What does it mean to be a man? Today’s answer to that question is far different from what it would have been generations ago. Some may not even have a clear answer.
What does it mean to be a courageous man? It used to be that men were compared to knights in shining armor. Valiant protectors of women, children and families.
Tomorrow, Caitlyn Jenner will receive ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Caitlyn, who used to be Bruce. So is/was he a courageous man in their eyes? Or a courageous woman? Man or woman, the human being called Caitlyn Jenner is today’s representative of courage. How sad that a self-mutilated effeminate man gets the Courage Award. Even the Cowardly Lion would be appalled.
This kind of in-your-face audacity is today’s norm. The Supreme Court legalized sin by allowing same sex marriage. Like the blatant flesh parade splashed on screens and in streets, the proud display of nakedness (sin) abounds. People are boldly, courageously, exposing their sin. And the sin is called good.
Shame is dead.
“…the unjust knoweth no shame.” – Zephaniah 3:5
Before we delve into male identity crisis, allow me to interrupt this blog for a brief commercial break. Cadillac’s recent ad campaign used the phrase Dare Greatly (dare defined: to have enough courage or confidence to do something) to sell their cars. Listen carefully for the worldly atheistic interpretation of who we are and what our purpose is, and note the gender neutrality represented.
As you view this, remember our original question for this series : Who are we and what are we to do? based on Gen. 1:27:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
There are seven different spots in the ad campaign, but this one really resonated with me:
Young male -“My mother bought me a sewing machine…she let me play with dolls…dared to let me be different…”
A female – “We’re here to make a difference”
An older male – “What are definitions of good? What will you do to be a good person in the world?”
These are statements and questions from a world gone mad. A world that has blurred male and female identity. A world that defines what is good on its own terms, tries to be good without God, whose warped purpose is to make a difference, whose religion is humanism and the brotherhood of man. Dare Greatly. It follows other cliches I abhor – like be all you can be, discover your purpose, achieve your greatest potential, etc., ad nauseum. It reeks of new age philosophy: the oneness of all humanity, good works save us.
New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly was published in April 2015, a few months after the February airing of Cadillac’s Dare Greatly ad campaign during the Oscars TV presentation. All media was ablaze with their hellish philosphy simultaneously while an unsuspecting American public sat mesmerized on couches. I didn’t waste my time reading the book, but I checked out some unbelievable quotes it contains about shame:
“We live in a world where most people still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous. Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying.”– Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
What??? That is a dangerous statement and it’s an outright lie.
Both the book and Cadillac ad campaign were based on a quote from Teddy Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”—Theodore Roosevelt
I’m not sure if even the progressive Teddy R would approve of the dares of our day.
Society tells us shame is bad. Our courts agree. Courageous human beings choose their gender, their sexual orientation, and whether they allow their baby to live or die. We dare greatly. We dare in God’s face and I tremble!
Feminism and the Death of Manly Men
Decades of feminism have eroded society’s definition of manhood. It’s no wonder men have lost their identity. Male Identity Crisis is acknowledged in the secular world, not just among Christians. From a Psychology Today article of five years ago:
Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress and one of the co-authors of The Shriver Report, considers the implications of shifting gender roles: “Girls today grow up in a post-feminist environment, being told they can do whatever they want in life.” Boushey says “It’s a huge shift, when you think that a generation and a half ago our attitudes and expectations for what roles women and men could play in our society were entirely different than they are today.”
In a post-modern world lacking clear-cut borders and distinctions, it has been difficult to know what it means to be a man and even harder to feel good about being one. The many boundaries of a gendered world built around the opposition of work and family–production versus reproduction, competition versus cooperation, hard vs. soft–have been blurred, and men are groping in the dark for their identity. [emphases mine]
I was surprised that a secular psychobabble article would acknowledge the problems, the negatives caused by the lack of distinctions, the blurring of hard and soft, the absence of gender roles!
