Have you ever picked up a book expecting to find a certain point of view and been completely taken off guard? I love books. I read pretty broadly and generally think I can peg a book by the author and the list of endorsements. When I see a book by a Christian radio personality, I generally write it off as self-image cotton candy fluff and ignore it. I’m so glad I didn’t do this with Brant Hansen’s new book The Men We Need.
Brant Hansen has been on Christian radio for years. You’ve probably heard him at some point. He’s also a very interesting character (I don’t want to give away too much because I actually want you to read this book). But one spoiler…he’s not a “manly man.” Now, I put that in scare quotes for a reason. Too often, when we portray manhood in the church, we create an image of Jesus dressed like John Wayne, or maybe one of the Robertson clan from Duck Dynasty. “Real men” shoot things, spend uncomfortable nights sleeping on the ground, and play with real toys (knives, axes, big trucks, and ATVs). Or, as one popular author has portrayed, real men need a tower to climb and a princess to rescue.
But what if you don’t match the above? What if you actually LIKE cream and sugar in your coffee, play the accordion, and watch Dr. Who? What if your idea of a perfect weekend off is binge watching all six Lord of the Rings Movies (and still going to church on Sunday!)? Are you somehow less of a man?
Brant Hansen addresses this issue carefully, textually, and with his trademark sense of humor in The Men We Need. One of the funny things about the book is how the author claims right up front to not be trying to build a theology of biblical manhood, but then goes right ahead and does a pretty good job of unpacking the basic roles of men from the text of Scripture. Don’t get me wrong, this is an intensely practical book, but it’s a book rooted in the Bible.
Hansen drives at the heart of what he sees as biblical manhood. We are to be keepers of the garden. We are to protect, defend, and cultivate the garden God has placed us in. It’s simple really, but it drives at the heart of what is wrong with manhood in the US today. The problem with the guy in front of you at Starbucks isn’t that he just ordered a Soy Mocha Latte with two cups, cream on the side, and a pad of vegan butter floating in it, his problem is that he is passively watching life go by, filling his days with porn and video games, instead of passionately walking with the God who made him.
Hansen calls men to stop being passive and stop blaming others for personal failings. Instead, he calls men to walk with God, and simply stand up and be men (I’ll let you read the book to find out how he fleshes that out. But news flash! It doesn’t involve shooting anything!). He also tackles head-on the sin of pornography, which has become the defining sin of an entire generation of men.
Listen, I love sports, coach my kids’ athletic teams, AND hate sleeping on the ground. But what if manhood is marked by something that is taking place inside of us that then works its way out? What if John Wayne actually wasn’t the picture of an ideal man? What if Jesus wants us to be more? I strongly urge you to read Hansen’s book and find out. You won’t agree with everything, but you will have a conversation that needs to be had.