“You can have money for everything you want. You can have any woman you desire begging for your attention. You can be so powerful no one can touch you.”
To most well-adjusted adults, these promises sound like pipe dreams at best, the lures of a snake-oil salesman at worst. But for a seventeen-year-old boy searching for identity and a sense of purpose, the idea of being wealthy, attractive, and successful is irresistible. And that’s exactly what Andrew Tate, internet personality and founder of a how-to course on making money and seducing women called “Hustler’s University” promises.
Who is Andrew Tate?
Tate is worth $700 million dollars. His Twitter account has 5 million followers, and his TikTok videos have over 11 billion views. He presents as a confident, successful person—a role model for boys and young men who feel disenfranchised and powerless.
Tate is also a self-described misogynist. He seeks out teenaged girls to sleep with so he can “leave an imprint” on them, and was arrested in Romania in December of 2022 on charges of sex trafficking and rape (he moved to Romania with the express purpose of living somewhere where rape laws were more lenient). And he is, unfortunately, very popular. Not just online, either—middle and high school teachers have reported a massive uptick in misogynistic language and sexual harassment by male students in the last few years since Tate’s content has been going viral. The incel movement (short for involuntary celibate, a group of men who blame women as a whole for the fact that they aren’t having sexual encounters) has found an advocate in the millionaire. Tate’s influence is obviously resonating with some parts of Gen Z, so it’s essential to understand why.
Why do young men look up to him?
A reason for Tate’s attractiveness lies in what he presents himself to be: an image of “pure” masculinity. Our culture’s criticism of and even outright campaign against the gender binary as a whole and specifically the idea of “toxic” masculinity—which is often identified by what many would consider “traditional” masculinity—has left many young men feeling stranded. It seems as though everyone is telling them how not to behave, reprimanding them for doing things wrong, and yet there are few offering a positive representation of what healthy masculinity might look like. Even YouTube video essayist Contrapoints, a self-identified transgender woman, argues that young men in America are not only listening to but seeking out radical, even violent male role models because our sense of what it means to be a man has been nearly totally lost.
Andrew Tate and those like him live by a sexual code which hinges on doing to women what they feel women have done to them. His often-quoted phrase, “a key which opens any lock is a master key but a lock which opens for every key is a sh**** lock” is indicative of their attitude towards sex, relationships, and women. It is not that they believe sexual liberation is wrong, but that sexual liberation is natural for men and unnatural for women. They preach that women’s purpose is to be emotionally and physically dominated by men; Tate has described women’s natural design as “property”. For a young man who feels dominated himself, the idea of dominance is intoxicating.
What does Scripture say about masculinity?
It is easy to criticize Andrew Tate’s actions and language as anti-biblical; they most certainly are. God declares that men and women are of equal value to Him, and that all people should be treated with love, kindness, and respect regardless of who they are. Jesus speaks out against the violence, hatred, and evil that permeates Tate’s platform. But as true as those things are, decrying Andrew Tate’s teaching without addressing where it comes from still leaves us with a problem, namely, that young men are without a man to look up to. The Bible gives us that man in the person of Jesus Christ.
Though of course as a human Jesus is the pattern for all Christians, young men may especially seek wisdom in Jesus’ maleness. In a society that was like ours in many ways, with women often being treated as sexual objects, Jesus stood apart to model a radical masculinity which embodies quiet strength in place of machismo, gracious leadership in place of domineering violence, and tender intimacy in relationship in place of a “lone wolf” mentality. Holding up the character of Jesus against the version of masculinity that Andrew Tate preaches shows us an incredible, opposite image of what a man should be. Jesus was never weak, but his power did not depend on harming others. A young Christian man can take heart in knowing that his masculinity flows beautifully and naturally out of his relationship with Christ, and that the more he seeks to be like him, the more truly he will experience what it means to be a man.
God created us gendered, specific, significant. But our masculinity or femininity springs from the well of that creation—our identity as bearers of God’s image. To try and sort out who we are by playing into an unbiblical idea of what our gender should be, especially if it expresses itself in the intentional wounding of our fellow image-bearers, is not only fruitless but blatantly sinful. Young men do themselves and those around them a terrible disservice when they model themselves after a man who glories in evil. There is a higher calling to live out meaningful masculinity which stands as a testimony of the hope and purpose of Jesus Christ.
If you want to dive deeper on these themes, check out the Axis One Conversation Podcast on How to Talk to Gen Z About Identity, Belonging, and Purpose with Dr. Kara Powell!