After I open my shirt and show my tee shirt you can show the slide with Chuck Norris. 

Picture: POW Bracelet

Throughout much of my elementary school days kids wore something that was very telling. It was very common to purchase and wear a bracelet just like the one you are seeing on the screen. On the bracelet were the name and the date of an American soldier fighting in Vietnam along with the date of when they went missing in action. Some of you will remember these. 

It was not uncommon during those years to see families on the news holding up a family picture with a dad in the picture but in reality he wasn't around. In, fact no one knew where he was because he was missing in action. 

When you do the research you will find that in a great majority of American homes today the father is missing in action. In fact, its drastic in some parts.  70% of African American babies and 19% of white babies in the United States are born out of wedlock.  Most will never know their fathers or experience what it means to be loved by them.  

The great majority of all the children that put their head on the pillow tonight will not have a father either in the home or deeply engaged in developing their life and building a close relationship and providing the kind of love and attention and direction that every little boy and every little girl longs for.  

You have to ask yourself, whats happened?  How did we get here?  How in 50 years, do we go from Ozzie and Harriet on TV to Ozzy Osbourne?  I know hes not doing a reality show anymore but it was just a few years ago that the Osbourne family reality show was the most watched show on MTV. 

Osbournes been sued by people because of suicide lyrics where kids listened to his lyrics and killed themselves in that exact way.  It was the number one show.  And whats the show?  Over here you have Ozzie and Harriet.  There's a man, and there's a woman.  And is it a little cheesy when you watch it but there's a sense of togetherness.  There's a sense of moral responsibility.

Its a Leave it to Beaver kind of world. Ward walks in, and June says, This is what happened at school.  And he turns to her and says, June, Ill go up and Ill talk with the Beaver.  

And over here, you got Ozzy Osbourne.  It was the first big hit live reality show, where they take a camera and follow this family around, and it was filled with profanity and dysfunction. There was no respect for each other and a lot of yelling and just plain ugliness. And this is the family of today's television. You can take out Ozzy Osbourne and put in just about any other family you want in any of today's reality shows and it will be pure dysfunction. (Gene Simmons, Hulk Hogan or Brett Michaels, the Kardashians or you can watch shows about being 16 and pregnant, or you can watch a bunch of people living in a house trying to get along and eventually the draw of the show is who is sleeping with who and how much you get to see of it.) 

Tell me what in the world happened from 1960 or so to 2011 where there's that dramatic of a shift?  Early on, it was the exception to not have a father in the home.  It was the exception.  The word divorce, even when I was a young kid, was something that it was reserved for movie stars in Hollywood or a few families that might go through that in the community but it wasn't a common occurrence. 

I would like to suggest to you that there are three or four reasons all this has happened.

1.  The evolution of the American male 

When the GIs came back mid-40s and back in the 50s, they had the GI bill.  They could go to school. Our nation had a baby boom?  They're the ones that made all the babies, and a lot of us in this room are the boom.  And there was this dream about a family.  

There was a great push into missions, all around the world, because GIs saw the state of the world.  And there was sense in which, lets make a better world.  Remember World War II was the war to end all wars?  And then the 60s hit, and you had the sexual revolution.  And what that did is separate sex from responsibility.  

Regardless of the thinking or how or why it came about, what it did was it meant you could have sex with a person, but you weren't obligated to marry them, provide for them or take care of them and so sex and responsibility got separated.  

By the 70s, for many good reasons, there was a feminist movement.  It was good for women to receive equal pay but this movement went way beyond the good and began to promote the notion that men and women are the same. There is no difference in the genders they said in those days. 

And then the 80s was the me-generation.  And what it meant to be a man was earn a lot of money and spent a lot of time at work chasing the almighty dollar. 

By the 90s, we began to see the fallout, and the media had grown, and the values had shifted.  And instead of absolute truth, we had relative truth, and anything goes and post-modernism in its philosophical tenants begin to weave its way into the average home.

How is it that no one knows what it means to be a man, or what it means to be a woman?  

What happened to the heroes?  Early on remember it was John Wayne, and it may have been a little macho, but he was out protecting people and caring for people.  When I was a boy, a hero was a policeman and a fireman and a doctor.  You know why?  Cause it was noble and dignified to save lives.  

