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Manliness: The Needed Virtue of Our Day

“Be a man!”

- The Apostle Paul

What does it mean to be a Man?

-I tend to like how the ancient Romans defined manliness, which was “living a life of virtue.”

  • For the Greeks, manliness meant living a life of human flourishing, and seeing to it that others flourished as well.

-Brett McKay combines these ideas defining manliness as, “striving for excellence and virtue in all areas of your life, fulfilling your potential as a man, and being the absolute best son, brother, friend, husband, father and citizen you can be. This mission is fulfilled by the cultivation of manly virtues like:

  • Courage

  • Loyalty

  • Industry

  • Resiliency

  • Resolution

  • Personal Responsibility

  • Self-Reliance

  • Integrity

  • Sacrifice.

These, he says, are the virtues of manliness. And he’s right.

We should add to these the qualities of manliness we see in Scripture

  • Faithfulness

  • Trustworthiness

  • Humility

  • Self-control

  • Gentleness

  • Strength under control

  • Provider

  • Protector.

In other words, manliness is a true good; masculinity is a virtue; real manliness is a compelling way of life. Manliness is a biblical truth and a gift from God.

But, Where are the Men?

Our culture doesn’t seem to understand the concept of manliness at the present moment.

  • In fact, as Matt Walsh has so clearly demonstrated, our culture cannot answer even the simplest of questions like “What is a woman?

It would seem that our culture’s inability to answer simple questions like these come from the fact that Men have failed to be Men.

  • Somewhere along the way, over the last few generations, men seem to have laid down various aspects of manliness listed above.

  • We have abandoned our watch posts; stopped guarding against enemy invasions; farmed out our responsibilities to others; and have just become lazy.

Just as an example of the increasing laziness in men, one statistic that illustrates this point is the average age of video gamers. In 2022, the average age of a video-gamer was 33 years old. Of all gamers—the overwhelming majority being male—almost 50% are between the ages 18 and 44. That’s when men are at their physical and mental peak! And yet, we’ve become a nation of video gamers. And when you factor in that the average gamer is spending close to 2 hours per day playing games, to works out to 4 years of their adult life spent playing a game.


Beginning in the 1960’s and 70’s, under the ideology of Feminism, the virtues of manliness and manhood began falling on hard times.

  • That is not to say that manliness should be free from criticism. Recent history has shown that many men have abused their positions and power in egregious, and wicked ways. Such men deserve to be confronted and called to account for their perverse behavior. But, the reality of wicked men is not positive proof against the value and virtue of manhood.

Feminism’s arrows lodged itself in the soul of Western Civilization and its poison began taking effect. Now, everything inside of feminist philosophy is not bad— but it is fundamentally flawed at its core. It argues that women are equal to men in every way, and therefore deserve every opportunity and responsibility afforded to men.

  • But, men and women are not equal in every way. Primarily in that men are not women, and women are not men.

  • The Apostle Peter makes this abundantly clear in 1 Peter 3:7 saying, “...husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

But, contrary to biblical truth and generational practice, feminist philosophy found a home in Western thought and culture — progressively working its way through the varied levels of thought and behavior. And now, not only have we bought into the idea that there is no God-given distinction between men and women, we now believe that men can become women! Men now dress like women, accessorize like women, and are “transforming” themselves into women (not that such a transformation is possible).

  • These are hard, difficult times.

As writer G. Michael Hopf said, “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.

  • We are living on the front end of hard times created by weak men. Men who have failed to value and exhibit the virtues of manliness.

We now see men trying to be women; men abdicating their leadership roles to women; men afraid to stand up against blatant cultural lies; men cowering before a culture of death; men wasting their most productive years; men who are slack-spined and weak; men who let women lead; men who waste their time playing video games; men who are letting the government raise their children; and more.

  • Weak men have certainly made times hard.

A Time for Strong Men.

