According to the APA, “It is critical to acknowledge that gender is a non-binary construct.” In other words, we are not simply men or women–gender is “fluid” and determined by a host of factors, only one of which is a person’s biological sex at birth. As a result, the APA wants to help men “create their own concepts of what it means to be male.”
The APA identifies the problem as “traditional masculinity ideology,” which it characterizes as “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”
In his view, we need more fathers to raise sons with discipline, respect, and encouragement. I encourage you to read his thoughtful analysis in its entirety.
While I agree with French, I’d like to point to a biblical balance vital to the well-being of all people.
On one hand, “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Work and keeptranslate Hebrew words meaning to improve and guard. Men were created to produce and protect, to work and provide.
On the other hand, men were not intended to be self-sufficient. Immediately after creating the first man, God created the first woman, explaining: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (v. 18). To fulfill their life purpose, men need women, other men, and especially their Father.
As I have often noted, self-sufficiency is spiritual suicide. It cuts us off from the only true source of abundant life (John 10:10).
Frederick Buechner: “To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do–to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst–is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life comes from.”
Buechner adds that “the one thing a clenched fist cannot do is accept, even from [God] himself, a helping hand.”
How to become “the best a man can be”
Jesus Christ was the perfect male.
He was strong enough to drive money changers from the temple (Matthew 21:12) but gentle enough to embrace children (Matthew 19:13-15). He was courageous enough to confront the corrupt leaders of his nation (Matthew 23) but compassionate enough to weep for them (Luke 19:41).
Now he is praying for us (Romans 8:34) as his Spirit works to transform us into his character (v. 29). He is ready to help every man become “the best a man can be.” And every woman to become the best she can be as well.
Nick Foles is proof. The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback is anyone’s definition of a “true man.” He has set NFL passing records, been named Offensive Most Valuable Player in the Pro Bowl, and won last year’s Super Bowl, where he was the game’s Most Valuable Player.
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Jim Denison, Ph.D., speaks and writes on cultural and contemporary issues. He is a trusted author and subject matter expert in areas where faith and current events intersect. His Daily Article provides leading insight for discerning today’s news from a biblical perspective.