Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Manly Men (for Men)

Books to help men be all that they can be. (This post will grow as I add books over time. Check back often.)

Before I proceed, it should be noted that although the audience for these books is men, that does not mean that women wouldn't gain insight from reading them. I encourage each gender to "read up" on the other to get a better understanding of the opposite gender's struggles and strengths.

"Understanding the Purpose and Power of Men" by Dr. Myles Monroe brings us all the way back to the Genesis creation account to explore how God originally designed "male", why God designed him that way, and what that means for gender interactions within our marriages and our churches. Be forewarned - this is challenging material. Dr. Monroe makes a strong, scripturally based argument which undoubtably will be considered "traditional" (in it's negative connotation) and therefore dismissed by many before they read the full text. My recommendation is that one reserve judgement until they have finished the book. (See also the companion book to this in the Feminine Mystique list)

"Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul" by John Eldredge is, of course, the standard bearer for the new masculine identity. It should be noted that I differ with Eldredge on some minor points (see notes below), but all in all, this is a book every man should read to rediscover the "wild heart" that God placed in all of us.

"No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice Instead of Good Hurts Men, Women and Children" by Paul Coughlin, and "The Samson Syndrome: What You Can Learn from the Baddest Boy in the Bible" by Mark Atteberry. I recommend these two books together as they somewhat balance each other. I disagree with Paul Coughlin on some points the same as I do with Eldredge, but the Sampson book helps balance those perspectives by showing where manliness can turn into destructive machismo.

"The Silence of Adam: Becoming Men of Courage in a World of Chaos", by Dr. Larry Crabb, Don Michael Hudson, and Al Andrews. Simply a great book. Helps to explain the fall's influence on maleness.

"Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family" by Steve Farrar. Simply the best guide I have ever read on manly husbandship and fatherhood.

"Every Man's Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time" by by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey (Editor). There are a great many books I have on my future reading list regarding the struggles we face as men and the strategies to conquering them. None of those books would be possible without this groundbreaking work. Simply a must read for every male over the age of 14.

Online: Not all great reading is in books. There are websites that contain a wealth of written info regarding marriage and relationships. Please also consider a visit to these worthy resources:

xxxChurch - I know, it sounds bad. They even bill themselves as the "#1 Christian Porn Site". Trust me, it's all a "bait and switch". They are actually the #1 Christian porn recovery site. Includes a news letter, blogs, forums, and other resources. A great first stop for any man who is struggling with sexual immorality. WARNING - this is not a topic for the faint of heart. Although the site moderators keep a good control over explicit expression, the issue itself is explicit enough.


For full disclosure, I should note that there are two general issues around which I disagree with the solutions proposed by almost all authors I have read. Those issues are confrontation (with bullies, primarily) and the priority of female attractiveness in relationships.

Specifically, I do not agree with the proactive, violent, thrashing out approach most authors support as the "manly" response to bullying, physical threats, and protection of the weak. I truly believe that such an approach returns evil for evil and violates the "turn the other cheek" directive of Christ. That does not mean that I don't think men should exhert their power physically in those situations if required. But my personal approach is always a defensive and negotiative one, not an offensive one.

And although I agree with most authors in the reality that physical attractiveness is a priority for men, I don't believe that it has to be or that such a priority is godly. As such, I bristle at any suggestion that maintaining attractiveness is some kind of requirement for a woman to be godly or that there is any justification for men to discard their women because they don't maintain some standard of beauty. Scripture makes it clear not only that beauty does not last forever (Proverbs 31:30) but that we are to adore and be captivated (to turn an Eldredge phrase) by our wives at all times, regardless of the natural degradation that time, gravity, and physiology inflict on their bodies (Proverbs 5:19)

I just had to add that lest one think that I agree with absolutely everything every author writes. But by and large, these are really excellent books and these few quibbles do not prevent me from recommending them highly.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to hear about the book, The Silence of Adam. Would you consider doing a book review at Equality Central.

    Yep, hoping for peace. :)