Today we’re going to take a look at a tough topic and in doing so it’s always important to ensure that it is directly addressed through the inerrant Word of God.
Go with me quickly if you would, to 2 Timothy 3:16 – in the ESV it says: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”
In the AMP version it adds some color: “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage];”
Scripture is bound to rub us the wrong way at times. It is the truth of God that pushes up against our sinful flesh and challenges us with everything that is out of line with how God desires us to walk with him. It’s a good thing. The Bible shouldn’t be something that never convicts you, otherwise, you’re likely reading it with the wrong heart and posture.
So let’s dig in to today’s subject which happens to be a touchy one in both culture and in the church and let me encourage you, if it rubs you the wrong way, pray that God would reveal if there are any areas where you may have taken on an understanding or view that isn’t in line with his word.
So let’s talk about Masculinity and Femininity.
I think there are two prominent views of masculinity that are harming not only our society but our churches.
The first view is:
A view of masculinity that requires a man to suppress emotion, work hard and be macho, don’t cry, work with your hands and rule over women. It typically results in entitlement, violence, harshness, and womanizing thoughts or behavior. It has an unhealthy view of women that dictates that because women are instructed biblically to submit to the man (which we’ll talk about later), that they are somehow less valuable. In our young boys, this often manifests early in an unhealthy chasing of athletic accomplishments and flirting with girls. I know this false narrative well because unfortunately, I lived it for many years.
The Second view is:
The other view is this total egalitarian view that says that men and women are no different, there is no distinction at all between them. We are all just Christians. What God gave men he also gave women, all are capable of all and there are not any distinct biblical roles or responsibilities. It flattens out gender.
In my experience, the first view takes specific scriptures out of context to elevate the man and give him control and power over the woman, and the second view is actually leaving sections of scripture out, or through hermeneutic gymnastics, they come to a conclusion that, is clearly not being made.
So the questions that remain are: Within the authoritative pages of the Bible, is there a distinction between a man and a woman? Is there a difference. Are there unique mandates on each? Is there an alternative view or narrative of masculinity and manhood that fits God’s good design?
I would say YES. There is a distinction between men and women in the Bible. They are they different, and God’s way is far better!
For time sake in today’s discussion, we’ll cover a man’s responsibility and the distinctions made on man. The distinctions given to women will be a topic for another talk because I believe these are each worthy of taking time to focus on individually.
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. ‘Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. ‘
What I love most about this verse is Paul distinctly addressing men out of the Christians in the Corinthian church and calling them to act like men. The original language here actually translates more like “play the man”. Do your part. Act accordingly, don’t act like women are called to act, and don’t act like boys.
He calls them to be watchful, this word is typically used in a couple of different ways. It’s used in regard to being watchful for the coming back of Jesus as well as watchful in the military sense of the word. It means to stay awake, be vigilant, responsible and watch out. He’s calling men to be proactive, not reactive. Be joyful and full of life, while aware of the consequences, both good and bad of all of our actions.
Next, he says, stand firm in the faith. Stand firm is this word for stand firm is (stay’-ko) stékó, meaning: stand, stand firm. To persevere. “In” in this context means “in the realm or sphere of”, and faith could be translated as faithfulness. So let’s look to where else is this word used that can point us to how we are to remain faithful. It is the same Greek word used in a number of scenarios in relation to aspects of the faith and faithfulness. Jesus uses it in Mark 11:25 after discussing the faith to move mountains and how we are to “stand, praying”, believing in our heart that we’ll get what we ask for. A sort of persevering prayer life.
It’s also the same word used in Galatians 5:1 where Paul says “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Be perseveringly intentional and guarded not to fall back into old sin.
It’s used again by Paul in Philippians 1:27: ‘Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,’ Essentially Paul is commanding us to persevere as part of a community fueled by the same spirit, that we edify each other and work together in unison without dissension towards strong faith in the Gospel of Jesus. The word striving together here in the Greek literally means a shared corporate struggle.
