It’s Dangerous for Men to “Follow Their Feelings”

Maleness is under attack in this country and has been for the past 40 plus years. This is true in the culture at large, as well as in The Church, and it is extremely detrimental to male culture and our society at large. For a few years now people have been addressing this issue in books like The Feminization of American Culture by Ann Douglas, and David Murrow’s Why Men Hate Going to Church. The results of this feminization have been disastrous. Men are not real men anymore. Many males themselves don’t even know what it means to be a man because they have no role models. Part of this is due to the fact, that far too many fathers have literally abandoned their children or they are not engaged playing an active role in being a part of their son’s lives. For decades since the industrial revolution, most boys have been surrounded and raised by women who are the caretakers and role models. The message men are getting in spades—consciously and unconsciously– is that they need to be more like women and less like men.

While, there is much to be said about the causes and cures for this phenomenon, for the sake of this argument, we are going to zero in on one particular area: living by feelings.  More importantly, how it’s a dangerous thing when men live by them. In his book, Man and Woman in Christ, Dr. Steven Clark states that one of the earmarks of a feminized man is that “he will place an unbalanced emphasis on how he feels (and how other people feel), in turn becoming highly visceral in his personal thinking and reactions”.  In other words, because such a high emphasis has been placed on feelings, men have incorrectly learned that they have permission to act on and live by their feelings rather than thinking through logically what is right and wrong.

At first glance it would seem like being more aware or “in tune” to feelings would make guys nicer, gentler, more sympathetic, compassionate and understanding. That can be true for men and it is definitely true for women. Generally, for a woman, feelings lead them to very idealistic and altruistic behaviors like caring for others out of genuine love and concern. But the wild card that gets played in the hand for a guy is that men—being men–often experience different feelings and emotions that women do not. Things like anger, retaliation and vengeance, and even inappropriate violent or sexual urges. Definitely feelings that you don’t want him acting upon.

Think about it. When a man gets angry, he will likely feel the urge to express that anger and want to hit something or someone. Now, if he has been taught that you don’t act according to his feelings, he will stifle that urge and find a different more appropriate response.  But, if he has learned either directly or indirectly in a feminized environment that is ok and appropriate to allow your feelings to dictate behavior—rather than choosing to do the right thing—he will swing away. He may also yell, curse, or throw things because that’s what he feels like doing—and to him this is normal and acceptable. While it doesn’t excuse the behavior, it certainly helps to explain the line inside a guy’s head that gets crossed when he hits his wife and calls her horrible names, because in his minds it’s ok. He’s just acting on what he feels and thinks he can’t help it.  For males, because they are men with much higher levels of testosterone along with more aggressive instincts and emotions, unleashing their feelings or lashing out can be downright destructive.

Let’s look at the extreme: It is a well-established fact that boys who are raised with no fathers have much higher incidence of criminal behavior. Just take a trip to any prison and ask the men there how many of them grew up with a father present—and acting like a father. Most will say that there was no dad, and if there was one present, he sure didn’t act like one. While the absence of proper role models is a no-brainer in this, what if there is another part of the equation we should consider?  What if this lack of a man in the house to provide modeling is only part of it? What if these boys are actually being “feminized” from the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters around them?  Could it be that the acting out in violent ways—ways that lead these young men to lives of crime— is a direct result of what Dr. Clark reported? Is it because they have internalized and lived by the notion that feelings and emotions dictate behavior?
Another characteristic that Clark reports, seeing in men who are “feminized”, is that they “will be much more subject to the approval of the group, and thus significantly affected by how others feel and react towards him”.  Could this be another ingredient that goes into the dysfunctional decisions young boys make when they join gangs?  Young men frequently state that acceptance, approval and belonging are high on the list of why they got involved with a gang in the first place. Is it possible that the lack of a father is only one of the culprits and that the resulting feminization is a large part of the problem too?

Of course, when we look at men who end up in gangs or in prison, we are talking about some real extremes in choices and behaviors. But there are very negative results that manifest in the average, typical husband and father.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from couples who are having issues because the guy isn’t getting a job, isn’t helping around the house, taking care of the kids, investing time and attention with his wife, or willing to make love to the woman simply because he “doesn’t feel like it”.  Or worst-case scenario, he ends up in an affair because he had to “be honest and follow his feelings”. Because they have been feminized to think in this broken way, too many men are behaving very badly.

