Overcoming issues of confusion about the concepts that Betacize Christian Men.
Targeted Audience: Pastors, Elders, Counselors, Mentors, and Christian Brothers
Theme: Masculine Authority and Responsibility
Author’s Note: Although this post does not address Gnosticism as a stand-alone post, it was inspired through, and could be included in, the series on Gnosticism.
Length: 2,400 words
Reading Time: 13 minutes
In recent years it has been observed that the modern church is a de facto Beta factory. The most obvious reason for this, to most who frequent here, is the feminization of the church and the relegation of male authority to observer status. It bears repeating that this repels men with any sense of masculine identity while retaining passive Beta and Delta types. This is also one of the main reasons why the modern churchian franchise is so devoid of male leadership.
Another outstanding reason for the demise of Christian masculinity is the deluge of poor teaching which neglects explaining the contextual application to the audiences, and the outright false teaching that reached its critical momentum of popularity in the 1980s and has continued to the present day, thereby displacing a solid understanding of Scripture for more than a generation.
Worst of all are the odd, cartoonish, and effete notions of masculinity that have crept into the church and have somehow earned popular approval through romantically charming, subtly inverted interpretations of scripture. The task of uncovering all these false notions, which are precisely Gnostic in nature, has been a regular topic of discussion within the Christian Manosphere.
Part of all this confusion arises from the fact that there are many Christian teachings which apparently have the effect of domesticating men. This post examines one such idea that is central to Christian doctrine which I believe is largely responsible for this phenomenon. It concerns the Biblical idea of “dying to self“.
Written for the benefit of other men who have struggled with the same issue, this post recounts my personal experience dealing with a false conceptualization of this idea, how this held me back in both my spiritual growth and my personal development, and what I have learned from this experience.
A Damningly False Assessment of the Self
In Christian circles, we often hear about how “pride goes before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18), and egotism leads one astray. I’ve heard this time and again in all my years of church attendance. However, there was never any distinction made that it is the Bad@ss Chads who need to rein in their ego, whereas less confident men should develop their ego. I never apprehended this contextual nuance, even after reading the entire Bible as a youth. So I naturally came to the comprehensive conclusion that another oft repeated phrase, “dying to self” (Romans 6:11; Philippians 1:21) refers to getting rid of pride, and killing the ego. IOW, don’t be a Chad!
And that is exactly what I did. Because I believed that the ego was part of the “old self” that needed to die (Ephesians 4:21-24), I killed my ego as a general habit until I had no ego at all. Likewise, I sacrificed all desire until I didn’t even know what I desired (Romans 13:13-14). I made altruism my main focus in dealing with others (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31; 1 John 3:17-18). I was always introspective and non-judgmental to others, suspecting that I might have bad motivations (Matthew 7:3-5, Luke 6:37-42). I gave no consideration to what others thought of me (Matthew 6:1-34, Galatians 1:10), and simply followed my conscience.
While all this seems rather pious and holy on the surface, later in life I would learn that this approach is essentially a subtle denial of my sinful nature, as in denying that I have one, or that I can manage it myself; not in the more correct sense of denying it from having an omnipotent rule over my life. This is another crucial distinction that I missed somehow.
The byproduct/effect of this approach is that I became crippled by self-consciousness and unaware of my own nature. It also killed all my joy and discernment. It prevented authentic social connections, to the point that others couldn’t understand me. They just saw that I had no ego, and they concluded that I was a bad guy. This was really frustrating to me because people often assumed that I was bad — even people I had gone to church with for years — not because I had done anything wrong, but just because I was cynical, distrustful, ego-less, and brashly inconsiderate when confronted with anything that violated my conscience. While in college, I asked my pastor about this, and he told me that it’s because “no one knows who you are.” He gave me a book about Meyers-Briggs personality types and told me to read it so that I could better relate to others. This did help me greatly, but it didn’t get to the core of my problem.
