Locker Room Humor and Male Friendship

By Bob Hiller

DISCLAIMER: This is not a blog about who you should or should not vote for. It does not seek to endorse either candidate. This is a blog about sin and manhood. It does happen that the foil for my blog today is running for the president of the United States. His comments about women and how they reflect current cultural stereotypes are the focus of this blog. Please do not use the comment section as a place for political fighting. Save that for Graham’s blog.

By now we have all heard Donald Trump’s abhorrent boasting of how his money allows him to dehumanize women and treat them as objects of his sexual pleasure. (So, now we have one candidate who doesn’t view unborn babies as human and another who doesn’t treat women as human. So, we’ve got that going for us…) In defending his perversion this week, Trump initially defined his claims as “locker room humor.” Right. Because, as we all should know by now, the locker room is the place where guys giggle, snap towels, and boast about how their money excuses sexual assault.

This whole thing is utterly shameful. To be honest, I am personally not all that shocked or outraged by Trump’s comments. In fact, I would be more shocked to hear him say something respectful about women behind closed doors. What has shocked me is the response I’ve seen from so many of his supporters. Some Christians are responding by saying, “Well, look, we’re all sinners.” Surprisingly, similar gospel-logic isn’t applied to Hillary for her scandals. My, how gracious we can be when the sinner is in our political party. But, I digress…

Another response that has troubled me is the response that suggests the reaction against Trump’s comments are a result of some feminist attack on all things male. That is, by calling Trump’s perverse and disgusting comments perverse and disgusting, we are emasculating Trump and all men with him. It is suggested that the pushback Trump is receiving is just further proof that men are no longer allowed to be men.

fight-club

Now, as it turns out, I do believe that men in our culture are facing a problem where they are no longer allowed a safe place to banter, laugh, fight, and/or relax. (See Fight Club for more). However, men who defend Trump’s comments by dismissing them as “locker room humor,” saying this is just how men talk, are simply furthering a stereotype that men are nothing but misogynistic pigs. They are contributing to a distorted definition of what it means to be a man. To be sure, some guys (let’s be careful with using the term “men” towards such people) are misogynistic jerks. But, that has nothing to do with manhood. Such condescending stereotypes only help to further the spread of the very feminism many of these people are seeking to prevent.

I wonder how we can recover a proper view of manhood without falling into such disturbing stereotypes? Any number of answers can be offered. One of the keys, I think, is to recover male friendships. I am a firm believer that our society has lost something when men and women don’t have time apart from each other in order to sit and share the familiar company of their own sex. (Scott and Paul have both written well on the virtues of non-homosexual male friendships.) In one of his most important books, The Four Loves, CS Lewis says this,

In early communities the co-operation of the males as hunters or fighters was no less necessary than the begetting and rearing of children. A tribe where there was no taste for one would die no less surely than a tribe where there was no taste for the other. Long before history began we men have got together apart from the women and done things. We had to. And to like what must be done is a characteristic that has survival value. We not only had to do the things, we had to talk about them. We had to plan the hunt and the battle. When they were over we had to hold a post mortem and draw conclusions for future use. We liked this even better. We ridiculed or punished the cowards and bunglers, we praised the star-performers. We reveled in technicalities…In fact, we talked shop. We enjoyed one another’s society greatly: we Braves, we hunters, all bound together by shared skill shared dangers and hardships, esoteric jokes—away from women and children. (pg. 63-64)

One of the reasons these male friendships (and I can only speak as a man here, a woman would tell you better than I about female relationships) are so important is because, as sinners (Lewis’ “cowards and bunglers”), men need their brothers and friends to punch them in the gut when they get out of line. Men need to be humbled. Proverbs 27:6 says, ”Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Male friendship carries with it the distinct honor of faithful wounding. So that, when one man begins to get out of line, his friends can surround him and faithfully wound him back in his place. Incredibly, such wounds from friends produce security and confidence as they lead to forgiveness and healing. Without such friendships, sinful man will always be seeking to prove himself and gain approval by boasting in his accomplishments, even when they are his greatest sins. Without such friendships, without faithful wounds, men become simultaneously more insecure and pompous. They become proud cowards and bunglers.

A real man is not one who refuses to listen to the advice of others and walks around boasting of his machismo. Real men are those who have been faithfully wounded and faithfully healed. Real men need male friendships, not so that they have a locker room to insecurely boast of their sexual perversions and tell dirty jokes, but so that they can be faithfully wounded and led to repentance. They need brothers to whom they can confess their sins and receive a Word of forgiveness. Men need friends who are brave enough to rebuke them and brave enough to forgive them. Such faithful wounds and faithful forgiveness make men brave enough to love and sacrifice for those God has called them to serve.

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8 comments

    1. It didn’t seem to be a political post to me. He did address the moral failings of both Trump and Clinton, but he did so as a matter of addressing public figures and their public sins, rather than advocating for a political position or the support of a political candidate. I believe this is what you would call speaking to our culture with a prophetic voice, ala John the Baptist.

      I also think the 6th Commandment would forbid Christians from using or excusing such talk.

      “We should live a sexually pure and decent life, in what we say and do, and husband and wife should love and honor each other.”

