Can We Reclaim the Phrase “Be a Man”?

Boys and men, we’ll “become something great!”

I’m not sure how common it is for men and boys to hear this, but let me tell you, I have heard words to this effect a lot. “Greatness” has been prophesied over me constantly throughout my life (not saying whether or not such words came from legitimate prophets). By greatness, I mean in terms of accomplishments and the effect that I would have in the world. If everyone who has said that to me in my life is right, then great! However, that will be by the Lord’s will and power, not mine.

But what if a man doesn’t become something “great” in some way that scintillates for all the world to see? Can he still be loved? Can he still have value? (Note: I am not the slightest criticizing or doubting the well-meaning of anyone who is positive toward men and boys about their potential at all–I am just using it to make a different point for us as men to examine our hearts. ūüėČ )

1 Thessalonians 4:11

And that you study to be quiet, and to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you

With my personal romances of world-conquest (I exaggerate, but perhaps one could catch my drift) this once seemed kind of like a downer to me. Isn’t the world out there full of things to go out and achieve and go out and get?

1 Timothy 6:6-7

 But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

And YET, there is much to be embraced about being a man! We can enjoy our own strength, enjoy any personal victories in our lives.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

When we want to become something great, can we do it without meaning, “great” compared to others? Can we handle thinking of it simply in terms of the challenges of our own lives, moment-to-moment, never resorting to comparison to others (positive or negative).

Galatians 6:4

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,

We love to feel strong, powerful, and like we can take down great obstacles. Though as we do so, Jesus says:

Matthew 6:25
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

I’m not going to “achieve greatness” or go out and succeed to prove my worth. I’m going to use my strength to provide for myself (and others, as becomes necessary/possible) because I have value to begin with! (As do others)

What’s the point of strength, intelligence, any aptitude or form of material gain, if not to serve the innate and irrevocable value of life? How is it that men are tricked into treating themselves like they exist for food and clothes, rather than the other way around, to legitimize their value? Oppressors in the world reverse the order of those whom they oppress, treating them like one’s value must be earned with strength, while showing no interest in anything else that threatens them. Unfortunately, the MGTOW/manosphere is the only avenue which begins to address ways this happens to men adequately. As I harp on, it’s even unwilling to address the topic of problems like pornography and lust with methods in the vein of “For by way of the prostitute a man is brought to a loaf of bread.” (Proverbs 6:26). The topic of sexual purity and the way churches usually handle the matter is perhaps the most telling behavior indicating mainstream Christianity’s commitment to hating men–refusing to approach the matter in terms of a man’s innate value versus the forces that try and dehumanize him. And that is because it is they who participate in devaluing men as much as anyone, trapped with a problem they can’t adequately solve because of only being armed with paradoxical attitudes toward men; yes, they want results from men, but they refuse to minister to the value to the person. They condemn, they demonize, they refuse to love (easily contrasted in the ministry that women can commonly be seen receiving), but like great Pharisees, they list duties without lifting a finger to help. (Matthew 9:36) They enslave–the word “pastor” means “shepherd,” but what sort of shepherd pays no attention to wolves? Where is the talk about that which threatens men, where rather most of today’s leaders merely demonize men, ignore the wolves, and try to convince men that they are pack-mules without value unto themselves?

If that all sounds like a tangent, it’s not: we have to be on guard against the false teachings of the world and their sources. It is incredibly important for men not to be ignorant of the poison fed by the world.

Some might say that my comments here are obvious, but apparently not if so many Christian men are caught feeling like their value as human beings decreases with their lack of effectiveness in earning money or various other measures of material success, and with many false teacher actively shaming men for struggling to succeed materially. And no, Adam did not receive a curse that makes this happen to men. Or, shaming any words that minister to the healing and protection of men (words which are abundant in Scripture and overflowing in today’s women’s ministries). But yes, thank God, we are fearfully and wonderfully made as men, and the strength and fortitude that we have as men is a GREAT thing to enjoy in every way! It is a gift to us – to give back to God – to use for the purposes of life and seeking the Lord.

“Be a man”? You bet! ūüôā Not a pack mule, not a machine, not a loaf of bread (Proverbs 6:26), but a man!

A Man Does Not Need a Woman to be “Accomplished” or “Good Enough.”

How many have heard something of an axiom that women love confidence in a man? I have known a number of men who have been desperate to get a girlfriend and that kind of man always seems like one who has the hardest time actually getting one!

I talk a lot about women being treated like prizes for a man. Part of that includes women who eagerly get out the hoops for other men to jump through for her sake–a power game. Likewise–and even out of women’s own mouths I’ve heard this–even wives will use sex with their husbands like rewards for them, as well as withholding themselves as punishment.

The scene is horrible and sinful, but I just want to call attention again to men’s “need” for women as an affirmation that he should already have; a godly woman is attracted to a “man on a mission” and be a helper in every way. The man who is exciting and downright unpredictable, maybe even introducing some dangers, can utterly inspire a corresponding adventuresome spirit in a woman. And the adventure–the man’s true hunt–is for God, who enlightens, fulfills, protects, and brings men to life in His love.

Here is the central point I want to make at the moment: whether you want a wife or girlfriend or no woman at all, there is a major need to attack this notion that a woman is an indicator of a man being “good enough.” The unfortunate fact is that many married men receive only a severely tainted and polluted love from their wives–love that is very conditional or half-hearted, fundamentally not considering a man intrinsically worth as much as themselves (equally unfortunate is a married woman who is unloved). We have a MAJOR weak point if a woman’s love, happiness, and/or approval is tied to our sense of worth, and it’s opened the door for many women to get on a judgmental high-horse as far as men are concerned and many other forms of exploitation.

