Sunday, March 4, 2007

No More Christian Nice Guy

I came across this book awhile back. For various reasons I thought I was going to be disappointed with the content and message. I wondered if it was going to be one of the books that define masculinity as drinking, guns and cussing.

I checked it out from the library and began to read. It took me a little time to get into it. I held onto my reservations but it started speaking to me. When I was all done, I was very pleased. I have a few questions of what some things mean exactly and where they would lead but overall I can recommend the book.

Following are my thoughts from the book and some from where my mind drifted on it’s own. A point made in the book is the difference between nice and good. Nice is where a man is passive, avoids conflict, and is safe.

How does he get there? In the author’s life, he pointed to abuse that put him there. There is also the pressure from the feminized world of what boys and men should be. The message is that we should be more like women. There is even the sanitized Jesus, the supreme nice guy.

Men have been encouraged to focus on domestic responsibilities. This is a good thing that went too far. Being over domesticated, men have missed out on courage and bravery. In being nice and responsible we are living by the creed of “Let’s not make things any worse than we already have.”

It doesn’t take much exposure to the message of the world to see why this is. The mocking of men is common. Men and fathers are made out to be unnecessary, stupid, bumbling, disrespected and in need of fixing. Of course, sometimes this is true but not just because we are male.

There is a section on the problem of woman worship: “Home life is portrayed as the near exclusive domain of women, who define right and wrong through feminine sensibilities and often don’t understand (and, consequently, discount) masculine ways.”

There is a message sent by the world and sometimes the church that women are “naturally” good and more spiritual. Men are wrong and women are right. If there are problems, it is the man’s fault and he needs to conform. Think about the old saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Many times this is just emotional blackmail; men can’t fix everything.

It is good to encourage men to be better fathers and husbands but we need to be careful not to go overboard. Many men live under the condemnation that all the problems in their home are “because I’m not the man God wants me to be.”

The author speaks of the abuse in his childhood and the effect. “The abused carry a belief that there is something wrong with them not because they are sinners but because they are defective.” One thing he shows is this results in confusion between guilt and shame. Listen to this:

Guilt is not destructive to a person, because it's a response to what he does, and because something can be done about it. We can acknowledge our wrongdoing, change our behavior, and experience forgiveness.

Shame, however, goes beyond the understanding that "I did wrong things" to "I am worthless through and through." This is an anti-biblical view of creation, a lie that, when believed, robs YOU of how you perceive your own value.
Many men carry that shame either from childhood abuse or from the pressure of a world that views them as defective.

He goes into the sexual tension that is present in many marriages. It’s almost a joke anymore of the man wanting more and the woman wanting less. We have something created by God for good and yet we have so many problems associated with it. So what’s the problem? If we listen to a lot of the counsel and teaching these days it goes back to the man. He must not be honoring his wife. If he were only the man God wanted him to be, then there would not be these problems. The reality is that women are not always pulling their weight in marriage either.

One section of the book showed how important fathers are. The truth is that the presence of a father is the most critical factor of whether a child will graduate high school, attend college, avoid crime, reject drugs and not become pregnant before eighteen. That’s not the message we usually hear from the world.

There is some good advice on a man and his work. The nice passive guy ends up with all kinds of problems.

In the raising of boys, there are lessons to be learned. He tells of being a soccer coach and dealing with injuries. When a boy is hurt he approaches with care and respect. Is the injury real or will it be okay in a few minutes? If the latter, then don’t overcrowd or smother with concern. This is when the boy can learn that pain is a part of life that has to be lived through, endured. It’s part of the journey. You can see the difference this makes. Either a boy will dust himself off and go on or end up crying about every little pain and want to give up. Treated properly, he will learn what it means to be a man.

I thought it was good to read that men show love by things they do like fixing things and not just by doing the sentimental, perishable things. Maybe there are not flowers and love notes but he works hard. He changes the light bulbs, replaced the sewer line, fixed the roof in the rain, puts gas in the car, etc. It is good when the man does some of the things that are more meaningful to women but if he doesn’t, that doesn’t make him defective. Women need to understand this.

Some of the other things mentioned in the book that spoke to me were a discussion of true humility, deliverance from fear and optimism.

What did I dream about before I stopped dreaming? Wow, that hit home. I'm looking forward to dreaming again.

I’m going to buy a copy of this book so I can mark it up and get even more out of it. I hope what I’ve said here hasn’t made the book seem strident. If so, then that’s my communication problem. It really is a good book that has a lot to say to us today.

I want to be the good man God wants me to be and not the one the world says is nice.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon. No More Christian Nice Guy by Paul Coughlin


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