From The Men: Who We Really Are
Editor’s Note: This may be the greatest challenge, encouragement & truth I’ve heard spoken about masculinity. Women, are you speaking to a man’s potential? When was the last time you praised a man for his strengths? Men, do you know your potential? Are we handling lust, porn, and gender differences correctly? Bob Hamp is a man I respect deeply; Pastor of Freedom Ministries at Gateway Church, counselor, author, father, & truth-speaker. He is marrying Max & I this weekend! You can read Bob’s blog here & follow him on Twitter at @bobhamp. – Lauren
The women were up in arms!! The way the men were treating them was demeaning and de-humanizing. In fact it wasn’t so much the way they were being treated, it was that they were being treated as if they didn’t exist.
Ignored. Interaction was kept to a minimum. Every woman on staff had begun to feel they were being treated as an object. A grunt, a minimally worded directive, these had become the norm as the men in the organization set a cultural standard for the treatment of their women.
Upon further investigation, I found that the previous leader of the organization had entered into an inappropriate relationship with one of the women on staff.
In an attempt to protect the women, and preserve the organization, all the men on staff had agreed that they simply would not relate to the females on staff. They had made a classic blunder. A common mistake that people and organizations, and yes, cultures make, when they try to fix a problem. They had taken the problem and moved to a false opposite. In their mind, the opposite of an inappropriate relationship was to have NO relationship. You only have to read the words to recognize the blunder. Clearly the opposite of an unhealthy relationship is a HEALTHY relationship.
It’s good that our Christian culture is wise enough to avoid this silly mistake. Or are we?
Asked recently about ministering to men, I made the comment that I think men need to be treated differently. We need to talk about more than just how not to lust. Men’s ministry often becomes about accountability, paying attention to family, and ways to keep from looking at porn. When are we going to realize that the opposite of pornography is not NO pornography. The opposite of pornography is men stepping into the fullness of God’s design for true and healthy masculinity.
During my sixteen years as a counselor in private practice, I saw again and again that the real reason people seek help is not for the problems of their lives, rather people seek help because they deeply struggle with bad solutions to the problems of their lives.
The problem we men struggle with is fatherlessness. We struggle with understanding and living in deeply satisfying relational intimacy, with both genders. We struggle with fears of inadequacy, and a lack of familiarity with the emotional territory of the heart. We struggle with the loneliness that comes from our fear of failure, and not knowing how to relate to women in healthy ways.
The opposite of pornography is not the absence of pornography. The opposite of pornography is when men learn to discover their true identity. It is when men can find God to truly be the Father to the Fatherless. It is when Men discover that risking is the only way to learn new ways to relate; when women learn how to help us in these areas, instead of simply criticizing us for our inabilities.
I am tired of hearing it drilled in to my gender that we will always struggle with lust, and that because we are visually stimulated we are doomed to always struggle with our eyes. Isn’t it much more likely (and more biblical) that any struggle with our eyes is first and foremost a struggle with the heart? Isn’t it possible to recognize a woman’s beauty at all levels and not wander into places in our heart that are out of bounds?
This is NOT what is communicated, when we are sent the constant message that we are weak, lustful creatures, who need women to dress differently in order to protect us from our poor uncontrollable masculine responses.
I feel certain that when Jesus approached prostitutes, He did not avert His eyes. In fact, I feel certain that He looked at them in ways that, allowed them to be known by God, in ways other than they knew themselves. Cannot we too, look at women who have found their identity in their sexuality and allow them to experience respect, even when they do not respect themselves?
For too long we have declared what our weaknesses are, instead of standing up and reclaiming our strengths.
What if instead, we begin to tell men that we are created in the image of God, with the capability for true and honest love and respect. That as fathers, we can give our sons and daughters a sense of deep identity, and validate their true self. We can foster a sense of security, competence and safety when we hold our children close, and learn, in a Christ-like way, how to handle their weaknesses and frailties with grace and empowerment.
What if instead, we tell men that they can treat other women as people of value; that when we purpose to learn from them, we can see the world from our hearts and not just our eyes.
What if instead of fearing and belittling the emotional and intuitive world of a woman, we allow them to help us open up to a new way of relating, and a new understanding of how to nurture and motivate? If we did that, we could truly allow them to be helpers suitable to our needs.
In the same way that the diet industry has inadvertently created a fast food boom, I fear our singular war against pornography can create a guilt and shame induced appetite for more of the very thing we war against.
What if, instead of simply telling men how NOT to fill the emptiness of our souls with porn, we begin an honest and gritty journey to tell men that God created us to live a life of deep relationships, competence, and legitimate power.
He has made available to us many legitimate ways to experience companionship, intimacy, respect and relational wholeness.
What if both genders stopped accepting this view of the poor crippled male and began to declare the power of the restored masculine soul?
We were created to be sons of the Father of all fathers. We were made to steer the universe alongside the Firstborn of Many Brothers. We were made to receive and give the deepest kind of love as a means of being partners in covering the world with the Glory of God. We were made to not only receive but to walk in the kind of intimacy that can only be described as “One-ness”.
Let’s stop telling men what they cannot do, and instead, let’s begin to tell them who they are.
Want to join us & pass this along to other women in your life?
Follow Good Women Project on Twitter: @goodwomenproj
Be a fan on Facebook: facebook.com/goodwomenproject
Subscribe to our email newsletter for insider updates here or subscribe to the blog here. Or both.
Everyone on our team is volunteer, and we are funded 100% by you. If you'd like to donate, you can here.
We're also doing fun stuff on Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest!