Two posts have come out recently about the problem of manhood within this culture. First Owen Strachan used a Tide commercial to launch into the topic of who should work at home. Then Kevin DeYoung wrote about the absence of mature godly men from churches. The lack of godly men is glaring and sad. Everyone loses when men do not fulfill their part. God made two genders to be His representatives on earth. When one fails the other suffers. And this failure is all over the place.
I know that I am not wise or experienced enough to solve the issue. The complexity is very deep running from the plain sin of the individual man to the culture men find themselves residing in here in America. But here are some thoughts as being one of these men living during this time.
1. Sin lies and steals true goodness from us. “Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you” (Jeremiah 5:25), “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword” (Proverbs 5:3-4). The over arching problem is that the world is selling a lie about what men should be and do. God has his vision and the devil has his. the devil presents his view as the most pleasing and satisfying. The men of this day and age are biting into it hook, line and sinker. What we are dealing with, at the core, is not a motivation problem on behalf of men, but the same problem that happened in a garden when a serpent asked the question, “did God really say?” Is God’s vision of manhood really that good? They may ask, “how can that be good when what we see before ourselves seems so much better?” Feminists and Egalitarians tell men that they have no distinctive place or role in the world and so offer a world of laziness and passivity. The sexual “freedom” around us presents the lie that sexual happiness exists in having sexual desires fulfilled in selfish, debasing ways in the most immediate means possible. And where men think they will never amount to anything in the real world they can become one of the greatest Special Operation soldiers imaginable on a video game. All these are lies plain and simple. But they are the lies that men buy and the situation we are up against.
2. The glory of Christ is redeeming and restoring the people who have been ravished by this world. “And Jesus answered them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’” (Luke 5:31-32). “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” (Colossians 1:21-22). “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6). Here are two glorious truths that come against the darkness of all this: Jesus came to save sinners and Jesus will save sinners.
a. To fight against the lie of sin the truth of the gospel is placed over against it. Jesus has come into the world so that sinful, pathetic men can be reconciled to God and be made blameless and above reproach. The way this problem gets solved is not by finding the right cultural screw which is out of place and fixing it. It is by the Spirit opening dead men’s eyes to the glory of Christ so that they may drop all their efforts and have faith in the saving work of Christ.
b. And we can walk confidently in this reality. For the Spirit is the one who is at work when we bring the gospel to bear upon the lies of sin. Our confidence in the transformation from dark, sinful men to repentant, righteous men is solely the work of the Spirit invading the darkness with the sin defeating work of Christ as a word from the Father. He is our confidence, not any contrived social construction we can think of. Transformation will happen man by man as the Spirit makes each one anew in Christ.
3. As for teaching men who are already Christians we must remember that the main problem are the lies of sin they are still believing. The biblical vision of manhood is glorious! Loving leadership is a joy! The pursuit of holiness is a fight for happiness! Purity is to be desired as treasure! Let us call our brothers to cast off the unsatisfying pleasures of the world’s vision of manhood and let us proclaim and savor the joy of Christian manhood.
a. Now, the reality is still the same, holiness is hard to get. To settle for the world’s vision of manhood is the easy road (But it is also the broad road that leads to destruction as well). Where as the road of being made blameless and above reproach is hard work. However, as a Christian, holiness is not only something a man is striving for, but is something one already has obtained in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). The pursuit of this holiness is living in the reality of the promises one has in Christ while being fueled by divine power. The joy of holiness can and will be attained by the Christian even though the road is difficult.
b. We must cast off the old school method of building men by relying solely on the law. I remember finishing a Christian book on leadership which ended by basically saying, “striving for leadership will be hard, but you have to do it.” And after finishing his, what felt like, 180 things you have to be to become a godly leader I had no desire to try to become one. Who would? I am just going to fail. Gospel-less summons to manhood will not produce the men who will lead their churches and homes in godliness. War-like calls to fight the good fight are right and needed. But if in our desire to make true men we uproot the calls from the indicatives of who these men are in Christ we will kill who we are trying to revive.
c. We must never confuse symptoms with the problem. Issues like DeYoung point out are not the problems but symptoms of the problem. Unfortunately I under went a period where these things got confused. The answer to dealing with the immaturity of men was to, as was thought, get them married. This only lead to men who were selfish, immature, but now married as well. Discipling men is not simply getting them married. It is teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded. If we are not seeking them to grow in every area the bible commands (leadership, service, love, compassion, doctrinal firmness and gentleness, etc) we cause harm by focusing on one just one area.
d. Churches should encourage single men to find an identity in Christ so as to live holy where they are in life. Here is a problem that I still come across. It is presented in a fashion that the only way to be a faithful man is to either get married or go over seas to become a missionary. We miss an important stage of life for single guys where they can become trained in godliness by grace (Titus 2:11-12) if we just want them to become married or a missionary. Singleness can be for sanctification just as much as marriage can be as I wrote before. Becoming a godly husband is an overflow of a godly single life.
e. Finally, the church must realize that the men who are being made a new in Christ need to be discipled. The men being claimed by Christ these days do not know how to act like men. Single men do not know how to pursue their sisters righteously. Men do not know how to manage their fiances. Men do not know how to build relationships with other godly men. Just commanding them to do so is an effort into futility. Men who are being redeemed out of broken homes with no example or instruction to follow will need to get the instruction from some where. The church must be willing to provide actual instruction of the things it commands.
There are many more things to say on the subject I know. But these are just some thoughts from me about this topic. I don’t know if I am adding anything new or not. But hopefully they are over all helpful.