DeVon Franklin, a New York Times best-selling author and Hollywood producer, is teaching men how to address the onslaught of criticisms toward masculinity while avoiding the pitfalls of perpetuating negative male stereotypes in his new book, The Truth About Men: What Men and Women Need to Know.
Earlier this month, the American Psychological Association released its first-ever guidelines for psychologists who work with boys and men, encouraging them not to conform to “traditional masculinity ideology,” calling it "harmful."
The guidelines drew substantial criticism, which you can read more about here. Despite the criticisms, Fredric Rabinowitz, one of the lead writers of the APA's guidelines, said it was meant to help men and boys lead happy, healthy lives.
Franklin has come up with his own methods to help men be men, and avoid actions that lead to them being labeled as cheaters, power hungry, greedy, or dirty dogs, which he discusses in his new book, The Truth About Men: What Men and Women Need to Know.
"The truth about men is that all men share the same struggle and that struggle is lust. Men have a lust problem,” Franklin told The Christian Post in a recent interview. “I believe that lust in men operates like an untrained dog, and lust is selfish. It wants what it wants, when it wants it, however it wants it.”
The “Miracles From Heaven” producer says men need to “put love in control of lust.”
“I call love the master and call lust the dog. Any man that does not master the dog in their life, that dog will master them and lust will cause that man to become whatever it wants to be,” he explained.
Although most people equate lust with sex, Franklin says men can also lust for money, power, and greed. He defined lust as anything that ultimately corrupts the spirit of a man, and said every man is susceptible to it.
"I believe the path of success is mastery. How do we define love? Love is sacrificial, love is selfless — love of our family, love of our self, love of God, love of women, love of community,” he explained
“When a man decides he's going to put his love in control of lust, there's nothing he can't do. But before we can do it, the truth about men is we have to acknowledge that it's there. That, meaning lust,” Franklin added.
Along with being a successful Hollywood producer, Franklin also preaches at churches nationwide and uses that platform to talk about sexual purity. His brother, David, is a pastor in Baltimore, Maryland, and despite being such good men, the Christian filmmaker said that even they have to tame the inner dog in order to stay on the straight and narrow.
"Just because somebody has a title it doesn't take them out of the fact that they're men or women, right? We all have issues, and so I really wanted to write this book because I think there has been a lack of transparency around this issue, especially in our communities of faith,” Franklin maintained.
“This is why so many people in our community of faith are suffering and struggling, because we refuse to have an open dialogue about this issue. No matter if you're in the pulpit or the pew, you struggle and there are these issues, but it doesn't mean you give yourself over to them. Before we can actually deal with them, we got to acknowledge it. We all have our challenges. We're all trying to do better. But before we can do something about it, we have to admit that it's there,” the California native continued.
In recent years, Hollywood executives, R&B stars and even megachurch pastors have all been in the news for falling victim to their inner lust for women or money. When asked if he thought those men were redeemable, if an old dog could learn new tricks, Franklin replied, “of course.”
"I do believe, without a doubt, it can absolutely be done. But it starts with that man being willing to do his work and to admit, 'Just because I am who I am, it's not an excuse for me to do what I want. I need accountability and responsibility in my life. And I need to put myself in a process where I don't allow my lower self, that lower man that wants what it wants, when he wants, to ruin and wreck my life,'” Franklin said.
"One of the revelations and realizations I had to come to was that if I just say, 'Oh, because I'm Devon Franklin, I'm above these issues,’ then I would set myself up to fail and I would set myself up to fail badly,” he admitted. “Just because I am who I am, it does not give me a free pass to absolve myself from these issues. So I think that any man that may be struggling, yes, they can become better. We can become the men of God that God created us to be, but we have to do our work and it's hard.”
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Franklin said he understands why women might have a hard time trusting men, so he decided to write his book for both.
"It's easy to give up hope and give up faith in men. That's one of the reasons that compelled me to write this book, because I know that something can be done about it. I put a lot of time and effort and thought into writing out a lot of solutions on what can be done so that this problem of not being able to find the right man or men that are committed to doing their work, we can solve it,” the devoted husband revealed.
