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Roundtable: Big Boys Don’t Cry
Even though Hollywood extols the virtues of the “sensitive man,” when it comes to real life, guys are generally expected to tough it out. Emotions are downplayed, and failure, hardship and struggle are conversational taboos. But is that what God wants from men? Hardly. So how can a guy appropriately and genuinely express emotion in a “boys don’t cry” culture? Our panel of men talks it out for us.
Roundtable panel (L to R): Travis, Sam, Austin and Jeremy
Culture: Construction Zone
Patrick Morley says that God’s in the business of building men. In his book How God Makes Men, he puts up ten guys from the Bible as examples, and shows that far from being untouchable, each one of them struggled in the same ways today’s guys do. What’s his vision for today’s generation of God-built men? Listen in; it’s a big one.
Inbox: Second Chances
If a guy’s fallen back into a struggle with porn and masturbation, should he wait a certain amount of time before pursuing a relationship? How will he know when he’s marriage-ready? Counselor George Stahnke shares some insight.
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--"There isn't a difference when a man and woman should cry"
Are you kidding?! If a woman cries at work usually it's acceptable if the reason is somewhat legitimate. But if a man cries at the office, unless it's something really catastrophic like the death of a spouse/child, he will be viewed as "weak", "wiussy", "lacking self control", etc. Don't believe me? Feign it sometime at work and see what happens to you.
--"Culture" appears to be used here as if it is an arbitrary and capricious set of rules that has nothing to do with reality or experience. We might do well to consider that some aspects of culture have arisen out of experience dealing with real issues. When facing danger or difficult moral decisions, what is required is clear thinking, objectivity , quick, decisive action,, and courage. All of these things require the ability to master your emotions, to be able to tuck them.away in order to deal more effectively with the matter at hand.
Watering-pots do not do this.
Hollywood makes this seem.ok because it has script-writers in the background ensuring that the "sensitive guy" doesn't mess up too badly, but real life doesn't work like that. God does not bless stupidity or a lack of self-control.
WRT another Boundless theme, the more you are in leadership - the more you are responsible for the welfare of others - the more you must be able to consider those needs before your own feelings.
--I almost never weep. If I am seeing an emotion-driven portion of a movie, at a funeral, or even at one of those commercials trying to give me a guilt trip into giving to them (and I am hardly in a position to give to charity right now), I am practically immune to getting emotional. On the extremely rare chance that I break down, it is usually because I am under an overwhelming amount of pressure and am facing a bigger challenge than I can handle. But then again, maybe I have become numb to emotional pain. There are times when I think that my hard times will be permanent and I just accept it.
--Easy tears are cheap tears.... I see nothing wrong with that observation.
Frequent crying - or the desire to cry - is a common symptom of undiagnosed depression.
Crying is a SYMPTOM, not a SOLUTION. Not a CURE.
The previous observations out of the way, I want to suggest something, and that is that men and women deal differently with emotion.... that the same emotion manifests differently in men and women.... and that responses such as crying produce different results.
The concept should not be so hard to understand if approached from a Biblical viewpoint. If geneticists are observing that the same gene produces different results when found in the genome of a male or female, why can we not accept that God has created us different in more ways than just our plumbing..... and that that difference is in part, due to the allocation of different roles and functions in God's economy?
For example, consider courage. We can accept that both sexes have courage, but it should be reasonable to accept, also, that different styles of courage may be required for different roles. It takes a certain kind of courage to go out and deal with physical threats to the family or tribe - something that only a microscopic proportion of women have had to do, in historical terms - but which is "normal" in terms of the masculine role or expectations thereof. On the other hand, the kind of emotional fortitude that deals with crying children for days or months on end without abandoning them, is another kind of courage altogether.
This correlates well with the observed greater need that men have to see themselves as effective. (It's why we love powerful cars and guns - push that pedal or pull that trigger and something HAPPENS!) Women, OTOH, have that greater need to be involved in close relationships. Men love action movies and women love romances.... same effect showing up in entertainment choices.
Toss that in with some understanding of depression and the role of hormones, and the following proposition starts to emerge..... That crying does different things for men and women.
- Like the stereotypical woman in the video clip posted on Boundless recently - the lass with the nail in her head - they focus on relationship because relationship makes the problem easier to bear. They cannot make the crying child just go away, and the washing and ironing will be there again tomorrow, next-week and the week after that. But the feel-good hormones that crying produces and the enhanced relationship engendered by the request for empathy that is inherent in public crying.... make the hurt less intense.
