Today’s guest post comes from Justin Anderson. He is married to Emilie and has three kids, Lily, Cole and Penny. He is the Lead Pastor of Redemption Church in San Francisco, CA. He is also more devoted to Arizona State University football than his wife would like.
As I write, you are two years old and every day when I come home you are a different person. I don’t mean this in the sense that you are growing up quickly, I mean that you are literally a different person. Sometimes it’s Spiderman, sometimes a Robot, Fire Truck or Monster but lately you’ve been Paul Goldschmidt. Not a random baseball player, you are specifically Paul Goldschmidt, or “Goldy” as you refer to him in your bedtime prayers. In other words, you are a walking two-year-old cliché. And I love it.
We live in a city that doesn’t celebrate most of the things you love. Your mom and I are currently trying to figure out what we’re going to do with your sister for school. We went to meet her potential teachers at the local public school and one of them told me that they didn’t watch sports in their home because “sports aren’t exactly a noble pursuit”. I didn’t feel like punching a Commie before school started so I just nodded slowly and pictured the scrum in my head. You will grow up surrounded by people who work very hard to make the world gender-neutral by encouraging girls to like dirty trucks and dressing the boys in pink chiffon for their soccer games. They are reacting to a couple thousand years of patriarchal society that they blame for most of the world’s problems. They think that if they can just minimize your aggression and empower your sister, they can right all of our societal wrongs.
Before you show this letter to the “facilitator” of whatever commune you’ve joined because we made you grow up in San Francisco, I want to tell you one thing; they’re almost right.
If being a man means that you are strong, tough and unfazed by life the way Clint Eastwood was unfazed by police commissioners and .44 Magnums…
If being a man means using your strength to get what you want, when you want it, and at the expense of whoever is in your way…
If being a man means using your strength to get what you think you need, or deserve, from women…
If being a man means using your money and power to get more money and power…
Then put on the pink chiffon, because manhood like that isn’t worth pursuing. Seriously though, take off the chiffon, I’m not done. I think there is a big difference between a vision of manhood that includes strength, poise and power and one marked by narcissism, violence and misogyny. I believe that God made you strong and gave you a love for exhibitions of strength like baseball and robots but not so that you could use it to your own ends. God gave you strength so that you could use it to protect, provide and serve the world. Those in our city that seek to dissuade young men from being strong are missing the point. Strength isn’t our problem, neither is power. The problem is their use, the problem is when strength is wielded for only selfish gain and egotistical ends.
Not to get all spiritual on you but Jesus is the ultimate example of this. Jesus was and is God, existing in full power and might. When he came to earth, he could have come like what many MMA-loving Christians have envisioned; powerful, destructive, and oppressive. He could have willed the earth into submission. He also could have come as many progressives have described; meek and mild, hugging his way through the crowds to his sacrificial death. He could have simply lived as an example of weakness and inoffensiveness and then died peacefully smiling in a quiet field. But he did neither. He came as powerful as anyone the world has known and yet he used his power to lift up the poor, the weak and the powerless. He showed off his divine power by willingly dying and being raised again to victory over the greatest powers of our world.
This should be your vision of manhood. Don’t shy away from strength and power, just know why you have them. Look for opportunities to use these powers as often as possible and don’t let anyone take them away from you. When the day comes that you use your strength to care for them, they’ll thank you. In the meantime, Goldy’s up to bat, let’s go watch him together.