[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Have Men Just Become Obstacles?
Not long ago, I attended the college commencement exercises for my daughter. It was an exciting day for the students who had worked so hard to finish their studies. As I watched, it was gratifying to think about the hard work and determination it took for each of those graduates just to be there. One of the top students in the class gave the valedictorian address. He was a young man, probably in his early 30s, who had distinguished himself as an outstanding student. He told his story and gave a really remarkable speech. He spoke of challenges and obstacles—some very personal—that he had overcome. It was quite touching. He was there with his wife and his young daughter, and I couldn’t help but feel admiration for this man and what he was already making of his life.
Toward the end of his talk, he spoke of the women in his life—his mother, his daughter, his wife—and how important they were to him. But then his speech went down a perplexing path. He addressed the men in the audience and said, “Really the best thing we can do for the women in our lives, is just get out of the way.”
I thought to myself, Wow, what a shocking statement! Out of all the things that we could say to a generation of young men, that’s the best we can expect? At that moment, there were thousands of men in the audience. I thought of them. I asked myself, Is this going to inspire them to dream great dreams, to be builders of society, and to strive to serve and give of themselves to their families? When the best we expect of them is just “Get out of the way”?
I walked away shaking my head. Not because I’m against men learning to honor and respect and admire the women in their lives. No, quite the contrary. Rather, I thought, what a shame for the opportunity missed to show both men and women they can help each other. See, life is made up of relationships, the most important being marriage. And a marriage partnership between a man and a woman takes teamwork and sacrifice on both sides.
What is the best a man can do? How can he be successful in marriage and in life? The answer doesn’t come from the woke agenda of our modern world that believes masculinity is toxic. Rather, the answer lies in understanding a man’s real purpose. And that purpose is revealed in the Bible.
The modern, secular, radical agenda is not giving our young men and boys the true perspective they need.
Three Keys to the Potential of Men
Welcome to Tomorrow’s World, where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible.
Is the highest ideal we can expect from a man, just to “get out of the way” of women? Or were men and women designed to work TOGETHER to succeed? If you’ve been watching this program for any length of time, you know we hold the Bible to be the source of wisdom for life. It was inspired by God, and it gives us advice about how to make our relationships work.
God made men to be men. He made women to be women. He put us in marriages and in families. And not surprisingly, He has instructions for men on what we can do to make our relationships work. So, what’s the best a man can do to achieve his God-given potential? We’ll identify three things in today’s program.
#1: Love and honor your wife
Now, that’s simple, you might say. Everyone does that. If you’re married, you love your wife—otherwise why would you get married? But stop and think for a moment. Maybe we DON’T fully understand what it means to love and honor your wife, since so many marriages end in divorce.
Look at the statistics. In the United States, if you were married in the 1950s, 25 years later you have about a 25% chance of being divorced. If you were married in the 1970s, 25 years later you have almost a 50% chance of being divorced. That’s an American tragedy (“Marriages and Divorces,” OurWorldInData.org, 2020).
But it’s not just in the United States where so many marriages are failing. In England and Wales, a similar trend is occurring. In England and Wales, if you take all the marriages entered into in the year 2000, 17 years later, almost 35% of them had failed. This is not just an American problem, nor is it just in the British Isles.
A Psychology Today article written in 2019 reports, “Globally, in the nearly four decades between 1970 and 2008, the divorce rate has more than doubled…” (“Divorce Rates Around the World: A Love Story,” PsychologyToday.com, February 3, 2019).
The title of the article was “Divorce Rates Around the World: A Love Story.” I wouldn’t call that a love story. I’d call that a painful and heartrending disaster.
So, what is wrong with marriage today? Maybe we don’t know what “love your wife” really means. Now, of course, we can’t lay all the blame for divorces on men—both men and women have a part to play. But in the context of our topic today, shouldn’t we be looking at what men contribute to their side of the marriage, so they can be better at truly loving their wives?
Many have overlooked the fact that the Bible gives practical and direct advice to men about love and marriage, so notice what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:28:
“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…” (Ephesians 5:28–29).
So, think about this, men. Do you take care of yourself? Do you look after your health, your well-being, your needs? Of course you do. We all do. Paul is saying, if you’re married, treat your wife like you would treat yourself. Talk with her. Be aware of her needs. Be patient and thoughtful even when she’s down or upset. That’s what love is. It’s not just a passing feeling or romantic notion. It’s a commitment to care for another human being as you’d care for yourself in good times or bad.
