What makes a “real man”? We’ve all seen light-hearted rules like real men don’t cry, real men don’t eat quiche, real men don’t let other men eat quiche, and so on. James Dobson’s Family Talk site has a page that claims to have God’s rules for how to be a true man of God. The author summarizes the goal this way: “My wife and kids need a real man, not some wimpy guy that rides the ever-changing cultural tides of our times.”
Here’s that list, built on the rock of the Bible.
God’s Real Man List
- Real men don’t leave their wives. See Ephesians 5:25-32, Mark 10:9, Job 31:1
- Real men honor their wives as co-heirs. See 1 Peter 3:7
- Real men teach their children God’s ways (both in word and in action). See Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Ephesians 6:4, Psalm 78:5-7
- Real men build into the lives of other men. See Proverbs 27:17
- Real men don’t use their words to demean others. See Ephesians 4:29
- Real men don’t let their anger get away from them. See James 1:19-20
- Real men lead best when they love most. See Ephesians 5:1-2; John 13:34-35
- Real men are sacrificial for the sake of their Lord, family, and others. See John 15:13
- Real men are servants. See Mark 10:45
- Real men can show their emotions (this includes crying). See John 11:35, Matthew 21:12, Matthew 9:36
But why this list? Don’t forget that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). You really can’t go wrong when pulling Iron Age biblical examples into the 21st century, amirite, Dr. Dobson?
So, with that wind of certitude filling our sails, let’s look further in the Bible to see what else it says and make a new list, 10 More Traits of Real Men.
1. Real men don’t get married
The list above has at least two rules about men’s relationship with their wives, but Paul had no use for marriage:
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry (1 Corinthians 7:8–9).
You can rationalize this one away by saying that Paul wrongly thought that the End was coming soon, but what’s left of your faith when you must say that the books of the New Testament are seriously wrong?
2. Real men listen to God over common-sense morality
God made some crazy demands in the Bible. Christians, what would it take for God to convince you to accept a modern equivalent of these demands?
- Abraham accepted God’s demand that he sacrifice his son Isaac (more).
- After discovering the Israelites worshipping the Golden Calf, Moses commanded the Levites to punish fellow Israelites: “Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor,” and 3000 were killed (Exodus 32:26–29).
- God demanded human sacrifice: “The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal” (Exodus 13:2). More.
- God demanded that Babylon be punished, with the Israelites as executioners: “Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished” (Isaiah 13:15–16).
- God demanded genocide. He said that within the tribes that must be destroyed, “you shall not leave alive anything that breathes” (Deuteronomy 20:16–18) and that, for the Amalekites, Israel should “put to death men and women, children and infants” (1 Samuel 15:2–3). More here, here, and here.
3. Real men know that daughters can be sacrificed
In his younger days, God wasn’t omniscient, so he had to send scouts to Sodom to verify the rumors he’d heard. Lot protected these angels from the angry mob eager to teach these strangers who’s boss by raping them. Lot is portrayed as a godly man, though he doesn’t look very godly after he offered his two virgin daughters to the mob as a rape substitute. More.
4. Real men throw the first stone if their friend or relative strays
Suppose a friend suggests that you worship another God. Now imagine that it’s your best friend, or that it’s a family member, maybe a child or your wife. How should you respond?
Forget that freedom of religion is protected by the U.S. Constitution; things work differently in the Bible’s little world.
Do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 13:6–11; see also Deut. 32:41–2, Exodus 22:20).
Concluded in part 2.
but only yours actually exists.
The others are silly made up nonsense.
But not yours. Yours is real.
— Ricky Gervais
Image from Victor B., CC license