Unapologetic Masculinity will return shortly after this interlude for the start of this new joint series written by Fionn O'Fearghail and myself.
Man is, by his sinful nature, a creature raised in the glow of incessant warfare. We battle against our enemies, our friends, the elements, and even different ideas or abstractions. Despite the ever-present nature of this primeval state of man, its occurrence is still a tragedy on many levels. For many Christians, the response to our unfortunate state is one of non-violent pacifism.
In many instances of this pacifism, we get to witness the glories of Martyrdom. The crown given to these holy men and women is the epitome of Christ's command to "turn the other cheek." Their witness is also a wondrous example to follow in times of persecution for the Church.
Unfortunately, we have seen the invasion of a new type of pacifism which I like to refer to as Prog-Pacifism. This byproduct of the Enlightenment is, like many other ideas of the era, drenched in the garb of Christianity (or more appropriately - low-church Protestantism). Instead of pacifism in the face of persecution, banditry, or other ills inflicted upon us, Prog-Pacifism is a holiness spiral of weakness in the face of harm inflicted upon all. The distinction between the two is of utmost importance.
To understand why Prog-Pacifism is a damaging view of "turning the other cheek" and a bastardized form of martyrdom, we must turn to the fundamentals of living a Christian life. The whole law of God is written in two commandments:
- Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength;
- Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
The second commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself is the one we are concerned with here.
Who are our neighbors? Certainly extended beyond the physical realm, it is perhaps proper to say our neighbors are everyone - whether everyone in the body of Christ or all humans in general. This has particular ramifications if one views all of one's neighbors across the world as equal recipients of our service though, ramifications we are only now beginning to see.
Throughout most of human history, men were confined to the village, district, or state of their birth. Little thought was given to people living across the world as information and news spread slowly from other regions or not at all. Furthermore, the experiences others faced were defined in the context of their own cultures and nations, making true understanding of far off groups next to impossible. While matters such as the Silk trade in China may have impacted the daily lives of merchants in Byzantium, the general plight or abundance that the average Chinaman faced was not on the mind of citizens of other regions.
Today we see the opposite scenario. Instead of no knowledge of the comings and goings across the world, we can witness in real-time events taking place there. This presents quite a predicament for the generally altruistically minded cro-magnon within us all: how can we ignore children starving in the Sudan? Or illiterate women in the Takhar province in Afghanistan?
A term used in NRx and Alt-Right circles to describe what typically results is pathological altruism. An example of such would be charitably-minded westerners sending food to the Sudan in order to alleviate hunger, a well-intended act surely, but one that ends up utterly gutting Sudanese agriculture which cannot compete with free products. Instead of helping "our neighbors" in Sudan, we have condemned them to further suffering.
In trying to understand why such cases happen, I coined a new term which I believe more accurately describes the underlying problem of our connected age and prog-Pacifism: pornographic altruism. In the same way that pornography is a distortion of a natural, desirable human act which plays on our emotions and encourages desensitization to super-stimuli, such cases of altruism are distortions of a commendable Christian virtue, charity. Because we have tear-jerking images, videos, and news stories to keep us up-to-date with the happenings everywhere, modern man can switch between aiding various plights and regions in the same way one would switch genres of pornography in order to receive a greater climax. In this case however, the pleasure is not sexual one but a selfish utilitarian one which often contains subconscious elements of virtue signaling.
This pornographization of charity, a free switching of who our real "neighbors" really are often leads to the neglect of our actual physical neighbors and those suffering at our doorstep. In many ways, those living such a pornographically charitable life are no different than the rich man who forsook Lazarus, the beggar, who lived outside his mansion.
In the same manner that we have modern "social workers" forsaking those in need around them for politically correctness or a maximized utilitarian "gain" in good works, we witness Prog-Pacifists neglecting their actual neighbors via their ill-placed pacifism. And because this, in many ways, is a guise for a socially acceptable form of weakness, Prog-Pacifism unfortunately abounds among specific populations and in specific sub-cultures across societies.
Modern Prog-Pacifism neglects one's neighbor because it either: A) misorders the commandments or B) misranks the hierarchy of neighbor.
Option A is a typical response among Protestants who, for the most part, have a tendency to fixate on various verses instead of viewing Holy Scripture in the lens of the Church, the Fathers, and Tradition. In this case, we see an advocacy for Christ's command to "love your enemies." This is, certainly, not an incorrect or undesirable thing from a Christian perspective! However, because we have lost the nuance which we used to have when we defined the term love, we often in practice turn love for our enemies into a false mental narrative in which our enemies are actually our friends, regardless of continued hostility on their part. Would you have erotic love for your enemies? Certainly not. In analyzing what others mean when they say this, always witness their actions and not their words.
The major problem with this is that it elevates the command to love one's enemies above the two that make up the entire law of God as mentioned above. One could genuinely argue that our enemies are our neighbors (or they may in fact be our physical neighbors) though, in which case we turn to Option B...
Option B states that the angry Turks at your gate are more your neighbor than your kin, friends, and physical neighbors who are about to be raped, slaughtered, and sold in to slavery. It states that we must neglect giving care or food to the poor within Vienna's walls in order to tend to the weary Ottoman soldiers who just sacked and pillaged it. It is the option of weakness and because it, like pornographic altruism, neglects care and love for your actual neighbors, it is not a godly path to take.
Martyrdom is reserved for times of persecution, in times of internal threats and is above all personal. A man cannot be martyred by throwing open the gates and condemning everyone else in the city to death. They did not consent to their deaths and the traitor who opened up the city to the hordes failed in his duty to "defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy; deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked."
Undoubtedly, the shedding of another's blood, even in the defense of one's family, city, or nation, is a sin. Yet the far greater sin is to distort the commandments and to condemn your physical neighbors to torture, suffering, and death because of your personal weakness or feeling of self-righteousness. When a robber comes to steal our wallet, we must patiently endure and give him our cloak as well. When a robber comes to steal our friend's wallet, we must defend them and not condemn them to loss.
Here is a quote from the Russian Orthodox Church's Social Concept Document that illustrates this well:
When we fight for revenge, enraged by the passions, we fight wholly in sin. When we fight in defense of our neighbors, the poor, the needy, widows, and those who are oppressed, we honor them and commend ourselves and them before Christ our God.
If we are capable of protecting those in need from hunger or foreign enemies, it is our duty to do so with charitable love. We cannot sit idly by and let others be subjected to suffering. Christendom was built on such self-sacrifice and love for others. Let us not give in to the weak and vain idols of our age, including the idol of Prog-Pacifism. Let us instead live as virtuous Christian men, no matter the cost.