Who Will Teach Us Masculinity?

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The following exchange comes directly from a recent text conversation between Elliott Gladwin and Bradley Alexander: what is masculinity, and who will teach us masculinity?

Elliott: I tend to “love” attractive guys more than ugly ones. I sort of play this unspoken game where I try to manipulate them to love me.

Bradley: How do you go about that?

Elliott: I guess I just persuade them to see me as lovable. I cater myself to their interests. I’m so messed up.

Bradley: Oh I get it. I’m messed up too!

Elliott: If I can convince him to love me, then I’ll be able to absorb his masculinity into me — and then I’ll be whole. But that never happens because I can get awesome attractive guys to love me, I mean really love me, deeper than my father ever did and yet I still feel empty and I usually go to porn immediately after to try and fill in the missing pieces.

Bradley: That makes sense. I get it.

Elliott: Why do I feel the need to go to porn if I am already being loved? It’s almost as if . . . if that man doesn’t love me sexually, then he doesn’t love me fully?

Bradley: Makes total sense.

Elliott: But then if I do have sex with them, I will feel even more empty. So something has to give.

Bradley: I get it.

Elliott: So what’s the piece that needs to change? What’s the cause? The root? I think I have to stop seeing the fulfillment of my need as something outside of me — that other men possess my wholeness.

Bradley: But they do in a sense.

Elliott: Explain.

Bradley: “Absorb his masculinity.” I find that interesting. And it’s true, in part.

Elliott: I need to be a full man.

Bradley: We have to be taught masculinity. Other godly men awaken it in us. They show us the way.  But as we mature, sexual desires are needs that also have to be met. Sex is like an “absorption” of some sort. It’s an exchange, too.

Elliott: Interesting. Like straight men use sex to affirm their masculinity, too. They brag about having sex with women.

Bradley: Yea, they do. It’s a fleeting affirmation. So some do it again and again because they themselves haven’t been taught. Well, the media taught them.

Elliott: Exactly. So the problem isn’t our sexual deviancy — both for us the SSA men and also the heterosexual men. The problem is no one knows what manhood and masculinity really are. So, we are all searching for it with our sexuality — we are all just broken men.

Bradley: We need our elders — our sages. As John Eldredge talks about.

Elliott: Okay, so how do we get older men to model and teach us godly masculinity?

Bradley: So, the second you’re born as a male, you have everything you need to become a man. It’s in you. Like a well. But the water must be drawn out. Who can we go to but other men who have grown into their masculinity to help draw it out of us? You are looking to the right people for the right thing. What are you looking for them to give you? True masculinity is what? Accepting the man that you are and walking in that body?

Elliott: Good questions. Do I have to convince men to draw it out of me? Or should they want to do it?

Bradley: Why should a child have to convince his or her parents that they need help?

Elliott: So it’s the father’s role to teach masculinity. But what if he was never taught?

Bradley: Then we have a nation of orphans. A fatherless nation. Which is what we have . . .

Elliott: And it keeps perpetuating itself. Expounding the problem with each generation.

Bradley: So who will step up?

Elliott: Can someone step up if they haven’t been taught? Can they teach it? We may just have to model after Yahshua (Jesus), David, Moses, and father Abraham.

Bradley: There has got to be a biblical path to masculinity. But what is masculinity? What are we searching for?

Elliott: I don’t know. Belonging. Wholeness. Assurance.

Bradley: I want to be sure of myself. I can’t belong if I don’t first accept myself. I’ll always find reasons why I can’t belong if I hate myself.

Elliott: But the self-hate comes from the feeling that we don’t already possess manhood. Right?

Bradley: What a circle! Oh I’m not prepared to go this deep.

Elliott: It feels like a loop that there’s no way out of.

Bradley: There is a way out, man. But remember, manhood is a concept that develops later in life but our feelings of inadequacy are rooted in earlier, more formative years.

Elliott: In boyhood. But it’s all still . . . malehood.

Bradley: Yea, but we don’t know it. We don’t say, “Hey Dad, I want you to teach me about masculinity and what it means to be a man. I don’t feel like a ‘man.'” We don’t know — our fathers do. So, they would ideally take us fishing or on a long walk and talk to us.

Elliott: But so often instead of helping us, they shame us.

Bradley: That’s how their fathers taught them. Or more often, they just make up rules . . . like my dad did.

Elliott: Usually based off media stereotypes.

