Views on Men

How men should ‘be men’ crops up as a religious topic from time to time. It would seem that according to some teachers, there is in fact a type of man that is manly, and another type of man who for various reasons is not a ‘real man’.

I’ll preface this with my personal bias. I think that the idea that anyone has to be a particular way to be a ‘real man’ or a ‘real woman’ is rubbish. In my opinion, there is a broad spectrum of personalities spreading across both genders, and even though there may be different weightings of characteristics on average in each gender, you can’t confine a particular characteristic to a particular gender without demeaning those who aren’t typical. An average is only an average. It is neither the right nor the wrong way to be.

I have both a son and a daughter, who in their early development are definitely showing gender stereotypes in their interests – he loves technical things and building; she loves dressing up and fairies etc. How much I’ve reinforced these, I don’t know – I tend to let them follow their interest. So I’m not inclined to say that there is no basis for some gender differences on average.

However – to say that _all men_ are a certain intrinsic way, or _all women_ irks me. It just seems like too big a generalisation, which I find myself always seeing exceptions to. Maybe I just like to argue – because I’m a woman, of course!

Wild at Heart by John Eldredge is a very popular book with some men. I have a friend who tells me that reading that book was incredibly impactful for him, and he seems to believe it absolutely. On the other hand, my husband, Heretic, read it, and really didn’t like it. John Eldredge, in his introduction to the book, says that men need,

…permission to live from the heart and not the list of ‘should’ and ‘ought to’ that has left so many of us tired and bored.

No, men need something else. They need a deeper understanding of why they long for adventures and battles and a Beauty – and why God made them just like that. And they need a deeper understanding of why women long to be fought for, to be swept up into adventure, and to be the Beauty. For that is now God made them as well.

(Quotes are from the Introduction to Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge, to give an idea of the direction of the book.)

At the very least, this book is a different take on manhood from a lot of others, and is very popular, so there must be some kind of appeal to its message out there. Is this really how God made us to be though? Does scripture say anything about this subject, or present any immutable patterns?

John Eldredge has also written a book with his wife, Stasi, called ‘Captivating’, about women.  According to wikipedia,

It also proposes that God made woman as the “Crown of Creation”, an embodiment of God’s beauty, mystery and vulnerability. The concept of woman as the “Crown of Creation” has become the subject of much controversy surrounding the book, critics claiming that it exalts women above men in the Creation.

See wikipedia entry here.

And then we have Mark Driscoll, voicing his opinion on the lack of manhood in his congregation, it appears:

Most of you have probably already seen this one.  The bit that gets me is at the end, when he refers to a ‘handful’ of men picking up the pieces.  Makes it sound as though there aren’t many men in his audience whom he is not addressing!   Of course, his message that men shouldn’t abuse women is good.  Elsewhere, Driscoll says that real men are those men who take responsibility – in particular, responsibility for the covenant of marriage.

Personally, I agree that men should take responsibility – I think women should also be responsible though.  Driscoll seems to say that those men who will not take responsibility are like children.  Well, I ‘d agree again – but that anyone who does not take responsibility for themselves and their part in the world remains like a child.

I do wonder how effective the tone of his messages is, in that light, because his angry manner makes his audience into children, in my view.  They are being ‘belittled’ if they fall short of his standards – though there is nothing wrong with the standard here.  Is shaming the way to change people?  I am not sure that is even effective with children – it can just assist them in learning to hide perceived wrong behaviours, rather than ceasing them.  Still, in a ministry which could be perceived as very ‘masculine’, its good to be clear that some things, which may once have been acceptable ‘masculine’ behaviour, are not.

Most churches have ministries for men and for women.  At C3, the men’s ministry is called ‘RealMen’; the women’s ministry is ‘Everywoman’.  At Hillsong, there is ‘Hillsong Men’, ‘Hillsong Sisterhood’ and ‘Colour Sisterhood’.   Anyway, if anyone here would like to share their views on whether scripture says that men do need to be a certain way to be ‘real men’ – and likewise women, ‘real women’, and whether Eldredge or Driscoll have some good/bad points here, then here is the thread.

