I first wrote about “Writing to Men” in this post five years ago. I still hold the same opinions about this issue, but today I want to take a different angle.
One of the many factors explaining why more books are not read by men and more authors don’t write to men is that we tend to view them as a singular group who are all alike. Not so for women, as there are books for just about every life stage and personality.
In reality, men are just as varied and nuanced as women. Thinking of committed Christ-followers I know personally:
Never-married guy who works hard every day at a good job making a difference in the world.
Never-married guy working as a missionary, going where God wants.
Never-married guy who focused on a long career and now is retired.
Married man with young kids juggling all the things you can imagine.
Married man with no kids who, for various reasons, didn’t or couldn’t have children.
Married man struggling with adult children who abandoned the church.
Divorced dad who juggles competing demands of work and custody of kids.
Guy in addiction recovery.
Friend who is very ill and probably not long on this earth.
I could probably come up with many more combinations, but hopefully you get the point. Which of these is the stereotypical Christian man? None of them. Because stereotypes aren’t real people.
Even averages aren’t real. No family has 1.7 children.
Far be it for me to suggest what an author should write, but more male authors should take up the task of writing for men in all their varied facets.
In my opinion, three underlying factors are working together, affecting Christian men today:
- Ongoing negative portrayal of maleness in general.
- Wide disagreement on what it means to be a Christian man.
- Men in general have a difficult time making and keeping close male friends.
Putting these together, we have a cruel combination of discouragement, confusion, and loneliness, creating fertile ground for enemy Satan, who prowls about devouring Christian men through all his various schemes.
I don’t propose writers write anything in particular, as you need to “own” what you write, which means you need to write from your heart, not only your head.
But no matter what is written, a substantial component of it should be to push back against discouragement, confusion, and loneliness, encouraging men to be “strong and courageous” in their lives and faith. This is a call throughout Scripture, so it should be ours as well.
When men were children, we spoke, thought, and acted like children. (Roughly 1 Corinthians 13:11.) Frequently, when we played, we pretended to be heroes doing heroic things: astronauts, firefighters, police, military, sports, superheroes, etc. You know, those who are strong and courageous. But when we became adults, we put off those childish things.
But God still calls us all, both men and women, to be strong and courageous.
Strong and courageous Christian men are not easily discouraged or confused; and they encourage others, which builds strong bonds of friendship. They are not threats to anyone, except the enemy of our souls.
Thousands of Christian books each year are published in the U.S. alone. Maybe a few more for men and we’ll discover men read too.