Good men are hard to find

Below is the second version of the article ‘For want of a lot of good men’; this one I wrote for The Australian. It was published on Saturday, 25 May 2019.

A good man is hard to find, and increasingly becoming even more scarce

Where are all the good, marriageable men?

This is a question so ubiquitous to my female peers and me that to justify it seems almost trite. Yet I was asked to do just that after publishing a piece in The Catholic Weekly this month stating a widely held but seldom-heard view of the lack of desirable, moral men in this country, especially in the church.
I can talk to any young woman in my social circle and they will all say the same thing: there just aren’t any men.
What we mean by this is there is a frightening scarcity of men aged 25 to 35 who are churchgoing, single and worldly wise. Most men I meet have two out of three of these qualities, with the last often lacking. If they’re single churchgoers, they’re often in want of basic social awareness (a big turn-off for most women); if they’re more socially adjusted, they’re generally not single or not religious.

Even if they’re not religious, most young Australian men hold views and values that are utterly opposed to our own. As a Christian, trying to find a normal Aussie bloke who is willing to enter a chaste relationship can feel like looking for gold dust.

Some have taken issue with my assessment of the situation, but this is the view held by virtually every female friend I have — not to mentions dozens more, male and female, who reached out to me after my article was published. What we’re asking for really boils down to two things: shared values and mutual attraction.

Yet this reality — what was once the social norm — is becoming less and less common.

We are living in a unique time in history; never have politics been so polarised, moral norms so lacking or churchgoing men so scarce.

This environment has made it uniquely tough for women to find good husbands. While some may dismiss this as a trivial issue when compared with Brexit, abortion on demand or the erosion of free speech, I would contend it is every bit as important, if not more so.

The future of our society depends on good, solid marriages, families and citizens. We need families to produce educated and informed young men and women who will continue fighting the good fight against attacks on free speech and Christian values in the years to come.

Yet for someone like me — a 32-year-old single Catholic — the situation looks bleak indeed.

This is not just the case for women of faith, either. A young agnostic mum told me the issues I raised “transcend faith altogether and speak to a wider problem of good-valued men largely disappearing from society”.

I’m not denying there are good single guys out there. Of course there are. Several of my closest friends have been fortunate enough to meet and marry some wonderful, intelligent, principled men — but many more haven’t been so lucky. I meet them constantly at parties and social events — beautiful, smart, single women who just want to find a good man to love and honour. Yet this pool of women seems to keep getting bigger while the number of marriageable men is swiftly dropping.

In the early 1960s, 87 per cent of Australian men identified as Christian. That figure now has dropped to 49 per cent, with regular churchgoers in even further decline. Just 14 per cent of all Christians in Australia attend church weekly. In Sydney churches, women outnumber men nearly two to one, according to the latest National Church Life Survey data, with the average parishioner in her 50s.

Across the globe, men increasingly are less likely than women to believe in God, pray daily or count religion as an important part of their lives. This should come as no real surprise; the writing has been on the wall for some time.

Radical feminism has played a decisive role in the demonisation of masculinity. Men who attempt to fulfil their natural role as protectors are shamed or, worse, made to feel like oppressors.

This has resulted in absurd programs such as the consent course that the Univer­sity of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney rolled out last year that patronisingly lectures students in rules of courtship, such as ensuring an enthusiastic “yes!” is received before attempting to kiss one’s love interest. Apart from being decidedly unsexy, this sort of advice is predicated on the notion that all men are potential predators unless given the right training.

Gillette’s divisive “the best men can be” ad is another example of an organisation peddling this narrative.

To further complicate matters, single-parent families now make up 10 per cent of all Australian families, with the vast majority of these fatherless. Is it any wonder masculinity is increasingly absent in our society, when men are taught that their natural tendencies are potentially wicked and dangerous, and many do not have fathers to guide and demonstrate true masculinity to them?

Modern Western society is rife with these unhelpful, even harmful, messages. So many men seemingly do not understand what it is to be a man any more, which I believe is why figures such as Jordan Peterson have soared in popularity during the past few years.

Peterson is challenging the narrative of toxic masculinity, so-called rape culture and the notion that the patriarchy is responsible for all the world’s ills.

More important, he is actively promoting qualities that are sorely lacking in our society, such as personal responsibility, honesty and integrity.

I’m deeply grateful for the influence people such as Peterson are having on so many men, young and old. We should be doing all we can to help steer men in the right direction and find truth and meaning in their lives. Men who are guided by good principles, who have purpose and direction in life, are not only deeply attractive to women, they are also invaluable assets to society.

Yet many women I see and talk to feel as if their chance is never going to come.

I am now beginning to face the possibility that I may never marry. It makes me squirm with discomfort and anxiety to admit this, but I have to be realistic. On a personal level, my faith teaches me that if I don’t ever marry, it’s because that is God’s will for me.

