Masculinity is taking it on the chin from all sides these days.
Some in our culture would tell us that masculinity in any way, shape or form is itself “toxic.” But knowing how it is that God made men and women each with their peculiar traits, trying to erase those distinctions, either by feminizing men or masculinizing women is – sin. It defaces the image we were created in.
But then we have those who, in an attempt to rescue or preserve masculinity, conjure a masculine image which is drawn from other cultural stereotypes. Thus men, in order to be men, must be hunting, fishing, weightlifting, macho, in-your-face grunters who take no guff, skin their kills with their teeth and would rather eat raw meat than get anywhere near an alfalfa sprout or a crepe. Somehow, to be soft-spoken, non-confrontational, artistic or sympathetic (heaven forbid anything close to empathetic) is to be a sissified, feminized milquetoast.
Fortunately, Biblical notions of masculinity are much broader and more complex. They can run the gamut from Samsonic he-men and Davidic warrior-poets, to iron-spined statesmen in the mold of Daniel and Joseph. One of the most interesting examples of the 2 ends of the masculinity continuum being the twins – Jacob and Esau. Esau being the “skillful hunter” and Jacob, “a quiet man, dwelling in tents.” (Gen. 25:26)
And who does God covenant with in this case? Not the grunter. The sissy.
Now is this a call for all men to deny their hunter-gatherer instincts in order to please God? Not at all. Nor is it an apologetic for all men to be uniformly quiet and indoorsy. It is to say God puts no premium on either considered in and of themselves. And that it behooves us to go back to Scripture to gain a sense of God’s idea of masculinity.
What does that look like? Let me suggest the following from Genesis. And in the end, we see that such masculinity is not located either in he-men or quiet men. It is found in men who follow Christ. There is no time or space to expatiate on each here – so let me just list them.
MASCULINE TRAIT #1 – Gen. 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man & put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it & keep it.
Here we have our first description of what manliness rests in: Responsibility for what God has COMMITTED into his HANDS. To live the life God has given to me as a literal gift from His hand & to use WHAT He has placed at my disposal accordingly.
MASCULINE TRAIT #2 – Gen. 2:16 & 17
Responsibility to OBEY what God has COMMANDED. REGARDLESS OF OTHERS!
A MAN can & will take personal responsibility to order his own life in accordance with the revealed will of God.
His mother, father and others can stop telling him what he ought & ought NOT to do, because he is doing that out of personal responsibility to God.
MASCULINE TRAIT #3 – Gen. 2:18-24
Responsibility toward the PROTECTION of & PROVISION for – Women & children.
Responsibility for the Spiritual Welfare of others – the inherent concept behind being an Elder.
MASCULINE TRAIT #4 – Gen. 2:25
Responsibility toward protecting the SANCTITY of the marriage union.
Nothing is LESS manly than the objectifying of women.
MASCULINE TRAIT #5 – Gen. 3:1-6
Responsibility for their own SPIRITUAL HEALTH & WELFARE & how that spills over to others (especially women & children)
Deep personal responsibility for the pursuit of Godlikeness. Pursing the fruit of the Spirit.
MASCULINE TRAIT #6 – Gen. 3:7-12
Responsibility for one’s OWN sin & its RESULTS.
The spirit of the wimp is the jelly-spined, blame-shifting that goes on when we get exposed. Real men are willing to face their deep personal responsibility for sin
MASCULINE TRAIT #7 – Gen. 3:20
Responsibility to COURAGEOUSLY go on in the face of discouragement, difficulty & failure.
Adam FINALLY shows his masculinity, when in the face of all that had happened, he doesn’t run out on Eve. He stops blaming her or anyone else. He starts cultivating the ground. Getting back to what he was commissioned to do at the first.
Men can be real men as we’ve seen outlined above, & grow up to be artists, poets, musicians, designers, dancers, lawyers, doctors, writers etc. And yep, construction workers, hunters, competition weightlifters, steam-fitters, longshoremen, tri-athletes and Marine door-gunners. None of these in either list makes one masculine. For masculinity isn’t in what we do, but who we are before God.
Be a man. 1 Cor. 16:13-14 (ESV)
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.