Today I read an article written by fellow Anglican Priest, Rev Michael Jensen, and I found it very moving and so true. In the West we have masculinity problem – actually not a masculinity problem, but a masculinity crisis. In short: authentic masculinity has become distorted and warped by an ugly evil doppelgänger of sexualised machismo that is fed on a diet of pornography and false entitlement with the assumption that men are God’s gift to women that they must receive. This can be seen more and more in how men are treating women. No doubt we have all seen the news of an American Movie mogul who has been exposed for harassing women. And now we have an Australian former TV presenter being exposed for the same.
I have four children: a son who is almost a man, and three daughters, two of whom are becoming beautiful young women and the youngest who misses nothing. So this issue is close to the bone for me. I want my son to treat women rightly, to treat them with dignity and respect, as equals. I want him to have the sort of masculine traits that if he were to marry, his wife not only know she is loved and safe and cherished, but that she will feel loved, safe, cherished and think she can fly! If my daughters are to marry, I want them to marry men who will do the same for them.
I know this beautiful quote, but sadly, I think has been forgotten in our culture. In fact I don’t know if it was ever remembered:
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as true strength.” – Saint Francis de Sales
Our culture must own this quote! Real strength is not found in how many beers one can sink, how many hours one spends watching and talking about sport, how many kilos you can bench, nor how many abdominal muscles you can see in the mirror. It is not found in treating women as conduits for your own sexual gratification, it is not found in assuming that you are God’s gift to women, nor it is found in driving around in a car yelling out crude comments to girls.
Men, as a gender, we need to repent. We need to repent of replacing masculinity with machismo, repent of oscillating between being whiny tyrants who harass women when they don’t show interest in us we think they should. We as a gender need to repent of oscillating between being passive boofheads who won’t stand to give up their seat for a woman, who don’t protect women when they are in trouble, who don’t show women the respect, dignity and manners that they are entitled to; and being tyrants who intimidate women by our misuse of distorted strength (be it of muscle, voice or personality).
Men – we need to show strength in our gentleness and gentleness in our strength. Our strength has been given to us by God, and when it comes to the women in our lives, cherish them, love them, and show the wings that they have.
And finally, men, as a gender, we need to humble ourselves before the ultimate real man, the only man in history who is perfect, the only man in history who treated all people perfectly, the only man who loved God perfectly, the only man in history who offers and can actually give us the masculinity that our sin has abandoned, that our culture has warped, and ironically, the masculinity that all men long to have. And that man is none other than Jesus Christ. For he is the one who at the cross died not only to remove the guilt of sin, but also to remove the effects of sin. He is the only one who can give us the identity that us men have lost, the masculinity us have distorted, the self-control that we have forgotten. He is the one who will complete us as men. He is the one who can restore our manhood again.
So, men – please… please… ditch the machismo. Ditch the false entitlement, the false bravado that tries to convince ourselves and other men that we are ok. We are not ok. God wants us to be real men, strong yet gentle men, gentle yet strong men. So men, be real men, be God’s men, be Jesus’ men. For he is the ultimate source of real masculinity, of gentleness in strength and strength in gentleness.