Franklin went on to say that men and women are not independent of one another. His book, he said, will tell the truth about men but it will also give women information about men so they can better understand a man’s intentions.
"This isn't an independent conversation, meaning men and women, we are forever connected. Our destinies are aligned, for better or worse, just the way God set it up,” Franklin continued.
"There's a whole lot you don't know that could be damaging the relationships you're having and I want you to have the best relationship possible. Better yet, I want you to have the best life possible. It's hard to have a good life when you're lacking information that is critical to having that life,” he said of his advice for women. "I think too often men have been able to just do what they want and go free and then the problem is based on the women.”
At the top of the year, the razor company Gillette released a controversial advertisement titled “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be,” as a way to combat so-called toxic masculinity. The ad suggests that the phrase “boys will be boys” should be abandon and men be held accountable for "misogynistic" behavior.
In his book, Franklin says "dog-like" behavior can be disciplined and offers tips on how to focus on being the best man possible.
"I think you got to realize that no discipline equals no destiny. So in order to get to your destiny, you have to have discipline, you have to have self-control,” the “Breakthrough” filmmaker advised.
“Recognize that our desires are at war, and that any man who wants to be successful has to identify that, 'for me to have discipline, I've got to acknowledge that there are things in me that war one another. The man who I want to be in the man that I don't want to be.' They are at odds every single say," Franklin illustrated.
"So in order to have discipline we have to start right now by making new habits. What are the habits in your life right now that are showing a lack of discipline? It could be in your diet; it could be in your prayer life; it could be in who you associate with, your circle of friends. Begin to look at that right now. It's very important to begin new habits because those habits lay the foundation of the discipline that will take you everywhere that you need to be.”
In The Wonder of Boys (1996), New York Times best-selling author Michael Gurian argued that masculinity is, at its heart, a “husbanding” vision of “strength, purpose, honor, power, and compassion that culminates in the art of building a strong enough male self to be able to give that self to others in love and marriage, in parenting and mentoring, in work and life.”
Franklin believes that in order to do the aforementioned things, men have to be able to be disciplined in their sex life.
A survey conducted by Chatelaine.com asked 1,000 men aged 25 and 65 if they had ever been properly educated about sex. Forty-nine percent said that “besides sex-ed class, they got the bulk of their sexual education from friends.”
"We don't talk about this a lot, especially when it comes to the church,” Franklin said. “If you want to be a faithful husband, I believe that a faithful husband starts in dating, it starts in curbing your appetite, curbing your desires. Most men are taught — whether you're in the church or outside the church — 'Hey, if you want to have sex, go do it.'
"Now, I'm not going to judge anybody that makes that choice. But what I am going to say is that in order to have discipline in your life, it starts with curbing your appetite for sex and getting some discipline there. Any man that can get disciplined in that area, I believe there's nothing that men can’t do in life.”
Most importantly, Franklin said he wants his brothers to know that God's role in their lives is instrumental in finding one's true identity.
"I have a chapter called 'Mastering the Dog.' I believe that every master, (the love in a man), every master has to be committed to a master and the master is God. I believe so many of us, as men, we have issues sometimes with our Earthly fathers, but our Heavenly Father can make up the difference,” Franklin testified.
"For me, the success that I've had in life, both personally and professionally, all comes because every day I'm committed to the Master. I go to God in prayer, I've committed my life to Jesus Christ and living for Him as a follower of Him, and trying to do His work here on this Earth," he continued. "That higher calling, that purpose, that love of Christ, that love of God, what that does is it helps me keep the lust in check. There are things that this dog wants me to do, that work against my love of God, my love of Christ, and who I really want to be,” Franklin added.
"So for me, as a man of God, to be successful I have to let that love lead me. I have to say, 'OK God, I love you so much that I don't want to do this. But not only do I don't want to do this, but I'm also actually going to go get help for this. I'm going to go talk to somebody; I'm going to not suppress my feelings. I'm not going to be in denial. I'm going to accept, I'm going to discipline, I'm going to work on mastery. It's a lifelong process. But it's a beautiful process because it produces peace,” he ended.
The Truth About Men will be available in bookstores nationwide on Feb. 5. For more information, visit devonfranklin.com.