What is it to be a man?

Recently I wrote an article about the farce that is Bruce Jenner’s sex change. Not only has he not changed his gender, but also the outcry of public support and media attention that has gone towards him is sickening. Let’s not forget that this man killed another human being not long ago, but is now being rewarded for bravery because he mutilated his penis. Those with the audacity to speak out against this farce are being edited, censored, and even threatened.

So what is it to be a man? Culture right now says it is something like “self-definition as a man”; or more commonly as “a big dick, a god-like physique, at least 300 ‘ho’ notches on your belt, and the ability to consume alcohol nearly indefinitely.” Neither of these is correct. In the latter case, which even many men would cite, those males are really nothing more than fools and letches.

Inherent in men is a realization that masculinity is more than commonly cited masculine qualities seen above. If the physical attributes of John Wayne were enough to make you a man then plenty of moral cowards, louses, cheats, deadbeats, and losers would be men while moral heroes like William Wilberforce would be discounted.

Aragorn II Elessar, the King of the Reunited Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor, is a great example of manliness. But is it just because he can lay low orcs? Or that he is recorded as 6’6” and doesn’t wait for November to participate in “no-shave November”? No. It is because he leads selflessly, fights bravely, is wise, competent, intelligent, kind, generous, endearing, encouraging, confident, unjealous of the success of others, and most of all righteous. He was also humble, and willing to step aside for others. He is everything we want to be.

But what if you are 5’4”, have a scraggly beard, no chest-hair, can’t do five push-ups, are 115 lbs soaking wet, and cough at any attempt to smoke or drink whisky? Maybe culture says you’re not a man. But they are wrong. You are a man. And you can be a man based on one thing—your moral attributes. I happen to be a fan of the history of the reformation, and I can tell you that guys like Martin Luther were not physically imposing. In fact most of them were pretty scraggly. But while these guys were threatened with death they stood up for what they believed in, escaping death in beer barrels, or through windows. That’s courage, and manliness.

But let’s not exclude our formidable brethren. John Wayne, revered symbol of American masculinity, for some good reasons and some not so good reasons, is famous for saying, “courage is being afraid, and saddling up anyway.” His characters were courageous because they risked death for something greater than themselves.

So what am I saying? That foolhardiness or ballsyness makes a man? No, though it helps. Being a man is about one thing—is the world a better place after you die, or a worse place?

The world is a wild place. It wants to kill us. It is not productive or beautiful on its own. As Thomas Hobbes said, “life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” It takes work to make the world a better place. It takes work, and dangerous work at that, to turn useless farmland into something useful, or turn a dangerous river into a crossable stream, or uncultivated cotton and oil into a masterful piece of art.

This idea has been called “the protestant work ethic” at times, or dominion taking at others. Many today don’t believe in the concept because they believe mankind ought to be subservient to the earth. I don’t believe that.

This principle has affect on many areas of our lives. Don’t drink too much because you won’t be able to work the next day, and because you’re letting nature control you. Don’t endlessly bed women that will eventually be another man’s wife, or someone’s mother. Be a stand up guy who goes home to his wife and kids. Don’t eat yourself into oblivion so you become a useless fat slob. Don’t be a thief who lives on others hard work; work for yourself and others. Be a good employee; a better employee. Improve yourself at all times. Don’t sit your butt on a couch all day pretending to make the world a better place on Warcraft, or Call of Duty—go out an actually make it a better place!

So maybe you can or can’t kick ass. Doesn’t matter. You can be a man by being a brave warrior against a fearful world. Or, as the Duke said, ‘saddle up and get out there.’

Reject culture, pick up your masculinity and follow me.

3 thoughts on “What is it to be a man?

  1. Love it! Well done on establishing the essence of a man. It’s usually the opposite where women write articles on what it is to be a female. Being a female is hard with all the sacrifices we have to make, but it’s not exactly peaches for a man either. Isn’t it a huge responsibility for a man to look after his wife and family, to provide for them and to be with them physically and emotionally.


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