47 thoughts on “Views on Men

  1. This hyper-masculinity from people like Driscoll and Eldredge contains within it some contradictions, probably reflecting the conflicted psyches of the speakers.

    Eldredge decries the ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought-tos’ that have left men bored and tired, but hasnt he just created a whole new list of things men should or ought to be?

    Driscoll thinks he can get the men in his congregation to stop abusing women by verbally abusing them.

    They encourage men to be fighters, to be agressive, take risks and not to accept the status-quo. However, if a parisioner started an argument with Mark Driscoll in his church, I’d like to see how far he would get. This is about keeping men under control while encouraging their fantasies about being wild and out of control.

    I skimmed through ‘Wild at Heart’ and was alarmed at the acceptance of violence as a normal part of a Man’s makeup, almost a necessity. Eldredge just assumes that a boy wants to grow up to drive tanks and kill people.

    Most of his ideas are sourced from Hollywood blockbuster movies, and he mixes them with ideas from the secular men’s movement. Then he has to find some Bible verses to justify it all and make it Christian. The torture he does to Scripture in order to make it fit his world-view is quite sickening to watch.

    There must be a need out there, that books like ‘Wild at Heart’ and Men’s conferences are filling. The women’s movement of the seventies and political correctness seem to have denigrated masculinity somewhat. Many men are unsure of their role in society when the only way forward given to them is to get in touch with their feminine-side.

    But this is an extreme over-reaction, re-inforced with loopy pop-psychology and dipped in a thin chocolatey christianese shell.

  2. Its just all so cliche, re the article. No room for individualism or free thinking, aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh Its really boring really, oh i need a drink

  3. what I mean is the “church” view on men, not Wazza’s reflections. Its so limited, the fundamental Christian view. One of my relatives (a man) brought up Christian but now secular, is loving and caring and very good at maths etc but doesn’t have to “prove” he is a “man”, technically speaking he is but what makes us love him he cares for others (naturally, not as a commandment). He happens to be hetrosexual, but if he wasnt we would love him just the same, anyway Im going off on a tangent, sorry

  4. More Mark Driscoll on men – this time an article:

    Driscoll focused his three-and-a-half-hour talk on the need for pastors to be more alpha.

    “The problem with our churches today is that the lead pastor is some sissy boy who wears cardigan sweaters, has The Carpenters dialed in on his iPod, gets his hair cut at a salon instead of a barber shop, hasn’t been to an Ultimate Fighting match, works out on an elliptical machine instead of going to isolated regions of Russia like in Rocky IV in order to harvest lumber with his teeth, and generally swishes around like Jack from Three’s Company whenever Mr. Roper was around.”

    Pacing the stage in a vaguely threatening manner, Driscoll focused on Biblical examples. “Jesus and Paul were serious dudes. They had teeth missing. Jesus was a carpenter, Paul was in prison. These guys didn’t eat tofu dogs and bean sprouts. They didn’t play tennis. If there were trucks back in their times, they would have been doing driveway lube jobs on a Saturday afternoon. Same thing with King David. Yeah, he might have played a lyre, but he slaughtered thousands of guys.”

  5. I mean Paul’s imprisonment was in a different culture. Im sure I would be imprisoned if I lived in the Middle East, and tennis, well i love tennis, pls don’t go there

  6. I’m pretty sure that article from Wittenburg door is satirical, its taking the piss out of Driscoll.

    It does highlight the ridiculous hyper-masculinity of Driscoll. Methinks he protesteth a bit too much actually, one hopes there wont be a Ted Haggard type revelation.

  7. The real problem with all this is, of course, that no one wants to actually refer to the Bible.

    What do I mean?

    Well, ask yourself the question “what does the Bible say explicitly on the role of men and women in the people of God?”

    1. Paul says this (paraphrased) “neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female … only one new man in Christ Jesus”

    2. Paul also said this (paraphrased) “I do not allow a women to preach or teach or have authority over a man … for Eve was the first to be deceived”
    And what Paul is saying here is that the Man has the responsibility (not the “right”) of headship/leadership.

    These are no doubt the basic arguments you have all seen before.

    One approach to this apparent contradiction is put forward by ’emergents’ … “pick the one that you think is closest to Jesus and go with that”

    I can’t go along with that! The Bible isn’t a pick’n’mix. We can’t take the bits we like and leave the rest.

