18 Apr Politically Incorrect, Socially Unacceptable, Theologically Narrow-Minded…I Still Long to be a Godly Man
In case you haven’t noticed, men are under attack in America. Never has there been a more confusing period of history in which the social and cultural climate has been rocked with worldly philosophies that stand in direct opposition to God’s Word. And sadly, the majority in our country have been bullied into silence and have responded without conviction. Walter Newell was right when he wrote, “As a culture we have never been more conflicted about what we mean by manhood.”
The things that I will write in the pages that follow are considered politically incorrect, socially unacceptable and theologically narrow-minded. None of that births great concern in my spirit. What matters to me is whether or not the concepts on these pages are biblical and God-honoring.
I should at this point state emphatically that patriarchy, a male dominated society, is NOT what God intended in His Word. Certainly some males have made the plight of men difficult because they have cruelly oppressed women and children for their own selfish gain. This is sin! But to judge all men in the light of the failures of some is simply wrong. Those who dominate and hurt as they pursue selfish gain may be male, but they are not men. They are little boys in grown-up bodies who in no way resemble how God intends for a man to look.
So, what does it mean to be a man? According to William Bennett, “…while the plot, actors and scenes are constantly changing, the virtues, characteristics and challenges of manhood remain the same today as thousands of years ago…more than ever we need men who live like men.”
I write this book because the world needs men!
“The world needs men who are strong: strong in conviction,
strong to lead, to stand, to suffer.
I pray that you will be that kind of man…”
~ Elizabeth Elliot
While this need is ever-present in our culture, many have intentionally launched an attack on manhood in order to further their own ungodly and selfish agendas. The following are two quotes that depict the mindset of a culture that has been hijacked by evil.
Sarah Silverman says: “Dear men, just because we don’t need you anymore doesn’t mean we don’t want you. Love forever, women.”
“Men are so last century,” quipped New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd at the November 2013 Munk Debate.
Chris Field has authored a number of things that help us understand the plight of masculinity in America. The quotes below come from an article entitled Man Down: The Attack on American Masculinity.
“Thanks to modern science, men are not even essential for procreation. In a culture where women are encouraged to be empowered and independent in the workplace and at home, men are left searching for their place in society and boys don’t know where to turn, which can lead to devastating effects.”
“Being a man in today’s America is not as simple or straightforward as it once was. Historically, boys knew that when they grew up they were expected to provide for a wife and family. While men were responsible for earning an income for the family, the women were to maintain the household and nurture the children. This basic pattern spans thousands of years of human history. But in the last 40 years, the role of women has vastly changed (as has their station), and they are now a powerful part of the American workforce. For better or for worse, feminists have been outspoken advocates for this transition, which has offered women a support system to wade through these changes.
But it has been a different story for men.
Except for the fact that their honor has been under attack, men have largely been ignored. Men have been told that they are disposable and akin to an accessory.”
Steven Horne has also written extensively on the subject of manhood in America and offers this from an article entitled Wake Up, Men! Your Masculinity is Under Attack: (http://www.treelite.com/NF/2008/03/Wake-Up-Men-Your-Masculinity-is-Under-Attack)
“It’s tough to put a finger on the exact qualities that make a man manly, but we can see these qualities in the heroic men of historical movies and fiction. (Most modern movies have very poor role models of masculinity.) Some of the qualities we might observe in these “manly” men include physical strength, moral courage, self-confidence, a willingness to make personal sacrifice to do one’s duty, the ability to stay calm and level headed in a crisis and good leadership skills…They (Men) were taught to face their own fears and act with courage in the face of those fears. They were taught to be responsible, to support the team (work with other men), to lead, to hunt, etc. They were taught the skills of the warrior and had to prove that they were willing to lay their lives on the line in order to protect those who were entrusted to their care and to do their duty. These rites of passage turned boys into men…A man is not a man without a sense of life purpose. A man needs a mission in life-—something he is dedicated to that is more important to him than his own life…With young men spending much of their time in public school (often under the authority of female teachers) and the high rate of divorce, where mothers get custody of the children 90% of the time, boys don’t have mature men to guide them through their rights of passage. Boys learn how to be men from men. Sorry, ladies, but a woman can’t teach a boy to be a man.”
