Defining Masculinity

The Psychology of Masculinity (Part 1 of 2)

Audio : Dean Beezer

The psychological distinction between men and women has been informally observed for ages to be a product of an individual’s biology. Being male, automatically sets the precedence for a man’s mental wiring. Likewise, a woman’s psychological inclinations are innate; being a fact of her biological reality. The truth that men are mentally (psychologically) different from women makes the clearest statement yet, that the psychological manifestation of masculinity, by necessity, will differ from a feminine representation. How though, is this reality of the “psychological manifestation of masculinity” observed?

Dr. Nirao Shah; a Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences and Neurobiology at Stanford University published in the Spring 2017 publication of the Stanford Medicine, findings offering overwhelming scientific support to the widely held view that “women are from Venus, men are from Mars.” Shah, published data which offered scientific justification for the view that men and women are psychologically different. In an article posted via Stanford Medicine entitled; “Two Minds; The cognitive differences between men and women,” Shah stated as the aim of his extended experimentation and research was to allow him to “zero in on sex-associated behavioral differences in mating, parenting and aggression.”

Shah argues that these sex-associated behavioural differences are “essential for survival and propagation,” adding that “They’re innate rather than learned — at least in animals — so the circuitry involved ought to be developmentally hard-wired into the brain. These circuits should differ depending on which sex you’re looking at.” At first glance, a simple mind may quickly dismiss this observation to be localized to animals. However, prior to this observation, science usually did not admit a behavioural connection between sex and preferences etc. In 1991, just a few years before Shah launched his sex-differences research, Diane Halpern, PhD, past president of the American Psychological Association, began writing the first edition of her acclaimed academic text, Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities. She found that the ​animal-​research literature had been steadily accreting reports of sex-associated neuroanatomical (i.e., study of the nervous system) and behavioral differences.

The former president of the American Psychological Association; Dr. Diane Halpern, spent most of her life believing the lie that any observed psychological difference between a male and a female is merely a product of socialization. She, like many contemporary behavioural scientists, are now correctly of the view that our psychological masculine distinction is rooted in our biological reality. Dr. Halpern concluded, in the preface of her aforementioned work; Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities, “At the time, it seemed clear to me that any between-sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice. … After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles … I changed my mind.

What becomes immediately evident here, is that a man’s mind is intrinsically distinct from a woman’s mind. This distinction is not particularly a product of his sociological reality but entrenched in his biology and theology. There is a component of Masculinity which has to be nurtured. However, the successful nurturing of Masculinity will never be actualized without an admission and understanding of the unique NATURE of Masculinity. Remember, “Male and female CREATED He them” (Gen 5:2).

We will continue to build on the Psychology of Masculinity in part two.

Defining Masculinity

The Sociology of Masculinity

Audio : Dean Beezer

Hess, Markson and Stein (1990) defines sociology as: 1. The systematic study of human behaviour, 2. The groups to which one belongs, 3. The societies that human beings create, and within which their lives unfold. Sociology is an attempt to understand how membership in one’s social group affects individual behavior. Following from our brief review of the Biology and Theology of Masculinity, we would have learnt that 1. A man’s masculine identity is a fact of his biological reality, and 2. Masculinity is an “institution” ordained by God primarily for the purposes of headship, provision and protection. The social parameters of masculinity are essential to the development of a balanced and healthy masculine traits. Therefore, how can we observe the sociological manifestation of masculinity?

From as early as childhood, a growing boy begins to make observations of his world. Under the guidance of his parents, he is carefully instructed and directed in ways that are deemed acceptable within the social and cultural reality of primarily his parents. The child observes the behaviour of those around him and his primary influencers; such as his parents, and hence learns what will ultimately be what he accepts as socially appropriate. This essentially defines a process called socialization. This process was alluded to in the book of Proverbs ch. 22:6, which says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The “way that he should go,” in this context, speaks to the correct path which is supported by the Biological and Theological reality of such a child.

The process of socialization essentially prepares the boy to understand the fact of his masculinity to be linked to his biological and theological reality. The declaration in scripture which says “Male and female created he them,” sends a resounding message of a critical distinction which must be preserved. Our boys need to be socialized regarding the proper use and expression of their masculinity. No boy is born a perfect gentleman. He has to be nurtured into becoming such a man. It is often said that the “child is the father of the man” because we can gaze into the soul of a society, by observing how it socializes its children, particularly the males. The boy, as he grows, learns (ideally from his father) how to lead effectively, learns to exercise both power and restraint, learns the virtue of courage and the principle of labouring unto provision. In every culture, the expression of these important traits will be represented differently. We will explore “Masculinity in the Jamaican Society” in subsequent devotionals. If a boy learns the correct expression of manhood from his father, what do we expect to happen in the absence of his father or a consistent father figure to impart this critical lesson?

The sociological dimension to Masculinity essentially is the training of a child through socialization, to attain and exemplify consistently the following traits; Leading effectively, Exercise with Wisdom both Power and Restraint, the Virtue of Courage, respect for Women, the principles of fatherhood and the principle of Labouring unto Provision. These traits will all be explored individually in subsequent devotionals.

