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No justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous. Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat’, than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers. ― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
Q&A on confidence #
There was a good question this week in our members group, Tyrannus Hall:
Women are attracted to confidence followed closely by status, competence, and looks. As Christians, we are told to be humble and be ever watchful of pride. How then does one be confident while not being prideful? This is especially difficult to figure out in terms of dating. Some of the Red Pill guys have so much good content regarding attracting women yet much of the behavior is only reserved for pagans who don’t worry about sin involved.
One regular commenter offered this pithy reply:
Prefer making errors of too much confidence rather than errors of too little
That is very good advice. A lot of guys think they have confidence, but what they actually have is pride. Confidence can breed pride, but in our experience, as we have gained confidence we have also been less inclined to pride.
Like most young men, we were prideful—but also overconfident.
As we have been humbled by our various mistakes and shortcomings, and as we have been thrown into the fire with various trials, and as we have had to actually lead people and help them as best we can, we have become much more aware of how far we are from where we want to be. When we reflect on the position God has placed us in, it truly seems absurd in light of what we know of our own weaknesses.
Yet, as we have become more mighty, we have gained genuine confidence, and shed some of our over-confident pride.
Risk-averse men are fearful men. One missionary who lived in the Congo noted that those who lived safely in secure, gated communities, were much more fearful of those who lived under the constant threat of violence in regular villages. Courage is like a muscle that is strengthened by regular risk and danger, and atrophies in the presence of safety. G.K. Chesterton, in The Ball and the Cross, has a fascinating scene that describes this reality quite vividly:
Father Michael in spite of his years, and in spite of his asceticism (or because of it, for all I know), was a very healthy and happy old gentleman. And as he swung on a bar above the sickening emptiness of air, he realized, with that sort of dead detachment which belongs to the brains of those in peril, the deathless and hopeless contradiction which is involved in the mere idea of courage. He was a happy and healthy old gentleman and therefore he was quite careless about it. And he felt as every man feels in the taut moment of such terror that his chief danger was terror itself; his only possible strength would be a coolness amounting to carelessness, a carelessness amounting almost to a suicidal swagger. His one wild chance of coming out safely would be in not too desperately desiring to be safe. There might be footholds down that awful facade, if only he could not care whether they were footholds or no. If he were foolhardy he might escape; if he were wise he would stop where he was till he dropped from the cross like a stone. And this antinomy kept on repeating itself in his mind, a contradiction as large and staring as the immense contradiction of the Cross; he remembered having often heard the words, “Whosoever shall lose his life the same shall save it.” He remembered with a sort of strange pity that this had always been made to mean that whoever lost his physical life should save his spiritual life. Now he knew the truth that is known to all fighters, and hunters, and climbers of cliffs. He knew that even his animal life could only be saved by a considerable readiness to lose it. —G K Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross
The corollary of this is the famous line that bad times create hard men, hard men create good times, good times create soft men, and soft men create bad times. Sir William Francis Butler made a similar point:
The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards. —Sir William Francis Butler
Note that we are talking about rational risks, not recklessness. Wisdom consists in knowing the difference. Christians of all people should be risk-takers given that we have divine wisdom to guide us, and divine providence to keep us. Let us not be like the Christians in Amy Carmichael’s parodious hymn:
Onward Christian Soldiers
sitting on the mats
Nice and warm and cozy
like little pussycats
Onward Christian soldiers
Oh how brave are we
don’t we do our fighting
Sending your boys to be educated by women can be as bad as sending them to Caesar #
Voddie Baucham says, “We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.”
But let’s make this more applicable for the Reformed home and/or private schoolers…
We cannot continue to have our boys educated mostly by women in a feminine-dominant environment and be surprised when they grow up risk-averse and effeminate.
Chris Wiley comments:
a highly structured environment overseen by men is a good step, but not enough. Boys need unsupervised time with other boys, running wild, out and about. Naturally this means that they will get into trouble, but it is the only way. If there’s always a net, they never learn to operate without a net. The thing that keeps this from happening is parental fear.
Crosses and losses #
A man once reached out to Michael for counsel, after being in a horrific accident.
We’ll spare you the exact details, but the accident resulted in the total destruction of his penis.
He asked, “How can I have a normal life and a normal relationship with a woman?”
Michael’s answer was simple: “You can’t…”
That answer is jarring. It might even seem cruel.
Not only is it a true answer, it’s a loving answer.
This man needed to come to terms with reality. It would be cruel to give him the false hope that he can live just as everyone else lives.
Michael made sure to emphasize hope—but not a hope fixed on a lie. It’s the hope of an eternity of wholeness. It’s this reality which will make the losses in this life bearable and, eventually, light compared to the enteral weight of glory.
He continued, “…but you can live a good life between now and when God will make you whole in the resurrection.”
After driving that point into the ground, he gave him a few practical places to get started. And that was that.
The accident was not this man’s fault. It wasn’t the result of any sinful action on his part or another. It was just a tragic accident. The sort of tragedy that only happens in a sin-cursed fallen world.
Christians have lost the doctrine of the sorrows and miseries of this life. It’s a topic that comes up a lot in Scripture. Search “sorrow” and “misery” on a Bible app. Give those passages a read. It’s a prominent theme. The Puritans referred to it as “losses and crosses.”
This doctrine has fallen on hard times because the broader American culture is one which teaches us that all consequences can be negated and overcome. It’s a lie that temporarily comforts, but then coddles and impairs its recipients.
Evangelicals have absorbed this lie, and it manifests itself in an over-triumphal, truncated version of the gospel, which is utterly toothless in the face of real loss—or the prospect of it.
The gospel is good news for those who sorrow under crosses and losses. It lessens the weight, pain, and suffering of troubles in this life. But it does not eliminate them. Central to the good news is the hope of the resurrection, and the renewal of all things at the end of the age.
Were you molested or raped?
Were you born blind or deaf?
Did your child die?
Do you have a chronic injury or disease?
Were you beaten as child?
Did your spouse beat you?
Did you lose your house to a fire or flood?
Were you abandoned by your parents?
Did you grow up without a dad?
Did your spouse leave you?
It’s normal to feel a sense loss from experiences like these, because something has been lost. Not only is it normal, but it’s okay to continue to feel those losses to a certain extent throughout this earthly life.
The same could be said of losses that you brought on yourself through own sins.
Did you wreck your liver through substance abuse?
Did you twist your sexual expectations through porn use?
Did you drive your children away through exasperation?
Did you waste your money on fleeting pleasures?
Did you waste your youth on foolish pursuits?
Did you divorce a good spouse and now are lonely?
It’s normal to feel regret. It’s even good.
But you must turn your eyes to Jesus. He won’t entirely lift the burdens of this life from you. He will lighten them.
Hence, Hebrews 12:1–3 says:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
There are real losses and regrets which we will endure in this life. You must bear them—but you don’t have to bear them alone. Christ has made a way. He bore that which we never could. He will strengthen you, and bring you to a place of perfect rest and restoration.
Beware of the happy clappy vapidity of the overly-triumphal gospel and “no regrets” crowd. They are fools.
Life is tough. Losses are real.
But in what will seem like a mere moment, we shall be with Him forever. Endure.
And the ransomed of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Isaiah 35:10)
New content this week: #
A couple of clips from Man Rampant:
Talk again next week,
Bnonn & Michael