Spiritual Purity for Men


It is painfully apparent that America is losing its families. Current statistics, the news media, and my own pastoral counseling experience drive that point home with disturbing force. Since a culture’s only hope of survival is its families, our very existence is threatened as home after home falls victim to divorce, abandonment, abuse, or neglect.

For years, sociologists have argued over the causes of the problem. Politicians have thrown billions of dollars into our cities, hoping that would solve the riddle. Others have stood by, scratching their heads, wondering where society went wrong. In the meantime, the negative statistics soar and the lives of countless children are irreparably damaged.

I am convinced that the primary cause of this national crisis is the feminization of the American male. When I say feminization, I am not talking about sexual preference. I’m trying to describe a misunderstanding of manhood that has produced a nation of “sissified” men who abdicate their role as spiritually pure leaders, thus forcing women to fill the vacuum.

In the black community, for example, women run the show to an alarming degree. Sixty percent of black children grow up without a father in the home. By the turn of the century, that figure will climb to 70 percent. When those children are sent off to school, 83 percent of their teachers will be women. If they are fortunate enough to be involved in church activities, virtually all of their Sunday school teachers, caregivers, and other leaders will be women. And even in the white community, where more fathers are in the homes, the declining influence of men is a serious problem.

Please don’t misread me. It is proper–in fact, essential–for children to be nurtured, guided, and cared for by women. But God neither designed nor endorsed the kind of exaggerated imbalance we see today. In many cases, women are forced to shoulder the leadership load alone and carry responsibilities that God never intended them to bear. (After all, if the men won’t do it, someone must.) In the process, their emotional and physical circuits are being overloaded.

The blame for this eclipse of masculine influence must be laid at the feet of the feminized male. Somehow, many men got the idea that the definition of manhood has to do with how many women they have conquered and the number of children they have sired. Somebody told these entrepreneurs of pleasure that sex without love or commitment is appropriate today. As a result, in 1985, taxpayers spent $16.5 billion to take care of children with mothers but no fathers.

Both men and women are enslaved by this completely non-biblical and nonhistorical understanding of manhood. In the meantime, much has been said about liberating women, when what we really need are men who are liberated from the distorted images conjured up by our corrupt culture.

Many of these misconceptions are created and sustained on the movie screen. In their “generosity,” movie moguls have given young boys the chance to choose from an assortment of role models. Heading the list are “heroes” like Rambo and Dirty Harry, along with characters portrayed by Steven Seagal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean Claude van Damme, and Chuck Norris. These guys leap into danger with the courage of Superman, catch bullets between their teeth, and challenge armies single-handedly. When the smoke clears, they emerge unharmed, stepping over the bodies of their foes.

These “macho men” pull in big bucks at the box office. Evidently, it isn’t difficult for a two-dimensional piece of fiction to compete with a missing or disinterested father. This helps explain why you’ve got kids carrying guns and gangs going to war as they emulate the only “fathers” they have ever known.

Given time to fester, this absence of leadership degenerates into a loss of conscience. After all, Rambo is not only violent, but he’s also uncaring; he’ll blow you away in a heartbeat and never give it a second thought. We run the risk of spawning a generation of sociopaths. A person with a conscience can be reached. You can talk with him about right and wrong–or at least deter him with the threat of severe consequences. But a person without a conscience is completely out of control.

More and more juvenile offenders aren’t intimidated by parents, police, or prison. In fact, there’s a growing sentiment among our young men that jail isn’t such a bad option. After all, on the “inside,” you are guaranteed three meals a day, a warm bed to sleep in, an indoor commode, and the opportunity to hang out with the boys. If detention is no longer a deterrent, traditional approaches to law enforcement are little more than a grim joke.

At the other end of the media spectrum are the men of prime-time television, models of undisciplined males who live by their hormones rather than by principles of dignity, moral purity, and respect. Far too many men are functioning like dogs living simply to satisfy their lusts, no matter what the cost to themselves, others, or society at large.

