Posts tagged accept responsibility

Man up to Christian Grey, Fifty Shades

This is the second of three posts on what a real man should do with Fifty Shades of Grey.

On Valentine’s weekend, Fifty Shades of Grey dominated the box offices with $85 million in ticket sales, even though the movie was almost universally panned. In my first post, “What’s a real man do with Fifty Shades?,” I expressed concern that the main character, Christian Grey, is a pathetic role model for true manhood. Rather than respect and care for an innocent and vulnerable Anastasia Steele, he subjects her to sexual abuse and degradation to fulfill the warped desires left from his own childhood sexual abuse.

Sure, Christian Grey is a fictional character, but his influence on the culture (through Fifty Shades of Grey) is troubling. Have women lowered their standards for men so far that Christian Grey is the object of desire? Reportedly, the books and movie have a heavy following among 25-55 year old women.  But it’s also reaching our young daughters. According to IMDB (Internet Movie Database), the movie drew the highest reviews by far from girls under 18.

And just in case you’re wondering, a Barna survey found that women who identify themselves as Christians are reading the books at the same rate as the general public. It’s captivating women everywhere.

That should concern any self-respecting man.

For decades, the objectification and hyper-sexualization of women in the media has been a problem. A majority of all young women today have been exposed to pornography before age 14. As they are encountering sexual material at younger and younger ages, we appear to be reaching critical mass.

In years past, that exposure would be met with disgust. But now it’s being embraced in our culture. About half of young adult women now consider viewing pornography as an acceptable way of expressing their sexuality. One in three visitors to online porn sites are now women, and one in five women use the Internet weekly for sexual purposes.

These are our wives and our daughters who are being affected. So, as a godly man, what do you do?

1. Be a man of integrity.

Women are looking for a man to admire, not just someone to buy them off and beat any sense of high standards out of them. As a husband, you need to make it your goal to treat your wife as your greatest earthly priority. As a father, you model for both your sons and your daughters not just what real manhood is all about, but the value of women.

Pastor and author Robert Lewis defines an authentic man:

  • He rejects passivity. He doesn’t allow the enemy to distract him from reflecting the image of his Creator God, and caring for the woman and the world that have been entrusted to him.
  • He accepts responsibility. He recognizes that his wife and children are dependent on him, and he seeks to correct his mistakes rather than make others continue to suffer in the wake of his bad choices.
  • He leads courageously. He doesn’t force women to step in to fill the vacuum of leadership left by passive men. But he also recognizes that his leadership is a position of voluntary submission to Christ, who voluntarily submits Himself to the Father.
  • He expects God’s greater reward. He recognizes that Christ didn’t give in to the temptations of Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), but submitted his own desires to those of the Father so that he could redeem His bride, the church (Philippians 2:5-11).
2. Love the one you’re with.

Your wife should be the object of your desire. She longs to see in your words and actions that you are always seeking the best for her. Rather than expecting her to sign a contract listing your demands, remind her that you have made a covenant to cherish and care for her, and to love her as much as you love your own body (Ephesians 5:29).

weaker vesselScripture tells us (1 Peter 3:7) to live with our wives in an understanding way (be considerate), as a weaker vessel. That’s not a cut-down but a comparison; a compliment. I think of it as delicate vs. durable; Ellie’s demitasse china cup and saucer vs. my gunmetal grey travel mug. My wife is strong and capable (she would have made a great pioneer woman). Yet I know Ellie is created to be a responder, nurturer and empathizer. She flourishes when I treat her with honor and respect. And God reminds me that His receptivity to me is tied to how receptive I am to my wife. Strength and submission aside, we husbands need to remember that we are equal to our wives before God, as joint heirs of His grace. We need to become lifelong students of extending that grace to each other.

3. Show your daughters their strength.

Too many girls and young women today don’t realize the power they have to set the expectations in a relationship. In our sexualized culture, they are led to believe that their only real worth is as sensual creatures. They expect that by gratifying the natural desires of a man, he will come to desire her. The truth is that a woman who holds high standards for herself and the man she cares about will call him up from his basic instincts to his true calling as leader, protector, lover.

A young girl needs to know that she’s loved—by her Heavenly father and her earthly father. We daddies need to remind our daughters of their intrinsic worth to us, and especially their value to the God who created them, who knows them intimately, and who loves them unconditionally. The more they accept this, the more likely they will be to look for a man who recognizes and respects their value.

And often it’s the little things they do that begin to bring out the best in a guy. One of the things I’ve told my three girls through the years has been “Be a lady; expect a gentleman.”  Wait for him to open the door, to pull out her chair, to call for a date. Sure, she can do all those things, but in waiting, she’s offering him an opportunity to step up and to show her he values her.

If there’s a positive message in Fifty Shades of Grey it’s this: A man will give honor to a woman when she raises the bar and expects to be treated as a unique creation and not just an object of desire.

The final post in this three-part series will continue the suggestions about what you can do to challenge the image of Christian Grey  by being a real man. We’ll cover raising sons, warning women about the dangers of porn, developing intimacy with your wife, and understanding submission from God’s perspective.

© 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “How to challenge Christian Grey and Fifty Shades” in the Stepping Up blog for men.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistRead the original post in this series, “What’s a real man do with Fifty Shades?” and come back next week for the conclusion. 

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistRobert Lewis and William Hendricks share “What Every Husband Needs to Know” about ministering to his wife.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistA daughter is stronger when she has a relationship with her dad. Read “How to Really Know Your Daughter.” 


3 lame excuses for why I don’t initiate


The Courage to Initiate

Initiative is the essence of manhood. Nothing comes to the man who is passive, except failure.

