Stephen Marche is a Toronto-based culture writer for Esquire. He frequently writes on topics like sex and feminism, from a straight, liberal male point of view. In a New York Times op-ed, Marche just made as good a case for Christianity as any pastor could have delivered on Sunday morning, and did it without mentioning Christ even once.
For most of history, we’ve taken for granted the implicit brutality of male sexuality. In 1976, the radical feminist and pornography opponent Andrea Dworkin said that the only sex between a man and a woman that could be undertaken without violence was sex with a flaccid penis: “I think that men will have to give up their precious erections,” she wrote. In the third century A.D., it is widely believed, the great Catholic theologian Origen, working on roughly the same principle, castrated himself.
From that high perch, Marche perilously dove into Sigmund Freud, Oedipus, and (mercifully, the first I’ve heard of him) Tucker Max, whose supposedly-legendary exploits of wanton sex and alcohol sold millions of books.
The idea of the Oedipus complex contained an implicit case for the requirements of strenuous repression: If you let boys be boys, they will murder their fathers and sleep with their mothers*.*
That about hits the bottom of the pool, if you’re trying to retrieve the lost totem of a “gentleman.” You will drown in the attempt.
But Marche is correct. In despair of “masculinity,” he concludes where the Bible left us in Genesis chapter 3.
If you want to be a civilized man, you have to consider what you are. Pretending to be something else, some fiction you would prefer to be, cannot help. It is not morality but culture — accepting our monstrosity, reckoning with it — that can save us. If anything can.
With history is our guide (progressives say “history—wait, what?”) then we can be absolutely certain that nothing can save us. Humanity is fallen, not just men, but women too. Morality as a social construct ends with one culture preaching “love your neighbor” and another preferring to eat them. Our monstrosity is all there is in a “classic Freudian analysis” and attempts at decency.
Progressive like Marche ignore—because they don’t want to see it—that Christianity, properly understood and practiced, at the individual level, is the only thing that can save us. Marche expertly exposes the problem, but can’t find an answer.
From Tucker Max, who, five years ago, confessed that the success of being the world’s biggest a**hole wasn’t fulfilling, to the verifiable fact that so-called “good girls” like bad boys, human existence is laid bare, flayed by the stone-cold reality that we’re all incubating monsters.
Nothing can save us.
Not self-improvement classes, psychoanalysis, Yoga, and healthy eating. Those things are helpful in cleaning up the outside, but they don’t address the inside. The loneliness of the soul cannot be cured except by a rebirth and a relationship. I won’t get into a discussion of comparative religion and truth claims here, but I will say only one faith demonstrates the historicity, coherence, and metaphysical truth of the human experience relating to morality and mortality.
Inadvertently, by wishing “we were living in a Tucker Max culture,” and exposing the monstrosity of unchecked impulse, Marche has made the strongest possible argument for Christ.
If only more people would read the New Testament and understand what it means to give up all to follow Jesus, we would be having less conversations about the worst bits of human nature.