Tag Archives: Masculinity

Be A Man

carving

In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.
~ Rabbi Hillel, Pirke Avot 2:5

A college professor tells how every spring he can count on having a stream of students come to his office for the annual Identity-Crisis Whinge.

“Professor, I don’t know who I am, I need to take time off to find myself. I need to peel back the layers that society has imposed on me and find out who I am at my core.”

He says that he’d love, just one time, to be able say, “What if you peel back all the layers and find that you’re an onion, with nothing at your core?”

Are You Your Roles, Or Something More?

There is a kernel of truth in the whinging of these collegial snowflakes (and yes, I know “snowflake” is a microaggression; I just don’t care.) There are roles for us that we are to grow into as we mature, as we move through the different stages of our lives, but instead of whinging about these roles, those who truly mature grow into these roles and learn to embrace them.

I get that I am an imperfect commentator on today’s society, but I’m pretty sure that much of what we are seeing from these whinging snowflakes is the desire to be like Peter Pan and never have to grow up and assume the responsibilities of being an adult. Instead of seeking to acquire skills to make a living for themselves and for any family they might create, what we are seeing is a collective flight from reality.

Starting with my generation, a rebellion against the “expectations of society” rose up, and society’s so-called norms were flouted as old-fashioned Puritanism. Instead, a follow-your-bliss mindset began to be propagated and was embraced by increasing numbers down through the following decades. We have finally arrived at the point where we are seeing the creation of a generation fleeing responsibilities of making a life.

I think that one of the reasons that Christianity is so unpopular with contemporary society is because it makes demands on its adherents to grow and mature in their faith, which includes assuming the roles and responsibilities of caring for yourself and for others. And by caring, I mean actually working for their benefit and support.

There is no other way to interpret such statements as:

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (2 Thess. 3:10)

or

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim. 5:8)

The Role We Should Accept, And Gladly

Pure and simple, Christian men have roles and obligations that they have to grow into, as they mature and become men.

The quote at the beginning of this article is one that I’ve come across recently in my readings about the historical context of Christianity. It comes from the Pirke Avot, (The Ethics of the Fathers,) a collection of rabbinic teachings that predate Christ. Rabbi Hillel is considered the greatest rabbi ever (that’s why you will find Hillel Houses on most college campuses) and is obliquely referenced in the Gospels. (You will have to read my Scarlet Letter series to see his significance.)

I could attempt to tick off a list of the different roles that Christian men are called to fulfill: disciple, son/father, husband, church member, etc., but I would face the same difficulty of one preacher that I know of. He was asked by a man to give a list of sins that would keep a man out of Heaven. He refused to do so, saying, “I might accidentally leave off yours off the list.”

Instead, I’m just going to say that Christian men, be they meek or macho, must realize that there is a call on their lives to serve God and those whom God places in their lives. The apostle Paul studied under Rabbi Gamaliel, who was the grandson of the Rabbi Hillel I quoted, above. Given that rabbinic teaching was handed down from rabbi to disciple, and so on, it’s probably a given that Paul learned by heart, “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.”

The reason I believe this is because the teaching showed up in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians…

“When I became a man, I put away childish things.”

It would be impossible to attempt to dictate what constitutes being a man, and I’m not going to try. But we do know that the Bible places on us the onus of growing in our faith and into roles of service and responsibility. If we can accept the moral strictures of Christianity, it shouldn’t be so hard to understand that we have a place within the societal structures of Christianity, as well.

After all, someday the older generation in the church is going to be you. It’s for darn sure that Peter Pan will have to grow up then.

CSL

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Hard Things To Hear, #4: It’s a Woman Thing

(This is the fourth of a seven-part series; here are the links to part 1, part 2, part 3, part 5, part 6 and part 7.)

In John 6:60, some objected to what Jesus was saying: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”. While I’m not Jesus, there are some who will attest that I provoke the same reaction. Might be what I’m saying, but it’s possible it might be my manner. Be that as it may, I’m going to pull rank and lay some things on the line in the next few posts. I’m going to present some things that might be hard to hear, but trust me; forty-three years of marriage is coming at ya!

