Written by Jonathan Barker | Media by Thomas Hajny
One of my friends brought up the rhetorical question: What does it take to be a man? I answered, “A man has integrity.”
When the issue of manhood is brought up, I often think of the 2011 album Man Up by 116 Clique, a compilation album featuring Lecrae and members of his label, Reach Records. This 7-track Hip Hop album discusses different aspects of what it means to be a man from a Christian perspective. Subjects include responsibility, authority, and even more taboo subjects such as pornography.
In “Man Up Anthem,” Andy Mineo raps “Being a man has nothing to do with age / You can be a boy ‘til the day you lay in a grave / None of us behave like the image of who we’re made…” In the midst of a genre where violence, crime, and objectification of women rule supreme, 116 Clique distinguishes itself by shedding light on Christian values on manhood.
To me, this representation stands on a larger scale. It seems that in today’s culture, as a whole, we correlate manliness to material objects or qualities. If we ask the world what ideal traits a man should have, we might hear that men should “know how to work on a car” or “be successful and earn a lot of money.” A secular opinion might reason that a “man” can drink a lot of alcohol or should experience sleeping around with a lot of women. However, this all seems so empty and meaningless.
This is where Christianity distinguishes itself. We are encouraged to look at the inside of a man. The Bible tells us a man should know how to lead others and is strong in faith. We look up to Earthly men who fail us but in Jesus, we have a perfect example of how we should act as men.
When it comes down to it, integrity stands out to me the most. Integrity is important because all other matters aside; a man with integrity is able to see the errors in his ways and correct himself. He can be honest with those around him in order to build healthy relationships with his brothers and sisters in Christ. A man with integrity can walk the walk and keep his mind off of earthly things and stay focused on what is truly valuable and important.
My brother is currently taking classes to become a certified coal miner. He has already been in the Marine Reserves and I often joke with him and tell him that he is bound to have the manliest combination of professions. However, it occurred to me that my personal definition of “manliness” isn’t reliant on occupation. Therefore, there is no such thing as a “manly” profession. We don’t look at Jesus as a man we should imitate because he was a carpenter. We look at him as a perfect role model because we read about how he led his disciples and loved and healed those around him. So I’m here to say, if you’re a man and you don’t know jack about cars, hunting, or fishing, that’s okay. We are all made different with special interests and abilities and we should encourage one another to be unique and men of integrity.
I encourage you to ask someone else what it means to be a man. Conversation is helpful and could clear the air on some notions. Talk to your friends and see what they think. Compare non-Christian and Christian values and look for common ground. What do you think? Comment below what you think the most important qualities of a man should be.