A Life Changing Epiphany
I carried these impressions for most all my life, and I never came across any evidence that suggested that my doctrinal application was amiss. But after having a talk with my current pastor (at the ripe old age of 48), I gathered that something about my earlier impressions were not quite right.
The reason I went to my pastor was because I was having marital difficulties. My wife was being intransigent, stubborn, and vindictive. My pastor insisted that my problem must be that I was proud, but this didn’t make sense to me. I’d spent most of my life eschewing pride, as I said above, and besides that, I am too much of a loner to be proud.
Through further talks with my pastor, and after contemplating this for a while, I realized that my personal issue was not one of pride per se, but rather a general inability to trust due to some childhood experiences. But interestingly enough, being proud and being unable to trust have many of the same effects in one’s spiritual life, and they also share many of the same outward manifestations which are noticed by others (e.g. being hesitant or unwilling to engage with others, being suspicious of other’s motivations, general cynicism, having difficulty in feeling and expressing thankfulness, poor discernment, unable to maintain a consistent posture of humility, and so on). To make matters more confusing to everyone, I looked more like a Chad, and I carried myself more like a Chad, than not. But I didn’t have the flambuoyant ambitions of a Chad.
My pastor told me the approach I took of killing my ego and my desire is just like what Buddhists do. He said I was Buddhist but I didn’t know it! I find it bizarre that I got these impressions from reading the Bible and attending church.
Working Out Salvation
Eventually, I realized that in another deeper sense, my pastor was right about my issue with pride. But it was not the pride I had always been warned about. It was a deeper, pharisaical kind of pride that motivated me to avoid the egotistical type of pride typical of Chads. It became clear to me that I went down this path because I did not trust myself and I was suspicious of others’ influence on my spiritual life, but I was too young to understand this about myself at the time. Only after attaining the experience of middle-age and then talking with my pastor did I realize that I was distrustful and that this stance of distrust is a reflection of a distrust in God. Only then did it occur to me that my approach of abrogating the ego is not the right way to kill the old self.
Supplementary knowledge (which appeared to be a Divine confirmation) to this insight from my pastor came through Ed Hurst. I was reading Radix Fidem daily at that time, and Ed had several posts that explained the importance of having a strong, healthy, well adjusted ego, and how this is important for one’s faith. [As a representative example, go read Ed’s post, The Blessing of Ego (2013-8-31).] Ed bluntly pointed out that “The current popular notion that ego is somehow evil is a feminist lie.”
It took me a while to take this in and readjust my self-concept and my world view. The epiphany that made this all click for me was through observing how people who have a poor or maladjusted ego are typically somewhat sociopathic. This also explained why many people jumped to the conclusion that I was a bad guy all throughout my life, even though I was rather straight laced, a regular church-goer, well-practiced in prayer, and well-read in the Bible. They were using my ego as an indicator of my character.
After talking with my pastor and realizing that the ego is an important part of my psyche and not evil, there was one day, in the space of a moment, I found that I suddenly had an ego that seemingly appeared out of nowhere! When I told this to my pastor, he remarked that it had been there all along, but I had repressed it from my conscious awareness. He was glad that I became aware of it, saying that I can now make progress in becoming more spiritually healthy.
Since then, my discernment has slowly been growing. But I can tell you, Buddha was wrong in saying that having no ego leads to happiness. Still to this day, my joy and contentment are still lacking, and I find that dealing with the ego, desire, discernment, trust, etc. to be more trouble than what I feel it is worth. For me, perhaps this is a form of redemptive suffering — learning to embrace those things which I had rejected for so long.
After becoming more acquainted with this truth, I discovered that the ego is the junction between the heart, the mind, and reality. True growth and social adjustment cannot occur unless this junction is healthy and active. A broken ego constitutes a broken man.
