One of my favorite seminary professors was Dr. Randy Stinson. I’ve told you before how influential he was in shaping my thoughts on adoption, and I thought that I would share one of his recent posts on the feminization of men. He is right on target when it comes to the importance of men acting like men, and in explaining the dangers that are imminent when they don’t. If you’re a man who likes spending a day at the spa, you may not like this post. But from a biblical standpoint, Dr. Stinson hits a homerun. Enjoy.
The Feminization of the American Male From Top to Toe
July 29, 2008
Having been recently introduced to Tony Glenville’s 2006 Top to Toe: A Comprehensive Guide to the Grooming of the Modern Male, I was reminded once again how determined our culture is to make men more like women. Now I realize that certain things are important to properly present oneself. I take showers, have my hair regularly cut, generally wear clothes that match, have some nice suits and ties, shave regularly, and even wear men’s cologne on occasion. I know that there are certain fabrics that are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. But the overemphasis on these types of things has encouraged a softness that is neither attractive nor helpful in terms of cultivating the characteristics that men need in order to honor their biblically sanctioned roles.
For instance, Glenville advises, “A special occasion calls for special treatment, and taking the time to visit your hairdresser, go for a massage, and have a facial scrub will all add to your confidence.” In another section, he tells us, “At sporting events, whether cheering your team on or participating yourself, the wrong footwear can completely skew an outfit.” I wonder if Chipper Jones knows this? Here’s one of my favorites: “After work, before bed, when stressed, or simply as a pick-me-up before a party, the slow pampering of a bath is special.” In addition to this, one finds out the essentials of the bathroom which include moisturizer, eye cream, manicure kit, pedicure kit, body moisturizer, and body scrub. Can you imagine our great grandfathers talking like this? Exchanging tips for dry skin and split ends? With regard to hands Glenville notes that, “Caring for your hands is not a question of vanity or fussiness, it is common sense. Boardroom or factory, dinner table or diner, your hands are much in evidence at work or at leisure and are able to communicate a great deal about your approach to life.” Indeed!
Granted, the book has some helpful tips. Knowing how to put on a tie is important for a man to know. Caring for shoes is also needful. But so much of the instruction tends toward an unhealthy, hyper, self preoccupation. The roles to which men are called are stifled and hindered by such tendencies. In fact, self absorption is the enemy of true biblical masculinity. The leadership to which men are called is for the good of those whom he is leading. A self absorbed man will lead for his own good, his own self aggrandizement. The role of protector to which men are called is for the well being of another. A self preoccupied man will let others be harmed while he fends for himself. The role of provider to which men are called is for the welfare of others. A selfish man will provide for himself at the expense of others.
Men reading Glenville’s book will only be encouraged in their sinful tendency to look out for themselves. If men are focused on such trivial things as dry skin and pampering themselves with long baths, it will be all the more difficult to expect them to lead, provide, and protect. There may be a day when Lowes and Home Depot have entire aisles dedicated to moisturizers and skin creams for that weathered carpenter. There may be rows of scented bubble bath for that overworked mason. But if the church continues to follow the culture, we will have plenty of “Top to Toe” men, able to shop with the best of them at Bath and Body Works, but unwilling and unable to fulfill the Gospel demands that require toughness, self sacrifice, and self-neglect. We do not need prettier boys. We do not need softer men. What we need is a church culture that will call boys and men to lives of self sacrifice as exampled by the picture of Christ in Ephesians 5 who loved the church and gave himself for her to his own neglect and sacrifice. What we need are pastors who will boldly preach about and press for an ethos in their churches that expects this type of behavior from their men. What we need is a church culture that will require boys and men to do hard things, to cultivate toughness, resilience, and courage, top to toe.