Now that the obvious has been addressed, the next thing I want to say is that real men are men of their word. This means:
1. They tell the truth
2. They keep their promises
With regard to the truth, let’s not get bogged down in arguments that are used to justify dishonesty. I am not talking about the necessary deceptions required in times of war, or the daily ways in which the truth should be tempered in order to avoid causing needless pain. I am talking about a habit of honesty that governs a man’s entire life, public and private. A real man does not tell “little white lies” of convenience. He does not cheat a little bit on his taxes. He is known by his friends, neighbors, co-workers, even by those who do not like him, as someone who will always tell the truth, even at his expense.
Having said that, a real man will not use the truth as a weapon to bludgeon others. He does not look for opportunities to hurt people by being “brutally honest”. True honesty is not brutal. It may be a weapon, but it is used in defense of self and others. When used to wound it becomes the worst kind of lie.
A man of his word also keeps his promises. All of them, from the least to the greatest. When he says he will take out the trash, he does so, and does not keep someone waiting unnecessarily for him. When he tells his little girl that he will come play with her, he does so without begrudging her the time. When he swears before God and man on his wedding day that he will be faithful to his bride and cleave only to her, he lives that promise out to the end. A real man will never abandon his wife and children, born or unborn.
A man of his word is not deterred by circumstances. The strength of his promise is not dependent on his mood, and he does not break his promise just because someone else has broken theirs. He does not tell the truth only when he is happy. The real man abhors situational ethics.
This is not intended to be mere moralizing or an empty harangue. No man is perfect. We are all tempted to dishonesty and infidelity. There are times when our relationships are strained to the breaking point and our strength is sapped by fatigue. We struggle and fail. When that happens, we should be quick to seek forgiveness and extend forgiveness to others. But the greater part of a man’s life should be marked by his ability to keep his word.
History rarely (if ever) praises the skillful liar or the promise-breaker. The serial adulterer and home-wrecker is never remembered kindly. The reputations of the greatest men are indelibly tarnished by their adulteries. But history celebrates the honest man. One of the greatest compliments posterity bestows on a man is for his children and grand-children to hear that their father was a man of his word. In a world governed more by expedience and instant gratification than honor, where false men are congratulated for endorsing the lie that an embryonic human is somehow not a person, we need now, more than ever, real men of their word.