Recent history shows us that the church at large, and men in particular have been confused on how to define manhood. Many in the church, and in the non-church world, have identified a problem with the young men of today and our extended adolescence. Most men my age in the church are completely confused as to what it means to be a Godly man. So is it all our fault? In large part yes. However, it's not just my generation that is neck deep in confusion. I believe my father and grandfather's generations were just as confused. I want to first start with my grandfather's generation, the dad's of the baby boomers. Please give me some liberty to speak with broad strokes as I fully know that there are many exceptions that won't fit my generalities. In every generation there have been Godly, Gospel-Centered, biblical men.
As I listen to my father and his buddies talk about their fathers, I hear uncanny similarities in their stories. My grandfather is a hard man. He grew up in a home that was incredibly abusive, and with a father that was rumored to be a murderer. My grandpa followed in his father's sinful footsteps. I hear stories from my dad about his own childhood and can hardly hold back the tears. My grandpa had no idea of what it meant to be a biblical man. All he knew was classic chauvinism and hard work. My dad's buddies have similar stories of abusive or absent dads who had little to no ability to lead the family spiritually or emotionally. I can't tell you how many men's meetings I have been to where man after man would tell of how they never heard their dad say I love you. Their fathers worked hard, but sinfully confused hard work and manhood as being synonyms. For my grandfather and men of that day many of them had been to war, and calloused to any expressions of emotion or vulnerability. So for them being a man was simply doing what duty demanded. So, for my grandpa and his generation there were clear lines of what a man does and what a woman does. The problem was that culture and wars had defined the roles rather than the bible.
So what about the sons of those in my grandfathers generation? In large part the men my dad's age grew up knowing that they did not want to end up like their fathers. I grew up knowing that my dad loved me, and he was able to tell me that regularly. I did not grow up in an abusive home. In fact my father spent time with me, and played sports with me. My dad made it a priority to come to my sports games because he knew how bad it hurt that his dad never did. I know my dad is not the only one who learned from his dad what kind of man not to be. The problem, however, is that many of my dad's generation still do not know what it means to be a man. For them manhood is simply being the opposite of what they saw in their own fathers. Simply becoming the opposite of an already unbiblically defined man, many of the men in their 50-60's love their kids but are passive men who let their wives make all the decisions. They say stupid things like “The best advice I can give you is that your wife is always right." or even, "So your wife let you come tonight?", or "My old lady is a home". In the church, this is also reflected by few men who truly know their bibles and lack ability to lead in the church and lead young men. Many of the mens groups that I have been to have been filled with confused men who are looking at porn and lying to their wives about it but consoling themselves with the fact that they are honest to these other men.
So my generation has grown up see two huge problems. Our grandpas were hard and abusive men and our dads were passive in the church and passive in the home. The sins of these generations are clear to see and the damage that has been done to our women and kids has been incalculable. Where men and the church are confused about biblical manhood, women will be mistreated.
I have found few older men in the churches that I have been a part of who can open the bible and talk to me about biblical manhood. So how are young men to learn? What does it mean to be a biblical man? The Trinity and the Gospel will provide us with answers.