“Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”
That’s a famous line from the 1951 movie, African Queen, making a point that was better understood in those days than it is now. We are not to embrace nature fully, we are, indeed, to overcome it.
Nature’s ways could be deadly. It could be extremely cold or hot outside and wild animals could be lurking at night seeking a meal. So what do we do? We build houses to protect ourselves in, and add air conditioning to regulate the unkind temperature while we’re in there. That’s overcoming nature. That’s rising above it not only to survive, but to thrive. Nature is not always friendly, it’s not always kind. It has too many extremes that we humans need to regulate by rising above nature itself.
Becoming your better self is rising above nature. Nature is your base self. The scene from African Queen where the quote comes from was when a missionary-lady berated a drunken sailor who claimed that it was only human nature to get drunk once in a while. The missionary would know better. The commandments she finds in her Bible are all about asking us to do difficult things that go against our human nature. The Bible calls us to rise above nature!
So, as crass, jarring and libido-driven as men naturally are, much more is expected of us. We are to rise above our sometimes unpleasant nature to become our better selves – people who are able to modulate those extremities into a more temperate disposition, for the benefit of all around them.
Here are three such examples of the uncouth natural tendencies that men seriously need to overcome.
You must have heard a million times that It’s men’s nature to cheat. That may very well be true, given that the commandment from the Bible is not to covet your neighbor’s wife (rather than your neighbour’s husband, or both). The focus is on men overcoming their natural tendency which women don’t possess at the same level. The same God who created men with an insatiable sexual drive, fueled by fantasy and variety, calls them to be devoted to one woman as wives.
So giving yourself a pat on the back or consoling yourself for doing what every man naturally does is an embrace of mediocrity. You should instead rise above nature and choose to devote yourself to one woman only.
Both spouses can be of help here. Since the woman is looking for the one man who would meet her many needs and the man is looking for many women who would meet his one need (which is basically sex), both the man and the woman can be to the other person what the other person needs. The man loving his wife so much that he is willing to give her all that she needs, and the woman making variety – whether in physical appearance or in behavior – a priority, to keep her husband somewhat engaged. It’s quite easy for men and women to do these things anyway. It’s like cheating nature by using its characteristics to your advantage. So why don’t we cheat nature to please our wives instead of cheating our wives to appease nature.
Clinging to Mum
“So shall a man leave his father and mother and cling to his wife…” What about women? Well, it’s not necessarily in their nature to remain attached to father and mother. They are all too ready to cling to their husbands from the get go.
In consoling me over the grueling process of leaving my mum (emotionally), my brother in-law made the point that most Nigerian men don’t go through that entire process of leaving father and mother before getting married. Most of them manage to leave father (by becoming financially independent) but not mother, because they still remain emotionally dependent on them. This causes a lot of mother-in-law troubles with their brides.
It is in our nature as men to love our mothers more than we love our fathers and, most times, more than we love anybody else. So we cling to them and don’t let anyone else come in-between. It’s often a recipe for a disastrous marriage. To rise above it, we are instead to take that emotional support we once got from mum and begin to give it to our wives. At the courting stage, before marriage, we are to begin to share more of our heart and problems with our significant other and less with our mothers; beginning a process of getting divorced from mum in order to healthily marry wife.
If we just leave it the way it is and do nothing about it, then nature will take over. And unregulated nature equals disaster.
Because we are more visually-driven than women, it is much easier for men to fall into the greed trap, coveting and amassing until it no longer makes sense. They say the toys that boys play with as kids remain the same and only get bigger and more functional as they become men. We want fast cars, big houses and cool gadgets. And we need money to obtain them. We also want beautiful women – as many as naturally possible – and we think we need money to obtain them.
So we go on a quest to make money, so much money that the only problem we envision having is how to spend it. And of course we plan to spend it on more toys to compete with the other men on the block. This then drives a greedy perversion of character that makes it easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for heaven to tolerate us.
To rise above greed – a horrible human nature – we need to give more. Instead of going with the assumption that everything is for your consumption, give more of what you have to others and see how more content you’ll become. It is then that state of contentment that makes it easier for heaven to tolerate us men, as godliness with contentment is indeed great gain!
So remember that “it’s only natural” is no longer an excuse for you to act in a way that is appalling and often harmful to others.Nature, my fellow men, is what we are put in this world to rise above. And we shall overcome!