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The Andrew Tate Phenomenon & Providing a Better Path
Bonus Article - The Dangerous Trend Seducing Our Young Men
Imagine we took 100 young men and teenage boys into a room and sat them in front of a screen. Playing on the screen are short video clips, some of silly dances, others of arts and crafts, and then every minute or so a video pops up explaining why society's woes are their fault, for being too masculine, too aggressive, too boyish, too…well, themselves. This goes on for about 91 minutes before something changes. The next day they all return, sit down and begin watching the same kinds of videos, only this time another category of clips is added to the mix.
A muscular, tough-looking bloke steps out of a car they could only dream of owning, and tells them:
“The masculine perspective is:
You have to understand that life is war.
It’s a war for the female you want.
It’s a war for the car you want.
It’s a war for the money you want.
It’s a war for the status.
Masculine life is war.”
It’s only day two of the experiment; how many of them do you think will end up following the “man” who seemingly has everything many of them want? Day three? Day fourteen? Day one-hundred? This is the day-to-day life of teenage boys throughout the West, 91 minutes of Social Media on average, including an occasional message to let them know that if they want to be a man, Andrew Tate can show them how.
Andrew Tate in Short
Andrew Tate achieved both fame and infamy within one week, having been kicked out of the Big Brother house after video evidence was uncovered of Tate which I won’t describe here, but suffice it to say, it was heinous. Tate then moved to Romania to start a successful—and more importantly, illicit—business, which provided him with more than enough money and space he would have needed to reform his image. Tate chose instead to lean into his reputation and lead a generation of impressionable men with him down his chosen path.
Though I find it maddening that Tate seems to have achieved his nefarious goal to stir up the negative affections of young men around the world, to be frank, I’m not surprised. Whilst much hot air has been wasted on Tate himself, cool heads must prevail if we’re to offer up something better for the future men in the UK and the wider Western world. I’m not interested in spending any unnecessary time passing judgement on the head of the movement, nor can I pretend to be able to successfully psychoanalyse the young men of our nation en masse. What I do know is that the Gospel has the power to change lives, that we have a duty as Christians to teach our young men the truth of that Gospel, what it means for their lives—including what it means for them as men.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
2 Timothy 4:3–5 ESV
For most of my life, I’ve heard this verse used largely in response to the growing trend of social and sexual liberalism which has gripped the media, pop culture, Hollywood, and television ever since I can remember. In the two-thousand years since Paul wrote these words, however, ears have itches for all manner of personal proclivities. In fact, even in the world today, whether within the UK or beyond our borders, we might be surprised as to the “teachers” many are sitting under. We might find it difficult to believe that anyone’s ears would itch for a teacher who would lead them to violence—even to murder others—but while we could look to explicit examples like the Manson Family Cult in the 70s, we needn’t do so when there are new criminals being forged each and every day in the UK in places like South London where I grew up. Laziness, lust, the “American Dream,” fame, war, conquest, power, if we search hard enough, we’ll find a teacher who can show us the path to any of these goals and more. Many young men in our nation are searching for more than this though, more than just a teacher to fit their personal brand of sinfulness, they’re searching for an answer to serious questions like:
What does it mean to be a man?
How do I act like a man without being the bad guy?
Am I inherently evil by merit of my maleness?
How do I deal with heartache?
How do I suffer well?
How can I succeed in life and provide for those I love?
What am I meant to do in this life?
I spoke before of our duty—a duty with two millennia of heritage behind it—to teach soundly the gospel we have been handed down, and to answer the burning questions of this new generation head-on. Before we do so, however, we must heed Paul’s exhortation to “be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, [and] fulfill [our] ministry.” We must keep our heads in the word, our hearts beating as though broken by the sins of the world, and finally—putting our hands to work—we must be ready to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”1
Part of this task is taking a stand against false teachers and their ideologies. To combat the unsavoury self-centred ideology of Andrew Tate and others like him, we must focus our attention on the word of God and teach it faithfully.
Last year I wrote four articles on a collection of works by Klaas Schilder, a theologian who lived through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during WWII. In a collection of letters and essays, Schilder wrote under the Pseudonym “The Hunter of Hitler” and modelled for us how to do this well.
Here’s a snippet from that article:
Schilder didn’t hunt Hitler by stalking him like prey, but by casting himself on the one who was already victorious. The war had begun, but Schilder looked to the later advent, the second coming of the King. It was in the shadow of his wings he found comfort and the weapons he provides for us:
“In this occupied land, they will not place the matter in their own hands, but in God’s hands. To the extent they pray, they will want to see weapons used in this time, but only those weapons that we know from Revelation 11, namely, the weapons of prayer. We realize that others think such weapons blunt and laugh at them. At any rate, people who think so will deem these weapons completely harmless.”
Klaas Schilder, The Klaas Schilder Reader: The Essential Theological Writings, eds. George Harinck, Marinus De Jong, and Richard Mouw, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Academic, 2022), 515.
Tate isn’t Hitler. Tate isn’t even our true enemy. In all honesty, calling him and his movement a phenomenon is a grand overstatement given that he will be forgotten sooner than we could imagine, no matter how much airtime he’s currently taking up. There will be another Tate though, they’re probably already out there and by the time you read this article, the transition may already have begun. It may feel like you’ll never catch up in the fight for the souls of our nation's young men.
In those moments, we must don our armour, and remember who we are fighting, and who for.
The Full Armour of God
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:11–12, ESV
Our battle isn’t against the latest scheme of an earthly enemy, any more than Schilder’s true enemy was Hitler. Schilder understood that whilst the whole world had committed themselves to devise plans and weapons against one another, he had in his possession the most dangerous armada ever known to man, and we can be sure that when they came to take it from him, he defended it wearing the same armour described in Ephesians 6.
Schilder’s weapons: Prayer, the Gospel, the word of God.
These will never be outmatched or outsmarted, they will never lose their potency, eve. in times of distress, and they all have in common that none of them depends on our own power or strength.
Whilst Tate might offer our young men a war, he’s doing so with no idea what a real warrior looks like. If our young men want a war, if they want a battle, we can offer them that. It will require discipline, a love unlike anything they’ve ever known, it will require humility, sacrifice, long nights of prayer, a willingness to put aside their own goals, their own dreams, and their own hopes, in return for a commission to go out to all the world and spread a message of hope to the nations. It is the most successful war effort the world has ever seen, and one which we know will end in the redemption of countless souls and forgiveness the magnitude of which we can only begin to imagine.
To fix Tate’s thinking, and to offer something better for our young men:
“The gospel perspective is:
You have to understand that life is war.
It’s against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
It’s a war for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s a war for the souls of the broken.
It’s a war fought first in the prayer closet, and by returning to it when the day is done.
Masculine life is service. Masculine life is prayer.
Masculine life is humble. Masculine life is living like Jesus.”
I’m not worried by this latest attack of the enemy on young men, though I am heartbroken for them, and for those they may hurt as a result. What I will continue to do is point those in my life towards Christ. I will not rely on a new-fangled discipleship programme which boils down to little more than “We Hate Tate!” No, instead, I will continue to focus on what truly matters—however foolish it may make me look—to continue to say to people: “I love Jesus. You should too.”
Grace and Peace,
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2 Timothy 4:2