What does it mean to be a man in an emasculated society? How does one become more “manly” even at the height of a “masculinity crisis?”

Social conservatives often lament the death of masculinity and the societal disincentivizing of fatherhood, but I find they often struggle to articulate the remedy.

We know masculinity is under assault, they say, because Dylan Mulvany is prancing around like a shameful pantywaist and the “best-dressed musician in the world,” a man, wears pink feather coats and dresses.

The Billy Porter phenomenon is certainly a feature of the masculinity crisis. (Do you really think your great-grandfather would have been caught dead dressed like Harry Styles?) Nevertheless, it is only a feature, not the crisis itself. What happens when all men start dressing like John Wayne or Sean Connery again? Does that solve the crisis? No. Not necessarily.

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The masculinity crisis is so much bigger, so much deeper than just a clothing crisis.

And low testosterone is not the primary problem either. If every man in America started working out today, not even that would solve our root problem.

Our root problem is that men have been conquered. We have been conquered by society and a whole host of vices. We, as a sex, have let ourselves become subdued. Addicted to drugs, video games, porn, entertainment, and all manner of debauchery, we have lost the will to conquer ourselves, let alone the world.

This has produced the cliché of the thirty-year-old man who still lives in his parent’s basement probably playing Dungeons & Dragons. Worse, it has given rise to the so-called “incel” community. We created a world where it was “safer” for men just to stay home, useless, dissipated, feeding their basest appetites. As a result, men just started staying home. It sure beat going out into the world and being lectured endlessly for our masculinity.

This conquering is what enfeebled us more than anything. And it, in turn, robbed us of our drive to conquer.

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Consider the following statistics. According to Pornhub, 86 percent of Americans watched at least one Pornhub video last year. Forty million visit internet pornography websites regularly. Eighty-four percent between the ages of 18 and 49 have watched pornographic films. More than 90 percent of boys see X-rated content before they turn 18. And 65% of young men watch porn at least once a week.

Does that sound like a people with the moral discipline to conquer or a people that has been conquered?

And the numbers only keep getting worse.

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, nearly one in every four men has used illegal drugs or misused prescription drugs within the last year, and that number is five percent higher for men than it is for women. Men are also far more likely to be lonely or commit suicide than women are. More than 60 percent of young men in the U.S. are now single. More than half of those are not even seeking a relationship. As psychologist Greg Matos noted in his viral article on the topic: “Younger and middle-aged men are the loneliest they’ve been in generations, and it’s probably going to get worse.”

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Despite beginning to notice that there is a problem, our society is no help at all. Rather than showing young men how to improve themselves, how to conquer their sins, we keep on piling flippant insults on them, making them believe that their masculinity in and of itself is the sin. We do not call them to make something of themselves.

Indeed, our society would rather see men stagnate in a state of perpetual adolescence than rise up to be conquerors. It would rather keep men at home, addicted. Dependent. Unable to beat the appetitive soul.

Notice what King Solomon said about strength in his ancient book of wisdom. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Obviously, conquering a city requires a lot of strength. Especially in Solomon’s day, a man who captured a city would have been hailed as a masculine hero. Yet he says it is better – more impressive – for a man to rule, or conquer himself.

This is true “manliness,” as the Bible defines it.

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A similar charge was repeated millennia later, when Paul wrote, “quit you like men, be strong.” What did he mean by such an injunction? To understand Paul’s words, we must realize they came at the tail end of a letter (1 Corinthians) largely about subjecting everything about one’s self to the lordship of Christ.

“I discipline my body and keep it under control…” Paul wrote earlier in the book.

Our desires and impulses are pinging around erratically. If men do not learn to conquer, to bring our passions into subjection, our passions will bring us into subjection. And there is nothing quite so effeminate as a man who is so powerless against himself that he simply cannot bring himself to contribute to society. And that is exactly what the masculinity crisis has produced.

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“Porn emasculates, and no woman desires an emasculated man,” wrote Matt Walsh. “Porn is passive and self-involved — the exact opposite of masculine. A wife finds her husband most desirable when he is doing things, making himself useful, serving, protecting, providing for his family. If you want your wife to see you as a man and feel physically and emotionally attracted to you, go out and do some yard work. Help around the house. Bring home a paycheck. Read to your children. Kill a spider. Go downstairs in the middle of the night to investigate a strange noise. Solve a problem. Lead your family in prayer.” And while porn is wrong in and of itself, this concept can and should be applied more broadly. When a man regularly chooses video games or comics or beer or social media or whatever “his thing” is over his wife, kids, church, and/or community, he is falling prey to the masculinity crisis. He is becoming the exact kind of man the feminists always wanted him to be.

Rather than a telling-off about the inherent “evils” of masculinity, young men need to be reminded of Solomon’s words and Paul’s words. “[Q]uit you like men, be strong.” Go out and conquer the world. Conquer evil. Defend the vulnerable. Protect the weak. Love sacrificially and provide, as God commands (Ephesians 5:25, 1 Timothy 5:8). Dress like John Wayne and Sean Connery.

Just remember, none of us will get far if we cannot conquer ourselves first.

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28)

Jakob Fay is a staff writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.

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