I have been having a really hard time writing this blog. Not because I don’t have strong opinions on the subject. Every time I sit down to write about this, I want to make sure I address all sides, offend as few people as possible (but sometimes that is just impossible), and give a strong basis for my thinking.
When I have tried to describe various characteristics of men, they don’t always fit! For example, if I go down the route of saying that a man is direct and strong, then what about the laid back or shy or quiet or introverted man that is more of a listener and slow-thinker? And then there’s adventure-seeking. Some guys really like that- they will take great risks and push the envelope of adventure…and then, there’s the person that enjoys their 9-5 job and loves “kicking it” at home. It can be easy to just give up trying to explain how a man is unique- and different from a woman.
Herein lies some wisdom, though. Sticking with this tension will lend a lot of understanding and keep a person from over-simplifying the issue. [And here’s a brief counseling plug: when we avoid pain, tension, and challenge, we find unhealthy ways to deal with it.] So the fact that there is so much tension on this subject reveals: a) it’s important, and b) it’s not a quick, simple answer.
In looking up some popular quotes on manhood, I couldn’t escape the concept of war, strength, and suffering. Why? Webster’s Dictionary defines manly as, “Having qualities generally associated with a man: strong, virile.”
It is inescapable to talk about being a man without talking about STRENGTH.
There are biological differences between men and women, reflected in metabolism, muscle mass, hormones, and many other specifics. Probably the most basic definition we can have about masculinity is from a physiological standpoint. But it’s quite reductionist to end with physiological differences. There are emotional differences, spiritual differences, etc.
So when we talk about strength, it’s not always of a physical type. I am going to argue that when a man is empowered to truly be himself, he will exude strength. And this strength is never abused, narcissistic, or self-seeking.
Many a man has abused or neglected the concept of strength. This problem is rampant. Abandoned children, mothers forced to take the family and run, churches lacking men who stand up to serve and love, community efforts lacking male involvement (at least for free). It’s actually quite epidemic. So if there is anyone reading this and concerned about the problems, I am too. All the more reason to look at healthy masculinity.
Men in our culture often have a tremendous lack of direction, especially those who are “millenials” and younger (around 32 or younger). What the heck do I do for a career? Do I need to get married, or can I just cohabitate? How do I date? What do I do as a father? As a husband? What is my role as a friend? What is my purpose?
Purpose #1: A man possesses strength that is unique to being male.
See you at my next blog posting for more.