Men and women are different. In fact, I embrace it.
And I also get it that there’s an issue with men in the church. Statistically, only 40% of folks in the church are men and there is also the issue of fewer men actively serving and leading within the church. Some even see the “emasculation” of Christian men as one of the largest threats to the evangelical church. Really?
Emasculation as one of the greatest threats? We’re focusing on genitalia here and not the heart?
Christianity Today has a worthwhile read entitled, A Jesus for Real Men [What the new masculinity movement gets right and wrong]. I’m not trying to pick on Mark Driscoll because he’ll beat the crap out of me and I also have a level of respect for him and the ministry at Mars Hill [Seattle] but it’s the classic quote in the article that captures this movement:
Mark Driscoll, pastor of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, desires greater testosterone in contemporary Christianity. In Driscoll’s opinion, the church has produced “a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickified church boys. … Sixty percent of Christians are chicks,” he explains, “and the forty percent that are dudes are still sort of chicks.”
The aspect of church that men find least appealing is its conception of Jesus. Driscoll put this bluntly in his sermon “Death by Love” at the 2006 Resurgence theology conference. According to Driscoll, “real men” avoid the church because it projects a “Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ” that “is no one to live for [and] is no one to die for.” Driscoll explains, “Jesus was not a long-haired … effeminate-looking dude”; rather, he had “callused hands and big biceps.” This is the sort of Christ men are drawn to—what Driscoll calls “Ultimate Fighting Jesus.”
There is an issue but aren’t we overreacting and going to the other extreme – and consequently, further away from Jesus. We do need to address the absence and silence of Christian men 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.
So, what does it mean to be a Christian man? If we’re not careful, we’ll end up just being dudes who are rude and crude.
We drink beer, eat red meat, smoke cigars, swear like Christian sailors, insult boy bands, watch Ultimate Fight Club, drive Hummers and four wheel trucks, be obsessed with Jack Bauer, hunt bears, etc. I do all of these things – with the exception of hunting bears. But are we reducing the definition of following Jesus to these external stereotypes?
Seriously, I personally don’t care what you eat, drink, hunt, or watch as long as it isn’t porn. I know Jesus wasn’t a pushover but to reduce Christ into our pop culture images of manhood seems wacky. Rather than focusing on external appearance, shouldn’t we focus on our “heart, soul, body, and mind”?
Brandon O’ Brien, the author of the article, writes:
Fortunately for women and men alike, the Bible never speaks of Christians as reformed men and women, but as altogether new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). The Fall has done more damage to the human heart than the masculinity movement seems willing to admit. For instance, a man’s natural inclinations may prompt him to be “Boss, Bold, Brash, Bully, and Blunt,” as one of GodMen’s sayings suggests. But most of these are qualities of the old self that are destroyed when one is transformed into the image of Christ. A man’s urge for battle—with fist or pen—may well be natural, but that doesn’t automatically make it godly. In other words, conversion does not sanctify our instincts; rather, it demands that we submit all our instincts to the lordship of Christ and crucify the sinful ones, what Paul calls “the flesh” (Eph. 2).
While there are clearly stories about Jesus’ “toughness” [Jesus topples tables and whips moneychangers in Mark 11, Matthew 21, and Luke 19/20], I also seem to remember that Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, demonstrates amazing grace to the prostitute woman in John 8, enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey to the shouts of Hosanna, and eventually goes to the Cross to die for humanity.
I live for this Jesus!
But then again, maybe I need to grow some balls…I do drive a Jetta and a Miata. Crap.
- What do you think?
- What’s the problem?
- What does it mean to christian dude?