Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers’ Day!

“Why do men think the things they think, say the things they say, and do the things they do?”

This is a picture of my niece Chloe (Grade 3) and my nephew Gino (Grade 1) during a swimming and birthday party for one of their schoolmates. They’re both cute just like their uncle. Hey, what can I say? Cuteness is in our genes!

Last year, during the hot summer months, my cute niece Chloe and cute nephews Danfil, Darwin, and Gino would oftentimes bring out the inflatable pool, place it in our dinky driveway, air it up, and fill it up with water. My nephews would just put on their shorts and their goggles and jump right into the water. My cute niece Chloe however would always come up me and ask for help in putting on her goggles. As I helped her put on her goggles, she would always tell me in a stern voice, “Huwag mong guluhin ang buhok ko!” Women! I mean, women kids!

In previous articles entitled “Can you read my mind?” and “Do wives really want husbands to share their feelings and thoughts with them?” I discussed some differences between men and women, and how women, following Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s advice, should engage in direct communication with their husbands. I was a bit worked up writing that article, asking twice rhetorically, as to what women really wanted from men.

Tough and Tender

Well, I’ve got an “oldie but a goodie” of a book written by Joyce Landorf way back in 1975 which states what women do want from their husbands. Entitled “Tough and Tender,” Landorf says that wives want their husbands to be:

[1] The Decision Maker

[2] The Spiritual leader

[3] The Exceptional Listener

[4] The Wise Gentleman

[5] The Gentle Lover
Well, well, well, these don’t sound too difficult to be or to do, right, guys? But speaking as a lawyer who has counseled women over the years, I guess we have to admit that husbands really have a lot of work to do before reaching the standard that Landorf discusses in her book.

I’ve got to tell you that I am not married, and that the information and discussions in this blog about marriage and the family come firstly, from my readings and secondly, from my years of counseling women who either want to have their marriage annulled or who want to escape from abusive relationships. It’s not that I don’t want to get married because I do, as I told you in my previous “Covenant Marriage” article. It’s just that after having been turned down three times by the same woman, I’m beginning to get a little bit discouraged ...ü

In her last chapter (“A Most Unlikely Man”), Landorf enumerates several processes necessary for a man to grow into the man God intends him to be. These are:
[1] You may need a realignment of attitudes.

[2] You may need to change; Learn to live with your past mistakes; Let each partner move at his own pace and at his own rate of speed toward change; Consider how you, not your wife or your children, could change to make your life and marriage more meaningful.

[3] You may need to make a commitment to effort.
Well, we’ve heard from women what they want from us men. Perhaps it’s time now for women to listen how men think of themselves, how men really are, or simply, what makes men tick, so to speak.

Wild at Heart

John Eldredge, in one of his books (either “Journey of Desire” or “Wild at Heart”) says that people are not gender-less souls inhabiting male and female bodies. He says that we are created either as man or woman but either way, created in the image of God. What he says sounds truly Biblical, but I’m willing to be corrected by those of you who have better theological background than I have.

Eldredge in his book “Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul” (copyright 2001; published by Thomas Nelson Inc.) enumerates three universal desires which are the clues to masculinity itself. These are:
[1] A battle to fight

[2] An adventure to live

[3] A beauty to rescue
Eldredge is a superb writer, in the class of Philip Yancey. Four lines from his book which are worth the price of the book (quite expensive at almost four hundred pesos) are the following:
[1] Page 62: “Masculinity is bestowed.”

[2] Page 63: “Femininity can never bestow masculinity.”

[3] Page 184: “If masculinity has come under assault, femininity has been brutalized.”

[4] Page 211: “… The most terrifying question any man ever asks his woman: ‘What’s wrong?” After that it’s all mystery. A woman doesn’t want to be related to with formulas, and she certainly doesn’t want to be treated like a project that has answers to it. She doesn’t wan to be solved; she wants to be known.”
What eloquent words can I use to say that Eldredge is a great writer? Hmm, maybe “WOW!” would best sum it all up.

Please take note however that there might be some questions or reservations about Eldredge’s theology and ideas. In pages 30 and 31, for example, he espouses what is known in theology as “open theism,” that is, God takes real risks, not knowing the outcome of everything in the world. Calvinist theologian and Baptist pastor John Piper, I think, has effectively countered “open theism” in his book “The Pleasures of God.” Probe Ministries, in its review of Eldredge’s ideas, says that his language is inaccurate and that he sometimes confuses recklessness with manliness.

The Man in the Mirror

A lot of men measure their masculinity and worth through success, financially, academically or professionally. As the saying goes, “He who has the most toys, wins.” Or more eloquent still, “Big toys for the big boys!”

