Introduction to Act Like Men, Be Strong
I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. – Edward Everett Hale.
Billy is a six-year-old boy whose father was killed two-years earlier during a fierce firefight in Syria while serving with the U.S. Military. Billy’s mother is doing her best to raise Billy and his three-year-old sister, but her husband’s absence has left a huge hole in their lives. Among other deep feelings of loss, Billy’s mom realizes it takes a man to show a man how to be a man.
Billy recently came home from school crying. Billy’s teacher is a divorced woman who is very bitter and harbors some “man-issues” in her life. Whether she knows it or not, she seems to relish embarrassing the little boys in her class. She often tells the young boys they are not as smart as the girls and boasts that girls are special while boys are distracting and rambunctious.
The girls out-number the boys in class and they delight in taking their teacher’s lead and making fun of the boys. Billy is a quiet, tender-hearted boy who misses the strength his father exuded. With his father gone, Billy’s role models are plastic fantasy figures that stand mute on his bedroom dresser.
As Billy’s mother tried to comfort him during his melt-down she asked him, “Billy what happened to you today that was so upsetting?” As Billy wiped the tears away, he whimpered, “Mommy, why do girls hate boys so much?”
Billy is not alone in his feelings. Many grown men feel disrespected, marginalized, and even hated by women. What has happened in our culture that so many men feel lost, lonely, and disenfranchised? It appears that men and manhood are under attack.
Consider some of the popular sitcoms from recent years are leading us into a new way of imaging men: “According to Jim;” “Last Man Standing;” “Everybody Loves Raymond;” “The Office;” and “Home Improvement,” just to name a few. All these sitcoms portray men as imbeciles, klutzes, and chauvinistic. Numerous commercials also depict men in a negative light. Another approach has labeled masculinity as “toxic,” and seeks to feminize men.
Let me say from the start, I don’t believe this antagonism toward men is the result of a “gender war” being propagated by most women. Certainly, there are many factors at play here, but I believe we men bear the lion’s share of the responsibility. I also think the present distorted view of manhood has its roots in two areas: the failure of men to pursue godliness and the vicious attacks on men by an angry group of social and politically liberal elements of our society.
Men, we must be willing to first look at our part. For decades, men in general have shirked their responsibilities in the home as husbands and fathers. Do you want to know one reason we men are experiencing this toxicity toward us today?
I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.
Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”– Malachi 2:13-16 NLT
Divorce is rampant, and in its wake, we have left nearly half the households in our nation without a man to protect and provide for his wife and children. While men are not always the ones seeking divorce, the result is the same. Many of the disenchanted and even angry women attacking men today came from a home where a bitter and even toxic mom was left to raise little boys and girls. The children picked up on their mothers’ anger over the situation and absorbed much of the venom and pain as their own. They left the home to strike out into a career with a general anger and disrespect towards men.
Many men lost their way in the pursuit of success by not spending enough time cultivating and discipling their children. Some men gauged their manhood based on success, power, fortune, fame, and unhealthy leadership styles that manipulated and controlled others. That was not a true representation of biblical manhood and undermined their role as husband and father in the home. I also believe we’re experiencing such a backlash against masculinity because of sexual abuse. We’re told that one in three girls in the United States are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18, and men are the perpetrators. One in six American women either experience rape or the attempt is made to do so—again by men!
And then there’s pornography. Oh, I’ve heard men say, “I’m not hurting anybody by looking at porn. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that a whole human trafficking industry has sprung up to support men’s insatiable lust for porn. When a man engages in porn, he is supporting human trafficking of innocent girls and women. He is contributing to their sexual abuse. If that weren’t enough, pornography devastates marriages. Can you even imagine what it does to a wife to know that her husband would rather find fulfillment in a virtual prostitute than to love and embrace his own wife? Pornography destroys families, women, girls and the man’s soul.
The second component of the problem is with a society that is drifting away from a godly culture into a dark hole of narcissistic pleasure. Society has so distorted what authentic manhood looks like that many men linger in the fog of uncertainty, guilt, shame, despair, loneliness, fear, and anger.
