MAN UP!: Are we rearing men or mice?
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 — “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
Although there are so very many (I dare say the majority) wonderful, responsible and loving men and fathers in today’s society, it is no secret that we live during a time of not only, great spiritual decline but also masculine leadership; a time when antifamily forces are in control in our government and when, for many decades, the tax code and government programs have actually worked to weaken and to destroy family units by forcing the government support for unmarried and non working women due to growing disconnect of children and the responsibility from fathers, worldwide.
There isn’t one, but several contributing factors to the marked decline in male and paternal leadership in today’s society, which I will go on to clarify.
Even the secular culture is noticing it: a generation of perpetual boys: men who refuse to grow up. The culture of the boy-men today is less a life stage than a lifestyle, and part of the problem, a primary source, in fact, may be directed back to women; namely-mothers.
As more and more fathers continue to disengage, whether because of work and/or social obligations, in the parenting role of their sons uprooting, more and more mothers are made to fill in the gap 24/7, an undertaking that has, especially within the Hispanic culture, proven, well– catastrophic.
Being a latina, divorced mother of three girls, and sister of two men, I needn’t travel too far from my own sphere to realize that the ongoing ideals, double-standards and “nurse-maiding” taking place within some Hispanic households is truly appalling.
Titus 2:6 — “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.”
At the risk of stereo-typing or better yet, a word that today’s society has smugly adopted – “profiling”; while many of these men are taught that manlihood entails promiscuity, possessiveness and unaccountability, women within the same household are being taught to fend for themselves’, their man and their children. What’s even more alarming is the fact that these same men are often being encouraged to, like Adam in the Garden of Eden, blame the woman or in some cases, women in their lives for their failures and iniquities.
Again, I am not implying that this is the case for all men, Hispanic or otherwise.
It has almost become “the norm” for unemployed (and even employed) thirty-to-fifty-something year-old men to still reside at or return home with mom and dad, or worse, in some cases bring their girlfriends, or brides there too, and worse yet, complacently raise their own children there as well.
Not surprisingly, women, too, have become “at home” with this way of life, primarily because their own paternal figures set the bar pretty low as well. They reside within more of an unhealthy room-mate setting than one of an actual family in the making.
Scripture is overflowing with stories about strong, courageous men, whom at a very young age did not once flinch at every opportunity to display their significant maturity, obedience and leadership qualities; men like Abraham, his son Isaac, Moses and Noah to name a few.
Moreover, we are reminded in at least four books in the bible that “a man is to leave his mother and father and be joined by his wife”, and while the same instruction holds true for women, we tend to see more and more wife’s leaving their homes only to join with hubby, et al. (mom and dad, his sister, brothers, aunts, and grandma, and so on!) thus, living out their “’til death do us part” vows with their biological families instead of their spouses.
Joshua 1:9 — “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
A more current exemplary figure of courage and fortitude is Ben Franklin, and while I suppose he may be an exception among men, it struck me how young his virtue and ambition shined, contrasting him with most young men of today. At a very young age his zeal for learning, reading, improving his mind and preparing for the future was unparalleled. He copied the writings of great authors and thinkers because he wanted to write and think like them. He would skip meals just to be able to have more time to read. And at the age of 15, he made three goals for himself: 1. Be frugal and do not go into debt 2. Speak ill of no man, even if it’s truth 3. Be honest in all things…
I was subconsciously comparing his character with the typical 15-year-old boy of our day. Sadly, the contrast is just as stark when compared with many 25-year-olds. Where is the personal ambition, the drive, and zeal for what is noble and true and productive?
Instead, we have an epidemic of perpetual adolescence who spend inordinate amounts of time playing video games or just playing in general. They live with their parents longer, wait longer to choose a vocation, marry and have children, and again, if they marry, remain dependent of parents. They live for today and almost disdain the suggestion of preparing for the future or aims at betterment. Worse yet, our society seems to encourage this limbo state of self-indulgence.
“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I won’t grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me. ” ― Peter Pan and the Lost Boys
Aside from the eternal mommy issues, at the top of the list among common theories and contributing factors are effects from the feminist movement.
Women now make up the greater part of the workforce and are more likely to hold college degrees, and therefore make more money. They “arrived” with their independence and now men feel that don’t have to grow up or take responsibility. Prior to this era, it was more common for men to answer the innate call within them to “protect and provide”.
Many have argued for decades that the large-scale entry of women into the workforce made many men feel marginalized, especially when men were simultaneously bombarded by new parenting theories, which cast fathers as their children’s pals.
While this is in part, true, I will share that in my own experience, as in that of so many women I know, that women have been obligated to demonstrate our capabilities and join the workforce because the men in their lives have been doted on, from generation to generation, by their mothers and made to believe that it’s okay to evade any responsibility and yield to the nurturing (emotional and financial) of all other women as well.
