Summary: Go ahead and have a good cry, and let your tears draw you closer to God and to others.
Real men DO cry at times, but there are rules. Recently, GQ magazine shared those rules in a humorous article actually written by a woman. She said, “Male crying is not new. It's been happening for as long as men have had eyeballs. But it was almost always done behind at least three closed doors.” Here are some of GQ's rules about public crying for men:
It is okay to cry if you're in extreme pain, like, say, a piano was dropped from a 50-story window on your foot.
It's okay to cry at certain works of art or film. For instance, if you don't get misty-eyes at Toy Story 3, you are a monster.
It's almost weird if you don't sob the first time you hold your newborn baby. No shame in that, bro.
But it's definitely weird if you sob during a sports event. However, you can cry if you are actually one of the athletes out there on the field. But even then, you should cry only if you win. And if you're just a fan, the rule here is much simpler: never, ever cry.
And finally, never, ever cry during an argument. As the woman who wrote the article notes, “Sorry, guys, but crying during an argument is kind of our thing.” (Lauren Bans, "Bawl So Hard," GQ, June 2015; www.PreachingToday.com)
Obviously, these rules are (more or less) tongue-in-cheek, but they do bring up an important question: Is it ever appropriate for a man (or a woman) to cry? And if so, Why? What is the benefit of a good cry?
Genesis 50:1-3 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. Forty days were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days. (ESV)
70 days is just two days shy of the normal mourning period for a pharaoh. So it seems that the Egyptians developed a tremendous amount of respect for Joseph and his father.
Genesis 50:4 And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, (ESV)
You see, after 70 days of mourning, Joseph is in no condition to see the Pharaoh himself. His face is unshaven, his eyes are bloodshot, and he looks terrible, so he asks pharaoh’s servants to give pharaoh a message. “Tell him…
Genesis 50:5-8 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.” Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.’ ” And Pharaoh answered, “Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear.” So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. (ESV)
That’s quite a funeral procession. It includes all the dignitaries of Egypt and all of Jacob’s family.
Genesis 50:9-10 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen. It was a very great company. When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and grievous lamentation, and he made a mourning for his father seven days. (ESV)
Now, Joseph is not just stifling a few sniffles here. He and his entourage are heaving great sobs and wails of grief. In fact, they are so overcome with grief they stop the funeral procession for seven days! This is the first time Joseph has seen his home in 39 years. 39 years before this, at the age of 17, Joseph was sold as a slave and forced to leave his home. Now, at the age of 56, he returns home not to a happy family reunion, but to bury his father. No wonder he is so overcome with grief, so much so that the neighbors take notice.
Genesis 50:11-14 When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning by the Egyptians.” Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim (i.e., the mourning of the Egyptians); it is beyond the Jordan. Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them, for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father. (ESV)