As we begin, let us recognize that God is the designer of both masculinity and femininity. He chose in Genesis 1 to create mankind in the context of gender. We have no right to change God’s design. Elizabeth Elliot states, “We are living in dangerous times. People are tampering with God’s arrangements…”
“Masculinity did not evolve. It was created. There was a literal time and place when the Creator-God breathed into the clay He had molded into man-shape. A moment before, there wasn’t a man in the whole wide world. And then –snap! – just that quickly, there was a man in the house. And what a man. In that creative instant, masculinity blazed forth in uneclipsed glory, and God’s angels shouted for joy.” ~ Stu Weber
In this day when culture is lashing out against men and their masculinity with worldly philosophies that degrade God’s design for humanity, let us gaze upon the wonder of God’s magnificent plan for our gender. My friends, it is time for us to take back the place that God designed for a man to stand! If we are to accomplish this, then it will require a deep understanding of God’s intent and design for manhood.
Understanding the Battle and the Enemy
As we begin this journey, it is vital that we understand the battle that we are facing and the enemy which we fight. Let me state boldly that our enemy is not woman! It is not the liberal, nor is it the feminist. No, our battle is against the evil one. Sin has done its work well in the minds of those who do not understand faith. Many are deceived and lash out against Biblical Manhood. But these are not our enemies. We must understand the battle based upon Scripture and a Biblical worldview.
Ephesians 6:12 English Standard Version (ESV)
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
While many will debate with us and even hurl insults at us as we rise up to be Godly Men, they are not our enemies. They are people who have been blinded and/or deceived. This statement alone will infuriate them. But for those of us who stand on the authority of Scripture, we know that those who do not know Christ and understand the cross will think the ways of God are foolishness. When we encounter them, and the hostility they cast towards us, we must be ready to speak truth in love. Let us always remember that they are our mission field…men and women made in the image of God who walk in darkness in desperate need of Light. Do not compromise your witness as you seek to share the Light. We can be bold and loving simultaneously. But we can only balance these two with God’s help as we exercise great wisdom and courage. Should someone attack you as you seek to teach and encourage a Godly approach to life, realize that it is not personal. They don’t really have a problem with you but rather a much bigger problem- they have a problem with God. It is His Word that we seek to proclaim and live.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5English Standard Version (ESV)
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…
Notice here that we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons we have been afforded by God are not of this world. They are spiritual, and they are powerful. With these weapons we are to destroy not people but strongholds. Satan has many strongholds in the worldly opinions and philosophies of our day. In order to become Godly Men, we are going to have to fight. But let us always remember that our battle is not with people who don’t understand, rather it is with the ideas of a world that is lost and has gone mad.
The following is an incomplete list of worldly philosophies that appear to be dominating the American culture today.
What are some the worldly philosophies that wage war on masculinity?
Governments- Some will immediately roll their eyes here and say, “Oh here he goes…another conspiracy theorist. As a rule, I seldom speak into the arena of politics because I believe, for the most part, it is wasted breath. Not because Christians shouldn’t be involved in the political arena… I actually believe we should be involved. However, I often avoid speak into the political arena because the rhetoric has become so inflamed that I believe the battle here is, more often than not, futile. I do believe that one of the weapons that Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 10 is that of prayer. Prayer is powerful. And it may well be the most effective weapon to find the church’s voice and influence as we deal with the breakdown of morality and culture in America. Many say we are living in the darkest hour of American history. I believe that there is a day that is coming that will be darker still. And I pray that when things get bad enough, people will cry out to God. On that day, Godly Men and Godly Women must be prepared to speak boldly.
