The topic of ‘toxic masculinity’ has been widely discussed recently, sparked mainly by a new Gillette advertisement that focused on masculinity in light of the #MeToo movement. This discussion is taking place among Catholics too, who are taking a fresh look at what it means to “be a man” in light of our Catholic faith.
Tommy Tighe, a licensed marriage and family therapist and Catholic Hipster, recently wrote an article for Angelus News on the topic, and he stopped by Morning Air® to discuss what masculinity means when viewed through the lens of our Catholic faith.
“I am sometimes just really surprised that there seems to be this call for ‘authentic masculinity,’ but people seem to miss the boat and think that it means aggression or being in control over things, going outside and chopping wood, and all these typical manly things,” Tighe told Morning Air host John Harper. “I like chopping wood, but I will say that it’s time for a correction. And I think Jesus is a great place to start as an example.”
Tighe shared how the example of his own father taught him that being a man wasn’t about dominating others, but having dominion over your own emotions and actions. He described his father as, “Always kind of calm, taking one step at a time through even the most emotional conversations. And that really had a huge impression on me. Just knowing that he always kept his cool. Even though I felt that he was the head of our household, I also really felt this joint, shared responsibility that he had with my mom. And I think that really helped me a lot growing up to understand what it is about.”
Tighe explained how the example of his father was particularly formative because it ran counter to the examples he saw of men in pop culture, showing him that being a Catholic man will often look different than our culture’s definition of masculinity.
“Just watching TV or being immersed in our culture, sometimes you see these portrayals of men who are ruling with this boss-like authority over their family. And that’s really not what it was about for my dad, or for me now that I’ve grown up,” Tighe said. “It’s more about being a servant, laying down your life for your family. And that looks very different and provides a powerful witness to our culture, that’s for sure.”
Tighe suggested looking to Scripture and the example of Christ to discover what God is calling men to be. He said, “I always like to think about that part of Ephesians, that when they’re giving their homilies most priests and deacons tend to shy away from, when St. Paul says, ‘husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.’ And during this time he is talking about how we should be subservient to each other and work with each other to be able to show the love of Christ.”
“I think we really have a high bar set if we are to love our wives as Christ loved the Church. For me, I see that as a call that being manly means being willing to die to yourself for your family. I think that’s a huge shift from where we’ve come from. Popular culture is that men do their own things, they accomplish their goals, and all these other things. When really, the call that we have as Catholic men is to give up all of that. To really die to ourselves and our desires and our wants for the sake of our family. Just like Christ died for us, which is a huge calling.”
Listen to the full conversation below: