High Stakes?

I think that most men don’t have any idea what it actually means to be a man.  My father left in sixth grade after some spectacularly bad life choices, so my own images of manhood were formed by unfortunate characters from Homer Simpson to Arnold Schwarzenegger.  When I married my wife, I think my view of “husband” was a mix between a guy who drinks beer on the couch after work and is loud and scary when needed.

Sadly, even the Church often has a poor view of manhood (see this great interview with Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke).  Too many men no longer realize they’re called to so much more than merely go to work, drink beer, and watch football.  Their families, and society in general, languish for good sacrificial headship.  We’ve lost touch with the patient, wise, compassionate, and strong (but gentle!) model to try to become.

Further contributing to the problem, modern technology has changed how we interact with the world.  Advertising and media now invade every aspect of our lives, filling our heads with materialism and denying that most precious time of quiet.  The internet puts any form of media we could ever imagine at our fingertips.  Technology isn’t bad, but we must bend it to our will if we are to become what God made us to be.

Maybe you wonder, what’s the big deal?  God designed men to fulfill an absolutely essential purpose.  A purpose that we collectively have forgotten, yet one that our society cannot survive without.

  • Fatherless families are becoming more common, even secular articles and studies shows the absolutely tragic effect this is having on our children. Our children need daddies to encourage growth and to safely push beyond their comfort boundaries.  Moms are equally essential, but they cannot also fill the role of dads.
  • Women need engaged husbands.  Men and women are equal but different – they’re complimentary.  St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians must be carefully understood, but they are just as relevant in the 21st century as in the 1st.  Men are called to love their wives through sacrifice.
  • Men need to be leaders (not necessarily bosses).  Adam was the first priest.  The patriarchs led the people of Israel and God appointed the men of the Levites and sons of Aaron as priests.  Jesus chose 12 apostles to lead after he left, who in turn chose even more men within the time frame of the New Testament.  Yet, where are our male leaders now?  In both the Catholic church and others, men are gone.  We barely even understand what a “leader” means, we have so few good leaders to follow. Real leaders lead by sacrifice.
  • Men are called to be a powerful image of God the Father – to our wives, to our community, and most especially to our children.  What image do those people see when they look at you?

Ladies, I strongly believe in the equal dignity and capability of both genders!  My intent here is not to place men above women at all.  If anything, I think the average mom right now is working harder than the average dad.  Instead, I am calling out the average man of our generation for being complacent.  Join me in encouraging our men to rise to the potential that God created in them!

As we look at recent legal and secular trends, it becomes more clear that our country is changing.  The moral and religious truth values we were built upon are being lost.  It is impossible to not see the rise drugs, violence, sex, abortion, waste and greed.  Our world is desperate for true leadership – leadership through service and sacrifice.  It’s not OK for half the population to sit on the sideline.  The stakes have never been higher than they are now.  Every person, man and woman, has a call to lead those around them towards the truth.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “High Stakes?

  1. I agree with your overarching premise and I too, as a Catholic woman, agree that our society has coached an entire generation of men to believe that they are mere sperm donors who should also contribute financially, but who should not dare to think or lead. However, I take issue with two of your points.
    Firstly, you note that Adam stood idly by while the snake attacked Eve, and I find this a fundamentally incorrect statement. Eve was not attacked, she was tempted, and the lesson to be learned is that Eve, of her own free will, chose to engage in sin. That is why all humanity has the stain of Original Sin, and why so many Christian – Catholic – have core beliefs related to the human challenge of denying our penchant to be sinners and to be more like our Creator. If you’d like to find fault with Adam, find it in that Adam also allowed himself to be tempted into sinning instead of staying strong in his faithful relationship with God.
    Secondly, you state that women need engaged husbands, and I agree. However you then go on to make the argument that more men than women want full time employment. This is a specious argument. Yes, women need engaged husbands, but that need not be predicated by whether a woman or her husband wants full time employment. Instead, the argument should be that women need engaged husbands – husbands that will actively help her parent their children, husbands that will take an active part in building a quality, faith filled life with them, husbands that will insist that the family attend church or Mass and who will show their children how to participate in church or Mass by actively engaging in worship themselves. These are engaged husbandly activities. As a married, Catholic woman, I would certainly like if my husband worked full time to provide for his family even if I didn’t want to work full time, but it’s more important to me that he be an active member in providing for our spiritual lives.

    • Julia, thanks so much for your interest and enthusiasm! I am super excited to see such a positive and thoughtful response. It’s heart-warming to see your passion so clearly throughout your comment. I think you raise two great points that I’m sure will be present in the minds of many others who read this page!

      There’s no doubt that Even of her own free will chose sin. My comment is not intended to let women off the hook, but instead to focus the men on their own part to play. Adam was physically present (see Gen 3:6) and God did charge Adam specifically to uphold the tree rule. Not only does Adam have a responsibility to Eve as another person (“brother’s keeper”), but he has a deeper responsibility to the care of Eve as her husband. You can see a bit of this when God first asks Adam what happened. He knows Eve ate first, but he doesn’t ask her first. He asks the person who is supposed have been the “head” of the relationship.

      Adam responds by saying “Eve ate it, not me!” I think too many men (myself included) respond to the world by saying the same thing. The “apple” may be an injustice or wrong occurring on in our houses, in our communities, or in our world. It’s not acceptable for us Christians to respond with indifference. We are all our brother’s [and sister’s] keeper.

      To your second question, I fear you may have misunderstood my original intent. My link there is to a secular article that lists a large number of statistics (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/03/14/modern-parenthood-roles-of-moms-and-dads-converge-as-they-balance-work-and-family/). They discuss how, despite all changes brought by feminism, statistically there are still more men than women who want to be working full time. I was, in no way, trying to demean those women who do want to work full time.

      My point was, instead, that God has given us, men and women, each a different but complex skill set. Men are not the same as women – we’re different. We should respond to each other’s strengths, relying on each to fulfill the unique roles that God has enabled us to do. Each individual marriage will work differently, and there are most definitely some marriages that God intends for the woman to work and the man to raise the children. A family that I know on the other side of Portland works very well that way, they’re friends of ours.

      As you’ll see in future blog posts, my view is that no matter what the working arrangements are, each parent has to be deeply engaged across the board. I think there are too many men who work 40 hours a week and check out at home. I think both parents have a 168 hour / week job. Praise the Lord we get to sleep at least some of them (though the young children sometimes ask even for those hours).

      Thanks again for your interest, I hope to see more great input and questions from everyone who comes to this website!