, evangelicals can be divided into two groups: nominal and devout.

Nominal Christians identify with a religious tradition but don’t have a transformative relationship with Christ. They divorce and abuse wives at a higher rate than secular men! They may attend church, but rather than embracing a deep faith, they “hear the language of headship and submission but not enough to learn the biblical meaning of those terms… They cherry-pick verses from the Bible and read them through the grid of male superiority and entitlement that they have absorbed from the secular guy code for the ‘Real’ Man.”

Over the years, I’ve seen a fair number of men like that commenting here or writing me messages. Some are actually quite well-versed in Bible passages but focus in on a few places rather than take in the whole counsel of God. And they tend to dwell more on their rights than their responsibilities.

Meanwhile, devout husbands—those who fix their eyes on Jesus—”are more loving to their wives and more emotionally engaged with their children than any other group in America. They are the least likely to divorce, and they have the lowest levels of domestic abuse and violence.” They are the Good Men.

Good men bring out the good in men.

How can we get past the Real Man fallacy and promote the Good Man calling instead? As a mom of boys, I often told my sons that being masculine meant using their strength to help and protect others. Given who they became as grown men, I believe they soaked up the message. But what mattered as much or more was the example they saw in my husband as he lived with integrity, cared for others, and encouraged them to do the right thing, even when it was hard. He also never shamed them for feeling and expressing pain—whether physical or emotional.

Truth is, nothing replaces Good Men demonstrating what masculinity looks like and teaching young men to become Good Men.

And oh, what a difference that can make in the arena of sexuality! Good Men need to show what it looks like to exert self-control, to see women as whole people rather than body parts, to woo a wife and be gentle with her, to seek emotional connection in the bedroom as well as physical, and to be faithful in body, heart, and mind.

Good men need to show what it looks like to exert self-control, to see women as whole people rather than body parts, to woo a wife and be gentle with her, to seek emotional connection in the bedroom as well as physical, and to be faithful in body, heart, and mind.


Above all, Good Men must point other men to Christ. Not the nominal designation of “Christian” or “religious” but having one’s life transformed by the healing power of Christ and guided by the inner working of the Holy Spirit.

And a word to the wives…

How would you have responded to the one word “men” at a coffee shop table with friends?

Yeah, I’ve been guilty too. Not of a war on men, but verbal jabs and stabs that paint men as a problem. But if what we want is less of the Real Man masculinity that harms women and more of the Good Man masculinity that champions women, then wouldn’t we be wise to make that distinction? To positively reinforce Good Men for what they do and calling more men to devout Christian masculinity?

How we talk about men matters. We can make them feel like the enemy, or we can let them know we’re on their side. We can fight against each other or fight alongside each other. After all, what can make a good man even better is a good woman.

Related Posts

Get the book: The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes by Nancy R. Pearcey

21 thoughts on “Are Masculine Men a Problem for Women?”

  1. I would also add that Christian theology had much to do with building resentment between the sexes as an historically dominant interpretation of Genesis 3:16 led men to see women as latent enemies and usurpers of their authority. This led to the suspicion of women and subsequent restrictions on them. This made women easy prey for Enlightenment philosophers emphasizing freedom, equality and the rights of man. Bad experience with men is probably a predominant reason why today many women choose to love other women instead of men.

      1. J, When men are taught by reputable Bible teachers (like John MacArthur) that Genesis 4:7 is applicable to women – women being represented by sin in this case – and a mirror of what is being taught in 3:16, how can it not affect the relationship? Are men not taught implicitly to master their wives who are “crouching at the door?”

        “…sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

        Not sure when this misinterpretation slipped into the Western church, nonetheless it is prevalent in Evangelical churches.

