That Our Sons Might Be Good Men

Do something.  Build something.  Improve something.  This bundle of impulses lies at the heart of manhood.  And if you don’t understand that, you don’t yet understand manhood.  

And our culture doesn’t understand manhood.  

It doesn’t understand why it exists, what is good about it, or who possesses it.  I read an article today about the very young son of an influential businessman here in my city.  The entrepreneur and his wife have begun to encourage their son to wear dresses and live as though he were a young girl.  They are also starting a foundation to “help” parents who are in similar situations, a foundation that will apparently work in our public school district.  This sort of thing is welcomed by our culture because it is ignorant on the nature of manhood, the why and the what and the who.  Our men don’t know why they are men (no one has told them), and because they don’t know why they are men they don’t have anything but a superficial understanding of what a man is or who a man is.  

And yet, because you can’t change reality (even by refusing to teach it), they have these impulses.  These longings hum away in their chests, unabated by a culture willfully blind about what manhood is.  There is a thirst in most men’s souls to do and to build and to protect.  Put another way, most men have an unspoken hope to bear something with whatever manly strength they’ve been given.  And there is a desire to bear a burden (the what) and an ability to bear a burden (the who) because they were made to bear a burden (the why).  

It isn’t the thirst itself to build or to protect that make on a man.  A man is someone who is born a biological male.  But these are healthy characteristics of normal manhood.  A tree is a tree regardless of whether it currently has branches, but having branches is a healthy characteristic of being a normal tree.  

Men have been given strength in order to physically and spiritually bear burdens.  But make no mistake, if we don’t teach them that, they will use their strength for something.  Those thicker bones and deeper muscles and mechanical minds were designed to build for others, but they will build for self given the chance.  Sin can’t change the what or the why or the who of manhood (or womanhood), but it has radically twisted the how.  Unredeemed men will often use their strength to abuse rather than protect, to wreck rather than construct.  They will fight for self instead of others, and act as a battering ram when they should be a shield.  A boy might grow to violate and damage women, to use them the way a thief uses money he boosted from a cash register.  Or he might grow to be faithful to one woman, to spend himself bringing out of her all the goodness and loveliness that God has planted in her soul like an early spring seed.  A young man might tick away his hours playing fantasy battles on a screen.  Or he might aim to fight for his wife, his children, or his neighbors.  All men have not been give the same manly strength, but all men spend what they have been given on something.  

Our sons were built to build.  But they will not learn this from our culture.  They’re not going to be taught about the true nature of manhood, of themselves, from television or social media.  It’s our calling to tell them who they are, what it means, and why.  That is our burden to bear.  

And it’s a high calling.  The world needs good men.  My goodness, can there be anything more obvious right now?  Is there anything more plain than that the world needs more self-restrained, constructive, fatherly, loving, sacrificial men?  There is so much damage out there, and one of God’s favorite instruments to repair it is the good man, stumbling and imperfect as he is.  From Noah to Moses to David to Peter to Paul, God has used faithful men to build good things and fix broken ones.  He has given them a uniquely manly strength to do just that.  God made the first man to reflect Him by cultivating His garden, and even after sin scarred all things God still gave to that man the task of cultivation (Genesis 2:15-17, Genesis 3:17-19).  Our sons have a great endeavor before them.  We are cultivators, restorers in a wild world with much to be cultivated and in need of restoration.  There is nothing new under the sun, but there are many old things that must be set right.  Let us raise men who will be up to the task.  

If you are like me, a dad of boys who loves Jesus, be encouraged.  We are a part of a great story, here.  The world was once saved by a Father and a Son, and they made us to image something about them.  Be strong.  Act like men.  This great reclamation project includes ourselves and our boys. 

Our sons will be men.  That die has been cast.  

What is left for us is to raise them to be good ones.  

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You Won’t Get It With Feminism


Our culture does not encourage men to marry, have lots of children, and then lead those families in sacrificial love.  Because of that, our society is filled with men who are not pressured to control their sinful sexual impulses and instead enjoy romance and sex with one woman in faithful marriage for their entire lives.  Our society is filled with men who are not praised for marriage, faithfulness, hard work, teaching their children, and submitting to Godly authority themselves.  Our culture admires rebellion and sexual deviance and then is shocked to find rebels and sexual deviants in its midst.  

And what is currently called “feminism” is a part of that foolish cultural curriculum.  

To be clear, I am not rebuking the belief that men and women are equal, which is God-given truth.  That I gladly hold as gloriously true as much as I do the personhood of men, of the unborn, of those with Down Syndrome, and of every single son or daughter of Adam and Eve.  No, modern Western feminism teaches much more than simply that.  It teaches that women should be able to murder other women simply because the latter are currently in the former’s womb.  It teaches that motherhood is a lesser achievement than a large salary.  But at the moment I have in mind simply its teaching (I think on the syllabus under “patriarchy”) that men should not want to marry and then sacrificially lead their wives.  

Modern “feminism” helps to create the very thing it detests.  It (appropriately) detests slovenly, uncontrolled, evil men who prey upon those weaker than them.  Unfortunately, it helps to create such men by fighting against society’s demanding of men to be what God calls them to be:  Loving leaders of families they are given by God.  It tells men not to use their strength for what they are supposed to use it for, and then detests what evil things they do use it for.  