In her book, Reading Your Male: An Invitation to Understand and Influence Your Man’s Sexuality, Mary Farrar talks about Dr. Clark’s findings and how to counter this trend of “feminization”. She says that it’s not really as difficult as one would think. Farrar states:
“The good news is that feminization is easily remedied. It is not some kind of complex psychosis that needs years of counseling. It only requires (1) the permission/encouragement to be manly, and (2) a template, or masculine mentor—a man who visibly models healthy biblical masculinity.”

It’s time that Christians realize this as a problem in The Church and our culture and it’s time to stop demanding that men act and behave like women. We need to start allowing men to be manly men—and, as Farrar says, to give them permission to be men. Real men who man-up, do the right things and who refuse to live by their very deceptive and destructive feelings.

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18 Responses to “It’s Dangerous for Men to “Follow Their Feelings””

  1. p says:

    Great info but which book would you recommend would best show or describe what a “real” man is supposed to be or act like? Please post on your facebook account or reply here please.

    • stunell says:

      I made a reply that I believe will start to answer your question about what it means to be masculine. I believe the easiest place to see the masculine roles is when a man is acting as a husband and father. They are three P’s: Protect, Provide, and Preside. Both men and women need to have these abilities, but I believe men have unique attributes that help them do this in a more tangible way. I believe God created women with attributes to help them with their primary role, which is to Nurture. Again, all people should have ability in all areas of personal character, but men and women will tend to excel in those areas where they have been blessed with inherent strength.

    • Tiffany says:

      There is a fantastic book called Man of Steel and Velvet. That will teach you what a man is to a large degree. Read it!

  2. Rhonda says:

    There are plenty of women who would rather slap you than look at you when they get mad. You have to beg God for his help & tell him “God, if you don’t help me, I am going to knock this person out”. I know-I’m 1 of them.

  3. Irene Bell-Becker says:

    I do not agree that following feelings as a woman necessarily leads to the positive things in general. The selfishness of man and woman is sin and is strong in all of us. the ideal for us is that woman want more relationships and that requires to learn some of the things mentioned above. Consider we are all sinners and with Jesus and the Holy spirit we can tame our feelings to be Christ like,.

  4. tanya says:

    thank you mark and co.
    i have just been to you tube. your clips are so funny and you get the blessed information for relationships across. i love your stuff. i needed a belly laugh and i got many.

  5. Kenneth says:

    We see this in the world and in the Body of Christ.Not with new converts but women who have been Christians for years , trying to feminize their husbands.Wanting a man to be what they want and not how God created him.We are instructed to help build up and edify one another. We are not wrong because we are from another country.

  6. Laura says:

    Thanks Mark, Im a Mom of sons. Often people ask me how is it to be raising boys, and I always answer, “I’m not raising boys, I’m raising men, as there are to many boys out there, acting as men, and going through the role of men ( or what they believe is what a man is to be like).” My husband, and son’s father is one of those men mentioned above. He was raised by his Mom, with his Dad only plugging in, to discipline or bring home the paycheck(his words not mine). Once again, thank you for sharing topics that need to be talked about. Have a blessed day!

  7. charlie says:

    I realize that it’s a side point in the blog post but I’ve got to point out that the mention of absent fathers because they choose to leave or because they are there and uninvolved should probably have been balanced by the fact that there are probably an equal number of men who would be present and involved but who are prevented from doing so by women who divorce for no real good reason, ie things other than abuse or infidelity.

  8. Susan says:

    Hello,

    I hope women are not getting a free pass here! Being female is not a license to verbalize every synapse that fires in my brain and overload those around me or make everybody around me miserable.

    For either gender, not just men, it is not appropriate to just act on our feelings. However, it is important for anybody to *recognize* feelings, acknowledge them – they are what they are – then make wise decisions accordingly – in determining whether it is appropriate to express those feelings and if so, what is the appropriate way to express them.

    Not learning to recognize and acknowledge emotions and not learning when and how to express yourself can be harmful.

    Equally, not learning to listen to somebody and tune in when a child, a spouse, or friend is struggling to do this can also be harmful. I have been in couples counseling for a year because I have such a hard time getting him to tell me what he wants, what he feels, and I don’t know what’s going on with him. We have improved dramatically on that, and he in turn feels he is learning how to “tune in” better.

    How many of us “don’t feel like” making dinner for small children because we are too tired, how many of us “don’t feel like” crawling out of bed in the morning and getting to work and would rather just roll over and go back to sleep? Thank goodness we don’t act on our feelings!