As reason gives way to fear, people look for a place to pin the blame. In a Ted Koppel TV special on juvenile delinquency, accusing fingers were pointed at the criminal justice system, an unfair economy, and persistent racism. While each of those issues is worthy of our attention, they are all symptoms of a more serious disease. Let’s face it! Economics is no excuse for promiscuity and irresponsibility. And racism doesn’t get teenage girls pregnant.

The fact is, if Dad doesn’t provide spiritually responsible leadership in the home, baby is in big trouble. That’s what the folks downtown don’t understand. Without strong families built on a framework of biblical morality, there is no sum of money no federal, state, county, or municipal program–that can get us out of the ditch we’ve fallen into.

How do we break the cycle? By getting men to assume their responsibilities and take back the reins of spiritually pure leadership God intended us to hold. Otherwise, our culture is lost. I believe ours is the last generation capable of making a difference. After this, it will be too late. We must become real spiritually directed men once again, pure in our passions and our priorities.

The Bible provides us with a portrait of such a man. His name was Job. We remember him as the man whose faith was tested so severely. But here, we will see quite another view of this biblical patriarch.

The Character of a Spiritually Pure Man

Job is set forth as the epitome of a spiritually pure man. God says that he was “blameless, upright, fearing God and fuming away from evil” Job 1:1, NASB, as are all scriptures in this chapter).

In Job 29, his character is described in more detail, giving us a clear guide for any man who wishes to understand the comprehensive nature of spiritual purity.

First, a spiritually pure man has divine continuity with the past.

Oh that I were as in months gone by, as in the days when God watched over me; when His lamp shone over my head, and by His light I walked through darkness; as I was in the prime of my days, when the friendship of God was over my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me, and my children were around me. (Job 29:2-5)

Job could look back over his shoulder and see the divine movement of God in his past. He had a divine heritage. Somewhere along the way, we lost touch with that. No longer does God sit in control over what happens in our communities. Christian principles of living are not passed from generation to generation as they once were. I suggest that this process started grinding to a halt when fathers began sending their children to church instead of taking them; when fathers gave up on providing spiritual leadership in the home.

Job, on the other hand, had a different agenda:

And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them [his sons], rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in the* hearts.” Thus Job did continually. (Job 1:5)

Here was a man with ten children! How easy it would have been to argue that he was too busy and too tired to pray. Instead, however, he spent his early mornings on his knees, bringing his family before the Lord. He understood that a father is to be the priest of his home and maintain that continuity of commitment between generations by setting a godly example.

Second, a spiritually pure man is committed to raising children.

Notice the reference in our original text: “My children were around me” (Job 29:5). Job wasn’t showing up at the tent after the kids went to sleep. Nor was he rushing them to bed just to get them out of his hair. He let his kids surround him all ten of them. When it comes to transferring our values to our children, much more is caught than taught. The process requires a father’s time-a commodity that seems to be in dangerously short supply these days.

In Job’s age, it was understood that parenting involved a commitment not only to quality, but also to quantity. The biblical approach to family planning is quite simple: The more children, the better. The way to build a nation (or, in our case, to change a community) was by multiplication of families. How different from the selfish world we live in today, where children are thought of as a drain on our energy and resources. “I’ve got to have my two Cadillac’s, can’t afford kids.” “Got to have my house in the suburbs, can’t afford kids.” “Got to have my Armani suits, can’t afford kids.” That, frankly, is a pagan, sissy way of thinking.

Third, a spiritually pure man earns respect.

Earning respect is very different from simply expecting it. A real man behaves in such a way that you have no choice but to respect him.

