The Lone Ranger Myth

Stephen Arterburn

Men in the farming communites of yesteryear counted on one another for everything. They helped one another build barns, retrieve stray animals, teach and mentor children, even bury and grieve deceased loved ones. The very survival and success of their community depended on the mutual caring and support of the men in it. But today’s man has been programmed to believe that caring, supportive relationships are largely the domain of women. In fact, men often look with suspicion at other men with close male friends. Yet in order to meet basic emotional needs, which are both authentically human and masculine, men need deep, caring relationships with other men. A man who doesn’t have at least one other man he can be accountable to regarding his failures, hurts, and temptations is a prime target for masculine anger. The angry man in our society is caught between mythical masculinity and true masculinity. He feels pressure to achieve, earn, conquer, and win—and to do these things as a “Lone Ranger.” Yet he also feels the need to love and nurture those he loves, and to be loved and nurtured by those who love him.  Men, too often our attempts to reconcile these pressures in our lives are futile. Consequently, we remain perpetually torn between invincibility and vulnerability, between being aloof and involved. Take heart! Exposing myths and identifying problems is a tremendous move toward healing! We’ll move in that direction together in the days ahead.

Overcoming Through Teamwork

Stephen Arterburn

Are you sitting down? I hope so, because I’m about to share something shocking: Thirty percent of fathers who get divorced never see their kids again! And of the seventy percent who do, many see their children only sparingly—that is, the occasional weekend or holiday. These broken relationships cause great internal anguish and insecurity in these men’s children, leaving them hungry for intimacy, and susceptible to taking it wherever they can find it. Sexual sin flourishes in the wake of broken family relationships. The splintering effects of divorce shatter their children’s worlds. Rather than feeling accepted and cherished by their parents, they feel as though they’ve been cast aside. Consequently, they attempt to compensate for the love, affection, and affirmation that should have been provided in the home by mom and dad. Yet hope is by no means lost. One of the key components to making it through is teamwork. Kids from divorced families, need supportive friends and groups. More importantly still, they need an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. These kids face the daunting challenge of asking for help, and being honest about their emotions and struggles. It’s a major victory to come to this point, and most won’t do it alone. If you know a young man or woman from a divorced background, know that this is probably where they are at, and pray about how you could extend your hand to help.

Religion Isn’t Masculine

Stephen Arterburn

Masculine mythologies become most dangerous when they undermine God’s calling upon men to faith and worship. Real men, the myth goes, aren’t supposed to need the crutch “religion” provides, that’s for kids, women, and the elderly—that is, people unable or afraid to face reality and grab life by the horns.

 

Guys, that myth thrives only in modern Western culture. Patrick Arnold, assistant professor of Old Testament at the University of San Diego, says this:

 

“An imaginary trip around the world might quickly shatter that idea. Listen to Buddhist monks in Tibet…Witness throngs of Hindu men making their annual pilgrimage to Benares. Watch a sea of Muslim males pray passionately to Allah in a huge Arabian mosque. Join Hasidic men in Jerusalem…earnestly in prayer at the Western Wall. See the joyous faces of African tribesmen, scarred with ritual signs of their manhood…Or, for that matter, join charismatic evangelicals at a local businessman’s prayer breakfast…Men are naturally deeply religious, all right; it is just that modern culture provides little help for them anymore in minding their natural masculine spirituality.”

 

Do you sense the tension between your need for a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and our culture’s insistence that no such need exists?

 Listen to me: you—along with all men—were created by God to worship God for the glory of God. When you do so, you’re expressing your true humanity, and your true masculinity.