Braveheart. 300. Gladiator. Blood, guts, risk, and women — the almost perfect combination!
The only thing really missing is a good stiff drink — a shot of whiskey that tastes like you’ve just put your head in a barrel of smoke, or been in a gunfight that leaves you and everyone else bleeding-out on the sidewalk. Nothing really captures the male spirit like dying for a cause. Right?
A rough, tough, kill-’em-all religion is sweeping across our nation with a vengeance, shaping the generation of young men fleeing our nice, tidy churches.
The religion of masculinity is a holistic religion that requires our young men to drink copious amounts of beer, revere UFC president Dana White, conduct business at the strip-club and never stop to ask for directions.
The religion of masculinity holds the month of November as sacred, making it socially acceptable to grow a repulsive moustache. While men everywhere admire the nasty-stache, it scares children and drives women away faster than your car goes from zero to 60.
Men interpret this as a badge of honour as they willingly sacrifice for their religion of masculinity.
Of course, not all men subscribe to this religion and others do so only because they would otherwise feel less than manly. One study done at Cornell University found that men who were insecure about their masculinity would very often respond by over-compensating in stereotypical ‘manly’ behaviour. They’d buy big trucks, start fights and were characteristically more homophobic.
Aggressive, risk-taking and adventurous behaviour is actually part of a man’s make-up and wiring. Testosterone, a hormone found roughly 15 times more in men than in women, drives men to compete, act impulsively and dominate, to boast and tell stories, and to take risks that could really, really hurt. Serotonin, on the other hand, (a hormonal equivalent to the voice of reason) is found in lower levels in men than in women.
Unfortunately, in their hot pursuit of the religion of masculinity, many men have used their aggressive and forceful behaviour to abuse the people around them, be absent from their children or justify their addictions to porn, violent video games and just about anything else.
These unmanly men are controlling, often destructive and incredibly selfish. For these men, masculinity is a trap, an illusion.
It is no mistake, however, that God has created men the way he has. Yes, we’re often in need of some Old Spice to spruce up both our man smell and our manittude, but God must have had some good in mind when he created us with the innate desire to win, achieve, innovate, battle and conquer.
Whether a man drives a big truck and can snake his own toilet or spends his days as a desk jockey and commutes listening to soft rock, God has instilled in him manliness to be used for good.
Dr. Larry Crabb, in his book titled The Silence of Adam: Becoming Men of Courage in a World of Chaos, states, “The only way to be manly is first to be godly.”
It is amazing what happens when inspired and motivated men direct their manliness towards following the God-man, Jesus Christ.
And though men may not be all that inspired to think of Jesus as their lover, groom or the one they’d like passionate intimacy with, they can get inspired by giving their lives to a deep and abounding cause. If the cause is right, we’ll bleed-out on the pavement for it. Right?
There are men who take their cues from Christ, who gave everything to see his purposes fulfilled. These men, instead of selfishly destroying the world around them, are compelled with the responsibility of building, cultivating, creating and fighting for something worthwhile. These men are the backbone of their families. They know how to throw a punch and what to fight for. They understand legacy and honour and risk.
These men routinely lay themselves on the line for the good of their wife and family, and they are loyal brothers to the men around them.
Does this mean they’re nice, huggy and polite guys? Not necessarily. But they are good guys; guys you can trust when you’re backed into a corner and need a way out.
These men don’t find their manliness in the stereotypes that describe a street-brawling, womanizing, keg-drinking, hulk of a man. No, these men find their manliness in the courage to stand up for justice, to fight for the cause of the oppressed and to create a world that offers a better way.
Ultimately, these men know that to be strong and courageous they must do what a lesser man wouldn’t; trust their lives to another.
And this might be the crux of it all. Trust.
In order for a man, or anyone, to be able open his life, expose his fear, curse in frustration or cry in grief and heartache, an element of trust must be present. Of course, some people just curse or cry with no regard or reservation.
However, for real and meaningful connections with others — connections where men are free to authentically engage — trust must be present.
Given the hardened exterior many men portray, this isn’t a simple or easy process. The rugged complexity of many men often overshadows the very real soft spots, insecurities and inadequacies that plague even the best among us.
Many men’s response to hurt and hope and love and every other emotion is directly related to how much they trust. To be a manly man, as Crabb stresses, a man must first be godly. This is maybe the largest issue of trust a man will ever wrestle with; being put in the place of trusting his life to another, to Jesus Christ.
Here, soft spots will be prodded, insecurities challenged and inadequacies confronted in ways that will require all the manliness within, just to come out alive.