When I went out to the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the square; the young men saw me and hid themselves, and the old men arose and stood. The princes stopped talking, and put their hands on their mouths; the voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to their palate. dote 29:7-10)

Job went to the gate of the city (that’s downtown) and sat in the square (the city council). The young men saw him and said, “We’ve got to go. Mr. Job is here!” Can you see our inner-city teenagers facing a situation like that? No, they’d say, “I ain’t gettin’ up for no Mr. Job. Ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to do!”

Once, older men and women were treated with kindness and respect. Now they are seen as easy prey, helpless victims. If young people don’t learn to respect their own fathers, why should they extend that consideration to a stranger?

The older men, on the other hand, rose when Job came on the scene. Though these fellow council members were his elders, Job commanded their respect.

The princes were the “yuppies,” the smooth talkers cutting business deals on their way up the ladder of success. When Job walked in, they stopped talking. Job changed his environment by being part of it. Without saying a word, he set a new standard, much as a clergyman does today. The tone of a conversation often changes when a representative of the Lord listens in: “Shin! It’s the reverend.” This phenomenon isn’t limited to those in the ministry. But it certainly won’t take place if you’re participating in the “cussing and fussing.” Why should anyone follow your lead if they’ve heard you using perverted language, running down the dignity of women, and generally dishonoring God?

Fourth, a spiritually pure man is also a man of mercy.

I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper. The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me, and I made the widow’s heart sing for joy. (Job 29:12-13)

Mister, they lied to you if they told you big boys don’t cry. Real men have enough compassion to recognize and respond to the pain of others. They don’t feel the need to hide or deny those tender feelings, and they have the courage to act on behalf of those weaker or less fortunate than themselves. They are involved in their community, making a difference for the have-nots of this world.

Job used his riches to resolve problems, not to elevate himself above the level of “common people.” Job’s benevolence may have shut the mouths of the proud nobles, but the widow’s heart sang for joy. When poor folk sew Job, they saw their champion. Job knew how to make his caring count.

Fifth, a spiritually pure man is a person of justice.

I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I investigated the case which I did not know. (Job 29:14-16)

A real man knows that wrong is wrong. You can’t influence him by pointing out that the crowd is heading in the opposite direction. He will seek out the truth and react accordingly. He isn’t intimidated by race or by riches. He refuses to play political games.

Sissies trade in truth for popularity. They’ll sell their souls for acceptance. By the thousands, they join gangs in the vain hope of finding the love, attention, and self-esteem they failed to find at home. Gangs are “alternative families” made up of cynical, hard-bitten, resentful youth who never learned right from wrong–because Dad wasn’t there to teach them.

Sixth, a spiritually pure man is a man of stability.

Then I thought, “I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. My root is spread out to the waters, and dew lies all night on my branch.” (Job 29:18-19)

My father is getting old now, and I love him more than ever. He still lives in the same neighborhood in Baltimore where I grew up, but the place has changed. You can’t walk the street without seeing a drug deal going down on the comer. Every year when we visit, I say, “Dad, I’m really worried. You can’t stay here. It’s getting too dangerous.”

He tells me, “My roots are here. I’ve raised my children and served my Lord, and I want to spend the rest of my years with my wife right here. God has taken care of me up until now. Why would He stop?”

That is stability. That’s a man who knows what God has called him to do, and you can depend on him to do it. Families today lack roots because they lack purpose and direction. They jump from place to place, job to job, looking for the good life. Their plans for the future are a muddle of self-centered whims. A real man may be on the move (like Abraham), but his family knows where he’s going, and they can draw strength from his dependability.

Finally, a spiritually pure man has wisdom.

To me they listened and they waited, and kept silent for my counsel. After my words they did not speak again, and my speech dropped on them. And they waited for me as for the rain, and opened their mouth as for the spring rain. I smiled on them when they did not believe, and the light of my face they did cast down. I chose a way for them and sat as chief, and dwelt as a king among the troops, as one who comforted the mourners. (Job 29:21-25)

You don’t need a college education to be wise. The world is full of well-educated fools. Real wisdom is the ability to take God’s truth and apply it to life. All it requires is a heart for God and some plain old common sense. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

Reclaiming Your Manhood

I can hear you saying, “I want to be a spiritually pure man. Where do I start?”