And lastly it’s seen in 2 Thessalonians 2:15: where we are commanded by Paul to “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” Men are to be persevering in carrying out what our leadership has taught us through the written word of God and the preaching of the word.
This phrase of stand firm in the faith, for men could potentially be described as: lead your homes in prayer, being careful not to become entangled with sin again, be firmly planted and a contributing addition to a biblical Christ-centered church community, and lastly to hold fast and adhere to the written word of God and the teachings you hear.
Next, he says “be strong” which can be translated as: “grow strong, strengthen, become strong. As by, or as through, God’s strength.”
To top it all off he says, “let all that you do be done in love”. The original language here is saying let this be born of agape. Agape is God love. It’s something we’re only capable of through God, for God. So essentially he’s telling men, you cannot do this without God at the center. Expect to fail because that’s who we are, broken, but the power of God’s love is always available and set apart for you to help you as men accomplish these things.
Everything you do must spring forth from God’s love in your life. Not shame. Not guilt. Not religion. But purely because of, through and for the agape love of God. Men are more inclined to become subject to negative pride and to strive for achievement and accolades at the expense of their families. These things that you must do must be done because of, through and for God, otherwise, it’s bound to fail. It’s bound to fall short the way that we all fall short.
So that outlines one distinction where men are called out apart from women and distinctly spoken a message that is not spoken to women. A weight of responsibility spiritually is placed within that text.
Let’s go to one other highly debated section of scripture. Again men and women are together as a community and being addressed individually. Distinction confirmed.
Ephesians 5: 22-25 – ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Again just a couple verses later it’s stated in Ephesians 5:28 – “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. ”
Again another distinction. The domineering approach to masculinity comes when men take scripture out of context to confirm their “control” over women. Or they perhaps are taught about masculinity through a source that’s void of scripture altogether. People often point to Ephesians 5:22 as the birthplace of wrongfully executed patriarchal male control, and then claim that this verse is only written for the culture and time they lived in when written so it doesn’t hold weight to how we’re to behave today.
That is wrong. The intent behind this verse is to create a distinction between bride and groom and their roles. This is done so that there is a careful maintenance of the only earthly context that points us towards what a relationship with Jesus looks like.
It says wives submit. Because your husband has to hold the weight of responsibility for his bride and children, the same way Jesus took on the weight of responsibility for his bride. Trust your husband because he too should place himself in submission. He should be under Christ also as his bride, and in turn, should lead your home well. He should model Christ. What did Christ do? He sacrificed everything he had for his bride. His reputation, his livelihood, even his body, and life.
Let’s be very clear here, there is definitely a biblical distinction regarding how a man is supposed to treat a woman and I believe when done right, it paints a beautiful picture that points others towards Christ.
Biblical masculinity is clearly NOT domineering, but it’s also clearly not egalitarian. Women and men are of equal value before God, equal heirs with Christ and should be treated as such. They are just created distinctly different in regard to the way we will live during our short time, this side of Heaven.
A woman’s selfless submission alone will point men towards God and towards the structure that he ordered. Peter discusses this in 1 Peter 3:1. Women, you are called to submit to your husband so that you can continually point him to the Lord in your obedience to God and scripture. Your submission is not for your husband but for God. And men, you are called to love your wife and sacrifice for her the way Christ did, so that you can also be continually pointing her towards a deeper relationship with Jesus. Both displays are of equal value and importance.
A man’s responsibility is to love his wife and sacrifice all that he has for her. He’s called to lead his home by example in prayer, in turning from sin, to be a planted contributor to a local house of God and hold fast to the teaching of the word.
So I would ask this of men: Are you selflessly sacrificing everything you have for your bride? Are you leading your home in prayer? Are you staying above reproach in regard to sin (both privately and publicly)? Are you contributing to your local church body? Are you obedient to the written Word of God and to the teaching of your leadership on Sunday’s?