    David Pawson wrote the book “Leadership is Male”. That book is the one I would refer to when looking at both arguments … David essentially comes down in favour of the understanding that Leadership in the Church is a male responsibility.

    While I say that, I cannot dismiss the obvious blessing and gifting of many women. We can see in the New Testament many women exercising ministry. Some women might have been considered apostles (as opposed to Apostles) who were sent out as part of an apostolic team to plant churches and so on.

    There were many prominent women in the Bible. However none would have looked to replace Jesus as head of the Church. None would have looked to replace Paul as the apostle to the gentiles.

    Both Paul and Jesus received from the ministry of women.

    So what am I saying?

    The culture of the “Hero Preacher”(tm) again!

    Why do we always put people on pedestals?
    I put it to you that if we made eldership truly about being a servant … we’d have really good elders. We could make Deacons the leadership then … and there were women deacons so there is no problem with that is there?

    Rambling again … time for a really strong coffee!

  8. I dont think the issue is about men in leadership in the church, more about how men should be ‘real men’.

    I dont think the Bible says much about that at all, it talks about how people can be ‘real people’ but not a lot specifically for men.

  9. “I’m pretty sure that article from Wittenburg door is satirical, its taking the piss out of Driscoll.”

    Oh – oops! Just as well then.

  10. Bull says

    David Pawson wrote the book “Leadership is Male”. That book is the one I would refer to when looking at both arguments … David essentially comes down in favour of the understanding that Leadership in the Church is a male responsibility.

    As wazza says this if off topic, but Pawson’s book skips some important things, like there was a female apostle – “Julia” I think it was. Unless Pawson did not consider Apostles to be leaders.

  11. Without getting into the debate over the role of women though Bull, do you think the Bible talks at all about how to be a ‘real man’?

    I tend to agree with Wazza here – the Bible says a lot about how people can be real people, not specifically ‘real men’.

    Plus, Jesus is the model for all of us, not only for men. Unless there’s something I’ve missed there.

    The expression of Jesus through all of us will be a bit different, as we are all unique.

  12. On Heretic’s behalf – it was ‘Junia’ or ‘Junias’, as well as Julia, depending upon the translation, I understand. 🙂

    People argue about whether the name is male or female, for the obvious reasons to do with whether Paul allowed female teachers or not. for background – not a conclusive study of course.

    But this is off topic.

    Lets stay talking about men!

  13. Wazza

    I dont think the Bible says much about that at all, it talks about how people can be ‘real people’ but not a lot specifically for men.

    Says a lot about wives though. My favourite is Genesis where Eve is refered to as the helper. In the septuagint which was poplular in Jesus time used the word paraclete which is the same word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit as “the helper”.

    The wife’s relationship is defined in the same words that the holy spirit’s relationship is defined.

    So to my mind the wife’s leadership is subordinate to the husband’s leadership in exactly the same way that the holy spirit’s leadership is subordinate to the husband’s leadership.

  14. I take the scriptures to imply that a real man seeks after wisdom. (But then a real woman will too.)

    Was Jesus an alpha-male? Eldredge states he was.

    Isaiah 42:3
    “A bruised reed He will not breakAnd a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.

    Does not sound like a wild-at-heart blood-thirsty “jock” to me.

  15. Define apostle or Apostle?

    the word apostle means “sent one” which is what the word “missionary” means.

    So for women to be called apostles is wonderful. But it just means missionary, like Paul was a missionary.

    It’s very different to being an elder. It’s a different role.

    We have apostles/missionaries today. The big mistake is to assume we need foundational apostles in the way the 12 disciples were foundational apostles … who established the doctrine and practice of the first century church.

    So bye bye C. Peter Wagner … we already have a foundation from Peter, John, James and Paul … so we can’t build another foundation … especially when Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the original foundation.

    Anyway … all those people named above are interested in men. Why? Because men don’t want to know about Jesus. Christianity is deemed to be effeminate. So their solution is to become misogynist dinosaurs.

    Hmm. What they really need to do is actually teach the word of god on Sunday morning so well that the people meet God while they preach.

    That will make the difference.


