This evening as we sat around the dinner table post meal in conversation, Benjamin stared me down with his dark five-year-old eyes as I enjoyed a glass of bourbon. After a pensive pause he finally said, “Daddy, do I have to drink bourbon to be a man?”
It’s in moments like these that you realize what a powerful teaching moment has arisen, and so drawing on my biblical and philosophical expertise (cough, cough) I offer what clearly is the right answer.
In my mind he looked like Alexander the Great at the feet of Aristotle, somehow pleased with his father the sage. My wife, on the other hand could not contain her laughter, nor could the other guests at the table. But look, this manhood thing isn’t that complicated, and the Jesus/bourbon thing really is a good summary. Bear with me a moment, if you will.
Love Jesus with all your heart, that’s what he said the great commandment was (Matthew 22:37). That part’s all gravy. Not easy, but straightforward. The bourbon issue is a tricky one, but I’ll give it a shot.
First, as a man you are called to leave the house in the morning and go to work until the sun goes down (Psalm 104:23). For you non-biblical scholars like myself, that means you have a job that pays you money in exchange for your services. You go there for more than two weeks, regardless of how you feel about it. You don’t play video games all day and the government doesn’t cut you a check either. You work and they compensate you for your obligatory duty. Manhood, part 1.
The reason you go there, to that place that’s not your “dream,” is because you are a provider. Your family, your wife, your kids, they don’t eat off your lucrative online video gaming career. They are utterly not impressed by your agility as a make-believe soldier in a Tom Clancy video game, and the stealth-like headset won’t get you honored on veterans or memorial day. No, you go to work because they pay you, and that dinero pays for food and shelter. This is manhood.
Then, when you do come home, you help your wife with the kids and dishes (or at least you should) and put them to bed. You pray with them and sing, then say goodnight. You sit on the couch with what little energy you have left and listen to your wife tell you about what little monsters came from your loins (or at least you should). You thank her and laugh with her, then talk some more.
When all that is done, dear man, your beard is unfurled, your pipe calls, and the bourbon—yes, it actually comes full circle—awaits. You sit and ponder the day, you puff and relax, you thank God for your family, your less-than-perfect job, and a back yard to sit and gaze at the stars of Abraham.
God truly does give “wine to gladden the heart of man” (Psalm 104:15). The original Hebrew, by the way, actually says “Kentucky straight bourbon,” but we won’t bother with that tiny little detail at this point. And so, from the beginning of your day as you go to work, till the end when you enjoy your bourbon, this is the cycle of manhood. Summary: love Jesus (which means getting a job, incidentally) and enjoy your bourbon (the fruit that comes after working hard).