“The war on masculinity has never been so brutal – but it’s not a war being waged by women. The attack is coming directly from the top, as the establishment desperately attempts to emasculate and disempower men in order to force women to be more dependent on the state, thereby enabling more power to be centralized and aiding the growth of big government.” ~ Paul Joseph Watson in an article entitled, The War on Men: 10 Ways Masculinity is Under Attack
Broken Theology- The battle for Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood must first be fought in the family. But the second battleground that we must fight and win, if we are ever to change the world, is found in the church. It pains me to say this because I love the church. But there are worldly philosophies that have overtaken the church. For decades we thought that our sons and daughters would come to understand God’s plan for mankind. But what we did not realize is that our educational system was systematically brainwashing our children with a secular worldview that has placed scales over eyes and veils of separation into hearts. These worldly philosophies are often subtle but powerful. God is no longer welcome in schools. Many, even in the church, argue that this is a good thing. Some laughingly say that as long as there are tests in schools, there will be prayer in schools. But educational theories have been often taught as fact. And to even speak of the Bible as being authoritative and God-given results in personal attack. The name calling and rhetoric is intense. And now that secular worldview has crept into the church.
In her book entitled The Mark of a Man, Elizabeth Elliot tells the story of a woman who has bought into a genderless philosophy.
After a talk I gave at a church in Boston, a person (I use the word advisedly) came swaggering up to me, hands thrust into jeans’ pockets, belligerent jaw thrust forward and working vigorously on a wad of gum.
“You know, I disagree with a lot of stuff you say.”
“Okay. You’re allowed to disagree with me. But can you be specific? Tell me what you disagree with.”
“Well, I don’t know, I mean, like, you know, I just don’t like some of the stuff you say about women.”
It wasn’t the time to point out the difference between not liking and not agreeing. I find that my students in the seminary often confuse the two. Dislike is a mere matter of taste. Nobody can argue with tastes. Disagreement requires refutation. You’ve got to be able to show the holes in the logic and present a case that demolishes the other’s. But I met her on her terms.
“Okay. Fine. Tell me what you don’t like.”
“Well, like, you know, I just don’t like to think of myself as, like, you know, a woman.”
“Really? How do you like to think of yourself, then?”
“Just a person. You know?”
Some in the church have dismissed the things that God says about gender and about living a holy life in the context of marriage as old-fashioned and irrelevant. It is not my desire to argue or debate. But we cannot stand silently by and allow this broken theology to dictate the future of our children and our grandchildren. Simply stated, God designed mankind. He made some to be male and some to be female…all in His image. We are equally made and equally valuable. But God designed us with distinctive characteristics. He chose for some to be black and some to be brown and some to be white and others to be red. And he said that all were equal and valuable. He looked and said, “It is good.” He made some male and some female and then said, “It is good!” My friends, God never intended for us to be a sexless/genderless people.
Equating Equality with Sameness and the Quest of Unisex Society- Recently on a day when ISIS was beheading Christians and the world was rocked with tragedy, the lead story in the news was about our President implementing a new policy and having a unisex bathroom built within the White House. It seems that there is a movement afoot to desex America. This, in my opinion, is nonsensical.
Every Christian, whether male or female, should embrace the concept of equality, but let us realize that equality and sameness are not identical. The Bible teaches that while men and women are equal in value, they have been designed by God to play particular roles in life, culture and marriage. When we advocate sameness, the concept that there is no distinction between men and women, we open the door to all sorts of distortions to God’s design and plan.
Gender Confusion- On March 17, 2015 an article was run on the home page of CNN.com entitled: ‘It’s a girl! Not so fast… The article was written by 15-year old Avery Wallace advocating that we should stop declaring in the delivery rooms of America “It’s a girl!” “It’s a boy!” Why? Because you don’t get to determine if your child is going to be a boy or girl, but one day he or she (or IT) will grow up and decide which IT will be. Avery writes, “You see, the doctor told my parents, ‘It’s a girl,’ but he couldn’t have been more wrong. Aside from my biology, I knew I was a boy from the age of 2. I was 100% sure of who I was and biology was an insignificant part of conversation.”
Let me say that I have no ill will against Avery Wallace. I simply state God’s Word with respect and reverence for all His creation.
Genesis 1:26-27 English Standard Version (ESV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Friends, God chose to make you a man. If you have a penis, it is a great indicator that God’s intention is for you to be a man and to be masculine in your pursuit of life. I can’t believe that I needed to say that last sentence. But in the world today, confusion seems to be ruling the day.
