LISTEN TO EP.81
Empowering Healthy Masculinity in a Culture that Calls it “Toxic”
What are the characteristics of healthy masculinity that create the fathers and leaders our world desperately needs today? Chase Replogle, pastor of Bent Oak Church in Springfield, Missouri, and host of the Pastor Writer podcast unpacks what he calls the five masculine instincts. He examines these instincts through the lives of five men in the Bible who wrestled with their own desires and through faith, matured into something better. He identifies these five instincts as sarcasm, adventure, ambition, reputation, and apathy. This episode will help you discover a greater Biblical understanding of healthy manhood and self-awareness around your own instincts in order to grow into the man God has called you to be.
Welcome to the Influencers Podcast. We are here to see you increase in the influence of your life to make your world a better world and to make the world you live in a better world. Some would say that manhood is under attack. It used to be commonly accepted that there were two genders. And now some people claim somewhere up to 50 genders. If you’re a man, this podcast is for you. If you know a man, this podcast is for you. Our guest today, Chase Replogle…I thought you’d help me out, but that’s…
You got the, “logle” part.
So that counts for me. “Replogle”
Thank you very much. Chase has written a fascinating book on “The Five Masculine Instincts”. We’re going to be talking about manhood today. Chase is a wonderful pastor of a church in Springfield, Missouri called the Bent Oak Church. He is a graduate of New Testament Studies and he’s currently in Doctoral studies on the sacred art of writing, which was very interesting to me. He is a outdoorsman. He is a dad. He’s got a couple of kids and Chase, we are so glad that you’re with us today. Thanks for joining us.
Yeah, it’s an honor. The privilege is mine and just grateful for the opportunity to talk about…well, what is an important subject for everyone? Whether you’re a man or as you said, just know a man love a man.
Being a Man: Steak, Threats, and Fatherhood
Well, you are a man. What do you like or love about being a man?
Oh, that’s a great question. You mentioned I have two kids, so fatherhood is really central to that for me. So I love being a dad. It’s hard to imagine these days my life without those responsibilities. And I’m really grateful for them. And I love the responsibilities of being a husband. Often the most challenging things in life, the hardest things in life like being a father, are also the most rewarding. And I think that’s absolutely true of many of the responsibilities that go along with manhood.
A fascinating thing I learned from you, Chase, is that men eat more red meat. That was interesting. Just unpack that for a minute. Because somebody wants to hear about that.
Yeah. I actually opened the book with this. Most studies find that men eat somewhere around 57% more meat than women. I don’t think that is a shock to most people. If you probably think of yourself or some of the men you know they eat far more than the us dietary guidelines recommend. But the question that has always interested me is why. There was this really interesting study out of the University of Hawaii, where they took a group of men and they did what they called a “masculine threat condition”. They had them take these personality assessments and the results didn’t matter. They told half of them that they had scored more in line with female participants. They questioned their manhood; made it up. And then the other half said, “Hey, you scored like men”. And then they had them go into a pizza ordering app that they thought they were testing out and had them pick ingredients.
And they found that the men who had their masculinity questioned, ordered statistically more meat on their pizza than the other men. And their study was asking, “What is this association between men and meat?” And, of course, there’s actually a lot of debate around that. Whether it’s evolutionary or culturally created through marketing schemes, if it’s sort of dietary cure, or maybe you’ve heard of the carnivore meat only diet, or on the other side is meat consumption is causing global warming and risking human extinction. And we should all be adopting a vegan diet. So I write in the book, there’s this huge controversy around men eating meat. And if we can’t agree on what men should eat, well, what else is confusing and controversial about being a man today? Think most people know a lot. There’s a lot of those conversations. It is far beyond just me.
The Impact of Healthy Men in our Lives
There’s a lot going on. And tell me about the men that were around you as you grew up, as you developed who were influential in your journey of life.
Yeah. I had lots of strong men around me. One grandfather, another that passed before me, but who’s character, his personality sort of was still an influence. And then my dad. I grew up with a father in the home. I’m grateful for that. A Christian father who was a state trooper, a highway patrolman, for 35 years, and then a younger brother, who went on to serve as a captain in the Marine Corps. And I had the opportunity to grow up in a house full of men. Who I am today – a man, a father, a husband – was shaped in many ways by those relationships, which I’m keenly aware in culture today is a rarity. Increasingly we see the disengagement of men from the home as most people will say it’s one of the causes of many, many, many problems within society that we’re facing.