Using this criteria of success, Patrick Morley has definitely earned the right to speak about masculinity. He graduated with honors from the University of Central Florida and completed studies at Harvard Business School and reformed Theological Seminary. He founded Morley properties which in the 1970’s became one of Florida’s one hundred largest privately held companies. When his book “The Man in the Mirror” became a worldwide bestseller in 1989, he sold his business and founded his ministry to men, encouraging and inspiring new lives through Jesus Christ. His website is www.maninthemirror.org.

(The last time I looked, the only book of Morley which is locally available, beside “Man in the Mirror” is “Walking With Christ in the Details of Life.”)

Morley in his book discusses issues and problems that men struggle with. He answers the questions “Why do men think the things they think, say the things they say, and do the things they do?” Whether you’re a man or a woman, you will learn a lot from Morley’s discussion of the following issues:
[1] The Rat Race
[2] Leading an Unexamined Life
[3] Biblical Christian or Cultural Christian?
[4] Significance: The Search for Meaning and Purpose
[5] Purpose: Why Do I Exist?
[6] The Secret of Job Contentment
[7] Broken relationships
[8] Children: How to Avoid Regrets
[9] Wives: How to be Happily Married
[10] Friends: Risks and Rewards
[11] Money: A Biblical Point of View
[12] The Four Pillars of Financial Strength
[13] Decisions: How to Make the Right Choice
[14] Priorities: How to Decide What’s Important
[15] Time Management: Doing God’s Will
[16] Pride
[17] Fear
[18] Anger
[19] The Desire to be Independent
[20] Avoiding Suffering
[21] Integrity: What’s the Price?
[22] Leading a Secret Thought Life
[23] Accountability: The Missing Link
[24] How Can a Man Change?
Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart
The gender issues facing us today are primarily spiritual and theological at their core. Everything we do as humans is influenced strongly by our gender realities. Gender is a very basic element in dealing with our identity. In his or her soul, every human being asks a few basic questions: Who am I? Am I loved? Am I good or bad? Am I a boy or a girl – a man or a woman?
These lines are from Stu Webber’s book, “Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart” (copyright 1997; Multnomah Books; published in the Philippines by OMF Literature Inc). Webber is definitely a man’s man – he became an Airborne Ranger and then fought in the Vietnam War as one of the tough and elite Green Berets of the 5th US Special Forces. In one occasion, crunched inside a foxhole waiting to engage the Vietcong in bloody battle, Webber surrendered his life to God in full-time ministry.

Webber, drawing upon the work of secular psychologists Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, says that there are four pillars of Biblical manhood upon which marriage, family, church and community (the nation) rest. All these institutions collapse when the pillars lean out of balance. According to Webber, these pillars and core characteristics of what a Biblical man truly is are the following:
[1] King – provides; core characteristic – cares deeply

[2] Warrior – protects; core characteristic - contends courageously

[3] Mentor – teaches; core characteristic - communicates transparently

[4] Friend – connects; core characteristic – connects deliberately
Citing Gillette and Moore, Webber in page 62 says that the common results in a man when a pillar is leaning, absent or abused are:
[1] King becomes either an abdicator or a tyrant, resulting in disorder and chaos, family dysfunction, and oppression;

[2] Warrior becomes a coward or a brute, results in fear, abuse, cruelty and hatred.

[3] Mentor becomes either a dunce or know-it-all, resulting in lack of discipline, personal immaturity, disregard for Scripture and spiritual insensitivity.

[4] Friend becomes a loner or a smotherer, resulting in unavailability, personal isolation, emotional detachment and illicit sensuality.

Probe Ministries has two articles on Webber's ideas which you might find interesting. These are "Four Pillars of a Man's Heart" and "Is the Tender Warrior Wild at Heart?"

Let’s hear it for the women!

A bonus part of Webber’s book is the postscript “A Woman Among The Pillars.” Here, Webber discusses the ways women can support the King Pillar of their husband’s hearts:

[1] Read, learn, apply and learn.
[2] Love unconditionally.
[3] Listen intently.
[4] Don’t expect him to meet all your emotional needs.
[5] Understand the power you have.
[6] See your husband as God’s gift to you.
[7] Appreciate the little things he does, as well as the “big” things.
[8] Give him some space.
[9] Physically appreciate him
[10] Follow his leadership.
[11] See your marriage as a journey, not a destination.
Well, ladies, there you have it, the keys to understanding the man in your life, from men about men, for men and women ... Happy Father's Day!

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