We will next explore “The Psychology of Masculinity.”

Defining Masculinity

The Theology of Masculinity.

Audio : Dean Beezer

“…in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” Genesis 1:27. A fact of the incarnation of God in Christ (II Cor 5:19) is the undisputed truth that God walked the earth, robed in masculine flesh. This is significant, being that God is intentional and deliberate in his every action. Would it have mattered if God came in the likeness of a woman? The significance of the question raises the issue of God’s purpose in Christ and how manhood becomes the unique channel through which such purpose was actualized.

Speaking about the Lord Jesus, Hebrews 1:3 stated explicitly; “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” II Corinthians 4:4 states; “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” There is a functional correlation between masculine mankind and God himself. The maleness of Jesus was an act of intentionality on God’s part. Nothing is impossible for God. The LORD could have caused a male to conceive, but he was INTENTIONAL about the preservation of the divine order established in creation. He caused a WOMAN to conceive and bring forth a MALE child. God has always been identified as the FATHER; which is an exclusively masculine role, and when he took on the FORM of humanity i.e., the flesh, he operated as a SON.

I must point out here that I am not relegating the theology of the “Image of God” merely to physical appearance. God opted to operate as the father of creation. Masculinity was the channel through which humanity became existent; recall that Eve was created from a rib removed from Adam (Genesis 2:21-23). In the same way that God is the progenitor to creation, so too is the MAN (in principle) the progenitor to the human race. Eve essentially came “out of” Adam. This decision by God to be manifested to humanity as a man is consistent with the purposes of God in completing the unfinished task of Adam. What was the task of Adam?

In Genesis 2:15, Adam is instructed to “dress and Keep” the garden of Eden. In the original language of the Old Testament (Hebrew), the word “dress” came from the Hebrew word “abad” which means generally “to work or serve.” Additionally, “keep” (Hebrew shamar) generally means “to exercise great care over” but in the context of Genesis 2, it speaks to “taking care of,” “guarding,” or “watching over.” Essentially, the role of Adam may be summarized as follows: Leader, Provider, Servant, Protector, Submissive to Authority.

Finally, the man was commissioned to worship in the form of obedience. In Genesis 2:17 we read; “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The Lord God expected complete submission from Adam (omniscience does not mean that God does not have expectations of us). Adam’s failure to glorify God in the earth through OBEDIENCE and SUBMISSION, was redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 22:42). The Lord Jesus became an eternal template for Leadership, Provision, Protection, Service and Submission to Authority.

The Theology of Masculinity establishes the fact of a Man’s God-ordained call to exist as a competent; Leader of his family, Provider for his family, Servant to his family and Protector over the Family, while displaying Submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Masculine intuition, if nurtured according to scripture, will see a MAN (whether married or single) displaying the following fundamental traits; Willingness to Commit, Courageous, Exercise of Initiative, Instinctively Protective and Respectful, Submissive to Authority and Graciously Providing.

We will next explore “The Sociology of Masculinity.”

Defining Masculinity

Audio: Dean Beezer

“Manhood is the defeat of Childhood narcissism.” At birth, our biological identity is firmly established and preserved in our genetic code. Within our genes, our gender, predisposition to certain illnesses, inclinations etc., are repressed, waiting to be stimulated by the variables in our society. It is not difficult for anyone to reasonably conclude therefore, that the idea of Masculinity is fundamentally defined by our biological composition but secondarily refined within our psycho-sociological spaces. Like our identity, the concept of masculinity remains a complex blend of biology, theology, sociology and psychology.

The Biology of Masculinity.

The United States’ National Center for Biotechnology Information, NCBT, in a research publication in February 2016 entitled “How Early Hormones Shape Gender Development” stated the following; “Increasing evidence confirms that prenatal androgens have facilitative effects on male-typed activity interests and engagement (including child toy preferences and adult careers), and spatial abilities, but relatively minimal effects on gender identity.” This may seem rather complex and somewhat abstract but we will be breaking this information down so it can be understood.

“Prenatal androgens” are chemicals in the body called hormones, which are involved with determining whether a developing baby becomes a male or female. The study done by the NCBT was aimed at observing possible connections between the sex-linked hormones and certain behaviours, typically observed predominantly in men or women. Behavioural tendencies such as type of toys preferred, being exceptionally good with Math and Science etc, are seemingly linked to one’s gender. The NCBT study went on to state; “Confidence has increased that early androgens affect gender development, in light of recent studies that confirm, extend, and clarify previous findings. Most promising, research has moved from asking whether hormones influence human behavior to asking how they do so.” Scientific investigations are no longer questioning “whether hormones influence human behavior” but are now concerned with the means through which they do so.

The point I wish to establish, based on the scientific data presented is simply that the distinction between male and female is inherently a fact of our biological existence. We are programmed biologically to exist and function differently in connection to reality. The Biology of Masculinity essentially defines how a male’s body is organized to identify and establish his sexuality, defines his biological function and positions his purpose.

In our next study we will continue our definition of Masculinity by looking at “The Theology of Masculinity.”