Rise Up, O Men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of kings!
(by William P. Merrill, 1911)
We are living in strange times, my friends. We live in a culture that is practically toxic to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Manhood is under attack. Men of devout faith, humility, and integrity are becoming harder to come by. Need proof? Simply take one look at our current entertainment offerings and you will find very few positive examples of good husbands and fathers. There are a few out there, to be sure, but these are exceptions rather than the rule. I hope to point you to a few of these examples.
But first, the problem.
Our contemporary culture preaches self-love, sexual rebellion, and an “evolving” version of masculinity which I believe to be another word for cowardice! The “Hangover” generation includes men who have grown physically into their 20’s and 30’s who still live at home on their digital screens and have no spouse or family. This is usually referred to as “prolonged adolescence.”
The porn industry is making more as a business than the NBA, MBL, NHL, and NFL combined. Due to the incredibly unrealistic standards of sex caused by porn addiction, y just to become sexually stimulated. The mental images they are consuming are a poison for the heart and mind. It is a warped view of sexual intimacy that is built on a lie. When I take my son to the mall, I have to avoid walking in the direction of Victoria’s Secret because the “advertisement” is an image of a girl who some men would be giving dollar bills to at the local strip joint.
Entertainment as a whole is circling the drain. What once was shameful behavior practiced in private, is now openly celebrated and you are considered foolish and weak to believe otherwise. In today’s culture one might be tempted to think that you are not a man until you engage in premarital intercourse, go to strip clubs, or co-habitat with another woman to test out the martial chemistry. I can remember being criticized by coworkers for not living together with my wife (of 9 beautiful years!) before we were married. I also can remember being accused of being a “homo” because I wouldn’t attend a strip club with a few work buddies.
Take the TV show “Family Guy” for example. This adult cartoon has been mainstream for years. This is a show that pushes the boundaries of what is tasteful and often depicts subjects that in other contexts would be considered vile and disgusting, but I’m not here to bash Seth McFarlane. I pray that he finds Jesus soon enough! My point is that the examples young people grow up seeing in popular media change how they not only view the world, but interact with others. The YouTube culture has had a profound impact on our interaction with others. It seems that watching someone of varying political or social backgrounds get “owned” on YouTube is more fulfilling than showing the love of Christ. I suggest going to the comments section of this website and taking a moment to see how hateful and ugly some of these comments are. Before the digital age, I knew the public had a tendency to be rude, ignorant, and downright nasty. The only difference is that now you can have that image in writing.
Politics is far from exempt. How about the fact that some on the political right are so quick to condemn Matt Lauer’s lack of character, but cheer on Donald Trump who reportedly pays off porn stars with hush money? Watching Louis Gohmert (R-TX) press Peter Strzok of the FBI on his adulterous affairs seems to be hypocritical considering the accusations of poor moral character of who republicans elected to office.
Where is the consistency, men of God? Oh that’s right, King David was adulterous and considered a murderer as well, so it’s OK! His kingdom also erupted into civil war and he and Bathsheba lost their first child. The story of David is so much more than just finding the flaws in a preferred political leader (no matter who it is) and giving them a free pass. David’s story highlights the power of God’s grace and forgiveness while still having to pay an earthly penance. Donald Trump, Matt Lauer, Peter Strzok, and Louie Gohmert all need Jesus.
I could continue to list the all the sins happening in the world, but I think you get the picture.
So where do we go from here?
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5).
I am a huge sentimentalist for old Disney films, as my wife will tell you. One of my favorites is called “Follow Me, Boys!” starring Fred MacMurray. In the film, Lemuel Siddons (MacMurray) is a traveling musician who arrives in a rural American town and decides to settle down. Over a 30-year time span, Lem becomes a tremendous leader with the town’s Boy Scouts. He teaches and models godly faith, character, determination, hard work, and common sense. Of course by the film’s end, he is greeted by all the generations of men he helped influence. It is a wholesome film with a happy ending (Disney staple!) that would likely fail at the box office today due to lack of explosions and cleavage. If men today could learn from this small example of Galatians 5:22-23, our culture might be in a healthier place.
[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Overall, the men of Hollywood’s “golden age” were less afraid to be men. Many of them fought in the second World War. John Wayne’s onscreen characters were able to strongly stand and protect the innocent. Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith” was committed to righteousness, justice, and principle. Men of faith and courage where not necessarily limited to these few in Hollywood.
I am continuously inspired by the stories of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German pastor/spy from World War II) and William Wilberforce (a British parliamentarian/abolitionist) ; two different men who lived at different times. Wilberforce saw the fruits of his faith come to fruition in the abolition of the British slave trade. He actually committed Psalm 119 (the longest psalm) to memory and recited it to himself every day while walking to and from Parliament. Sadly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer did not live to see the fruits of his faith, as he was martyred for his role in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, a decision he actually struggled with! Nonetheless, both were faithful disciples to the end and their examples changed the world. Just as in written in Hebrews 11, we hear and read about faith in action and the results are astonishing. I cannot recommend learning these stories enough.
So engage with your family! This cliche is heard enough but is completely true: The family that prays together, stays together. Don’t follow the passions of your heart because your heart can be easily deceived. Be a man of God and don’t let the world, the devil, or your flesh corrupt you.
I close with the following passage from by Stephen and Alex Kendrick:
Lock shields with other men. We need other soldiers around us, men who can help us become better and stronger. By working together and being honest, men can help each other with their struggles, encourage their daily walk, warn against doing stupid things, and then provide counsel toward becoming more successful in marriage. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17)