If you’re like me, you probably haven’t heard of the “Incel” movement until yesterday, after the attack in Toronto. A man named Alek Minassian drove a van through a group people on a sidewalk killing 10 and injuring 14 more. Most people initially assumed this was an act of terrorism by ISIS, or another terrorist organization trying to inflict fear and punishment on the populace. Technically, it was terrorism, it just had nothing to do with ISIS or Islam this time. Instead, it was an act of terrorism by a member of the Incel movement.
What Is Incel?
In short, the Incel movement is a group of disgruntled men and women (mostly men) who have been forced into celibacy. Incel is short for involuntary celibacy. Celibacy is a state of being sexually abstinent or unmarried for religious reasons or for a religious devotion. Most of us think of Catholic priests and Nuns, who remain unmarried for life, to fulfill a vow to serve God. Traditionally Christians would remain celibate until marriage, seeing both permanent celibacy and licentious behavior as both unhealthy, and against what God intended. Thus throughout most cultures in history, sexual practices were reserved for marital relations. That is why rape, prostitution and promiscuity were frowned upon even by the non-religious, something we’ll address later in this article.
Where It Came From
Despite the Incel movement now mostly being a group of disgruntled men, the origins of the movement can be traced to a Canadian woman, ironically from Toronto where the recent attack occurred. In 1993, a website was created called, “Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project.” Despite Alana’s desiring to date men, she found herself in a Lesbian relationship. After her breakup with her girlfriend, she started the web site to vent, and allow other frustrated men and women to vent as well. Alana felt that “rigid gender norms burdened everyone.” She started to date men as well as women, read queer liberation theory, and explore polyamory( being romantically involved and committed with more than one person). Her goal was to make a totally inclusive group for everyone. ”I don’t care if your reason is that you always fall in love with horses—and horses aren’t legal to fall in love with.” she stated (perhaps with a bit of hyperbole) to highlight how being gender-inclusive would be good therapy for many disenfranchised men and women.
The original intent of the group was to be a place to vent and complain against gender norms, marriage, and western societal constructs, but this ultimately led to a massive influx of men who complained of women not giving them the time of day. This bred a certain irrationality and hatred of women, who only went for certain types of guys. The guys who could pull girls were labeled a “Chad”, the girls that dated those types of guys were labeled a “Stacy”.
The movement was virtually unknown until 2014 when Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured fourteen others near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself inside his vehicle. Prior to the attack he made a video called “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution”, in which he outlined details of his upcoming attack and his motives. He explained that he wanted to punish women for rejecting him, and that he envied sexually active men and wanted to punish them for being sexually active. Thus he directly targeted and stabbed three men he saw as “Chad’s” and then shot 4 college women he saw as “Stacys.” He would also kill and injure others as he fled from police, shooting at people on the street and running them over with his car. After crashing, he shot himself in the head, and would be revered as the Incel movement’s first hero/martyr. Alek Minassian, the day of the attack, made a FB post stating: “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman, Elliot Rodger!” There is even a video on youtube entitled “The Untold story of Elliot Rodger: A true Martyr in his own right.”
I wish I could chalk this up to two nut jobs, but Christopher Harper-Mercer killed 9 people at a Community College in Oregon. George Sodini killed three women and himself in an L.A. Fitness Center in Pennsylvania. Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 others at the Virginia Tech massacre. All of them had similar reasons for their massacres. These three men, were not part of the official Incel movement, but they all expressed similar frustrations as a catalyst for their murderous rampages.
The Bigger Problem
As in all cases where bad things happen to innocent people, the reaction will usually be the same. What can we do to stop this from happening again? If it was another shooting, the solution would be to simply pass tougher gun laws (in many people’s minds). If this was perpetrated by ISIS, perhaps it would be to pass stronger immigration policies, or even to seek a military response against ISIS forces. Though none of these things have worked very well in the past, the bigger problem here is most don’t really have a solution. How do you defend against the guy who thinks that women have a duty to sleep with him? Perhaps many will call for the government to have stricter rental car polices for would be terrorist acts. Or perhaps they will want more control over the internet, to have websites like these shut down. Whatever the solution will be, it once again have little success. The problem with all acts of terror, is that it is virtually impossible to stop a man who is willing to “die for the cause.” Laws only work on those who fear their consequences. If one is willing to die rather than live in a world he thinks is against him, he becomes a hard person to stop, with only outward laws and regulations.