In short, many of us have had to hit the road, play hardball, and become the bread-winner in today’s society, because we simply had little or no choice; a realization that has often led me to question whether the ‘feminine movement” of the 1960’s arose out of mutiny, or out of duty?
i.e. – Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
I suppose it’s fair to say that might have been the combination of the two.
Women’s new attitude toward sexual expression, authority and role within society, have also been linked to this movement. Notwithstanding those of us that are thrust into a role reversal because of our conditions, many women today would have us believe that which they themselves are not entirely convinced of: that in order to “get along in a man’s world we need to be more like men”
Well, nothing can be further from the truth. Even in today’s continuous, futile and undermining attempt to cross gender lines, and while we bear equal responsibility in furthering the kingdom agenda and will in the end be judged equally we are (wait for it) NOT Equals! God created both men and women very differently, and with very distinctive and separate roles, both in and out of the home. The sooner we cozy up to this truth, the sooner we can get back to “business, as intended”!
..And, yet, while this topic of “women’s movement” continues to flow unreservedly as much within the church walls as it does in history books, we have to stop and reflect if perhaps by adhering to blaming an incident in time, if we’re not further enabling both Christian men (and women), especially, to become bound by their circumstances, rather than their faith and biblical roles.
To all of you society-cast “Don Juan’s”, I say:–Do not be fooled. Take it from one who knows: that woman or those women who seem all too eager to accept your one-night stands, and so-called “booty calls’ are more often than not, women who have been made to feel so rejected and so broken either by men before you, or perhaps a prevailing void of exemplary male dominance in their lives, that they would settle for a few hours (or minutes, in some cases!) a week with the likes of someone like YOU!
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her …” (Ephesians 5:25).
The last factor that rings true is that of a post-depression era-generation who had to work for what they had, which wasn’t much, determined to “give their children something better” ended up giving them something worse. A perpetual trend of parents doting on their sons, buying them all they needed to compete with their peers bred several generations of spoiled, “entitled” youth, young men and adult men. Prosperity often breeds apathy. Do the math. Need I say more?
The phenomena are deep and varied. There isn’t one factor but many. But at the end of the day, we can trace them all back to a departure from the wisdom of God. That’s the one factor we can safely peg.
That said; allow me to impart a bit of wisdom, boys…
Women love and want a gentleman; a hero; someone to protect, guide and provide for us. Not like some narcissistic pimp, waving his money around, but instead like a steward of God, projecting his reliability and trustworthiness.
We want a man who will not only open doors for us, but will also, more importantly, close some doors (metaphorically speaking) if it means doing so for our own safety and fortification.
A man who can distinguish between godly leadership and machismo, and isn’t afraid to envelop us in truth and blanket us in prayer.
Within each of us resides a young girl still praying and hoping to find a prince to sweep us up and out of our societal disdain, and into a life of security, stability and monogamous romance.
1 Timothy 4:12 — “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
In conclusion: We need men. Men who are ready and willing to do the hard work of raising not just mediocre humans who can survive life, but contenders for the faith; men of valor and virtue, men who have vision and embrace manhood.
We need to teach our sons first and foremost, seek God in all things, and to challenge themselves daily in becoming more Christ-like and extend a godly hand and sympathetic heart to women, thus, also commanding more godly behavior in them.
Similarly, we need to instruct our daughters to aspire to become women of great virtue setting towering standards for themselves, subsequently never settling for the sub-standard . We must teach them to submit [intimately] to “their husbands” -not Pedro the butcher, or Manolito from Club Space! (Unless, of course, Pedro and Manolito happen to be their husbands!)
This is the privilege we are given as parents to reconstruct our civilization. We don’t have to settle for what is; we can change it and glorify God in what will be!
“Men, you are to be creators and cultivators. God is a creator and a cultivator and you were made to image him. Create a family and cultivate your wife and children. Create a ministry and cultivate other people. Create a business and cultivate it. Be a giver, not a taker, a producer and not just a consumer.” - From The Washington Post, Mark Driscoll “The World if Filled With Boys Who Can Shave“
2 Timothy 2:22 — “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
… And so I pray and lift up ALL men, of all nations, from sea to sea, and from the four corners of the earth… The sons, the fathers, the brothers… the faithful, and the lost; oh, yes, the lost especially; that you might, first and foremost recognize the ever-increasing vital role you play in so many lives; roles, functions and responsibilities that were hand-picked for you, and you alone.
As the challenges around you increase, I pray that as you turn your eyes to God, you discover an unmistakable emphasis upon your gender to rise up as leaders of your culture and families, championing justice for the same; by governing through truth; by bringing to order those things that matter most within our society at large.
…Our children depend on you… Our culture is beckons you… The church needs you.
Madeleine is the Editor-in-chief for INSPIRED… You can read more about her at: http://inspiredmagazine.org/about/about-the-editor/