Purveyors Of Mythical Masculinity

Stephen Arterburn

Myths about masculinity flourish in our culture due to their well-developed root system. If we want to stop these distortions that cause men such confusion and anger, they must be identified and addressed at their roots.

 Today’s boys learn to be men primarily from dad’s example and mom’s instruction. Therefore the home is an important source of a boy’s understanding of masculinity.  Due to divorce and misplaced priorities, many boys don’t spend much or any time with dad. The message they often “catch” is that achieving a successful career, financial security, and comfortable lifestyle are more important than God, marriage, children, and friends. Moms can indirectly affirm these messages by endorsing such misplaced priorities, or grooming their sons to be tough and hardened—to be the man of the house since dad’s not around. Another source of a boy’s understanding of masculinity is the media. When men aren’t portrayed as stoic machos or sleazy playboys, they’re often bumbling, spineless numbskulls—embarrassments to their wives, kids, and bosses. Can you think of a balanced, intelligent male, TV character who has integrity, conviction, and the respect of his family and community?  Never underestimate how powerful these influences are, or how much they’ve influenced your view of masculinity, and never give family, society, or the media the final word about true masculinity. That belongs to Scripture.

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.