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.
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.
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.