The opening words of Genesis tell us that God made the world, and He made it a certain way. God created the world to operate according to certain truths and norms; God made fixed realities that cannot be changed. Genesis 1-2 tells us, without apology, that God has entrusted the majority of life’s leadership roles and responsibilities to men. That is not to say that women cannot and should lead in various ways; it is only to point out the clear biblical truth that God created and established men to lead in all of life, and that the world functions much better when men own their roles and lead with vigor and virtue.

History is full of stories that show the truth of Hopf’s statement. When times are hard, strong men often rise to the challenge and bring about needed change, often at great cost to themselves.

Think of the real-life American stories of hard times and great men:

  • The American struggle for Independence and George Washington.

  • The Civil War and Abraham Lincoln;

  • The Spanish-American War and Theodore Roosevelt;

  • WWII and George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhauer;

The list goes on. Hard times call for strong men; and hard times often make strong men.

But, the strength and value of masculine leadership and virtue is not only needed for warfare. The strength of masculine leadership is not limited to the ability to hold a weapon and fight hand-to-hand; it's not seen merely in battlefield courage. The strength of masculine leadership is most frequently seen in the moral resolve and moral courage of everyday life; in virtuous character, in integrity of heart and mind, in a willingness to suffer for others, a willingness to stand for truth; a willingness to speak truth to power and influence.

  • I think of men like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, Roger Baldwin, and Atticus Finch…

  • And there are countless other…

We ought also to remember the names of the Apostles Peter and Paul, John and James.

We ought to think most centrally of King Jesus—the manliest of men Who’ve ever lived.

  • He was stronger than any, yet stood silently before His accusers; He commanded legions of angels, yet submitted Himself to an unjust criminal’s death of which He was not guilty; He died, and yet in His death, He accomplished the salvation of the world.

As Doug Wilson so helpfully defines it, manliness means “gladly assuming sacrificial responsibility.” And nowhere do we see this more clearly demonstrated than in the King Himself, King Jesus.

  • Recently a friend of mine and I were discussing the manliness of Jesus, and he rightly pointed to two texts of Scripture...

  • Matthew 4:3 - "And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

  • Matthew 27:40 - "You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

In both instances, Jesus is faced with the same temptation: "Even though you have the responsibility and purpose to love others and sacrifice for their good, You should satisfy your own needs because you have the power to do so..."

  • Most all men face this temptation to one degree or another — the temptation to forsake duty and responsibility for self or something else.

  • But, in both of these instances, my friend points out, Jesus' faithfulness displays His true, God-honoring masculinity. He gladly assumes the sacrificial responsibility of His masculine virtue.

"Jesus. What a Man!"

- Justin Morehead

Manliness often comes to the surface in great ways under pressure and great struggle, but the most consistent and meaningful displays of masculine strength and leadership comes out in the course of everyday life: In the home, and in the life of the family.

  • God has not destined most men for the immortal greatness of fame and valor. But, He has called every man to the daily task of godly masculinity. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, God calls every man to be a man.

- Masculinity is a gift from God, and God made the world to work best when men act like men. -

The very act of manliness is a reflection of God; a participation in His world. Men are also called upon to teach the world the nature and character of God through how we live, love, provide, protect, lead, guide, and love our families and others.

  • And men, our culture is at war. It is at war with truth. And we must see that this war on truth means that our families are under attack.

  • This cultural moment in history threatens not only to undo the very fabric of reality; it threatens to take our children away from us even while they continue living in our homes.

- This is a battle for the hearts and minds of our children. -

  • A battle that if we aren’t watching, this battle will creep into our homes and into our lives, and we’ll never see it. This is a time for real masculine strength to rise up and say, “No. Enough is enough.

An Example Close to Home

In both Orange and Durham Counties of North Carolina, two counties just to the south of where I live, the County School Boards have taken some radical steps regarding LGBTQ ideology.

In a School Board meeting in December of 2022, Durham County adopted new policies that are LGBTQ affirming in efforts to make the school system “more inclusive” of its gay and transgender students. Along with this new set of policies comes some extremely concerning language.