Now, think about it. Would men AND WOMEN be happier if real LOVE was emphasized in our culture? I think the answer is obvious. The Apostle Peter echoed the same instruction to men in 1 Peter 3:7:
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
The Bible tells men to honor women. Not to demean them. Not to put them down. Not to insult them or abuse them. But to honor them.
Now, some will take issue with Paul for saying women are the weaker vessel. But it’s really not hard to understand. In fact, in the article, “What Science Tells Us About Transgender Women Athletes,” the authors put it succinctly: “Men are, on average, bigger, faster, stronger and have greater endurance than women…” (Quoted from “Experts Cite Data and Research For Why Transgender Participation Should Be Outlawed in Female Sports,” Swimming World Magazine, May 12, 2022).
There are exceptions of course. But by and large, this is true. So why did God create men to be bigger and stronger? To dominate women? To crush them physically or emotionally? No. Rather, it was God’s intention that a man learns to care for, nourish, and protect the woman he’s committed himself to.
There was a time in naval history when the unwritten rule was, if a ship went down, the women and children would get the lifeboats first. This code of conduct was popularized in 1852 at the sinking and evacuation of the Royal Navy ship HMS Birkenhead. It was thereafter called the “Birkenhead drill” because of the ship captain’s insistence that the men give up their lives for the protection of the women and children that were on that ship. The same standard was applied at the sinking of the Titanic. Many men gave up their spot on lifeboats to their wives and children. And they themselves died in the icy waters of the north Atlantic. One has to wonder, have we come to the point in our history where men today would feel no sense of responsibility to protect women in an emergency such as that? Is that who we are?
Men were designed to stand up for and cherish and protect their wives to their last breath.
A Godly Standard for Male Behavior
Husbands and wives are to work as a team, not as competitors. And men need to be inspired and challenged to care for and care about their wives. Loving and honoring wives is vital. But that’s not all there is. In this segment we’ll examine a second challenge for men to be their best.
About 3,000 years ago there lived a very wise king. In fact, his reputation spread far and wide. We have many of his teachings preserved in the Bible. His name was Solomon. And from Solomon we get our second challenge to men:
#2: Fear God and keep His commandments
What does this have to do with a man’s relationship with his wife? Let me explain. This phrase is actually taken straight out of the Bible. Let’s read it together. It’s found in Ecclesiastes 12:13:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
When Solomon summed up the purpose of life, the meaning of life, and why we’re here. This is what he said. Fear God. Keep His Commandments. This is man’s all. Now, we understand “man” here to be “mankind,” or “humanity.” But let’s step back and apply this scripture to the half of humanity that are called men. What if every last man on this earth would be doing this today? How would it change the world? How would it change the world for women?
Well, first of all, if all men feared God, there would be no crime. There would be no domestic abuse. There would be no fear for women walking down a dark, abandoned alley late at night.
Now, what does “fear God” mean? God doesn’t want us to be frightened or terrified of Him. It just means He wants our attention, our focus, and our obedience. He wants us to deeply respect Him and hold Him in awe. Why is that? Because He’s in Heaven and we’re on earth. He made us, He controls everything around us. And He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need to do that will really make us happy in the long run.
What about the commandments? They simply are the Ten Commandments, as found in the book of Exodus, in the Old Testament. You know, the Ten Commandments often get a bad rap today. They’re seen as harsh, demanding dictates from an unloving and uncaring God. But have you ever actually looked at them to see what they say? Many of them actually teach us how to love our neighbor. Let’s look at the command against adultery. This is found in Exodus 20:14:
“You shall not commit adultery.”
What’s adultery? That’s an old word that means having sexual relations with someone who is not your wife. Now, how out of fashion is that? And yet, imagine all of the broken marriages torn apart because of infidelity. Certainly, infidelity can be the cause of actions of either the husband or the wife. But let’s focus on the men right now. What if men, from little on, were taught to be faithful to their wives, till death? That sex is a precious gift that only belongs in a lifelong, committed marriage relationship.
Do we see how keeping this and other of the Ten Commandments would make the world a safer and more secure world for women? Women don’t need men to get out of the way. Women need men to fear God and keep His commandments. That would make a radical and monumental change for the better.
But we can take this one step further. Because Jesus explained in Matthew 5:27 that there is physical adultery, and then there is adultery of the heart;
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28).
Pornography is a curse in our Western nations. It’s not just a curse for men—women get hooked, too. In fact, according to a 2016 working paper by researchers for the University of Oklahoma,
“Men who started watching pornography partway through a 2-year period doubled their chances of divorce. For women, that number tripled” (“Divorce rates double when people start watching porn,” Science.org, August 26, 2016).
At a 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, attorneys gathered were surveyed about the effects of porn on divorce. What were the results of the survey?
