Last week, I tried something new, and shared a post about life: unmasked, a blog meme started by Joy, a new writer I’ve come across recently. I liked it, so I’m in for round two.
Laying Out The Issues
There has been a lot of discussion and speculation on gender roles and Biblical manhood over the past couple weeks. First, Joy posted about a potential blind spot in complementarianism, offering some challenging questions and insight into the roles men and women play in the church, how vocal women should be and how men should value womens’ perspectives, particularly in the T4G context. Kevin DeYoung gives some insight on some issues related to men not pursuing marriage, as well as offering some suggestions for breaking free from being what Mark Driscoll would call a “boy who can shave”.
A good friend of mine, Paul Devos, asked some questions on his Facebook page in response to DeYoung’s blog.
Do Kevin DeYoung, JR Vassar, and Matt Chandler have a close relationship with the men at their churches? Do they know the men today in their congregation?
Are the sermons with content like “quit playing video games” based off of women’s observations or are these pastors actually hanging out with these guys and seeing them playing video games 8+ hrs a day?
Or are these words in their sermons based off Wall Street Journal information?
I asked Pastor Matt about this, and he said that it’s really both, or rather from several sources. While Chandler isn’t hanging out with men 8 hours a day watching them play video games, he is in the lives of his church enough to see the problem actually exists, which adds validity to the WSJ statistics.
Then, of course, we have a giant question mark on how “effeminate” a man can be and still be considered masculine or adhering to Biblical manhood.
Narrowing The Focus
I think that these are good topics to wrestle with, but I also believe that when we wrestle with these topics too long, we lose sight of the real question, particularly in the blogging world. We get offended by something someone says or writes, and then we write about it. Sometimes we are right to be offended, and right to write about it. Sometimes we rip a message out of its context and primary audience, and we make fools of ourselves. All because we lose sight of the real question.
When we talk and write about Biblical manhood, there is only one question: What does it mean to be like Jesus?
Every other question we ask related to this is a nuanced scenario of how to apply the answer to this question.
For example: The 8 hour video game guy. Pastors, bloggers, and writers use this example to illustrate the fact that there are many men who just aren’t being providers, aren’t pursuing Godly women for marriage, and aren’t gladly accepting the responsibility God has given them. And they’re right to speak out against this issue. But, there has to be a point where we return to the original question. The man who works 80 hours a week to “provide” for his family doesn’t fall into this example of not reflecting and embracing Biblical manhood, but he may not be conforming to Christ’s image either because he spends all his time at work and none with his family. So when we look at Jesus as our model, we see that Biblical manhood is not just to provide, but also to be actively involved in one’s family so we can pastor and shepherd them well.
Biblical manhood also includes protecting one’s family. The language of Ephesians 5:22-6:9 is military language in the Greek, leading right into the section on spiritual warfare. Paul is literally saying “line up in this way before you go into battle.” The reason for this is so that the husband takes the hit instead of or before the wife and children. God positions the men in front to protect the women and children from the assaults of the world and of sin. Jesus is our ultimate Protector, to be sure, but men are to emulate that in the family as God gives them grace to do so. Yet, Jesus, as our protector, also lets us experience the temporal consequences of our actions and our sin. But even as He allows this, for our good, He never leaves us. He walks with us and helps us deal with those consequences.
To be sure, there are other traits that accompany these primary roles of loving like Christ loves the church: humility, kindness, toughness, tenderness, ambition, servanthood, and many others.
I love how Darrin Patrick says that men should be tough, able to take a punch, able to handle circumstances, but tender with their wives. It seems that in exploring this tough/tender model that there will be times where men may have to be tough on issues and tender toward their wives at the same time, particularly during times of disagreement. Part of being tender, and humble, is valuing the opinions and perspectives of women, as Joy addresses the her blog I mentioned above.
So, how do we do this?
How do we know when to draw the line between protecting, absorbing pain so our wives don’t have to, and allowing her to deal with the consequences of her actions and sin, while still faithfully walking with her and helping her?
How do we seek out an value the advice of women, both in the home and the church, without relinquishing our God-mandated leadership role to them? To that end, how do we have the nerve to blame them for leading in areas we want to say they shouldn’t lead, when men aren’t stepping up and leading in those areas? I’m not saying that their leading is justified, but that we can’t accuse them of doing wrong when we won’t step up and do what’s right.
How do we provide the level of comfort to make our wives feel secure and safe without spending too much time away from the family? How do we make sure that the level of comfort she desires isn’t more consumerism than security?
How do we pastor well, being tough on sin in our lives and adhering to the convictions God places on our hearts while being tender toward our wives? How are we to be tough on sin we see in our wives while be gracious and humble toward them? Where do we draw the line between vocalizing the sin we see, and submitting that to God and allowing Him to work that out within our wives?
So, single men, single women, married men, and married women, I put the above questions before you so that you can help me wrestle with the answers. Let me know your thoughts, feelings, convictions, and insights in the comments.