So tell us a little bit about what you feel your calling is, or your mission, what you feel the influence of your life should be.
Yeah, well I’m first and foremost, a pastor – that’s my calling and my passion. I love the church that I pastor. I’ve been there close to a decade. It’s very relational. I love pastoring people and walking with people. And that has become increasingly a part of my passion, my identity. Even as a writer, I write so often as a pastor. I’m thinking about these things as a pastor. They’re not just online debates for me. They’re not just controversies or culture, but real conversations. Even this conversation of manhood for me works itself out in the context of real men, real families, real homes, real lives. I sort of have a front row seat to that day in and day out.
Calling Men Back to God
How do you strategically attract men to be part of your community of faith in your church?
Yeah, most pastors will know this is a challenge. This-that’s tell us that men are attending church less often than women. They’re practicing personal faith less than women – praying less, reading the Bible less. There really is sort of a male-female divide within the church. That’s been true now for quite a number of years And we’ve all seen and experienced some of their awkward attempts to attract men or draw men’s attention back into the church.
When we planted the church about 10 years ago, I remember there was a season early on where I sort of joked with my wife that I felt like I was leading a women’s Bible study versus planting a church because it was so much easier to get women to come pray or join a small group or show up on Sunday mornings.
And I wish I had sort of a strategy or I could say, “Hold this kind of event or do that”, but that wasn’t for me. It was oftentimes spending time with men, sitting down, listening, and thinking about the things men are thinking about – the challenges they’re having, and not making assumptions about those in many ways.
This book flows out of me trying to understand what the questions and the challenges are that the men, who may or may not have been coming to the church – husband, sons – are wrestling with and thinking about and wondering about? And how as a pastor, can I bring the resources of faith into those conversations in a way that maybe we haven’t done in other times, other places.
Creating a New Conversation for Men
Do you think it’s harder to be a man, to even define manhood, in a culture that now has so many definitions, or pushing towards so many definitions of gender? Used to be pretty plain; you were one or the other, but now it’s up to 50.
Yeah. The way that I sort of think about the moment we’re in right now is that we have from the culture, been hearing two primary conversations. One is that masculinity, traditional forms of masculinity, are toxic, that aggression, competition, and stoicism need to be replaced rebuilt for this era.
Then there’s been a kind of opposite reaction to that which said, “No, those masculine traits and instincts – they are your hope and your identity, and you need to indulge them and you shouldn’t be questioning them”. And it feels like every time we take up this conversation, I’m keenly aware. Even putting the word “Masculinity” in the title of the book, everybody’s wondering which of those camps you fall into. And often when we have this conversation about manhood, we end up just sort of digging those existing trenches deeper.
And the thing that I think a lot of men are experiencing right now is, I use the word “malaise” in the book – a kind of just wariness and uneasiness and a sense that so much is wrong, but I’m not quite sure how to go about putting it right, or if that’s even possible. I think now a lot of the actual lived experience for men is that kind of disengagement and malaise and a kind of acceptance that, “What if culture doesn’t want my participation? If they tell me something about me is toxic, then let ’em have it all. I’ll do my own thing”. And you see, for me, what is really the challenge of a lot of men and what we’ve been describing within the church is a kind of disengagement, a detaching from responsibility and expectations, a dropping out. We see that men are dropping out of education and workplaces and marriage and relationships and increasing numbers. How do we describe a path forward for men that allows men to bear greater responsibility, to grow in character that doesn’t just immediately slip back into the same debates that really don’t help men move forward as a Christian towards Christlikeness? How do we get out of that malaise, that uneasiness? I think a lot of men are feeling right now.
Strategies to Reaching Men
Do you have any tools, ideas, that could answer those questions you raise – really important questions. Do you have any strategies that we could think about?