The first thing you do is sit down with your wife and say something like this: “Honey, I’ve made a terrible mistake. I’ve given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role.”

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I’m not suggesting that you ask for your role back, I’m urging you to take it back. If you simply ask for it, your wife is likely to say, “Look, for the last ten years, I’ve had to raise these kids, look after the house, and pay the bills. I’ve had to get a job and still keep up my duties in the home. I’ve had to do my job and yours. You think I’m just going to turn everything back over to you?”

Your wife’s concerns may be justified. Unfortunately, however, there can be no compromise here. If you’re going to lead, you must lead. Be sensitive. Listen. Treat the lady gently and lovingly. But lead!

Having said that, let me direct some carefully chosen words to you ladies who may be reading this: Give it back! For the sake of your family and the survival of our culture, let your man be a man if he’s willing. Protect yourself, if you must, by handing the reins back slowly; take it one step at a time. But if your husband tells you he wants to reclaim his role, let him! God never meant for you to bear the load you’re carrying.

Men, you can minimize your wife’s skepticism by taking some immediate and visible steps in the right direction. For example, let your schedule reflect your new commitment. “Honey, instead of watching Arsenio Hall (substitute the program of your choice), we’re going to turn off the TV, and that’s going to be our talk time.” Or, “Instead of going to the gym five days a week, I’m cutting back to three, and I’m going to save every Friday night for you. We’re going to start dating again.”

Another area that deserves immediate attention is church. Stop making your wife set the spiritual tone for your household. Assume the task of getting your family to church, and behave like a leader when you get there. Reclaim teaching the boys in Sunday school. Reclaim the roles of deacon and leader. Become surrogate fathers to the fatherless. Be a churchman. Allow yourself to become accountable to other men who, like you, want to be God’s kind of man.

A third way to demonstrate your resolve to lead is by becoming a biblical lover. Biblical love is commitment love. It has more to do with your actions than with your feelings. Any dog can satisfy his libido. It takes a really spiritually pure man to be faithful regardless of his passions.

Near the top of the “Ten Most Stupid Statements” list is this gem: “I don’t think God wants us miserable, and together, we’re miserable.” Of course God doesn’t want you miserable; but He doesn’t want you apart, either. Many couples simply don’t recognize or won’t consider the third option: honoring your commitment to each other and working on the problems.

That idea doesn’t go over very well these days. The “me first” mentality is too dominant. After all, even Burger King lets you have it your way. But that kind of attitude doesn’t come from the Bible. It originates with the sissies on the street comer who say, “Your old lady makes you go home? Man, I go home whenever I want to go home. Ain’t no woman gonna tell me when to go home.” Of course, that explains why he’s on the street corner. If his wife has any sense, she doesn’t want him at home!

Stop listening to the maladjusted meddlers. A real man armed with biblical love sacrifices anything that interferes with his calling as a husband, father, and churchman. You owe your family and your God nothing less.

If you’ve failed in the past, confess your sins to God. Then recommit yourself to your spiritual priorities. Get back on your feet, dust yourself off, and “go and sin no more. ”

What I’ve presented in these pages is bound to be unpopular. I’m prepared for that reaction. My only request is that you ask yourself some questions. Of course, the most important is, “Is this concept biblical?” If so, the opinions of my critics mean little. The next question is, “Does it apply to me?” Not every man has become feminized. If you’re genuinely free of the symptoms I’ve described, we desperately need your help to carry the message to others. But if you’re unsure–if you’ve squirmed in your chair or felt the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end during the past few moments–take time to pray. Ask the Lord to help you evaluate your performance as a father and a husband.

The stakes are too high to let false pride stand in our way. At risk are our children, our families, our nation, and our future.

Come on, men. We’ve got work to do.