Among the measures of mature manhood that God Himself sets forth is faithful, stable, committed marriage. After observing, It is not good for the man to be alone (Gen 2:18) God says ….A man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two of them shall become one flesh. Thus God indicates an essential description of manhood. This is what a MAN does. Three things are taught here:
- A mature man recognizes that it is not good, not healthy, for him to remain alone and unattached. Thus he sets himself about looking for a wife in a suitable and serious manner. In ancient culture marriages were usually arranged, but in our culture that duty falls on the man himself. But a man, if he is a man, prepares himself for marriage, or perhaps for the priesthood or religious life. He is serious and steadfast about it. This may mean finishing college and embarking on the beginnings of a career but in the end he will accept the truth that it is not good for him to remain alone and unattached. In the recent past dating was usually understood as a time wherein one searched for a spouse. Today many see it “just for fun.” Marriage is postponed indefinitely. Many young men are not serious in searching for a spouse. Instead they “play the field” and use women sexually. They avoid commitment and drift from relationship to relationship. Some “father” children and still do not accept responsibility. They are not men, they are boys. For boys play. “Boys will be boys,” after all. Sadly many women allow and facilitate this immature and immoral behavior. But God is clear, a man (rather than a boy) accepts that it is not good for him to remain single and unattached and he respectfully seeks a wife.
- Having properly sought a wife he marries her and leaves his parents to establish a home. In other words he actually gets married. He does not just shack up (cohabitate), or form a so-called “committed relationship.” He does not endlessly postpone marriage. He is serious about the summons that God has given him to make a lasting commitment to a wife, or as a priest or religious brother. He “settles down.” He actually commits his whole life to his wife promising to remain faithful to her unto death. This is what God says a man does.
- A man clings to his wife. That is to say, a man works hard to preserve unity with his wife. He manfully addresses any threats to that unity. “Cling” is actually a very strong word. It means to stick like glue. A man says to his wife, “Honey if you ever leave me I’m going with you.” Too many men are passive husbands. Too often it is really the wife who works hardest to preserve the marriage. Very often when there is trouble in a marriage it is the wife who initiates a call to the priest or marriage counsellor. And if the husband comes at all the wife has to drag him. But a real man does not passively sit by as his marriage becomes strained. He addresses issues, cherishes his wife and works hard to preserve union with her. This is what God says a real man does. He has committed to his wife and to God and he is faithful to that commitment even when it is hard. He remembers that he committed for better or worse. And when worse comes he does not run, he stays and addresses the issues, seeks out necessary resources and takes leadership in restoring harmony to his marriage. God says a man clings to his wife. This is what a man does.
It is true that women have a role in all these matters. But this article is directed to men. A man doesn’t whine and say, “But what about the wife?!” He just does what he is supposed to do and does not point fingers. He accepts his own responsibility. Yes, there are men who have worked hard to preserve their marriage and the wife still walked away. Our culture has granted far greater possibilities to women. This is not bad in itself but it sometimes creates even greater strains on marriage. But in the end, I am convinced that if men are real men as God has tasked them, if they were more serious about seeking a wife, marrying her and clinging to her, we would have far fewer divorces.
Remember now, this is a blog. I could go on forever and make lots of other distinctions and explore all the “yes-buts!” What I intend is to start a conversation not anticipate every possible objection, cautionary detail or requested distinction. You, my dear readers are invited to do that in the comments.
So here is what a God says a real man does. How say you?
I preached this topic among others recently at the Feast of the Holy Family. Here is an excerpt from that homily that covers some of the things I have written here. Enjoy also some Christmastime photos of my parish: