The Man: Protector and Provider
By Reed Benson
The greatest need in the Western World today is for real men. Men are desperately needed that can willingly fulfill their duties as husbands and fathers. The prophet Malachi foresaw this vacuum and prophesied that the revival of manhood would herald a new age: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the father to the children, and the heart of the to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6). These closing words of the Old Testament ring hauntingly across the corridors of time to the dawn of the twenty-first century. Where are the fathers? Where are these real men? Is the curse of the Almighty about to descend upon us for lack of men?
There have been many substitutes offered up for popular consumption that masquerade as men. Though tough guy images like Rambo or Dirty Harry are one such false image of real manhood. Another image, even further afield from real manhood, is the sensitive man, a compassionate Bill Clinton type who "feels" the pain and sorrow of others. In reality, such a fellow has been so emasculated he can no linger think like a man; instead he "feels".
Strangely enough, our culture gropes around blindly for a definition of manhood when only perhaps one hundred years ago the essential elements of real manhood were plainly obvious to nearly all. If a single word could be selected to sum up the essence of manhood, the best choice would probably be duty. With respect to that word, Robert E. Lee called it "the sublimest word in the English language." He went on to say "that a man can do no more than his duty, and he should never wish to do less." If duty is the core concept of manhood, what then is our duty? Where can we find our list of responsibilities that we must fulfill that will allow us to testify on the Day of Judgment that we did our duty?
They can perhaps be brought into concise focus in two words: protector, and provider. These are the twin pillars of manhood for all ages. Every great man was successful in there two areas, protecting and providing for his family, his community, and his nation. Let us now examine each of these in succession.
As protector, a manís first priority is to know right from wrong. It is impossible for a man to protect his wife, children, or any others under his watch unless he knows right from wrong, good from evil, dangerous from benign. This measure of knowledge takes us back to the Word of God. Godís Law is the fountainhead from which knowledge of good and evil is derived. If a man is ignorant in this area, he will be deficient in his protective capacity and thus will not reach his potential in manhood. Knowledge of Godís Law is thus a prerogative for true manhood.
Since our society has been in the process of dismantling and obscuring Godís Law for at least half a century, it is no wonder that males do not know the difference between right and wrong and consequently are deficient as men. Reviving the Ten Commandments is an essential first step in the rekindling of true manhood in America. But knowledge alone will not carry the day. Application of the Ten Commandments is the acid test. While many are the men who have a measure of head knowledge, for one reason or another they are unable to put their database of sound biblical information into practice. Perhaps the knowledge has only penetrated the skull and not the heart; there is no inward conviction. Whatever the deficiency, it matters not, for application is the key. Will a man keep the principles of the Ten Commandments, even if he has to pay a price to do so? If so, he has learned right from wrong, and is ready to consider the next aspect of being a manly protector, preserving those under his care from wrong, evil and danger.
To become a true protector, a man must be willing to pay a price to stand for what is right. Not only must he know what is right form wrong, he must be willing to sacrifice that truth and righteousness will prevail. He must be willing first in his own life, and then in the lies of those over whom he watches. He must rise to the high standard of Psalm 15:4-5: ". . . He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not . . . he that doeth these things shall never be moved." Men, can you say that you will swear to own hurt? Will you stand by your words, your conversions, your statements, even if it hurts you? Will you be true to your word if it damages your reputation in the eyes of the world? Will you be true to your word no matter what? Are you a man of integrity? If so, you are on your way to becoming a real man. If not, however, and your story changes when the pressures of life arise, then you are not a man. You may by a male; have hair on your chest, bench press hundreds of pounds, and have immense sex appeal, but you are not a man. Where are those who will swear to their own hurt and change not?