In preparing this post, I thought that I would be able to turn the previous post around and apply it to women, saying, “Put down the electronics, log off of Facebook, and engage the hubs”, but that didn’t work. While Wife and I have had a real-life example of that very thing occur very close to home, it just didn’t ring true. Why? Because the truth is that wives, for the most part, WANT to engage with their husbands, so telling them to “grow up and take the marriage relationship seriously” just doesn’t seem to be all that useful.

But the more I cogitated on a female cognate for “It’s a Man Thing”, a truism of marriage came to my mind, and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to be to be accurate. The truism, which I’m sure we can all pretty much recite together, is “A man marries a woman hoping she will never change; a woman marries a man hoping he will.” And I think that, like many truisms, there’s more than a grain of truth in it. So if I’m going to say to husbands, “Grow up!”, I think that what I should tell wives is that

You Married A Man, Not a Fixer-Upper!

Please pay attention to this next line, because it contains a secret that is, apparently, not widely known in today’s society. Ready? Here it is: by God’s design,…

Men are different from women.

If one accepts the common stereotypical portrait of men, you come up with the following categories and descriptors of masculinity:

Physical: bigger, stronger, hairier.
Social: more ambitious, more adventurous, more competitive.
Relational: less communicative, more confident, cerebral (as opposed to intuitive).
Emotional: less emotional, more independent,  less empathetic, more sexually aggressive.

On the surface, these seem to be accurate descriptors. However, a problem arises when accurate descriptors are seen not as traits, but as symptoms of defectiveness and need of correction. Prof. Henry Higgins asked “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Our society has posited, “Why can’t a man be more like a woman?”, and proceeded to try to bend the gender.

If you think I’m off-base with this, I’ll have to point out to you that it’s not just me saying this. Of course, there’s the go-to author on this topic, scholar and feminist Dr. Christine Hoff Sommers, and her seminal work, The War Against Boys. An even more surprising advocate of this premise is lesbian writer and iconoclast, Camille Paglia. In an article from last year, Paglia presents the case that our culture is emasculating itself into oblivion. This is the first paragraph:

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

It’s pretty much a given that our society is making war on men; Christian wives shouldn’t be buying into the world’s lies. Husbands are no more a DIY project than wives are.

There’s Only One God, and You’re Not Him

Years ago, when I was a new Christian, the people who were discipling me, while well-intentioned, tried to play Holy Spirit for me. I grew up loving the smell of pipe smoke; one special cherry-flavored blend was particularly wonderful, and so when I left home and joined the Navy, I bought a pipe and took to smoking Captain Black Cherry pipe tobacco.

A couple of years later, when I became a Christian, these nice people told me “Christians don’t smoke,” and since they told me that, I said, “Oh, I guess I’d better not smoke, then.” Fast-forward about five years to when I’m out of the Navy, going to college, and working part-time in a Christian bookstore. One day, I’m opening boxes of new stock and find that we’ve received a new edition of a book by that great Christian writer, C. S. Lewis. Imagine my shock when I opened up the cover and found this on the inside of the dust jacket:

They Lied To Me!

Those well-meaning Christians, eager to set me straight, didn’t give the Holy Spirit room to work on me, but decided to help God out. They had a new Christian on their hands, and so began to do renovation work for the Holy Spirit.

Wives, when you got married, God didn’t give you a fixer-upper. He didn’t say, “Hon, here’s your DIY project. I’ll check back with you in forty years to see how you’re getting on.” In a previous post, I said that due to The Fall, no one comes into a marriage as a whole person. Yes, marriage changes people. It changes men and it changes women. However, this change has to come about “organically”, as a part of growth.

And that’s the key word: growth. In my previous post, I told husbands “Grow up and become a man!” In this post, I’m saying to wives, “Grow up and accept your man as a man!”

CSL

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Filed under Marriage & Sexuality