What Does It Mean To Be A Man?| 5 Traits of Authentic Manhood

authentic manhood

Guest Post by Rob Marco

In today’s world, the question, “What Does It Mean To Be A Man?” is almost as obtuse as Pilate’s infamous rhetorical question, “What is Truth?”

Because rites of passage have fallen by the wayside, and gender confusion reigns in the young, it can be hard to navigate the choppy waters of adolescence and beyond, when it comes to a masculine identity.

Since the question, as posed, is a kind of meta-question, it may be helpful to delineate it into “nuts and bolts” traits, rather than treat it as a thirty-thousand-foot philosophical conjecture.

My hope is that it will benefit men wanting to step into their rightful roles who may not have had an example of authentic manhood growing up. I would also hope it would benefit women as to what to look for in a man, should she be inclined toward a traditional
model of dating, courtship, or marriage.


Five Traits of Authentic Manhood

1) A Man Does Not Have Aversion to What is Hard

Because character cannot be purchased or acquired outside of the inputs that forge it, a man must not have an aversion to what is difficult, because doing the hard things will form his character.

The flip side of masculinity is effeminacy, which St. Thomas defines as “an unwillingness to put aside one’s pleasure in order to pursue what is arduous.”

“What is hard” is not always the typical ‘pushing yourself at the gym’ or achieving career goals. It involves the will and resisting what is counter to right reason.

To put aside the desires for pleasure to do what is right, and in accordance with reason and circumstances, is what makes a man and builds up virtue.


2) A Man is Chaste

The ability to love chastely is important to authentic Christian manhood. This applies to both single and married men.

It relates to reason as well, in that the chaste man subjects his sexual appetite to reason.

For the single man, it means exercising self-control over his body and sexual faculties (resisting self-abuse, lustful thoughts, fornication, etc.).

For the married man, it means not allowing lust to enter the marital bed, nor mental strangers, that would compromise or denigrate the marital relationship or violate the marriage contract.

Chastity is hard, and if a man does not have an aversion to what is hard, he will embrace this virtue and dutifully work to perfect it in himself.

Manual for Spiritual Warfare

3) A Man Has Integrity & Takes Responsibility

The abnegation of responsibility among men today has caused havoc in society.

Although it may be abetted by aggressive feminism, which seeks as its end, to make men obsolete or “no longer necessary,” men also must take responsibility for the sin of not taking responsibility in the first place.

This relates to the other two traits listed above as well: the chaste man does not have sex outside of marriage because the rearing of children holds its rightful place within marriage. The man who is not afraid to do what is hard does not shirk responsibility or run away from it, even when he has done wrong.

He does not lie to women or promise them things he has no intention of delivering; he does not abandon his family when they may need him most; he does not abdicate his rightful place as the head of the household.

It is hard to respect a man when he does not have integrity.


4) A Man Sacrifices

Those who go to war or serve their country do not do so necessarily because they want to, but because they honor their sense of duty.

They make sacrifices for others who benefit from their honoring of those commitments.

The mark of a man is one who sacrifices for others, for his wife, and for his family.

He protects rather than inflicts damage or pain, shields with his body and his will rather than subject those more vulnerable to blows.

He forgoes his own meals so his children can eat in times of want.

He goes to work in the early hours of the morning, or works late into the night, so his wife can stay home with the children.

He mows the lawn, goes to ballet recitals, and does things he may not want to do for the sake of his family.


5) A Man Seeks the Truth No Matter Where it Leads

When a man loves truth, he will do what is hard; he will not compromise his reason; he lives with integrity; and he is willing to sacrifice, to pursue what is good and what is true.

He loves truth and turns away from that which is untrue.

He speaks the truth even when it costs him.

He loves wisdom more than silver or gold, not for its own sake, but for the sake of virtue.

Truth and reason keep a man’s emotions in check — not that he is numb to them, but that he is not ruled by them (which is the mark of an effeminate man).

He does not ask rhetorically “What is truth?” as if we could never know it, but pursues the truth in prayer, study, and hard work, in order to obtain it.

When a man embraces what is hard, lives chastely, takes responsibility and lives with integrity, is willing to sacrifice for the greater good, and follows the truth to wherever it leads, he is on the right road and not far from virtue.

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Robert Marco
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