What’s the Difference Between Guys and Men?

A few years back a close friend of mine who had recently been married said something that disturbs me to this day. He said, “I can still look at the menu, just as long as I eat at home.” I’ll give you 50-1 that he wasn’t talking about the hottest new restaurant in town.

In an attempt to justify the statement, shore up the weak theology, and then get my stamp of approval, he followed up with “I’m a guy. That’s what guys do, right?”

I agreed.

Wait, what?

Allow me to elucidate.

Even from it’s humblest beginnings in the 19th century, the term “guy” had negative connotations that associated it with badly dressed people and Guy Fawkes (think V for Vendetta). These days it’s a bland, sexless epithet with little actual depth or meaning. It’s a word we use when we want to be obscure or general. But too often, it’s heaved onto the sexual battlefield in defense of some repulsive and ostensibly unavoidable act.

I’ve heard it in movies and on T.V. I’ve read it in books and magazine articles. It creeps its way into the minds of all those of the male persuasion through any and every open channel it can find. And then, before you know it, the seed is planted and away we go. But I have long been on my guard against the idea that because of my sex, I have this great cosmic weakness for bad behavior. I can’t subscribe to the idea that my DNA is hard coded with a kink in it that gives me the right to say “That’s what guys do.” I prefer to think and act like I have a choice.

And what is this choice I speak of? The choice is to fight against a lustful, treacherous nature. To rally together as men, as real men, and revere the truly manly things like honor, trust, strength, honesty, and godliness. To band together as brothers in arms against the onslaught of sexual sin and pornography that presses in on every screen and pours in on every wire in our homes. The choice is to put away childish things and become men.

A little dramatic, maybe? Sounds a little bit like a battle cry? Oh yeah!

So, maybe that is what guys do. Maybe guys look at the menu, cat call, and objectify women. Maybe being one of the guys isn’t as desirable or manly as the salesmen have made it sound.

And so, I hereby submit to you that I no longer want to be a “guy.” Never will I hide behind an excuse that removes my ability to choose the high road. Never will I scope out “the menu,” or be unfaithful, or succumb to lustful desire because to do so is to be a guy. But to want to, and choose not to, that is to be a man. Count me among the men.

If You Miss the Boat, Start Swimming

A few nights ago I really blew it. For some reason I thought I would go head-to-head with an emotionally distraught wife; it was unwise. I said a lot of dumb things… really dumb things. Then I broke a door.  All the while I knew I was wrong, and that just fueled my anger. As I watched her car pull out of the driveway when she left I knew it was going to take a miracle to get her back. In a manner of speaking, it did. (I believe miracles are carefully filed into categories.  Mine was filed in a dusty old category called “Humility in Husbands”… it doesn’t see much action these days.)

This isn’t about my wife, or your wife. And it’s not about me ”tooting my own horn” as the eloquent say it. It’s about you and me and the way we handle emotionally saturated situations as husbands, fathers, and even friends. I’ve seen men crash and burn countless times because they handled a delicate situation like a starving gorilla. I’ve done it myself, and experience has taught me a few important things:

  • Emotion isn’t logical. It’s an irrational force at the center of our brains that saves us from being life-sized cardboard cutouts of ourselves. It’s what makes us dynamic human beings capable of so much.  But, emotion doesn’t respect the boundaries of logic and reason, or gravity for that matter, so for anyone to expect it to is an illogical expectation in and of itself. Chances are you’ll eventually wind up reacting emotionally to something that started out as logical and just in your own mind. But inevitably frustration and anger will take over and then you’ll blow it… just like I did.
  • If you miss the boat, start swimming. Notice I didn’t say “start backpedaling.” If that ship has sailed, and you’re not on it, no amount of backpedaling and finagling is going to get you on board. And frankly, you and I probably don’t deserve to be there anymore. It’s going to take an act of self-sacrifice to get back there and, like it or not, we have to humble ourselves to get there.  The question is, will she throw the lifeline out to you when you’ve gone the distance.
  • Redemption is a slow process. It’s unfair to expect that just because we sincerely apologize and repent of our atrocities that our wife or child or friend will rebound instantly. Chances are there’s going to be some collateral damage and it will take time to repair. It could be minutes, hours, or even days. You may feel that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. But that doesn’t really matter anymore. What matters is that you’re there waiting for them when they do return.

All of this really boils down to humility. Humility, I believe, is an act of God even though it starts with action on our part. Humility is not a naturally occurring substance. It is foreign, aberrant, and scarce. But as much as it is all of those things, it is just as much attainable and necessary in our lives. If we will allow ourselves to be humbled before God, our family, and our friends, we will finally begin to be a more workable medium for God to do his great work.

If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you’re not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed. –C.S. Lewis

I’m sure you’ve been there before. What’s your story?

7 Answers To 7 Questions You Didn't Ask

You didn’t ask for this, but here it is anyway. I have now been married for 3 years and 5 days and I can honestly say that I have learned more in the past 1,100 days than in all of the 24 years I spent on my own. There are some really basic, but really foundational things I’d like to pass on to you… married or not, it’s good to hear them:

  1. You are not that special – she is. It will serve you very well to realize that the woman that married you could have done much better but for some reason she felt pity and compassion on your sorry existence. You owe her a bigger debt than you can repay.
  2. It was clear to God that a man couldn’t handle the job alone. This should probably prompt a spirit of humility.
  3. Pay closer attention. If she has to come right out and say it… you’re missing the boat.
  4. You can never help out too much. Get off the couch and get your hands dirty. Responsibility doesn’t stop when you leave the office.
  5. Praying together can be awkward… but it brings you closer to each other and strengthens your relationship with God.
  6. If she sleeps on the couch because she’s mad at you… go get her.
  7. The most important thing in her life is now the most important thing in yours.

You’ll thank me one day.

You Want Me To Love My Wife?

30 seconds ago I was working on a different post. Then I got a slap in the face when I went to the home page of BibleGateway.com to look for a verse for that other post. Today’s verse:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25)

It’s simplicity and poignancy stunned me.

Now, I don’t think I’ve been particularly guilty of not loving my wife, at least not in recent memory (though she might need to confirm that). Nonetheless, the first four words of this verse pack a potent punch that cannot, and must not, be ignored. It’s a simple command to Love Your Wives. If I were a pastor I would walk to the podium and say “HUSBANDS! LOVE. YOUR. WIVES.” and then leave. Because what else needs to be said? It doesn’t say “Husbands, hassle your wives.” or “Husbands, abuse, ignore, neglect, betray, lie to, yell at, and annoy your wives.” It also does not say “Husbands, love yourselves.” or “Husbands, love someone else’s wife.”

Paul uses four simple words to convey what is, in my lowly opinion, one of the most profound and influential commands in the Bible. It’s a fundamental building block not only for the family, but for the church. And when the family and the church are healthy and grounded in the love of Christ (the metaphorical groom), the world that surrounds us stands will become healthier as a result.

The verses following clarify the command a bit more as Paul continues to describe both wives and the body of Christ using each to describe the other. He paints a picture of the church, and essentially the wife, as being cared for by Christ so that she may be washed in the Word – having a radiant presence, and exsiting without stain, wrinkle, blemish, or blame. And while all of this remains up to the husband to ensure, it is done by obeying one simple task. Love. Your. Wife.

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