Make no mistake:  These men will, if they do not repent and call on Christ to bear God’s wrath for all of their sins, spend eternity in Hell in His just wrath (along with everyone else who will not turn to Christ in this life).  But modern Western feminism is a part of this maelstrom of sexual violence and confusion.  It is not the solution.  It says that nothing is solid, anything goes.  And as it has gained influence, men (and women) are acting like nothing is solid and anything goes.  I’m sure most feminists would react furiously to that contention, but I think it’s fairly obvious, and so I contend it.  

Despite what feminism says, God has made men physically stronger than women and has commanded that they use that strength, as well as the rest of what makes them men, to sacrificially lead a wife and children (as well as to defend those generally weaker than they are).  A society that praises such men and denounces those who do the opposite, as well as teaches men how to be such men, will generally have more of them.  It will have more men who marry one woman, have children with her, work hard to provide for them, stay sexually and romantically faithfully to that wife for life, guard that family from physical and (if they are Christian) spiritual danger, and teach the children how to be good and capable human beings.  

Do you want that kind of society?  I do.  And I believe that God does.  

A society and its culture cannot convert men, but it can restrain them.  God lays out this principal in places like Romans 13, when Paul teaches that God has given humanity the governing authorities to at least restrain those who will not be truly changed into saints by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Let’s wrap it up.  I’m going to take my two oldest outside.  My exhortation to my society is this:  Abandon what we call “feminism” and drop, even faster, your normalization of pornography, adultery, unmarital sex, homosexual behavior, and attempted gender bending.  In place of these, uphold the beauty of femininity and the wonder of masculinity.  

God made both masculinity and femininity, just as He made us male and female.  There is wonder and majesty in this, in the grand story God is telling about Himself through men being brave and strong and loving and gentle and hard as rock for things, in women being beautiful and courageous and soft and childbearing and nurturing and loving and obedient and life-giving.  It is wondrous and, like all things He created, good.  

I want my society to fight against what men are being with the truth of what they should be.  

Modern “feminism” is fighting against an evil with a lie.  

Evil is much more effectively put down with truth.  

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’  Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’  Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.  But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. 

Genesis 2:15-25

60 Seconds On Men


We live in a culture that is desperately confused on what manhood is and on what to do with men.  “Here are these creatures designed with a modicum of strength and resolve, designed to generally need a helpmate to support them, a helpmate for them to sacrifice for and lead…  Hmm…  Well, we can’t accept that…”

I do not think our culture has a sufficient, coherent answer to the question “What should a man be?” or to the question “What should our men do?”  

What behaviors should it commend in men?  What sorts of men should be praised?  Should our culture exalt braggadocious men like Conor McGregor?  Abusive ones like Floyd Mayweather?  Should it exalt ones who seek to be women?  Should it tell men to stand up for their loved ones, or tell them to let women do the standing up?  And why?  Says who?  

May call in with a question, 2017 America?  

Thank you.  

Ahem.  Where are you getting your standard?

I can take your answer off the air.  

Which men should be jokes and which men should be praised?  What should our sons use their muscles and their desires and their fight for?  What is a man?  And please, oh please, oh please tell me, again:  Says who?  Where are you getting your standard?

I think our culture is standing on some mighty soggy ground, here.  

Proposal:  I think our culture produces Floyd Mayweathers because it exalts Floyd Mayweathers, and I think it exalts Floyd Mayweathers because it doesn’t exalt men rightly using their manhood.  

2nd Proposal:  A culture that says it is bad for a man to use his strength to self-sacrificially lead his wife and children will begin to find more men using their strength for evil things.  

Listen, where God and nature have clear enough presentations on what men are and what men should do, our culture is temporarily lost on the topic.  

The happy news?  That means the church is in a unique position to do some real good.  

I mean it.  There is some mighty good work to be done.  There is a generation of boys among us right now who need to know what being a good man really involves, and the church may just have a monopoly on that message here on the American landscape.  We have a grounded, coherent answer as to what men are and what they should do.  We can help.  

There is good work to be done here.

I trust Christ can use us to accomplish it.  

Redemptive Manhood


Because it imitates the Lord, Godly manhood is inherently redemptive.   It reclaims.  It protects.  It builds.  It spends itself and risks itself on others.

It will, if you don’t mind my saying so, carry a cross. 

A Godly man will use himself for the good of others.  A fleshly man will use others for the good of himself.

And so, and this is key, Godly manhood is costly to the man himself.  Because he is purchasing something.  Procuring something.  Redeeming something.

When it comes to fatherhood, for instance, a man shouldn’t expect to reap the later rewards of fatherhood if it isn’t costing him anything when the kids are young.  A smarter man than me (Doug Wilson) said that a dad shouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t able to cash checks from an account he never made any deposits to.  Even if his name is on that account.

When it comes to marriage, a Godly man should expect to exhaust himself in prayer and devotion to his bride.  The Boazes of the world wear themselves out for their beloveds.

For the church, for his family, for the lost, a man who is living out the creative, protective, glorious work God designed men to do will trade some of his comforts, spend from his strengths and his time.  He will think and pray and act on behalf of others.  He will leverage himself for the wellbeing of other people and mortgage his abilities for the glory of God.  He will spend himself.  He’ll gladly pay that redemption price.

And so a Godly man will resemble Christ.  

He said, ‘Who are you?’  And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant.  Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.’  And he said, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter.  You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.  And now, my daughter, do not fear.  I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.  And now it is true that I am a redeemer.  Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I.  Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it.  But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.’

From Ruth 3