for release Friday August 1, 2003
by Melodie Davis
Editor's note: This week's column is by Harvey Yoder, a pastor and a counselor with Family Life Resource Center in Harrisonburg, Va. Ms. Davis asked Mr. Yoder to write this column as a response to the column she wrote earlier, "Straight Talk for Women and Girls." Straight Talk: Men Guest Column by Harvey Yoder Macho. Crude. Insensitive. Controlling. Obsessed with sex. These were some of the first responses I got at a recent men's seminar when I asked what they thought society's perceptions were of males.
They agreed these unflattering labels weren't true of all men all the time, but admitted that our gender had earned all too many of these negative stereotypes. We men do often behave badly. We leer at women, demean them by focusing on their body parts, and have been known to sometimes use, abuse and abandon them. And as the ultimate insult, more and more men have become addicted to pornography, have become regular supporters of a growing multibillion industry that uses women as moral prostitutes and reduces men to moral adolescents. We are often not good people. And then we wonder why we have such a hard time maintaining good relationships, why we may not be enjoying the happily-ever-after life we had always hoped for with the partner of our dreams. I'll never forget the advice an older high school teacher once gave: "If you want a good woman, you have to be a good man. It's as simple as that," he said.
"So start by listing the good qualities you are looking for, then concentrate on becoming that kind of person yourself, rather than just looking for those traits in someone else." That sounds basic. Just be a good man. You can only deserve the kind of person you are. But what is that kind of person like? For starters, a good man shows a high level of respect--for everyone. He treats women the way he would have other men treat his own daughter, mother or sister. That means seeing them not just as desirable, warm bodies, but as precious human beings with real minds, and with interests and feelings other than about sex. A good man strives to be a good lover, but realizes love has more to do with being patient than being passionate, with being kind and dependable than just amorous in bed. A real man knows real love is more about giving than about getting. A good man is honest. An "I love you" is never used just to get someone to give him what he wants, but is matched by kind, caring behavior in every part of his life. A good man doesn't indulge in pornographic fantasies of artificially endowed models (anorexics with breast implants) dying to have sex with him. He recognizes pornography use as not only infantile but dangerously addictive and downright harmful to relationships. A good man regards each human being as a genuinely beautiful person, not just for their physical shape or appearance, but for who they are as a child of God, a unique individual of incomparable worth. A good man sees sex as a God-given gift meant not only for pleasure, but for uniting one man to one woman "for as long as they both shall live." And, of course, for creating children who can grow up in a stable, loving family.
A good man honors his commitments. When he says "for better or for worse," he means it. When he promises "until death do us part," he honors that promise. A good man knows how to be a decent Dad. He takes a strong interest in his children and provides for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. They are always a number one priority in his life. But is being a good man really possible? Not perfectly, of course, and maybe not always, but it's what God created each of us to be, and what God can enable us to become. And when we fail, as we sometimes do, we are ready to admit it, immediately and honestly. We do whatever it takes to change and to do better, to avoid repeating the same kind of mistakes over and over again. As an imperfect father of two young adult sons, each of them imperfect but good men, and as a father-in-law of another one, I can only say that constantly working at this goal is worth all the effort it takes.
The Bible tells the story of David, who when he had committed adultery and then realized the awfulness of what he had done, cried out to God on one of the greatest prayers of repentance in the Bible (Psalm 51). God honored him by calling him a "man after God's own heart." Likewise, God will love and bless us in our pursuit of becoming good men. And our wives, families and friends will forever thank us.
What do you think? Send your responses to:
Write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 817 words; end material = 105 words
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