Growing up in the immediate post-war years had its advantage in that society was generally not confused over gender roles. Men were to be masculine and women to be feminine. That was generally unquestioned in Anglo-Saxon society in the 1940s and 50s. As a consequence, men and women generally reflected the time-worn attributes of their sex by the way they spoke, dressed and comported themselves socially.
At the schools I attended in the ’40s and 50s, no one was labeled as being a “queer,” nor did I not know of any of my fellow students having parents affected by divorce.
How times have changed.
By the time my eldest son went to high school in the ’70s, half of the youth in his class came from families where divorce had dislocated the family structure. It took just one generation to achieve that infamy in Anglo-Saxon society.
Another generation later, the principal of one of Australia’s most prestigious schools was forced to permit a student to attend the annual prom with his male “date.”
We are witness today to a great confusion which has set in with respect to the meaning of marriage and family and the definitions of traditional gender roles in society at large.
The result is that few truly know what it means to be a real man or to be a real woman as God designed and intended us to be. The fallout has drastically affected the ability of men in society to lead. To lead effectively in any institution, be it marriage, family, a corporate situation, a military role or any responsible function in society at large.
Indeed, the reality is that we are today living out the legacy of this mass confusion of God-given roles in fulfillment of the prophecy contained in Isaiah 3:2-3.
Note that God prophesies that it will be the traditional male roles that will disappear in our day.
But we, in the Church, are called into God’s Family to recapture true values—to be educated in all things restored to the Church through a latter day, 20th century Elijah (Matthew 17:10-11), revived through a latter day prophet and apostle in this 21st century.
So it is that we shall look closely throughout the remainder of this article at the God-given role of the male—how to recapture it, reinforce it and perpetuate it, generation to generation.
Cause and Effect
How did the denigration of masculinity start?
We live today in a greatly feminized society.
It really started in Anglo-Saxon society with what Gertrude Himmelfarb calls in her masterful treatise “The De-moralization of Society” the “new” men and “women” of the 1880s and 1890s.
As in the Garden of Eden with the first attempt at “liberalizing” woman, the move to change God-given gender roles started with a certain kind of woman which Himmelfarb describes as wanting “more by way of liberation than bicycling, smoking, or reading risqué books—who sought nothing less than sexual liberation.”
Since those early women’s lib proponents of the latter 19th and early 20th century, the feminist lobby has steadily pushed and prodded its way into the traditional male realms of yesteryear, invading and in some cases even coming to dominate them.
This is the age of women—whom God made, deliberately, the physically weaker sex—competing with men, and to their shame, at times beating them even in traditional male physical activities.
The recruitment of women into our armed forces in combat roles is, perhaps, not only the worst case scenario in this respect, but also the very worst of examples to our young men and women in terms of gender role destruction.
Common sense should tell us that the normal physical structure of the male body as God designed it casts him naturally in the role of physical protector of the woman, who is naturally created without the muscle mass that is distributed over a male frame. So what does the perversity of feminism do to counter this natural phenomenon?
It encourages women to go off to the gym in an effort to develop manly abs and biceps.
In a better age, women’s sport was quite different to that of the man.
Today the women want to play to men’s rules. Not only that, they want to play like the men!
In the most extreme cases, such women even change their natural affection for a perversion of their sexual role (Romans 1:22-26).
In the corporate world, women have “muscled” their way into the boardroom and in many cases have taken over the traditional male role of ceo.
A book I have on my shelf espousing effective corporate management techniques, written by a male theorist, even substitutes “she” and “her” for the traditional male form of addressing a theoretical corporate leader.
All of these trends have led to the increasing isolation of real, strong, masculine leadership in our society as a blanket of feminization has descended over it.
Why has this happened?
Mr. Armstrong told us why. He said repeatedly that when the male fails to lead, the woman will seek to take over. As already intimated, it’s as old as the account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
It’s high time that men recaptured their true, God-designed role—and taught their sons their true role!
Home Presence and Physical Activity
By the very nature of things in our society, it is the woman who spends most of the day with an infant son.
In a normal situation today, Dad is off most of the time the sun is out, working at his job to support the family. He has but a brief window of time each weekday evening to spend with the children before their bedtime.
There are two vital activities in which Dad ought to be involved with the family in this brief slice of time—being at the head of the table to command the evening meal time conversation, and taking the opportunity after the meal, before bedtime, to fulfill his role as teacher of the children.
Here is Dad’s opportunity to become the children’s hero, as he tells of lessons learned through his own boyhood exploits, reads to them of the achievements of bygone heroes—not the least those heroes of the Bible—and comports himself as leader of the family. It is also a time to demonstrate the tenderness and warmth of his relationship as leader and protector of the mother, his wife, by the manner in which he relates to her in front of the children.
Sons need to see and have a right pride in the strength and accomplishments of their dad. He ought to become their hero. It is the manly example of a manly father that is the greatest attribute he possesses in teaching his son to grow up to be a man in the truest sense of the word.
Here, sport can be a great opportunity to not only exhibit Dad’s own manly strengths but to teach them to his son.
Be it a backyard game of “footy,” or cricket as it was in my days Down Under, or manning the basketball hoop, or hitting a baseball in the park with dad in America, or perhaps kicking that round ball about in father-and-son soccer matches in other lands—taking the time to teach a sporting approach to the game as well as teaching basic skills are moments a son will never forget. Those opportunities build the male bonds of father-son companionship that can last a lifetime.
One of the great challenges to today’s fathers is to powerfully resist the overwhelming tendency of society at large to become fixated on a video or computer screen for great portions of the day.
Developing a love of the outdoors, of outdoor activities in the fresh air and sunshine, is not only healthy, but, if exposed to such situations often from infancy, the joy that a son may gain from such exposure will serve well to counter the barrage of confusion and self-centeredness with which social media will seek to attack him from the cradle and beyond.
