No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice–Instead of Good–Hurts Men, Women and Children. Paul Coughlin. Bethany House Publishers, 2007.
Much as been written at the old blog about the general effects that both society and Churchianity have held upon men. The goals of traditional marriage and the instilling of traditional gender roles have been incredibly successful, leading to men who have not only given assent to female supremacy, but have bought into the whole concept whole sale by molding themselves into the docile follower, further demeaning themselves in the process. This “going too far” is what Paul Coughlin attempts to address in “No More Christian Nice Guy”.
Coughlin begins by describing the “Christian Nice Guy” (CNG), the typical “gentle, meek and mild” man who fears to live life, and sees his own life as worthless. The author goes on to assign a passive-aggressiveness to this man. Coughlin then describes the natural Jesus to extend from this, a meek and mild submissive Jesus and then contrasts that with an “unchained”, Jesus who was a “law-breaker”. He then describes the messages of the church given in order to reinforce submission and servitude in men towards women. The author then uses his own childhood abuse experience to relay the idea that children are taught to “live small”.
Coughlin then relates the CNG to marriage, describing how his passivity model is molded onto the expectations of men by the typical incorrect message of “sacrifice”. He goes on to explain the false piety connected to sexual expression, and how men are led to denying expression of intimacy that is natural to them. Coughlin then describes the neo-feminist view of masculinity, indicating that taking abuse has somehow been identified as Christian to men. He then moves on to describe the CNG at work. Coughlin then reiterates his points in an attempt to describe the journey from a “Nice guy” to a “Good guy”, provides advice in “facing one’s fears” and practical advice for going forward.
In reading through this book, I found myself frustrated in a number of respects. Coughlin brings up a few good points, such as the feminization of the Church, demonization of male sexuality, and the control of men in the church by women using shame and other tactics. Still, Coughlin retains a timid reserve in both stating them clearly and bringing them to their natural conclusion, betraying a nice guy behind the paper tiger he portrays, and leaving many topics with a non-definitive end. Others are shipwrecked either by contradiction or by plunging into other lies. For instance, the female Personal Jesus replaced with another Personal Jesus fashioned in the image of Tyler Durden. Still others are digressions into places that make no sense, like his diatribe on “family-owned Christian businesses”.
Furthermore, the lightness of Scriptural application and Coughlin’s reading of his Personal Jesus into it (p42), proclaiming Jesus a law-breaker (p47) is quite disturbing. Furthermore, Coughlin’s disorganized and scattershot way of writing (this is why I didn’t remember anything about the book – it took five pages of notes just to capture what he wrote about) services none of his points as much of what he has to say is cut off by himself to move onto other topics.
Overall, while this book had much promise, the goal it had became clear as soon as I read Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s forward. While Coughlin sniffed near a number of truisms regarding the real nature of traditional marriage and gender roles, much was squandered in the attempt to not “rock the boat”. It was quite clear that Coughlin’s “good guy” shares a number of commonalities with the “nice guy”, and to that end the goal was not to emancipate God-given manhood but to reel back the domestication of the male service animal, or for Coughlin to work out his personal issues with his mother’s abuse.
As I’ve seen personally, and as many of the other reviews of the book suggest, there are far better options for these topics than this book.
Rating: 4 out of 10.
Book Cover Image Source: Amazon