Redefining masculinity for a ‘female’ world


Newsweek had an article recently about the future of manhood in the US contemporary culture:

What’s the matter with men? For years, the media have delivered the direst of prognoses. Men are “in decline.” Guys are getting “stiffed.” The “war on boys” has begun. And so on. This summer, The Atlantic’s Hanna Rosin went so far as to declare that “The End of Men” is upon us.

There’s certainly some substance to these claims. As the U.S. economy has transitioned from brawn to brain over the past three decades, a growing number of women have gone off to work. Men’s share of the labor force has declined from 70 percent in 1945 to less than 50 percent today, and in the country’s biggest cities, young, single, childless women—that is, the next generation—earn 8 percent more than their male peers. Women have matched or overtaken men as a percentage of students in college and graduate school, while men have retained their lead in alcoholism, suicide, homelessness, violence, and criminality. Factor in the Great Recession, which has decimated male-heavy industries like construction and manufacturing, and it’s no wonder so many deadline anthropologists are down on men. But while the state of American manhood has inspired plenty of anxious trend pieces, few observers have bothered to address the obvious question: if men are going off the rails, how do they get back on track?

Read the full article here.

Also have a read of Al Mohler’s comment on the Newsweek article here – I don’t completely subscribe to Mohler’s view, but I do think his summary is pretty well on the mark:

A true masculinity is grounded in a man’s determination to fulfill his manhood in being a good husband, father, citizen, worker, leader, and friend — one who makes a difference, fulfills a role for others, and devotes his life to these tasks. Most of our fathers went to work early and toiled all day because they knew it was their duty to put bread on the table, a roof over our heads, and a future in front of us. They made their way to ball games and school events dead tired, went home and took care of things, and then got up and did it all over again the next day.

Today’s men are likely to be more nurturing, but they are also statistically less faithful. They may be changing more diapers, but they are also more likely to change spouses. Men must be encouraged and expected to be both faithful fathers and faithful husbands. Otherwise, any society is in big trouble.

The Newsweek cover story is an undisguised alert that the world is changing. A healthy masculinity should motivate men to find their way in this new world of changed economic realities and work opportunities, and to do this while remaining men. The unanswered question from Newsweek’s analysis is this: Will men change the new work of work, or will the new social realities change men?

Though barely mentioned in the article, the most haunting question is about today’s boys. The magazine’s cover features a shirtless man holding a young boy. It is the boy’s face that looks at the reader. We had better hope that the “new masculinity” of the uncharted future is one that leads that boy and his generation to become authentic and faithful men.

I think this is a problem in our contemporary culture for which we, the church, have a viable solution – bringing the hearts of men back to their families!

Neil Cole sums it up for me at the end of his book ‘Search and Rescue‘:

“Society is filled with problems, but trying to fix society one problem at a time is daunting and suffocating.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are some problems that are root causes of others.  If we can identify and bring kingdom healing and restoration to those areas, scores of other problems will be resolved.

One such problem is the irresponsibility of men in our society, especially fathers.  If the hearts of the fathers returned to their children, and if fathers were faithful to their children’s mothers, street violence would subside, drug and sexual abuse would decrease, theft would drop, schools would improve, illiteracy would decrease, and dependency on teh state’s welfare system would diminish – releasing more tax revenue to address other problems.  Sexually transmitted disease would die down quickly.  Unwanted teen pregnancy rates would drop significantly.  The AIDS crisis would end.  The abortion issue, one of the most divisive issues of our day, would be resolved, not because of political lobbying and picket signs, but because the hearts of fathers would be turned back to their children.

You may think that this is a grand oversimplification, and perhaps to an extent it is, but I am thoroughly convinced that if men’s hearts were changed and men were challenged to live bold and authentic lives for Jesus – as heroes – our whole society would be changed in a short time.”

Now that is what I call ‘redefining’ masculinity – Jesus focussed with His kingdom as our priority – the way we were designed to be.

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