The State of American Manhood 2012

Every year I try to collect a few things from the news that speak to manhood — either a great example of true, noble, God-honoring masculinity, or a cautionary example of how easily we men fall victim to our own weaknesses.  Every year, there are plenty of examples of both types. We don’t claim these are the biggest or most significant, but we offer them as items which caught our eye.

Respect For Women: Boys Don’t Fight With Girls: In Iowa, a contender for the state high school wrestling championship defaulted a tournament round because he believed it would be wrong to fight a female competitor. “[W]restling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times,” Joel Northrup, a sophomore with a 35-4 record, told the media.” As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner.”  Read Al Mohler’s column on the decision, and the repercussions.

The Importance of Self-Control: Legendary Coaching Career Ends Because of Another Man’s Lust:  When former Penn State coaching assistant Jerry Sandusky was caught committing homosexual acts on young boys in the college locker room — on several occasions — the failure of head coach Joe Paterno, as well as the university president, the athletic director, and the head of campus security, to respond in a timely and forceful manner led to the firing of the veteran coach and the arrest of others. So many failures and falls, by so many men, at so many points along the way. Our editorial on the unfolding scandal drew the highest response of any this year.

Stand For What You Believe In:  Rookie QB Saves the Season, Credits the One Who Saved Him:  Tim Tebow was already an interesting character, a clean-cut, homeschool grad from the University of Florida, with a Heisman Trophy on his shelf. His outspoken faith in Jesus Christ and endorsement of pro-life and pro-family causes got a second look when the NFL rookie stepped into the starting QB role for the Broncos, mid-season. While nobody claims Tebow is the greatest athlete in his class, his enthusiastic leadership turned the moribund Denver team into playoff contenders.  God bless him.

Responsibility: Real Men Face The Music:  On a December Saturday night, Administrator J. Randy Babbitt of the Federal Aviation Administration was arrested for drunk driving in Fairfax, Va.  No one questions that he was drunk, driving dangerously, and breaking the law.  What impressed me is that rather than waiting around to see if lawyers could smooth it over, Babbitt requested a leave of absence the next day in the office, and one day after that, tendered his resignation. “Serving as FAA Administrator has been an absolute honor and the highlight of my professional career,” he wrote. “But I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by my colleagues at the FAA.”  Aviation Industry News reported on the story recently.

On the other hand, Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain saw his candidacy sink below the waves when multiple women complained of sexual misconduct or harassment in the past. When he suspended his campaign, he said he would be the first to admit when he was wrong, but he never fully explained how an honest man could justify sending money to another woman for thirteen years and keeping it a secret from his wife. Sounds fishy to me, and I really wanted to like him up till then.

On The Battle Lines: Some Fight for Freedom, Others Want Free Things.  As President Obama shut down the war in Iraq, veteran David French summed it up well:

 “While the cost was very, very great, our accomplishments were real. The Iraqis may or may not have liked us (opinions were mixed) or shared our values (the cultural differences were vast), but no child should live under the terror of beheading or execution, and when we left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were free men and women.”  

Meanwhile, a group of similarly-aged Americans adopted military language for a protest movement that seemed to focus on setting up alternative governments on public property and demanding release from personal debts and contracts.