Evangelicals & Manhood
What happened to us, fathers? Where did we take the wrong turn, husbands? Who has bewitched us (to use the words of the Apostle Paul) that we have to always display our feminine side, sons? How have been with intoxicated to not celebrate virtues like virility, brothers.
I am so tired engaging with men who don’t act like men. Men do not appeal to emotions when they are engaging someone in an intellectual discussion. Men do not resort to defensiveness when someone has the temerity to express disagreement with them. Men keep their big boy pants on even when discussions get heated and understand there is nothing inherently negative with being assertive and passionate.
My brother, Rodney and I have had some knock out and vehement discussions and that has bolstered not diminished our relationship. We don’t walk on egg shelves and avoid saying what we believe needs to said. That, by no means, indicate we are always right. Sometimes, we cross the lines and words are used that we have to repent for later. Sometimes that causes friction and introduces anger. But guess what? That is what happens when two sinners engage in any human enterprise. Rodney and I are both fervent believers in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, but we are still works in progress, awaiting our final glorification.
Of course, there are lines that should NEVER be crossed and are NEVER acceptable forms of behavior. But believe me, I am never suspicious of Rodney ever doing me any bodily harm because what solidifies our relationship is genuine Christian agape love. Rodney is one of my dearest, dearest friends, someone I would want in the foxhole next to me when all hell breaks loose. Yet, we butt heads every now and then. Probably because we are both type A males.
Thankfully, what Rodney and I share is a commitment to carry ourselves like men. This is likely heavily influenced by our father, James Earl Kyles. When judged by history he will register nary a blip on the radar, but he was huge in our masculine formation. I am a man and I am not ashamed of that declaration. I am a man, marred mightily by the Fall and all of its implications, but I am a man, darn it, and it sickens me to see some men not holding up their end of the bargain.
I was blessed to raise one son, Ricky Verndale Kyles Jr., and by no means was and am I now a perfect father but the one thing I hope I have modeled for Ricky Jr. is how to carry himself as a man. I hope he will continue to carry the Kyles name with honor and distinction. He has announced he will marry his finance sometime this summer. Time will yet tell whether he will answer the bell and acquit himself in a manner worthy of adulation. If he should not I trust that God will judge it to be in spite of me not because of me.
Lord willing, I will witness the birth of my first grandchild, a boy, in July. To the largest extent possible I will speak God’s truth into this lad. The same truth that was spoken into me, the same truth that I spoke into my son. The same truth that was spoken into me from many men who God was so gracious to allow my life to intersect.
Lord willing, I will impress upon him and his father, my son-in-law, the importance of men leading their family. Leading them by providing for them and protecting them. Leading them in the fear and admonition of God. Leading them by leading from the front and not being a passive occupant of their homes. Leading by demonstrating by action what it means to lead. Lead by refusing to take the easy way out when the marriage gets tough because tough is what they signed up for. Leading them by placing the needs of their families above their own. Leading by having the courage to take the unpopular position when it needs to be taken, by saying the tough things when they need to be said, leading by protecting the vulnerable and the oppressed.
This pursuit will not be easy. Manhood, Biblical manhood, is under attack and sadly we are in a world where being a man is considered by many to be toxic. This is clearly the Time of the Women. To some degree we are only experiencing the just rewards of man’s abusive and oppressive past. Women were, and to some degree even today, truly marginalized and oppressed. There can no denial of this sad reality, yet I was not alive when most of that took place.
None of us can undone the past. The Apostle Paul realized that sober reality when he penned the following words under the inspiration of the Holy Writ, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13).
I don’t believe Paul was attempting to trivialize the actions of the past. He in other places laments some of his past actions. He just accepts a sine qua non (absolute essential) of life the only thing we can control is the “now.” We can repent of actions from our past, but the past is well, past.
I have not been a perfect man. My wife, Monique, would the first witness in that court case to testify that to be the case. That is a fair critique and to the degree that it is fair I repent of sackcloth and ashes, but I never will repent they are the source of inherent evil because of my masculinity.
I won’t apologize for displaying actions that are heavily influenced by how men are wired biologically and emotionally differently than women by the divine creator. I will not apologize for insisting I take the active lead in leading my family, for making the major decisions that affect our family.
I have shared it before, but I can remember so vividly a time when I was probably around 16 or 17 and my father placed my brothers and I on punishment. This punishment meant we would not be able to participate in some upcoming big event (honestly I cannot for the life of me even recount what this “big” event was). It was crystal clear my mother did not agree with my father’s decision. She even said as much, but her words still ring in my thoughts. Her words were, “that’s your daddy decision and you just have to live with it.”
Now, as many of you know my father died a few years ago and it is quite conceivable that God brought up that matter and found my father weighed and wanting. But his decision did not materially or substantially harm us in anyway. Remember I cannot even recall what the alleged “big event “was in fact so it could not have been that important.
The takeaway was my father was regarded as the head of the house and his word was final. My mother was smarter than my father (my dad grew up with a 4th grade education), my mother probably made more money than my father and was able to find work more consistently yet there was never any question who ran the house at 301 W 42nd St.
I make no apologies for there being no mistake who runs the house at 5614 Devonwood St. If Monique had insisted she retain her last name, ala, Monique Collin-Kyles then she would have remained Monique Lanier Collins until she found someone who would agree to that arrangement.
All of these propositions are true, but I want to acknowledge Monique makes many of the decisions that transpire at 5614 Devonwood St. In fact, we reside at our current address and not a Chicago address because I acquiesced to the wishes and desire of Miss Monique.
Thus, her decisions are always derivative of my inherent authority. If it had become a matter that I retained strong convictions about then we would have moved to Chicago. Yet, wisdom and a desire to be a servant leader empowered my decision-making.
Leadership was not about ruling or lording it over others in the first place. If anyone ever learned anything about Jesus Christ it was just that fact. Leaders do what is best for those they lead, not for what is best for them. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom (Mark 10:45).
We have always the world to define the narrative. Men and women are absolute equals in essence, but they are not equals in function. Just as we see in the Trinity we see in creation. There is absolute equality in the essence of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But there is subordination in function. The Father does not submit to the Son. The Son does not send the Father. The Holy Spirit does come to speak about Him, He comes to promote the Son.
I do not submit to Monique, yet Monique is biblically required to submit to me. That expression is polemical to many, even to many in the professing Evangelical Church. Why? Because we are hostile or ignorant to the biblical worldview concerning Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood. Whether the cause is hostility or ignorance neither are realities that Evangelicals should be guilty of in this day and age.
Whatever the source of the problem quit hating on me because I celebrate the fact that God created me male and He did so with the express design that I would lead those who have resided at the various domiciles I have lived over the years.
I would be the first to admit I have not nor will I be in the future perfect in the application but one thing I can promise is I will be consistent. When it is found that I have fallen short I will repent but when it is found to be consistent to be in line aligned properly with the Biblical pathos then it is all systems at 5614 Devonwood St.
Let me know what you think of my thesis and reasoning. I would be interested from hearing from both a male and female perspective. Hopefully it would be an Evangelically based perspective as that is the basis of my line of argumentation.
Until then keep your hand to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.