Bradley: Yes. This is where the church, I believe, needs to step in.

Elliott: Like spiritual fathers?

Bradley: Think of The Lord of the Rings.

Elliott: We need our Gandalf. But where does one find a wizard?

Bradley: The wizard found them.

Elliott: Exactly! I think the father is supposed to pursue the son — first. Yahshua called the disciples and told them to follow him.

Bradley: Yup yup yup!

Elliott: So we send out our smoke signal and wait for the spiritual elders to come lead us through the forest.

Bradley: It’s not that hard to find us, though.

Elliott: Perhaps no one is looking?

Bradley: Nope. They have their retirement funds and just bought that sports car. They don’t want more responsibilities on their plate. That’s not completely true; I shouldn’t have said that. There are some. They’re out there.

Elliott: Malachi 4:6 says,

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers; otherwise I will come and strike the land with complete destruction.

Elliott: The fathers turn to the children first. So who will teach us?

Bradley: I agree. El Ro’i (the God who sees) can teach us. Or send someone to teach us.

Elliott: So beautiful. Heart Emoji.

Bradley: Heart Emoji.

Did your father or some other male figure “teach” you masculinity, or are you still looking to be taught? What are your thoughts on this concept of learning masculinity?

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  • Brad

    I can totally relate with this conversation guys! Thanks for sharing. And as I think about teaching my sons about masculinity it is all the more relevant to me (they’re 6 and 1).

    Like you guys said, God can (and does) teach us about masculinity… after all, He’s adopted us orphans into His family. But in that case I think it means we have to spend more time working out what it looks like practically in life – especially if we’ve already grown up and bear the wounds of being orphans to masculinity. To me, I think the core of masculinity is knowing that your accepted by the masculine – ideally this happens when our father (or spiritual fathers) and friends accept us, like you said, before we even know that we have the need. If it doesn’t, somehow our need becomes even larger because it now has to fill up the wound we bear. If we missed it as kids, then our need becomes very obvious to us. Then, I think we can discover the acceptance we need by spending time in God’s presence – the Creator of Masculinity! and by being accepted and loved by godly men that he sends into our lives. Ideally both, but for myself it seems it is mostly in God’s presence and I’m still waiting for him to send those godly men my way!

    • mike

      YES! “I think we can discover the acceptance we need by spending time in God’s presence – the Creator of Masculinity”
      The difficulty is as Elliott and Bradley state: we are so messed up. We got messed up in our formative years because we were not properly taught (many of us). But, we can’t go back and be re-taught. Can we? Some of the negative we’ve learned I think can be unlearned and mentoring, biblical counselling, and friendships are valuable. But, we can’t go back and be re-fathered. It’s why reparative therapy which wants to accomplish much of that has not been entirely useful.
      But there’s a greater problem than our upbringing. Much greater as Paul so poignantly describes in Romans 7. Even if we are fathered now not much can be changed because we are literally “messed up”. We are so because of the fall. We can’t repair our fleshly nature which causes us to think and do the opposite of what we ought.
      Yet we are not doomed.
      “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinth. 6:18
      “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26

  • The Daily Ground Hog

    You might learn masculinity, but you will not learn heterosexuality. If we met, you would never know I was SSA unless I told you. I am and always have been very masculine. I grew up trying to emulate two very straight guys. I pass very well. The only thing that gives me away is my eyes. I am easily distracted. Sometimes that gets noticed.
    My point is that if the flesh is broken in that very peculiar SSA way, there will be no fixing it. Even if you marry a woman, have 6 kids and emulate John Wayne, you will always have a desire for the boys.

    Masculinity does not make you straight. Don’t be tricked…jus sayin

    • mike

      “You might learn masculinity, but you will not learn heterosexuality.”

      DGH, I think it would be useful to think in terms of biblical usage of words. In the time of Israel in Jesus day there was no word equivalent for “heterosexual” nor “homosexual”. Those are modern inventions. An invention for something that does not really exist. Even in the pagan Roman world of that time the Romans didn’t think in those terms. You were either a man or a woman. If a man then in the Roman thinking you married women, had sex to procreate, but also had other sex like with female concubines or you penetrated your male slaves but not freemen or other male Roman citizens. AND, you certainly were NOT penetrated yourelf (anal sex)! That was NOT masculine and taboo for Roman male citizens.
      Regarding the Jews in Jesus time, there were only words for homosexual behavior either for being penetrated or being receptive. Both of which were condemned. No such identities existed like heterosexuals or homosexuals.
      So therefore there is only masculine if you are a man. Your attractions don’t invent another identity but only a behavior if you choose to act upon them. I see this as the way God sees it. He does not see homosexuals or heterosexuals but men with fallen attractions but men nonetheless whose sexuality either needs to follow celibacy or they need new attractions to allow them to marry women. Our identity is not our sexuality as defined my modern times but as redeemed followers of Christ. We are redeemed men, new creations, and empowered by the Spirit to think and live in new ways. We are not homosexuals nor are we heterosexuals but simply men. I think it’s imperative we think differently and correctly the way God sees us.

