Men and Manhood
by Matthew Cramer
What’s happened to the men?
This article is written for men, about manhood. No diminution of women is intended. Strong women of great character play a major role in our country.
There are lot’s of fine, upstanding men in this country today — men of integrity, with traditional moral values and the ability to faithfully execute commitments. They are present in all walks of life by; race, origin, education, occupation and financial status.
One cannot spend a few moments in history without noting the abilities and contributions of men in our past: The founding fathers, independence, the Constitution, the Civil War, the Way West, two world wars, trips to the moon and much more.
Yet many of us who share that longer perspective, note that the values and character of men has increasingly eroded since the 1960s. Almost everywhere you look today — politics, family, education, and in other elements of society — alarming numbers of men are wimps, ineffective, strangers to traditional values, and absent from their responsibilities.
Today’s family is probably the most egregious example. Countless men feel no compunction about sex on the first date, living together without a marriage commitment, and abandoning their responsibility for the growth and mentoring of their children (DNA inheritors).
The current explosion of crimes, most notably murder and shootings, can be traced directly to the father’s absence from the family. Fatherless sons, robbed of fatherly mentoring and support, gravitate quickly to street gangs that provide faux familial support and enculturate them into illegal, life-threatening activities.
How have we arrived at this point? Why have so many men abandoned a sense of chastity and purity? What has happened to manly character strengths such as long-term commitment, respect for women, shouldering responsibility for the results of our actions?
If you talk to a group of guys and get them to let down their defensive walls, they’ll share a lot of the aspirations that they held deep down inside, during their early years. Here’s a list I’ve compiled from our 40 years of healing ministry:
We want a father who will love us, forgive us, mentor us, pass on wisdom and teach us what it means to be a man.
We want to proceed from a heritage, a lineage that is respectable — that inspires worthy character in us and obligates us to superior performance.
We want to learn, grow, be mature and wise, explore the limits of our capabilities, and hone our talents and skills so as to be the best in what we are given.
We want to pursue a noble, worthy cause — be committed and loyal.
We want to be part of a team:
Of diverse talents and skills, who function together smoothly and whose combined power is greater than the sum of the parts.
Whose members are closely knit, mutually supportive peers, that display affection, respect and encouragement for one another as brothers in a healthy family.
We want to follow a good leader, who will provide us with vision, encourage us, and protects us with authority that leads us to growth in a proper way.
We want to be chosen, to be ordained, to be recognized and sent forth to our mission, backed up by the power, authority and resources to get the job done.
We want to lead and take responsibility for things — exercise authority, protection and leadership so as to bring about growth and life for others.
We want to compete in a healthy way, to fight the good fight, test ourselves and our skills, struggle against seemingly impossible odds and succeed.
We want to establish a loving family through marriage with a loving wife, and raise children who are happy, mutually respectful and supportive of one another and adults.
We want to be rewarded and recognized for our legitimate successes; not to puff up our pride, but as a model for others who can be inspired to excel beyond us.
We want to leave a heritage, a legacy of building blocks for something truly lasting, worthy and visionary.
Many of these aspirations have roots in young boy’s daydreams of success and notoriety. But I submit that many are present in all men — beaten down in some, disappointed and thought unfeasible in others, but there, nonetheless.
Hardwired? Or not!
So where, you ask, is the definitive description of what a man should be and do? Many of us endorse gender roles and distinctions passed on to us from prior generations, i.e. income provider, protection, physical strength, empathy and so on.
Sociologists cannot yet provide settled science about hardwired differences between the two sexes. And, men are awash in this present age with attempts to, literally and figuratively, deconstruct our understanding of the differences between males and females.
Yet information can be gleaned from the 4000 biblical years old, traditionally accepted mandate, that God gave to Adam and Eve before their fall in the garden. He told them to start a human race that would populate the world, and rule [alt. take dominion] over the earth and its contents.
“…Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. …It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. …Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 1:28, 2:18 NIV)
The Scriptures reveal that God intended Adam and Eve to execute His mandate as a team. One that’s endowed with designed complementarities (relative differences) that He distributed between the two; physical capabilities, emotional strengths, utility, etc.
While there of are some overlapping capabilities or redundancies in God’s design of Adam and Eve, a team of two people with duplicated capabilities would be vulnerable to continuing power struggles over roles and responsibilities. The offsetting complementarities ensure that man and woman will need each other to accomplish His mandate.
It’s fair to assume that an infinite, loving God has provided in our creation, all of the capabilities, talents and intellect we require to get the job done. I submit that the aspirations listed earlier and perhaps many others, are planted there by God at our conception, as guidance or a sort of informal rectitude that gets us started in the right direction.
