On Father’s Day men who are dads are remembered, honour and celebrated. Without them we would not be alive and be the people that we are. It is also an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a man.
As the distinction between male and female roles has moved away from previous less traditional ones there has been a lot of discussion about what a ‘real man’ is. Is it the ‘Bear Grylls’ outdoorsy type? Perhaps it’s that typified by some of our sporting heroes? Or is it more the sensitive new age guy or what is now know as the ‘metrosexual’? And what of male leadership? Are men supposed to lead their family any more and, if so, what does that look like? No wonder men become confused!
I don’t have a definitive answer, but when I think of a real man, I look no further than Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Son of Man. He has typically been portrayed in art and media as some sort of wimpy guy.
But Jesus was no wimp. He was courageous, committed and sacrificial. He had a cause (our salvation) as his focus and nothing was going to stop him doing that. Neither cheap alternatives like human attempts to make him king, nor the devil’s temptation to give him the whole world thwarted him in his determination.
And when it came to confronting ills in his society, he was really out their calling a spade a spade and even in some cases hypocrites ‘chamber pots’ and ‘whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones’. Yet there was the other side too. That of extraordinary compassion that could weep over Jerusalem and at the death of a friend.
And the gentleness to take unwanted children on his knee and bless them. And women ? Well what an extraordinarily counter cultural approach he took. He embraced them as followers, talked with them when no-one else would and showed them understanding love and compassion.
So if I want to know what a real man should be I focus not on the conflicting cultural images but on Christ. I think that’s a good place to start.