WHAT DOES GODLY MASCULINITY LOOK LIKE?
“The tendency today is to stress the equality of men and women by minimizing the unique significance of our maleness or femaleness…. Confusion over the meaning of sexual personhood today is epidemic.The consequence of this confusion is not a free and happy harmony among gender-free persons …but more divorce, more homosexuality, more sexual abuse, more promiscuity, more social awkwardness, and more emotional distress and suicide that come with the loss of God-given identity.” John Piper
The World’s Message About Masculinity
1. It Views the very subject of male/female differences as destructive.
In our secular, feminized culture, there is resistance to even discussing masculinity or femininity; we have to apologize for even mentioning male/female differences. It is assumed that even mentioning differences is sexist. But making generalizations is fundamental to the way human beings think. It is using the generalizations to put other’s down that is the sin. Our culture is about “personhood,” not masculinity or femininity.
But Paul Jewett points out: “Sexuality permeates one’s individual being to its very depth; it conditions every facet of one’s life as a person. As the self is always aware of itself as an ‘I,’ so this ‘I’ is always aware of itself as himself or herself. Our self-knowledge is indissolubly bound up not simply with our human being but with our sexual being. Man As Male and Female
God has created no sexless human beings. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Gen. 1:27
2. It seeks to strip boys of their masculine identity.
“You need to know, Dad, that your son and thousands like him are presently being stripped of their maleness by a modern, secular, feminist, culture. Over the last few decades this culture has steadily and relentlessly undermined healthy notions of what it means to be a man.” Robert Lewis, Raising A Modern-Day Knight
Efforts have been made to push girls to play with trucks and boys to play with dolls, but every parent knows this “socialization” is futile.
As John Eldredge points out, “Capes and swords, camouflage, bandannas and six-shooters— these are the uniforms of boyhood. Little boys yearn to know they are powerful, they are dangerous, they are someone to be reckoned with. How many parents have tried in vain to prevent little Timmy from playing with guns? Give it up. If you do not supply a boy with weapons, he will make them with whatever materials are at hand. My boys chew their graham crackers into the shape of hand guns at the breakfast table. Every stick or fallen branch is a spear, or better, a bazooka. Despite what many modern educators would say, this is not a psychological disturbance brought on by violent television or chemical imbalance. Aggression is part of the masculine design; we are hardwired for it.” Wild at Heart
3. It no longer views masculinity as a noble calling to strength, courage, and sacrifice but as a problem to be overcome.
Contrast this attitude to the biblical perspective: “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” 1 Kings 2:2-3
A Biblical View of Masculinity
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to WORK it and KEEP it.” Gen. 2:15
1. “Work it” = (Heb. “avad,”) work, serve, labor, cultivate, bear fruit, produce, build, shape. Amplification: To order, build, shape the environment. “We are to called to ‘work’ whatever ‘field’ God has given us…Christian men should desire to cultivate something worthwhile for the glory of God and the well-being of their fellow man.” Richard Phillips, The Masculine Mandate. So, “work it” means to produce, to provide, to make fruitful. Adam bears fruit to provide the sustenance for his family.
2. “Keep it” = (Heb. “shamar,”) guard, protect, watch-over. Amplification: The word is used of soldiers, shepherds, priests, custodians, government officials. “This calling, to keep rounds out the masculine mandate of the Bible. A man is not only to wield the plow, but also to bear the sword. Being God’s deputy lord in the garden, Adam was not only to make it fruitful but to keep it safe.” Phillips, The Masculine Mandate. So, “to keep it” means to protect. Adam is designed to be a warrior!
3. Concerning the dance with woman. The rest of Genesis 2 gives great insight about the roles of man and woman. Adam is brought to the garden “to work it and take care of it.” Eve, however is brought to the man to be a “suitable helper” for him. His focus is the world. In some ways he stands between his family and the world—protecting them from harm from the world and equipping them to be successful in the world (Gen. 2:15, 18) Her focus is her husband and eventually her family. (Gen. 2:15, 18) Eve’s orientation in this subduing is ordering her family and home. (Prov. 31:1-31) After their sin, Adam’s punishment concerns his primary task—cultivating the garden, and Eve’s punishment concerns her primary task caring for her husband and children. (Gen. 3:16-19) This fact reinforces this basic role distinction. Note: We must avoid two extremes as we seek to understand the complimentary way in which God designed man and woman. One extreme is to say a wife belongs only in the home and should not have a job outside the home. The Proverbs 31 woman (the biblical ideal of femininity) was very economically productive and what that looks like from society to society will vary. The other extreme is to say that these different male and female creation distinctions don't matter.
Adam is given the leadership role in the relationship. This means he is not passive but takes initiative. Christian husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves his. Like Jesus, we are called to pursue her, protect her, & provide for her. Pursuing her has two parts: Taking initiative and accepting the leadership role in the relationship of marriage.
Summary of Paired Polarities:
|Masculine Orientation||Feminine Orientation|
|To initiate||To respond|
|To lead||To assist|
|To provide||To nurture|
|To protect||To beautify|
How The Fall Impacts Our Masculinity (Opposite Exptremes)
|To initiate||selfish pursuit, using her for self-satisfaction||passivity, won't risk rejection|
|To lead||overly controlling, harsh||abdication of leadership|
|To provide||financial irresponsibility||providing material but not emotional & spiritual needs|
|To protect||overly protective, which stunts spiritual growth||protecting physically but not emotionally & spiritually|
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Click to download the PDF article, “Boys, Masculinity and the Church: Why Boys Need Churches With Strong Men's Ministries.”
Click to download Gary's By Faith article, “Check Your Masculinity at the Door.”