Thursday, February 27, 2014

10 Ways Christianity Perfects Masculinity

What does the Bible teach about God’s intended gender role for men? Are we supposed to be effete weaklings deprived by the constraints of a moral code? This seems to be a favorite stereotype in the world. Or are we present-day sexist cavemen living by the antiquated standards of a Semitic culture? Neither of these two views is even remotely close to the biblical truth. What then? Here is a non-exhaustive list (in no particular order) of ways in which Christianity, as opposed to the ever-changing norms of the world, perfects masculinity.

1. It distinguishes between a male and female sex/gender (Genesis 1:27-28).

In the scientific community, the term ‘sex’ has gradually been falling out of use the last 30 years or so in favor of ‘gender’. The majority of complex organisms on the planet are biologically predestined to be either male or female. A small percentage has the ability to reproduce asexually, e.g., slugs, snails, various plants, and some species of the whiptail lizard from the Aspidoscelis genus. (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/asexual-lizards/). Some animals even have the ability to biologically change their sex after they are born without undergoing any chromosomal mutations, but this is not so with humans. Some sex chromosome disorders do exist in human populations, such as Klinefelter Syndrome, but this particular disorder is very rare (0.002% in any ethnic group) and usually results in sterility. Successful reproduction, thus far, has only been possible with advanced medical technology. The bottom line is that God had intended for mankind to have only two unique sex groups without the ability of conveniently traversing them as some other animals possess. In today’s world, this natural barrier is clawed through by changing ideas of gender groups. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) official website has this to say on the subject: “’Gender’ refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.” (http://www.who.int/gender/whatisgender/en/) With that said, some societies of the past and present have added a “third gender” to their cultures. This is not part of God’s plan.

2. It reaffirms a heterosexual marriage (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6).

Christian men are to have only one woman as a wife and to be faithful to her. We’ll just leave it at that.

3. It teaches that physical strength and prowess are not fully equatable to a man in God’s eyes (Psalm 147:10-11; Proverbs 16:32; 1 Timothy 4:8).

This certainly won’t speak to everyone, but I was a two-sport athlete in high school. I understand the culture. On top of that, I’m an American and the stereotypes abroad aren't always nice ones. We have a reputation for being loud, impatient, cocky, and aggressive. If you've read a history textbook in the past century, then you’ll see that these are well-deserved descriptions. Our culture prides itself on the strong and robust male. The salaries of our professional athletes dwarf those of our professional educators. We also have, by far, the world’s largest military and this fact doesn’t go unnoticed or concealed in everyday American society. In the past, God has most certainly used physical strength through men to show His power. Do you think of Samson and the jawbone of a donkey or the two temple pillars he destroyed? How about David and his confrontation with a lion and a bear or his song of “ten thousands”? Indeed, the Bible says that the "LORD is a man of war” (Exodus 15:3) and “sought for Himself a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). He found that man in David, but these qualities are not God’s preferred attributes. David acknowledges this fact when he told his young son: “It was in my mind to build a house to the name of the Lord my God; but the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have made great wars; you shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight.” (1 Chron. 22:7-8) He would later declare the same thing to all of the leaders in Israel. Instead, his son Solomon would be granted the privilege of building a temple for the Lord. What made Solomon a more worthy man than his renowned father in the eyes of God? A peaceful kingdom and wisdom.

© OH Football Players by User: Casey Bernard / Wikimedia Commons /  CC-BY-SA-3.0

4. It acknowledges that godly men can learn from the wisdom of women (Proverbs 31:1-31).

Eve was created to be a companion for Adam because God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) She was also to be a helper comparable to him. This idea of a comparable helper is important. You know that chapter in Proverbs where it talks about the virtuous wife? It was written by a king who learned the teachings… from his mother! I quoted the chapter at my wedding and I resent the claim that Christian men are chauvinists.

5. It acknowledges the leadership role of the husband (Ephesians 5:23-24).

This passage upsets many in the world today, but these people fail to understand that this passage, and Christianity as a whole, enjoins the husband to do something in turn….

6. It teaches men how to love their potential wives (Ephesians 5:23-29; 1 Peter 3:7).

This may seem like a no-brainer, but believe it or not, not all young men will have a dad (or even just a strong male role model) to teach them this while they’re growing up. But the Bible teaches them how to do this. We should love them like our own bodies. In case you started reading this article just now, see number 2 above. In a spiritual sense, a husband and wife are one body.

7. It acknowledges the physiology of the male (and female) body (1 Corinth. 7:1-9).

Contrary to certain teachings, true biblical Christianity does not condemn marriage. In fact, the Bible explicitly warns us about this false teaching (1 Timothy 4:1-3). Fornication and adultery, however, are condemned (Hebrews 13:4) and one of the most merciful things God has ever given mankind to combat these temptations is marriage. Furthermore, the apostle Paul made it very clear in 1 Corinthians 7 what was his personal opinion on the matter of marriage and what was the commandment of God. If you’re not familiar with the writings of Paul, then read the chapter mentioned above to consider what he has to say. Mainly, notice this part: “For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” God does not want us to deprive the body He gave us, but all things must be done according to His will. Paul writes that “the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” Sobering words for a post-second wave feminist world and a pop culture accustomed to the sexual degradation of women.

8. It lauds temperance over indulgence (Proverbs 9:6; Proverbs 11:22; 1 Peter 4:3-5).

The idea of one-upmanship is not foreign to the male psyche. The apostle Peter, himself, admitted to doing just about whatever he wanted in his younger days, like the Gentiles. In other words, there may be a learning curve for many of us. In my experience, very few make it to adulthood without making stupid choices. But, it’s up to us whether or not we learn from them. What’s so cool about sitting in a police cruiser after a raided house party anyways? Or listening to your drunk friend from the other room while he unloads in the porcelain throne? How many 20-something rock legends/movie stars can you think of who died from a drug overdose? Lack of temperance is not supposed to be cool.

9. It teaches us that longevity is not to be abhorred but celebrated (Proverbs 16:31).

This one could be applied to women as well. However, in men the effects may be a bit different. Aging is accompanied by a loss of physical strength and vitality, traits that tend to be prized by the young because they are often used to attract the opposite sex. Once this begins to fade, a sense of worthlessness or failure may begin to set in. Mainstream culture tells us this realization may trigger a “mid-life crisis”. But is this really true? Better yet, should this be true? As I begin to find more gray hairs on my head, I wonder how I will handle the “prime” of my life. Society tells us to abhor those gray hairs, but you know what? The Bible tells us the exact opposite. While my physical strength will begin to markedly fade away one day, my spiritual strength should be markedly strengthening.

© Old Man (Imagicity 515) by User: Graham Crumb / Wikimedia Commons /  CC-BY-SA-3.0

10. It teaches us how men ought to be at every stage of their lives and gives us real examples (Psalm 147:10-11; 1 John 2:12-14; 1 Corinth. 4:9-10a).

Do you desire to be truly masculine in today’s world? Then strive to be strong in the faith and humble in heart, leaders in our homes and in the world, as well as servants. Follow the example of Christ and His Apostles:

"He does not delight in the strength of the horse; 

He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.
11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, 

In those who hope in His mercy." (Psalm 147:10-11)

"I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one." (1 John 2:13b-14b)
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"I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men." (1 Corinth. 4:9)

~ Sojourner84

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