People find themselves wondering what has happened to the world of men. As I look around me, I notice the way men appear to be looking for a role model to emulate; for an example to live up to and surpass the likings of. True, we all need an inspiration, but what keeps men invigorated with passion is different from what women experience. That truth is simply part of the nature of distinguishes men from women. I won’t even speak for women here, but I openly invite women to read this post to better understand the world of men. What I hope in writing this is to provide a clear picture of where men are now, how we got here, and where we could go… depending on our intentions and our choices. You see, the future is in each of our hands, and that is both powerful and scary; there are forks in the road which lead to a future emphatic with hate, vindication, and mercilessness—just as there are roads which lead to forgiveness, joy, and radical surrender. Let it be known that the hope for man is not that he becomes more “manly”; the hope is that he pursues God, loving Him with all of his his heart, all of his mind, and all of his strength.
Men today have a problem clearly defining what masculinity “ought” to be, and when they try defining it for themselves, not only are they at a loss for words, they are at a loss for example.
In a life-changing book (for me), “Wild At Heart“, John Eldredge talks about masculinity from a Biblical perspective. His words are refreshing, honest, authentic, down-to-earth, and relatable. Most importantly, they are powerfully revealing of our true nature as men, reminding us of what we already know we want to be, confirming what we can bring out of ourselves, and inspiring/calling us to do exactly that. It’s from his words that I feel inspired to write mine, as well as my personal experiences applying what I’ve come to know about Christian masculinity as compared to the distortions of the worldview of men today.
What makes a man a man is not based on his physical strength, his height, age, or financial status. Those are all lies of society and ego. Many men have developed their physical strength, but if they use it for ungodly acts, such as intimidation, manipulation, bullying, or harassment—then they strip their strength of its venerability. Also, age is not a justifiable means of measuring a man from a boy, because there are many boys who become men abruptly and unnaturally when forced to fill the role their father is meant to fill; whether because the father abandons his family, or dies early. When a boy is forced into this position, there are only two forks in the road he may choose from. The first is comprised of either curling up in fear, blaming others for the responsibility, and finally running away. The only other option requires and enforces bravery and strength of will; two key qualities (out of many) of what makes a man a man to begin with. Should a boy be forced into the position and he acquiesces to embracing bravery and a strength of will beyond his age, an early man he will become.
I am not saying that every boy will take this route, but, should he even face such a traumatic event in his life, there is certainly a chance this will happen. For young boys to experience such heart-wrenching realities as the abandonment of their father at an early stage in life, and to take such responsibility with humility and willful bearing– this is what makes every boy a man. No boy is capable of being a man without this transition from dependence to independence, whether or not being initiated by his father. “Initiation” (since this term may be unfamiliar), done by the father, is a term that represents the time when a boy is given the words and affirmation from his father that he has what it takes to master any situation, defeat his enemies, and face his life’s battles fearlessly and ferociously—confident of victory. A boy’s father teaches his son what fearlessness means, and what it feels like–bestowing permission to his son to face, confidently, the adversities of this life. The father’s role is to do exactly this, because the mother could never give a boy such a pep talk. That is not her role, nor her responsibility; it is not given her by God to bestow. Only a man initiates a man. If not a father, then a spiritual father-figure.
For countless men, fathers are abusive and manipulative with violence and disparaging lies (calling them “puny”, “momma’s boy”, and other harmful words meant to cause damage to the boy’s growth of spirit). This is the opposite of initiation; this is ultimately degradation and emasculation. Boys walk away from this psychological firestorm cut down and doubting themselves at their very core, doubting and questioning their existential worth. Initiation by that point is far from their front door, as is the feeling of belonging, being cared for, or feeling loved. Also, when the father is abusive, it not only affects the son, but the whole family. A father who uses physical violence or verbal assault to castigate his family takes them all down together, and such a family is likely to become “to each his own”. So many times a mother or sibling will not fend off the father for fear of being hurt, themselves. This lack of protection (which isn’t their responsibility, but it speaks nonetheless, to the boy) from others, as well as the brutal truth that the father himself, the supposed “protector” of the family, is himself the instigator of the violence and the threat–causing the boy to shut down, close off, and isolate.
Every boy needs a man who show him the ropes of Godly masculinity. A loving, Godly man. How the world defines a man nowadays makes every other man question whether they have found one or become one yet or not.
Men desire to fight in battle. But battle doesn’t necessarily mean actual violence. If a man is a soldier of war, this very well could be the case, but… not every man is a soldier of war. For those are teachers, construction workers, CEOs of big corporations, or non-profit organizations (among the plethora of careers not related to war), the battle is much closer to home, and not so much on any battlefield. However, for every man, those places that are closest to him are his battlefield.
What is a “battlefield”? In life, we have struggles. Whether in relationships, financial obligations, managing our time or feelings—these are aspects in life which we all have to deal with accordingly. These areas of each person’s life are their “battlefields”. Why would I call it that? Because where there is struggle, there is a “fight” to do the right thing, and usually the right thing is the harder choice of the two (the other being the “wrong thing”); hence the struggle. This struggle is the reason for calling these situations battlefields because they require us to fight against the grain of our natural desires, which many times originate from a place of selfishness (or ungodliness).