The hero shifted.  Who are all the heroes now, in the last 20 years?  Entertainers and athletes.  Everyone wanted to be like Mike in the 90s.  The most popular person on the planet for years was Michael Jordan.  Someone needed to stop and say, What did Mike do for a living?  He played.  Everyone wants to grow up and play.   And so the evolution of what it meant to be a man was to be good at playing and to have sex when you wanted it, but there's no obligation.  And then have this blurring of identify, and God bless those of us who had post-war dads, great men, strong men, didn't know how to communicate their feelings.  

And the average man today from my generation on doesn't know what it means to be a man, doesn't know how to express his feelings, don't know what our role is in the family, doesn't know how to love a woman well, doesn't know how to raise our own kids, and all this is happening in a culture that's going in circles. A second reason our world is so messed up is: 

2.  The Father-Absent Family 

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, boys without a father are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to go to jail, four times as likely to need treatment for emotional and behavior problems as boys with fathers.  

Doctor William Pollack, a Harvard psychologist and author of the book Real Boys, concludes that divorces is difficult for children of both sexes, but it is devastating for males.  He says the problem is a lack of discipline and supervision in the fathers absence, and his unavailability to teach what it means to be a man.  

So now, we have a generation that didn't have a dad, and they produced the next cycle of generations without dads, and now we have a father-absent society that says the greatest predictor of juvenile delinquency, drug use, chaos, divorce, and jail time is when there's not a dad in the home.  It is pulling our society apart at the very core of its being.  

Dr. Elium, author of Raising Sons, says that the trouble with boys is the common theme is a distant, not just absent, but uninvolved father, and in turn, mothers, who by necessity have taken the responsibility to fill in the gap.  

Sociologist Peter Carr believes that boys in our day now grow up spending 80% of their time with women, and they don't know how to act as a man when they grow up.  What happens, he says, is the relationship between the sexes is directly affected.  Men become helpless and more and more are you ready?  like big kids.  

The average male, stereotypical Americans seat of choice is recliner, remote, and a Coors light.  What it means to be a man today? Men don't get fired up about the family but let them watch  a game on TV or in person and you will find a passion that is over the top. Its game day baby, lets paint are bodies and take our shirts off in freezing temperatures and lets be real men. Lets go!  Were real men!  Doing what?  Playing or worse yet watching playing. 

All the while tough decisions at home and leadership and discipline and teaching and moral values and making tough decisions are all delegated to either no one, to the TV, or to the woman.  

3.  The Impact of Changing Roles: Passive men, wild women and confused children! 

A doctor, Pierre Mornell, is a psychiatrist in San Francisco, and he wrote a book called Passive Men, Wild Women.   Because of the passive nature of todays man it drives women crazy. Mornell's word is wild. 

In his research and counseling, he found a generation of men that were successful leaders in their day jobs but came home and disengaged from the family and their wives. 

Mornell says when there's a role reversal and men are passive at home, it drives   women wild.  And they step into the gap but they're frustrated and they're doing things they don't want do but somebody has to do it and then they have resentment and bitterness toward this person who ought to be doing them.  Over the years it gets downright ugly and then that produces confusion in the kids.  

And so kids say to their dad, basically, if you're going to just sit on the recliner and read a paper or watch mindless TV, Ill go play video games or Ill go watch a movie. and well not have meaningful conversation.  When you do that your kids will figure out how to be just like the rest of America, where we let the television be the sociological agent to shape all of our values.  

And then it produces children that are confused. When fathers are absent physically and emotionally and learning how to be a man is left up to the television or movies or music videos or athletes it should be no surprise that we have a bunch of confused and conflicted kids. 

And then were surprised because our kids turn out like Bart Simpsons?  And were surprised our families are coming out like Ozzy Osbournes?  And were surprised when kids are killing kids, when that's what the've seen, and that's what they've been fed?  I mean some of your kids have killed thousands of people playing video games right in your home while you were disengaged in their lives. 

What do we do?  Avoid Two PCs 

One is to try and be politically correct.  That is a miserable failure.  God bless the people with even the best of motives who wanted to bring about positive change but it does not work.  There are differences between the sexes.  All views are not equal.  There are certain things that are right, and there are certain things that are wrong.  

