“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” –1 Corinthians 16:13
Jocks: Usually Aggressive and Mean-Spirited Men
In my personal view, white male jocks and their older peers are usually the worst kind of men. Wikipedia rightly says that this category of men are characterized by behavior that is aggressive, arrogant, mean, egocentric, easily offended, and short-tempered. These men are macho, they don’t cry, they’re afraid to hug or show affection, they are gay-bashers, and they bully people. But surprisingly, despite all of these negative characteristics, they are popular. But maybe that is because most of the world system is overrun by football and jock culture—and most of the world is comprised of people who would rather treat you like dirt than by people who are looking for a new friend. Maybe with the exception of some guys with a background in track and field, or other solo sports, like skateboarding—but generally those involved aggressive sports in the past or present—football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, boxing, etc—you’re going to find totally arrogant jerks; and sad to say, from school to the workplace, they generally don’t change the way they act. Football guys especially, I think, are the worst type of guys to be around. They are so often no more than arrogant, competitive, annoying bullies that walk around with a sense of entitlement, pushing others around, belittling them.
Control Freaks and Gold Diggers: The Worst Kind of Women
As for the worst kind of women, I would have to say it’s the women that find themselves attracted to these mean jock types, because they probably have similar personalities. These I would have to say are generally control freaks—a type that is so impossible to put up with: but it seems to be in women with different interests and backgrounds; second to that, I’d say the gold diggers are the second worst kind of woman, but not every woman has the opportunity to be a greedy gold digger, although I would say that gold diggers are a type of control freak.
Hipsters and Jesus Freaks: My Favorites
As for the best kind of people, I’d like to say that I prefer hipsters—especially Christian hipsters—because hipsters tend to care about friendship—they don’t really insult each other. They show respect to each other; they hate bullies and oppressors; they are generally sexually straight, but they show gay people respect as human beings; they love rock music and all its variations; they are open to paranormal phenomena and spirituality; they are emotionally expressive, creative, and sometimes intellectual (but just shy of being nerdy); they read and talk about interesting things, etc. I’ve always gravitated towards hipsters, because I’ve found them to be the kindest, and emotionally the healthiest to be around. The obvious drawbacks of the hipster culture are fornication, drug use, and profanity—all three of which open the door to association with drug dealers and criminals. (But you find that in jock culture too.) So, really “Jesus freak” hipsters are the safest to be with, socially, culturally, psychologically, emotionally, and yes spiritually. I’m glad to say we had more than a few of these present at our wedding. I would like to make one exception: fake hipsters. These are the pretentious posers who only imitate hipsters in the external sense—like their clothing styles, their music, and their slang, etc. But they haven’t gone all the way to embrace the ethos of anti-materialism, emotional expression, friendship seeking, creativity in the arts, etc. They just copy clothing styles and things. A true hipster embraces the ideology; it’s really a personality type—it’s not just a youth culture, a fashion statement, or a preference for bands like the Beatles or Nirvana. It’s a personality type that manifests itself in different ways, is all. So, if you come across a snobby hipster that looks down on someone—nope, that’s not a true hipster. They just bought the t-shirt—they don’t get it.
From Jocks to Yuppies: The Toxification of the Workplace
Those who were jocks—primarily concerned with talking about sports and not much else than that—once they graduate from college, and become successful in the workplace, they still mainly only talk about sports, much to the grievance of every non-jock that works with them. They are the yuppies. The jock-to-yuppie phenomenon in America is tragically prevalent; and I think it’s to blame for why so many companies have so many macho jerks intoxicating the work environment. Jocks, once they graduate from college, and enter the workplace and become young upwardly mobile professionals (yuppies)—they fill the place with the same aggression and competitive spirit that they had on the football field, and seem to be incapable of thinking of anything else other than those subjects as they allude to their job. The manager is like a football coach, the workers are like football players, the sales group is a “team,” and so forth. It’s enough to make a non-jock guy puke, roll his eyes, walk outside, puke again, go home and sulk.
Christian Masculinity Versus Worldly Ideas
The important thing to take away from my criticism of jocks is the following: it’s not that sports are bad. Honestly, football could be harmless fun if that’s all we would let football be. Although it’s not for me personally, because I think it’s just a boring game: you throw the ball, catch the ball, run a little bit, tackle, get tackled, walk around, and repeat it over and over again. The problem really has to do with modern American ideas about what it means to be a “real man.” The same manifestations of jerkiness can also be found in the military and the workplace. There’s confusion and misinformation about manliness; and as always, we can correct it by looking at the Bible for guidance. What God says about manliness is all that matters.
