Tuesday, February 01, 2011

How To Be a Man: Introduction

Last month, we looked at a behavior that last year I saw improved a number of lives: intentionally choosing to step into and through something that is uncomfortable. We called this Christian/Spiritual Maturity Stage Four.

Last month marked the sixth consecutive record breaking month for visits to this blog. (In fact, we broke the previous record month, December 2010, by almost 25%.) Again, thank you to everyone who has contributed to the content and discussion on this blog.

In the previous post, we looked at our final example of Spiritual Immaturity: Ananias and Sapphira. Here is the summary:

Ananias and Sapphira were New Testament examples of Spiritual Immaturity. Even though they were filled with the Holy Spirit and had great grace upon them, their failed Spiritual Maturity Stage Four with their lie to God. Spiritual Maturity Stage Three resulted in their death.

Today, we will begin a new Series looking at applying these Four Stages of Spiritual Maturity to a specific group of people...

This month's Series will cover HOW to become a man. We have already looked at the definitions of man and woman according to the world, the definitions of the words used in the Bible, and the context according to God's Word. Here are the links to these very popular posts:

Definitions of the words for "Man" that are used in the Bible
Definition of "Man" according to the World
Definition of "Man" according to God's Word

Definitions of the words for "Woman" that are used in the Bible
Definition of "Woman" according to the World
Definition of "Woman" according to God's Word

These posts proved, using God's Word, that God's definitions for male and female are:

Man - the sex that ought to be focused on the causes, regardless of the effects.

Woman - the sex that ought to create the profitable effects according to their uniqueness.

If you disagree, first state your own defintions...then read the posts to see what God's Word stated about this topic.

These above posts are "googled" several times everyday from around the world. (type into Google: God's definition of man) People want to know what is a man and a woman according to God's Word. However, it occurred to me people may actually be searching for how to be a man and a woman...and those posts don't present practical applications.

This week, we will cover the perspective on this topic according to the traditional church. Next week, we will cover five objective applications/measures to help males live out God's definition. The following week we will cover how to be a Husband. The final week we will cover how to be a Father.

I have been sharing the information from this month's Series with males and females. The results have caused people to encourage me to share this information publicly.

While you may think this information is only beneficial to males, it turns out women appreciate this information as much, if not more, than males. Why? Because this information puts words to the feelings women have about what is wrong with males today...and what women are actually looking for in a man but can't verbalize.

When women learn this information, their first response is, "Do you know any single man like what you describe?" Basically, I have found that women learn how to be a woman when they find out how a man really ought to behave. They learn they can focus on what they ought to be when the male is focused on what he ought to be...which brings us to my first point:

There is a difference between IS and OUGHT.

IS - The way things currently are. "That's the way it is." IS focuses on the effects and attempts to avoid short-term conflict. At best, IS results in Not Unprofitable in the Long Term. IS rationalizes failing to achieve Long Term Profitability by stating it is better than what we had before. IS goes from BAD to WORSE through GOOD. IS is LUKEWARM. Alexander Pope summed up this mentality with: "Whatever is, is right."

In Modeling God's Wills, we saw Martin Luther believed in IS:

There are a lot of things males desire…does this mean God wants us to act on them? Males desire to have intercourse with women…some males have a desire to have sex with every woman. Before you think I’m being ridiculous, look at what historian Jacques Barzun says about Martin Luther in his book “From Dawn to Decadence”:

“But Luther was no prude; his common sense shines in his repeated references to sexuality. He knew its power: as a monk he had tortured himself to fight desire, slept on stones, and found this treatment only making it worse. As he said, it is thoughts of “rosy cheeks and white legs” that drive young men to get engaged. “Early love is fervid and drunken, blinds us and leads us on.” So it is cruelty to young people to bind them to celibacy as priests, monks, or nuns. Even in marriage it is hard to be chaste. No fierce penalty ought to be visited on those who yield to a force of nature divinely ordained for the begetting of children.”

Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther decided that husbands have a God given desire that leads to affairs and they ought not to be punished fiercely because they are fighting a “nature divinely ordained”. Luther is saying, this is the way it IS and the only response is to focus on the penalty.
(Excerpt from "Modeling God's Wills Chapter 1, Section 2.)