“‘An obsessive interest in Internet pornography’ was a significant factor in 56 percent of their divorce cases the prior year” (Opinion: “National Review: Getting Serious On Pornography,” NPR.org, March 31, 2010).
So, stop and think this through. What if men were taught, from a young age, that it’s not only wrong to commit fornication and adultery, but it’s wrong to even harbor lustful thoughts toward a woman? What if our culture would support parents’ efforts to protect their children from inappropriate images in the media, in movies, and on the Internet? What a different world this would be.
If you are a man and watching this now, think about your life. Think about your relationships. If you have a porn problem, get help. Get past it. Overcome it. Porn is sin. And sin destroys trust. Sin tears apart marriages. Yes, God can forgive, and He WILL forgive, if we repent. But we first must admit we’ve sinned and must have a DEEP desire to overcome it with God’s help.
Jesus Christ—The Ultimate Male Role Model
A few years ago, a well-known men’s skin-care products company set off a firestorm by a commercial they ran. The commercial not-so-subtly suggested that we should accept the progressive media view that men in general are toxic bullies and need to improve. The slogan of the commercial was, “The Best Men Can Be.”
We’ve already seen that God intended for men to care for their wives, to cherish them and protect them. So, yes, men should not be bullies. But the commercial didn’t tell the whole story. It didn’t finish the narrative of what men should attain to.
How can a man be “the best that he can be?” Let’s talk about that now.
#3: Become like Jesus Christ
Almost 2,000 years ago, there was a man who walked this earth, whose name was Jesus Christ. Many in our secular, humanistic culture of today don’t want to hear about Him, but He was the ultimate man. He was the standard. In fact, He was God in the flesh. He had been at the throne of the Father for all eternity past, and He emptied Himself of His divinity. We read of that in Philippians 2:6. Referring to Jesus Christ, Paul writes,
“… who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6–8, English Standard Version).
He had been at the throne of God, with the Father. He gave that up for us. To become flesh and blood. To walk with us. He humbled Himself.
But He wasn’t a weakling. There is a common misconception of Jesus Christ as being a sort of effeminate individual who was soft and weak. Perhaps it’s because many pictures portray Him that way. But think about it. He was a carpenter. He was a builder. And back then there were no power tools. His hands were strong and used to work.
Again, it doesn’t mean He was weak because He cared for the interests of others. In fact, here’s an example of the type of man He was, in Matthew 21:12,
“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves” (Matthew 21:12).
Jesus Christ wasn’t a bully. But He also wasn’t afraid of taking strong action when it was required. The Temple was the house of God, and when He found crooks there taking advantage of and cheating the people, He stopped them, and threw them out. Notice what Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, in Ephesians 4:13,
“Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
If you’re a man who cares about your family and your wife, commit to becoming like Christ. If you want to make a difference in your world and build something worthwhile, become like Christ. If you want to set a strong and solid example for others to follow, become like Christ.
He’s the standard. He is the measure. He set the pace. And that’s what this world needs more of. And that’s what women need. Men like Christ.
I think one of the most touching and powerful passages in the Bible is at the end of Christ’s life, when He’s hanging on the stake, and He speaks to John, the disciple He was closest to. Let’s read it together:
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:25–27).
Jesus loved the whole world. Every human being. That’s why He gave His life. That’s why He allowed men to kill Him. So you and I could have a way out of sin. But even as He was hanging there, in his last moments, He did not forget the woman who had bore Him and raised Him. He ensured His mother would be cared for, just before He died—the last act of a dynamic, powerful, caring man.
Don’t give in to the cynical view of today, the idea that the Bible puts down women and tells men to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible holds men accountable for treating women well, and challenges them to do so, with God’s help.
God Made Men to Be Strong Leaders—For the Good of All
If you are a man, think about your life. Think about how you treat others. Think about how you interact with women, especially your wife. Are you living up to the standard of Jesus Christ? If you have young boys, it’s your responsibility to teach them how to be a real man. Not just a macho reflection of a movie hero, but a real man. Like Jesus Christ. To honor and respect women. Not just to “get out of their way.”
What if you’re a woman? What about the men in your life? If you have a husband, respect him. Value him. Appreciate what he does for you. Tell him you are thankful for how he sacrifices for you. And raise your boys to be valiant and faithful men themselves who respect women and value their own masculinity.
We are living in difficult times. But God is looking for men—and women—who can rise to the challenge.
In 2 Chronicles 16:9 we read this:
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Men, it’s not enough just to get out of the way. For the sake of the women in our lives, we must become what God wants us to be.
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Thanks for watching. See you next time!