Updated: Aug 19
Commentary on the Modern Man
By Austin Wright, Founder and Owner of Upon the Rock
“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” — C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
Sadly, what C. S. Lewis wrote about in 1943 has not changed with the contemporary times. He spoke of a culture which devalues traditional virtue whilst expecting upstanding citizens, and this surely what is at play today. It truly has led to a deficiency within the soul of society and is causing a plummeting in the number of exemplary men.
Scripture is abundantly clear how effective holy men, while cooperating with the grace and will of God, can be in foiling the plans and will of Satan. No one can deny the spiritually positive affect that a good and loving father can have on his household when he leads in a Christ-like manner, likewise we can attest to the negating affects when a father acts contrary. We know from the Gospels and from St. Paul that the Christian form of leadership is one of selfless servitude (Luke 22:25–27), and men are called to love and serve their wives as Christ loves and serves the Church (Eph 5:25–33).
It should be of no surprise when males begin to fall and to give in to their fallen tendencies that they lose sight of their call of servitude to others, and they turn inwardly onto themselves. Work and service seem to be inherent attributes of the good of Man, per the design of God, and not just a requirement as a punishment due to the Fall. As we see in Genesis, the Lord God places Adam in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it (Gen 2:15) and this detail is given to us before the first sin. From this we can see that God’s design of Man was for him to work and serve as apart of his position as head over what God places under his care, and it is not simply a sanction due to the offence from the Original Sin.
It is when men look to avoid responsibility and servitude that they can slip into the sin of Adam, which in turn leads to deeper submersion into sin, in which they continually deny the good of their Manhood crafted by the Lord. We see this occurring writ large in our society which now seeks to replace any pursuit of virtue with the progression of any means by which responsibility can be avoided and comfort, pleasure, and self-servitude can flourish. This ultimately has caused the extreme lack in Manhood within the culture, leading to spiritually malnourished families and providing an environment within souls and intellects for sin to cancerously and symbiotically thrive. What defeats the man and his potential, and what causes his family to stumble, is when the mentality of self-servitude reigns.
Before continuing, I do want to clarify that the three topics that I will touch on deserve their own posts, and their own books for that matter, however deep diving into them wasn’t within the scope of this particular article. These three points also aren’t all of the culprits for the lack of virtuous Men either (we will however be exploring other areas in another article), but we felt they were the three most prominent and leading secular examples of society catering to the mentality of self-servitude.
First and foremost, the widespread acceptance of pornography has intensified objectifying perceptions of women. Many men sadly recount starting down this path before the age of 12. A man learns he can pleasure himself when the mood arises, removed from the situation depicted before him and from the woman involved, with seemingly no consequences. He can relieve himself of his urges at any moment’s notice for the most part. As he progresses further and further into this action he forms a mental habitual response to his urges, where he can use images and videos of women that he can physically and emotionally be separated from, as the object of his self-pleasure.
Christopher West, in his book Good News About Sex and Marriage, said this:
[Pornography] does nothing but foster in a man his fallen inclination to treat women as things for his own sexual gratification. A man who uses pornography, so long as he remains in its clutches, has incapacitated himself to love women properly . . . he cannot hope to have a healthy, pure relationship with a woman. He cannot hope to enter marriage honestly, fruitfully, and faithfully. Men who use pornography have emasculated themselves. (84)
We are told, however, to respect the profession of pornographers and its production’s place within culture, and it is widely accepted as being perfectly fine, if not applauded and celebrated.
Matt Fradd, host of Pints With Aquinas, in his article “Three Things You Need to Know About Pornography” says:
Pornography is wrong because it removes sexual intimacy from its natural context, turning it into a commodity to be bought and sold. It has been rightly said that the problem with porn is not that it shows too much but that it shows too little — too little of the human person. Pornography reduces the mystery and beauty of a man or woman to a collection of body parts to be used rather than recognizing them as persons to be loved. It reduces the great mystery and sanctity of human sexuality to a trivial activity that need not be of any real importance.
This mental habituation towards lust and desire alters the day to day perceptions of women, causing him to see the female design as a sum of parts to be fantasized about for his own enjoyment, rather than a whole woman to be pursued in charity and respect. Society would also have you believe that the women who engage in and have employment within the porn industry are supporters of it themselves in order to try to justify its existence within media even further. This couldn’t be farther from being the unanimous position as a former porn actress explains:
Sex-packed porn films featuring freshly dyed blondes whose evocative eyes say ‘I want you’ is quite possibly one of the greatest deceptions of all time. Trust me, I know. I did it all the time, and I did it for the lust of power and the love of money. I never liked sex. I never wanted sex, and in fact I was more apt to spend time with Jack Daniels than some of the studs I was paid to fake it with. That’s right — none of us freshly dyed blondes like doing porn. In fact, we hate it. We hate being touched by strangers who care nothing about us. . . . Some women hate it so much you can hear them vomiting in the bathroom between scenes. Others can be found outside smoking an endless chain of Marlboro Lights. . . . But the porn industry wants YOU to think we porn actresses love sex. They want you to think we enjoy being degraded by all kinds of repulsive acts.
