I found this Dangerous Article for Boys essay in my inbox today and though I find it thought-provoking, I also find it irritating.
One assertion underlying the author's somewhat valid critique of modern literature, is that "real" manhood is incompatible with an empathetic spirit. That a man's man cannot be - or rather, OUGHT NOT TO BE - "in touch with his feelings."
My gut reaction? Yeah...tell that to King David. It's pretty evident from his life that he was a courageous and manly man. Not full of bravado like so many of America's iconic men, but actually engaging in acts of bravery...he was wisely cunning...yet he felt for people. He composed music...played an instrument by which he could sooth a troubled spirit...he wrote poetry for crying out loud. EMOTIONAL poetry. And let me tell you, that requires a great deal of empathy and sensitivity.
The Christian men, both past and present, that I regard most highly are a beautiful combination: they have a fire in their belly that drives them toward adventure, toward conquering their world, and that fuels their sense of justice. But that fire exists and functions right alongside an incredibly gentle spirit that doesn't separate itself from their own or other's feelings. They fight when fighting is called for and they cry when crying is called for.
Frankly, the men I find the least manly are those who are entirely disconnected from their feelings, possessing the bravado without the gentleness. Those men are cowards who use their "manliness" to control and intimidate others. They know nothing but their own elevated sense of ego.
I am quite certain that Cothran doesn't intend to promote that brand of "manliness," and I appreciate his determination to resist the push to strip masculinity of its real glory and replace it with effeminate fluff, but it seems to me that this article attempts to combat that in a wrong-headed way. Scoffing at a man's sensitivity is one of the attitudes that produces an anti-Christian understanding of what it means to be a True Man.