By Shanna Babilonia and Karen Garst | 20 December 2015
Good men can be found in all walks of life, but there is one group of men whose qualities set the standard for our evolving modern world. Who are these men and what assets to they bring to the table of humanity?
Here are 7 reasons why we need more secular men in America:
Fathers often play a crucial role in the nurturing of a child, whether they are single, married or divorced. Fathers not only teach their children vital lessons about strength, courage, love and kindness; but they are often a voice of clarity in their child’s life. This is especially true when that father embraces secular qualities like reason, logic, equality and self-empowerment as foundational to his own life experience – and then passes those mental and emotional assets onto his children.
Secular men are less likely to accept traditional religious gender-roles where women are often expected to forgo pursuing their own passions through career interests. They are more likely to share the responsibilities of a household, including the upbringing of children. Their involvement sets an example for their children by creating an environment where their participation in the home and family is equally memorable and positive as with that of the mother.
“My husband was forty-four when our son was born. I took two months off work and he took one. He often said, “Success will be if you find us both here at night.” One evening when I returned home, I took a picture of him holding our son tightly wrapped in a blanket. I imagined it must have been a long day for him, but he was committed to sharing the experience of nurturing our son. This was a huge lesson for our child. Over the years, he learned that dads are just as important as moms in taking care of newborns and of children at any age.”
We need more secular fathers in our world because they set the standard for how male children interact with their future family and how female children expect to be treated by future partners. Their lessons are an integral part of how families function and how that functioning perpetuates itself beyond the current generation and into the futures of their offspring. Those lessons that secular men are capable of teaching their children through their words and actions are not inhibited or skewed by religious manipulation. They are free to teach their children all the wonderful, amusing, interesting and inspiring things of life – without the restraint of a more religiously inclined paternal role. They are free to express their love and admiration for their wife, while respecting her personal passions and goals.
They are free to guide their family by partaking in family life, rather than dominating it, thus creating a more stable and functional atmosphere for all those they love.
Only 5% of the Fortune 500 companies are headed by women. Since men represent the majority leadership in our nation’s companies and these are the people who are making decisions about pay equity, it’s important that those in the position to make decisions about the resources available to female workers are secular in their reasoning. Surely, an Evangelical Christian who agrees that women shouldn’t be in the workforce at all are incapable of implementing practices that will create equal pay and equal environment for their workers, regardless of gender. For this reason, it is essential that secular men with the drive to succeed at top-level positions find the resources and work their way into those positions. When our secular men focus their efforts and work their way into leadership roles, their understanding of the importance of equal rights can be implemented in a way that will benefit the women who contribute to their organization.
“When I was the executive director of the Oregon State Bar, the board of a smaller associated affiliate hired a new CEO at $30,000 more than me. He had forty employees, I had ninety. Of course, I made a stink and succeeded in getting a $30,000 raise. My family greatly benefited from that raise. If women’s wages rise, so too will the income of families.”
Women who are paid the same as men are going to be more invested in the company. They will stay longer, they will be more dedicated to the success of the company and to the customers they serve. Secular men understand that women are working and their contributions are often key to the success of a business. We need more secular men in corporate America because it is they who will set the standard for merit-based, rather than gender-based compensation.
Religious rhetoric is the prime barrier to access to birth control and safe, affordable abortion. This is not only an issue that affects women, but men as well. We will benefit by more secular men engaging in this issue, which is currently largely dominated by conservative Christian republican men, who are grossly uninformed about female health issues.
Secular men are often far more profoundly supportive of women’s rights than their religious counterparts. They tend to have a working understanding of the importance of family-planning resources and are generally more apt to respect the rights of a woman to make her own decisions concerning her body. They comprehend the turmoil a woman can experience when facing tough health decisions and are not restrained by religious dogma when offering their support to their partner.
Secular men understand the dangers restrictions on women’s health may pose and because they recognize this, it is vital that secular men speak alongside women, for women’s rights. Secular men understand that women’s health is not just an issue that affects women, but an issue that affect them as well.
“When I decided to have an abortion, my partner and I decided it together. We were not religious at the time and I can assure you that helped out a lot. I am convinced that there are better birth control methods out there than we currently have.” (Valerie Tarico is working on new forms of birth control and blogs frequently on the subject.)
These are men who have had the experience of a condom breaking and the subsequent weeks of shared worry between them and their partner. They are the men who, like their partners, are concerned with the necessity for family-planning resources that allow both of them to make choices about the appropriate time to start a family – or even to make difficult choices (including life-threatening ones) about abortion. They may even have endured the tough job of helping their partner decide about abortion and accompanying her to a clinic to be a compassionate and comforting companion during one of the most difficult decisions of her life.
