6 Masculinity Myths

We Need To Discredit

When I was in middle school, my favorite comic book character was The Mighty Thor. He was the muscular, hammer-wielding embodiment of strength, fertility, and healing. He was a protector of mankind and a rescuer of underdogs, and I always found that concept attractive. But there was also a measure of rebellion in choosing this particular mythological hero.

It may seem silly, but I thought his most impressive feature was his long, golden hair. I’d been taught that boys and men should not have long hair. For the first time in my young life, I found myself in opposition to a masculine myth.

Mythology is a collection of myths that usually come from cultural or sacred traditions and stories. Like mythology, modern masculinity is a compilation of learned cultural behaviors and stereotypes rather than the result of God-intended individuality.

I felt conflicted as a young man because I thought my deep feelings and flowing tears, and my desire to wear a bracelet and have a close male friend, were taboo and not welcome in the kingdom of godly manhood.

The television shows I watched, Christian books I read, and the world I lived in told me I wasn’t manly.

I’ve struggled against the myth that masculinity is defined by athleticism, brawn, hunting, toughness, and love of cars.

What if you love art, tenderness, creativity, or a “song in the color pink”? What if you don’t fit the narrow cultural parameters of manhood? Is there something wrong with your masculinity?

These oversimplified generalizations of gender attributes and differences are called gender stereotypes. These stereotypes can be positive or negative, but they often fail to communicate accurate information.

Even with evidence to the contrary, we are often guilty of applying these gender assumptions to others.

Here are just a few of the culture-driven masculinity myths that prompted me to ask, “Hey God, did you mess up when you made me?”

They told me I wasn’t manly because:

1. Men Are Not Emotional

I am a man, but I am also an outwardly-emotional individual. Like David in the Bible, I don’t mind being vulnerable, open, and real. My passion and compassion flow through my tears. I have learned that they do not hinder my manliness but rather, they enhance my passion for serving others and doing ministry.

Not every man is outwardly-emotional, but I wonder how many young boys and men have been hurt because we encourage them to suppress their true feelings and not verbalize their emotions.

In rejecting this myth, we tell boys and men that it’s okay to show and share their true feelings. We need to teach our sons that it takes real courage to shed a tear and let someone else in.

2. Men Are Sports-Fanatics

I like periodically attending a baseball or hockey game and I enjoy a televised football game a couple times a year, but I much prefer to read, write, or create. Truth is: we need good and honest examples of men in all shapes, sizes, and styles.

Some men prefer a trip to the art museum over a car show or hunting store. Some of us would choose a drama film over an action/adventure flick. Some of us enjoy watching a cooking or interior design show over a basketball game.

None of these preferences mean we’re not “masculine” or that we need to “man up.” We are all created as individuals beyond gender roles and stereotypes. We’re all searching for what makes us feel passionately.

3. Men Are Sex-Crazed

They told me that men are driven by their sex drives—it’s always on their minds and they can’t control it.

As a young man I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t experiment, crave, or conquer.

What are we doing to our men when we tell them that this is what’s expected? And what about those of us who would rather cuddle, receive a bouquet of flowers, or wrap up in a blanket under the moonlight?

We set men up for all kinds of issues when we buy into this myth. We encourage filthy talk and reduce women to sex objects, taking away their dignity. The epidemic of men looking at pornography is another consequence of this myth.

But we can’t address these issues if we teach our young men that’s it’s just the way they think—“boys will be boys,” after all.

4. Men Are Substandard Nurturers

All men value their careers and are driven by money, because they must be the providers or bread winners, yes?

I was told this so much that when I couldn’t provide enough for our family to survive and my wife had to work (and sometimes bring home a bigger paycheck than myself), I felt like a failure.

Is it any wonder that many men take their own lives in the midst of economic crises? I believe this happens because men are taught that their manliness is determined by the size of their paycheck.

And then, it brings up the idea of nurturing. Mothers are amazing, but some of us guys are wonderful at supporting our children and fostering love and acceptance. It can be a joint effort, yes?

I’m seeing more and more men embrace spending time with their children and making family a priority. Many men are becoming stay-at-home dads and are finding fulfillment in doing so.

So give us all a chance to nurture our children. We might surprise you!

5. Men Are Self-Sufficient

My world taught me that men are independent and don’t need encouragement from their wives or other men. But it’s so untrue. To need or want love or support from a spouse or friend is not a bad thing.

God’s love is brought to full expression when we receive his love and can fully express that love to others in our lives, and that includes other men.