 

God gave Eve to Adam for a reason, and it wasn’t for this hoop-jumping nonsense. She is responsive, nurturing, encouraging, and just plain works hard just like a man does in the joint-effort of the daily grind. Spiritually, they are also to be eager participants to the fullest of their abilities in the Body of Christ. The feminine woman offers an atmosphere of total safety–NOT a challenge on behalf of some evil “prove your worth” scheme.

The Godly woman will love a man’s attitude of an utterly nothing-to-prove confidence, and this is pretty much common knowledge. She’ll love your fortitude that not even SHE can move you in your determination of self-preservation–to love yourself, as Christ loves you–and to follow your mission which is for the Lord, as that what PRECEDES a man’s abilities fulfill a woman’s needs: a man is to love his wife as his own flesh (which is to say, the foundation of this is that a man knows how to love and protect himself). He simultaneously does not settle with taking damage from a woman but is also patient with her with a godly patience.

But there are women with a parasite’s attitude toward a man, manipulative with emotion, treating men like he’s to have unlimited blood for her to drain. She’s totally her worst enemy for getting anything that she actually needs from a man.

There are obviously GREAT reasons for a man to want to find a wife! But it’s really important to understand situations (i.e. relationships) that can defeat the purpose of their intent.

It begins with knowing that a man is “good enough” today, inasmuch as having a wife is not the deciding factor either way. If we think (even unconsciously) we need a woman to be “good enough,” it’s immediately a sign that we need to re-examine ourselves and find our worth in Christ.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The love that comes from God is one that esteems our value of the utmost preciousness BEFORE we did anything to “earn” it–while we were still POWERLESS and even sinful! Any message that says otherwise–that a man has to earn his value elsewhere–is from Satan and in conflict with God. And Satan would cook up any scheme imaginable to rob us of the surpassing love and riches of Christ.

Let’s shut this door and nail it shut so nothing can steal our value from us, married or not! ūüėČ

Showing Wives Grace When They Sin Against Husbands

“Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing, and he receives¬†favor with the Lord.”¬†Proverbs 18:22

I’d be the first to follow up this quote with a note about the “contentious woman” myself (a marriage with whom is worse than no wife at all), but before we pour ice water on the fire, let’s set aside a woman’s behavior for a moment and consider the Lord’s sentiment. He has sent men a helper who could not have been better made.

“Woman is the glory of man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7) She has come from us and for us. (1 Corinthians 11:8-9) They aren’t angels any more than we are, and require grace just like we do, and God’s power to do good, just like us.

She is dependent on us, on so many levels, just as we are for God. They look to us to form their sense of purpose, and are built to be adaptable for how we need them to help. They require our energy to be energized.

Like with men, it’s not ever guaranteed that we take out what we put in. Sometimes we aren’t appreciated by our employers or the people around us despite our best efforts. Even slaves are commanded to serve harsh masters as the Lord (1 Peter 2:18), not because we’ll be credited as we are due on Earth, but because God is watching (Ephesians 6:6). Our Earthly authorities can be unloving and downright cruel to us! (James 5:4, Matthew 20:25) That’s why men, who are indeed an authority over women, need to make the effort not to pass on what we so often receive from Earthly authority, but rather pass on the example of the loving authority of Christ. (Ephesians 5:25)¬†Likewise, wives can utterly sin against their husbands and fail to return what a man gives them to work with, disobeying God’s commands to women, betraying the fact that God gave man a good gift and a suitable helper as someone to love as much as she loves herself. (Genesis 2:18)

But gentlemen: “whoever loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28) ¬†A wife is flesh of her husband’s flesh. (Genesis 2:23)It is wrong for a man to be harmed, including by his wife–this is part of understanding our love for ourselves.

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:19

I want men to love themselves, and therefore be persistent in love of their wives. The problem that many men tend to observe is that so little attention is paid to the harm women can cause a man in the modern world, and part of that may be because people fear men may somehow feel justified in harming their wives.

Nonsense! Affording someone the notion that someone who harms him (including to men from women) is wrong is a basic sentiment of love and no one should be deprived of that, and that is the foundation of extending grace. And, persistently loving one’s wife is still part of the same principle.

*Let’s acknowledge the need to¬†love ourselves, including the understanding that women’s sin against us is wrong.

*Let’s therefore be PERSISTENT in loving ourselves by extending grace to her no matter what, because she is “flesh of our flesh,” and whoever loves his wife loves himself!

And I pray for the sake of both husband and wife that, by some means, the gift that God made of woman for man will emerge from every woman. Today’s is a complicated situation, in which most of us were raised on lies. In the post-feminist world, women are practically commended for challenging and even doing harm to men (and certainly paying no regard for a man’s authority). Femininity is treated like an inferior and even useless trait, like something a woman ought to escape rather than embrace, and take to competing with men.

As mentioned, most people tend to recognize the need to help an abused party (someone who is sinned against) heal, support, encourage, and restore. The very least that needs to be done is help an abused person understand that what he or she experienced was completely wrong and not something he or she deserved, which is a major issue if the sin continues unquestioned for a very long time. Yet the calls in Christian culture to return to biblical gender roles–hasty to impose notions of masculine duties on men–all but completely ignores the need to make a priority of this for a man in most observable ministry.

Somehow or another, then, many men are figuring out that not only have they been sinned against a great deal by women (in marriage or in society/culture), not only are those sins usually unchallenged and even commended, but even the schools of thought that implicitly renounce certain behavior in women (complimentarianism) have the gall to rush to demand masculine duties out of men before making much of any noticeable effort to help, heal, restore, and protect them.

