I’ve been stewing on the topic of “manhood” a bit lately. There has been a positive resurgence in highlighting manhood. That has been positive and needed.
However, one critique I have of the resurgence is the over “machofication” of manhood.
Do not misunderstand me. I am a daddy to three boys. I love to hunt, and am currently gearing up for turkey season with a bow. Yeah, that’s right. Killing turkey with a bow. I like to hike. I like to be outside. I like to camp. I like physical challenges. I run. I lift weights. I love sports, and I’m still healing from the Falcon’s super bowl loss).
I’m secure in my manhood. I’ll wear what I like and if any man can whip my back side, he can make fun of it, but if he can’t he’d be better off moving along. I’ll fight you for fun or for reals. I’ll protect my family. I prevented a home invasion in my underwear with a gun and getting the drop on the bad guy. He didn’t want to die, and if it’s me, my wife and my boys or him…well, its gonna be him. My boys like all these things, and I’m training them to be men. However, some of what I just described is my wiring and some of it is function of the role of husband and daddy.
But what is the essence of “manhood”?
I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, except I did like to draw in high school, and I painted some, but it was replication of what I saw others do. I enjoyed it, but I can’t just sit down and put life on canvas. I sure as heck respect those who can. I can’t sing a lick. I fantasize about playing the drums for Coldplay live on stage in London. That’d rock. But alas. Not gonna happen. I can’t clap on beat much less play the drums.
There are men who have those skills and gifts, and don’t give a lick about football, hunting, or anything I particularly like. But these men would go to war to protect their family too even though they don’t like the things I do.
Just because a man can skin a buck and run a trot line does not mean he’s being a man. Where I’m from there are women who can do that Hank Jr. stuff too…better than some men, so surely that is not what it means to be a man.
I’m going to quickly explore for a few weeks some signs of “manhood” that I think may help: 1. Self-control 2. Provision 3. Protection 4. Leadership 5. Courage
Theme 1: Self Control
If a man is artistic or athletic or neither and he can’t control his emotions or actions toward his family or others he’s in relationship with (and even those he’s not), he’s not being manly. The man who can’t control his tongue and tone with his wife is not acting like a man. God designed Adam to love Eve the way Jesus love his church by nourishing and cherishing (See Ephesians 5:22ff). I can’t nourish and cherish my wife if I’m constantly sarcastic, mean, yelling or failing to listen. If my posture is not under control when disagreements happen, then I’m out of control. Don’t get me wrong. I have had to learn, and I’m still learning these lessons. Marriage does not cure stupid. Marriage exposes stupid. Marriage does not do away with sin. Sinner + sinner = more sin not less sin. But I have had to respond in growth and acclimatizing to being a real man not a boy.
If I can’t control what I watch, listen to or do with my time in such a way that I damage my wife or children, then I’m not being manly. If I spend more time hunting or painting or practicing my instrument than I do investing in my wife and kids then I’m not being manly.
If I can’t control what I spend money on so that I’m not investing in the future, then I’m not being manly. We are bombarded by the idol of “more”. However, more now means we pay in some way later either with money or with life lost. “More” always has a cost. In economics they say “opportunity cost is opportunity lost”. More always has a cost and often that cost is other opportunities one may never get back. Exercise self-control in what you buy.
I get that there are a thousand exceptions to what I’m saying here. I get that I can hunt with my sons and still be investing in them. I do that. I get others can practice the arts with their wife or children. However, not all of my boys like to hunt. Not all kids are artistic. My wife does not enjoy hunting. In other words, I have to control what I do so that I may lay down my life for the sake of my wife and my kids that they may have life and life that I get to help provide. That smells an awful lot like the gospel. Jesus lays down his life to give us life. So, if I’m going to imitate Jesus, then I need to be willing to lay down my interests for those of my family. I know it’s healthy to get some “me” time. But I’ll have time for that when the boys are gone. By the way, they get grown fast. I only have 3 more years with my oldest before he’s gone. Time is short. It’s time to bear down not let up.
So, men practice self-control. Self-control will go a long way in making men out of boys.