Author: Jeffrey Hemmer
Publisher: Concordia Publishing House
What a book to read, right? My brother-in-law suggested this book along with LadyLike to my husband and me a few years back. He wanted to know our thoughts on them and whether they were good books to suggest. I got around to reading the other one, but this one took a little longer. I mean, it’s a book for guys, right? Why should I read it? Well, yes, it is primarily for men. But I also learned a lot from it. As with LadyLike, I suggest that guys and gals alike read Man Up!. I say this especially if you are married, want to be married, or want to know more about what it means to live as a true man (or you’re a woman and want to better understand men). Man Up! is a book for men who want to know how to be truly masculine and what that means and have grown up in a society that has “simply lost – or forgotten – the collective knowledge of what it means to be a man.”
For myself, I am glad that I read this book. As a wife, it helped me understand my husband a little bit better and helped me understand how I can support him in his callings. We are also awaiting the arrival of our second child, a son. This book helped me distinguish between what my son will need from me and what he will need from my husband. Again, it also helped me understand and how I can help my husband with this task. I know I keep repeating the “helped me understand” line, but I really can’t stress it enough. I was surprised by how much I learned in this book and how much I appreciated it. I have four brothers (I like to refer to myself as the oldest middle child as my two oldest brothers are significantly older than me). So I grew up around a lot of guys between them and their friends. Unsurprisingly, I’m a bit of a tomboy myself. But I’m still not a guy, so reading a book that is entirely from a man’s perspective for men was enlightening to me as a daughter, sister, wife, and mother.
Along those lines, this book was written by a man for men, and that comes across clearly on every page! Hemmer pulls no punches and minces no words. He gives it to you straight as a mentor to his mentee would, and only as would come from a man. On occasion, his choice of words ruffled my feminine sensibilities, but such writing also made me laugh. Regardless, it is written just right for the guy who needs to hear it. In fact, as Hemmer mentions several times in the book, he hopes that it gets under the skin of every guy who reads it, and it probably will for your benefit.
I should also note that Jeffrey Hemmer is a pastor. Thus, this book’s framework is placed on Scripture. As we were made by God, so too should this book’s foundation be God’s Word. Hemmer doesn’t oversaturate the pages with random passages of Scripture. Instead, he uses key verses and general principles to paint the picture of true masculinity as it is found in Christ. Men can only be men with Christ as the guide, and no one is perfect. Even so, this book is helpful to those who are not Christians as these truths are universal. Men are called to be men, and they all have created roles they properly function in. That is not something true only for the Christian man but for all. Although, I think these roles and principles only make sense from a worldview based on the Bible. And along these lines, for the woman who ends up reading the book as I did, the spiritual advice included in the book, excluding the parts specific for men as head of household, applies to all Christians. So once again, I benefited personally from reading these chapters as well.
So what is the book about then? Well, obviously, it’s about being a man! As the title implies, this is an exhortation for men to step up and own their true callings in life. Don’t shrink back, don’t shrug off, don’t be a wimp (hey, he said it first). This book gives a little history of humanity to find out how we got here. And I do mean we. Why do men struggle to be men? Why do women resent them? Why can’t we all just get along? How is so-called “toxic masculinity” different from true masculinity? The culture now blames all faults in (or everything about?) men on what they call toxic masculinity, and the reaction of most men is to, well, react in either a hypermasculine or an effeminate way. But none of these things are what masculinity is. And though we may like to, we also cannot place the blame at the feet of the popular cultural movements of the last 100 or so years. This is a problem much older than that with a solution both simple and challenging. Thus, Hemmer addresses how we got here, what masculinity is and is not, Who men should look to as their example, and how they can achieve that goal.
Hemmer describes the purpose and role of men. He explains what masculinity is and what it is not. Masculinity is not just being strong, aggressive, or “virtuous,” but rather it is serving others. A man gives, protects, creates. He has unique characteristics that help him fulfill his proper roles. Some of these characteristics are present even as a child, though they must be directed constructively in order to make him the man he is called to be. Boys will be boys unless we make them into men. This book helps men (and women) understand how good that is and how to do it. Hemmer describes how misunderstanding true masculinity has led to the feminist creation of toxic masculinity, apathetic effeminacy, and some men’s version of what they think is masculine. This misunderstanding and “lack of cultural knowledge” has led to a destructive circular effect on men and society. Hemmer hopes to curb that trend in his book.
Instead of trying to make men women, Hemmer states why truly masculine men are better for other men, for women, for children, and for society as a whole. Real men are not “toxic” or harmful to anyone. We need men who, as Hemmer lays out, Provide, Protect, and Procreate. All men who desire to be men must fulfill these roles in their lives, regardless if they are young or old, or if they are single, married, widowed, or otherwise. “We are men of action” is a quote that comes to mind. Well, all men are men of action, so they must be doing things. What are those things? Well, Hemmer lays out and directs those actions in his book. Men must serve, give, and pray. We need men to compliment their women counterparts. We need men who value real manly friendships, a brotherhood. We need men who care for children (whether they are theirs biologically or they filled the void another man left). We need men who serve and protect with their God-given abilities. We need men who fulfill their God-given roles. We need men who live for others, not himself, as he was designed to do. This is true manliness for the man who finally decides to man up. Christ is this model of true masculinity, and Man Up! explains what that means and how that looks.
Man Up! is the book for men living in a world more concerned about “toxic masculinity” and the emasculation of men rather than building up strong men and their families. It is a book for men struggling to know their proper role in the world, giving them a place and a plan so they can go and do, lead and learn, love, protect, and provide. Thankfully, Hemmer explains this much better than I. This is fitting, for men need other men to lead and guide them. This book is such a guide. Man Up! should be read by young men, perhaps even as young as middle school age, to older men in all walks of life. This book lays out the history of how we got here, from the fall to feminism, and how men can quest their way to their true callings to lead a fulfilling and manly life. Most importantly, though this a book of the Law like most haven’t seen, Hemmer provides hope that ultimately, this isn’t up to you. Christ has provided the example; you just have to follow it. And when you fail, He will be the one to pick you up and say once again “follow Me.” So I ask you, men, are you ready for such a challenge? If so, I encourage you to read this book.
Blessings to you and yours,
~Madelyn Rose Craig