“Be the last of a dying breed, it’s time that we man up.”  This is the last line of the “Man Up Anthem” from the Christian rap group 116 Clique. The song helped launch a growing campaign by the Christian Rapper, Lecrae to get young men in hip-hop culture to “man up” as responsible husbands and fathers.  “Father absence is a systemic problem… that’s proven to lead to higher rates of gang violence, incarceration and suicide. As of 2007, the national rate of children born to single mothers was 40%.  According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 24 million American children – one in three – live in homes without their biological fathers.”  So, where are the men?  They definitely need to man up.

When I thought about this slogan, I thought of Paul’s words in Ephesians 6, as he describes the spiritual battle we are in: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (11).  He also declares, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (13).  Three times we are exhorted to stand.  I would suggest that when we man up, we take a stand. 

Taking clues from Paul, men need to know that they are in a battle. The real issues are not economic, political, and social, but spiritual.  It is a spiritual battle between Satan and the kingdom of God. I have taught for years that the real problem with our culture is what Derek Prince called “renegade fathers.”  Until fathers and young men come to see who they are and can be in God, they will never begin to own up to their responsibilities.  Why?  Because the culture takes them “off the hook.”  The enemy will do all he can to break down the family. That starts with renegade fathers.  I know this is not a popular view, but it is truth that has to be proclaimed. 

I have changed my approach to fathers and young men over the years.  I used to get after men and almost shamed them into facing up to their responsibilities.  But now I believe that a better approach is to appeal to a man’s deepest desires and instincts. When a man is embraced with love and compassion, he’s able to get beyond his defenses and pay attention to his heart. Once a man really gives his heart to Jesus, things begin to change.  Only the transformation of the heart will bring a new sense of wanting to be responsible for his role in the family as husband and father.

Lecrae addresses father absence saying, “Young African American males [are] immediately an example for other African American males in the community at large. Not only are the young men challenged and encouraged by this, but also the young ladies, because they get to see what they should be looking for and how to encourage their brothers in the direction of taking leadership and responsibility.”  I think this is a good challenge for all men.  I know I take it that way.  As a grandfather, father, and husband, I know that my grandsons are watching me. They especially watch how I treat their grandmother.  At church I know that the wives watch my actions.  So I hope that you, like me, are still willing to “man up.”  As Paul puts it: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love” (I Cor. 16:13).