Last night my wife and I watched the most recent Parenthood episode, and as usual, thoroughly enjoyed it. One scene near the end stuck out as particularly powerful, and a great example of how a man can lead his family.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, “Coach” Craig T Nelson is the patriarch and somewhat overbearing grandfather. He has four grown kids, two boys and two girls, who also have children. One of his daughters decides she wants to support her alcoholic ex-husband through rehab. He expresses extreme disapproval. His other daughter and son-in-law express their intentions to adopt a co-worker’s baby. And that is also met with such disapproval that the daughter begins to re-think the whole process. Then at the dinner table, it comes out that his oldest daughter has requested money from his younger daughter and son-in-law to pay for her ex-husband’s rehab. “Coach” just loses it.
Then the son-in-law, who is normally behind the scenes, steps up to intercede for his wife and sister-in-law. He’s not normally “manly” in the sense we tend to think of men. While he’s good with his hands, he is not the primary breadwinner. He is better with their daughter, and can regularly be seen packing her lunch and making dinner.
Yet, despite the cultural masculine image he doesn’t portray, he nevertheless acts, and leads like a man (Eph 5:25), sacrificing his own comfort, reputation, approval to defend his wife and sister-in-law at the hands of this overbearing patriarch.
He commends his sister-in-law’s willingness to be hurt and disappointed (which could happen in rehab with such a perennial loser ex-husband) and is happy to support such a cause. Then he explains that HE and HIS wife will adopt who ever they want, “And you need to be okay with that Zeke.”
Out of nowhere. This passive lad decides it is time to lead. It was time to love. Absolutely beautiful. The patriarch cannot make decisions anymore for his daughters. There’s a new sheriff in town: the husband.
Everyone seems to have a picture of masculinity they purport to be truly masculine. Miler Lite does this with humorous commercials of men acting like women and being called out. On the other end, some Christian folks have tried to redefine masculinity (as though that were one of Jesus’ goals) and end up just creating an image of man based upon themselves, their personalities, and their picture of Jesus (which is never big enough when you hyper-emphasize one part of his character-like godly anger to the neglect of his gentleness and compassion). Jesus is more of a “punch you in the gut” kind of guy, a well respected leader claims.
Yet I just don’t know that Jesus would promote such a picture of masculinity. But I can say with confidence, that this scene, depicts a laid back-not in your face kind of guy-acting like a godly man.
I think people get lost in “Am I acting like a man?” and forget about simply following Jesus wherever He puts you. In this case, the husband chose to defend his wife at the risk of being rejected by his father-in-law. And this is hard. Family is a functional god in many areas of the country, particularly my part. We often care about their approval more than Jesus’ approval. Still Jesus essentially says, “You need to love me and follow me, even when it goes against your family’s or in-law’s wishes.” (Luke 14:26). And so he does.
Yet this guy follows Jesus not by force, banging his fist, or even raising his voice; he respects his father in law. “You’re going to need to be okay with this, Zeke” He doesn’t say, “You can kiss my grits.” But he draws a line in the sand, defends himself and his wife, and commends his sister-in-law. There is no doubt who is calling the shots-not Grandpa, or P-Pa, or Gramps, etc….
If more men would lead like this, more women would want to follow them. When fear of God replaces fear of man in the home, good things will be happening there. That’s the kind of masculine expression I think Jesus cares about. Far more than who makes more money or more dinners.