Yeah. So number one, I think you if you were leading men, if you’re a pastor, I think you should really take some time to talk to them, especially with some of the younger, disengaged men, and ask questions about the kinds of things they’re reading, listening to, and thinking about. I think what you’ll find is there’s a lot of conversations men are having online. Whether through podcasts or books, that in my experience, the church hasn’t been paying a lot of attention to some of those are conversations. You may not even think they are that interesting, or you may think it sounds strange, but for a lot of men, those are the things that they’re thinking about. And how do we sort of interact in those conversations from our perspective of faith? So being able to listen to where men are, I think is really important right now, and I think we’ve have to push the conversation for a long time.
The way that we as Christians have been talking to men and rightfully so, have been warnings about sin. I always think of the money, sex, and power conversation that sort of has men. We think, “Here are the landmines you need to watch out for”, and how that should be done. We should continue talking about those things, but it’s not enough to warn a man about where those potential sins are. At some point, we have got to be able to help men grow beyond those things and start asking deeper questions about, “Why do those particular sins cause me to stumble?” “What is go on in my individual life and how do I put in place practices that help me grow in character and become a better man, capable of bearing greater responsibilities?”
So I would say try to talk to men and listen enter into the conversations they’re having as an entry point.
Then two, try to have a conversation about how we describe a path forward to better character, towards men becoming more principled, full of integrity, character. That’s something I think men can want. And it gives us a path out of just the controversy, the debate, we seem to be stuck in at the moment.
The Five Masculine Instincts and What They Mean
Now, the book you’ve authored, “The Five Masculine Instincts”, and you put the word that “masculine” word right in there, walk us through those five instincts and just unpack ’em a little bit for us.
Yeah, well, I’d love to do that. And as I mentioned in this sort of moment before is I really was trying to find a way to have that conversation about character, not just sins. And it is important to point out these are not the five masculine sins, but the way I describe them in the book, these are instincts. These are the sort of ways of thinking or acting that can become just sort of common sense or accepted by us. CS Lewis uses the phrase, “Behavior as if from knowledge” that these instincts are just assumptions” we make as if we’ve thought them through and rationalize them when often we haven’t. These instincts actually come from one of Shakespeare’s plays. The opening line of one of the monologues will be familiar. “All the world’s a stage. And each of us mere players have our entrance and exits and a man in his time plays many parts”. Then Shakespeare goes on to describe “seven stages of a man”, the first and last of those are birth and death. And then it’s these middle five that really describe these stages a man experiences throughout life. And if you read those, you get these pretty clear images that emerge of each of those stages.
When I came across them, I recognized immediately those stages in myself and particularly in the men, who I was leading to think about the challenges men are facing. Men are not monolithic across age and situations and life experiences. Those instincts can be very different, but in what Shakespeare was describing, Shakespeare, of course, being one of the great psychological writers, really understanding human nature. He was describing many of the things I was seeing in the men, who I was pastoring. And the more attention I gave to them, the more I started recognizing some of those same instincts at work in the men of the Bible.
And what I set out to do was describe those five instincts and then pair them with an example from Scripture, a man in Scripture. And those five instincts, the labels I gave them were: sarcasm, which I used the story of cane to unpack. The second is adventure; I used this story of Sampson. The third is ambition, which I use Moses’ story for, and then reputation, which I used David. The final one, apathy, which I turned to the story of Abraham. So those five instincts: sarcasm, adventure, ambition, reputation, and apathy.
So give us just a definition, “sarcasm”, with Cane, what does that mean?
Yeah. So what I’m looking for in these Biblical stories is if there is a kind of instinct, an impulse, a behavior as if from knowledge. Lewis’s phrase, that’s driving this character in the story, and I think a good one to start with is Cane. The big question in Cane’s story is why does God accept Able’s sacrifice and reject Cane’s? And there’s all sorts of ideas. We’ve got plenty of speculation about it, but the reality is that the Bible is not clear on that. And what struck me in the story is after God rejects Cane’s sacrifice, God actually comes down and initiates a conversation with Cane and says to him, “Why are you frustrated and your face downcast? Don’t you know, that sin is crouching at your door?” It’s the first time sin is mentioned in the Biblical’s account, sin is, is ready to jump in and pounce on you and you must rule it before it rules you.
