Where do you feel most manly?


I know this isn’t always wise, but I want to “think” out loud.

How would you respond to this question?

Where do I feel manly?

I was listening to a lecture and the speaker asked an interesting question. Where do you feel the manliest? Two trains of thought competed for space in my mind. First the graduate school response jumped into my mind, “Define the term manly.” I wondered what he really meant by that question. The other train of thought that preceded was just to answer the question based solely on my raw first thoughts.

I feel most manly at the gym. That’s the first place that came to mind.

After a few more minutes the speaker made a statement that really hit hard. He said after a few decades of counseling with men NO ONE has ever said they feel most manly with their spouse. No man feels MOST manly with his wife anymore… Wow… really? That really caught me off guard. I even wanted to challenge his statement!

Interesting… If manly means intense, abusive, and overbearing then it is a good thing we put an end to it! There is however an interesting immerging social reality.

We have tied our gender identity into something bad. It is almost like culture is implying that being manly is antiquated, barbarian, or maybe even Neanderthal.

We don’t know what it means to be a man anymore.

Here, in my humble subjective opinion, is what I think happened and is still happening. Humanity went through a powerful social liberating season in the mid 1900’s that led into gender equality in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Honestly most of this was really good! To mirror the heart of Jesus ALL humans are equal in worth before God. (Gal. 3:28) Culture desperately needed to make a social evolutionary move. Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. was so right when he proclaimed, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Amen! I include gender in this too! Our worth as human beings is not tied into our gender or race.

But something happened…

Instead of carefully taking a scalpel and removing the social cancer of superiority some took a machete and hacked away at everything remotely connected to what they believe hurt them.

The end of manliness is coming fast and it is socially taboo to push back. Interestingly the homosexual movement is trying to revitalize a version of “manly” and few push back because it is MORE taboo to push against sexual preference in our day and age.

Wow, the concept “man” is truly under fire. What in the world does it look like to be a man? In other words, what does “manly” really look like?

So when the question is proposed “where do you feel most manly?” I am not sure we even know what “manly” is anymore.

Almost everything I have heard is what men SHOULDN’T be. So what should we be?

12 thoughts on “Where do you feel most manly?

  1. The Bible doesn’t spend much time on the implications of gender distinctions (probably because they were assumed when the Bible was written). I am discouraged by such lack of definition when Truth is at stake. We are left to figure it all out on our own (with ingrained cultural differences dictating the parameters). Biology suggests instinctual behaviors, but we are told that we need to control those instincts as a matter of civilized living. In the absence of Biblical definition of what constitutes “being manly”, I suppose the culture gets to tell us, even if that means that such a thing as “manly” is an artificial distinction and a concept that should be avoided. #totallyconfused

  2. I had thought that the Bible was silent on that for a good reason – gender is culturally defined. Kilts, leiterhosen, robes, beards, clean-shaven, hairstyle – whatever is manly for one culture might be slightly feminine in another. To me scripture is indicating that it is more important for men and women to be distinct than exacty how they must be men and women. Right now, we are culturally rewriting the definition – it is much more subjective. To me, that’s a good thing. The manliness of the last century wasn’t a good fit for the guys that were marginalized by it. The ones whose strongest muscle was their minds. With fewer factory jobs and farms and more technology jobs on the way, it is difficult to find a way to maintain tradition, I am not entirely convinced that we should.

  3. The Bible is ubiquitous in its description, prescriptions and examples of manliness. From our heavenly Father and his role and relationship to the Son, to prescriptions in both Old and New Testaments about what makes a godly man. When do I feel most manly? For me, Ephesians 5 defines a man’s responsibility, and it has nothing to do with feelings at all. We are born male, but we choose to become a man when we put away childish things. Ephesians 5’s prescription using Christ as our example is fearsome and direct. We are to take the responsibility and accountability for our wives and children. As Christ took the lead and gave His life for the Church, a man takes the responsibility for the relationships and headship of his household and gives himself to it. Manliness is in fulfilling the duty God has given us to serve and lead our families. I may not always be right, but I am never in doubt about some things and this one in particular. I am certainly not perfect and get things wrong, but I am responsible and accountable for the relationships, spiritual well-being and growth of my wife first and my family next. In Christ, that is what defines my manliness.
    Here is a great article by Ravi Zacharias on Fatherhood’s Call to Duty

    1. Dan, the Bible does have lots to say about fathers and husbands. That is obviously part of being a man when in those roles. I thought the question was about “manliness”, not necessarily husbands and fathers. Perhaps the answer to Pastor Mike’s question (when do you feel most manly?) for some is WHEN I AM FULFILLING MY BUBLICAL ROLE AS A FATHER AND/OR HUSBAND. That works.