As we see, entertaining pornography becomes a self-serving, lustful practice at the expense of the objectified humans within porn that gives the observer a comfort in avoiding any emotional or physical responsibility towards those he observes and pleases himself to within the fantasies that he entertains within his mind.
Contraception takes the mentalities of viewing pornography to the next step, furthering objectification along with maintaining a “distance” between the man himself and the woman that is present all under the desire for no ramifications for entertaining these sexual urges.
Contraception encourages sex without having to use prudence or charity, and it supplies a lackluster comfort in avoiding the responsibility of pregnancy, thus avoiding the design of God for sex which entails procreation along with the wholesome and pleasurable union between man and wife. The man is able to use the woman’s body in an obscene way, reducing her to a masturbation partner, rather than a lover. He is able to whisper sweet nothings, promising himself, etc, while he simultaneously also refuses to truly be in full physical union with her within the confines of marriage. He is able to objectify the woman, while avoiding any physical responsibility for his actions (so he hopes).
(A full argument against contraception can be found in “How Contraceptive Acts are Acts Against God”)
Abortion sadly provides the ultimate scapegoat to responsibility for actions within our culture. If contraceptive acts fail, the man has this final solution present within society to help him foster his mentalities towards women and sex in general. If conception occurs, and he wishes to remain in his self-serving tendencies, the culture preaches that a person has every right and is justified in wanting to end any pregnancy that is “unwanted”. Within the subconscious of the adherents of the progressive culture pleasure is viewed as the ultimate end and the ultimate gauge for decision making. Discomfort is equated with “evil”, “wrong”, and “bad”, or something a person should be allowed to avoid if they so choose, hence if a pregnancy is deemed as a hindrance to financial, educational, or even personal goals and comforts, then it can be terminated. It is all for the sake of maintaining comfort and/or only accepting responsibility that you want to accept.
Abortion dehumanizes sexuality, reducing it to merely being a rabidly deranged animalistic process of temporal physical relief rather than a bonding and life giving union. It seeks to ultimately control and subdue nature all for the sake of comfort and pleasure. It seeks to perpetuate self-serving mentalities above all, even to the point of ending life for the sake of continuing in comfort.
A society fails its people when it lowers its bar of what constitutes “good” and what does not all for the sake of encouraging the pursuit of self-serving pleasures by the society. This “lowering of the bar” will ultimately progress to the point of standards being non-existent in a traditional sense. Relativism will then rise from these ashes, and the new pseudo-standards which replaces the original bar will then be continually raised to separate those who are progressive from those who prefer orthodoxy within values and virtue. It seeps into the family structure, and causes havoc if not corrected.
Ironically and inevitably, these new standards end up turning on some of the very ideas and mentalities which are inescapable byproducts of the new ways. There is currently a widespread and tone-deaf confusion on the definition of what makes a man good within the current secular culture. Many very well may wish for a good man, but they wish in vain while they at the same time perpetuate these neo-values mentioned which encourage men to seek comforts and pleasures and serve their fallen tendencies, as opposed to pursuing charity and other virtues in their responsibilities.
There is a call for men to respect women, whilst the culture also obsesses over access to sex without any hindrances and encourages objectification and purely pleasurable pursuits. There is a cry for men to not be “toxic” while it also tries to dismantle traditional family values which are the foundation for most good men. The culture progresses in such a way that men become rare, and then it ignores its own actions and blames the vast majority of males for not being morally upstanding. And then to those that are morally upstanding it seeks to tear them down for being orthodox in values, thus creating a currently unsolvable paradox by the standards set by this new bar.
Society has catered to this responsibility-free mentality on a grand scale, and now society as a whole suffers for it, yet it refuses to acknowledge the product of its very own design. It has created men who have lost sight of selflessness, and the spirit of servitude to the one’s they love. They end up not living up to the design of Man, nor the instructions on love and leadership given in Scripture (Luke 22:25–27, 1 Cor 13, Eph 5: 25–33), and they and their families (if they have one) suffer for it.
What perpetuates this supreme lack of virtue is lack of exemplars of virtue. Men will observe their fathers, and even if they detest their fathers, they subconsciously inherit their tendencies that they have observed (unless they have a father-figure to rival what they have perceived in their own households). But good fathers can be hard to come by because of the values being preached by the culture which find their way into many households. This cancerous phenomenon of Men becoming a rarity, however, is not one that is just privy to the secular world. It has made its way into dioceses and parishes that the culture surrounds, suffocating families, leading to more loss of faith due to lack of exemplars.