I have written a few posts in the past discussing the phenomena of men avoiding marriage or more generally avoiding commitments with women up to not having anything to do with women at all. I am drawn to the various stories of those describing themselves as MGTOW, or men going their own way, because I have lived my life without any relationships myself and felt at least a hint of comradery with these men. As I listen to their stories and their wisdom, I realize that I do not have that much in common with them. I suppose most other men in this space feel similarly, everyone has their own story and their own reasons to withdraw.
In my case, it was more or less a deliberate choice to attempt to take control of something that I felt was out of my control: my sexual drive. I managed to do so with great pain and probably injury inside. The term MGTOW is relatively recent. When I was younger, I recall a similar description applied to a different phrase: the Peter Pan Syndrome, men who refuse to grow up. That more accurately describes me. But to an outsider, I look like I’m MGTOW and I don’t mind if people think so.
As I mentioned, there are a lot of interpretations of what it means to go MGTOW and a lot of reasons to choose to do so. One of the story templates goes something like, a man marries someone he loves when he is relatively young. They have a good marriage for a few years and may have a couple kids. By about the 6th year, the man discovers his wife is cheating on him. Among the attempts to save the marriage are couples therapy sessions that more often than not put pressure on the man to change to better satisfy his wife. By about the 15th year of so, the wife files for divorce even though he doesn’t want it. The divorce takes a couple years to finalize and by that time the children are teenagers and under some kind of time share arrangement that typically gives the man the lesser amount of time to spend when his children.
Even as I write that, I can imagine the pain that must be, at least for me. If I had children, I would most want to be part of their lives when they were teenagers even with full knowledge of how difficult that is. I would want to be part of their lives during school days when they deal with classes and their class mates, and also when they pursue extracurricular activities. The idea of them visiting for weekends and doing outings seem empty by comparison. I wouldn’t want my children to think of me as their entertainment arranger, I want to share with their actual growing pains and offer advice that probably would not matter until years later when they reflect back on it. Divorces generally deny this access especially at that age.
Also, I read stories, believable stories, that even after divorce the man didn’t want the divorce. Even with the difficulties, he preferred to stay in the marriage, but he lost that battle.
In any event, after a period of pain and healing, the man will return to the world. Among these men, some will be determined to never commit to a woman again. This still leaves a lot of options. The monk-mode involving complete avoidance of women, is actually fairly rare. Many will return to dating and even periods of serial dating but they will break it off when it comes to time to make choice to commit or not. In general, he is cynical of the woman’s expression of affection. He accepts the description of “she’s not his, it is just his turn”. He will go from one woman to another, never really settling down. Many may in fact have a happiness in doing so and continue doing it indefinitely. Others will tire of the process and just opt out entirely and focus instead on his own interests and simply ignore the sexual drive that is coincidentally declining with age.
Last weekend was Easter weekend, and I was thinking about it. I am culturally Christian and I was brought up with at least a Sunday school understanding of the Bible. I always felt that Easter was the most important holiday of the year. Something very important happened from the time of the Crucifixion and the time of his rising.
I was thinking in particular the time I embarrassed myself by wishing “happy Good Friday” to a lady I was interested in. She was extremely offended by the juxtaposition of Happy with Good Friday. I was taken aback by that, but she explained it was a terrible day because that is when we killed God’s son. Easter was the day for joy because he rose from the grave.
As usual with my mind, whenever I’m challenged on some mistake I make, I tend to double down on the mistake. From that point on, I felt Good Friday was the happier of the two days. It is hard to explain, but God got what he came down for. He finally learned the truth about his most prized creation.
In a recent post, I discussed some thoughts about Moses. In that post, I described my impression of memories of long-past Sunday-school level readings of the Bible. In particular, there is a big difference in the depiction of the human characters in the old Testament as compared to the New one.
The people in the old Testament were all very authentically living regular lives. The descriptions may be brief, but the descriptions were believable in the sense that I can imagine a similar person today, just by happenstance. Even the rulers or the antagonists seemed like they were just regular people that happen to be in the position they were in.