Now, the logical thing you would expect is for Cane to say, “I don’t understand why that that’s the big question”, right? Every preacher or commentator would’ve asked, “Why did you reject my sacrifice and not Able’s?”, but Cane finds himself reluctant to listen or take the lesson that God is giving him. Shakespeare described this first stage of man as the reluctant school boy, dragging himself to school. And you see in Cane, not just his rejection, but actually a divine opportunity for him to have a personal conversation with God about the kind of worship that God requires, but Cane, in his immaturity, can’t get himself to even entertain that conversation. And then of course, what does he do? He reacts – murders his brother, and God comes to him again. And then, of course, the sarcastic line, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, and Cane must imagine himself sort of clever with that, right?
Adam and Eve hidden a Bush when they sinned. He sins and now uses this sort of sarcastic quip to cover it up. When in reality we see pretty plainly, it’s not clever, it’s immature. It’s a veneer to cover his contempt for God. And it’s an unwillingness to mature into things. God is trying to teach him. And I use that instinct to say to men, “If you have a hard time taking things seriously in life, if you’re constantly turning everything into a joke, if you can’t be challenged, if you find yourself impulsive and reactive whenever you feel wronged, then perhaps what you imagine is cleverness or sarcasm might actually be a kind of contempt that’s holding you back from the things God is trying to do in your life and teach you and grow you to become as a man.”
Number Two, Adventure – Samson.
Yeah, I’ll keep ’em a little quicker too. Cause I think you catch the, the point. But I recognized in a lot of men restlessness. When it comes the cultural narrative that says that to to know who you are, to find your identity, you have to leave home and all of the responsibilities of tradition and family and place, and you need a adventure to go and discover who you are and find yourself. It’s basically every Disney movie that’s being made. There’s a famous mono myth narrative by Joseph Campbell called “The Hero’s Journey” that this is based on. And I saw in a lot of men like myself at the time, my mid-thirties: a mortgage, a car payment, two kids to feed, a job that perhaps you don’t love, where’s the adventure? Where’s this life that I thought I was going to live? And the way it starts to weaken commitment. Of course, that’s so much Sampson’s story. Born into this Nazarite Vow, this sort of backwards Israelite culture in the Hills above the great cities of Palestine beneath him and over and over Sampson finds himself going down to Palestine, these adventures, and imagine he can rescue himself. And in the end, it’s that restless impulse to leave and walk away. It ends up over and over betraying him. And I think warns us about about an unchecked desire for adventure.
Number Three, Ambition – Moses
Yeah. Ambition is one of the more interesting ones for me because ambition can be this experience. I can achieve anything I’m capable of conquering in the world and fixing problems. When ambition fails, when we fail, we find ourselves disillusioned and discouraged, but yet still sort of defining ourselves and everything else by that ambition that we measure success constantly against it is really clear in Moses’ story. Moses at times has this great ambition. Acts tells us that he strikes down the Egyptian imagining, and that the Hebrew people will rally behind him. They don’t, and he spends the next 40 years sort of just doing a hidden work in the wilderness as a shepherd. And then all of a sudden he is so reluctant, when God calls him back to that work that he imagined. He was kicking off this real tension of our own success or failure with ambition.
And then as he leads the people through the wilderness over and over, he finds them not living up to his expectations and the frustration of trying to lead those people. And then that great scene where God tells him to go and provide water from the rock by speaking to it. And not only does he disobey by striking it, but the Bible says, he says to the people, “You rebels, must we provide water from this rock for you?”. And you see the ways that his ambition causes him to lose perspective on who he is, who the people are, and who God is. He starts mistaking himself for God. There’s nothing wrong with ambition. It’s not a sin just like adventure. We’re certainly not trying to raise up a generation of ambition-less men, but we should be aware of the way that ambition can blind us to what God is doing. It can replace our own vision, our own judgements for God’s, and it can really unleash destruction around us. If we don’t have a practice of checking it.
Number Four, Reputation – David
David’s story is set in the context of Saul’s story. Those two are so tightly connected in the story. And there’s this interesting theme. I came across it reading through the books of I and II Samuel, how important the image of clothing is.
