the myth of the macho man

macho man

Once upon a time God created the earth and he needed someone to destroy it, so he created man.

Or so you would think the story goes by listening to the conversations I overhear between guys. Now, I don’t want to be a man-hater in this post. I have some excellent men in my life and I am sure there are many more in this world I’ve yet to meet. My dad, brothers, brother-in-law, cousins, friends from church and that handful of guys who have always read my blog and followed me on Twitter much to my confusion (hi guys!) are all wonderful.

Even the guys that this post is about are really great guys. They go to church, they treat their girlfriends right, they tell their mamas that they love ‘em. They’re good ol’ boys (as my grandpa would say) and yet they seem to have a very skewed view of manhood. I am not going to try to define manhood (I’m hardly the person for that job!) but I don’t feel unqualified to write this post. All I am going to do is to quote scripture and voice my opinion on what I appreciate (and what I don’t) in the behavior of male acquaintances.

With those disclaimers (refresher: I don’t hate men and this stereotype does not apply to all males, amen!) I give you The Macho Manifesto:

1. All male Christians should be macho, because otherwise, they’re feminine/untrue to how God made them. Boys will be boys, or should be anyway.

2. To be macho is to be wild, undomesticated, loud, rough, sloppy, hungry, dangerous and most importantly: destructive (to the glory of God.)

3. Appropriate Macho activities include but are not limited to: playing sports, watching sports, getting involved in borderline illegal activity and killing animals.

I am not saying that men should not be manly or that sports are evil or that I want to marry someone whose favorite activities are manicures and yoga. That’s not the point at all. The point is that somehow throughout time, men have been fed a lie. A lie that tells them that to be a real man and to be attractive to women, they must stomp through life with no concern for the wake of damage that follows behind them. This is not true. Scripture does not back it up and I can personally testify that this is not attractive to my Godly female friends or myself. This is not merely a matter of preference, but of ethics. Preferences are things like blue eyes or a great singing voice. This is an issue of men taking an unethical view of creation and thinking that it should be, not only acceptable in the Christian life, but the pinnacle of Godly manhood. Here is why I disagree:

1.   All of creation belongs to God. He takes no pleasure in death.

 I don’t like the idea of hunting if the goal is simply to domineer oneself over an animal. God made it clear that we have dominion over all of creation, we don’t need to trap and kill to prove that. Sitting in a tree house throwing corn out for deer day after day and then shooting them with a scoped rifle is hardly hunting. If you enjoy being in nature, observing animals, camping, tracking, etc. be my guest, but there is no reason for these kinds of activities to end in death. I can’t imagine that Jesus, who came to conquer death, would want us to find any pleasure in death, even the death of an animal.

Using dead animals as trophies doesn’t impress me. As a matter of fact, it lessens my respect of a man. If a man thinks that his worth is based on how many little animals he can conquer and mount, he has a very sick view of the purpose and power of the human spirit.

2. Abusing or killing animals does not make you a stronger man, but a weaker bully.

In scripture, The Holy Spirit is represented as a dove because doves are a spectacle of purity and grace. Today, dove hunting is a huge sport. How does killing a tiny bird make you more of a man? One of my favorite passages of scripture is Matthew 10:28-30,

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”

If God’s eye is really on a sparrow, why don’t we hesitate to take its small life?

Cruelty to animals is not manly, but rather childish. Remember that God let a donkey speak out against his abusive master! He also commanded that his people not muzzle an ox that was treading out the grain. (Numbers 22:28, Deuteronomy 25:4.)

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, writes in Proverbs 12:10: “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”

3. Scripture is adamant that man is to care for creation.

As you might’ve guessed, the beginning of this post was a parody of the true creation story. In reality, Genesis reads like so:

“…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:7-8, 15)

The literal translation from the Hebrew is that man was to “serve and protect” the natural earth. I also believe that we are to use the earth. It is subject to mankind, but it is also a gift. If someone gives you a gift, they want you to use it, not stow it away in some glass case. But neither do they want you to abuse it, destroy it or desecrate it in anyway. When we take what we need from the earth and give back to it as well, we are using the gift. When we take pleasure in the destruction of nature (be it animals, plants, the atmosphere) we are abusing our gift from God.

4. God honors creation and protection, condemns destruction and violence.

Without getting into a discussion of war, I think we can all agree that God calls us away from violence into a life of peace. He tells fathers to love their wives as Christ loves the church, giving of himself for her. He says that greater love has no man than this that he gives up his own life for a friend. He tells us not to provoke our children to anger, but to be gentle with children. He tells us to forget “an eye for an eye” and to instead turn the other cheek. Proverbs 3:31 warns,

“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.”

