by Erin Weist
I listened to a talk today by an apostle of my church about “the highest of masculine roles: husband and father.” In a world that constantly pushes the normality of immorality, adultery and other purely selfish forms of living, it was highly refreshing to hear a man– a husband, father, and grandfather– praise the virtues of putting a family first.
Part of his talk was an open call to media to eschew negative depictions of the role of men. As he spoke I could think of several depictions of men in television or movies that are shown to be bumbling idiots, or inept, groveling servants at the feet of their grossly overbearing wives. I could think of rap and other music that indicated the necessity of men to show their “manliness” by demeaning women in their roles of wife or mother, or by racking up a high count of illegitimate children.
On a different but slightly related note, for some reason I thought of being a young teenager, seeing the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” and being disappointed with the message that a mother & father could grow apart so much that it was better for everyone involved for the two to divorce. Obviously, these things can and do happen, but the idea that we encourage our media to promote positive messages appeals to me.
I would never promote censorship, and I understand that many people have different stories to tell, stories that can be violent or full of pain, doubt and fear. But what if the roles we modeled to our children (and ourselves) had clear messages? Our lives can be muddled and confusing but stories, in every age and every part of the world, have always been clear– they are meant to entertain or instruct. Or both.
Watching or hearing about a tragic character make poor choices leads us to understand how to avoid similar negative consequences. Shakespeare gave us plenty of those. Watching or reading or hearing about a strong character faced with difficult circumstances who makes correct choices based on correct principles strengthens and moves us to pattern our lives in a similar way to lead to positive rewards.
Imagine the difference in a generation of boys if their media, what they consumed the most, was filled with exemplary men, men who are forthright, who uphold virtues of morality, who encourage honesty in those around them, who respect women, who honor the institution of marriage, who treat as sacred the role of husband and father.
Every story needs a villain as well, but where are those exemplary men? Surely there are some scattered throughout our media but we could do better. We could expect more. We could demand more. And, as generally works in a consumerist society, one of the surest ways to vote is with your dollars. Are there shows you support that demean those roles? Could you take your time and money elsewhere? Do you know people in these industries? Could you encourage them in this effort, and encourage your friends to do the same?
We all have different tastes and there are different voices that best speak to us but we can love ourselves and our younger generation enough to demand more, to encourage those around us to teach to the ideal, rather than the lowest common denominator. Men are inherently noble and powerful, I hope we can treat them as such and remember their worth and ultimate potential.
(Full video of talk on Fatherhood found here)