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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37 Comments(+Add)

1   Jerry Hillyer    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
January 18th, 2008 at 11:43 am

Phil,

I am glad you wrote this post because I was struggling to keep from doing it myself. You have said it brilliantly and I agree with you that Camp has clearly missed the point and is fighting a straw war. What is ironic about the article is that one of their most vehement, outspoken people is actually a woman.

It’s like I have said: these people find it so easy to sit behind their computers or radio microphones and criticize everything they see going on around, but they don’t dare have the nerve of us real men sho step behind a pulpit every single week and dare to proclaim before the world and the church and God Almighty His Holy Gospel. I will start giving these people credibility when the pulpit is the place of their work. Until then, they are bloggers greedy for page views.

They are type we are warned of in Scripture:

3As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. 5The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. (1 Timothy 1)

and

3If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (1 Timothy 6)

That’s all. Thanks for the post. Now excuse me for a while, but I’m going to go kiss my wife, squeeze my children, comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable, pray for a friend in grief and mourning, suffer with the children of God who are being persecuted, weep over the kids at school who have no parents or discipline, and then I’m going to approach the word of God with fear and trembling. I’m not feeling to manly right now what with all this affectionate and feeling type stuff I have to do.

jerry

2   dave    http://www.mindfulmission.com
January 18th, 2008 at 11:50 am

So… this would seem to imply that Ingrid is masculine, right?

Wouldn’t one who bought into this idea of a “masculine” manhood also buy into the necessity of a “feminine” womanhood?

Of course… I would make a strong argument that there is little (if any) Biblical support for either “masculinity” or “femininity” anyway, so I really don’t get the point to attack people for being too feminine.

3   Tim Reed, Owosso MI    http://churchvoices.com
January 18th, 2008 at 11:53 am

It sounds to me that the extreme feminists that I know and Steve Camp agree: Men are or should be complete jerks.

4   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
January 18th, 2008 at 11:55 am

Dave,
Why do I get the feeling the Dan Brown is going to be brought up in this thread? :-)

I think you’re right. I don’t necessarily think the Bible has a strong distinction between masculine and feminine, at least not as strong as some Christians have made it. It seems to me that we’re all called to be like Christ in whatever situation we’re in.

5   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
January 18th, 2008 at 11:56 am

The problem is they are actually a shadow of the hyper masculine, and that brings us to an eclipse of the hyper femininity which is actually a shadow of the light generated by the Source of oneness working through “rain” in the “trees” to create a “flame” on “Sunday” but no ruin the “kickball” game of “luggage” so the “bullhorn” guy can say his “name” “today” without a “lump”. :)

6   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 18th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Joe,

You kill me sometimes.

Seriously, though, you need to avoid the whole “hyper-masculine” thing – that whole episode was really creepy, and mentioning it again may chum the waters… ;)

7   pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
January 18th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Jesus was the ultimate human- we should strive to be like him.

8   Erica Martino    http://joemartino.name/erica
January 18th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Your right Pastor Boy He is!

9   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
January 18th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Mister Rogers came across as a wimpy weak limp-wristed nice guy… yet, the reason he wore sweaters, was to hide the fact his arms were covered with military tattoos as he was a decorated military war hero…

They are judging the outside and not realizing that God in us is more powerful that mans preaching… or how strong we appear.

iggy

10   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
January 18th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Joe…

that makes perfect sense! LOL!

But, now I am all hyper…

Off for more coffee!

iggy

11   Erica Martino    http://joemartino.name/erica
January 18th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Imagine what conversations are like in our house!lol J/K

12   Chris P.    
January 18th, 2008 at 2:07 pm

“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.”

Finish the rest of the passage from Eph 5, as
He also washes us in the water of His Word. That would take a firehouse in some churches.

Remember also that He cleansed the temple in what could be called a rather violent manner.
A for Bro Hillyer. I and many i know do the exact things yiou mentioned and more without being the classic “sensitive post-modern guy”

As for Mr. Reed (broken in the wind);
I find almost every guy, with a handful of significant exceptions, (don’t worry you are not one of them) to be a total jerk, dork,…etc

13   RayJr    
January 18th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Fred Rogers never served in the military.

