“Men are easily threatened……Something good in men is stopped and needs to get moving. When good movement stops, bad movement (retreat or domination) reliably develops” (Larry Crabb). In all the reading I do to better inform my desire to help men, one of the consistent descriptions of the masculine is the desire to take the initiative. For example, Stu Weber – “Masculinity means initiation. To be masculine is to take initiative. To provide direction, security, stability and order.” This implies movement. But it will be hard at times. Life will not be easy. God told Adam, “you’ll be working in pain all your life long…” (Gen 3:17 – Message). Good movement, as it relates to “relational masculinity” (Crabb), will need help to keep moving toward the other, especially in relation to the feminine.
Bad movement, the kind that causes a man to hide in the safety of his “man cave” or to become aggressively insensitive comes natural to a man. It is part of the old nature, or the false self. At the core, the false self will falter in relationships. Paul said of himself, “It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up…Parts of me covertly rebels, and just when I least expect it, they take charge” (Romans 7:21-3 – Message). In particular, I find myself tripping up and covertly rebelling often during the intimate interchanges with my wife. I am not present in a loving, supportive way. Good movement stops and bad movement takes over.
Good movement is initiated through our new nature or true self. Our true self in Christ, gives us the desire and intentionality to enter into relationship. Being dependent on the Holy Spirit, equips us to move into those “murky” waters of uncertainty with the feminine. “Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them – living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life” (Rom 8:7 – Message). Rather then feeling cornered, our true self creates space for us to respond in a Christlike manner.
Underlying the presence of good movement is the assumption that “God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.” In our natural responses as men, we are not able to maintain good movement. The momentum is usually turned inward on our self as a result of our insecurity and defensiveness. God tells us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor 12:9). God’s grace gets us moving in a positive direction.
Here are two aspects of good movement that are vital in intimate relationships. First, rejecting passivity. Bad movement happens when a man is tempted to move away from relating, either through silence or dominance. The uncertainity of not responding properly to others can isolate a man. At his core a man is usually fearful when he moves away. Good movement occurs when a man “leans into” relationships. He lives with an open heart, expressed in vulnerability.
Secondly, accepting responsibility. Bad movement occurs when a man avoid his God given responsibilities in relationships. He is primarily looks out after himself with little regard for the emotional needs of his wife and children. Being “emotionally present” is not a priority. Good movement is apparent in a man’s life, when he establishes right priorities in life, by putting his wife and children ahead of all other matters in his life. He will selflessly set aside his desires to give himself, first to God, then his wife and children.