I could tell that my mother was nervous. She didn’t need to say anything; it was evident by the amount of food she made when my brand new girlfriend, Melissa, came home with me to meet the parents. There were only four of us, not forty.
For many years my mom was the only woman in my life. She changed my diapers and taught me how to read and write. She taught me how to share, except of course, when it came to large baskets of fries from McDonald’s; those little adventures we shared together were sacred. But, most importantly, she was the first to tell me about Jesus. And today she was about to meet the person who would do the same for her grandchildren. She was nervous, and rightly so.
But I was equally nervous. My dad had a secret weapon and fully intended on using it.
The photo album was strategically placed within arm’s reach. I could tell that my dad had it planned out, meticulously plotting my demise. Apparently it was humorous for him to show my future wife images of me in the most awkward stages of life; from chubby pre-pubescence to acne-laced teen. I wasn’t laughing.
But beyond the embarrassment, my dad had a goal; to show Melissa an image of me when I shot my first deer. He takes pride in that picture, mostly because he was proud of me, but also because he’s passionate about hunting.
Let’s face it, men like to shoot things. We like to pack our rifles, dress up in camouflage, and hide out for hours waiting for the perfect opportunity to suck the life out of the season’s biggest prize.
Men don’t cry when they see blood. We join the NRA and put the sticker on our truck – not for proof, we simply like the way it reflects off the sun.
Men like to watch movies where the good guy wins. We thrive when men like William Wallace stand up in front of other men and proclaim their independence, shouting, “They may take away our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”
Men hate the mall. We’d rather clean the garage or watch NASCAR.
Men want their daughters to grow up and do girly things. Like play with dollies, put their hair in pigtails, and not date anyone until the age of forty two.
Let me also mention (boy who wants to date my daughter) that men use knives. Remember that buck we shot last season? Yes, we skinned it. Take note.
And when men use the phrase “last season,” we’re not referring to American Idol.
Equally, men want their sons to grow up and do manly-things. Like watch football on Sunday, eat beans straight from the can, and grow a mop of facial hair in the winter. We commission them to protect their little sisters. And if that means we have to teach them how to jab with their left or perfect the Karate Kid swan kick, so be it.
Men are men. We’re often uncivilized. We’ve been known to eat steaks raw and pick the leftovers out of our teeth with large sticks. That’s what we do.
But most importantly, real men love God. We want to experience God the provider, God the protector, God the inventor of Ultimate Fighting Championship, not the God of pastels.
We don’t like the lack of manliness that often accompanies those promoting the gospel. We’re manly men remember? And we operate on manliness. It’s programmed within us.
Or at least it used to be.
The Barna Group recently released a study called, “Women are the Backbone of Christian Congregations in America.” In it they noted that more than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only two out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church. They also concluded that midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.
It begs the question: Where have all the cowboys gone? Or rather, why have we pushed them out of our churches?
For too long, we’ve developed programs that cater mostly to women. For too long, we’ve replaced boldness and aggression with passivity. We’ve forgotten that Christianity was founded by a man, followed by a dozen other men. And for some reason, it doesn’t bother us that 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties and many of these boys will never return.
There are 25 percent of married, churchgoing women who will worship without their husbands this Sunday. It’s my guess, that if we were to ask these women to lay down their lattes, remove the flowers that fill the sanctuary, and exchange it for a bow and arrow, they’d gladly do so.
Bo & Melissa Lane have two beautiful kids, Benjamin and Bella Lane. Besides having the privilege of printing this wonderful magazine, they enjoy long walks on the beach, listening to Hillsong United, and will pay virtually any amount for a quality babysitter.