Challenges, For Men

The Feelings of Men

We often oversimplify and associate manly needs in a relationship with physical affection and leave it there. Women are the softer side of the marriage, right? Guys are all grit and sports and beards and cars and red meat and stuff – real Ron Swansons if you know what I mean.

We must not forget that men can be very emotional; even intensely emotional. I’d like to accomplish three things here: 1) untangle unproductive and brash assumptions society tends to make about men, 2) help wives understand and encourage their husbands, and 3) encourage men to feel intensely about things that matter.

This is a bit of a departure from my typical subject matter, but I hope it’s worth the read.

Cultural Man

Our culture tends to polarize the roles of husbands and wives – like they’re supposed to be equal-but-opposite, diametrically opposed forces in a marriage relationship. It’s a nice tidy fit:

  • Women just want romance and connection, men just want sex.
  • Wives want to talk, husbands want solitude.
  • Gals over communicate their emotions, guys are emotionally sparse.
  • Ladies like the Hallmark channel, gentlemen like ESPN.

Men who love their wives greatly are the greatest of men.Since generalizations like these come from majority sentiment, there is bound to be at least a little truth in them… in general. I do tend to lean in the male directions as indicated above. But not for long! In fact, I don’t know many men who are adequately defined by such generalizations.

This is a call to men to feel intensely about things that matter, and to be agents of godly change in our world: marriage, family, and society at large.

Great men feel greatly.

Coldness and apathy are the most cowardly stances a man can take. Bold statement, I know. For a man to resign his emotion, the part of him which feels intensely, is for him to resign part of God’s very likeness in him. “For God so loved the world, that he gave…” (John 3:16).

So loved. He loved the world so much and felt so intensely that He was compelled to rewrite (or rather fulfill himself) the covenant He had with us.

Look at the mightiest men in the Bible; even the most hardened warriors cried bitterly with emotion. Quick character studies of a few would aptly illustrate my point (read about David, Samson, Saul, Joshua, Daniel, and most of all, Jesus).

Great men do indeed feel greatly.

Wives Refuel Us

During a recent Mount Rainier summit, I realized just how much Selena’s encouragement and approval means to me. I realized that when she’s behind me, I feel virtually invincible. There’s little I wouldn’t do or attempt for her; I love her intensely. Our 10+ years married has shown me that I need her. No, she doesn’t complete me, but I do need her.

Man wasn’t meant to be alone; God created this amazing being called “Woman”; and she is incredible. John Eldridge says it well:

“She is the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God. Woman. In one last flourish creation comes to a finish with Eve. She is the Master’s finishing touch.”

Husbands, may we lead our wives by example, Christ's example.Selena makes me better; she humanizes me. She keeps me from working too much or being too intense about life. She fills my emotional bucket and reminds me how to feel. Even more importantly, she loves me and fills me with confidence (and I do my best to reciprocate). In my experience, my wife is my emotional refueling point where I can reset, recalibrate, and re-engage with things that really matter. I need her and want her.

Men should feel outwardly

We must engage our passion and emotion to change the social issues of our age.

Just a few generations ago slavery was acceptable. Now our nation looks back with shame at what we allowed; slavery has forever tarnished American history. What did my parents and grandparents do in the face of something so atrocious? I heard Matt Chandler (a pastor in Texas) discuss this recently as a means of drawing our attention and action to the social issues of our age.

He asked, 50 years from now, what issues will we look back at and say “how could we have allowed such injustices?” This is primarily a marriage blog so I’ll spare the details; but I do believe there are (at least) three huge human issues men should be passionate about:

  1. The sex trade –  pornography, prostitution, and surrounding issues (Video).
  2. Human trafficking – modern day exploitation of kids and adults (More info)
  3. Abortion – kicking, feeling, reactive children are killed for convenience. (Video)

These are three topics that make me so passionate (angry, really), that my throat knots up and my heart literally begins to race. I feel intensely for those harmed by injustice and are unable to help themselves.

Marriage is also one of these issues for me (and Selena); hence, this blog.

Men should feel intensely

My point is that as men, we must feel with great intensity. One person put it like this, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Granted, I have no idea what issues that person was outraged about but the sentiment is strong – we must feel.

The husband of integrity does what he says, says what he does, and does the right thing.Keep in mind, your passion should have godly direction; I’m certainly not proposing a carte blanche to make mountains out of mole hills.

If anything moves us, may it be the incredible grace of God and a desire to share His goodness, justice, and love with those who need it.

May we be men who feel with great love toward our wives and families. May we be passionate about God and His concerns before our own. May we be anything but docile and quiet.

May we feel the same intense love for others that God so intensely feels toward us.

Encouraging Marriage Quotes and Images

Sharing openly with friends is a great way to encourage others and reinforce to yourself what you believe. Just click an image and select where to share it – the quote will be pre-populated. There are many more images to share available here.

