Eugene Cho

jesus – i’m sorry i’m not a “real man”

There’s been much talk in the “evangelical church” and christian blogosphere about the problem of the “feminization” of the church.  Some even see the “emasculation” of Christian men as one of the largest threats to the evangelical church.  Really?  As a result, we’re seeing examples of churches challenging Christian men to be more manly and indirectly calling for an old school hierachy in the roles of men and women.  What does that mean?

This past Sunday, I focused my teaching on one verse: Colossians 3:19 [Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.] and utilized Ephesians 5 for more clarification.  You can listen to the sermon here.  Two Sundays ago, we focused on verse 18 [Wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord].  Click for the blog post or the sermon.  FYI, we’ve been going through an expository study through Colossians.

I agree.   There is an issue. We do need to address the absence and silence of the larger Christian male individual community in their marriages, families, churches, and society.   But here’s my question:  Who exactly are we listening to as role models to shape our identity as MEN?  While important aspects such as pleasure, protection, and provision are alluded to by the larger pop culture, it is often distorted.  In addition, what it will NEVER do is speak to the spiritual aspect of those responsibities and privileges.

Maybe, I have this all wrong.  Maybe, Jesus really wants me to be a different kind of man than I’ve sought to be.  If so, I’m in some serious shit [just trying to sound more manly here]. 

Dear Jesus, 

I’m sorry I’m not a real man.  I repent that I’m not so tough and rugged; I’m sorry that I don’t own a gun, hunt bears, eat juicy raw red meat; I’m sorry that I’m not obsessed with Jack Bauer, Ultimate Fighting Club, and learn the various submission moves; I’m sorry that I don’t demand sex from my wife every single day; I’m sorry that I’m not a complete success with a portfolio of real estate, fancy cars, and season tickets to Seahawks games; I’m sorry I don’t enjoy hard liquor, chew tobacco, and idolize the Marlboro man; I’m sorry because I’m simply just not man enough.  And Jesus, forgive me for this grievious unmanly thing – I drive a Jetta [and a minivan].  But you already knew that because you’re omniscient.  Forgive me.

Additonal Confession: The rumors are true – I secretly listened to Air Supply when I was in high school.  Forgive me…Jesus.

For now Jesus, I want to love and worship you, love and honor my wife, protect and provide for my children, and teach, serve, and equip the church where I pastor.   While you’ll eventually transform me into the man I need to be, I will love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly with you.

I love how God speaks through the Scriptures in 1 Samuel 16:7 around the story of David’s selection:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things human beings look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Fellow Christian brothers:  Don’t be so consumed by the outward appearance; Focus on your heart.

Filed under: culture, emerging church

24 Responses

  1. Blake says:

    What are you talking about that you don’t like raw meat? You’re a sushi fanatic aren’t you?😉

    More seriously, thanks for your message this past Sunday, P.E. I’m familiar with this movement and have begun reading “Why Men Hate Going to Church” by David Murrow. It is a very interesting read so far. As an SPU Alumnus, I’ve witnessed and been frustrated first-hand by the apparent apathy of so many Christian men. To use an analogy with which I am most familiar but some may disapprove, many of us men have forgotten how to be spiritual warriors, or worse, were never taught. We don’t stand up in the face of adversity and protect our sisters or aggressively engage our culture and community in ways that honor God. Too many of us (of which I am part much of the time), are content to just sit on our butts and watch the world go by.

    A good friend of mine and I were actually talking about men the other day in the context of analogies and how to best describe what we are called to be. I personally tend to use war-metaphor a great deal, but this other friend disagreed. He doesn’t see himself as a warrior. He sees himself as a man after God’s heart, a teacher, a preacher, a peacemaker, etc: What scripture says we all should be. This was the first time in a while that anybody had disagreed with me on my view, and after discussing it with him we came to the conclusion that we are more like the minute-men of the American revolution: Loving on our wives, farming the land, making peace, taking care of people and the kingdom. However, when the time comes and spiritual warfare is upon us or those we love, we immediately are to jump into action and fight tenaciously and persistently for theirs and our spiritual freedom. No sitting on our butts.

