Toxic Masculinity: Defining Manhood

Yesterday, I wrote about what Jaclyn Friedman calls “toxic masculinity.” I covered my thoughts on where I believe she was right, as well as where I feel her solution to this problem is ineffective and will cause more problems in the future. Today we’ll look at a working definition of Biblical manhood. It is by no means the final verdict, or even a complete definition, but if you haven’t read yesterday’s post yet, you’ll want to do that now.

Friedman is right in that we need to address what manhood really is. I think part of the problem is that, as a culture, we’ve spent to much time addressing what men do and not enough on who men are. We talk about men playing sports, drinking beer instead of wine, watching UFC, and eating chicken wings, which are all good examples of God’s common grace, but we don’t talk about character. We don’t talk about what men will and won’t tolerate or what they should stand for, because we’ve largely abandoned the concept of absolute truth, but that’s another blog for another day.

As Christians, we look to the Bible to define masculinity.
We look to Jesus as our example.

The best definition I’ve heard of meekness is “controlled strength,” and I wish I could tell you where I heard it. Jesus is the epitome of meekness. We tend to look at the cleansing of the temple (Mark 11:15-18; Matt. 21:12-16; Luke 19:45-47; John 2:14-16) as the example of Jesus’s strength, but that’s just a small example. Jesus is Lord over all creation, the God of angel armies walking on Earth. At any moment, He could have called down angels and decimated those who would crucify Him. This God who terrifies legions of demons with His mere presence (Mark 5:1-20). He could have spoken only a word and His enemies would have turned to dust. But He didn’t. THIS is controlled strength. This is meekness.

Those who are confident in their strength don’t
need to force it on people to make it known.

Self Control
This is related to meekness in that it is impossible for one to control their own strength without self-control, but it expands beyond that definition to all of life. It includes everything from physical strength to temptation. The apostle Paul said that he “disciplines” his body, the NIV even phrases it this way, “I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave” (1 Cor. 9:27). Paul beats his body into submission, taking control of his natural urges and desires and forcing them to conform to that which Christ commands.

In other words, saying “it’s natural” is nonsense.
Take responsibility for your actions and follow Jesus.

We see this example in Jesus most clearly, as well as in the apostle Paul. Jesus, King of kings, stepped down from Heaven to live life as fully man and fully God. And He didn’t do this so that He would be exalted, He did it in humble submission to the Father to bring glory to the name of the Father (John 12:27-28). Yet, in all of this, He did in fact work for the good of His bride, the Church. Paul consistently considered himself as “the least of all the saints” (Eph. 3:8) and “the chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).

We see two aspects of humility here:
1) Jesus, knowing that He was rightly a Person of the Triune God, humbled Himself and did not use His power to save Himself from the cross, in submission to the Father.
2) The apostle Paul viewed himself in light of Christ, and in light of the sin in his own heart, instead of getting caught up in how the Christians of the day may have seen him as a “celebrity pastor” of sorts.

Humility is seeing yourself from the right
perspective, and acting accordingly.

We could make the argument that real mean are leaders, and I do believe that would be a Biblical argument, but as all leaders must be servants first, that is more pressing. There are a couple ways to look at how one is a servant. The first is one who is under authority, as we are to Christ. The second is one who is in a leadership role, but works for the betterment of those he leads. In order to do either, we must first submit to the Lordship of Christ. I don’t just mean confessionally, it isn’t enough to just say it, it must be lived out practically, we have to actually do what Christ commands. It’s only then that we will have the perspective to serve those whose authority we are under and those we lead.

In the next post, we’ll cover how this definition of Biblical manhood should affect our interaction with women.

2 responses to “Toxic Masculinity: Defining Manhood

  1. Pingback: Toxic Masculinity : The Wrong Approach | TransformingWords

  2. Pingback: Toxic Masculinity: Treating Women Well | TransformingWords

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