The French philosopher Rene Girard argued that violence is not only “at the heart of religious rituals and rhetoric” but that it is violence that leads to religion. This is quite a worrisome observation considering that much of humanity depends upon religion for their moral guidance. Essentially, what it means is that our species has a primordial need for violence and we express that tragic desire through the religions that we create to justify dreadful and inhumane actions toward one another. Girard, who was quite controversial when he posited his ideas, linked violence to the “nature of human desire itself.” He traced this through rivalry for scarce resources, finding and killing a scapegoat, reenacting this as ritual with human and animal sacrifice and eventually escalating to tragic events like the recent terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris.
Many other philosophers have cited religion as a key bond that allows a leader to unite people to fight “the other.” While abandoning religion worldwide will not stop violence, it will go a long way to break the cycle and move us toward the recognition that we are all human beings, no matter what language we speak or what color our skin.
Secular men are crucial to this effort. They are more likely to implement non-violent solutions to global conflict because in general, their concept of humanity is deeply aligned with peaceful and civil resolutions, while free of dependence on archaic and violent interpretations of morality.
Most men understand that it is not okay to have sex with a woman if she does not or cannot reasonably consent. Secular men are even more cognizant of this reality as they are often quite informed on the religious texts and doctrines that support sexual maltreatment of women, and have made a conscious decision to never associate with institutions that participate in the subjugation of the female gender.
Although there are many generous and respectful religious men who would never act in sexually malicious ways toward a woman, often, they are still participating in religions that teach harmful concepts about the way a woman should be treated sexually. Things like: women should not deny themselves to their husbands if their husband desires intercourse, or that it is the female who tempts the male with little emphasis placed on boys and men being expected to control their own impulses.
“When women are forced to cover their body from head-to-toe in order to prevent men from becoming tempted, this has done nothing more than imprison a woman and deny a man from learning to control his own temptations.”
These types of lessons only serve to cast blame for any sexual misconduct upon women, rather than men being accountable for their own actions and often leaves young men entering adulthood ill-prepared for healthy sexual relationships with women.
Thankfully, despite religious tactics to manipulate public education regarding sex, a growing number of young millennial men are secular. These are the young men who can set the standard for how women are treated and circumvent the tragic effects of rape culture.
While it’s true that there are many atheists who are not Democrats, it is more likely that secular men will side with political ideas that support positive societal health than with those politicians who refuse to live in the 21st century. It is our secular men whose values are needed most in today’s global landscape because they are the ones who support environmental changes that will benefit all, equality for women and other minority groups, education reform and humanitarian and other efforts to benefit our country for positive change.
Not only do we need more secular men in our political system, we need more people voting those secular men (and women) into offices.
“In every presidential election since 1964, those aged 18-24 have “consistently voted at lower rates.” It is my age group that votes the most. Needless to say, this is not the highest demographic for secular people. State, county, and local elections are just as important.”
If we are to experience genuinely positive change in America, we need more secular men engaged in the process because it is their principles that will offset the republican disaster that is attempting to exert its religious fingerprint upon our entire nation.
Who is going to make a better lover—someone who has been raised with the understanding that having sex is a natural and beautiful act or someone who has been indoctrinated to believe that it is sinful to even ponder it and unconscionable to ask questions about it expecting a truthful answer?
“My mother didn’t explain what intercourse was. She didn’t even answer me when, as a child, I asked why the llamas were riding piggy-back at the zoo! I had to read a purloined copy of my older sister’s 79 Park Avenue where a shop owner raped a young girl to figure it out. And of course, I made a total fool of myself in junior high when I corrected someone who said the word whore. I said the “w” should be pronounced because I had never heard the word spoken!”
Secular men make better lovers because they are not bound by the guilt that religion causes in the mind of naturally sexually beings like humans. They are free to display their love without concern that some deity in the sky is watching their every move, concerning himself with whether the act is sinful or whether his enjoyment should be criticized because he is simply having sex, rather than trying to pro-create as the religious man’s “god” intended. He is more respectful of the needs of the woman and more willing and capable of satisfying those needs without having to contemplate whether or not god approves of the position of his body or the touch of his hand.
Men’s numbers as atheists are rising. They understand what it meant to be taught about sex from a religious perspective and have chosen to abandon those teachings for a more practical and inclusive understanding of love and sex. They include women in the experience both mental and physically and are not afraid to allow their partner to assert herself sexually toward him. The entire event is, well – much more enjoyable and beautiful with a secular man!
Secular men are important to our world now more than ever. Their voice, their strength and their actions are the very ingredients that will help improve our families, our political process, our freedom and equalities, our treatment of women, unity as a nation and our love lives! If you are a secular man, here’s to you! We appreciate all you are doing and will do to make our country a better place for all of us.
Reprinted with permission from Shanna Babilonia.
Karen Garst in the author of an upcoming book of essays by women who have left religion. She blogs at www.faithlessfeminist.com
Frank Schaeffer: How to Stop Being a Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas): God Wrote The Constitution And Created America
Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook