Taming Men

William Raspberry, well-known columnist, has come up with a novel solution to crime: The answer, he says, is women. Most criminals are male, Raspberry points out; therefore women must not be fulfilling their traditional task of civilizing men. In his words, "Men have always jumped through all sorts of hoops . . . to make themselves attractive to women." Men have bowed to women's demand for commitment and stability in marriage. And stable families are turning out to be the key to preventing crime. The problem today, Raspberry says, is that women are simply not making enough demands of men. But before we start blaming women for the crime crisis, we need to ask some tough questions. Is Raspberry giving a biblical view of the relation between the sexes? Does Scripture hold women responsible for holding men in check? Of course not. God holds men accountable directly to Himself for their behavior as husbands and fathers. Yet the idea that women are responsible for "taming" men has a long history. As Nancy Pearcey explains in a recent article published by the Rockford Institute, the idea took root with the Industrial Revolution, when household production was replaced by factory production. As men followed their work out into the new industrial work culture, they developed a new set of attitudes. The industrial world promoted individualism over community, treating workers as interchangeable units in the production process. It rewarded ambition and competitiveness. Men began to define masculinity as tough, aggressive, independent. Over against the dog-eat-dog world of commerce and industry stood the home. Here the gentler virtues still reigned: love, altruism, self-sacrifice. It become women's job to protect these virtues and teach them to their husbands and children. Nineteenth-century clergymen and social reformers pleaded with women to curb male aggression—to "civilize" men. Did it work? Clearly not. Today more than ever the media purveys images of men as violent loners: James Bond, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger. And in real life, men are deserting their families in record numbers; male violent crime is rising faster than ever. What went wrong? The problem is that the nineteenth-century strategy of defining family virtues as "women's work" guaranteed that men would eventually reject them. After all, no self-respecting man will submit to standards he regards as unmanly. So when William Raspberry urges women to "tame" men, he's promoting an old and defeated strategy. The only real solution to male crime and other social pathologies is a return to the biblical teaching on the sexes. The Bible admonishes husbands to be responsible for the family's moral and spiritual health. We cannot allow them to pass the buck to their wives by defining family responsibilities as women's work. Christians need to make it clear that nurturing family virtues is a man's job—that commitment and stability in marriage are God's standard for men, not a female standard that women must cajole men into accepting. Why don't you use this special series on fatherhood in your men's groups and Bible studies. We ought to encourage every father to face up to his family responsibilities—like a man.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary