There seems to be a growing idea in our world today that we don’t actually need men for much more than their “contribution” to the furthering of the human race. This idea has become so prevalent that an opinion piece about it has made its way to the New York Times. Greg Hampikian, the author of the NY Times piece, “Men, Who Needs Them?”, argues that men – outside of their miniscule contribution to reproduction – are not necessary for bearing and raising children, thus implying that perhaps we don’t need men at all. So who needs men anyway?
As Husbands and Fathers
Where would we be without the example of St. Joseph, who listened to the voice of the angel in his dreams and sheltered Mary so that Jesus would be brought into the world? We need men who listen readily to the voice of God, thus leading and protecting the family unit.
Our need, however, for men, goes much deeper than their contribution to reproduction – however biologically insignificant that may be. Men, as Paul famously details in Ephesians 5, are the head of the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the Church. Men witness, in a profound way, the meaning of sacrificial love. The sacrifices of love teach us what love is really about: willing the good of another. When males minimally contribute to reproduction are they truly willing the good of another? To create life is good, but to father, guide and raise that new life is a far greater good to will. Women sacrifice for their children in a special way during pregnancy and child-rearing, while men sacrifice for their wives and children by laying down their lives and hearts before them, serving to protect and provide for a family. St. Joseph sacrificed by fleeing in the middle of the night to Egypt. We, Scripturally speaking, know very little about Saint Joseph, though I trust that God would not have trusted His only Son to the care of Joseph had Joseph not been willing to sacrifice and protect both Mary and Jesus.
This is not to say that women are helpless without men. Certainly, we are not. The truth, however, is that we need each other, and for far more than basic reproduction and continuance of the human race. We are made out of the relationship of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and are therefore made for relationship. If, someday, God allows me to be a mother, I want to be one in relationship, and not simply with a sperm donor, as Hampikian suggests. Furthermore, I want my child to be in relationship with his/her father, and to be fathered by (God-willing) my husband, and in a much deeper sense than having provided the “minimally necessary contribution” to reproduction. In the same vein, if God calls me to married life, it will be a vocation lived out in relationship with a man, not a robot. Married life, motherhood and fatherhood, are relational and require vulnerability, heart, trust, and faith to thrive. Parenting should not, and cannot, be divorced from deep relationships (as opposed to short relationships that occur in artificial insemination, as Hampikian implies).
Some may still argue that we don’t need men as fathers and husbands, though I disagree, does that mean that we don’t need men at all? No. The world needs men because without men our world would be unbalanced. The way women tend to look at, analyze, and solve problems is different than the way men do. Good, bad, or otherwise, we face problems differently, and it is through coming together that we reach solutions. Our genders were made to complement each other, whether we are married, raising children, or not. As a single women, I need men in my life. Men have a greater tendency to keep me grounded and focused on what is really important. Men, far more than my female friends, have the necessary gift of leading me to Christ. Whether it is through the gift of the priesthood, the diaconate, or simply as brothers in Christ, men have the great charge and duty to lead others to the heart of Jesus. I, for one, would be lost without the witness of my brothers in Christ. They challenge us in a different way than our sisters in Christ do, and that challenge is necessary for us to grow in holiness. By imaging Christ, men, true men, spur women on to seeking the heart of Jesus.
I would contend that what the world needs is more men, less boys. Age is no longer a determining factor for manhood. Women today – whether we readily admit it or not – are hungering for true men. The world is hungry for men who lead and love as Christ did, men who witness Him in all that they do, whether it is working at a menial job or fighting for our country. However, boys seem to run rampant. Boys, as opposed to men, are not nearly as focused on Christ and imaging His love. Boys tend to be selfish, and are only interested in furthering mankind by “donating” as little to the process as possible. Men, on the other hand, want to get dirty, so to speak, as Christ did. Men have a heart that is set on fire for their brothers and sisters, and it is this heart that leads them to contribute as much as they can – their very lives, if it is asked of them – for the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
What the world needs is more men who strive, every day, to image the love of Christ. Who needs true, Christ-like men? We all do.