As men, we have a lot of forgiving to do. We are right to be angry about this–because God is, as well. In fact, there is nothing we could ever, ever do to punish our debtors (including wives who are unrepentant in hurting their husbands) with the thoroughness that God can. (Romans 12:19, Matthew 10:28) He loves each of us–men and women–and did not make us to be sinned against. Wives were not sent to harm their husbands: “She does him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12)

After we understand what we are owed, we are called to forgive others as God forgave us. (Mark 11:25) Many women are also struggling to learn and understand, and–again, like each of us–we’re called to show grace for every step, passing on the Lord’s grace. (Romans 2:4)

Normally I don’t write about marriage; I put an emphasis on the spiritual protection of men without treating men like their usefulness is the only dimension of their worth. That takes a lot of doing in itself, and next, a husband’s act of loving his wife, not being harsh with her, forgiving – not excusing! – her sin against him, is encompassed in the act of loving himself.

God’s Commands to Husbands for Marriage

This is not a marriage blog at all. It’s geared at being protective of men, but that includes exposing the threats made against men on the spiritual level, and the modern teachings of marriage are very important to address to that end.

Now, people who focus on marriage will zero-in on the commands to wives and husbands–understandable, to an extent. But whenever we zero-in on a passage or theological subject, it is very, very important not to lose sight of the entire rest of Scripture so as to cause a specific passage to say something that it doesn’t actually say.

I have no doubt that this is happening when husbands are preached at for their duties in marriage. I contend that the command for husbands is ultimately only reminders of what is commonly taught to all believers, with respect to the fact that a man is indeed an authority. I will boldly say that anyone who wants to be contentious with me about this will utterly fail to do so with God’s word rather than the words of man. By all means, let’s declare the Scripture boldly, with a focus on man’s command:

Ephesians 5:25-33
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church‚ÄĒ 30 for we are members of his body. 31 ‚ÄúFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.‚ÄĚ[b] 32 This is a profound mystery‚ÄĒbut I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Let’s dissect this to the fullest:

“Husbands love your wives . . .”

We are all commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves (words of Jesus): Matthew 22:39: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

We are all commanded to love one another as Christ loved us, and all to the same degree.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Again, a sentiment about what love is, among many, not limited to men, but includes women as well.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34)

Once again, not a gender-exclusive command, given to the church straight from Jesus: to love one another as Christ loved the church. It’s a command given to absolutely everyone, male and female. Any arguments about a “husband exclusive” sort of love should really end with this point, as Jesus’ command is not at all unidirectional. Everyone is to be Christlike to everyone else, with all the self-sacrifice therein, period.

Ephesians 5:2: And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

It is heresy to teach that only husbands are commanded to love with a Christlike, self-sacrificing love.

“He takes care of it and feeds it.”

From the Proverbs 31 “wife of noble character”:

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20

With regards to widows’ lists:

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children,has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 1 Timothy 5:9-10

Widows were expected to have a history of being providers to others. Why should her husband be excluded as a recipient if he is the one hard-pressed to make a living for whatever reason? Plus, “the two are one flesh” (Mark 10:8) principle itself is totally bidirectional, and is equally applicable to women as much as men. As some might agree, men are (at least physically) more able to work in such a way that yields a paycheck, but what’s in a paycheck when we are more fundamentally all–male and female alike–commanded to work per our ability? Unfortunately–as encouraging as it is that many women today are taking to the submissive wife role–I find that the discussion rapidly develops into a license for women to be held to an altogether lower standard.

The one-directional command to husbands that remains is the washing of the word, which does indeed testify to a husband’s role as a spiritual provider for his wife–arguably. I do contend that the reference to Christ washing his bride with his word does suggest a spiritual leadership in the household, and that other Scriptures can very much confirm that point for husbands and fathers.

So once again, Scripture’s commands to husbands are primarily reminders to do what everyone is commanded to do. In addition to everything else, consider:

Titus 2:3-5

3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

So where is the follow-up command that (say) older men should teach younger men to be godly husbands and fathers, just as women need to be taught by older women to love and obey their husbands? Why isn’t it there? There is no biblical basis for a man being mentored for what is treated like some special, biblical gender role as husbands–none. But only the modern woman’s “back-at-you” attitude wants to see heat put on men.

My conclusion is reinforced yet again: Ephesians’ commands to husbands are almost entirely reminders of what believers do in general, and little more. There is therefore no need for husbands to be particularly mentored for some overly special “biblical gender role,” because – apart from the occasional mention – it just does not entail much special attention beyond everything the Bible generally teaches believers about how to be imitators of Christ. Most of husbands’ service to their wives is fulfilled by way of his autonomous spirit toward Christ, such that a woman has a good cause in her husband to help, follow, and support.

Now with that out of the way, why would a reminder to be generally Christlike to wives be necessary at all? I will explain within the remainder of this post.

Notice the fact that husbands’ commands tend to come AFTER the commands given to wives; as wives are commanded to submit many times, that distinctly implies a husband’s authority (as other Scriptures support, male and authority go hand-in-hand: 1 Corinthians 11, Genesis 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:12-14).

My contention is that there are major consequences with how these Scriptures have been used to distort their original meaning. God gave Adam a “suitable helper” (Genesis 2:18) for what? To be as deadweight, to be so much work to maintain that his life suddenly becomes about nothing but maintaining his “suitable helper”?

Quite frankly, what sort of “suitable helper” is that? No thanks! If I’m dedicated to a task, and am given a helper, I expect that the helper will primarily enhance the work and purposes I was originally tasked to do–not REPLACE the meaning of my existence with maintaining my helper. However, the reminder of Scripture to love our wives is a good reminder to us to say, let’s not forget that our primary task on the Earth–male or female–is “love your neighbor as yourself” and loving our suitable helper is decidedly encompassed in that task.

The most important and fulfilling quality a man can give his wife is a good cause to be a part of serving as his coworker. How has a husband served his wife best, then, if she became his entire purpose? Doesn’t she want to be part of something greater than herself, just as a man should be interested in becoming a part of something greater than himself? If not, such a woman has a major heart issue. Christ died for his bride out of love, but does that mean that his bride is the only purpose of God’s existence? This is a HUGE trap for the thinking of man in general! No, we were made for Christ’s purposes as his bride, and God does not tolerate inverting the order, an attitude in man that God exists for man’s sake rather than vice-versa! Likewise, a teaching that frames a husband’s purpose in life being her wife is equally intolerable; “man was not made for woman, but woman for man.” (1 Corinthians 11:9) Women are NOT the reason and purpose of men’s strength, just as man is not the reason and purpose of God’s strength, though it is a major expression of God to minister and impart Himself fully to His bride.

