Part 1 of the Loneliness Series
We’ve talked about loneliness before, and I’d like to think the issue was isolated to the pandemic. Unfortunately, it’s just not the case.
We don’t love to talk about relationships, do we guys? We are conscious of how we use that word, steering intentionally away from it sometimes. We’ve become sensitized to it, preferring to use terms like “bonds” or “connections.” Here at Noble Warriors, I like to talk about our wise guys or battle buddies. They’re great at giving us an idea of what we mean without saying the word.
All that has led us here, as men in the 21st century, apparently with an anemic capability to form and keep meaningful relationships with other guys. And that is detrimental to us as individuals and to all of society.
Why does it matter for biblical manhood?
1. It matters because it opposes the model Jesus set before us. He was/is a friend.
We model Jesus’ manhood when we invest in friendships; likewise, we ignore his example when we believe we can do without close friendships, keep others at arm’s length, and try to act as “lone ranger” Christians.
Dane Ortlund devotes a chapter to highlighting Jesus as a friend in Gentle and Lowly.
Jesus was accused of being the “friend of sinners and tax collectors” as He showed love to them by sharing truth and calling them out to be his disciples. (Luke 7:34)
Jesus was the friend to his disciples, making known to them the mystery of the Gospel. He spent time with these friends, and he invested in them. This is how He lived his life in ministry. “You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:12-15)
He wept at Lazarus’s death and the tears of those who loved him. He was “deeply moved.” (John 11)
He showed affection. Think of the disciple “whom Jesus loved” leaning his body against the Savior’s. (John 13:23-25)
He knew betrayal and called Judas “friend” even as Judas kissed him. (Matthew 26:50) There is no betrayal without vulnerability. By very definition, it implies something to lose, a trust to be broken.
2. It matters because it affects our lives, our churches, and our nation.
This is a manhood issue, but not just a manhood issue. So goes the man, so goes the family, so goes the church, so goes the nation.
Al Mohler discussed Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation 2023, The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community, in a recent episode of The Briefing. The Surgeon General calls the loneliness epidemic a great health crisis of our time.
“This epidemic has been heightened certainly by the experience of COVID-19, but it’s actually a longer-range problem that is bringing devastating health consequences.”
According to Mohler, this is incredibly predictable because we were made in God’s image for community. “Being made in his image means that we have the capacity to know him. But God also made us inherently capable of and needful of relationships with one another.” Even the animals, he points out, are made for community, but we are the only creatures He formed in his image.
In the Surgeon General’s report, he goes on to say, “We know that loneliness is a common feeling that many people experience. It’s like hunger or thirst. It’s a feeling the body sends us when something we need for survival is missing.”
We need relationships for survival because we are created for community. The principle is confirmed even according to this secular research, but the idea of friendship has become fundamentally broken to the point of crisis.
How, then, can we learn to do as Jesus did?
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
In the next few weeks, we’ll discuss how the issue specifically affects men as fathers and as pastors and what solutions we might be able to implement now. It’s a big ship to turn around, and the bow of it is men. It’s on us to first point to Christ and lead in godly friendships.
Noble Warriors Resources:
The Noble Man Connects With Other Men | Podcast
Surrounded by Wise Guys | Podcast