It has become tradition for me to read to my husband while he is driving.
For a recent journey to the southwest, I selected The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood by William J. Bennett. It was good to return to his treasure trove of writings gleaned from thinkers such as Alexis de Tocqueville, Teddy Roosevelt, Booker T. Washington, and David Aikman on such topics as war, politics, women and family, faith, and work. As a wife and mother of sons, I’ve always been fascinated by the gender opposite mine. I want to know what they think. What makes them tick. This desire comes naturally to me as the one God called to “complete” or compliment the male being. In my vocation as a “helper,” I am inspired to daily bring out the best in any male person whose life intersects mine. How can I compliment or be of help if I haven’t taken the time to study and learn what men are all about?
If you’ve been reading my blog or have attended any Titus 2 Retreats, you’ll know I’m on a quest to help myself and others better appreciate biblical manhood and womanhood. Foundational to all discussions on this matter is our identity. How we define ourselves matters. How we see ourselves affects our behavior and choices. If we call ourselves people of God in Christ Jesus, then we are compelled to live as sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18)
How does a son of God live? He is called to daily live out his male vocation in a sanctified or holy way. In other words, he is not called to obsess on himself or his sensuality, but to do all that he does—in married or unmarried life—in the light of what Christ has done for him and to God’s glory. He is called to work, serve, protect, teach, and relate to other men and women in ways that honor his Creator and Redeemer.
How a man defines himself matters. How he sees himself matters. What he does as a man matters. God’s Word in 1 Thessalonians 4 instructs man to live a life pleasing to the Creator. It is the will of God and for a man’s sanctification (holiness) that he controls his own body and abstains from what is unholy. God’s gift of sexuality, or anything having to do with intimacy and procreation, is for use within the parameters of marriage. Sexuality has very real connections with fatherhood, children and family.
But, what if (as so often happens in this present culture) a man identifies himself as a sexual being? What will become of him if he can’t live out his sexuality? Will he simply wilt away into a pitiful heap useful for no good purpose? Ah, but let us expose the lies and deception. Man is more than a sexual being. He is a human being. A male human being. Our gender—male or female—is to be lived every day, not reserved for marriage. To be a man is, literally, a vocation. To be a good steward who honors God’s created order is a vocation. The culture is powerfully affected—for generations to come—by the way a man daily chooses to think, to serve, to work.
What is the value of work in a man’s life? Indeed, God created man to be a worker; a good steward of the land, fully engaged in honest and, thus, joyful labor. Work in a sin-filled world isn’t easy. It can be frustrating, ordinary, or tiresome. Nevertheless, work for a man is more than what he does. Work for a man satisfies his most inner yearnings for order, stability, and significance.
In the prologue to his section on “Man at Work,” William Bennett writes this:
“Despite what popular culture might convey, we know there is something intrinsically satisfying in being able to plant your own garden, repair your own house, and fix your own car. Recently, a friend of mine was recovering from life-threatening cancer. His doctor told him that he could not work, exercise, or enjoy the other fruits of life—all things that men pride themselves on. I asked him what hurts the most to be without. ‘Work,’ he said. ‘I don’t feel like a man. Work has more to do with me being a man than sex or muscle.’”
God calls us to a life of holiness in our vocations as male or female. Whether we are healthy or not so healthy. Strikingly handsome or plain. Married or unmarried. In work or in play. In service or at rest. Not to our glory, but His. Sensuality may be fleeting; something for this earth. But, holiness leads to another life and the promise can be trusted. A son of God lives forever.