Murrow’s chapters are full of irony that, as I read, kept me off balance from beginning to end. He had me arguing with him all the way– while leaving me convinced that he was showing me something I’d been looking for.
On one hand he boldly argues that boys want a mother but need a father, that men love women but follow other men.
He described the dangers of women-led churches, the historic failure of men-led churches, the downside of what happens when men lead like women– while making a strong case for our need of both men and women leaders.
He described the strength of a man while showcasing the strength, courage, and sacrifice of a woman.
He honored the Christ who did for us what we could never do for ourselves, while calling those “saved” (both men and women) to give their own lives to go to the rescue of others.
In the middle of it all he offers a definition of masculinity that seems so wrong, and so right…
While offering counterbalancing factors and disclaimers, Murrow’s approach is that, before looking at the way things should be, we need to be realistic about the way they are. And, from at least a natural, historic point of view Murrow suggests that:
“Masculinity is an informal code imposed on all the men of the tribe. In order to be accepted as a man, one must stand up to danger, bear up under suffering, and sacrifice oneself for the good of others. This code of conduct helps a man overcome his natural instincts (fear, hunger, loneliness, etc.), so he will do what’s best for the tribe not for himself. Masculine traits such as bravery, stoicism, and self-sacrifice don’t come naturally to a man: they are drawn from this cultural well.”
Murrow goes on to reason: “If a man fails to be brave, stoic, or self-sacrificing, he’s branded as a coward. He becomes an outcast. He suffers total rejection. This may seem cruel, but remember, the survival of the tribe depended on men who would fulfill their roles. And this transmitted a powerful lesson to the boys: “be a man, or you will be rejected.” The masculine code is alive today, especially in time of war. Soldiers still get scared, but relatively few desert. They stay and fight, not out of the fear of court-marshal but out of the fear of the shame that would follow them for the rest of their lives.”
To this, my mind and experience counter, but… couldn’t this all be said of a strong woman who in her own way is just as strong—but with a different strength; suffers just as much, but maybe in a different way; needs just as much courage…even though it may look and sound different?
And to this, my heart says, “Yes, women do offer just as much strength, courage, and self-sacrifice for “the tribe”… but usually (with allowances for the equalizing impact of technology) in a different way… or expressed in a different manner… that is as much about being a woman… as the ways of a man are about being a man.
Is there overlap? Do we all fall short of this? Don’t we all feel woefully inadequate as men and women? Seems to me the answer is, yes. This is where we need the forgiveness and wisdom of our Creator/Savior. This is why we need to come to the Christ who offers to fill our natural bodies and minds with the truth and grace of his Spirit. This is where we need to believe that he can do something wonderful with…whatever he has given us… offered back… as a living sacrifice to him…