“When we define masculinity by one’s wildness, we choose a wildly narrow definition. What about the poet? What about the scholar? What about the man who would rather paint than wrestle? What about the man who would rather garden than fight? Are they not men?”
Every boy wants to grow up to be a man. Every man wants to be a manly man. The trouble is that no one has an accurate definition for being a man, or a manly man.
How do you measure manliness? Is it quantified by one specific trait, or a host of characteristics? Are some men inherently more manly than others? Can a man still be a man with traditionally feminine qualities? Does the definition of a man, or being manly, change with each generation and alter by moving into a different culture?
These questions are important for men, not only men now, but those that are maturing into what is typically known as manhood. The problem is that these questions are rarely verbalized, and even more rarely answered. Should these questions be asked, and answers given, the responses seem to only add confusion and a lack of consistency for men.
Men are told to be strong, but we are asked to be vulnerable and admit our weaknesses. Men are told to be stoic, to rule their emotions, and at the same time, we are being told to let our feelings out, to not hold them in but express them freely. If that doesn’t cause enough confusion for men, when they act in one particular way that is honoured by some, they are ridiculed by others for that very same action.
What is a man to do?
Nate Pyle is not here to answer those questions about what a manly man is. In fact, there is nothing within the pages of his book, Man Enough, that will address the definition of a manly man well. That idea in and of itself is, undoubtably flawed, he would say. The notion that men have to be “man enough” to be men is to push an unbiblical and culturally destructive idea onto men.
Man Enough kicks back against the ideas that his American culture, and even his church culture, have taught him about being a man. Through careful examination of the whole Bible, and deeply personal testimony of his own journey into manhood, Pyle reveals what a real man is supposed to look like. It isn’t the muscular machoism that Hollywood tells us it’s supposed to be. It isn’t the stoic and emotionally distant breadwinners that our cultural traditions have engrained in us. Real men are those that recognize that they are a son of God, broken by sin, yet moving towards being like Christ their Saviour.
Some may see this as a cheap gimmick, to say that men should be more like Jesus. But Pyle pushes through the bad theology of masculine Christianity and other foolish images of a macho Jesus to expose Jesus for who he really is. Jesus may not be the man you think He is. He is a different kind of man and you are called to be a different kind of man as well.
“Jesus did not come to draw starker divisions between the genders. God did not send his Son into the world to encourage men to be more masculine or to rescue masculinity from the hands of women and liberals. Rather, Jesus, as the model for both men and women, calls all toward one singular end, namely, Christlikeness.”
I have often wondered if I was man enough. Am I man enough to be married to my wife? Am I man enough to raise my children? AmI man enough to be a pastor, and lead others into spiritual growth and maturity? The questions continued as I often thought of myself as too skinny and lacking in bulging muscles that everyone seems to be fond of. The question plagued me for a long time, even if it was only bubbling under the surface at times.
To say that Man Enough was a relief to my soul, a breath of fresh air to weary lungs is to undersell exactly how powerful this book was for me, and can be to any other man that reads this. But the impact would go much deeper if he not only reads it, but realizes the truth that Nate Pyle is unveiling, and begins to live in it.
The quote found in the first chapter of Man Enough, “Let’s consider the possibility that there isn’t a masculinity, but masculinities”, released so many frustrations within myself. It helped me to see that I could be, and was, a man.I could be, and was, a man without having to fit into a predetermined stereotype of machoism. I could be, and was, a man without having achieved great athletic feats. I could be, and was, a man because I was created a man in the image of God.
The power and freedom that a man can experience from this book is revolutionary. It can change a man’s entire life, his entire being, if he grabs hold of the truth that Pyle talks about. Even in the week that I read this book, I have witnessed in myself changes and leaps towards a truer man than ever before. Not the muscle bound, animalistic brute that the church and world cultures tell me to be, but a more Christlike human.
Reading this book, I learned that I was Man Enough, and the same is true for all men. You are Man Enough. You are Man Enough not because you have done anything to achieve manliness, but simply because you were created a man by the Lord God from the very beginning. To be told and encouraged in that way is reason enough to own this book.
Nate Pyle has ruined every other book on manliness for me, in the best way possible. His call to something greater than a hyper-masculinity, to something better than an emotional recluse, is founded so deeply in Scripture that most other books fail to compare. Man Enough calls us towards Christlikeness, something that needs to be more recognized in the church. Man Enough deserves and earns a 5 out of 5 star rating.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”