5. Jesus wasn’t macho

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m about to make a case for some sweet, girlish version of Jesus that just goes around patting people’s hands and smelling flowers. That is far from the Jesus I’ve read about and known. However, despite the fact that Jesus was no wuss (He understood better than any of us the power of The Spirit) he was actually nothing like the man described by The Macho Manifesto above. He did not take pleasure in pain or death. He was gentle to women and children. He spoke against violence and pride. So if men aren’t supposed to be “macho,” what does scripture say man is to strive for? Well, first and foremost, we should all (regardless of sex) strive to emulate Christ. When scripture gives us requirements for men who want to lead in church, we hear descriptions like, “of good repute, wise, not drunkards, honest, dignified, gentle, self-controlled” etc. In other words, Gaston would not qualify.

Though I think scripture speaks pretty well for itself, I leave you with the words from a great novel:

 “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

To Kill a Mockingbird

6 Responses to the myth of the macho man

  1. Sabina September 25, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    I was once a vegetarian so your logic makes a certain amount of since. But after sin, God told man that clean meat was for consumption. Why would it be wrong for people to eat wild animals? I imagine that you probably do not think it is wrong to eat livestock.

    There are several men in my life who do not think it is macho to go out and shoot things. They do not swagger and boast about their hunt. But they do it to feed their families. I can’t imagine myself going hunting and taking the life of a majestic creature, but I appreciate that my husband is willing to do so.

    I have always loved collecting insects because I love to enjoy God’s creation up close. That is the same reason why I enjoy mounted animals. Though, I much prefer them alive, out in nature. Death came into the world because of sin. It is sad.

    I feel bad for men who grew up on TV and have no idea what a real man is.

    There is a story in the new testament of Jesus giving the huge catch of fish and a story of him cooking some fish. Eating fish, in their culture, was probably their number one source of protein.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    • Everly Pleasant September 28, 2013 at 1:16 am #

      Sabina,

      Thank you for your comment! I think we are in agreement. I don’t believe it is a sin to eat meat, but I think we should always be grateful to God and to the animals that provide us that meat. I don’t think hunting is wrong. That’s why the graphic read, “reconsider hunting.” The men that provoked this post seem to think that destruction is funny and entertaining. I don’t think so. Sometimes it is necessary (perhaps not as often as we think) but it isn’t “good fun” to kill. We collect insects too and I appreciate your perspective on mounted animals. I had never thought of it that way.

      Thanks again,
      Everly

  2. Jen September 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    This is an issue of men taking an unethical view of creation and thinking that it should be, not only acceptable in the Christian life, but the pinnacle of Godly manhood.
    Yes! Coming from a family who does enjoy hunting for game meat (deer, rabbit, squirrel, etc), I totally understand what you mean. We live in a rural, agricultural area where it breeds men who live for a tractor-driving, animal-trophy-mounting, jacked-up-truck masculinity. Unfortunately what these men are so blind to is that they are obnoxious, not attractive. Since it’s all founded in vanity, it does nothing for their witness of Christ if claim to be followers.

    I love how you said it’s about their ethics, their worldview. Tractors, hunting and pick up trucks are not bad things. They represent God’s provision, working hard to provide for your family, and even in a Christian light, enjoying God’s gift of creativity and invention! I can enjoy a nicely built pickup truck. But if it’s all about how the truck makes ME look and getting attention, hmm. There’s something wrong with my glorifying-self worldview.

    If we love and claim Christ, everything is by Him, for Him and seen through Him!

  3. kateri September 24, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    In general I agree with you. One of the things I appreciate about my husband is his reluctance to hurt living things, from spiders to raccoons, to deer. When we finally decided that we really had to get rid of our resident raccoon population (they were destroying the interior of our barns and relocation wasn’t working), he went and bought ether so that they would have painless deaths. We don’t kill foxes on our property, and we don’t allow coyote hunting on our property (even though those animals are generally seen as pests–but as long as they aren’t completely overunning the place, they play an important part in keeping rabbits, mice, rats, and other small animals in balance).It bothers me a lot when I see both men and women rejoicing in the death of animals.

    I do however understand the need to hunt to protect farm crops and livestock. Also, many country people feed their families from hunting deer, rabbits, and other game. A lot of men I know use hunting as both recreation and a way to provide their families–it gives them a chance to get outside, have some quiet time–or some quality time with their children, while providing for their families. So many of the patients I see here in rural Michigan are very poor but because they have family and friends who hunt, they are able to have much of their protein at no cost from venison–which I believe is a wonderful thing. Hunting also keeps the deer population under control. Deer can be incredibly distructive to farm crops, orchards, and gardens. I believe it is possible to hunt in a way that is respectful to creation.

    After saying all that though, my husband does not hunt, and I prefer it that way.

    • Everly Pleasant September 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

      Kateri,

      I totally agree with you. This issue is really the size of a book, not a single blog post! We, in the same way, kill poisonous snakes on our property. Other varmints get relocated or, in in the case of squirrels, get their own feeder so they stay away from the bird’s. ;) I don’t believe hunting is evil across the board. What I was really trying to address is the idea that killing makes one powerful or masculine. Protecting is masculine. If you kill to protect and provide, that’s great. If you kill to boast, that’s a problem.

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate this kind of feedback.

      Everly

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