Having Good Man Skills Doesn’t Make You a Man

Image: James Morley / Flickr
Image: James Morley / Flickr

There’s more to manliness than grilling a killer steak or tying the perfect necktie.

Three anecdotes (and one report) give us an unsettling glimpse at the precarious state of modern manhood:

  • My son came to me carrying the New Testament given to him by a popular men’s ministry. Sandwiched inside the pages were pictures and biographies of “great” Christian men. They were all rough-and-tumble men; Olympic champions and professional athletes. He was in art school. “If this is the definition of a godly man,” he said, “I don’t have a prayer. Where are the artists, the musicians, the authors?”
  • She was attracted to him because there weren’t many interesting young men in her church. He had a good job and seemed to take his faith seriously. She thought they had agreed to get together on Friday night, but when he hadn’t contacted her by Thursday she gave him a call. He said, “No, you misunderstood. I would never go out on a Friday night. That’s my videogame night with my friends. Nothing could ever get in the way of that.”
  • A local private university spends a couple days of its freshman orientation week on gender and sexuality clarification issues. These exercises are meant to help recent high school graduates discover who they really are, without the constraints of what they’ve been told they are supposed to be.
  • The US Census Bureau reports that one of every three children in the United States is being raised without a father present. Millions of boys grow up without a dad to pass down what only dads can.

What do all of these stories have in common? They point to an important cultural conversation taking place both outside and inside the church: Is manhood under siege? What does a real man look like? What do we do about the growing cultural dynamic of protracted boyhood? Who will teach our boys to be men? In teaching boys to be men, how do we avoid narrow cultural stereotypes? What does the Bible say about gender distinction? What does it teach about a man being a man? How different are men from women?

These are ongoing debates whose conclusions will shape the lives of thousands of boys who are in the process of becoming men. The “manhood” conversation is something no serious Christian can avoid.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Paul David Tripp