A Teenage Boy’s Rant, A Gender-Free Baby, and How Not to be a Man (The “What not to wear” of Pro- masculine movies)

I think I have broken some kind of rule for good writing by creating a title that is longer than my first sentence.  (But…wait for it.  It does all connect.)

 

I’m convinced that young men find it a challenge to safely traverse the journey of manhood.  I’m also convinced that there must be a lot of confusion out there.    I have in my possession an actual piece of writing a male grade 10 student (unsolicitly) submitted… (The teacher instructed the class to “write a poem or draw a picture related to World War 1 on the front of their tests” for a bonus mark…)

 

On the front of his test he expressed something quite surprising.

In summary, he (the male student) wrote “a rant” and openly spoke of the mixed societal messages regarding manhood.   He spoke of his personal ridicule at choosing to practice abstinence.  He spoke of an overall confusion of what it meant to be a man and what it meant to be masculine.

Putting aside some of the more omitted inflammatory comments… the main idea I’ve gathered from this situation was about a young man confused about what it meant to be “a man”.  While it probably isn’t the norm for a young man to speak so transparently and honestly,   I believe that many young men walk silently through these very same dilemmas.

 

Society does not make it any easier for our young males to reach their destination of manhood.  Men and Women are equal, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t different.

Is it only me, or does it appear that to express, define or make masculine and feminine distinctions is a social sin.   Gender neutrality rules the day!

It’s like there is something fundamentally wrong about having masculine expectations and associations.  In today’s current thinking, boys should be encouraged to wear pink, and girls should be able to dress up as Spiderman.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is anything particularly wrong with guys wearing pink or girls playing with trucks… But, there are those who promote this idea that gender boarders must be pushed, or at the very least dissolved.  I wonder why.

 

Take for example the Toronto couple who made the news.  They decided not to reveal the sex of their baby to their family and friends.  In doing so, the child will be free to explore whatever gender they feel so inclined and not be shackled by social expectations and gender restraints.  (Check out the you tube link “Toronto couple raising gender-free child”  and the Toronto Star article Parents Keep Child’s Gender a Secret.)  I couldn’t make this stuff up.

“Boys will be boys.” ??  I’m not so sure of that axiom anymore, at least if some people have their way.  Focus on the Family has a very interesting article about helping parents sort through gender confusion.  Gender Confusion in Children.   (By the way, please let me know if the links do not work.)

 

Why do I blog about these things?

As men, one of our key functions is to help lead our boys to where we are.   We are tasked with the opportunity and privilege to help steer our young men in this journey of manhood.  Yes, a lot of us (admittedly) got here on our own.  My fathers instructions on male and female relationships were simply and comprehensively put…”Son, in a relationship…one must be the fire and one must be the water.”   (End of story.)

Now to be fair, my father was (and is) a man of God, and was (and is) a good provider and role model.  But culturally (I suspect), a lot of intimate knowledge just was not shared.

We need to realize that God never intended isolation on a road fraught with dangers.  We need men to help make men.  Quite frankly, with some of our modern challenges (such as finger tip pornography, and shifting gender identities and ambiguity) I’m not so certain it’s wise to go it alone.

 

So, what about this “How Not to be a Man” the “What Not to Wear” of pro-masculine movies?  I stumbled a few weeks across this movie called “How to be a man.”  It was about a guy (Mark McCarthy- the main character) who was dying and therefore decided to make a series of home movies for his unborn son, so that he would learn what it means to be a man -in his absence, especially when faced with critical junctions of masculine development.   Through out the process he befriends an impressionable, and somewhat lost, fatherless, early 20 something year old (Bryan) who participates as his sidekick and videographer of his antics.

Before you rush to see this movie, here are a few disclaimers…  If you struggle with lust or pornography – there are some sexually explicit scenes.  If you struggle with drug abuse – there are scenes that depict drug usage.  If you struggle with, or are offended by course language – well… the language is colourfully consistently inappropriate most of the way through.

 

By now you are probably wondering, did this movie give any meaningful counsel about “How to be a man?”

 

Stay Tuned for the next blog.

Noah… Imperfectly Perfect

The Noah movie “misses the (m)Ark.”  That wasn’t my gem; it came from a newspaper…

I’m not particularly interested in wading into the debate as to whether the Noah movie is positive  (because evangelistically it brings the Bible into the public sphere) or negative (because it doesn’t handle the content biblically).

Well, for one thing, I haven’t even seen the movie…

 

The point this Blog is that Noah is an example of a “Genesis Man” who was “Imperfectly, Perfect”.  Obviously enough, his story is in the book of Genesis.  However, his story lives out some of the great qualities of “Genesis Man-ness

 

  • There was a declarative and prophetic aspect over Noah’s life – Declaration.  His father Lamech spoke into and over his life as a child, and he did so over his own sons.

 

  • Noah lived a life of obedience in relationship with God.  God even called him a “just man” -an example of Moral Responsibility. 

 

  • He rescued his family (not to mention the human race) – demonstrating Family Responsibility/ Relationships.

 

  • He worked (for an awful long time -I might add) building an ark – an example of Work/ Purpose.

 

Noah’s story is in contrast with our modern cultural myths regarding fatherhood (primarily that…)

  1. The role of the father is unnecessary.

       2.  The role of the father need not be done by a man (it’s only a concept).

  1. It’s ok to divorce fatherhood from maleness.

 

So why did I call this blog “Noah, Imperfectly Perfect”?  In his back story, God reveals an interesting reality about Noah’s character.

Gen 6:9  Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

 

Did you catch that?  Noah was perfect.  This doesn’t refer to genetic perfection, as some would theorize.  It speaks of the wholeness and completeness in Noah’s relationship with God, which was in stark contrast with his modern world contemporaries and personalities.

 

Why was he “imperfect”?  Well, Noah was a sinner.  That’s why he found “Grace in the sight of God.”

After the flood, sin wasn’t gone.  (It hitch a ride in the ark – again, not one of my gems.)  Noah switched careers from a ship builder to farmer-who specialized in grapes.

As a matter of fact there is a rather embarrassing story (whereasif I had written the Bible, I would never have included it) explaining that Noah got drunk and ended up naked in his tent, and one of his sons stumbled upon him. (Gen 9:20-24 – read it yourself if you think I’m making it up).  Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t go into all the details (which would make for a very uncomfortable sermon), but it is unapologetic and painfully disclosing in its presentation of truth.

 

Can you imagine the uproar if Aronofski (the director of the Noah movie) had run with that story line?

 

Despite Noah’s imperfections, God still recorded his legacy as being just, righteous, and faithful.  He was a perfect 10 in his walk with God (and that wasn’t because he had no sin, and that wasn’t because he was BORG –Star Trek reference).

Will I see the move Noah?   Perhaps.  Maybe the movie is also imperfectly perfect…   Then again, maybe I may have to rewrite this blog…

 

Please feel free to offer thoughts and feedback.

 

Israel