Featured photo provided by Jeff Marsh and is of Ryan summiting Mt. Rainier.

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  • Jonno Rushbrook

    Love this mate!!

  • TrueScotsman

    Liked your post, and I myself have plans to climb Mount Rainier this summer. A few points though.
    1. What would you advise for men who have a harder time outwardly showing their emotions. As I have gotten older the “need” to tear up and cry simply doesn’t arise anymore, even when I feel like it should.
    2. The “So loved,” is not a, “God loved us SOOOO much,” the word actually means “thusly.” Or simply, “God loved us in this way, that he gave his one and only Son.” Just a little bit of a pet peeve of mine. :P

    3. In your opposition to abortion you mentioned children that have the capacity to feel and move. Does this mean you are only against abortion into the second and third trimester? I personally have a hard time seeing how the prohibition and criminalization of abortion would actually stop the practice, but would rather only make it less safe. Contraceptives being available and affordable (if not free) is really the best way to see these abortions of convenience go away. Outlawing abortion would also include women who are not healthy enough to have a baby, instances of rape and incest and where the fetus is non-viable perhaps because of anencephaly (no brain). I just find the “Pro-Life” movement to be rather narrow in their thinking on this very complicated issue and I have a hard time agreeing on that one.

    • Sincere thanks for taking the time to respond. Hopefully I can provide insight to your questions:

      1) Tears are rare for me as well. Selena can count on one hand the times she’s seen me cry in our relationship (10+ yrs married, 14 years together total). This post isn’t meant to propose that “men should cry more”, but rather that men should feel passionately enough to be moved to action in their marriage and in society.

      2) Point taken, but it still evidences how much (by way of what manner) God loved the world. As is the case, the passage still shows how we can “love thusly” to take intervening action in our world.

      3) I’m against all forms of abortion. It’s a weighty issue, though I don’t think it’s a complicated one. It really does come down to when one views life as beginning in the womb, and I believe life begins at conception. To illustrate, Selena and I don’t use chemical or in-utero mechanical contraception for this reason. We’re responding to a personal conviction in that regard. I strongly encourage you to read the transcript or listen to the message given by Matt Chandler (50 mins long, found via the link in the post above). He articulates a Biblical view of the abortion issue very well and I agree with him.

      I know there are many circumstances which might make abortion seem ethically acceptable, and I don’t mean to make light of horrible situations a woman may be in. I just don’t see how killing one life is justified to save another life unless we rationalize placing more value on one of the lives. I don’t believe we can place more value on one human life over another, no matter the circumstance. And I also recognize that this is not a popular viewpoint.

      Thanks again for taking the time to thoughtfully comment; I hope I’ve helped.

      • TrueScotsman

        Thanks for the detailed response!

        1) Understood, certainly a more reasonable stance as I think there may be physiological changes among certain men that simply make producing tears harder. Or maybe it’s a personality thing, though I know some godly men that likely shed tears daily. I would probably have a good time studying and searching myself to find out why exactly that is.

        2) Amen, absolutely. I just wish translators changed it to “in this manner” and end the confusing preaching. Not that it’s a false teaching or something, but for people who read the Greek it can get rather frustrating. haha

        3) I would say it’s a very complicated issue. We’re talking about the practice of abortion in a secular society, for a whole spectrum of people of differing beliefs who have to live together.

        Think about it, the purpose of outlawing abortion would be to stop it from happening right? Yet, history would say that these kinds of prohibitions are on the long term ineffective at achieving these ends and would send the practice underground where the mother’s health and safety would be greatly at risk. An all out prohibition would also effect women who are raped, sometimes even by a relative, which would leave her to have to bear and raise this child (which would likely have genetic abnormalities) under the threat of penalty from the law should she not want this.

        Or in regards to the mother’s health, this could be also be a young child who was taken advantage of and in addition to not wanting the child of a rapist, would probably be killed in child birth. Not to mention that some women wouldn’t be even able to get to the point of child birth because the changes to their circulatory system would possibly kill them as well, leaving both dead. We have to recognize the difference between a life where there is a young girl who is cognitive and has the capacity to feel, versus an embryo that has not developed any vital organ functions or cognitive ability.

        Lastly, in the instances of genetic abnormalities that are more extreme, such as anencephaly. This would force a mother to give birth to a baby that has the capacity to experience nothing, and would likely only live a matter of days, while it’s organs are left alive with modern machinery.

        The fact of the matter is that there are real circumstances that are never discussed in Scripture, that are difficult to navigate, and to legislate the absolute moral maximum on the issue is not possible. There simply is no chance of that happening in America again, and like you I want to see these abortions of convenience go down, but at the same time I want to champion the health and safety of women and not treat them like a criminal if they want to elect not to have a rapists baby.

