The Murky underworld of the Man...
What makes the murky world of the man's soul so hard to get your mind around is the ambiguity with which most men communicate their desires and their disappointments.
It is really hard to even find books about men that aren’t replete with worn out wit and over-used analogies leading to disturbing conclusions.
The Take Home is ubiquitously communicated and it is essentially this: Men are brain-dead brutes. They just can’t think for themselves. They always take the path of least resistance. They can’t resist even the most nonsensical temptation They’re goners, losers, loners. Hopelessly and helplessly beyond reparation.
Men suck. They suck the life out of women. They suck the relaxation out of relationships. They suck the artistry out of communication. Everywhere they turn, anywhere they go…men bring with them a masculine vacuum that quite literally sucks…and real bad. At least this is what we’re spoon fed ad nausea by pop culture.
Men are morons. Cultural clods. Artistic abysses. Communicative corncobs. Sexual psychopaths. Relational retards. Athletic addicts. Hobby hobos. Lazy losers. Spiritual saps. As the country song says, “That’s the truth about men”. And very few argue otherwise. In fact, to do so, is to commit a cultural crime.
The minute you defend the dignity of men, the attack comes fast and fierce. Some believe you are condoning the ridiculous behavior of many mislead men in our culture over the years. I’ll admit, many men need to be taken to the woodshed for a workshop on masculinity/maturity. You won’t get much of an argument from me that many a man has conducted himself foolishly for way too long. These violent vices must be exposed and exterminated.
But there’s more to the story of the man than heinous acts of misguided passion. There are triumphant tales to be told that deserve more than the all-too-common flippant honorable mentions. Men can be quite magnanimous.
There aren’t many stories in the bible that talk plainly about the man’s emotions in marriage. I know that we have the Song of Solomon, but unless you’re schooled in interpreting dreams mixed with a mastery of Hebrew symbolism, you’re left to wonder how this honestly relates with what you’re going through in the 21st Century. I mean, I’m not saying there aren’t days when I find the Songs of Songs titillating, what with all the talk of breasts being like prancing fawns and such. But when it comes time to really actualize the data and drama of that piece of poetry, let’s be honest, guys don’t know what’s really going on from one verse to the next.
We have few propositional nuggets to cling to. Paul, strangely single, telling us to love our wives like Christ loved the church. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a boat-load that can be gleaned by spelunking down those Christ-0-centric caverns of interpretive thought, but at the end of the day, it’s a lot of theorizing and theologizing by flawed human beings. It’s great stuff, but it’s not a story, it’s a letter and a pretty didactic letter at that.
Jesus wasn’t married. I’m not sure why exactly; I don’t think it’s because it never crossed his mind, or because it would blemish his perfect moral track record, or because he was butt ugly. Consequently, he didn’t model much in the husband/father category and talked very little about a man’s mentality, moods or general makeup. We don’t read of many do-it-just-like-this marriage stories in the Gospels, I’m not complaining, but it does make it harder to piece together a picture, and even more importantly, a story. A good story, a dramatic interplay of banter, an everyday exchange of verbals and non-verbals. Something to sink our story-starving teeth into. Something to grab a hold of as a documented account of marriage in action.
Men are largely misunderstood. From generation to generation they are miscarried and thus, mistaken. We are making up masculinity as we go, and every generation looks in vain for a story that describes their dilemmas and desires. We are creatures who find solace in shared stories. We relate best to real, live footage. We learn best when something is translated and conveyed via story.
When men don’t have a solid story to attach to, they make believe. Who would disagree that most men don’t have words to describe what they are feeling on most days, marriage or otherwise? It’s not new news that most men prefer books with frequent pictures to keep their attention and to communicate a clarity that only a picture can paint. “A picture is worth a thousand words” had to be a guy quote after attempting to read his first book without the promptings of an illustrator. Men typically need live footage, poetry in motion as they say. Actions by active actors. They are hands on. Active learners as they say in education settings. Men have been dying for a story to describe their feelings for quite some time.
And men, regardless of how they are pigeonholed, have feelings. Lots of them. Deeper and denser than portrayed by the weeknight media or the weekend minister for that matter. Their interior isn’t represented well at all. Let’s be honest, sitcoms or sermons don’t generally do much to bolster the spirit of a warm-blooded man in a quest for magnanimous masculinity.
Look no further than the treatment of the sexes on Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. The women are lauded and applauded as pillars and anchors of life itself and are all but lifted up on shoulders and given the treatment of the Queen of Sheba. The men are scolded and scrutinized as dangerous and dutiful beings incorrigibly beyond repair outside of the miraculous intervention of Lord Sabaoth. Dejected and demoralized, they scamper to their cars at the conclusion of the service and lick their wounds.
Women thank the pastor for “taking it to ‘em” and “getting’ up in their grills”. Men believe they are beyond help, a menace to society, a blight upon God’s green earth.