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‘What It Means to Be a Man’


Recently I was asked by a man in our church to write a letter to his son, soon to turn 16, on the topic, “What It Means To Be A Man.” Below is my letter:

Dr. Edwin Louis Cole used to say “Maturity doesn’t come with age; it comes with the acceptance of responsibility.”

The problem with any discussion of manhood is the present culture. The great grandbabies of the men who took Omaha Beach think a bad day is when their iPhone 6 bends in their back pocket. Recently, a pro football player was in the news because he had been beating one of his children. The outcry was over the beatings. But unspoken in the media outcry was the fact that this pro football player had sired 7 children out of wedlock.

I would submit to you that this pro football player is not a man even though he is clearly male. Why would I say that? Because being a man isn’t really a matter of gender, but is instead a matter of embracing responsibility. In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” In life, we are to grow up physically, spiritually, and in terms of personal responsibility. Many people grow up physically but they never mature spiritually or in terms of their personal responsibility.

A man, a real man, doesn’t just accept responsibility. A real man embraces responsibility. An intelligent person understands that any human being can achieve more, do more and have more only by embracing responsibility. There is no other way. No one ever became financially independent while living on welfare.

In my own case, at age 20 I was a college graduate, I was married and had started work on my master’s degree. Back then I worked a part-time job and went to school full-time. My new bride worked full-time and worked on finishing her bachelor’s degree part-time.

Back in those days, the thought never occurred to us to try and have someone else pay for our health insurance. Since neither of us worked for a company that provided benefits, we bought our own health insurance policy.

The Bible is absolutely clear that a man, a real man, provides for his family. Paul wrote to Timothy, his protégé in ministry, and said this: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). And when he wrote to the church at Thessalonica, Paul made it clear that if a man is physically capable of working for a living, then it is a divine command that a man work (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Paul’s perspective was that if a man doesn’t work, then he should do without. That may not sound politically correct, but it is Biblically correct.

When Sue and I were starting out, the thought never occurred to us to try and have someone else pay for our groceries via food stamps. We took our meager earnings and bought our own groceries. ($15 a week in those days.)

In those days, the thought never occurred to us to try and have someone else pay for our rent via Section 8 housing. With our own meager earnings, we paid our own rent.

How things have changed. Young people today have been trained in government (public) schools that the world owes them health insurance. They have been sold the idea that the world owes them food and housing. Like Pavlov’s dogs, they have been trained to think that the world even owes them even a living.

Mark Twain famously wrote, “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

So for a male to make the transition to manhood, he must embrace responsibility. He must embrace personal responsibility.


Males who live off others may be males but they are not men.

Man was actually designed by God to work. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

In II Thessalonians 3:10 KJV, Paul wrote, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

Millennials love to pretend that Jesus was a Communist. But study the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 and you will discover that what Jesus actually taught was redistribution to the productive. In Matthew 25:29, Jesus says, “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

Not only that, but the apostle Paul taught that if an able bodied man did not work, he could not by definition be saved. In I Timothy 5:8 KJV, he wrote, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

Other Scriptures on work:

“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.” Proverbs 10:4, 5

“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.” Proverbs 12:24

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23

“One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.” Proverbs 18:9

“Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry.” Proverbs 19:15

“The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.” Proverbs 21:25

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29

“I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” Proverbs 24:30-34

The goal of government is to enslave man, to make man dependent on government. But the goal of Christianity is to make family dependent on no one.

The apostle Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 4:11, 12, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

The apostle Paul not only taught that each man should work, but that he should “eat his own Bread.” “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” (II Thessalonians 3:10-12 KJV)


Males who sire children out of wedlock may be males but they are not men. The entire Bible is clear that the sexually immoral will not go to heaven. Yet, our entire culture has embraced immorality and perversion as a way of life. Young people think they can have sex with however many people they want (of either gender), that they can murder the unborn (without consequence), and that they don’t have to take responsibility for their sexual conduct. This is why young people think that the government should even pay for their birth control and their health care when they get sick due to promiscuity.

Abomination has become a way of life in America but you must realize that a life lived without responsibility is truly an abomination in the sight of God. There will be hell to pay both in this life and the next life for such reprehensible conduct.

A man, a real man, a Christian man, marries a godly, Christian woman. A man, a real man, a Christian man waits to have sex with that young woman until they are married. He does not dishonor her or God by having sex with her before marriage. He takes responsibility for providing for her. A real man fathers children with his wife. And a real man provides for his children. A real man is also faithful to his wife and children. A serial adulterer does not love his wife or children.


Males who don’t provide for their own children, but expect others–including the government, which is other people–to care for their children, may be males but they are not men.

Liberals constantly complain that the United States has a higher percentage of its population imprisoned that any other 1st world country. What liberals fail to mention is that the United States has a higher illegitimacy rate than any other 1st world country, now 40%, and that 70% of all the men in prison today in the United States grew up in a home with no father.

Fatherlessness doesn’t have to lead to an unproductive life, but there is a far greater chance of a child who grows up without a father themselves being unproductive in life, or even a criminal.

Of course politicians have destroyed the American family on purpose because 73% of those in prison today in the United States are members of the most liberal political party. In other words, fatherless criminals are very much for free stuff.


Males who live like locusts and consume everything they touch in life may be males but they are not men.

The Bible makes it clear that a good man, a righteous man, a godly man leaves an inheritance for his children (Proverbs 13:22). And a good man—according to the Bible—doesn’t just leave an inheritance for his children. No, he leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. Having pastored 31 years, I have seen firsthand the sad reality of Christian children starting over from scratch when they receive the “left foot of fellowship” from their parents at the age of 18.

I taught my own children that a parent’s job is not finished until a child is well-educated, self-sufficient, and well-married. I made sure that was true in my children’s lives and I have taught them to do the same as parents.

The goal is not to be a moocher but to be a producer. And Christian parents should strive to train up children who are producers, who make a contribution to society and who are not dependent on anyone, especially not the government.

As Dr. Edwin Louis Cole used to say “Maturity doesn’t come with age; it comes with the acceptance of responsibility.” So what does it take to be a man? To accept responsibility for one’s own life, livelihood, sex life, children and grandchildren. Any male who does these things isn’t just a male, he’s a man.


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