        I understand you and I ultimately won’t see eye to eye on this matter, and I am actually very familiar with Matt Chandler and his teaching. However, I do not have the philosophy that the American legal system has to be 100% in alignment with what is morally right. The law is the moral minimum, and that principle is applicable for instances such as this.

        • Annie

          I just want to say that I completely disagree, and I’m a woman, and a woman who has had two abortions. I’m thankful they were there and I totally regret them! I would’ve rather been raised knowing about God, and learning what is right, and wrong. Even if I could never go back and do it right, with I can’t, I am not glad abortion was there for me. In fact, I grieve now. All of the reasons for keeping abortion alive and well is so abused that’s it’s a joke. I’ll bet you that probably about 99% of all abortions are not for women who were raped, or molested as a child, or anything like that, but rather, it’s an open gate for the masses to destroy a child that was inconveniently conceived because of sin. This reminds me of the posts I read concerning the sex industry. I was reading about how Iceland was trying to bring so much of it to a halt, people would say things like, how is she going to make money now, or support her children, or have a job! *acting as though they have her best interest at heart* And if Jesus was confronted with a woman prostituting herself, or degrading herself for money in any way, He in His love for her, would hand her clothes and say, cover yourself. That is the answer. Just as abortion is wrong any time, and there’s no justification. God can handle all details when they are handed to Him in repentance, and a surrendering of a life to God. btw, great article! My husband is very sensitive and a caring man and he would totally relate.

          • Annie

            ohmygosh, typo! *I’m NOT thankful they were there*

          • TrueScotsman

            Hi Annie,
            Disagreement is welcome, as I said earlier it is a complex issue and certainly in a perfect world I would love to see a place without abortion, but sadly we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where there are fetuses who have no hope of ever being viable, growing in their mother’s womb without a brain. Or we have women who had their freedom and dignity stolen away from them, having to carry the progeny of a rapist.

            I too have a strong aversion to the “abortions of convenience,” but I don’t think a blanket outlawing is the answer or a possible scenario.

            1) It has no chance realistically of ever becoming legislation, so instead of fighting a futile battle, perhaps its time to make some concessions.
            2) It still will not prevent the practice of abortion, just drive it underground where the babies will still be aborted, and it will be highly dangerous for the women who participate.
            3) A blanket outlawing of abortion effects women who have more difficult circumstances.
            4) Women who are not healthy enough would be forced to bear a child that would kill the mother and the child.

            I believe the answer to lowering the amount of “abortions of convenience” are to increase the usage of contraceptives. Making more of an effort from our government to distribute and make available, even making it free in many instances perhaps. I would love to see abortion all but eliminated, but I understand that it is simply not possible.

            I myself would never participate in the practice, nor would I counsel anyone else too except to let them know the options were it to be a rare scenario. Please note that I am not defending abortion as it is practiced today, I would like to see things changed, but I recognize that from a political standpoint it is simply not possible to outlaw and criminalize abortion in the U.S. The Constitution only protects those who are born or naturalized in the U.S. and it would take a 2/3 majority to amend that, and it would be political suicide and likely wouldn’t last long if a Congress did implement such legislation.

            While I respect your opinion, and have compassion for the grief you bear as a result of your choices and experience, I must admit that those who take the extreme will simply not have a voice at the table when it comes time to see changes made. In a democracy, where we face complicated ethical issues, sometimes compromise is necessary, and it is important to remember that the law is the moral minimum. Christ has called us to something more, we cannot expect the same of the world.


        • Josh

          What Ryan said is correct. It has to be because all just civil law must conform to natural law. In fact, the Constitution already guarantees it – you cannot have liberty or happiness without the guarantee of life – equally – for ALL. Everything you just pointed out is a perfect example of moral relativism; lamentably it leads to neither moral truth nor just civil law.

      • TrueScotsman

        I also understand that your post was not about abortion, and while I have strong convictions on the matter, it prompted me to speak more in depth on the subject.

        You don’t have to address my remarks, and this probably isn’t the place for such a discussion.

        I thank you for the post again, and as a man who is getting married soon, I will apply much of what you have said. I might take the time if I get the chance to listen to Matt Chandler’s teaching. I used to listen to him quite a bit back in my Calvinist days, and I still have a lot of respect for him today.

  • Annonymous

    As a man I know many men who do express their emotions freely and well. It is definitively much more a cultural issue than a biological one, though one has to admit that female brains are better wired for communication and emotions in general. However, as for me, in my home emotions were not freely shared other than anger. Fear and sadness, above all, were severely repressed. At school I had to go through a lot of bullying, and just had to stuff it all in. Well, all this is to say some of us males have a very hard time showing and communicating emotions because this has been a very dangerous thing in our past. It’s a matter of protection, of a guarding wall. It is very naive to just say “Oh well, break down the wall and be free” or other cliches like “you’re free in Christ”. Easier said than done.