The worst example that a father can demonstrate to a son is to live as a couch potato, fixated by the diversion from reality offered by images conveyed by tv and the plethora of electronic devices available today.
Image says a lot to a child, especially a youth in their teens.
To have a dad that is a waddling blob of inertia will probably engender a son in the same image. To have a dad who is fit, athletic and muscle-toned will, no doubt, produce a son in the same image—IF Dad spends the time to help his son develop such a manly frame!
There are three main aspects of a developing child’s life upon which Dad will have powerful impact.
There’s the physical, which we have touched on here, and there are two other vital areas in which a father should take the lead in training up a son in the way he should go—the intellectual, and even more importantly, the spiritual!
Two Vital Areas
In respect of the intellectual development of young men, we have to realize the power of the aggressive war that is taking place in our school systems for possession of the minds of our children and youth.
As one observer of one of America’s top colleges put it, the curriculum included “the whole rancid agenda of political correctness with its intolerance, florid public obsession of sex, and pagan worship at the altar of environmentalism” (The New Criterion, June 2013).
Add to this degrading of our education curricula two other phenomena—the move to education by electronic media and the pressure to become absorbed in efforts at “self-fulfillment”—and you have a recipe for reducing the intellectual capacity of each subsequent generation caught up in this trend.
Stephen Bertman in his book, Cultural Amnesia, observes of this trend, “the exhilaration of technological speed and its efficacy lead people to value speed more than ever before, diminishing in their eyes the worth of activities that take time, including the time-consuming activity of learning.”
The knowledge of what once demonstrated just what it was that set the real men apart from the boys is thus greatly diminished, for as Bertman muses, “Because computers are mostly adept at serving up the new, they will serve up the present at the expense of the past. … Computers can give us information …. What they cannot give us is a reason to value that past. … What they cannot give us is judgment or goodness.”
One of the most manly examples in God’s Word is that of King David. Constantly, in psalm after psalm, this mighty, manly warrior-king of Israel asked God to give him judgment and goodness. Those aspects of character are really what marks out the real man and separates him from the mass of humanity as a true leader.
In his book The Missing Dimension in Sex, Mr. Armstrong states, “Humans are endowed with minds. Humans were placed on Earth for the express purpse of developing godlike character—learning to make right decisions, with prayerful guidance from God and His Word, and to exercise the self-direction to rightly act on those decisions.”
Before the denigration of real manhood in our society, there was a category of man called “gentlemen.”
Gertrude Himmelfarb states that this was traditionally “a distinction of character rather than of class.” Thus, be he laborer, tradesman, businessman or lord, it was possible by his general behavior that any man could be classed as a true “gentleman.”
Within that greatly derided era which today’s liberal socialists and revisionists are so prone to mock—the Victorian era—as the French philosopher Hyppolite Taine observed—a real “gentleman” was “a truly noble man, a man worthy to command, a disinterested man of integrity, capable of exposing, even sacrificing himself for those he leads.”
Thus it is that we have to turn to Jesus Christ, who gave His life for all humankind, that they may gain inheritance with Him, as the very epitome in His human existence of true, godly manhood.
With the teachings of mankind’s Savior being expunged from our education curricula, we have lost the truest example of manhood that we can ever teach our sons. Such a phenomena in today’s society means that we are even more strongly bound to teach and exemplify that example in our homes.
This leads us to the third vital element in training up a son to be a real man—his spiritual development.
The Missing Dimension
As Mr. Armstrong taught throughout his long ministry, there is a missing dimension in man. He often said that man is only “half there.”
In his book The Missing Dimension in Sex, Mr. Armstrong states that God’s “purpose is the reproduction of His own kind—holy, righteous and perfect character in the divine Family of the ever-living God! Humans, physically begotten and born through sex, may be spiritually begotten and divinely born of God—entering the eternally living God Family!”
This is what Mr. Armstrong called the “missing dimension in knowledge.”
This is, thus, the great missing dimension in educating our sons in today’s society about how to find their true role today, that they may gain their ultimate role in the wonderful World Tomorrow—the coming millennial rule of this planet by Jesus Christ and the saints resurrected to glory to rule with Him.
As we have observed, Jesus Christ was the very epitome of the God-given masculine role during His life in the flesh. It behooves every father and mother to teach that great reality to their sons!
This world sadly lacks such examples of true Christ-like manliness. It is a world literally crying out for manly leadership!
How often, as we observe the dominance of women in society do we ask, “Where are the men in Israel?”
It is a fact that even in God’s Church, we too often see women dominating their men in marriage and family situations. Down through the ages the ways of society have had an insidious way of working their way into God’s Church. Witness the decade of liberalism which impacted the Church in the 1970s, something from which it never did fully recover—witness, in turn, the speed of the great falling away following Mr. Armstrong’s death (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
God commanded the parents to teach His law and statutes to their children and to make them a talking point in the home, especially at morning and evening (Deuteronomy 6:7). The morning breakfast conversation sets the tone for the day. The evening conversation at the dinner table and at bedtime can be a reflection on the day’s events. These are great opportunities to embed true, Christ-like, manly thoughts in a young son’s mind, taking full advantage of these moments to paint a vision in your son’s mind as to his eternal future.
These are the moments that will build true father-son bonds that will encourage your son to seek counsel from you when he meets the challenges of youth and young manhood in particular, the time when he has “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
This planet needs as many godly men as God’s Church can produce.
The Church needs them.
It is incumbent on every parent of every lad in the Church to work hard to inculcate the true essence of godly manhood in their male offspring, thus enhancing the prospect of his manifesting that missing dimension in his life when God leads him by His goodness to repentance and real conversion to His way of life on the road to fulfilling his incredible human potential!