Dr. Mohler posted an interesting article about younger men (early teens/middle-school years) trying to form a masculine identity in what amounts to a vacuum: NewsNote: Masculinity in a Can, Fight Club at Church, and the Crisis of Manhood. With no male role models to speak of, young men are finding their identity in a commercialized pseudo-masculinity, even to the point of preteen boys buying “masculine” smelling body sprays and being encouraged to join "fight clubs" at church. I like what he has to say, especially this:
Of course, Christianity honors the man who fights "the good fight of faith," and the most important fight to which a Christian man is called is the fight to grow up into godly manhood, to be true to wife and provide for his children, to make a real contribution in the home, in the church, and in the society, and to show the glory of God in faithfully living out all that God calls a man to be and to do. This means a fight for truth, for the Gospel, and for the virtues of the Christian life. The New Testament is filled with masculine -- and even martial -- images of Christian faithfulness. We must be unashamed of these, and help a rising generation of men and boys to understand what it means to be a man in Christ. The Christian man does not embrace brutality for the sake of proving his manhood.
It strikes me that contemporary young men are presented with two diametrically opposed visions of being an adult male and neither of them is Biblical.
One is what Dr. Mohler describes, a brusque, violent, brutish image of maleness. In an attempt to fight back against the weak image of feminized men that the popular culture spews at us, young men are encouraged to seek out violence and “machismo”, if you will, to find a male identity. With an almost nihilistic worldview, young men grow up without a hope for or an expectation of mature manhood and thus stay in a state of perpetual adolescence, which combined with a man’s body becomes very dangerous.
The other end of the spectrum is the “pop culture” male. Commercials portray men, especially husbands and dads, as grinning idiots. Mom or even more often the kids are the wise ones, dad is a buffoon. Television shows are full of either homosexual men, simpering, milquetoast men or men who are bad guys. There are very few characters like Jack Bauer (who is not a good role model for Christian young men) around. Most men on TV are not men any sane parent would want their kids to emulate.
Little wonder that young men are confused, growing up in fatherless homes and in female dominated churches. Inundated with images of effeminate men or brutish men, where are they to find their way? I don’t know what to do about the general culture but within the church something needs to change and that change is not going to come from entertainment driven youth group activities that resemble the most banal aspects of our culture. We need to teach and more importantly model what the Bible demonstrates as Biblical masculinity.
What the Bible shows us is incredibly counter-cultural. A man is someone who is humble, meek, loving and yet a leader, strong, a provider for his family. Men who love their brothers and are not afraid to say it and who love their wives and are not embarrassed by it. The church is called to recognize as leaders men not based on who is strongest or the best educated or who makes the most money. In other words, we are not called to follow the example of the world in our leadership. We are instead to recognize as leaders those men who live lives worthy of emulation (Heb 13:7). I am not saying that I fall into that category. Far from it. I do know that young men need a different worldview to grow up with, one where marriage is something to be embraced and not feared, where working to support your family is not a burden, where church is not somewhere you have to go because your wife nags you but instead is the community you find joy in. We need to recover that image of masculinity before we lose another generation of men.