Friday, February 10, 2006

Raising Men of Honor

I have grown very tired of the popularity in broadcast media of making men appear stupid and ridiculous. We see it every time we turn on the television -- from commercials showing men incapable of preparing breakfast or hanging mini-blinds to a host of situation comedies depicting them completely incompetent as husbands and fathers.

I know this male-bashing trend has risen from liberal feminism trying to force society into seeing men as incidental and unnecessary. I am the mother to a son and grandmother to a grandson and I am highly offended that Hollywood has bent to this influence. I have no unnecessary men in my family. They do not deserve to be told every time they turn on the TV that they are dim, slow-witted bunglers.

Many will say that these shows are all in fun and I should lighten up. But as I watch my ten-month old grandson stop what he is doing every time a Little Caesar’s commercial comes on where the people do nothing but mumble I know that television has influence. Children learn what they see. And there is a lot of offensive programming on television right now.

The worst offender on TV is advertised on one network as “the most popular comedy on television.” It is a sitcom that portrays two brothers living together with one brother divorced and having joint custody of his 11-year old son, who lives with them part time. My biggest problem with this show is that it depicts the father as an idiot, despite the fact that he has a thriving practice as a chiropractor and depicts his brother as the competent one, despite the fact that he is a hard-drinking womanizer who sleeps with a different woman in almost every episode. The 11-year old boy sees and comments on all of the lewd behavior of his uncle and the failures of his father. It makes the son appear to be the level-headed one. What kind of example is this for young men? How can we expect boys to grow into honorable men with this kind of mentality so prevalent?

I gladly spoke the words of my marriage vows to love, cherish, honor, and obey my husband—because he is trustworthy of those promises. He gladly spoke the words of our marriage vows to love, cherish, honor, and protect me—because he meant them and demonstrates them every day. Obviously, I am not a feminist, but I am also not a weak woman who needs to prove her self-worth by clinging to a man for every need. I can change a tire and install ceiling fans. Together, my strong, intelligent husband and I have raised two strong, intelligent daughters and a strong, intelligent son.

There are young men out there without the positive influence of good male role models. It is imperative that people of conscience speak up for those who can’t. It is time that wives and mothers who respect the men in our lives demand that Hollywood produce entertainment that is more worthy of our husbands and sons. If we want more appropriate programming, we must not stay the “silent majority.”

First printed January 2, 2006 on the Op-Ed page of the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper, Huntington, WV

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

"And They Call It Puppy Love..."

February is a good month to think about love. After all, February 14th is the day all good husbands give their wives a dozen or so red roses, right? And all good wives will have a wonderful steak dinner prepared in a spotless house when their man walks in with those roses, right again?

Uh, huh...sure. That’s the way it would go in a romance novel. But my reality is just a bit different.

Number 1—Steve would never walk through the door with a bunch of cut roses...I would despair of the waste of thirty bucks or more on some flowers that will be gone in a week, when that money could have purchased that new variety of blueberry bush I want to plant this year. He knows better.

Number 2—As much as I would like to have that spotless house, we have six people in the house and right now, two dogs (Our dog, Penny, is babysitting my folks’ dog, Sassy, for a couple weeks.). Dog hair, baby toys, endless loads of laundry, leaves and bark dragged in with each armload of wood for the wood stove. [Side Note: Is it normal to need to run the dishwasher 2 or 3 times a day? And just how many drinking glasses does each person need to use in one day!?!]

But all the fuss of February 14th is not really the point of celebrating love this month...

As I was thinking about how love is supposed to be celebrated, a 70’s song from the Jackson 5 came playing through my mind. The song is cute...but the title is what got my attention.

What exactly is “Puppy Love?” Well, every puppy I’ve every known loves in the following ways.

  1. Unconditionally. No matter how much you ignore them...If you forget to put water in the dish...Puppies (and a lot of adult dogs, too) completely accept their people and lavish unconditional love on them.
  2. Enthusiastically. As soon as they see you, puppies are jumping up on you, running around you, doing their best to bathe you in their enthusiastic affection. If you walk out and walk right back in, a puppy will act as if you had been gone for hours and again cover you up in love.
  3. Unreservedly. Puppies don’t hold back their love waiting to see if you’re going to love them back. They just love you. Period. No waiting for you to say just the right word. No hurt feelings if you don’t talk to them for a while.
  4. Absolutely. Puppies don’t bounce between pouty hormones and disappointment over unmet expectations. You are their person. They love you.

I think those are the kinds of thoughts behind 1 Corinthians 13, called the Love Chapter. It is God’s directions to us on how to love...our families (immediate and extended), our friends, our neighbors, all those God puts in our paths.

It is also the way God loves us...unconditionally, enthusiastically, unreservedly, and absolutely—Read John 3:16 and Romans 5:8.

Just a word of warning...If you haven’t been practicing the “Puppy Love” sort of loving up to this point, you aren’t going to be able to make it up on this one day, February 14.

But give it your best shot...Chocolate is a great way to start. My personal favorite is Lindor Lindt Truffles, particularly hazelnut-flavored.

I also hear jewelry works pretty well, too (although for me, we again come to the dilemma of how many plants could be bought instead).

First printed February 2006 in The Freedom Reader, a publication of Spring Valley Freedom Bapist Church, Huntington, WV.