I must begin by saying, women matter. It seems like that would be an unnecessary statement. Unfortunately, it is necessary. Sadly, we live in a “zero sum” world where many people make the assumption that there is only a limited amount of significance to get passed around. To say one gender, or race, or career choice matters is to light a fuse of indignation from someone who assumes you’re implying that they don’t, and they are not getting their fair share of “mattering.”
Can we speak honestly? This is elementary school thinking of the basest level. It’s binary, yes/no, us/them, all or nothing, simplistic thinking that children usually, but clearly not always, learn how to grow beyond. Unfortunately, many adults in our society claim it as permission to riot. On both extreme ends of the political spectrum.
We should immediately reject that kind of thinking. Partly because it’s childish. Largely because it’s not true of how God thinks or feels. His reservoir of blessing, anointing, significance, and “mattering” is boundless.
To God, and to healthy men, women matter because God made them. Because, along with men, he made them in his image, according to Genesis. Women are the last piece, perhaps even the culmination, of God’s Creation. So when I say men matter, it’s with a smile and a grateful, respectful nod of the head to the women in our lives who matter just as much. Mature women, whose healthy sense of their own significance, allows them to agree whole-heartedly: men matter.
Women do matter. So do we men. We just matter differently. Men matter for at least 4 reasons:
1. God’s revelation of himself. When God created humankind and revealed himself as a personal, loving God, he did so as a Father (Psalm 89:26; 103:12-14). He always used masculine pronouns in reference to himself. And when Jesus told the magnificent parable of the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15:11-32), he was revealing the heart of the Father. The image of God throughout Scripture is masculine.
That in itself places a spiritual mantle on men, fathers in particular, to be aware that we reflect God’s revealed nature in every relationship we have.This is why the love, presence and touch of a man carries enormous weight.
And we know, that while women bring irreplaceable gifts into the lives of men— love, encouragement, intimacy, belief— there is one role women cannot replace for men: blessing and anointing. Only men can anoint other men. It takes a man to convince a man he’s a man.
God the High King of Heaven, and the Heavenly Father, establishes a profoundly sacred anointing over the role of men. Because when he revealed himself, it was through a masculine presence.
2. Jesus’s masculine presence. When Jesus took on flesh and blood and confined himself to the limitations of humanity, he came as a male. He was a son and a boy who, “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52 NIV). He taught in the temple as young Jewish men did and surrounded himself with a group of men who became his brothers.
Jesus revealed himself as a man and in doing so gave all men a clear picture of who we can aspire to be. Kind yet filled with conviction. Connected deeply to the Father yet pursuing masculine community. Courageous enough to stand face-to-face with pious Pharisees (Matt. 3:7; 12:34), yet gentle enough to convince women they were entirely safe with him (John 4).
Jesus shows us how to be men. When we emulate him, we reflect godly, masculine qualities to others at home, at work, at church and in the community.
3. Fathers are the first “other”. Several Christian authors make the point that fathers are the first outside person a child has awareness of. A child is utterly connected with his or her mother through nine months of sharing the same body, through the life-giving umbilical cord, and through breast-feeding. In a baby’s earliest development, he or she has no distinct awareness of a life separate from the mother.
The father isn’t physically connected and he isn’t the source of nurture in the intimate way the mother is, but he’s there. He’s the first “other” person who chooses whether to pay attention, connect, engage, talk to or hug a child. Whether he does or not makes an enormous difference.
A father’s abandonment, absence or abuse can pass on a lifetime of woundedness. Conversely, his voice, love and presence can bestow a lifetime blessing (Genesis 49:25, 26). Fathers are the first influence that convinces a child whether she or he matters.
4. The impact of men on societies. “One of the most important tasks for any society is to answer the question: How do we build good men?” So said radio commentator Dennis Prager the day after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. At first I questioned his comment. Women are equally important in God’s eyes as men, and Prager’s comment seemed discriminatory.
And then I realized Prager is right. He wasn’t talking about the relative value of men and women; he was talking about consequences. Men matter precisely because the consequences of the character choices they make differ so significantly. Good men bring generational blessing to families and society; wicked men bring multiplied destruction (Exodus 20:5, 6).
- It was men who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center. It was men who ran up the stairs to rescue those who were staggering down.
- It was a man who shot victims at the Planned Parenthood Center several years ago in Colorado Springs (disproving his notion that every life matters). It was a male Christian security guard from a local university who drove across town and died defending others he probably disagreed with (proving that to him every life actually does matter).
- It was a man who killed 85 and wounded over 800 victims at a Las Vegas outdoor concert. It was American men, tourists on vacation, who rescued a train full of French commuters from a terrorist set on killing them all.
Men matter because the difference between good men and wicked men is so extreme. Men have a disproportionate outward impact on society, especially when it comes to violence. I am utterly convinced those same men have the opposite potential for an equally significant impact for blessing, provision and protection. This is why we men have such a life-impacting choice to make: Will we direct our energy to bring blessing or destruction to others?
Our society questions the value of men primarily because it sees too many examples of broken men who long for power, possessions, or prestige in every possible arena— business, sports, politics, church and more. The world desperately needs men who are convinced they matter for reasons far deeper than intimidation, control, or destruction. Men who grasp their importance will be freed to use their strength, not for harm, but for the benefit of others.
Whether our culture agrees or not is immaterial; men matter. Let’s make sure it’s in the right way.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.