Did anyone else notice the disproportionately large number of Super Bowl commercials having to do with men becoming "real men"? The free pants ad was creative, if not a little disturbing to see so many guys in their underwear. But that was only the beginning. Soon, we had men needing to buy cars to reclaim their throne. And then, the ultimate show of your manhood was to buy soap for men, made ironically by a very non-manly company "Dove". Clearly, our culture is wrestling with what it means for a man to be a man. I say clearly because advertisers don't spend millions on Super Bowl commercials to be cute- they want business. So, the marketers to the masses tell us that what men really want is to know how to be manly.
Now, I'm not disagreeing with these ad captains. We certainly live at a time where gender identity and gender roles have been thrown into utter confusion, leaving men, and women for that matter, asking themselves "whom am I really?" So I agree with the need to define what it is to be a man (and what it is to be a woman, though I feel less compelled or qualified to speak on that half). My concern is that we not allow Hollywood or 5th avenue to define this for us.
In Ephesians, Paul speaks to the gender issue by sounding a clear call to men and women. Granted, this passage is specifically addressed to married couples, but I think his words give insight to all men and women, married or single. Paul writes, "And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her." In other words, the very same love that Christ showed the church (us) on the cross is the love we are to express to our wives. It's the way we are to live as men.
So, being a real man won't happen because we buy a new car, put on the pants, or even use the right soap. Do you want to be a real man, from God's point of view? Then be the first to die. Do you want to be a real man of honor in your marriage and your family? Be the first to sacrifice. Do you want respect as a real man in your workplace? Be the one who leads by serving. Die to yourself, sacrifice your self-rights, serve others before yourself. None of these acts will mean much to Hollywood or 5th avenue, but they will make all the difference in the world. Because when people see men behaving like this, they are bound to ask questions!
So get the car, wear the pants, use the soap. But in the end, the way to manhood in God's eyes is to become like Jesus, and give your life away. There is no more honorable, no more manly way to live.
Be a man! (or a woman). And enjoy the journey.