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« Is Altruism Really Hardwired or Is the Study Just Another Form of Reductionism? | Main | Making marriage work at work »

May 31, 2007

What Does It Mean to Be Manly?

"What does it mean to be manly?" was the discussion I had with my men’s small group Tuesday night and also happened to be a title of an article in the Washington Post that same day. Is it "swish or swagger?" Rough or refined? Or a crossover?

In today's culture we are bombarded with different notions and ideas of what real men should be. Beer commercials, hip hop music and movies are some of the best examples of these suggestions and many of us fall into the male stereotypes or images society has defined for us. But society doesn't create the image of a man, what he should and shouldn’t be. From the article:

Women succeeded in creating positive new roles for themselves. What we haven't come up with is what a positive image of a man would be.

Look no further, God’s word has plenty of description about manhood. People today need a fresh perspective of true masculinity that only the Bible can provide.

The Bible is clear: true manhood/masculinity bears the image of God, treats women as an extension of his own body, sacrifices his own needs for others, treats his wife as a daughter and bride of Christ, acknowledges that he is a sinner, is a leader by setting an example of humility, is not threatened when his wife takes initiative, and conforms to the biblical standards of sexual purity.

Now, that's what it means to be a man.

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be MEN of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

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Looks like Dancing With The Stars wasn't so unmanly after all;)


As true as this post is, it barely scratces the surface.

Platitudes do not help most men identify with true masculinity, especially in a culture where most sons live without fathers, and those who do live with fathers who do fail to understand true masculinity themselves.

I would have appreciated a little more exposition of what it means to embody these attributes than a simple list.

Gina Dalfonzo

Well, you gotta start somewhere. :-) Too many men don't even know that much. But why don't we throw the question open to our commenters? How would you expand on Jason's list?


Sex is an area where men are always measured up. I would echo what was said on the original post that conforming to the biblical standard of sexual purity make a real "sexy" man. Sexual standards are all over the scriptures (Matt 5:28, Lev 18,20, Romans 1:18-32, Gal 5:16-21, 1Cor 6:9-11). Basic is having sexual relations within the boundaries of marriage as God orinially designed it to be.

Real men aren't 'wild at heart' they have been 'tamed' by the LORD. They want to build civilization and protect their families and neighbors.

Kipling writes of real men. So did Tolkien, even if some were of other races. The Narnia Chronicles have a good deal in them about real manhood.


I think a better, more healthy understanding of humility and "turn the other cheek" would be a wonderful place to start recapturing masculinity.

Many boys grow up in Christian homes hearing messages about this when they encounter bullies at school, for example. We tell them to just walk away, and we throw in little lessons about humility and meekness for good measure. We tell them to be more like Jesus, ignoring that fact Jesus once fashioned a wip to drive the money changers out of His temple.

Many men (and women) have assumed a perverted understanding of humility that, like the Pharisees, looks at the letter of the commandment and fails to see its heart.


In reply to the anonymous (no name) comment above: I'm not sure I understand your assertions. I've read "Wild at Heart," and while I do believe there is validity to the assertion that a man's heart needs temperence, I find it hard to believe that John Eldredge, or Tolkien for that matter, would ever call Aragorn, Eomer, Gimli, or Legolas "tame."


"Wild At Heart" author John Eldredge writes that Christian men has somehow been "castrated" by the notion that they should be nice, mild and gentle guys. But the truth is although God calls us to be good boys, God also made men to be naturally wild, assertive and strong defined in the image of the man's man himself, Jesus Christ. A godly balance of wildness and gentleness is what men are called for.

jason taylor

Depends on what you mean by wild. Is a fine stallion or a magnificient hunting hound "wild" or "tame"? Obviously it is both.

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