Worldly people in American culture think of a real man in different ways: bodybuilder physique, chiseled jawline, masculine facial features, a confident attitude, a “take charge” leader mentality; but it unfortunately gets warped into something worse by something like 30% of the male population: it turns into a macho man mentality–a jerky, cocky a-hole mentality, for lack of a cleaner expression. This is seen in verbal and emotional abuse, sometimes physical violence, narcissism (preoccupation with physical appearance), machiavellianism (manipulation), and psychopathy (hurtful behavior marked by a lack of regret, compassion, or sympathy). Relationship gurus say that a “real man” is a nice guy who has a relaxed but confident attitude. I can agree with that, but I think God has more to say about it. So let’s allow the Bible help us to filter out which characteristics to cling to as Christian men; and which ones to get rid of. Because obviously, there is a right way to be a man and a wrong way to be a man (Prov. 14:12)–and the Bible is the only way we can find that out…
1. Men are strong (1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Kings 2:2); both in body and their mental state: they are practically fearless.
2. Men are not childish, but adults (1 Cor. 13:11); they are capable of intelligent thought and self-control, unlike little boys.
3. Men are prepared to fight, if necessary (Job 38:3); they take measures to defend themselves and their loved ones.
4. Men are leaders of women and children (Isa. 3:12); and it is tragic if it is the other way around (1 Tim. 2:12).
5. Men respect women (1 Pet. 3:7; Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19); and they are sensitive to meet their needs.
6. Men pursue righteousness and gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11).
7. Men train their children with both nurture and admonition (Eph. 6:4).
8. Men imitate Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1): which seems to fit into the hipster culture by the way, much more than the jock culture. Which picture below looks like the Jesus in the Bible?
9. Men do not practice homosexuality (1 Cor. 6:9-10); are not transvestites, and do not imitate anything that is female in nature; it is manly to desire to be “one flesh” with a wife (Gen. 2:24).
10. Men are brothers with other men (Rom. 12:10); they are confident about their strength, intelligence, and leadership; and tend to have brotherhood with other men that share these same values.
To me, the clearest, most concrete examples of Christian masculinity are found in the Lord Jesus; and following after Him, the twelve apostles, Paul, certain legendary missionaries, saints, and revivalists, such as the Covenanters depicted in John Howie’s The Scots Worthies, many of the Puritan preachers who were persecuted for their faith, etc. There are others I could mention: preachers whose sermons I like, but can’t put down here, because I know that some of those preachers were too rough in their lives to imitate. What am I aiming for? I am aiming at all those preachers who have stayed the course, pursued a Gospel-centered revival ministry despite years of opposition, have gained the respect of their wives and kids, and have proven themselves to be good family men. These are the kinds of men I would like to honor: these are the men imitating Christ and leading Christian families. These are the men all men should want to be. Sort of like Mister Rogers, but a bit more manly than that–kind, approachable, while at the same time strong and confident, an attitude like Charles Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie.
For the development of a theology on Christian manhood, try taking a look at Adam Clarke’s Christian Theology, chs. 20-21, Larry Christensen’s The Christian Family, chs. 4-5, and John Piper and Wayne Grudem’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, chs. 10, 17, 23, Appendix 1.
Disinterested and Absentee Fathers
Extract from pages 384-385 in ch. 23, “Where’s Dad?” by Weldon Hardenbrook in John Piper and Wayne Grudem’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:
I humbly but firmly submit that the soul of our nation is in crisis in large part because American men have—from ignorance and for various and sometimes even subconscious reasons—abandoned their God-given role of fatherhood. They have discarded the notion of being responsible for the physical and spiritual well-being of those around them.
A series of historical events, beginning at the Industrial Revolution, traversing the search for American independence and the Second Great Awakening, and culminating in Victorianism, has had the net result of disestablishing American men from a true role of fatherhood and moral leadership in our land. The American male, at one time the ever present guide of the close-knit colonial family, left his family for the factory and the materialistic lure that the Industrial Revolution brought. The most numerous and most active members of the church, the men—who commonly debated theology in the colonial marketplace—were, in time, to be found arguing business practices in the tavern. The fathers who labored hard to instill the value of cooperation in their offspring, in time gave their children the example of unlimited individual competition. Men who once taught their children respect and obedience toward godly authority came to act as though independence were a national virtue. Men who once had an active hand in the education of their sons relegated this responsibility to a public school system dominated by female teachers and feminine learning patterns. Once the leaders of social progress, American men came to look on social reform and mercy movements as women’s work and, in time, became themselves the objects of that social reform, in the case of movements such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
Over the course of 150 years, from the mid-eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century, American men walked out on their God-given responsibility for moral and spiritual leadership in the homes, schools, and Sunday schools of the nation. As sociologist Lawrence Fuchs notes, “The ground work for the 20th-century fatherless home was set. By the end of the 19th century for the first time it was socially and morally acceptable for men not to be involved with their families.”