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Friday, November 04, 2011

Biblical Manhood

We live in a time when manhood is on the wane. While radical feminists call for women to stand up and be heard, men are being told to sit down and shut up. Kick-started by this loud call, we find all sorts of encouragement to go down that path. We are told to "get in touch with your inner child" and "get in touch with your feminine side." Men are overbearing warriors and barbarians who need to be tamed if not eliminated. Egalitarianism is on the rise and society aims at less and less distinction between male and female. The Bible, on the other hand, isn't so vague. While men and women are, for instance, equally valued, the Bible offers a difference in roles. In fact, the original design was complementarian (1 Cor 11:8-9). Man was incomplete without Woman (Gen 2:18). The two make a whole.

The Bible has a lot to say about biblical manhood. Both male and female were made in the image of God (giving them equal value), but while males are said to be "the image and glory of God", women are "the glory of man" (1 Cor 11:7). (Hey, I didn't write it. Talk to Paul ... and the Holy Spirit who inspired him.) The Bible repeatedly gives the role of leadership to males over females (e.g., Gen 2:18; 1 Cor 11:3; 1 Tim 2:12-15). (Again, if you disagree, your dispute isn't with me.)

Of course, the distortions of sin has its own effect. It's too easy to go down the wrong road, believing, for instance, that a "manly man" will be rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. A very popular term today, for instance, is the "man cave" where somehow, in order to be manly, men have to have a place away from their wives and children in which to act "manly". This is typically, by extension, childish and overbearing behavior. I would submit that much of what we envision today as "manly" has nothing at all to do with biblical manhood.

You can find a lot of things about men and their responsibilities and commands in Scripture, but there is a single defining characteristic that gets repeated more than once:
As David's time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, "I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man" (1 Kings 2:1-2).

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong (1 Cor 16:13).
Strength. That's the defining characteristic of a biblical male. Not "warrior" or "sports-minded" or overbearing. Husbands, instead, are called to "live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:7). That's right. Fail to do that, guys, and you don't have to wonder why your prayer life isn't what it should be. Biblical strength, however, is much more difficult than the flexing weightlifters might express. It isn't an overbearing strength. Jesus painted a different picture.
But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. "It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt 20:25-28).
Biblically, men are to be a picture of strength, genuine leaders. This strength and leadership, however, is to be expressed not in lording it over others, but in strength contained -- servant leadership. Jesus, God Incarnate, modeled it for us. When a whipping was necessary, He gave it (John 2:14-15). More often, however, He was the picture of meekness (Phil 2:5-8). Jesus gave Himself as our example, not "to be served, but to serve."

Finding examples of men today who exhibit a biblical expression of manhood is harder and harder. I don't want to contribute to that problem. I want to be part of the solution. I want to live and image a godly model of what God had in mind for men when He made Adam and gave us His Son. I may not be able to change the world, but I don't want to be responsible for assisting it in its slide away from God's view of how we men ought to be.
Recommended Resource for Further Reading: Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

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