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What's Wrong with Men? (And Why You Should Care)

What’s Wrong with Men? (And Why You Should Care)
Posted by Patrick Miller

Let me tell you the story of one demographic in America. This group is 14 percent less likely to be “school ready” at age 5 than its counterpart. They earn 15 percent fewer bachelor's degrees. They are significantly more likely to pause their college studies or drop out entirely. 

About 9 million individuals in this demographic who are of prime working age have dropped out of the workforce in the last half-century. The working-class members of this demographic have seen their median real wages drop by 14 percent since 1979. 

Between 2010 and 2020, suicide rates for this group increased by 400 percent. Their life expectancy is decreasing. In 1990, 3 percent of this demographic reported they had no close friends. In 2021, 15 percent had no close friends.

This demographic is declining in almost every relevant, measurable way, but it isn’t because of a lack of opportunity. In National Affairs, Richard Reeves said of this group, “The problem is not that [they] have fewer opportunities; it’s that they’re not seizing them. The challenge seems to be a general decline in agency, ambition, and motivation.”

There is clearly a systemic problem with this demographic, but there have been few interventions proposed to stop their sharp slide toward poverty, despair, and death.

Why has so little been done?

Because we’re talking about men — one of the only large demographics The Narrative™️ disdains and mocks as fools or villains.

This isn’t without reason. 

After millennia of patriarchal domination, perhaps men had it coming? Perhaps this is the moment when they pay the very tolls they once extracted? Many fear that if we do anything to help men, we will de facto hamper the progress of women. This matters because while it’s true that women dominate the top of their high school classes, earn more degrees, and are increasingly overrepresented in many professional classes, it’s also true that they are dramatically underrepresented at the top of the economic pyramid.

So surely, now isn’t the time to talk about men?

I think our answer changes when we remember that we aren't actually talking about a demographic. We are talking about people we know: sons, brothers, boyfriends, husbands, fathers, and grandfathers. We are talking about people whom we love and want to succeed. People we don’t want to lose to addiction, suicide, or acedia. 

Caring About Men Doesn't Mean You Don't Care About Women

I imagine there is at least one man you don’t want to see become a statistic. But the reason for caring goes beyond that: communities are not zero-sum gains. If they were, we'd need to choose either the well-being of women or men.

Our welfare is an interconnected, communal web. To care for men is to care for us all. The same is true of women. This is kingdom social economics: we don't split the pie, we grow the pie. To him who has much, more is given. Christians do succumb to a scarcity mindset but instead trust the promise of a superabundant, supernatural grace.

Most fundamentally, we should care because Jesus tells us to do so. He commands us to love “the least of these.” In his day, it was widows, orphans, lepers, and the oppressed. Society’s winners and losers may change over time, but the principle remains the same. In the mid-1700s, a French aristocrat may have lorded it over his servants one day, only to find his servants guillotining him at the end of the century. Hierarchies can be suddenly or gradually overturned.

But whatever happens in our social order, Christians must remember that Jesus came to love the weak, eradicate caste systems and every imaginable kind of fill-in-the-blank-archy by teaching them,

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).

The kingdom doesn’t turn the world upside down simply by flipping social hierarchy. It turns the world upside down by diagonalizing the cycle of reversals and eradicating hierarchical oppression altogether. 

Which is to say, today we must care about men, because men are suffering today, even if they wielded power yesterday. Men are in decline, and that slide is most pronounced at the bottom of the economic pyramid, where men can least afford it. We cannot afford to let past wrongs justify present neglect.

But what do we do? We explore that question in more depth in our recent podcast episode.


Posted by Patrick Miller

Patrick Miller (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is a pastor at The Crossing. He offers cultural commentary and interviews with leading Christian thinkers on the podcast Truth Over Tribe, and is the coauthor of the forthcoming book Truth Over Tribe: Pledging Allegiance to the Lamb, Not the Donkey or the Elephant. He is married to Emily and they have two kids.

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