Christ is indeed our authority. The world has many authorities, and very few of them are as loving as Christ. The command of Scripture to husbands acknowledges that he is indeed an authority over his wife as Christ is above the church, and the distinction is, in terms of a model for authority, model Christ, not worldly authorities who often don’t care anything for their subordinates.

Moreover, we have an unfortunately lax attitude on how demanding Christ is as our authority, I believe. We like to portray him as a “softie” to us, where he is not. Currently, as men’s rights must exist, men have become so unprotected themselves that falling victim to the “suitable helper” has indeed completely defeated the purpose of marriage (if he’s beaten down so much by his wife, how can he serve her, himself, or anyone else?). The Proverbs 31 woman is scarily busy; and she causes him “good, not harm, all the days of his life.” A man is indeed called to pursue righteousness equally, but in terms of how he invests himself for the sake of his marriage, his greatest gift to his wife is a goal-oriented spirit that goes beyond making his wife his entire purpose, as that’s what a woman of God finds genuinely attractive. For that reason, as 1 Peter 3 tells us, a godly wife, through her submission, actually provides for men an example of how to be submissive to God, since they are commanded to “submit as unto the Lord.” Yes, a lot of women in the post-feminist world are looking for a way to say “up yours” to men after reading that and abusing the commands given to husbands, which is not their job for obvious reasons. And, some women are cowards who are looking for a “Superman” who makes the journey effortless as they are more of a prize to sit and be polished–while they hide behind the notion that a woman is held to lower standards on account of the fact that she’s a woman (how does this align with Christ’s command for us to be imitators of him? Where has he spoken of standards for us being lower because we are merely the bride of Christ rather than Christ himself?).

Some men are criticized for not wanting to “man up,” but weakness comes from the fact that our abilities are indeed limited as well–no gender has a license to be fragile while the other is demanded to be invincible, and neither gender is exclusive to being protective of himself or herself as if one is more innately valuable than the other. The current-day conditions for how poorly protected men are (while protecting women is quite the to-do, even as women harm men) mutually reflect the idiocy of teachings of marriage.

“Where have all the good men gone?” They’re hurting, because they are so poorly protected by those who want to see results from men without helping.

To be gracious in love, I urge men to be self-defensive, and not allow themselves to be dehumanized, which does not best serve a woman, himself, or anyone else–protect yourself, and then I decidedly concur, “love your wife as you love yourself.” You will be most able to do so when you are successful in loving yourself.

Forgiveness

Many sentiments can be found out in Christian writing with regards to the subject of forgiveness; some of them are quite fine, and (hopefully) Scripture needs no introduction on the matter.

I feel the need, however–a huge need–to speak on matters distinctly missing on the subject of forgiveness due to the lack of sincerity of Christian culture.

I’ve shared my weaknesses, hurts and grievances to other believers. There’s a huge, huge difference between the interactions you’ll get when speaking about such personal matters with close friends who are truly (at least somewhat) in your life and then those who are playing their Christian charades. My experience with the latter is, they love–just love–to jump on top of you and give a wishy-washy, high-handed, canned, and possibly brow-beating lecture on how you need to forgive the person; not a speck of interest in the matter at hand that actually needs forgiving, let’s get back to the Sunday morning charades in the spectacle of singing and sitting¬†uninterrupted by anything actually going on in the Body of Christ–which is meant to thoroughly take care of itself as the body does, and function and move like the body does.

Someone who actually cares about you, however, shows compassion. Your hurt is their hurt. They bear with you. When you’re with such a person, you know that you matter; and consequently, you know that it matters when you are hurt. You know that a sin committed against you is a big deal.

Now, which one of those is Christ? Does he command us to forgive? Of course, but he’s also the friend who loves you, as he made you and died for you. He cares about sins against you because a precious life was done harm, and sin–including the sin committed against you–is the reason why he’s coming back ready to burn the world in judgment.

Consider when we ask God for forgiveness. We are commanded to confess our sins (1 John 1:9); when we ask for forgiveness, we embrace the knowledge of the sheer harm that our sin has done. Otherwise, what is it that we are asking God to forgive?

In the exact same way, there is an important step of forgiveness that is missing in virtually every discussion of forgiveness I’ve ever encountered: a full appreciation for the debt–against YOU–that you need to forgive. When someone is not afforded any notion of justice for the harm done to him, that proclaims that he is worthless, that harm done to him doesn’t matter. How, then, will such a person forgive if no one is really in his debt but he’s simply made to be abused and sinned against?

Jesus’ golden rule was, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12)¬†So furthermore,¬†If you’ve internalized this idea (even unconsciously) that you’re intended just to be kicked around and that nothing is wrong with the sin against you, what will stop you from passing that on to other people as well? The core matter is that we understand injustice itself, whether it’s against us or others, which is all ultimately sin against God’s law.

I’m saying, justice¬†precedes mercy. You cannot skip that step. The Old Testament to the New Testament was a long process of God showing us our SHEER sin by way of judgment that results from the law. It’s a big, BIG deal–Paul discusses this in Romans. It is NOT a step you can skip, to preach the covenant of mercy without the judgment that needs to be forgiven. The entirety of the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament (“Testament” meaning covenant) entails a rigorous exploration of the sin and harm that mankind has done, and THEN–not before, but after–are we introduced to the way of mercy.