While the physical fact that you have male parts is a direct indicator of God’s intent to make you masculine, being a male is far more than your biology. Along with the physical factors of manliness, there are scores of factors that are a part of being masculine. You approach life from a whole different perspective from the other gender. You think differently than a female. Not because you have a penis, but because of all the internal wiring that is associated and tied to that biological fact. Ultimately, while masculinity is found in your physical DNA, it is most pronounced in your spiritual DNA. Gender is most apparent in the mind and in the soul. I state this because we live in a day when medical science has been able to change body parts. But just because someone changes body parts does not mean they can change all the spiritual and emotional wiring that is God-given.
Feminism- Because this study is on Biblical Manhood, I am going to refrain from spending much time on the feminist movement, but it is impossible to look at the struggle that men face as they rise up and become Godly Men without acknowledging that feminism has intentionally launched an attack on men and masculinity. I have quoted Elizabeth Elliot often in this chapter because I wanted the refutation of this destructive philosophy to come from within the female gender and therefore protect these teachings from a biased dismissal based upon, “what else would you expect a man to say?” I find Elizabeth humble, intelligent and courageous as she addressed the feminist agenda of this age.
Feminists are busy rewriting all of history, psychology, mythology, sociology, and even theology to suit the spirit of the age, and, if you dare say, “Hey, wait a second!” you know what you’ll be called.” ~ Elizabeth Elliot
Disposable Marriage- Never in the history of America has it been so easy for a person to dissolve marriage. The breakdown of marriage in America has radically shaped our culture. The fastest way for a person to fall below the poverty level is for them to experience divorce. In the past year I have worked with numerous men and women who never wanted divorce, and yet their spouses ran headlong into this destructive act without any concern for anyone except themselves. Not only are ex-spouses left in the wake of their selfishness but so too are scores of children. Gone are the days of waiting periods for someone to get a divorce.
I came across the term disposable marriage a few years ago when I wrote Be Strong and Show Yourself a Man. Since then, I have come to realize that our failure to live out marriage by God’s design has contributed significantly to the heartbreak of the world in which we live. The world has exchanged marriage for a number of cheap imitations that leave humanity lacking and bankrupt. Premarital sex, cohabitation, pornography and extramarital sex have all contributed in cheapening the holy institution of marriage. We now have no fault divorce and same-sex marriage. The spiral of moral decay has been rapid. Like it or not, failed marriages have taken their toll on both men and women. And many of the struggles that men have with regard to living Godly lives in an ungodly world are founded upon the brokenness of a culture devastated by the break-up of the family.
These worldly philosophies are the backdrop of an ungodly world that is in desperate need of Godly Men. As we launch into this study to reclaim Biblical Manhood, we have to ask the sobering questions, “Is it too late?” “Has this slippery slide passed the point of no return?” I do not believe it is too late. I do know that if we do nothing we will only see the moral decay of America intensify and move with breakneck speed towards the place of hopelessness. Some call me a dreamer. But I believe that with God on our side, it is never too late!
When the Hebrew people found themselves enslaved in Egypt, God rose up a man, Moses, to lead them to the place of freedom.
When it appeared that sin had won and idolatry had broken through to victory, God sent a man, Jesus, to lead all humanity back to the place of redemption.
When an evil dictator poured out hatred and violence upon all the peoples of the world and threatened the destruction of every free man, woman and child, God called forth a generation of men, “the greatest generation,” who willingly sacrificed their present and their future for the sake of a better tomorrow.
In this day, the cry of God goes out to men. It is the same cry that Isaiah heard in his day: “Who shall I send? Who shall go for me?” Men, this is an hour of great need. We were created for this. It is time to rise up and lead the way to a better future.
If we are to succeed for God’s glory and the good of a nation, it will require that we learn how to live as Godly Men in an Ungodly World! This will require that we find our identity in Christ, that we become men of integrity who walk humbly before God and man with pure hearts and minds; it will require a sound foundation and a willing heart. In the end, it will require tremendous character and a self-sacrificing will. Men of God, your eternity is secure in Christ. Therefore, you have nothing to fear. The only thing that can defeat us is living life on the sidelines, uncaring and disengaged. The apathy of men lets evil run its course unopposed and uninterrupted. Let us fight the good fight of faith! Rise up O Man of God!!!