      When we engage in the kind of talk that Trump did here, we fail to lead a sexually decent life in what we say, and if we are married, we fail to honor our spouse by bragging about adulterous relationships. If it is “just talk” as Trump claims, it’s certainly not as bad as the adulterous behavior or accusations of rape leveled against Bill, but it is still something we should recoil at, rather than excuse.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Now that, was a political comment, as argumentation specifically. Mr. Hiller prohibited that, didn’t he?

    Brother Miller, there is clearly no balance in what you or Brother Bob wrote. Skip the fact that BJC is an impeached, disbarred lawyer for his lies under oath as President and his matte3rs sexual. Mr. Trump, for his faults, has broken no laws. Making an even comparison to Mrs. Clinton? In her obliteration of secret, classified documents now hacked and known the world over, has committed far worse crimes than those of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and they were sent to the electric chair for treason. Mr. Hiller hardly treated the moral failings of Hillary, a known, practicing lesbian who broke all Federal law and released top secret information to the entire world. Not a word about that, I noticed. There is no comparison to anything committed by Mr. Trump.

    It reads as it was intended to read.

    Mr. Hiller set out to make a specific slam of Donald Trump, tried to cloak it it with Jesus, then prohibit his readers from responding to such blatant one-sidedness! Like having your cake and eating it, too, eh?

    How’s that check out on Mr. Heller’s puritanical moral compass? Or yours?

    Brother Graham entertains the responses to his public postings. I don’t always agree, but we have the opportunity to talk about them, and always without argumentation. That came through as a sort of back-door slam of Brother Graham, who shows far more appreciation of his readers and commenters. And it is more than a subtle slam against true Christians able to make intelligent distinction between the two candidates.

    I greatly dislike be indirectly accused of sin, and failing my Savior, when I specifically did NO such thing!

    Rev. Jeff Baxter, Em. (jjb)
    Houston

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    1. Pastor Baxter,

      I love your response. You literally had me laughing out loud when you said that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian. Oh my goodness! Your response is so Luther-esque. It’s freaking great!

      If it came across as me accusing you of sin, my sincere apologies. I never meant to accuse you of sin or to imply that you had sinned in any way. I do, however, believe that Trump’s comments are undeniable sinful, and I don’t believe it’s wrong for Pastor Hiller to point that out.

      A lot of people are trying to defend Trump’s comments as nothing more than “locker room” banter, as if it’s acceptable for men to speak this way. The church should be clear that this kind of speech is contrary to the baptismal life we are called to lead in Romans 6. Bob’s post, if I read it correctly, is trying to say that men shouldn’t feel free to speak this way when they think no one is listening. Instead, locker room talk between men should be edifying, uplifting, and clean. Not vile and demeaning to women.

      Listen, if you had a hot mic secretly recording some of the things I said 10 years ago, I’m guessing you could dig up some pretty terrible things. By the grace of God, I’ve come a long way, and I hope the things that come out of my mouth today are less and less evocative of my old self and more and more consistent with my identity in Christ.

      If you were to pull up some terrible and embarrassing thing that I said 10 years ago, I wouldn’t try to defend it as nothing but locker room banter, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to defend my comments either. The fact that so many people are trying to defend Trumps comments gives Christians an opportunity to say, “this kind of talk isn’t acceptable and we shouldn’t defend it.”

      Personally, I’m still considering voting for Trump, despite that fact that I live in California so my vote won’t count anyway. He’s definitely preferable to Hillary.

      Also – the whole “puritanical moral compass” comment… my comment was a quote from Luther’s explanation of the 6th Commandment and an attempt to apply the catechism to my daily thinking. If you think my response is puritanical, maybe it’s the Lutheran confessions that you have a problem with?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mr. Miller –

    I didn’t think I’d have to spell this out you.

    The context of Mr. Hiller’s entire post was both political and puritanical. I was not referring merely to your observation. If we must draw on the good Dr. Luther, he was, if nothing else, contextual.

    I did not say Mr. Trump’s actions were not sinful! That is misdirection on your part. I said Mr. Hiller was saying he was not being political nor would he entertain political response as does Brother Graham, all the while he was being specifically political, and quite one-sided. That was not proper at all. If one wishes no responses to his or her post, then have the editors close that post to comments. Hardly rocket science.

    Who you vote for is, frankly, none of my business. That is within your freedom as a child of God in Christ, and as a citizen of America. Mr. Hiller can speak his mind whenever he wishes to, I have nary an objection to that.

    But not playing by one’s own “rules” – is quite another. And – as a side note, you ought to go easy on insinuations regarding my confesionalism, et. al. In fact, that was puritanical, since you were making an insinuation about which you had zero knowledge.

    Pax, anyway – jb

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    1. JB,

      Fair enough. Feel free to respond to my political stances in the post. I’m not sure which political issue I took a stance on. But, whatever it was fire away!

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    1. I’m not entirely sure I follow, JB. As I stated, this was not intended to be a political post, but one dealing with sin and manhood. Trump has created a cultural talking point that I thought should be addressed. I didn’t go after Hillary because it would have been irrelevant. I certainly did aim at slamming Trump, but not for a political reason. I did it because, in this instance, he was a poor example of a man. I hope that clarifies it a bit. I guess if you’d like to debate Trump vs. Clinton here, you can. It is just irrelevant to the post.

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