However, men have been taught to be afraid to be transparent, real, and/or affectionate with other men because of the social, cultural, and even “Christian” restrictions on men seeking community.

We can’t do it on our own and we were never meant to.

6. Men Are Slobs

If I had the money, I would have a closet full of shoes and a drawer full of Happy Socks! Fortunately, young men are becoming more comfortable with sporting their own style.

Being tidy or well-groomed is not a gender trait. Some of us—many of us—do care about how we look.

When it comes to style and appearance, men and boys are struggling more and more with self-image issues. Magazines and other media display so many “perfect” male specimens that many of us have begun to second-guess our worth.

The Bible is filled with men of both strength and beauty.

We must reach out to our young men and make sure they find their identity in Christ and not in standards set by tabloid images.

We have been taught that there is only one way to be masculine. We’ve been taught that straying from the “norm” means it’s time to “man up,” hide the tears, and move forward.

Where do these myths leave us?

I believe we live in a world of heartbroken boys, confused adolescent males, and bitter angry men.

I used to keep it all inside—my questions, confusion, pain, struggles, and fears. That time is over.

We must share our stories, admit our shortcomings, and seek the transforming answers that will eventually bring hope and health to a generation of hurting young men. The church needs us to assess what constitutes true biblical masculinity. Our children need us to evaluate these ideas carefully.

We cannot and must not ignore the statistics that are piling up like lifeless corpses in a land of learned machismo. We must move beyond the myths.

They told me I wasn’t manly. I say I am.

An Interview with jmoneykix (Jaydyn Price)

The Exciting & Sometimes Overwhelming Life of a Young Musical.ly Star

Jaydyn Jahsiah Price was born September 4, 2004. At the age of 12 years old, Jaydyn has more than 935,000 fans on the social media platform musical.ly and over 73,000 instagram followers.

He enjoys acting and has performed in several plays including being cast as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He enjoys video games, board games, and RC cars and trucks. Jaydyn began playing football and basketball at the age of five and is looking forward to starting guitar and vocal lessons in the near future.

I was intrigued by Jaydyn’s fearless sharing of his faith by identifying himself as being a believer and sharing hope through posts like “You had a purpose before anyone had an opinion.”

Not all men are sensitive, artists, dancers, or romantics but I do believe we are all a unique mingling of God’s creativity. I am encouraged that we live in a day and age where many young men (not knowing or mirroring many of the culturally influenced, hyper-masculine stereotypes) are abounding in healthy confidence and live life with full abandon. Young men like Jaydyn are being more bold, vulnerable, and passionate. They are defying cultural expectations and I love it. This is my interview with jmoneykix. May you be challenged by his words inspired to embrace your purpose, and motivated to share the love of Christ with those who need it most!

STEVE: Good morning Jaydyn! First of all, let me say THANK YOU for agreeing to do this interview with me. I hope you find it to be fun and revealing! Let’s start by finding out a few fun facts about you! Tell us about your favorite colors as well as your current style and accessory preferences.

JAYDYN: I know it sounds complicated but I guess I really don’t have a “favorite” color. I like them all for different reasons. It depends on what I’m feeling at that time or what the object is. At the moment I like Black Pyramid and Bape clothing. Those are pretty cool, but I’m not really caught up in names as long as I look and feel good. I love my snap backs, sunglasses, and the custom necklace my older brother Reggie made me. He designs cool stuff.

STEVE: Tell me about how you got your start on social media and what it was like.

JAYDYN: I’ve had supervised social media (mostly to interact with family and friends) for a few years now. My first account was on Instagram, then Snapchat, and then I got Musical.ly.  I wasn’t as active as I am now.  Recently a lot of new doors have opened which provided more exposure and I am so grateful.  I think it’s cool that I can use this new exposure to be a light and I love interacting with people in a positive way. It’s been really exciting and a little overwhelming at times.

STEVE: Tell those of us who don’t know much about musical.ly, what it’s all about. What’s the hype? Why do you love it!?

JAYDYN: Musical.ly is all about being creative, having fun, challenging yourself, and uniting with people from all over the world. I think in the beginning it was mostly lip-synching and comedy stuff but musical.ly has expanded the categories to so much more.  Now there’s specific things like gaming, vlogging, style, talent, food, and more.  Oh, and now your videos can be longer too.  It used to only be fifteen seconds but now they’re up to five minutes.  You can do a lot in five minutes! LOL. It really has something for everyone. I like the weekly trending tags, but I mostly like the friendships I’ve made.  It’s been pretty cool. I love meeting and inspiring people.

