A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Sensible Article on Manhood

Here is a sensible article that explores the "five myths of masculinity." The author says pretty much what I have been saying all along about the concept of manhood.

23 comments:

Elusive Wapiti said...

Right off the bat, I noticed an ad for Fireproof in the right-hand margin. Now I know that one can't control adverts, but I do find it interesting that an ad for the movie is run on a site that purports to grow Christian marriage and alongside an article about the myths of masculinity. Just sayin'.

Now on to the article at hand:

Point 1:"True strength has very little to do with the physical." Can't argue with that.

Point 2: "Parents will do well to help their boys identify and appropriately express their emotions." Yes, but. I see much of the teaching male to suppress emotions as a method of self-control. As a way to keep your head, rather than your emotions, driving the train. While one can take this too far, I do think there is a necessary element to this. Keeping your head while others are losing yours around you is a key element of masculinity, IMHO.

Point 3: "Parents will do well to help their sons grow to the place where they can appropriately and securely demonstrate tears in times of pain, grief and crisis". Good luck with this. As long as women look down on men who weep like women, this won't change. Also see #2 above.

Point 4: "...the myth that guys are experts on sex". Good point, can't add anything to this one. The expectation of performance, as well as the expectation that a "real man would know how to please a woman" does send some conflicting messages.

Point 5: "...what a man does for a living and how much he earns is a key benchmark of value in our culture". Another good critique. Male culture is one that defines a man by what he does outside of the home, rather than inside. And women reinforce this culture by seeking and selecting success objects.

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to say what masculinity isn't, quite another to say what it is.

What differentiates between high quality masculinity and no or low quality masculinity?

Ame said...

i don't care much for how the parents of this three-year-old boy i keep are raising him.

i think the dad is determined to make him into a Real Man. they do things like throw him onto the sofa, play 'hitting' each other, play extremely rough, teach him all the time to suck it up (even when he's really hurt). this kid is given no mercy.

i finally sat him down last week after he hit me, yet again, thinking he was 'playing,' and told him flat out that 'playing' like that might be okay with his mommy and daddy, but it is NOT okay with me, at all.

thing is, this kid is all muscle. he is very strong and stock-built. he can really, really hurt.

he and my 9 yr old lock horns all the time. his parents and i have had some conflict resolution to go thru with this ... they claim she is 9, he is 3, and he cannot hurt her ... she needs to back off (translation, suck it up and let him hit/bite/pinch/shove her and do nothing about it).

first of all, he picked the wrong kid ... both my girls will stand up for themselves. but second, he truly can injure another person! i stated so, very appropriately, to his parents.

i've noticed them backing off, with him, being so rough, allowing him to hit so freely, things like that. but they are still very rough with him and expect him to suck it up all. the. time.

i think this kid will really give his ex-military, police officer, dad a hard time ... b/c this kid is naturally, musically talented, just like his late, maternal, grandfather.

Anonymous said...

You still haven't responded to my question of what differentiates between high quality masculinity and no or low quality masculinity.

Here's a thought about the "eunuchs" of Matthew 19...those individuals who chose to remain single acknowledge that in doing so, they are sacrificing some part of their masculinity.

Anakin Niceguy said...

You are straining the analogy, Anonymous. If a man is single, then married, divorced, then remarried, he keeps his masculinity throughout the whole process, all else being equal (unless he gives others permission to deny it).

Gary said...

I'm new to the blog, so I apologize if the following information has already been provided and discussed.

I'd suggest this as a sensible article on manhood:

www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_bwtd/bbmw_chapter_1.pdf

In this article, my pastor writes this:

AT THE HEART OF MATURE MASCULINITY IS A SENSE OF BENEVOLENT RESPONSIBILITY TO LEAD, PROVIDE FOR AND PROTECT WOMEN IN WAYS APPROPRIATE TO A MAN’S
DIFFERING RELATIONSHIPS.