In contrast, the people in the New Testament always struck me as unauthentic, they were more like actors acting out some role than people actually living their lives. Later in life, I recognized them differently. Everyone in the New Testament remind me of people working in government. During the work day, they will display their personalities but only in a guarded sense in part to conform to the expectations others have. Those expectations may come with the job, or those expectations may be for consistency. Authentic lives are not consistent.
I will not defend this impression. I am merely describing my impressions as I recollect what I learned when I was young. The people in the old Testament were more real life, and the people in the new Testament were more bureaucratic, or government functionaries. That’s my impression.
Another observation is that the character of God himself in the old testament is authentic. It is apparent that we are a reflection of him, to some extent. The God in the old testament is prone to being very demanding and then doling out severe punishment for failing to follow his commands. This is authentic. I know humans like that.
The old Testament is told primarily as story of individuals who found themselves facing God’s demands that almost always required the individual to do something he would rather not do. The stories are believable because the individuals struggle and never really entirely match God’s expectations. The appeal of the old Testament is that the stories are believable in the sense that we can see ourselves placed in a similar dilemma and face similar struggles and outcomes. The stories are real in that sense. We can argue over the supernatural elements, but the basic story of the individuals likely did happen.
After writing the post about Moses, I thought more about the old testament and then recognized that it is also a story about a very authentic character in the form of God himself. The entire bible, both old and new testament, displays a character arc for God. I am sure this is not an original idea, but the idea only recently occurred to me.
I recall growing up learning that God was eternal and never changing. It would be a contradiction to expect that he would grow and learn just like we do. Now, it seems to me that God did learn and grow throughout the entire Bible. The climax of his learning occurred on Easter. In short, on Easter, he learned to accept the truth about humans.
Going back to the MGTOW stories, one of the philosophies is described as “red pill” with the particular meaning of learning the truth about women is different than what we were taught to expect. To some people, the phases going MGTOW and taking the red pill are synonymous.
One of the models for God of the old testament is that God has a contractual relationship with a particular subpopulation of humans. This contract is very much like a marriage contract. The contract has God making commitments to his chosen people in exchange for the people making commitments to God. The recurring theme of the old Testament is that the people keep straying from their side of the bargain. To varying degrees, his chosen people keep cheating on him. He finds out and he responds accordingly only to have to deal with it happening again later.
In this contract, God is the husband, and the chosen people are the wife. The wife has a nature to stray. God doesn’t want to sever the contract, and he acts to preserve that contract. That action can at at times be brutal.
The Bible starts with the story of Adam and Eve disobeying God and he banishes them from the garden of Eden and assigns them a more laborious life. Later Cain kills Abel and God disowns Cain. Later still, entire populations stray and God selects just a few most righteous to survive while killing the rest. Each time, the survivors promise to behave but their descendants inevitably stray.
I reimagine the story of Jesus as the point where God decides to really live in the body of a human and learn for himself what it is like to be human. When he does so, he can’t help but to live a perfect life from his point of view.
This new imagining of the story challenges the idea of God being all knowing. Even if he may know our thoughts, he might actually be unaware of why we come up with those thoughts. He needed to take on flesh to experience how our lives work.
The tragedy of this story is that he didn’t allow himself to be purely human. Jesus is not fully human although his body was. He led a too perfect life, he didn’t make the mistakes that we all make, where each mistake compounds on earlier ones until we end up where we are at. Those mistakes start when we are very young. God denies Jesus that opportunity to learn an authentic human life because Jesus does not make mistakes.
As far as I know, Jesus didn’t get on the wrong side of an argument, and then trying to defend a position he would later regret. Jesus also didn’t go through the heartbreak of trying to pursue a romantic relationship only to find his love be taken by someone else. He didn’t feel the kind of jealous rage that comes from seeing someone else win what he wanted to win. Jesus never wanted to win in the sense we want to win. We gamble in fortunes and in love, and often we lose big.
