Masculinity has become complicated. At least, it has become difficult to be confident about what it means to be a man—to be a man as God has designed men to be. The culture has plenty to say about masculinity that is toxic, but far less to say about masculinity that is good and honoring. We hear more about women becoming men than men simply being men. And many wonder: What are men meant to be and what are men supposed to do?
Into the fray steps Brant Hansen with a wonderful new book titled The Men We Need: God’s Purpose for the Manly Man, the Avid Indoorsman, or Any Man Willing to Show Up. “This book is about a big vision for manhood,” he says. “We’ve lacked that vision, and all of us—men, women, and children—are hurting because of it. The vision is this: We men are at our best when we are ‘keepers of the garden.’ This means we are protectors and defenders and cultivators. We are at our best when we champion the weak and vulnerable. We are at our best when we use whatever strength we have to safeguard the innocent and provide a place for people to thrive. This is the job Adam was given: keeper of the garden.”
I need to say right away that this is not one of those books on a clichéd version of masculinity bound to a particular culture and a bygone century. Hansen isn’t advocating a form of masculinity that depends on swinging hammers, wrestling bears, or distributing swords. In fact, he says he’s not even capable of writing that book because… “I don’t even hunt. I play the accordion. I’m an avid indoorsman. I own puppets.”
The heart of masculinity, he says, is taking responsibility—responsibility for those things God has made men particularly responsible for. Hence, true masculinity is not displayed in flexing muscles or fixing stuff or achieving sexual conquests. Rather, true masculinity is displayed in being humble, responsible, dedicated keepers of the gardens God has given us.
At a time when masculinity is viewed as a liability more than an asset, as something that is more likely to harm the world than help it, Brant Hansen describes and celebrates a form of masculinity that is good, pure, and true—a form of masculinity that will serve families, serve the church, and serve the world. He calls men to embrace it and display it in their lives. It turns out that in this time of confusion, The Men We Need is exactly the book we need.