Real men do what?
Growing up as a child who watched and played sports in Northern California, I can vividly remember a slogan the Oakland Raiders once used to heighten fan participation: “Real Men Wear Black.” Certainly this was a catchy promotional tool for a professional football team. But more than that, it told men that if they were truly masculine they would wear a particular color of clothing that was anything but light or soft. Black is to be worn by men. Black is intimidating. Black says, “I’m dangerous. Look out.” The slogan appeared everywhere, and even today, the image conveyed by the Raiders is that of being dangerous, proud, and a bit rebellious.
A simple slogan wouldn’t normally be cause for great alarm. But what’s troubling is the fact it represents a widespread cultural mind-set. Masculinity, in our world, is often defined in terms of brute strength, brash independence, material wealth, ruthless power, or romantic charm. But the Bible has a different perspective on what it means to be a real man. Paul, instructing the men of Corinth toward true masculinity, wrote, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). True masculinity doesn’t idolize sports, money, status, or the passing pleasures of this world. The lusts of the flesh come naturally to sinners, and any self-indulgent boy can consume himself with his own desires. But a real man does what is hard. He is a fighter, but not in the sense that the Raiders meant. Rather he fights for his Savior’s glory, for his own sanctification, and for the spiritual good of those around him.