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The Abolition of Manhood - February 2018

posted Feb 23, 2018, 6:25 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review
By Ryan Foley '21

Immediately following the news that the Hawaii missile attack warning was just a false alarm, PornHub traffic from the Aloha State jumped 48% higher than normal levels. Men of older generations might have taken a sigh of relief, hug family members, and thank God after such a scare. Our generation, on the other hand? Not so much.

If this shows anything, it is that men have much different priorities now than in previous generations. Rather than prioritizing family, country, and God, we prioritize ourselves. We put our desires above all else and seek pleasure at all costs. We are hedonistic narcissists.

This mindset is not new. Self-worship drove King Herod, Hitler, and Stalin. When God is removed from the hierarchy of beings, man rises to the top; man is “the measure of all things;” man is god. And if man is god, he is the arbiter of truth; he is in full control of what is deemed “right” and what is deemed “wrong.” Moral truth becomes subjective, and genocide becomes no more inherently evil than helping Granny cross the street.

It’s why an increasing amount of people believe that right and wrong are just matters of personal opinion. It’s why we hear so-called “Catholic” politicians say they are “personally opposed” to abortion yet applaud a woman's “right” to kill her unborn child. We hear people sanctimoniously call anyone who doesn’t condone this intolerant bigots. We’re told to be tolerant of everything except those who are intolerant. We live in a world that loves the sin and hates the sinner.

As Venerable Fulton J. Sheen said, “tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth.” There is nothing more precious than the truth, and there is nothing more evil than its denial. The toleration of immorality is not a virtue, but a vice. G.K. Chesterton said that “tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions”. A man without convictions seeks to do anything that he so pleases; and if everyone else tolerates it, he is allowed to do so. As Matt Walsh writes in The Unholy Trinity, “it takes nothing to tolerate and accept,” while it “takes effort and work to not tolerate something.” Tolerance is an easy principle for lazy men. The four cardinal virtues (prudence, fortitude, temperance, justice) and the three theological virtues (faith, hope, charity), however, are not so easy. It is difficult to be courageous or faithful or prudent or charitable, and when you preach to others that they ought to practice these virtues, you are expected to live by those standards as well, or you will be ridiculed as a hypocrite. If you preach tolerance, however, you can live in any way you desire as long as you are tolerant of the sins of others.

Hollywood loves to lecture Americans about how “intolerant” we are, as if the segment of our population with a near 100% divorce rate should act as our moral authority. And yet, despite the moral charge we’ve laid upon them, the past six months reveal just how badly they’ve failed in that role. Can we really expect anything else? We tell men there is no right and wrong, and then condemn them for acting wrongly. We tell men they don’t need to respect women, and then condemn them for harming women. We tell men to tolerate the actions of others, and then condemn them for their own actions. C.S. Lewis writes in The Abolition of Man, “[w]e make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”

But Hollywood’s moral authority makes another point: the people we view as role models are often the very worst of all. But where else are we to look? While there are plenty of great mothers out there who embody what it means to be a good woman, more and more fathers are absent at home, and boys are left learning how to be a “man” from singers and rappers who promote drugs and degrade women. Young men grow up not with the desire to be courageous and honorable, but with the desire to get laid whenever possible.

Masculinity isn’t sex appeal; smoking a cigar, sipping on whiskey and hunting a bear don’t make a man a man. The crux of manliness lies in integrity and virtue—in the ability to maintain a belief despite opposition, and to live according to it. The ideal of masculinity is none other than Jesus Christ. Jesus is not the free-loving hippie that many churches portray Him to be. He was not “tolerant” of the merchants in the temple when He overturned their tables and drove them out. Neither was He “tolerant” when He said “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” Rather, Jesus possessed real virtue. He stood firm in truth and love in the face of lies and hatred, and He held his ground all the way to the cross. He gave his life so that we may live, and that is the manliest thing one can ever do.