What It Means to Be a Man — Don’t Look to Pop Culture

Published on June 15, 2014

Thoughts from Eric Metaxas on how the mass culture is no longer modelling what true manhood is supposed to be like — and how the church ought to respond:

by Eric Metaxas

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, let’s think about what it means to be a father, and more fundamentally, a man. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

Two of my recent BreakPoint commentaries—the ones about the Epic Fatherhood initiative and film critic Ann Hornaday’s linking the shootings in Santa Barbara to the stories Hollywood tells us—would appear to be unrelated.

But looking back on them, I find that this isn’t true. Both touch on the same subject: what it means to be a man.

That’s obvious in the case of the one on Epic Fatherhood. But when Hornaday wonders about the possible cultural impact of “outsized frat-boy fantasies” and men being “raised on a steady diet” of comedies” featuring “schubbly arrested adolescents,” she’s also talking about manhood.

When I was working on my book, 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, I thought about the way that our culture has depicted men, specifically fathers, over the past half-century or so.

It’s hard to believe today, but one of the iconic television shows of the 1950s was actually called “Father Knows Best.” And believe it or not, the title was not ironic! Jim Anderson, played by Robert Young, really did know best. He was kind, patient, generous and firm when he needed to be.

As the saying goes, that was then and this is, well, not then.

Arguably the defining phrase of what’s been called “the long 1960s,” which ran from approximately 1967 to 1980, was “question authority.” As I wrote in “7 Men,” since that time we’ve adopted the idea that no one is really in a position to declare that something is right or wrong. Authority figures and role models have taken a major hit in this process.

Perhaps no one more than dear old dad. Jim Anderson of “Father Knows Best” was replaced by Archie Bunker, a loud-mouthed bigot, followed by Homer Simpson, a buffoon. Both of them are loveable and fun to watch, but not role models.

Now this lack of male role models in popular culture is tragic for many reasons, one of which is that … Keep Rading the Rest at: What It Means to Be a Man

Image: Courtesy of; http://mleavinshistory.wikispaces.com/Chronicle+of+the+Years+1950-1959