Up front, this is going to sound like a lot of Christian cliches and my points may seem to meander, but give me a chance to tie this all together.
Let’s think about the very basis of our faith: we need salvation. As in, we need to be saved because our own strength can’t cut it–and there is straight-up no way to heaven if you believe otherwise. Are some of us, as men, resistant to the idea that we need to be rescued from anything? Is that unmanly? In Scripture, men of God were constantly put in situations beyond what they could confront with their own strength and needed to trust in God for salvation and deliverance, if not doing so while lying down as it were.
But I certainly understand, so many of you guys hate all the comparisons of the body of Christ as (collectively) God’s “woman” and are worried about being feminized. Believe me, I understand the concern–I want to be like Christ, with a “humble and gentle” spirit, but not an effeminate “nice guy.” I’d say the real problem in churches–meaning its WIDESPREAD reputation of being full of effeminate men–is more about being nerfed, or “toned down” and blunted, out of the negative stigma toward masculine aggression.
Personally, I’m a testosterone junkie, and have been lifting weights for years for that reason–in case you don’t know, lifting actually raises testosterone levels. Being able-bodied in general is a great feeling, although it has nothing to do with my career and other pursuits. At the same time, I’m not particularly afraid of soy. 😉
I understand that many men are desperately reaching for their masculinity and that’s a very complex task. On the one hand, in today’s world, feminism wants men to fail, as they nakedly despise the prospect of men being even the slightest bit more successful in the working world (along with everywhere else, really) than women and demonstrate willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve their ambitions at men’s expense (taxdollars if nothing else). On the other hand, traditionalists like to pretend that the very real taxpayer-funded forces of feminism don’t exist and impose expectations on men as if they didn’t–as if feminists wouldn’t complain and get yet another government-funded program to make women at least equal in the workforce and monetarily successful, forcefully, if/when every man somehow got a job and became a breadwinner; feminism declares crisis mode when they claim results between men and women aren’t at least equal in terms of success of results.
Good grief. Who is actually on men’s side here, and respecting their actual situation? Are we but the object of griping no matter what?
Well, as a rule, why pay heed to the opinions of those who obviously hate you?
Clearly material success is not the mark of masculinity. What makes me so confident to say so? How did God regard the poor: did He ever once shame a poor man for being “unmanly” because of his lack of material success–which of course pertains to how well he could provide for his family. Consider Job, and various other men in the Psalms who lamented poverty: what man ever once bemoaned his injured sense of masculinity when he was impoverished and frustrated?
I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.
Or rather, did they weep for themselves? Men of God portrayed in the Bible spoke their feelings and spoke their minds, showing no shame for the reality of their vulnerabilities, and saw the fight for their lives as sufficiently honorable in itself (which it is).
What I’m putting forward confidently, guys, is that a “nothing can hurt me” machismo is not the way to masculinity–quite the contrary, and that’s because our strength comes from God’s supply and God will even expose us to our weakness to make sure we remember that.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
I admonish you, don’t be party to getting reduced to pieces of meat; your life matters, your feelings matter, and there’s no honor in saying that they don’t.
A Godly masculinity is something of the heart. It’s about having dreams–goals, ambitions, objectives–autonomously. It’s about fortitude in the face of pressure–I’m thinking socially, as a man makes no apology for going after his goal, which ought to be a Godly one of course. It’s also about a sense of honor, respecting higher morality, which inspires, tempers, and directs man’s ambition.
There is no dichotomy between sensitivity and strength–masculinity is not about being a roughneck with his senses blown out from being roughed up too much. Consider King David, a ferocious warrior who could also play a musical instrument so beautifully that it drove out an evil spirit. (1 Samuel 16:23) A masculine man is determined to carry out his purpose, and again consider King David, who ruled with his own moral judgments; sure, God often tells people specifically what to do in our situations, but for the most part we act with autonomy, led by the Spirit, with respect for God’s law. In all of this, a masculine man is not afraid.
Characterizing masculinity by material gain is as foolish and godless as characterizing femininity by outward beauty and adornment. And it’s a recipe for disaster, as in both cases, those very physical things can be lost for reasons beyond your control; if your foundation is built on the sand of money via your job (not that those are bad things), will your soul be crushed if/when you lose it? (and of course, ultimately, we all certainly will lose those things)
There’s so much to say about this matter–that’s what I have for now. 😉