The ugly side of masculinity: passivity


Of all the weaknesses of masculinity, none makes a man more unattractive than passivity. A man who simply lives life by watching it pass by instead of taking action will not only be unable to seize the valuable opportunities that come his way, but he will also be a pariah to the woman he intends to spend the rest of his life with. The scriptures themselves use the example of a male figure when commanding believers to be vigil and active.

1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (ESV)

The unspoken rule is that men ought not to be passive creatures. They ought to act and be strong. Is that the reality?

A man who is passive about pursuing a woman for a relationship is sending out a clear message. He is not ready to take responsibility for the relationship. He is not ready to bear the brunt of making hard decisions that affect them. This will later translate into a passive approach towards marriage. It is passive men that abandon single moms to raise children without support. If the man is in the faith, he may remain passive when his active role of building his woman with the word of God is brought up. A passive man will leave that work to his woman’s pastor or spiritual authority. Then he will wonder why the woman respects the pastor more than her own husband.

But even before marriage, the passive man will not give the direction concerning the altar. Several women find themselves wearing a proposal ring for a decade, simply because the passive man is never ready. Some wait for the man to declare the need to marry and settle down only to hear him suggest that they move in together first, to test the waters. Often, that leads to a relationship failure characterised by wasted time and emotion. The sociology scientists are telling us that cohabitation increases chances of divorce and separation. The King James Bible defines the sexual immorality in Romans 13:13 as chambering– a blatant description of cohabiting, listed as a darkness that the LORD warns his children from engaging in. Instead he asks us to honour the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4). But when the truth of science and the word of the LORD are dismissed by a man, a woman in a relationship with him can be sure that she is neck-deep in trouble. His passivity will be the death of her.

A man’s passivity is the reason many fathers fail in their roles as parents. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 gives us a hint of what fathers ought to do. Paul asserts that fathers ought to ENCOURAGE, COMFORT AND EXHORT their children. Fathers who do not do this are assumed to be dead. But we have many dead men walking around. They passively sit and hope the child will turn out well or that the mother will raise them. Irresponsible fatherhood starts off as passive masculinity. A passive man will give excuses when called to rise up to the challenge and disciple his children. To avoid the hard work, he will send his children to church every Sunday, without even investigating the doctrine of the church, while feeling he has accomplished some fantastic level of parenting. But to be fair, you can’t help your children if you are in need of help yourself. Perhaps realising you need help is the first step.

Passivity generally manifests itself in two forms. The first kind is people who speak about lofty ideas but never execute them. Such a passive man will always give excuses for why things were never done. He will always be the first to point out the problem but never offer a solution. A passive man will see himself as a victim when life’s circumstances get the better part of him. The second kind is kind who remain mum as things fall apart. They look macho and in control from the outside but they are frozen and witless on the inside. Their women look to them for direction but they end up being part of the trouble that needs to be dealt with. I once shared in a certain forum how I was helping my wife with the baby at home and how I was learning so much as far as childcare is concerned. One woman interrupted my sharing and blurted, “That is so sexy!” I was taken aback by her brazen comment. When I asked her what she meant, she explained that as a woman, she is enamoured by a man who takes initiative and offers solutions, especially in the house. The other women in the forum nodded their heads in agreement. This wasn’t this woman’s unique fancy. I asked a few other women this and one of them said, “A man who leads and takes initiative is attractive.” What are these women looking for in men? They are looking for passivity-haters; men who will take up the mantle and offer direction.

But aren’t some dispositions and temperaments naturally passive, you may ask? Well,  you need to learn that passivity is not based on one’s personality but rather on his character. The opposite of passivity in this context is not aggressiveness but ASSERTIVENESS. Being assertive has nothing to do with being choleric or sanguine in nature. It is a matter of being DECISIVE and ACTIVE. Many people think that since they are aggressive and outgoing they are automatically not passive. This is not true. You can be loud but very passive. On the contrary, you can be mellow like a phlegmatic or a melancholic but be the very antithesis of passivity. The key is being assertive and putting it into action. And that is not restricted to your temperament. It is an act of responsible manhood. A man is not meant to be passive. A man is meant to be ASSERTIVE, DECISIVE and ACTIVE.

It was Adam’s passivity that led to Eve eating the forbidden fruit. In Genesis 3:6, we are told towards the end of that verse that after Eve ate the fruit, “…she also gave some to her husband, who was with her…” We see that Adam was in proximity as the fall of man was taking place. This is passivity and it led to the demise of the entire world. It was even more horrible because Adam is the one who received the command concerning the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 2:16-17). He therefore had the most responsibility. Because of this passivity, the fall is called THE SIN OF ADAM. It’s not the sin of Eve. The counter to passive Adam is active Jesus. Jesus took the initiative and confronted the sin Adam should have opposed. Decisive Jesus left his Kingdom and took the form of a man to crush the sin that passive Adam embraced. Passive men blame others for their problems, like Adam. Men who denounce passivity through the active Spirit of Jesus Christ understand that they are sinners and are deserving of death and are quick to accept responsibility. A man’s first attack on passivity should be in fighting the sin in his heart by surrendering to his saviour, Jesus Christ. He should then persist daily in fighting this passivity by ensuring he has active Christlike men who challenge his passivity and by communing with the assertive God, who took initiative to save his masculinity.

What do you think contributes to the passivity in men of our culture today?


Ernest is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband, and a father. He has been married to Waturi since September 2012. They have three children- Thandiwe, Ivanna, and Theo. He is also the author of four books. The Wamboyes are passionate to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly taught and understood in our post-modern world. They are champions of biblical discipleship and furthering the Kingdom of God by transforming one person at a time. They are the founders of The Relationship Centre Ltd (TRC), an organisation that aims to promote biblical family values in contemporary urban communities.

Discussion3 Comments

  1. When there is no faith at all or there is a sense of not backing up the faith with works, the man becomes passive. The bible in James 2:20 says that kind of faith is useless.

  2. Thanks a lot Ernest for this post. I think the main reasons for passivity in men is rushing into relationships and marriage before getting to discover themselves and understanding their role as men, as outlined in the Bible, which is often due to being ignorant of the word of God. I’ve been a victim of passivity before, but I’m much better now, by God’s grace.

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