Author’s Note: Looking back through old writings, I came across this one – written but unpublished in 2016. It’s almost entirely the same sentiment as I recently wrote about in Give Me A Break. I’m glad that this idea bookends blog of manly’s hiatus. Now the question is: can I pull it off?
It’s been quiet here recently. Life’s been crazy, but I’m not here to make excuses.
I’ve never been more passionate about our shared interest. Nothing fires me up like talking about making men, defending and advancing manhood. And yet, I was getting really frustrated in my efforts to write about the topic.
There’s a lot of reasons. We’ll get to the rest of them in due time. But the one that’s eating me up right now is this:
I’m getting sick of everyone trashing men.
We’ve always been full-throated in our defense of manhood against the man-hating culture’s assaults. We’ve sneered and mocked and shouted down churches drifting in the emasculated tide. But it dawned on that there’s another group that’s been spending a good deal of time harping on men. And I didn’t fully see it until I held up a mirror.
I’m getting sick of everyone trashing men.
Groups like us, Blog of Manly/Manly is – groups devoted to advancing the cause of manhood are now coming at men from the other end of the spectrum. Manhood has been so harmed, so malformed by decades of neglect and abuse that it would require almost no creative effort to build an electronic empire just criticizing men. I’ve done it. On numerous occasions.
And so there’s no confusion: any men’s ministry which does not provide corrective input isn’t worth much. In any relationship, if you allow the other person to harm themselves without intervening to some extent – you’re a monster. So, it is appropriate to say to men, “Move out of your mother’s house!” or “Stop playing video games all the time” or “You’re too fat!”
It’s not the “what” being said. It’s the “who” that’s saying it.
I’ve spent a thousand hours in the last months thinking about how to create a church setting that serves its purpose in the lives of men, that builds them up and trains them for battle. I keep coming back to one fundamental, critically overlooked fact: it takes a friend to deliver certain messages. Or, as God said it, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.”
We don’t know each other. So who the hell am I to tell you everything that’s wrong with you and snarl at you until you conform? I’m nobody. I haven’t earned your trust. I haven’t earned your friendship. I haven’t fought any battles by your side. I haven’t demonstrated time and again that your best interests are my chief motivation. I’m just an opinionated asshole with the disposable income to pay for web hosting.
Does that mean you have it all together? That it’s OK that you’re fat, lazy, porn-addicted, and living in your mom’s basement? No. Not at all. But there’s a better person than me to deliver that news.
That also doesn’t mean there’s no place for men like me to address negative behaviors. But the onus is on me to make the case and demonstrate my right to speak up. The pressure is on me to make a compelling case, not to demand obedience. As it stands now, the attitude by many in this space is, “because you’re reading this on my blog, you’re obligated to adjust your behavior to my standards.”
So, tired of being part of the man-abusing culture, while honestly trying to do the opposite, I lost some of the passion I demand of myself. If I’m going to post something, I need it to bursting out of me, and there hasn’t been that pressure for a while.
We don’t know each other. So who the hell am I to tell you everything that’s wrong with you and snarl at you until you conform?
But I’m trying to make a comeback. This time with an updated mission. Rather than looking over your shoulder, spouting my opinions, and demanding that you adjust your course to match my expectations, I’m going to try something different.
I’m going to be standing over here pointing toward the good life.
I want to sell you on the idea that living as God made you – as a man – is the good life. I want to make the case that being a man means something. That your gender isn’t just your genitals, but also a calling, a life-giving duty, a mission! If I see something destructive, I’ll try to convince you to give up that lesser thing for an even greater joy.
But I’m not your mentor. I’m not your pastor. I’m not your life coach. In most cases, we’re not even friends. So, how dare I presume the right to wound you?
I’m done with the man bashing. I’ll just be over here waving a neon sign, directing traffic towards the good life.