So often clothing becomes symbolic, whether it’s Jonathan offering his robe to David as a sign that he’s the heir, or it’s Saul trying to place his armor on David, when he goes out to fight. There’s some really pivotal moments where clothing is symbolic. And the big question between these two men that often comes up through that image which is, “Who will they be?” Will they try to live into the public image? Will they try to protect that public reputation? Or can they be who they are, honest before God? And at times David gets this right in spectacular ways. I mean, when he takes off Saul’s armor and says, “No, I’ll fight Goliath”. As I am a shepherd with a sling, there’s this real sense that he knows who he is before God. And he’s humble enough to embrace that and live that out.
Yet David has other moments where, like on the roof, when other Kings went out to war, he falls into sin with Bathsheba, and then to make it worse, to protect his reputation, conspires to murder Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to cover it up and imagines he will get away with it. And really David’s story in so many ways is a question of integrity. Can he do what God has asked him to do – this big public role as king. But can he do it as he actually is – a mere man, humble before God, God’s servant as well, in the tension of reputation and public image. And for so many men that wrestle with, we are well known for being compartmentalizers. If I could succeed at a part of life, business, or hobby, or a personality type, or some sort of success, then it’s enough to sort of cover up all the things that I don’t get right in life. And I think we have to look long and hard at what is this reputation to try to protect our image. And what does it mean to actually embrace a lifestyle of integrity as a way of checking it.
And the first four easy, almost intuitive to see, but then you go to number five.
Number Five, Apathy – Abraham.
It’s a little bit maybe unexpected because Abraham, of course, is the character of faith. If there’s anybody who seems like he’s not apathetic. I mean, Abraham leaves home and travels across horizons and follows God, not even knowing where he is going. But if you look at all of the moments where Abraham tends to struggle, it is his inability to sustain that faith into action. So whether it’s when he faced risks with kings, like the Egyptian Pharaoh, and he ends up passing his wife off as his sister, and he’s just unable to sort of bear the risk of that moment. Or of course, when his wife, Sarah, comes and lays out a plan to have a son with their servant, Hagar, Abraham seems sort of passive to the whole thing. And even when it starts turning into conflict within his home, he says to Sarah, “You deal with it”.
And of course it just fractures his home into more and more conflict. But really I see this apathy; there’s a kind of false ending that takes place in his story. You get to the end of Genesis, chapter 21, and he plants a tamarisk tree in Beersheba. Just before it, we read that he signs all these peace treaties with the people around him. He’s probably at some of his highest wealth. He also welcomes finally, Isaac, that long awaited promise. And you get the end of chapter 21 where Abraham, old in age, finally has everything he’s been waiting for. He sits down in Beersheba, this land he’s been traveling to, and you expect to turn to the page and it be Isaac’s story. But instead you turn the page and you read the opening lines of Chapter 22, Genesis 22, but God tested Abraham.
Of course, it’s where Abraham receives that test to sacrifice Isaac. And I think really one of the great temptations of Abraham’s life was in this moment where he had everything. And for so many men who managed to reach that moment of retirement or that moment of financial independence, I may still believe in God. I may still have faith in God, but what do I really need faith for? Do I really need God? This test forces, really thrusts Abraham back into this world of faith and his dependence on what God might be doing in this moment, to me, as a wake up call. For many of us as men, we can’t craft for ourselves a little safe world of control, and allow our faith to just sort of wither in the midst of it.
That’s awesome. Great material. One of the questions that came to me is why five from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament – why five from the Old Testament?
Yeah, couple things. So I number one, I think these instincts are all over the place in Scripture and in the men there. And certainly some of them are even overlapping in the men I’ve described. I think you see moments of apathy in David’s story that lead to some of the protections of reputation. I’ve always been a student and loved the Old Testament stories and the Old Testament stories are so incredibly well written. And I think so many of them are trying to speak to particularly these Genesis stories, the David stories, they really are. They’re trying to wrestle with what is in the human heart. Genesis, of course, is in so many ways a question of the way in which sin works itself in. That’s how it starts in this Cane story. Sin really is crouching at your door and looking for these opportunities is to take advantage of you. And in so many ways, these ancient Hebrew stories are true of humanity, true of human experience, and true of these deeper things at work in all of the human heart. And they found like a really sort of foundational way of having the conversation about to these things that not only are at work in their lives, but you can also start to see it work in our own lives as well.
The Good News about Instincts
“The Five Instincts” you’ve warned as some of the downsides of them, do they have an upside?
