Non-Toxic Masculinity: Recovering Healthy Male Sexuality, By Zachary Wagner
Non-Toxic Masculinity
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: April 04, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0502
  • ISBN: 9781514005026

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Dismissals such as "boys will be boys" and "not all men" are ingrained in our world. And the purity culture of our youth sold the same excuses with a spiritual spin. Can we break the toxic cycle and recover a healthy identity for men?

In Non-Toxic Masculinity, Zachary Wagner tells men, "If you are in Christ, this is your problem—and you should be part of the solution."

Reflecting on his own coming of age in the purity culture movement and ongoing recovery from sexual shame, Wagner confronts harmful teaching from the American church that has distorted desire, sex, relationships, and responsibility. For those—both men and women—who feel disillusioned and adrift, this book offers a renewed vision for Christian male sexuality founded in empathy and selflessness.

"In a world awash in toxic masculinity, Zach Wagner's book accomplishes two important things. First, it unmasks the pitfalls of 'purity culture' and its implicit prosperity-gospel assumptions about sex, virginity, and marriage. Second, it reminds men that male sexuality preaches the embodied gospel truth that 'every man is called to be a father to the world in his own way.' Both of these truths are vital to healthy male sexuality. I commend Non-Toxic Masculinity to all the jaded Christian men who have been burned by purity culture and who are looking for a new yet distinctly Christian way forward."

Gerald Hiestand, senior pastor of Calvary Memorial Church and cofounder of The Center for Pastor Theologians

"Finally, a book that treats men like they can actually be full followers of Jesus! Zachary Wagner doesn't berate men, blame men, or condescend to men. He just tells the truth. The church has told a story of manhood that is toxic and looks nothing like Jesus, and the fruit has been rotten—broken, shame-filled men. Ruined relationships. Shattered women. But it doesn't need to be this way. By rediscovering what Christic manhood looks like, we can aim for emotional wholeness and health, especially in our sexuality. I'm excited to see men and women embrace this message!"

Sheila Wray Gregoire, podcaster at Bare Marriage and author of The Great Sex Rescue

"Boldly vulnerable, Zachary Wagner gives voice to the brokenness of male sexuality within contemporary Christianity, and in so doing he points the way toward healing. Because he is dogmatic only about the goodness of the gospel, readers from a broad spectrum are invited to join him as he continues to process the complexity of these issues. As one who advocates for the value of women in the Christian story, I am thrilled to recommend this book as one that restores and cultivates the God-given value of men."

Amy Peeler, associate professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and associate rector at St. Mark's Episcopal Church

"For millions of men shaped by evangelical purity culture, Non-Toxic Masculinity will be a breath of fresh air. Rather than offer lists of prohibitions and idealistic expectations, Zachary Wagner situates the conversation within a broader redemptive narrative—one that allows for imperfection while rejecting the dehumanization of women and men, one that decenters sexual morality without abandoning biblical guidance, and one that is filled with humility and grace."

Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

"Zachary Wagner has written a book with perceptive insights about pop-evangelical cultures of sex and sexuality. Wagner writes from the cauldron of experience—his own and his wife's—to tackle topics of church abuse, ideologies of purity, and unwholesome habits of porn and promiscuity. Wagner gets to the heart of the evangelical 'sex problem' and offers an alternative vision of masculinity rooted in love rather than lust management. This is truly a Christian vision of masculinity that is desperately needed in a #MeToo and #ChurchToo era."

Michael F. Bird, academic dean and lecturer in New Testament at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia

"I am so glad to see this topic being addressed with the necessary frankness, common sense, personal insights, and biblical wisdom that Zachary Wagner brings to these pages. I've no doubt that Non-Toxic Masculinity will generate fruitful and much-needed conversations that will serve the church and people for generations to come."

Karen Swallow Prior, research professor of English and Christianity and culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books

"Personal, vulnerable, well-researched, compassionately argued, and affirming of a grand biblical vision of manhood as the Lord intended, Zach Wagner's Non-Toxic Masculinity is a welcome gift to the church. Wagner de-weaponizes male embodied advantage and human sexuality so that we might have a vision of masculinity that honors the human dignity of all persons. Any man with a hopeful vision for exemplifying Christ as single or married, in any season of life, should consider Wagner's presentation of God-fearing, fully male manliness. Any believer who hopes to promote healthy, Spirit-empowered manhood to the generations to come should soak up the portrayal of God's redemptive vision for manhood in the pages of this work."

Eric C. Redmond, professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute

"Sexual assault is one of the biggest issues facing the church. There are cultures that facilitate assault, and men bear responsibility for constructing and sustaining such cultures. For healing to occur, men must therefore repent from the toxicity of masculinity, and Zachary Wagner helps us take the first steps. Abusive power is healed by humility, chiefly demonstrated by Christ. Wagner's book both depicts and sets an example of this humility."

Fellipe do Vale, assistant professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


Preface by Shelby Wagner
Introduction: Wake Up, Guys

Part I: Purity Culture and the Roots of Toxic Masculinity
1. What is "Purity Culture"? A Brief Generational History
2. The "Great Sex" Prosperity Gospel: And Other Lies of the Purity Movement
3. The Dehumanization of Men: What Is Toxic Masculinity and Where Do We See It in the Church?
4. The Dehumanization of Women: How Women Are Harmed by Fractured Masculinity

Part II: A Renewed Vison of Male Sexuality
5. Victims of Our Own Desire? Shame and the Shadow of Male Sexuality
6. The Bible Says So: Correcting Misconceptions About the Bible and Male Sexuality
7. The True Man: Jesus and the Redemption of the Male Body

Part III: Growing Up, Becoming a Man
8. Before You Knew You Were Sexual: Boyhood and the Formation of Male Sexuality
9. From Fight to Formation: Reframing Adolescence and Sexual Temptation
10. You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello: Dating, Romance, and Extended Singleness
11. Act Like an Adult: Maturing the Church's Culture of Masculine Sexuality
12. The Worst Sex You’ve Ever Had: Honeymoon Hype and the Idolization of Marriage
13. Learning to Love: Reflections on Marital Sex
14. Fatherhood: The Chief End of Male Sexuality
15. Death and Resurrection: The Beauty of Redeemed Masculinity



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Zach Wagner

Zachary Wagner is an ordained minister and editorial director for the Center for Pastor Theologians. He is currently pursuing a PhD in New Testament at the University of Oxford. He lives in Oxford, England, with his wife and three children.