  9. David Andrew says:

    Pastor Mark, I do agree with you wholeheartedly, but at the same time, just how much blame can we place at the foot of people who wittingly or unwittingly are teaching or inculcating “feminization” traits to our men. Especially in light of the fact that all of humanity, since the fall, has always gravitated to doing the wrong things because of our sinful bent. I mean, you look at King David as an example, and there are certainly some character flaws and behaviors that you definitely would not want your kids to pattern after. Unfortunately, (and at the risk of overlooking the plank in my own eye) I see too many Christians that supposedly would consider themselves “mature” but in some areas of their character are absolute flakes. And I get to thinking, this is what they’re passing on to their kids. It’s no wonder then, why so many kids when they become adults don’t want anything to do with Christianity or the Church and end up being visceral throughout the course of their lives.

    Ultimately, it’s no surprise why the Bible talks about the renewing of our minds, as Christians, with the washing of the water by the Word. So that we may not become part of the problem, as we hopefully raise our children by constantly living and exhibiting Godly principles, but part of the solution.

  10. Tony says:

    I’ve found feelings are largely selfish. Too many times we hear the message, “follow your heart.” Which I think is what my ex-wife was doing when she had her affair. So I tend to distrust feelings because I think that most feelings are rather selfish. If life is about doing what makes me feel good, then I’m ripe for temptation.

    I also have to question the wisdom of saying men are abandoning their families. Today, two-thirds of divorces are sought by wives. Very few of those are to divorce an unfaithful or abusive husband. In fact, Dr Willard Harley says that he is typically unable to convince such women victims to leave their husbands.

    Nope, the ones leaving are the ones, “following their heart” for the most part. Then the court says dad can only be a visitor.

    So is it really men leaving, or is it that fathers are being forced out by wives and a court system that decides their presence is not needed, but they do have to finance the lifestyle of an unfaithful ex-wife and pay to support a child they would gladly have in their home every day.

    So perhaps we need to revisit out stereotypical views about divorced men and women. Chances are two out of every three divorced men you meet did not want the divorce, did not want to be a visitor to his children, and certainly were not guilty of marital misconduct.

    Yet we treat divorced men very differently and badly compared to single moms.

    How many of those divorced men are victims of a wife who “followed her heart?” How many of those single moms are single moms due to their decisions to “follow their heart?”

  11. Tona says:

    Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (that’s the part everyone pays attention to) but the second half of that verse is “and lean not to your own understanding;”
    Ouch! My husband followed his “feelings” and decided that ministering to another woman and her family was more important than what he had at home. He was not satified with the wife of his youth and filed for a divorce on Tuesday of last week.
    I want to be married to a godly man – in fact, I am married to a mighty man of God. I am one of those women who Dr. Harley talks about who won’t leave an abusive man. I am committed to the marriage the Lord gave me period, even if my husband ends it, because God hates divorce and in 1 Corinthians 7 it says to the married believers (not Paul saying it, but the Lord) that a man is not to divorce his wife (nor a woman her husband)
    Exhortation time – I think it is time to call sin, sin. The days of men going to their brothers and “calling it like it is” is missing. Jesus was not afraid to call anyone on the carpet. But we all get so caught up with “we cannot reach the lost unless we assimilate with the culture” – this is why you are getting men who are effeminate and woman who are belligerent. It’s Romans 1 in panorama. We are letting the devil win the battles. I am tired of the psychological term “dysfunctional” – it is just plain sin. Can any of us say that we have strived against sin to bloodshed? No. Men, stop letting the flesh (which is to be reckoned dead to sin and alive to Christ) rule and let Jesus rule instead.

  12. Matt Goldberg says:

    Dear Mark,

    I think you are right on the mark (pun intended) about feminization of culture. This is especially evident in the church. As a pastor of a church with 300 families on the books, I would have to say that the majority of church attenders are female. One of the only things that saves our gender balance is a very active and effective Boy Scout Program led by men. I daresay we have more church for men in the woods and roughing it than we ever have in the Sunday Service for Worship.

  13. Matt Goldberg says:

    Let me continue by saying that as a faithful husband of one wife and father of three young ladies, I have learned many life lessons about provide, protect and respect. We work as a team in our family and Dad does not always win the day on decisions. As I recall, my dad was faithful, protective and productive. I am one of the luck ones in that regard. He also had a personality and background that impelled him to alway be right. It took years to forgive the crushing messages and overbearing behavior that I endured as a child. Fortunately for me, I was touched by Christ in a way that allowed me to eventually forgive my father, take responsibility for who God made me to be and leave the past behind. Not every behavior that a man can do is a good one. When I start to lose my temper, I take a long walk and talk with my Maker. Needless to say, I have lived a lot of my life outdoors! It works for me and my family. No one gets hit the way I did.

    God bless you and keep up the great and humorous work. I think God likes a good belly laugh as much as anyone.

    Pastor Matt

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