No spoilers contained in this podcast, so don’t worry. I did see Captain America: Civil War with my kids this weekend. Captain America has always been one of my favorite superheroes, along with Superman (the Christopher Reeve version and the old TV show) and, more recently, Mr. Incredible (of The Incredibles). In Captain America, you see a true man.
“Manliness is the character of a man as he ought to be, as he was meant to be. It expresses the qualities which go to make a perfect man — truth, courage, conscience, freedom, energy, self-possession, self-control. But it does not exclude gentleness, tenderness, compassion, modesty. A man is not less manly, but more so, because he is gentle. In fact, our word ‘gentleman’ shows that a typical man must also be a gentle man… The manly spirit… is ready to defend unpopular truth, to stand by those who are wronged, to uphold the weak… And so it causes truth to prevail, and keeps up the standard of a noble purpose in the world.”
“Courage is an element of manliness. It is more than readiness to encounter danger and death, for we are not often called to meet such perils. It is every-day courage which is most needed — that which shrinks from no duty because it is difficult; which makes one ready to say what he believes, when his opinions are unpopular; which does not allow him to postpone a duty, but makes him ready to encounter it at once; a courage which is not afraid of ridicule when one believes himself right; which is not the slave of custom, the fool of fashion…
Truthfulness is another element of true manliness. Lies usually come from cowardice, because men are afraid of standing by their flag, because they shrink from opposition, or because they are conscious of something wrong which they cannot defend, and so conceal. Secret faults, secret purposes, habits of conduct of which we are ashamed, lead to falsehood, and falsehood is cowardice… Therefore if we wish to be manly, we must not do anything of which we are ashamed. He who lives by firm principles of truth and right, who deceives no one, injures no one, who therefore has nothing to hid, he alone is manly.”
– James Freeman Clarke, on True Manliness from Every-Day Religion, 1886; from the Art of Manliness: Manvotionals by Brett and Kate McKay
If that isn’t Captain America, I don’t know what is. If men today were true men, with this kind of character, we would have no boys questioning whether they were meant to be girls. Even superheroes today are portrayed as wishy-washy, questioning their purpose and character, their very essence, in the face of opposition.
What shall we do, men?
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14