Gary said...

http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_bwtd/bbmw_chapter_1.pdf

Gary said...

http://www.desiringgod.org/
media/
pdf/
books_bwtd/
bbmw_chapter_1.pdf

Anakin Niceguy said...

I cannot wholeheartedly recommend that article. Your pastor, John Piper, is mistaken about a great many things, his reputation notwithstanding. Masculinity has nothing to do with ingratiating women. God has already created us MALE and female. What else is there to do, except to obey his commandments? And sometimes, in order to obey His commandments, we should NOT protect, provide, etc. for women.

Anakin Niceguy said...

The other problem with Mr. Piper is, I believe, a failure on his part to distinguish what is "bibical" (that which logically and clearly follows from a controlled exegesis of the Scriptures) and his own traditionalist sentiments which reflect his religious unbringing, but also generational, educational, and cultural biases. We all have these, and we should endeavor to keep this out of God's Word. Unfortunately, I don't find Piper to be all that successful. I say this as one who opposes egalitarianism in the home and church.

Gary said...

Anakin, I think you're going to have to provide more concrete examples than this assertion: "a failure on his part to distinguish what is "bibical" (that which logically and clearly follows from a controlled exegesis of the Scriptures) and his own traditionalist sentiments which reflect his religious unbringing, but also generational, educational, and cultural biases."

Also, to your point "Masculinity has nothing to do with ingratiating women. God has already created us MALE and female", I would say that there is no such thing as masculinity without women. And the use of the word "ingratiating" is a distortion of what he is trying to argue for in the paper.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Perhaps in the strictest, ontological sense, there is no masculinity without women for simple fact we are created male and female. But there are no men or boys who can lose their masculinity. It is a birthright, because, once again, as the Bible says, "He created them male and female." They are created male and female regardless of whether or not all of them or only a few of them marry, or none of them marry. I may be a good man. I may be a bad man ... but I am a still a man, because that is what God has made me (Gen. 1:27). People who deny that a male past puberty is a "man" deny God's creation. They are guilty of dehumanizing someone created in God's image through the portal of masculinity (Gen. 1:27). For this reason, when someone says, "Real men do xyz" I know that I am dealing with someone who objectifies men and who does not respect them as human beings.

As for an example of extrabiblical discourse from Piper, his views on how men and their wives should have sex reflect his own scruples and not anything unequivocally mandated by the Scriptures. The Bible is quite silent on how couples are to engage in foreplay and sex. If a woman wants to chase her husband around the bedroom, that's their business, not mine.

Gary said...

OK Anakin. You've chosen a rather obscure and minor extra-biblical point to discredit a ruthlessly biblical (taken in the context of the entire book) article on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The importance of the topic and the biblical research that went into the book (and article) deserve better than that.

Anonymous said...

"A woman is a woman but a man ain't nothin' but a male"...from "Jump Jive N Then You Wail" written by Louis Prima

There isn't a culture on this planet that considers simply being male and adult sufficient as a definition for manhood or masclinity. Rites of passage and milestones such as marriage and first intercourse have always been features of initiation. Those who forfeit these things for spiritual reasons, understand that they are sacrificing a part of their manhood/masclinity -- "eunuchs" for the sake of the kingdom.

Churches are lying to singles when they give them the message that singleness and marriage are gifts of equal value and it won't impact your masculinity or femininity if you don't marry. This is not to say that you can't be a "good person", whatever that means. But it is denying that sexuality is part of our development as men and women.

Anakin Niceguy said...

That's a fair criticism, Gary. Giving the matter a second thought, I confess that I have may have been too dismissive and unduly harsh of Mr. Piper's essay. Indeed, he and I are probably on the same page on a lot of aspects regarding the complementarian issue.

I suppose as a man interested in men's issues, I am extremely sensitive and wary of cultural expectations being bound on men in the name of what is "biblical." When I run across an example, however small, it tends to stand out for me. I admit that it may cause me to overreact, and therefore I invite feedback on that point. Being a part of an online community of men concerned about and frustrated with society's anti-male sexism, I am admittedly very guarded at times.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Anonymous,

You write ...

