Q&A With "No More Christian Nice Guy" Author Paul Coughlin
- Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Author and "recovering nice guy" Paul Coughlin points the way for all men who yearn to live a life of boldness and conviction – like Jesus – as he discusses his latest book, "No More Christian Nice Guy."
Christianbook.com: What’s wrong with being nice?
Paul Coughlin: What we often label as “nice” behavior is a disguise for passivity and fear. Historically, calling someone a "nice" person has not been a compliment. It has meant "dainty," "unable to endure much," and "effeminate" among other adjectives.
And think about the "nice" people in your life. Do they stand up to injustice and are they truthful regardless of consequences? Most "nice" people don’t have it in them to be righteous. They are pleasant and amiable not because they are virtuous but because they lack virtue. We see another type of person in Jesus, who wasn’t nice but was amazingly good.
Worse, "nice" people aren’t very nice behind the scenes. As the wives of Christian Nice Guys will tell you, their husbands are secretive, manipulative, even dishonest. The nice lifestyle is a sinful lifestyle.
CB: You say kindness is not the same as niceness. Please explain.
Coughlin: Kind people extend and donate a part of themselves to help others. Compare this to nice people, whose motive is to stay hidden from life. They may not do harm to another person, but they also don’t do any good. They are often fearful and dormant people who are unable to really follow Jesus. They don’t have it in them to be redemptive forces for good in this world.
CB: You say Jesus wasn’t a nice guy. He was a good guy instead. Please explain.
Coughlin: The Gospels show a man in near constant conflict and tension with his surroundings. Fearful Nice Guys avoid conflict and tension, often through dishonest means.
Nice people worship at the altar of other people’s approval. Jesus did not. Nice people when criticized often crumble and hide. Good people keep going, the way Jesus did.
CB: You promote a more assertive form of masculinity, yet you defend Fred Rogers and are critical of pro-wrestling. This seems contradictory. Can you clarify that?
Coughlin: The Good Guy Rebellion is about expanding and deepening our understanding of love that’s in tune with masculine impulses. It’s about redefining the Man Box we live in and which is killing us, too.
Men in general and Christian men in particular should cultivate tenderness, which contrary to popular perception, is a masculine trait. After all, the shortest verse in the Bible is "Jesus wept" (John 11:35).
Fred Rogers is an honorary member of the Good Guy Rebellion. He represents the gentle, though not passive, side of masculinity. He struggled and was criticized for being so loving and considerate toward children. A passive and fearful Christian Nice Guy would have collapsed under the weight of such criticism and mockery.
Pro-wrestling on the other hand perverts the masculine impulse to fight and protect and extracts from this perversion a healthy paycheck. It’s blood money that is misguiding many young men throughout the world.
Where we go wrong is when we say that the only definition of love is gentle and kind, which is a large misconception today. Mr. Rogers was virtuous, but he didn’t represent all of the virtues that we are called to embrace. We need to embrace our inner policeman as well.
Christian men are excepted to be all Hush Puppy, no combat boot. The Good Guy Rebellion says men should own both.
CB: What opened your eyes to the more rugged side of Jesus?
Coughlin: Jesus’ sarcasm opened my eyes, and I discovered this through the excellent book, "The Humor of Christ," by the late Elton Trueblood. Examples are found in my book.
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