Of course, the story we were taught is that Jesus came down to educate us or to eventually die for our sins. He was perfect because that was the plan. I now wonder otherwise. He might have come down without either intent. He might have come down for a genuine desire to understand what it is like to be human. The tragedy is that he failed because he couldn’t let go of his Godliness.
This goes back to that impression I had that everyone in the new testament appear more to be actors on a stage, or bureaucrats attempting to match the expectations of their positions. God came down to earth and only pretended to be human. He did not live as a human.
Despite that I believe he came down with a sincere desire to learn what it is really like to be human. The eventual persecution and execution may not have been in the early plan. He might have expected he would live a full life and find some level of lasting acceptance within his chosen people. At the end of that life, he would have more confidence in knowing what it is like to be human. The plan was doomed from the start, because it was impossible for him to be human.
Returning again to the MGTOW narrative, one of the largest struggles of men when they consider their relationships is the simple quest to understand the mind and nature of their woman. There comes a point where they realize that they can never know that, and then they accept that. With that acceptance comes a deflation of the concept of a relationship that sometimes is romanticized as becoming one flesh. It is not possible for man to understand women, at least not to the degree that they would like. The MGTOW moment comes with the acceptance that this is a reality that must be accepted, and then live the remainder of life under this new understanding.
Jesus might have lived with a similar motivation. God really did want to understand the mind of humans. In particular, why do humans keep straying from his commands even despite his repeated reprimands. I imagine he was shocked to find himself ending up crucified. Someone in that process leading up to Good Friday, or more likely between Good Friday and Easter, God realized the truth that men realize. He will never be able to understand what it is like to be human.
This is the good news of Good Friday. He finally understood that while we are his creation, we are different from him in a way he can never understand.
The Bible describes a roughly 2000 year period of God trying to make his contract with his people work. The story ended 2000 years ago and we haven’t really heard much from Him since.
Instead something profound happened on Easter. He divorced his chosen people. The Crucifixion was the divorce ruling. The rising was his packing up his portion of his possessions and leaving. The story is that from that point God became accessible to all peoples of the planet. He was no longer bound by contract with his original chosen people.
There was an analogy with the post divorcee going from one romance to another, with each one being brief and ending without any kind of long lasting commitment. Something similar played out in Christianson. God would have relationships with different people at the time of their lives but he made no commitment toward their descendants. God would go on to move from one relationship to another.
Eventually, probably around the time shortly after the reformation, he decide go full monk-mode and not pay attention to humanity at all.
Now when we celebrate Easter weekend we should rejoice on Good Friday because that was the divorce, and we should rejoice Easter to commemorate God going MGTOW with respect to humanity.
To be absolutely clear, I am not discussing theology. I am just describing a story that appears to emerge when considering the entirety of the Bible. Lurking in the Bible, there may be a compelling story of a character arc of God himself.
That story goes something like the following.
God created the Universe, Earth, and all the life on Earth. He was rightfully proud of his achievement and we can recognize that kind of feeling after a major achievement. He created man because he wanted to have a dinner guest to enjoy the companionship of sharing the glory of his achievements. That dinner was literal in the sense of feasts and Sabbath. However, God wanted a worthy dinner guest. He made demands for what qualifies for a seat at the table. Eventually he entered the contract that would make a permanent seat at his table, quite analogous to a marriage contract where the husband and wife share a household and especially a dining room.
The marriage did not work right. The wife, in the form of successive generations, kept straying. He kept trying to save the marriage but to no lasting success. Finally, he sought therapy to finally understand his partner. That therapy resulted in the realization that it was impossible for him to understand his wife. At the point, a divorce was the only option.
God created man with a spark of divinity, but the divinity was of a different kind than he knew.
In the MGTOW discussions, underneath a lot of bitterness and anger there is a fundamental acceptance and respect of females having a different nature than males. The anger and bitterness is that men don’t like that difference, but they eventually accept it, and with that acceptance comes respect. The MGTOW respect that women’s nature is difference than mans, but that respect includes a preference to stay away and leave them alone. Something similar may have happened between God and Man.