ALL of this plays out in our process of forgiving others. And it’s a step that Christianity tends to be eager to skip in its fondness of charades. Harm is done against you, and that harm really–REALLY–matters. Once we’ve established that, Jesus commands us to rebuke the wrongdoer.

I repeat: Jesus commands us to rebuke the wrongdoer if at all possible.

Matthew 18:15

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Notice the second half of this passage, because it is very important. It speaks to the relationship status to the person. IF–and right now, I wish the word “if” had about ten more letters so I could embolden it across the page, but I’ll say it again, IF–he listens to you, the relationship is restored

Here’s the word “if” again, out of the mouth of Christ, for repentance being a prerequisite for forgiveness for a sin against you:

Luke 17:2-3

¬†Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‚ÄėI repent,‚Äô you must forgive him.‚ÄĚ

If he never listens?

Matthew 18:17

And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

The relationship is totally broken (recall verse 15: if he repents, you have “gained your brother” and the relationship is restored). Are we commanded to hate the unrepentant person? Not at all. We still love with tolerance and patience, desiring the good of the person (who, if guilty of sin, will need to repent for his own sake). But the relationship status is broken. We are not to play games, pretending that “everything is okay, we’re still brothers,” because we’re not. We have to be clear that the sin is intolerable, even as we maintain love for the person himself.

(Furthermore, sometimes some sins have a tough road to repentance in full due to incomplete understanding and we are commanded to bear with each other in love in this learning process, just as God shows us compassion as we develop and learn ourselves, Romans 2:4)

We are NEVER¬†commanded to be bitter or hateful. The forgiveness of the heart (Mark 11:25) means saying that we know we are owed a debt and accepting that we’ll never get back what we are duly owed for injustice and be at peace with it. Respond, rather, in love. We have our rich Father in Heaven who has unlimited love for us, easily compensating for every injustice committed against us with those riches–we can take the hit, hard as it may feel. ūüėČ

Those are, of course, the same means by which God is able to forgive us–He absorbed the damage. It’s not “hard” for God to endure the sin, but it did have to be repaid to Himself by the blood of His Son.

But I want to speak to today’s culture, which glosses over the matter of justice in the matter of forgiveness. And why do they do it? I suspect the answer can be hinted at with the apparent–and virtually ubiquitous–ignoring of Scriptures for how to deal with injustices between believers.

In Jesus’ words above, I skipped a verse knowingly. Let’s get it right this time:

Matthew 18:15-17

‚ÄúIf your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.¬†But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.¬†If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Sins committed against YOU are a big, BIG deal!

They’re supposed to be a big deal to the entire church. It’s not the church’s job just to jump on you with a forgiveness lecture. It’s the church’s job to get its hands dirty, get involved, and get to the bottom of the problem. Somehow I feel it’s important to repeat, the church is full of “works in progress” and sometimes repentance can be a little difficult due to a struggle with wisdom, again, just as God bears with us as we make a serious effort to repent to the fullest before Him while He patiently teaches us.

How much do today’s “churches” drop the ball in this regard? Try quoting the following command from Scripture on the subject of grievances between believers to your local “pastor” and see if he looks at you like you’re from another planet:

1 Corinthians 6:4-5

So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?

Can it be that no one among us is wise enough to settle disputes between brothers, and all anyone knows how to do is brow-beat about forgiveness so we can go on happily as if nothing happened?

I’m not counting on the church to shape up anytime soon, but if we’re interested in matters of our own hearts, my summary and conclusion about forgiveness is, let’s make sure we take the steps of fully understanding the seriousness of wrong done to US when we are sinned against, the reality of the debt, and how much we matter and the damage¬†matters. Meditate on this. Once that is established, oh yes, let us forgive joyously because our Father makes it all up to us.

Healing for a Broken Heart

Psalm 147:3

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Truly, I could post a real good chunk of the book of Psalms here, but I want to talk about the nature of our hurts and broken hearts in a certain light; the things that make us scared, sad, lonely, frustrated, and such.

The Lord is in the business of healing sinners, both physically and spiritually. Our hurts and struggles have meaning. When Jesus healed the blind man:

John 9:2-3

And his disciples asked him, ‚ÄúRabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?‚ÄĚ

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

It’s so important to realize that Jesus’ miracles were called “signs.” The fleshly healing is not the end goal, but a sign of the completion of the Kingdom of Heaven–indeed, good things in which to place our faith! (John 10:38)

And what’s so great about the fact that we used to be sinners? Well, as it happens, God loves to lead us toward repentance and redemption:

Luke 15:7

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Philippians 4:12

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

I believe that to be brought low and to abound encompasses not only material needs, but anything that the world offers. We can lose loved ones, by circumstances or by betrayals. It can also mean our health, our physical and even mental strength. Losing things can very much break our hearts–if we do not know Paul’s secret to be content in all of those circumstances.

I don’t mean to “beat up” on the hurting with this comment, as I have to teach this to myself constantly–quite the contrary, all of our hurts have meaning to connect us to God for His greater purposes.

Matthew 5:4
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

I am saying that dependency on worldly satisfaction, on some level is the only thing that can make us vulnerable. It is the weakness of our flesh. The reality is that all we need is Christ, who is eternal. Everything we have in terms of worldly status–relationships and things–WILL perish sooner or later. When we’re confronted with this and not accustomed to the idea, we are vulnerable and we can suffer broken hearts. Thankfully we have a compassionate God who binds our hearts, whereupon we have the opportunity to learn the secret.

Here is the secret: Every genuinely good thing that we lay our senses upon can only be a rough glimpse of God’s completion and eternal perfection. I believe it is good to receive from the Lord with Thanksgiving–all the good things we have–as a trust that we put in our ultimate Provider. The Lord gives and takes away, so that our trust is put in Him, not the people, places and things that He puts in our lives. But when the Lord does bless us, I believe that affords us the opportunity to hold onto that glimpse of God’s goodness when our faith is tested: Even when the Lord’s blessings feel rather out of sight, we can remember the blessings of the past to remember the unchanging goodness of God.