  16. Moved MJ’s comment which is meant to appear here:

    MJ said:
    Submitted on 2009/11/04 at 8:36am

    I think one needs to be mindful of being “too” timid. I don’t think we should accept evil done to us or others for example, we are too be assertive in some areas. Especially protecting the vulnerable ie(refugees). Sorry Bull but not sure about only men as leaders though, I used to until I saw some of them abuse that power in the church and in society. And looking at the Islam religion, based on the OT to an extent, I cannot agree that is a guideline for men. Its oppressive and I think Jesus was pro-women. We all have our talents and gender shouldn’t be an issue.

  17. Oh great :o) I come from a Catholic background so, anyways, and from the 50s and 60s its was very patriarchal society but i don’t see that, from my experience, men are better leaders always, and conversely don’t always think women are the best mothers, men can be fantastic carers. I think it depends on personality. I didn’t intend to debate this topic, it’s too “touchy” and I am not anti men, I love men, Im very close to the males in my family and have close male friends so, can we change the subject

  18. At the risk of antagonising further, may I say one more thing?

    Essentially, ministry covers more than a specific role “Eldership” or public activity “Preaching/Teaching” in a pulpit.

    But because we have made those things the biggest things, we have effectively excluded all contributions from women in public ministry. Close down spiritual gifts as well, and now we don’t have tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge, visions, dreams and so on. Above all else, we don’t have healing.

    Just because a lot of men in public ministry are not good examples of men in public ministry, doesn’t mean that we should open up eldership to women … however, the primary attribute of elders and deacons is not their administrative skills or their bible knowledge or any of the things we can see easily. It is about character … I would rather see a good female elder than a bad man in the role.

    Character is the most important aspect of the role. That’s why one qualification is if the children have become believers too. I say this even though I know church leaders whose children are far from God.

    How macho or how much of an alpha male some are is totally irrelevant to God. God looks at the heart.

    I think I have already said that some compromises between the two extreme positions are just plain wrong. The idea that a woman can only be an elder if her husband already is one seems crazy to me.

    In the first instance, is she gifted in this way?
    Secondly, what about those women in the fellowship who are more gifted?
    Thirdly, what happens if the husband fell under a bus one morning? Is she now no longer an elder as her “covering” has gone?

    I’d rather shift the whole thing and make Deacons the administrative hub of the church organisation and all of a sudden, the general manager, who runs the church on a day to day basis, who organises the soup kitchen for the down’n’outs, who delegates responsibility amongst a team who handle creche, mum’s and tots, OAP Luncheon clubs, and any and all church activities and could even be an upfront person on Sunday morning who gives some notices and even leads worship … could essentially be what might now be known as the Church Secretary.

    I also think that women should be part of a pastoral team … the only thing that Paul is concerned with (regarding women) is doctrine and teaching. So you could have a team of Elders who are concerned with the spiritual life of the church, who guard the doctrine and teaching of the church and who would pray for people, healing and those sorts of things (James 5 is a good reference)

    So, I advocate both genders involved in Pastoral work, I advocate making Deacons the leadership of the church, and I also advocate that Elders are removed from day to day running of the church, especially on practical matters …

    With regards to Paul’s letters we also need to discern in his correspondence what he was saying himself, and what he was saying his readers were saying that he was saying! (i.e. was he quoting their correspondence and responding to it?)

    e.g. “you say I don’t allow a woman to …”

    We all know that Paul and Jesus had a high view of women. Paul even opened up the possibility of divorce to women who had difficult husbands … “for the sake of peace in the home”. Paul was deeply concerned about Christian women who got a raw deal in the society in which they lived. Indeed, Paul also enjoyed the ministry of women, especially when they were so important to planting new churches. Certain women were very big personalities in the new branches of the kingdom being set up!

    What I want to see, is the ministry of women esteemed much more highly and drag eldership back down to where I think it should be …

    or is that an un-Godly compromise?


  19. well discussing “elders” is an interesting subject. I regard “anyone” that is wise and living a kind and caring life as a role model, be it male or female. Im lucky i have had both.

