The West Is Burning

By Michael Foster and Bnonn Tennant

Centuries ago, the walls of Jerusalem were broken down by Nebuchadnezzar, and its gates were burned with fire. When Nehemiah saw it, he wept. He wept because he knew that a city is protected by its walls, and guided by the men who sit in its gates. Jerusalem had neither. She had been reduced to a chaotic ash heap. “Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach’” (Nehemiah 2:17).

We find ourselves in a similar situation. Western society is burning. The structures that led to her prosperity have been broken down. You see this in many realms, but none so clearly as the state of our men. Like the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah, our men are in “great distress and reproach” (1:3).

We are living in a world of fatherless males who don’t know how to rebuild the walls of society. They have become clueless bastards. They know how to build, explore, and conquer—in video games. They must turn to YouTube to learn how to jumpstart a car, tie a half-windsor knot, and do a push-up. Social skills are even harder for them. They scour the internet to learn how to stand up for themselves, make friends, and talk to women. The knowledge which is normally transmitted from father to son has been lost. They have to rediscover it for themselves.

As if being functional bastards weren’t bad enough, they are being born into a radically unstable cultural situation. Technological and environmental shifts have resulted in men having such low testosterone levels that their grip strength would be weaker than the women of a generation ago.

The ubiquity of porn has led to erectile dysfunction in men not even out of their 20s. Masculinity is shamed. Strong men are vilified as toxic. Those who speak out have their houses destroyed. Fathers are portrayed in mass media as unnecessary buffoons—little better than one of the kids.

Anyone esteeming motherhood as foundational to femininity is canceled. Domestic violence is regarded as an exclusively male sin. No-fault divorce, welfare, and wickedly prejudicial custody laws incentivize women to leave their husbands and take everything they have—and so they do, initiating nearly 80% of all divorces. Male suicide is heading for the skies.

All of this would have seemed absurd just fifty years ago.

Yet here we are. Our culture has become like Jerusalem, burning—and so have our men. More correctly, our men have become like Jerusalem, burning—and so has our culture. The men of the West have become ruined cities, and our real cities, states, and nations have followed. “Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit” (Proverbs 25:28).

The world we were born into may not be our fault but it is ours to fix. We are the ones now living in burning Jerusalem, and we are the ones who must rebuild the walls. We are the ones who must overcome the evil patriarchs of our day, whether in the deep state or the media-industrial complex. We are the ones who must refuse to be turned aside to their will by deception and gaslighting, refuse to be numbed by their offers of cheap pleasure, and refuse to be cowed by their intimidation and oppression.

Jerusalem is indeed burning. Many men in the church know it, and they are tired of living in the ash-heap. The conditioning of our culture cannot conquer their masculine nature—they want to fight. But they crave guidance.

When the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, God raised up Nehemiah to rebuild it. But where are the Nehemiahs of our day? Where are the pastors who build with a trowel in one hand, and fight with a sword in the other? Where are the Christian leaders who can rally men with words like this—and mean it? “When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: ‘Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses’” (Nehemiah 4:14).

The church is not known for such men. And so in the absence of godly Nehemiahs, young men are turning to Absaloms. Someone must help them repair what is broken, and rebuild what has been lost. The clueless bastards are groping for fathers. And so they find Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, pickup artists, and secular men’s rights advocates. They discover that these men listen. These men understand. These men advocate for them and defend them. These men are trying to fight and build. They have a hammer in one hand, and a firearm in the other.

And so these men steal their hearts.

The church is in danger of losing another generation of men. We are in danger of prolonging our time in exile. We need Nehemiahs who will lead men in the work of rebuilding—but they are few. Many leaders in the church won’t even acknowledge that Jerusalem is burning at all. And the ones that do can’t honestly explain why. They are blind guides, prescribing solutions that not only fail to address the core problem, but create more of that problem.

This has created a void.

We must rebuild the walls and reset the gates of society. This must start from within. It must start in our own lives, and then move out to reform our households, and the household of faith. We will therefore focus on the goodness of God’s creation order, how it got all messed up, and how you, as an individual man, can work towards restoration. We want to restore masculine piety: the duties we have to God and neighbor as men. Because as a man goes, so goes his household; as a household goes, so goes the church; and as the church goes, so goes society.

This post was adapted from the book It’s Good to Be a Man available from Canon Press here

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