Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Man's Problem

Tiger Woods said something to the effect of, "... secret sins do not need press releases ..."

"When we confess our sin to God in secret, he forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. When we confess our sins to one another, we are bringing sin out into the light and destroying its power over us as we find strength and healing in the company of those who lift us up with prayer and encouragement." Brian Heckman 'The Tale of Another Pirate Monk - Part 2'

Men fear the exposure of their weakness. Men fear the exploitation of their weakness. We have been raised on a mantra called the 'survival of the fittest' and it is inherent in our nature. Asking a man to willingly expose his faults is akin to asking a woman "how vulnerable would you feel if you were sitting here naked"? Men feel the same way about opening their hearts. There is a strong sense of vulnerability associated with a man's weakness which cannot be accurately expressed in terms which are not condescending and humiliating. They must feel safe and that the information that they very much want known, will not be filed away and used as ammunition to shoot them. It is much more difficult than most of us understand and more important than we're aware of for the most part. Failure to understand this is a form of cowardice and abdication.

We as men have feared strength because we are insecure in who we are. We fear strength because we don't want to be seen as weak. We fear the superior strength of others because it will overcome us. We fear intelligence because we don't want to appear stupid. We fear emotions because we fear our own emotions and the innate vulnerability which emotions uncover. We fear relationships because we want things to be simple. The complexity of relationships requires deeper investments of time, energy and emotional commitment. They lay seige to a man's stoic nature. We fear spirituality because by and large we believe most actually practice what they preach and this exposes our own hypocrisy. We fear God because we fear being emasculated. So fear requires the keeping of secrets, pride demands subterfuge, weakness produces deception and facade.

Numbers 32:23, states, "... and be sure that your sin will find you out." The reality of life is that there are no things such as 'secret sins'. They are revealed in our hearts to ourselves, we know them, they live in the light of our own existence, they dwell in the darkness of our minds, "(sin) will subtly manifest itself in the mirror of our soul" and whether we believe this fact or not they are known to God. Augustine was correct in stating that the consequence of sin is sin.

The test of integrity which each man would choose to pass is fraught with failure by the fundamental paradox of the 'secret' in the context of a truthful life. Hosea 6:7, "But like men they transgressed ..." There is no escaping the fact of our own willingness and propensity to satisfy our lusts and desires and that without regard for repurcussions.

The 'blameless life' is not a blameless life at all, it is merely the examined life and recognition of the condemnation of our own heart and conscience. Jesus said in Matthew 10:26, "... there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known." Job 31: 33,34, "If I have covered my transgressions ... by hiding my iniquity in my heart, because I feared the great multitude and dreaded the comtempt ... so that I kept silence and did not go out of the door." are some of the final words of Job as he lays out his defence of his innocence, declaring his forthright observance to the standards of God. Leslie Taylor-Hunt writes,
All my best works are naught,
Please they not Thee;
Far past my busy hands
Thine eye doth see
Into the depths of mind,
Searching the plan designed,
Gladdened when Thou dost find
First of all, Thee."

Thomas Kelly points out, "No average goodness will do, measuring of our lives by our fellows, but only a relentless, inexorable divine standard." Dietrich Bonhoeffer asks, "Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God -- the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God."
Psalm 139:23,24, "Search me . O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in way everlasting."
Micah 6:8, He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"
Micah 7:18, "Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy."
1 John 1:8,9, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."


Anonymous said...

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." Oscar Wilde
"The basis of shame is not some personal mistake of ours, but that this humiliation is seen by everyone." Milan Kundera

Anonymous said...

John, did you see the devotional in the Men of Integrity today? Tiger Woods is quoted as saying that he felt he needed to be a positive role model. How your words come back to bite you.

Ron Baker