  2. Dennis says:

    Jettas are for wimps!

    Seriously, I have enjoyed and appreciate your balanced and ‘biblical approach’ in speaking about verses 18 and 19. I don’t agree with everything that you shared but appreciated the large picture perspective you’ve attempted to give.

  3. Kathy says:

    Eugene,
    Thanks for your humor and for keeping it real.

    I don’t think it’s Christian men listening only to pop culture’s rendition of masculinity. There are enough Christian male leaders who are using a lot of that warrior-speak as THE way to be manly like Jesus.

    Which leaves women in quite a conundrum don’t you think? If Jesus is this manly man, how am I as a woman to become more Christ-like?

    My only request is that as my brothers in Christ explore what it means to become the men God desires them to become that they don’t further silence their sisters for we, too, desire to fully serve our Lord.

  4. chad says:

    oh man! this is good stuff…
    the one thing manly i’ve got going is athleticism and my love for sports…
    otherwise, i’m just a dude who likes to read, have a good brew every now and then, and talk theology; none of that is too manly…
    oh, and i drive a Jetta too; something my baseball players never let me forget!

    one thing i would add of substance; something i’ve been pondering lately; it has to do with the concept of Christ’s “love”…
    we need to recapture the POWER and DANGER of loving the way Christ loved; this is one area i can see that the church has been feminized…
    however, i think the problem is when we talk about “love” in church people too often associate “love” as the culture has come to define it rather than Christ’s suffering, powerful, life-giving love…

    some say dudes just need things to do and they’ll get involved in church; i think that’s a joke…i say we need to help guys (everyone for that matter) recapture the love of Christ and it’s power to transform the world…

    just some thoughts…

  5. Chris says:

    Eugene:

    One characteristic that I’d want to add of what it means to be a man and simply, a Jesus follower is a man of integrity.

  6. chomama says:

    i got “1 samuel 16:7” from God when i prayed for our marriage…that is you.

    and i learn so many things from you everyday.

    you are lovely, funny and hansome to me!^..^

    i love you.

  7. Colleen says:

    Wow, I can’t say how much I appreciate this post.
    Thanks for keeping it real!

    Colleen

  8. e cho says:

    chomama is my wife.

    honey, why do you have to post here and tell people that you had that verse picked out to refer to my short height. this is my manly blog. you’re embarrassing me…

  9. l. says:

    YO AJUSHIi:

    you call me wimp one more time and i will lash out on you My Sassy Girl style. ; )

    that description of a manly man doesn’t sound too appealing. jesus sounds like the real stud.

    ‘short’ is relative. you are tall in comparison to some. short is only short if you are like me, and the only people shorter than you are children under the age of 5 (but i do realize that men see height differently).

  10. e cho says:

    Kathy: thanks for dropping by. we’re still hoping you’ll drop by seattle. anyway, i appreciated your thoughts. while not directly referring to it, what you wrote was what i meant about the “emasculation” of the church. we’ve got folks that are seeking to portray jesus in such a way that it would be immensely difficult for all to want to seek to be like jesus.

    CHAD: i agree with “we need to recapture the POWER and DANGER of loving the way Christ loved…” What i think we may need to rethink is calling that or lack of that “feminization.” I’m certain that there would be women that would ask, “Why is that feminization. As women, we want and NEED to recapture those very things too.” hope that makes sense.

  11. daniel so says:

    Eugene — Great post. If I wasn’t so busy ultimate fightin’ and beating up pencil-necked geeks out on the streets (in Jesus’ name, of course) I totally would have commented sooner🙂

    Seriously though, thank you for these important thoughts. Many Christ-followers struggle to know what it means to be a man or woman of God because we lack real-life role models. Instead of turning to popular culture or trying to turn back the clock into a 1950’s “utopia” (well, for some people) we must turn toward Christ to become truly human — men and women. If Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer for all people, then He must have something to say to both men and women about the life we’re supposed to live and the people He wants us to become.

  12. Beyond Words says:

    Did you know the orthodox Jews translate Proverbs 31 as “A Woman of Valor?” I think we’ve lost a sense of what courage and strength and integrity look like and we’ve confused manliness and womanliness with something that may never have existed in the first place– except maybe in Victorian England.