Life Collects a Toll
Since we have free will, it shouldn’t be surprising that bad decisions will be made — some of which with serious and long-lasting effect. But if history indicates that our forefathers practiced manhood relatively well, it’s relative decline over the last 60 years indicates that something else is afoot.
I’m convinced that the rapid decline of quality manhood is the direct result of the unfettered pursuit of our free will. In today’s society, only the Catholic Church is staunchly opposed to divorce and abortion. Since our culture and other churches allow divorce, abortion, the pill and abortifacients — manhood’s responsibility for the results of these decisions has been severed.
Absent immediate penalties and guilt for behavior in these areas, many men are being seduced to indulge in free will to the point of debauchery. They abandon respect for women, duck marriage commitment, fail to deliver child support and blot out any thoughts about God, their only remaining deterrence.
These behaviors and character problems do not happen overnight. Young boys, entertaining the aspirations listed above, will not arrive at the condition just described, without time and some help. Yes, broken families and a decadent culture make a notorious contribution. But I’m convinced that such remarkable, negative, character transitions also require the influence of evil. Its iron grip and virulent results are unmistakable.
I’m a lifelong Catholic, raised in the Los Angeles area of California. I have known many of those aspirations since childhood. My folks were divorced, my grandmother and my mother attempted to raise me. Lacking a father, I felt like I was alone, on my own.
God was remote to me. I was taught by nuns in a Catholic school, lasting until the third grade when they threw me out — I’m a rule breaker. My idea about spiritual things was: go to church on Sunday, follow the rules for the rest of my life, or I’d go to hell.
Since I broke a lot of rules, the Sacrament of Confession became my favorite. I was separate from God, from the Bible, separate from the church and everything else spiritual, except on Sunday, Christmas and Easter.
I thought of God figuratively as this infinite person who created everything and put it in a large glass case so he could watch it. Every once in a while, he’d create a little figure, put it on the earth saying, “I hope you make it little fella”, then watch how it and others struggled with rules, sins and virtues.
At some point he’d reach inside the case and remove one of the little figures saying, “sorry little fella you didn’t make it”. Later, he would reach in and remove another one saying, “you did pretty good, so you can go to heaven.”
At age 35, I was married 16 years, with two children. I had a fairly successful career, but I was running into a serious problem. Every time my career advanced, some portion of my integrity was being sacrificed. The demands of success too often required that I go along with the crowd, shift or cover the truth when it’s not acceptable and make sure that important people liked me.
The more I thought about it, the more depressed I became. I was in middle management and making good money. But I was certain that when I arrived at the end of my road to success, there’d be very little virtue and integrity left in my character.
In other words, I was coming under something — external influences that caused my degradation. I wanted to succeed — but was being eaten alive, piece by piece.
The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that I needed a different paradigm, another approach to life — different than the one everybody else seemed to be following. So, I set about to find a solution for my dilemma. The result was as surprising as it was unnerving.
Soon after recognizing our predicament, my wife and I began attending Christian, charismatic prayer meetings. They were lively and quite a surprise. A couple of songs were sung, followed by loud praising of God in the vernacular and in what was called the gift of tongues. With hands held high in the air, those in the gathering would raise their voices, singing in tongues to accompany the shouts of praise.
Often, the separate voices would combine and meld into a colorfully harmonious monotone that was much like a chant. The peace that pervaded the room was indescribable, beyond all explanation.
The group seemed to be communicating with God, as though he were right there in the room with them. The joy and freedom of expression surprised and intrigued me; the memory of that peace remained with me for weeks.
One night at home, after several of these meetings, a peaceful presence enveloped me. I sensed immediately that it was the Lord and asked if he had anything to say to me. His loving, accepting and direct response affirmed his love for me and identified specific areas of my life that needed attention.
A few prayer meetings later, I was prayed over for Baptism of the Spirit. Overwhelming peace, boundless joy and a sense of God’s presence in my life embraced me. I could sense the reality of his existence, His unfettered love for me and his desire to be my companion. I was moved to praise him from the depths of my being in words and song. Sixty years of living a New Life had begun.
My wife Ruth Ann and I were blessed first with the gifts of tongues and prophecy. She would break out in praise and song with such joy, then shift to speaking in tongues effortlessly, her face — radiant.
I faced some difficulty, at first. One night, lost in praise and song, I began articulating any word-like sounds that came to mind. A sense of relief took over; like a flow from within. Asking the Lord for interpretation, I sensed that the Holy Spirit was praying for my son.
Thoughts that we receive in our mind can come from God or personal needs, good intentions, emotions and evil. The gift of discernment helped us recognize the unique way God speaks to us, an essential capability for establishing a long-term relationship with him.
