“Ben”:http://scatteredwords.com/ has a written an excellent starting point on determining just what it means to be a man. Before I comment further, however, I highly recommend taking a moment to give his site a read. He is extremely eloquent at describing his struggle and journey to become ex-gay under the power of the Holy Spirit, and his honesty and eloquence are very refreshing.
Ben points out that our culture seems driven to squash the man as God designed him:
bq. But still, I think the “man” question is an important one for me and a lot of other guys, gay or straight. It’s really not good to be a man, emotionally or physically, anymore. Our culture doesn’t really value guys anymore. That confuses the issue further. The things that make a guy a guy are often the things our society wants to quash.
Part of why this is the case, I think, is because men have become demonized in our society. They are generally viewed (particularly by the liberal movement) as drunken brawlers, lazy louts, wife-beaters, rude and crude savages, etc. Unfortunately, to some extent men have brought this image on themselves, but even more unfortunately, it is, I think, the minority of men who have somehow created this image. Perhaps, a more correct view is that those men who are so boorish and cruel and ugly as to make headlines, as to draw attention to themselves, have been thrust even further into the limelight as to generate a very negative stereotype of what men are. The result is a dishonest and inaccurate definition, both of what a man is and what a man should be. I kind of doubt that this was any planned conspiracy to demonize men (except maybe for some branches of militant feminists), but nevertheless, what we have are men who have been made impotent in our society, who are not allowed to be strong and masculine, because those are the very features that are frowned upon and viewed, seemingly, as threatening.
Whatever men actually are now, there _is_ a clear definition of what men _should_ be. The Bible, particularly the “New Testament”:http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%205-6&version=31, spells it out pretty well, and Christ (and His Father) is an excellent example of masculinity. Here’ s a few of the characteristics that come immediately to mind: strong, both emotionally and spiritually; tender-hearted and compassionate; self-disciplined; sensitive to the needs of others; self-sacrificing; conscientious; loving. Notice, though, that just about every single one of these characteristics are also applicable to women. That is because the very traits that make strong, masculine men also make strong, feminine women. These traits bring out the best in our respective genders, allowing us to live up to the full potential of masculinity and femininity, as God designed them.
What seems to happen, though, is that men fail to be strong, in any capacity, are weak in character, show lack of discipline, are completely negligent at seeing, let alone meeting, the needs of others, and so on. Our culture is so self-centered that the common philosophy of self-servitude reigns supreme, and rather than being true men, the male species is little more than a group of very large 8-year-olds, who have not yet learned what it means to have a strong sense of character and morality.
Fortunately, not all men are like this, but enough are that it is a problem. I think the solution is to get the focus _off_ the men who fail to be men and _onto_ the men who are doing it right, the men who are very masculine, who are secure with their masculinity, and who display the kind of sensitivity, leadership, and strength of character that so many in our society lack. And what is so great about this approach is that we rarely have to look much further than our own family or social circles to find just one man who serves as a terrific role model for all. No one’s perfect, of course, but then again, that isn’t the expectation (or at least, it shouldn’t be). The expectation is that we try to live up to our potential as men, strive to fulfill our roles in society as God created them. In so doing I think we will find that our families are stronger, our morals more clearly defined, and a whole host of society’s ills made better.