As a culture, our focus is on concerns like global warming, how far we can push discussions on abortion, saving animals, and manipulating politics. Yet, we ignore the development of strong families, which form the foundation of any healthy culture. Meanwhile, homelessness is on the rise. Drug use and suicide continue to soar. In short, we’re becoming more and more broken as a society.
We have lost sight of the biblical foundation that this country was founded upon. Instead of our youth embracing and connecting with past generations who gave so much to develop our country they spend their time idly sending texts to friends who are also clueless about living a successful life. The liberal educators in our schools and colleges teach children to question and explore their sexuality, ignore their parents and challenge any authority and all the while we medicate them to endure their frustrations, intimidation, and boredom associated with too many campuses.
Our emphasis on technology and social media has changed the way people communicate on a personal level. Face-to-face critical problem-solving and conflict resolution has been replaced with inappropriate and cold texts, tweets, and emails often leaving the offended party in emotional turmoil.
Many younger men today have confused their dreams and wants with the enabling culture that didn’t encourage an appropriate work ethic to achieve their aspirations. The idea of identifying lofty goals and having a plan to attain them is a foreign concept in a society that insists everyone deserves a participation trophy.
For the most part, contemporary society and its brokenness can be directly linked to the upstream problem with men. The downstream issues that are negatively impacting our cities and families come from fatherless families or households where dad is not emotionally involved in leading his tribe. Consequently, there is a direct link to a myriad of social ills; such as homelessness, juvenile delinquency, pornography, poverty, crime, orphans, homosexuality, and a host of other emotional disorders.
Friends, we have a moral and spiritual war going on that is as equally devastating as nuclear bombs being dropped on our country. Men must rise up and become warriors for God and their families or this culture is doomed. We must lovingly project an agenda of hope, strength, courage, and great character to the younger generation.
A boisterous call is going out for godly men who are determined and courageous to go to battle. This is not a physical battle but a spiritual, moral, and cultural one. The apostle Paul heard of their struggles and wrote two letters to the young men involved with the church in Corinth. Paul confronted them with the sin in their culture and need for the corrective action and a clear commitment to Christ. He especially rallied the men to engage with their corrupt culture and the disillusioned leaders who lost their passion to know God and make Him known.
His admonishment rings true today: Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Cor. 16:13-14). Today, if we are to take back our culture from the wickedness and false doctrines that have permeated the very souls of many men and their families, we should follow the same instructions Paul gave the church of Corinth.
Our battle isn’t with the opposite sex, but with our own complacency and disengagement from the political, social, and personal processes that disenfranchise us from creating a worldview that embraces respect, love, hope, and dignity for all. We need to win the battle for the sake of our families, especially our sons, and our country. I believe that God is calling men all over this land to return to Him. Twenty-first-century manhood needs to root itself back into the biblical values that create a stable culture. God is calling us to love our wives sacrificially; to honor, respect, and protect women in general. God is calling us to father and mentor our children by living under the same roof; to treat them gently, leading them and modeling for them what it means to follow Jesus. Frightened and confused boys like Billy need godly male role models around them.
This book presents a discussion of what God intended manhood to look like. It identifies some of the issues, barriers, and generational traits that helped create a chasm between the sexes and age groups. I want to challenge men to evaluate their role in this culture that is presently filled with antagonism, mistrust, and confusion about men and their God-given mission. We will take on some of the myths and confusion perpetrated by some politicians, the liberal media, and Hollywood. These entities would have us believe that strong, determined, compassionate, and courageous men are no longer welcome in our “progressive” culture.
This book serves to call men to be men; to behave like real men. Many men are so confused they don’t even know how or where to begin. I pray that this book provides some answers and direction. I’m calling on every man reading this book to return to biblical manhood. Be the man God created and designed you to be!
Are you with me? Let’s demonstrate to our wives and the little girls and women around us what a real man is like—one who protects, provides, and is even willing to lay down his life for them.
Let’s Man Up!
James E. Grassi, D.Min., husband, father, grandfather and follower of Jesus
 Susanne Babble, PhD, MFT, “Trauma: Childhood Sexual Abuse,” Psychology Today, March 12, 2013, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/somatic-psychology/201303/trauma-childhood-sexual-abuse.