I may not like it, it may threaten to fill me with dread and despair, but that’s probably how I would have felt if someone had told me 10 years ago that I would still be single now. And while I have experienced some real suffering in my 32 years, I know my life is valuable and meaningful and worth living, despite not looking the way I imagined.

I’ll be honest, I am still mid-struggle when it comes to acceptance because, deep down, I don’t want to accept that this long-cherished dream of mine may never come true. It feels as though accepting the possibility will shackle me to the inevitability.

But I also know, from wisdom and experience, that this isn’t true; that accepting what is and opening myself up to what will be will actually set me free. It may be difficult and painful, but only in the short term. I get the panic; I get the struggle; I understand the fear. I’ve experienced all of it. Like many other young women, I firmly believed I would be married by the time I turned 25. Being so thoroughly convinced all my life that marriage was my vocation, it has come as a painful and frankly humiliating shock to find myself 32 years old and alone.

Yet I also know that neither a man nor a marriage can truly fulfil you in life — they’re just a bonus (if you’re lucky). In our social climate of fragmented relationships, broken families and widespread pornography addiction, it is harder than it has ever been to form wholesome relationships based on common values.

But there is still hope. I hope that speakers such as Peterson catch on with mainstream society; I hope that a return to traditional values is forthcoming; I hope we can stem the tide of radical feminism and promote genuine masculinity. But, in the meantime, I believe the focus for women like me needs to be on perfecting the life you have rather than chasing after the one you imagine.

For where your treasure is, there is your heart also.

7 thoughts on “Good men are hard to find

  1. Dear Anna, 2 Questions
    Your answers to these two questions may help you be the woman a young Catholic man would want for a wife. You do not have to share your answers, but you should seek these answers.
    Question 1
    What do you offer as a potential wife? Or to put it another way, what does a man need and want that he can only get from a wife? That wife could be you.
    Women just seem to hate asking a man what a man might want, feel, and need. They would rather ask another woman or women. If you respond to this question I will respond with a description of what is lacking in my marriage. As my pastor once mentioned, “So many married women feel sorry for me because of celibacy. They say I must be lonely, but no priest is as lonely as most of the long time married Catholic husbands.”
    Question 2
    In the beginning, God created man, male and female he created them, and saw that it was good. (Before original sin at least).
    What is good or admirable in men, just as men, irrespective of how useful he is to some woman?
    I have asked this question on several occasions, and no woman under the age of 75 or 80 has been able to answer it.

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  2. Miss Hitchings, thank you for writing these articles. I first came across them from one of Rod Dreher’s articles in The American Conservative, and he commended you for putting out your thoughts in public. Well, I’m one of those single Christian guys who has serious problems with social acumen and worldly wisdom, and I have decided to share my recollections and reflections on how the evangelical church of my youth inhibited the development of these important character traits. To be fair, I cannot blame everything on them and there are two sides to every story. Yet I’m writing to share my experiences and observations. I’m curious to hear if any of these dynamics are present in the Catholic church.

    The first way that inhibited me was the expectation to be a nice guy instead of a man with character. Generally speaking, the goal of Christian youth development seemed to be to get a good job (by being moral and good and nice) so that you can evangelize as many people as possible. There are many things wrong with this—more than I have space to write about here. I recall some cut-and-dry scenarios in Sunday School which had obvious answers, but I recall little if any moral training for the complicated choices that everybody faces in life.

    I also recall an unfriendly environment towards introverts. Unfortunately, this was exacerbated by certain dynamics from my home environment. I recall an expectation to be lively and enthusiastic at youth events, and the feeling that something was wrong with me if I wasn’t. This dovetailed with the expectation to evangelize which I will describe further.

    Another way that inhibited me was an over-emphasis on evangelism that came at the expense of a holistic emphasis on the Gospel. The expectation to ‘tell your friends about Jesus’ is irrelevant if you don’t have the character to make any friends in the first place. Especially if you struggle just to communicate. My inability to evangelize really began to weigh on me during my adolescent years because I had come to think of evangelism as a proof of salvation. Incidentally, I also had a few experiences around this time which made me think that I had lost my salvation for good. It was a bit dreadful to say the least. It didn’t help my social acumen or worldly wisdom either.

    Another pernicious effect of this evangelism over-emphasis was that I lost discretion with speech and knowledge, even to the point of presumption. I was taught the biblical truth that everyone has to make the choice to accept or reject Christ, but I recall that this somehow percolated out of my mind. Looking back, I see that I came to think that it was up to the evangelist to say the right things to effect a religious conversion. Consequently I gradually abandoned much of my discretion with my knowledge sharing and speech (even though I still couldn’t evangelize). I came to think that it was my fault when someone would start bullying me, and I gravitated toward abusive and exploitative ‘friendships’ (storge-philos only, by the mercy of God). I hate to admit all this but I think it needs to be said. And disordered evangelism wasn’t the only cause but it was a big one. I’m currently reading through Proverbs and I’m struck by said proverbs that call for wisdom and discretion in speech and information sharing. Many call for the withholding of words and knowledge, especially from fools. I wince and almost weep when I read them.

