Religion

Faith Matters: To be a better man, you have to pursue and find the better man

I don’t know about you, but I always feel more “intellectual” when I watch British TV. I feel more “cultured” when I watch something from another culture. That kind of makes sense.

British crime drama has become my go-to genre the last several years. And since Netflix and Amazon offer a plethora of shows in this genre, we don’t go long without it.

But in the most-recent series I’ve been watching with my wife, I have to admit that my debonair programming choice ran me into a bit of existential turbulence.

I had to adjust to the overall feminine feel of the show as both main detectives hail from Venus. And so does their boss, as well as almost all other authority figures in the police hierarchy.

After thoroughly enjoying the first season, I began to notice a pattern. Most women appeared smart, intuitive, ambitious and loyal, while men pretty much embodied the opposite of any desirable virtue.

Some couldn’t control their sexual urges, which caused a divorce. Others tried to wreck marriages, stalk subordinates or live without passion, direction and healthy ambition. Why wasn’t Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” chosen for a theme song?

Frankly, I resented the show’s portrayal of men and perhaps its popularity, which lasted five seasons and at one time aired after “Britain’s Got Talent.” I soon found one potential reason why women looked so much better than men: a female writer.

But as I reflected more deeply, I recognized that my own lamentable knee-jerk reaction didn’t differ much from that which so frustrates me in others. Have any men in general, in the media, in the news or in the church earned such a portrayal?

Had I considered that perhaps the “loser” men in her life provided both the canvas and the paint? And could I honestly say, after reading story after story of abuse and concomitant cover ups, even in churches, that such TV portrayals had no connection to reality?

Honestly, I would love to see more men like Chris Pine in “Wonder Woman,” who selflessly sacrifices himself so that many can live. I would love to see more men like the father in “This Is Us.” That’s a man to whom we can all look up.

Yet, I still think these “losers” do have something to offer us if we can forgo defensiveness.

Can we ask, “How do I see myself in that father who runs from intimacy with his wife and remains unwilling to work on his marriage instead of watching it fade away?”

Can we consider, “Does the man floundering in mediocrity, unwilling to risk and lead, find any home in my heart?”

If we can get past the knee-jerk defensiveness, sometimes such figures can encourage us to move past the portrayal and paint a new picture of a man worthy of emulating. We have the opportunity to show something far more beautiful.

But first we must behold, before we become, or else we just pile on more non-religious sounding commands that end up burdening.

We need to see the perfect man.

After numerous chapters explaining how to be a man, Darrin Patrick, in “A Dude’s Guide to Manhood,” comes to the conclusion: “True manhood doesn’t mean getting everything right; it means having the courage to say when we get things wrong and the confidence that comes from receiving our acceptance from God in Christ.”

Any pursuit of manhood that has Jesus as its end will end up leaving you a better man.

Why? Because you have found The Better Man.

Contact Pastor Geoff Henderson at geoff@harborcommunitychurch.org or follow him on Twitter @theapostleGH. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Bradenton Herald written by local clergy members.

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