Jerry Seinfeld has been in the news quite a bit lately and for reasons usually not associated with a standup comedian who has made his career musing about “nothing.”

At Duke University earlier this month to speak at the school’s graduation, a small contingent of graduates walked out and others booed his introduction as commencement speaker. They were protesting his public support for Israel.

Jerry Seinfeld, who is Jewish, was unphased and unapologetic.

Seinfeld’s latest flap revolves around a wide-ranging interview he did with the journalist Bari Weiss.  The former New York Times and Wall Street Journal writer and editor was reflecting on themes she was picking up on in the comedian’s new movie, Unfrosted, which is a spoof documentary on the history of Pop Tarts. Weiss asked Seinfeld about the “common culture” of the early 1960s, and whether he was enamored with it. Seinfeld responded:

Of course. But there’s another element there that I think is the key element, and that is an agreed-upon hierarchy, which I think is absolutely vaporized in today’s moment. We have no sense of hierarchy. And as humans, we don’t really feel comfortable like that. So, that is part of what makes that moment attractive, looking back.

Jerry Seinfeld continued:

I always wanted to be a real man. I never made it. But I really thought when I was in that era — it was JFK, it was Muhammad Ali, it was Sean Connery, Howard Cosell — that’s a real man. I want to be like that someday. But I never really grew up. I mean, you don’t want to grow up, as a comedian, because it’s a childish pursuit. But I miss a dominant masculinity. Yeah, I get the toxic thing, I get it. But still, I like a real man.

But according to Jerry Seinfeld, what does it mean to be a “real man”? He suggested actor Hugh Grant, who costarred in the Pop Tart film, fits the bill:

He knows how to dress. He knows how to talk. He’s charming. He has stories. He’s comfortable at dinner parties, and knows how to get a drink. You know what I mean? That stuff.

Whether referencing “dominant masculinity” or the qualities of a “man’s man,” most men know what Jerry Seinfeld is talking about. He’s talking about bold, fearless, unapologetic leadership. He’s talking about confidence, courage, maybe even some brashness. He’s referring to men not feeling guilty for being men. He’s harkening back to classic characters featured in news and politics, or in movies or on television, long before political correctness attempted to neuter them or make them be self-conscious about being hard-charging and perhaps even a little hard-headed.

Activists uncomfortable with these traditional roles and traits have pushed back on men in recent years, labeling such behavior as “toxic masculinity.”

The war against manhood has been going on for years. Radical feminists have attempted to eliminate any perceived or real hierarchy. To them, there is no distinction between men and women. There is nothing a man does that a woman can’t do as well or better.

Such belief is utter nonsense, which is why even a Jewish comedian is speaking up and out in frustration.

As Christians, we may agree with Jerry Seinfeld and other secularists regarding what masculinity isn’t – but we don’t fully agree with them on what it is.

Being a man isn’t about knowing how to hold your liquor, seduce women or dominate a press conference like the showman Muhammad Ali.

Yet the apostle Paul offered some helpful and prescriptive perspective when writing to Christians in Corinth.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong,” he wrote. “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

According to Paul, men should be aware of their times. What are we to watch for? The enemy. Evil, wickedness, and troublemakers determined to undo and undermine our faith and witness.

True men hold their Christian faith as they would armor in battle. They stand firm. Christian men don’t wobble or weave according to whim. They’re not unduly influenced by the last person they spoke with or swayed by the latest trend online.

Healthy men check their motives. Are we looking to score points or settle a grudge – or are we acting in a manner that we believe is in the best interest of those whose paths we cross? Doing things in love won’t always be warmly received – but doing so allows us to maintain a clear conscience and maximize our effectiveness.

Real men aren’t toxic and they aren’t obnoxious. Real men lead with love and live with integrity.


Image from Getty.