  • From the new policies, “ Some transgender students have not talked to their parents about their gender identity and/or do not want their parents to know about their transgender status based on safety concerns or concerns about a lack of acceptance. The school principal or their designee should speak with the student first to ascertain concerns the student may have, what support may be needed to keep the student safe at school, and how to involve the student’s parents, if at all.”

What that means is that the School Board has exempted its faculty and staff from telling parents the details of their students' lives. Children are now able to attend public school in Durham and Orange counties, claim a transgender identity while on school grounds, demand that teachers and other students use particular pronouns, use bathrooms that do not correspond with their biological gender, and all the while, parents are left in the dark.

Such wicked, foolish, and sinful behavior should be a rallying cry to men everywhere. But, where are the men? Where are the men saying, “No more!” — Where are the men saying, “If that’s the path of the public school system, fine, but not for my children; not for my family.

  • Where are the men saying, “I’m not sure what we’re going to do, but I will not surrender my children and my family to the cultural death march of the LGBTQ ideology.”

Men, we are called upon to testify to the truth of God’s Word; to lead His Church; to lead our families; to set the example of godliness in the family, and to stand against cultural rot and decay.

  • Men are called upon to be men. And when we fail—when we fail to be men—the world suffers.

Does this mean we mount some formal protest, picket the meetings, or some other show of defiance? No.

But it does mean that we must take our responsibilities to our children and families seriously. As Wilson says, we must “gladly assure our sacrificial responsibilities.” Perhaps these times call for a seriousness that has not been required for some time. True manliness these days, the glad accepting of sacrificial responsibility, will ultimately look like cultural subversion.

  • Standing firm for what is right.

  • Not going along with the status quo of culture.

  • Not being swept away by sinful and deadly ideologies that contradict the Word of God and ruin the lives of young people and children.

  • Not remaining silent when culture blatantly and nakedly chooses death and destruction.

  • Doing what is necessary to ensure that our children and families have what they need, even while a formerly trustworthy culture refuses to provide it.

Men, the most culturally subversive thing we can do these days is to have healthy homes, good marriages, love and protect our wives and children, know the Bible, walk in humility, and faithfully trust the Lord.

Men of Real Valor?

Many men—myself included—desire glory. Some want big glory, and others less so. But the reality is that all men have a desire to be seen and recognized as manly; and to be valorized for it.

  • I want my wife to look at me and think, “My husband is manly.”

  • I want my boys to look at me and think, “My dad is a real man!”

  • I want my daughter to look at me and know, “My daddy is a man.”

  • I want my male friends to recognize my masculinity when I am around them.

These are good things.

But I don’t desire that they see manliness in me because I’m strong, or hard, or forceful, or anything like that. I want them to see manliness in me because I possess the virtues of God-given manliness.

  • And I want all of them to see manliness as a good gift — a good gift for them, for others, and for the world.

But, contrary to what we see in our movies and stories, true manliness often gets worked out in unseen ways. In our homes, our jobs, personal conversations, unseen moments of integrity, and small acts of courage that affect only a small handful of people.

  • Real masculine valor means being men of virtue every single day all the time.

Most of us men will never have stories told about us. Most of us will never be valorized in books and movies.

But men, they will tell stories of our generation.

They will tell stories of how we rose up and stood firm against the cultural death march of LGBTQ ideology and its assault on reality and families…

  • OR…they will tell stories of how we shamefully surrendered our watch-posts and abandoned our calling to stand for truth.

Real manliness is a lot like oxygen. When it's present, everyone is fine and no one really thinks too much about it. But, when it's absent, everyone suffers.

So, men…let’s be Men.

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1 Comment

Brinn Clayton
Brinn Clayton
Jan 13, 2023

It may be me, but I am somewhat uncomfortable with the examples of masculinity in this blog. I don't think Churchill, Rosevelt, Patton, or McArthur are appropriate representatives of biblical manhood. They were effective leaders in their own right and they stand out as symbols of American masculinity. I think history tells us none of these men were grand examples of a biblical man.

Sometimes I wonder if our breakdown in gender identity is partly a reaction to the American church's definition of manliness is too narrow. I don't think I fit that paradigm, but I consider myself a biblical man.

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