I’m going to give a new series a try- one on Mondays that concerns itself with masculinity. Whether or not I keep the series running remains to be seen, of course. But I expect it to be somewhat irregular. While the overall focus will be Christian, it won’t be exclusively so. This first post will be one such example.
I came across this article recently, which is titled 10 Life Rules that Separate the Men from the Boys. Here is how it bills itself:
Being a male is a matter of birth, being a man is a matter of age, but being a gentleman is a matter of choice. Not a choice made once or twice during one’s life, but a series of choices made every single day when navigating the world, and life.
So – what then – are these choices that separate the gentlemen from the rest of the pack? The men who hold themselves to higher standards. Let’s explore.
I would encourage my readers to go through the whole article before continuing.
The author is apparently a self-described secular humanist, and unsurprisingly, it shows. Mind you, not everything on the list is bad. I agree with a few of the points. But there are several I disagree with, and will address them in turn.
I found the first point interesting. The basic premise is sound, but not as a matter of “being a Gentleman.” Rather, it is basic Christian living. Of course, being a SH, the author has to find some excuse for it. More interesting to me was his justification:
A man of quality is never afraid of equality.
“Equality” is not a necessary predicate to treating someone with dignity. Certainly not the “liberal” notion of equality he is referring towards. Rather, a recognition of their dignity as a human being is sufficient. Furthermore, part of being a gentleman, historically, was about recognizing that not everyone was equal. A gentleman treated others kindly out of mercy- he had power over them but didn’t abuse it.
The second point was a lovely materialistic/consumerist point. Essentially the author was stating that a “Real Man” always pays his way. Frankly, I suspect more than a little feminine influence in the thinking here- “the burden of performance” and all that.
While secular in nature, the overall thrust of the third point was sound.
The fourth point is another one that is true for everyone, not just a “gentleman.” If anything, this seems to put a burden on men that others won’t be expected to live up to. And my readers can guess who “others” happens to be.
The fifth point is, in an act of poetic justice, wrong. Rather than being afraid of “being wrong”, we should be afraid of trying. Of giving it our best. Sometimes that means risking failure, of risking being wrong.
Only when you are wrong do you absorb new information, change your stance, and subsequently become “right.”
Again, this is wrong. You can learn plenty without necessarily being wrong. Furthermore, the ability to admit mistakes is not the same thing as being afraid of being wrong. This is pop philosophy, at best.
The sixth point is a stereotype that lives up to its reputation. Without delving into it too much, the obvious flaw with this is that it makes the woman in any relationship the one who decides just how “gentlemanly” a man is. The absurdity of this is staggering, and yet also pitiable.
I agree with the seventh point. Honest is an essential part of being a man. Leave deception to others.
The eight point is just pop philosophy. It lacks substance, which I would think would be the hallmark of any “real man.”
I happen to agree with the ninth point. Sexy and beautiful are not necessarily the same thing. In fact, I am pretty sure I wrote a post about that at some point.
The tenth and final point is wrong on several levels. Partly it is foundational- it comes from a secular viewpoint which fails to recognize that charity is a universal virtue. But here is a concrete error:
A gentleman will respect other men, women, children, and animals – and treat them with kindness. There is no need for a confident man to hurt another being in any way, as he gains nothing from it.
On the contrary, I can think of plenty of reasons why a confident man would need to hurt another being. Protecting other men, women, children and animals (yes, even them) can be justification enough.
So a few good points to be found, but overall not a good guide towards being a Gentleman or “Real Man.” Mayhaps the next post in this series will be devoted to examining that issue. Until then, I leave my readers with some of the final words of King David:
When David’s time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3 and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; 4 that the Lord may establish his word which he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a man on the throne of Israel.’
(1 Kings 2:1-4)