I came across this video on facebook. In it the preacher tells young single men to “grow a pair” and be more masculine when relating to women. In one part he even makes fun of someone he ministers to in his message for not being manly enough.
Yesterday I was talking with someone else about a famous quip made by another famous preacher in which he proclaimed that he couldn’t worship someone he could beat up. Sad to say the person he claims to worship let himself get beat up and instructed other men to turn the other cheek and follow his example. Indeed many of them did.
Can you imagine one of these uber-masculine folks ever say the following?:
“As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.”
That was Paul in 1Thessalonians.
If we are truly following God what should that look like?
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
(Gal 5:22-23 NLT)
What? Where is toughness, bravado, decisiveness, aggressiveness, assertiveness, boldness, or strength?
How then did Paul and his contemporaries manage to turn the Roman world upside down?
For God, who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.
(2Co 4:6-11 NLT)
What do we see here? Fragility, pressed on every side, perplexed, hunted down, knocked down, and suffering. But despite the very real apparent weaknesses they were never destroyed, driven to despair or crushed. Why? They had a power inside them that sustained them. The weaker they were the more God’s power was observed and the more people came to faith in the same power.
That isn’t to say that Paul wasn’t willing to take risks, even bold ones. That certainly looks masculine. He put himself at risk because of his faith in God, not faith in his own ability. The courage he had wasn’t source in self-reliance or personal toughness it was the divinely imparted confidence he had that he would never be abandoned.
I think there is there is room for masculinity in the Christian faith but it doesn’t manifest itself through pride, bravado or anger. A truly secure man is at peace inside and isn’t threatened by other opinions or being wrong. A truly secure man has self-control and integrity and will stand steadfastly for what he believes in. He will be a true friend to the disadvantaged. A truly masculine man doesn’t need the leverage of oppressive gender roles that disenfranchise or limit the potential of women. Why? Because he is not afraid.
I don’t know the heart of the two guys I referenced in this post but I think that some of these uber-masculine guys get angry at less masculine guys because they perceive a weakness they hate in themselves. They project masculinity in order compensate for their own weakness. Instead of accepting their own weaknesses they shame themselves in to pseudo-strength and try to do the same to others. Many of them aren’t brave at all. They will fight you but only when they have a steep advantage. They will leverage the pulpit or their organization in order to intimidate. They might face you, but only after they have stacked the deck in their favour. Why? Because they are cowards.
I believe that we could make room for men to be men in the church. I don’t see how walking in to a crowded room of 1000 people to idolize some preacher with a tattoo making vulgar comments about his sexual prowess changes that.