      • The Daily Ground Hog

        The terms are modern. The practice is not. There have been SSA people for many milennia. That would be why there are proscriptions against it in scripture. There are also degrees of it. That’s why some of you are married. In the old days, if you were so inclined, you would keep a slave for that purpose. It was not a problem. Today, in our post Christian culture we have found way to normalize it.
        Whatever era that is discussed, one thing is sure. We who have SSA will always have to deal with it even if we find a way to live life as was intended by God. By that I mean marriage to an opposite sex partner or celibacy. Failing one of those, it’s incumbent upon us to do the other. The desire comes from broken flesh. Only the reborn spirit can fight it. My opinion. .

        • mike

          “There have been SSA people for many milennia”

          That is likely true. Like men with bad tempers have existed since antiquity. But creating new identities based on attractions or temperaments each demanding certain rights is NEW. This is a distortion of what God made to be a human. He did not create heterosexuals and homosexuals.

          My point is using these terms to describe oneself is seriously self-limiting because using these terms as nouns demands identity. It is far easier to modify behavior then it is to change identity. Changing identity like changing gender is fraught with failure! Changing attractions isn’t necessary or even possible if it’s woven into the fabric of our flesh. BUT, replacing attractions with new ones is realistic and one might spend one’s energy in that pursuit :). After all what’s the use of getting a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) if it doesn’t come with new attractions and desires?

          • The Daily Ground Hog

            The spirit is reborn. The flesh is not. It’s still dying and will continue to die until it actually does. The reborn spirit can control the flesh with the help of the One that rebirthed it. Even so, we will still fail from time to time. The new heart you speak of is grieved by the dying flesh. It longs to be separate and even in the new body that will come at resurrection. There is a war between them. Who’s winning your war? I’m ahead, but not by much. 🙂

            Love ya Mike!

          • mike

            Love you right back brother :). So thrilled that you are winning!
            Me too, not by much. Yet that is enough. It keeps us humble and in need of connection and in community we will continue to win :).

    • Alan Gingery

      My SSA has not disappeared, but I have had a definite shift in my sexual attraction. A few years ago, my SSA was much stronger than my OSA. Now the reverse is true. I know many men who say that their sexual attraction has not changed although they are more at peace with themselves and feel more masculine. But the reverse is true as well. I know many men like myself who have experienced a huge shift in sexual attraction. Why do some men make this shift, but others don’t? I have no idea. But whatever is true for us as individuals can’t always be generalized to apply to everyone. I have no desire for sex with men, and great desire for heterosexual sex. I still find i have need for male community and acceptance and affection. I doubt that will ever change, but I don’t experience sexual desire for men. Connection, yes. Sex, no!

  • Jack Hariton

    Thanks for this timely topic. I wouldn’t, however, relegate it to younger men, though that is extremely important. I’ve been dealing with this issue all of my life. My father did nothing to bring me into my maleness and masculinity. I don’t believe he knew how to do it. I was raised by three strong women,so my life was more attuned to the feminine and being a “good boy.”
    Consequently, I’ve looked most of my life (60+ years) for male affection and contact. I’m sorry to say that I acted out many times in an unhealthy way to get it, but there was something pleasurable about the experience….being held close to someone.
    I’m married…no children…but my wife can’t give me that either. My total loss of male connection has consumed my life and I am in counseling now to understand myself and background a little better. The temptations are still present, but now somewhat manageable, but I still look. It may be something I will never fully receive and I think I’m ok with that at this point.
    This is a very serious need in many of us…keep up the conversation and maybe we can help each other. Thanks.

