Courage and Grace Under Fire

Today, for a change, I decided to just go through Mohler’s original post and put comments in brackets after each thing that irked me. It’s sort of a step-by-step showing of my process when reading these posts, and I thought it’d be good for a change. After that, I address some concerns that have been raised in the comments.  

First, the original unaltered post:

 

Character maturity sufficient to demonstrate courage under fire.

 

The literature of manhood is replete with stories of courage, bravery and audacity. At least, that's the way it used to be. Now, with manhood both minimalized and marginalized by cultural elites, ideological subversion and media confusion, we must recapture a commitment to courage that is translated into the real-life challenges faced by the Christian man.

 

At times, this quality of courage is demonstrated when a man risks his own life in defense of others, especially his wife and children, but also anyone who is in need of rescue. More often, this courage is demonstrated in taking a stand under hostile fire, refusing to succumb to the temptation of silence and standing as a model and example to others, who will then be encouraged to stand their own ground.

 

In these days, biblical manhood requires great courage. The prevailing ideologies and worldviews of this age are inherently hostile to Christian truth and are corrosive to Christian faithfulness.

 

It takes great courage for a boy to commit himself to sexual purity and for a man to devote himself unreservedly to his wife. It takes great courage to say no to what this culture insists are the rightful pleasures and delights of the flesh. It takes courage to serve as a godly husband and father, to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It takes courage to maintain personal integrity in a world that devalues the truth, disparages God's word, and promises self-fulfillment and happiness only through the assertion of undiluted personal autonomy.

 

A man's true confidence is rooted in the wells of courage, and courage is evidence of character. In the end, a man's character is revealed in the crucible of everyday challenges. For most men, life will also bring moments when extraordinary courage will be required, if he is to remain faithful and true.

 

And here is the “fixed” post. My comments are in plain type.

 

Character maturity sufficient to demonstrate courage under fire.

 

The literature of manhood [humankind: eg., The Hunger Games, To Kill a Mockingbird, Middlemarch, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Through the Looking Glass, etc] is replete with stories of courage, bravery and audacity. At least, that's the way it used to be. [wait, what? Men AREN’T the heroes? Has Mohler READ any fiction?] Now, with manhood both minimalized and marginalized by cultural elites, ideological subversion and media confusion, we must recapture a commitment to courage that is translated into the real-life challenges faced by the Christian man. [The last time I checked, men still dominate the cultural scene, so I’m not sure what media he’s consuming. Here’s a trick: Think of your top five favorite TV shows. Got ‘em? Now count the number of male leads in each of those shows. Got that? Now count the number of female characters who regularly appear. My bet is that the men outnumber the women 3:1. Now, rack your brain and think about the way women are portrayed on those shows…yeah, pretty sure men are more often allowed to be portrayed as multi-faceted complex characters, while lots of women still end up as either baby-crazy career women (Lily Aldrin?) or shrill harpies with daddy issues (Deb from Dexter?).]

 

At times, this quality of courage is demonstrated when a man risks his own life in defense of others, especially his wife and children [why especially wife and children? Why is that somehow more noble than risking your life for a stranger you don’t know? Isn’t that, kind of, y’know, what Jesus talked about?], but also anyone who is in need of rescue. More often, this courage is demonstrated in taking a stand under hostile fire, refusing to succumb to the temptation of silence and standing as a model and example to others, who will then be encouraged to stand their own ground. [So we’re getting our manliness models from Jack Bauer instead of Jesus, who…refused to fight back, went silent when questioned, and fell down while carrying his cross.]

 

In these days, biblical manhood requires great courage. The prevailing ideologies and worldviews of this age are inherently hostile to Christian truth and are corrosive to Christian faithfulness. [Yet, Mohler provides no examples of these ideologies which are hostile to “Christian truth.”]

 

It takes great courage for a boy to commit himself to sexual purity and for a man to devote himself unreservedly to his wife. [Oh. See, I thought that was just what you DID when you’re in a relationship. Silly me.] It takes great courage to say no to what this culture insists are the rightful pleasures and delights of the flesh. [No examples? C’mon, Mohler – I know you want to talk about it!] It takes courage to serve as a godly husband and father, to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. [Sure, just as it takes great courage to be a parent in any context.] It takes courage to maintain personal integrity in a world that devalues the truth, disparages God's word, and promises self-fulfillment and happiness only through the assertion of undiluted personal autonomy. [I actually agree to some extent, but I would contend this is a slight contradiction in phrasing: “maintain personal integrity” as an opposite value of “undiluted personal autonomy” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. To some extent, if you’re going to maintain personal integrity, you need the autonomy to do it. I get where Mohler’s going; I just don’t think he gets there with this sentence. A bit more explanation as to what he means by “undiluted personal autonomy” would be extremely helpful – especially as many interpret that as taking control of your own life and taking adult responsibility for the decisions you make, which seems to be a pretty damn good value system to me.]

 

A man's true confidence is rooted in the wells of courage, and courage is evidence of character. In the end, a man's character is revealed in the crucible of everyday challenges. For most men, life will also bring moments when extraordinary courage will be required, if he is to remain faithful and true. [And yet, at the end of this point, I still don’t have a clear idea of how “Biblical courage” differs from regular old run of the mill courage that we’re presented with every day in pop culture. I mean, is Neville Longbottom’s courage in the Deathly Hallows somehow different from the “wells of courage” that are biblically rooted, as Mohler espouses? Without more specific ideas (and seriously, it takes like four words to add in a specific example or Bible verse for us to look at), I’m really at a loss as to what he means by COURAGE, or why this is a value specific to MEN. Aren’t women confronted with this same issue?]

 

 

Last, to address some concerns that have been brought up in the comments:

 

I’ve been getting the comment that “just because Mohler is talking about men doesn’t mean that women don’t or can’t have this trait.” Let me explain why I disagree:

 

Go back through this list. Mentally re-title it in your head: "The marks of white-ness." Every time "man" comes up, change it in your head to "white person."

 

Does it sound a bit off-kilter now?

 

Now, true, it still wouldn't technically saying that non-whites can’t have these qualities, because that would be outright racist. But, it would be taking qualities that are not necessarily related to race, and putting them under the heading and expanding on them as though race is the first qualification for having these qualities that would be commendable in any person. It puts the biological characteristic first and foremost as the framing context for character qualities that are unrelated to biology.

 

As a result of the way the discussion is framed, it becomes necessary to point out that said qualities have absolutely nothing to do with biology, and if the speaker keeps insisting that “this is what a man (or "white person") should be!” then he/she deserves to be called out on it, because he/she is refusing to see anything but biology first and foremost.

 

It’s a fun little rhetorical tool.

 

“I’m not putting down women! I’m just saying that men are more naturally adept at having these commendable qualities and that to have these qualities, you’re fulfilling your role as a man!” Rephrased: ‘I’m not putting down black people. I’m just saying that white people are naturally more adept and suited to have these commendable qualities, and that to have these qualities, you kind of have to be white first!”

 

Sounds kind of absurd, doesn't it? Right.

 

(Also: Pedantic note: "Minimalized" isn't a word. "Minimized" is. It bothers me that I had to have it appear TWICE in today's post because Mohler, again, made up a word.)