Yeah, I think, as I said before, these are not the five sins of men. It’s not as if you are somehow wrong to ever have an adventure, nor would I say, if you retire and your schedule is light,
“Oh, watch out, it’s apathy. You’ve now stumbled in this sin”. What I’m trying to say is there are certain sins that come up in a man’s life because he is blind to the impulses and instincts and desires at work within him. And that is particularly true in these five that oftentimes David doesn’t see it coming, he’s protecting his public reputation and doesn’t recognize the way that sin is going to lead to collapse and even greater sins. And a man who is trying to grow in character at some point has to be able to recognize what is actually going on within my life, as far as instincts impulses, if I want to be able to grow beyond those things. So certainly nothing wrong. Like I said, with ambition, you should have ambition. The New Testament recommends we care about our reputation, but if those things become a kind of instinctive indulgence, if we’re not able to have perspective on them, and then they can drive us and move us into places and sins that we might not have been. We might not even been aware we capable of or recognized as risks.
Instincts for Influence
So men sitting under your teaching or guys that are listening to this podcast, or they’re their loved ones, wives, how can we encourage men to use their masculinity for maximum impact in the culture that we live in?
I think we have to carve out a way for men to be engaged and to be growing in faith. And we have created a culture where we’ve accepted men checking out. We’ve set the bar so low that if a man shows up to church on Sunday morning, we sort of imagine that’s an achievement that he’s somehow engaging along with his family and faith. And I think we need to say that the kind of disengagement that is plaguing men right now is both destructive to them, but it’s also destructive to the people you care about. It’s destructive to the church. We need men and women engaged with everything they have in faith, participating and serving in the church. And it’s not acceptable for us as men to say, “Well, cultures has this thing against me right now. And everything’s complicated.” And to say the word “masculinity” is complicated. “So, you know what, I’m just going to set this one out”.
Even when it’s difficult, even when we come up with opposition, we have to make sure that our faith is engaged and alive and that we’re pursuing everything that Christ has for us. And we’re actively involving ourselves in this pursuit of Christ-like character.
This is Abraham in so many ways. It may be more comfortable to just avoid the whole complexity, but it’s dangerous. And our call is to keep growing. I love Peter’s words where he says, “And supplement your faith with virtue, with character”, right? “With godliness, with brotherly love, perseverance, press on, keep adding to it”. As men today, we have to pick up that responsibility and do it.
Connect with Chase
Yeah, friends, the name of the book is “The Five Masculine Instincts”. Chase, how can people find it? How can they get it? Can they connect with you? Follow your ministry, find your church? How can we do those things?
Yeah. Well, the book is available anywhere you buy books. So of course Amazon has it, Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart, as well as Christian books. If you buy there, Lifeway. If you’re interested in learning about the book, the5masculineinstincts.com, that’s with the number five.
And I actually have an assessment on there. It’s a free little 25 question quiz, nothing scientific, but it’ll ask you questions across these five instincts. And it’ll let you know, kind of which of the instincts you’re scoring highest in. I think it’s a helpful way just to get you thinking about what instincts might be at work within your own life. And there’s there’s articles on there to break down where the instincts come from. We’ve described video content on there to get an explanation for it and all the information you would need about the book. So the5masculineinstincts.com is the best place.
“the5masculineinstincts.com”. The name of the book, “The Five Masculine Instincts”. I loved when you said that we need a challenge, men to engage and grow in their faith. And guys, if you’re listening, you want to be an influencer. You want to influence the world that you live in, you can’t sit on the sideline. You can’t watch from the stands. We need to get you onto the field. We need to get you suited up and there’s a place for you. And as men that want to see you engage – Chase, myself, our family here at the Influencers Podcast – get into the game, engage, and there’ll be a rich reward for you. And for those around you.
Pastor, thank you so much for spending time with us today. We look forward to just getting to know you in the days to come. Thanks so much.
Yeah, well, thanks the honor is all mine and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. And my heart is as you described it so well – that we would raise up a generation of men that are passionate about becoming like Christ and engaging all the responsibilities of the world. And if I can be a small part of that, I’m grateful for the opportunity.
And if you’re in the Springfield, Missouri area, Bent Oak Church, check it out.