OUGHT - The way things were intended to be. "There OUGHT to be a better way." OUGHT focuses on the causes, embraces short-term conflict in order to achieve Long Term Profitability. OUGHT goes from BAD to GOOD through WORSE. You cannot get to OUGHT by going through IS. OUGHT is HOT or COLD.

Some people see "IS" as the same as Humanism. Basically, if we are sinful beings who want to do things to satisfy the flesh...and what we want is right...then we don't need God to be right. We just need to act according to the flesh. Notice, if we can be GOOD without God, then we are the source of our own GOOD.

However, OUGHT would see everyone as wanting BAD in their flesh and the individual's striving for OUGHT would be seen as an objective statement of their will they know they can't be GOOD without God...that they need God to direct their actions in order to achieve what they OUGHT to achieve. In the previous post, we saw a powerful example of the definition of Biblical Grace...the divince influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.

Salvation would be due to the individual's choice to humble themselves, not act according to their flesh, and choose to have God direct their actions. For IS, Salvation is doing what feels good to your flesh and stating God intended for us to achieve Salvation by doing what felt good...or that "unmerited favor" is out of our control anyway, so we might as well enjoy ourselves.

There are many books about manhood in today's church. The most popular (and in my opinion, best one) is "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge. I state best because his book explains IS perfectly. I don't believe any book on manhood presents OUGHT...and every other book falls short of Eldredge's book when it comes to IS. In fact, Mr. Eldredge admits as much. Look at how he began "Wild at Heart":

"I know. I almost want to apologize. Dear Lord - do we really need another book for men?
Nope. We need something else. We need permission.
Permission to be what we are - men made in God's image. Permission to live from the heart and not from the list of "should" and "ought to" that has left so many of us tired and bored." (p. xi)

I agree the ought to that has been presented has left men tired and bored. I believe it is because the OUGHT hasn't been according to God's Word. The OUGHT didn't include God's definition of man according to God's Word.

Our first problem is we don't how to initiate boys into manhood. How would you do it? Here is what Mr. Eldredge wrote:

"'We know that our society produces a plentiful supply of boys,' says Robert Bly, 'but seems to produce fewer and fewer men.' There are two simple reasons: We don't know how to initiate boys into men; and second, we're not sure we really want to. We want to socialize them, to be sure, but away from all that is fierce, and wild, and passionate. In other words, away from masculinity and toward something more feminine." (p. 83)

We will revisit this quote later this week when we look at masculinity. Our focus right now is initiating boys into manhood...

"Most men have never been initiated into manhood. They have never had anyone show them how to do it, and especially, how to fight for their heart. The failure of so many fathers, the emasculating culture, and the passive church have left men without direction." (p. 87)

To me, the ideal measure was last month's Series on Spiritual Maturity. After all, if a boy completed the Four Stages of Spiritual Maturity, not only would he be a man...he would be a Biblical example.

Let's look more closely at Spiritual Maturity Stage One: Identify three areas of Damage/Tradition.

Notice, Stage One can be categorized as IS. There is nothing Profitable about identifying these three areas. In fact, we stated it is Unprofitable not to be aware of these three areas. People ought not have Damage/Tradition. However, they do...and that's the way it IS.

I stated Mr. Eldredge is a master of IS. Not surprisingly, the reason most males value "Wild at Heart" is Mr. Eldredge not only feels it is important to complete Spiritual Maturity Stage One, he even identified the biggest source of Damage for a male...

"Every boy, in his journey to become a man, takes an arrow in the center of his heart, in the place of his strength. Because the wound is rarely discussed and even more rarely healed, every man carries a wound. And the wound is nearly always given by his father." (p. 60)

I have to agree with Mr. Eldredge. Furthermore, I have found that if the Damage is severe enough, the male doesn't emotionally mature beyond his age at the time of this Damage. I know grown males (men in appearance) who are still teenage boys because that is when their father inflicted severe Damage.

Today, the way males are initiated into manhood is someone the male considers to be a man declares the male to be a man. For most males, the person they consider to be a man is their father.

