“Read this book – it’ll tell you how to be a man!”
Am I not manly enough? I eat steak. Sundays are incomplete without some football and spicy chilli. My car is a dirty old pick-up. Sure, I watch Once Upon a Time and I really love my cats, but I also like reruns of Highlander and I follow the Bearded Gospel Men Blog. Do people think I need help “being a man?”
I’ve been handed these sorts of books more than once during someone’s effort to teach me Biblical manhood. (Imagine the beating I would receive if I gave a lady a book and said, “This will help you be a real woman.”) This common attack on my manhood raises serious questions.
One of these books told me that men should do what they enjoy doing. That wasn’t much of a revelation. Are there men out there who host tea parties and watch GLEE, just waiting for a book to give them permission to go camping and stop shaving? I didn’t need anyone to tell me that scrapbooking wasn’t a good outlet for my feelings. (By the way, if you’re a man who likes hair-dressing and Downton Abbey more than hunting and fishing then you’re still OK with me.)
Another one of these books encouraged men to be bold and stand up for what’s right. (This was pretty much the only argument it contained.) The author was concerned that men were not standing up for justice.
But wait…what does that have to do with men? Shouldn’t everyone be doing that? Is there any reason to exclusively give this advice to men? The author gave no indication as to why he wanted to single out the boys. Are men expected to be our culture’s only morality police? As far as I was concerned, it was generally good advice for anyone but it had been packaged as advice for men.
So I’m still confused about the whole phenomenon of “manly” Christian books. I suspect this sort of thing is promoted by the part of our culture that wants to see Leave it to Beaver in our homes, and believes that promoting a 1940s domestic life is the same thing as promoting the gospel. It’s not.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)