Manhood at the Master’s Feet

The Psalms and Matthew 18-19 tell us that manhood is more than bullets, brawn, and beast-killing. Jesus was the manliest man who ever lived, and he bounced children on His knee:

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15, ESV)

Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,” but American men say, “Leave the children to the women, I’ve got hunting to do,” – as though killing animals, even to feed your family’s bodies, is more important than spending time with them to feed their souls.

Jesus says, “Children are a blessing;” American men say, “Children are a burden,” – as though pouring one’s life into someone else’s is not the best use of our relational time on this earth.

Cultural views of manhood reduce children to annoyances, play-toys, or “choices.” Jesus has a better stance: children get blessings, and they give blessings.

Dads and would-be dads out there, maybe instead of listening to Planned Parenthood, mainstream media, or hip-hop artists, we should sit at the Master’s feet.

A Land Dripping with Testosterone

Lately, research and anecdote have found that the result of Western feminism has been . . . the loss of femininity.

Imagine that.

Controversial as his insights may be, Turkish writer Yuksel Aytug was onto something when he explained how “Womanhood is Dying at the Olympics.” The Daily Mail’s photos, meant to retort Aytug’s thesis, were de facto support of it. In competitive settings, some female athletes have begun to look rather (fe)MALE.

Feminist’s abortion and “reproductive rights” wars have only further embedded the idea that women are better removed from the biology that displays their God-given differences from men. Feminists, in the end, would rather have women – business suits, power attitude, lean muscle and all – look and act like men.

Rather than God’s land dripping with milk and honey, where men and women complement each other with their beautiful differences, feminists envision a land dripping with testosterone.

A Family Better than a Billion Bars

Working the late-night shift lately I’ve seen how easy it is for single men (and, sadly, too many married men) to architect shaky “friendships” with women. These men drink, they party, they say dirty things to these women and their friends. Despite themselves, they might even get a few phone numbers.

But what they never get is a real relationship. Not out there, at the Irish bar at two in the morning anyway.

What’s more is this: I know that I could easily be out there with them, if not for the mercy of God.

I would be out there with them because I enjoy hanging out with women. God made women beautiful, but not mainly on the outside. Ladies have a kind of joy, gentleness, compassion, and love for people that men like me find baffling.

So instead of leaving me to seek such false friendships in an unsafe, foolish, and evil way (read: flirting and fornication), my good Lord gave me a mother who exemplifies each of those. So I was blessed to know and grow up with my godly mother.

Through her prayers, God brought me my wife, whose beauty shines in her character, full of love, compassion, and service, then it shines through in her appearance. She is my glory, and I am blessed to know and be known by her better than anyone.

Though my wife, God gave me daughters to know and love. In their lives, I see how God has particularly shaped young women to show off Jesus.

And through the rest of my family, grandmothers, my mother-in-law, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, and nieces to boot, God has give me a family literally full of godly women. In such a family, He graciously protects me from my sin while showing me the beauty of Jesus in the character of these godly women. I am truly blessed.

The Bible teaches the same principle in places like 1 Timothy 5:1-2:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

While there is always more to the Scriptures and never less, one of the things Paul is teaching Timothy is that, in the Lord, we have safe familial relationships in the church. Men, we are meant to treat younger women as sisters, not lust-targets. We know this because God says we are to encourage these ladies “in all purity.”

In the Lord, I have a family better than a billion bars. I praise Him for my wife and the so many more godly women in my life.

Sin’s Rigor Mortis in My Kitchen

or “Why I’m a Bad Husband: How Sin Ruins with a Man’s Communication

One of the things that happened through sin and because of sin in the Garden was that the man and woman started fighting, blaming, and hating each other. (If you read closely, actually, it’s happening while Satan tempts Eve. Adam just stands there! So passive.)

Adam and Eve now will fight over leadership. They will go to war with each other in violent and escapist ways. They will wall each other off with stiff-arms, absent emotions, browbeating, and even extreme physical force. They will hate instead of love.