  • Jack Hariton

    Thanks for this timely topic. I wouldn’t, however, relegate it to younger men, though that is extremely important. I’ve been dealing with this issue all of my life. My father did nothing to bring me into my maleness and masculinity. I don’t believe he knew how to do it. I was raised by three strong women,so my life was more attuned to the feminine and being a “good boy.”
    Consequently, I’ve looked most of my life (60+ years) for male affection and contact. I’m sorry to say that I acted out many times in an unhealthy way to get it, but there was something pleasurable about the experience….being held close to someone.
    I’m married…no children…but my wife can’t give me that either. My total loss of male connection has consumed my life and I am in counseling now to understand myself and background a little better. The temptations are still present, but now somewhat manageable, but I still look. It may be something I will never fully receive and I think I’m ok with that at this point.
    This is a very serious need in many of us…keep up the conversation and maybe we can help each other. Thanks.

  • Anon

    El Ro’i. Is he the God that sees? Does he see me?

    I read his name and it was like someone slapped my face. I felt this stinging pain in my soul, because I feel like in this SSA struggle, God abandoned me. If he sees, it makes the neglect worse. If he sees, where is he?

    The thing that stuck out to be- besides El Ro’i, is your statement, “I think I have to stop seeing the fulfillment of my need as something outside of me — that other men possess my wholeness.”

    I’ve struggled with wanting other guys to fulfill me- fill the hole I have inside of me. And I have heard well meaning Christians say that the hole is Jesus Shaped- that only God can fill the void.

    But I have come to look at the hole differently. The hole exists because there are parts of me that have been turned off over the years. Emotions, belonging, identity, masculinity, acceptance- these are things that have either been turned off or withheld from us. But, the parts are all still there. They are just sitting in the dark, with tarps over them.

    So, maybe that hole won’t feel so lonely, if I look into the darkness and try to see what’s there. Instead of avoiding the hole (which i’ve done most of my life), try to look inside it, for that source of masculinity and energy that I previously only saw in other guys.

    I’m not saying this is devoid of Jesus in any way. But I think there is a temptation to use guys, porn, masturbation, food, happy activities, even time with Jesus, as a distraction, instead of trying to understand the strength that is inside of us. If we don’t look, we can’t understand or become what God has made us to be- men. Whole men. Men who love Jesus, and who know they are accepted, and who teach other men to be accepted as well.

    Yes we need men to teach us. But we also need to stop using men to mask the pain. Men who teach walk beside us and accept us as we confront our pain, insecurities, and the void within us. That’s the path I’ve been trying to take- to shine light on the darkness, and walk among the rejected things, the parts that are ashamed and lost. To invite trusted men (and Jesus) on the path with me. And hopefully to regain myself and some healing as a man.

    • mistaken identity

      “But I have come to look at the hole differently. The hole exists because there are parts of me that have been turned off over the years. Emotions, belonging, identity, masculinity, acceptance- these are things that have either been turned off or withheld from us. But, the parts are all still there. They are just sitting in the dark, with tarps over them.

      So, maybe that hole won’t feel so lonely, if I look into the darkness and try to see what’s there. Instead of avoiding the hole (which i’ve done most of my life), try to look inside it, for that source of masculinity and energy that I previously only saw in other guys.”

      great stuff! That is what I’m trying to do. Prayers for that process.

  • At Peace

    What about looking at another Spiritual Father, like God Himself? We have zero clue as to what we have need of, but He knows and He knows exactly what each of us needs. And your needs solutions are not the same as my needs solutions. I have come to know that whatever “way” I think that God should deal with a situation, it’s always the opposite. If I thought spiritual elders in the church was my answer, He would probably tuck me away in an empty place so I would not look to the arm of flesh for help. So, when I leave the solutions to Him, and I stop trying to figure them out, in time, doors open, healing takes place and His ways are “past finding out”, as the scriptures have said.
    I think that I need a man, but what I really need is the Son of Man, Christ Jesus. I need His masculinity, not another broken Adam.
    I am currently in a relationship with a man, and I can assure you that this “new” experience that I thought I needed, is not what I need at all. The more I think I need him the less I need him, if that makes sense to anyone. For some reason I am where I am for a reason, perhaps for a season. I have been a practicing gay man at one point, but now I am celibate with Same Gender Attraction”. I have never been a relationship with a man before and so this is new to me. I like some parts of the fact that we are good buddies that we can touch each other, but what I don’t like is that sometimes the touching goes too far and I have to back away. So, we are constantly setting perimeters. The touching problem is with me. I NEED to feel, or at least I thought I need to feel. I am slowly understanding that the need to feel another man is not as important as I thought. Maybe I HAD to experience this, because most of this has been locked up in my mind. I turn to porn when I am lonely and I turned to it because I used to see gay porn mags when I was quite young, and I found pleasure in that. “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not depart from it”. This can be said both the sacred and the profane. I learned about the LORD when I was young, but I also learned about having sex with men at 12 years of age. Now, I am 49, and I still look for more mature men for my loneliness. But, that is slowly turning, and God must be our pleasure. He must be our porn, our sex drive, our whatever it is that we use on this earth for pleasure, He must be our only pleasure that we turn to.

