Allow me to visit some of the manly myths many of us grew up with.
- Real Men Don’t Cry – Here’s a classic if ever there was one. Young boys of my generation (Boomers) were taught that real men don’t cry. My own emotional makeup leans toward the sensitive side. In fact, I tear up pretty quickly. Just ask my congregation! Get me started on how much God loves me and I turn to mush.
- Real Men Can Hold Their Liquor – The exact definition of what “holding your liquor” means is up to individual interpretation. In general, it means you can still conduct yourself in a reasonably sober fashion even though you’ve attempted to personally keep Jack Daniels in business. You’re the only one who believes he’s still functioning well, while everyone else knows you’re blitzed.
- Real Men Drink the Other Guy Under the Table – This is cousin to “holding your liquor.” If a man can drink the other guy under the table, then the other guy is not a real man. Interpretation: There can only be one real man. This is a scene often used by Hollywood. Even “Real Women” in the movies can drink men under the table. God help us!
- Real Men are Tough – Translation: I can beat you up. When we were little boys we’d proudly declare that our dad could beat up your dad. But because we men are often not too sure how we’d do in a real knock-down, drag-out altercation, we engage in more controlled manly endeavors. Football and wrestling come to mind. Even basketball – the “non-contact” sport. If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale. Golf has even become muscular. Tiger Woods pumps iron!
- Real Men Don’t Speak Very Much – Men are supposed to walk through life communicating little except by pointing, nodding, or grunting. Fists, weapons, and various other Neanderthal methods are how real men make their way through life. When it comes to speaking to women, especially one’s wife, the communication skills drop precipitously.
- Real Men Swear Like a Sailor – Pardon me, but this is another of those really stupid thoughts that some men will actually allow themselves to believe it. This insidious habit can, at the very least, embarrass, and at worst, bring humiliation and rejection. But there’s an element of pride in being able to string together the vilest of these invectives. Hollywood seems to think that a movie today cannot possibly be interesting without peppering the speech with the most objectionable of expletives. Once again, women are in on it too.
- Real Men Have Hair – Where exactly the hair is on the anatomy is irrelevant: Just so long as a man can boast of hair. Most noticeably it will be the hair on the head. If that is lacking, then it’s hair on the face. If that is difficult to grow, then it’s hair on the chest – always a crowd pleaser! The hair on the back of the hands is supposed to be manly, though I’ve never figured out why. Another display of manliness is body hair – the kind that grows on the shoulders and down the back. These guys like to go out in public with tank tops. Yech! Last, but hardly least – in fact, this one is the real stunner of perceived manliness – and that would be hair in the private area. The desired effect, by implication, is virility. Locker rooms can be very unnerving for some who are insecure in their manhood!
- Real Men Are Free Spenders – This is generally true. However, Dutchmen are excluded in this. A man never wants to reveal or admit he cannot afford to pay the tab, or leave a generous tip. Even if he has spent half the rent money to buy a round for his friends at the local watering hole, it is worth it to him. That he has to then face his wife when he goes home – well, that’s just part of the price you pay to maintain your manhood in the eyes of your friends.
I trust you’ve enjoyed a chuckle reading these manly myths. For years I struggled with views and attitudes of supposed manliness. But here’s the question: If these ideas of manhood listed above are false, then what is a real man?
When I gave my life to Christ as a 24 year old sergeant in the Marine Corps, I needed to have my faulty perception of manliness revamped. I was awestruck by the life of Christ written in the Gospels. Then I read Paul’s word picture of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11. Consider this: Jesus, though in very nature God: 1) made himself nothing; 2) taking the very nature of a servant; 3) humbled himself; 4) becoming obedient to death.
So, what was the outcome of this? “God exalted him to the highest place.”
Men, if you will submit to the Lord, he will conform you into the image of a real man. This also sets us free from the many false images of manliness.
Warning! This transformation will not only change you, but your family, your community, and your view of the world.