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Masculine Model of Leadership
Remember when men were men? Remember when you could tell by looking? Remember when men knew who they were, liked how they were, and didn't want to be anything but what they were? Remember when it was the men who boxed and wrestled and bragged about how much they could bench-press? Remember when it was the women who wore the makeup, the earrings, and the bikinis? Remember when it was the men who initiated the contact and took the lead in a relationship, made lifelong commitments, treated a woman like a lady, and modeled a masculinity that displayed security and stability?
I'm not thinking about the half-crazed Rambo types who suffer from macho mania ... those who look for a fight, walk with a swagger, never apologize, and give that 'make my day' stare. Those guys may be able to destroy half of North Vietnam single-handedly, but they make terrible neighbors, horrible business partners, and brutal husbands and dads. Being a man is not the same as living like a panther ready to pounce.
Neither do I have in mind the Archie Bunker-type loudmouth who slouches in his chair, barks out orders, and thinks the world gravitates around him. Since when do dogmatism, prejudice, and selfishness mean masculinity? This type of fellow lives in a fantasy world, only imagining he's running the show. In actuality, he's a frightened child inside a man's body, the object of sarcastic ridicule among friends and family alike.
True manhood calls for discipline of character, strong determination to set a course of action, and courage to stay at a task. But brutality? Vulgarity? Lack of courtesy? Hardly. Authentic men aren't afraid to show affection, release their feelings, hug their children, cry when they're sad, admit it when they're wrong, and ask for help when they need it. Vulnerability fits beautifully into mature manhood. So does integrity.
I am concerned about a vanishing masculinity that was once in abundance. I mean honest-to-goodness men who are distinctly that---discerning, decisive, strong-hearted men who know where they are going and are confident enough in themselves (and their God) to get there. They aren't afraid to take the lead, to stand tall and firm in their principles even when the going gets rough.
Such qualities not only inspire the respect of women, they engender healthy admiration among younger men and boys who hunger for heroes. We need fewer spineless wimps who've never disentangled themselves from mama's apron strings, and more clear-thinking, hardworking, straight-talking men who, while tender, thoughtful, and loving, don't feel the need to ask permission for taking charge. I'm convinced that most single ladies would love to have men like that to spend time with ... and most wives long to have men like that to share life with. Children especially like having dads like that.
Over the last three decades there has been an assault on masculinity. The results are well represented in the arts, the media, the world of fashion, and among those who have become our youths' heroes. There are exceptions, I realize, but therein lies the problem ... they are exceptions. Androgynous individuals now prance to and fro on rock-concert stages across America. Poster-size portraits of male celebrities paper the walls in thousands of boys' bedrooms. Many performers no longer even pretend to be masculine. Sex roles are deliberately being blended. Female impersonators are the hot ticket in show places all around the world, performing before mainly male audiences.
A number of years ago, People magazine included a dialogue between a psychologist and his seven-year-old nephew. The professional asked the boy, 'Is Michael Jackson a boy or a girl?' The boy thought for a moment, then answered, 'Both.' If you don't think it's now cool to wrap both sexes into one package, you've not checked out the stores that handle the chic designer labels. We're talking 'Who's What?'
This reminds me of a book I read about on being a man. The author, Weldon Hardenbrook, referred to a line of women's lingerie released by Calvin Klein. The lingerie is modeled after men's undershirts and jockey shorts. The ladies' undies are not slinky satin or frilly nylon, but 100 percent cotton, available in six varieties of tops, eight types of bottoms, in twenty-five colors. And get this: The briefs are cut high on the leg, but the string bikini resembles a jockstrap, and the boxer shorts actually have a fly. Was there any question whether or not it would sell? Are you kidding? That line of Klein's underwear line was expected to gross $70 million in its first fourteen months. Unisex used to be limited to a few kinky beauty salons and off-the-wall jewelry stores---now it's as close to us as undergarments. Don't kid yourself; gender blending is not a passing fad on society's bizarre edge. It is here, and it is neither subtle nor silent.
Author Alvin Toffler saw all this happening years ago in his book, The Third Wave, in which he announced:
The role system that held industrial civilization together is in crisis. This we see most dramatically in the struggle to redefine sex roles. In the women's movement, in the demands for the legalization of homosexuality, in the spread of unisex fashions, we see a continual blurring of traditional expectations for the sexes.
Toffler is on target but too soft.
The separate distinction of male and female is not merely a 'traditional expectation,' it's a biblical precept ('male and female He created them,' Genesis 1:27b). And it isn't simply a 'role system that held industrial civilization together.' It is a foundational block upon which any healthy civilization rests. When the roles get sufficiently blurred, confusion and chaos replace decency and order. When effeminate men begin to flood the landscape, God's longsuffering reaches the length of its tether, ushering in the severest judgment imaginable ... a la Sodom and Gomorrah. Romans 1:24--27 is still in the Book, isn't it? Worst of all, because more and more men care less about being men, the family is thrown into confusion. Leadership is shifted to the wife and mother, and the children understandably reverse the roles, tragically perpetuating the unnatural trend.