A peaceful yet interesting and exciting life then followed during the 60 years since. There were surprises, healings, problems and victory. Throughout it all, God was there with us, in his presence, love, peace and guidance. So too, were the effective gifts of the Holy Spirit, every step of the way.
The old Baltimore Catechism had the answer to my dilemma, it was drummed into our heads in grade school. But I never grasped the depth of its message.
“God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.” (First Lesson, Q.6; Balt. Cat. #1)
God in his infinite love, power, and wisdom — knows that we could be created and share some of his infinite wonder. So he creates us with free wills and a desire to be with him. The popular saying is, “there is a hole in us that can only be filled by God.”
We hear that call or longing for God, deep down inside when we read the Psalms, written more than 3000 biblical years ago. David wrote;
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” (Ps. 139:13-15 NIV)
Given the current degradation of the culture, we know that free will’s investment in the excesses of emotion, appetite, desire and intellect — dooms us to a frustrating, stressful life. Worse, it puts God’s ultimate objective for us in direct peril.
The Catechism and other scriptures reveal that the ultimate expression of free will is to answer the call planted within. Faithful to God’s plan for our creation — we must put everything we do, all of our gifts, all our talents, at the feet of our Savior Jesus Christ, then pursue our life with him.
It didn’t make any sense at first. Am I supposed to blindly submit myself to some intellectual concept or religious practice? Am I supposed to submit to God who’s way up there in heaven, while I’m down here trying to do my own thing?
How can I do that, I wondered? How can I do it, when I’m supposed to do everything, solve everything, think of everything, be responsible for everything and still be my own man? Compromises are required, struggles are encountered, conflicting demands are frequent.
The Best Kept Secret
Now here’s an amazing revelation, so amazing and so simple that I call it the best kept secret in town. Yes we have the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the Church. But we aren’t intended to be alone, all by ourselves in the glass case.
God has always wanted to have an ongoing relationship with us — now, here, and for the rest of our lives. He wants to walk with us and talk with us. He wants to be our father, our mentor. He wants us to grow old with him in a relationship; an ongoing, personal relationship for the rest of our lives.
Many of us grow up, never hearing these words. Others hear them and don’t take them literally. Yet God has always wanted to be that close to us. Here’s a few examples, notice the consistency over many thousands of years:
“Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” (Lev 26:11-12 NASB)
“…I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.” (Jer 7:23)
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.” (Eze 36:27–28)
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (Jn 17:20-21)
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Rm 8:14-15)
“…For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord. And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, Says the Lord Almighty.’” (2Cor 6:16-18)
How do we know what is our general purpose as men, our specific purpose as individuals and make our way in life? It’s simple, when we were baptized, we received a new life from God. Our purpose is already written on our hearts by way of our inherited mandate given to Adam and Eve. Then, as we exercise our free will, God mentors us day by day, moment by moment through our 24/7 relationship with Him.
An ongoing relationship with God is the best approach to our primary objective, life with him in heaven. Substantial guidance about leadership, the care of others, and the use of authority and power, is available in four substantive articles at https://cramer-institute.com/the-sandbox/, sort code SR4.
But there’s more to all this. We are not alone with him in our worldly life. We have an enemy — Satan and his minions — who war against us and the Kingdom of God. They are congenital liars whose primary tactics are accusation and deception. (For more on this see: https://cramer-institute.com/the-sandbox/ , sort code SR1)
“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. “(1Pet 5:8)
Still, Jesus defeated the authority granted to the devil by Adam and Eve in the garden. As disciples of Jesus, we have authority in his name to protect our legitimate objectives and loved ones.
“Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.” (Eph 6:11-13)
And finally, God has provided the Church, the Scriptures, the Pope, the Magisterium, the Sacraments, and mature Christians — to help us get closer to God, recognize when He speaks to us, be formed in His ways, and be supported and encouraged by others as He calls us to our mission.
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:11-13)
“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:28-31)
Can there be any better position of responsibility than to take your proper place in the Body of Christ? Why settle for the top spot on a losing team of decadence, when an open position is available with the only winning team.
Our culture is degrading before our eyes. It’s time for men to cast degrading behavior aside and resume their proper role in the culture.
Begin now by renewing your dedication to, and faith in, one of the Christian creeds. (For Catholic, see https://www.usccb.org/, search for Nicene Creed).
Commit yourself to Jesus as Lord of your life.
Ask him for a full release of the Holy Spirit in you.
Maintain a 24/7 relationship with him in daily prayer, scriptures, petition, and listening.
Take full responsibility for your decisions.
Learn and practice spiritual warfare in the name of Jesus to protect your loved ones and responsibilities (See earlier link).
Faithfully execute your role as a single man, father of a family or priest in the many occupations that build up the Body of Christ.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Rom 8:19 RSV)