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Gospel Study - Brethren, We Have Work TO Do

Today’s talk really got me thinking.  Bare with me as I ramble about all the things that have been rolling around in my head since I read  Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s talk, Brethren We Have Work To Do.  It’s a long winded rant.

I am all about progress. I like the progress that society has made for the equality of women in a historically predominant male hierarchy.  I am not a wimp. I will take apart a vacuum or a drain… I will wield a drill and use a chop saw.  I've even scraped an engine block before.  I grew up when “I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan ‘cause I’m a woman” was THE catch phrase.   I think the sexes should be given equal opportunity and power… equal yet different.  That being said, there is another problem beginning to lurk in the doorways of social structure. With women on the rise, men are being emasculated.

That’s right ladies.  If you are asking “Where have all the real men gone?” you need to look at yourself as much as you look to men.

Back in the day, men were made to be bold, strong, leaders.  However, our society has attempted to repress these traits. Where there was inequality before, there is inequality again. But it has just flip-flopped positions.   If you look at the way men (especially dads) are portrayed on TV, you’d think most men were all a bunch of irresponsible, befuddled, nincompoops, who can only function with the help of a “smart” female partner, friend, or spouse.  I see men depicted as incompetent, self-absorbed and immature. 

It hasn't been enough for women to be on an equal plain as men. Society takes one step more and puts down. For example, it’s not enough for women to join the workplace as equal career partners being mothers. They have to make men seem incapable of performing their former duties in the home.

I seem to recall a Huggies commercial that caused a lot of controversy for this very reason. Men were portrayed as being incompetent at raising children, particularly at changing diapers. They were also shown as self-absorbed, consumed with watching sports and neglecting their babies. Why can men and women have equal place in the workforce, but only women can be good at raising children? Why is a father’s role being downplayed and degraded to make women feel more equal? Both sexes should be viewed as being competent in both work and parent roles. That would be true equality.

However, society has the notion that for women to achieve true equality with men, they must be one step ahead, slightly raised on the pedestal of power. Elder Christofferesen  spoke to men and encouraged them to not give themselves an excuse to mold into these portrayals incompetent, self-absorbed or weak men.

“In their zeal to promote opportunity for women, something we applaud, there are those that denigrate men and their contributions. They seem to think as life as a competition between male and female. That one must dominate the other. And now it’s the women’s turn . . . this cultural emasculation of men is having a damaging effect,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson said.

Ladies, I do think we are contributing to this problem.

I have observed that many boys are confused and have no idea what it takes to be a real man. They seek inappropriate role models and emulate the bad behavior that they see on a regular basis.

It is our duty as mothers, wives, and responsible citizens to counter these negative images and raise a new generation of men who are respectful, loving, and willing to contribute to society in a positive way.

It’s not only a problem with our sons.  I believe we are propitiating the problem with our husbands. We complain about income.  We step in and take over spiritual responsibilities of the family.  We whine about our place in the family, rather than rejoicing in the equal, yet separate roles GOD HAS GIVEN US…. BOTH.

Trust me.  I learned this the hard way.

Every woman wants her man to a man but modern ladies struggle to allow him the space to do just that.  Worse yet, in an effort to be his equal, we woman have made this a competition… which means there are losers. And we are all losers when the competition gets rolling.  While seeking to be “partners” we may be rob him of his manhood altogether.

Author Harvey C. Mansfield opined, “We are attracted to the manly man because he imparts some of his confidence to everyone else.”

Ladies, are we raising men or are we raising boys?

Manly men—past and present—have captivated the world with their talents, leadership, oratory skills, and virility. They are strong, protective, and brave.   We honored men of integrity filled with supernatural discernment and strength.  They are fathers, gentlemen, husbands, friends, and neighbors. They are innovators, pioneers, and model citizens. Simply put, manly men are invincible.   confidence and guidance. They make us feel safe and comfortable. They lead us and represent us. They protect us from harm’s way here and abroad. Without them, civilization would cease to exist.

What makes a real man?

There is a common misunderstanding that manhood is like a spectrum. On one side you have the macho guy barking orders from his garage, demanding another beer. He thinks his family exists to serve him. He takes the first and best in every situation because he thinks he’s entitled. He demands respect while refusing to earn it. His children despise him and his wife fears him. That’s not a man.

On the other end of this distorted spectrum is the cowardly guy who won’t take responsibility for his life. He waits for others to do things for him. His failures and shortcomings are someone else’s fault. He won’t step up, stand up, man up, and grow up. He’s not a man.
I know both.

Somewhere in between these two distorted views, we have a real man. He avoids both extremes. He works a steady job, but it’s a safe and boring existence. He doesn't make waves, because he’s not moving. He’s considered pleasant because he isn't hot or cold about anything. He sits in the mushy middle, which is right where he’s told to be. He doesn't offend or inspire. He doesn't thrive or wither. He just sort of… exists. 

