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.

Underground Anger

Stephen Arterburn

A lot of people, especially Christians, have a great deal of trouble with the fact that Jesus got angry. It’s not so difficult to say that His cleansing of the temple was “righteous indignation.” But it’s quite another thing to admit that the Son of God, the perfect man, was angry; for everybody knows that anger is a sin, right?

 

This misunderstanding of anger has caused many men to push their anger out of bounds in another direction—denying it, suppressing it, or pretending it isn’t there. They feel they have no other choice, because in their thinking it’s always wrong, always sinful, to be angry. But guys, suppressed anger is just as harmful to an angry man as explosive hostility and aggression are to those around an angry man.

 

Jesus didn’t deny or suppress His anger any more than He exploded with rage that day in the Temple. His anger was up-front and out in the open. He responded to the situation quickly, positively, and appropriately. Then He went on with His ministry—without apology, excuse, or remorse.

 Men if you have the tendency to deny your anger and bury it inside yourself, please listen to me. You’re only storing up pressure for a later implosion or explosion. The implosion hurts you; the explosion hurts others. It’s a lose—lose situation. If you don’t bring your anger to the surface and deal with it, someday, somewhere, somehow it’ll express itself in an out of bounds manner.

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.