14   chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
January 18th, 2008 at 2:39 pm

classic “sensitive post-modern guy

”

I find almost every guy, with a handful of significant exceptions,

I’m confused!

15   chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
January 18th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Mr. Rogers was an emergent. Says Theresa Heinz Kerry at his memorial.

“He never condescended, just invited us into his conversation. He spoke to us as the people we were, not as the people others wished we were.”

Found Here

16   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
January 18th, 2008 at 2:51 pm

My dad went to the same seminary as Mr. Rogers. I think he may have spoken at his graduation, I can’t remember off hand. It was Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (although my dad referred to as cemetary).

17   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
January 18th, 2008 at 2:55 pm

He was also a life long Steelers Fan!

18   Erica Martino    http://joemartino.name/erica
January 18th, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Chris P,
“As for Mr. Reed (broken in the wind);
I find almost every guy, with a handful of significant exceptions, (don’t worry you are not one of them) to be a total jerk, dork,…etc”
Really???? This shocks me! :-)

19   dave    http://www.mindfulmission.com
January 18th, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Jesus was the ultimate human- we should strive to be like him.

Jesus wept.

Is that masculine or feminine?

20   pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
January 18th, 2008 at 3:11 pm

weeping is neither

21   dave    http://www.mindfulmission.com
January 18th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

I also still want to know if Ingrid is “masculine.” Because Steve Camp’s idea of masculinity seems to describe Ingrid pretty well.

22   Jerry Hillyer    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
January 18th, 2008 at 4:12 pm

I’m not saying that about the author of Slice–although the Scripture does say something about women being silent. Ooooooooooo! I guess that doesn’t apply to the online churches that the ODMs ‘pastor’ and ‘preach’ and ‘teach’at/ to–something akin to the ‘Neighborhood of Make-Believe.’

(It’s just a joke so don’t get all bent out of shape.) I’d take Mr Rogers over any of them any day of the week. He at least had the nerve to be among people. How dare he wear a sweater. (I’m wearing a sweater today too.)

jerry

23   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
January 18th, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Ray Jr,

Fred Rogers never served in the military.

You know, I actually knew that.. and forgot… but man… why do we always have to mess with a good story for the sake of Truth? LOL!

The point is still that we need not judge by the outside… I think Jesus stated it using cups as an illustration.

= )

iggy

24   pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
January 18th, 2008 at 5:10 pm

Boy these comments about Ingrid, who is someone’s mother, wife, daughter, etc. AND a child of God seem a bit mean spirited etc.

I get humor, but…

25   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 18th, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Boy these comments about Ingrid, who is someone’s mother, wife, daughter, etc. AND a child of God seem a bit mean spirited etc.

I agree that we need to be careful here, as well.

It has been noted before, and I tend to agree, that Ingrid’s self-proclaimed role in calling pastors (who are not even her own) to accountability smacks of hypocrisy in light of the doctrinal stance she takes on the issues between complementarian and egalatarian gender roles.

However, this should not spill over into ridicule.

26   Jerry Hillyer    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
January 18th, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Right, that’s like saying all the male candidates for president ought to be nice to Hilary because she’s a woman. I didn’t see anything particularly meanspirited…

27   pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
January 18th, 2008 at 5:37 pm

We could digress into a bevy of yo-momma jokes also, if we need to….

28   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 18th, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Jerry,

Where I think it crossed the line, particularly, was the juxtaposition of ‘masculine’ and Ingrid.

With Hillary (and Ingrid), I think that any reasonable criticism is fair game, but I think we cross the line when we make it about gender and start joking in that direction. As I noted, I think the only legitimate “gender” issue with Ingrid is her hypocritical juxtaposition of complementarian/egalatarian doctrine, where she criticizes those who aren’t complementarian, but acts as an egalatarian (when it comes to her “ministry”).

29   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
January 18th, 2008 at 5:59 pm

PB,

“Boy these comments about Ingrid, who is someone’s mother, wife, daughter, etc. AND a child of God seem a bit mean spirited etc.”

Aren’t you over looking that this is Steve Camp’s view of men and women? that means it is his view of Ingrid and Hillary… not ours. So I think you need redirect who is being mean! LOL!