There is nothing wrong about this process...it is just the way it IS. I believe there is a better one, however, this process is how I became a man. On the day I graduated from college, my dad shook my hand and said, "You are now responsible for yourself. You are a man."

Again, he didn't have to state "You are a man." His declaration that I was responsible for myself conveyed the same message. It answered my question: Am I a man? I considered him to be a man and he invited me into "the club".

Looking back on that time, I have to say my dad was the only man who could have made that declaration to me. Whether it was intentional or not, I was conditioned to see him as the only example of a man. What if my dad hadn't said this? What happens to males whose dads don't extend the same invitation?

Now we see, the second severe Damage that fathers can do to their sons is to never declare them a man. Here is how Mr. Eldredge stated this issue...

"First and foremost, we still need to know what we never heard, or heard so badly, from our fathers. We need to know who we are and if we have what it takes. What do we do now with that ultimate question? Where do we go to find an answer? In order to help you find the answer to The Question, let me ask you another: What have you done with your question? Where have you taken it? You see, a man's core question does not go away. He may try for years to shove it out of his awareness, and just 'get on with life.' But it does not go away, It is a hunger so essential to our souls that it will compel us to find a resolution. In truth, it drives everything we do." (p. 88)

For the males:
-Who do you consider to be a man?
-Have any of these men told you that you are a man?

For the females:
-Have you ever asked the males in your life who they consider to be a man?
-Do you know if the males in your life have ever been told they are a man?

This month's Series will cover how to become a man. We are looking at IS this week...at the current Christian culture's method of initiating boys into manhood.

In today's post, we saw the first step is a more specific version of Spiritual Maturity Stage One: Identify the Damage you received from your dad.

We saw failure to complete Spiritual Maturity Stage One will eventually make the individual Unprofitable no matter how many more stages of Spiritual Maturity are completed. Likewise, if the male hasn't been told he is a man by someone he considers to be a man, he will be Unprofitable.

I do believe there is an OUGHT way to do this. However, that will have to wait for next week.

Tomorrow, we will look at the next IS area...

Next Post


Joel said...

This may be something for a future post/series, but I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding a WOMAN being affirmed by another woman. Is this something that OUGHT to be done? Would it be as important as a boy being affirmed as a man by another man?

Elizabeth Rose said...

Joel. Brilliant question.

jg lenhart said...

Hi Joel,

Women affirming other women ought to done as an effect.

However, this is not as important as a boy being affirmed by another man. The boy naturally wants to go to effects and be destructive. Affirming him as an effect helps him stop being destructive.

Women are naturally about the causes, so a woman affirming another woman is seen (by the woman being affirmed) as the obvious thing to do.

Scott Taube said...

I am not sure if this is the same thing but it sure feels like it.

I was asked this question a long time ago within the group and i really couldn't find an answer. I kind of just choose who i thought i considered to be a man, not sure of my answer. When really, i think i had an answer all along.

I would say my father is who i consider to be a man. When he and my mother divorced i was a complete mess in every part of my life. I got into a lot of trouble that year and was on probation. At that point i was told i would be on probation for a long time or i could pay 6000 dollars to get off of probation. My father just moved out and came to me with a statement. He told me he will pay for the 6000 dollars to get me off of probation but to never ask him for anything ever again (and i never have). I was happy to get off of probation (to avoid going back to the youth home) but what he said hurt me (or angered me) in ways i could not describe. Ever since then him and i did not talk much and if we did it was him always telling me what i needed to do.

Eventually (many years later) i turned my life around. I had a real good job for a long time and had all of the possessions that society thinks you need to have to find happiness and success. I was sober for a few years at that time and had a 2 year old daughter. Right around that time my father came over surprisingly (he lives far away) and we had a nice visit. Towards the end of his visit he looked at me and told me he was real proud of me. Never in my life has my dad ever said anything remotely close to that and him saying this has never left my thoughts. It made me feel good about myself and like i have really done good for the first time in my life.

As i read this series i kept finding myself going back to what he said to me on that day.

Does this scenario fit this topic? Do you think this is the same as him telling me i am a man?

jg lenhart said...

Hi Scott,

I do believe this can fit the scenario. The most important thing is that you feel it fits this scenario...so I believe it does.