Why is it that laughter is lauded but tears are shameful? We’re okay with saying a guy is “funny” but to say he’s a “crier” is a bit of an insult. No one has ever vocally admitted this to me, but it sure seems to be a common perception. Real men don’t cry–not in public anyway. And if they do cry, that’s just weakness.
But I’m not interested in perceptions. I want to know what biblical principles or precepts may apply to this issue. Is it okay for a man to cry? Does it make him look weak? Feminine? Progressive? Are there things that are to be held so closely and dearly that it moves a man to tears? When I look at Scripture it would seem so.
Tears are given to us to express emotion. Tears provide a healthy outlet for how we feel. The Bible says that God counts our tears as being so precious that he puts them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Jesus counted tears as being so precious that when Mary was washing his feet with her tears he didn’t rebuke her foolishness; instead, he commended her. When he was on the cross and people were crying for him, he didn’t instruct them to stop crying; instead, he instructed them to start crying for themselves and others.
If crying is a display of weakness, then Jesus must have been pretty weak. John 11:35 says he didn’t cry a tear or two – he wept! If crying is a display of weakness, you would have to count a lot of men in Scripture as being pretty weak.
But what if I told you that if you don’t cry you might be sinning? That’s a step farther. And yet, that’s what we read from Paul. Paul commands us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). I can already hear the objection being raised: “But I’m not a crier.” I trust you understand that actual tears are not the main issue. Rather, it’s the heart of love that often overflows in tears. While it’s possible that a man may never cry, that is certainly a Scriptural anomaly. Scripture indicates that it’s more common for a godly man to cry than it is for a godly man not to cry.
I’m not concerned about a man who cries, but I am very concerned about a man who does not cry. In fact, the Puritan Thomas Watson in his book The Godly Man’s Picture, marked weeping as one of the marks of a godly man. If our churches are going to be filled with men who are true leaders following the example of Christ, then we need some real men who will really cry!
Caleb Phelps was born and raised in New Hampshire and is an avid fan of all things New England sports. He grew up in a pastors home and was saved at the age of 12. As a young junior higher he sensed God's call on his life to go into full time Christian service. Caleb graduated from BJU with a BA in Bible and an MA in Theology. After graduating from seminary Caleb traveled in evangelism which took him across the country to many different churches and camps. While he was traveling Caleb met the love of his life, Rachel. They got married and moved to Indianapolis, IN where Caleb served as the youth pastor at Crosspointe Baptist Church. In September 2018 the Lord moved Caleb and his family to Palm Bay, FL where he now serves as senior pastor at Faith Baptist Church.
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