February 13, 2015

What is a Man? By T. L. Wiens

The strong silent man. The macho man. Tall dark and handsome. How did these become good descriptions for the perfect man? Are they God’s descriptions?

These thoughts have been going around in my head after a very interesting discussion with my son. He was blessed with the same softness my father displayed. Like my dad, my son is struggling to fit into a world where the stereotype is pushing him to be something other than who he is and labelling him as what he is not.

My dad struggled with many things. He refused to ever read the Bible aloud in public because it always brought him to tears. That wasn’t manly. And that was just one of the things that he avoided because of his tender heart. His passionate disposition could also come out in displays of outrage at injustice. Not, violent, just strong words spoken without question of where he stood on a matter. Even these displays of  passion were few and far between and seldom seen by anyone beyond the immediate family. Fears of being seen less than manly robbed my dad of freedom to be the person God created.
Then everything changed. My dad had a heart attack and we almost lost him. When he recovered, he was different. He still cried but now he pushed through the tears. I can’t tell you how many discussions we had over the next three years about his love for Jesus Christ—discussions that would never have occurred before his heart attack. And I wasn’t alone. After his death, my mom received many letters from strangers, people from far and wide. They all expressed their thanks that my dad took the time to sit down with them and share Jesus Christ’s love. My once shy, fearful dad overcame the stigma of being less than what society deemed as manly and changed the lives of strangers.

I think my dad realized the same thing I shared with my son: society’s definition of a real man isn’t God’s definition. God chose David, a man after his own heart, a passionate, heart on his sleeve man. He chose Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. And last but not least, God sent His Son Jesus Christ who showed us love in the prayers He spoke for all of us, the tears He shed over the death of a friend and the passion for His Father’s house when cleansing the temple. He also chose men like Saul, a zealous Pharisee and Luke the doctor. God doesn’t want us to define men by societal standards but by His.
I don’t want my son to live the majority of his life in a societal box fearing ridicule for being tender hearted. I want him to be free, happy and secure in the fact that God sees him and likes what He sees.


  1. What beautiful thoughts about the difference between what God thinks makes a man and what society portrays a man to be. For my grandpa and one or two of my uncles it is the same--the tears come easily. My husband has a harder time letting the tears come, but he is tender-hearted like that too. These men make good husbands, father, grandpas, and good role models in this "macho-loving" world.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Thanks Sharon. For me this is a very important aspect of being a writer--representing what I see in the Bible in the words I share.

  3. What a lovely post; a tribute to both your father and your son. I hope your son will remain true to the man God created Him to be. The world could use more tender-hearted men.

    On a side note, how old is your son? I have a single daughter of dating age ;)

  4. Thanks for standing up for us softies! It may not fit with today's "perfect man" but is an important part of my relationship to Christ. Where would we be without us?!

  5. I agree Brian.
    Susan, my son is 25 years old.

  6. I agree that in North America it seems that men and women are being taught to tame their true emotions and be thick-skinned. But maybe that's a shield against a harsh world? I too have a very soft-hearted son, who gets frustrated with our society. I'm so glad for the way God blessed your dad, T.L.


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.