"The soul of a lion..." (on being a man)

March 1865--After years of bloody fighting, undergoing numerous life-threatening injuries, and intimately witnessing the horrors of war, Union officer Joshua L. Chamberlain was again called upon to do his duty.  At the very outset of leading a charge, a Rebel bullet passes through the neck of Chamberlain's horse.  It continues on, ripping flesh from Chamberlain's bridle arm and landing a terrible blow just below his heart.  The bullet was deflected by some field orders and a brass-backed pocket mirror.  Still, he is knocked unconscious.  Thinking him to be mortally wounded a fellow officer, as Chamberlain regains his senses, proclaims "My dear General, you are gone."  General Chamberlain looks out on the field and quickly estimates that a whole wing of his command is about to be routed.  Rather than accept defeat, he spurs his wounded horse into the thick of the fighting, calling his men to reform and do their duty as men.  He continues to lead his men throughout the rest of the day.

After the day's fighting was over, General Sickel, witnessing Chamberlain's obvious remorse over the day's atrocities commented, "General, you have the soul of the lion and the heart of the woman."  This may seem a strange comment.  Is it a contradiction?  What does it actually mean?  I would say that it is the essence of God's design for manhood.  Modern American culture continually blurs the distinctions between men and women.  Classic male and female roles have been discarded or even reversed in society.  As a result, many young men are clueless what it looks like to be a man.  And consequently, families suffer, societies suffer...women suffer.

God has designed the man and the woman to be complimentary.  When each is fulfilling the specific duties for which God intended, stability results.  When either or both lose sight of or rebel against these God-given duties, chaos results.  Without a doubt the breakdown of the family largely falls on the shoulders of men.  We are guilty of having been men in name only.  We have not been true men as God has designed. 

What does it mean to be a true man?  A true man has "the soul of the lion...".  A lion is courageous, even ferocious at times.  Valor marks him.  A true man protects those who are weak.  He is willing to fight for the good of others.  He is willing to stand alone, but unwilling to compromise his convictions.  He calls others to do what is right.  He disciplines himself and is willing to make personal sacrifices in order to carry out his duties.  He is strong when need be, but uses his strength to serve rather than be served.  He is full of integrity.  He willingly submits to proper authorities, and yet is unafraid to accept responsibility for his actions.

A true man has "the heart of the woman...".  He is compassionate when others are hurting.  He seeks to protect the honor and dignity of men and women alike.  He is tenderhearted and willing to extend mercy.  He is not harsh or cruel.  He is understanding of the weaknesses of others.  He refuses to flaunt his exploits in victory.

At Appomattox Courthouse, Chamberlain was chosen to command the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.  After years of bitter fighting, it would only be expected that the Union Soldiers would be filled with hatred for their defeated adversaries.  Rather than jeering and taunting, Chamberlain led the Union troops to snap to attention.  He chose to honor the Confederate troops with the "old marching salute".  In response, Confederate General Gordon would call Chamberlain "one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal army".  Another display of manly character:  Joshua L. Chamberlain was a man--a true man as God intended.

One of the negative fallouts of the feminist movement, which, I admit, has corrected some wrongs and abuses toward women, has been that most men today fear that being a true man is chauvinistic and demeaning to women.  Men are often confused.  No longer trusting God's word to direct them, they are unclear of their duties in society and in the home.  They may have some desire to be men of character and to lead well, but they have no idea how to combine strength with tenderness.  They have to some degree believed the lie that they are not really needed.  Many abdicate their responsibilities and live primarily for their own pleasures.

If this trend is not reversed, our society will continue to erode.  Husbands, fathers, young men...your wives, your children, your churches, your country needs you.  Will you "play the man?"  Will you seek "the soul of the lion and the heart of the woman"?