Yesterday was Father’s Day, a day that I feel is something of a celebration not just of fatherhood, but of manhood.
In my Facebook feed were dozens of tributes to men, teaching both their sons and daughters the meaning of being a man.
It seems that our culture doesn’t really know what makes a man anymore. But a lot of men certainly do.
Our culture doesn’t really have any rites of passage anymore – a significant event in which manhood is conferred. So in its place, our culture tells us that manhood can be acquired…
Manhood can be acquired by buying a particular product. Maybe one of the dozens of gendered products that say “for men.”
Manhood can be acquired by playing or being devoted to sports.
Maybe manhood can be gotten by driving a particular car.
Perhaps one becomes a man by growing a mighty beard…
…Or by eating lots of bacon, or drinking a brand of beer.
Is being a man as simple as hanging out in a “man cave?” Must a man cave be a musty, derelict room to truly be a “cave?” Are the men who preen and groom their caves to perfection not as manly?
I didn’t see anyone posting tributes to the men in their lives because they use manly Dove soap, or drive a flashy car, or their facial hair, or their bacon consumption.
Our culture peddles a caricature of men that none of us really measure up to. It is a caricature that makes all of us, if we buy into it, feel unmanly.
There are lots of different kinds of men, and lots of different kinds of masculinity.
But there is one characteristic about masculinity that I think probably holds true anywhere you go.
Masculinity cannot be purchased. It cannot be conferred. It cannot be acquired.
It can only be earned. And there are very few ways to earn masculinity, but the chances are, there are opportunities every day.
The thing about battles is they always cost. A battle is never won for free.
Masculinity takes sacrifice. It requires loss.
There will be many opportunities today, and they won’t come with a receipt. We need a lot more men who don’t buy the consumeristic vision of manhood, who know that manhood is actually acquired through sacrifice and loss, rather than gain.