Rap Music: The Last Advocate of Masculinity
It is no secret that masculinity (and real femininity) has been decreasing in American society. Don’t believe me? Check out this and this. (As a side note, to say that “masculinity is in decline” isn’t wholly accurate, as it ignores the cyclical nature of history.) Why are young men becoming such weenies? Many sociologists have and will seek to answer this question in greater depth than I am equipped to; the decreased necessity of manual labor and the increased influence of progressive values are common themes in this discussion.
For the purposes of this discussion, American Christianity can largely be divided into two camps: Christians who believe that recognizing the differences between males and females is valuable and those who do not. While the Christian Left is almost exclusively in the latter camp, I have personally observed large swaths of the Christian Right fall into the latter camp as well.
While those in the latter camp may pay lip service to standing up to bullies, they would rather keep the imperfect middle school social order than see any sort of violence. They would support their son politely asking the bully not to take their sandwich, and they might even recommend that he condemn the bully. But ultimately, these Christians would tell their son to “take the high road” or “turn the other cheek.” What they mean is rather than turning to violence, they should hand over the sandwich and later try to share the gospel with the bully. These “Christians,” these great defenders of God’s natural order, have ordered their son to be a p***y. If a young man is told that he shouldn’t swing his fists as hard as he can until the bully is heavily bloodied and weeping in the corner, is it any wonder that he may become disillusioned with modern American Christianity?
To understand the root of this anti-masculinity in Christian circles, one must look at the masculine/feminine dichotomy of values. Every values system seeks to strike a balance between masculine values and feminine values. For those unfamiliar with this, masculine and feminine values, are not and should not be exclusive to masculinity and femininity. Proper masculinity and proper femininity contain a balance of both masculine and feminine values. In Christianity, this balance is sometimes referred to as the balance between truth and grace. Suburban, conservative Christianity has drifted away from masculine values, such as justice and perseverance, in favor of feminine values. In the absence of masculine values, vital feminine values, such as kindness and joy, present themselves as something less, namely niceness and fun. On the other side, the American Left’s Progressive Movement is predicated on delegitimizing masculine values. (A decent case could be made that Donald Trump’s brand of politics is predicated on delegitimizing feminine values.)
If Christians have forfeited their role as the defenders of masculinity, who is to take up this role? Who is going to tell a young man he ought to sacrifice in order to pursue their dream? His youth pastor may or may not be spreading this vital message on Sunday, but Rick Ross’s “Hustlin’” certainly is sharing this message in a 13-year-old boy’s earbuds every morning before school. An especially good youth pastor might discuss the risks inherent in masculinity and the necessary balance between work and family that is so difficult to navigate, but Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” definitely preaches this to him. One would hope that a youth pastor would advise a young man to fight back if someone is spreading lies about him and accusing him of being inauthentic. Drake’s “Back to Back” has exemplified this for him.
This article is not a defense of all rap music; many rap songs have real flaws. Often, rappers display a lack of necessary feminine values, such as kindness, loyalty, and modesty. Of course this article is not a defense of those rappers who endorse drug use or serial philandering (although many Christians are far too quick to judge what a rap song is actually saying on these subjects, and might even appreciate what Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and A$AP Rocky have to say on these subjects if they paid more attention and sought to understand the meaning of the art).
In conclusion, before demanding that his or her son to throw out his rap music, a parent ought to be sure that they have fully and properly taught their son that masculinity is a virtue and that niceness is often not righteousness. In fact, righteous violence is as biblical as tithing— just ask the money changers in the temple.
(Readers of this piece may also enjoy The 21 greatest conservative rap songs of all time, in 1 post.)