  • Thomas R

    I am so glad I’m not the only person with experiences and thoughts like these. The cycle of fatherlessness sucks, but I guess that’s just part of how this sinful, messed up world sucks. I agree that the Church needs to step up in the area of affirming and teaching boys and men about real, godly masculinity. I’m excited to see how God will move in that area in our lives.

    One big thing for me in this long, drawn-out process of healing (which I am still in the midst of) is the realization that my dad did not set out to hurt me or not be there for me when I was growing up. He has his own hurts and father issues, so I can’t blame him for not being a perfect father. In the same way, I shouldn’t blame myself for not being the “perfect man”, since I didn’t have anyone to properly teach me. None of us should take that shame on ourselves.

    I often wonder what I can do now, at the age of 22. I can’t change the past, and I can’t re-learn the rules and standards of being a guy like a young boy can. There have been times, though, when I’ve thought about what I would say to my six or twelve or eighteen-year-old self about life and masculinity. I can “look” at little Thomas and say, “Don’t worry about whether or not you can throw a dodgeball as hard as them. You’re an awesome dude, Jesus loves you, and there are plenty of other great things about you that are way better than winning a silly dodgeball game.” Not to be self-centered or prideful or anything, but I think that kind of positive self-talk can be very helpful. And I wonder how God would look at little Thomas, and what He would say. (I don’t quite have an answer for that yet, but I’m pretty sure it would involve His great love.)

    So for now, as a 22-year-old, I think I need to keep pressing on, praying, reading the Word, and doing my best to be the man God wants me to be. I think that’s really the best standard for masculinity. Jesus is the real perfect Man, so Christ-likeness ought to be what I use as my standard for manliness. Anything less is fake manliness.

    Thanks, YOB, for sharing this. It was super encouraging, as usual. Heart Emoji.

    • mistaken identity

      That is one of the better posts I have ever read here, Thomas. The grace you demonstrate to your father and yourself is essential for our healing. And that great self-talk is not self-centered or prideful. It is one of the ways we “take every thought captive.” Some in the church mistrust cognitive therapy and corrective self-talk while ignoring the deadly negative cognitions that we all have and that seek to bury us.

  • The Daily Ground Hog

    One more thing…I’ve watched quite a few of Elliot’s YouTube videos. Dude, you are not what I would call feminine. You are ‘nerd-like’, but I’m not seeing anything overtly feminine. Sensitive? Yes. But real men are sensitive. You just keep on keepin on. You’re fine the way you are. God is going to use that and change you as needed to make you better and better.

    • Alan Gingery

      Elliott is smart, sensitive, masculine, creative and a whole bunch of other cool things. I like him a lot.

  • C. Marque

    You’re all too kind Matt!

  • C. Marque

    Good stuff! I’ve been thinking a lot about how I blame other people for these needs in my life. Trying quite desperately to understand that the solution most likely won’t come from the people who’ve “let me down”. And also realizing that I can do a small part to bring change, by learning and exemplifying Christlike masculinity to my sphere of friends.

  • Steven Michael

    I do think that our masculinity is already within us, but that we do need other mean to awaken it/draw it out or even just for us to open our eyes to it. My bishop said that true masculinity is found in Christ, so we always have that tie to masculinity. My father started the process, and still tries to every once in awhile, but I think it fell short. Different people in books or on screen can really speak to my desire for masculinity (and not in a sexual way).

    I think as we get older there are other people we can look to. Older mentors are one, whether they be from church, work, or just the neighborhood. Peers are also another one. While they may still be figuring it out with us, it is easier to feel like one of them sometimes than to compare to someone who is older. My friend has a group of guys that he meets with every week. Once a month one of them will teach the others about something like taxes or whatever. While it freaked me out because I don’t see myself as having valuable skills, it’s a great concept.