The World View Problem
Many people will chalk this guy up as a “nut” or insane individual. It is easier for us to say, “we have a mental health problem” than it is to say, “we have a worldview problem.” Others will say we just need better parenting, or that schools and society just need to emphasize tolerance and respect more, because Minassian was insolent and uncaring. Perhaps some would want us to crack down on websites and organizations that promote rude or demeaning behavior? However, beliefs have consequences. People don’t become insane, insolent or join groups like Incel out of thin air. There is always a deeper root and cause. Research has even shown that insanity can be prevented and treated if caught early, despite genetic predispositions. Thus, many psychologists will chalk the behavior of Minassian up to being a “Beta” male in a world run by “Alpha’s.” Perhaps better bullying campaigns could have prevented such actions? But the issue is one of worldview. What do you believe is the nature of reality? What do you believe about God? What do you believe about yourself? What do you believe about others? Just like with mental illness or bad behavior, if gone unchecked, worldview problems will get worse, and the actions that follow that worldview are often detrimental for society.
What strikes me most about this case, and what I think will be the most over looked aspect, is that the Incel movement, like many secular movements before it, is Anti-Christian at its core. The issue of sex and gender is one that has increasingly become blurred in our society. Recall the quote from Alana earlier, “rigid gender norms burdened everyone.” What Alana saw as burden to everyone, is the reality of nature, or how God created mankind to interact and function. Not only does homosexuality go against nature but so do these men and women who think sex is owed to them for just being alive. As I stated earlier, throughout most cultures, sex was seen as something to engage in between husbands and wives. Even in non-Christian cultures, this was the basis to procreate and make a future for their culture. Of course, Christianity declares this to be morally right, and a description of God’s intended design. Many non-Christians however, chalk this up to natural law or pragmatic purposes. For example, even the 19-year-old boy who has no religious qualms about premarital sex, would often find himself in a position of marrying young. No girl would sleep with this guy and risk ruining her future marriage and family for this guy’s gratification. It’s been said in a satirical way that men marry for sex and women for children. Of course, this may be over simplistic but the idea is that a young man has passion and the desire for a woman. To fulfill that he would have to get married. Women have always desired to be loved and have a family. To get that she would have to marry a man. Thus, whether Christian or not, the system worked, as men would get married, women would have children and everyone would look out for the needs of their own family. Ultimately society functions well that way. Now, even if a person is not religious, he still has a Christian worldview, at least in this aspect, how how things should work. Beliefs have consequences, good or bad.
Beliefs Have Consequences
Over the last 50 years, perhaps even more, the nuclear family system has largely been under attack. Seen as outdated and archaic, people first fought for no fault divorces. Then open sexual relations outside of the confines of marriage, often with multiple partners and called it “Free Love.” Then, people questioned why it had to be gender specific love, and you now have every bizarre form of relationship from gay, lesbian, transgendered, Pangendered or Genderqueer non-binary (there are over 200 claimed genders now so who can keep up?) This new wave of Incel, or beta males in society are in this same predicament. They’re not seeking to find one person, have a family, and settle down. They’re looking for women to fulfill their sexual desires and are upset when they don’t oblige. This movement didn’t arise in a vacuum, it arose in secular, tolerant, multi cultural and open society. Thus a movement like Incel can’t be stopped by the secular western world, in essence, it helped create it.
This phenomenon will probably not get better, but will likely get worse, as our culture has rejected all forms of biblical ethics and morality. I guess they keep some around that are still convenient, like the 5th and 7th commandment about murder and theft. But even there, they aren’t completely consistent (i.e. abortion and our current tax system). Instead of trying to legislate harder ways for sinful men and women to commit their sinful acts, we need to ultimately seek once again a gospel and biblical centered approach to society’s ills. Throwing off the burden of Christian values has not produced a more harmonious society, instead it has bolstered STD’s, emotional drama and psychological disorders. Though most people today have the highest standard of living in human history, they are more unhappy than ever. Ultimately the Christian Worldview, and specifically the Reformed World and Life view of the Creeds and Confessions, give us the answers we ultimately need. The answers society needs. The answers the insane, insolent and Incel needs as well.