    Jesus used his courage and strength for standing up to the Accuser and dying for the truth. And he calls men and women to do the same.

  13. kent says:

    Am I a real man? I think so, I looked and it seemed to be right, I have three sons. But I do drive minivan, and I like it. I can get in it easily and it hauls all kinds of stuff. I would buy another one. I like that it is paid for.

    I like football, but only so much and after 100 game sI think the baseball season needs to close out. I have no use for hockey. Love golf, don’t watch boxing – I have three sons, see enough of that. I do like red meat. Jack Bauer just has long truly awful days and never seems to get a break. It gets tiring. The man needs a new job, maybe working for Sears in the tool department or something.

    I love Jesus and my wife. Chewing groud up leaves that you have spit out is disgusting, and if you have to get used to a drink it is not worth the effort, so hard liquor is out.

    The botoom line is thatr yup I am a man, but not a totally real man. I am okay with that,. I am used to dissapointment.

  14. e cho says:

    Kent: Well, you’re forcing me to be honest. I drive a MiniVan as well. and yes, i love it. and yes, i listened to Air Supply when i was in high school.

  15. kent says:

    Air Supply? Who? I liked ricky nelson. Of course when i went to high school gas was $.289 a gallon, yup less than 29 cents. Those were the days.

  16. chomama says:

    i never prayed about “tall” husband….:P

  17. chad says:

    right on Eugene…good call

  18. Kay says:

    This reminds me of a discussion we had at c-group a few weeks back about gender roles. One person shared how in a classroom setting, a teacher listed about 20 different attributes/characteristics and had the students identify which ones might be masculine traits and which ones were feminine traits. Nestled entirely on the list of feminine traits were the following: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. YUP, that’s right, the fruits of the Spirit. When we talk about gender with respect to role models, it’s so interesting that our society seems to associate these characteristics that were so fully embodied in Christ as being “feminine.” Real men? Real women? What about just being real people? Just a couple of ruminations….

  19. Blake says:

    Thank you, Kay. That is spot-on.

  20. bolim says:

    I recall in college our college group at church was hooked on a sermon series by a local pastor entitled, “Let the Men be Men and Let the Women be Women.” 24 tapes! Virtually everyone went through this stuff. And as one would expect it was pretty much a mix of bad exegesis, testosterone, and fear of losing the culture wars. I recall one sermon where the pastor preached on the mighty men of David as exemplars of masculinity. Among their accomplishments: single handedly killing 300 men with a spear, killing a lion in a pit on a snowy day, killing an Egyptian with his own spear. I can claim that I’ve smashed a scorpion with a shoe when it entered our campsite. And it is interesting to note that the Lord forbade David from building the Temple b/c he was a man of too much bloodshed.

  21. […] close. They now include MMA as part of their regular “sports” coverage. Just in case you are not man enough, “MMA” stands for “Mixed Martial Arts.” You know — it’s what […]

  22. singlechristianman says:

    I posted a blog entry about this, in fact. Mr. Rodgers is real man, I say.

    I’ve been in plenty of churchs where they try to make men into women, but they do this by doing things such as I describe — chiefly by elevating passivity into a virtue; or at least by hinting pretty strongly that action and thinking can be bad for you. Just what is *really* happening, under the surface, when older married men try to limit the access of younger men to women (“Kissing Dating Goodbye”). What is *really* happening when *other externals* — hair length, tithing, avoiding Christian Rock, etc. are used to measure someone’s fitness to be in the local flock? That is just as silly as thinking that a Godly Man is always going to hunt down the venison with his own K-Bar before working out at the gym. Speaking of which, time for me to go there…..

  23. Moving Best Ranked Websites

    Moving Best Ranked Websites
    Moving Best Ranked WebsitesA lens is like a blog, but the articles you post on the lens can be rearranged according to your preference. If you have never created a HTML form before, here is everything you need to knowGet You…

  24. Gopi says:

    Sry jesus please forgive me for my sins i was not obeying ur words and now i feel bad for wat i did till this sec ple ple forgive me jesus….

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One Day’s Wages

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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