One of the ways this affects me is that, because of my sin, I often prefer not to communicate very clearly. And, if I’ve learned anything about communication, it’s that, if it doesn’t start most problems, it sure can solve many. But I’d rather not communicate. I’d rather keep to myself. I’d rather leave my family in the kitchen while I do my own thing.

What’s Daddy doing? No one’s sure.

Maybe you’ve seen the same things:

  • A father at the park who’d rather play on his IDrone than with his own children.
  • A husband who passively follows his wife around the store looking like a frightened puppy.
  • A grandfather who sits quietly and lets grandma do all the leading at family events.

What do these men have in common with me? They’d rather not communicate.

We would rather not communicate because communication and leadership require you to give yourself up to be criticized, questioned, ignored, or disobeyed. Every man, woman, and child in the universe has the pride of a thousand actors, crying, “Me! Me! Listen to Me! Look at me” when it comes to speaking out, but men particularly take offense at these negative responses (criticism, questioning, ignoring, disobedience, etc.) to their leadership. We take these things as a slap in the face, a cruel joke, or a cause for physical retaliation.

So our pride keeps us from speaking. We’d rather be silent than slammed, quiet than questioned, reserved than ridiculed. But leadership is precisely as Jesus intended: great sacrifice as great service to others that points to the greatness of God. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” (Mark 10:44-45).

As men, we don’t like that. As someone somewhere has said, we want the crown without the cross. We want the acclaim without the agony and pain. We want the adoration without the humiliation.

But Jesus told us: it won’t be so for us. God has charged us men with leading our families and those otherwise in our charge. We’re His. So we must speak, speak clearly, speak love, speak the truth, suffer for it, and by grace through faith be saved in the end.

Sin still shakes its death quakes in my kitchen and in my heart. But sin is dead in me, because Christ lives again.

“All Hat and No Cattle”

I love reading and listening to Pastor Doug Wilson. He talks here about father hunger and here about how we can drive off the road of masculinity on two very different sides (the quote is from this one).

On Teaching and Parenting Boys

As long as our country’s young men and grown men are in masculine confusion, we all are in need of help from all angles. Here are some direct suggestions for parents, teachers, and children in this Scholastic.com article, “Boy Trouble?“:

Encourage more boys to take leadership roles in school. By the time boys get into high school, girls dominate in all kinds of extracurricular activities—newspaper, chess club, yearbook, dramatics, student government—except for sports. Yet, participating in these nonacademic school activities ensures that students are an active part of the school community. They also teach leadership and responsibility and give students an opportunity to practice time-management skills. Get more dads involved in school…

Dads boast about never missing their sons’ soccer games, but when teachers invite parents into the classroom, it is mostly moms who show up…

Moms shouldn’t be the only ones checking homework, signing the report card, and reading the bedtime story, either. Little boys need to see men reading in order to understand the importance of becoming literate men.Hire more good male teachers.The number of male teachers is now at a 40-year low. What keeps men out? Male teachers, particularly those in the lower grades, complain that they are often treated with suspicion. When male teachers do get hired, they tend to move into administration faster than women.

In other words, the article says schools should:

  • Put boys into leadership (like the Bible says).
  • Teach boys to round out their character beyond athletics (like the Bible says).
  • Teach boys leadership, responsibility, and time-management (like the Bible says).
  • Call on grown men to live out their responsibilities as husbands, fathers, and leaders (like the Bible says).
  • Encourage fathers to lead in reading to their children (like the Bible says we should do in reading the Bible!).
  • Look for male teachers of character and integrity, and treat them as such (like the Bible says we should treat male leaders worthy of honor).

Again and again, the Bible speaks timelessly to these issues. Now we must listen.

How would your home, church, or school change for the better if young men and grown men lived out their God-given roles?

New Series!