Furthermore, I found that it is impossible for a man not to have any ego — to not desire anything for one’s self, to not pursue joy and pleasure, to not think of one’s self as being good in the basic sense of being made alive and in the image of God; or IOW, “It’s Good to be a Man”, as Michael Foster likes to say. If a man continually dwells on the truth that he is inherently bad and morally corrupt, as Christian doctrine states, it can be revealing and perhaps deeply motivating to some men (i.e. Chads), but it severely discourages the confidence and self-image of others (e.g. non-Alphas).
Non-Alpha males need to realize that God made us with those desires — to think of ourselves as being good and to think of other people being good, even though we/they are not (in God’s eyes), and to want to have a good reputation in the eyes of our peers, even though it is all vanity. Alpha males have a firm grip on this truth of self-esteem, but other men, not so much.
In this case, we could do with recognizing the difference between Coram Mundo and Coram Deo. Yes, in the eyes of God, all are sinful and have fallen short. But in all our day-to-day interactions with others, the strength and stability of a man’s ego is a rough indicator of his constitution and a pretty good predictor of how solid and reliable he is. I now see this to be a practical truth that has been carelessly obscured by churchianized interpretations of Proverbs 16:18 that neglect the context.
Chads, on the other hand, need to learn that it is our old man (the sinful nature, our old dying self) that tries to overemphasize desire and the demands of the ego. For Chads to be spiritually healthy, they need to keep those desires balanced with a discerning sense of his God ordained purpose in life, and an acute consideration of others’ desires and needs.
Let each of you not only look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.Philippians 2:4 (NKJV)
This awareness of the intrinsic motivations of others can be extremely revealing for Chads and non-Chad alike, as it serves to give one a sense of self. In fact, the concomitant conflict and suffering is the main source of feedback for refining our applied wisdom, but only if you perceive this through the viewpoint of discernment, as opposed to one’s obedience or holiness, which is legalism. Discernment is key.
In respect to the recent debate over Christian Mysticism, it is clear that attending church, praying, and reading the Bible were all insufficient to shake me out of my false notions surrounding the purpose, place, and value of the ego. In fact, church and Bible reading were the primary source of these misunderstandings, and clinging to these only served to perpetuate my error. Coming to a proper understanding of my self and getting free from these lies required me adopt a mystical approach when engaging in the discussions with my pastor and Ed Hurst through email.
Every man is strong in one area and weak in something else, and this is what makes them immature. The Biblical language for this is “that which is lacking”, as St. Paul put it in Colossians 1:24, and “incomplete”, going on James 1:4. The Biblically prescribed remedy for being “incomplete” is patience, suffering, and fellowship. Suffering is a natural part of being incomplete, but the things which cause us suffering are a clue that points to that which is lacking. Fellowship is necessary because we learn the things we are lacking from other men who are strong in that suit. Patience is required to willingly engage with other men and build up that which is lacking in each other.
My suggestion to pastors, elders, mentors, and brothers is to identify what is lacking in each man under their care, make this evident to him, and devise a plan of action for developing that part of his persona. Bad@ss Chads would need to take their ego down a notch, but I would guess that the grand majority of men in your churches, especially men broken by the the dog-eat-dog SMP and the Feminized Beta Factory that we call churchianity, would strongly benefit from having an integrated ego and a stronger sense of purpose. These men need encouragement to develop a healthy, well-adjusted ego. Again, the ego is important because it activates, integrates, and functionalizes the soul of a man.
I would be interested to know if any readers are familiar with any Orthodox teachings on either of these two subjects, “dying to self” or “knowing one’s self”.
- Σ Frame: Hijacking and Misappropriating Eastern Mysticism (2020-1-23)
- Σ Frame: Reevaluating the Centrality of the Male Ego (2020-4-15)
- Σ Frame: The Greatest Archetype (2021-5-21)
- Σ Frame: Breaking the Stronghold of Gnosticism (2021-10-29)
- Σ Frame: Knowing One’s Self (2021-10-30)
- Catacomb Resident: Ego Is Good (2022-8-8)