STEVE: How did you get the name jmoneykix?

JAYDYN: It’s catchy right? LOL!! Well, my name begins with J, I’m going to be successful ($$), and I like sneakers (kix).  My older brother Kyle was a sneaker head. I guess it wore off on me.  So ya, that’s how I can up with my name.

STEVE: What do you love about church or Christianity?

JAYDYN: I love the personal relationship I have with God and how I never feel alone. Its a good feeling to be around other believers. I can pray, worship and raise my hands without feeling awkward.

STEVE: So, I struggled with self-esteem issues when I was in middle school and high school. How about you?

JAYDYN: There are things about myself I don’t like.  But it’s how I was designed. So I’m not going to argue with God. LOL!

STEVE: Although you get lots of Instagram likes and comments, etc. do you still struggle with what others may think? Not looking like the “perfect” portrayals of men and muscles, etc. we see in the magazines?

JAYDYN: I don’t let the amount of likes and comments define who I am.  I mean, It is great when people say nice things but that’s not always the way it goes.  Some people can be really cruel.  I don’t really struggle with what they think, it just makes me sad that people can treat others like that.  No one has the right to make anyone feel bad.  We are never too important to be kind.  As hard as it can be at times, I choose to remain positive. I also know that under all that airbrushing and makeup those people are normal too. Right? Anyone can be made to look good.

STEVE: Do you have any words of encouragement for other young people who struggle with how they look?

JAYDYN: Embrace your gifts. I learned that from my Pastor. Don’t believe what the world says about you. Believe what God says about you! We are all designed in His image and He does not make mistakes.  We aren’t perfect. We are perfectly imperfect and the more people that get that, I think the less we will have to feel the need to fit in a “perfect” box that doesn’t exist.

STEVE: What would you encourage other young people to do if they are lonely because we both know social media only makes us feel wanted for a short time?

JAYDYN: Just don’t get so caught up in the opinions of others.

STEVE: Who do we turn to?

JAYDYN: Your parents, family, people at church, close friends. I have a great relationship with my parents so that really helps.

STEVE: Is Christ or prayer a part of this?

JAYDYN: Yes!

STEVE: Have you ever been bullied?

JAYDYN: Not so much before I got on social media.  But now it’s like every day.

STEVE: Any words of encouragement for those being bullied?

JAYDYN: Stand up for yourself. Tell the person to stop. If they don’t, tell someone. Sometimes people just say things trying to be cool or to get attention. A lot of times when I confront the person about spreading rumors or bullying, they apologize.

STEVE: Not too long ago, I noticed your Instagram post that stated: “The devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today I whispered in the devils ear, ‘I am the storm.’” It looks like you recently experienced a social media rumor “storm” that had to be hurtful. Can you share some of that story?

JAYDYN: When you’re young like me and you “date” someone, things don’t always last.  It’s the same way with adult relationships and friendships. I don’t talk badly about anyone publicly. I’m looking forward to many friendships and spreading kindness and understanding.  No one is perfect, but trying your best and being your best is the way to go.

STEVE: How did it make you feel?

JAYDYN: It has definitely made me stronger and more aware of the different kinds of people there are in this world.

STEVE: What has been helping you get through it all?

JAYDYN: My faith in God and my family, especially my mom. This has been a lot for all of us.

STEVE: Are you a stronger person because of it all?

JAYDYN: Yes. It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things and I’ve learned a lot.

STEVE: How has your faith helped you?

JAYDYN: I’m a child of God and I know He has a plan for me.  My mom always reminds me “before people had an opinion, you had a purpose”.  I believe God wants us to continue to love regardless of the hate.

STEVE: You recently became a youth advocate for FREE2LUV. What does this mean to you?

JAYDYN: I’ve gone through a lot since January and I was really looking for support. But, the more I found out about their organization, I knew I wanted to get involved to help other people that may be going through what I went through (what I STILL go through). It’s been really cool to be able to inspire so many people to stand up and speak out.  I’m really glad that I got involved in such an important issue.

STEVE: I was drawn to your account not only because of your smile but because of not being afraid to proclaim on social media that you are a believer. That might keep some from following you but could be a huge inspiration for others. What does your faith mean to you?

JAYDYN: It’s everything to me, it’s something that I love, it’s powerful, and it’s where I get my strength.

STEVE: What do you think about the book I am writing to help men (young and old) with the many macho stereotypes, identity in Christ, God’s creativity in creating us as unique individuals, gender, etc.?

