Friday, May 16, 2008

Searching For Men

(Written a couple of years ago but I think there is still wisdom in it)

"I may not be the man I want to be, but thank God I'm not the man I used to be!" –

Billy Ray Cyrus from TV program "Doc".

Looking at out at the world around us, there is many topics floating around different circles. People talk about the latest fashions, the achievements of athletes and the upcoming motion pictures. Nowhere in the topics is the subject of masculinity and why this is important to society. I personally believe that the subject of manhood is misunderstood and under attack in our current world today. I believe this is because our media has portrayed men in a negative and positive light, the rise of feminism, the redefinition of family and generally men don’t understand their role.

Why is this topic important? I’ll agree that there are good examples of men, but with every good example there is a bad one. Each day our fallen world is redefining terms that don’t need to be redefined. It breaks my heart every moment I hear of a father abandoning his children for another woman, a man murders his friend but it also lifts my spirits to see the heroics of my fellow man. Ladies, don’t misunderstand me, I think that if it wasn’t for females, there wouldn’t be any men but here’s my main argument. Men and women are both equal in value in the sight of their Creator. They are both created in the image of God; also they are both co-heirs to the kingdom of their heavenly Father. However, their roles and responsibilities are different. So this topic is important because if the men of this world are just told to either be a raving beast or a sensitive pink shirt wearing male, then manhood will crumble.

Growing up.. I can’t say that I had the best or worst example when it came finding heroes to look up to. I remember some of my earliest heroes in life were Kermit the Frog, biblical heroes like David and Moses, but my father didn’t rank high on the list. Sure our pastor ranked high on my list, along with my scout master but why not the man who named me his son? I still cannot find an answer to this question. My father did model to my young eyes a hard work ethic and someone committed to his family. Even as a young boy when my mother would ask me, what profession I wanted to be when I was older. Without missing a beat I replied that I would be a husband and father. My job to bring food to the table came secondary. I didn’t know why this notion was birthed in my mind at the time but I truly believe that it came from the Lord. I know of some people who are not feeling led in the area of marriage and raising a family, which I believe comes from a conviction of the Lord.

The media… I am not fully sure why the media portrays men differently than women. Yesterday morning as I checked up on the Alito confirmation, the topic of men was all across the headlines. Starting with the announcement of the nomination of this year’s Oscars, many topics of manhood were addressed. The favorite of the critics, Brokeback Mountain was praised but I personally don’t think the topic is something worthy of much praise. Yes I realize homosexuality has taken our culture by storm but this is because men are taught to believe that they are no different from women. So if you like someone of the same gender that is not a problem. Or most come from homes where they were raised by their mothers and their father was absent. Yesterday I also read about the story behind the solider from Iraq with a cigarette that is being hailed as the modern day Marlboro Man. Since that photograph was taken, this young man who is celebrating his twenty first birthday is struggling with post traumatic stress disorder. I admire that man for his service to our country and it breaks my heart to see how the war has affected his mind. Switching gears over to the motion picture arena and it is hard for me to see a good representation of manhood. Men are portrayed as savages, or inferior to women. If you ask a man what his favorite films are, his response will either be a bloody explosive film or an offbeat comedy depending on his age and maturity. Personally my favorite film of all time I believe shows the commitment of a father to his wife and child. Life is Beautiful by Italian filmmaker Roberto Benigni. Yes I realize that the filmmaker made light of the dark period of time but the love he has for his family is commendable. I hope that when I have a family, I will have the same unchanging love for them. Other movies portray men who works 8-5, comes home to his wife and lazy-boy. I wish that there were more movies that portrayed men in the correct light. Another movie I recommend for its portrayal of manhood is Cinderella Man with Russell Crowe. I think I’ll wait until another post to give a full analysis of men in the media.

NOW is today… With the rise of women’s rights organizations, it’s becoming harder to discern if it is a good idea or not. Traditionally, men have provided the bread for their families and are on the leadership teams of their communities, while their wives maintained their homes and was there for their children. I think that men shouldn’t look down upon women and automatically tell them to submit to their own wishes, but some days the husband in order to serve his wife should maybe cook a meal for her or let her take a break from her home and children. Looking at NOW (National Organization For Women)’s bio sheet, they state the following:

“Since its founding in 1966, NOW's goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women. NOW works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.” -- (with emphasis added)

It looks like they are out on mission to rid the world of men. The part that makes me confused is that they would like to bring equality to all women. Working women, nonworking women, etc. They would like achieve women to dominate the world but this man wonders, is that necessary. Yes I’ll be the first to say that we men haven’t been responsible when it comes to our roles and because of our great grandfather Adam, we along with the rest of humanity are fallen creatures. Its like a wall has gone up because of a idea that us men had and the consequences of that action. The blindness of these women continue on their faq sheet. If you wish to view it, go to Please keep the ladies in prayer, that God works on the hearts and minds of these women. Because at the moment they are happily blind.

Family for sale… To say that the modern day family isn’t under attack right now would be wrong. People are trying to figure out what it means to be a family. This is a sticky topic to talk about as a single man. Here’s my spin on the whole issue, we all have skeletons in our closets because of our sin nature but even the weakest man can be strong and vice versa. Take for instances , my father. There are characteristics in him that I admire, like his perseverance and hard work ethic. But then there are qualities that I don’t enjoy, his cynic attitude and destruction of ideas. My mother always searched out men that I could surround myself with. I picked up various qualities that I admired and didn’t admire, so when it comes to putting them to practice it will be very interesting. So men, find the qualities you admire most about your fathers or uncles, and don’t admire. Because it will make you stronger if you are able to discern the good from the bad.

Roles or Job? I can’t really say that I know fully what a man’s role in today’s society is. I know for myself my main responsibility is the one of protector and provider for my wife and children. Each one of us has our own spheres of influence and if someone does something to try and cause damage to those inside my sphere, dangerous consequences will occur to that individual. Recently, I was called up by the Arizona National Guard and got engaged into a discussion with the sergeant on the other line. He did his best to convince me to join our armed forces but I kindly declined his offer. Why did I give up an opportunity to serve our nation and protect the country I love? One simple word, perspective. I told the man that I have a deep respect for those who feel lead to serve our military but it wasn’t for me, because my conviction is to protect America from inside America. I respect those of you whom I know who have made the choice to join our military and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your families. So in short, what is man do? Protect and Provide for his family, no matter what the cost.

Concluding Thoughts… I realize that this is a lot to take in on this topic. I am not an expert by no means, I’ve observed a lot of men and taken note of their style of leadership. That’s really my main point to my brothers out there, lead by example and don’t sit on the fence when you are given a responsibility to be a leader. Not everyone is called to go into the political arena or pastoral role, but we are told in scripture to lead our families. This will take time and the input of men who we respect and our wives. By God’s grace we will become stronger leaders and I am so grateful at a second chance of figuring out what it means to be a man. This last week I read an interview with Elie Wisel, who is a humanities professor and holocaust survivor. The interviewer asked him what he believes modern day leaders could learn from Moses. His reply was, “Humility. Everyone needs it but mainly leaders. Because they have power.” Men, our brothers and boys look up to us, if we hide behind the mask of pride and arrogance we are becoming a hypocrite. We will have a chance to leave a legacy for our family, what will yours be? My prayer is that mine will be in the words of Jesus,

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.—John 15-12-14 (ESV)

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