In recent decades, the church at large has confused goodness with weakness, especially when it comes to masculinity. Starting at a very young age, men have been medicated and emasculated into docility. Men have been taught that niceness (never hurting anyone's feelings, especially the feelings of a woman) is the essence of godliness. This feminization of the church has driven many men away from the church and has left several generations of men very ill-equipped to lead in any sphere of life, especially the home. In an interview last year (click here to watch), secular psychologist Jordan Peterson described the difference between goodness and weakness.
PETERSON: "It's very helpful for people to hear that they should make themselves competent and dangerous and take their proper place in the world."
STOSSEL: "There's a big difference between letting people do something for themselves and saying men should be dangerous. By dangerous, that implies I should be ready to threaten someone, to hurt somebody."
PETERSON: "No, you should be capable of it, but that doesn't mean you should use it. There's nothing to you otherwise. If you're not a formidable force, there's no morality in your self-control. If you're incapable of violence, not being violent isn't a virtue. People who teach martial arts know this full well. If you learn a martial art, you learn to be dangerous, but simultaneously you learn to control it. Both of those come together, and the combination of that capacity for danger and the capacity for control is what brings about the virtue. Otherwise, you confuse weakness with moral virtue. "I'm harmless, therefore, I'm good." No, that isn't how it works. That isn't how it works at all. If you're harmless, you're just weak. And if you're weak, you're not going to be good. You can't be, because it takes strength to be good. It's very difficult to be good.… Life is a very difficult process and you're not prepared for it unless you have the capacity to be dangerous."
On a slightly different note, this insightful article contrasts poverty in England with poverty in India. The author's conclusion is, in many ways, a very grim commentary on the condition of the United States:
"Yet nothing I saw [in third-world African countries]—neither the poverty nor the overt oppression—ever had the same devastating effect on the human personality as the undiscriminating welfare state. I never saw the loss of dignity, the self-centeredness, the spiritual and emotional vacuity, or the sheer ignorance of how to live, that I see daily in England. In a kind of pincer movement, therefore, I and the doctors from India and the Philippines have come to the same terrible conclusion: that the worst poverty is in England—and it is not material poverty but poverty of soul."
It only cultivates weakness if we do for others what they can and should do for themselves. It cultivates poverty of soul if we rescue others from the negative consequences of their own poor choices. People learn to live in a fantasy world of self-indulgence if we enable them to continue in folly and vice. And the worst part of it all is that many Christians do these very things in the name of Christian love. In a sad irony, many Christians decry the wastefulness of the modern welfare State while using the underlying principles to evade responsibility in our homes and churches. The only true source of goodness is the God of goodness, and the only way to become truly good is to fully submit to His good law--the law of liberty. Cheerfully taking responsibility under authority is the path toward wisdom and virtue.
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