    I agree on the point that a preacher’s partner does not automatically give them the right to preach, in fact i find, in society, one person in a couple is more gifted in public speaking than the other. In regards to evangelists, i do think that it seems that the wife is regarded as a “leader” too. Its weird in those circles that the woman seems to be trying to get a voice in church life too. I could give examples but i guess u guys have seen this. Its not always edifying.

    I don’t know in my life one of my female cousins is a religious teacher in schools, and does well her husband is an enviromental scientist, who does well in his field, that’s one example in my life experience.

  20. Well, this thread has been thoroughly derailed, and it looks like we are now discussing women, not men… but that’s OK, its the tradition here – I frequently do the derailing myself.

    I don’t object at all to gifted women being in ministry or teaching – but that’s because according to the reading I have done, when all the context is taken into account, the interpretation of scripture that allows this does make the most sense to me. However – I am not going to even go there here on this blog. The discussion is too touchy, as mj says, and I would find it too depressing. Those who are interested in the subject can go and read about it. The link that Heretic put in is a good starting point, but there are many other references. It is a discussion that is an academic one – you end up reading about what various theologians have discovered about the texts, about the historic context, about cross referenced verses etc. If you just take the translated scriptures at straight face value though – without researching the context, variety of translations or interpretations – then you would hold to the traditional view that bars women from teaching. I respect those who hold that view.

    Since I don’t actually aspire to be a teacher or a leader who has authority over others (except for my kids which is appropriate), the subject is not one that I personally have a stake in. I am an enquirer; I enjoy seeking; I like to reflect upon things – there’s been a lot to reflect upon since I pulled that first thread re church issues. That is how I see my role here – not as a teacher, though I do have opinions. We all learn from one another here at times, hopefully.

    The only other comments I’d have on women in leadership that relate to what people have said in this thread are:

    1. I completely agree that there is no reason that a woman should be in a ministry just because her husband is. Or kids because their parents are. You need the character and gifting. There are probably plenty of ministry spaces taken by people for this reason that could have been offered to more gifted people elsewhere in the church – but there are also exceptions where both the husband and wife – or kids – are gifted etc. Not as many as we see in practice, though.

    2. Quite like Bull’s idea of deacons in leadership roles; makes sense scripturally I think, especially with respect to admin. The idea of elders overseeing doctrine also sounds pretty sensible and scriptural. Seems that this was an expected ability of elders in the faith scripturally. While I personally don’t see an obstacle to women being in this role, if they are all male, then it doesn’t worry me providing the men are of good character, gifted – and genuinely serve – thereby taking into account the contributions of others, including women, on the subjects.

    3. I think that we frequently fail to see how liberating NT Christianity is for women in particular, because we need the historic context explained in more depth, and frequently this is not included in teaching.

    4. Churches that allow women to lead ought to teach comprehensively on why they do so, rather than just expecting people to put faith in the leadership upon the subject without explanation. There are several specific verses which need to be taught upon, otherwise people may feel they are being asked to overlook certain scriptures that they are uncomfortable with. This helps no one. The teaching needs to be clear and to the whole church, rather than just in bible college, or just because the pastor says its OK.

    Thats my 2 cents worth!

  21. Back on point I don’t buy that it is what it is between a person’s legs that is the defining characteristic of whether one is a man or a woman.

    Not wishing to start another fire ask those poor people who think they ended up with the wrong equipment and want to change it..

    May be you can’t come up with a definitive psycho-social definition, but I think there are clear tendencies – with infinite variation – that is how God seemed to work.

    Man AND woman were to subdue the world, but Adam got the naming rights/responsibilities.

    Personally I think the defining point is who authority was given to – don’t get confused with how badly it is exercised – not relevant, serves to confuse, and simply highlights how intrinsically sin has ‘got us’.

    And anyone can find a bad example, but realistically it is only the good ones that really tell us much.

    I’ve read Eldredge and I quite like him – so does my wife, but interestingly she could stand Captivating.

    I take Driscoll’s point, but he has his limitations – too much huff and puff – and his point about other men cleaning up the mess – what crap!!

    That’s exactly what most of the real men don’t do – clean up the mess!!

  22. Should read ‘couldn’t stand Captivating’

    By the way here’s something from Eze 16 which paints a portrait of a woman and how a man looks after her – real function an allegory of the relationship between God and Jerusalem…..