I know this guy too!

This idea that a real man is someone who falls in the mushy middle is simply wrong. A man is not a hybrid; a passive ogre. He’s a different thing entirely.

Seriously!  What is a REAL man?

Mulan would say,
 “(Be a man)
We must be swift as
the coursing river
(Be a man)
With all the force
of a great typhoon
(Be a man)
With all the strength
of a raging fire
Mysterious as the
dark side of the moon”

A real man is a man of integrity.  Integrity is more than being honest. It’s a lifestyle set on striving towards moral excellence. Real men say what they mean and mean what they say. They are the same person whether or not others are watching. They are trustworthy, dependable, and unwavering.

A real man has compassion.  Compassion is sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. In other words, you feel compelled to help someone who is hurting. Men aren't often viewed as being compassionate, but it is a trait that helps us to become more connected to the people around us. Real men turn their compassion into service and work to make the world a better place.

A real man is confidant.  Many people confuse confidence with arrogance and self-centered-ness. Real men know the difference. Confidence is about being self-assured and self-aware. Confident men have faith in their abilities and knowledge. They don’t need to tear others down in order to build themselves up. They earn people’s trust with their radiant, inner strength. When a they walk into the room, everyone takes notice.

A real man has self control.   Hardly a day goes by without a news report about some high-profile man who has been destroyed by sex, money, and/or drugs. Too many men lack self-control, but it is the foundation of a virtuous life. Self-control starts with focus and ridding yourself of distractions. Doing this isn't easy because temptations lurk around every corner. Real men are able to tame their desires and channel that energy into positive pursuits.

Real men persevere.  Perseverance is the product of self-control. It is courageous resistance against difficult circumstances. Perseverance is only developed through trials. Real men endure the trials and emerge stronger. They never give up, never surrender. J

Real men are brave. Bravery is the courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances. Nothing is ever accomplished with an attitude of passivity. Real men stand up in the face of adversity.

Real men are humble.  Today’s breed of young men loves to let everyone know how much swagger they have. They thump their chests and proclaim to the world, “I’m a Big Deal. Look at me!” Real men understand the value of being humble and letting someone else’s light shine. They realize that humility is more endearing than self-importance. Humility indicates that you are ridding yourself of the poison of self-centered-ness. Besides, humility softens the blow when someone knocks you off your pedestal.

Real men create margins in their lives and the lives of others around them. They don’t weigh people down, but lift them up. This extends to all areas of life. They make more money than they spend. They accomplish more work than they create. They encourage more than they discourage. Others are better for knowing them. That’s a man.

Real men are tender. When a man’s nine year old daughter gives him an I Love You valentine — in September — it affects him. Deeply. He realizes there are times to be tough, and there are times when toughness would be out of place. He gives her the biggest hug he can muster, and he may even shed a tear, because that’s part of manhood, too.

Real men are always improving.  Men keep pushing themselves in all areas of life, striving to improve. They have a stack of books they’re waiting to read, and a larger stack they've already tackled. They can run farther this year than last. They are more knowledgeable now than ever before. They are more skilled in their trade than in any point in their life. Improvement doesn't stop until their heartbeat does.

Real men know what to fight for.  We've all known a guy who will fight anyone, any time, for any reason. Bump into his shoulder in passing and you’ll have a fight on your hands. Real men know some things are worth defending, while other things are trivial. They don’t confuse the two. That doesn't mean that punches fly.  Words are the weapon of our modern culture, and men know how to use them to defend these they've sworn to protect. They use this weapon in unjust situations against abusive people. They wield their weapons with patience, cunning, and great skill acquired through practice.

Real men do hard things. This includes a whole host of things. They control their desires, work hard, sacrifice, demonstrate honesty, and take correction. They do the right thing, even when it’s the hard thing (which it usually is). They don’t shy away from discomfort, but embrace it and are all the better for it.

That means men need to receive a vision and acquire a dream of bringing deliverance.  We need to assist them.  It may mean that some men will need to give up spending all their time on things that only bring satisfaction and pleasure to themselves.  It means that some men will dedicate themselves to a cause far greater than themselves.

1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

I am guilty of giving in to my son’s whims and lazy attitude in the name of peace.  Today I stepped up my efforts.  I asked him to help with chores.  I expected his school work to get done.  I promised myself to do better at teaching him and expecting him to be a man.

Today I will let my husband bring home the bacon.  I’ll fry it up in the pan.  Work is some much easier when it’s shared.

I sure hope my girls find REAL men in their lives... the alternative hurts and is hard.  I hope my son makes it to becoming a REAL man.  I'd hate to know I contributed to the heart break of someone else.


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