  • Buckdipper

    Part of the problem is that many of us (myself included) have had male mentors – including fathers – who, although well meaning, taught us masculinity in a manner which drove us in the other direction. They may have made serious attempts at teaching us masculinity but they were not based on a Biblical model of masculinity. It was, in fact, a culturally-bound standard of masculinity that we were taught which set standards and expectations of manhood that we could never, ever meet. How many of our childhoods were ruined because the standards of manhood that we were raised on, both at home and (especially) at school – were based primarily on sports and athletic prowess. As a man (or a boy) the world of team sports was supposed to be one’s primary interest in life – and the primary focus of male bonding. We were taught that, to be a man, you had to either excel at sports or, at the very least, be a sports enthusiast. If you did not devote half your free time to sports as an athlete or a spectator, if you did not master the art of “sports talk” and make it the focus of all conversation with other men (business, sex, beer and gambling were the primary exceptions to this rule) then you were not truly masculine. Fathers often do not know how to bond with their sons in any other way; they themselves are bound up in a false standard of masculinity that they were ingrained with from their youth. Sports – together with the aforementioned exceptions – form the primary venue through which masculinity is taught in our culture. For those of us who are not athletically inclined, physically or mentally, who have no knack for “sports talk” and are more oriented towards the arts and things of an aesthetic nature, having this culturally-bound form of masculinity imposed on us at an early age leads to a life of exclusion from the masculine world. We become outsiders and feel that we are not real men. We also find the gay world attractive because we can bond socially with other men who are not sports-oriented. What we need is not merely to be taught masculinity but rather to be taught according to a Biblical standard of masculinity, in which real me do cry, real men embrace and kiss each other and real men battle not against competing sports teams but against the assaults of the world, the flesh and the devil. Only a Christ-like standard of masculinity will do. Anything less will leave us out in the cold.

    • Barry Smith

      Buckdipper—I totally identify with everything you have written. Unfortunately, athletics and sports seems to almost exclusively define masculinity in America. I was never interested in sports as a kid and always felt inferior and insecure. I was much more academically and musically inclined. I excelled in music, playing the piano and the trombone and I excelled in school, graduating at the top of my class in high school and going on eventually to earn a doctorate degree (D. Min.). This created a lot of inner conflict in me. As an adult I was always invited to play a pick-up football game on Thanksgiving and to play on the church softball team. I always found convenient excuses as to why I was not able to do that. I was petrified that I would be forced to participate and would be humiliated and shamed. Over the years I have learned to watch sports on TV much more. I can honestly say that I have ‘learned’ to watch and appreciate basketball, football, and baseball, although I don’t understand all of the ‘ins and outs’ and rules and plays. I could never engage in ‘sports talk’ with other guys but I can fit in enough at least by watching and cheering together.

      It’s interesting to me that my son (my DNA) is an absolute sports fanatic and is a huge sports guys. That came naturally to him—not taught. It shows me that some of the traditional indicators of masculine/feminine traits are just unique and innate. There is no perfect description of masculinity. I admire and support my son’s sports interests and he has affirmed my academic and musical interests. Here’s the kicker—my son has huge sports interests AND academic and musical talents. He has it all. I’m proud of my son, but I’ve always been a bit envious. lol

      • mike

        What is a real man? Yes, I too have been envious of good looking, athletic guys, wealthy, academically brilliant, star musicians, and with outgoing amiable personalities who are sought after speakers, natural leaders i.e. they seemingly have it all. Seemingly, because many (most) struggle. They struggle with the most important attribute of a real man. They struggle with their need for God. Having everything the world admires: where is their lack?
        Because only one day counts! Only on that day the real measure for a real man will count.
        “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
        23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. ” Matt. 7:21-23

        Peter, who wouldn’t qualify by worldly standards as a real man KNEW Jesus. Peter, had an intimate personal relationship with Jesus because Peter so badly NEEDED Jesus.
        I view my SSA as a gift from God because I desperately need Jesus every day to survive. Otherwise, I suspect I would only know Jesus in theory like I know about hockey in theory. Although I watch it I can’t even skate!

    • Malcolm

      I know that there are some exceptions, but I believe that for most of us our problems with SSA began with us being failures at sports. Failure at sports leads our failure to identify with our own gender. This in turn causes us to admire (and hate) guys who have achieved the masculine ideal. Later, this admiration becomes sexualized. I would love to see a post or podcast on here from the bloggers about their sports experiences.

