Stop Being Nice
February 22, 2021 · C.E. Carter
I don’t want nice men, I want kind men.
The astute among you will turn to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary and note that the words “nice” and “kind” are synonyms. The even more astute among you will also remember that Merriam-Webster actually changed the definition of “racism” this past year. It’s 2021, and redefining words and ideas is the trendy thing to do now, like making TikTok videos and becoming a Marxist. The good old days, when words like “truth”, “gender”, and “vaccine” actually meant what they stood for, and when people acted according to the meanings of these words, are over. I think that “nice” and “kind” mean different things, and this is my blog post, on my website, so I get to say whatever I want regardless of whatever Jack Dorsey or any other technocrat thinks about it.
My grandfather, a former English teacher, often told me the study of semantics is the reason we perceive the difference between the statements “public transportation” and “socialized bussing”. These statements are equivalent in denotation, in that they refer to the same thing, but they are different in connotation, in that they refer to that thing differently. “Kind” and “nice” may be denotatively equivalent according to the criticalists at Marriam-Webster, but they are connotatively different. “Nice” connotes a set of attributes, as in the quality of being pleasing, agreeable, and appropriate. It is a passive word; “those are nice curtains” means the curtains are pleasing, and “he’s a nice guy” means he won’t give you too much trouble. “Kind” connotes a set of actions, those which arise from sympathy, forbearance, and helpfulness. It is an active word; “he’s a kind man” means he would do something to assist your interest if you needed it.
Drawing this distinction out is the key to understanding real, Biblical masculinity. Women should be kind too, but I’m addressing the men specifically because they are the covenant heads of their households, and as such, they are the ones who bear the responsibility for steering the trajectory of history. We know this is true because even our egalitarian friends blame men for the patriarchy. As go the men, so go the women, and men who are marked by real, Biblical masculinity are not nice men. They do not take the passive stance of being perpetually pleasing, or agreeable, or appropriate. They are not the kind of men who give a nod of agreement towards heresy or false doctrine for the sake of “unity”, nor are they the kind of men who are unwilling to denounce falsehood or immorality for the sake of saving face. They are not the kind of men who will engage in silliness for the sake of being seeker-sensitive, nor would they disengage from a fight in order to prevent ruffling any feathers. Niceness would condemn violence, anger, or confrontation as sinful outright, but Biblical men, in their kindness, cannot do this. Kind men exercise chivalrous violence, anger, and confrontation when the circumstances demand it, with a view to sympathetic goodwill towards others.
Failing to be “nice” is one of the cardinal sins of American evangelical culture, along with failing to be “open-minded”. We value niceness so highly that we’ve lost the ability to be kind. Our steadfast commitment to being nice is the reason that churchmen are stereotyped as being spineless and hypocritical, and our commitment to being pleasant has provided a convenient sieve for false doctrine and immorality leak into our churches. Niceness destroys the immune system of a congregation. Outsiders constantly wish to prey on the weaker members of our churches by proselytizing them with heresy and false doctrine, or seeking to cause physical and psychological harm. A church filled with nice men is a safe place for those outsiders, and therefore is a dangerous place for our wives, children, and weaker brothers and sisters. By contrast, kind men sympathize with the vulnerabilities of these weaker members, and as such, are willing to step outside the bounds of what would be considered “nice” in order to protect them at all cost. Kind and chivalrous men are the immunological resistance that keep churches heathy and strong. Kindness of this sort is Christlike. Being a nice guy is not Christlike. It’s not even close to Christlike. Christ was not a “nice guy”, and much less did He conform to our typical portrayals of Him as a metrosexual shampoo model, with soft hands, who spoke nothing of honor, obedience, dominion, war, victory, or Hell. No, He was our example in His obedience to the Father, in His sympathy towards poor sinners like me, and in the overwhelming might by which He rules over the entire planet. In these things His kindness was demonstrated to us, the crescendo of which was nothing short of being flogged, nailed alive to a tree, and left to die as a penal substitutionary atonement for all the elect. This act was the furthest thing from becoming a doormat for Rome and the Sanhedrin. The crucifixion was an act of war, a critical battle to begin the campaign of winning history, and the act which assured victory from then onward. Glorious. To say that it epitomizes the notion of kindness is to say too little of it.