There isn't a culture on this planet that considers simply being male and adult sufficient as a definition for manhood or masclinity. Rites of passage and milestones such as marriage and first intercourse have always been features of initiation. Those who forfeit these things for spiritual reasons, understand that they are sacrificing a part of their manhood/masclinity -- "eunuchs" for the sake of the kingdom.

I don't care what societies of the past have done. Some people have the galling nerve to suggest that while it was necessary for our understanding of womanhood to evolve, we can still stick men back in 1950s. It's sick double-standard and I will not dignify it. If you are man, and if you want sit at the back of bus and drink from a separate drinking fountain, that your choice, not mine.

Gary said...

Anonymous wrote, "Churches are lying to singles when they give them the message that singleness and marriage are gifts of equal value and it won't impact your masculinity or femininity if you don't marry. This is not to say that you can't be a "good person", whatever that means. But it is denying that sexuality is part of our development as men and women."

1. Marriage and singleness are a matter of God's "gifting" for a person, and God's gifts are always good.

2. A person's sexuality is not defined by whether they are married (and have sex) or not. You are a male or female person, no matter whether you are married or not. That's the point of the article I shared. "Be fruitful and multiply" is the fruit of maleness and femaleness, not a definition of it.

catwoman said...

Anakin,

The link on your second to last post was very enlightening.. I must have missed it when I was away last summer.

Gary,

You'll be hard pressed to find many people here who think there's any such thing as the "gift of singleness". That's another chapter in the encyclopedia of extra-biblical concepts.

Gary said...

Catwoman,

In I Cor 7:7, the apostle Paul says this, "I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another."

It is God's will that determines whether we marry or not, and God's will for His children is always for their best.

I would not call this an extra-Biblical arguement. Perhaps you can show us, from scripture, where singleness is obliged to be considered as a burden.

Peter said...

"It is God's will that determines whether we marry or not,...".

And how does God make his will known?

Gary said...

The short answer: God's will is revealed His creation, in His Word (scripture), and through the ministry of His Spirit.

It's a topic worthy of a separate discussion (and maybe a blog of its own).

catwoman said...

Gary,

It sounds like you are interpreting 1 Cor 7:7 to mean "God gives some the gift of marriage and some the gift of singleness", which is understandable, because for years, that is how the Living Bible translated this passage.

However, this has since been found to be inaccurate, and the passage has been restored in the New Living Translation (what the LB is now called) to something closer to the original Greek, similar what you've quoted. The phrase "own gift from God" is not referring to singleness as a marital status, but more like an enablement (as theologian Andreas Kostenberger calls it) for some (not all, as Christ says about those who "make themselves eunuch" for the sake of the kingdom in Matthew 19) who can choose singleness voluntary.

Paul further makes his point that this is about a voluntary choice in the next verse where he says "it's good for the unmarried to remain as they are, but if they cannot contain, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn (ie. with sexual frustration).

Elsewhere in 1 Cor 7 (v. 25-26) he teaches that "for the sake of the present distress" that it's better for virgins to remain as they are, but that he has "no commandment from the Lord" about it, and that he says these things "not to put a snare on you", putting his recommendations into the historical context of pending persecution or hardship. Also, in verses 36-39 he leaves it up to the betrothed and the widowed to do what they want about it.

I do not doubt the power and soveignty of God, but nowhere in scripture (the NT, at least) is marital status spoken of as something that God determines for you. The language is entirely that of human effort and personal choice. God's will, spoken through creation, scripture and spirit is that by his design, he has well equipped you to pursue marriage (or remain abstinent) by your own right (1 Cor 9:5).

Anonymous said...

“The truth is that only men to whom the family is sacred will ever have a standard or a status by which to criticise the state. They alone can appeal to something more holy than the gods of the city; the gods of the hearth.”

(G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man)