We must acknowledge that men throughout our culture and churches are in need of much soul care. The answer is not therapy that in addition to being atheistic in origin is contrary to the nature of men. Instead, the answer is Scripture, which was given by God through the pens of men to speak to the hearts of men. Scripture is uniquely suited to help all people address their problems, including helping men approach problems in a masculine way. Therefore, when men cannot find sufficient help in male discipleship relationships, men need biblical counseling.
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
-Isaiah 35:3-4, ESV
Recently, I discussed how to approach depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety biblically. These along with anger, trauma, substance abuse, and a myriad of other issues are commonly seen in biblical counseling. I discussed the need for biblical counseling in general here, but many of these issues disproportionately affect men, and men often avoid counseling. So while all Christians can benefit from biblical counseling, this post focuses on men. We will see that the Bible (and therefore biblical counseling) is uniquely suited to help men.
Are men really affected disproportionately? Recent statistics show that more women than men are affected by them, anxiety and depression, though men have higher rates of substance abuse. However, one fact in particular suggests that the problem may be much worse than reported. Of nearly 100,000 suicides in 2021 and 2022, almost 80,000 were men. This shows that women seek help much more often than men do, thus making it appear that less men struggle with these issues. Many professionals have observed this, calling it a men’s mental health crisis. In this, they are not wrong. Our society gives men ample reasons to be depressed and anxious—enough to turn to substances and suicide. It demonizes men and glorifies women in the name of “equality”, making every woman out to be a queen and ever man a monster such that one can unironically ask questions like “are men worthy of compassion?” and “do we even need men anymore?”. It presumes guilt whenever a man is accused by a woman, urging everyone to “believe all women” regardless of evidence. It encourages women to set impossible expectations for men then leave or commit adultery when “their needs are not being met”, destroying their husbands’ lives through no-fault divorce. A family court system stacked in women’s favor then makes marriage an all-risk-no-reward proposition for men—at least from a secular perspective. This is not to disparage the institution of marriage itself. After all, I recently commented on the beauty of biblical marriage. However, no-fault divorce has eliminated any societal accountability for husband and wife to uphold their marriage vows. Without that, men have everything to lose and nothing to gain from divorce and therefore marriage. Finally, this perverted society works tirelessly from childhood to squeeze males into a feminine mold, demonizing their masculine distinctives as “toxic” such that they become effeminate, assume they are defective, or rebel and become abusive. All of this men’s sense of removes purpose, which is a very important anecdote to depression. So yes, there is a men’s mental health crisis, which should surprise no one.
If it is so bad, why aren’t men getting help? Scholars point to stigma regarding men and mental health, a general hesitation for men to talk about their emotions, and even “toxic masculinity”. There is like some truth in that (except for the toxic masculinity part), but I propose a simpler explanation. Perhaps men who suffer from depression and anxiety refrain from seeking treatment because of their perception of the treatment itself. Unlike medical treatment—which men are notorious for avoiding as well—mental health treatment often involves therapy, which is the last thing most men want to do. The prospect of lying on a couch talking about your childhood with a stranger and then talking endlessly about feelings is somewhat less preferrable than undergoing a root canal. Furthermore, it is obvious enough to be cliché that men are solution-oriented. Men want to troubleshoot the problem, identify the root cause, and solve it. But due to the complexity of the issues in question, psychology and psychiatry often cannot offer such solutions. Therefore, therapy—at least in men’s minds—is reduced to “talking it out”, which seems futile. It all seems very feminine, and in a culture that is working hard to strip men of every last vestige of masculinity, can we really fault men for not wanting to go to therapy that could threaten to emasculate them even further? I have no idea whether that image bears any resemblance to actual therapy, but this is a case in which perception is more important than reality. The perception alone is enough to scare most men away from therapy. If only help for men could be found coming from wise and masculine men. If only manly men from “the good old days” wrote a book to men that addressed these problems in a way that acknowledges their masculinity.
The Bible’s Masculinity
Such a book exists: the Bible. This may come as a surprise since the broader American church has largely feminized Christianity. The worship songs, sermons, and ministries of many churches cater so much to women that men can feel very out-of-place, leading them to believe that the Bible is not for them. Every word of Scripture is infinitely profitable for all Christians, whether male or female, but to counter the error of feminization in our churches, we need to stress the masculinity of Scripture. First, every word of Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit, who like the Father and Son is repeatedly portrayed in Scripture as male. He inspired men to then write those words down—not people in general, but men in particular. Moses, David, Solomon, Israelite historians, and the prophets were all men, as were the apostles, Mark, Luke, James, and Jude. And of course the Gospels record the words of Jesus, the perfect man. Even passages spoken by women, such as the songs of Miriam and Deborah, the prayer of Hannah, and the Magnificat, were recorded by men. The only passage of Scripture attributed to a woman is Proverbs 31, which was an oracle from the mother of King Lemuel. But like the others, it was relayed by a man to male writers, so it too is the words of a man recorded by men.
Much of Scripture was written to, for, and about men. Job and his friends were all men. Many of the psalms were written as battle songs for the Israelite army. Much of Proverbs is written from father to son. Many of Christ’s teachings were directed at specific men, and several of the epistles were written to specific men. It should be unsurprising then that the Bible is written in a way that appeals to masculine strength. Even in the songs of Miriam, Deborah, and Mary, one cannot help but notice the themes of conquest and strength. From Abraham to Hezekiah, the narrative of Scripture is full of the exploits of the men in war. Abraham defeated five kings to rescue Lot (Genesis 14). Joshua led the Israelites to defeat the Amalekites during the exodus (Exodus 17). Caleb claimed Hebron mainly because he would have to fight giants there (Joshua 14:6-15). Then there’s most of Judges followed by Saul and his armor bearer defeating an entire Philistine garrison by themselves (1 Samuel 14), David’s entire life and Mighty Men, and many others.