“Jesus was the ultimate human- we should strive to be like him.”

Wow! I have state this and been run throught the ringer by ODm’s and others for taking it to mean I deny the deity of Christ… funny how you state it and are not even emerging.

Actually, though if you mean on our own strength… aint gonna happen… if it by Jesus in us being our only Hope of Glory… then it will.

iggy

30   merry    
January 18th, 2008 at 6:16 pm

“What is ironic about the article is that one of their most vehement, outspoken people is actually a woman.”

“So… this would seem to imply that Ingrid is masculine, right?”

I think these statements are a bit of a strawman, as well. This has nothing to do with anything mentioned.

When I think of “girly-men”, I think not so much of “nice” (most men I know are nice and aren’t girly, so I don’t get the point of the article), I think more of . . . I don’t know, prissy? Just, you know, sensitive in a bad way (being sensitive toward others is the good way), overly-emotional- irrational-I-pretty-sure-they-have-PMS. Nice has nothing to do with it. Yes, I have known men like this. Sorry if this made no sense. ;)

31   pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
January 18th, 2008 at 6:18 pm

I am confused….

Anyhew, does it make me a girly man to be concerned with others’ feelings? (empathy?)

AIGGGGHHHHH

32   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
January 18th, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Funny as i went and read through the descriptions Steve gave i know lots of men like that… I just wonder who Steve is hanging with that he meets all these feminized men? Maybe he need leave that circle and come to the emerging side… we are all pretty manly… I think even Karen Ward can kick Steve’s butt…

iggy

33   Jerry Hillyer    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
January 18th, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I certainly hope that I did not give the impression that I was criticizing the author of Slice as that was not the intention. My point was that if the church is becoming to ‘feminized’ (a term that has too many negative overtones to me and a term I dislike for that reason) then it is ironic that one of the most outspoken critiques of the modern church is a female–regardless of who that female is.

Thus:

As I noted, I think the only legitimate “gender” issue with Ingrid is her hypocritical juxtaposition of complementarian/egalatarian doctrine, where she criticizes those who aren’t complementarian, but acts as an egalatarian (when it comes to her “ministry”).

is where I was going. I was not trying to juxtapose the author of Slice with anything or anyone. I want to clear this up now. I’m not sure how my comments were construed to mean anything other than this. As it is, we can see a rise in the church of popular female ‘preachers’ like Paula White or Joyce Meyers. But I don’t think that is what Mr Camp is criticizing because if he were I would most likely agree with him.

Be that as it may, I hope this clears up where I was going with my original comments. I hope I didn’t offend anyone because that’s not why I visit here. Thanks again for the space to share.

jerry

ps–Merry, with all due respect, it was hardly a strawman, but I won’t be so offended as to argue the point with you.

34   Jerry Hillyer    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
January 18th, 2008 at 6:38 pm

One final thought, I think Camp’s point is that we should ‘play hardball.’ If that is true, then anyone is fair game–including the author of Slice who just happens to be a woman. I don’t think his point has anything to do with the actual sex of a person, but I could be wrong. I thought he was just saying that we should be tough enough to take in what we dish out and vice-versa or something like that. But I could be wrong.

35   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
January 18th, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Jerry,

He should know… he disagrees with everyone… even John MacArther recently

iggy

36   merry    
January 18th, 2008 at 7:02 pm

“ps–Merry, with all due respect, it was hardly a strawman, but I won’t be so offended as to argue the point with you.”

Is that because I’m a woman? ;)

37   Neil    
January 19th, 2008 at 10:30 am

I don’t know… but when I read articles like this one by Camp I’m unimpressed. Not so much that I think he’s wrong, but it’s so vague, so broad-brushed, so all-applying that it’s mostly irrelevant.

His litany of “Where are the men who…” is a load of… OK, let’s back off a bit… There are men (and women) all across this country that are doing everything he says in that list. Problem is, many are not doing it in the style Camp disapproves of – therefore they are not doing it. Others are flying under the radar, so he assumes they do not exist.  Others have abandoned the meat of the Gospel – therefore most all have…

Bottom line – Camp’s article is so vague, so over-arching, so “The work is going to Hell in a hand-basket” that it hardly worth bothering with.