      • Thanks for the podcast suggestion, Malcolm! We’ll add it to the list and hopefully get to it before long. I’m certain we could fill an entire show with our sports (horror?) stories.

    • Alan Gingery

      So well said Buckdipper! I too fell victim to failure at the “sport culture” version of masculinity. Not biblical at all. Good comments!

  • Chris B

    What a great bunch of comments on this post you guys!I am especially encouraged to see the emphasis on God’s perspective and how yes in our eyes we are messed up, but not in his. I do not deny however that this struggle isn’t real or that it goes away ever. Am I any more masculine, less tempted by SSA or have any more meaningful intimate relationships with other men than I did 35 years ago when this struggle really started? No! But I do have peace with God, knowing that as I continue to be broken and contrite before Him, receive forgiveness from him and desire to know Him more through fellowship with Him I am eternally whole. Now all that doesn’t mean that I have totally accepted or even excel in my earthy minority position. It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t change any of those things in a heartbeat. I am what Kevin Frye is suggesting be called a modern day eunuch. The reality is true enough but yikes! Who wants to be that when they grow up? Is there a college class for that? I did read the part about higher calling, the position and blessing that comes with that position. But I have spent a lifetime trying to be normal, now this! This is upside down and backwards from what I was looking for when I first found this blog. What do I do now? All my years of going to church, mens studies and accountability, going to counselling, all my crying and praying, sharing with pastors and brothers has not changed any of those things. What has begun to change in the past year is my perspective on all this. I have always accepted the Biblical view on homosexuality and therefore found that my only option was celibacy as marriage never worked out. But would God allow me to be this way or worse create me to be this way or is just another temptation that mankind has to deal with? Since Kevin’s post I am still digesting that one. Would he create us this way for his higher calling purposes? Would he really make it this tough to prove our allegiance to him? My life experience keeps pointing me in that direction. But I haven’t arrived there yet. This blog and your comments have opened my eyes in so many ways. I am especially blessed by by this particular bunch of comments. You have been my support group for almost a year without knowing it. My current challenge is to rest in the fact that you all are a great encouragement to me without actually meeting you or getting to know you first. So thank you for be kindred souls that I can really identify with. May God bless you all.

    • Brad

      Hey Chris, thanks also for your encouraging ‘comment’! Great to hear some of your heart and your story as well – glad to be journeying together.

      • Chris B

        Thanks Brad and to you to.

    • What an encouraging comment! Thanks, Chris, for affirming this blog and community. It’s comments like this that make me glad we started building this place a year ago.

  • Alan Gingery

    Interesting dialog… and timely! I do think things are broken in our culture so that many fathers can’t teach their sons masculinity, because their own fathers never taught them.

    My father didn’t teach me masculinity or accept me into the world of men. He shamed me. Doesn’t mean he didn’t love me. I know now as an adult that he did love me, but he had no idea how to show me he loved me in a way that I could understand. So, for him the road to masculinity was to be an athlete. I was not an athlete, so I always felt less than a man in the eyes of my father. I always felt his love was conditional on being something I wasn’t. Tough place for a boy to be emotionally.

    Fortunately, I found some great men late in life to help me heal some of these wounds and to “INITIATE” me into the world of men. Better late than never. Friends with SSA, Authors and psychologists who write about SSA, Journey Into Manhood weekend through People Can Change (now Brother’s Road), SSA support groups, and blogs like YOB have all given me “men” to help me guide my masculinity in a sexually broken world.

  • I was never taught masculinity, as my parents became divorced when I was a toddler. I needed to be near my father, but I loathed my stepmother. Then my best friend committed suicide when I was fourteen, and since they were my only source of religion at the time I trusted them. I made the mistake of asking them if I would see my best friend again in heaven, and my stepmother told me that all people who commit suicide go straight to hell. It lead to years of depression as at the same time I was dealing with SSA. I had no positive male role models, and went fully into the gay lifestyle.

    https://brokenbutredeemedblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/introduction/

  • Samuel M-Eshleman

    Perhaps, masculinity is like humility; if you seek it out directly, you may never find it…but, if you seek maturity, growth, and confidence in your identity…you may find masculinity. Another thought: while it is tremendously difficult to pinpoint what masculinity is, it does make sense that we should spend an ample amount of time with other men if we wish to gain a deeper understanding in this area…Peace to all.