This aspect of protecting your wife, children, and others under your care means that you will have to have courage. Not Hollywood style, but real courage, the kind that is rarely seen in our times. Some seek to exercise courage in contrived ways like skydiving and similar extreme sports, and that is not necessarily bad, for many of these chaps are simply young males attempting to prove to themselves that they are not cowards. After all, the old proving grounds by which adventurous young men test their own mettle, such as fighting frontier Indians or joining the French Foreign Legion, are largely unavailable today. But the real test of courage comes not when you risk everything, life, health, finances, family, and reputation in a test of your own choosing. The true test is when you risk all of these things in a battle you did not choose, on territory that is not to your liking, and using weapons you would have preferred not to select. Are you willing to stand and fight for what is true when you were not seeking a confrontation? You see, that is when most will flee. But a real man will stay. A real man, a man who is going to be the protector of his family, community, and nation will obstinately refuse to kneel sown and kiss the feet of a modern Molech. He will refuse not because he is confident of victory, not because it is the right thing to do-it is his duty. He will refuse as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they stubbornly answered the most powerful man on the planet, the great and terrible Nebuchadnezzar: "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand O king. But if not, be it known unto the O king, that we will not serve thy gods, not worship the golden image which thou hast set up" (Daniel 3:16-18). Did you notice that they knew they had no guarantee of divine deliverance? But saving their hide was not the issue; standing upon truth and righteousness was. It is no different today. Saving your career, your reputation, even your family, is not the issue-standing on truth alone is the issue.
Where would we be today if God had not raised up men like John Bunyan during the English Reformation to defend religious liberty? He refused to stop preaching and was cast in prison. He could have been released at any time if only he would consent not to preach. But instead he spent twelve years in the damp, dark, English dungeons. He had good reasons to consent; after all, he had a whole flock of children to care for, including a blind daughter. He certainly could have justified yielding to the pressure. But it was in prison that he wrote Pilgrimís Progress, possibly the most influential Christian book written excepting the Bible. Where would we be if he had surrendered his convictions?
This takes us to the second rudimentary responsibility of real men, that of providing. Scripture is clear on this point: "But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy 5:8). Obviously, this responsibility is not to be taken lightly. Men, to be a good provider, you must developed at least three qualities in your life. First, you must have the requisite character that makes you an asset. Employers today are looking for people of sound, stable character. If forced to choose between character and skills, most employers will choose character and then train that good man for the position he will hold. Second, you must develop the wisdom to manage our financial resources prudently. Learn to be frugal and be content with modest comforts. Invest your extra recourses to build further wealth. But do not do it for your own aggrandizement and pleasure, but rather to enhance the Kingdom of God. Above all, do not let the love of money capture your soul. It is the most deceitful of all vices, separating friends and family. Third, use your God given aptitudes to develop skills that make you valuable to others. Be a problem solver in a world filled with problems large and small.
However, provision for the family goes beyond mere finances, but includes their need for a stable, nurturing, godly environment in which the youngsters can mature. In truth, for most men, this is a greater challenge in our postChristian era than financial provision. Study the scriptures, meditate upon them, and feed your own soul that you may be the spiritual leader in the home. Firmly, but kindly, lay down the principles of life by which your family will live. Practice them to the very utmost of your ability; a solid example is critically important. Stand your ground when these principles are challenged, and insist that the entire family follow your example.
As a final area of discussion, there are times when the duty of provision for family runs up against the duty of protection of the faith, as in the case of John Bunyan. What then?
It is possible to err in both directions. Many are the men who have neglected their family duties in order to pursue some modern Crusade; only to see the eventual collapse of both. Little is gained by chasing visions afar if your own offspring are lost to the world of Satan. Among foreign missionaries this phenomenon is something of a bittersweet joke, as missionary "brats" have gained a reputation for their rebellious ways. Men, do not leave your family behind as you follow what you believe is your divine call.
That error being identified, let us consider the reverse, which perhaps is becoming the more common failure. Simply put, too many men are hiding behind the skirts of their wives, using the family as an excuse to abandon the field of battle and cave into the pressure and threats brought by the enemies of Christendom. Men, God did not give you a family so that you can use them as an excuse to avoid battle. He gave them to you that you can lead them, train them, be an example to them, that they may also someday become soldiers of Christ. Your children will be inspired as they see you stand upon your biblical principles unswervingly.
Look at your children, men. What will be the world they inherit from you? Western Christendom is running out of time; if men do not stand for truth today, tomorrow may be, as they say in the South, worth no more than a bucketful of spit. Turn your heart toward your children, put away your adult playthings, resolve yourself to your duty, and be counted as real men.