Imagine you were called upon to travel to a foreign country, in a harsh climate, and lead the fight against ISIL/ISIS. You had to pick a team of five men you know and these men would travel with you and help you accomplish this task. What attributes would you use to evaluate the men you would choose? What character traits would you value over others? Which men would you eliminate from your pool because they lacked the strength, courage, mental fortitude, or trust needed to complete this task?
Masculinity is the opposite of femininity yet over the past 30 years; certain segments of our culture to include academia, media, and the social sciences have implied and tried to get men to think and act more feminine. Masculinity is also not chauvinism, dominance, sexism, or denigrating femininity. In a Biblical context, men and women are equal but have separate and distinct roles in relationships, the family, and society. Even in a non-Biblical context, such as same-sex relationships, each partner assumes one role or the other almost as a basic human relational instinct.
However, as previously stated, over the past 30 years there has been confusion and mixed messages over the role of men and often when I have witnessed anger, resentment, passivity, or unhealthy traits in men and marriages, it often stems from these mixed messages or reversed roles in a marriage.
Manhood is a way to be, a path to follow, and a way to walk in life. Humans are social creatures and prone to tribal/community living. Therefore, who we are as men has a lot to do with how we see ourselves in relationship to other males. If we begin viewing and shaping ourselves through the lens of our culture or through the lens of our wives or other women, this is where men can stray from our identities. It is not that the culture or women are wrong but they often try to change or “improve” men based on what women or our culture wants from men rather than our unique and separate roles and identities.
Therefore, men should be centering our way to be, our path to follow, and our walk in life based on a Biblical context and from the reinforcement of other strong, Biblical men. Until a hundred years ago, men banded together in small tribes and communities where their distinct roles were taught from a young age and then reinforced by other men throughout their lives.
Again, imagine you and a small group of men have brought your families to an isolated frontier outpost in the Western United States in the mid 1800’s. Lurking beyond the perimeter of your outpost are predators, hostile and friendly natives, and other food sources. Given that all you love is within your outpost, which men would you choose to stand beside you and protect your family? Which men are willing to fight for what you believe in and hold sacred? Which men can act decisively and remain calm under distress? Which men will act selflessly and place the group’s wellbeing above his own? Again, what character, mental, and emotional traits would you value over others?
While you might never be charged with leading other men in the fight against terrorists or living in a remote outpost in the 1800’s, God has charged every man to lead his family, serve in God’s church, and stand for righteousness and justice. Over the course of these next few posts, I am going to highlight some distinct, universal characteristics of masculinity throughout history and their Biblical context in relation to God’s plan. I challenge you to reflect on your own life and walk in relation to these characteristics and with the men you currently associate with on a daily basis. Not only will you be able to decide which men to choose to stand with you but you will also see if you would be chosen by others to stand with them.
The first characteristic is Strength.