        1. I’ve been in evangelical churches my whole life, and I’m not aware of that teaching. To be clear, I believe Genesis 4:7 is applicable to all of us, but not that it mirrors 3:16 or applies especially to women in some way. That strikes me as a selective misreading of Scripture. But this is one of the things about the current debates on males and females in marriage and church: There’s often a presumption that we’re all hearing the message of some prominent teachers or pastors, when that’s rarely true. Yes, there are things the Church has widely gotten wrong, but not everything trickles down or when it does, it’s just a trickle.

          In fact, that’s one of the (few) criticisms I’d have of Pearcey’s book: She takes us through a history of how current views of masculinity developed, but it’s traced mostly through certain regions and cultures. Other places didn’t have as much exposure to the same stimuli, so there had to at least be a different way those populations received and began to agree with the message.

          And what I was mulling over from your first response was mostly: “Bad experience with men is probably a predominant reason why today many women choose to love other women instead of men.”

          As for Genesis 3:16 being misinterpreted and used against women, yeah, I agree it has. To be fair, its full implications seem a bit obscure, but I think we tend to overinterpret it. That is, we make too much of this one verse without taking into consideration the whole of Scripture. Sadly, that happens a lot on both sides of the debates on how men and women should serve in the Kingdom.

          1. I believe Doug may be referring to the Hebrew word for “desire” in Genesis 3:16 being the same term used in 4:17, and that the latter has been used to help interpret the former. On its face the idea that a wife’s “desire” would be for her husband seems expected and normal, but using the second usage as a guide gives the idea a more predatory slant.

            Still, this isn’t meant to paint all women as predators whom their husbands must “master”, but to elucidate how the man-woman relationship was changed by the fall. To the extent that Adam was given authority over Eve in the beginning, if anything it was Adam who failed to intervene when the serpent tempted her – although of course Eve was still accountable for her choice.

  2. Hey J!

    My bride and I started listening to Pearcey’s book on Audible today, and I believe she’s spot on. Thank you for highlighting it. While we’ve not finished the book yet, this is a needed resource. In numerous situations, even in the Church and Western theology, the setting aside of honorable manhood is being played out, even if only slightly.

    One short illustration: In challenging the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul exhorted, “Be watchful, stand Firm in the faith, Act Like Men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.” The combined two verses list in five rapid-fire imperative statements. That middle imperative set the course, “Act like men,” or, as the old King James puts it, “Quit you like men.” The problem is that many “inclusive” translations interpret this man’s phrase as “be courageous” so not to offend anyone and ensure that ladies know they are included in the warning to stand strong in their faith. While such an application can rightly be made, the literal text does not say, be courageous.

    Men need to hear this verse’s precise and accurate translation and other affirmations from the text, their wives, women in general, and other men to encourage them.

    But as you and Pearcy have also noted, when men live as Godly men – women are blessed as well. Pearcy has done a great job, in what we’ve seen so far, in crunching the raw data and demonstrating that Godly men (not nominal Christian men) bless the world with their God-given strength.

    Thank you, J!

  3. Regarding rants about the patriarchy, I think it depends on where your starting point is. I was raised in an almost Old World form of Catholicism. In any structure where women have little to no voice there is going to be pushback. Now women can be much more vocal about their pushback. My female cousins attended all girls high schools, because you know women distract men from their education. Only because my dad had to move for his job did I not have to attend a single sex high school. Other troublesome beliefs that were in my dad’s family is that unmarried women were not allowed to live on their own. My dad was very pro-education though, and thought I should become a chemist(lol)–but still live at home.

    Leaving Catholicism for something better, I found that some Protestant believers held on to similar convictions about the place of women in the world. Having watched the Duggar documentary lately I believe there is a sizable number who have troublesome views about women.

    It isn’t that all men are evil. It is that “good” men are slow to act in the face of evil. Catholic clergy I thought that were good men that did nothing upon hearing of abuse by other priests. A Protestant minister that does nothing to help and abused wife, sides with the husband, churchgoers are aware and defend the minister. In my eyes if you continue to attend a church where a minister has questionable views about those who do evil, are you still a good man or woman?

    I haven’t read the book–it sounds like it might take a different take than expected.