    And then there’s presumption. I had no idea this was a sin. I made a couple of professions of faith over the years after various evangelical sermons. The pattern was the same: I’d get to thinking that I really wasn’t a Christian, I’d conjure up feelings of guilt and shame, I’d make a profession, I’d backslide (often after making a fool of myself), I’d repeat the cycle upon hearing something that would convict me. But now I understand that this habit of conjuring the right feelings for the situation is presumption. Needless to say this unholy habit played itself out in other areas of my life, to include vocation and attempts at communicating with women. Incidentally, I don’t recall any teaching of Jesus’s command to make your yes be yes and your no be no. But as ‘red letter words’ they mean just as much as the Great Commission. As I mentioned above, the teaching on the Bible verses on character seemed to be geared towards making nice guys instead of inculcating character.

    As I alluded above, this lack of social acumen and worldly wisdom has had terrible and compounding consequences in most areas of my life. I mentioned vocation and interactions with women. In regards to the former I would have performed better service to my country shoveling horseshit in the American state of Louisiana, and in regards to the latter they figured out very quickly that I had problems when I moved to my current location and social setting a little over 10 years ago. I assume that said women in my social circle have a bit of contempt for me and I can’t blame them. I’ve been to counseling which has been helpful but I’m still struggling. I’m also a little north of the big four-zero so this stuff is really weighing on me. I was on vacation recently and I perceived attraction from a waitress and I couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

    So, here are some recollections and reflections from one of those men in the church with low social acumen and worldly wisdom; and on how I perceive that the evangelical church inhibited me. Now I must acknowledge that there are two sides to every story, and that my situation is not all their fault. I had other negative influences to contend with and I certainly could have made better choices throughout my life. Either way I recognize that I am the one who has responsibility for my life. Yet I have decided to share my experiences in the hope that lessons are learned from all this. Thoughts?

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  3. What if the scarcity of marrigeable men and women has not only to do with the abominable rotten fruits of sexual revolution (ranging from feminism and sodomitic aberrations to male effeminacy and pornography to name but a few) but with the entirety of the culture of death, primarily aborticide? The systematic murder of the unborn has been going on for so long that it has claimed death tolls far exceeding any war so far. It must have a destructive impact on the demographics of all nations where this satanic child sacrifice is perpetrated. Generations have been wiped out in brazen defiance of the Will of God, not being allowed to be born, in addition to all those not being conceived due to the loss of the aborted who never had the chance to become parents as well as because of selfish witholding of the life-mediating powers in marital acts, i.e., a practical expression of contraceptive mentality, effectively neutralising openness for life in the surviving populations. Such evil disruptions of demographics have claimed catastrophic loss of people – in recent years, this could roughly be likened to WW2 happening every year on a global scale! See this infographic for various states around the world – ratio of cumulative abortions relative to total extant populations: http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/worldabdemogr.gif

    So, it is worth contemplating that the aborticide could well have made demographic widows and widowers of many a surviving people. In other words, God has sent us persons who, in His Providential Plan, were meant to become future spouses, yet they have been murdered and are now absent from the ever shrinking survivor populations. And the longer this evil goes on, the mlre depleted are the future generations and the more affected and miserable they are. In the past, many women remained single because of heavy military losses of men, e.g. in the carnage of WW1 and 2, yet “only” several per cent of lives were lost. What then are we to expect when a quarter, a third or even one half of the total population hqs been brutally murdered before birth?

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  4. The useful idiots in the universities lecturing students on the rules of courtship is absurd.This I cynically believe is the immoral corrupt polity in western societies trying to shift the psyche of the populace at large, especially the younger people of age group16-25 into accepting incursion into there private lives as normal and to be accepted as the moral responsibility of a completely amoral and immoral elites.Oh only they have the required intellect to define what virtue is. We have an indication of what this is,and which direction they want to go as legislations key pillar is now based in immorality, sorry corporate amorality. As for feminism its an oxymoronic term because it has actually divested women of their real power ,their femininity ,this being the very thing that gives women their differential appeal in comparison to men. Radical feminism is a wedge designed to destroy the patriarchy both within the family unit as well as wider society. Thomas Schumann
    the ex Russian operative who defected to the US ,said the way to bring down society from within was to pitch or polarise politics,eg pitching men against women and polarise other issues like drug use, sexuality, environmental issues( abortion euthanasia and climate,oh I left out traditional marriage. Furthermore the three key universal elements that are hard to find in society today.,are polite manners, courtesy and an understanding of etiquette. These I believe are what separates civilised man from the maddening effects of barbarity. As Krishnamurti said “don’t think of me as a sage because that would mean I have status and seek power-know I speak the truth and the truth for right or for what is wrong has logic-this is important ,for truth we need to be able to FOLLOW it logically. So help me God.

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