February 1, 2013 Matt Pennock

The “Man with a Demon”

Mark 5 contains an interesting story on a particular kind of man. I have seen various themes pulled from this story in the past but–until recently–never the theme of masculinity gone wrong. From some studies on the passage that I recently came across I was enlightened to a “model of manhood” that underscores the false ideology that masculinity is equated with being violent. Modern social constructs are often portrayed in this way through media and advertising where being a real man is symbolized in macho, dominate, I-can-kick-your-ass type of images. Movies with action heroes are especially guilty of this. Very rarely do you find a “hero-father” in Hollywood productions. Most of the time it is a”hero-womanizer”.

The man of Mark 5 was called “a man of an unclean spirit”. He was a powerful, brutish man who felt no pain and who continually cut himself. He was unruly, unfit for society, yet too physically strong for anyone to bind him. Attempts were made to shackle him but he could easily break the shackles into pieces. Obviously a destructive reprobate of the community, he lived alone in isolation. Perhaps he felt he had something to prove. Of course he was also possessed.

Such a character is not likely to be found searching the web looking for ethical and spiritual studies on genuine manhood, so I won’t bother deconstructing this sort of issue. What I would like to point out however is that a masculinity that takes on a violent, brutish, insolent, abusive, or domineering character is masculinity gone abjectly wrong and a misuse of the strength God gave us. Hardened, insolent men like this likely need the Jesus-treatment as we see in the story (Mark 5:8), because you or I won’t be able to do much for him.

In America, there happens to be widespread criticism of masculinity based on this kind of character as though it were a mass social problem. After all, America has the highest incarceration rate of men in the world. 500 per 100,000 residents, 90 percent men. But the social problem is not “too much masculinity”–it’s masculinity going down the wrong path. It’s a masculinity that was never trained nor disciplined and never knew authority, and thus behaves like a wild boar with a wicked attitude. He is a user and a beast who wouldn’t know the first thing about the glory of children since he is likely to be the very one that real men are protecting children from.