    The Catholic Church I attended years ago was definitely flawed but did stand up for the “little guy”. Do churches now talk about the hungry, or the people who can’t afford their insulin. It doesn’t seem like they do. I talked to a fellow Christian who thought that a worker that sweeped and mopped the floors wanting better health care benefits was “stealing”. I had no words.

    1. What you describe is also true: too many women have been historically and are currently mistreated within the church, and sometimes BECAUSE OF the church. I have talked about this and will continue to do so! It’s just not the focus of this particular article. Regardless, you make some great points…and you do it all without insults, a raging tone, or denouncing the whole gender. Your comment here is a good example of pushing back well, and I wish more of us would speak up this clearly.

      Also, I have no words either for that “stealing” accusation. Another article I could write (but probably won’t) is about too many evangelicals have allowed politics to shape their perspective more than Scripture does. God is calling us to something better and higher. We should answer.

      1. I’m not sure why you “could write (but probably won’t)” but I hope it’s not a sad commentary on publicly publishing controversial topics under the current social milieu. I now find myself giving second thoughts to how I reply in comments or what I publish of my own content. I don’t fear spirited push back as much as my presence being banned or my blog or some other being taken down by the platform or web hosting service over a questioned word or remark. You can’t solve a problem if you can’t honestly and forthrightly address the issues enabling it and open a discussion in whatever forum best suits same.

        I look forward to reading the suggested book. I think a lot of the problem with poor or misinterpretation of scripture is no-to-poor teaching. It is becoming increasingly difficult to properly staff Sunday school classes and administer ministries within a church with truly scholarly teachers. Studying the Bible in depth is hard work and teaching it requires heart and dedication. It seems the more you learn about scripture, you find the less you know of it.

        1. Thanks, Dan! A couple of responses:

          1. I probably won’t write an article about how politics shape some Christians’ perspectives more than Scripture because it’s just not on mission. I still want my primary focus to be on helping people discover and embrace God’s design for sex.

          2. So, so true about no-to-poor teaching! Despite us living in a time that permits access to more knowledge than ever, I’ve witnessed many churches moving away from Bible classes and other educational efforts. I simply don’t believe you can get enough grounding in the Bible with one sermon a week, especially when that sermon likely isn’t a deep dive into a passage but rather a topic or encouragement. Moreover, a lot of subjects won’t be covered at all, because we’re not comfortable talking about them publicly in a worship setting. For instance…sex. But you can address sex biblically in a marriage class.

          P.S. If anyone wants me to come talk to their marriage class about sex, I’m game. Shoot me an email (, and let’s see what we can do!

          1. “I simply don’t believe you can get enough grounding in the Bible with one sermon a week, especially when that sermon likely isn’t a deep dive into a passage but rather a topic or encouragement.”

            I couldn’t agree more with this statement. There are too many so called churches that do not stand on scripture but instead preach feel good messages. My pastor recently stated that if you always leave church feeling encouraged and pumped up, it is not likely preaching the full scripture. Some parts are simply really hard and will be very convicting.

          2. Re reason 2: I have been in three churches recently that have a long history but a dying founding congregation and a growing GenZ, Millennial, and GenX one, not that they are the reason for the following observation but stated as a matter of fact that may have bearing, Oddly, or tragically so, neither had a symbolic crucifix displayed in their sanctuaries, not as an icon, image or even video projected though that technology was in use. I didn’t ask, but did wonder why they were comfortable with not having the symbol of the sacrifice that was their reason for gathering. Is it a lack of submission to authority that seems so prevalent now? IDK Not looking for you to address it, just wondering if this is a trend others have witnessed?

  4. As per Gen 3-4 above, as with J, I have never heard this taught as something prescriptive (to master the woman because of her usurpation) but rather descriptive, showing the fruit of a broken relationship. The peaceful relationship of Genesis two had changed forever.

