This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.William Shakespeare
Human stories, from ancient times to today’s blockbuster movies, are full of temptresses. Across thousands of years, the tale is the same. A seductive woman enters a man’s life. She adores him. She enchants him. She makes him feel like more like a man than he’s never felt before. Slowly by slowly, he starts to give into her. He is so in love with her that he compromises his integrity until she’s taken all of his strength.
The Biblical story of Samson vividly paints this picture. Samson is an ancient superhero. He’s made a deal with God that if he never cuts his hair, God will grant him superhuman strength.
After Samson single-handedly destroys an army of the Philistines, the lords of the Philistines want to destroy Samson. They bribe Delilah to find the source of Samson’s strength. She seduces Samson and he becomes incredibly in love with her. She asks for the source of his strength three times. To each he lied, and she tried to take away his strength in vain.
On the fourth, Samson finally tells Delilah that his strength comes from the integrity of his hair. So she lulls him to sleep and has a servant cut his hair. He instantly goes weak and is made a prisoner to the Philistines.
The stories like Samson and Delilah seem sexist. For years and years and years, feminism has viewed the temptress as a vile invention of the patriarchy to oppress women and blame them for men’s problems. There is truth in this. The image of Delilah has been used to wage war on the feminine.
But there is something to teach A man’s sense of integrity is his highest strength. His self-trust and wholeness allow him to feel like himself, pursue his life purpose, and present his gift to the world. Because of the power of his integrity, there will be forces that actively try to destroy it and rob the world of the gift only he could give.
Every man will encounter Delilahs as he pursues his purpose. While an imperfect metaphor, the temptress can represent anything that lures men away from themselves and turns them to greed, destruction, and self-gratification. Men are seduced all the time by the hollow promises of money, fame, power, prestige, approval, and recognition. These men are ensnared by their egos and give up their strength to pursue shallow fulfillment.
So how do men stay true to themselves when they hear the voice of the temptress?
Odysseus laid out an incredible example. In his twenty-year journey home from Troy, Odysseus’s ship passed through the waters of the sirens. These sirens, half woman and half bird, sang seductive songs that made sailors throw themselves into the sea and crash their ships into the rocks.
When Odysseus knew he was entering the waters of the sirens, he told his men to plug their ears with beeswax and gave them a simple request: “Tie me to the mast. If I ask to be untied, don’t listen. Tie me tighter.”
The ship entered the waters of the sirens. Odysseus’s men tied him to the mast of his ship. As he heard the sirens’ call, he begged and begged to be untied, but his sailors tied him tighter. He made it through the waters safely.
Like Odysseus, the whole man ties himself to the mast of his integrity. He is aware of his values and principles and abides by them. He plugs his ears to avoid distraction by shallow satisfaction. He binds himself to his purpose so he isn’t tempted to go jump overboard.
But as determined as Odysseus was, he couldn’t fully resist the song of the sirens. He wanted to be untied. He wanted to give up his integrity. He wanted to give up his strength. Luckily, he was kept accountable by men who tied him tighter and tighter to the mast of his integrity.
The whole man sees the value in accountability partners. He needs a community of other men to tie him tighter his mast. When his strength fails, he needs others to help pick him up and remind him of who he is.
So how do we as men tie ourselves to the mast? How do create accountability partners? The first step is vulnerability. Admit you have flaws. Admit you have weaknesses. Admit there are places in your heart where you can become incredibly seduced.
And then, start sharing. Share your struggles. Share your insecurities. Share every time you trip up in keeping your integrity. The more you share, the tighter and tighter good men will tie you to the mast of your integrity until even the most seductive song can’t loose you.