File this one under “If The Shoe Fits…”
In case you haven’t noticed there is a crisis in America, the origins of which, to a large extent, can be traced as far back as the Garden of Eden when God said to Eve, “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16b)
(I implore you to keep that verse in mind, as it will serve as the cornerstone of everything else you will read in this article.)
Since the days of the Garden, the manner in which men and women have related to one another, particularly within the construct of a biblical marriage, can be likened to that of a waltz, a most graceful and eloquent dance that is predicated upon the male taking the lead and his female partner submitting and following. As each partner is content with carrying out their designated role, a waltz can be an amazing sight to behold as two people collaborate as one to glide harmoniously, albeit not effortlessly, across the ballroom floor. However, when the roles are reversed, it can be a confusing and frustrating display that is more resemblant of an episode of the Keystone Cops than anything else.
My point here is that in order to successfully conduct a waltz only one person should lead, and that person is the man. Now, in no way am I implying or inferring that the woman is ever to be controlled by the man; only that for the duration of the dance she humbly and willingly yields to his leadership and direction for the sake and benefit of the greater goal of achieving together what neither of them could accomplish independent of one another.
In the aggregate, this “waltz analogy”, in conjunction with the aforementioned Bible verse, represents my personal conviction that the female desire for control is but one of many factors contributing to the “crisis of manhood” confronting today’s contemporary culture. This is reflected, for example, in the 72 percent of black unwed mothers, many of whom, I believe, neither desire nor aspire to be married not necessarily because there is a shortage of “marriageable” men (which I’m not denying may be the case), but has more to do with the fact that a higher value is placed on having complete autonomy, not only over their own life, but also the lives of their children, and without any male influence or accountability (not to any tangible degree anyway.)
Good, because it is at this point I figured I will have probably upset enough of you that you would have given up on reading the rest.
Now, given the previous statements, I want to say again that I am not naive to the fact that a dearth of eligible men (“eligible” being a subjective term) has been and continues to be a significant issue for many black women today. I fully realize that. Nevertheless, it is not my intention that this one article should serve as an exhaustive dissertation on the myriad of reasons for why there exists such a paucity of “good” men. That notwithstanding, I am firmly of the opinion that much of the reason for this sparseness is attitudinal and is directly attributable to the rigid, feminist-borne “I don’t need a man” mantra being adopted by many black women today.
The increasing level of influence on black women of “girl power” (feminist) celebrities such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Madonna (yes, Madonna), whose song lyrics and lifestyles overtly promote and encourage female independence from men, at least situationally, is having a direct and adverse, though perhaps unintended, effect on the children being raised by them, especially male children.
Instead of being open to the influence of a male figure in their life (a godly man, ideally), alternatively, many single-mothers have chosen to rely exclusively on other females for support and guidance, and quite often to the predetermined and deliberate exclusion of any male involvement whatsoever. Conversely, reality TV shows like Real Housewives and Basketball Wives help to further this “psyche of separation” by encouraging women to achieve their goals, dreams and aspirations, including the rearing of their sons, apart from any significant input from a male authority figure.
And though adopting this kind of “solar system” mentality might actually result in bringing to fruition one’s own personal dream of living a totally self-determined existence, there remains the question: at what cost or impact to the child, particularly if that child is a boy? People who possess a solar system mindset generally like to view themselves as the sun, the brightest star in the room, and everyone else with their issues, concerns and desires as “planets” whose sole purpose in life is simply to revolve around them.
Get the picture?
In other words, while you’re busy transforming yourself into this self-made, self-directed, 21st century single-mother who “runs thangs” on her own (because that’s how Nene Leaks of Real Housewives of Atlanta likes to “get down”), the question must be asked: to what extent is your “I got this!” attitude impacting the transformation of your son from a boy to a man (and I’m not speaking only in terms of the physical dimension.)
An example for us is Jesus Christ Himself, of whom the Bible says in Luke 2:40, “The Child continued to grow and become strong (physical), increasing in wisdom (intellectual) and the grace of God was upon Him (spiritual).” So, with Christ as our Model, we can see that there is a distinction to be made between masculinity and manhood as there are multiple dimensions involved. Just because a boy grows older and taller physically doesn’t in and of itself mean he grows and matures as a man. Not all growth is the same. You’re not simply raising a child, you’re nurturing a soul. This is an especially critical concept for a single-mother to grasp as she looks to avoid the mistaken assumption that as her boy gets older he naturally and automatically matures.
True masculine maturity doesn’t simply happen by osmosis. That a boy eventually become an adult and moves out of the house shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a personal moment of success signifying that you “got it right” (as if finally stumbling upon the correct formula for WD-40 after the 40th try and shouting “Voila! My boy has now become a man!”.) True, a boy will always be male, inherently, but the more germane question is, will he grow to be a man? And, if so, “What kind of man?” That’s the real question.
Consider the following from “The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood” by former U. S. Secretary of Education, William J. Bennett:
“How often we hear a boy say, “I wish I was a man!” And if we ask why, we often learn that it is because he wants to be able to do as he likes. He is tired of having to obey his parents, and be guided by them. He thinks he knows better than they do what is best for him. Such a boy is already going wrong, and only wants the chance to break away from the restraints of home. He is not a manly boy. He is often a forward, foolish boy, who can be easily led astray, and who will sooner or later come to grief. When a manly boy wishes to be a man, it is not that he may have his own way, but that he may be better able to help his parents and be more useful to the world.”
Today’s multimedia culture, with its ubiquitous and incessant over-the-top messaging, is resulting in many young men being overexposed to testosterone-spiking attractions such as video games and action movies. I say “overexposed” because, generally speaking, there is nothing inherently wrong or improper with either of those things. After all, they’re boys, right, and boys like to see stuff blow up. Trust me. I get that. I do. And, yet, while that may be true for the most part, the problem comes when those things are intentionally used as proxies or substitutes for what a mature male influence could and perhaps should, in practical terms, bring to the life of that young man.
You see, it’s one thing for a single-mother to be forced to bring up a boy due to no fault of her own, as there are always mitigating circumstances and factors involved, not the least of which is sin, with all its potentially devastating ramifications. That said, however, it is another thing altogether to be in that position by one’s own choice, motivated by nothing other than a selfish desire to remain as the sole person in control which, needless to say, is not God’s ideal. Try as you might to bring up that male child on your own, nothing can replace the intentional, deliberate and consistent involvement of a mature, godly male in his life. Absent that, there is still God (who was always been the ideal Model to begin with.)
What is needed today is not more movies that depict “positive” human role models. Those things have their place, I guess. But, in the end, it will result only in our wanting even more of the same. It’s just how we are. No. What is needed, and desperately so, I might add, is more consistent modeling by each of us – myself included – of the Model, that is, Christ, and that regardless of our parenting circumstance, situation or station in life. The only question is, which is more important to you: to be the sun in your own little independent “solar system” and calling your own shots, or, a planet, willing and wanting to revolve around God’s bigger – and better – plan for you and your family?
As we each choose the latter, and consistently so, our boys will not only grow up to be men, but the right kind of men. Men whom God will use to impact this fallen world for His kingdom and to His glory.
Think about it.
No, better yet, pray about it.