Tag Archives: Wall Street Journal

The Key To Helping Men Grow Up

Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance.

These words come from Kay Hymowitz, who wrote an interesting article last weekend for the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Where Have The Good Men Gone?” The article is loosely based on her recent book, “Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys.”

In her article (and book), Hymotwitz laments the plight of the American male: they hold fewer college degrees, lower GPAs, and waste away their lives playing video games and watching porn. Obviously, this isn’t true of all young American males, but she points to a number of startling statistics that illustrate her point. Men fitting her description are passive, directionless, soft, and immature.

After reading the article, I posted it on my FaceBook page, which generated an interesting discussion.

A psychologist reacted to the book’s subtitle “How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys”: “Turned men into boys? No. Revealed that our macho model for making ‘men’ out of boys permanently stunts them. A man raised to mistrust his tenderness is crippled, not contemptible.”

Jumping to the other side of the argument, another person responded by saying, “A man raised to mistrust his manliness is crippled…”

Then, taking the middle road, another person commented, “Hmmm, Genesis 3—blame the woman! I agree, an unhealthy view of manhood confuses and distorts male identity and then they either go to macho-ness or little boyhood—two sides of the same coin. Healthy men can interact with women as companions and equals. The ‘rise of woman’ has only exposed the problem, not caused it.”

Hymowitz seems to yearn for earlier days of traditional gender roles when men were men and women were women.

So what’s the solution?

While reading the article, Genesis 1:27 rang in my head: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NIV).

Think about it: A man and woman were required in order to fully express the image of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Man was not enough, and neither was woman.

Taking our cues from the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we know that each person in the Godhead plays a specific role. The Father sent the Son into the world (John 3:16). The Spirit gives power to every believer (Acts 1:8). You get the idea.

The assumption that men and women are interchangeable or that either gender is unnecessary seems to contradict Trinitarian theology and our basic identity.

Men need women and women need men. Men need women to be women, and women need men to be men.

So what constitutes a man and a woman? Extracting cultural differences, this isn’t an easy question to answer.

When examining issues like this, I usually begin with the account of creation in Genesis 1-3. Ironically enough, the clearest delineation of roles appears after the first couple ate the forbidden fruit. Adam is told he would experience a life of painful toil, working by the sweat of his brow while the woman would suffer the pain of child-bearing (Genesis 3:15-19). Seeing that Jesus came to reverse the affects of the curse, this doesn’t seem to offer a viable solution.

But we know this: men are different than women. If God had desired to create an androgynous being, he would have done so—but he didn’t. It wasn’t good that man was alone. The template that God used to create people in his image tells us that men are masculine and women are feminine. A stick in the hands of a little boy invariably becomes a gun and in the hands of a little girl becomes a doll.

Which brings us back to those men Hymowitz refers to, who refuse to grow up. Many of our younger men are stuck in the developmental stage of a 7 or 8 year old. They experienced childhood, but perhaps were never given the opportunity to grow into their masculine selves. From my vantage point, political correctness squelches a man’s masculinity.

So what’s the solution? Women, affirm the masculinity of a man. Men, explore what your masculinity looks like.

I’d love to read your thoughts and insights!

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

How Much Do You Need To Make To Be Happy?

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the perfect salary for happiness is US$75,000 a year. This is based on a Gallup poll conducted between 2008 and 2009.

Yet that number seems incredibly arbitrary. Do people in poverty-stricken countries need to make US$75,000 a year to be happy? In those cultures, they would be considered rich. And what about past generations—did this rule apply, with inflation adjusted numbers?

In my travels to Mozambique on the continent of Africa, my friends who all lived well below the US poverty line seemed every bit as happy as any of my friends in America.

How much do you really need to make a year to be happy?

Please join us in today’s daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Jeremiah 37:1-38:28
1 Timothy 6:1-21
Psalm 89:38-52
Proverbs 25:28

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Jeremiah 37:1-38:28. The life of a prophet certainly isn’t glorious. First, Jeremiah is beaten by the king’s officials, then the king asks Jeremiah for an encouraging word from God. Jeremiah pleads for protection from the king’s officials, and the king grants his request…for awhile. The king then allows the officials to do with Jeremiah as they please, so they throw him into a muddy cistern where he’s left to die. Then at the request of another official in the royal palace, the king orders 30 men to pull Jeremiah from he mud. Finally, King Zedekiah sends for Jeremiah again. We like prophets when they tell us what we want to hear and we don’t like them when they tell us what wee don’t want to hear.

Proverbs 25:28. “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. ” Here’s the Klassen updated paraphrase of this verse: “Like a computer without a firewall is a person who lacks self-control.” Without self-control, we live with the constant threat of attack—not only in the form of temptation, but from an outright assault from Satan.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Do you ever lay in bed at night and wonder what your life would be like if you were rich? I admit that I do. But at this point in my life, I doubt riches will ever find me.

Even if it did, though, Paul’s words in today’s reading keeps things in perspective. He writes, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). What are some of those traps?

  • Indebtedness and bankruptcy
  • Workaholism
  • Broken marriages and families as a result of the above
  • Spiritual anorexia

You don’t recognize the last malady? Actually, it’s a phrase that just hit me as I thought about how we can replace spiritual food with activity and the pursuit of a better life. Scripture gives it another word that isn’t so sexy: idolatry.

What we think is the “better” life can lead to a life of spiritual destitution. It’s kind of like eating candy bars at every meal instead of the solid food that comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus.

While US$75,000 a year can bring a measure of happiness, I know plenty of people at that income level who aren’t happy—and besides, no one can ensure they will be able to maintain that for the rest of their lives. Paul describes riches and wealth as “uncertain.”

Happiness is so fleeting. It’s dependent on an infinite number of variables ranging from good health to making a specific amount of money. And strangely enough, Scripture never promises happiness nor does it offer happiness as a worthy pursuit.

But Scripture does offer us a worthy pursuit: “But…flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11 italics added). Notice that none of these qualities involve the accumulation of income or stuff. In fact, it doesn’t even involve sound financial stewardship.

When I lay in bed and consider what my life would be like if I were wealthy, I remember Paul’s words: “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). If I were wealthy, I’d probably decide that I need more in order to be happy. But godliness and contentment affords me a meaningful life regardless of my income level.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What does contentment look like in your life?
  3. What prevents you from living content?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized