"The measure of a good man is not his ability to do damage with his fists, but rather, his ability to show compassion." -F. Bhaer (Little Men, 1998)
Guys have testosterone. It's in our nature to be aggressive...perhaps you've learned about this in Human Growth class back in school? Or even better, from your parents?
Guys are fighters.
Watch any little boy growing up, he will turn anything into a weapon sticks, stones. Boys play with army men, Legos, nowadays they play violent video games I'm told...
They dress up as superheroes, pirates, and Power Rangers for Halloween, each category intrinsically linked to aggression and fighting by some rite.
So this idea has been hammered into the young boy's brain from early on.
Which, of course, certainly explains the drunk dude at the bar, who takes a swing at anyone who brushes up against him.
It probably also explains the reaction by some guys who, upon finding out their girlfriend has talked to another guy, immediately seek that guy out and threaten him. Tell him to stay away from his girl, or face the consequences...
So why, then, is the caliber of guy which society is producing becoming less and less substantial? If men now are acting out of their own natural instinct why is the world we live in becoming less and less of what God had in mind?
After all, God created man, right?
I think that guys, in American culture particularly, have misunderstood our God given calling to manhood. We have lost the context for our aggressive natures.
We have replaced being fighters and warriors, with being animals.
I used to play football. I loved the game; I loved getting out there and laying a hit on the scrawny little quarterbacks! In my pads and helmet I felt pretty badass, and it gave me a rush to pursue the ball carrier, and feel him crushed under the force of my tackle. In my mind, I awarded myself extra points if I knocked the wind out of him...
Yet despite my love for the game, I loathed the locker room.
The locker room blurred the lines between aggressive instinct and animal nature...
Guys would run around, towel whip each other (which hurts like a bitch), call the less 'well-built' ones queers, spit in the sinks, take a shit and not flush, talk crudely about girls, pick their noses and wipe it on the benches...
Mind you, I love football with a passion...but after one year of that I quit. Man, it was disgusting.
I started thinking to myself...this is what being a man is?
I realize now that it is not. It is actually called being an animal.
Man is called to something far greater than acting like a caged beast.
I began to realize that my love for football and my aggression in that context had purpose. There was a point to it. The locker room, had no point.
As I read through the Old Testament, I see, continually, that men are placed in the role of warriors. The aggressive nature instilled within a man is, in fact, necessary time and time again, when God asks for courage and resolve from his chosen people.
The men in that culture did not merely fight though...
These men understood their first love, and that was to a God of peace. A God who liberates, not oppresses. Their first call was to love this God with their whole mind, body, and soul.
Theirs was a call to love, not fight. And when the time to fight did come, they fought because they loved, not because it was animal instinct. It was out of devotion, not self-preservation.
On the flip side of the coin, it is precisely when men began acting as animals, without self control of any kind, that God allowed trial and hardship to come to the nation of Israel.
Then, in the New Testament, I discovered another aspect of manhood. Men who didn't rely on physical strength, weapons, brawn. Men who did their best to emulate the example of their rabbi, Jesus.
These were men who treated their wives with respect, not as property, nor as a simple means to further their household. They loved fully. They did not stir up fights but, so far as it depended on them, lived at peace with everyone.
They were men who were persecuted for their convictions, yet stood firm and clung to their beliefs. Even amidst torture and death, they remained faithful to their Lord.
Animal instinct actually juxtaposes everything these men stood for. The way of the animal would tell one to fight their way out, or to run. Animal instinct is self-serving to the core. It places emphasis primarily on what is good for the individual, and the individual alone. It does not take others into account, and will often sacrifice others for the sake of furthering one's self.
But these men were not animals, they were something more.
They had something more.
In studying these men I found a key truth about God's intention for men.
We are not intended to be mere animals, acting on sheer instinct. We are intended to be lovers, full and complete in unity with Him.
It is only because of this love and understanding that it is possible for a man to understand how to treat a woman the way she deserves to be treated, or to handle himself with integrity in his job, or to show compassion on those less fortunate then himself.
There is so much more to a true man than just brute force.
Being the strongest, meanest and biggest.
Time and time again, throughout the Bible I see examples of those who place their stock in the "tough guy" ideal getting toppled by the unlikely, the 'weak.'
It makes me think that God has something more in mind for man than purely the pursuit of sculpting his muscles...
So, guys, if you think that what makes you a man is having sex with lots of women, or not cleaning up after yourself, being rude and insensitive, or not crying...ever...
Let me just say that you are missing out on something far better.
Being a real man is so much more.