I apologize for the relative silence over the weekend. I've had a lot going on, and this week is much the same. But today, we'll dive right back in to Mohler's points of manhood, which is starting to look suspiciously like the cover model on a Men's Health magazine.
Physical maturity sufficient to work and protect a family.
Unless afflicted by injury or illness, a boy should develop the physical maturity that, by stature and strength, marks recognizable manhood. Of course, men come in many sizes and demonstrate different levels of physical strength, but common to all men is a maturity, through which a man demonstrates his masculinity by movement, confidence and strength.
A man must be ready to put his physical strength on the line to protect his wife and children and to fulfill his God-assigned tasks. A boy must be taught to channel his developing strength and emerging size into a self-consciousness of responsibility, recognizing that adult strength is to be combined with adult responsibility and true maturity.
I think this, of all of Mohler’s points, is the one that bothers me the most, and I’ve already kind of addressed in this blog space before. But I’ll be absolutely clear here: Having muscles or the ability to react violently to a situation does not make you a man. Physical ability or lack thereof has absolutely nothing to do with manhood (or womanhood, for that matter). Whether you are in a wheelchair or physically abled, whether you are skinny or fat or somewhere in between, whether you can fend off an attack or are the first person to be knocked out in a tussle: You. Are. Still. A. Man.
Physical prowess or, as Mohler puts it, “maturity” (I’m beginning to think he has a different definition for that word than I do), has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not a person is a man. I have male friends who are naturally strong and have an easy time keeping fit, and I have others who, no matter how long they work out, they will never have enough strength to sucker punch someone. I really, really dislike making physical maturity a sign of “manhood.”
Secondly, again, this point is vague to the point of unhelpfulness. What does Mohler mean by “recognizing that adult strength is to be combined with adult responsibility and true maturity”? As he doesn’t explain what physical strength combined with adult responsibility looks like, it’s left up to the reader to come to his or her own conclusions, which is unfortunate because I’m not inclined to be charitable. Mohler makes the mistake of assuming that his audience will be on the same page as him and will have been raised in a church environment where the “Christianese” will be quickly understood and interpreted. Having worked very, very hard over the last four years to break out of that Christianese mold, I am now completely baffled by his expectations for manhood here.
Does he mean that the Christian man should be able to defend his wife and children from any and all attacks? In the modern age, having that sort of physical prowess is unnecessary, and making it a mark of manhood is rather anachronistic.
Does he mean that Christian men should know what to do with their developing size and understand their own strength? That assumes that all men will, at some point, have strength they don’t know how to handle, which is simply not true.
Mohler’s point here appears to be an exercise in erasing the already marginalized: the disabled, the weak, those who are already struggling with society’s image of what a man should look like. Tell me, Mr. Mohler, if the Church is to be “in the world but not of it,” why does your image of a man look suspiciously like a 20th century knock-off?