    This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.

    ” ‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare.

    ” ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.

    ” ‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD.

    As the ‘man’ in this picture he looks after the girl and then the woman covering her nakedness, fed and clothed her and giving her his solemn oath – which he honoured – helping her to become all that she could be.

  23. I pretty much agree with RP on her four points.

    regarding “equipment” … Church doesn’t want to deal with transgendered or LGB people in any way. Well I worked with one person who was transgendered. Sat next to her for over a year.

    I saw a person whom Jesus loves. It’s as simple as that. Whatever her issues are, they are between her and the Lord. She is my neighbour.

    So … there we are. My one criticism of church men is this … too little backbone.

    We have too little backbone, are too ready to agree with leadership (they have all the bible knowledge after all) and let things happen that shouldn’t happen, instead of being watchmen on the wall.

    That’s my tuppence worth.

  24. Backbone… an interesting subject.

    A man with backbone is a leader in one context, and a troublemaker in another! According to some theology, if you make trouble by disagreeing persistently with leadership and making it an issue, then you are unqualified to lead. If you submit, you may lead later, with their approval. Does this give rise to leaders with ‘backbone’? On the other hand, if they have backbone but happen to agree with the existing leadership, they may satisfy everyone.

    Do women have backbone, or did God forget to include that bit when he made Eve? Reminds me of that old discussion about assertive men vs aggressive women in the workplace.

    Backbone is always regarded as a good quality when people agree with the person who has it, and as stubbornness et al when people don’t.

    Except for occasional issues… in the workplace I took a stand on a particular ethical issue, against the company owner. Thought I might lose my job – instead I was rewarded with a pay rise and promotion – because I stood up to him. In my line of work, backbone was regarded as a very useful thing. Just shows that you never can tell.

    In my experience, Heretic has at times been regarded as responsible for my views – rather than me thinking for myself. As a woman, of course, I couldn’t do that. I am only submitting to my husband by agreeing with him over leaving our church or not tithing etc. Or at least there is the occasional person who seems to think that… my friends know better though.

  25. well we weathered that storm pretty well I think. I agree RP I have no stake in the matter having no aspirations to be a speaker. Joyce Meyer is considered a “teacher” as in the usa she cannot use the moniker “preacher et al” Anyway don’t want to discuss evangelists, that does get my blood boiling.

    Jesus was assertive and honest, maybe too honest, but I think His example is the ideal as a man who is forthright, intelligent but gentle and loving. Having a boy and a girl (adults now) I find my daughter much more vocal in her beliefs whereas my son likes to study the Bible and just live is life ethically. I think these macho men of God are try hards and attention seeking, that goes with alot of preachers actually

  26. Adam didn’t display enough backbone and when along with what he shouldn’t.

    Interesting in other contexts the minimum requirement is to stand for what we believe in and stand against that which we don’t.

    Interesting concept – Jesus was too honest.

  27. S&P – you were going something on the topic of Wild at Heart etc I thought??? I’d be interested in what you think.

    We’ve got both views here – some liked it, others didn’t.

    Hmmm – Jesus being too honest… I guess he was so honest that it cost him his life, and not many of us would go that far. He was able to be forthright, yet loving. People could tell He loved them, and would go away sad, rather than angry with him, when he gave them a hard but truthful answer. How many of us can do that successfully?

    It’s interesting how Jesus is sometimes portrayed differently when people want to portray men in different ways. How many teachers really understand what he was like? How many times are aspects of his ministry taken out of context to suit a particular message? I guess none of us would have a perfect understanding of what He is like – I’m sure I don’t, but I love it when I get a part of the picture as some part of scripture suddenly comes alive in a new way.

    MJ – its great that both your adult kids grew up to share your faith. Really wonderful. I hope mine do likewise.

  28. well, they have lapsed a bit but still have good morals, but they tended to point the finger at their parents too re: following the Gospel, hint for parents, don’t let them read it themselves :o)

  29. Regarding Mark Driscoll, he’s not somebody who is worthy to be followed or emulated. The sooner Christians realise this the better off we’ll all be.

    I’m not going to provide any evidence of this. To do that is wearisome. The onus is on Mark Driscoll to prove himself to be a Christian worth following. The words that come out of his mouth clearly show that he is not.