    There does seem to be some weight in the choice of language in 3:16 and 4:7. The exact Hebrew word for “desire” is only used on those two occasions. The connection would not be to Eve but to her desire. I’d surmise that she, at that moment, had a negative desire to take control of him. (And who can blame her for the desire as he threw her under the bus when God showed up) The “rule over or master” her is just the next negative fruit of the fall. One hit and one hits back . . . and unfortunately, he normally hits stronger than she.

    Of interest, though, on the “who brought the sin into the world part,” Paul in Romans 5 clarifies that sin entered the world through the man, not the woman. Point – if we’re going to point responsibility – it should go to Adam, not Eve.

    Maybe for connecting back to the book, while Pearcey seems to lean toward “soft” complementarian or “soft” egalitarianism, she seems to imply that the husband still takes the spiritual lead in the family to serve, not rule.

      1. “I have never heard this taught as something prescriptive.”

        Steve — Nor will you ever, due to fear of retribution in our current social environment. Nevertheless, when taught the implications are clear. All men and women are posited as represented in the persons of Adam and Eve, and cursed. All women suffer labor pains, no?

        Even if there was warranted to assume the word “desire” should have similar application in the two places, they are only selectively compared. In the first instance the LORD speaks to the woman. In the second He speaks to Cain. If the usages were identical the LORD should be speaking to “sin” in the second case, or if in the first, to Adam. Yet the LORD did not tell Adam that Eve’s desire would be for him, and that he should rule over her. He spoke to Eve. A more consistent interpretation is that the LORD was instructing Eve to look to her husband going forward like elsewhere taught, and prescribing for her — and instilling in her — legitimate desire. Contrast this with Romans 1 where women are said to have re-directed desire. All said, these are not curses on man and woman, but medicines. The LORD is acting as Great Physician.

        “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I keep Your word…” Psalm 119:67

        All said, the “curse perspective” has had disastrous effects on relationships and continues to encourage toxic masculinity.

        1. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but you say, “Nevertheless, when taught the implications are clear.” And Steve and I are both saying we weren’t taught what you laid out.

          I’m not suggesting it isn’t taught. (I listened part of the sermon you sent me, and it was there.) But it may not be as widespread as some believe.

          As for the debate about how the curse impacts us, it seems to me that we need to contend with that. What I would appreciate is a respectful discussion about how these verses apply first to Adam and Eve and then to men and women going forth. I can imagine several reasonable interpretations, though obviously blaming women for all sin ain’t one of them. I’m opposed to blaming either gender for all the bad stuff in the world—be it women or men.

          1. J—To your point I don’t see that God ever cursed either the man or the woman. He cursed the earth, and he cursed the serpent. As for Adam and Eve, they got strong medicine.

            “The punishments inflicted by God are the remedies and the restraints of our vitiated nature.”

            ~Peter Martyr Vermigli

            The change of environment for Adam was conducive to making him a good man. On the contrary, men in general are destroyed through ease. Think Sodom.🙂

  5. I am a masculine man, and my wife greatly appreciates it. We both have roles in life that are considered traditional. I take care of home repairs, she does most of the laundry (she is also a SAHM and our kids are all adults). I work full time, she is the primary care taker of our home. I am hard when necessary, such as when her father wrongly criticized her parenting style. I will defend my family regardless of the personal cost when they are right. I taught my children, as did my wife, to put Christ first and always live with integrity, something ingrained in me by my parents and then further ingrained during my time as an Army Warrant Officer. I do not watch porn or have a wandering eye, though there are times when I do have to purposefully look away from an immodestly dressed woman (I am still a work in progress). I provide for my wife as best I can, supporting her emotional, physical, and spiritual needs as best I can. I have to point out that she also supports my spiritual needs, encouraging me in my walk with Christ. We have both agreed that we do not get involved in such discussions with others, where they run husbands or wives down. That talk can too easily create bitterness and infect a marriage. Neither of us are perfect, I have plenty of flaws and Christ is still working in me, but we have Christ at the center of our marriage and He is perfect.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *