Proposed: Manliness is Authority

The essence of manliness is authority. It’s the need and ability to make decisions, to pronounce those decisions, and to act upon them. Strength, power, command, competency, respect, courage, assertiveness…these are all parts of authority, but they lack the spoken component. Good and right speech is indivisible from authority.

When men succeed, they succeed along the paradigm of authority; be it wise decisions, strength, assertiveness, achievement or any of the other forms of authority. The classic example is the Battle of Thermopylae; which is especially poignant because they all died. Because they died in paramount expressions of wise decisions, strength, courage, assertiveness, respect, and achievement we call them manly, and even though they died we mean that with very high respect because of what went into that fight. They were mighty.

A modest modern example is a young man who decides to get a car. He gets a job to pay for a car and buys it. He learns how to maintain that car. That is manly.

We also count men’s failure along the paradigm of authority. Adam listened to the voice of his wife and ate the fruit instead of acknowledging the authority that was given him, acknowledging the authority that was kept from him, and for at least speaking the truth to Eve when she gave him the fruit. We’re still stinging from that one.

The young man who is given a car, doesn’t take care of it and can’t be bothered to learn how: We call him girly. He is not manly even if that car is a $50,000 vehicle.

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38 thoughts on “Proposed: Manliness is Authority

  1. This requires some reflection, but it’s an extremely compelling idea, provided it’s properly and sufficiently unpacked. God made man in His image, so the essence of manliness must be a reflection of God’s essence, and authority undoubtedly qualifies. Since any female authority derives from male authority, it also qualifies as a uniquely masculine essence.

    I’m always wary of boiling issues down to the one thing, however, because it often means I’m either glossing over nuances or stretching a term beyond what it can bear. I’ll have to do some thinking about whether there’s anything properly called manly that cannot be traced back to authority.

  2. @Ryder

    I’ll have to do some thinking about whether there’s anything properly called manly that cannot be traced back to authority.

    Please do!

    Of course there is more to come. To be a man isn’t only to be manly. That isn’t always what’s needed.

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  4. @AJP

    Many agree with you. I think manliness is bigger than courage because courage is a choice. It’s the manly choice, but there are situations where manliness is called-for, but the need for courage isn’t a consideration.

  5. The man who does not act with understanding, who acts no better than an animal could still be called male though he wouldn’t be manly, is my point.

  6. Inner game and outer game. Obviously internalizing is best, but sometimes you have to fake it until you make it.

    Thinking this through…

    It’s semi-okay as a guy when speaking to a woman to speak about your desires, especially if they’re admirable, focused, or noble. It can help with rapport and comfort. If your desire is focused then in theory its more believable that you’re capable of achieving it.

    It is NOT okay to reveal what you’re incapable of nor to reveal the limits and boundaries of your authority. I think sometimes guys like to be modest & endearing which can backfire if it makes you seem incapable.

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  8. Authority comes from power, masculinity is power
    You can be a good man and use your power and authority in ways the Almighty would approve of and be a good man.

    Or you could use power and authority counter to God’s word. Makes you a bad man

    But a man either way

  9. I think a major expression of this authority is that of naming things. Words themselves are names.

  10. @JT

    I think a major expression of this authority is that of naming things. Words themselves are names.

    Yes, agreed. That’s one of the things missing from SFC Ton’s formulation that authority comes from power. Also, authority isn’t always direct power. Trump has little personal power, but a lot of authority.

    However; power can get one quite a load of authority. It sucks to say it, but it is overlooked by Christians especially.

  11. @Oscar

    I know you are not promoting this, but how can headship mean anything other than authority? There is only authority. Subjection to it, or rebellion against it.

  12. Never said authority is based on direct/ overt power. Soft power is probaly way under rated and misunderstood

    Being able to name something is power. As when God told Adam to name all the animals

    Trump has 3 versions of power, as I see it

    Personal power based on his ability to motivate, persuade and manipulate people.

    Personal power based on his wealth which is likely a result of his soical skills

    Both of which bring way more power today then physical power of…. say a boxer or what have you.

    And the authority of being POTUS is based on the ability to marshal combat power ie the military and police, set the legislative agenda, sign executive orders and what have you. Even if the soft power of the office is dwindling

    All of the law and the authority of government is based on power. Disobey the law and you will be punished ( in theory).

    As a father, when your children disobey, they are punished. That is an expression of authority based on your power over the child.

    Your boss at work as authority over you via his power to hire, fire, set pay raises etc

    The church has no authority in the secular West because it lacks power.

    SJW’s get what they want by throwing temper tantrums. That is their power and in their way they are exercising authority of college campus and even police departments

    Any version of authority I can think of is based on power, even the one true Almighty God. The ultimate in authority becuase He is the ultimate in power. He is literally all mighty.

  13. @SFC Ton

    What, to you, is an instance of authority which is not an instance of power, or vice-versa? Is there any difference in meanings to you?

  14. Sure. Commiting a crime like Punching someone in the face just becuase is an example of exercising power over someone but that doesn’t mean one had the authority, moral or otherwise, to do so.

    But there is no authority without power, that I can think of.

  15. @SFC Ton

    Sure. Commiting a crime like Punching someone in the face just becuase is an example of exercising power over someone but that doesn’t mean one had the authority, moral or otherwise, to do so.

    But there is no authority without power, that I can think of.

    Suppose a police officer who tries to arrest a violent criminal. He has the authority to punch–or even shoot–the criminal. And if he does not exercise that power at the beginning of the arrest, he still has the authority to do it at some later point, doesn’t he?

  16. Correct but his authority to arrest stems from the power of the state that backs him

    Power is the pre-existing condition that allows authority. His authority to arrest in the 1st place rests on the power of the state

  17. @SFC Ton

    I know you like the cat and mouse game, so be up front and lay down your arugement of where you think I am wrong

    You are sloppy with the words power and authority and use them interchangeably. That is fine for informal discussions. It is not fine for a discussion which makes a formal definition. You don’t so much disagree with the assertion in my OP as you disagree with the terminology.

    But they are not interchangeable, as even you demonstrated…as I wanted with my “cat and mouse game”. Authority is a separate thing. Power can be soft or it can be hard, and those are two different things as well. For example: A lot of women have a lot of soft power. That soft power doesn’t make women manly. Nor does a criminal’s power make him an authority. Criminals circumvent authority to get what they want. That’s what makes them criminals: the avoidance of authority.

  18. My point is there is no authority without power; the inverse isn’t true.

    That isn’t sloppy terminology. That’s reality.

  19. @SFC Ton

    My point is there is no authority without power

    Above your point was “Authority comes from power, masculinity is power” which was in argument to my statement that manliness is authority. But manliness doesn’t come nowhere and authority does not flow from manliness, i.e., authority doesn’t come from power. You have it exactly backwards.

    First you say you will go workout. Then you go workout. Then you have strength. A man is only strong because he had the authority to command himself, and the means to acquire weights with which to make himself strong; because he “spoke” to himself a command.

  20. Ahhhhh…. conversations flow.

    Masculinity is a by product of power. If you are not powerful, you are not masculine. When you see a man who is deficient in masculinity/ masculine behaviors/ mindset, you are seeing a man who lacks some version of power, or maybe all of them

    If you don’t have power, you don’t have authority.

    Where else does authority come other the power?

    Can you list examples of having authority without power?

    It’s is also not correct to say all criminals lack authority. Street level solo punk? Sure. The head of the Sinaloa Cartel has all manner of authority

  21. @SFC Ton

    Where else does authority come other the power?

    It happens all the time with everything. First a man decides (authority) to do something, then he goes and does it (power).

    Can you list examples of having authority without power?

    Every time a man tries to do something, and can’t, or changes his mind, or is stymied, or is usurped.

    It’s is also not correct to say all criminals lack authority. Street level solo punk? Sure. The head of the Sinaloa Cartel has all manner of authority

    Specifically, one commits crime to get something one doesn’t have the authority to get; even if he has the power. That’s simply what crime is; it is to do something which one lacks the authority to do.

  22. @SFC Ton

    If you are not powerful, you are not masculine.

    This I can see, but don’t totally agree with. But this:

    When you see a man who is deficient in masculinity/ masculine behaviors/ mindset, you are seeing a man who lacks some version of power, or maybe all of them

    I agree with this more. The kicker though is that you still know he is a man, and the deficiency in manliness caused by a deficiency in power glares at us because–since he is a man–we know he has the authority to make changes in himself.

  23. @ Cane Caldo says:
    April 7, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    “I never understood those arguments.”

    I still don’t.

    @ Lost Patrol says:
    April 7, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    “… how can headship mean anything other than authority? There is only authority. Subjection to it, or rebellion against it.”

    The argument that headship is not authority makes no sense to me, so I can’t explain it. Maybe you can ask Deep Strength. He stated that “headship is different from authority”. You can read his explanation here.

    https://canecaldo.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/they-want-differently-a-primer-on-womens-sin-and-genius/#comment-10647

  24. @Oscar

    Thanks for the link(s). I don’t really follow, but that happens to me from time to time with DS and/or Cane’s commentaries. Nevertheless I enjoy all of it and am learning along the way.

    I’d be willing to bet money that if a priest or preacher were to start talking about the headship of man in marriage during a service, no woman present would hear anything other than some version of ‘abusive levels of power, authority, and control’ over her. No nuance, word differentiation or precision wanted or tolerated – no matter what pains he took to soften the concept.

  25. @LP

    I don’t really follow, but that happens to me from time to time with DS and/or Cane’s commentaries.

    That’s often my fault. I’m working on it.

  26. @ Lost Patrol says:
    April 9, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    “No nuance, word differentiation or precision wanted or tolerated – no matter what pains he took to soften the concept.”

    I wish more pastors would understand that. The same goes with other politically incorrect teachings, like condemnation of homosexuality. Any time a pastor preaches on that subject, he’ll spend 15 minutes prefacing his message with lame apologies and stories about how he loves homosexuals and has homosexual friends. And in the end, he’ll be condemned as a homophobe anyway.

    At some point, Christians need to just say “screw it”, and tell the truth. We can’t appease the World, so let’s stop trying.

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  29. I get where you are driving towards, lestwise I think so Cane, but you can say I will go on a diet because I have the authority to do so.

    Won’t mean a damn thing if you don’t have the will power to make correct choices about what you eat

    Which brings is to the point where neither of us are really going to agree further. Makes sense given our very different world views and what not

  30. I think there may be something to SFC Ton’s point: Adam received the authority to tend the garden and name the animals, but he already had the ability to do so, which is part of what, I think, SFC Ton means by power.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that power is the essence of masculinity, just that power is a prerequisite for authority.

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