    I have no idea who this person, Mark Driscoll, is but he’s got all my alarm bells ringing.

  30. I couldn’t agree more with the original post of RP, if it weren’t 1:00am I’d explain why. Suffice to say that while I am a man, and I often go to CCC, I have never yet been to a Real man conference, apart from 1 Fri evening that was free, because of my moral/theoretical objections, which I suspect I will take the time to explain latter.

  31. If there is anything I love seeing is young men passionate for the sake of the gospel. I love it even more if they are controversial and try to shake the religion out of the oldies. Occasionally I join them. Other times, I tell them to be a bit respectful.

    To see young men passionate for the gospel are those that encourage the elders as much they rustle their religious feathers. I remember one young man saying something like “Terrorists may have their bombs to convince the world of their god, but I have the Living Word to convince the world of my God and His Spirit to prove to them that He lives!” (He’s a passionate fool for Jesus.)

    We encourage many young men to challenge the speaker’s view or ask questions (respectfully). Afterwards they discuss at length (like we do on Signposts02), doctrines related to the central gospel message of Christ and His grace.

    They like discovering who Christ is so they can discover who they are. I’m finding that when they get offended, it’s more for truth’s sake then for their own sake. I am yet to see other young men offended for Christ’s sake and not their own. You wouldn’t see this in a normal church.

    This is where I believe ‘Wild At Heart’ fails. It’s focus was more on men’s relations to church and women, rather than the gospel.

    If men weren’t afraid to stand firm and strong for the sake of the gospel message, women would be drawn by that (heaven forbid that is why a man would do such a thing).

    And in knowing the power of the gospel, it teaches young men to be accountable, graceful and responsible to women and others – admirable qualities that you will not find in men this day.

    Sports, girls, adventures and chaseys doesn’t define Christian men; the gospel does! Men’s spiritual muscles need to be disciplined. The way that is done is by living the gospel message in Spirit and in truth – heart, soul mind and strength; the way Paul calls us to imitate him, the way he imitates Christ.

  32. Respect doesn’t hurt, but John Eldridge is right about the guys ‘being nice’ in a church environment. If there are issues that need to be resolved, they need to be resolved, otherwise there is dis-unity.

  33. “It’s interesting how Jesus is sometimes portrayed differently when people want to portray men in different ways.”

    So true. Some people like to frame Him around once having driven out the money changers, His zeal for God drove those thieves out of the temple. They wish He’d spent more time smashing things. Going on a rampage through Jerusalem!

    Jesus said of Himself, ” I am gentle and humble in heart”.

    When we come to Him He’ll teach us to be gentle and humble too and we’ll find rest for our souls. Worrying about manliness isn’t restful for the soul. It creates anxiety over identity. It makes people feel insecure. It changes the focus to me and how I am perceived.

    Having faith and following the direction of scripture will transform a man into an honourable and just, loving, and compassionate man who is a gentle, humble, reasonable, peacemaker. He’ll be full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy, showing every consideration for all men. He’ll be brave, faithful and free from the love of money, and many other things that I am a long way from being. We trust God to produce these virtues in us and we do what we’re able. I think a Christian man reaching for these things makes a good man in any context. Most else is culture/tradition/preference and neither here nor there, reasonably irrelevant.

  34. Hear Hear Hal, very well put.

    “Worrying about manliness isn’t restful for the soul. It creates anxiety over identity”

    This kind of anxiety is however very useful if you want to sell something. Convince people they (or their church) have an illness, and they will pay you for the medicine.

    So much of what we call Christianity is actually the result of market forces (most often originating in the USA). It does not begin from “having faith and following the direction of scripture”, it begins with identifying a gap in the market and exploiting it.

  35. Yes, I think you’ve summed it up really well, Hal. I’d rather see acceptance for the broad range of men (and women) that God has created, in our variety of strengths and weaknesses. All men can reach for those things that you describe, and all followers of Christ can trust in God to complete the work He has started in us over time.

    Wazza, I think you are right, too. I don’t think its aways consciously driven for those reasons, but I do think that at a high level, a lot of analysis has gone into the marketing of churches, and creating anxiety is a well-known traditional advertising technique.