The whole politically correct deal is killing our culture.  But there's another PC we have to avoid, and this is one is the PC of pseudo-Christianity.  Pseudo-Christianity is where men were often abusive and dominant.  And uncaring.  And where they played little kings and little tyrants and said, I'm the head of the home, and you have to do what I say. And women could never do this or never do that.  

What does God say it means to be a real man and how do you become that in your home?

We are going to spend the rest of our time together saying to ourselves, What does God say is a real man, and how do you become one in your marriage and your family? 

What does God say it means?  Not Hollywood.  Not your background.  Not any culture like the one we've seen on the screen or anyplace else.  What does God say it means to be a real man and how do you become a real man in your home?  

 1.  It Always Begins with Mutual Submission

 21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 NLT

The word submit here is a very interesting and ancient military term.  And notice to one another. This applies to men with women and women to men, slaves to owners and owners to slaves, parents to children and children to parents.  

Its a military term.  It means to be under the commanding officer.  Rather than self-promoting, self-assertion, it urges readers to be subject or submit to one another.  One commentator calls this word a command to mutually desire less than ones due.  Isn't that a great way to go into the relationship with the roles of husband and wife?  Its a sweet, reasonable, attitude in response to the Spirits control.  Its a divine calling to consider the other person, your spouse, more important than you.  

Let me give you a metaphor for what this means. You see people avoid this scripture because they always worry about the man being the leader over the woman and how that doesn't seem to fit in our society today. The problem with that logic is that the Bible is our foundation of truth not the culture. Remember last week I said that it is not uncommon for the church to run counter to the culture.    

Picture: Think about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for a moment. 

Its not who takes the first step. When you see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers from an old movie or when you see a great movie with tremendous choreography with men and women moving in rhythm, are you saying, Oh, she took the first step.  No.  He took the first step.  Or do you look at it, and you say, Wow, that is awesome.  How do they do that?  They just look like they're in synch together. 

Mutual submission, then, is the dance floor.  The space within which we have freedom to move.  It requires that a man and a woman each enter into the lordship relationship of Christ, ask each other, How can I make you successful in this dance called marriage?  How can I love you more?  How can I serve you? 

Male chauvinism and female manipulation find no place here.  They have evaporated before steps, roles, and responsibilities are even discussed.  This is a dance that God designed for two people who say, Obviously our first commitment is to the Lord, to submit to Him; Hes the choreographer.

2.  A Great Dance/Marriage Requires Clarity of Roles

22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.

 Love your wives.  Write above the word love, agape.  Not family kind of love.  He could of used that word.  Not eros.  Not sexual kind of love; he could of used that word.  He used agape which means unconditional love.   He gives you a quick word picture to help us understand; 

Just as Christ also loved the church.  And what did he do?  Gave up His life for her.  That's the calling.  That's the job description.  Love your wife the way Christ loved the church.  And that cross is a reminder of what it cost him.  Why?  That he might sanctify her.  Circle that word.  

Its a Biblical word, but it means to make someone pure or holy or separate or special is the idea.  Christ gave up his life for the church so that he might sanctify her (make her holy and clean).  How?  By the cleansing of Gods word.    

He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of Gods word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.   Ephesians 5:22-30 NLT

He did this to present her to himself This means that he prepares the bride to stand beside Him and be worthy of that role. Without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. 

Jesus gave His life voluntarily for his bride, the church, that she could be presented beside him, holy, blameless, without spot, or wrinkle, fulfilling her full potential, 

He saved her, gave His life, so she could become all that she was designed to be: holy and blameless.  And with that picture, then look at verse 28, men.  So, husbands ought to love their wives.  And circle the word love, because he doesn't back down. Its the same kind of agape love.

We are to love them and care for them as we do our own bodies; Same kind of care, same kind of commitment, the same kind of self-preservation.  For a man who loves his own wife actually shows love himself.  No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it. . .  How?

Some translations use the word cherish and that phrase literally means to keep warm. A mans job is to love his wife in such a way that you keep her warm.  And the inference is that you keep her warm by protecting her, by cherishing her, that she feels special in your presence.  

Its to commune in ways that make sense to her.  Jot down in the corner somewhere 1 Peter 3:7. 7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in Gods gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 

The writer says you feed and care and by feeding he means to be devoted to. You and I are to provide whatever she needs emotionally, spiritually and physically. We are devoted to her like Christ is to the church. You know people get all hung up on this scripture because they think it is chauvinistic when nothing could be further from the truth. God designed marriage between a man and a woman (creating us differently for a purpose) to be supportive of one another and caring for one another. (Remember we are going to talk to women next week.)

