Testing Your Manhood

In response to an interview question, “What is a great lover?” the Actor Ricardo Montalban, famously replied, 

“A great lover is someone who can satisfy one woman her entire lifetime and be satisfied with one woman his entire lifetime. It is not someone who goes from woman to woman; any dog can do that.” 

Montalban practiced what he preached. Despite all the temptations of Hollywood, he was married to the same woman for 63 years until her death in 2007. I remembered that interview when I read the following piece from Kairos Journal. The writer is Clement of Alexandria and he was an early leader in the church writing about the effect of being a husband and father under the Lordship of Christ.

True Manhood Tested in Marriage
—Clement of Alexandria (c. 153 – c. 215)

Clement of Alexandria, convert from paganism and eventual head of the eminent Catechetical School in Alexandria, is famous for his theological reflections on the moral life. In this striking extract he maintains that the central arena in which true manliness is forged is the family. Of course, some are called to singleness. This is not to gainsay the enormous spiritual benefit of marriage.

“True manhood is not shown in the choice of a celibate life; on the contrary, the prize in the contest of men is won by him who has trained himself by the discharge of the duties of husband and father and by the supervision of a household, regardless of pleasure and pain – by him, I say, who in the midst of his solicitude for his family shows himself inseparable from the love of God and rises superior to every temptation which assails him through children and wife and servants and possessions. On the other hand, he who has no family is in most respects untried.”1


  1. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7.12.70, quoted in Gary A. Anderson, The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 60.

Concluding thought:

Marriage is the proving ground for manhood. Remember that, and prove yourself a man by being faithful to your wife and a godly example to your children as well as a witness to the power of Christ.

2 thoughts on “Testing Your Manhood

  1. Two thoughts: 1. The final sentence might be more accurate as “Marriage is A proving ground”, not THE. 2. Would Clement say Jesus was in most respects untried? Would the Scriptures agree? What did Clement know of the celibate life?


    1. A good emmendation. I have changed the final sentence. I don’t know what Clement would say to the second thought but my own would be that singleness can equalling be “A” proving ground for manhood/womanhood. Much hangs on the right article and much more can be gained from a deeper reflection on how both stations test the mettle of a man or woman in pursuit of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.