Psalms 77:11

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

Through the good times and the bad, let’s give glory to the unchanging God and hold fast to the way He has portrayed Himself to us. Let’s remember the days we were brokenhearted as reminders of our absolute and total dependency on God. Let’s pray for miracles in our daily lives and in our world according to His will–as these are wonderful glimpses into God’s uncorrupted glory.

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

There is nothing in the world worth chasing after more than God who has made every good thing. Praise the Lord for His perfection, and His plan to redeem all things.

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I know that everything I have on my plate today- be it “good” or “bad”-is part of God’s great story for my life. Praise the Lord.

Obedience to God, and the Cares of this World

From the Parable of the Sower:
 
Matthew 13:22
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
 
When I was younger, Ecclesiastes was a book of the Bible to which I really took. I’ve always thought of it as sort of a thinking-man’s entry point to Scripture, as it is written by a wise man who went through the myriad of experiences that the world had to offer; he’d been through it all, and tells you all about it just so he can tell you this one, simple conclusion at the end of the story of his journey:
 
Ecclesiastes 12:13
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
 
Like many or most of us, my daily grind is busy and complicated–for certain reasons at the moment there is not much I can do about it (although in the long run I intend to do what I can to minimize stressors however possible). I’ll confess to you, there were times when I was so deep in business I could not avoid for such a long time, I paused and thought, “what does my walk with Christ even have to do with any of this?” Now, of course, there is a lot you can throw at that thought from Scripture, like working as unto the Lord, “whatever your hands find to do, do with all your might,” among others–this is all true, and very good things for sure. But the objectives, career-wise, pertain to the cares of this world and–speaking for myself–it can indeed be tempting to see my¬†goals for doing what I¬†need to do for sustenance in this world to be the only thing I’m here to do. (As it happens, I find that feeling a strength-sapper. Somehow big money just doesn’t motivate me on its own in any case)
 
I can feel the sheer weight of how much needs to be done, including my own personal goals and agendas–none those are bad things, especially provided:¬†Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3) And yet sometimes the look of it all can cause the temptations of anxiety, and thankfully we have our Lord for this too: Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.¬†1 Peter 5:7
 
The title of this blog is the “Self-Defensive Christian Man.” How can we protect ourselves from the cares of this world? Let me tell you what lifts the burden from my shoulders: getting up in the morning and saying a prayer like this:
 
“Father God, let this day be one of total service to You. As my loving provider you are the source of every aspect of the strength of Your unprofitable servant. Empower me to love and serve you, love and serve others, and myself, not because you need what I give You Father God, but I thank You that it is Your pleasure to impart to me my fulfillment as one of Your true sons through Your Son Christ Jesus and the wonderful work You have for me to do for you today, whatever that may be. Speak to me all throughout the day through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Thank you Father God for the gift of salvation through Your Son Christ Jesus.”
 
I declare:
 
PhiIippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
 
Much love to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Real Reason Why Men are Under Attack

My last post was written as a discussion on the true meaning of masculinity and femininity, which is authority and submission, and the rebellion of femininity manifesting in subordinating truth to feelings. This time, I’m going to pull out the sword of Scripture to expose what’s really going on:

1 Corinthians 11:7
A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.
 

 

So a man is the image of God, but a woman is not? To the latter statement, yes and no. (Genesis 1:27) When God incarnated–as Jesus–in the flesh, he incarnated as male, not female, and that was no coin toss.

 

John 14:8
Philip said to him, ‚ÄúLord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.‚Ä̬†Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am?¬†Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!¬†So why are you asking me to show him to you?

 

Referring again to 1 Corinthians 11:7, and the whole opening of the chapter, Paul speaks of the importance of thoroughly recognizing the matter that male–not female–is the image of God among the congregation. We are all commanded to recognize the fact.

 

The appeal of attacking men–that is to say,¬†because¬†they are men–is like the attitude of someone throwing darts at a picture of his adversary. A man, quite simply, looks like God, as he is the image of God (1 Corinthians 11:7), which, to a woman, means submission, and that she was made for his purposes, just as the church–the bride of Christ–was made for Christ’s purposes. To attack men, and take away all meaning away from masculinity, is to attack and give oneself an image for delusion’s sake of defeating the one whom he resembles: God.

 

Feminism is Satanism with but a paper-thin coating, fundamentally a rebellion against authority, and the Satanic ritual demonstrating spite for God in His true form as Lord and authority is an attack on men whom He created in His image and also to represent Him. A man’s head was to be uncovered in the congregations, because his “head,” quite literally, was underneath nothing, while a woman’s head is underneath (a sign of) authority (1 Corinthians 11:9).

 

As I discussed in the discussion of masculinity versus femininity, femininity absorbs that which masculinity imparts and then reflects and returns it–this is what the church does with and from God, receiving ALL of her purpose and provision from Him, and submitting to Him and giving God everything they have which was originally all from God. Femininity, therefore, is the glory of man, receiving purpose and provision, and returning it as man’s helper in submission.

 

Awfully PC, right?

 

Again, how much do we try to customize our concept of God more than looking at who He really is, which is our Lord to whom we utterly submit?

 

1 Peter 3:1-2
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

 

Peter advises women married to unbelieving men that the best strategy for ministry is submission. Submission to an unbelieving husband? Yes, because her submission as a woman is a glorious demonstration of the submission for which men and women were both designed before God as His bride. A feminist rebellion against men is the exact opposite, a sentiment of rebellion against God for whom we are all created.