- Men have a different need. Raiding Philistines, the wolf at the door or an empty larder are problems that need to be solved, not merely endured. Therefore, it should not be surprising if God has created men to achieve the same release of reward hormones by active means, rather than passive. Physical activity. Focus on a demanding task including both mental and physical stimulation. Tasks resulting in the satisfaction of a "win"..
Accepting this will be difficult for those who don't accept that men and women are different. The entertainment media rarely does "strong women" as genuinely feminine characters. "Strong Women" are far more likely to resemble men with boobs, their claim to "strength" being their ability to be more masculine than the men. However, Christians are called to accept things as they are, not as the world sees them,and in this case, sauce for the goose is NOT necessarily sauce for the gander.
By all means, respond.
--I personally am not in favor of either sex crying except under rare and traumatic circumstances. Crying is too awkward, messy, and vulnerable for normal stress relief purposes (for clarification, I am referring to someone actually sobbing/voice getting shaky, as opposed to tearing up a little). Unfortunately, there have been times in my life where I've cried over stupid things, so I can't judge too much.
I do think women find it easier to cry for emotional relief and harder to resist crying in an emotional situation than men do. I'm guessing it's somewhat hormone-based. Personally, I think it's a rather unfortunate reflex, but then, we are told to "weep with those who weep". I do look forward to the day when God will wipe away all tears. For many reasons.
Also, guys crying is very unnerving. Maybe it's my very traditional background, but I always figure that if it's bad enough for a guy to be crying about it, it's really bad (grief aside--a man weeping from grief for a dead friend/relative/spouse is in another category).
--I agree that "There isn't a difference when a man and woman should cry" because the emphasis should be on 'should.' That is, there are appropriate times for crying which are irrespective of man or woman. However, there are inappropriate times and uses of tears; and in those cases, the purpose is generally to draw attention to oneself or to manipulate someone. Both are unbecoming of either sex.
--I definitely agree that some of the strongest men I know are the ones who show emotion - those who are not afraid to laugh loudly or to cry when the occasion arises. And the most frightening kind of man for me is one who is fearful of showing emotion and seems unable to empathize. I say this from experience, and not with vague generalizations.
I was a bit disappointed that the men in the roundtable didn't discuss some more concrete situations - emotions in the workplace, in dating relationships, in family relationships (with parents/siblings), in church, etc. I was especially interested to hear a bit more about the relationship between sadness and anger for men and how to understand the interplay between those emotions in men I know. It seems that sadness often manifests as anger, since this tends to be a more acceptable emotion for men. I would be interested to know more about these topics.
--@SarahJane I agree I think the best part of this podcast when the one guy said you should deal with your emotions at hand and not try and pretend to be something you're not or bottle up your emotions.
As for the guy struggling with internet. I don't think accountability really works. It's an ongoing personal battle and probably best not sharing or revealing to others because people get tempted with pride especially Christians. Scripture talks about accountability but finding that person you can truly trust with information is really important. Many make the mistake of thinking church is a place to open up and poor your personal information and it can be but this needs to be approached with great caution.
It's also important to except Jesus's work on the cross to be the death of our sin when we ask for forgiveness. We then walk away from they sin. Do we need 6 months or a year? No we are set free immediately. Christ blood is more than sufficient and when we don't except that grace we almost sin in the opposite in not facing the truth that Jesus death was a sweet Aroma to The Lord and the perfect sacrifice. That doesn't remove the effects of sin. Sometimes our minds and bodies need years of healing. I've seen some girls say they are going to take a year off of dating to resolve years of promiscuity, but it would take at least a decade for the physical body to heal from the psychological and physical emotional damage that has occurred, maybe a lot longer. What we do is look away from our sin and allow God to slowly heal us. We are forgiven but not always immediately healed. And this is for our own good. Jesus says sin no more but one time said sin no more so that things don't get worse. So look away from images and drown those from your mind. Eventually they lose their effect as they become more blurry in your mind over time.
--John 5:14 Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
-- I liked this discussion. I have to agree with what Miketime wrote about men, and when it is considered acceptable for them to show emotions.
I have found that crying can be helpful to me, in the right circumstances or situations, like when someone close to me has died.
You went to talk about movies that make you shed a tear, like Saving Private Ryan. I remember that the opening scenes, depicting the Allies landing on Omaha Beach, made me get teary, too. Other films that have had similar effects on me, would be It's a Wonderful Life, The Lion King, and Gallipoli (an Australian war movie).
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