In our current era of woke politics and a blurring and morphing of the differences between males and females, are we losing sight of distinctly manly qualities? We believe we are, and these are very different than mere male characteristics.
Being male is a function of distinct body parts and DNA. Being a man is wholly a question of character—about what a man chooses to do and how he does it. It’s incumbent on fathers of sons to exhibit and teach their boys what it takes to grow up and assume their unique role in society.
While certainly not an exhaustive list, here are many of the most important, widely practiced, and culturally expected qualities of manhood according to cultural anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists who have studied the nature of manhood across diverse cultures and time.
- Courage: First and foremost, a man doesn’t shrink from a necessary challenge. He’s willing to face danger, difficulty, and self-denial for the sake of others.
- Step Up: A man is the first one out of his seat (figuratively and literally) when a crisis arises. The man takes initiative as a problem solver.
- Provide and Protect: A man must learn and be willing to provide and care for those who depend upon him. This is typically demonstrated in being a husband and father. Even if he never marries, he still provides for others. As anthropologist David Gilmore correctly concludes, “A man produces more than he consumes,” and the community benefits from his work and generosity.
- Self-Reliance: A man stands on his own and refuses to depend on others for his well-being. The Boy Scout Motto is “Be Prepared,” because the man doesn’t want to have to depend on the preparedness of another.
- Honesty and Moral Strength: A man does what’s right and calls out others who don’t. He deals with others in integrity. He can be trusted to do what’s right when no one is watching. His word is his bond.
- Tenacity: A man doesn’t easily give up or shrink away in the face of adversity. The phrase “It can’t be done” doesn’t come easily to him.
- Self-Control: A man is aware of his proper limits—his strength, appetites, independence, language, and power—and respects them. He calls others to do the same. He gives himself a command—and keeps it.
- Under Authority: No man is a renegade. He recognizes he’s under the authority of another—be it a boss, his own father, his pastor, and, ultimately, God. He acts accordingly. He will respectfully challenge those in authority when conscience demands, but rarely.
- Shows Respect: A good man shows respect to himself and those he meets, regardless of their station. He looks them in the eye and gives a firm handshake to another man, and kindness to a woman. He helps others know their value.
- Loyalty: A man is loyal to his family, friends, and community, even at great price to himself.
- Humility: A man esteems others as valuable and lifts them up. He understands the strength in apologizing and asking forgiveness.
- Compassion: This might seem a feminine quality, but a man sees the struggles of the vulnerable and readily comes to their aid. This is a moral strength. A man doesn’t exploit an innocent person’s weakness.
- He Lives His Character: Lastly, if manhood is a distinct set of character traits, the final quality is that he lives them out in action, and he does so conspicuously in the community. Passivity is the precise opposite of manliness.
It can be said that a good man does the right thing at the right time, in the right way for the right reasons. If he fails to, we are right to say, “He is not a good man” or “He needs to man up!”
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family. Glenn T. Stanton is the director of Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.