My heart is in turmoil and my soul aches.
My resolve is being tested.
The broad statements that are being pitched on social media and shared across the world deepen my sorrow for my fellow man.
I’ve fought with thoughts of defending my gender but have balanced this with deep sorrow and sadness for the destruction and broken relationships that have been caused by some men.
This issue is real to me because I have been given three boys to raise into men.
This issue is real to me because I have intentionally drawn circles of protection around my life and my marriage.
This issue is real to me because I have been given the privilege and responsibility of raising three precious souls into men, who I hope will love their God, serve others and most importantly, live a life of responsibility and integrity.
This is an issue to me because I am a man.
The journey to a transparent manhood
When my Samuel my firstborn was born in January 2009, I resolved within myself to be a better man, to serve Kylie, to remove myself of any situation which would harm our love story and destroy our new family.
This has been my relentless quest since that day.
I saw in myself sexual immorality, not overtly on display, but secretly hidden away in the dark, far reaches of the internet.
I put to death that part of me in March 2009.
I had had enough of the secrecy and shame.
The shame was impenetrable and deeply erosive to my thinking about how I viewed and valued women.
I realised that I could never be a man of integrity and raise my son in true respectful masculinity when I couldn’t lead myself to lead a pure and exemplary life.
Life as an open book
I became transparent in everything that I did, I wanted to live an open book life.
I did not want any situation to ever be misconstrued or to ever be taken suggestively.
I did two things that changed my life.
I became accountable to another man — an older, successful, married man of integrity, who could help challenge me to live a better life.
“ As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17
And I started writing.
I wrote pages and pages of letters to my God, begging him to show me what it is to be a good man, a loving husband and a legacy leaving dad.
My writing took me to the bottom of my inadequacies and imperfections and placed me at the palpable pulse of who I truly was.
But there I found grace.
I saw that the importance of being a man was in how I served others and lived a life of integrity.
Would I be happy for my patients and colleagues and the public to see my internal world?
The world behind closed doors, my internet seach history, what I did when I was alone, the way that I spent my time, passion, energy and money?
The big broad brushstrokes that have been waved lately about men, hurt and inflame me as an intentional man.
There are many men like me, the silent majority I believe, who wake up each day next to wives that they love deeply, to children that they serve daily and to lives that are set apart from sexual immorality, infidelity, sexual misconduct and abuse of power.
My call in this piece isn’t about ignoring or denying the existence of any gender issue or wrongdoing by men but about the one thing that Kylie and I are teaching our sons about being men.
The focus in our family has not been about gender equality, racism, ageism or about the cultural or linguistically diverse or the LGBTQI community but about the value of every woman and man, no matter who they are.
The history of value that must never be forgotten
The most interesting aspect about what is happening in our world today is that in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s in England, the struggle for value and justice was present.
Women and children, widows and orphans, had no societal value. An estimated one-quarter of the unmarried women in London were prostitutes, with the average age of 16. Criminals were publically executed, animals brutalised and the single biggest moral issue of that time was human slavery (Amazing Grace. Chapter 6 pp 77–88).
This was a world that did not place value on people.
These were the horrifying accounts depicted in Eric Metaxas book, “Amazing Grace”. I remember reading with my stomach churning and tears in my eyes, imagining the frightened eyes of the African slaves, the stench of death and the deep sadness and injustice that filled the atmosphere as they sailed through treacherous seas towards Europe.
But one man raised a movement that placed value on human life and gathered others to abolish human slavery in England — William Wilberforce.
In our recent history, the importance of value was shown clearly in Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s search for Meaning”. This is a brave and open account about the importance of hope that Viktor observed, as he survived the evils of the Holocaust in a concentration camp in Auschwitz.
As I read Viktor Frankl’s word, my heart bled and the images of innocence and injustice penetrated deeply into my subconscious, likely never to leave. The Holocaust was unimaginable and I do not have words to describe it but only hope for restoration and healing, as Frankl did.
But in all this, the value of human life was extinguished by false belief and uncontained evil and darkness.
The reason for slavery was a de-valued racial group.
Devalued by another because of the colour of their skin, their false assumptions feeding their misinformation.
The reason that one person can EVER mistreat another is that they do not value the other.
If something is valued, it is taken care of. It is deeply prized and handled with care and put in a place of importance over our lives.
If something is valuable, it is set apart and holds its own gravity and has meaning that cannot be shaken easily.
The one thing that we are teaching our sons
The one thing that we are teaching our sons is the value in human life.
Value trumps belief because it holds its own over time, over race, gender, sexual preference, spiritual beliefs, disability, country of origin, criminal history, past misdeeds, political affiliation, and the list goes on.
What Kylie and I believe and are teaching Samuel, Hunter and Benjamin, is that every person has value.
Value wins over everything else.
You cannot indecently touch a woman or be sexually suggestive to her or harass and abuse her if you truly value her.
To value a woman is to know that she is created equally in God’s image, that she is to be honoured in your actions and personal boundaries to be always respected.
It doesn’t matter who she is, the value of her life, the value of your marriage covenant with your wife and value your children’s trust, supersedes everything.
The way we proceed
The men who are devoted to integrity won’t be swayed by our current climate.
They might choose to switch off the news and social feeds and continue their relentless focus on being passionate husbands, fun-loving and promise-keeping dads and servant leaders.
The one unshakeable and unmovable truth is that every human life has value.
Every human being is made in the image of God and has his likeness and there is no-one who is more superior, no matter what the world says.
Every atrocity that has ever been committed against a racial group, gender or in the name political freedom or religious belief, denies the central tenet of human value.
I am no more valuable than the cleaner at our hospital or the older woman with dementia in an aged care facility or the young woman somewhere in this world being sexually trafficked or the young man being assaulted because of his sexual preference.
This is what I will be teaching my sons.
Every person has value.
Enjoy your health.
Thank you for reading and if you would like to receive more posts from me, please subscribe to www.thehealthygp.com
Dr Jonathan Ramachenderan
4 comments on “Lessons in Manhood for my sons — Value”
Absolutely beautifully written. May you continue to be blessed so that you can share what you writewith others. ❣
Thank you Lou! Thank you for taking the time to read, I love that I can share what is on my heart to others and bring some light!
I like how you have distilled this.… value. I wonder if your values have informed your arrival at this focal point. I’ve learnt some practical pointers today.
Thank you for taking the time to read this Murray. Yes, definitely, my Christian faith has shaped this focal point but beyond this, at the centre of it all is that all women and men are created equal and therefore all have value and worth.