3. Husbands Are To Step Up and Give Their Lives to Lead Their Families in Righteousness

    • Husbands must love their wives sacrificially

Jesus gave up His life sacrificially so that we might have life and have it more abundantly.  He gave His life. We are to lay down our lives for our wives. It means whatever it takes.  And when you push it out that far, Christ died for us.  Why?  Because He provided for us in ways we couldn't provide for ourselves.  To love sacrificially means we assume responsibility. No one ever told me this before I was married. After 27 years of marriage I am just starting to see what this might mean! I am going to ask you five questions that I have been living with all week. You are not going to probably get all of them so relax but own what you need to. 

Who initiates spiritual growth in your home? 

Who handles the money in your home? I am not talking about who writes the checks but who carries the weight of the future? Is it done together or have you settled into a comfortable don't ask don't tell sort of arrangement. 

Who disciplines the children in your home? Too many guy think this is a woman's role and besides that they are glued to the chair and the remote and they never get involved with the children's discipline if it gets in the way of their entertainment or sleep time on the couch. 

Who initiates conversations about problems, future plans and development?  This means you look at the big picture and talk about it. You talk about whats going on in your kids lives or your lives. You talk about the house and the future and what it all means. 

Who asks the most questions and gives the most statements? You might wonder why this one?  The person constantly asking questions to find out whats going on; how are you doing here, what about this, can we do this here. When someone is constantly asking questions, its because they feel the moral weight of whats going on in a relationship, and they have to find out the data so they can respond appropriately.  

And guys, all I want to tell you is that if you said in your heart of hearts that four out of five of those things, My wife handles all that.  You're in trouble.  You are not leading your home, and you are not loving her well.  And she will do it.  And she will eventually resent you for it.  And you're headed for a train wreck at some level. Resentment is a tough one to overcome once it is in place. 

If you feel like you are failing in some of these areas it doesn't mean that you are bad or that God hates you ( I cant speak for you wife of course) but what it does mean is that you have grown up in a culture and a system and you are reflecting that culture, the media and probably even what your parents did. (Give props to many of the younger guys who have stepped up to take on some responsibility) 

    • Husbands must love their wives with intentionality 

Know what your wife is good at and help her to be even better by intentionally encouraging her in those areas. Jesus loved the church and had a plan for the church. Do you have a plan to love your wife by helping her to be better and develop as a person? Are you asking in your mind, What can I do to make my wife more successful in what she does? 

    • Husbands must love their wives sensitively 

All I know is that most of us are really lousy at this one so lets think about it for a moment or two. Listen listen listen. Give her your full attention. Take initiative. Get the baby sitter. Try to look ahead and anticipate her needs and take care of things. Develop eyes to see into your wife's heart and try to understand her feelings and emotions. 

Okay before you die here guys let me give you some relief. Right about now some of us are wondering where we can go to surrender because we are never going to win this one. 

What Does This Not Mean? 

It doesn't mean you always do what your wife wants. There are always some guys that take this way too far and instead of being a servant they become a slave. Ex. If you don't have the money for something be the head of the house and take the responsibility to say we cant do that right now. Be responsible. We will see next week that this works for both men and women. 

It doesn't mean you don't have a life of your own. Men, you need time with men.  You need the strength to be this kind of man.  You need to hang out with men.  You need to work out with men.  You need to have some time with men where you talk about life and get encouragement and get renewed.  Your whole life cant revolve around your wife and your kids and work.  

It doesn't mean you make her dependent on you. We are not looking for co-dependency here. Don't smother your wife.  Don't try and work out her life.  There needs to be meshing, but there needs to be a healthy separateness of separate interests and doing your own things.  

It doesn't mean you call all the shots. Even if you think you are you aren't anyway. We are not talking about men becoming tyrants and little kings. We are talking about loving your wife the way Christ loves the church. 

Are you willing to step up and man up and love your wife as Christ loves the church? 

To do this it means that you are going to have to know Christ. I don't mean just attend church but make knowing Christ your passion. 

Listen to me for a moment. This life is passing by so quickly and we are headed to eternity. What you do here ought to be about doing what Christ wants you to do and be.