Archive for January 18th, 2008

Christian men have become too feminized, according to some. It seems that all those lattes, diet sodas, and I-Phones have turned us into the spiritual equivalent of the local Girl Scout troop. That is, at least according to this article, which portrays a version of a feminized Christian man in this way:

“All you truth-detectors and discernment watch-dogs are just so nasty all the time… Can’t we all just get along? Just be nice; make nice; play nice; and OOZE nice? I don’t think it is loving to criticize others. You’re all just a bunch of big ‘ol meanies. You think you know it all. If you say anything negative, I’m just going to ignore you. Tissue please… it’s just too much to bear…”

The problem with this is that it’s a classic strawman. I’ve never once met a person who’s said anything like that, even on the far left. I have heard and read various requests that call for reasoned responses. I have read things that call the Church to get it’s own house in order before criticizing others. Yet somehow, the calls are translated into a caricature of limp-wristed, cardigan-wearing man. Why is that?

I think that in a large part, this is an instance where the American church has let masculinity be defined by the culture. Even though we live in the era of the “sensitive man” to some extent, it seems that the image that is still glorified most is the warrior, the strongman, and the conquerer. Why do we love football so much? Why do we like movies where one guy takes on an army? It celebrates these type of men.

For a large part this is what this article is defending. It is portraying the ideal Christian man as someone who fights for truth, defends against heresy, and guards the Church. Now these things in and of themselves aren’t wrong. The problem is that using war-like language has led to some serious distortions in the past. It easy to get confused as to who the real enemy is. This type of language has a way of inciting people, and unfortunately the Church’s history of violence is something we need to own up to.

So what is the definition of masculinity we should look to? What is the Biblical role of men. In some ways, the Bible is surprisingly silent on gender roles. It does give us some guidelines, though. Paul says in Ephesians 5:25-27:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

So, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. How did Christ love the Church? He put His life on the line for her, and He served her. Christ wasn’t about “winning” some culture war. He was about serving others. He was about washing the disciples filthy, stinking feet. He was about radical sacrifice. This is the true measure of a man.

The measure of a man is not about presenting a strong front. It is not about being inpenetrable. It is about having the courage to serve. I will end with this quote by G.K. Chesterton:

Brave men are all vertebrates; they have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle.

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