On Being a Man, and Marriage

I am working on a statement for a friend regarding my position on sexuality, and wanted to include it here:

Deeper than my marriage, deeper even than my sexuality, I am a Man. Whom I am as a man is central to my understanding of my self, my marriage, my relationships, my ministry, and my work. Since it probably isn’t obvious, let me spell out for you what that means.

To me, a Man is someone who is blessed by God and nature with special and unique gifts (so is Woman, in case you’re wondering, but that’s another story). With those gifts comes both the privilege and responsibility of:

a. protecting, providing for, and blessing women and children
b. showing respect to men stronger and wiser than I
c. showing mercy to men weaker or more foolish than I
d. providing strength, comfort, and security to those I love
e. courting respect, affection, and trust from those I’m called to lead/serve
f. accepting the generational duty of promoting truth, justice, wisdom and love
g. living in integrity, transparency, accountability, and humility before my God and fellow man

Am I 100% certain I am 100% correct? Of course not: I am a man, not a god; I know but in part, and I do even less than I know. My convictions may be wrong, but they are *my* convictions, and I must follow them as best I know how. They are what I believe — what I strive to give my life to, and would joyfully give my life for if necessary — and what I pursue with my whole heart until I am shown a better way.

If you attack those beliefs, I will fight you. If you hurt those under my protection, I will do my best to stop you, out of love for them. But as for myself, I fear you and your disbelief not at all. In fact, I *rejoice* that you are willing to openly oppose me. For it is only in battle that a man learns his true mettle.

And even in that battle, I strive to fight fair, and in hope: both the hope that I may enlighten you, but also in the hope that your opposition will strip away my own falsehood and sharpen my own understanding. For to lose fairly to one truly stronger is a great honor, second only to defeating a great evil.

To me, THAT is what it means to be a man. That is what it means to be ME!

And *that* is the foundation of my relationship with my wife, and my understanding of marriage, and ultimately my belief in the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the very center of my being, of everything I do and am.

Character, at least in my world, is *defined* by how you treat those who hurt you the most . Character is a man dying to his superficial self-seeking happiness in order to discover the deeper, authentic joy found in serving others. Belief in the reality of Character is the foundation of my belief in God. Character, in short, is what I consider the essence and goal of a true marriage…

I consider any sexual relationship — hell, *any* relationship — that is built on something other than “giving yourself for the sake of others” to be a sham. And to call such a relationship “marriage” mocks the countless generations of men and women who have truly given their lives for each other, and their children.

…Because in the core of my being — foolish, weak, and selfish human being that I am — I nevertheless aspire to true and authentic Love. And Love hates every false thing that sabotages relationship — and honors every good thing that builds relationships. That is what Love does, because that is what Love is.

And though I often fall short of Love, I will never deny it. Because at the end of the day, Love is who *I* am; and I will gladly die to every self-constructed fantasy about myself for the sake of Love. Not because Love is God, but because God is Love.

[Read More] for the backstory

On my radical centrist website, I have previously posted several articles about sexuality:

* Radical Middle proposal for the Lutheran Church

However, I had never shared my personal perspective on my own sexuality, so I figured that might be of interest to the readers of the blog (both of you :-).

Moreover, I’ve become increasingly struck by how many social problems are directly traceable to a failure of Manhood. Just yesterday we were watching The Constant Gardener and I was struck by the near-impotence of virtually all the male characters. Pretty much all the men — except for one homosexual doctor, and a somewhat buffoonish lawyer — were either actively evil, or criminally clueless. That is, they were until they had nothing left to lose — at which point several of the men achieved a certain level of heroism.

What would it take to build “stand up men” who have the courage to face the ugly truths about the world and themselves, and actually do something about it?

I was so struck by that question I had to walk out of the restaurant where we were having dinner afterwards. I literally rent my garments in anguish and cried to God.

And He heard me. And promised to give me a sign. But that is another story for another time…