Masculinity and Star Trek

My wife and I recently started to watch the Science Fiction TV series Star Trek from the 70’s. It has been very intriguing so far and I appreciate the creativity that went into these episodes. Recently we watched an episode titled “The Enemy Within” (season 1 episode 5). I think this episode exposed some fantastic things about masculinity and the way that God has designed men to be. The episode begins with Captain Kirk and some of his crew down on a remote planet. They have a machine that can teleport a person to and from the ship. This is how they get down on the planets in the first place. It is the source of the famous phrase from Star Trek , “Beam me up”!

Captain Kirk gets beamed up through this machine back to the ship that is in orbit above the planet. However, when he arrives on ship he is disoriented and feels off. Kirk and the machine controller walk off the scene to go to the infirmary due to the captain’s disoriented state. Unaware to them both, a perfect replica of the captain is beamed in right behind them when they exit the room unbeknownst to them. This duplicate is identical, save this one thing, his aggressive, competitive, ill-tempered, domineering portion of his person is amplified in this doppelganger. The other original Captain Kirk is now exclusively docile, logical, rational, compassionate, and indecisive. The man has been split in two you may say.

The rest of the episode is an endeavor to subdue this “evil” version of Captain Kirk and to aid the “good” version of Captain Kirk to remain in control of his ship. Meanwhile, running alongside this central conflict in the story, is that his crew that he left behind is stranded on this planet that is hostile to human life when the evening comes. The “good” version of Captain Kirk continually and slowly loses his leadership fervor he once had and leans on his second in command, Spock, to help him make decisions concerning the crew on the planet down below.

One Way To Interpret It All

That is the gist of the episode and by the end of it all he is reunited as one complete man that balances his rational, docile side with his competitive, aggressive side. Some would say that the docile rational side is the feminine part of man and the competitive aggressive side is the masculine part of man. They would look at the indecisive relaxed version of Captain Kirk and think “he’s in touch with his feminine side!” Connected to this thought, Some would also say that men and women both have an inner feminine and an inner masculine. Women externalize the inner feminine and men externalize the inner masculine. However, that is not how I see the way that God created men and women.

I think women are purely feminine without a masculine part of them and men are masculine without a feminine part to them. I am assuming here ideal men and women that do not war against their nature. There are some men that act effeminate but that is not coming from their nature as a man but from their nature as a sinful human. I see the two parts of Captain Kirk as virtues that both men and women exude in their masculine or feminine natures. Both men and women are rational and docile at times and both men and women are competitive and aggressive at times. These virtues (or we might call them attributes) are exhibited in both genders, though according to their nature. Women are competitive with other women, aggressive over those that would harm their children, and think rationally and logically. Men are competitive with other men, aggressive against those that would harm their family and country, and think rationally and logically as well. So, the idea that each man and woman has an “inner opposite gender” repressed inside of them is wrong, unbiblical, and gnostic.

Another Way To Interpret It All

A second, and more biblical way to interpret this episode is through the lens I teased out in the above paragraphs. Men and Women are by nature masculine and feminine. They each can exhibit attributes that may be associated with a certain gender rather than the other. For instance, the “mama bear” that is aggressive in response to a threat to her kids. Every mother ought to do that, but that is not her acting “manly” if she is doing that according to her feminine nature. If a woman began trying to be aggressive with other men, compete in the workforce, play male sports, and wrestle, that would be aggressive and competitive against her nature and it would be sinful and wrong. In the same vein, men ought to be gentle as a man even though women are more known for their feminine gentleness.

The Main Point Of The Episode

The main point that we ought to take away from this episode of Star Trek is the one that is glaring at us the entire episode. Not the feminist twist to Captain Kirk “getting more in touch with his inner feminine” but rather Captain Kirk being split in two as a man. You see both versions of Captain Kirk were men and they were both manly in their own right. The docile logical side of him is sharp, quick witted, and intelligent. He is open to conversation and discovery as all men should be. The belligerent aggressive Kirk was decisive and got his way but to his own detriment without thinking things through at all. This got him in much trouble and is why Spock calls that side of him “evil”. We shouldn’t fall for a conclusion that might say the aggressive masculine side of Captain Kirk is necessarily evil however. If a man is aggressive and decisive in the right scenarios he is considered a wise man. If he is aggressive and decisive in an orientation towards evil, then that aggressive masculinity is evil.

Without the docile logical side, the captain is an ineffective leader. He is compassionate and merciful however. Without the aggressive dominant side of him, he is an ineffective human, disregarding life and only doing things for his own gain. He does get things done though and shows much strength. Without both of these “sides” of men working together, we get an incomplete man. We either get a real example of toxic masculinity, or we get an effeminate weak man. Both of these are gross misrepresentations of masculinity. Only if both are present, like they are in Davis, Solomon, and most perfectly in Jesus Christ can we hope to have wise masculine men in the world.

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