Fantasy and Reality—for men
…that is, “especially for men.” Why especially for men? Because women have a lock on reality and men don’t? No, because
- I’m not a woman; and
- I’ve been looking at Mike Erre’s Why GUYS Need God, which has some really important things to say on this topic.
If you haven’t seen the book, the back cover has this provacative note:
|Why, after years of being |
told otherwise, do we still
chase after bigger paychecks,
better homes, and cuter women
to define us as men?
Why does the church often
seem so fake and irrelevant
So here’s a little about fantasy:
Reality bites. … God, the universe, other people, traffic, disease, death, love, risk, pain, and depression all refuse to bend to my will….
And I suppose this simple truth is what fuels a bewildering (and in some cases bizarre) array of options for escape from reality.
… If reality disappoints us, we can find substitutes at the click of a mouse. Video games gobble up countless hours of youth, lust engulfs healthy sexual desire, and the anonymity of cyberspace creates the illusion of community and friendship without the real demands of true intimacy. Wherever reality falls short, fantasy promises a quick and painless escape.
Fantasy also exists in the church. Instead of engaging in real discussions about the pressing issues and concerns that confront men today, we often accept a caricature of masculinity that bears little resemblance to the portraits we find in Scripture. Instead of anger, we learn about serenity. Instead of ambition, meekness….Erre, pp.27-28
As long as we pretend (“No, I’m not angry [dammit!]” for example), we never confront our weaknesses, and we never have to face -gulp- growth!
The Bible has a phrase for this sort of pretending; here’s what John says about it.
If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:6-9 (NIV)
To make progress, to be purified from sin and unrighteousness–in short, to grow–we need to face the truth, to face reality.
Reality has both good and bad news, like “modern” gospel presentations from the BGEA or the Navs always say: The bad news is that we are weak and easily distracted. We are not the men we’d like to be, or the men we’d like others to think we are. Even worse, as Erre says, “God is the one who led us into this mess.” We can’t blame the media or the feminist movement or Hollywood (or Bollywood for that matter either).
The good news for us, as it was when we were sinners, is that God will lead us out of this mess (Erre, back cover).
It’s really part of the same gospel: we were foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, spending our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another, and God by his mercy saved us. That’s the gospel, right?
But wait — there’s a lot more! Paul goes on to tell us about the Holy Spirit who makes us heirs. This is the same Holy Spirit that Jesus promised, who would lead us into all truth (i.e., reality). And as the passage above says, the way we get purified, the way we grow, is by accepting and acknowledging reality and confessing our weaknesses, not by escaping and pretending.
May the Spirit of the Lord help us to do so!