In the 50s and 60s, fathers knew best. Beaver always feared his dad, knowing his confessions would bring some kind of punishment. Fred MacMurray ruled over his three sons and even apron-donning Uncle Charley was a strong back-up. Recent years brought us one dopey dad after another, from Married With Children to The Simpsons, and I’m sure many more that I’m glad to have missed. Another quote from the aforementioned Psychology Today article:
From once being seen as successful breadwinners, heads of families and being respected leaders, men today are the butt of jokes in the popular media. A Canadian research group, Nathanson and Young, conducted research on the changing role of men and media and concluded that widely popular TV programs such as The Simpsons present the father character, Homer, as lazy, chauvinistic, irresponsible, and stupid and his son, Bart, as mischievous, rude and cruel to his sister. By comparison, the mother and daughter are presented as thoughtful, considerate and mild-natured. The majority of TV shows and advertisements present men as stupid buffoons, or aggressive evil tyrants or insensitive and shallow “studs” for women’s pleasure.
Little boys used to be brought up playing cowboys and Indians (oops, I mean, cowboys and Native Americans). They used to play with GI Joes and guns. Now they get to choose their toys in this world of CHOICE. Boys play with dolls, Barbie kitchens or sewing machines. In and of itself, that’s not a problem. What woman wouldn’t mind having Bobby Flay for a husband? Grill something for me, darling. The problem is that today, little boys are dissuaded from toys that promote aggressive behavior, when boys, by design, are aggressive creatures. They are called to be warriors, protectors, and yes, Teddy, valiant LEADERS.
Men have tried fighting back. I discovered a New York Times article from 1994, What Do Men Want? A Reading List For The Male Identity Crisis. Outraged men expressed their angst over their identity crisis. This article also admits the lack of distinctions:
Unlike much of the feminist literature, which is unified by its sense of moral outrage over the historical subordination and exploitation of women by men, the men’s crisis literature is unified by a sense of ontological anxiety: in a post-modern world lacking clear-cut borders and distinctions, it has become hard to know what it means to be a man and even harder to feel good about being one. [emphases mine]
[side note: I also discovered the Psychology Today author borrowed this sentence, with only a few changes, from the 1994 New York Times article!]
Modern culture admitted these problems in society over 20 years ago. Yet we hardly hear a peep of objection from men today. Over time, we’ve become immune to media men-bashing. Gender distinctions are virtually gone. The result? Society has given birth to marshmallow men who can’t define manhood. Just for comic relief, I’ve created different categories of men who’ve lost their identity. (Disclaimer – Forgive me. I love men. But I love godly, manly men more. I’m not a man-basher. And I am not preaching to men, heaven forbid.)
- Girlie men – These guys take orders from their wives, or swap roles with them. They may share in child care duties, housekeeping and other homemaking responsibilities. They often think themselves as the ultimate male; the male that’s in touch with his feminine side. The virtuous male. He is an equal partner and he wears his apron well.
- Mesmerized men – These guys are zoned out on entertainment, pornography, and/or video games. They don’t know much of anything else. Their world is virtual except for a few rare moments they might have to function in the real world, if they can. They are Zombie Men, underachievers who are entranced by sports, video games and movies, listening to culture and not God, men who believe they have to be horny, not holy.
- Workaholics – These guys identify with their careers. Work can be a form of escapism. If they are away from their families so much, they can’t be effective leaders in the home. These men function in overdrive, while they neglect God, wives, and children. While it is great to be a good provider, it can be done to the extreme, for all the wrong reasons (materialism, leaving a legacy or making a mark in this world, praise of men, escape, etc).
Yes, some fall into more than one category. There are probably other categories I’ve missed…
But let’s sift through the perversion and get back to real manhood. This is an excellent resource to answer the question What is a man and what is he to do? according to God’s Word:
As for daring greatly, there is no better example of courage than Joshua, a foreshadow of our Lord Jesus:
And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee. — Deut. 31:23
Be strong and of a good courage… — Joshua 1:6
Only be thou strong and very courageous…that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. — Joshua 1:7
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. — Joshua 1:9
…only be strong and of a good courage. — Joshua 1:18
And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. — Joshua 10:25
Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left; — Joshua 23:6
That’s just a sampling on how God tells men to dare greatly. Here some fatherly advice, from David (the man after God’s own heart) to his son, Solomon:
And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. — 1 Chronicles 28:20
Trust in God. He never fails. He supplies men with courage. His Word is our Sword. Take it up and fight.
Men, will you be leaders or fools? The Bible says dare to lead. Men, take your role back! The one ordained by your Creator God. Lead, provide, protect.