True Manliness

Well, that didn’t go quite the way we expected. After the Canucks’ long war of attrition for the cup ended in disappointment, so-called “fans” took to the streets to express their anger with violence and anarchy. Cars were overturned and burned to the ground. Stores were looted and destroyed. Fights broke out. It was a horrific display of drunkenness, anger and violence.

Sadly, this is how many people define manliness. It’s manly to be aggressive. It’s manly to be violent and destructive. It’s manly to proudly oppose authority. For many, manhood is defined by destruction, violence and irresponsibility. We see it in spades during a drunken riot, but we also see it whenever men avoid responsibility, act combative, or treat women as objects instead of persons. This distorted view of manliness is the result of strength combined with pure selfishness.

Men are called to act like men, but true manliness is strength combined with service. It’s a toughness that protects and provides for others. Paul urges the church in Corinth to “be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (I Cor 16:13-14). Men, the manliness we’re called to is a firm strength that always acts out of love.

I’d summarize Biblical manhood as tough and tender strength that protects and provides for others. This is the manhood that God created us to be. Real men put food on the table. They work hard, with honesty and integrity, providing for their family’s needs. Real men love their wives sacrificially, giving up their own selfish desires to serve and nourish their wife as Jesus did with the church. Real men are tender with their children. Their kids are secure in their father’s love and protection. Real men get down on the floor and dress dollies with their daughters and build stuff with their sons. They read their kids the Bible and pray for them continually. Real men provide spiritual nourishment for their family and protect them from sin and evil. Real men live with purpose and mission. Real men are tough and tender, always using their manly strength and resolve to protect and provide for everyone else first.

Jesus is our true picture of manliness. He was a real man. He was tough enough to endure suffering, hardship, pain and death without ever quitting or whining or grumbling. He had strength to endure temptation and to fight the selfishness that plagues us. He was tough enough to win victory over Satan, sin and death, winning salvation for his people. And he was tender enough to show love and mercy to the weak, hurting and vulnerable. He did everything out of love for God and others.

On this Father’s Day, let’s remember the true manliness that God is calling us to live out in his strength. Let’s act like real men.