I generally write a lot about motherhood on here because, well, I’m a mother and being a mother pretty much consumes my life right now. But today is Father’s Day and so today, I would like to write to the Fathers, to the men.
Men sometimes get a bad rap in our culture today. With the rise of feminism and the Me Too movement, the idea of masculinity has taken a bit of a hit, so much so that the term “toxic masculinity” is commonly tossed around. Now, some of this is justified. There is certainly a long history of men using their power and position to abuse and take advantage of others (though I would say that is a fault not exclusive to men).
I wonder though, if in trying to stamp out what has gone wrong with masculinity, we are in danger of also destroying what is good about masculinity. To pair it with the word “toxic,” which literally means “poisonous,” can imply that masculinity is, in and of itself, dangerous and destructive.
This begs the question, “What is masculinity?” Is it innately bad or is it, a good thing that can be abused for bad purposes? I would argue for the latter. Some of God’s greatest gifts, sex, money, food, have been used to perpetrate some of the greatest evils. It is Satan’s greatest delight to take God’s good, wise, pure designs for mankind and distort them for wicked ends. The greater God’s intent for good, the greater potential for evil when placed in the hands of sinful people, led astray by a cunning, deceitful enemy.
So it is with masculinity. Men are given a high calling in scripture to love and protect and lead. With this position, does come power. This power, should be seen as a sober responsibility though yes, often it has been abused for selfish ends. Such abuse should always be condemned, but let us be careful that as adamantly as we condemn wrong masculinity, we should be affirming and teaching right masculinity.
Real masculinity is not just muscles and sports and guns any more than femininity is merely dresses and makeup and manicures. It is not unbridled power any more than femininity is wilting, unquestioning acquiescence. Real masculinity is power constrained by wisdom, integrity, love, and above all, humility. It prizes and preserves what is good and right and pure. It does not use its strength to take advantage of the weak and vulnerable, but rather to protect the weak and vulnerable.
When I think of masculinity, I think of the image, emblazoned in my memory, of my husband holding our firstborn son in the hospital. I see his strong arms and hands, cradling and shielding his tiny, fragile body. I see him gazing down at him with a radiant love that silently vowed to fight for him and protect him. I remember it so vividly because it made me fall in love with him in a whole new way. That is the essence of real masculinity. Strength that protects and serves and sacrifices.
My sons need my husband’s masculinity. They need him to show them that a real man walks in humility, fights for purity, leads with boldness, respects women, and fiercely protects those entrusted to his care.
My daughter needs my husband’s masculinity. She needs him to show him to show her that a real man will treat her as the treasure she is, prize and preserve her purity, and see her beauty and worth as so much more than her body.
I need my husband’s masculinity. Perhaps that is seen by many as an outdated opinion, but I stand by it. I need it as surely as he needs my femininity, not because I am weak or helpless, but because that is the beauty of God’s design. Each spouse functioning as intended, complementing and providing unique strengths and abilities that the other is lacking.
This world needs masculinity. It needs good, God-fearing men who “seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God” (Micah 6:8). It needs fathers who are involved. It needs husbands who are faithful to their wives and to God.
We should be celebrating masculinity as it was designed to be. We should be affirming and nurturing its unique traits in our sons. We should be applauding the husbands and fathers who are living it out every day. Because masculinity, real, true, masculinity, is not toxic. It does not poison or destroy. It lays down its life in order to give life to others.
So, to my husband and so many others I know who quietly and humbly live this out every day, I say Happy Father’s Day. Thank you for being real men. We need you so much.