In case you’re new here, the list of serial posts grows daily. Here are the last few:

For Those Inclined to “Christian” Mysticism

  1. You Should Read the Whole Bible
  2. The Trinity is a Three-Unity
  3. The Red Letters Aren’t Better
  4. Dividing Up the Gospels
  5. Too Proud for the Word
  6. God is the Good Indoctrinator
  7. Doctrine-less Unity?
  8. Sorry, You’re Missing the Point

The Gospel vs. Legalism

  1. Jesus Taught Justification by Faith Alone
  2. Did Jesus Teach Justification by Works?
  3. What Preaching the Gospel Is, and Isn’t
  4. Matthew 23: More Reasons “Do Stuff” Isn’t the Gospel
  5. “Do Stuff” Isn’t the Gospel
  6. Drink Deeply of Jesus Christ
  7. Hate at the Bottom of Your Heart
  8. Opinions We Make Into Law
  9. Is Your Church Characterized by Commands or Christ?

Biblical Manhood

  1. Lessons on Manhood from the NC Tornadoes
  2. Boys to Boys?
  3. Be a Better Man (to a friend on getting married)
  4. Fathers, Be Happy in the Lord

As always, you can find an updated list on the “Popular Series” page above.

Looking for Elders in Your Church

Over at the 9Marks blog, Pastor Brian Croft offers three signs that a man in your church is ready to become an elder:

  1. Find men who function as a pastor without the title or recognition. 
  2. Find men who assume the pastoral burden, although it has not yet been placed on them. 
  3. Find men who shepherd their family the way a pastor should shepherd God’s people. 

In other words, look for men who pastor before they’re pastors.

Only a New Vision of Masculinity Can Save Sex in America

So says Public Discourse essayist Matthew Schmitz, commenting on the new book, Premarital Sex in America:

After looking at these data [on gender-imbalanced areas of well-educated young adults], Regnerus and Uecker offer a powerful conclusion: the failure of American men to compete academically with their female peers has created a gender imbalance that leaves women at a disadvantage in the sexual marketplace. It is a particularly bitter irony that the societal neglect of the young American male has now become a significant threat to the happiness and well-being of the young American female. If we are to “take back the night,” we may have to first recapture a compelling vision of masculinity that makes education and achievement attractive to a lost generation of young men.

Finding the Right Girl, Part III: If You Have New Eyes . . .

Here concludes our three-part series on “Finding the Right Girl” for our single friends. In Part I, we looked at how happiness must ultimately come from God and not from any other person. In Part II, we explored how we as men must always see God, the people around us, and ourselves with humility. In Part III, we’ll look at the Bible for some specific guidance on using spiritual eyes to see the “right girl” – a God-fearing woman.

If you have “new eyes,” the Bible’s term for spiritually-discerning sight, here’s who and what to look for (from Proverbs 31). You should be looking for a woman who:

  1. Fears the Lord. This doesn’t mean that she’s stark-raving mad whenever she mentions God, but that she has a right fear and trembling toward the Holy One of Israel. Like Moses before the burning bush or Isaiah before the heavenly throne, she must know the true terror of being a sinner in the hands of the living God.
  2. Trusts Jesus for everything. What? Shouldn’t she trust me for everything? No, you’re not God, and you shouldn’t expect to be any woman’s god, either. This is more than you can handle, anyway. Let Jesus be God for her, and look for that in her life right now.
  3. Lives with God’s family. That means, she’s a member of a gospel-loving, Jesus-centered local church. She doesn’t float around saying, “Oh, I’ll find a church one day.” She’s committed and “married” to one church. If she isn’t committed and faithful enough to a local church, the family of God, how can she be worthy of being a part of your family?
  4. Is trustworthy. Here we get to those particulars that Proverbs 31 spells out so clearly, but notice that they are founded on her relationship to Jesus. Because she builds her life on the truth, she speaks and lives the truth. If she tends to gossip, deceive, and backbite, she isn’t trustworthy.
  5. Does good. As opposed to evil. There is a certain kind of “lady” who doesn’t deserve the title because she only works ruin for those around her. She’s a termite, getting into people’s business only to tear it up. But a godly woman is a life-giving spring, with words and works vivifying everything around her.
  6. Knows how to make stuff. Useful stuff – not like, “She knows how to make a martini.” She ought to know how to sew, how to cook a meal, how to hem your pants. These things are more important than her ability to hold her liquor, do the latest hip-hop dance, or memorize the layout of the nearest Old Navy.
  7. Knows how to find a deal. Note here that “finding a deal” is different than “loving to shop.” A godly woman doesn’t waste money; she saves it by spending it wisely. She knows that a half-price deal of 5 for $10 now saves you $10 in the long-run. On the contrary, a woman who does the opposite, spending tons of money in the long-run because of bad short-term decisions, brings tons of problems and pain.
  8. Knows how to handle business. Like the previous point, a godly woman can handle your business if you fall ill or dead. She’ll be handling more of your business than you know, anyway, since she’ll handle your home all week long.
  9. Is characterized by hard work. She’s a hard worker. She doesn’t clock-out of doing productive things when the sun goes down. She doesn’t sleep in seven days a week, or even five. She isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty working. Again, if your prospective wife isn’t a hard worker, you’re in for a lot of trouble down the line.
  10. Has an inner strength. The Bible says, “She is clothed with strength.” It means that she has an outlook, a disposition, and a faith in the risen Christ that is strong. If she doesn’t know Him, if she doesn’t love Him, that’s impossible.
  11. Loves the poor. Ouch. Lots of women love to do #3-#9, but despise generosity to the poor. They clothe their hatred behind cliches like, “They got themselves in that position,” or, “I’m not giving money for someone to booze on.” Jesus said the poor are always with us, and God often commands us to love the sojourner, the alien, the widow, and the orphan.
  12. Lives courageously in the face of danger. Whether it be natural disaster, disease, family heartbreak, spiritual despair, demonic attack, or the fear of the future, troubles in one form or another wait for you at every turn. A godly woman fears these not. Her hope in God is too strong for that.
  13. Dresses modestly. She doesn’t need to have the latest fashions or a pop-star’s style. She needs to know how to honor God and her brothers in what she chooses to wear – and what not to.
  14. Speaks kindness. We’ve alluded to this earlier, but it bears saying again. A godly woman’s words are her balm applied, her food shared, her joy expressed.
  15. Is loved by children. Ooh, this is not a popular one during our crazed times of feminism, self-exaltation, and baby-killing. Nonetheless, it is timelessly true – a godly woman gets down on a child’s level, tries to see the world through his or her eyes, and genuinely loves that child. This is why children in return love her.
  16. Hopes in the Lord, not her beauty. Every godly woman will one day die, and her body suffer decay. Yet every godly woman knows this, and hopes in something more that what she sees in the mirror.
  17. Will make an excellent wife. Once all the others are considered, this becomes clear – she will make an excellent wife. Do you know things of excellence? Do you know the difference between a Bojangle’s biscuit and a fine steak dinner? If you know so in spiritual terms, you will see who will make an excellent wife.

Conspicuously absent from this list are the world’s standards:

  • How she styles her hair. Come on, is that at the top of your list?
  • Her knowledge of pop culture. Fun, but not necessary.
  • Her sense of humor. Also nice, but something you can grow into together.
  • Whether you’re immediately attracted to her. Immediate attraction can come and go, but a spiritual friendship built on Jesus lasts forever. This spiritual friendship is what grows into deep, mutual, lifelong attraction.

Remember:

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

I’m so thankful to God that not in a single point did I question the godliness my own dear bride.  That’s a work of grace. 

When you look in a solid local church, there are many godly women out there. So happy looking, gentlemen. You’ll need new eyes.

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