 

Of course, feminism is very overt in its attacks on masculinity, and therefore femininity as well since femininity exists in response to masculinity, but this can take much more covert forms. Misandry is utterly rampant with only a small (albeit rapidly growing) amount of opposition. Quite frankly, if you save men and masculinity, you will save women and femininity–even apart from the abstract discussion, it is very apparent that men are called upon to clean up the problems of women and for good reason. I fear the way Christianity sees little need truly to come to the defense of the attacks made upon men, everywhere from their masculinity to their well-being as human beings, not just because of the needs of men but because men will also be ill-able to help the needs of women who need men (just as men need men, and men need women as well) when there is so little active defense against an utterly malicious threat. It is fashionable to complain about men today, with minuscule interest in helping on the whole. And, our culture is woefully inhibited in protecting men from women who mean them harm.

 

And white knights, you are a major problem to the well-being of women, counter-intuitive as this may sound. In a culture where women are allowed to victimize men by way of false accusation, emotional, or even physical, violence, I got news for you: we’ll run out of white knights. It’s the same deficit of justice and attention going in men’s direction that will and already has caused women to suffer.

I pray urgently for God, our provider and protector, to protect men in this culture.

 

Here are a few studies to show what I mean that our culture has very little concept of the necessity of men being protected from women just as women need protection from men. Examples of this attitude are abundant.



Masculinity and Femininity, and the Danger of Putting the Cart before the Horse.

Masculinity leads, and Femininity follows.

When masculinity leads, emotions are secondary. When masculinity leads, the declaration is this: “I will be happy when I find out the truth, whether I think I like the truth or not.” Masculinity puts aside feelings not as if feelings are irrelevant, but in the sense that the person is fulfilled only after discovering the truth, not putting the cart before the horse.
 
Femininity reinforces and stabilizes society during the journey, as it were, empowered to do so by masculine, decisive truth. Where masculinity puts truth on the forefront, femininity puts feeling on the forefront, using the empowerment of truth to focus directly on the comfort of people.
 
To put the cart before the horse–when femininity leads masculinity–the statement is, “I will seek my happiness first, because if I’m happy, I must have found the truth.” The benefit of truth is happiness, for sure, but when femininity leads it attempts to put truth in subordination to feelings.
 
In the modern world, this can be seen in society and is rampant in church culture as well as the secular world; the priority is not “finding the truth,” but “tolerance.” In the extreme case of the secular world, modern ideology supposes that wildly opposing beliefs on morality must submit to the happiness of society. Christian culture has adopted this attitude, that keeping peace between people is more important than the correctness of beliefs; we must “agree to disagree” if that’s what it takes to keep the primary purpose, being the comfort of people, achieved–supposing that that’s what it means to be “loving.”
 
To be loving means to desire the well-being of others. When we acknowledge that the truth exists, we know that others are loved when they are directed to the life-giving truth and it is indeed quite loving to be insistent on truth (masculinity), not excluding the personal touch of ministering to others in ways that are palatable (that is, they are able to receive it) to them (femininity).
 
Masculinity leads to the truth, cultivates the impersonal elements, to draw strength from that which is outside society and outside of the person and outside of comfort, in the form of seeking power. Masculinity then ministers that power to femininity–which MUST follow behind as secondary–and femininity puts back into society by ministering comfort to it (nurturing), having received the power to do so by masculinity.
 
Femininity in the lead says that all truth must submit to my feelings. Femininity in submission draws power from the truth outside of the person and then ministers to the person. Masculinity in the lead trusts that pursuit of the truth will lead to happiness and puts the agenda of happiness aside to that end. Masculinity in submission is crippled from being able to lead into the wilderness to find truth and then provide its benefits to femininity.
 
Once again, the masculine/feminine interaction is nowhere near as simple as a biological male and female. Men and women both are feminine–i.e. submissive–to the entirely masculine God (as the bride of Christ) who provides power to mankind when mankind is submissive; of course men are to be completely submissive/feminine to God in order to receive that power for the sake of life and comfort. When men minister those benefits to women similarly, women echo the benefits back to men with abilities to maximize human comfort and therefore keep society healthy. Both on the individual level (marriage, most notably) or in general, hence a few notes in Scripture that women are to be submissive in manner to men in general. 1 Timothy 2:11-14 of course refers to women learning in “full submission” to male teachers, ultimately, and can minister a masculine/feminine interaction among themselves.¬†1 Corinthians 14:34-35, at heart, notes the supportive nature of women relative to men in general. Put under a magnifying glass and blown out of proportion, it might appear that women do nothing for men at all after men (including those not their husbands) yet the abundant remainder of Scripture’s discussion with regards to how believers serve each other spiritually does not constantly place male/female parameters on interactions.
 
To approach the matter of how male and female interact, there is that which–I believe–is simply expected to occur naturally when “men are men” and “women are women” when the principles therein are understood. For one thing, Scripture clearly indicates that men and women both are submissive to other men as is apparent with the arrangements of male teachers and elders. In more common interactions I believe this occurs to lesser degrees, Fathers to daughters, brothers and sisters, in common biological family, and of course we are called to treat one another as such in the spiritual family as “brothers and sisters” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). How this works out in practice may open long and complicated discussions, but this is how interactions work.

What I find clear is that masculinity and femininity struggle to put each other to good use in this culture, socially. Men can be caught in a sort of machismo, not knowing their need for the nurturing of femininity; pastors–spiritual leaders, a masculine interaction to the feminine submission–are to be strong at all times, not needing the support of those to whom they lead. When the leader stumbles, people often think little of supporting the leader, and instead criticize without becoming a part of the solution.

Without the feminine support, the masculine gets burnt out, as unfortunately happens so often to those in leadership positions.

At the same time, as I often talk about, there are probably twenty words of criticism toward men from women for every one word involving women looking to be part of the solution to men’s problems; men, whom women simply expect to be strong. The deception then goes two ways in this interaction: masculine forgets its use for feminine support and gets exhausted in its machismo, and femininity forgets how to do anything for the masculine other than take the benefits without giving anything in return.

I pray for restored interactions in what God designed beautifully in total submission to Him.