JAYDYN: I think when God’s truth is involved it’s always amazing, especially if you can use it to reach someone, to help them know that they’re not alone. It’s like a way to show them that they can break generational curses.

STEVE: This has been amazing Jaydyn. Is there anything else you would like to share with those who took the time to read this interview?

JAYDYN: Wow, I think I’m all shared out, LOL.  I’ve never done anything like this before and it really taught me a lot. It was a cool experience. Thank you! To everyone reading this, don’t forget: You’re never too important to be kind!

A NOTE FROM JAYDYN’S MOM AND MANAGER:
Steve, this has been a fabulous experience for both Jaydyn and I.  We have grown together through this and its provided healing to areas of need.  We are so grateful that God brought us together for such a time as this!

Men, Worship, and Church

No Excuses

“Worship… is not something a person experiences, it is something we do, regardless of how we feel about it.” – Eugene Peterson

Almost every time I read an article or social media post on masculinity and the church, I am struck by the narrowness of the popular Christian prescription for “biblical manhood.” Many articles on the subject conclude that “men stay away from church” because worship music, services, and messages have been “feminized” and do not appeal to the majority of men. We have “stopped relating to and speaking to real men,” one post stated. I disagree, and I’d like to share my thoughts on men, worship, and the church.

Statistics do show that only one out of five husbands attend church with their wives, so this is a real concern. But whose definition of ‘real men’ are we talking about? And, should we change the church to make it more “masculine” or should we challenge the gendered status quo?

There are a lot of men like me who enjoy and appreciate worship elements and church practices that some have labelled too feminine, such as passionate worship and singing, creative programs, and emotive sermons.

Some men, as well as some women, cringe when singing songs with lyrics such as: “You are more, You are more, Than my words will ever say… I’m running to Your arms. The riches of Your love will always be enough. Nothing compares to Your embrace!” But I love those lyrics. The song reminds me that, though I missed out on that closeness with my earthly father, God yearns to embrace me. And I know that I am not the only man who yearns for genuine intimacy with God.

We have accepted and perpetuated a cultural stereotype of what men like and how they ought to live. But in doing so, we’ve missed out on the biblical affirmation of our unique masculine personalities, gifts, and inclinations. In cultures abroad (and even within some cultures in the United States), it is acceptable for men to worship openly and embrace one another. But many churches have restricted this type of male expression.

Making the church more stereotypically “masculine” will not encourage men to challenge their perceptions of themselves and each other. The church has a unique responsibility to expose the flaws in our learned cultural norms. We must preach a faith that bucks all restraints on our new life in Christ, including gender stereotypes. We need to fight the very things the world embraces, the lies that keep us from a closer relationship with God and others.

A hyper-masculine, “boys-will-be-boys” attitude is preventing Christian men from experiencing true healing and freedom in Christ. If we the church insist that men are “more apt to keep their emotions inside and not share,” we encourage them to remain silent and suffer alone.

And since we’ve assumed that all men dislike public singing, should we just skip it all together? Or should we choose only the “manly” songs that don’t express emotion, tenderness, or loving sacrifice? Should we disregard these same themes in the story and character of Christ?

And we don’t need close relationships with other men, right? I mean, who wants to tell another guy that you feel like a failure? “Loser.”

No, no, no! The world is full of competition and fighting to pull ahead. The church must be a place where we can sit across from each other and ask for help, prayer, or even a hug because we can’t do it all on our own. Isn’t it biblical to bear one another’s burdens?  Isn’t it Christ-like to help a brother in need?

And as for men singing in worship—it doesn’t have to sound beautiful nor does it have to be loud, but the Bible does challenge us to “make a joyful noise” and to not be ashamed to proclaim our love for Christ. There is nothing masculine or feminine about passionately pursuing Christ. All Christians are called to be vulnerable and intimate with God. We should not shame men for their God-given instincts.

Yes, the church must address the issues that hinder men from church and worship participation. But is the resolution as simple as changing the music and the message?

We must challenge our stereotypes and expectations of Christian men. Church programming is not the root of the problem—gender stereotypes are. Men and women are judged according to an unfair, gendered standard, and the whole church suffers for it.

We should not exclude emotion, tenderness, and vulnerability from our definition of masculinity any more than we should exclude strength, leadership, and rationality from our definition of femininity. There is room for all in Christ.

This is my challenge to men. Be what God wants you to be. Drop the “I’m a guy, so I don’t” clichés and excuses and fully embrace who you are in Christ. Don’t let gendered expectations stand in the way of the vibrant life you’ve been given. Worship God beyond the stereotypes!