To say that one deserves honor and respect based on none other than an inanimate fact—a.k.a. I am a male thus I deserve honor and glory, or I am a female thus I deserve honor and glory—only cheapens the honor and glory to about the worth of a knife for eating soup. From time immemorial it was only the runner who ran and won that received the crown and those who made an honest attempt, honored. Only in today’s world are crowns given to people for doing nothing. Twenge’s and Campbell’s book The Narcissism Epidemic explains this perfectly.
Biblically, real glory and praise have one standard of measurement:
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Love. Jesus, by saying “no greater” teaches us that the ultimate measure of love is found in death on behalf of others. Death, the very thing hailed as the supreme enemy of the human being, is also somehow the supreme measurement of honor and glory and ultimately one’s capacity to love. Jesus, in speaking about his impending death said,
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. John 12:23
Glory through a prolonged, bloody death. Because of this one act of one man, and none other, Christians have worshiped him saying, “You are the master. You are worthy.” The idea of being worthy is not so archaic in our times thanks to all the war and warrior games that sell by the tens of millions every year. A worthy man is the one who does not merely say he is willing to take risks, but actually takes the risks. Not thrill-ride dare-devil risks, but sacrificial risks. Risks that require denial of self for the good of others. Risks that put personal safety below community welfare. By this standard alone, the world of men is completely redefined if we are to look thoughtfully at the factual evidence that over 90% of military deaths and injuries are men and over 90% of workplace deaths are men. Are men being forced into these occupations? No. I once heard a miner speak in a news interview that mining was his life. Mining is an incredibly dangerous job where a man is deep underground the whole day. But by and large men have always chosen the more dangerous occupations. Why? Are men insane?? There’s plenty of low-risk, comfortable jobs out there for crying out loud!
But the reality is these men are often driven by a selflessness. They see the risk as an honor because they know how necessary they are to their community, and their community respects and honors them for that. The community pays homage to the soldier because they know how valuable he is to their welfare. They know they cannot have the welfare they do without his risky work. This is why so many men take pride in their dangerous work—they are praised by their community. They are serving someone other than themselves. You.
Plenty of men in dangerous occupations have a hard shell they hide in and act like jerks. Even so, there is an element of love at work somewhere deep in the recesses of their souls; they know honor is only to be found in the sacrifice and risk taken for the community, and so they love their community. Love requires reciprocity. It’s a circular flow, not a linear one. So when a community shuns men who take risks for its good, it is to their own shame and destruction. The 33 Chilean men who returned from the depths of the earth after 70 days were bombarded with gifts, publicity, and honor galore from their community and the rest of the world. $18 million was spent on their rescue. But what started out as an epic story of glory soon faded behind an entourage of exploitation and abandonment. They later felt cheated by their own country when it was decided no one would be prosecuted for the disaster and the miners left without any justice. The imperative of honoring men for being men and banging their knuckles, bleeding, cutting themselves, getting bruised and scraped, losing fingers, becoming handicapped, crippled, and even dying can’t be overstated. The logic is simple enough for a six-year old to understand: If a community shuns and exploits its men, the men will quit risking their necks for said community, and that community will soon end. And if you don’t think that is happening now check out Helen Smith’s Men on Strike. The writing is on the wall.
Having said all that, the Church is the one place and one hope for men in a male-shaming society. Because there the command still stands after two millennia, Love one another with brotherly affection [philadelphía]. Outdo one another in showing honor. Rom. 12:10
One thing to consider: There is nothing that Jesus asked us to give up that we haven’t already lost. It’s that loss which the Bible calls, “the sting of death.” Whatever possessions, whatever fulfilled dreams, whatever accomplishments, we have already lost it. Death is already decided; your complete loss is already decided. Death stings you even now, does it not? So the good news that Jesus brought was that he was taking all of this loss to the cross so that all our dreams and desires could be fulfilled—not now, everything is lost—but in the resurrection. With death no longer in the picture there will be no loss anymore, only gain. Real gain. This is why God’s interest in your gain in the resurrection compared to his interest in your gain in your present life is like a million to one. It was not for Lazerus’ sake that Jesus brought him back from the dead, mind you, but for the people’s sake. What an awful deal to have to go through the process of death twice! Spare me!
The Church is the only place on earth that I know of where sacrificial love is honored in the highest regard. Or at least should be.
For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. Phil. 1:21