The Wonders of Femininity

As a disclaimer up front, this is not much of a discussion on the marriage relationship, but on the individual.

Everybody is a sinner in need of grace. As sinners, we are corrupted forms of who we really are, and the wonderful, perfect design of God lies underneath it, ready to be restored and brought to life by the power of Christ.

 
I have no doubt that God made no mistakes when He designed men. And I have no doubt that He made no mistakes when He designed women. Among its innumerable flaws, Christian culture tends to describe masculinity and femininity–and especially, the interaction between the two–almost entirely in terms of marriage, although there’s so much more than that, for the simple reason that 99+% of Scripture is written equally toward male and female, describes the Body of Christ’s interactions without a pervasive addressing of gender; there are a couple, such as the issue of female authority, which actually helps imply that many other male/female interactions are to be expected. In fact:
 
1 Timothy 5:1-2
 

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.¬†Treat younger men as brothers,¬†

older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”
 
Jesus hung out with his family!
 
Matthew 12:46-50
While he was still speaking to the people, behold,¬†his mother and his¬†lbrothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.1¬†48¬†But he replied to the man who told him,¬†‚ÄúWho is my mother, and who are my brothers?‚Ä̬†49¬†And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,¬†‚ÄúHere are my mother and my brothers!¬†50¬†For¬†whoever¬†does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.‚ÄĚ
 
And promised that we could, too:
 
Matthew 10:29-30
 
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel¬†will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–along with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life.

 

(The same promise is found in Matthew 19:29 and Luke 18:29-30)
 
Whereas, unfortunately, part of our horrific culture imparted to men includes a perception of women as prizes: another notch on the belt of James Bond or some other aspiring alpha male as part of our fight against one another to see who is the greatest. On women’s end–and this is another thing to beware–a man is often portrayed as a “Superman” who puts an end to all of a woman’s problems, whereas in reality any leader figure may well lead his wife/followers/family on a journey that may include new dangers, not unlike our journey in following the leadership of Christ. The reality is that men’s interactions with women, in every way, can be powerful and a vital element of the family of God, an excellent team within the Body of Christ, playing to the strength of God’s wonderful design for masculinity and femininity.
 
I have a tough time nailing down definitions beyond the fundamental differences between masculinity and femininity. The fundamental differences are derived from the directives of 1 Corinthians 11:3-14). But here is my simplistic, two-pronged description of the benefits of femininity within community–trite as can be! ūüėČ
 
The cheerleader:¬†She sees the good in others, and desires to amplify those good qualities. Her desire for the success in others is absolutely sincere, and loves to study intensely the unique path of success per individual–the unique strength, and the unique path that that person must conquer in whatever form. The expert cheerleader can see the strengths of others even as those strengths are but seeds, not yet even developed. In all that she does, she stimulates the desire in others to be useful, and the recipient of her blessings cannot wait to apply himself/herself and put his/her strengths to use for maximum effect in the world. The good cheerleader is not a coward who simply seeks out those who look the strongest to tag along but takes the side of the team who is truly in the right.
 
The nurse:¬†She sees the flaws in others. The elements of a person that are weak, hurt,¬†even sinful, but responds every time with a heart of gentle mercy, out of a desire to achieve healing on every single level. While the cheerleader brings out the beauty and effectiveness of an individual after seeking out the good, the nurse seeks out the flaws and the damage. She is a healing messenger that assures that all who hurt are worth healing. The nurse may not be quite like the surgeon and take on the more massive issues that afflict a person, but she is determined to care for every scratch, every bruise, and every source of discomfort–a HUGE number of details she studies to seek bringing those she blesses to a state of absolute comfort, whereupon the cheerleader dovetails with this healing and restores them to full effectiveness.
 
On the masculine end, benefits abound. Apart from the obvious, oftentimes what we find is that we, as men, are required for our strength at the same time–it can be such a tremendous blessing to get our minds off of ourselves and be a service to women; chances are, the cheerleader and nurse is not without her own needs.
 
I actually believe that the biggest problem with modern Western marriages (with all the trouble it has had) comes from expecting too much out of one person, versus the support of a larger community. In a marriage, two become one for the full daily grind, but we don’t stop being men and women as we mingle within communities and with all the potential good that can take place between us. Scripture puts the occasional parameters on male/female interactions, such as the issue of female authority (1 Timothy 2:12-14) which Paul understood from a quite logical standpoint with regards to male/female design.
 
(What we tend to get more from women in culture is the dark side of the nurse and the cheerleader; our strengths are downplayed, and our weaknesses, real or imagined, are amplified and discussed with anything but constructive intent. Feminine women are diamonds in the rough. To be sure, there’s no doubt that men put them to the test with our flaws and undeveloped strengths.)
 
1 Corinthians 11:9
“Man is not made for woman, but woman for man.”¬†
 
Now, of course, getting the image of Adam and Eve, we might simply get the image of God giving Adam a wife. But I believe God’s design for femininity stems, in principle, as a responder to people. Moreso than men, I find it clear that women require and seek out human leadership–oftentimes frustrated and embittered when the leadership available fails, and once again, this is not limited to marriage, but also other figures such as pastors who meet the needs of communities. Moreover, women can impart their feminine blessing to other women and men. Among the stories of godly people in the Bible, men who sought God without the guidance of human leadership far outnumbers women in my observation. Men and women both respond to leadership, to be sure, but God’s design of woman wove this deeply into Eve’s design to find her fulfillment in response to people. I do not see this as an “inferiority,” although it is potentially a distinct vulnerability. A married woman responds to her husband’s leadership for the daily grind as his helper, as the marriage is a fleshly, earthly covenant, but not necessarily for the spiritual–it is possible that he’s an unbeliever, after all–and ideally they are both disciples of Christ capable of responding to human leadership. Fundamentally, masculine and feminine amounts to the relationship of lead and follow.

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