“Healthy masculinity is not natural,” notes Glenn Stanton. “It must be constructed.” This is not the case with a woman. “Her biological make-up ensures the girl will more naturally grow into a healthy woman. As her body matures, internally and externally, it sends her and those around her an unmistakable message of what she is and what she is becoming. It moves her in a very particular direction with great force. Her family and community treat her differently because of it,” notes Stanton.
“Not so with men,” George Gilder states in his book Men and Marriage. “Unlike a woman, a man has no civilized role or agenda inscribed in his body.” He must find, learn and activate his social role. Maleness simply happens. It is not the same with manhood. Manhood must be constructed and cultivated. If not, there can develop a perpetual male adolescence that we see in our culture today.
Manhood is a behavior that needs to be taught and bestowed upon a young man by his family and other men. Margaret Mead observed this necessity: “In every known human society, everywhere in the world, the young male learns that when he grows up, one of the things which he must do in order to be a full member of society is to provide food [and protection] for some female and her young….Every known human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men.” But she warns: “This behavior being learned is fragile and can disappear rather easily under social conditions that no longer teach it effectively.” How true this is in our day.
One of the significant, destabilizing forces in a culture is unchecked male sexuality and strength. “If a society does not find a way to bring these under control,” warns Stanton, “society is impossible to sustain, and very bad things happen.”
These observations by Stanton and Mead speak to the heart of my passion to continue this blog site. I continue to “sound the trumpet” for male mentors. Manhood needs to be achieved with the help of the company of elders.
I am one voice crying out in the confused wilderness of today’s gender wars, for men to rise up and take their place as mentors to their sons, grandsons and other young men in their lives. Manhood is a behavior that must be taught and an identity bestowed by other men. We need to step forth.
I agree with author Erica Komisar, when she suggests boys, “should not be told that having more masculine traits make them lesser. They should be told to harness that energy productively.” It is other men who will help harness this energy.
Men, don’t allow the angry voices in the gender wars cause you to doubt who you are in Christ. You are his beloved as a man. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10).
Together, as younger and older men, we can do our small part in restoring manhood in our day. “You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for ‘God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble'” (I Pet. 5:5-6).