  4. The roles of father and husband define manliness in a very specific way. I was wondering for singles whether Gods call on ones life defines their role as a man.

  5. Thanks so much for your posts! Initially after going through the responses, here and in other places, the fear of identity producing exclusivity is so strong that we almost can’t have the identity conversation. I would really like to set the equality thing aside. That has been dealt with by many authors and thinkers. We won’t come up with anything new here. The identity thing is different. Let me summarize before I synthesize. Basically some believe there is no such thing as a man of God or woman of God, there are just people of God and some believe that God really did design us differently. Is this correct?

    1. It is a complex teaching called complementarianism, it states that a man is the spititual head and the leader of his family. A man’s wife is to be in submission to him in everything. It defines gender based roles and tends to down-play the giftings of the Holy Spirit. Scripture says that wives are a helpmeet to their husbands. But we should not confuse a 2,000 year old description as a prescription for all time. In Jesus day, a woman was little more than her father’s or husband’s possession, had no education, nor freedom of agency as an individual, Paul wrote to respond to the failings of their culture, he has no condemnation reserved for our generally egalitarian society. I think many functions of being a man of God share the same functions as being a woman of God, prayer, fasting, kindness, being honest, so in these ways they are the same. Nobody has explained to me how being a man in service to God uniquely sets him apart as pastors only when the Holy Spirit gifts women with the same abilities. Some teach “equal in spirit, but different in role” others borrow the line from Animal farm: “we are all equal, but some are more equal than others.” Tragically, some men are so offended by women leading and preaching, they walk right out of the service rather than hear the Word of God spoken by a woman behind a pulpit. This, I suspect, even breaks God’s heart. I wish I could have given you a more direct answer, but the issue is far too complex.

      1. Thanks Jamie. Actually I am very familiar with complementarianism, egalitarianism and most of the other role debates. I’m a seminary grad too! I have no problem with the roles of women. I also believe that God made some men sensitive and some women bold. I have no problem with personalities either. I was trying to set aside the equality debate completely. We won’t come up with anything new here. I am looking more into identity. Let me give an example. Imagine a young single man (or woman) sits in my office. He or she has no family responsibilities or commitments made.The struggle is with identity. Most often it is sexual in nature, but not always. They want to know what the Bible says specifically about their gender separate from covenant stuff like Ephesians 5. What boundaries, teachings, or advice does the Bible give to me as a man (or women) alone? Almost all young adults are already totally fine with equality. That’s not the issue they are dealing with. Hopefully that makes sense. It’s not equality, it’s identity. This may have proven more than a blog can handle. Lol, or maybe more than I can handle in a blog!

  6. Biblically speaking, the identity of men is in husband and father. The believed that the continuation of generations from father to son was what God promised for them. They couldn’t fathom the average person serving God outside of the context of family. Only prophets, men of God, etc. Were the exception to the rule. I guess we could focus on the priesthood of all believers to serve as our NT equivalent, but we would have to construct our own language and concept to make it fit Scripture and work in the here and now. We can’t choose who God chooses to be his prophets, but we can equip believers so that if they are chosen they will have everything they need. As a single believer I have been thinking about Paul’s words on singleness, God calls some believers to do things that are more important than marriage and family, but by and large the church forcing the issue of marriage flies in the face of God and fails them both.

  7. I am wondering about Gen 2 before God creates woman, man is in the garden and God gives him an identity to rule creation. He has an identity outside of his identity as husband or father. In the New Testament, we are all ambassadors of Christ but each of us is unique because each of us has a calling, a gift or gifts and a measure of grace. So I wonder if the way to put aside equality and find identity outside the institutions of marriage is to look at where God has called us to serve. But even beyond that being complete in God first and looking to Him for satisfaction implies that there is for each us a unique identity with God. I am thinking of Rev 2:17.

  8. James good job! We start digging.
    All the other writers are correct. Most instructions are bound to a covenant or relationship. That’s a good thing! There is nothing wrong with that. We are just trying to get down to the basic question. What are the most fundamental teachings or instructions that are gender specific? Are there any?
    Because you are a women and live on this planet you are____.
    Because you are a man and live on this planet you are____.
    Are there any differences at this most basic level?
    Even if the difference only lasts while we live on this planet.
    I think this journey begins by looking at any identity texts prior to the fall. What did God say BEFORE sin entered the world?
    We have to take into account the primary covenants.
    Do identities change when the covenants do? Does anything carry all the way through?

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