Men are not meant to be spectators. Real men accept responsibility rather than making excuses and look for solutions instead of casting blame. They reject the “I’m a victim, so let me off the hook” mentality and find a way to push ahead through the storm. On the other hand, the disengaged man, whether single or married, will settle for diluted, bland maleness. Life happens to him; he doesn’t happen to life. His expectations are low. And so are his achievements. I hope you’re not counting on him. I hope you’re not him.

Abdicating their roles

Some men demonstrate more courage in their jobs than they do in their families. A friend recently made an observation about a neighbor and expressed questions about why some men don’t step up at home:

Rebecca is in her late thirties and is married to Bill, a man in his early forties who is a successful CEO of the leading oil company in a Middle Eastern country. Bill was a U.S. oil-company exec when they met fifteen years ago; then they moved [to the Middle East], had children (his second family), and raised them until they started school. Rebecca [and their children] moved back to the U.S. to get the younger son, who has ADHD issues, the right educational environment. For the past five to seven years, she’s lived here, and Bill has visited about once every month or two — it seems to work for them. However, the boys are growing, now twelve and fourteen and out of control, and she can’t handle the virtual single-mom thing anymore. Finally, Bill announced last month that he’s stepping down from his international gig and coming home to spend more time with the family. Everyone is excited. His twenty-two-year-old daughter by a previous marriage is posting the news to her Facebook page — “Dad’s coming back!” Sounds like he’s finally agreeing to engage in the family he supports financially, right? No. Yesterday I learned that the twelve year-old son is being shipped off to military prep school, and Dad is considering a new job in Ireland. Jaw dropping.

Why is it that some men can initiate great tasks and conquer overwhelming obstacles at work, yet remain passive in relationships or in leading at home? It’s as if there’s a disease that infects the male species. None of us is exempt from the passivity virus. Over the years I’ve done a little inventory of my life and listed some of my own lame excuses for why I haven’t taken the initiative when faced with a duty or challenge:

Lame Excuse #1: Taking the initiative is hard work, and I’m tired.

I hate to admit this, but pure selfishness and laziness have been the cause of most of my passivity. In years past, after solving problems at work, I just wanted to vegetate, watch television, and not get involved with cleaning up the kitchen, helping with homework, or putting the kids to bed. And I certainly didn’t want to deal with bigger issues, such as repairing a breach in my relationship with my wife or addressing a disciplinary issue with a child. On multiple occasions I’ve had to pry myself out of my easy chair and into situations that I would rather have ignored. Being a man will involve pain. Initiative requires sacrifice and self-denial.

Lame Excuse #2: I don’t know how to initiate.

When I was single, developing a relationship with a woman was risky. The learning curve was steep, and there was always the fear of rejection. Later, as a husband, at times I found it easier to abdicate leadership to my wife. As a dad I knew I needed to develop a relationship with my daughters and take them on dates, but what were we supposed to talk about? Other responsibilities, such as having a “birds and bees” conversation with my children, were awkward and easy to rationalize putting off until sometime in the future.

Lame Excuse #3: Taking the initiative means I might fail.

Or it may mean I’ve already failed, and it’s easier not to risk failing again. Whether it was asking a young lady out on a date when I was single, hammering out boundaries and discipline for the children — or just dealing with the basics of leading my family, I found that the fear of failure creates a gravitational pull toward passivity. But real men take action. And when they do, great things can happen.

So, men, what is it for you?  Do you have some “lame” excuses that you’ve used or maybe continue to use to keep from being real men who accept responsibility?  What is it that today you can say “no” to or “yes” to that would be a departure from yesterday and be a step toward initiating leadership in your family?

Adapted from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey. © 2011 by FamilyLife Publishing. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “3 lame excuses for why I don’t initiate” by Dennis Rainey on the Stepping Up men’s blog 

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWhat will you do the next time a task seems too hard, you don’t know how to do it, or you’re scared of failing?

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistLearn the two basic directives for men in “The Masculine Mandate” by Richard D. Phillips on

STEPPass - 10-point checklistSeriously consider leading a group of men through the 10-week Stepping Up video series.


6 non-negotiables for training young men (part 1)

1 Corinthians 13:11 tells us, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” Adolescent young men need to be trained to step away from childish things, and learn how to step up and speak like a man, think like a man, and reason like a man. Here is the first of six non-negotiables for training young men:

AngryBoy1. They need help assassinating selfishness and pride.

From the time a boy is born, he is full of himself. As a toddler he needs no training to become a tyrant. He does that naturally. And if allowed, he will morph from an incorrigible and bullheaded boy into a self-absorbed teen and, ultimately, a selfish adult, “Enemy Number One” of true manhood. When a man suffers from arrogance, he isn’t teachable. He can’t admit fault. He refuses correction and won’t be responsible. With himself as the center of his universe, all others must make their orbits around him and his needs. Ultimately he rebuffs almighty God and says, “You do Your thing and I’ll do mine. I am my own god.” A man who is full of himself will never be the man God created him to be. It is only as a man understands who God is and how he relates to God as a man that he can begin the process of becoming a real man. When a young man does understand his relationship with God, it affects all of his relationships. It makes him a giver rather than a taker. He puts the needs of others ahead of his own (Philippians 2:3–4). And he understands that a portion of his mission on earth is to help others know God personally, as he does. Avoid feeding his primal selfishness. Instead charge him with the care and protection of his mother, his siblings, and others. Put limits on the amount of time he spends on the Internet, texting, or playing video games. Instead, put him to work. Hard work. Our sons worked ten to fifteen hours a week when they turned fourteen. Work is a powerful tool in overcoming selfishness. Sweat and calluses are good for a young man. Ultimately you are training your son to assume responsibility and fulfill another nonnegotiable, what Christ called the great commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). Read Part 2 for non-negotiables 2 & 3 Excerpted with permission from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing, 2012.

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