A new billboard along highway 40 reads, "Real Men Provide, Real Women Appreciate It".
Everyone seems to have an opinion about the message. The local TV station says Ron Houser told them, "I think it's fairly accurate...I think my wife really appreciates the fact that I can provide for a family and take some of the stress off her."
"Not so fast," says Molly Grace. She tells the same TV station about the same sign: "It's absolutely insulting...seeking to normalize this way of thinking...is dangerous....and delivers a misogynistic, outdated message"
A number of universities---including some here in the Northwest, are now offering classes and conferences dealing with what they label as "toxic masculinity."
WUSA 9 TV in Winston Salem North Carolina says the sign is "stirring up controversy, protest, and debate."
While Ron Houser thinks this message is "fairly accurate," Molly Grace says it's insulting, misogynistic and it's an outdated message.
Molly Grace says, "Seeking to normalize this way of thinking, to make it seem, like it's the norm and anyone who thinks otherwise is crazy or liberal or a rebel, normalization of this way of thinking is the most dangerous, absolutely the most dangerous, subliminal tactic."
Nathan Walin saw the sign and told the TV station' "I would assume if you had a husband that loves you and appreciates you and showed it enough to carry your family and kids, that you would appreciate it. I don't know why that would be offensive. That would be a good thing."
Yes, you would assume that, and yes, you would think that would be a good thing.
However' there is a growing movement on university campuses to "de-masculinize" men.
Universities across the country are committing to fight "toxic masculinity" this year with conferences and events exploring the allegedly violent tendencies inherent in traditional "manhood."
Ithaca College hosted a workshop on "masculinity and violence" as part of their MLK Day activities last month, while Duke University is hosting a 9-week discussion series to explore "how masculinity exists on our campus---often in toxic ways."
Their goal is to "construct new futures for masculinities."
Oregon State University students are invited to attend a "healthy masculinities conference" where they will "engage in collective imagining to construct new futures for masculinities, unrestricted by power, privilege, and oppression."
The premise of the conference is, "Anger is the only emotion that men have been socialized to express."
This is not an isolated---one off kind of experimental conference. There are many schools now regularly accommodating or sponsoring these events. And they are developing on-going programs on campus.
Oregon State University has said that this will be the fifth year of its conference.
The University of Massachusetts now has a "Men and Masculinities Center" for students to "interrogate and deconstruct traditional forms of masculinity," even offering a support group for male students "who violated certain aspects of community standards" that "consists of a series of structured activities and conversations designed to get participants to reflect upon their behavior and the ways in which adherence to traditional masculine norms influenced their choices."
Is this what my dad meant when he said he wanted me to grow up and be a man?
All of us---men and women, can do better with God's help. Each of us can improve personally as individuals and as a spouse and parent, but this is way beyond mere improvement.
This is about redefining the role and identity of men.
And the attempt to redefine the roles of men and women is a natural offshoot of the attempt to redefine marriage and human sexuality---the creation of the nonsense of "gender fluidity.
James Dobson told me often while appearing as a guest on our daily TV show in the 1980s and early 90s that the homosexual movement would seek to redefine manhood in the years ahead.
He was right.
Todd Starnes commented on this matter recently, writing, "Could you imagine the Greatest Generation flitting around town after a spa and dishing about their inner-most thoughts with life coaches?"
Starnes says, "In today's reengineered version of manhood, guys no longer have friends---they have bromances and they settle disputes by hugging it out."
He says, "Can you imagine John Wayne using moisturizer and a concealer stick to hide razor nicks?
Starnes says he took an unscientific poll a couple of years ago asking what women want in a man. He found they want a man who loves God and loves his family.
And they want these things, in no particular order:
- Has a job.
- Drives a pickup truck.
- Uses a bathroom standing up.
- Eats meat.
- And is willing to carry them out of a burning building.
In his book, "The Measure of a Man," Gene Getz described a biblical man. This is the bibllical model:
To know what a true man is, you need look no further than the life of Jesus Christ. As the Son of Man, Jesus is the epitome of manhood, the perfect example of what true maturity looks like. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and lived in complete dependence on and obedience to the will of God.
A true man, like Jesus, is obedient to the Father’s will and is about His Father’s business (Hebrews 10:9). Like Christ, the godly man will shun sin and follow after righteousness. He will, in the power of the Spirit, seek to keep God’s law and live in God’s will. He will evince a determination to accomplish God’s will, whatever the cost (Isaiah 50:7). He will endure opposition and never lose heart (Hebrews 12:3). He will be a man of the Word, using Scripture to overcome temptation (Matthew 4:1-10). He will be a man of prayer (Mark 1:35). He will be a man of love and sacrifice (John 13:1).
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14). According to these verses, a true man is vigilant against danger, faithful to the truth, brave in the face of opposition and persistent through trials.
A true man is someone who has “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11, NLT). A true man knows what is right and stands firm in the right. A true man is a godly man. He loves the Lord, he loves life, and he loves those whom the Lord has entrusted to his care.
Or, as Starnes concludes about men's relationship to women: "In other words---they want the kind of man made in God's image---not the image of some effeminate intellectual stuffed in skinny jeans sipping chai tea with his pinky finger extended."
I think that's what my dad meant to say.
Be informed. Be Bold. Be Alert. Be Aware. Be Prayerful. Be Whole.