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Ep. 467 Nancy Pearcey, The Toxic War on Masculinity

Ep. 467 Nancy Pearcey, The Toxic War on Masculinity

Photo: ©Nancy Pearcey via nancypearcey.com

Shows Main Idea – Nancy Pearcey is the author of The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes, as well as Love Thy Body, The Soul of Science, Saving Leonardo, Finding Truth, and Total Truth. She is a professor and scholar in residence at Houston Christian University. She has been quoted in The New Yorker and Newsweek, highlighted as one of the five top women apologists by Christianity Today, and hailed in The Economist as “America’s pre-eminent evangelical Protestant female intellectual.”

Show Notes

Nancy Pearcey

It has become socially acceptable to express open hostility against men, even in respected media outlets. “Why Can’t We Hate Men?” asks the Washington Post. Almost half of American men agree with the statement, “These days, society seems to punish men just for acting like men.” In her new book, bestselling author of Love Thy Body Nancy R. Pearcey explains how secularism has villainized the concept of masculinity. In three parts, The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (Baker Books, June 2023) reveals the surprising answers to questions such as:

  • Where did the idea come from that masculinity is “toxic”?
  • What impact did secularism have on the script for masculinity?
  • How do Christian men shatter the negative stereotypes?

Let’s face it: When people complain that masculinity is toxic, they often point to evangelical men as their prime example. But findings from the social sciences debunk those charges. Research shows that committed Christian men who attend church regularly test out as the most loving and engaged husbands and fathers. These facts show that Christianity can overcome toxic behavior in men and reconcile the sexes—an unexpected finding that has stood up to rigorous empirical testing. We should be bold in bringing it into the public square.

Masculine traits are not intrinsically toxic. They are good when directed to virtuous ends. The Bible calls men to be both tough and tender, both courageous and caring. Men who know God made them in God’s image can be full persons, reflecting all the rich dimensions of God’s character. – Nancy Pearcey

The book includes 32 images and a personal or small-group study guide.

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Interview Questions

  1. The first striking thing I noticed about your book was your personal story. You discussed having “two dads,” the father in the home and the man in the pulpit. The one in the home, you said was abusive, and upon reading this, alarms begin going off, thinking, “Oh, no! Here’s another book on masculinity from an abuse victim.” Of course, I could not have been more wrong.
    1. Will you briefly share your home life, how it affected you, and the journey that God took you on to restore you to Himself—including your time at L’Abri? I believe it’s vital for our listeners to understand that you’re not some ivory-walled academic who can’t relate to the effects of total depravity, including toxic masculinity.
  2. There was a time when the Bible’s view of man was the standard definition; God made us in His image, and all that He created was good. Post-Genesis 3:6, the word man has gone through many iterations. Today, the most common modifier for man is “toxic.” I think it’s brilliant that you’ve used this term to catch our attention. However, where you go with that word differs significantly from how our culture views it.
    1. Why did the word toxic become the primary modifier of masculinity in today’s culture?
  3. People often accuse evangelical Christian men of being oppressive patriarchs prone to abuse. But you make the surprising claim that they test out as having the lowest levels of abuse and divorce. Your book discusses two descriptions of men— the good man and the real man.
    1. Will you explain what you mean by the good and real man, and why there is a dichotomized Christian male demographic?
  4. You provide a more thorough response to why there is abuse today than many abuse books. You don’t complain about the problems but acknowledge the legitimate concerns, but not in a way that galvanizes women into a victim mindset while castigating every man on the planet.
    1. Today’s public rhetoric often casts men as villains and women as victims. Where did these stereotypes come from?
    2. When you have told others about this book or were writing it, what has been a typical response from women and men?
    3. You have also said this is the most controversial book you’ve ever written. Why did this surprise you?
    4. What was your previous most controversial book, and why did this book supplant it?
  5. You make a point worth pondering about how the transition from the Colonial Age to the Industrial Age in America separated men from the home, creating a split in marriages, families, worldviews, views on work distribution, thoughts about genders, and more.
    1. Will you describe the typical family dynamic during the Colonial Age and what happened during the Industrial Revolution?
  6. Would you say this transition from the Colonial to the Industrial had much to do with a growing secular society, or were there other factors?
    1. How does secularization contribute to a negative script for masculinity?
    2. What other events, policies, or worldviews have contributed to the secularization of our country?
    3. Should we worry about men—I mean, don’t they still occupy most positions of power?
  7. Your book says men sense tension between two competing scripts for masculinity. What are those tensions? Are they self-caused, or are other adverse influences contributing to the anxiety they experience?
  8. It’s apparent from virtually any study that men are falling behind in education, employment, health, and life expectancy.
    1. Why are people ignoring the real problems men face today?

Direct Video Messages

Hope for Families

  1. The Bible provides us with all we need for life and godliness, which I know you believe. So, what would be one answer to this problem in our culture and homes? Will you provide a long-term strategy for preventing toxic behavior in men and fathers? What can the average man do?
    1. How can a wife support and motivate her husband to be part of the solution?
    2. What practical steps can fathers take to become more involved with their sons and daughters?
  2. At the end of your book, you address the problem of abuse in Christian homes, which is a problem with “real men” or “nominal Christians.”
    1. How can churches respond more effectively?
  3. I want to revisit the divide between our country’s Colonial and Industrial Ages. Some men will listen to this, thinking, “I would love to be home more, but it’s impossible now.”
    1. What would you say to him? What are a few things he and his wife can do to change so they can invest more in each other and their children?
  4. You are a prolific writer, and reading The Toxic War on Masculinity was a thrill. I emailed you in April 2022 and said, “This is the best book I will read all year. And it’s only April!” As things turned out, I read several books last year, and this one is still the best—a must-read for everyone.
    1. When is the release date? Can folks pre-order? What should they do?
    2. What next book do you have percolating in your brain?

Rick’s Review

This book will be one of the best ones you’ll read this year! The Toxic War on Masculinity is comprehensive in its sweep, complex in its depth, and sobering in its message. Nancy Pearcey has done the body of Christ a great favor by not hiding what’s wrong with us but not caving to the temptation to cancel what God has created. With a balanced approach, her tone is gracious, research is detailed, and insight is culturally relevant. From the macro (complete examination) to the micro (heart of the problem), she reveals the man God made and how the virus has corrupted His excellent work. Nancy does not leave us despairing but optimistically hopeful as she smartly brings practical solutions that can transform any man, marriage, family, church, and community.

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