If you’ve been on the internet within the past few days, you may have noticed the explosive #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen campaign. In the wake of a mass murder, in which a young man who felt gypped by the women he was interested in and killed six people, the spotlight of the world has turned to the struggles that women face and the danger we see from men who couldn’t be acting less like men.
In part, it’s the fault of the culture, not of any particular gender, that men think they are entitled to women.The culture says we should be able to do whatever we want, whatever makes us feel good, and that other people should take second fiddle to what makes us happy. Pleasure, usually of the sexual kind, is the be-all and end-all of the human experience. Women should, of course, be humble and act with prudence (don’t take a drink from a stranger, for instance…. duh?) but men need to get their act together, ASAP. I know men are bombarded from all sides with messages to be emotionless, selfish, grabby, and objectifying, so let me present a new role model.
(Well, new as in 2000 years old. But I digress.)
So, St. Joseph. He’s overlooked a lot, in the shadow of his perfect wife and his son, who happened to also be God. But he could teach modern man a lot about being a man. Let’s look at some of his best qualities.
Humility: St. Joseph doesn’t say a single word in the scriptures. We can only imagine he was a normal dad, who taught his son how to work, helped him take his first steps, listened to him babble as a toddler, took him fishing as a young boy, maybe helped him study his reading and writing. But none of that is recorded. And that’s OK. What modern men can learn from St. Joe about humility is that they aren’t the most important person in the world. They can be good and kind, and not have to shout about it or feel that they are owed other people’s appreciation for simply doing what they are supposed to do. That’s a big problem with the friendzone and nice-guy mentalities- some guys think that somehow, by doing what they are supposed to do and being nice people, they are owed a girlfriend. Be more like St. Joseph- find love and peace through humility.
Selflessness: In Matthew 1:18-25, Joseph finds out that his fiancee is pregnant. Awkward! Even though he was the wronged party (the girl who was supposed to be faithful to him was obviously messing around) St. Joseph “did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” Look at that! A girl did something to hurt him! Did he key her car (donkey?) Did he post pictures of her all over the internet with captions of “slut” or “whore?” Did he drag her to the elders of the village and demand that she be stoned? No. He realized that she had feelings and a life of her own, and he wanted to spare her any and all possible shame. She hurt him, and he reacted with compassion and grace. And then, he listened to God, and married her, exposing himself to shame and ridicule from his friends and neighbors, who now thought that he was a stupid kid who couldn’t control himself. And he never complained. He just quietly loved. How secure Mary must have felt, to know that her husband put her above himself, that he could be trusted to do the right thing and love her even when it was hard and he was hurting. How secure all women could feel if only all the men in our lives acted like this!
Strong (and I don’t mean physically): St. Joseph was a man of strength. Seriously. Read the paragraph above again- by marrying Mary, he opened himself up to public shaming from people he cared about and respected. That takes some serious guts. You don’t get that kind of courage from just sitting on the couch, eating doritos and waiting for good things to just happen to him. Joseph would have been a hard worker, and he would have been the kind of man who did hard things for the sake of doing them. He obviously was close to God, so he would have kept up a strong prayer life, which would have been hard for a bachelor with lots of work to do. Men, don’t whine about how hard life is and expect that good things (or a girlfriend) will just fall into your lap. St. Joseph knew that he wasn’t owed anything by the world, and he was strong enough to know that his pleasure took second fiddle to what was good for other people. He worked for good things. Guys, learn that! Learn to be satisfied with work well done, instead of looking for satisfaction in seeking your own pleasure. Learn to do the right thing, even when other people might dislike you. Learn that being a good person is it’s own reward.
Having a girlfriend? That’s just a bonus, not something that you’re owed.
St. Joseph, pray for us!
Love to all!
(P.S- keep an eye out for my girls version, coming soon!)