  36. While this is true … regarding the market driven church, don’t lose sight of the fact that when Jesus returns, he will not be meek and mild.

    The Jewish people, after studying the prophecy of Isaiah were expecting 2 messiahs. One called Son of Joseph and one called Son of David.

    They didn’t realise that both pictures referred to the same person on two separate visits.

    So, they wanted Jesus to be the Son of David and kick the Romans out of Israel and re-establish the Kingdom of Israel.

    Well, he obviously came as Son of Joseph the first time. When he returns, as Son of David, he will establish the earthly kingdom, having already established a spiritual kingdom.

    Both pictures are true. Both aspects of Jesus are true.
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom … for our God is a consuming fire. Don’t be arrogant but be afraid, for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.

    (hmm … I wonder what reaction that will get.)


  37. It’s true we should fear the Lord and that Jesus will come in Judgement, a Judgement consisting of perfect justice however we’re never asked to emulate God as a consuming fire but as the provider of forgiveness and justice and mercy. Jesus says be like God in all these benevolent qualities not mentioning the severity but only the loving father in terms of our actions and attitudes.

    Likewise Paul tells us in Romans 12 never to take revenge, that there is vengeance exercised by God but that is not our concern, whether or when or how or if. Our concern is to repay evil with good and do those other things He asks of us.

    We remember the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom but we need to understand that the wisdom he gives us is: “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:17-18

    On the other issue, “for if God did not spare the natural branches etc”, I’m a little bit bored by it which is probably not good but none the less I feel that, yes, fear, he could cut you off but on the other hand relax because he also promised he wont. Fear, he could, but Jesus will never give up on you and the grace of God has saved you. Respect the right, the power, the will, believe the grace,the mercy, the promise. Does that make sense? If you fall ask forgiveness. If you fall one hundred times a day it’s not too many times, his mercy endures forever. Respect the gift, do what you can, believe in His grace. Maybe some Christian is in complete rebellion. Haven’t we all been in complete rebellion in some area? Wasn’t Jonah depressed, cynical and rebellious? God has a way of getting us there. And according to the scripture when we restore a brother caught in a fault we do it in meekness, gentleness, humility. That’s basically how I feel about it.

  38. Good point raised, Bull, and Hal, that’s a really encouraging response that sits well with me.

    1 John 4:16-18
    16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

    So abiding in Him – abiding in love – perfects love in us, making us as He is insofar as we are willing and God is able – and He is able.

    Fear is the beginning of wisdom, but we have the fulfillment of wisdom in Jesus.

  39. So we see love as the most essential quality in any Christian man or woman; love will stand firm on issues in a sacrificial way if required; love will not coerce, bully or manipulate to get its way; love respects other people.

  40. Going back to Bull’s point about the fear of God being the beginning of wisdom.

    Totally agree.

    But I guess the next question would be why fear God.

    I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.

    Fear in this sense is simply common sense or even smart and wise.

    This type of fear should support us then in being the men and women who God wants us to be, and in a real sense frees us in concert with the love of God to be who we can be.

    It should help us emulate Jesus as Joseph then in this life, as opposed to the Son of David.

    To my mind Jesus was stronger and more courageous as a man, protector and Saviour than any other man I know or have heard of.

    Who else would sacrifically bear in His own body our sin – the sins of all humanity?

    This is precisely what Adam did not do when faced with that choice in the garden. He did not intervene or interpose himself between Eve and the serpent or the fruit. He did not stand in God’s word to him, but abandoned himself either to the temptation of the fruit of being like God and knowing the difference between good and evil, and/or following submissively the lead set by his wife, rather than that of God and doing so protecting her from the consequences that were to follow.

    Interestingly Paul says in 1 Tim that Eve was deceived, not Adam, but in Romans that sin comes to all of us through Adam.

    And perhaps there lies the clue in the sense that matters to our heavenly Father about what and who a “real man” is. The difference between what Adam did, and what Jesus did when something was asked of them.

  41. I would say whatever our fear is in, that is what our heart is tied too as well with our priorities.

  42. My son has just informed me that only men can be underground station masters. Starts early, doesn’t it!

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