You may be thinking, “Right. So we all have to fight battles… how are men any different?” Men are called to be the leaders of households, according to the Bible. Lead who and in what way? We are called to lead our families by the way of example of Christ. Many men desire marriage and children. Children observe their father’s decision-making and reactions to life’s circumstances, as well as relationships–including the manner in which he loves their mother. And as the one who makes the decisions for the family’s prosperity and safety, the father sets the example for how to think the way that will best support the family. The father–the man— is there to provide, to protect, and to love. He is also there to give his wife his strength; of heart, mind, and body. And where does he gets these? Not from himself, but from God. And how does a man find God? The best way is through his father. And if his father abuses and emasculates him, God will always come find him through other spiritual leaders/mentors; but the boy must be open and receptive to this initiation from an indirect father-figure source in order for the initiation to transform his heart from that of a boy into the heart of a man.
For so many boys, ruefully and poignantly this takes shape through a dangerous source, whether a gang or cult—where the initiation isn’t from a boy to a man, but from one lost boy to another. When this happens, there is always hope that a boy will find the appropriate mentor who will then lead the boy out of the lies and convolutions of the gang/cult, and into the Truth of Christ; as well as the Godly way of manhood.
The sad truth about boys who were absent a father, a father-figure, or who chose not to take any forks in the road— but instead, remained stagnant and afraid—these are the males who are still boys in their 80s. They’ve never been initiated by any means, they’ve never learned to take the risk to face their fears, and they’ve never been given the proper affirmation from another man to believe in themselves; that they have what it takes to look fear straight in the eyes and I say, “I own you. You have nothing on me. Get out of my way or I’ll take you out myself.” How then, does this fearful kind of man find the strength, courage, and audacity to embrace a newfound sense of bravery? These men must be willing and receptive, even in their old age, to surrender. Even boys surrender; men stay boys if they refuse to take part in this one imperative act of venerational obedience to God. Without surrender, boys cling to their fear like a dog chained to wooden post– trapped and captured in the bindings of the rules and lies of the enemy telling them: “You can’t. You don’t have what it takes.” All lies.
I’m aware that there are countless stories of fatherlessness in this world today. Innumerable instances of fathers leaving the family and no initiation taking place. That is why I write this post, because it’s absolutely pivotal that men find themselves– their identity–in Christ. Anywhere else that they look they will find the same confusion over and over again. God is meant to initiate a boy into a man through his earthly father. Once initiation has been completed, the journey of the boy into a man has officially begun.
Being a man means stepping forward to love others when no one else will. Sometimes it means stepping up and taking a hit. Many a man sees injustice and steps right in to take the blow from another man that was intended for a child, woman, or other innocent person. Is a man entitled to fight back? Of course! If a man does not fight back, and consequently gets beaten, how will he stop the victimizer from continuing to inflict violence on the others? Of course, not every situation will ask a man to fight so literally, but what makes a man a man is not even the fight itself, but the willingness to do what is being called of him to do.
Many a man is too afraid to admit the fear of his own lack of manliness to anyone. If you are a man reading this, and you are led by Christ to be the man you are today, and you know of anyone who is seeking mentorship– mentor them! So many men are still living as boys because no one has ever allowed them to be opened to their full potential, and that is impossible for a boy to do for himself. A boy does not become a man on his own. And a man does not stay a man on his own. God initiates through the father or through a father–and then transforms the man’s heart into something impenetrable and formidable through His relationship with God.
A woman seeks a man, not a boy; men who seek indulgence in sex, drugs, attention, and flattery are not men at all. A man needs no affirmation from any woman to be a man (readers, do not confuse affirmation with validation. A kindly spoken, “You look handsome today!” or “So proud of you!” can go a long way. But those are not validations, those are compliments.), and a man who thinks he does is still a boy. Women, if a man needs your attention to feel a sense of purpose in his life, he has not found God yet. Let’s put it this way: Do you want to be his god, or would you rather that man bring God to you?
A man brings God to his wife, and he leads his children to Christ through the strength given him by the Lord. There is no other way. Any man who thinks he has all the answers to manhood without God in his heart has missed the most pivotal step. Without God, we fight for ourselves, we live for ourselves, and we convince ourselves of the same idols the world teaches us to exult. If God is not your main source of reason for purpose, then you have not yet found yours. After–and only after– you find your purpose in God, you can bring it to a woman. And women, should you have a man bring you the strength of God through his relationship with Him, is that not the Godly man you want to commit yourselves too? Men, do you not want to be the man a woman always wanted? You can’t be without God in your heart, you will always be afraid, alway wandering and wondering where to find the source of strength for your soul. Perhaps you don’t even believe in your soul, and that is the reason you feel so lost without even realizing it. Your confidence is like a wave crashing on the shore. God alone is our Rock, and when we stand on His strength alone, we are impossible to stop.
Just try to stop a man who is pursuing life with God in his heart; he is unstoppable. You would literally have to kill him because that is the fight instilled in his DNA. To any female readers, is not the man you want fighting for you the kind that won’t give up no matter what? The seed of that kind of audacious, courageous, brave, immovable confidence is God Himself. If you want a man who can see your worth from every angle and who is willing and ready to fight to the death for you, he must have God first and foremost. Or, would you rather be his definition in life? I think not. Let him bring you his strength, or let him find it first. Only a man with such confidence and faith will stand by you till death parts you. Is that the kind of love you were hoping for? Men, isn’t this the spirit that you want waking you in the morning and pushing you to succeed in all that you do?
Find God, find yourself, pursue your passions– be that a woman or other aspiration. But make no mistake: with God, you will not fail.